Manipulating the calendar for political gain


And so it begins. September marks the return to "get-back-to-it" time.  It's nothing official, like the springing ahead or falling back dates on our calendars, adjusting clocks twice a year. It just happens, without fail. The month is under way and traditionally America starts to pay more attention and get busy.

For generations summertime has acted like a big divider between all of the other frantic activities of life. From Memorial Day until Labor Day, things felt like they were running according to a different rhythm. The lazy, hazy days of summer didn't seem quite so crazy. Balmy weather was perfect for vacations, real or imaginary. Sometimes just taking a short "mental holiday" while at work helped to recharge personal batteries.  There was escape from the realities of the day.

In politics, candidates have traditionally waited to move to 100 percent campaign mode until September.  For a long time that was effective. Then came the never-ending presidential contest of 2008, beginning 22 months or so before election day. Talk about change!

The new normal is not normal. It's become a year-round endeavor. These days the challenges and chaos don't take time off just because we do.

Of course members of Congress and our state legislators still take vacations, then return to do whatever it is they do after Labor Day. I wrestle with whether to demand they always work, slaving for us without a break… and the realization that, away from the office, they cannot do more damage with more social engineering, spending programs and goofy schemes.

One suggestion here: Let's stop calling these people "lawmakers," since it only encourages them to, well, make laws.

Beware the nanny state
In California there are hundreds of new laws every year. It's as if politicians feel they are graded based on sheer tonnage. Maybe we should work to simply enforce existing laws and repeal the ones that don't work before meddling in new "nanny state" regulation and piling on more. I don't think I'm alone in this assessment.

Over the summer this year, more Americans became increasingly irate over where the economy is going, finding jobs and searching for leaders who actually lead. It's been a summer of discontent.

While Democrats and Republicans were off on holiday, the streets around the world heated up with "flash mob" protests and rioting, fueled by high-tech social media generations raised without a God-ordained moral compass. Several incidents of gang violence cropped up in the USA, too, and much of it was rooted in racist motivation. Evil never takes time off.

As Washington, D.C. has been napping in the seasonal hammock, I have an uneasy sense that what we've seen in these worldwide incidents may be a dress rehearsal for what's to come in America in 2012.  We ignore such news at our own peril. So much to add to the prayer list…

During the August "non-campaign" campaign adventures (paid by taxpayers) in far away exotic places such as Iowa, President Barack Obama announced he would have a plan for the economy. After all, indicators like the S&P downgrade, soaring unemployment and lackluster job creation all point to a sense of national urgency. So Mr. Obama promised the crucial new economic plan would be coming… in September. In other words, it can all wait until after Labor Day.

Crisis and timing
Politicians love stirring things up with talk of crisis and timing. This reminds me of the rush to "fix" the debt ceiling before last Aug. 2 or the mad dash to swallow the healthcare bill on Christmas Eve 2009.

They had to hurry and approved the national health system takeover even though many hadn't read the huge volume of legislation. Then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Congress had to vote for it and OK it so we could THEN see what was in it. All the impact, whatever it's going to be, is now pushed past another Labor Day, into 2013 and beyond.

Meanwhile the Federal Reserve trumpeted they would keep interest rates low, again until 2013. Hmmm, that's also conveniently after the election.

Busy and brilliant
Now as bureaucrats come back to work, there will be more of a mad dash to appear busy and brilliant, this time led by the newly appointed "Super Committee" in Congress. It is charged with cutting big-targeted expenses, or else there will be scary mandated cuts. 

The deadline?

At least it's not two or three years away. Now the heavy lifting has to be finished by this Thanksgiving. 

I have this uneasy sense that our country is trying to fix so many things, too fast. Too often it's driven by politics instead of principle. Much of it is scheduled for convenience so holidays and time off aren't disrupted. And every political type knows many Americans don't pay attention to news and current events at all. They're busy with escaping to vices or living online in an unreal world. So, the people can be more easily manipulated for political gain.

Tapping into faith
As the campaign season heats up, there will be endless talk about our problems and concerns, and extra scrutiny will be heaped on those candidates who dare to speak up about their faith during the debates.  Critics will claim, "God has no place in politics and today's events."

The reality is, without God in the public square, we've created quite a national mess. I'm so glad He doesn't worry about the calendar or seasons, and he's never on vacation. But we do need to make the call to Him when we really need help.

Larson is a veteran Southern California radio/television personality and media consultant. He can be heard daily in San Diego on KCBQ 1170AM from 6 to 9 a.m., and on KPRZ 1210AM from 2 to 4 p.m. E-mail:

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Published, September 2011