I’ve been meaning to get to this, but Buster brought up something in comments that I meant to address but haven’t had a chance to get to. In fact, because my blogging has been so light, in the wake of so much bloggable material, I’ve considered making this a group blog. I’ve made an offer to one person, and am going to make an offer to a few others. We’ll see what comes of it.

Anyway, I’ve been meaning to comment on the new Attorney General’s comments about our nation being a “nation of cowards.” Although Coates, P6, Rachel among others addressed this, I think they mostly missed the point. From the Attorney General’s website:

The Attorney General represents the United States in legal matters generally and gives advice and opinions to the President and to the heads of the executive departments of the Government when so requested. In matters of exceptional gravity or importance the Attorney General appears in person before the Supreme Court. Since the 1870 Act that established the Department of Justice as an executive department of the government of the United States, the Attorney General has guided the world’s largest law office and the central agency for enforcement of federal laws.

 …and all he can ask is that we…TALK about race? To the extent that we talk about cowardice…who is the coward?? Where is the cowardice?? Buster is absolutely right. I expect an Attorney General to talk about something more than…talk.

Last weekend the New York Times ran a poignant story on the plight of the new American poor. Middle managers forced to work menial labor after being let go as a result of the current economic crisis. 

Mark Cooper started his work day on a recent morning cleaning the door handles of an office building with a rag, vigorously shaking out a rug at a back entrance and pushing a dust mop down a long hallway.

Nine months ago he lost his job as the security manager for the western United States for a Fortune 500 company, overseeing a budget of $1.2 million and earning about $70,000 a year. Now he is grateful for the $12 an hour he makes in what is known in unemployment circles as a “survival job” at a friend’s janitorial services company. But that does not make the work any easier.

“You’re fighting despair, discouragement, depression every day,” Mr. Cooper said.

More here.

Craig Nulan has done yeoman’s work in uncovering the causes and consequences of this dynamic. And reading stories like this literally breaks my heart. But note the move here? The challenges that Mr. Cooper and others face as they struggle making $10/hour is the struggle that some of us have been trying to wrestle with for decades. Obama’s attempt to shift the nation leftward is only possible when the neoliberal exception becomes the rule. I still argue that exception is worth our time and our political energy. That we should care about the people who’ve BEEN making $10/hour as well as those who NOW make that much.