Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus

Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - Dispatches from the 2016 election that provide an eerily prescient take on our democracy's uncertain future, by the country's most perceptive and fearless political journalist. In twenty-five pieces from Rolling Stone--plus two original essays--Matt Taibbi tells the story of Western civilization's very own train wreck, from its tragicomic begin...

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Title:Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus
Author:Matt Taibbi
Rating:
ISBN:0399592466
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:352 pages

Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus Reviews

  • Stephanie
    Jan 22, 2017

    Waiting for a NG copy or will purchase....

    I don't know that I can laugh when I read this even though it is supposed to be humorous. I don't even know that I can stomach reading it. My heart is broken for the PEOPLE that will be negatively impacted in a very real way.... Pick an issue- there is not a good answer. This isn't simply politics -- it goes to core values and beliefs.... I am for diversity, fairness, morality.... The result of this election is corrupt hidden agendas with many to be hurt

    Waiting for a NG copy or will purchase....

    I don't know that I can laugh when I read this even though it is supposed to be humorous. I don't even know that I can stomach reading it. My heart is broken for the PEOPLE that will be negatively impacted in a very real way.... Pick an issue- there is not a good answer. This isn't simply politics -- it goes to core values and beliefs.... I am for diversity, fairness, morality.... The result of this election is corrupt hidden agendas with many to be hurt in the aftermath.... My mother is a low-income, elderly, fully disabled woman who has not been able to get up (even in a wheelchair) for almost 2 years. Trump will take away her health benefits. I'm glad that my son is almost done with High School because the probably soon to be confirmed Education Secretary is deplorably ignorant on Education (and doesn't seem to care). Lying will become acceptable (shouldn't be surprised he advocates this in The Art of the Deal).... Sales of

    have sky-rocketed after we have learned about "alternative facts".... Transparency is gone as scientists that are paid by US taxpayers are prohibited from sharing their results... (how can this even happen?).... Threats to the media. I think I will have to join others in reading 1984 .....

    .

  • Maru Kun
    Feb 18, 2017

    I remember reading NYT Opinion columns during the 2016 Democratic Party primaries. I’m still worried about what the Editors did to my mental health; I hold them entirely responsible for inducing feelings of acute schizophrenia whenever I turned to the NYT digital edition.

    If you ever clicked on a NYT Opinion piece during the Clinton v. Sanders race then over on the left side of the screen you would read about what a wonderful President Hillary would make and how Sanders was an unelectable carpet-

    I remember reading NYT Opinion columns during the 2016 Democratic Party primaries. I’m still worried about what the Editors did to my mental health; I hold them entirely responsible for inducing feelings of acute schizophrenia whenever I turned to the NYT digital edition.

    If you ever clicked on a NYT Opinion piece during the Clinton v. Sanders race then over on the left side of the screen you would read about what a wonderful President Hillary would make and how Sanders was an unelectable carpet-bagger whose proto-communist views would never be acceptable to the average American.

    Meanwhile to the right of the screen in the readers’ comments column you would read page after page of comments, often more than a thousand, whose common theme was that Sanders’ policies were no different from those of FDR democrats of a few decades ago, that they had served any number of European countries decently well for the past fifty years or more and how the Editors of the NYT were insulting their readers’ intelligence by ignoring or belittling their views. Interspaced within this flood of reader opinion you could still find a few snide and patronizing comments from Clinton supporters, most often referring to the naivety of ‘Bernie Babes’ and so forth.

    Now it’s 2017 and NYT political coverage is in a pretty depressing state, devoted as it is to articles desperately trying to fend off the unprecedented (‘un-presidented’?) national humiliation of the US becoming the first ever totalitarian state to be run by a reality TV star.

    Thankfully over in Rolling Stone magazine you can still read the best political journalist writing today in the work of Matt Taibbi. However this does beg the question, why is the best political writing to be found in a throw-back to the 1960’s rock-music magazine rather than the (‘so-called’) Paper of Record? Should I be checking out the business pages in ‘Tattoo Magazine’ for my economics news and how good are the personal finance columns in ‘’Angler’s Monthly’ I find myself beginning to wonder?

    If you are feeling mentally strong enough to relive the recent political turn then I cannot recommend ‘Insane Clown President’ highly enough. Matt Taibbi was right about the political trends years before the rest of the press. The book starts off with his foot-noting his work back in 2008 with the hindsight of the Trump win and then moves on to some of the best criticism of the media, the electoral process and the main political parties I have read anywhere.

    And in addition to being right about politics Matt Taibbi is pretty funny as well. I am most certainly not a laugh-out-loud kind of a guy, but he certainly got a few audible chuckles from me. Here are a few examples. There are many more that come at you so often and are so well put together it’s difficult to see how funny (or should I say tragic) his writing can be from just a few selections:

    On the Republican Primaries:

    Taibbi’s comments on the media are particularly scathing and on point:

    Or:

    Here is an excerpt from a longer passage that perfectly summed up the essence of the American electoral process today:

    I recently came across one of Thomas Mann’s anti-Nazi broadcasts that is worth repeating now that we have a racist ideologue as senior counselor in the White House. Mann is talking about anti-Semitism but all you need to do is update it for Bannon’s ranting about Muslims or Trump’s about immigrants and it holds just as true.

    Well, it looks like Bannon and Trump are lobbing just such a hand-grenade into the American body politic right now. Matt Taibbi seems one of the few people today capable of either pissing on the fuse - if you can do that with a hand-grenade - or picking it up and lobbing it right back at them. I will certainly be looking out for more of his writing, at least until the crackdown on the ‘lying press’ really gets going.

  • Trish
    Jan 11, 2017

    Matt Taibbi is a helluva writer. Even if you don't agree with his political views, you might kinda wish you did…to see what he sees. He is really

    , and it is inevitable that you will choke out a few guffaws against your will when he goes after someone you fell for, or settled for. Sucker. The only person Taibbi doesn't speak of in sarcastic or cynical tones is Bernie Sanders, who never tried to entertain us so much as educate, inform, and

    us.

    After the election in November last year, Ta

    Matt Taibbi is a helluva writer. Even if you don't agree with his political views, you might kinda wish you did…to see what he sees. He is really

    , and it is inevitable that you will choke out a few guffaws against your will when he goes after someone you fell for, or settled for. Sucker. The only person Taibbi doesn't speak of in sarcastic or cynical tones is Bernie Sanders, who never tried to entertain us so much as educate, inform, and

    us.

    After the election in November last year, Taibbi wrote a last dispatch in which he heralds some of the thoughts he exercises in this book. Called

    this article published in

    gives you some idea of who Taibbi is and how he writes, in case he slipped your notice. He no longer works full time for that magazine, but has moved to First Look Media, working with Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, and Laura Poitras. His leaving statement from

    is presented

    .

    Listening to Washington news today, I am getting the burning sensation in my belly again. Trump just had his first news conference (1/11/17) and listening to his incomplete sentences and careless way of speaking started my anxiety. What is he trying to say? Why should we have to have an interpreter? Who should be our interpreter? Breitbart? KellyAnne? My anxiety and frustration will kill me if I have to listen to this straight on. I am afraid I may only be able to view Trump’s presidency through a filter or in the rear view mirror.

    Which brings me to Taibbi. Taibbi followed the campaign trail as much as he was able this time round, and filed reports that were meant to dovetail with the illustration work of Victor Juhasz. This book, after the preface in which Taibbi takes a long view, is a collection of his dispatches from the 2016 campaign trail, following a long tradition beginning with Hunter S. Thompson.

    In these dispatches, Taibbi makes comment on events as they unfolded, recognizing that the anti-truth candidate might win but still reiterating that he "

    ." It may be too soon for some of you, scarred from that campaign as you are, to even consider laughing at the unbelievable thing we as a country did in electing Trump. But some say to jump right back on the saddle, and Taibbi is a great trail leader.

    Taibbi admits, despite his writing

    a book about a post-truth society based on fake conspiracies and exemplified by Fox News called

    , that even he did not foresee that a charlatan like Trump could hijack an electorate that voted

    ! for Barack Obama, and which had led movements in racial parity and same sex rights. Therefore, while he is critiquing the “childlike” crowds that throng to Trump rallies, faces turned like believers to the clarion call a of television evangelist, throughout the year preceding the vote Taibbi can’t believe this clown can possibly win.

    He is disbelieving but accurate and very, very, funny in describing the absurd Republican debates fielding

    candidates for president. Clearly some folks weren’t getting the memos, or, as we had surmised for some time already, were refusing to go along with the Party hierarchy. Well, they reaped what they sowed: confusion.

    But what Taibbi does very well indeed is show us how long we have been living with our heads in the sand while small indignities were perpetrated upon us, e.g., Fox News Channel the only news network available on some cheap cable packages when free public television was not; news networks hiring attractive airheads who all ask the same questions and parrot one another until we get

    accomplished in an hour of watching than if we’d had the TV off, etc. We were victims but we didn’t rise up.

    Taibbi helps, along with giving us a few laughs, to chart the train wreck that was the election and pinpoints moments when the cake-icing edifice melted and started to slide off the steaming heap it was hiding. For me in particular, he makes me wonder how we will manage without news organizations worthy of the effort of reading/listening to them. Traditional newspaper outlets have been under stress for many years now, and their ranks are decimated. TV news, you already know, are terrifying in their ineptness & self-satisfaction.

    I listened to the audio production of this book, produced by Penguin Random House Audio and read by Rob Shapiro. Shapiro has just the right amount of incredulity and snark in his voice to accentuate the disbelief and horror in Taibbi’s tale of woe.

    On my

    I have posted a short clip of the audiobook for you to sample.

  • Peter Mcloughlin
    Jan 20, 2017

    Tiabbi's trenchant, funny and tragic book is an excellent post mortem on the 2016 election and demise of institutions like independent media, the end of facts, the decline of the Democrats and the depravity of the republicans, the tightening of oligarchy and the post-truth world. It is the story of how a vacuity of person, a self-absorbed con-man usually weeded out by our political process became the forty-fifth President to be sworn in later today. It has a surreal and disturbing funhouse cast

    Tiabbi's trenchant, funny and tragic book is an excellent post mortem on the 2016 election and demise of institutions like independent media, the end of facts, the decline of the Democrats and the depravity of the republicans, the tightening of oligarchy and the post-truth world. It is the story of how a vacuity of person, a self-absorbed con-man usually weeded out by our political process became the forty-fifth President to be sworn in later today. It has a surreal and disturbing funhouse cast of characters, a grotesque caricature of a political process. Just about everyone in this tragicomedy is rogue's gallery of villains with the exception of Bernie Sanders who seems like Citizen-politician oddly placed in this story as a foil for the rest of clowns. As Trump would say, sad. As we will see alarming and disturbing.

    here is Tiabbl being interviewed on Democracy Now.

  • Lynn
    Jan 23, 2017

    Excellent. Scary and depressing as hell but excellent. My favorite quote from the book: "[Most of Donald] Trump's supporters [seem] so stubborn in their lack of interest in 'the facts.' They [are] contemptuous of anything that [comes] from [the media]...But the ineffectiveness of 'facts' [doesn't] stop there. The election of Trump was not just a political choice, a vote against minorities and foreigners, against intellectuals, a cry for better jobs, etc. This was also a metaphysical choice. [Tru

    Excellent. Scary and depressing as hell but excellent. My favorite quote from the book: "[Most of Donald] Trump's supporters [seem] so stubborn in their lack of interest in 'the facts.' They [are] contemptuous of anything that [comes] from [the media]...But the ineffectiveness of 'facts' [doesn't] stop there. The election of Trump was not just a political choice, a vote against minorities and foreigners, against intellectuals, a cry for better jobs, etc. This was also a metaphysical choice. [Trump voters] were announcing that they preferred one reality to another. Inherent in this decision was the revolutionary idea that you can choose your own set of facts...But Trump voters did not agree [that facts are facts]. They believed facts were a choice."

  • Jack Wolfe
    Jan 25, 2017

    One of the very worst things about Trump being president (and there are like a trillion awful things about Trump being president) is that fighting against him means looking at him and listening to him and taking him seriously as a human being, all tasks which are extremely difficult to do if you're a semi-normal, semi-decent person.

    So one of the best things about "Insane Clown President" is that-- despite the fantastic title-- Matt Taibbi thinks Donald Trump himself is probably the least intere

    One of the very worst things about Trump being president (and there are like a trillion awful things about Trump being president) is that fighting against him means looking at him and listening to him and taking him seriously as a human being, all tasks which are extremely difficult to do if you're a semi-normal, semi-decent person.

    So one of the best things about "Insane Clown President" is that-- despite the fantastic title-- Matt Taibbi thinks Donald Trump himself is probably the least interesting part of the Trump story. Naturally, he spends a bit of time taking potshots at the Donald-- how could any self-respecting journalist resist, with such a ridiculous target?-- but the majority of "ICP" concerns the political and social conditions that would allow an idiot candidate like Trump to first exist, then thrive, and then become the most powerful human being in the world.

    If you've got a subscription to Rolling Stone, you've probably read the whole book already-- its chapters are just articles written as a kind of "campaign diary" for the sordid saga of 2015/2016. But even if you were so lucky to receive Taibbi's wisdom in the moment, it might be worthwhile to read his essays again in the aggregate. There is a coherent narrative here. Taibbi's sensed Trump's power very early in the game, and it's only for a brief moment toward the end of the cycle (right after "Grab her by the pussy," when EVERYONE thought Trump was done) that he ever relents in his conviction that yes, this maniac can win this thing. To Taibbi, American elections are a sham. From the get go, he describes a two-party system that is completely out of touch with the interests of the public abetted by a corporate media structure that sucks up to said system and, hey whaddya know, loses touch with the public. According to Taibbi, it's this incestuous union of absent-minded political power and a brown-nosing media that people hate... Trump's people in particular. All it took to win in 2016 was a guy willing to stoke and use that hatred.

    The first half of the book, showing Trump steamrolling his weak-ass establishment Republican foes, was immensely entertaining for this liberal bubbler. The second half of the book, in which Trump takes on Hillary Clinton, appears to have a rocky time, but finally comes out on top, was... err... less fun. Difficult, too, because Taibbi is a prickly guy, and he's got nearly as much venom for the Democrats as he does for the Republicans. For every excuse cooked up by Hillary Clinton and her supporters as to why she lost ("the media spent too much time on... her e-mails!"), Taibbi has a bitter rejoinder (maybe the problem here, he suggests, is that the liberal expectation that the mainstream media will "take down" a threat like Trump is both unrealistic and kinda undemocratic... an expectation borne out of that incestuous union that so many Trump people despise).

    He's got some nice words for Obama, at the end. (They come in a chapter where he lays out dozens of problems with that administration, of course.) But the tone of the book is mostly one of disgust. For the whole shitshow. For Trump, obviously... But for everyone else involved, too (excepting perhaps Bernie). And why the fuck not? Our country is going to hell. The story of our descent might as well be told by writers as smart and funny and passionate and, yes, principled, as Taibbi.

  • Sam Quixote
    Jan 26, 2017

    The wonderfully titled Insane Clown President reprints Matt Taibbi’s Rolling Stone articles from this past election, starting in August 2015 to the aftermath of that apocalyptic Election Night. The book has its moments but Taibbi isn’t the most original of commentators, more often than not going with the overall media narrative, so, if you followed the election closely like me, this reads more like a summary of the whole thing than a unique insight from the campaign trail.

    Annoyingly, it takes a

    The wonderfully titled Insane Clown President reprints Matt Taibbi’s Rolling Stone articles from this past election, starting in August 2015 to the aftermath of that apocalyptic Election Night. The book has its moments but Taibbi isn’t the most original of commentators, more often than not going with the overall media narrative, so, if you followed the election closely like me, this reads more like a summary of the whole thing than a unique insight from the campaign trail.

    Annoyingly, it takes a while to get going. His intro and reprinted intro from his 2008 book The Great Derangement(!), basically say the same thing: America’s getting dumber and shallower and that doesn’t bode well for the future. He’s essentially taking credit for predicting Trump which, no, sorry, and besides it’s a weak, repetitive beginning. To be fair though, later on in an early 2016 piece he writes a fair assessment of Trump, highlighting his good and bad points, and is savvy enough then to predict a Trump presidency.

    Then (12% in! I read this on Kindle) we’re into the book proper with the 17 Republican candidates (labelled the “clown car”) blathering it out among themselves for the nomination. Taibbi laughs off Trump as unserious, how his very presence there shows the end of the Republican Party, and that he’ll never be the nominee, let alone win against Hillary. There was also a lot of talk about Republicans needing to completely revamp their party in a 21st century style to appeal to minorities and that Trump seemingly losing the Latino vote with his offensive comments would cost him the election. I’ll admit to thinking these same things, as many people did, and how wrong we all were!

    It was funny to be reminded of the bizarre mudslinging that went on during the nominations, particularly what went Ted Cruz’s way. Cruz was literally accused of being the Zodiac Killer whose dad was in league with Lee Harvey Oswald in the JFK assassination, and a neurologist actually wrote an article on why his face is so punchable. I laughed so much at those insane accusations - it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving candidate! The drinking game articles on the Republican Nominee debates though were lame, as was the one on casting the movie of the election.

    Taibbi reviews the culture that allowed Trump to rise to the top and finds its roots in Dubya. Almost as a reaction to having an intellectual like Obama as a two-term President, a trend of anti-intellectualism was on the rise which Trump was able to exploit. But of course there’s more to it than that. Trump and Bernie Sanders were the two candidates people were most pumped about as Trump made it a point that he was funding his own campaign while Bernie wouldn’t take corporate money. The message was clear: neither would be beholden to corporations in office unlike Hillary who couldn’t stop taking their “donations”. It shows the mood of the country, that people in general are sick of insider corruption and feel betrayed by their politicians hence why a significant number of voters respond to candidates who appear to be separate from it.

    He also takes a look at the left, criticising the Democratic National Committee who didn’t learn from Bernie’s popularity and just how close Hillary came to losing the nomination, as well as noting the startlingly crazy stuff that emerged from Trump’s victory with some commentators – sadly one of my favourite political writers, Andrew Sullivan, was among them – talking about changing the system to stop dumb people from voting!

    The post-election article where he’s trying to make sense of what’s happened was definitely my favourite. To his credit Taibbi is aware of the media’s shortcomings in this election cycle – including his own – in overestimating their influence (earlier in the book he talks almost proudly of the media’s ability to destroy candidates like Howard Dean after a gaffe – but somehow they couldn’t bring down Trump, signalling their decline in power) and talking too much amongst themselves instead of listening to what ordinary voters were saying.

    More importantly he highlights the shocking failings of the Clinton campaign and why Hillary lost. Bill and Hillary were once optimistic and idealistic, pursuing policies to benefit the American people but, after decades of being ground down in the realities of politics, they’ve become cynical and made a conscious decision, shortly after Bill’s presidency, to pursue money instead, becoming multi-millionaires in the process.

    Obama indirectly criticised Hillary by noting in a post-election speech that when he ran for President he campaigned tirelessly in the smallest communities, even the ones where he was told he didn’t stand a chance, meeting as many people as possible – a tactic that Trump also used in this election. Hillary meanwhile did far less grassroots campaigning, allegedly doing over 400 corporate fundraisers instead and relied on public opinion from a computer program called Ada!

    Hillary was an unlikeable, unappealing candidate who ran a garbage campaign, blocking out dissent and living in an echo chamber, so divorced from reality that there was a story that in her campaign headquarters her staffers were popping champagne on the morning of the election! As weird and important as Trump’s ascension was, it feels like there’s a more fascinating book to be written on Hillary’s enormously corrupt campaign.

    If you followed the election closely, there’s not going to be a whole lot new to you here, though if you didn’t, Taibbi is an informative, sometimes witty, and largely non-partisan writer who does a decent job of summarising the madness, particularly as the pieces were written as the events were happening, reflecting the perceptions of the time. That’s also its flaw as Taibbi tends to often defer to the mainstream political narrative than question it and try to be more objective. That said, it was such a strange and eventful election that reliving parts of it remain entertaining and he is occasionally insightful on certain aspects to make reading it worth my while. It’s not the definitive book on the 2016 Election but it’s not a bad one on the subject.

  • Linda Robinson
    Feb 21, 2017

    We all lived through this election cycle, and I like reading about it from Taibbi's viewpoint much better than from my own. This book is a collection of his journalistic observations, from the introduction with pieces of The Great Derangement, notes on 10 years of noticing something was changing in American politics, beginning with Howard Dean's campaign in 2004. There is a formula to candidacy as covered by political journalists that worked up until Dean: a 3-step evaluation that could pretty a

    We all lived through this election cycle, and I like reading about it from Taibbi's viewpoint much better than from my own. This book is a collection of his journalistic observations, from the introduction with pieces of The Great Derangement, notes on 10 years of noticing something was changing in American politics, beginning with Howard Dean's campaign in 2004. There is a formula to candidacy as covered by political journalists that worked up until Dean: a 3-step evaluation that could pretty accurately predict who would hang in for the long haul and who would bail under pressure before the primaries. Who would fail outright. Gradually it was clear that Americans had pretty much figured out that government doesn't work, all candidates are pretty much alike and nobody, but nobody had the real life interests of the middle in mind. Acceptable candidates (acceptable to the money, then the parties, then the media) were trotted out and we were all supposed to behave ourselves as we'd done for a couple hundred years, and vote for one of the 2 leftovers. And then this election happened. Taibbi tracks what went horribly wrong with predicting an outcome. A couple of outliers, a tired of the same shit populace, a national disgust with legacy candidates and dynasties, and a bellicose blowhard billionaire who had no interest in how things were supposed to go. Taibbi makes it all entertaining in hindsight. I laughed out loud a lot. Do not miss the debate drinking game rules. Or the casting suggestions for the movie. Excellent stuff.

  • Frederick Gault
    Feb 03, 2017

    Provided me with much-needed insight into why people could vote for a psychopathic jibbering turd like Lord Cheeto. It's more complex than "people are stupid". The level of disaffection got channeled into the direction of Grabby McCombover because he understood that a Presidential Election is reality television on par with Montel. If this paranoid human chancre doesn't blow us all to smithereens this book will be studied by future politicians. God help us survive this cretinous criminal degenera

    Provided me with much-needed insight into why people could vote for a psychopathic jibbering turd like Lord Cheeto. It's more complex than "people are stupid". The level of disaffection got channeled into the direction of Grabby McCombover because he understood that a Presidential Election is reality television on par with Montel. If this paranoid human chancre doesn't blow us all to smithereens this book will be studied by future politicians. God help us survive this cretinous criminal degenerate xylocephalous bovine immoral nincompoop!

  • Susan
    Feb 09, 2017

    This book includes Matt Taibbi's "Rolling Stones," articles, in which he covered the 2016 Presidential election. Now, I will state from the start that I am not American; but, looking on as an outsider, I really could not see why anyone would think that voting for Donald Trump was a good idea and nothing he has done since becoming President has calmed my fears. As such, I was interested to see if I could gain any understanding from this book.

    What this really tells is the rise of Trump. Yes, the

    This book includes Matt Taibbi's "Rolling Stones," articles, in which he covered the 2016 Presidential election. Now, I will state from the start that I am not American; but, looking on as an outsider, I really could not see why anyone would think that voting for Donald Trump was a good idea and nothing he has done since becoming President has calmed my fears. As such, I was interested to see if I could gain any understanding from this book.

    What this really tells is the rise of Trump. Yes, the author obviously had a fondness for Bernie Sanders, but there is not really as much about Sanders and Clinton, as there is about the Donald and that is - he recognises - part of the problem. He states that the press thought Sanders had no chance of success and covered the campaign accordingly. In fact, Trump got twenty three times more TV coverage than Trump and the same is true in Taibbi's articles. Trump is unpredictable, outrageous, ignores all the rules - ignores common decency - and yet the press, hating itself it seems, can't take its eyes off of him.

    This is the story of a truly outrageous campaign, where the most offensive, attention seeking, outrageous statements got the press attention in a deeply divided country. It seems that polls, the press and, most of all, the establishment, got it completely wrong. As in the UK, with Brexit,a large proportion of the voting public protested and so those who predict results got it horribly, terribly wrong. Matt Taibbi attempts to explain why this happened, but it feels like little consolation to those of us looking on at recent events and the rise of intolerance, not only in the USA, but around the world.