Rumble in the Heartland

Just a few minutes ago I was in the grocery store, picking through fresh green beans, trying to ignore the two guys next to me who were dishing, loud, about New Orleans. The guys were probably in their 60’s. They were talking about how dumb it was to live 30 feet below sea level, about all the people that stayed despite warnings to leave. Then one of the men said,

“I don’t feel at all sorry for any of those people.”

So, I turned, without saying a word, and stared him straight in the face. He starts moving his cart toward me saying, “That’s right, I don’t feel sorry for any of them.”

I said, “I’ll bet you’re a conservative.” He’s right next to me at this point.

He says, “Yeah, I’m a conservative.”

I said, “And this is what you call compassion.” I turn and walk away.

He says to my departing back, “And I’ll bet you’re one of those bleeding heart liberals.”

At that point, still walking away, I give him the internationally known hand signal that we’re all familiar with. (Okay, I’m not exactly proud of doing that.) I walk up to my husband who is standing by the deli counter and tell him if he doesn’t want anyone to know he’s with me, he better leave the store now. Right away, Ken starts laughing and asks, “What did you do?” So I told him. He cracks up. We finish shopping and manage not to run into the guy again.

The deli/produce section was fairly crowded. I don’t know how many people overheard, and witnessed, the exchange.

This is rural red, folks.

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40 Responses to Rumble in the Heartland

  1. Go Girl! Standing Ovation for KJ!

  2. kj says:

    Can you believe it? I was absolutely stunned. To say such a thing in a public place as loud as he did… he was PROUD of his lack of compassion.

    Racism is alive and well, I’m telling you.

  3. Ginny in CO says:


    Good job!

    I know it doesn’t do our adrenalin levels any good and it isn’t likely to convince those guys. I always try to talk to the “closed frame” (closed mind) to reach the people listening and observing. Even if they are as close-minded, they might see it better if someone else is put on the spot instead of themselves.

    One of the local news stations had a really good piece last night on a “Connecting with Kids” series, It was about kids dealing with racial clashes and learning tolerance.
    One couple had specificly chosen to move into an all black neighborhood to deal with their own feelings about racism and to allow their sons to learn at younger ages how to relate to people regardless of race.

    The show was quite uplifting and one of the most powerful interviews was with a scientist who explained that when people are confronted with diversity, their worldview is challenged. Coping with the cognitive dissonance is difficult, but the more you do it, the more you enlarge your worldview and the better you can think. Studies have shown that kids growing up in more diverse schools have better thinking skills.

    So, keep on creating cognitive dissonance in closed minds!

  4. kj says:

    Ginny, wish I’d had the chance to see that interview.

    While I can easily imagine “blame the victim” is being expressed in private, what startled me almost beyond belief was to hear it said– as loud as it was– in such a public place. I wish I’d restrained the impulse the flip the guy the bird, but a part of me, at the time, thought it was an appropriate way to respond to the charge of being a bleeding heart liberal.

    My husband is a scientist and a teacher. He finds, as you expressed above, the students are still more open than their parents. Although, in this area, even some students are thoroughly shut down.

    I think the two of us moving to this little ‘ville has caused come dissonance. LOL I’ll take your advice and create some more.

  5. You go girl!!! That’s my kj!!!

    ~~Rant warning. I mean it! Scroll past now!~~
    Yep that’s many Bush supporters in a nutshell. As I’ve said before, many aren’t even human as far as I’m concerned. They have no normal human emotions, humanity and many no apparent brain stem function.

    Most seem to be proud and loud anti-Christ Christians too. Sheesh, I’m a friggin atheist and I’m still a better “Christian” on my worst day than any of them are on their best. They hate everything about Christ. He was not only the original liberal he may even have been the first socialist as well.

    If I didn’t know any better, from listening to these “religious-right Christians”(the perfect oxymoron), I’d think Christ hated the poor, thought war was the answer to everything, and that he preached to hate anyone different in anyway than ourselves. Jesus would be horrified to know these people consider themselves to me and profess to be his followers. HORRIFIED! I guess that’s why he was a practicing Jew…

    You know until the last 5 years it didn’t bother me that much, that so much of the blue states tax money goes to supporting the red states. That has ended though. Their obsession with bashing the blue states and “liberals” (AKA anyone to the left of Hitler or Osama) has driven me over the edge(yeah I know lots of things have).

    Previously, I never thought about them much more than anyone else, just Americans. But after 2000, I realized why they are they called the red states, red as in communist. Most are total welfare states that can’t exist without sucking on the federal government’s teat. If it wasn’t for all the blue state’s money, besides being populated with many people who apparently act worse than those in any 3rd world country and they’d have to actually live like them too.

    Almost every red state except for a few receives more money from the Fed then they pay in taxes. NJ has the lowest return on Fed $. Last I heard $0.60 on the dollar. And because of that, our property taxes keep going through the roof. Since Bush took office the property tax on my townhouse has gone up about 3K. Now it’s over 9K just for a townhouse. Why? Because so much of our Fed taxes go to supporting these welfare loving red state conservatives. And instead of thanks for carrying their worthless asses what do we get? Hate and derision because we aren’t as worthless as those poor excuses for humans.

    Those low lifes truly hate America and everything it once stood for too. They are just too damn brain dead to know it.

    Sorry but I really can’t take these people anymore. I’ve had it! I don’t know how all the good people who DO live in the Red states can survive among those vermin and actually retain their humanity and sanity. I could never live surrounded by creatures like that.

  6. Julia says:

    You are one scary person…You accuse Bush supporters of hate…read your own words….why spend so much time placing blame in a time like this? Use that time helping your fellowman…all of them…liberals and conservatives. You are as bad as that jerk in the deli, you are just on the other side of the fence and can’t see how much you are alike!

  7. Ginny in CO says:


    I recognized that shock of hearing people do this out loud, around other people and defend it quite serenely. It had happened at the nurse’s station on my unit Thursday
    evening. One was an RN, the other a nurse’s aide. Both were convinced those people could have gotten out of there even if they were too poor to have cars. There were buses according to one. (Even if there were a few, no where near enough for the KNOWN number who would not be able to leave on their own) The aide insisted she would have started walking. The RN agreed.

    I had a patient issue and never got around to challenging the RN, had she and her husband been in a paycheck to paycheck life, with no vehicle; how they would have walked out with their 3 yr old twins, 2 older girls and his debilitated father from a local nursing home? Without ending up trying to find cover from the storm as it moved inland, I suspect the answer would have been “We would probably have been given rides” Possibly, they are all white. And if they hadn’t?

    Just how many miles do these people think they are fit to walk in how much time?

    Part of the GOP frame behind this is the concept of the “undeserving poor” (I just can’t even immagine how Jesus would react to that). Which is how I came to challenging the undeserving RICH with donating their tax cuts to the relief, The $ could have funded some legitimate disaster preparation, saved many lives and prevented the suffering of thousands.

    Hat tip to you and Ken for being there. I’m sure they need a good science teacher:)

  8. Julia Says: September 4th, 2005 at 3:57 pm

    Excuse you Julia. Statement way out of line. It’s real obvious where the blame lies at this point.

    No one here needs to be reminded that we all need to help our fellow man. People are fed up, frustrated, angry, scared, disgusted… the list goes on. I applaud KJ for speaking up when the “compassionate conservative” glared at her.

    Comments like your don’t help anyone!

  9. kj says:

    # Julia Says:
    September 4th, 2005 at 3:57 pm

    Re: Julia. If you think I’m scary, that’s fine with me. I was minding my own business in a grocery store, I didn’t initiate the conversation. Would it had been better to let the comment go unchallenged? I don’t think so.

    Do I have a problem with compassion for people who have no compassion? Yes, I do. The same problem I have having tolerance for people who have no tolerance. However, I know I have that mindset and I meditate on it, daily, and ask for strength to remember that these people– people who show so little compassion and tolerance for humanity– are souls, just like I am, and that they have their journey and path, just as I have mine.

    Will that man reflect on the experience? I hope so. Will he learn how ugly his statement was to another human being? I hope so. Will he think twice about being so callus in public? I hope so.

  10. Ginny in CO says:


    I can empathize, I was raised in the Unitarian Church (from central Europe, where some merchants had gone Nazareth just before Jesus’ death. They returned home with the basic teachings, his crucifixion and they were handed down orally for hundreds of years. Even their paintings are very similar to other likeness’. But no Virgin BIrth, no Trinity and no Resurrection.) After I first came across the kinds of Christians controlling my own GOP precinct in ’88, I tried to learn more about them. Went to a seminar at a local main line church that was every week for a month, It was unbelievable then. The anger and fury still gets to me.
    I have been trying for years to figure out how to deal with it so I could avoid escalating arguments into destructive shouting matches. Not to mention keeping my adrenalin and stress levels down. “Non-violent Communication” by Marshall Rosenberg is excellent – really makes you grasp how violent our thoughts and language are (largely due to the Old Testament violence).
    Even better have been David Dark’s “The Gospel According to America” and Tony Campolo’ “Speaking My Mind” Both are part of the evangelical movement the Christian Right does not represent. They are both superb thinkers whose convictions generate respect and relief. They also offer some very important insights into how this group misinterprets the Bible and gets so far off track. Campolo is easier reading and has some of the more immediate insights we need to be able to talk so they understand.
    Dark is just fascinating when you get used to his writing style.
    Some of us have to be careful about “getting into it”. I have learned to avoid talking to specific people because they trigger the worst reactions and I don’t always stop before I’ve added to the problem. I know some of my coworkers have problems with my beliefs, they also know the kind of care I give (cognitive dissonance:). True story; some years ago I was having a conversation with one of them and mentioned that I am an atheist. Her reaction was complete shock. Finally she said “But you are such a spiritual person”
    Uh huh. We can be just as spiritual without having a God to worship. It’s a human trait that is usually expressed in religion, not always.

    Well, I didn’t mean to lecture, just seemed like the pool didn’t cool you off much:)

  11. Ginny in CO says:


    I took it that you were responding to Dave’s rant, not kj’s comment, His warning was there because we are aware of this all too human response to what we see, hear and fear everyday. Sometimes we just have to be able to lose it somewhere others will understand and not get upset.

    We do have values. When other people think that victims deserve no sympathy, we have to wonder about their values. It’s a lot like the lack of empathy for women in general, and hookers in particular, who are raped.

    There is the possibility that some visitors will read it and be upset. I consider a reasonable risk to allow us the ventilation space, And some of them might begin to understand where we are getting with our emotions and why. Eventually, maybe we can ALL go to the pool and have cool time:)

  12. Teresa says:

    I think the most important thing we can do now is learn how to deal with our rage and reactions to what we consider dangerous words from others. They are still words and we have time to control our adrenalin whan confronting this. This is just the beginning, and everyone will have a different technique. I also heard this in a grocery store yesterday and spoke with the person. The checker was a Black women so I was even more hurt. I remained upset for a brief time then focused on the genuine emotions I was reading in the comments from the bloggers, and the honest sorrow for the victims of this tragedy.

    I can’t blame anyone right now but the perpetrators of this massive crime, but I know justice will deal with them. In the meantime we have a country full of frightened people and we have to learn pronto haow to take care of ourselves without hurting anyone.

    This will all take practice. Trial and error.

  13. kj says:

    Ginny, thank you for the book recommends. It’s been the lesson of my life to need to learn how to communicate, in some fashion, with others of strikingly different points of view. I appreciate any perspective on the “how-to-do” that is around.

    In my mind, Americans were handed the victim card to play after (and even before) 9/11/01. What is coming up now, re: “blame the victim,” I can only hope is a distorted vision that can come when we first really look in the mirror and we don’t like what we see staring back. (Like looking in a funny mirror at the fair.) That’s the most positive spin I can put on what I heard. I do hope that we, collectively, as a people ARE still evolving. (Although lately I’m wondering if the species isn’t diverging, LOL.

    Ginny, I’m very glad to know you work in the healing field. Very glad.

  14. kj says:

    And Ginny, I agree, we CAN be spiritual people without needing to have a God to worship. That’s not a prerequisite.

    Speaking only for myself, the God that the Christians I know worship isn’t anything close to something I would consider an Ultimate Being.

  15. kj says:

    Teresa, I’ve turned off the television again. That’s the only way I know how to keep the blood pressure from spiking to 250/150. Thursday and some on Friday night were the exceptions. I had to see what was happening with my own eyes… see the disconnect between what the Brown was saying and what the cameras were showing.

    I don’t know how to go from here… I think we’re all still thinking about that, those of us with the luxury of just having to think about it and not actually move our feet across a new bridge. But this must be captured, this moment, and mended, re-woven, re-worked, something. What has happened is as catastrophic as what happened, in my opinion, as on September 11, 2001. And we MUST respond appropriately to this, as we did not, in my opinion, to September 11.

  16. cali dem says:

    This man doesn’t feel sorry for ‘those people’ but I sure feel sorry for him. Imagine living your one life with such an underfunctioning brain and emotional system. What a stunted human being. It’s a pity.

  17. kj says:

    Dave, buddy, rant away. {{{DavefromPrinceton}}}

  18. kj says:

    cali dem! 🙂 good to see you!

  19. Ginny, KJ, Teresa, Dave, Friends, et al

    It’s nearly impossible for even the most spiritual amongst us to not speak up at this point. We’re only human, and the human spirit can only endure so much.

    On the highest level of acceptance that I can muster within my mind, heart and soul, I can not equivocate this disaster as of yet.

    I’ve spent many years now searching for the answers to the meaning of life, death and all things in between and just when I think I have come to some level of understanding, I realize there is so much more.

    It will be a long time before any of us here can wrap our heads around this. I see each of you, my friends, as kindred who feel the enormous pain so genuinely that our nation has borne under the cabal.

  20. Nick says:


    Don’t feel bad. There are some Bush voters out there that are just misguided, others are just mean SOBs. From your story, it seems you bumped into the latter. There are people out there that Dems should try to convince to be on their side, and then there are folks that are so mean that I’m more than happy to let the GOP have. This jerk was in that category.

  21. Nick

    I think we’ll have some converts once the worst is over and the shock has worn off. I refuse to believe that there are more who don’t care than do. Call me Pollyanna, I will still look for hope…

  22. Ginny in CO says:

    And once we get over that anger, we start getting to the healing process. Some of us, kj, continue to evolve:)

    Now here’s a beautiful answer to why they wouldn’t leave. Written by a woman who grew up in NO and paints a very clear picture of the town’s unique atmosphere and lifestyle: easy, tolerant, time to enjoy life and the people.

  23. Teresa says:


    What a beautiful statement you made about speaking up. Gave me goose bumps.

    Kj, this is infinitely bigger that 911. As Pamela says, we have yet to grasp it. It’s the most powerful event I have experienced in this country so far. It’s over for the cabal. 911 can no longer be used as an excuse for the atrocities. And you are so right in that we have to avoid the same mistake. It’s not a foreign terrorist this time and everyone knows that our government needs to be changed. Even if they don’t know consciously. The media has joined us and enough people will go to work in defense of our beloved country now to save it. The one’s who oppose our survival and continue to support Bush can be ignored. They are impotent.

  24. Teresa says:

    I just spoke to my sister in NYC and she is definitely going to DC on the 24th. I’m going to get on that bandwagon right now.

    What a meet-up!

  25. Sorry guys, Julia was obviously responding to my rant post.

    Pamela please feel free to delete my prior post. I wouldn’t want it to reflect poorly on you good kind people here.

    Yes Julia, you are right about one thing. I am filled with hate for the far right and my mortal enemy, the religious right. That happened after the 2000 elections when I started to listen to them all the time on their hate talk radio and Fox News propaganda outlets. I’d decided that in order to defeat the enemy, you have to understand them.

    Unfortunately, doing that for 2 years was very stupid of me to do. It just filled me with anger and hate for them and made me a much angrier person in general. That’s what happens when you subject yourself to non-stop lies, hate and anger for too long. I know I shouldn’t have listened for so long. It was just the same thing 24×7 and it was quickly apparent they were evil people, with no redeeming values and nothing to offer except the brainwashing of susceptible people.

    Just imagine what it does to people who believe it and think that is what their God and their leaders want them to think and act like?

    It did NOT turn me into people like them though. I only hate THEM because of what they are doing to my country and to its people, who unlike them are mainly good caring people. I don’t hate people who are poor, they need a lift up, I don’t hate people who are of a different race than I am, I don’t hate people because they were born gay, I don’t hate people because of their religion and I don’t hate “normal” old school paleo-conservatives.

    People who preach hate and intolerance of others and blame them for their own misfortunes always start out slowly. Increasing their levels of intolerance as each previous level becomes more acceptable and “normal”. I’ve come to realize that the people I detest so, who I was listening to in this country, those who meld religion, hate and intolerance of people different than themselves, were exactly the same type of people, using the exact same techniques, as those who came to visit my entire family on my father’s side in the small villages where they’d lived for 100s of years. Except for my grandfather, grandmother, a half sister and at most 1 or 2 others, who my grandfather had managed to slowly bring over to the U.S. each time he was able to support another one, along with his new growing family.

    Nobody stopped these evil people preaching nonstop hate propaganda and intolerance of anyone different than themselves. All my other relatives, except the fortunate few already in the U.S., met these evil creatures when they arrived in Ostryna on 6/14/41. I try to think my family were the lucky ones who were murdered the first few weeks, but I know they weren’t.
    Most of my mother’s side of the family who remained in eastern Europe would have met the same fate.

    Sorry but never again. The far right, religious right and other evil like them must be confronted and stopped, always, wherever they emerge. Especially from taking over this country.

  26. Ginny

    Wonderful OP/Ed from Anne Rice. Thanks for the link. There will be a lot of healing to do, but we are resilient people.

  27. Dave

    You’re not saying anything that most of us here don’t feel in some way or another and have not said in some way or another. When I interviewed Ed Asner a couple of weeks ago he talked about America’s own genocides. What we have witnessed this past week is another American genocide. We may heal but we will never forget.

  28. Ben Mercadante says:

    Like all the rest of the apologist’s, people like this sure did not mind going to New Orleans for a vacatiuon or as for many, convention central… where they were able to have a great time. It is so typical of the usery and sociopathic ideology of many republicans and their conservative counter parts. These people never think past their own nose, and the rhetoric they use exploits the moment whether a rational exists or not relative to their ideology. Let a misfortune visit their insular existence and they howl like a broke-leg dog. It is a shame this cultural mentality has become a mainstay in America today, or maybe we have always had an “illusion of sufficiency” as described by J.Edney in his book “Greed”. At any rate we and all have been exposed to the nasty underbelly of classism, racism and the total break down (abandonment?) of civil service in a modern state. Was this politics, incompetence, lasissez faire ? more then likely a combination of many issues, the reflection of a lassitude that prevails within the current downsized government efforts and attitude for it’s citizens. How did we get here? From my maturing within the last quarter of the 20th century, I first got a whiff of this idology with the libertarian movement, it was appealing to many young people during that era: it thwarted authority and promoted selfsuficiency ( postponed responsibility and place within the reality of the current social system ). This appealed to many an ideal place to rationalize diverse social concepts… initially appealing to both conservatives and progressives alike. I never trusted the movement, and of course now we all know why. Used by the neo-conservative’s and many in that sphere of thinking they morphed the “free love” liberatarism into the new social Darwinism (some may be traced there, others to Leo Strauss) that stokes this current neo-con mentality we have allowed to over power us. All to the glee of the corporatist, america may get back to: ” The buisness of this country is buisness” ( to the benefit of the elite). So now we must draw our lines in the sand and get about the serious buisness of regaining political power and pay special mind to making the long term effort of mending this greedy culture we live in. I highly recommend the treatise by Julian Edney, two essays: GREED…just Google.

  29. kj says:

    Ben Mercadante, welcome to The Democratic Daily. Your post above is a great read, I especially enjoyed reading what you said about the libertarian movement. There was (past tense) a woman I used to interact with on a daily basis who was a libertarian, and her views, in my opinion, wrapped all the way around to the right. She used public transportation, but didn’t believe in paying taxes. I never understand her reasoning.

    Also you said above: “At any rate we and all have been exposed to the nasty underbelly of classism, racism and the total break down (abandonment?) of civil service in a modern state.” Well said.

  30. kj says:

    Dave, you know, your post above brought tears to my eyes. I love your passion, intelligence and the simple fact that you care.

  31. Ben Mercadante says:

    P.S.: There is no “illusions” with you KT…more people need to make a stand and express their distress for the contempt and “greed” of people as the man you had to deal with. ( The finger sometimes may escalate violent reactions from these types, but he certainly knows how you feel now, and that you were upset enough to confront him) When I campaingned for Kerry with moveon.pac I had a few unpleasent encounters, it is hard not to melt down and get on their level…but forwarned: that’s where they do the best (sometimes), rational discourse is not a large part of the rank and file of that bunch. Sometimes in an emotional moment discourse just does not suffice, but what we want to do is shame them into a review of their own conscious..if they still have one.

  32. Cyrano says:

    KJ, I think the mindset of the guy that you overhead yesterday was that “defend the Party and President”. I’ve seen that a lot on USENET over the past week. It’s a herd-like mindset, and I’ve seen it on our side of the fence when our guy was in office, and in the wrong.

    The reality is that while natural disasters are not entirely avoidable, an Administration deliberately diverting funds from levee repairs that everyone apparently knew were essential is completely beyond the pale. And that’s what happened here. If the Bush Adminstration had acted responsibly, and funded the upgrades that needed be made, made Katrina might have still overwhelmed a couple. But maybe only 20% of the city would have flooded. That a very different equation than 80% of the city being flooded. Far fewer would likely have died, or had their lives and property destroyed. The Bush Administration deliberately chose to take that funding and divert it to a black hole of a war in Iraq, and tax cuts for people who don’t need them. Posterity will look back on that choice with scorn and distain.

    The other thing that these Administration defenders are discovering, and have serious trouble dealing with, is the the Bush Bunch is utterly incompetent. That’s a tough pill to accept when you’ve convinced yourself of you, and your party’s, alleged moral and intellectual superiority. So, if you lack the kind of honesty that would force you to acknowledge what everyone now understands to be the case, you have no choice but to talk loud and proud while blaming the victim. Because to do anything else, would require that you challenge your own role in electing an idiot like Bush, and buying into an indefensible, utterly un-Christian ideology as that advocated by the likes of Bush, Delay, Rove, Norquist, etc.

  33. Ben Mercadante says:

    KJ- Thanks for the welcome, cool site… It is a nice change to find a blog where the discourse is civil and people actually use a thought process to express their views. I had just stumbled upon this from some other blog site, so it goes… but I shall save this site and pass it on to people with good ideas.

  34. kj says:

    Ben, feel free to pass along the site and post yourself. Many (most) of the bloggers and posters here are long-time, early Kerry supporters. (In fact, Pamela, whose blog is this, is known among JK’s staff as “The First Blogger.”) Everyone here goes the extra mile to keep the discourse civil, and its a pretty diverse group. Of course, we have the occassional rant thrown in, just to keep ourselves sane, as Ginny said above.

    Hey Cyrano! Right on the money, as ususal!

  35. Ben

    Welcome to the Dem Daily! Glad to have you with us.

    As KJ pointed out, we really aim to the keep the discourse civil and promote solid and meaningful conversation. As a writer (and moderator) for the Kerry blog during the campaign, it became clear to me early on that it was important to keep everyone on the same page — on message. We all need to rant sometimes, but in the long run, more than anything we need to stick together and work cohesively to hone a clear message and do whatever we can for the Dems in office who are fighting for us.

    Again, welcome. We’re working on building up a solid network of like-minded Dems who can add to the conversation and help spread the word.

  36. Cyrano is in the house! Welcome, dear friend!

    We’re in a deep mess of crap here, your voice and wisdom will be greatly appreciated.

  37. Ben Mercadante says:

    You all have done an exellent job with this blog, it is responsive, has good material to discuss and lots of great links. Hope to spend some time here and help spread the word.

  38. Thanks Ben. We’re really happy to have you here. You’ve already addded so much to the conversation.

  39. Nick says:


    Just to piggyback on what others are saying: welcome to the Democratic Daily. To paraphrase a famous song from 1975: Your dreams (of progressive renewal) were your ticket out (of a neo-con hellhole). Whoda thought they’d lead you back here where we need you?

  40. Nick

    Well put! Thank you.