Wow wow wow! Best book I've read (listened to) in a long time. The basic idea is very familiar: rich and powerful avoid consequences for enormous crimWow wow wow! Best book I've read (listened to) in a long time. The basic idea is very familiar: rich and powerful avoid consequences for enormous crimes while the poor and powerless get their lives wrecked for small infractions. It's the stark contrast of the examples Taibbi provides that makes it so enraging, so infuriating, so inspiring to make change.
The Wall Street crimes are translated into everyday language; Taibbi has waded through all the complex cases and boiled it down for us to see what happened. The complexities themselves are one of the reasons they do get away with things. The Main Street crimes are so familiar they need no translation. And these aren't crimes like robbery and assault; they're crimes like walking your dog outside your house and chasing your bolting toddler into a convenience store with a lit cigarette.
He could be criticized for only presenting bad guys on Wall Street and good guys on Main Street. Of course, there's plenty of both on both streets. But he isn't trying to compare Wall Street and Main Street as a whole. He's trying to illustrate how the worst people on Wall Street are treated so much better than the best people on Main Street.
I thought it was going to be about the wealth gap. Turns out it's more about the inequitable treatment in the justice system depending on which side of the wealth gap you're on. A lot of info about the changes in policing methods and philosophies that have occurred in the past 20 years. It was like the missing puzzle pieces that explained why Ferguson et al generated such a reaction throughout the States in 2014. As Taibbi points out, middle class light skinned people will find the stories he tells incredible because they're based on "crimes" that many of us have participated in and suffered no consequence. Yet these same crimes are used over and over again in the right (wrong?) neighbourhoods to wreck lives.
One of the most infuriating points that shows up most often in these stories is the idea of collateral consequences. It's where the effect of a conviction or sentence on the perpetrator's family, friends, and business interests is taken into account. Over and over again, the principle is applied to minimize the effect on Wall Street and ignored on Main Street.
Surprisingly, Taibbi is clearly not partisan in his views. He does engage with the material and insert opinion and observation in the midst of the details. He's more harshly critical of Obama and Clinton than he is of Bush. It's not really a right/left thing. Regardless of what one thinks should be a crime, everyone should be able to agree that we are all equal when it comes to the law.
The narrator for the audiobook version has just the right tone of incredulity and occasional outrage necessary for so much of this material. ...more
Wow! Funny, insightful, irreverent, inspiring even. This ain't no memoir that lists off his challenges and achievements in chronological order. He hitWow! Funny, insightful, irreverent, inspiring even. This ain't no memoir that lists off his challenges and achievements in chronological order. He hits interesting little stories from various points in his life before he hit the big time with Roger & Me. Almost Forest Gump-like in his uncanny proximity to various notable events in those years. One of the best stories was Boys State, where the boy who just wanted to eat chips in his dorm room is drawn out by a speech contest, causes a near riot to the wild approval of thousands, ends up with a national profile and a hand in a significant piece of civil rights legislation. The audio version is read by Moore himself and couldn't be better. He's got the comic timing down, the voices, the right note of indignation or sympathy or sarcasm. Just a fantastic read, filled with humour and social commentary. ...more
I prefer Jon Stewart's approach, but Colbert is certainly enjoyable. I can't imagine reading this book - listening is the way to go. The audiobook seeI prefer Jon Stewart's approach, but Colbert is certainly enjoyable. I can't imagine reading this book - listening is the way to go. The audiobook seems like a must in order to get the performance aspect right from the man himself. ...more
With the many tales of incompetence and blundering and bureaucratic wrangling, the biggest impression I took from this book was that the CIA was not tWith the many tales of incompetence and blundering and bureaucratic wrangling, the biggest impression I took from this book was that the CIA was not the home of superslick superspies like James Bond. Rather it relied on and cultivated that image to enhance its influence. In reality its successes were few and far between, and its failures and deficiencies far more spectacular. The level of confidence among Presidents was often shaky as the Agency was on a seemingly endless journey to discover its identity and purpose. Another impression I take from it is how many of the decisions to engage in repulsive actions like assassinations and overthrows weren't necessarily taken lightly and were the subject of some debate, albeit among insiders primarily. The fact that they went ahead with so many of these projects isn't exactly condemned by Weiner. There's a lament for the lack of success and the need to develop inside information on competitors (or enemies). Underlying the book is the general acceptance of America's right to intervene in the democratic affairs of sovereign nations, and that's its greatest weakness. Weiner doesn't shy away from pointing it out but neither does he suggest it might be wrong. All in all, it's an illuminating book that takes the sheen off the armour of a fabled agency. ...more
A de-regulated market caused the 2008 financial meltdown, and the solution proposed by the Tea Party and conservatives in general is to loosen up evenA de-regulated market caused the 2008 financial meltdown, and the solution proposed by the Tea Party and conservatives in general is to loosen up even more. The idea makes no sense yet it has captured the imagination and devotion of a large vocal segment of Americans who wield a disproportionate amount of political power. Frank does a fine job of exploring how this came to pass. He's waded into the conservative world - attending rallies, reading books and magazines, listening to radio shows - and come up with a plausible explanation of how a very real impulse - outrage over the massive transfer of wealth to the wealthy in 2008/2009 - could be misdirected into a general attack on government. Somehow, they've come to think that what's good for the billionaire, is good for the average guy. While he spends most of the time looking at the tactics used by the Right to achieve its goals, he lays part of the blame on liberals who failed to seize the opportunity. The audiobook is read by the author with passion and a bit of can-you-believe-this rather than outrage. His timing and delivery of the funny bits are excellent and must be an improvement over the printed version. ...more
Who would want to live in Guatemala after reading this book? It seems that anyone interested in the pursuit of justice is putting their life and the lWho would want to live in Guatemala after reading this book? It seems that anyone interested in the pursuit of justice is putting their life and the lives of their loved ones at risk. Police officers, reporters, protestors, clerics, prosecutors, judges - routinely threatened with death, many go into exile, others are tortured and killed. Talk about pressure. This is the kind world we live in fear of should organized crime take over. Yet in Guatemala those who are in power are behind it. The people who still try to do the right thing are simply heroic. The story itself is messy - the evidence is difficult to come by and filled with inconsistencies, half-truths, and changing stories. Goldman does a fine job of presenting the various leads and theories, and guiding the reader along as he ties them together in reasonable conclusions. By the end, this particular case is pretty much wrapped up, although with plenty of loose ends. The most disturbing of which is the system of power in Guatemala that likely orchestrated the bishop's murder remains largely in place. The role of the U.S. is not a primary storyline but it is there in the background: the military training provided and the political and financial support for the system of power, yet throughout this case, the diplomatic support for those pursuing it. The book doesn't ask this question, but what would Guatemala be like if the U.S. hadn't overthrown Arbenz and supported the military and its death squads for so many decades? That has to be a big part of how they ended up with what they've got now. ...more
Israel/Palestine: terribly complex issues, tread carefully, don't want to be anti-Semitic. Finkelstein says not really, that's just so much smoke throIsrael/Palestine: terribly complex issues, tread carefully, don't want to be anti-Semitic. Finkelstein says not really, that's just so much smoke thrown up by pro-Israeli apologists to keep people from examining the issues. This book tackles many of them, primarily through closely examining the work of Alan Dershowitz, the Harvard law professor and a leading proponent of Israel, and comparing it to reports from various human rights agencies. When reading opinion pieces like this, I assume I'm just getting one side of the argument. Not so here. Example after example from Dershowitz and others are quoted, then examined. What is one to think when over and over again their statements are shown to be illogical or even false. And it's not just Finkelstein's opinion. He spent a lot of time checking Dershowitz's footnotes, and found numerous examples where the assertion is based on, say, the first phrase of a sentence, but ignores the latter part which totally negates the assertion. Finkelstein simply uses Dershowitz's own work against him! Other times the footnote refers to a solitary piece of evidence like, say, a confidential source. Finkelstein then draws in multiple published sources which completely demolish Dershowitz's point. Sprinkled throughout are funny and devastating one-liners that express Finkelstein's incredulity over what Dershowitz et al try to get away with. A fair bit of material is also provided on Dershowitz's response to this book. Once again, using his own work against him, the lack of substantial rebuttal demonstrates the weakness of Dershowitz's arguments. And this is one of the Israel lobby's shining lights (not to mention Harvard)? Really, it's Finkelstein who performs a valuable service to Israel by providing this kind of critique that clarifies the issues. And it's quite useful for someone like me with limited knowledge of them. ...more
Not knowing much at all about anarchism or Staughton Lynd, this book sounded like a good introduction. I like the idea of a conversation, anticipatingNot knowing much at all about anarchism or Staughton Lynd, this book sounded like a good introduction. I like the idea of a conversation, anticipating some back and forth that might illustrate the differences for me. But it was more of an interview of Lynd. Still, the guy is fascinating. His own personal experiences combined with his knowledge of history made this wide-ranging book a great read. It didn't fill me in on all the details, but it touched on areas I'd like to explore further, and has a great suggested reading section at the end to help do just that. The thoughts on history and accompaniment were intriguing and new to me. A very hopeful book, Lynd sees value in all the small victories and many setbacks that characterize movements for change. They're all part of building the path to a better world. I'll enjoy reading this one again. ...more