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"Frankly, I'd like to see the government get out of war altogether and leave the whole field to private industry." -- Milo Minderbinder in Joseph Heller's Catch-22.
Y'all might remember a while ago, when I met a lady who was deeply confused about the Affordable Care Act. If you're not a speaker of southern, then perhaps you might remember it. I talked to a woman on edge who was inclined to suspect "government," and, with some kindness and simple logic, laid out for her what the A.C.A. is. However, she called Uncle Ned to check out my story, and he set her straight.

She then saw me walking along a sidewalk and came to yell at me that I was all wrong. Her tone said that I was worse than wrong, that I was a Deceiver (which is one of the lowest orders of devil -- worse than a manes but not quite to demon -- which means that you can't eat any of the food they bring to the church picnic).

I believe that I have just met Uncle Ned, and I have to apologize to everyone who read my original diary. There, I argued that we must understand and sympathize with the motivations of those who choose unreason. I see that I was mistaken, because, with whatever wit I have, native or bottled, I simply can't account for Uncle Ned at all. In fact, I think, like a lussus naturae, he is a thing that we must behold with horror and protect ourselves from with prophylaxis.

"Parturient montes nascetur ridiculus mus" -- Horace, Ars Poetica
A myconid blended with asphault after a rain and broken roadway: the phenomenal.
Beautiful things can appear suddenly, but that doesn't mean you should swallow them.

"We are born crying, live complaining, and die disappointed." -- Thomas Fuller, 1696
I have, one might say, a rather vitriolic vexed relationship with my Member of the House of Representatives, John Barrow. Essentially, I don't like Blue Dogs. Long before there were politicians called "blue dogs," my first cousin -- named Ned also, by the way -- had a blue dog toy that he loved beyond continence. Its Space Age filling simply couldn't be kept in overnight. I think it was originally a Quick Draw McGraw doll, but it became "blue," then a continually refilled fetish object.

Blue Dog Democrats are a lot like that stuffed doll of El Kabong, in my opinion. Very embraceable ewes, mostly, they begin to leak first principles while getting re-stuffed with campaign contributions. The shining black sun for the whole movement, in my view, is Billy Tauzin. If you don't know about how many tears he has caused, how much rapine and graft, then click this link from the Sunlight Foundation.

I work with people, and again, it helps if you speak Southern here, who put a great deal of emphasis on the act of "witnessing." My personal polite deviations from the denominations around me may begin there, as I have a case of 18th century historian phantods when it comes to the idea that telling one's story of conversion is an efficacious or sufficient means of affecting salvation. Seems to me to be a better way of promoting a strain of theatricality in one's religion. Anyhow, let me witness at y'all for a moment, and it may help you understand how I came to my spiritual awakening in regard to Blue Dogs.

I moved to where I am now, after working in Manhattan and Baltimore, to look after my mother. She had "C.O.P.D." (I reject that euphemism and the impulse behind it.) Now, along with cancer, outliving one's money is one of the greatest terrors of age, and my mother had planned well. She had been a real estate agent in Atlanta and become a lifetime member of the "Million Dollar Club" for housing sales. She built a house in rural Georgia designed for older age and expected to die in it (truthfully, she expected lung cancer). Instead, she got emphyzema.

For my part, while I was in graduate school in the 1990's, I worked in a biochemistry lab near Research Triangle Park, and I remember the battle against the Clintons' health care bills. Drug companies swore that they weren't making any money, that they were all in it for charity, that it cost so much in R&D that they had to have patents and that even then they barely made enough money for keeping the lights on. I knew differently, because I worked for folks who invented drugs with N.I.H. funding that were then purchased by GlaxxoSmithKlineBurneyBarneyFredBurrowsWellcomeZinicaXenaBayer and Borne. I also remember Clinton 2 being very pro-genetic patents and wondering why Monsanto was giving money to people near us working on human growth hormone.

Emphyzema meant ever-patented inhalers (it's not the albuterol that's under patent; it's the special super duper injector that costs $150) for my mother, and she hit the "donut hole" of the Medicare Part D every year, to the tune of $60,000 total, and that's after that drug benefit came online. Before that, it was all out of pocket. I saw, first hand, a woman who planned out a wealthy retirement lose her house, independence, and dignity for Blue Dogs and their "middle way" and "business friendly" agenda.

I gave a donation to John Barrow's campaign the first time he ran in my district. He ran as a conservative Democrat, but a Democrat. The second time, he ran as a Republican on the Democratic ticket, and this last time his commercials did not mention is party affiliation, and the ad copy sounded exactly like Reagan-era Republican campaign ads. I have stopped taking the "virtual town hall" phone calls, and, when he sends a communique to his district, I'm liable to mark it up like a freshman essay and send it back. However, the man does come to his district.

This last Saturday, I was sick as a rabid dog, so I decided to attend his "Congress on the Corner." If I couldn't pass on my ideas, at least I could pass on my germs.

I was the only Democrat in attendance.

A cypress swamp at Little Ocmulgee State Park in McCrae, Georgia.
Superfetation or just fetid, slow waters run stagnant
Attendance was around twelve adults and two children. Of the adults, one was thirty-eight, I am fifty-one, and the rest were well beyond retirement age. I had sniffles and a fever. They had metaphysical ague.

The thirty-eight year old spoke first and consumed about twenty minutes. I will try to present his remarks faithfully from my notes:

What's with this Obamacare? Cause we cain't go on like this. My boy is a slave. He's never going to pay off the debt they done got us under and I got a call that my insurance they say is now going to be five hundred thousand dollars a year cause they count my three small businesses -- I own three small businesses and I done that so I could bid as small business, but now they say that I'm not a small business, and I have to provide health insurance, and I cain't do that. They's taxing us to death. They talk about taxing the rich people more, and when I was comin' up, that was people'z making ten, fifteen million dollars. And now they talk about what's rich, and they think that $400,000 a year is rich, but when I made that much, I wasn't rich, cause I got overhead. I cain't even get no work. They got it now so they ain't no jobs so how can I give insurance to my employees when every last job goes to the big contractors? I work in construction, and all my bidness is for defense contract building, and they got it now so I can't do any work at all, because I'm not a minority, and what am I payin' all these property taxes for? It's making my son a slave. There id'n even going to be a country if they don't do something about it. People is fed up! I don't know how they think we're supposed to go on like this.
That, my friends, was Uncle Ned. His crazy quilt (my apologies to quilters) of complaints failed logic, of course, but it also failed emotional sense. Previously, I had wanted us to each remember that these are wounded souls. Well, this turducken passing itself off as a human being (yes, he was wearing camo. . . why do you ask?) is a wound. He is simply shoveling any material into sense of entitlement that fell in arm's reach to add to the pile. His two most common words were "them" and "we."

John Barrow did stand up to a bit of his weird crazy. Thus, Uncle Ned developed his argument into,

"How come you didn't stop Obamacare which is going to bankrupt this country? There is no way the nation can default because it makes too much money a month."
Tick . . . tick. . . tick. . . tick.

I gazed around the room. Was anyone going to see the problem with this statement? ("We" make too much to default, but "Obamacare" is going to bankrupt "us"?)

Well, Barrow went into why he kept voting against the ACA but why he voted to end the shutdown (even though he voted against the clean CR). He didn't want to address the fact that the ACA is not a revenue expenditure. He did not want to debunk any of the ACA lies. Instead, he later wanted to engage me on how his NFIB and Chamber of Commerce bill was better than the ACA. (And my single payer bill is better than that, but opposing an extant law because of wishing for something else is the same song as the TEA Party sings, just with a different lyric.)

I did get to make my little point about the ACA to Barrow. I spent 17 years uninsurable due to birth defects. I have seen COBRA in action. Let no man or woman tell me about how well a capitalist model works. (I was polite and did not mention how the NFIB operates or who the Chamber of Commerce serves.)

Other than Uncle Ned, though, the other speakers were . . . sane, but perhaps fermented. They did not reek of "Gimme! Gimme now!"

Elder #1: "Oh, I've got too many things written down here. One is Benghazi and if we're going to get to the truth of that. Another is Obamacare and how they're going to force you to buy the Obamacare. And why are we spending ten million dollars to make MYMARINES (TM) wear a hat modeled on Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood?"
This was a man who had been in town politics before, and in party politics in the town.
Elder #2: "I want to know why it is that my premiums are going to go up so much? I don't want Obamacare, and I have Medicare, and now I hear my premiums are going to go up so I can get the Obamacare."
John Barrow did slap down some of the Pajamas Media bellfry escapees, but always by going back to, "And this is why I voted against the worst parts of Obamacare but for the parts we all agree on."
A front yard in Hagan, Georgia that is a tableau of, well, everything.
This photo is an explanation of everything.
The Congressman was likeable enough. He's an amiable individual. He was upset at gerrymandering, but never said a word about the need for an independent judiciary, or having judges freed from elections. Instead, he favored California-styled open primaries. He stood up to some lunacy. However, by refusing to educate, even slightly, on the ACA he left those eleven people to continue to spackle their ceilings with whatever misinformation is scattered there from the television set. Around here, FoxNews is on the cable television at channel 7, and CNN is up in the 20's ("UHF" to an old timer), and the cable system refuses to carry MSNBC at any price point.

By refusing to ask one simple question of his ranters, he allowed them to dwell in darkness of their own devising: "Who is 'they?'"

As for Uncle Ned, before the Representative showed up, he had been spreading juicy worry with the others. He had heard, from a buddy of his, that They can tell where you are by your cell phone now. What's more, even when you turn it off, They can listen in on you. I did not yet know who I was talking to, so I said, "That's because you have a Smart Phone." He said "Yes, but now the gov...." I cut him off and told him that the privacy concern dated to 2004 and that Obama was supposed to restore eroded 4th amendment rights and has disappointed us. "After all," I said, "Guantanamo Bay is still open." The entire room told me then and there that Guantanamo Bay could never be closed and that the real solution was to shoot all the people there.

You see, there is an artifact of complaints: if you have a "How's My Driving" number or a "Contact Us" link, you'll get the impression that your drivers are awful and your business stinks. This is because there is a bias inherent in taking the effort to contact someone. Happy people don't write Congress, or companies, or restaurants. As a teacher, I long ago realized that evaluations at the end of the course split between "perfect" and "sucked." This is because students have to fill them out, and so it's all good or all bad.

I can understand the retired people who are stuck on the swooshing noises and flashing blondes of FoxNews. However, Uncle Ned deserves no real pity, no compassion. He might need some therapy, but since he's "not rich" at over $400,000 a year, perhaps the ACA will give him a subsidy to get it. I make much less than a tenth of what he does, and I can get at a shrink and afford it (if only I believed in the efficacy of that, either). He has rage, and he is looking for someone to be mad at. For him, "the government" is an all-purpose villain. It doesn't have to be logical, doesn't have to be near or far. It only has to be hated and oppositional. It is of the same value as Dr. Moriarity or the Boogey Man, and if there is a bi-racial individual involved, then that just makes it better for someone like Uncle Ned.

His favorite pronoun, after all, is "they."

From now on, every time I hear it, I will ask for a precise referrent. If each of us did likewise, we might at least make creatures like Uncle Ned pick a new hobby and solace -- one that might not destroy the institutions of government by accident.

[Prolog apology: This diary has been written with a fever of 101 F, so if it's more stream than consciousness, that may be why.]

Poll

Uncle Ned should obviously. . .

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8%2 votes
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0%0 votes
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43%10 votes

| 23 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Grading papers & staring for a while (6+ / 0-)

    My replies may be less coherent than even they usually are for a while. I'm trying to grade papers while swatting away shiny magenta giraffes that keep flying at my ears every time I look down. I don't know why those giraffes want to eat my ear lobes so badly, or how they shrink so small, but, there you go. Maybe I wasn't the only one passing germs on Saturday.

    Everyone's innocent of some crime.

    by The Geogre on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 04:37:40 AM PDT

  •  I have never understood the premise of (5+ / 0-)

    "witnessing," that there is someone, somewhere outside of Mongolia who's not heard the basic proposition of admit sin/pledge fealty/enjoy comprehensive fire insurance. The ad campaign's been pretty successful everywhere there's like, print and stuff.

    An aside: Likely enough, your mom and GF's mom were colleagues or competitors. Small internet, huh?

    I live under the bridge to the 21st Century.

    by Crashing Vor on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 05:14:55 AM PDT

    •  ? who's 'GF' ? (3+ / 0-)

      bird slept near open window, is stiff.

      Addington's perpwalk? TRAILHEAD of accountability for Bush-2 Crimes. @Hugh: There is no Article II power which says the Executive can violate the Constitution.

      by greenbird on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 05:44:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Indeed (6+ / 0-)

      The "witness" is a part of evangelism with no doubts. After all, I can stand firm and "testify" to the truth of the good news. However, telling my story? Uh, why is my story of particular interest to someone? If it is, then is it better if I have a good story, like the guy who was supposedly a jihadist coming to blow stuff up and brainwashed by Islam until he saw the light and became a Baptist (and then got promoted up the ranks at Liberty University before turning out to be a guy who had been raised Christian)?

      Real estate agents are usually self-employed or contract workers, and so they have to put their retirement funds away intelligently on their own. My mother got clobbered by the tech bubble, then by the banks swallowing one another, and then by Billy Tauzin's love letter. My mother's heyday was the 1980's, in NE Atlanta, which is where all the really expensive McHousing was. Nowadays, I think "Atlanta" is somewhere up at the South Carolina and Tennessee border on the north side, and it's still no farther south than the airport.

      Everyone's innocent of some crime.

      by The Geogre on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 05:53:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  you are being followed now by a small-ish (6+ / 0-)

    green bird, who felt:

    I have a case of 18th century historian phantods
    indicated a creature of like mind, as i have a case of
    baseball tummy
    (having escaped 110-degree summers, long ago)

    and still pronounce the word as 'tan genital.'
    (because, of course, i was raised southern-ish.)

    Addington's perpwalk? TRAILHEAD of accountability for Bush-2 Crimes. @Hugh: There is no Article II power which says the Executive can violate the Constitution.

    by greenbird on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 05:17:40 AM PDT

  •  It used to be said that Republicans are (6+ / 0-)

    defined by their enemies. I think there is more to it. Some people need enemies to exist. That is, they are nothing without enemies.
    If one has to have enemies, then it is best that they be not dangerous.
    For example, cops pick on OWS or peace protesters because they are relatively sure they won't get hurt by them. Predators pick on the young and old because they are both unsuspecting and less likely to cause damage by resisting. Predatory creatures are cowards. Predatory humans are cowards. Once we realize that, then it becomes obvious that all it takes to defeat them is to outnumber them and stand up to them.

    Individualism argues that the prey should be left to defend themselves. That's predator wishful thinking.

  •  don't like the sharing germs part, but (4+ / 0-)
    This last Saturday, I was sick as a rabid dog, so I decided to attend his "Congress on the Corner." If I couldn't pass on my ideas, at least I could pass on my germs.
    i always try to schedule my bill-collector communications, that is, calls i must make or else, for when i have a raging blinding neck-back-eye-forehead-hair follicle headache.

    removes any tendency on my part to 'play nice.'

    may not be an effective tactic, but at least i get something out of it ... sometimes, a lot.

    Addington's perpwalk? TRAILHEAD of accountability for Bush-2 Crimes. @Hugh: There is no Article II power which says the Executive can violate the Constitution.

    by greenbird on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 05:25:09 AM PDT

  •  Ah, the South. (5+ / 0-)

    Ain't it grand.

    I became entangled in a conversation with a genteel Southern lady a few days ago who wanted to "testify" about her conversion by YouTube video. Her wanderings in the intertubes had miraculously, of course, brought her to Dr. Dino, Kent Hovind, and she was saved.

    Up until that moment in the conversation, she seemed like a rational enough person.

    I explained that I was actually pro-science and an atheist and we changed the subject. We did not go into politics. :)

  •  is 101 degrees still considered a fever ? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larsstephens

    seems like ta me a REAL fever should be AT LEAST 103 degrees ... and you can stop with them terrist little 'o' thingys that ain't nobody but TRAITORS know how ta use.

    jet a gob.

    Addington's perpwalk? TRAILHEAD of accountability for Bush-2 Crimes. @Hugh: There is no Article II power which says the Executive can violate the Constitution.

    by greenbird on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 05:39:56 AM PDT

  •  From now on, every time I hear it, I will ask for (4+ / 0-)

    precise referrent.

    Yes, a corollary to that is that I was raised in a  non-Southern household in which I only discovered we were odd when as a ten-year-old I yelled an innocent question to a friend and everybody in the neighborhood gave me weird glances that I didn't understand. All I said was, "-but what if you're not even Christian?"

    Years later I actively tried to live the born-again life (I had had some 'spiritual experiences') and I studied hard and learned to know chapter and verse. Now I have the advantage of being able to understand and interpret Church-Speak to my secular friends.

    We are all pupils in the eyes of God.

    by nuclear winter solstice on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 05:46:08 AM PDT

    •  Having a wide mind is better than narrow (2+ / 0-)

      The ability to empathize and to imagine, to have perspective and to create distance within oneself, is essential to Christianity, I think, and yet it is inimical to dogmatism. That's one of the reasons that people like Kierkegaard were so furiously anti-clerical.

      Or, as Tom Waits put it, "You say that it's the gospel, but I know it's only church."

      There is a reason why Luke is my favorite gospel to read, and there may be a reason why I've yet to hear him quoted by a fundamentalist of the last twenty years (except for the nativity scene). Luke has the Pharisee thanking God that he's not like the tax collector, and the tax collector asking for forgiveness for being a sinner, and only one of them being justified.

      I would so much rather we not have any Thems at all. The only ones I know of are the ones that are busy trying to exclude all the elses from the table, and I'd still rather they quit it than that they fall.

      Everyone's innocent of some crime.

      by The Geogre on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 09:27:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  As always, your writing is a pleasure to read (3+ / 0-)

    And it's great that we finally got to meet Uncle Ned. Remind me again why we keep John Barrow around?

    •  Anonymous mailers against Cynthia McKinney? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Larsstephens

      I'm not sure, really.

      He made it clear that his soul is genuinely of the pro-business, pro-Chamber sort of thing that would usually say, "The Republican Party left me." He really did trumpet WSJ studies and NFIB ideas. That's not as bad as the Andersons and CrazyMcNextTimes that the GOP has run, but he did have a primary opponent the first and second runs. On the second run, when she had a stronger campaign, she was the victim of a mysterious mass mailing in the very last week of the campaign.

      Weird, isn't it?

      It's almost like a third party group did a GOP-styled mud sling.

      Everyone's innocent of some crime.

      by The Geogre on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 09:31:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The ever quotable Winston Churchill remarked: (4+ / 0-)
    The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.
    Some days it's difficult not to be that jaded.
  •  safety release-valve: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gffish, The Geogre, Larsstephens

    for those days, when you could use one, and this one will help you and all of us remember why.

    if the shoe doesn't fit the foot, cutting toes off won't help.

    (that's just how i explain darwin to some folks -- those who misinterpret 'fittest' to mean 'most Merikan-manly man.')

    Addington's perpwalk? TRAILHEAD of accountability for Bush-2 Crimes. @Hugh: There is no Article II power which says the Executive can violate the Constitution.

    by greenbird on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 06:13:16 AM PDT

    •  Heh. My screen name was inspired... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      greenbird, Larsstephens

      by the white pterodactyl in Robert T. Bakker's Raptor Red.

      One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain -Bob Marley

      by Darwinian Detritus on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 06:42:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  "Fittest" has caused more damage (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Larsstephens

      than just about any other word in a scientific statement.

      The yahoos misread it as "muscular" from the first edition, despite the fact that Chuck went on in the next sentence to say that that's not what he meant. No matter what, the meatheaded have read "survival of the fittest" to mean "biggest, meanest, and dirtiest."

      Social Darwinism doesn't happen without that conscious misreading. Naziism depends upon Nietzsche's Darwinism of the will and races being understood as "competition" in war, and thus "hail war!" the determiner of the master race.

      Wall Street goobers can't feel themselves smugly to sleep in their cashmere footies without thinking "rich" means "fit" because "cheater."

      It's about time we swap quotes and read the second sentence and then the first.

      Everyone's innocent of some crime.

      by The Geogre on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 09:38:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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