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Alone With J

November 22, 2011

By J SWYGART

        Today, in an admitted show of desperation, we find ourself going through the email junkbox in search of a column.
    Having one’s email address as sort of a public domain, it’s amazing all the crap that finds its way across this desk. Most emails are deleted on sight. What isn’t immediately discarded eventually will be, when time permits. But there are some emails that, before the “delete” key is hit, simply beg to be kept around — just for times like this.
    Like, for instance, the recent entry entitled: “Why Buying Your Teen Breast Implants is a Bad Idea.” You have to admit, that’s a subject line that will get your attention.
    Assuming it was a gag, not unlike those frequent email offers for pills that will make certain parts of a male’s body grow to amazing heights (or, more correctly, lengths) it was a little surprising to learn that this was the topic of an actual article written by an “expert on gender studies.” And one with a Ph.D following her name, no less.
  “Can’t think of what to get your teen this holiday season?” the article begins. “Some are forgetting traditional gifts for daughter such as jewelry and new clothes, and jumping on the breast implant bandwagon.”
  Seriously? Who does that? Well, it apparently happens, with some parents giving their flat-chested little darlings a different kind of “stocking-stuffer” in hopes of lifting their teen’s self-esteem.
     Talk about the haves versus the have-nots. Who knew all it takes is a little surgery — and a boatload of cash — to make the world right again?
    Just for the record, and try not to be shocked here, the author said breast implants for teens are a bad idea and are not a quick-fix substitute for lagging self-esteem. So scratch that one off your list and buy Sissy a nice sweater this Christmas instead.
    Better make it a baggy one though.

    Another frequent contributor to the junk email file is the Indiana Democrat Party, via Chairman Dan Parker. On an almost daily basis Parker spends most of his time, and wastes ours, by alternately pointing out the perceived shortcomings of both Richard Mourdock or Dick Lugar, the Republican candidates for Indiana’s U.S. Senate seat.
    But his bottom-line message day in and day out is usually much more difficult to discern. Is he openly pulling for Mourdock to knock off Lugar in the GOP primary, assuming — probably correctly so — that Mourdock would be ripe for defeat in next year’s general election? Or is he pulling for Lugar to prevail in the primary? And is that why he chose recently to remind readers that Herman Cain, the rapidly-sinking GOP presidential hopeful, had in August endorsed Mourdock?
    There was a time when Parker’s emails to this desk would be read in their entirety. But lately they’ve become filled mostly with hot air and empty rhetoric ... and have become much easier to ignore. We’ll check back with him after the GOP primary, and after the tea party has had its say.

    Lately a great number of submissions have been sent to this desk regarding the 2012 Farm Bill, a massive spending measure that covers a wide variety of agricultural issues — from subsidy payments to farmers and crop insurance to food stamps. The bill is reviewed and adjusted by Congress every five years.
    According to several accounts, increasing attention is now being paid to next year’s Farm Bill because of ongoing budget talks being held by the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (commonly referred to as the Super Committee). Subsidies to farmers, among other cutbacks, reportedly are being closely scrutinized by members of the Super Committee, which is charged with coming up with recommendations on how to cut the federal deficit by at least $1.5 trillion dollars over 10 years.
    While most of the food for thought that has been forwarded our way concerning the Farm Bill and its contents has varied greatly, depending upon its source of origin, one particular study was more enlightening than most.
    MapLight, a non-profit, non-partisan research organization, has conducted an analysis of campaign contributions over the past 10 years from the agribusiness sector to federal lawmakers who sit on the House and Senate agricultural committees, as well as contributions to those members now seated on the Super Committee.
    Over that time span, according to MapLight, members of the agriculture committees on both houses of Congress have received more than $26.6 million in combined campaign contributions from businesses and industries identified by the Center for Responsive Politics as being part of the agribusiness sector.
    During that same time frame, sitting members of the Super Committee have received $3.7 million from special interest ag groups. And, as MapLight points out, those figures do not necessarily represent all contributions from organizations and their members.
    Do you think money carries influence in the world of politics?
    More importantly, don’t you think it’s time for some serious reform to lobbyist and campaign finance laws? Until that happens, all the tea party rallies in the world will have little impact on the business-as-usual goings on in Washington.

    The writer is the opinion page editor of the Decatur Daily Democrat.
 

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