Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America’s Class War Paperback

Deer HuntingDeer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America’s Class War
by Joe Bageant

A raucous, truth-telling look at the white working poor-and why they hate liberalism.

Deer Hunting with Jesus is web columnist Joe Bageant’s report on what he learned when he moved back to his hometown of Winchester, Virginia, which-like countless American small towns-is fast becoming the bedrock of a permanent underclass. By turns brutal, tender, incendiary, and seriously funny, this book is a call to arms for fellow progressives with little real understanding of “the great beery, NASCAR-loving, church-going, gun-owning America that has never set foot in a Starbucks.”


BOOK REVIEW: Deer Hunting With Jesus
by Maxwell George

…One of the slickest things the right ever did was to label necessary social costs as “entitlements.” Through thirty years of repetition, the Republicans have managed to associate the term with laziness in Americans’ minds. To the ear of hardworking blue-collar and service workers, it means “something for nothing.” …The current political narratives are constructed by well-paid public relations professionals. Their job is made easy by the fact that Tom has neither the time nor the experience to deal with political complexity or with anything else other than his job.

…a lifetime pitted against your fellow workers in the gladiatorial theatre of the free market economy…

Sure, the working-class, rural “rednecks” of his hometown are dumb, he claims, but the gravest crime of ignorance is in the middle- and upper-class failure to consider, let alone comprehend, these exploited folks. That understanding is his mission.

Obama and Krugman: What About Public Service Jobs?

Paul Krugman - CaricatureAfter reading “Obama Gets Obama Hope StickerReal,” Paul Krugman’s column in yesterday’s New York Times about President Obama’s “income inequality” speech, I went to the transcript with anticipation.

I was disappointed. The speech is narrow and superficial. It fails to affirm the most important way to increase economic opportunity and decrease inequality: tax the wealthy, decrease military spending, and send the money to local governments for public service jobs.

The needs are enormous. Child care, teachers’ aides, peer counselors for drug and alcohol rehab, nursing home aides, in-home caregiving, park and recreation staff, community center staff, cultural enrichment, paratransit drivers, and environmental cleanup are some of the more obvious example.

But when Obama cited positive programs implemented by Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Franklin Roosevelt, he failed to mention the New Deal’s Work Projects Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps that hired people for those kind of jobs.

This neglect is all the more striking because the American people strongly support such measures. In March 2013, Gallup reported that more than 70%, including a majority of Republicans, support “a federal jobs creation law that would spend government money for a program designed to create more than 1 million new jobs.”

Instead, Obama said he wants “to make sure that every striving, hardworking, optimistic kid in America has the same incredible chance that this country gave me” to climb the ladder of success. The title of the speech on the White House website, “Remarks by the President on Economic Mobility,” indicates that it’s not really about substantially reducing economic inequality or assuring everyone a living-wage job opportunity (which is achievable). Rather, it’s about assuring “that if you work hard, you have a chance to get ahead.” [emphasis added] Then, by rebuilding the middle class, “because of upward mobility, the guy on the factory floor could picture his kid running the company some day.”

Give me a break. Unemployed workers and the working poor need more than a dream for their children and “a chance” to get ahead.

Though Obama mentions how reducing taxes on the wealthy contributed to today’s inequality, he does not propose reversing those reductions. Again, strong majorities support such measures, but he fails to push for them.

Concerning the role of education in the reduction of poverty, Krugman states:

What struck me about this speech, however, was what he had to say about the sources of rising inequality. Much of our political and pundit class remains devoted to the notion that rising inequality, to the extent that it’s an issue at all, is all about workers lacking the right skills and education. But the president now seems to accept progressive arguments that education is at best one of a number of concerns…,

Krugman is correct about the exaggerated emphasis on education as a solution, but I read Obama’s speech differently than he does. I see far too much emphasis on education in that speech.

We need better education for many reasons, including the inherent value of learning. But the best way to enable people to lift themselves out of poverty is to offer them a living-wage job – now, not after they get “educated.”

If all of the unemployed were suddenly trained overnight by virtue of some miracle, most of them would still be unemployed. There are only a limited number of seats in the theater. And there are many more patrons outside wanting to get in.

Obama probably really believes in the Horatio Alger myth. Upward mobility seems to have worked for him. But many success stories forget one key fact: they were lucky.

We need to offer our people more than “a chance” to get lucky.

Report: Half of U.S. Families Live on the Edge of ‘Economic Chaos’ (plus more)

cashregister-thumb-640xauto-9805Report: Half of U.S. Families Live on the Edge of ‘Economic Chaos’ 
by Imara Jones

Half of all families in the United States are poor, near poor or face economic insecurity where “one major setback in income could push them into poverty.” That’s the shocking conclusion of a report released today by The Hamilton Project.


Is Pope Francis Leaving Vatican At Night To Minister To Homeless?

…A knowledgable source in Rome told The Huffington Post that “Swiss guards confirmed that the pope has ventured out at night, dressed as a regular priest, to meet with homeless men and women.”


Is Wall Street Too Giddy?
The stock market reaches record highs as incomes stagnate. Tech companies with no revenue are valued in the billions of dollars. More analysts are seeing something unpleasantly familiar.

Are we in a stock market bubble that could soon burst?


‘TipsForJesus’ Is Leaving Thousands Of Dollars For Servers
By Mark Memmot

…TipsForJesus has been chronicling its good deeds on Instagram, saying its mission is “doing the Lords [sic] work, one tip at a time.” Gawker estimates about $54,000 has been handed out in the past several months.


Third Way’s Anti-Populist, Anti-Warren and Deceptive “Dead End”
By Richard Eskow

An almost palpable air of desperation clings to the anti-“populist,” anti-Elizabeth Warren editorial by Jonathan Cowan and Jim Kessler of the corporate-funded Third Way organization. If they’re worried, they’re right to worry. The world is changing.


Rumsfeld’s War and Its Consequences Now
By Mark Danner

A review of:

The Unknown Known
a film directed by Errol Morris

Known and Unknown: A Memoir
by Donald Rumsfeld
Sentinel, 815 pp., $36.00

By His Own Rules: The Ambitions, Successes, and Ultimate Failures of Donald Rumsfeld
by Bradley Graham
PublicAffairs, 803 pp., $18.95 (paper)


’Tis the Season to Be Food-Insecure

It is a strange and ironic truth that in the world’s richest democracy, many Americans are going to work in the morning, but they and their families are going to bed hungry at night.


Homage to the Idols of Idleness

…What could be gained from a single day set free from the clock’s tyranny, one spent wandering or daydreaming the hours away?


The Stem and the Flower

…How much emotional and psychic space should politics take up in a normal healthy brain?… politics should take up maybe a tenth corner of a good citizen’s mind. The rest should be philosophy, friendship, romance, family, culture and fun. I wish our talk-show culture reflected that balance, and that the emotional register around politics were more in keeping with its low but steady nature.


The Families We Invent

…As good as we humans are at division, we’re better still at connection.


The Pope and the Right

…This Catholic case for limited government, however, is not a case for the Ayn Randian temptation inherent to a capitalism-friendly politics. There is no Catholic warrant for valorizing entrepreneurs at the expense of ordinary workers, or for dismissing all regulation as unnecessary and all redistribution as immoral.