Recommended Reading

After seeing Matt Taibbi's appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher, I immediately requested his book at the library. It's a fascinating look at some of the inequalities in our country and the growing divide in how we systematically reward or punish behavior based on position in society. I've also been delving deeper into short stories and as soon as I polished these three collections off, I had four more collections sitting on my nightstand and two more on my Kindle...

Recommended Reading

Here is an excerpt from each:

1.  The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap (Matt Taibbi)
The laws governing the rights of immigrants are overtly diluted, in a manner that would strike the average American as simply strange, if not outrageous. A natural-born citizen enjoys Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. Police can't come busting into your home without a warrant, can't wiretap your phone for no reason. Any evidence seized in an improper search is invalid. This basic principle, that evidence improperly obtained gets excluded, is called the exclusionary rule.
But according to a recent federal court decision called INS v. Lopez-Mendoza, in cases involving immigrants, a Fourth Amendment violation must be "egregious" for evidence to be thrown out. Moreover, thanks to a more recent case called Gutierrez-Berdin v. Eric Holder, even "very minor physical abuse coupled with aggressive questioning" does not rise to the level of an egregious Fourth Amendment violation.
The government's rational here is beautiful in its simplicity. American criminals have constitutional rights not because they are natural-born Americans but precisely because they are criminals. Deportations, however, are not part of the criminal justice system. "Removal proceedings," wrote the circuit judge in the Gutierrez-Berdin case, "are civil, not criminal, and the exclusionary rule does not generally apply to them."
So the undocumented alien who kills a room full of Rotarians with an ax has a right to counsel, a phone call, and protection against improper searches. The alien caught crossing the street on his way to work has no rights at all.
Strangest of all, immigration proceedings are run by immigration judges, who are not "Article III" judges - not members of the judicial branch, as described in the U.S. Constitution. Immigration judges are actually employees of the Department of Homeland Security. In other words, they work for the same branch of government that prosecutes the cases." (P. 203)
2. One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories (B.J. Novak)
The Girl Who Gave Great Advice
"Well," she would say, and then narrow her eyes at the person she was talking to: "what does your heart tell you?" (Sometimes she would use "gut" instead of "heart." She switched those up sometimes.)
"Yes. Yes!" the friend would say, as the girl who gave great advice held her squint and then added a slow, small nod one and a half seconds later. "You're right! Thank you! You give the best advice. I feel so much better. Thank you!"
That's how it happened most of the time. But sometimes, her task was more complicated. These were the times the person would say "my heart tells me..." (or "my gut tells me") but would then say something in a tone of voice that made it sound like the person wasn't necessarily all that happy to be saying what he or she was saying.
The girl who gave great advice knew how to handle these situations, too. She would lower her head thirty degrees and then tilt it back up after two and a half seconds, and ask at a slightly slower pace in a slightly lower voice: "And what does your..." and then she would say either "gut" or "heart," just whichever one she hadn't said before. (This was the part she had to be most careful about. Once, she had said the same word as she had the first time—"heart," twice—and the whole thing fell apart.)
If her first piece of advice hasn't worked, this second piece of advice always made everything all right. "Yes! Yes! Now I know what to do! You give the best advice!" everyone told her. "The best! Ever!" (P. 41)
3. Me Talk Pretty One Day (David Sedaris)
The Great Leap Forward
Across town, over in the East Village, the graffiti was calling for the rich to be eaten, imprisoned, or taxed out of existence. Though it sometimes seemed like a nice idea, I hoped the revolution would not take place during my lifetime. I didn't want the rich to go away until I could at least briefly join their ranks. Money was tempting. I just didn't know how to get it. (P. 100)
4. Birds of America: Stories (Lorrie Moore)
Dance in America
I tell them dance begins when a moment of hurt combines with a moment of boredom. I tell them it's the body's reaching, bringing air to itself. I tell them that it's the heart's triumph, the victory of speech of the feet, the refinement of animal lunge and flight, the purest metaphor of tribe and self. It's life flipping death the bird.
I make this stuff up. But then I fee the strange voltage of my rented charisma, hear the jerry-rigged authority in my voice, and I, too believe. I'm convinced. (P. 47)

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