Politics

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

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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…).