Who Hijacked Our Country

Sunday, April 26, 2009

County Commissioner Earns “Shitbucket of the Week” Award

There might be thousands of local politicians throughout the country who are just as petty and mean-spirited as Mike Kilburn — County Commissioner, Warren County, Ohio. But this particular story just pushed the wrong buttons.

I first learned about this from the Rude Pundit’s post of 4/22/09.

We’ve all heard about rightwing governors posturing and preening with “I don’t want any of that commie stimulus money.” Usually they end up groveling and taking the money, or — even more contemptible — cherry-picking which stimulus money they’ll accept. The standard procedure — since Republicans are always marching in lockstep — is to take all of the money EXCEPT for those funds which would provide unemployment benefits for those worthless parasites who have the nerve to be unemployed.

And now our Big-Douchebag-In-A-Small-Pond wants to get in on the preening. Warren County, Ohio, was eligible for $373,000 in federal stimulus money to purchase three new buses and upgrade their fleet. Commissioner Mike Kilburn said: “I’ll let Warren County go broke before taking any of Obama’s filthy money.”

This particular transit system serves a mostly rural area full of senior citizens and people with disabilities. Kilburn was reminded of that fact, and replied: “I'm tired of paying for people who don't have.”

The county commissioners are looking for a way to give this stimulus money back while making sure that nobody else gets it.

This is the exact kind of shit that needs to be thoroughly scooped out and dumped, if or when the Republican Party ever decides to clean its litter box.

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Anonymous JollyRoger said...

The "filthy money" comment is significant (as an aside, Warren County is a place where 3 bridges that I know of have been roped off FOR YEARS now because the County can't afford to repair them. But that isn't what I wanted you to make note of.) Warren County is home to a thriving Klan chapter, and probably the most racist place in Ohio. I used to live there; I know of what I speak. Warren County should be transported to Mississippi, where it would fit in a hell of a lot better; Bible thumpers, Government that is inefficient to the point of near non-existent, corruption (every official in the county is on the take, and most of them get caught sooner or later,) and racism.

April 26, 2009 at 11:28 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

JR: That sure sounds like a winner of a county. I'm sure all states have regions like that. The left coast states have areas that are straight out of those redneck scenes in Easy Rider.

I did a Google search on Mike Kilburn; he has this dweeby clean-cut Sunday School Teacher appearance, and his brief biography plays up his church membership. Another one of those phony "Christians" no doubt.

April 26, 2009 at 4:46 PM  
Anonymous Carlos said...

Pretty sad testament to the Republican Party's narrowmindedness and hypocrisy.

April 26, 2009 at 4:58 PM  
Anonymous Bee said...

I didn't know a thing about Warren County, so thanks to Jolly for filling us in. I kind of figured that was the case, though, with the "filty money" comment. Struck me as 'delete money insert n-word here".

April 26, 2009 at 5:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's less filthy if it's money for highways then money for buses?

Jolly Roger? It's not too far from where my ex wife grew up in Chillicothe. Yep redneck territory.

Do they know that as a rule the bigger states pay more then they get back as opposed to the smaller states so a lot of that money may come from the latte sipping, hybrid driving (you get the idea!)

I always wanted to know though, in California the budget was held up for months by Republicans who would rather be executed then raise taxes (and their districts get more then they pay out too). When their leader agreed to a compromise that would not close the state down they voted him out!

Does a Fiscal Conservative ever go back to his district and say:

" Look I know you want that (insert in here) but I in honesty can't get it for you, because it is pork - coming from somebody else's pocket and not yours. Now you don't want me to raise taxes do you and if you really want this (insert in here) you guys could float a ballet initiative or close a few schools, libraries and senior centers and/or rescind those nice tax breaks you gave the Wal-Mart and the Loews and do it that way. Yes times are tough but I'm a fiscal conservative, I told you that before you voted for me and that's why you elected me and that's what you told me to do...right?"

Do any of them ever say that?


April 26, 2009 at 7:00 PM  
Blogger Lew Scannon said...

Republicans never seem to have a problem giving away money to people who have, (Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, George HW Bush, etc.)it's helping out the disadvantaged they don't like. Isn't that exactly what Jesus would do?

April 26, 2009 at 7:13 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Carlos: That party just keeps on deteriorating.

Bee: Yup, that's probably what he meant by "filthy money."

Erik: Of course it's OK to accept "filthy money" for highways. It's straight out of that song God Bless The Child, "them that's got shall get..."

I think it's common knowledge that the blue states are pretty much subsidizing the red states. Or at least it's been widely publicized. But if people don't or can't read (which seems to describe so many red state residents), they'll probably never know.

I doubt if any politicians ever gave that speech to their constituents. It's only "pork" when it goes to somebody else's district.

Lew: You've got it. Jesus said "give to the wealthy, and tell the have-nots to go fuck themselves."

April 26, 2009 at 7:36 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

So, the dipstick commissioner says he can see spending millions on BIG projects, but not for a few vans.

Maybe if that dipstick commissioner ever finds himself longterm unemployed and thus unable to afford a car, maybe also with physical problems that make getting around a nightmare, he'll begin to get it.

There really is some kind of psychological deficit at work in people like him. I know it was the subject of serious discussion when Reagan was president — that he could be all sorts of understanding and compassionate for someone in a bad way who was standing in front of him. But let that person — maybe a whole lot of persons with serious problems not of their making — be just a few blocks away, and Reagan didn't know and didn't want to know what their problem was. He couldn't have cared less.

It's a kind of blindness spurred by attitude, I suspect.

April 26, 2009 at 8:01 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

SW: I think that's true of a lot of conservatives, that they can be moved by an individual case of discrimination or hardship if it's up close and personal. There was supposed to be an anecdote like that about Ronald Reagan, from his acting days. He was on tour with some other actors, and the hotel they were saying in didn't allow blacks on the premises, and there was a black person in Reagan's group. Reagan was genuinely shocked by this, and he protested by sleeping in his car (or on the bus, or something) instead of patronizing that racist hotel. I don't know if that story is true or not.

But somehow I don't put that dipstick commissioner in that same category. That quote "I'm tired of giving money to people who don't have" sounds colder than a December wind in Alaska.

April 26, 2009 at 9:16 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

Desultory rant mode on:

I consider people like that commissioner disordered as much as he would consider me disordered, but hey... they like to operate on slogans and sound bites, so here's MY slogan:

"Everyone does better when everyone does better."

Or how about "Better to have a bleeding heart than to have no heart at all."

Sometimes I get so tired of the goddamned John Wayne rugged individualist "Republicana" crap in this country that I could just about vomit.

If the commissioner doesn't want any of "Obama's filthy money", maybe Obama can send some of it my county's way. We could sure use a lot of road improvements, and a few of our schools are just about to fall over.

When Mrs. Snave and I were in the "big city" this weekend I got to thinking about what it would be like if there were no more taxes being taken in at all, like some of these yahoos would like to see.

First, we drove on the interstate from here to there and back. In a Republican future, the interstate would ultimately go to gravel or be full of impossible potholes. Why? With nobody paying taxes, there would be no monies with which to keep the roads in shape.

The large freeway bridges and exits would become unsafe and have to be torn down, and they would not be replaced. To get across large rivers, maybe there would be ferries, but they would all be privatized, of course. That's just a part of the roads and transportation picture... and that in turn is just part of the overall big picture.

Maybe it would be kind of brutal like in "Mad Max", but there would still be plenty of gasoline to go around, at least for a while.

They just don't get the idea that if everyone decides not to pay their taxes, the whole country goes to hell in a handbasket pretty quickly.

In a way it IS sad that things have gotten so big that it has become like one of those block puzzles (I think the name of the game starts with "J"), where you build a tower of blocks and then you keep pulling out individual blocks until the tower falls. Nobody wants to be the the one that pulls out the block that makes the tower fall apart.

I think America has gotten like that tower. It has gotten so tall and complex that "you can't go back now". Screw with it too much, and things will fall to shit. I think Obama is trying to shore things up, not tear things down. But maybe to shore it up with a new approach, some of the old supporting structures need to be taken out and replaced.

To me, the saddest part of their attitude is that they take so many of these things for granted, and don't seem to have the slightest clue that they are trying to shoot America in the foot. Who would be the first ones to whine and complain if the roads all went to crap? Who would be the first ones writing nasty letters to the editors of newspapers when they couldn't afford to pay their elderly parents' medical bills? Who would be the first ones to complain about nearly anything that we take for granted now, that would go away if their restrictive ideas were put into action? Why... THEY would be, of course.

Every time I see a falling-down school or a bridge that has fallen down, or every time I drive on a section of badly-potholed highway (or local road, for that matter), I want to put up a sign that says "Your Tax Dollars At Work".

But I don't think too many of today's "conservatives" would get the message. They would be too concerned about whether or not Obama is eating arugula, how much it cost to adopt the Obama family dog, and listening to Rush Limbaugh tell them about how Obama is a selfish individual who cares only about himself (I was dial-flipping yesterday in the Columbia Gorge and came across a station from Tri-Cities, WA that had Rush on. I listened for about 30 seconds until Mrs. Snave made me turn it off, and that is exactly what Rush was saying.)

The "conservatives" like to complain about how Obama is still going out on the campaign trail, doing town hall meetings, etc. Well, because the left has no real answer to the right-wing media, this is what Obama has to do to get some air time. They will do whatever it takes to sink him. For heaven's sake, if there is no effort underfoot to restore the Fairness Doctrine, there ought to be... or is it too late for that now?

April 27, 2009 at 7:25 AM  
Blogger bob said...

The comments about "rednecks" being everywhere is dead-on. I grew up in rural TN and honestly, some of the rural areas out here in Nor-cal have my home area beat by a mile in comparison.

But in regards to Red state Blue state stuff, I'm going to make a general statement and that would be that if you were to go to most any metropolitan area in any of the 50 states, what you'd likely find are like-minded people who more likely fit in the liberal category. Even the small town near where I grew up- Knoxville,TN- was a pretty artsy, open minded city.

The question is why are so many rural areas so conservative? Well, in regards to where I grew up, everyone has been living in the same area for sometimes more than several generations. There was a personal, almost physical connection to the land. Religion was important because it was a means to socializing. I went to a small church ( Presbyterian) and in general, people were pretty moderate. We even had a couple of more liberal minded people who were part of the church. In other words, these people were by and large comfortable by the lack of change and comfortable having a full working knowledge of their surroundings. Anything new or different would be viewed potentially with ridicule or sometimes contempt. Anything that could potentially derail the known system was frowned upon. I'm not saying this is right. But perhaps it helps explain.

On other hand, I've lived in 3 major cities: one on the East Coast and two out here in Cali. Most living in these places are not from here. Most are younger. Most have family living elsewhere. Many are the first to have left. I meet many who absolutely frown on wherever they came from. Change is embraced. In fact, change is most welcome. Thus when new ideas are developed, you get a clash of cultures interested in promoting their own ideas.

Personally, after having lived in both environments, I can see the positives and negatives of both. There are good and bad aspects to both living standards. Both do nasty things. Both do wonderful things.

So when I hear the term red state blue state, it sounds almost like total intolerance of either side. I think until that kind of thought process if eliminated and more open dialogue and understanding is promoted, we as a country won't get anywhere culturally or socially.

April 27, 2009 at 9:34 AM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Snave wrote" "Sometimes I get so tired of the goddamned John Wayne rugged individualist 'Republicana' crap in this country that I could just about vomit."I share your pain. :)

This touches on a subconscious trait conservatives share: They don't fully understand or maybe even realize that the free, open western frontier is gone for good. Their mindset is stuck in a time when, if you lived in New England, the Ohio Valley, the Southeast, etc., and you were poor and looked forward to a life of hard work for low wages and poor living and working conditions, and you didn't like that, you had an option. You could pack up and move out West. There you'd find free land and resources for the taking. You could cut down trees and build your home. You could till the soil and farm. You could hunt, fish, harvest timber, prospect for minerals — whatever. You could live and work decently as your own boss, on your own terms.

The trouble is, some time in the early 20th century, Western land became all owned and posted. The free, open frontier was no more. Ours became a paycheck economy, where the great majority work for some business owned by someone else. That changed everything.

That's why we now need a social welfare system. It's why we need unions and federal regulation of business, to keep things fair, decent and reasonable for everyone.

Conservatives like to say leave business alone and the free market will take care of everything. We see how that works out.

But those on the right don't get it. Worse, they don't want to get it. With 300 million people of all kinds and all the land and resources owned by someone, we either use government to keep things fair, to maintain opportunity for all, to put a floor under the poor, etc., or we inevitably slide toward the kind of society that plagued Europe and Latin America for centuries. That's where a small number of wealthy, powerful people live in exceptional comfort and luxury while the bulk of society tries to survive in poverty and hardship. The middle class is small and kept politically weak and compliant.

Conservatives either can't fathom that their way leads to that kind of Dark Ages country, or they know it and want it but won't admit that's what they really want.

The irony is that what they want inevitably also leads to rebellions and revolutions.

It's absolutely true that we all do better when we all do better.

Side note: I saw yesterday that John Wayne-like, maybe secessionist Gov. Rick Perry of Texas was asking the federal government for aid to combat the Swine Flu threat. What a hypocrite.

April 27, 2009 at 12:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


That quote "I'm tired of giving money to people who don't have" sounds colder than a December wind in Alaska.

I always paraphrase the great Herb Caen on that one: "Don't they know it's the Have's Way of keeping the Have Not's from destroying the place?"

As for Ronald Reagan (you got me started) His attitudes about race I've been studying all my live and at the very least he's bigoted and clueless, at the most all he needs is a white sheet.

When questioned on race and why he's unpopular with the black community he would get aghast and then "Gosh Darm" and "Gee Whiz" A "How could you say that.." routine and then get into his old tired story about having a childhood black friend in Idaho (Iowa?) and race was never a question as they were friends blah, blah, blah!

At the end there was never a dry eye in the house and no one in the "Liberal Media" would follow up with easy questions like "Do you still keep in touch with him? Have you had a black friend since? What does he think of your opposition to every Civil Rights Bill made and Martin Luther King?

Nope Nada!

Some of you may be familiar with the Ronald Reagan/Sam Pierce Story.

My favorite is the one he told of talking to some unemployed black kids in Detroit and they blamed a high minimum wage as the reason employers wont hire them (you read right) If he could lower it, then they could get jobs (funny if it weren't true) His solution was to come up with a training wage which is lower then the minimum wage for a period of oh 6 months. It's in effect and did nothing for inner city employment.

Tom I think that story is false! People I talk to who knew Reagan when he was a "Liberal" say he was a moderate New Dealer and a conservative union president who ratted to the government on anybody he THOUGHT might be a communist!


April 27, 2009 at 1:02 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Snave: That's the most contemptible part of this story -- that this county commissioner is determined that nobody else gets this stimulus money that he turned down.

In a rightwing utopia, roads and bridges would keep deteriorating until they crumbled. There would be well-maintained private toll roads and bridges, which "worthy" people would use, for a fee. The riffraff would just wallow in their own self-created poverty until they finally pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps.

And don't forget, part of Conservative Soundbite Theory 101 is to always see the glass as half full; always stress the positive counterargument. If a bridge collapses: "there are thousands of bridges in this great nation which have NOT collapsed, you whiny F#@%&!#$!" If they were consistent, they would have been against the Iraq invasion because of all the Iraqi citizens that Saddam Husseein DIDN'T torture and execute.

Bob: I love Tennessee, from the two times I've been there. About ten years ago my wife and I were driving north from Alabama on a 2-lane road, Route 11. The Tennessee part was really beautiful. Between Chattanooga and Knoxville (closer to Knoxville) there were several unspoiled-looking old towns that looked like they were straight out of the 1800s. We looked for a motel in that area but there weren't any until we got to Knoxville (the southern outskirts).

I agree that most urban areas (regardless of state or region) are diverse and cosmopolitan. And vice versa. I've seen towns in Eastern and Central Washington that look like the perfect setting for a Stephen King novel or a Night Gallery episode. (Or Easy Rider -- the Sequel.)

We do need to put racial and regional stereotypes aside, so that the important issues can be argued on their own merits.

SW: Between John Wayne and Ayn Rand, the Rightwingers have all the phony archetypes they need. They keep trying to trump every argument by trotting out a John Wayne quote or one of the Atlas Shrugged characters -- both of which are meaningless since they refer to a world that doesn't exist.

This is the basis for their "argument" that "if we get the government out of the way and let entrepreneurs do what they do best, the economy will surge ahead."

That Texas governor is a perfect example, among many. And I've always thought those western ranchers were a hoot, with their thousands of acres of government-owned land that they're leasing for $1 an acre, while they're simultaneously sobbing about "Big Brother" and "another government land grab."

Erik: I've never known whether Reagan's "aw shucks" anecdotes were real or manufactured. But it makes more sense that some Hollywood PR agent created them so they could be trotted out whenever needed.

Black kids blaming the minimum wage for their unemployment -- definitely sounds like a Republican TV ad. I remember during the 1980 campaign, Reagan told a group of laid-off Detroit auto-workers, "you guys need jobs, not a lecture." (Referring to Carter's gloomy, school marm demeanor.) Reagan had plenty of soundbites but no substance.

April 27, 2009 at 7:30 PM  
Blogger rockync said...

Well, the people did vote them in so I guess they must support that sort of posturing. If they don't support it, then they should be out there in their wheelchairs and walkers protesting.

April 28, 2009 at 5:55 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Rockync: That's true, those county commissioners did get elected and probably re-elected. From what Erik and Jolly Roger were saying, that's a pretty rightwing area.

I've been through other parts of southern Ohio but not that area. I've been to that tri-state area where Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky come together. It's beautiful there, but for all I know their politics are just as rightwing as Warren County.

I do hope that Mike Kilburn's comment about "I'm tired of giving money to people who don't have" comes back to bite him when he's running for re-election.

April 28, 2009 at 12:27 PM  
Blogger bob said...

I will say that as a native observing the Southeast from Cali that the entire Southeast as a whole has been enjoying a rather large amount of success in both population growth and economic development.

What it has going for it is:

A: Cheap land
B: Cheap housing
C: Newer infrastructure and freeways
D: Less corporate taxation
E: Less Unions
F: Growing numbers of out of state companies moving in.

Basically, from my perspective there seems to be a fine line between over regulation and under regulation. Out here in Cali, even now a typical house is about 50% overpriced and requires two working parents earning above median incomes ( as in probably 200k in the Bay Area) to afford the mortgage. There is a strong anti-development attitude in the area- thanks in part to Prop 13- that ensures the freeways and bridges are forever inadequate. State taxes on business is extremely high and additionally, those companies have to pay high salaries to their employees whom must make more money in order to live here. The same is true in other large metros on either coast.

So for now, if you flip open any number of publications dealing with the best places to live and work, most of them are places like Raleigh Durham, NC, Austin TX, and even Knoxville, TN.

I assume that if allowed to grow unfettered, these areas will eventually learn the consequences of uncontrolled development. But in the meantime I expect these areas to be the growth engines of the country in regards to where the middle class flocks to.

So to me it comes to show that there is a kind of push and pull in this country. Sure- we need government regulation and proper taxation to a point. But too much of it leads to conditions that you might find in California. To little of it leads to the monstrous Mcmansion developments and strip malls in Raleigh Duraham.

April 28, 2009 at 3:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thanks to Prop 13 those businesses also pay the lowest property taxes in the country.


April 28, 2009 at 7:38 PM  
Blogger bob said...

Prop 13 is about the stupidest law passed in Cali history. If I buy a house, why do I have to pay 5 times more in taxes? The law only does one thing, and that's to subsidize older residents. Its not at all uncommon in my neighborhood to find older residents who worked as school teachers, salesmen, and plumbers living in homes they paid $20k for that are now worth almost a million bucks. Yet they pay taxes for a 20k house.

If you bought a home in the Bay Area of California from the 50's-70's, then you did well. You got to reap the reward of HUGE gains in value, all the while not having to pay taxes on those gains. This has had extremely negative repercussions. California's school system went from being one of the top in the country to close to the bottom. Last time I checked it was 47th. The freeways and bridges are in ill-repair. The state is perpetually broke. Much of this is due to the fact that the population of older residents is growing and the taxes the state gets from property tax has shrunk.

Secondly, you ask any typical 20-30something Cali resident if they own a house, chances are they rent because they can't afford a house. My Wife and I actually make well over a 6-figure income. Yet we still can't afford a house in our neighborhood.

I also KNOW for fact that if any of those older people had to go back and work at their former jobs making the equivalent inflation-adjusted wages, there's no way they could afford the homes they currently live in. Do you see the problem here?

The problem is that if you look at ANY other state, property taxes are progressive. If your house goes up in value, so does your taxes. If the taxes become too high, then people will move to either a smaller house or another neighborhood. But at the same time, property taxes helps keep overall prices in check by creating a consequence for inflation. You look in places like Austin TX where the tax rate is 3%, the prices are within a reasonable price range. In fact, people will generally avoid prices over a certain amount due to tax alone.

The idea of Prop 13 was to save older people from taxes. But all it did was basically inflate house prices by keeping those older people in their homes, limiting the supply,and in turn making home purchases difficult for younger, productive people. I have to admit that we are actively considering making a move to another state, and out of all my friends, I'm one of the last to leave.

Put two and two together: Price out your productive, working professionals to where they go somewhere else ( to those fastest growing metros) and see what happens to California's economy...

Prop 13 should be repealed.

April 29, 2009 at 10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'm a native Californian and grew up in the Bay Area and I remember when prop 13 was on the ballot.

It was started by big business and property owners (Jarvis and Gann) to cut their own taxes. To get popular support they threw the public a bone and gave everyone a 5%(?) cut and dropped the rate for seniors.

The Politicians warned us that all these great things you enjoy as Californian's like the schools and the Highway's etc., will be gone if you vote for it. The Pro 13 commercials countered that all you are going to do is cut extra money from fat-cat politicians, they even threw in a Reaganesq jab on Welfare and other social services.

No matter how much the press warned who these people were and how much would be lost if approved the ballot passed (A milder one also passed but by a lower majority). I understand other states passed a version as well (Colorado? for one)

Who won? Seniors (there really were some problems that should have been dealt with) and business. You noted who lost but also include renters who saw no reductions in rent as their landlords raked it in, and saw their renter's credit (the renter's version of the property tax deduction) go away.

When it passed, people screamed to do something about our declining services. They still scream today.

There is an observation that Californians want the world but refuse to pay for it.

It is totally accurate.

There has been talk of moderating it for business but no one will touch that monster.


April 30, 2009 at 9:27 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

I had just moved to California from the East Coast in 1978 when Proposition 13 was on the ballot. I remember all the arguments for and against it.

I remember Herb Caen predicted in his column that Prop 13 would pass, and that Jerry Brown (who was campaigning loudly against Prop 13) would flip flop, get out in front of it and pretend he had been in favor of it all along. And sure enough, a few months after it passed, a poll showed that a huge percentage of people identified Jerry Brown with Proposition 13. He was slick.

April 30, 2009 at 11:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You are absolutely right! At the Victory Party Jerry Brown marched on Stage, grabbed Jarvis and Ganns' hands and then held them up in Victory! Proclaiming he was always for this!

That was sick!


April 30, 2009 at 11:42 PM  

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