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Intensely Focused

I'm not obsessed, I'm just intensely focued.

Currently reading

Home Improvement: Undead Edition
Charlaine Harris, Toni L.P. Kelner
Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Novels and Stories, Volume I
Arthur Conan Doyle
The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion at the Twilight of the American Empire - Matt Taibbi Generally speaking, I'm a big fan of Matt Taibbi's writing.

Having said that, I thought the introduction to the book was misleading. The introduction makes it sound like Congress, the military, 9/11 truthers and member's of Hagee's church will be given equal time when it's mostly about the church with the truthers and Congress getting a couple chapters each while the military only gets one. The introduction also makes it sound like the soldiers he was embedded with freaked out when there was an explosion near the police station they were in whereas the chapter that actually details the incident portrays them as bored and possibly uninterested in what's going on outside the door. I wish he'd spent a little more time on the Iraqi police. The US soldiers say the Iraqi police are too scared to go investigate, and that may be true, but we have to take their word for it since Taibbi doesn't describe their reaction.

I'm not a religious person. The vast majority of my friends and family are not religious or spiritual people. However, I'm troubled by his reporting on Hagee's church. There doesn't seem to be a single sane, non broken person that belongs to the church and with a group that size I find it awfully hard to believe. I don't doubt that there are a great number of incredibly lonely and/or troubled people who turn to the church but I do question that everyone he comes into contact with fits one of those categories. While it's true the religious friends I have are about two decades younger than most of the people Taibbi comes into contact with, they're sane, rational people who aren't particularly lonely or troubled. They're just following the faith they grew up in. I don't expect them to become broken or lonely in their 40's or 50's just because they're religious. I also grant that I live in the least churched part of the country so the people surrounding the religious people I know are somewhat different. It just seems like his cynicism and prejudgment of these people may have clouded his opinion.

I did find it interesting when he talked about how easy it was (eventually) to slip into that Christian persona and just stop thinking critically. I'm sure there is a sort of group think mentality that can take place when everyone is focused on the same thing for large amounts of time.

I'm honestly not sure what to make of the truthers. I guess I'd want to exactly what language was used for the polls. If the question was is the government hiding something about 9/11 I'd probably say yes because I think the government probably holds stuff back about a variety of things. That's not the same thing as believing that the Bush administration made or allowed 9/11 to happen. I'm uneasy with the portrayal of the truthers as the mainstream left the same way I'm uneasy with the portrayal of the tea party members as the mainstream right.

As for Congress, I'm always left feeling even more cynical and disenfranchised after reading Taibbi's book. Which isn't to say he's wrong. I'm quite sure he's right. I was greatly troubled (but not surprised) by how entwined the Obama campaign was with political activists. The suggestion that activists should check with them before publicly criticized them is ludicrous but it's even worse that clearly many activist groups did exactly that. When even the activists are working on behalf of politicians who is left to represent the people?

It was somewhat amusing to read about a time when Taibbi and the rest of the press thought Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani would be the nominees.

In the end, more than ever I wish someone would do a What's the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America for the left. Maybe even Thomas Frank, although I think he generally critiques the right. I think there are some hard truths that we need to hear. Taibbi does critique the left but mostly in passing rather than as the focal point for an entire book. I'd certainly read his critique if he'd write it.