By Jimmy Dore
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Jimmy Dore, the comedy darling of America’s Progressive Left, answers all these questions and more! In this laugh-out-loud collection of essays that are both street-smart and informed, Jimmy sets out to discover what’s wrong. Crackling with caustic wit and insight, no aspect of American life is safe from Jimmy’s hilarious scrutiny. He gets to the heart of the issues: why Republicans should support gay marriage or why the President shouldn’t have Secret Security until the country has gun control, bringing clarity and hilarity to the incoherent noise of our punditocracy.
This outrageously entertaining manifesto is an excellent resource for those who have survived long arguments during family dinners. And in a media environment dominated by corporate interests, Jimmy’s take-no-prisoners approach is fearless: going after both political parties, and all corners of mainstream news. A David against an army of Goliaths.
Equal measures of silliness and spleen-venting, Your Country Is
Just Not That Into You is the most oddly uplifting political book of
THE SERIOUS BIT AT THE BEGINNING
I don’t know if this is a foreword, a preface, or an introduction (my appendix is already removed). For years as a comedian, I only watched television news to keep up with current events. At the beginning of my career, my comedy was not very concerned with politics.
That all changed with the Iraq war. The lies of government and the lazy complicity of the media made me realize that politics has consequences. After countless nights of throwing shoes at my television, I ran out of shoes and looked for alternatives, but throwing televisions at my shoes hurt my back.
Realizing the problems facing America are too important not to make fun of, I started bringing my views on stage with me. I’ve been a professional comedian my entire life, but I’m really just a member of the public. In my Comedy Central specials, media appearances, and radio shows, I have tried to put the “public” back into the “public discourse.” The mainstream media serves power instead of questioning it—the incestuous beltway punditocracy talks to itself, trying to curry favor or maintain “access”—indulging in a discourse completely divorced from the lives and realities of working Americans.
TV news has become a haven for careerists and opportunists. When the economy collapsed, the supposed business “experts” didn’t know what hit them. After the wars in the Middle East dragged on, there was no Hall of Shame for the pundits that got it wrong—they never had to face disgrace while American soldiers faced bullets. The talking heads that engage in the most odious race-baiting are rewarded with promotions and more air time. These same think-tank Mediaocrities continue to contaminate the news cycles, calling for the persecution of patriots like Snowden and Manning, just as they derided the people who opposed the Iraq war a decade ago.
Watch the commercials for the Sunday morning shows, and you’ll see that they’re sponsored by your friendly local military contractor. I don’t know about you, but I don’t plan on purchasing a 747 anytime soon . . . so why does Boeing buy airtime every Sunday?
CNN seems designed for necrophiliacs. Fox News panders to the demographic that needs their prejudices confirmed (you’d think Fox News would support universal healthcare just to keep their geriatric audience alive). It’s called “old media” for a reason. No wonder viewers are leaving network news in droves. Young people are finding alternatives on the Internet, where voices can be uncensored and more honest.
It’s easy to fixate on Fox News—the Lee Atwater wet-dream network (the Southern Strategy made national)—but they’re only part of the problem. You can imagine the Hannitys and O’Reillys cashing their monthly million-dollar checks with the rationalization that, instead of giving the public what it needs, they give it what it wants. Sadly, they still successfully pollute the public’s perception of important issues. Bush lied us into a war, Obama lied us into healthcare—which one are you more upset by?
The media is only one facet of the deeper problem in America. That problem is money in politics. Our elected officials serve money and not the people. This is not because all of them are inherently corrupt, but because our political system has been retrofitted to accommodate the interests of the wealthy. Politicians give lip service to issues like inequality and then give actual lip service to the corporations responsible for it (the hooker behind the liquor store type of lip service). The two parties are conglomerated with moneyed interests as election campaigns have become open markets of legal bribery. The most loyal corporate soldiers are rewarded with lobbying or consultant jobs after serving their time in political office.
This is money without nationality or loyalty or empathy—and it has the loudest voice in our country. The ultimate aim of American politics today is figuring out how the wealthy can persuade the most amount of people to use their vote to keep wealth in power. Of course, society’s struggle against concentrations of power is eternal. But we are far away from the era of trust-busting and the New Deal that gave working Americans a say in the future for them and their families. Today the pendulum has swung dangerously far with little sign of it swinging back.
Don’t think it’s all doom and gloom. In America, the people are better than their politicians, and with social issues, the public is far ahead of its supposed representatives. The sweep of history favors progressive ideals and social justice—that is a truism proven every day. As the country embraced gay marriage, gun control, legalized marijuana, and said “NO!” to a war in Syria, and doesn’t seem very hot on reigniting the cold war, politicians and news anchors had to play catch up with the American people.
HOW TO USE THIS BOOK
Over the years, I’ve been observing the American political scene as it portrays itself through the media. I’ve collected the little moments in the discourse where the cracks are showing. Through these cracks escapes some failed deception or truth, enabling me to make my own cracks. These fragments form a twitching mosaic that tell the bigger story of what’s wrong in America.
It’s all here, from the inconsequential to the important stuff. And don’t let the occasional numbers and facts fool you: beneath this book’s snarky juvenile exterior hides a deeply immature inner soul that is also pissed off.
Flip through the book the same as you would switch channels with your remote control. If you think a section stinks, I promise it’ll be over soon (I wish I could say the same about Joyce Carol Oates novels). I hit upon different aspects of the same problem only because I think certain points are worth hammering into the ground.
If the jokes seem to hit below the beltway, it is only because I don’t take these people as seriously as they take themselves.
Don’t feel sorry for anyone skewered in this book. From years of observation I can tell you that they lack shame, they don’t feel pain, and they don’t feel pain for others (unless there’s a camera on). The fact that they’re laughing all the way to the bank means that we should laugh harder behind their backs.
If you purchase this book for no other reason than as something you can throw at these people, I’ll be happy.
INTRODUCTION: NOT POLITICAL
“Do you pay attention to your fucking life?!”
In retrospect, it wasn’t the most tactful thing I could have said.
I was talking to Greg, a friend from my old neighborhood, whom I hadn’t seen in years. I was born on the South Side of Chicago in a family of 12 kids. They say you learn a lot about life growing up in a big family. The biggest thing I learned was that I was easily replaced.
I knew that, if I died, it wasn’t going to put a big dent in my parents’ plans. Can’t imagine my mom sitting around crying, “Oh no, Jimmy’s gone! What am I going to do now . . . with just the ELEVEN OF YOU? How do I fill the empty 1/12th of my heart?”
I grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood. It was really blue collar . . . you know, racist.
The part of town I grew up voted for the Democrats for the better part of a century, until the first African-American Democratic candidate for mayor appeared on the ticket. Suddenly, my part of town realized they were actually Republicans.
These were the people who worked all day in physically demanding jobs they hated. After work, they’d stop at the bar to down a six pack while complaining about minorities and then go home to watch reruns of Archie Bunker . . . and laugh for all the wrong reasons. They didn’t understand that they were supposed to be laughing at Archie Bunker, not with him. I used to run through my house yelling, “No, Meathead is right! Meathead is right!”
They loved to brag about how physically hard their jobs were. It was a weird macho competition where the winner was the guy who had the shittiest job.
“I worked a double shift on a stand-up forklift in a warehouse without air conditioning, in temperatures over 120 degrees,” or “I started plowing snow at midnight on Friday, didn’t stop until Sunday at 6pm. That’s right, 40 hours straight at TRIPLE TIME!” was the kind of bragging you’d hear from guys in my neighborhood.
The only thing better than working a job that would put you into an early grave was having a job that paid well and required no work. Think toll booth operator. I know it sounds like a job you would try to avoid, but in my neighborhood, guys vigorously pursued these jobs. Toll booth workers were admired cuz they got to sit on their ass all day and got Dental.
A job at a major utility was also great for not working. My friend Danny worked for the Commonwealth Edison, the company that powered Chicago, and his favorite brag was “Today I spent 8 hours looking for a pipe. . . . Guess what? I didn’t find it!” And he would laugh as if he had beaten life.
Of course the only job that could top them all was Chicago city fireman—the crown jewel of blue-collar jobs. Respect and envy ran deep for the fireman, for they could trump any occupational brag. A fireman could both boast about not working at all and having to do the hardest, most dangerous work in the world.
Chicago city firemen had 24-hour shifts, and consequently, they only went into work 7 days a month. Basically they spent their shifts sleeping, eating, or playing cards. So most of their time they were getting paid union wages to do nothing. But at the bar, they could also tell stories about climbing three flights of stairs in pitch-black smoke and carrying down a 300-pound elderly lady. Not that these firemen were slackers. Most worked heavy-duty second jobs in their off-hours, like carpentry or bricklaying, driving their co-workers nuts by boasting about getting paid for sleeping at the firehouse.
Those were the exceptions. This was a world where hard work wasn’t shunned but embraced. These men worked until their bodies burned out. They sacrificed for their families and for the American promise that, if you worked hard, you could have a good middle-class life. Sadly, that is no longer the case. This is a different America. We are now a nation in which workers live near the poverty line, where social mobility is stuck in quicksand, wages barely support a family, and third world labor forces making first-world products is the norm. We innovate financial schemes like derivatives, credit default swaps, and mortgage backed securities—all things that create money for the money changers and add nothing to the economy or society. Which leads me back to my friend Greg.
My friend Greg was now living in St. Louis. In the fall of 2008 I visited him. He used to be a mortgage broker. I say “used to,” because he lost his job when, um, well . . . you know (like I said, it was 2008).
Greg was going through all the new American rites of passage: out of work, lost his health insurance, upside-down on his own house. All of this while raising a family with one kid in college, the other in Afghanistan, and a wife with a medical condition. He was in a tough spot, and I couldn’t have felt more sorry for him. And worst of all, he lives in St. Louis.
He told me that nobody saw the financial crisis coming. Nobody? All the brainiacs in the banking business, the guys on Wall Street buying and selling mortgage securities, the federal regulators—none of them had a clue that a train wreck of 1930s proportions was on its way? There were some pretty big train wrecks in the 1930s . . . oh, and there was also the Great Depression.
I’m a comedian. If comedy were about to make millions of people lose their homes and cause giant, 100-year-old banks to fail, I think I would try to warn people. Hell, I tried to warn people about Dane Cook and Jay Leno. If I didn’t see something like that coming, expert that I am supposed to be, I would at least feel like a dick for a super long time.
However, I was conflicted. Greg has always stayed gleefully ignorant of politics and current events that are not celebrity- or sports-related. So I thought it was kind of sad that it took this horrible turn of events and the shittiest government since the invention of shitty governments to make my friend politically aware. At the same time, I was a little happy. I thought that, from then on, we would engage each other in conversations of substance and import. Our time together would be meaningful, and maybe we would even grow closer (not that I really care, I have enough friends, I tell myself).
I was eager to begin, and blurted out my conversation-starter: “So, who are you voting for?”
“Oh, I don’t pay attention to politics,” Greg said matter-of-factly.
“Well, do you pay attention to your fucking LIFE!?” I replied, with my conversation-ender. Maybe I could have been more tactful and gone with, “OK, if you could have lunch with any politician, living or dead, who would it be? And would you ask them about the deregulated financial system that put you in the poor house?”
That evening I returned to my hotel, counting how many friends I had left, and on television I heard this:
“As you know, I’m not political at all on my show.”
–Andy Cohen, television host
That was said by openly gay television host Andy Cohen. He was making the rounds on TV talking about gay rights and how important they are . . . but please don’t forget that he’s not political at all, except, I guess, when he stops to talk about the most incendiary political topic of our time. Then he’s political.
Yeah, it’d be nice if every “non-political” person’s pet issue wasn’t inextricably connected to every other political issue in the whole world. Saying you’re “not political” and then talking about gay marriage and civil rights is like calling yourself a vegetarian when you eat chickens and pandas. Andy Cohen is an openly gay TV host, for Christ’s sake! That in itself is a huge political statement.
We are all political. If you want the pothole in front of your house fixed, that’s politics. If you want better schools for your kids, that’s politics. If you don’t want your tax dollars wasted on foreign wars, that’s politics. If you want clean air and water, that’s politics. If you want to be able to go to the doctor when you get sick without going bankrupt, that’s politics. And if you want equality for gay people under the law, that is not only political, but to a lot of people, including lots of good white Christians, that’s also radical.
Most things are considered radical until they aren’t anymore, like slavery. That was pretty radical. Oh yeah, owning and enslaving other people was a real hot-button political issue; it was the “gay rights” of its day. Imagine Abraham Lincoln saying, “I’m calling for completely changing the economic model for half the country to assure equal rights for all people . . . but don’t worry, this isn’t political.”
Why does this bother me? Is it because the Andy Cohens of the world think it makes them more mature to say, “I’m not political!”? I guess it bothers me because I know people like that. The people who like to play the nice, happy-go-lucky guy that everybody likes, who isn’t strident like those “political types.” Get it? He’ll never do anything that is the least off-putting, and he certainly won’t say anything to make you question your beliefs.
It creates this false world of “getting along just fine without politics.” As if nice people, friendly people, likable people don’t talk about politics. My friend Greg said folks in St. Louis “don’t like to have those kinds of conversations.”
Even when their lives are crushed by a collapsed unregulated economy, they act as if politics is a luxury, reserved for people with too much time on their hands. As if government has as much relevance to their lives as Arena Football. I just don't get that mentality. They could be a Jew in 1932 Germany and be voting for Hitler. “I don't pay attention to politics, I let the guy with the little mustache take care of stuff. I’ve got other stuff to do, you know?”
Not that the media makes it easy for them to get informed. Who would've guessed that corporate made-for-profit news might be less than informative? Some media outlets are actual defense contractors, like NBC and MSNBC, which are 49% owned by General Electric, which sucks more than $1.8 billion out of the Pentagon’s tit every year. Trying to get the truth about a war from these multinational corporations is like trying to get the truth from someone . . . who is not inclined to give it to you! . . . (OK, my analogies are wanting, and I didn’t want to mention Hitler and the Jews again, but I’m taking a class at the Learning Annex.)
In fact, most people are so misinformed that they still believe the myth that news is controlled by a “Liberal Media.” My friend recently said he doesn't watch NBC, “because they're too liberal.” Hmmm . . . a liberal defense contractor full of vegetarian hippies manufacturing hemp-knitted cruise missiles, makes sense.
Me? I sometimes wish I were the kind of person who only watched Fox News. I like my news given to me straight, exactly how the Koch brothers, the Heritage Foundation, and Rupert Murdoch want me to hear it. Don’t waste your audience’s time by getting all fact-checky about the supposed information you’re broadcasting. What good does that do? I mean, let's say you discover that politicians are stating incorrect “facts” (which they usually are). What then? They’re just going to keep doing exactly whatever they want, whether it’s bad for the country or just super-bad (and I don’t mean black-exploitation-movie kind of “super-bad,” I mean the way the words were actually meant to mean). So now all you've done is upset yourself because you know the "truth.” I've seen it happen to people I love. My brother only watches Bill Moyers on PBS, and now he walks around anxious and miserable all the time. Bill Moyers and his crew are always investigating and finding out stuff, like facts. They’re constantly exposing the current administration’s lies, propaganda, and spin. Yet it hasn’t changed a thing, and my brother has developed a bleeding ulcer.
It's enough to make you move to St. Louis.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE MEDIA?
“I don’t think we [shape perceptions of the Iraq war] . . . but we try.”
–Rupert Murdoch, Australian
The Media is owned by five guys. I know this because I had it explained to me when I was on mushrooms, and I had clarity.
Rupert Murdoch is the boss of those guys. He owns everything. I’m kidding . . . a little. He only controls all the news and information in most of the world. Stuff like the Wall Street Journal, NewsCorp, Twentieth Century Fox, Direct TV, Sky TV, Fox News, the New York Post, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Village Voice (how did that happen?), the Boston Herald, London’s Sunday Times, and most TV in Europe, Asia, and Australia . . . OK, you get the point, right? Because if not, I could list TV Guide, the Sun, five more British national newspapers, most of England’s satellite TV, and oh yeah, he also bought MySpace.
And then he bought the Dow Jones.
Did you read that last part? He bought the Dow Jones. Which (I have to be honest here) I didn’t know you could fucking do! Seriously, you can buy the STOCK MARKET??!! How much money does that guy have?!
I would love to be a fly on the wall in his office. I imagine him sitting in his whale-skin chair, stroking a Persian cat with a diamond collar . . .
Murdoch: I think I want to buy a business.
Lackey: All right sir, which business would you like to purchase?
Murdoch: Hmm . . . ALL of THEM.
Lackey: Wow, ballsy move sir. Well played. Anything else you would like to acquire while I’m at it?
Murdoch: Yes . . . THE ALPHABET!
Lackey: Well, that one is going to cost you.
Murdoch: Well skip “Q,” I don’t need “Q”; it will be quicker that way . . . Wait! I do need “Q”!!
Then, I imagine he presses a button that burns a barrel of oil just for kicks.
You may be asking, “But Jimmy, how does this affect me? What do I care who owns a satellite company, or a newspaper which I don’t read?”
If you get all your information from the Media, and the Media is owned by a handful of dudes who want to go to war, what do you think they’d do?
First thing, scare the shit out of everyone! Do I even need to point this out? Watch any television newscast, and I dare you not to shit your pants, metaphorically and literally. Double dare! Sissy.
If you listen to the Media, Al Qaeda members are ten feet tall and made out of titanium. They’re also a special kind of crazy. A crazy we’ve never seen before! Look out! These Al Qaeda are crazier than Charlie Manson!!
In reality, Al Qaeda is just a bunch of cavemen that had one good day . . . and they had to buy a plane ticket to do it. Seriously, they don’t even own a plane, for fuck’s sake.
“I’m going to blow you up in the name of ALLAH! . . . But I got bumped, and I’m on standby . . . this is so embarrassing.” Makes you almost feel sorry for the little terrorist without Orbitz.
No matter what, though, the Media needs us to feel afraid of the TERROR! They have kept us scared. How scared? Well, think about this: We were so scared in America after 9/11 that you couldn’t make fun of the president anymore. At least I couldn’t, and I used to make fun of Ronald Reagan! And people loved Ronald Reagan! Fuckin’ loved him! Because people love the guy that looks like what a president is supposed to look like, even if he is raping them . . . right in the asshole . . . that they shit out of. People loved him so much they buried him three times (and at none of his funerals did anybody remember to drive a stake through his heart).
So after 9/11, we found ourselves here, in the United States of America, where we treasure our right to lampoon our elected officials. We hold it as sacrosanct as a congressman’s third marriage. We had the biggest moron in the White House since people started saying “moron.” People were so scared they would yell at you for making a joke about the president.
Case in point: Shortly after 9/11, I was doing some George W. Bush jokes at a club in Houston (because I’m brilliant!), and I got the strangest heckle I ever gotten in my career. Out of the darkness, I heard, “Hey, he’s protecting your freedom of speech! Now shut the fuck up!”
Wow, it was weird. For the first time in my life, I was caught in a riddle.
Just a few weeks later, I was in Ft. Lauderdale (again, I am brilliant!). Right in the middle of the same Bush jokes, a guy flips me off with both hands (which I guess he did so I would not mistake this for a casual or pleasant flip-off), and yells, “Fuck you! Go back to your Jew state!”
“Um, dude,” I said, “We’re in Florida. You might want to icksnay on the ew-Jay. They’re all around us.”
The point is, we are sufficiently scared. Now we can be manipulated. Let’s say your government wants to start an illegal war. Maybe invade a country that isn’t a threat, but has shit-loads of oil (and I’m talking metric shit-loads here). However, they can’t just say that is what they are going to do. So, they concoct a story, but they need someone to sell it to you. Bingo! How about the guy who owns most of the media in Australia, Britain, and the U.S.? And those are the three main countries going along with Bush’s brilliant war! And the guy with all the media really wants this war, too! It’s almost like God wanted it this way!
I’m sure it’s all just a coincidence.
So, there you are: scared, with no home, no healthcare, and $5 per gallon gas, and your government has no funds to help you, because it’s all sitting in a hole called Iraq.
That’s how it affects you. Suck it.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, CITIZEN
Jimmy Dore is: outrageous and outraged, bothersome and bothered, and a crucial, profane, passionate voice for progressives and free-thinkers in 21st century America. This book will anger you if you're a conservative and enrage you if you're a liberal. Enjoy!”
Jimmy has written a book with a very funny title. It turns out there are thousands of funny things in the book too! And the end is inspirational (go on, leaf ahead, I'll wait)...See, I told you. Now buy it.”
Ben Mankiewicz, host of Turner Classic Movies
If you're interested in laughing, you're interested in Jimmy Dore. You know what this country needs? It needs to read more from Jimmy Dore. What makes Jimmy really funny is his honesty. The whole book rings true because it is true.”
Cenk Uygar, host of The Young Turks, the world's largest online news show”
Jimmy Dore is one of the the funniest human beings I've ever met. I'm a huge fan of his stand up, podcast, and ping pong serve. I love his new book. It made me laugh and it makes sense.”
Bill Burr, comedian
- On Sale
- Jul 8, 2014
- Page Count
- 288 pages
- Running Press