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?
Readers’ forum: April 16, 2014
• Mott’s rant on global warming
• Salvation through the Indian way
RONN MOTT: Royce Waltman
In recent days the papers have been full of good things about Royce Waltman. Not a lot of puffery, but more like Royce himself… straight, true and right at you.
MS. TAKES: Not much peace since war to end all wars
My jaw dropped the other day when I read that this year, 2014, marks 100 years since the start of World War I. No, you wise guys, I wasn’t there personally.
Readers’ Forum: April 15, 2014
Sound choice for county judge
Giving your car the care it needs
Park restrooms should be open
EDITORIAL: Noteworthy in the news (Honors for outstanding women)
Honors for outstanding women
Sprucing up around the wetlands
You can say that again
Reader Poll results
Readers’ Forum: April 14, 2014
Alternatives to ‘injustice’
EDITORIAL: Teaming up to fight the ugliness of graffiti
Graffiti hurts the Terre Haute community. It deflates property values and local pride. It literally paints an image of carelessness on the city.
MARK BENNETT: It’s (Not) So Easy
Arctic air bled into the Wabash Avenue post-hippie-era diner-pub every time the wooden door swung open.
ERIC SCHANSBERG: The 1040 tax form turns 100
The 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution brought us the federal income tax in 1913. A year later, the 1040 tax form was born.
Readers’ Forum: April 13, 2014
• An attack of hypocrisy
• New jail not a good idea
• Thinking about the next election
• Being positive a tremendous asset
• Work status a matter of value
FLASHPOINT: Time to fix government
In 1965, the chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, Wilbur Mills, brought legislation establishing Medicare and Medicaid to the floor of the U.S. House. That was my first year in Congress, and I remember vividly the moment when Mills came to the Democratic caucus to explain his plans.
Death Notice: April 13, 2014
GUEST EDITORIAL: Despite high court ruling, big money may not guarantee election success
The Supreme Court has taken the predictable next step in the wake of its 2010 Citizens United decision in which it lifted the limit on donations wealthy donors can make to certain political entities.
RONN MOTT: Pondering our planet’s future
I watched a TV show recently and the subject was global warming.
EDITORIAL: Warm thoughts for Waltman
When Royce Waltman left Indiana State University as its head basketball coach in 2007, there was a sense of disappointment in the community that covered a broad spectrum.
Readers' Forum: April 11, 2014
• An appeal for organic farming
• Kesler best choice for judge position
RONN MOTT: Bits & Pieces
I don’t know about you, but I get a total sense of helplessness when I realize 239 people died in one airplane crash. And to make it worse, if that is possible, the loved ones left behind can’t close. Maybe this week.
EDITORIAL: Road work season requires motorists’ undivided attention
Spring’s budding flowers, trees and grasses are not the only colorful eye candy popping up on the west-central Indiana landscape. Those orange barrels and pylons common to construction areas are appearing as well.
Readers' Forum: April 10, 2014
• Appreciation for writer’s views
• Amazed by policy on birth control
EDITORIAL: Dangers lurking among us
Hardly a week goes by without multiple stories being published in this newspaper detailing the arrests, court proceedings, convictions or sentencings of individuals involved in sex crimes against children or young teens. It’s a disturbing trend that underscores the ever-present dangers that exist where we may least expect them.
- Readers' Forum: April 9, 2014
RONN MOTT: Basketball and Done
I guess I’m going to have to change my mind about the “One and Done” rule. It would seem the future professionals wearing university uniforms — national runner-up Kentucky is an example — has proven me a fool. Why should I care about the education they are getting, or not getting?
LIZ CIANCONE: Angling for a mate not fond of fishing
While many little girls daydream about the dream man they hope to find, it seems to me that they concentrate on all the wrong things. I can’t discount the appeal of beauty, brains and virtue, but my dream man was one who was not dedicated to fishing.
Readers’ Forum: April 8, 2014
Tracking the trail of thieves
Friendly service at local store
New voice for judicial system
Movie strikes a proper balance
EDITORIAL: Noteworthy in the news (New roles for proven leaders)
A couple of familiar faces in Terre Haute in the realm of public affairs are taking on new jobs, and we take the opportunity today to express confidence in their selections and best wishes for the future.
Readers’ Forum: April 7, 2014
Playing politics with education
Time for rep to go
Max Jones: Marching in place: As political world swings and cycles, Hoosiers remain wary of latest trends
A casual glimpse of recent developments in Indiana politics might suggest Hoosiers are in the throes of an identity crisis.
Editorial: Fast lane for road projects
Our interstate, national and state highways carry millions of people through and across Indiana each year. Those roadways form the physical connections among our communities.
- Readers' Forum: April 6, 2014
Flashpoint: How to deal with a public-employee union
An open letter to Indiana city councils: The problem: A public-employee union has no check, no market mechanism, to temper its power. The solution: You, the councilman.
- More Opinion Headlines
- Readers’ forum: April 16, 2014