Trouble out there.

So, if yesterday’s talker was from West Virginia, this one comes from Ohio. I see Sherri, who apparently reads the entire internet every morning before I’ve had my first cup of coffee, referenced it obliquely yesterday.

I can’t keep up with you, Sherri, but I have a one-degree-of-separation connection to this one. Here’s the top:

BLANCHESTER, Ohio — A life of farming taught Roger Winemiller plenty about harsh twists of fate: hailstorms and drought, ragweed infestations and jittery crop prices. He hadn’t bargained on heroin.

Then, in March 2016, Mr. Winemiller’s daughter, Heather Himes, 31, died of an opioid overdose at the family farmhouse, inside a first-floor bathroom overlooking fields of corn and soybeans. Mr. Winemiller was the one who unlocked the bathroom door and found her slumped over, a syringe by her side.

Nine months later, Mr. Winemiller’s older son, Eugene, 37, who once drove trucks and tractors on the family’s 3,400-acre farm, overdosed at his mother’s home. Family members and medics had been able to revive him after earlier overdoses. Not this one.

This native Buckeye had to look up Blanchester on a map. Turns out it’s not far from Mt. Orab, where my best friend Deb grew up. I sent her the story, but she’d already heard about it via her connections there, and of course, this is not a new story in Ohio; her sister’s best friend lost her youngest son to a fatal OD not long ago. The wrinkle on this particular story is that this farmer’s last surviving child is also a heroin addict and while he says he wants to stay clean and take over the family farm someday, he’s only been clean for a couple of months. His father now carries a naloxone dose with him at all times.

So that’s the angle: Heroin in the farm belt, and its implications for the next generation of farmers. I wish I were kidding.

I’ve seen urban poverty and rural poverty, and both are terrible, but there’s something about the rural variety, perhaps because we’ve all been coached to believe the country is where the bedrock virtues are nurtured most tenderly — hard work, faith, family. Of course, these farmers aren’t poor, but it won’t be long now if their kids are sticking needles in their arms.

You know there’s a punchline in all of this, right?

The elder Mr. Winemiller, who was among the 68 percent of voters in the county who supported Donald J. Trump for president, was rankled by scenes of political protest on the news. He saw only disorder and lawlessness.

“There are too many people who are too wrapped up in their lives. All they want to do is go out, bitch and complain,” he said. “My view on Donald Trump, he’s what this country needed years ago: someone that’s hard-core.”

He likes the toughness. After his son and daughter died, he began meeting with sheriffs and politicians at forums dedicated to the opioid crisis, urging harsher penalties, such as manslaughter charges for people who sell fatal hits of opioids.

Mr. Winemiller, with all due respect and sympathy for what you’ve been through, manslaughter charges aren’t going to help. What pulls people into drugs, from both the supply and demand ends, is no respecter of get-tough policies.

Deb’s family was by no means well-off, and staying put in southwest Ohio would have been the easiest thing in the world. Inertia always is. But she enrolled in a little Catholic two-year college, founded by the Ursulines and open to anyone with a high-school diploma or GED. From there, she was able to transfer to Ohio U. and finish with the most transformative credential available in this country — a bachelor’s degree. Her boyfriend went to Berea, a Christian college in Kentucky that charges no tuition and is founded and run strictly for low-income students.

Some people have to be farmers, because we need farmers. But I am tired of this Wendell Berry-worshiping, Rod Dreher claptrap about the saintly virtues of small-town life. Of course it’s nice to live on a street called Main or Elm or Oak, surrounded by people who are all nice and friendly and exactly like you, but there’s also a reason heroin is a growth industry in these places. “Get Out” would be a nice title for a movie about them.

Which brings me to the other story of the day, about a string of break-ins in the neighborhood where we used to have a lake cottage, in Branch County. One of the girls arrested used to play with Kate when we went up there on weekends. She was a bit of a pistol then, and the rumors about her pilfering from boats and other easily accessible places started not long after they spent a summer or two hanging in the summer sun, next to the sparkling lake. Still. I looked up both girls on Facebook, and they’re both pregnant, apparently by the two young men they were arrested with, both of whom have priors. It’s like they’re born under a bad sign, before they even get their neck tattoos.

This is one reason red and blue America keeps pulling apart. Where would you rather look for a job? Columbus or Blanchester? Grand Rapids or Coldwater? Where are the essential virtues more likely to be found? Where can a family have the modicum of stability that comes with a steady paycheck, the better life for one’s children that can only be gained through education?

Tell me again how getting tough is going to solve everything. These are, as they say, “diseases of despair.”

Sorry for being such a downer.

Just a reminder, too: The AHCA won’t cover drug treatment. Get tough!

Speaking of drugs! And not to end on a total bummer note, here’s what I’ve been working on lately — Nance gets her medical marijuana card, and goes looking for her medicine. In Bridge. Click and learn.

Posted at 7:34 am in Current events |

29 responses to “Trouble out there.”

  1. Suzanne said on March 14, 2017 at 8:15 am

    I’ve lived in rural/small town ‘Murica for over half my life & honestly, the home grown heroin addiction surprises me. There has always been an undercurrent of alcoholism but a blind eye is turned (Oh, that’s just Bob. He’s a good guy but drinks a little too much). Addiction treatment is not really embraced because that’s kind of sissy citified liberal thinking. Getting drunk now & then really isn’t that bad, right. But now it’s heroin and that is deadlier & scarier (that’s inner city coloreds stuff) and the people are left rudderless. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “How can this be happening in our little town??”
    People here are incredibly hard working but not introspective. Not at all. You work and if that doesn’t help, you work harder and then harder. But with things like heroin addiction, working harder doesn’t help. Wondering how this happened, what leads people to turn to heroin, how global economics enter in to the rise of drug supplies, none of those thoughts will happen here. None. People here do not see life that way. You go to church, pray to Jesus, and work as hard as you can and you will have a good life. But, much to their surprise, the world has changed around them & they find themselves adrift, unable to grasp what happened.
    So they turn to someone like Trump who in their minds, by sheer force of will, will set things right again. I honestly fear for them when they discover he can’t or won’t.

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  2. adrianne said on March 14, 2017 at 9:43 am

    Nance, great story on medical marijuana. I snorted out loud at several passages, including this one: “Pink Floyd’s entire career was predicated on a profoundly stoned fan base, I’m convinced.”

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  3. Andrea said on March 14, 2017 at 10:15 am

    Calling David Fahrenthold:

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  4. jcburns said on March 14, 2017 at 10:32 am

    Blanchester, Ohio is just down the road from Wilmington, Ohio, the center of J.D. Vance’s “Hillbilly Elegy” world. And yeah, I had to look the town location up too…there are a lot of towns in a big ring around Columbus that I can say “oh yeah, i think I’ve been through there” but when you ask me exactly where it is, I’d have to mumble.

    Our friends in the far-off Upper Peninsula were inspired by our tales of Indivisible-based protest and formed a group. They had their first meeting Sunday. Expected less than a dozen, had closer to two dozen.

    Cheering them on.

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  5. FDChief said on March 14, 2017 at 11:24 am

    I can’t but laugh when idiot Trumpkins like this guy blart on about how awesomely “tough” an urban conman who squats on a gold-plated toilet is. Tough. Sure.

    But this attitude of hating and punishing “bad hombres” never seems to pall for these people. Prisons and workhouses! That’s why the Victorian poor were so happy, orderly, and content! We need a new Poor Law to ensure the grubby proles – not OUR junkie kid, mind, but…you know – don’t steal bread and sleep under bridges. Thank Heaven our Leader will Make America Sleep On A Grate Again!

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  6. Charlotte said on March 14, 2017 at 11:48 am

    Oh god the opiod thing — it doesn’t seem to have hit too badly out here yet, but my cousin in Lake Forest/Libertyville lost her 26 year old son last spring. Only child, only grandchild — had been in and out of rehabs for nearly a decade. The old story, had been doing great, relapsed, and then his father, the kindest man on earth, finds him dead and blue. And it’s common enough now, even there on the North Shore where everyone’s milestoning away about how fabulous their lives are — that there’s an entire support group of men that Fred could join.

    In good news though — like jcburns@4 — the Rob Quist folks held a training session over in Billings, on the redder side of the state, for how to canvas and phone bank — and they had 50 people show up. The Democratic organizers said they’ve never had so many folks show up. He’s also got an online training scheduled (tonight? I need to check again) for folks out in parts of the state that are too far away to drive into a city — and one of the reasons I’m kind of stoked about him, is that the guy has organized small Democratic committees in counties that have never had one before. Fingers crossed — anyone wants to help with the blue-ification of Montana, it’s

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  7. Connie said on March 14, 2017 at 11:58 am

    My knees hurt too. The Oakland County sheriff recently shut down all of the (few)dispensaries in Oakland County. Because they are not registered. Now the new state law doesn’t take effect until October, and they can’t get registered until October, but even so there is now a law and they haven’t met it. Even though you can’t until October.

    “His father now carries a naloxone dose with him at all times.” This is one of the saddest things I have ever read.

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  8. Connie said on March 14, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    Speaking of knee pain, I am eligible for and considering knee replacement on my left knee.

    I have just been informed I need to wait until next year because my Blue Cross Plan only allows a total of 30 physical sessions a year. I have so far used 24 learning to walk with the prostheses and am saving the last six for my new prostheses.

    So if you fall down and break your hip, or get your new knee, and you have already used those 30 sessions this year, you are up the creek.

    Did you visit Iron Labs for the Bridge article? I work just up the street, we could have finally had that coffee.

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  9. Connie said on March 14, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    I know a couple of caregivers (growers) and have once attended a harvest party. At least one of them has converted her basement to growing. I think she is making her living that way.

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  10. Suzanne said on March 14, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    First sentence in my post above should have said “I’ve lived in rural/small town ‘Murica for over half my life & honestly, the home grown heroin addiction doesn’t surprise me.”

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  11. Connie said on March 14, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    I meant physical therapy sessions.

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  12. BItter Scribe said on March 14, 2017 at 12:45 pm

    I suppose this Winemiller doesn’t understand that under the get-tough policies he’s so fond of, his son and daughter, if caught, would have gone directly to jail, do not pass GO, do not collect $200.

    Or maybe he does understand and thinks it would have been for the best. In which case he’s a fool. But he voted for Trump, so one can make that assumption.

    I empathize with his losses, but like Nancy in yesterday’s post, I’m getting really tired of these nitwits who handed this country over to the most ridiculously unqualified clown ever to occupy the White House.

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  13. Jolene said on March 14, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    Last night, I watched Chris Hayes of MSNBC conduct a townhall meeting with Bernie Sanders In a West Virginia county where Trump won 75% of the vote. So many problems, so few ideas and resources.

    Few seemed to think that Trump could restore the coal industry. They acknowledged the technological and economic changes that have reduced the demand for labor. Nonetheless, one young man who’d been laid off and returned to work hoped to be able to spend the rest of his life as a miner, a sad aspiration in my view. It’s unlikely that he’ll be able to remain employed as a miner, and, if he does, he’ll be an old man by the time he’s sixty. He was young enough to find a new kind of work if he were willing to move.

    Many had become eligible for Medicaid as a result of the ACA. They are worried about losing special provisions for the treatment of black lung disease that are part of the ACA, and retirees are concerned about pensions lost as a result of companies going bankrupt. One young woman talked about how, if you aren’t a miner, there’s nothing to do besides getting high, and quite a few indicated that they had lost someone or knew someone who lost someone to opioid abuse. An OB-GYN doc noted that she no longer has uninsured patients, but, though she had never been interested in addiction as a specialty, she now must deal with it constantly–without adequate local resources. There is no addiction treatment center in the county.

    The show ended with no one proposing any realistic ideas for economic growth that might provide jobs, but everyone agreeing that everyone needs healthcare. At most, they managed to dispel the idea the current GOP plan is going to help them.

    The show ended without anyone proposing any realistic ideas for a

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  14. Amanda said on March 14, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    Bummer that the CBD did not help your knees. I have inflammatory arthritis, and it helps immensely. I was loathe to have my name on a state registry, so I bought in a recreational state and (shhh!) broke the law by bringing it home to try out. I found such reprieve (I can run the bases in softball and still walk in the morning!) that I bit the bullet and registered with my own state.

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    • nancy said on March 14, 2017 at 1:09 pm

      It did help. It just wasn’t a miracle cure. I support full legalization because I want some pharma company to figure out how to distill it and infuse it into something, in the conventional manner. Then more research.

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  15. Jerrie said on March 14, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    Speaking of getting tough, Angry White House Staffer tweeted today, “Bannon loves the fact that the AHCA would hurt people. He believes in a “only the strong survive” America. Talks about it often.”

    Many sad stories out there. Connie, you have true strength and my thoughts are with you.

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  16. coozledad said on March 14, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    Another munchkin-faced shitpickle Republican. He and sessions could have been pushed out of the same arse.

    The nerve of these people to embrace racialist dogma. They’re clearly sub-men, an indistinguishable creamy gray mushroom soup of rotten telomeres.

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  17. Scout said on March 14, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    Great Bridge article. It cost me $300 to get my card here in AZ – $150 for the Doctor (but she is a naturopath who gave me some excellent advice about some unrelated matters, no extra charge, so, not a terrible deal) and $150 to the state. I too am navigating the modern world of weed. So far I’ve tried Medibud and Diamond OG and all it takes is one hit – ONE! – to feel like I smoked three joints of the shit I used to get back in the day when I bought the stuff by the ounce. What I really like are the topicals. I have one that is CBD only and another that is infused with THC. I am collecting recipes now so I can make my own edibles because I have found I do not really enjoy smoking any more.

    Tomorrow is the postcard action day. Here is the text from the post circulating on FB and Twittwat:
    On March 15th, each of us will mail Donald Trump a postcard (preferably on pink cardstock paper) that expresses our feelings of the job he is doing.
    If each of us writes a single postcard and we each put that postcard in the mail on the same day- March 15th- well, you do the math.
    No alternative fact or Russian translation will explain away the record-breaking, officially-verifiable, warehouse-filling flood of mail.
    So sharpen your wit, unsheathe your writing implements. Find a pink post card- and if not pink, any postcard will do. On March 15th, mail your messages to:
    President (for now) Donald Trump
    The White House
    1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
    Washington, DC 20500

    Although the vacationer in chief won’t be bothered to read any of them, the sheer volume might be an annoyance, get some press and make the writers feel a tiny bit of satisfaction. And supporting the beleaguered Post Office is a bonus.

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  18. alex said on March 14, 2017 at 6:01 pm

    Pssst… Hey, let’s talk about climate change. Perry Driller here:

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  19. Danny said on March 14, 2017 at 6:02 pm

    …and all it takes is one hit – ONE!

    The comedian Adam Carolla had a funny remark on the differences between the ’70’s stuff and the stuff from today. “One hit and I am naked in the Mojave desert searching for tortoises!”

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  20. Scout said on March 14, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    If you’d have told me I’d be a one hit wonder when I reached my dotage, I’d not have believed you!

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  21. Sherri said on March 14, 2017 at 6:32 pm

    My secret to reading the Internet before your cup of coffee is to be a night owl on the West Coast, so I read it after you’ve gone to bed. I don’t get back to it until your day is half over.

    Heroin addiction, like most other addictions, is not a respecter of class. There are white upper middle class kids who went to school with my daughter dead, in rehab, or in jail for stealing to support a heroin addiction. We were having a rash of break-ins in our neighborhood a year ago, and the culprit turned out to be a kid who lived in the neighborhood with a heroin habit. He and my daughter had gone to school together since 3rd grade. Her college (which only has about 1500 students) had an OD earlier this year.

    If we’d stop thinking that getting tough about drugs would solve the problem, maybe we could try some different solutions that might improve things, even if they didn’t “work”, per se. Vancouver, BC has been more innovative in trying things like providing heroin to addicts, pursuing a hard-reduction approach:

    Seattle and King Country are planning on opening a couple of safe injection sites, with services nearby. All or nothing solutions are particularly difficult with heroin, but it seems unlikely that anything else is going to fly anytime soon in the US.

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  22. Deborah said on March 14, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    I’ve been in Abiquiu the last 4 days so haven’t been able to comment much.

    Fantastic post Nancy and loved your Bridge piece. We have our own medical marijuana story. Little Bird is in the middle of applying for it. It was my husband’s idea, he thought it would help her relax a bit more (this from someone who tried it once in his entire life and found it not particularly interesting enough to ever try it again). LB’s condition, NF, is exacerbated by stress, it makes her fibromas (tumors) bleed and then they don’t heal. So when that happens she has to have surgery to get rid of the bleeding fibroma. To compound the problem she is allergic to adhesives and latex so to staunch the bleeding she has to use very expensive bandages. So the idea is prevention, as much as possible. She takes medication for it but it’s not always enough to keep the stress levels low. So to check out if marijuana would even work she asked a friend to get her some (illegally, yes we know) so she could try it. The first bit her friend brought over I tried too, I took a hit and it was heavenly, very mellow. But we don’t smoke, coughed our lungs out. So a few weeks later her friend brought over 2 cookies, one for her and one for me. I ate mine and boy was that a mistake, I was stupefyingly stoned, it was really unpleasent, I should have eaten maybe a fourth of the cookie instead of the whole thing. Little Bird said it seemed to help her anxiety, so she’s going to get legit.

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  23. Connie said on March 14, 2017 at 7:26 pm

    Today NBC is calling it Ryancare.

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  24. Danny said on March 14, 2017 at 7:28 pm

    …because Ryan’s Hope was already taken.

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  25. devtob said on March 14, 2017 at 8:31 pm

    Trump will be in Michigan tomorrow, campaigning for more air pollution, i.e., his plan to reverse Obama EPA regulations that would increase auto fleet fuel economy standards. (

    He will be lying about “regulatory relief” at the American Center for Mobility at Willow Run Airport at 2 p.m., after flying in to Detroit at 12:45.

    There will be several hundred protestors greeting him in Ypsilanti —

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  26. Sherri said on March 14, 2017 at 8:43 pm

    A different topic…

    I’ve talked often here about how frustrated I am that tech is now better, or even worse, for women now than it was when I started out over 35 years ago. Tech companies have started publishing diversity numbers, and making a lot of noise about improving, but so far, the results are not promising. However, buried deep in this Atlantic cover article, I find this tidbit:

    Now, it’s true that lots of companies have hiring goals. But to make its goals a little more, well, quota-like, Intel introduced money into the equation. In Intel’s annual performance-bonus plan, success in meeting diversity goals factors into whether the company gives employees an across-the-board bonus. (The amounts vary widely but can be substantial.) If diversity efforts succeed, everybody at the company gets a little bit richer.

    That can make a difference. All the diversity training and implicit bias training in the world can’t touch the level of change that tying financial incentives to diverse hiring practices makes. People in Silicon Valley expect those across-the-board bonuses.

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  27. David C. said on March 14, 2017 at 8:50 pm

    Doc Maddow will have David Cay Johnston on tonight. They say they have tRump’s tax returns. I hope they’ve checked, and rechecked, and rechecked. I sure as hell don’t want another W’s ANG record thing.

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  28. susan said on March 14, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    Note: Rachel has David Cay Johnston on tonight, along with Drumphth’s 2005 tax returns. 9:00 ET.

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