Sunday, November 28, 2010

True Grift: Matt Taibbi Tells Some Stories

There has probably never been a more appropriately titled book than Matt Taibbi's Griftopia. That's what the book is, total grift.

Taibbi has been running for some time a sort of  long-con, a grift, if you will, on America's intelligentsia. The intelligentsia, naturally, don't have the time to study, excess reserves, the regression theorem or praxelology, or anything else that might enlighten them as to what is currently going on in the economy. But they sure can picture Goldman Sachs as a vampire squid sucking money out of their pockets. Taibbi did paint this picture for them and, thus, Taibbi, the financial expert was born. It's doubtful he understands excess reserves, the regression theorem or praxelology, either, but by borrowing from a web site here, and a web site there, he does put together a string of paragraphs in a form the intelligentsia can appreciate, by also borrowing from the writing style of Hunter S. Thompson.

Consider: If I am in a bookstore browsing through books, the first thing I do is look through the index of a book to get a sense for the topics that are covered. I picked up Griftopia in a bookstore to browse. I looked for the index, but much like Bernie Madoff back up statements, Griftopia  has no index.

After the index, I usually turn to the acknowledgements to see who the author thanks, as kind of an indication as to who the author has been hanging with. In Taibbi's book, I eagerly turned to the acknowledgments, since it has been rumored that what Taibbi really does is, as I said before, simply borrow themes from other web sites, without attribution. Finally, I thought, he would disclose his sources that remarkably track the information on some web sites. But, alas, this would not be the case.

Griftopia has the most unusual acknowledgements I have ever seen in a book. It is really more of an explanation as to why Taibbi doesn't need to acknowledge anyone. And now, I recount from memory, because I didn't buy the book. Taibbi does acknowledge some guy whose name I think is Dave, and that's it. After that, Taibbi tells us his sources are secret. You know, the way Bernie Madoff told investors that his investment methods were secret. Then Taibbi tells us that well maybe they aren't all secret, but the names are in the chapters, so there is no reason to mention them in the acknowledgements. And that's it. No thanking of any muse, of any friends. No thanking of a wife, a brother, a sister, a colleague, a girl friend, a mistress, a dominatrix. No one else. Yikes, if it wasn't for the fact that it might be seen as a cheap attempt to get more hits, I might wonder if Taibbi is a damn deep-sea cephalopod of some sort, thousands of feet deep in the ocean having no contact with humans. 

From there, I did move on and read the first chapter of the book, it's about Sarah Plain. It's written in the tone of a man who desperately wants to sound like Hunter S. Thompson, but who clearly doesn't want to be cremated and have his ashes blown out of a canon, after he dies.

Let me tell you something. You can't write like Hunter S. Thompson unless you are perfectly willing to be cremated and have your ashes blown out of a cannon, or better yet have your remains eaten by a cephalopod of some sort. And thus, when all is said and written, we are left with nothing in Griftopia but the facts in each chapter.

The facts presented in this first chapter, presumably a strong chapter designed to entice the reader to read on, are as follows : John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate when he ran as the Republican candidate for president in 2008.

I did not read on. I did not buy the book.

In thinking about the book, the only people I think could find the book useful would be the miners in Chile who were trapped for 69 days, but only if they would have been trapped for 6.9 years, instead. It would have brought them up-to-date in an almost picture book like way.

So thus, we have another book we can throw on that pile, i.e., buy it only if you are in a position where you must buy a gift for a person you hate. Trust me, the person won't get past the first chapter and will find the book of no value at all.


  1. To continue your sea-life theme, this was rather a crabby review! Don't you think you should have read more than the first chapter if you were going to do a demolition job?

  2. It looks to me that Wenzel did a pretty good demolition job by just reading one chapter. LOL

  3. Heh heh.

    I've been feeling low.
    This cheered me up no end.

    EPJ rocks!

  4. Having read several articles by Tiabbi in RS over the last year or so, I can tell you that Wenzel characterized him perfectly. His article on Goldman Sachs was an unreadable mess, and I hate Goldman. It offered no substance other than to regulate and tax more.

    He's a hack.

  5. Wenzel,

    Thank you for putting Taibbi in his place. He is just one of many frauds that will be uncovered throughout this deleveraging cycle. He smelled like a rat from his very first Rolling Stone piece, even though many liberty-minded folks eagerly crowed their support for him simply because he had attacked the evil Government Sachs.

  6. Yeah. And read his latest piece on Alternet, where he tries to show that Alan Greenspan was just a bungler who had NO idea what he was doing. He was just tuning into his inner Ayn Rand, even though, even Taibbi has to admit, poor Ayn saw right through him for an opportunist...