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.
I was jotting notes during the debate. Thought I'd share. I am starting to hate debates ... because they're not. They're fakey, false set up events designed to flatter the moderator and suppress the electorate. I don't think Americans could handle the kind of dialogue in which Lincoln and Douglas engaged. What pantywaists we are.
I have to tell you, I have never been closer to utter despair. I fully realize my station as no more than the eyelash on the face of a microscopic dust mite resting on the head of a pin and all that. Unfair that I don't enjoy the blissful ignorance of the mite. As Voltaire rightly pointed out, "Animals have these advantages over man: they never hear the clock strike, they die without any idea of death, they have no theologians to instruct them, their last moments are not disturbed by unwelcome and unpleasant ceremonies, their funerals cost them nothing, and no one starts lawsuits over their wills."
I come here every day looking for the breaking news that will stop the horror and hideousness of ... well, everything. The war, the economy, the politicians, the primary, the environment, the housing slump, the cost of a loaf of bread and a dozen eggs and a college education. I come here, frankly, looking for a headline that tells me what to do and what to make of it all. But I'm getting tired, and more and more depressed. For the first time in my life, I am without optimism of any sort.
Jump off the head of the pin with me, my fellow mite, if you want to talk with me some more.
I have never been so hungry for a presidential election in my life. I remember voting for Carter absentee before taking off on my first trip to Europe. I was young, pretty much just out of college, and thought the world was my oyster. But even then I knew Reagan had the kiss of death about him, and his election -- oh god did I get asked a million "How in hell?" questions by Europeans -- sent shivers down my spine.
I am still shivering.
Yes, I want to call out one of our own -- a member who goes by the moniker sheddhead. I'm calling her out for being the kindest, coolest Kossack ever. You know what she did? She volunteered her time and expertise to create a web site for me to help in my race for a seat on the currently all-GOP city council in Valparaiso. She asked for no money and she was extremely patient with me [I'm a writer but when it comes to designing web sites, what I know would fill maybe half a thimble].
Most of the designers, sign makers, and printers lick their chops at election time. We don't have a stable corps of Democratic businesses who cut any deals or help much at all. The amount of money it takes to wage a campaign -- even a local one like mine -- is amazing. It's the GOP business guys and builders who pay for the campaigns of their Republican representatives and it's damn hard to compete.
But I have a friend at dKos. Sheddhead, you are my hero, my friend, my partner, my role model.
Follow me below to help me thank sheddhead, and to help if you can.
It's 5:33 a.m. and I'm still up, finishing a project. I've smoked so many cigarettes I smell like a canned ham. Mostly because I am so pissed about our moron president. I didn't watch his televised bullshit time, but I've been bouncing back and forth to AOL to get files from my designer. Just a bit ago, AOL had this headline at the top of its Big News Items: BUSH ORDERS TROOP CUTS. CALLS IT 'RETURN ON SUCCESS' HOW MANY WILL COME HOME?
Is that a crock, or what?
A short early morning fast disappearing rant on the B side.
Well, the King Speaks. Off for a month's vacation, Georgie Boy deigned to pontificate on all things GOP. While Minnesotans try to recover bodies, Utah families wait for news of trapped miners, the west fights fires, the south battles 100-plus temperatures, and New Orleans still looks like a hurricane just hit it, the Chimp in Chief strode to the podium to tell us:
- Screw you, stupid homeowners
- Iraq is pivotal to the "global war on terror"
- Everything -- Iraq, the economy, job creation, the stock market -- is hunky dory
- Oh, except for Iran. That country is messin' in our business
- Corporations might need some tax breaks
- Screw you, stupid Americans and Democrats who represent them
OK, I've gone and done it. I signed on the dotted line to run for city council in my Indiana city. Currently, the Republican mayor presides over a 100% GOP council which rubber stamps the usual litany of bad things: roads through wetlands, developments that hurt us, sweetheart deals for friends ... while ignoring so many of the initiatives that could make this city great. We're above average in intelligence and wherewithal, with a university here, too, and I believe it's time to get busy.
I'm running because I'm mad, because I want to either shut up or make a difference, because people asked me to, and because here at dKos the mantra wisely is that if we Dems don't run at the local and state levels, we're letting the foxes remain in charge of our henhouses.
I need your help, and it's easy. Please take a minute to be one of my esteemed campaign advsiors (now jump ....)
Okay, I know I'm getting to sound like a broken record, but I simply cannot take it anymore. The whole discussion about ending the "war" in Iraq has for me reached a level of absurdity that is making my head explode.
Driving home from the post office today, I hear a snippet of National Public Radio’s story on the impending Bush veto, with audio of Bush. In the piece NPR broadcast, Bush is rattling on about how he intends to veto the bill coming to his desk, and that he is willing to work with both parties to come up with an acceptable bill with benchmarks but not a firm date for withdrawal.
I’m in the car screaming, "Right, you jackass! Why don’t you tell the truth?"
Because no one will talk straight about what in hell is going on. It’s about the oil, stupid (a take on Carville’s old mantra during the Clinton campaign: "It’s the economy, stupid!"). Everybody seems to know this but the American people, and the media is giving us diddly squat on the real machinations behind all the talk of deadlines and benchmarks.
Hopefully by now you've had an opportunity to see Bill Moyers' amazing and revelatory program, "Buying the War." A brilliant dissection of government and media complicity in shoving war in Iraq down American throats, it is also the most pointed expose of a bloated and bloviating press corps we have had the pleasure to witness.
And guess what? Moyers has already received complaints from -- you guessed it -- the White House press corps.
Undoubtedly, the D.C. hacks with media badges will want to get right back to business as usual at Bush's next press conference. Russert will want to give Cheney a chance to tell us Saddam Hussein had Mohammed Atta over for lunch, and Reinart will want to pen a piece on how reading lots and lots of stuff can make you way smart, unlike those hippie Kossacks who don't understand how much fun it is to blow stuff up. Can't wait. In fact, I imagine we'll soon be hearing these six softball questions from the pre-selected reporters.
When the Iraq invasion/war/occupation/clusterfuck began, there were smart people who told us from the get-go: this is about oil.
Forget the shit about fighting terrorists, forget the "protecting Americans" crap, ditch the idea that this has anything remotely to do with "spreading democracy." All Cheney ever wanted to do was get his hands on the oil in the middle east. That's what the energy task force was about, and that's why its reports and deliberations are still hidden. Bush, who proudly told us in the debates that "nation building" was not his style, has proved his point -- he has trashed a few nations since becoming president, and has democratized exactly zero. Make that negative one. Bush took this country -- the United States of America -- and de-democratized it.
We are witnessing the greatest swindle in the history of this country. A hundred years from now, this story will be written up in the history books as the most massive heist ever perpetrated -- in any country, in any era. It was about oil, it is about oil, and it will continue to be about oil.
Tonight my daughter and I drove down a street in our town where a small bog has developed on a rare patch of spare land. The weather is warm -- the first warm day in two weeks -- and the bog is alive with the sounds of crickets, and frogs, and other creatures of the night.
We roll down the windows and slow to a crawl, my eyes peeled to the rear view mirror. We'll move when a vehicle approaches from behind. In the meantime, we soak in the sound. "Listen," I tell her. "Listen and memorize it. I'm so afraid you're going to be trying to explain this sound to your children and your grandchildren."
My daughter doesn't say a word. She just listens. To the sounds, I hope. She is tired of listening to me -- I have become the voice of sadness, and of loss, and of fear. I can keep the tears from coming if I make light. "Well, you have those CDs," I say to my daughter. "You know, the ones with the night sounds, and the one with the dolphins."
"Yeah, I still have those, Mom, don't worry," she says.
Car lights reflect off the mirror and I press the gas pedal, and we drive away from the sounds in the bog. The tears form pools in my eyes and I feel like my heart is going to break.