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?
RONN MOTT: Disc Jockeys
I know this is going to sound a little like “sour grapes,” but it is not. I just passed my 61st anniversary of being involved in radio. I also spent some television time in Canada and did a local TV talk show. But, my main effort was in the good old USA in various radio markets.
EDITORIAL: Greater course loads can mean quicker degrees
The impact of Indiana’s low education attainment level shows up in Hoosiers’ paychecks.
The state ranks 40th in the U.S. in the percentage of residents with college diplomas.
Readers’ Forum: July 31, 2014
• Stamp of approval
• Great job, WAXI
- Readers’ Forum: July 30, 2014
RONN MOTT: Colonoscopy No. 5
I just finished up my fifth colonoscopy last week. It had been seven years since my last one, and since my father and grandfather died of colon cancer I find it advisable to go through this procedure in attempting to live as long as I can.
Readers’ Forum: July 29, 2014
• Anything goes with the liberals
• Deserter does not deserve discharge
• Outrage lacking on IRS scandal
LIZ CIANCONE: Next century? Hope strikes out again for ‘our’ team
It is a case of hope trumping experience that my Best Friend and I looked forward to the 2014 baseball season.
Readers’ Forum: July 28, 2014
• Tea party folks misunderstood
• We have only us to blame
MARK BENNETT: Hall of Memories: Names, images of baseball greats trigger connections to our own past
Baseball Hall of Famers are just people. Totally human. Still, for Americans who follow the national pastime, those players represent a nostalgic connection to summers gone by.
Editorial: Community support crucial for workers facing layoffs
The loss of 150 jobs impacts people — the employees themselves, their families and the community. They need the support of loved ones, friends, neighbors, churches, schools, clubs and local service groups in the search for new work and clarity amid the uncertainty.
- Readers' Forum: July 27, 2014
Flashpoint: Why incumbents keep getting re-elected
Nearly three-quarters of Americans want to throw out most members of Congress, including their own representative, yet the vast majority of incumbents will be returning to Capitol Hill in January.
Flashpoint: Spreading the good word about marriage equality
If you blinked over the past month, you probably missed some news about marriage equality in Indiana.
Ronn Mott: Gaza 2014 — hatred lives on
The rockets’ red glares have turned Gaza, part of the Palestinian authority, into a battleground with Hamas, a legislative terrorist organization that has been stockpiling armaments to use against Israel for years.
- Readers’ Forum: July 25, 2014
RONN MOTT: The Czar of Russia
If you are expecting Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Republic, to react to the crisis in the Ukraine as an ordinary elected official, think again. Even though Putin is the President of the Russian Republic, this is not the job he wants. Putin also doesn’t want to be the chairman of a newly resurrected Communist Party in Russia. No, what he wants is to be the czar of a greater Russia.
Readers’ Forum: July 24, 2014
• Clinic will expand basic health access
• Misunderstanding truth about Islam
EDITORIAL: Work program needs industry buy-in
Good help is hard to find. That’s essentially what Indiana companies have insisted for several years. The state struggles with a “skills gap,” the firms explain. They need employees, but can’t find enough — or in some cases, any — qualified Hoosiers. Businesses say too few applicants possess the “soft skills,” such as showing up for work on time or being able to effectively communicate with co-workers.
- Readers’ Forum: July 23, 2014
RONN MOTT: Dragonfly
The other morning I was moving the canister that holds our recycling material out to the curb when I saw a strange sight. What I saw was a dragonfly fighting with a bee.
FLASHPOINT: News about reality, not affirmation
The public’s trust in the news media keeps dwindling. At the same time, Americans’ political polarization keeps increasing.
LIZ CIANCONE: Chickens as pets always turned out same way
I suppose many of us who grew up on farms or in small towns adopted unusual pets. I had a fondness for chickens. My folks always kept a few chickens, not only to fry or roast, but also for the eggs.
Readers’ forum: July 22, 2014
• Supt. Ritz has right to govern
• A tribute to a teacher
• Rep. Pelosi shows ‘bungling idiocy’
Readers’ forum: July 21, 2014
• Theater brings the joy of music
• Drawing closer to the spirit
• Give some space to heterosexuals
MARK BENNETT: Former Terre Hautean Jim Lovell stood ready as Neil Armstrong’s backup on Apollo 11
The words “Apollo 11” stir optimism in me.
I was an elementary school kid growing up in Vigo County when Neil Armstrong put the first footprint on the moon on July 20, 1969. So much seemed possible
EDITORIAL: Vigo Jail study essential to determine strategy
It comes as encouraging news that the Vigo County Council might include in its 2015 budget significant funding for an expert and neutral study of what can be done to replace or enhance the existing county jail.
Readers’ forum: July 20, 2014
• ‘Hotel Indiana’ has a sour tune
• Kind words about the newspaper
• Some questions about RTL video
• No mercy for cop killers
• Crack down on gun violence
• Anti-Dem tirades mask GOP failures
• Important day for participants
• Appreciation for support
FLASHPOINT: Solve our border crisis
More than 60,000 unaccompanied alien children — mostly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — have been apprehended on America’s southern border during this fiscal year.
RONN MOTT: World Cup over, but it was fun
After many weeks and many games, the World Cup is over. While the world calls it “futbol,” only we in North America play another brand of football. It is very simple to understand why this is the world’s favorite game … all it takes is an empty lot, a round soccer ball, and you can get a futbol game together.
FLASHPOINT: Living in peaceful communities requires collaboration
Hoosiers have the right to live in peace. Yet, too many of our friends and neighbors are currently living in fear.
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- RONN MOTT: Disc Jockeys