For the last few weeks, I've had the good fortune to actually get back to doing some reading. Mr. CR is aces about looking after CRjr, so lately I've grabbed a few minutes when they're having quality pop-and-son time to read a bit. Imagine my disappointment when I kept reading things that were okay, but weren't exactly had to put down, either. Until I got Matt Taibbi's Smells Like Dead Elephants: Dispatches from a Rotting Empire.
This book is another collection of political essays, with a few others on such topics as Hurricane Katrina (the essay on that subject is UNBELIEVABLE) and the teaching of intelligent design in schools thrown in for good measure. Published in 2007, it's amazing how long ago some of these stories seem. Jack Abramoff? Does anyone even remember Jack Abramoff? (We should--man, that guy pulled a lot of shit.) And yet, the more things change, the more they stay the same:
"Both sides were right, obviously, which made for the usual perfect comedy of American politics: two entrenched camps determined not to communicate, but still engaged in an extravagantly violent public waste of time and money, with no resolution visible, or even imaginable." (p. 92.)
Sounds like a paragraph about the current debt ceiling fight, doesn't it? It's actually about the 2005 legal case Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District et al. and the teaching of intelligent design.
And, anybody miss George W. Bush? This is how Taibbi sums up Bush's 2005 tour to announce victory in Iraq:
"God bless George Bush. The Middle East is in flames and how does he answer the call? He rolls up to the side entrance of a four-star Washington hotel, slips unobserved into a select gathering of the richest fatheads in his dad's Rolodex, spends a few tortured minutes exposing his half-assed policies like a campus flasher, and then ducks back into his rabbit hole while he waits for his next speech to be written by paid liars. If that isn't leadership, what is?" (p. 108.)
I enjoyed his previous book about the 2004 election cycle, Spanking the Donkey, but I think I liked this one even better. And I haven't even told you yet about his masterful essays explaining how Congress (doesn't) work and every idea you have about how bills and amendments get passed is laughably wrong--those are titled "Four Amendments and a Funeral" and "The Worst Congress Ever" and you just plain simply have to read them for yourselves.