Saturday, August 23, 2014
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Tune in for a tune out

I am more and more starting to see why people watch programming like “America’s Got Talent.” And even why so many Americans don’t vote. It’s not that this stuff isn’t important. It is. But there’s just so much one can cope with before burnout occurs.


Posted on June 7, 2014 at 1:00 p.m.

Controversies. How deeply should one dive into the morass of opposing views?

Last Saturday, columnist Dana Milbank wrote a column raking retired neurosurgeon, author and columnist Ben Carson over the coals. He called him, among other things, a demagogue.

Milbank is probably my favorite progressive columnist. Even though we are of divergent political leanings, I often find us in complete agreement.

On the subject of Dr. Carson, however, we don’t agree. And the next day my column appeared talking about the virtues of Dr. Carson.

That was coincidental. My deadline is Thursday, so I had sent my column in before Milbank’s had appeared. My point is that what I wrote was not a reaction to what Milbank had written. It was just an example of how two people can see the same thing and come away with different opinions.

TV commentators Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity have made snide remarks from time to time about people who choose to watch shows like “America’s Got Talent” rather than immersing themselves in the political news of the day.

I’m a bit of a political junkie, and I see their point. Still, I can be sympathetic to those so-called “low-information” citizens who choose to “skate” by the controversies that occupy the thoughts of many of us. Sometimes an “AGT” distraction break serves better than a news commentary.

Controversy. Maybe there should be a show called “America’s Got Controversy.” There is always something. Now we have the prisoner swap of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Guantánamo Bay Taliban detainees.

Some say it was wonderful to bring Bergdahl home. Others are saying it dishonors those who fought and those who died in the efforts to capture the Guantánamo five.

Many are wondering, “Why him?” It appears that he deserted, apparently leaving a note saying that he did not want to fight for America any more, did not believe in the war, and was leaving to start a new life.

Another question being asked is, “Why now?” Bergdahl was a prisoner for five years. What was the reason that it became important to make the swap now? Questions. Controversy.

Was the swap legal the way the president did it? Was Bergdahl a willing informer with the Taliban? Was this planned to be a distraction from major issues to help Democrats in the midterm? Did Hillary know this was happening? Is Jane Fonda happy? (OK, no one has mentioned Jane Fonda, yet.)

I am more and more starting to see why people watch programming like “America’s Got Talent.” And even why so many Americans don’t vote. It’s not that this stuff isn’t important. It is. But there’s just so much one can cope with before burnout occurs.

Last Monday, the FBI caught, subdued and arrested Ryan Chamberlain. He’s young, sharp, a media specialist, and considered to be one of the top strategic minds in Bay Area politics. But he flipped. After a three-day manhunt prompted by his social media postings, he was caught near the Golden Gate Bridge with explosives and bomb-making supplies.

His problems? He has several. But he was deeply involved in political consulting, and that probably didn’t help. He complained in a suicide note that he was bothered because he was denied credit for the biggest success of his career in the election of Gavin Newsom as the mayor of San Francisco in 2003.

Granted, it’s very unlikely that political involvement and battling drove Ryan over the edge. But maybe a little distraction programming like “America’s Got Talent” would have served him well.

Former Elkhart furniture store owner Richard Leib has served on planning committees in several industries. An avid auto fan, he raced in the 1972 coast-to-coast Cannonball Run. He has written on a wide range of subjects.




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