We need another word for silly season. It’s way beyond silly how some are competing in this midterm race.

In Illinois in particular, it’s not been pretty in the tight fight for Barack Obama’s old seat. At three different points in a recent televised debate, Democratic contender Alexi Giannoulias challenged Republican Representative Mark Kirk over his claims that he had been shot at in a plane when he was serving in Iraq. 
"The question, Congressman, is, why would you not tell the truth? Why would you make all this stuff up?" Giannoulias asked.

Actually the question is, "What, Congressman Kirk, did you do while the Illinois economy was diving off a cliff?"

According to the 2010 Report on Illinois Poverty, close to 20 percent, or 3.5 million, Illinois residents live in poverty or close to it. The poorest in the state face 1930s-style unemployment rates of 27 percent.

What’s Kirk’s record? He voted against the Reinvestment Act, against tax cuts for the average person. He voted FOR tax cuts for the super-rich, and voted six times for a loophole that rewards companies that export jobs.

While Giannoulias is no dream candidate, at least he’s for reinvesting such that the state as a whole stands a chance. Kirk’s for tax policies that let the super-rich get ever further ahead.

Campaigns this year are likely to spend a record $3 billion on television advertising—and more than ever it’s negative. There is no way precisely to quantify it but quality we can assess: it sucks. Mudslinging may be good for ratings, but it’s no way to make decisions about our shared future. Money media, however, are laughing all the way to the bank.

The F Word is a regular commentary by Laura Flanders, the host of GRITtv which broadcasts weekdays on satellite TV (Dish Network Ch. 9415 Free Speech TV) on cable, and online at GRITtv.org and TheNation.com. Support us by signing up for our podcast, and follow GRITtv or GRITlaura on Twitter.com.