Editor Emeritus: Penelope Puffbear Quivertail 2000-2014
This site contains cross-postings of my posts at Agonist.org.
It also has a number of music videos and recipes and computer ‘war stories’.
It temporarily backs up joebageant.net while that site is being rebuilt.
It is affiliated with Steele Park Press.
Joe Bageant died in 2011. He wrote “Deer Hunting With Jesus: Dispatches from America’s Class War” and “Rainbow Pie: A Redneck Memoir”. Joe’s writing was put before the public, particularly the online public by a peripatetic, cosmopolitan chap named Ken Smith. Ken was Joe’s ‘literary executor’ and Ken put together “Waltzing at the Doomsday Ball: The Best of Joe Bageant”, which Ken felt were Joe’s best 25 essays.
Ken kept Joe’s website operational and after some issues with the hosting, was considering migrating it to WordPress. I offered to help with this and he gave me access to the data which I put up here under the JoeB category to serve as a archive in case the conversion failed or the old website was lost permanently. Ken was able to reestablish Joe Bageant to contain all of Joe’s essays. They are also available at coldtype /joe.html. I have no idea if that is permanent.
In 2016, Ken Smith passed away. I am in touch with Ken’s son and Joe’s widow, having offered to take over the work Ken had done to promote Joe’s writing, assuming we can sort through the complications of the process.
While I am happy to help preserve Joe’s wonderful writing, I am neither young nor immortal.
Buy the books, read and savor Joe’s wit and honesty – and spread the word.
My mother, Betty (Steele) Wallace, wore many hats over the years – reporter, Clerk of the County Court, columnist & de facto editor, high school English teacher and author. Born on a small ranch in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, of pioneer stock and into a world of ranching, mining and timbering, she had a deep understanding and keen appreciation of those who migrated to the area and built the communities. Some of those communities faded into ghost towns, some continue to prosper. The people who built that part of Colorado are long gone, but Betty had known a good many of them, went to school with their children and knew every family in the Gunnison Valley – their history, virtues, faults and quirks. For several years, she wrote a weekly column in the Gunnison News-Champion, telling the stories of the area’s early citizens. She called it her ‘pioneer series’ – interviews of the original settlers or their children; ranchers, saloonkeepers, miners, storekeepers, prostitutes, preachers and politicians.
One of the people she interviewed and wrote about was her mother, Cynthia (Weed) Steele. This is mother’s column on my grandmother, published in the News-Champion, April 6th, 1950. Continue reading Grandmother – A Life
The victory of Donald Trump does not represent a victory of conservative or reactionary political views, policies and programs. Indeed, Trump himself has no real views, policies or programs. For him, is all about The Donald and his brand.
Continue reading Election 2016
The following was posted on Facebook by Jim Wright, of Stonekettle Station fame.
Facebook deleted the post.
You’re expecting some kind of obligatory 9-11 post, aren’t you?
Here it is, but you’re not gonna like it.
15 years ago today 19 shitheads attacked America.
They killed 3000 of us.
And then … America got its revenge for 9-11.
Yes we did. Many times over. We killed them. We killed them all. We killed their families. We killed their wives and their kids and all their neighbors. We killed whole nations that weren’t even involved just to make goddamned sure. We bombed their cities into rubble. We burned down their countries.
They killed 3000 of us, we killed 300,000 of them or more.
8000 of us came home in body bags, but we got our revenge. Yes we did.
We’re still here. They aren’t.
We win. USA! USA! USA!
You goddamned right. We. Win.
Every year on this day we bath in the blood of that day yet again. We watch the towers fall over and over. It’s been 15 goddamned years, but we just can’t get enough. We’ve just got to watch it again and again.
It’s funny how we never show those videos of the bombs falling on Baghdad today. Or the dead in the streets of Afghanistan. We got our revenge, but we never talk about that today. No, we just sit and watch the towers fall yet again.
Somewhere out there on the bottom of the sea are the rotting remains of the evil son of bitch who masterminded the attack. It took a decade, but we hunted him down and put a bullet in his brain. Sure. We got him. Right? That’s what we wanted. that’s what our leaders promised us, 15 years ago today.
And today those howling the loudest for revenge shrug and say, well, yeah, that. That doesn’t matter, because, um, yeah, the guy in the White House, um, see, well, he’s not an American, he’s the enemy see? He’s not doing enough. So, whatever. What about that over there? And that? And…
15 years ago our leaders, left and right, stood on the steps of the Capitol and gave us their solemn promise to work together, to stand as one, for all Americans.
How’d that promise work out?
How much are their words worth? Today, 15 years later?
It’s 15 years later and we’re STILL afraid. We’re still terrorized. Still wallowing in conspiracy theories and peering suspiciously out of our bunkers at our neighbors. Sure we won. Sure we did. We became a nation that tortures our enemies — and our own citizens for that matter. We’re a nation of warrantless wiretaps and rendition and we’ve gotten used to being strip searched in our own airports. And how is the world a better place for it all?
And now we’re talking about more war, more blood.
But, yeah, we won. Sure. You bet.
Frankly, I have had enough of 9-11. Fuck 9-11. I’m not going to watch the shows. I’m not going to any of the memorials. I’m not going to the 9-11 sales at Wal-Mart. I don’t want to hear about 9-11. I for damned sure am not interested in watching politicians of either party try to out 9-11 each other. I’m tired of this national 9-11 PTSD. I did my bit for revenge, I went to war, I’ll remember the dead in my own time in my own way.
I’m not going to shed a damned tear today.
We got our revenge. Many times over, for whatever good it did us.
I’m going to go to a picnic and enjoy my day. Enjoy this victory we’ve won.
I suggest you do the same.
Sweet & Sour Chicken
Recipe serves 2 – Adjust accordingly
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast.
Or boneless thigh meat if you prefer.
1 package Campbell’s Skillet Sauce (Sweet & Sour).
12-15 baby carrots (or carrots cut small).
1/2 green Bell Pepper, diced.
1/2 cup white onion, diced.
1 cup honey.
1/2 cup light brown sugar.
2 tblsp Kikkoman soy sauce.
Cook on high for 4 hours.
Shred chicken with forks.
Serve over your favorite rice. Continue reading More To Life Than Bacon – Crockpot
The bullshit American Narrative to the contrary, America is and has always been a ‘class society’. There are basically three classes: Rulers, Mandarins and Peasants.
The Rulers care only about acquiring and increasing their own personal wealth and power. To that end they will enslave, oppress, plunder, exploit and murder, from individuals to entire countries and populations. One thing that has traditionally held them in check has been competition from rulers in other countries, but with economic globalization, national distinctions are vanishing and we can speak of a trans-national elite, a ruling class no longer limted to one country.
The job of running the world for their benefit is too large and complicated for them to accomplish directly. They have therefore established a class of Mandarins – the professionals who actually do the day-to-day work of making the Rich & Powerful richer and more powerful and otherwise supporting the status quo. They do this for the sake of crumbs from the Rulers’ table and the few benefits that place them above the class of Peasants. Joe Bageant nailed it: “The truth is that when we are looking at the political elite [and Mandarins in general], we are looking at the dancing monkey, not the organ grinder who calls the tune”.
If the Rulers constitute the top .1% financially, the Mandarins constitute perhaps the next 20% or thereabouts. They are the visible aspect of the Ruling Class; the pundits, politicians, opinion-shapers, and technicians. As long as they are kept well fed and housed and given the [false} hope of rising to the status of Ruler, they will labor mightily to keep the wheels on the wagon and the Rulers in power, It has been the Rulers who have called the shots politically, economically and culturally for centuries and it has been the Mandarins who have enabled them. They are as guilty as the Rulers, since they facilitate the Class System.
The Peasants? Well, they have provided the actual labor to create the true wealth and have provided the cannon fodder for the Rulers’ wars of conquest and plunder. Both the Rulers and the Mandarins keep the Peasants distracted and provided with the minimum necessary to keep them alive and useful (to the Rulers), but only the minimum, since giving Joe Redneck more than a living wage would reduce the Rulers’ profit margins.
There have been isolated periods of time and place when the Peasants have rebelled, sometimes with temporary victory and sometimes suffering horrendous defeat. However, never having exercised the wheels of power, they are inexperieced in wielding it and the resulting regimes soon fall prey to the machinations of Ruler Class survivors or Mandarins (trained to administer) newly elevated to Ruler Class. Note that educating the Peasants in how to run the world is taboo – can’t have the rabble thinking thoughts above their station. Which partly explains the state of the educational system in America today (along with the desire of the Rulers to reduce taxes and privatize for profit).
BTW: The widely-touted success of the American Revolution was not a matter of Peasants throwing off Rulers. It was about replacing Rulers three thousand miles away with local Rulers. George III & his ministers vs New England mercantile interests and Southern Plantation owners.
Fortunately or unfortunately, some things are self-limiting. The obsession with cheap energy. for example, (to net them every penny in manufacturing and distribution) has triggered Global Warming. The only thing that will limit climate change is the collapse of the mechanisms that drive it. But in the process, billions of people will die and billions more have their lives reduced to precarious day-to-day survival. The Rulers don’t care. They. Do. Not. Care. They themselves will survive in style, in well-protected enclaves (on high ground), served by (fewer) Mandarins and protected from the Peasants by other Peasants.
“I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.” – Jay Gould
Ultimately, greed is self-limiting, a la the Goose That Laid The Golden Egg. The social, political, economic and human equivalent of Golden Eggs is playing out in slow motion today. We are witnessing the gradual (but accelerating) collapse of economies, politics, societies and nations. This is not new. It has happened repeatedly over the centuries. What is depressing is that it will likely continue to happen as long as the species lasts. And if anyone believes that one leader, one politician, one party can somehow reverse, avoid or prevent historical processes from running their course, I’ve got a bridge I’d like to sell them.
The latest Silly Season is weighing on me. I had the following dream last night
Clinton has won the Primary and the General Elections. Between November and her inauguration, she has embarked on a a cross-country trek of ‘town hall’ meetings, ostensibly to thank the voters. For some reason, I am attending one of these meetings (What can I say? I’m a glutton for punishment). Hillary picks me out of the crowd (my Abe Lincoln appearance, probably) and invites me to share the stage and talk with her, tell her what I think she needs to do, where I think the country needs to go. Mentally licking my political chops, I agree.
You will make history as the first Woman President. That is largely due the change in the way Americans treat gender nowadays and is vindication of the efforts of a lot of women – and a few men – over the decades. It’s not you.
You should understand that you won the election not so much on your own merits or positions on the issues. You won because enough voters realized that Donald Trump is a 4-door, brass-plated, air-conditioned, turbo-charged, 12-cylinder, 5-speed asshole. They were scared shitless at the thought of what he might do as President. Many – on both sides of the aisle – are also worried about what you will do as President.
Much has been made of the fact that Trump’s campaign fed on and fed racism, bigotry and xenophobia. But the bottom line on his support and the support for Bernie Sanders should tell you that a great many Americans realize and resent that they have seen their income, privacy, freedom, security and future worsened or destroyed by the policies and practices of the Money Elite, many of whom contribute heavily to your financial undertakings and campaigns – and we both know they expect the favor to be returned. Screw the bastards.. They richly deserve it.
A woman President was inevitable. It happened to be you. If you want to be a great President, you need to address the real problems of people, both here and abroad. Some of the solutions are not under your direct control but will require action by Congress and the Courts, but even there your leadership could wield influence, as a ‘bully pulpit’ and through appointments in various departments, particularly Justice and Defense.
Get big money out of politics. Finance elections from tax money and limit spending to some reasonable amount. Ban lobbying. Entirely.. Proposals for government action should never come from corporations with a financial stake in that action. It’s bad enough that when the government puts out an RFP, those who respond will naturally toot their own horn, but we don’t need retired generals/admirals or bankers bullshitting the selection process via the Old Boy Network. Stop it.
Implement Single Payer Healthcare by simply expanding Medicare to everyone. The procedural and IT infrastructure is already in place and functioning pretty well. At most, it might require an upscale of computer hardware. Healthcare, like education, clean water & waste disposal should be the right of every citizen – and on a not-for-profit basis.
Stop trying to control the entire world. We are no longer the envy of the world we once were. Instead we are much of the world’s worst nightmare. Our wars, our financing and support for any petty dictator that we approve of, our CIA-led coups in various countries for decades should stop. It is true hypocrisy to criticize and even hate refugees who are are fleeing the hell we created or support. When we destroy Iraq, Syria, Libya, we can’t complain about the consequences. Stop it.
Stop supporting privatization of things which are inherently public. Prisons and schools and water systems are not being privatized to improve efficiency but to enrich those with friends in power. Stop.
End the ineffective (though profitable) war on drugs. Just stop it. Legalize and regulate (reasonably) all drugs.Empty and issue a blanket pardon for the thousands of people in prison for posseesing pot. If that’s their only rap sheet, wipe the record clean. And always help them reintegrate into society.
Instead of prosecuting whistle blowers, prosecute the high-level, wealthy and well-connected criminals. The financiers responsible for the economic meltdown (and who have continued to profit). Politicians for war crimes, torture, the lies that put us in Iraq, the indiscriminate use of drones. Stop it.
End the militarization of non-Federal law enforcement. All it does is enrich crony capitalists and facilitate an authoritarian mindset among officers who are supposed to be public servants and are increasingly acting as public masters. Stop it.
End the NSA’s and DOD’s over-the-top spying on innocent people. Put all wiretaps and snooping back to requiring a traditional search warrant – person(s); item to be searched for; reasonable cause – before a judge. And if that overwhelms the judges, it might just indicate too much snooping. You think maybe?
Note that most of the items involve stopping what we’d doing. It’s enough to make one contemplate the virtues of a government too small to make the mistakes we have inflicted on our people and the world. Unfortunately, the modern world does require Big Government. Stopping the misuse of government power would meet stiff resistance from those who profit from the status quo. But perhaps if we stop wasting time, money and effort on the wrong things, we would be able to spend our time, money and effort on things like improving peoples lives (at home and abroad) and limiting or even reversing Global Warming – for the sake of your new grandchild and and my great-grandchildren.
You will make history as the first woman President.
You could make history as a great President.
It’s up to you.
Originally published in Bluebook Magazine in April 1938.
Grandmother Cynthia Sophia [Weed] Steele
Son was my uncle Herbert
Little Daughter was my mother Betty
Continue reading High Bridge
“A democracy cannot exist without an educated citizenry.”
So says the mission statement on our masthead. And that has been on my mind a great deal lately. Exactly what constitutes sufficient education to acquire, enable and preserve a democracy? Continue reading Character Matters
“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Great men are almost always bad men.”
The phrasing of ‘tends’ left Acton some wiggle room, just in case we happened to find someone who attained power but was uncorrupted. It’s questionable whether he needed to include that, but since he was a historian and politician, I assume his views reflect that world.
We have certainly seen this opinion verified not only in politics but all to often in the business world. Combined with the teaching of Niccolò Machiavelli, it goes a long way toward describing the success of some terrible people.
Continue reading Lord Acton on Liberty in 2016
Rummaging through Depression-era photos at Library of Congress, I came across some
I’d seen before, taken by Russell Lee for the Farm Security Administration in the ’30-40s.
Continue reading Cockleburs and Callings