FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Plain Truths From Appalachia

by JOE BAGEANT

When it comes to expressing plain truths, few are as gifted as American rednecks. During recent travels in the Appalachian communities of West Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky I’ve collected scores of their comments on our national condition and especially President Barack Obama.

In America, all successful politicians are first and foremost successfully marketed brands. In fact, the Obama campaign was named Advertising Age’s 2008 marketer of the year. George W. Bush’s brand may have “collapsed,” as they say on Madison Avenue, but things don’t change much. Rednecks instinctively know this:

“It don’t matter who gets to warm his butt in the White House chair,” says a West Virginia trucker. “The top dogs eat high on the hog and the little dogs eat the tails and ears. That’s what them bailouts is all about, and that’s the way it is no matter who’s president. So you might as well vote for the guy who looks like the most fun because you gonna be watching his ass on television for the next eight years.”

Yup. Rednecks do have a way of getting right down to the bone of the matter. For example, the news shows us Obama in an auto plant. We see Obama talking to the troops in Iraq. Obama ladling out grubs in a soup kitchen. That’s the stuff of urban liberal wet dreams. But a fellow over in the mountains of Mineral County West Virginia, a guy named Pinch who sells fence posts, poles and firewood out of his back yard, puts it like this:

“Nothing against Obama, mind you, but the last time I looked, the car plants was dead meat. Obama has never even come close to serving in the military, except for serving up that batch of hash in Baghdad. And there he was with his wife in a soup kitchen for god sake! Things has got so bad that we’ve got soup kitchens all over this country now. So, two millionaires in their armored limo drop by a soup kitchen, and this is supposed to make me feel good about my country?”

To be sure, the Obama brand is a feel good brand. Like those Hallmark talking digital greeting cards we geezers send one another that say “You’re still sexy baby!” Or “How’s it hanging stud?” we know of course, the only things hanging are our beer bellies and the fat on our upper arms. But it makes us feel good anyway. For about ten seconds.

What makes us feel good in the long term is getting back to the true meaning of being an American – buying stuff and racking up debt. Still, who’d have ever thought we’d see the president of the United States on television telling us, “There’s never been a better time to refinance our homes”, or buy a car?, which is exactly what he did last month.

Hawking home refis seems a bit unpresidential, to some of us. But then too, this is America, where, by orders of President Bush, we struck back hard at the 911 terrorists by going shopping. In any case, a local mortgage lender here in Winchester, Virginia is running ads with pictures of Obama and quoting him on the virtue of debt. That lender is one cast iron Obama hating Republican. So maybe Obama is truly a uniter after all.

As to America’s working class debt serfdom, some of us were resigned to that a long time ago. My former neighbor, Fat Larry (whose real name is Myron, and is thus happy enough to be called Fat Larry) says: “Hey, look, I don’t care if Obama is putting us in debt. I was already in hock for the rest of my life before they started hollering about a ‘debt crisis'”. Nor is he opposed to accepting a handout: “Obama can let a smidgen of them trillions land in my poke anytime. Right now I got no problems fifty thousand bucks wouldn’t fix.”

Not to worry Larry! According to our media, the cavalry is on the way to our rescue. Arrival time is estimated to be in two years. That’s when employment is supposed to start coming back, after another year or so of continued job losses.

Meanwhile, Obama is humping the pump in an effort to re-inflate an economy that looks more every day like a balloon with a 55 caliber bullet hole in it. He’s even tried to get some of the escaped air back into the balloon by making corporations return a few billion dollars of the trillions in bailout money that disappeared the minute it crossed their paws. “Seems to me,” says Fat Larry, “he should’a give the money back to me. It was mine to start with.”

Personally, I really cannot bitch too much about Obama’s giveaways. At the end of this month he’s sending me a $250 check — stimulus money being handed out to us retirees — which is about the only good thing I have encountered so far about getting old.

Indeed, it’s cause for celebration. So I’m gonna call ole Larry and we’re going out to get so damned stimulated we can’t walk home.

Postscript: Aw hell! The front page of today’s newspaper tells me the $250 stimulus payment is only a loan from the government, and that I will have to pay it back next April. In this new America, we are all issued debt, whether we ask for it or not (sigh).

JOE BAGEANT is author of the book, Deer Hunting With Jesus: Dispatches from America’s Class War. (Random House Crown), about working class America. He is also a contributor to Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance from the Heartland (AK Press). A complete archive of his on-line work, along with the thoughts of many working Americans on the subject of class may be found on ColdType and JOE BAGEANT’s website, joebageant.com.

This column originally appeared on the web site of the Australian Broadcasting Company

 

JOE BAGEANT is author of the book, Deer Hunting With Jesus: Dispatches from America’s Class War. (Random House Crown), about working class America. He is also a contributor to Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance from the Heartland (AK Press). A complete archive of his on-line work, along with the thoughts of many working Americans on the subject of class may be found on ColdType and JOE BAGEANT’s website, joebageant.com.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

February 21, 2017
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Finance as Warfare: the IMF Lent to Greece Knowing It Could Never Pay Back Debt
CJ Hopkins
Goose-stepping Our Way Toward Pink Revolution
John Wight
Firestarter: the Unwelcome Return of Tony Blair
Roger Harris
Lenin Wins: Pink Tide Surges in Ecuador…For Now
Shepherd Bliss
Japanese American Internment Remembered, as Trump Rounds Up Immigrants
Boris Kagarlitsky
Trump and the Contradictions of Capitalism
Robert Fisk
The Perils of Trump Addiction
Deepak Tripathi
Theresa May: Walking the Kingdom Down a Dark Alley
Sarah Anderson
To Save Main Street, Tax Wall Street
Howard Lisnoff
Those Who Plan and Enjoy Murder
Franklin Lamb
The Life and Death Struggle of the Children of Syria
Binoy Kampmark
A Tale of Two Realities: Trump and Israel
Kim C. Domenico
Body and Soul: Becoming Men & Women in a Post-Gender Age
Mel Gurtov
Trump, Europe, and Chaos
Stephen Cooper
Steinbeck’s Road Map For Resisting Donald Trump
February 20, 2017
Bruce E. Levine
Humiliation Porn: Trump’s Gift to His Faithful…and Now the Blowback
Melvin Goodman
“Wag the Dog,” Revisited
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima: a Lurking Global Catastrophe?
David Smith-Ferri
Resistance and Resolve in Russia: Memorial HRC
Kenneth Surin
Global India?
Norman Pollack
Fascistization Crashing Down: Driving the Cleaver into Social Welfare
Patrick Cockburn
Trump v. the Media: a Fight to the Death
Susan Babbitt
Shooting Arrows at Heaven: Why is There Debate About Battle Imagery in Health?
Matt Peppe
New York Times Openly Promotes Formal Apartheid Regime By Israel
David Swanson
Understanding Robert E. Lee Supporters
Michael Brenner
The Narcissism of Donald Trump
Martin Billheimer
Capital of Pain
Thomas Knapp
Florida’s Shenanigans Make a Great Case for (Re-)Separation of Ballot and State
Jordan Flaherty
Best Films of 2016: Black Excellence Versus White Mediocrity
Weekend Edition
February 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
David Price
Rogue Elephant Rising: The CIA as Kingslayer
Matthew Stevenson
Is Trump the Worst President Ever?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Flynn?
John Wight
Brexit and Trump: Why Right is Not the New Left
Diana Johnstone
France: Another Ghastly Presidential Election Campaign; the Deep State Rises to the Surface
Neve Gordon
Trump’s One-State Option
Roger Harris
Emperor Trump Has No Clothes: Time to Organize!
Joan Roelofs
What Else is Wrong with Globalization
Andrew Levine
Why Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban?
Mike Whitney
Blood in the Water: the Trump Revolution Ends in a Whimper
Vijay Prashad
Trump, Turmoil and Resistance
Ron Jacobs
U.S. Imperial War Personified
David Swanson
Can the Climate Survive Adherence to War and Partisanship?
Andre Vltchek
Governor of Jakarta: Get Re-elected or Die!
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Destruction of Mosul
Norman Pollack
Self-Devouring Reaction: Governmental Impasse
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail