Wednesday, October 6

So what if the Tennessee Fire Guy had been a single black mom?

We're all outraged that firefighters sat by idly while a house burned down, and definitely, this is a terrible embarrassment to those "Taxed Enough Already" bullshit artists who can't admit that Socialist Fire Departments that do their jobs without regard for the person's ability to pay, are a sound idea. 

Not many of us have had a house fire.  But part of what gives this story such legs is that nearly all of us have had a smoke detector go off by accident and lived through those quick few seconds of "what if the house is on fire"?  The fact that from every angle, Gene Cranick would fit in at any Tea Party because he is white, male, working class, border state, and an uneducated hick, makes the lesson more acute.    Dear Tea Party:  this is what KARMA will look like when it's YOUR house; and Mr. Cranick's reply to Keith Olbermann about his detractors last night:  let them wait until the shoe is on the other foot, is just right.

And if it were a black single mom who lost her home because she 'forgot' to pay her fire assessment?  The vitriol about loafers and cheats and take care of your own would be louder and also more coded.   

And I doubt any Tea Party candidate would suggest paying the fireman with chickens.  

But part of what makes Gene Cranick an easy victim of Glenn Beck and Ayn Randites is not his gender or race or even lack of education.  It's that he lives next to a cornfield in rural Tennessee.  The news media has almost completely fled, or been driven, to the coasts.   Those "covering" this story live in New York or Washington or Los Angeles, period.  And the spin they bring to it is a decidedly urban one.   They are aghast that there are zones in America where people don't have immediate access to services.   They forget that Cradick's land probably didn't have electricity until just after World War II.  Is it possible that the daddies of those who turned off the fire hoses were beneficiaries of the pesky socialism of FDR and Tennessee Valley rural electrification?   Ya think?

The median value of owner-occupied houses in Cranick's county is under 70 grand.    You can't get a parking space in Manhattan for that.

And those legislating around this story work in Washington, DC.  I don't begrudge professional politicians their jobs like many do, but there's something about the hallowed halls of Congress that certainly does drive heads up asses.    I love the comment I read earlier today, that Cradick should put a sign in front of his burned out hovel:  "YOUR TAX CUTS AT WORK".

Most of those working in mainstream media and government policy institutions simply live in a world where access to everything, even for a single black mom like Halle Berry, is taken for granted.   I'd like to see any fire department anywhere sit idly by while a celebrity's house or even a Tennessee congressman's farm burned down.  Gene Cranick didn't have access to Keith Olbermann (who is doing the Lord's work covering this story make no mistake) until after the fire.  

We live in many different Americas.  They are rich and poor, coastal corridors and fly-over country, educated and not, moneyed and never will be.  Being a "have" can mean lots of things.  As my children teach me daily, attention is a tangible object.  

The conservative who begrudges Gene Cranick his hose full of water because he didn't pay for it in advance is a heartless denier of Christ and all Christ taught. 

Burned up, rural, unincorporated, Tennessee backwater, teabag land?  There but for the grace of God go us.    


  1. This post is inspired. Thank you for putting this out there. I've been so flummoxed by this situation I couldn't put together a coherent post. I'm so glad you picked up on the disconnect between urban/rural situations. Even in Illinois, Chicagoland, we had unincorporated areas where the residents had to pay extra for city services.

  2. Echoing the Fez' question:

    I have a question about the Tennessee man whose house burnt down because he didn't pay the annual service "fee" for fire protection. I assume this guy pays property taxes to some entity: the state? The county? The municipality? And the city is collecting this "fee" from people who live outside the city limits.

    Just one question? How come this is called a "fee" and not a "tax"?

    Likewise, ever notice how a Libertarian Paradise resembles a Gangster Paradise?

  3. Good morning, Blue Gal and all.

    When I heard people actually defending the firefighters letting this guy's house burn, it reminded me of a legend about Vlad the Impaler:

    Vlad Dracula was very concerned that all his subjects work and contribute to the common welfare. He once noticed that the poor, vagrants, beggars and cripples had become very numerous in his land. Consequently, he issued an invitation to all the poor and sick in Wallachia to come to Tirgoviste for a great feast, claiming that no one should go hungry in his land. As the poor and crippled arrived in the city they were ushered into a great hall where a fabulous feast was prepared for them. The guests ate and drank late into the night. Vlad himself then made an appearance and asked them, "What else do you desire? Do you want to be without cares, lacking nothing in this world?" When they responded positively Vlad ordered the hall boarded up and set on fire. None escaped the flames. Vlad explained his action to the boyars by claiming that he did this "in order that they represent no further burden to other men, and that no one will be poor in my realm."

    Vlad the Impaler...the first Compassionate Conservative.

  4. My heart goes out to the family whose home is burnt down. The situation is just a tragedy. That said, the situation is also an object lesson (with a spotlight on it) that serves to instruct that Randian objectivism is a pseudo-philosophy that should be treated as false.

    Great post.

  5. Awesome post!

    I've posted diaries about this every day this week on DK starting with this one on Monday.

    It got a huge reaction, most of it pretty good, but you should read some of the comments from so-called progressives. Sickening.

    I put up all of Keith's videos in following posts, so if any of you missed them you can check them out here, here, and here. He's done a fantastic job of bringing this to the national stage.

    Sorry for the shameless self-promotion, but as a former firefighter this is a huge issue for me. Thanks again for the great post.

  6. Well said. Meanwhile, bigot Bryan "ban the mosques" Fischer has argued that "Firefighters did the Christian thing in letting house burn to the ground." Roy's piece on all this is pretty infuriating, too.

  7. For those inclined to give to this family, Keith Olbermann put up info on how to donate,

    By mail:
    Gene or Mildred Paulette Cranick
    Special Account
    C/O Heritage Bank
    P.O. Box 1410
    Fulton KY, 42041

    Or if you have a Pay-Pal account you can donate there by clicking on "send money" and enter:

    I posted the video here

  8. Anonymous8:14 PM

    The growing tendency of people on "the right," and most notably Tea Party folks, to re-brand the basic social contracts of civilization as socialism is one of the most egregious offenses against the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth that I could ever imagine.

    The sad fact that most of the people who do this lay claim to the righteous mantle of Christianity boggles the mortal mind.

    Thank you for saying this so succinctly in this well thought-out post.

  9. The Billionaires for Wealthcare did a street theater spoof, where one fat cat has a conversation w a tea party candidate, where he engages & rants about if you've got the money then those with money prevail.
    For instance, he says, if my cat is up a tree, and I have more money, then the fire department should let some poor person;s house burn down, because I can afford to have my cat rescued first- that is how capitalism works.

    The lady suddenly looks slack jawed, as what he just said sets in.

    Never in my wildest nightmares, did I think this would actually happen.

    This should be a real heads up for us-- when politicians looking to get elected start using those sanitized words- like deregulation, and less government involvement--
    Remember the Tennessee fire guy, and what less government involvement looks like & what deregulation looked like when Wall Street imploded.

    Oh yes, less taxes & government off our backs... unless & until the shit hits the fan.


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