TERRE HAUTE —
Don’t you feel it?
That overstuffed, can’t-move, what-was-I-thinking, worse-than-Thanksgiving sensation? The juices aren’t flowing, nothing is digesting. What’s been consumed is just lying there, rock-hard, intact. Meat belly at its most severe.
Every year, it’s the same, mindless overindulgence. We open our jaws, the political process shoves a massive beast in front of us and we swallow the whole pig.
Months later, when the muscle and fat, skin, bones, organs, hooves and hairy snout have been broken down and moved along — just when we’ve begun to smooth out — the process begins again.
Each midterm election year, we swallow two whole pigs. Each presidential election, we swallow four. Day in and day out, we are either swallowing or trying to digest whole pigs. There is barely a break in the routine.
And, boy, are those pigs getting expensive.
This midterm election, some $4 billion went to fatten the pigs we swallowed as a nation. Four billion. With unemployment still just under 10 percent, dozens of states’ unemployment insurance funds in hock, home foreclosures still mushrooming, and local governments wondering which basic services to cut to keep cops and firefighters on the streets, we swallowed $4 billion worth of pig.
Former eBay executive Meg Whitman forked over $162 million — $142 million of it her own money — for the California governor’s race. She said she did it for the sake of the country.
Granted, $4 billion won’t make a dent in our $13.7 trillion national debt, but huge pockets of the USA could have put Whitman’s $162 million to a lot better use than she did. An astounding $107 million went to buy television time to diss her opponent, the Phoenix-like Jerry Brown. He spent “only” $30 million to diss Whitman — and he won.
In Ohio and Illinois, the totals didn’t reach California levels, but were fairly awesome by fly-over country standards. Incumbent governor Ted Strickland and his challenger, John Kasich, spent $34.5 million. Kasich, who hammered Strickland over Ohio’s mightily depressed economy, won.
The Illinois governor’s race between Pat Quinn and Bill Brady cost $33 million, about $10 million more than the same contest four years ago, when the recession was a distant concept. Add in the cost of the primary election, and $63 million was spent vying for the Illinois governor’s office.
As the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform put it in a post-election report: “That’s about twice what Illinois government will spend this year in state tax dollars to assist job creation through the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.”
The political reform watchdog group also noted that 15 state legislative races cost at least $1 million each. The 49th Senate District race cost $2.67 million. Illinois Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride had to raise $3.2 million just to be retained.
Back in April, when President Obama was injecting stimulus money into the national economy, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann said, “During the last 100 days, we have seen an orgy. It would make any local smorgasbord embarrassed.”
Mixed metaphors aside (and what does an embarrassed smorgasbord look like?), Bachmann just participated in a pretty impressive smorgasbord orgy herself. Final tallies won’t be in until January, but by Oct. 1, Bachmann had raised $10 million for her re-election, $5.4 million of it in the third fiscal quarter. The $5.4 million was more than any Minnesota congressional candidate had ever amassed for an entire election.
Not that accounting is Bachmann’s strong suit. This past week she fumed about the “$200 million a day” that will be spent on the president’s trip to Asia. The White House and Pentagon responded that Bachmann’s figures had “no basis in reality,” were “wildly inflated,” and “a lot of creative writing.”
A Bachmann spokesman said the congresswoman couldn’t be blamed for using bad numbers because “she cited a press article … so all we have to go by is the press.” The article Bachmann cited was from a news report in India, which got the $200 million figure from an unnamed Indian government official.
Closer to home, Gov. Mitch Daniels was so enthused about his party’s chances for success in the Indiana House, his PAC kicked in $1 million to 27 GOP candidates. That helped offset the $1.5 million raised by the Indiana State Teachers Association, not known for its support of Republicans. Bob Heaton, who received $185,000 from the Daniels PAC, beat Bionca Gambill for the District 46 seat, a contest that cost nearly $1 million.
House minority leader Brian Bosma told Mary Beth Schneider of the Indy Star he figured at least $18 million was spent on races for state seats.
The day after Hoosiers and the rest of the nation swallowed the two whole Election 2010 pigs, the state Budget Agency announced that Indiana tax revenues for October were $23 million less than the most recent official forecasts and $81 million less than the amount projected in the state budget. The collected revenues also were $6 million less than Indiana took in last October.
If only we could have gotten our hands on a small percentage of the money that was spent to fatten the pigs in the U.S. Senate contest in Nevada. Together, Sharron Angle and Harry Reid racked up a $50-million campaign record for the state. Angle raised $14.3 million in the third quarter alone, 80 percent of it from outside the state.
On the morning of the election, Angle told a crowd gathered in Reno, “I want to say thank you to God. This is one nation under God. In God we trust and we owe our future to him.”
Angle lost to Reid, so apparently God decided she and humanity would benefit more if she did something with her time besides move to Washington to shrink the federal government. In her concession speech, Angle told her supporters, “I’ve never seen the kind of patriotism I’ve seen displayed over the last 20 months.”
That’s a novel way to describe a nation still digesting four whole pigs and preparing to swallow two more.
Stephanie Salter can be reached at (812) 231-4229 or email@example.com.
TERRE HAUTE —
Don’t you feel it?
EDITORIAL: Noteworthy in the news
In the competitive and highly entertaining world of collegiate athletics, Sunday is akin to a national holiday. At 6 p.m., the NCAA will announce the field and seedings of its 2014 Division I men’s basketball tournament.
RONN MOTT: One and done, 2014 style
Hoosiers, this time of the year, turn their minds and emotions to the grand old game of “hoops.”
EDITORIAL: Our children in poverty
An important gauge for measuring the long-term prospects of a community is the well-being of its children. For all the effort and progress Vigo County has made in rebuilding the economy and improving its quality of life, chronic problems with the welfare of its children still exist.
READERS' FORUM: March 14, 2014
• ISU officers should stay on campus
• Good reasons why guns are needed
• Salute to Jake
RONN MOTT: Ukraine 2
The situation in the Ukraine should let us know plainly, and openly, the old saying about a leopard never changing its spots is true. Vladimir Putin is a KGB officer, grew up a communist and, from all appearances, still believes like a communist.
EDITORIAL: Meth battle never ends
It’s been more than a decade since local police officials declared methamphetamine as “public enemy No. 1.”
READERS' FORUM: March 13, 2014
• Celebrating the Girl Scouts
• Challenging the politicians
EDITORIAL: Warm thoughts on a cool day (Part III)
• Resolving to praise ISU
• Right down our alley
- READERS' FORUM: March 12, 2014
RONN MOTT: SAWS
A few days ago we talked to John Anderson of the Greencastle Presbyterian Church. He’s the coordinator for a mission of the church that builds ramps and stairs for those who are physically handicapped in Putnam County.
EDITORIAL: Thinking warm thoughts (Part II of III)
• Renewing a local library commitment
LIZ CIANCONE: We’re not only ones ready for springtime
During the most recent of our numerous descents into polar temperatures, I was astounded to see a dozen or more robins up to their ankles in snow. They were fluffed out to about twice their normal size. I suppose that was an effort to provide a bit of feathered insulation against the cold.
READERS' FORUM: March 11, 2014
• Meat-free path to the fountain of youth
• Faulty point?
EDITORIAL: Warm thoughts on cool days (Part I of III)
• Something good’s brewing
• Y we can’t take it for granted
FLASHPOINT: Where Congress falls short, and where it doesn’t
At a public gathering the other day, someone asked me how I’d sum up my views on Congress. It was a good question because it forced me to step back from worrying about the current politics of Capitol Hill and take a longer view.
READERS' FORUM: March 10, 2014
• Our government’s heart and soul
• A plea for more give and take
MARK BENNETT: New public-access point begins quest to create more spots to experience river
Fairness holds no power over the Wabash River.
EDITORIAL: Ads on the sides of school buses? What have we come to?
Ads on the sides of school buses do not constitute a sign of the apocalypse. Western civilization will survive.
Flashpoint: President should stop Medicare Advantage cuts
Virtually all elected officials — Republicans and Democrats — share the goal of increasing access to affordable health insurance and helping families receive the best coverage to meet their specific needs.
Readers’ Forum: March 9, 2014
Mardi Gras great event for Swope
EPA regs will cause energy bills to soar
Please pray for Ukraine innocents
Sinful thinking on road to hell
Liberty — or licentiousness
People will not always agree
Botched chance at leadership
RONN MOTT: Radio now a long lost love
I fell in love with radio when I was 16, just a few short weeks before my 17th birthday. The man who did the deed and hired me was Adlai Ferguson.
EDITORIAL: Noteworthy in the news
Welcome to girls teams, fans
You can say that again
Reader Poll results
EDITORIAL: What do Sony cutbacks mean?
It is easy to understand why shivers run down local people’s spines whenever rumors hit the streets about Sony DADC’s plant on Terre Haute’s east side. With more than 1,400 people currently employed in Sony’s production and distribution facilities, the community has grown somewhat dependent on the economic stability Sony provides.
- Readers’ Forum: March 7, 2014
RONN MOTT: Knicks
The big noise in the NBA is whether Carmelo Anthony will stay with the New York Knicks or go elsewhere.
If my memory serves, and it doesn’t always, Carmelo left the Denver Nuggets, the team that drafted him, to play in the bright lights of the Big Apple. It was loudly proclaimed at the time that Carmelo wanted to play for a championship team. The Knicks’ ownership bought a bunch of players and spent a whole bunch of money to aid Carmelo in helping the Knicks to get to a championship.
EDITORIAL: More ill will against gays
If you’re a feral cat wandering freely through a trailer park in Indiana, the General Assembly has taken action to make your life better.
Readers’ Forum: March 6, 2014
Utilities do need tighter regulation
Great work by TV sports staff
Editorial: A good place for persistence
The topic of Gov. Mike Pence’s effectiveness as the state’s top governmental leader during this year’s General Assembly will be hashed and rehashed after the session closes down in the next couple of weeks. At best, the first-term governor will get mixed marks.
- Readers’ Forum: March 5, 2014
RONN MOTT: Abraham Lincoln and George Washington
I remember when by edict the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington were lumped into a single celebration called “Presidents Day.” I thought it was stupid then, and I still do.
- More Opinion Headlines
- EDITORIAL: Noteworthy in the news