05 April 2013

Jetmore, Kansas, and Its Lee Harvey Oswald Fan Club

The Boston Globe’s Matt Viser visited a part of rural Kansas to learn about the district of two-term Republican Representative Tim Huelskamp, known for alienating his own party leaders in the House with his refusal to compromise.

Among the residents is Norman Bamberger, a cattle rancher who wants to cut the federal budget—except all the parts he depends on for his business:

Bamberger has 900 cattle, and he’s going on his second bad year in a row. Meat prices are high, good for reaping a profit, but a drought has caused increases in prices of grain he needs to buy to feed his cattle. He supports the automatic budget cuts of earlier this year, except for the one that threatens to reduce the number of federal meat inspectors—which could affect his own business.

“It’s just stupid,” he said. Then, in a jarring attempt at dark humor that most would find offensive, he added: “Where’s Lee Harvey when you need him?”

Concerned about seeming harsh with his reference to the man who assassinated President John F. Kennedy, he quickly added, “That wasn’t very nice.”
Of course, the automatic budget cuts were forced by Republicans, like his own Representative. And I’m sure there are other benefits and subsidies for farmers that Bamberger would to see preserved as well.

Bamberger wasn’t the only person in Jetmore talking about political murder. At a gathering of leading citizens—“The group included the mayor, a retired farmer, and the editor of the ­local newspaper, the Jetmore Republican”—Viser heard the owner of an appliance repair shop (shown above) complain the same way:
“Hell, we ought to impeach the little bastard,” [Charles] Leet said. “Asleep at the switch. I keep ­donating to the Bring Back Lee Harvey Committee. It hasn’t worked yet.”

The group chuckled.

“We aren’t rabble-rousers. We don’t want to cause ­trouble,” [newspaper editor Mike] Thornburg said a few minutes later.
In that case, the men of Jetmore might want to make fewer jokes about Presidential assassinations. That habit makes them look like they have OIP Derangement Syndrome.

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