Why does Mark Johnson believe those things?


One last trip to the fair:
We want to make a final trip to the free health care clinic which was conducted at the Wise County Fairgrounds in rural southwestern Virginia.

More specifically, we want to ask you why Mark Johnson, age 56, believes the things he believes.

In Monday's New York Times,
Trip Gabriel published a valuable news report about the clinic, and about the suffering people who traveled hours to access its services. Let's start today with a person, a doctor, who plainly deserves our respect:
GABRIEL (7/26/17): Dr. Joseph F. Smiddy, 75, a lung specialist who has volunteered at every RAM clinic here since the first in 1999, said people’s health was getting worse, not better, as the regional economy shed well-paying jobs, primarily in coal, and diets and lifestyles deteriorated.

“We’re sicker here than in Central America,” said Dr. Smiddy, who has volunteered on charity health trips there. “In Central America, they’re eating beans and rice and walking everywhere. They’re not drinking Mountain Dew and eating candy. They’re not having an epidemic of obesity and diabetes and lung cancer.”

In a lead-lined truck he had modified to perform chest X-rays, Dr. Smiddy saw Sherman Devlin, 51, a heavyset former miner complaining of shortness of breath.

“I don’t have no income,” Mr. Devlin said, speaking with difficulty. “I’m a broke-down coal miner. I can’t do what I used to do.” Even though he received Medicaid, he said it did not cover much.
A significant point before moving on: Gabriel should have explained that comment about Medicaid.

That said, let's move on:

Dr. Smiddy is 75. Presumably, he doesn't have to volunteer for these clinics, nor did he have to volunteer for the service he provided in Central America. We'd have to say that Dr. Smiddy has earned the nation's respect.

Meanwhile, Devlin is 51. He's the kind of person our liberal tribe has long tended to disregard and demean. Do you remember the two weeks of dick jokes, back in 2009, from a certain unnamed cable host? How we laughed at all the "teabaggers"
before they started kicking our ascots at the ballot boxes!

This brings us to the question of Mark Johnson's beliefs. In this passage, Dr. Smiddy comments on the political beliefs of people in Virginia's depleted coal country:
GABRIEL: Dr. Smiddy grew up in Wise, a picturesque county seat on the Daniel Boone Heritage Trail. He said that the United Mine Workers of America had once operated one of the best hospitals in the state here, but that it had closed after mine owners drove out the union.

“The people of this area have been told by the politicians and President Trump that coal is coming back,” Dr. Smiddy said. “They believe that. They’ve been told that Obamacare is no good. They believe that. They believe that Trump’s going to bring them TrumpCare.”

“We all know when we take 32 million people out of the system”—an allusion to a Congressional Budget Office analysis of how many would lose coverage under one Republican plan—“that these people will be the first to go,” he said.

Mark Johnson, 56, a disabled truck driver from Coeburn who came to have 10 teeth pulled, said the president’s opponents had created distractions with charges about Russia. “They won’t leave him alone enough to do anything,” he said.
Dr. Smiddy grew up in Wise, the county seat of Wise County. He understands what happened to the local hospital after the bosses drove the union out.

He also seems to know what people in the area have been told, and what they believe. Mark Johnson, age 56, seems to provide an example.

Coeburn, Virginia is part of Wise County. Johnson seemed to tell Gabriel that Donald J. Trump's opponents are the ones who are causing the problems.

Our questions would be these:

Who told the people at that clinic that Obamacare is no good? Why did they believe them?

What kind of effort did liberals and progressives make to tell them that they were being misled? To tell them they've been misled about may things, for many years?

Presumably, the people to whom Dr. Smiddy refers have been misled by the usual suspects. Our closing questions would be these:

To what extent has our liberal contempt led them into Rush Limbaugh's hands, then into the hands of Fox? We refer to liberal contempt extending back a very large number of years.

Last fall, in Vox, Sarah Kliff wrote about middle-aged women in rural Kentucky with insurance under Obamacare who couldn't afford to go to the doctor. We liberals reacted with contempt and incomprehension.

Why do we behave that way? How long has this been going on? Is it possible that we are part of the problem here, along with the gruesome Donald J. Trump, lord of all he surveys?


  1. "Who told the people at that clinic that Obamacare is no good?"

    Why, I suppose Obama himself (among others) told them, when he, according to thinkprogress.org "Repeatedly Touted Public Option Before Refusing To Push For It In The Final Hours"...

    1. These folks are on Medicaid. Public option wouldn't have been relevant to them.

    2. If these folks are on medicaid and the public option is irrelevant, then the obamacare is also irrelevant. The story is, however, about these folks and obamacare, so somehow it is relevant, and therefore so is the public option.

    3. Obamacare significantly expanded medicaid, so it is relevant to the people described in the article.

    4. If this blogger wanted to discuss medicaid, I'm sure he would've discussed medicaid. The way you do it, it sounds like you're just trying to change the subject.

      The point is: if ordinary people out there feel that obamacare sucks, the most natural explanation of this phenomenon is that obamacare sucks, and we can even guess, quite easily, why it sucks. Simple as that.

  2. What do you mean?!..."Who told the people at the clinic that Obamacare is no good? Why did they believe them?"

    I'd say it was the usual suspects. The God named "Rush" and every card carrying Repub that makes up the "news" team on Fox. I'm not entirely sure that the airwaves in Wise County, Virginia are legally allowed to broadcast any other stations/channels.

  3. I don't know if, ad hominem hurts or helps or hurts, but it, is certainly the order of the day here, and, with more sadness than, of course, panties, it is impossible to escape, the fact, Bob Somerby's is an idiot.

  4. Oh, for God's sake, Bob. NO ONE that I know has any "contempt" for these people. Maybe you see it in the media somehwere, or perhaps you tend to focus exclusively on it when you encounter it, as if no other mindset exists. Where in the hell do you get that idea? I'm really getting sick of your characterizations of liberals..."contemptuous", "ridiculous", "horrible"...speak for yourself, bub.
    Are you angling for a gig on Fox?
    There's blame to go around, but the right has orchestrated a systematic campaign for 50 years of propaganda, disinformation, and lies against liberals. And you say it's all "our" fault? Who owns the f'ing media corporations?Who dictates the program content?

  5. Have to agree with Anon at 6:56 PM . They have rivers of money for disinformation. The last few weeks have given us nothing but congressmen on TV parroting " failing Obamacare" , " collapsing Obamacare " etc etc. Surely there are a few people who could be found who 's lives were SAVED with Obamacare ! Then show the damn split screen and have them go at each other -result , great ratings !!!

  6. Jeez. If y'all really do believe that the giveaway to the insurance companies and medical mafias known as obamacare is such a suberb healthcare model, then i sure got nothing but utter contempt for y'all.

    And, unsurprisingly, so do the 'area people' and disabled truck drivers everywhere. You fellas are brainwashed losers, who for some reason volunteer to demostrate their contemptible stupidity here. Incredible.

    1. It isn't superb. Just better than what we had.
      Agreed that it could be way better (like everything else) if Republicans were nowhere near the levers of governmental power.

    2. Right, those damned republicans. Have you ever read about the new deal, how that was passed? Court-packing, familiar with the term? Things get done, when there is the will...

    3. I guess I just don't see how making believe Republicans don't fuck-up everything they touch is going to help us.

  7. Hey, Bob. Karl Rove called. He wants his talking points about liberals back.

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