CATTLE BEG FOR LIVES

Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi visits Mother Sheehan:

Crawford, the home of President George W. Bush, is a sun-scorched hole of a backwater Texas town—a single dreary railroad crossing surrounded on all sides by roasted earth the color of dried dog shit. There are scattered clumps of trees and brush, but all the foliage seems bent from the sun’s rays and ready at any moment to burst into flames.

Way to dump on the environment, dude! Taibbi lives in New York, amongst fellow caring liberals. Although his empathy seems to evaporate once he’s in Crawford:

The moaning cattle along the lonely roads sound like they’re begging for their lives. The downtown streets are empty. Just as the earth is home to natural bridges, this place is a natural dead end—the perfect place to drink a bottle of Lysol, wind up in a bad marriage, have your neck ripped out by a vulture.

Nobody has ever consumed Lysol in NYC. No bad marriages, either. Vulture attacks? Well, bring them on, if they’ll stop Taibbi’s Cindy coverage:

Sheehan’s demand was that Bush meet with her and explain to her what, exactly, her son had died for. The demand, and the accompanying solitary vigil, began as a simple, powerful, unequivocal political statement—the unarguably genuine protest of a single grieving individual. It was a quest that began on a moral territory almost beyond argument: How could anyone quibble with a mother who’d lost her son?

We’re back in Maureen Dowd’s world of absolute moral authority.

But Sheehan quickly became more than just the Next Big Media Thing, a successor to Kobe, Laci and Michael.

No, she pretty much remained the Next Big Media Thing. Despite his loathing of the war (“Iraq is an insane blunder committed by a bunch of criminal incompetents”), Taibbi can’t deny the lunacy of Sheehan’s anti-Bush comrades:

The movement likes to think of itself as open and inclusive, but in practice it often comes off like a bunch of nerds whose favored recreation is coming up with clever passwords for their secret treehouse. The ostensible political purpose may be ending the war, but the immediate occupation for a sizable percentage of these people always seemed to be a kind of rolling adult tourist attraction called Hating George Bush …

At one point at Camp Casey, an informal poll taken around a campfire revealed that six out of a group of ten protesters, selected at random, believed that the United States government was directly involved in planning the 9/11 bombings. Flabbergasted, I tried to press the issue.

“Do you know how many people would have to be involved in that conspiracy?” I said. “I mean, start with the pilots . . .”

“The planes were flown by remote control,” a girl sitting across from me snapped.

Comments Noir: “Crawford is to moonbats as Iraq is to terrorists.”

Posted by Tim B. on 08/30/2005 at 09:15 PM
    1. Taibbi is a committed Bush hater (no pun intended), but his stream-of-consciousness writing does pull no punches even when the Left is his target. I fondly recall reading an article of his in some alt-weekly in which he absolutely savaged one of Thomas Friedman’s vapid tomes a while back.

      Posted by PW on 2005 08 30 at 10:27 PM • permalink

 

    1. Ah, yes, this one.

      Posted by PW on 2005 08 30 at 10:31 PM • permalink

 

    1. BTW, looks like inserting links in comments via the traditional A HREF method (rather than Pmcode) circumvents the broken URL forwarding.

      Posted by PW on 2005 08 30 at 10:32 PM • permalink

 

    1. #2 – Is that a graphic of Matt Taibbi next to the article? If so, he defies parody – he’s even got a 1960s Zapata moustache. This style of facial hair went out with powder blue safari jackets.

      Posted by walterplinge on 2005 08 30 at 10:36 PM • permalink

 

    1. Actually, walter, that graphic is of Tom Friedman.  The moustache is still lame, though.

      Posted by knayte on 2005 08 30 at 10:39 PM • permalink

 

    1. The competitively venomous Matt Taibbi absolutely savaged Tom Friedman because the less-than-extreme Friedman invites folks to stray from the leftist plantation. Taibbi is a journalistic political border guard with an attitude like Cerberus. If the Cindy pavillion is too whacked out even for Matt, it’s whacked out indeed.

      Posted by ForNow on 2005 08 30 at 10:43 PM • permalink

 

    1. God, that must hurt. Lefty moonbats getting shitcanned in Rolling Stone. Damned close to a WMD.

      Posted by slatts on 2005 08 30 at 10:44 PM • permalink

 

    1. It’s hard to believe that Matt Taibbi is the son of the soft-spoken, almost hushed-tone NBC news reporter Mike Taibbi, but so says Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matt_Taibbi. I remember when Mike Taibbi worked in the local TV news here in NYC http://rss.msnbc.msn.com/id/3949413/. I don’t know Taibbi pere‘s political views (& I don’t watch the alphabet networks’ news shows such that I can guess except on general principles).

      Posted by ForNow on 2005 08 30 at 11:07 PM • permalink

 

    1. “The planes were flown by remote control,” a girl sitting across from me snapped.

      What in God’s name can you do with people like this? They’re beyond rational debate.

      Posted by Dave S. on 2005 08 30 at 11:31 PM • permalink

 

    1. … as opposed to Rolling Stone, which prints dried dog shit…

      Posted by richard mcenroe on 2005 08 30 at 11:32 PM • permalink

 

    1. Does PJ O’Rourke still contribute to Rolling Stone?

      —Nora

      Posted by The Thin Man Returns on 2005 08 30 at 11:56 PM • permalink

 

    1. PW: hm, I didn’t know that! I may change the code for this blog then (I think I can reset it to just use regular html code for comment formatting). I’ll have to check into doing that without breaking all the previous comments.

      Posted by Andrea Harris, Administrator on 2005 08 31 at 12:01 AM • permalink

 

    1. …I didn’t observe any agenda from Sheehan, just a very tired woman. Like everyone else in anti-war circles, Sheehan does sometimes speak in the clubby language of Camp Bush Hater—but when she does this, she sounds like a follower, not a leader.

      Hilarious, from someone who complains a few paragraphs further down about the ‘machinery for avoiding reality is so advanced in this country’. Must be the PNAC Zionist neo-con machinery frying his brain cells, if he’s going to deny statements made right out of the mouth of Sheehan.  Maybe it was the emotional trauma of having to spend time in Crawford that got to him … A wasted trip, in any case, for someone to spend time with Mother Sheehan and believe that they’re witnessing a ‘peace’ movement being born, rather than just another pitiful episode, with a new guest star, in the ongoing minseries of self-delusion the anti-democracy-in-the-Mideast crowd perpetrates. Denial, Taibbi. Denial.

      Posted by Crispytoast on 2005 08 31 at 12:45 AM • permalink

 

    1. I’ve been using HTML code for a while now. It seems that the blog automatically recognises it.

      Posted by Evil Pundit on 2005 08 31 at 12:53 AM • permalink

 

    1. PW,

      Taibbi is a committed Bush hater (no pun intended), but his stream-of-consciousness writing does pull no punches even when the Left is his target. I fondly recall reading an article of his in some alt-weekly in which he absolutely savaged one of Thomas Friedman’s vapid tomes a while back.

      Most of the Left does not consider Friedman as genuine “Left”, so that may not be the best example.

      BTW, looks like inserting links in comments via the traditional A HREF method (rather than Pmcode) circumvents the broken URL forwarding.

      I’ve always been doing it that way—by force of habit!

      Posted by Spiny Norman on 2005 08 31 at 12:57 AM • permalink

 

    1. Not my powder blue safari jacket!  Dang!

      Posted by yojimbo on 2005 08 31 at 01:04 AM • permalink

 

    1. Matt Taibbi pulls no punches, but it seems to me that he does so because he hates everything.  The ultimate leftie.  Look at the way he jerked around that pro-Bush shop owner.  That had no journalistic value what so ever.  Taibbi was just having fun at the expense of someone’s sincerity. 

      But I have to agree—if Rolling Stone printed this, the inhabitants of Camp Casey are really around the bend.

      Posted by The_Real_JeffS on 2005 08 31 at 01:04 AM • permalink

 

    1. I get the impression that everything was going along as per usual (shitty Bush, shitty Texas, shitty war, blah, blah, blah) until the hippies told Taibbi he couldn’t have the secret password to the tree house, so he decided to bucket them as well. The ingrates.

      Posted by larrikin on 2005 08 31 at 01:12 AM • permalink

 

    1. Has anyone listened to the Neal Conan interview with Sheehan on NPR? Her 15 McLuhans are up.

      Hilarious.

      Posted by Mike H. on 2005 08 31 at 01:15 AM • permalink

 

    1. My gut feel is that so called peace movements fail unless there is a draft. 

      Can anyone think of a counter argument?

      Posted by noir on 2005 08 31 at 01:21 AM • permalink

 

    1. The_Real_JeffS

      Look at the way he jerked around that pro-Bush shop owner.  That had no journalistic value what so ever.  Taibbi was just having fun at the expense of someone’s sincerity.

      From this admittedly small sample, he seems to be another one of those “urbane” urbanites to whom anyone whose work does not involve riding an elevator is an idiot inbred hayseed—and which, to the rurals, is one of those clueless efite city folk they laugh at behind their backs.

      Posted by Spiny Norman on 2005 08 31 at 01:31 AM • permalink

 

    1. Mike H.

      Has anyone listened to the Neal Conan interview with Sheehan on NPR? Her 15 McLuhans are up.

      Hilarious.

      Yeah, I did. Laura Ingraham played this morning. Hilarious, indeed. Our Madonna of the Ditch is not one for answering real questions, is she? Even from someone on her own side!

      Um, I have two minutes.

      Apparently Neal wasn’t playing by the “rules”…

      Posted by Spiny Norman on 2005 08 31 at 01:38 AM • permalink

 

    1. I’m afraid Cindy’s time is up, what with the destruction of New Orleans, Biloxi, Gulfport, and innumerable people’s lives in the worst natural disaster the US has ever known. It certainly puts this sad, sick circus in Crawford in perspective.

      Posted by goldsmith on 2005 08 31 at 01:47 AM • permalink

 

    1. Andrea, while you’re in a fixing-code mood, I may have a possible fix for the shrinking text immediately after quotes that happens when people don’t put a line break in.

      Posted by david on 2005 08 31 at 02:01 AM • permalink

 

    1. I think that she’ll need counter therapy for her depression when her notoriety runs out. No family, no publicity, no Casey,

                            Crash!

      Posted by Mike H. on 2005 08 31 at 02:06 AM • permalink

 

    1. …“urbane” urbanites…

      Spiny, I think people under this title are lefties.  Probably by definition, but I won’t swear to it.  Ol’ Matt is just an extreme example.

      Posted by The_Real_JeffS on 2005 08 31 at 02:34 AM • permalink

 

    1. 25………ditto her Mother’s little helper Australian ex Iraqi human shield.

      Posted by crash on 2005 08 31 at 04:31 AM • permalink

 

    1. I’ll work on the html thing and the shrinky font thing when I get home from work today. Or, well, at some point during the week. Promise!

      Back to the discussion: Matt Taibbi is, according to this article about him in Salon, “a natural provocateur.” Sample charming activities:

      Gonzo journalist Matt Taibbi will do anything—including throwing a pie made of horse sperm into the face of a New York Times bureau chief—to bring political reporting back to life.

      And

      he made light of Pope John Paul II’s imminent death—and the saturation coverage sure to accompany it—in a New York Press cover story titled “The 52 Funniest Things about the Upcoming Death of the Pope.”

      Yep, he’s a real charmer.

      Posted by Andrea Harris, Administrator on 2005 08 31 at 06:47 AM • permalink

 

    1. The moaning cattle along the lonely roads sound like they’re begging for their lives.
      Funny how cattle remind different people of different things. Cattle are beautiful, seemingly serene creatures. At least, in their pastures!The cattle are lowing,
      The baby awakes,
      But little Lord Jesus
      No crying he makes.
      Stay by me Lord Jesus,
      Look down from the sky,
      And stay by my bedside
      ‘Til morning is nigh.

      Posted by blogstrop on 2005 08 31 at 07:13 AM • permalink

 

    1. Most of the Left does not consider Friedman as genuine “Left”, so that may not be the best example.

      Bad phrasing on my part, sorry about that. I only meant to refer to the anti-Friedman article as an example of Taibbi’s pull-no-punches style, not necessarily as one where he slags a lefty.

      That said, nearly everything I’ve ever read by Friedman didn’t manage to rise beyond “sweet nothings” level, so I quite enjoyed the savaging that Taibbi gave him. Friedmans’s the ultimate serial op-ed columnist…say nothing of any particular value, but make it sound good. His stuff isn’t so much Left or Right as it’s just plain uninteresting.

      Matt Taibbi pulls no punches, but it seems to me that he does so because he hates everything.

      Yep, that’s definitely the same impression I’ve got of him. Not exactly a guy I’d want anything to do with in person. Still, I kind of enjoy seeing a leftist journalist who’s progressed beyond the “I can change the world through my writing” stage into “aw, fuck it, let’s just lash out all the time” territory. At least he’s upfront and being honest, which is more than one can say for most others in his profession.

      Posted by PW on 2005 08 31 at 08:49 AM • permalink

 

    1. Not For Publication Andrea——was the site down for 24 hours or was it just me who could not access it.Rhetorically speaking.

      Posted by crash on 2005 08 31 at 09:43 AM • permalink

 

    1. Taibbi is a familiar reprise of Diane Keaton’s Annie Hall—the sneering art critic who consigned Van Gogh, among others to her private ‘Museum of the Over-Rated.’

      He epitomizes the sort of cynical, ‘distain chic’ one encounters in certain urban circles.  The ‘everybody’s-an-idiot-but-me’ attitude behind which terribly insecure and self-important people often hide.

      Nothing EVER meets the elitist standards these perpetual critics.  Ever ready to pontificate on anything and everything, they can dismiss humankind’s most vexing dilemas with sweepingly simplemindedness.  Cleverness and wit are confused with insight and the non-stop put-downs are acts of self-centeredness. 

      While they can be quite accomplished and successful at whatever it is they do for a living, they’re generally not found among the people who are changing the world.  And that just pisses them off even more . . .

      Posted by cosmo on 2005 08 31 at 09:46 AM • permalink

 

    1. The first two passages of Taibbi cited by Tim just sound like bad impersonations of Sherwood Anderson (or worse impersonations of Ernest Hemingway). Most critics, I think, are probably frustrated novelists. But as a professional stink-bomb thrower he couldn’t afford to give even the appearance of being taken in by Ma Sheehan and the Gang That Couldn’t Think Straight, so his sketch of that lot is pretty candid.

      Posted by paco on 2005 08 31 at 10:09 AM • permalink

 

    1. Has Taibbi met Skeptic?

      Posted by richard mcenroe on 2005 08 31 at 10:13 AM • permalink

 

    1. Rather than jerking that store owner around, as Taibbi no doubt thought he was doing with his oh-so-clever satire, he was himself the butt of the joke.  What he and others of his kind don’t understand is that ordinary people in Texas, and elsewhere in the South, are taught from birth to be mannerly and courteous even in the face of utter boorishness.  The store owner probably knew exactly what was going on, thought to himself that “this guy is a real shit-kicker, but I’ll be the gentleman my mama raised me to be”, and went along with it.

      Taibbi was honest about what he saw at Camp Casey.  How could you not be and not be laughed out of the editorial offices?  But he is still a snide twit, and his descriptions reveal him to be utterly contemptous of everything outside his own tight little orbit.

      Posted by RebeccaH on 2005 08 31 at 10:38 AM • permalink

 

    1. At least he’s upfront and being honest, which is more than one can say for most others in his profession.

      True enough, PW, but the same thing can be said about poisonous snakes.  That doesn’t eliminate the problem of dealing with this twit.  The trick is recognizing the threat, and dealing with it appropriately.  Snakes will fang each other….that doesn’t mean all snakes can be considered safe.

      Rebecca—good point.  Matt probably doesn’t realize that he is transparent.

      Posted by The_Real_JeffS on 2005 08 31 at 11:06 AM • permalink

 

    1. So true, Rebecca.  Spent 20+ years living in Texas and am convinced the U.S. South is far more civilized in many respects than either coast—and certainly more civilized than the ludicrous stereotypes pumped out by bi-coastal know-nothings in the film and television industries.

      Posted by cosmo on 2005 08 31 at 11:21 AM • permalink

 

    1. Actually Paco the first two paragraphs sound like a description of Tucson,Az.  Yuck earth, lack of green etc.  Oops, no mention of a billion ants per inch.  Sorry, back to the regularly scheduled program.

      Posted by yojimbo on 2005 08 31 at 11:27 AM • permalink

 

    1. Tim, you actually read a Matt Taibbi article? You know, there are better ways to feed your masochism.

      Back when he wrote for the New York Press (thank god he left), I would just read the first sentence of his articles. If he was writing about the media, I’d read on. Otherwise I’d move on. For some reason, he’s brilliant when writing about the media and a mindless driveler about everything else.

      Posted by tim maguire on 2005 08 31 at 11:32 AM • permalink

 

    1. Yojimbo: I lived in Arizona for a couple of years back in the early ‘90’s (Peoria, outside of Phoenix), and I gotta tell ya, I LOVED Tucson: palo verde, cactus, the palbable silence of the desert, the unique fragrance of clean earth, sun-blasted rock and mesquite . . . I guess it’s just a matter of personal preference.

      Way off topic: anybody remember Ward Churchill, fake Indian and academic con man? frontpagemag.com has a fascinating article today about some lefty university types who are persecuting a professor who is a REAL Indian (Chiracahua Apache)and war veteran, primarily because he refused to sign a petition in support of the execrable Churchill. Don’t miss it (sorry, I are not be sofistikated enuf to do linx).

      Posted by paco on 2005 08 31 at 11:55 AM • permalink

 

    1. Obviously, I are not be sofistikated enuf to spell “palpable” correctly, either.

      Posted by paco on 2005 08 31 at 11:57 AM • permalink

 

    1. No discussion of cattle and lefties could be complete without Cows With Guns.

      Posted by Achillea on 2005 08 31 at 11:58 AM • permalink

 

    1. Cosmo #32 youve put it nicely. 

      “He epitomizes the sort of cynical, ‘distain chic’ one encounters in certain urban circles.”

      Growing up in New York I have known too many folks like this.  Smart, sarcastic, condescending and utterly self important.  It’s worth repeating your last line with reference to the distain chic crowd.

      ” While they can be quite accomplished and successful at whatever it is they do for a living, they’re generally not found among the people who are changing the world.  And that just pisses them off even more . . . “

      If you’ll allow that pessimism passes for insight among the mediocre, Taibbi, like the circle he runs with, will always be handicapped by cynical intellectualism.

      Posted by dkidd on 2005 08 31 at 12:45 PM • permalink

 

    1. Taibbi is a familiar reprise of Diane Keaton’s Annie Hall—the sneering art critic who consigned Van Gogh, among others to her private ‘Museum of the Over-Rated.’

      Although I admit that one Diane Keaton character is sometimes hard to distinguish from another, that was her character Mary Wilke in “Manhattan”, not Annie Hall. The Annie Hall character was the opposite: a naive, chipper woman from the Midwest who was foil to Woody’s cynical New Yorker.

      Posted by goldsmith on 2005 08 31 at 12:45 PM • permalink

 

    1. Crawford is to moonbats what Iraq is to terrorists.
      It’s all part of the President’s flypaper strategy.  We’ll watch them in Texas so we don’t have to see them on the streets of our own hometowns.  Brilliant!

      Posted by JDFlanagan on 2005 08 31 at 01:40 PM • permalink

 

    1. I shouldn’t go there, but I will…

      Link – Romance amongst the cattle

      It’s shameless, I know, but it’s about the level of CINDY! (TM)

      Enjoy!

      DC

      Posted by dc981924 on 2005 08 31 at 01:43 PM • permalink

 

    1. From the sands of Iraq to the sands of Texas…

      Posted by PW on 2005 08 31 at 01:53 PM • permalink

 

    1. “He epitomizes the sort of cynical, ‘distain chic’ one encounters in certain urban circles.”

      Reminds me of the character played by Miguel Ferrer in “Twin Peaks”.

      Posted by Bruce Lagasse on 2005 08 31 at 03:10 PM • permalink

 

    1. #19 Mike H:

      I don’t remember who pointed this out, but just before “Mother” Sheehan suddenly tells Conan she has “two minutes” for his interview (for which an hour had been scheduled), you can hear someone in the background say, “This guy (Conan)is a dick.” Clueless, arrogant, stupid—even with a media ready to trumpet their bullshit almost uncritically these people can’t help sounding like what they are—jerks.

      Posted by jgm on 2005 08 31 at 03:48 PM • permalink

 

    1. Thanks for the correction, Goldsmith.  You’re absolutely right.

      I’m afraid my Allen is a bit wooden.  Bada bing!  Hey!

      Posted by cosmo on 2005 08 31 at 04:56 PM • permalink

 

    1. this place is a natural dead end

      I live in a place that is spiritual kin to Crawford, and you know what? I’m thrilled Taibbi and his clueless ilk, think the way they do.

      Posted by rinardman on 2005 08 31 at 05:45 PM • permalink

 

    1. Latest Cindy news: Poll shows Sheehan protest made people more likely to support Iraq war.

      Posted by Evil Pundit on 2005 08 31 at 10:51 PM • permalink

 

    1. Bruce Lagasse:

      I’ll rent the DVDs over the long holiday weekend.  Thanks.

      Posted by cosmo on 2005 08 31 at 11:10 PM • permalink

 

    1. #9
      yes, DaveS

      “The planes were flown by remote control,” a girl sitting across from me snapped.
      What in God’s name can you do with people like this? They’re beyond rational debate.

      I despair.

      Posted by kae on 2005 09 01 at 01:11 AM • permalink

 

    1. PW.  That’s yuck dirt in Texas.  For yuck sand you have to come to Arizona.  While here don’t forget to try the chicken.  Wash it down with a nice lysol on the rocks.

      Posted by yojimbo on 2005 09 01 at 01:17 AM • permalink

 

    1. “Crawford is to moonbats as Iraq is to terrorists.”

      Well, except for the weapons, the head choppings, and the tendency to explosive decomposition.

      I’d class ‘em more as “annoying but (mostly) harmless”

      I might hose ‘em down occasionally – just for sanitary purposes – but Marine snipers are probably not warranted.

      Posted by mojo on 2005 09 01 at 02:20 AM • permalink

 

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