Hailed by some as Hunter Thompson's successor, Rolling Stones reporter Matt Taibbi doesn't even pretend to hold back his disdain and derision for those people he believes have abandoned reason for madness and fled to America's political fringes.
In his new book "The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War Politics & Religion at the Twilight of The American Empire," Taibbi writes about his gonzo journalism experiences with what one would think are only political fringe groups but who in the past eight years have been mainstreamed into American society, gathering millions of acolytes.
Among the movements Taibbi explores is the 9/11 Truth Movement, loosely defined as those who believe that 9/11 was an inside job and that the U.S. government shared some complicity, either direct or indirect in the attacks.
Taibbi attempts to first confront the Truthers on their theories, which range from World Trade Center 7's collapse was not the result structural instability caused by fires from the crashed planes but from explosives planted by the CIA and that Flight 77 never actually crashed into the Pentagon but was routed to a secret location where its passengers were killed while wreckage from an earlier plane crash was planted on the Pentagon lawn by U.S. soldiers.
After his e-mail account is deluged with hate mail from Truthers accusing him of being a sellout media hack, Taibbi briefly goes undercover at Truther meetings in Texas where he is amused and disgusted to see attendees spend most of their time debating future meeting times and message board posting etiquette.
Then there's the lunacy of the Defense Department's handling of the war in Iraq. For instance Taibbi writes that they decided it would be a good idea to pay a Georgia policeman a six-figure salary to journey to Baghdad to teach Iraqi policemen hand-to-hand combat techniques. Keep in mind that these Iraqi policemen are far more likely be bombed or shot at by insurgents before they ever get the chance to put their new karate skills to use.
And while the Georgia policeman is teaching them these techniques, he is constantly guarded by a squad of American soldiers who are earning much less than him and putting their lives on-the-line just to drive him around Baghdad so he can teach these useless classes.
At times Taibbi's writing comes off as though he is frothing at the mouth, so enraged and disgusted is he at what has become of the American government and our civil society. Taibbi spares no one, including the Christian apocalypse movement, personified in the book by Pastor John Hagee's controversial mega-church in Texas. The pork-laden politics of Congress and the hypocrisy of both parties he saves for special evisceration.
Taibbi writes that a key aspect of our country's present derangement is the way Americans' voluntarily cut themselves off from outside reality by surrounding themselves completely with media sources who only serve to further their "paranoid psychosis." In the age of the Internet, it's easy to see how so many Americans can self-select what kind of "news" they decide to let in.
After reading diatribe after diatribe about America's political discourse today it's hard not to get depressed. Perhaps sensing the looming despair of his readers, Taibbi chooses to end on a somewhat hopeful note by noting that the "suckers," who for so long were imbibing the hate-fueled Kool-Aid from both sides of the political aisle, might be finally waking up to the fact that they've been played and are looking for recourse in this fall's elections.