There'll be Rain on the Scarecrow, Blood on The Plow, & Even More Farm Subsidies For People Named Mellencamp


Second-generation radical chic-ster Katrina vanden Heuvel has gone to the Twitter to call for Johnny Cougar, nee et apres Mellencamp, to step into Evan Bayh's seat now that the colorless senator from Indiana is stepping down:

John Mellencamp 4 Senator from Indiana. Populist,beloved son of state my husband hails from: http://bit.ly/bb5hht

Mellencamp for Senator from Indiana! He's heartland rocker who tackles corporate power on behalf of family farmers/fighting foreclosures.

Let us be clear. John Cougar Mellencamp penned one of the great primitivist lines in all of rock and roll (that would be "oh yeah, life goes on, long after the thrill of living has gone" in "Jack and Diane") and he's produced more than his share of memorable tunes and has survived more heart attacks and palpitations than anyone this side of Dick Cheney. Curiously, his videos once upon a time featured footage of Hoosiers and other jes' plain folks simply trying to get by in this crazy world of chili dogs and Tasty Freezes until he hooked up with super-duper model Elaine Irwin, after which point, his videos became filled with images of jes' plain grotesques. Hence, we go from this:

…to something more like this:

My oh my, is there nothin' more totally autentico and super ril than black and white vids?

Mellencamp was famously born in a small town, though it's far from obvious that he'll die in a small town. But there's no question that a hell of a lot of people named Mellencamp in his home town, the small town of Seymour, Indiana, have been eating more pork than Mohammad Atta ate oysters while trying to pass for a non-fundamentalist Muslim back in the day at Shuckums.

Take it away, Matt Welch, who wrote in 2005:

John Cougar Mellencamp, as we know too well, was born in a small town. Seymour, Indiana, to be exact, population 20,000. The Coug is also the co-founder of Farm Aid, the 20-year-old annual concert to raise money and awareness for the beleaguered family farm. As he explained in an entertaining Washington Post profile last December,

"When Reagan was president, the way they treated the small family farm, running them out of business," he says. "How in the hell can a small family farm compete with the laws leaning toward corporate farming? What's the little guy going to do?"

Well, one option for "the little guy"—including the little guy whose blood relative has sold 30 million records domestically—is to gobble up hundreds of thousands of our tax dollars….

According to the good folks at the Environmental Working Group, who maintain an eminently searchable database of farm subsidies, there were 34 recipients with the last name of "Mellencamp" between 1995-2003. Of those, a full 22 come from the Hoosier State, including 12 in the small town of … Seymour! Here's a list of Seymour's subsidized Mellencamps:

$383,673.00 James A. and Michael Mellencamp
$249,590.95 George Mellencamp
$157,219.56 David K. Mellencamp
$152,639.65 Mark Mellencamp
$152,424.00 Gary W. Mellencamp
$110,052.72 Mary Mellencamp
$46,172.47 Elsie Mellencamp
$30,527.87 Matthew Grover Mellencamp
$10,929.31 Frederick J. Mellencamp
$2,582.14 Jerry Ross Mellencamp
$1,015.00 Victor H. Mellencamp
$420.00 Andrew Mellencamp

That's $1.14 million for the small-town Mellencamps. Their other 10 subsidy-receiving Indiana namesakes, incidentally, farm within a 50 mile radius of Seymour. Like most Indianans, the bulk of the Mellencamps' hand-outs come in the form of corn subsidies.

That may be the sort of politician The Nation needs or desires. But it ain't likely the kind of senator that Indiana or any other state really needs.

Presented as a public service, here's a clip from 1998's awful Richard Gere movie, Miles From Home, which effectively killed the family farm weeper as a distinct movie genre (thank you, Dalai Lama!). Get ready for the longest 2.30 of your life. Indeed, if you feel you are dying, click play on this and gain what will seem like another five or 10 years to your existence.

(As a side note, the Gere character is driven not as much by evil bank loans coming due as he is by the shadow of his father, played by Brian Dennehy at a time when BD could cast a big shadow indeed. Part of the movie's uninspired lunacy included an opening-credits sequence, sadly unavailable online, in which Nikita Kruschev had called Dennehy's character the greatest farmer in the world. So Gere's character feels he can never match up to someone named a great farmer by a Soviet premier in large part driven from power due to his inability to get Soviet farm production up… Go figger…).

NEXT: Krugman's Inflation Incoherence

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  1. CAVANAUGHA, we know it was you, even without the by-line.

    1. Cavanaugha? Is that what you call it when Tim sits naked on his Naugahyde beanbag chair and his balls sweat? Getting a little vinegary there.

    2. Oooh, looks like I was wrong.

      1. Twas’nt the first time by far, sure it won’t be the last.

        1. Yeah, you showed me. How dare I man up to being wrong! I should just disappear from the thread and lay low until everyone forgets like 90% of the people on this blog.

            1. FWIW, I would sworn it was Cavanaugh too. Nick’s been hanging around Tim too long; Tim’s prosaic style is starting to rub off on him.

  2. In any case, the thing that really chaps my ass is the double-whammy of the farm subsidies combined with the whining about poor small farmers. First of all, why is farming supposed to be inherently noble (as long as it isn’t done by a corporation)? Why is every small farmer viewed through Gil Ivy or Tom Garvery colored glasses, and not the subsidy-sucking parasite glasses that they should be?

    1. Because farming is the most necessary of all professions (until we figure out a cheap way to synthesis all kinds of food).

      On the other hand, enormous subsidies for small businesses and monopoly grants for large ones don’t exactly make them more efficient, either.

      1. farming is the most necessary of all professions

        I thought that was prostitution.

      2. Because farming is the most necessary of all professions (until we figure out a cheap way to synthesis all kinds of food)

        We already do, it’s called modern agriculture. We produce way more food than we need (in the US), so why the fuck are we paying small farmers–who are less efficient as well–to keep farming?

        Oh, that’s right, I forgot–they’re not being paid to farm, they’re being paid to vote.

    2. You, of all people, should know by now to avoid talking about ‘chaps’ and ‘ass’ in the same sentence.

      1. I do it specifically as a dog whistle for you.

        1. Dude, what you and your whistle do on your own time is no business of mine. The least you could do is take requests.

  3. Johnny Cougar, nee et apres Mellencamp

    What, he’s a woman too? (N

  4. re: Andrew Mellencamp

    What do you grow with a $420 subsidy?

    1. Some balls. Then you beat the crap out of the guys that got more, and take it from them. That’s what.

    2. He lives in a condo. He was given 420 bucks not to grow anything in his planter box.

  5. I’ve enjoyed watching Katrina vanden Heuvel over the last decade-and-a-half or so.

    After the first few times I saw her on some talking-head-Chris-Matthews-I-wear-a-suit-and-tie-of-authority sort of show I was really impressed at how little she had to say of interest or coherence. Since then, I have made a point to carefully listen to her whenever I catch her on the teevee, just out of curiosity, in case my initial observation turns out to be wrong.

    I can honestly say I have *never* heard her utter an intelligent, insightful, or interesting comment or opinion or fact on any subject, EVER.

    She’s got some way of emoting some weird kind of uffish, deep, thoughfulishy, “you know you’re asking the right person, because I have spent a lifetime thinking about these important things, ever since the momentous days of Gorbachev v Reagan”, and then bland turds drop out of her mouth.

    And she’s the editor of, what, The Nation? OMG that must be so embarrassing for them. How can they take her seriously?

    She’s got NOTHING.

    1. She’s from old money and funds that shitty rag, The Nation.

      I too have seen her on the teevee and can confirm that she is an idiot.

      1. I always figure anyone rich from Manhattan with a Dutch name is part of some ancient Conspiracy

        1. I can assure you that those twig-like arms, ready to snap off in a mil breeze, have never seen a second’s of worth of the labor it would take to produce one miserable gubmint-subidized soybean.

          She looks like she would strain merely thinking about beating the help.

          1. This is the first time I have seen her with a smile on her face. In fact, it is the first time I have seen her not looking snide or condescending.

          2. I’d pay a dollar to see her chopping cane for Papa Fidel.

  6. But how many guys named “Cougar” got subsidies?

  7. Scratch the surface of most farm subsidy supporters and you’ll find a fear of getting all our food from godless brown people. Fuck you, protectionists. I want my Ecuadorean bananas and Chilean grapes.

    1. I don’t think so. I think most of them are just reacting to the cutesy-wutsy images they have in their heads of happy cows and chickens and the word “family”.

      It’s just like “What about the children?”, you know. OMG the cute little family farms are going to die!!! All those cute families with their cute freckled kids wielding hoes! Norman Rockwell will roll over in his grave if we let these poor folksy fols go bankrupt! Oh and you know they make me watch the Grapes of Wrath in kindergarten, so I know how horrible that would be!

  8. Yes. Giving farm subsidies to “family farmers” doesn’t make the subsidies good, and giving them to “corporations” doesn’t make them bad.

    What makes them bad is that money is being forcibly reallocated from consumers to a bloated agricultural sector that lobbies for and depends it as an entitlement.

    If I want food, I can go to the store and pay for it. I don’t need to be taxed extra so that “family farmers” can continue their “traditional” way of life on the public teat. It’s not the government’s business to force me to pay for food I don’t want.

  9. I want my food grown by the same amoral, godless corporations that will eventually sell it to me.

    Eat the Mellencamps!

  10. Haven’t thought this one all the way through, but here goes …

    Pay people to not eat.

    1. I like this idea. Let’s start with France.

  11. I am absolutely astounded at my ability to guess the author of a HnR post w/o peeking at the byline. And I’m never wrong. Never. You’ll just have to trust me on this.

    1. It’s really easy unless it’s one of the obscure “contributors” or some intern.

  12. I don’t think that the fact that his family gets a shitload of farm subsidy money from the government will hurt his candidacy one bit. IIRC, there are several other Senators and Representatives who do the same thing.

    As for The Nation, they’ve always been in favor of government funded election campaigns, so this should be right in line with their program.

  13. Excellent post by The Jacket. These clowns don’t need any help showing their asses, but sometimes it’s just plain fun.

  14. If “Andrew Mellencamp” isn’t the family dog, I’ll be really disappointed.

  15. I’m totally disappointed The Jacket passed up an opportunity to make a “Hurts So Good” reference.

  16. Katrina vanden Heuvel

    Yeeeeah. That sounds like a real name. Like that Chinese chick Sum Dum Hor.

    1. Katrine Abandoned Hovel.

  17. True story: I grew up on a 640 acre Iowa farm, and like most every other farmer my dad was enrolled in the “crop set-aside program.” That’s the one where they pay you for not raising stuff. When enrolling, farmers had to specify a particular piece of land on which wouldn’t be raising stuff. In farmer vernacular, “government ground.”

    USDA extention agents would keep track and monitor that, in case any farmer tried to cheat by farming the farmland that he agreed not to farm. Technically, set-aside land was supposed to remain fallow, but you could sow it with grass or oats to minimize erosion. But you couldn’t graze livestock on it or bale/harvest it in any way.

    Anyhow, my brother and I had a gokart and Honda Trail 50 minibike. One day my dad gave us a surprise: he had mowed a grand prix track for us out in tall grass of the government ground. Good lord did we have a blast racing around in that. Until my dad got into trouble with the Extension Service for putting a mower on it. It took him a couple of meetings to explain his transgression.

    1. I know crop rotation is supposed to help improve soil quality. But why not grow clover or alfalfa or some other nitrogen-fixing crop? And why not graze it or bale it?

      1. D’you ever watch Invader Zim? There was an episode where Zim goes to Mars, so Dib runs to NASA to warn them. NASA’s got monitoring equipment on Mars, monitors in the NASA headquarters, everything still works, but since the government decided to stop funding it, NASA’s not allowed to look at the monitors (even as they clearly show Zim activating a massive weapon on Mars).

        It’s kind of the same thing.

      2. You are approaching the issue like it should make some logical sense.

        That’s what they would do if they weren’t paid when corn goes down (as opposed to the old style loans) and with artificial fertilizer people think “the science is settled” regarding soil health.

        1. OH i meant to say they might be growing those things too, that’s what is often meant when people say “grass”.

          Herbivores would make the grass even better than have the ground just lying there. But the government doesn’t want you improving soil

    2. I see cows out in wetland protection areas all the time, and then there’s the hunting leases.

    3. I had a boss at a previous job who bought a 400+ acre farm in northeast Missouri with a couple of friends. They bought it to hunt on, and never had the slightest intention of putting so much as a single tomato plant on it, but nevertheless got subsidies that equalled the mortgage payment on it for at least 15 years. The only difference was that they did have to keep a small portion of the tract mowed to receive the subsidy.

  18. C’mon. Don’t you guys know anything? We need farm subsidies to provide stability in the commodities market. It’s called central planning.


  19. “Do you want to pay $20 for a loaf of bread? $25 for a gallon of milk? Want the Chicoms to cut off our food supply?”

    I think they actually teach that shit in rural schools.All the subsidy recipients I’ve argued with the free market just wouldn’t work with agriculture and that subsidies pay for themselves 10 times over.

    1. “think the free market”

    2. “Do you want to pay $20 for a loaf of bread? $25 for a gallon of milk? ”

      Lots of people do, down at Totally Wholesome Organic Farm (Inc.)?

      1. You get what you pay for.

    3. “think the free market”

    4. The ridiculous thing is that many (most?) of the subsidy programs actually increase the price of food. They definitely increase the price of a gallon of milk, and sugar of course is twice the world free market price.

    5. People are essentially taught this in school from, like, first grade. I remember learning about this in early elementary school (I mean, they didn’t actually use words like “subsidy” but the basic idea, that small family farms provide our food and struggle to survive and need the government to help them, was presented to us over and over).

    6. They used to have loans instead of subsidies, and farmers were just fine.

      In addition the subsidies create the perverse incentive to produce MORE crops when the price drops, instead of less and growing something else, like every other producer in every other market.

      It would be time to go back to loans to help farmers through bumper crop years and drought years, instead of subsidies. but then, the lobbyists sure wouldn’t go for that.

      basically anyone who grows corn or soybeans is nothing but a welfare queen.

  20. Let us be clear. John Cougar Mellencamp penned one of the great primitivist lines in all of rock and roll (that would be “oh yeah, life goes on, long after the thrill of living has gone” in “Jack and Diane”)

    I don’t think I have ever hated a song more than I hate that song. I despise that hideous song with all my fucking soulless breath.

    May John Mellencamp die horribly, painfully and slowly in a farming accident, prior to the election of course.

    1. You hate that one more than “Pink Houses”? Or anything off of Scarecrow?

      Think before you say these things, dude.

      1. No way Pink Houses is worse. It’s pretty fucking awful, but nowhere near as much as…as…I just can’t say the name.

        It which shall not be named is a dog whistle for the evilly insipid.

    2. May John Mellencamp die horribly, painfully and slowly in a farming accident involving a bull and a semen harvesting device, prior to the election of course.

      Just correcting the omission.

      1. I will accept this correction with the caveat that it could also involve the actual insemination process.

  21. Goddammit. This douche makes me ashamed to be from Indiana.

  22. Johnny Cougar should eat a bowl of dicks.

    1. He should eat a bunch of butts until his stomach is full of butts.

  23. Wasn’t he in that show ‘Cougar Town’?

    1. No, that was John Camp Cougar-Melon.

  24. All women around the world want a phony rock star who plays guitar.

  25. Johnny Cougar as a senator. Oh, god.

    I really do live in Stupid Nation.

  26. Can I get a subsidy to go get a cougar or two? (of the Courtney Cox variety)

    1. I got one. but i am not sharing

  27. It should be interesting to see how that turns out!


  28. If you can’t beat authority, become authority.

  29. 1998’s awful Richard Gere movie, Miles From Home

    That would be 1988, Nick.

  30. Thanks, that was 2:30 minutes of my life I will never get back.

  31. My favorite:
    John Cougar Menstrual-Cramp

    (sadly, not original)

  32. It’s no stupider than the idea of Jon Bon Jovi running for something in New Jersey, as more than one adult has suggested in all seriousness. I think Mellencamp is a little bit smarter than Bon Jovi and yeah, I know how faint that praise is.

  33. Wasn’t JC-M’s body declared a Superfund site back in the 1980s?

  34. The Dennehy character was based on a real guy named Garst.

    Larry Poling, who played Kruschev, was the mayor of the town where I grew up.

  35. Don’t bitch about farming with your mouth full.

    There is a good reason to farm and have surplus crop. The bad years don’t show up as empty shelves at the grocery store.

  36. The Mellencamps mentioned in the article are not related to John Mellencamp. It’s fine to question the value of subsidizing agriculture or even John Melloncamp’s efforts at protecting small farmers but why misrepresent the facts to do so? Ultimately, it reflects badly on the writer and makes me skeptical of other articles written.

  37. From growing up in a Kansas farming town, I can attest that larger operations are not much more efficient at producing food than are smaller ones. The point of diminishing returns is reached surprisingly quickly in agriculture. On a year-to-year basis, ADM is every bit as likely to fold up as is Farmer Joe on the back 40, or rather would be, if not for… subsidies. Larger operations are more efficient at keeping the government gravy flowing; they’re also easier for government to deal with from revenue-collection and regulatory-compliance standpoints.

    Farmers did just fine without subsidies for years – but that was before the EPA. The government isn’t subsidizing food production as much as it’s subsidizing regulatory compliance.

  38. My favorite punk band name of all time:

    Jon Cougar Concentration Camp.

    Unfortunately I didn’t think they were a very good band (kind of that bland Cali-pop-punk). Great name though.

  39. My daughter (an Indiana University grad) served John Mellencamp when she worked in a Bloomington IN restaurant. She says Mellencamp is a low-tipping asshole.

    I guess that means he’d be perfect for the Senate. 😉

  40. JCM is a great American musician. So what if he’s an aggrieved lefty poser. Both the above videos are just fine, model wife or no. Who are you going to play when you want to hear a little more Bruce but not Bruce? Personally, I like the guy. He’s sincere, committed, and he’s managed to handle his career with much more dignity than most rockers of his stature. The fact that he’s naive when it comes to politics is part of his charm. We should be glad America can produce guys like him. If he somehow gets elected,that’s another story.

  41. Nick got his marching orders from both Charles Koch and Big Farm Inc. today:

    “Nick, stop, for the time being, preparing your latest B.S. article praising the cheap imports which have destroyed the nation on Wall Street’s behalf. We need you to write some hit-piece on Mellencamp. Pull something out of your ass (like you always do), like saying he’d give farm subsidies to people with the same last name as Mellencamp. Call him a rapist or a murderer if you have to, but do what you can to piss all over him. We didn’t give you this Reason gig to praise the virtues of legalizing pot — pimping for the ruling elite’s status quo is what it’s always been about, got it? Mellencamp must not get into office — OUR INVESTMENTS COUNT ON IT!!!”

  42. Johnny Hoosier is a wanker; “Jack and Diane” is rubbish; I’ve heard JH quit playing “Pink Houses” but began losing audience (and gaining boos) until he brought it back (Arlo? Arlo? Arlo?). Heh, forced to play for The Men.

  43. “That may be the sort of politician The Nation needs or desires. But it ain’t likely the kind of senator that Indiana or any other state really needs.”

    Perhaps if I spent some time on DemocraticUnderground or FreeRepublic I could find a worse standard for political office than whether one has a surname in common with other people whose politics and ethics are questionable at best…but I think it would take a while.

    Government subsidies have been crucial to the War on Farms. If Mellencamp is informed then he would oppose all such subsidies and the strings attached to them which have been putting farms out of business for generations. I for one am unable to gauge his opinion on this issue merely by his last name.

    Shame on Reason and Mr. Gillepsie for stooping to this level.

  44. I just noticed this shocking fact:

    The second letter in “Gillepsie” is “i”. The second letter in “Hitler” is…”i”!!!

    I reckon that must mean that Mr. Gillepsie supports the Nazis!


  45. john cougar is a midget, mentally and politically. oh, i’m sorry, it’s john cougar MELLENCAMP. liberal progressive policy and efforts such as farm aid have become a farce and actually are harmful to the family farms, farmers are wai overrated.

  46. C.A.S.H. from the U.S.A!

  47. Isn’t Katrina the same pundit who couldn’t name her Congressman on some TV talking-head show a few years ago?

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