Swine, beer, and elections

It's election season in Vermont. It would be a gross libel on swine, to compare these creatures (Swift, in Gulliver's Travels, referred to pigs as the "sweeter quadruped", contrasting them with the depravity of the yahoos) either to politicians or to the feckless, unhappy and inconstant electorate.

It has been a new style campaign in Vermont, with outside interests from both the left and right pouring millions of dollars into media efforts disparaging their opponents.

Lowlights (and there were many) included an ad showing the Republican candidate as Pinocchio, and fear-mongering spots asserting that the Democratic candidate, if elected, would empty Vermont's prisons of pedophiles and child pornographers.

And, despite participating in ten-plus face to face debates, both candidates managed to resolutely dance around the fiscal problems facing the state.

The Democratic candidate (Peter "fiscal conservative" Schumlin) in particular has run a campaign based on broad promises (expanding pre-K programs, implementing the public option for health insurance, etc.) without specifying how these programs are going to be paid for.

"A chicken in every pot" (ironically, Herbert Hoover used this slogan) kinds of promises are dangerous to make, especially considering that Vermont is already hundreds of millions of dollars in the hole, and the economic recovery -- probably too strong a word -- remains tepid at best.

I suppose it comes down to: Is the glass half empty or half full? Vermont's fiscal position is precarious, and jobs are hard to come by, and generally ill-paying, but at least I don't live in New York, Nevada, California, Illinois, etc. where the problems are even more overwhelming.

And -- trying to be positive -- there's plenty of excellent local beer on hand to dull the stress of living in these anxious times. (More beery photos here.)

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