"That’s where the 'lockdown' concept originated. It isn’t medical terminology. It is penal institution terminology"

As longtime readers are aware, I'm not a fan of Matt Taibbi.

Donald Rumsfeld never asked Chris Kyle to shoot children. I'm not sure how often Taibbi needs to be reminded of this. He seems dumb enough that you could brand that phrase into his forehead and put him in a room full of mirrors without figuring it out. As for the "high up the chain officials", I don't know how they do things at Rolling Stone magazine, but in both the army and the civilian real world, high up the chain officials are the ones who make strategic decisions. Do random copy editors over there get to decide to, say, fire Matt Taibbi? No? You mean that officials high up the chain just put them and their high-powered Photoshop into a tiny room and ask them to crop shots of women and children? That's barbaric.

This was from back in 2015, when Taibbi was still at Rolling Stone and...well, funny enough, he ultimately did get fired. The problem was, while he was indeed a leftie with all the usual intellectual and moral problems that entails, he was also a truth-seeking journalist who had made the mistake early in his career of living in Russia.

Now you might be thinking that for lefties of a certain age, "going to live in Russia" was a godsend. I remember an executive member of the University of Alberta campus NDP, in the 21st century mind you, who was actively learning Russian so she could "speak it when the revolution came". Until about 75 seconds ago, Russians were the good guys.

Three weeks ago, Joseph Biden, U.S. vice-president, made headlines by proclaiming the Obama administration’s intention to “press the reset button” in U.S.-Russian relations. Next week, Hillary Clinton, secretary of state, will sit down in Geneva with Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, to figure out what that metaphor means.

While there are plenty of specifics to talk about, the overarching concern in Washington and European capitals is that Russia is cracking down at home and throwing its weight around abroad. Not surprisingly, many are worried about a new cold war. However, that is not a useful way to think about what is happening.

No, the Taibbi problem was that as somebody who had lived in Russian and spoke Russian and worked with government officials and dissidents and ordinary people and corrupt mafia men pretending to be chief financial officers or normal companies, he knew what the Russians were all about. As a result, when the Trump-Russia affair started to heat up and become the dominant part of the left's narrative, Taibbi was left in the unfortunate position of realizing that what was being told made absolutely zero sense and almost certainly was 100% false. He knew enough about Donald J. Trump to know that (again as a leftie who hates anything sensible) he also hated Him, but also knew enough biographical stuff that when his Moscow Radar was already set off, started putting the pieces together that it was all a (relatively poorly) manufactured lie. Once he realized that the Russians didn't operate in the way that they were accused of working with Trump it wasn't hard to start seeing what was wrong with the whole affair (ie. Trump hates illegal immigration and strongly dislikes germs, which is why he wants to build a wall and also why he wouldn't let a bunch of hookers pee on him).

Of course once you start being led down such a path you start finding your ideological partners don't brook any such critical thinking. The Rolling Stone article I critiqued spent as much time decrying U.S. military action as it did the Clint Eastwood movie; Trump critiqued U.S. military action as well; from a different perspective than Taibbi absolutely, but it didn't escape his attention as 2015 moved into 2016 that a relatively antiwar candidate was starting to climb to the top of the GOP primary process. In several areas of domestic policy as well Trump's similarity to Taibbi's ideal U.S. Presidential candidate -- that would be Bernie Sanders -- also caught his attention.

Basically, Taibbi stopped being involved in Rolling Stone once he stopped being capable of promoting their agenda of critiquing the right at all times without stopping to think about it (which was the crime I accused him of). He could still hate Trump, and social conservatism, and economic conservatism, and jump up and down in favour of sick sodomites and poor downtrodden niggers and other standard leftist causes; what he couldn't do is lie or downplay real stories of facts centred around him.

That's what we call a rabbit hole, kids.

The problem was that soon he realized his ideological team wasn't interested in real stories of facts but narratives and enforcing narratives. Which is why when WikiLeaks pivoted from leaks designed to (or even with side effects which) weaken supporters of the Iraq and Afghanistan military operations, and instead started publishing leaks designed to (or even with side effects which) weaken the Hilary Clinton campaign against Bernie Sanders the left-wing establishment rallied around the DNC frontrunner designed to "destroy Trump/any possible other GOP frontrunner" and Taibbi did not. Part of that was that it was helping "his guy" sure, but it also came with a little ideological consistency. He'd spent half a decade supporting WikiLeaks when it was releasing true backchannel information obtained through extremely dubious methods with a specific political intention behind it -- and you'll note describing the Bradley Manning affair in this way also described the DNC hacks -- so it seemed only logical he continue to do so, even if the ultimate political victory was a bit of a pyrrhic one.

You see, the "narrative" had been that since the Russians may have been connected to the DNC hack, therefore Trump had conspired with a foreign group against his (in their view, perfect and correct and totally a warm woman that every voter yearned to connect with) most formidable opponent. Taibbi's problem was that again he had enough knowledge and experience to already sense this was bullshit, so as the evidence it wasn't bullshit continued to be manufactured and yet be unimpressive he refused to sign on. Sure Russia seemed to be interested in manufacturing political unrest in the United States (but again as somebody who criticized U.S. foreign policy designed to manufacture unrest in other countries he had a cheeky sense that turnabout was fair play), but that manifested itself in Russia helping Sanders against Clinton, Trump against Clinton, but also Sanders against Trump and Clinton against Trump. Us-versus-them polarization seemed to be the gameplan rather than "help their puppet drumpf" which had become the...what's that word...right, narrative.

Needless to say, the complete collapse of the Russiagate story and its morphing into the Russiagate hoax vindicated the Taibbi approach, which is why the left totally understood and themselves pivoted to taking lessons learned into account and making sure that a future Taibbi would be listened to (even if he and the o.g. Taibbi disagreed).

Sorry, just making sure you were still paying attention.

Instead they vilified him, wrote endless "what happened to turn him from a great guy criticizing conservative artistic works into this scumbag who only opposes Trump 92% of the way instead of the full 100% of the way" thinkpieces, and then sent armed federal agents around to his house to intimidate him before testifying to congressional hearings (where they accused him of non-criminal fraud).

I guess the "what happened" isn't that crazy of an article to write (the fact that I'm in the middle of writing one belies that); the result was really that despite his protestations he has changed...a little. He's at the very least more sensitive to the fact that now when he sees mainstream media attack conservatives he's more acutely aware of the fact it's usually complete bullshit.

Specifically he's aware of the tactic of deplatforming to deny the target a voice, then mainstream articles attack with the knowledge readers won't get to the source material and wait this all sounds familiar. The pre-denouncing of "hatred" and therefore "don't listen to anything this person says even though the other side clearly drew up this Steele Dossier without any semblance to reality with cherry-picked claims that if you look for more than 18 seconds are actually just aimed to destabilize a local rival" has been catching in his craw for a while now.

Which brings me around to the reason I'm even talking about this: Third Edge of the Sword's first link to Racket.News, the Substack site Taibbi has been running for a year or two. One of his regular features is "Meet the Censored", and he's a couple times highlighted a case which hasn't gotten very much press: an American playwright being fined in Germany for criticizing a government official.

No amount of drugs exist that if consumed would allow a rational person to conclude that the writing of C.J. Hopkins furthers “the aims of a former National Socialist Organization.” Agree with him or not, and I increasingly do, he used his imagery to compare the sweeping declarations of emergency power that were common around the world during the pandemic (and were particularly authoritarian in Germany) to Nazi tactics. He compared, for instance, the 2020 “Infection Protection Act” to the “Enabling Act of 1933,” which announced that to “remedy the distress of the people,” the “laws enacted by the government of the Reich may deviate from the constitution.”

C.J.’s real offense seems to be a response to a tweet by Die Welt, quoting German health minister Karl Lauterbach. Portrayed in full Sprockets-style smart-glasses glory, Lauterbach is shown saying, “The masks always send out a signal”:

C.J. retweeted the quote, adding the image from his book cover. That’s it, that’s the offense. No matter how you feel about that exchange, that is not “intended to further the aims of a former National Socialist organization.” That is using the negative connotations of Nazism to criticize a currently serving government official.

Taibbi notes something I noted when the Freedom Convoy was being slagged for having one guy with a swastika walking around nearby, regardless of your opinion of comparing things to the Holocaust, it's not promoting Nazi ideology when you attack your opponent by comparing him to a Nazi. German's famed laws prohibiting swastikas aren't actually as strong as most people believe them to be: indeed the swastika guy in Ottawa not only didn't break any Canadian laws but had he flown to Berlin he wasn't breaking German law either:

He was first accused of this “crime” in June, shortly after Roger Waters was placed under investigation for wearing his clearly satirical “Pink” costume in a stage performance in Berlin. As I wrote when C.J. was charged weeks later, authorities claim that through the use of the mask image, C.J. was “disseminating propaganda, the contents of which are intended to further the aims of a former National Socialist organization.”

There's an interview with Hopkins at the bottom of the article that's worth a read, which briefly gets into this aspect as well: there's not any automatic link, even in Germany, between "display swastika = crime":

C.J. Hopkins: I’ve said it, I don’t know how many fucking times, it’s not illegal. Yes, if you’re a Nazi, it’s illegal to spread swastikas around in Germany. But if you’re doing art, if you’re commenting on history, if you’re selling a book, there are a whole slew of reasons for exceptions where people can and do use swastikas, which you put in your piece, you put examples of the book covers. My lawyer has made all these arguments to the prosecutor.

Matt Taibbi: And those arguments were rejected?

C.J. Hopkins: Not even addressed, really. It’s just we had a chance to respond first and then we asked them for the tweets. That’s when we got the tweets. Then my lawyer wrote an even longer and more detailed response citing the terms of law and explaining who I am and my whole history of published work that anybody could fucking look at and figure out who I am, and what my intentions are. And nothing. The next thing we got was called an Order of Punishment.

I started this off by talking about the Trump circumstances that forced Taibbi to start actually evaluating these and other "hate crimes" and "hateful things" and "criminal things" and "so bad you don't question them things", so I'll let the leftist prick (I may soften, but I don't bend) have the final say:

I defy any American reporter to justify incarceration for this type of criticism of a still-serving politician. We’d have to build a separate Supermax just for people who used Hitler analogies during the Trump years, or published gleeful headlines like, “Lawsuit Reveals Trump Can’t Stand Being Compared to Hitler.” 


As C.J. points out, the real problem is not so much with his case (although he’s certainly worried), but the now-open way in which such laws are being applied, from the prosecution of Julian Assange to the suppression of Covid speech and even the extra counts addressing “false statements” in tweets by Donald Trump.