IN THE MAIL: Deer Hunting With Jesus

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

After thirty years spent scratching together a middle-class life out of a –dirt-poor” childhood, Joe Bageant moved back to his hometown of Winchester, Virginia, where he realized that his family and neighbors were the very people who carried George W. Bush to victory. That was ironic, because Winchester, like countless American small towns, is fast becoming the bedrock of a permanent underclass. Two in five of the people in his old neighborhood do not have high school diplomas. Nearly everyone over fifty has serious health problems, and many have no health care. Credit ratings are low or nonexistent, and alcohol, overeating, and Jesus are the preferred avenues of escape.

A raucous mix of storytelling and political commentary, Deer Hunting with Jesus is Bageant’s report on what he learned by coming home. He writes of his childhood friends who work at factory jobs that are constantly on the verge of being outsourced; the mortgage and credit card rackets that saddle the working poor with debt, i.e., –white trashonomics”; the ubiquitous gun culture–and why the left doesn’t get it; Scots Irish culture and how it played out in the young life of Lynddie England; and the blinkered –magical thinking” of the Christian right. (Bageant’s brother is a Baptist pastor who casts out demons.) What it adds up to, he asserts, is an unacknowledged class war. 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.”

If that ain’t enough, it got a glowing endorsement from Howard Zinn.

I’m not quite sure how much of the book (and even the title) is a sarcastic, point-making effort and how much of it is meant to be serious, but there’s no doubt a lot of potential for comedy when you compare the stereotypical redneck, gun-toting Conservative with the stereotypical hippie, Starbucks-drinking Liberal.


  1. Considering that I’ve gone from ‘dirt poor’ to ‘middle class’ in less than 10 years with virtually no scratching, I’m less than inclined to give much weight to his opinions. In fact, I’m pretty sure that if I were inclined to do a little scratching, I could have gone upper-class.

  2. Ehrenreich is a super hack who ripped off Orwell’s ‘Down and Out in Paris and London.’ George didn’t have a house on Key West to go back to when he was cooking rats in kitchens, one of the reasons I can’t take that broad seriously. And, since I know you loves you some red meat when it comes to Immigration Mr. M, read this stinker that she slapped together: Now, the thing to remember here is that this is the Starbucks swillin’, GWB hatin’, Identity Politics lovin’ Huffington Post… yet, the comment section roasts her over an open pit on this. Nobody likes this thing. Die, Immigration Bill, die.

  3. Surprisingly, I think that Marilyn Manson summed up things quite well in his ‘Love Song’. ————————————– The Love Song Marilyn Manson lyrics Artist: Marilyn Manson Album: Lest We Forget – The Best Of Year: 2004 Title: The Love Song The bullet: ‘I’ve got a crush on a pretty pistol should I tell her that I feel this way? Father told us to be faithful I’ve got a crush on a pretty pistol should I tell her that I feel this way I’ve got love songs in my head that are killing us away’ The Father: ‘do you love your guns?’ (yeah) ‘god?’ (yeah) ‘your government?’ ‘do you love your guns?’ (yeah) ‘god?’ (yeah) ‘your government?’ (fuck yeah) The bullet: ‘She tells me I’m a pretty bullet I’m gonna be a star someday Mother says that we should look away She tells me I’m a pretty bullet an Imitation Christ I’ve got love songs in my head that are killing us away’ The Father: ‘do you love your guns?’ (yeah) ‘god?’ (yeah) ‘your government?’ (fuck yeah) [] Sounds about like where I live. Mostly. except for a virulent strain of moonbats infecting the legislature. Respects,

  4. I just read this transcrip of an interview of Lou Dobbs on Glen Beck’s show. I think there’s less and less difference between what they’ve called red and blue American. I think the difference is largely artificial and hyped by corporations and the media to keep the rest of us under control. We can’t get off oil, for example, even though what they call red America thinks oil is funding terrorism and what they call blue America thinks it is causing global warming, yet there is no cooperation between the two groups to wean us off of oil because the big oil companies wouldn’t like that. So instead of cooperating they play us one against the other. Same thing with defense, both sides know it’s falling apart, but there is no dialog or even an attempt to fix the very real problems we are having. GLENN: Lou, tell me, if America continues down this path, what does America look like and when does it really–when do you hit the point of no return? DOBBS: Well, that happens to be the subject of my new book that’s coming out this fall, Glenn. And it’s entitled ‘The New America.’ What does it look like? Imagine a country in which we are failing an entire generation of students. Public schools the great equalizer in society of ours. Imagine what this country would look like with wages either continuing to either stag nature or decline and for the first time survey after survey showing the parents no longer believe their children will have a better life than theirs in this country, the middle class aspirations, the American dream are in danger of forfeit. That’s why I tell all of my viewers and readers, it is time to register as an Independent. I don’t care what you consider yourself, whether you consider yourself a Republican, a Democrat, a liberal or a conservative, libertarian or Green Party member. Go down and for God sake quit being taken for granted. Register as Independent. Vote for whoever the hell you want to come election time, but don’t be part of this mass dysfunctional electoral system that is now dominated by special interests and corporate America. Republican and Democratic parties are simply opposite wings of the same bird, and believe me, what keeps them both flying is branding and marketing organizations, is corporate money. GLENN: I think I’ve often compared them to, they are both taking this to the same exact destination. One’s just taking us there in a train and the other’s taking us there in a jet plane but they are taking us to the same destination. But when you speak out, I mean, I’ve said this, and I don’t know how many of my audiences has done it. I’ve said, please go right now and take your name out of the Democratic party or the Republican party because this is why our cities are failing. If you look at the poverty rates in some of the nation’s biggest cities, they have had, you know, Detroit, 35% poverty rate. They haven’t had a Republican administration in there for 35 years or, what is it, 45 years. In city after city it’s these cities that have been taken for granted, these people who have just said, well, they’re not going to vote, you know, anybody else in and they’re taken for granted and they’re screwed to the wall, and that’s what’s happening. The Republicans are screwing the Republicans to the wall, the Democrats are screwing the Democrats to the wall because they know you ain’t going to vote for the other guy. DOBBS: Whether we’re talked about the 2005 bankruptcy law or whatever it may be, you know, corporate America is literally writing laws. There was a time they simply influenced legislation, but the 2005 bankruptcy law as an example was written, parts of it were actually written by the credit card companies. We have reached a point in this country that we either have to demand leadership or we have no one else to blame but ourselves and it’s why in my book last year, War on the Middle Class and I’ve been crying out for this for years now, we have to assert our independence and without that independence, the country that we were bequeathed by people with greater character and capacity than ours obviously will be forfeited. We have to find that character and that quality of leadership somehow, in very short order. 2008 is the nearest and best opportunity, but it’s going to have to be better than what I’ve seen from these 18 announced candidates.