Matt Taibbi On Judith Miller

Matt Taibbi On Judith Miller

The above link is a Rolling Stone article about former NYT reporter Judith Miller, who played a role in making the country think that Iraq was a war of necessity.  She has just released a book and is trying to redeem her reputation.  But there is nothing she can do to redeem herself at this point, especially when she still seems not to understand the full ramifications of her actions.  She helped lead this country into a war that has caused untold pain and suffering, with thousands of dead soldiers and even more innocent Iraqis killed, along with untold numbers that were either maimed or now face psychological trauma.  She betrayed the public trust in a way that I don’t think can ever be fully forgiven.

Injustice in Ferguson

Details From Ferguson

The details emerging from the Justice Department’s investigation into Ferguson are pretty ugly.  There is definitely racism is our criminal justice system and this is just the latest example.  If you don’t think there is, you are probably white, and you probably haven’t read enough.  Again, I think one of the best one stop shop reads you can have on this subject for modern times is Matt Taibbi’s The Divide:  American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap.  But if you are somehow new to all of this just read the details in the above article, it won’t take very long.  A few samples:

  • Ferguson’s black drivers were more than twice as likely as their white counterparts to be stopped and searched, according to records over two years. Black drivers were also 26 percent less likely to be found in possession of contraband.
  • According to the police department’s internal records concerning force, 88 percent of those cases involved force against blacks. All 14 canine bite incidents involved blacks.
  • Blacks were 68 percent less likely than others to have their cases dismissed in municipal court. An arrest warrant was more likely to be issued for blacks.

Scott Walker, God’s Gift to the Democratic Party

Scott Walker, God’s Gift to the Democratic Party

Matt Taibbi has been slam dunking it lately.  Here he takes on Scott Walker, which those of you that have been reading along know I can’t stand.  A sample:

Beltway Democrats may not deserve good luck, but it looks like they could have plenty in the next presidential race. Heading into the weekend, Scott Walker, a man born to be slaughtered in a general election, is suddenly leading the pack in the Iowa polls.  

Walker is surging thanks to his performance at this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference, where the union-busting governor inspired raucous applause with his “I was a dick in Wisconsin, and I can be one in Washington, too!” stump speech.

Walker’s address was a broadside against a litany of conservative bugbears, from Planned Parenthood to the media to tax day to the subversive act of voting without a photo ID, etc.

But the money line came during a Q&A session. Asked how he would take on radical Islamist terrorists, Walker referred to his experience taking on pro-union protesters in his home state:

“If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world.”

Walker’s seeming comparison of peaceful union activists to head-chopping Islamic terrorists drew a predictable response, with progressive groups like American Bridge sending out alerts denouncing his comments, along with outrage from the Democratic National Committee.

But the National Review also called it an “unforced error,” with writer Jim Geraghty taking special offense at the fact that Walker had forced him into a place where he had to defend, of all people, union activists. Even Rick Perry, not exactly a kumbaya-chanting paragon of tolerance, chided Walker for crossing a line:

“These are Americans… You are talking about, in the case of ISIS, people who are beheading individuals and committing heinous crimes, who are the face of evil. To try to make the relationship between them and the unions is inappropriate.”

Black Site Discovered in Chicago

Chicago Black Site Discovered

The Guardian has just put out an article, one which Huffington Post is also headlining with, that claims that there is a secret black site used by the Chicago Police to interrogate U.S. citizens.  This site is being compared to CIA black sites that are used overseas in the War on Terror.  I find this scary, but not surprising.  This seems to me to be the endgame of years of fighting a war in which the boundaries haven’t been clear.  All throughout our War on Terror our police here at home have become more militarized.  A lot of the gear that has been used overseas in the War on Terror has made its way stateside.  There are also tactics that have made it home from these wars.  But while soldiers main job is to subdue a hostile population, unless they are on a peacekeeping or humanitarian mission, the police should be working alongside the community.

I think that there are two additional things one should keep in mind.  The first is that there is a history of law enforcement abuse in this country.  A great place to read about this is in Tim Weiner’s book Enemies: A History of the FBI.  Obviously there is a difference between the Chicago Police and the FBI.  However, both are domestic law enforcement, and the book will give you an idea of how those in power abuse the law for political purposes.  The other book that I keep recommending is Matt Taibbi’s The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap, a book that examines the way that justice is applied differently to people depending on their economic background.  I think the fact that there is a history of abuse is important.  J. Edgar Hoover often punished people he viewed as “communists and subversives”.  (left wing)  If you know that history and combine it with what Taibbi says about modern times, while looking at this new information in light of the overall War on Terror, it’s not that hard to see how we ended up here.

Taibbi On Rudy “The Soviet” Giuliani

Matt Taibbi On Rudy Giuliani

The always great Matt Taibbi On Rudy Giuliani and American Exceptionalism’s likeness to Soviet Russia. 

I am moving a bit slow today.  With the wind chill it feels like 15 degrees down here in Texas.  Yes, I know many people in the country have been dealing with that or worse on a regular basis,  but we do not have the clothing or insulation for it here.  There will be more posts later, but that is the cause of my turtle-like posting start to Monday. 

Writing: Put Your Head Down and Hope for the Best

In writing I have learned how even the smallest choice of words can allow for misinterpretation.  The more I write the more that words seem like a puzzle that can only partially be solved, that conveying the intention of meaning can at best be only mostly realized.  This is not only because everyone is bringing their different experiences to a work, but also because words themselves fail absolute truth in some ways.

I have been reading a lot about the controversy concerning American Sniper.  I posted a Matt Taibbi article the other day that had to do with the movie and other ideas concerning films and war.  He mentions that he hated American Sniper, “slightly less than I expected to.”  In the comments someone said that he didn’t give the movie a fair shot because he went in expecting to hate it.  They were sort of implying that he was a liberal and that therefore he expected to hate the movie because he was biased against it.  That could be possibly true.  However, it could also be true that he read a bunch of reviews and those reviews lead him to think that it wouldn’t be that good.  It could also be his way of saying that the movie was better than he expected it to because he didn’t typically like war movies or Clint Eastwood movies or any number of reasons.

Now it seems very possible that the reader was viewing Matt Taibbi’s article with the same heavy bias that he was accusing Taibbi of.  It is also possible that the reader was bringing their own frame to Taibbi’s words.  However, because Taibbi did not explain why he expected to hate it, his words are left open to interpretation.  Every time you make a statement you could make a bunch of other statements trying to clarify what you mean, but those too might be open to interpretation, and anyway, every piece of writing cannot account for all of those different ideas.  It’s almost impossible to reach a level of absolute truth all of the time.

I don’t know how some people write, but usually when I write I imagine a voice.  Sometimes that will be a serious voice, sometimes it will be satirical.  It is almost like when you are telling a story and you communicate different parts of the story with different inflections in your voice.  Hopefully some degree of your voice of intent will get through in the language you choose, but it won’t always, and it definitely won’t with all readers.

These kinds of decisions could be paralyzing if you worry too much about what other people think.  If you worried about every interpretation by every reader you probably wouldn’t get very much writing done.  How people read what you write, like so much in life, is out of your control.  You must try to do the best work that you can given the form you are working in, put your head down, and hope for the best.