Let me just say that Matt Taibbi kicks much ass, so when I say this next part don't shoot me. Whenever I see him on Bill Maher I think he swears too m...moreLet me just say that Matt Taibbi kicks much ass, so when I say this next part don't shoot me. Whenever I see him on Bill Maher I think he swears too much. Yes, a contradiction but then I am full of contradictions.
Anyway, kudos to Matt for being an intrepid reporter. I wouldn't have wanted to participate in the church he did, to find out why people are so deranged. But he did and I and this book thank him for it.
Told with a great dose of humor, irony, satire and bewilderment this book is a great journey. It goes into what makes Americans who they are - the good, the bad and the ugly. (PS if you're one of those 'love America types who can't stand for people to criticize your country let me say (a) you're no patriot, you're part of the problem and (b) this book probably ain't for you.)
America is full of whack-a-doodles, tin-foil hat wearers, wingnuts, freaks and general misfits. Always has been. But over the years we've morphed our psyches, twisted them actually, into something perverse, egotistical and painful. We're still shouting 'We're #1' with big foam fingers to people who are actually passing us in the global race. How much dumber could we be? Plenty, actually.
Because on top of that, we think we're moral. Well, we're really not but religion works for good cover in the interim. We're greedy, self-interested folks who happen to like to shop a lot and eat a lot, and in some case, pray a lot. We critize the intellectuals, and despise elitism (?), and then get mad when someone says we cling to guns and religion - but we ARE clinging to guns and religion. lol
Matt's book goes a long way to exploring this cultural dichotomy and it's development. I found myself either shaking my head or chuckling - we ARE deranged, and that's not always a bad thing.
In the end though, we probably should work on being more united and being on a more even keel - we should probably work to be of the world and not above it, but it seems hard to comprehend how we can do that being so myopic. Make no mistake unless we get ourselves to a cultural opthamologist, we are indeed at the twilight of the American empire.
What we need to decide is where to from here - but even that will be difficult if we refuse to put our glasses on to read the map.(less)
And I was right. But, I suppose that's a good thing.
Reading this book is designed to make you mad, to wa...moreI knew it would make me mad to read this book.
And I was right. But, I suppose that's a good thing.
Reading this book is designed to make you mad, to want to do something about the 'pigs at the trough' as Ariana Huffington calls them; no, not the welfare mothers with their $241/mo checks. Heck, that's small potatoes.
I'm talking about major corporate welfare here; the subsidization of millionaires and billionaires. Sounds absurd, doesn't it? Especially when you see it in black and white. I mean, what would these people need with government money when they have piles of money of their own?
And yet they take it. By the handfuls, the bagfuls, the truckloads. The cataloging is precise, the figures unambiguous. Real wages for 90% of Americans have been declining over the last 30 years while corporate profits are through the roof. I was told, by one kind, compassion gentleman that, 'This is the new way, get used to it.' Of course, he was one of those corporate pirates, so should I be shocked by his flagrancy?
No one else seems to be. They shrug, and buy another IPod, or watch more reality TV.
Do I sound bitter? You bet. As a single parent, with one income, I struggle for every penny. I buy books for a quarter, not just because I love books so much but because economically - for me - that makes sense. I use the library (free) a lot, too. And I'm not saying it isn't the environmentally sensitive choice, either. I just resent being put into a forced position by someone else's rampant greed.
Did you know in this index there is no mention of philanthropy? Say what you will about the robber barons of old, but Carnegie left several endowments, trusts and libraries. Today's uber-rich spend it on themselves. Why? Because no one is telling them their greed is a bad thing; quite the contrary. We're being told their greed is a good thing because it keeps the economy afloat.
Now, you know you're screwed when you're relying on greedy rich people to keep you afloat...but I digress.
The book is a bit dry in parts, as to be expected. And the rambling, introductory anecdote about the golf course lost me and I almost gave up on the book (I can't stand golf or golf courses...I'm way too liberal and yep, see that land as future low-income housing! :P lol), but I hung in there.
It did pay off, though, in a moral sense, not just a statistical one. It pretty much put the 'no-regulation-needed' meme on permanent debunk. These guys are not more moral than most people; it's not hard work (or, if you insist *just hard work*) that got them where they are - a lot of it was bending or breaking rules, family connections, prior wealth as capital...a whole host of mitigating factors. And, not for nothing, raiding the government coffers for whatever they could get - and they usually could get quite a lot, depending on who was in power.
Sadly, the last chapter, entitled "What to do" is only 17 pages long. 17-freaking-pages. I think that says it all, don't you? The guy spent 282 pages detailing the abuses, the worst examples of greed (not even everything) and the the solution is a meager 17 pages long. But it can be boiled down to one phrase: "Watch these guys, don't trust them as far as you can throw them, and regulate, regulate, regulate."
Okay, let's be honest. This entire book is a rationale. Well, not just one rationale, but several: For why McClellan didn't do anything despite knowin...moreOkay, let's be honest. This entire book is a rationale. Well, not just one rationale, but several: For why McClellan didn't do anything despite knowing (or at the very least suspecting corruption and dishonesty) as well as why McClellan won't disavow the GOP.
All in all, though, his rationales are plausible, and that's what makes the book work. In the Bush Administration, it's easy to envision Cheney and Rove, for example, viewing McClellan as a nobody, a mouthpiece, and therefore it wouldn't matter if they lied to him about revealing the identity/cover of a covert CIA operative; to them, it was just business, not personal. Only their 'business' made him a liar and Scooter Libby a perjurer.
It's hard for me to read this stuff, looking around at the newspapers at the problems with the economy and the war this Administration has wrought, knowing McClellan for all his belated honesty and analysis is likely doing just fine financially - not only from his cushy job as White House spokesperson, but also from his book deal. But another part of me sees that he was, like many Americans, duped by this Administration. Should he have seen the signs? The answer is: Possibly. Maybe even probably, but many of us didn't either. (Personally, I wasn't ever in support of the Bush Administration, but many fine, upstanding, intelligent and intellectual friends of mine were...)
Still, it makes for compelling reading and the book maintains a decent pace; it slows a bit just past the halfway mark, but I didn't half wonder if that's because we already know the story, we already know how it ends. And by the mid of the book, he's done revealing his 'insider' knowledge and reverts to speculation. I don't know about you, but I'm sick of speculation. Between the punditry, and the news media, and the weekend political shows, I've had my fill of what people "think"; what I want to know is what are they doing to *do* about it. Scott offers few answers here, but it was heartening, if empty, to see he was willing to testify before the Senate - even if he essentially said, well, nothing.
This book isn't Earth-shattering, but it did give me a lot of insight into how the mind of George W. Bush works; there was a time where I thought that might be of little value. But as it seems the man is unlikely to be impeached, and will leave office fairly unscathed except in reputation, I think differently now. I want to know what he thinks and how he thinks, so that in judging future candidates if I see a similar pattern I can avoid it like the plague and spare this country unnecessary grief and suffering.(less)
While I like Glenn's column in Salon, I am not always sure the extended version works out so well, so I fell short of giving this book highest marks.
I...moreWhile I like Glenn's column in Salon, I am not always sure the extended version works out so well, so I fell short of giving this book highest marks.
I applaud his attempts to define the hypocrisy of the right; a fun job if done correctly. lol :P However, I don't really feel he broke new ground here, per se. A lot of these myths are only upheld by those invested in them, and a great many of them are not believed by the average person - for the most part.
But it's nice to see it all laid out so well. I only wish he'd given us a pocket list of bulletined points to keep handy for cocktail parties. :)(less)
This is an interesting extended essay (it's about 85 pages total text) on Google's attempt to digitalize quite a few of the world's most famous litera...moreThis is an interesting extended essay (it's about 85 pages total text) on Google's attempt to digitalize quite a few of the world's most famous literary works for the Internet.
It's an amazing enterprise to undertake, and there was much hew and cry about how it should be done. Many people, of all different backgrounds, took issue with Google's attempt and the manner in which it was going about achieving this goal. One of those people was Jean-Noel Jeanneney.
As President of France's Bibliotheque Nationale (National Library), his concern is that Google may (whether knowingly or unknowingly is unclear) damage the world's cultural heritage by dint of the fact that they were anticipating using primarily English translations for digitalization. M. Jeanneney argues that without the original language, history, and context, future generations may not be able to conceive, nor understand, or recall the importance and relevance of certain literary works and additionally what that may mean in terms of world-culture longevity.
Furthermore, he argues that this is yet another example of an English-language cultural dominance.
His main assertion, that an archive that doesn't include extensive 'other-than-English-language' editions of books could never be the proper foundations for a universal library, is supported through is actual use of Google as a search function. I, too, used the search function while reading this book, and can understand his concern.*
Jeanneney claims that he is supportive of the web archival process, but that it is the process for archiving items that requires the input of all librarians, record custodians, archivists and literary activists - and is not just a matter of corporate policy at Google. That is certainly understandable - the goals of each group are hardly the same.
I found the writing direct and well-reasoned, for the most part, though I felt some of his premise was wrong. I agree that the percentages are distorted, heavily in favor of English-language translations of major works, but I found 'Histoire D'Un Crime de Victor Marie Hugo' in its original French, so I believe that opinions such as that of M. Jeanneney have been heard loud and clear and that custodians of this project will work to ensure as fair a balance as humanly possible.
However, the issue of language is one of supreme importance to the French and I am unsure that they would be happy with any percentage achieved. I may be incorrect about this assertion of mine, but what is not in dispute is that his complaint is also an oft-repeated one (specifically by the French who object to Americanization of French culture - 't-shirt, snack-bar, hamburger'), from a historical and cultural perspective.
Additionally, the world is undergoing a huge globalization process, finding itself one globe rather than just 1000s of countries. Each country will want its language to be primary, will want its culture to be retained, will want its great literary works remembered. It is unclear how this process will shake down, as we are literally making up history as we go along.
I would, very tongue-in-cheek, state that the French have less to fear regarding American cultural dominance over the long haul, than say - authors from African, or perhaps even Middle Eastern, countries. The concern is valid to a degree, but Americans (by and large) share and appreciate French culture, even when they aren't too keen on the French themselves.
Hopefully, Google will bear all this in mind while undertaking the 21st century equivalent of mass literacy. There are a million ways to do it, 999,999 of which are wrong by most peoples' standards. With valued input, maybe - just maybe - Google has a shot at getting it right.
*I had slightly better results for foreign language editions than did M. Jeanneney, but this is 2007 and this book is from 2005. (less)
"Doctrine retells the story of the most dominant ideology of our time, Milton Friedman’s free market economic revolution. In contrast to the popular myth of this movement’s peaceful global victory, Klein shows how it has exploited moments of shock and extreme violence in order to implement its economic policies in so many parts of the world from Latin America and Eastern Europe to South Africa, Russia, and Iraq.At the core of disaster capitalism is the use of cataclysmic events to advance radical privatization combined with the privatization of the disaster response itself. Klein argues that by capitalizing on crises, created by nature or war, the disaster capitalism complex now exists as a booming new economy, and is the violent culmination of a radical economic project that has been incubating for fifty years."
That's really all you need to know, but this is a stunner of a book. It's an honest, yet cynical, look at capitalist government and the ideas of greed and exploitation of human suffering.
Depressions, mass poverty, private corporations looting public wealth are just some of the subjects that Klein addresses in her book, which is well-investigated.
This philosophy became evident during such crises as Hurricane Katrina, The War In Iraq™, even the Indonesian Tsunami - People with money would swoop in, privatize many functions and in the end, the citizens would lose out to hotels, conglomerates and consortiums.
Another wrinkle in the complexities of globalization, this book is a must-read. (less)