Thursday, March 31, 2011

De mortuis nil nisi bonum

Stacy McCain is a right-wing blogger. McCain has written a diatribe against Joe Bageant after Joe's passing. After personal insults, essentially calling Joe a fraud, he said this:

"Bageant and his hagiographers would have us believe that the capitalist system which made all this possible is, nevertheless, brutally oppressing the rednecks of Winchester, Va., and other working-class whites all over America."

So, capitalism made it possible for Joe and others to succeed, but it didn't contribute at all to the generations of poor people throughout Appalachia, the MS Delta, or the 3rd World? Failure to "succeed", from Mr. McCain's perspective is a personal issue, but success is all made possible because of the capitalist system. This is the Horatio Alger Myth and is the same message delivered in every school to this day, but it's not an argument that is either logical, or evidenced based.

The other primary point of McCain's post is this - Joe and other "progressive populist" don't actually like people, they think people are "stupid", he says:

"And while all this capitalist exploitation is blindingly apparent to Good Ol’ Redneck Joe, his trailer-park-dwelling kindred are so stupid they don’t even know what’s good for them."... "(after quoting from one of Joe's essay's)Feel free to go read the whole thing, a prime specimen of that weird species of progressive “populism” which expresses itself as a thoroughgoing contempt for actual people."

It's clear from McCain's post that he hasn't read much of Joe's body of work. Joe railed against Democrats. He railed against coastal, middle-class liberals. And, yes, he surely railed against the corporate elite and their ponzi scheme they call capitalism. But, it wasn't out of spite or hatred for his fellow man, it was a deep belief in the goodness of people and a belief that we all are "our brothers keeper"... as Joe pleads in this video

I never met Joe Bageant and, going back to the Hitchen's clip below, I may have been disappointed if I had (although the eulogies from people who had met Joe have been universal in their praise of the person)... I didn't have to meet Joe, I actually read his work. McCain has not, and he used Joe's death to retread tired old conservative arguments against a stereotype of an enemy that doesn't exist. McCain's is an argument that millions of good people tune in and hear everyday on Hannity, Limbaugh, etc. But, to hear Joe's argument you can't, by and large, turn on the radio or the t.v., primarily because the class-war McCain accuses Joe of waging is over... and the people lost.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Joe Bageant, 1946-2011

"March 27, 2011
Joe Bageant, 1946-2011

After a vibrant life, Joe Bageant died yesterday following a four-month struggle with cancer. He was 64. Joe is survived by his wife, Barbara, his three children, Timothy, Patrick and Elizabeth, and thousands of friends and admirers. He is also survived by his work and ideas.

According to Joe's wishes, he will be cremated. His family will hold a private memorial service."

"Acknowledged or not, it is also our national shame, this denial of the existence of class. Ultimately, it is denial of the one truth held common by every enlightened civilization existent:
We are our brother’s keeper."
Joe Bageant - From "Adam Smith Meet's Cousin Ronnie's Boy"

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bob Herbert's Last Column for NYTimes

Yesterday Bob Herbert's final column was in the NY Times. This last column, like all of Bob's work, was brilliant. And given the recent exit of Frank Rich another blow to the NY Times.

"Overwhelming imbalances in wealth and income inevitably result in enormous imbalances of political power. So the corporations and the very wealthy continue to do well. The employment crisis never gets addressed. The wars never end. And nation-building never gets a foothold here at home."

Read the rest of Mr. Herbert's column here

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A life well lived -

What does a life well lived look like? Going back to Hitchen's question below, this one is on my list of the only questions worth asking and only conversations worth having. For my generation, through advertising, and other media, schooling, etc., it's always been about what you could accumulate. Even those who have little of nothing in the States measure their worth by what they have in relation to their neighbors. (David Brooks wrote about this, see the sidebar for the Brooks piece). We joke about it - How do you define rich? Earning a little more than your wife's sister's husband - And as bumper stickers will attest, many embrace it, "He who dies with the most toys wins!" - But, they don't. And we live in a world where there's not much space to have the conversation.

Nigel Marsh, author of Fat, Forty, and Fired (link to order Nigel's book is below) gave a wonderful talk about this at TED Australia (Thanks to Rolf Potts @, for the link).

Hitchens - The only conversation worth having

A wonderful clip from the great Christopher Hitchen's

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Rainbow Pie

Joe Bageant's new book is out. Anything by Joe is a MUST read. Check out most of his essay's here.

Order the book below.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Not a shock, but when will people care?

The NPR video was a fake, by conservative liars and cons. Click here for the story.

I've written about Sherrod, Acorn, the pay of federal employee's, etc. before here and here

What does it take to organize people? To convince people that they are being played for ignorant fools? We live in a country where 400 people make more than the bottom 155 million, a country where we could do a one-time tax for people who made $1,000,000 last year at 5.3% and pay for "needed" budget short falls instead we're going to eliminate WIC, WIA, TANF, and other programs for poor people, all of who are in that 155 million.

But, the Koch Brothers and their puppets like Limbaugh, FauxNews, and House Republicans don't care, they have spent the last 20 years blurring the lines between facts and reality and continue to absolutely destroy our democracy.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Our benevolent benefactors

"Today just 400 Americans have more wealth than half of all Americans combined.

Let me say that again. 400 obscenely rich people, most of whom benefited in some way from the multi-trillion dollar taxpayer "bailout" of 2008, now have more loot, stock and property than the assets of 155 million Americans combined. If you can't bring yourself to call that a financial coup d'├ętat, then you are simply not being honest about what you know in your heart to be true."
Michael Moore - His speech in Wisconsin

And thanks to the media, the schools, et. al, the 155 million people, by in large, believe that these 400 both deserve what they have and are working in the best interest of the country.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Well, obviously it's the teacher's fault -

Two Great Bit's from Jon Stewart - how depressing we don't hear this anywhere else...

The new way of being...

Love this quote from Gabrielle Hamilton in today's NYTimes -

"“Books, movies, music, restaurants, advertising: something’s happened to us,” she said. “We’re not telling the truth. We don’t stink. We don’t have yellow teeth. We don’t have crooked teeth. We don’t have to suffer disagreement or pain or setbacks anymore. You can go to your doctor and get a pill — you don’t even have to be melancholy anymore, right? I mean, it’s just incredible what the new way of being is. We’ll see how that works out.”