Ozark Billy Snubs The Erstwhile Conservative

On Saturday, I continued my tradition of attending the annual Joplin Tea Party rally.

Unfortunately for organizers, though, there weren’t that many teapartiers who were willing to continue their tradition of attending.  This year’s contingent was much smaller than last year’s, which was much smaller than the year before. 

But the sparse crowd—maybe 150 folks—was nevertheless thrown lots of blood-red meat from the speakers, which besides the usual locals, included would-be senator Rep. Todd Akin, who has never met a Democrat who wasn’t also a socialist, and, of course, Colonel Ozark Billy Long.

Now, I happened to be standing in the back of the crowd, when I spotted Colonel Billy trying to slip away from the area where the speakers were huddled:

Sensing a chance to talk to the Colonel one-on-one, I hurried over to where I thought he was heading, camera in tow.  I was prepared to make and post a newsworthy video for my faithful readers.  As I was walking, I looked up and saw Ozark Billy staring at me as I approached, with an unwelcoming look on his face. Nevertheless,  I pressed on, again, with camera in tow.

As I walked up to my congressman, my representative, I introduced myself and told him I was from Joplin, clearly identifying myself as one of his constituents.  I asked him if he minded if I interviewed him with my camera on.  No, he said.  Really? I asked.  No, he said, I don’t want you to do that.  Well, I protested, why can’t I use it?  He anxiously looked around as if he were waiting on someone, then responded again that he didn’t want me to use the camera. He said, what is it you want to ask me?

Okay, I thought. No camera, thus, no record of our conversation, but I must soldier on.

I told him I wanted to talk about his vote on the Ryan budget plan the previous day, which essentially does away with Medicare while giving tax cuts to the wealthy.  I asked him how he justified that vote.  We have to do something, he said. He told me that what the plan does is merely give people a “cafeteria” plan like he gets as a government employee.  Since Ozark Billy didn’t know I had been a government employee, I suppose he thought that his response would suffice to shut me up.  But, of course, it didn’t.

I hurriedly explained to him—he was getting fidgety waiting— that the Ryan Medicare plan would end Medicare as we know it, and the so-called voucher proposal for those under 55 would not be sufficient to purchase insurance and people would have to pay much more out of their pockets.  I added that those under 55, even while receiving reduced benefits themselves, would be forced to pay for the current Medicare system, the beneficiaries of which will continue to receive the current generous benefits for many, many years.

He didn’t dispute that but merely reiterated that something needed to be done because the system was designed when people only lived to be “48 years old.”  Aghast at that, I responded with a “that’s simply not true,” and was poised to explain why.  Except that a vehicle—the one Ozark Billy had been so anxiously awaiting—pulled up beside us. And without even saying goodbye, in went the Colonel and off went the car. 

I, one of Congressman Long’s constituents, was left standing on the sidewalk, camera in tow.

Long returned a short time later and gave a speech that was mostly a repeat of an interview he gave to local right-wing radio station, KZRG.  He even gave us another rendition of his now-famous “auction chant.”  The small crowd cheered.  I turned red with embarrassment.

But toward the end of his speech, Ozark Billy said the following to the crowd, and to me, the camera-toting constituent he had earlier snubbed:

We’re just having a lot of good success helping people. But it is the House of Representatives. Never forget that. It is the House of Representatives.

I’ve got a Bozo on the front of my truck—a lot of people say how come you got Bozo on the dash?—that’s to remind me—and I’ve had it on there for years—that’s to remind me not to take myself too seriously. I’m doing your work in D.C., and I was standing right down there last year with ya and I’ll be back down there in a minute…

Good! I thought to myself. He’s doing “our” work. And he’s coming down “here” among “us,” the folks. That would give me a chance to continue my conversation with him. What a man of the people!  Colonel Ozark Billy Long, man of the people!

Except that after he finished his speech,  I watched him leave the podium, walk over to his Bozo-guided truck, and get in the passenger side. Then I watched someone drive him away. 

Still holding my camera, all I could think to say was, Bye-bye, Colonel Billy! Thanks for stopping by and chatting with your constituents!

32 Comments

  1. Duane, sound’s like Long may still hold a grudge over last year’s video of your interview. LOL. I have to ask, when was the last time the average life span in the United States 48? While I don’t agree with the Medicare entitlement program, in 1965 when it was created, the average life span for a man in the United States was 66.8 if you were a male and 70.2 if you were a female. http://www.data360.org/dsg.aspx?Data_Set_Group_Id=195

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    • In 1930, if I remember right, the average lifespan for men was about 58 and women about 62, but that’s not the whole story. Infant mortality rates were quite high, which meant that many did not live long enough to pay into the Social Security system (established in 1935 and began taking taxes in 1937, I think) or to receive benefits. However, if you managed to make it into adulthood (21 years) you could expect to live well beyond 65. The percentage of the population over 65 when SS began was about 6%, which represented millions of people. Today I think it is around 13%. But it is wrong to assert that the SS program was started with the idea that most people wouldn’t live long enough to collect benefits, as some Republicans try to assert.

      Duane

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  2. Snoring Dog Studio

     /  April 17, 2011

    The fact appears to be that Long has no idea what he’s supporting regarding Ryan’s bill. He can’t truly defend it because he’s adopted the party’s stance. Who does this oaf represent? The party. Not his constituents. I, for one, do not vote for candidates who can’t even articulate the issues and offer a reasoned support of their own. There have yet to be better ideas presented in a bill to revamp Medicare. It needs refinement but until health care insurance becomes affordable to most of the middle class and the poor, it must be part of what the government offers.

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    • Terrance H.

       /  April 17, 2011

      My Rep. is Dave Camp (R). Say what you want about him, but he’ll stand there and answer your questions, as will Dale Kildee (D), my old Rep before I moved. The only Reps. I seem to have a problem with are my local ones; two Republicans who don’t seem to give a damn about ordinary people. I won’t be voting for either one of them again, and I’ve told them so. They have convinced this conservative to support their primary challenger, if indeed they have one.

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      • Terrance,

        I’m afraid a primary challenge will not change a thing for me, in terms of getting a better candidate. In this part of the world, it’s either a hard-core Republican (you might like that, I assume) or a harder-core Republican. There is no chance—and I mean ZERO chance—of electing anything resembling a reasonable candidate, let alone one I could support.

        And for the record, I was on “your side” once, and, fortunately, came to my senses. Like Whittaker Chambers of old, though, I changed from the winning side to the losing side (around these parts) and I should be given some credit for that bit of gallantry, don’t you think?

        Duane

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        • Terrance H.

           /  April 18, 2011

          Hmm. Perhaps you could come to your good senses this time! 🙂

          To be honest, I don’t like hard-core Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, anyone. I don’t like blind ideologues. We need a happy medium. There are some liberal policies that are simply the very best policy. Likewise, there are some conservative policies that are the very best. To reject the best policy because your side didn’t come up with it is shortsighted and, frankly, absurd. So, no, I would not like a hard-core Republican.

          And I can only imagine how terrible it must be for a Democrat to live in Missouri? Yeah..In my area, it’s split 50-50, for the most part. Sometimes we get a Democrat, other times we get a Republican – locally. The District itself, though, is quite Republican, which is why Dave Camp always seems to win. His district is pretty big and encompasses most of the rural area to the north, which is beat red.

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          • Terrance,

            It is somewhat “terrible” to live among so many hard-core conservative Republicans. And it’s very disheartening to know that my vote is essentially worthless. But I will keep on putting my ballot in the box, no matter how futile it is. This area, with one four-year exception, has been Repubican since the 1930s and nothing indicates it will change in my lifetime. And I have to tell you that parts of southwest Missouri are among the poorest in the entire country. And those parts vote in higher percentages for Republicans than the rest of them. Sad.

            Duane

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    • Snoring Dog,

      Long’s reasoning is so simplistic it is hard to listen to. I’m certain that nuance is not part of his mental makeup, at least in terms of policy matters.

      But I admit the health care problem is a big one. Costs rise much faster than sustainable over time and Medicare is taking a double whammy by both the rising costs of care and the huge numbers of folks entering the system. Plus, folks are living a little longer these days.

      One of the answers to our long-term problems is the end-of-life issue. We spend too much money keeping folks alive for a few months, when their long-term prognosis is determined. Most of us will have to face that scenario at some point, and we need to have a national talk about the best way to deal with it. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen anytime soon because of people like Sarah Palin and her death panel nonsense.

      I, for one, believe in some kind of single-payer system for all, which might give the government more power to bargain to keep costs down and which would force us to have a national discussion on end-of-life issues. But again, that’s just not politically possible right now or anytime in the future. We are stuck with the current hybrid system, and taxes will have to go up or benefits will have to be cut. And as you know, the chances of taxes going up aren’t all that good, since one political party demagogues the issue to death.

      Duane

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      • Snoring Dog Studio

         /  April 18, 2011

        I agree about the end-of-life issue. Here in the U.S., freakish religious sects prevent commonsense and humane things from happening. We can’t have a national talk about it because it wouldn’t be “Christian” I guess. But we can talk about putting guns on college campuses. We sure are a nutty country. Taxes will eventually either have to go up, or we’ll have to find a way to get everyone to pay their equitable portion. No loopholes to hide inside. We all share the sacrificing.

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        • Snoring Dog,

          You know, what you say sounds so incredibly reasonable. But the fact that it seems so impossible is a sad and frustrating commentary on the “nutty country” that is America these days. Or, at least, seems to be.

          Duane

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      • Terrance H.

         /  April 18, 2011

        If people are in their right mind and want to end their life, their suffering, who are we to stop it? But the Baby Joseph situation in Canada is not something I will ever support. That’s not even close to humane. If people want to continue living, then we do what we can, because where there is life, there’s hope. Who knows what cure tomorrow might bring?

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        • Terrance,

          Although I haven’t looked into the Baby Joseph very deeply, if what I have read is true—that he is in a persistent vegetative state as determined on both sides of the border—then I can’t agree with you that what the doctors have proposed is inhumane. Under the circumstances, it seems much more humane than the alternative. And while I understand the parents emotional state (as far as one can understand without being in that position), and while I understand your point that there is always some hope that a cure is on the horizon, it appears that in this case, as in the case of Terry Schiavo, there is no real hope. Somebody has to make an adult decision at some point, no matter how painful.

          It’s just another sad part of the ongoing tragedy that often defines human existence.

          Duane

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          • Terrance H.

             /  April 19, 2011

            Duane,

            According to U.S. doctors, the tracheotomy Canada refused to pay for actually made Joseph more comfortable, while prolonging his life. And while some diseases and conditions are so horrible, there seems to be nothing left to do, I’m not sure I agree doing nothing is the best course of action. None of us really know what enjoyment Baby Joseph has or Terri Schiavo had, because we’re not them.

            Any attempt to decide the quality of life of another is not something I can support, because it’s a slippery-slope.

            Technology is amazing, We just don’t know what tomorrow might bring.

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            • Snoring Dog Studio

               /  April 19, 2011

              Terrance, this is probably going to hit you wrong, and some people would find me heartless, but here goes: When I was working as an occupational therapist in institutions and group homes, there were many, many clients who probably would have been better off had they died at birth. Their parents had all but abandoned a lot of them to be managed by strangers. Many of the clients were simply miserable and uncomfortable. I think we can have beliefs that seem alright from a distance, but get up close, experience it firsthand and it changes your viewpoint. It did mine, at least.

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              • Terrance H.

                 /  April 19, 2011

                Snoring,

                Yes, it did hit me wrong, and for the reasons I’ve already mentioned, but for a few others as well.

                First, the world is not how it is; it’s how we perceive it. We all perceive it differently, including the sick, destitute, and downtrodden. Everyone.

                Something bitterly miserable to one person may in fact be a blessing to another. We don’t know, because we’re not them, and we perceive our world differently.

                Something you may not know about me is that I worked as a paramedic for about nine-months until I decided it was time to move on. I’ve seen more than I ever bargained for, I promise you.

                But because of the way I perceive things, it made my conservative, pro-life views all the stronger. Obviously you’ve had a different experience.

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            • Terrance,

              We just have a disagreement here, although I agree we have to worry about going too far. The Terri Schiavo case, which I have written about, is not a good example, though. She was never going to be able to recover, no matter what the state of future technology. How Republicans used her is still one of the most shameful parts of their political history.

              Duane

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              • Terrance H.

                 /  April 20, 2011

                Duane,

                Admittedly, when the Terri Schivao debacle occurred, I was more interested in women and booze. I don’t know enough about her condition to formulate an opinion. But I did see some of the tape and listened to the opinion of a few pro-life physicians, and I am inclined to believe that she may in fact had some enjoyment left. But I don’t know.

                I don’t come here anymore to win arguments. I come to learn and get your opinion on current events, and I’m better for it. Thanks.

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                • Terrance,

                  You are right about winning arguments. There isn’t much satisfaction in just the winning, unless winning has a point to it beyond the exercise. I have found in doing this blog that sometimes the other side has a point that is hard to refute. And sometimes the other side is just plain right about something. I can’t tell you how many times I started writing a blog post with one point of view about a subject and upon doing the research, could not write the piece in the way I envisioned it. I have several times abandoned my position on something for lack of evidence, or at least put it on hold until I have time to dig deeper.

                  One example is the issue of free trade and its effect on our American economy and jobs. I’m all torn up about that, even though I see the benefits of free trade. It’s hard for me to understand what the right course is because the issue is not as simple as each side tries to make it. Another example until recently was the Afghanistan war.

                  I appreciate your contributions to the discussion here, as we should all be in a position to learn more, to think more, and to possibly change our minds about something. I’m a perfect example of that, as you know. I’d hate to think that I’m incapable of changing my mind again. It’s certainly possible, although it would be much harder to do now because most of the positions I now hold are the result of considering them intensely from both sides. I never really did that when I was a conservative.

                  Thank you for staying in touch.

                  Duane

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  3. Angelfire

     /  April 17, 2011

    Let’s hope someone runs against him, even another Republican. C’mon there has to be someone out there.

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    • Angelfire,

      There is likely to be a primary challenger, which is why, I believe, Long has taken such a hard-line stand on the budget issues. He may very well lose a primary challenge from the right and I think he knows that. That fear is what makes Republicans act so crazy in Washington. The problem is that a primary challenger with a chance to win would likely be more extreme than Long, albeit without the auction chants.

      Duane

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  4. Duane, you keep going to public appearances that Billy Long attends and try to ask him questions, you may soon find someone knocking on your door with Greene County Sheriff Arnott.

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    • Fortunately, I have taken that into consideration. This year I went to the Tea Party disguised as a sane voter. I’m positive he didn’t recognize me.

      Duane

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  5. Sheet, Snoring Dog, Long may not know about Medicare but by golly he sure knows about GOLF!

    http://rturner229.blogspot.com/2011/04/billy-long-follows-auctioneering-speech.html

    I’ll bet a dozen krispy kremes or a tall one from the beer cart that if Long does indeed play golf, he uses a cart. — even on his miniature golf course.

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    • Snoring Dog Studio

       /  April 17, 2011

      Yes, well, golf he gets. 18 holes, one little ball the size of his brain.

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    • Jim,

      Let’s face it. Would you want to be the one who had to give a cart-less Billy Long mouth-to-mouth in the event of a problem on the course? It would take several tall ones from the beer cart to get me in CPR mode, I know that. I’m all for the Colonel hopping in the cart, even if it is merely to traverse the putt-putt links.

      Duane

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  6. Duane, I find it interesting that Long admits the National Auctioneer Association PAC asked him to declare the third Saturday in April National Auctioneers Day. They did donate $5000 to his campaign. Of course you might remember the commercial Long produced said he wasn’t going to Washington to scratch other peoples’ backs.

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    • I found it very interesting, too. Essentially, he admitted that the Association lobbied him and he did their bidding (!). What amazed me was how casually he admitted it. I wasn’t aware they gave him the $5,000 until I read it on your blog.

      By the way, another thing I found interesting in Long’s speech here was his defense of “leadership,” as he kept calling Boehner and Cantor. He dropped Boehner’s name a dozen times at least, making it seem like he and Boehner were very tight. What I don’t understand is how you can vote against leadership’s deal and get so upset over the “troops” not being funded, and then tell everyone gathered not to abandon leadership. Well, I do understand it. It’s Long’s way of having it both ways: trash leadership’s budget deal for the hard-core home folks, and praise leadership at the same time to keep himself in the mix in Washington. For all of his talk of not being a professional politician, he’s learning how to play the games there, isn’t he?

      Duane

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  7. Terrance H.

     /  April 17, 2011

    Damn, Duane. I don’t think I ever realized how well you write. Very good.

    I don’t know enough about Ryan’s plan to say Yay or Nay, but I do know that the way Long treated you was uncalled for.

    (Pssss. Switch over to our side, would ya?)

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  8. ansonburlingame

     /  April 19, 2011

    To all,

    First the idea of Duane, complete with camera and microphone, as an unbaised seeker of truth is ridiculous. Talk about”media” bias!!!

    I suspect OB is very aware that Duane tries to make a fool out of him anytime he writes a blog with OB in mind.

    Now I would be more than happy to go one-on-one with Duane at noon in Spiva Park, complete with individual “soap boxes” to debate damn near anything. But to let Duane control the conversation and the unconstrained ability to edit everything I said, no way. Again, talk about “media” bias.

    On the other hand I would like nothing better than to sit down and have a long chat with Claire. I bet it would be a good one with a lot of back and forth. But she of course no longer comes to SW Missouri, considering what she had to endure in her last visit, a “kitchen table discussion” where red necks lead off with Obama’s birth certificate and never stopped booing after that (for about an hour and a half).

    Yet the Globe in their editorial this morning chastized her for NOT coming to Joplin to see how good our schools might be!!!!

    Claire has essentially abandoned SW Missouri. OB has abandoned Duane, a man very much in the minority in these parts.

    It is one thing to engage in reasonable political discussions. It is another to play “gottcha”. And anyone with any sense knows Duane was doing his best to play the latter with OB.

    But it works both ways with cameras. When was it Duane that you and I both “shared” a Tea Party rally in Joplin. Remember the picture of you kissing me on the neck!!!

    Anson

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    • Anson,

      First, I have never claimed to be an “unbiased seeker of truth.” Perhaps, once again, you have missed the blog header. Go back and read it. It may surprise you.

      Second, I did not edit a damn thing in the videos I posted on YouTube last year. There was no “gotcha,” and I resent the insinuation of dishonesty. Those videos were posted just as they were made. If Long had consented to one this year, the same thing would have happened. I certainly understand how folks selectively edit video—that’s the stock and trade of conservative Right “journalists” these days—but I’m not into that.

      As far as McCaskill, I bet she reconsiders and puts Joplin on the schedule.

      As for the photo of you and me at the Tea Party last year, that wasn’t me. It was one of my colleagues dressed in a clever disguise, designed to fool my political adversaries. I’m really a buff 6′ 3″, 195, with a full head of hair, and a wardrobe that would make Mitt Romney look underdressed.

      Duane

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  9. ansonburlingame

     /  April 19, 2011

    No Duane,

    Never would I call you dishonest, but biased of course I would, just as you usually suggest that I am as a result of my watching Fox News (though much less “watching” than you might think).

    You and I both assume that any conversation with OB on political priniciples and justifications for a particular vote on a bill would be a short conversation indeed. But of course we don’t know for sure, do we, as we have never had the opportunity to engage in such a conversation.

    On the other hand we both assume that such a conversation with Claire could be long and in depth based on her long public service.

    But whether or not the conversations with either were long, short, good or bad, at the end of it all Claire will generally vote the way you want and OB will MAYBE vote the way I want without really knowing why he voted that way!

    Such is politics and citizen politicians as opposed to professional politicians.

    Anson

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    • Anson,

      The difference is, as you suggest, that McCaskill will only vote “generally” the way I want her to vote. She is not a left-wing radical. Ozark Billy, though, will vote your way almost all of the time, because, as he has now demonstrated, he is a right-wing radical (even if you’re not as far right has he).

      Duane

      Like

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