Franks was the author of the 2004 book, "Whatever Happened to Kansas," That particular book looks at how American conservatives managed to align themsFranks was the author of the 2004 book, "Whatever Happened to Kansas," That particular book looks at how American conservatives managed to align themselves with the working class, getting elected on social issues, and then pushing an economic agenda that actually hurt the very people who voted for them.
In many ways, this book is an extension of his earlier book, except that it chronicles how the Right has managed, against all odds, to exploit working class outrage regarding the economic collapse of 2008. Unlike the aftermath of the economic catastrophe of the Great Depression when Democrats established a solid coalition of voters who kept the Democrats in power for decades, the new Right has managed to capture the popular sentiment of average Americans who are angry at the state of the nation and our economic fall from the grace of good times.
Do they blame corporations? Not really. The Right blames government, regulations, and, of course, liberals.
It's an interesting and funny read. But it's also a head-scratcher because it's just so difficult to understand how so many people can be side with the political party who championed the policies which allowed Wall St to run wild and unchecked for years. You would think that most average conservatives would rethink their love of deregulation. Apparently not. It seems that the resurgent Right is now in love, more than ever, with capitalism in its purist unregulated form.
There is also a beautiful deconstruction of Ayn Rand's book, "Atlas Shrugged," that is worth experiencing.
And, of course, the conservative media and erstwhile RW tea party groups get a closer examination.
This is a VERY informative book about the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) law, why there was a need to create it, and how it's beenThis is a VERY informative book about the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) law, why there was a need to create it, and how it's been ignored or circumvented in the aftermath of 9-11.
Prior to the law taking effect, the book chronicles the governmental abuses by presidents from both political parties when in power. Those very abuses are what led to law being enacted in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal. The book also details how, ostensibly with the intention of protecting the US after 9-11, the law was ignored by the Bush administration despite the fact that FISA was updated in the Patriot Act in order to meet the expressed concerns of the Bush administration.
Greenwald chronicles how Bush (as well as the telecoms) violated the law from 2001 through 2005, despite Bush's repeated public assurances that no Americans' communications were being monitored without a warrant.
Also of note in the book is how Congress rallied to give the telecoms immunity from law suits even as the law suits were in progress. Congress and the administration also shielded the gov't from accountability on the basis of 'national security' concerns.
The book also covers other end runs around Americans' constitutional rights such as indefinite detention without formal charges, or legal representation, or a trial.
The beginning of the book starts about a year before the financial meltdown and progresses through to the election of President Obama and his first 2The beginning of the book starts about a year before the financial meltdown and progresses through to the election of President Obama and his first 2 years in office. It details both the financial market collapse, the gov't response to it, as well as the push for health insurance reform (which originally started out as health care cost-control reform).
The book includes quite a few insights into the workings of Wall St, the Obama WH, Congress, and, of course, the powerful men and women who essentially run the country behind the scenes.
It's not a stodgy, facts-only oriented book. In fact, it's written in story form, almost like a novel. I enjoyed the book because I learned a lot about the behind the scenes interpersonal relationships of the people involved, as well as many facts about the financial crisis I didn't know.
As an example, Obama had a heads up warning that the financial system was in trouble back in 2007 because he was friends with UBS-America president, Robert Wolf, who had access to people and information about derivatives and how out of control they were.
Another thing I didn't know is one of the ways that American banks came back into profitability so quickly even though they were famously not loaning money again. What did they do? They used essentially free gov't money to buy T-bills which paid an interest rate of about 3%. Imagine that! They brought down the economy. Then the gov't (the taxpayers) bail them out. Then they use taxpayer money to increase their earnings at taxpayers' expense. It boggles the mind.
If that doesn't bother you, think about this. Many of the same practices that got our economy into this mess, are still going on, unabated. The latest Bank of America losses in the billions of dollars attest to that.
I supposed I should include a couple of caveats about the book. They're not reasons to not read the book. They're just a couple of annoyances and a heads up about a possible problem.
One annoyance is that the book was not a linear narrative. As such, the story continuously shifted in time, and it wasn't always clear as to the date. As an example, sometimes the principals were remembering an earlier time in their lives. Another mild annoyance is the fact that stories would temporarily end in favor of another story arc, and they would reappear later, sometimes far later. It would have been helpful if their titles of the principals would have again been mentioned.
A possible problem is that there isn't any attribution in the book. There are several times in the book that you would read about a conversation that only happened between two people, including ones between President Obama and another person (President Obama was interviewed for the book). So, one criticism of the book might be that, without attribution, it's not completely clear if the recounted conversations aren't somehow self-serving to whomever the source was.
And just in case anyone is worried that this book is a love fest of the president and the entire administration team, I can assure everyone that it is not.
The people who emerge as the real bright spots and real heroes in the book are fairly unknown to the general public. One that stands out in my mind is Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman, Gary Gensler. ...more
For anyone interested in how Southern conservatives think in modern day America, you don't need to look any further. This book is an excellent place tFor anyone interested in how Southern conservatives think in modern day America, you don't need to look any further. This book is an excellent place to start.
We're supposedly (because we're supposed to be) a nation of laws and not men. But that's not really true, as Greenwald more than adequately portrays iWe're supposedly (because we're supposed to be) a nation of laws and not men. But that's not really true, as Greenwald more than adequately portrays in this, his latest, book.
It's one thing to understand that fair and equitable treatment within the criminal justice system is not perfect, After all, nothing is. But there is a huge difference between occasional miscarriages of justice and institutional favoritism which quite often gives the rich and powerful very little punishment, if any punishment at all, while ordinary citizens are subjected to increasingly harsh and long sentences for violations of relatively modest transgressions of the law.
This book is a must read for anyone who's interested in knowing the disparity between the high-sounding American ideals our leaders espouse in public and how our legal system actually works in reality.
Ever wonder exactly why "the political opposition" could POSSIBLY believe what they do? Ever wonder how they can possibly reach the conclusions they rEver wonder exactly why "the political opposition" could POSSIBLY believe what they do? Ever wonder how they can possibly reach the conclusions they reach?
Maybe a better question is how do YOU (or any of us, really) reach (y)our conclusions. Maybe an even better question is this: what mechanisms are at work which guide our 'thinking?' Do we, as we probably believe, use reason (as in logic) to reach our conclusions from the available information? Or is it something other than reason? And what exactly is the underlying mechanism at work? And could evolution really be playing a role in how we view the world?
Haidt's new book (just published earlier this year) takes a fresh look at moral beliefs on the individual level and how our collective moral beliefs influence group behavior about what constitutes moral beliefs within different groups (Note: this book is NOT about group dynamics). The human mind is examined from an evolutionary psychology (Darwinist*) perspective in evaluating both individual AND group behavior and how it manifests itself in the political and religious realm.
*I was unaware that Darwin believed in multilevel selection (natural selection and survival of the fittest on the group level as well as the individual level) Apparently, Darwin's group selection theories fell out of favor a few decades ago and are now, only recently, making a comeback.
Haidt examines moral psychology, sociology, philosophy, and evolution to create a truly thought-provoking reexamination of how and why people believe what they believe when it comes to the differences in values between liberals and conservatives. Libertarians are also included.
Just in case anyone is curious, Haidt is a lifelong liberal in his politics. One of the conclusions he reaches is that conservatives actually have an advantage when it comes to politics, although that's not really the core thrust of his theories regarding evolutionary moral psychology.
This is a must read for all people interested in politics. Liberals should learn the most from it, especially about how they have a greater uphill climb to connect with the general electorate. Conservatives will gain insight into exactly why they have an advantage.
If you only read one nonfiction book this year, this should be that book!!!
While the book is listed as being 448 pages in length, much of that is taken up in end notes, references, and an index. The actual text is 318 pp. (plus a 7 page introduction)....more
I have mixed feelings about the book as my review will show.
The strongest part of the book is the first half which is essentially a history lesson aboI have mixed feelings about the book as my review will show.
The strongest part of the book is the first half which is essentially a history lesson about how, over a period of several decades, we've arrived at the place where hyper-partisan gridlock and Republican Party intransigence rules. A reminder of Gingrich's role in helping to create the current state of partisanship was instructive. However, I was surprised that Tom DeLay's role in fostering the current environment was breezed over with barely a mention.
The book misses the mark in the second half when Mann and Ornstein offer their many possible fixes to the system. I can understand why the authors felt compelled to offer solutions after explaining the problem(s). However, it's frankly difficult to imagine why a majority of Congress would approve the necessary laws or changes to the House and Senate rules which would effectively dilute their power or create the kind of conditions which might very well result in the members being voted out of office due to more people voting or because their districts became more competitive. After all, the authors just finished explaining why Congress can't or won't work together to pass laws in order to solve the nation's problems. If they can't or won't work together on legislation, it doesn't seem logical that that they would work together to solve the structural problems which perpetuate their power. And when it comes to reforming PACs and campaign finance laws? Here's what a New Yorker would tell you: Forgetaboutit!!!
On balance, the book was a worthwhile read. I just think it would have been more beneficial to the reader to have been offered more examples of how and why Congress transformed over time from the more collegial, working system it once was to the more dysfunctional one it is now....more
I enjoyed the book. Frankly, I've long known for a long time that big business (corporations) use gov't to get favorable legislation and rules to makeI enjoyed the book. Frankly, I've long known for a long time that big business (corporations) use gov't to get favorable legislation and rules to make it easier for them to do business and make money. After all, those lobbyist aren't getting paid just to create some kind of nebulous "better business climate." Those campaign contributions come with the expectation of specific favors in mind. So, I appreciate the specifics since most, but not all, of what was in the book, I was previously unaware.
With that said, I had a few problems with the book. The first thing is that the beginning of the book was all lover the map. The author kept changing the focus of the narrative so often that it was difficult to follow where he was trying to go. It's as if he was trying to impart too much information all at once and kept changing the subject.
Secondly, it seems as if sometimes Johnston left out information that would have helped better flesh out his points. For example, I would have liked to have had more information about the 19th century case (Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific RR) which established corporations as legal persons by applying Constitutional protects to corporations as well as natural person through the use of the 14th Amendment.
Additionally, sometimes the author made statements of belief (as opposed to fact) that weren't adequately supported by what was included in the text of the book. For example, on page 85, Johnston states in the second paragraph that an article in the Times-Picayune referring to Entergy Corporation as New Orleans' only Fortune 500 company made it clear that there was a journalistic tilt toward the rich and powerful rather than to their readers. Really? Based on what was written in the book, I don't see that at all. If Entergy was NO's only Fortune 500 company, that's a statement of fact. And unless something else was included in their article which was not mentioned in the book, I don't see any slant or favoritism at all in that statement. Unfortunately, this and other claims (like the one on page 97 where Johnston claims that a PUC commission "put off the vote" rather than hear citizens' concerns or complaints) were not supported by the evidence presented within the book. Alas, this tendency tends to make Johnston himself appear to be slanted or engaged in favoritism against the corporations which are the focus of his book. I would only suggest that Johnston offer better supporting evidence for his claims within the book or at least openly state that at certain points he's offering an opinion as opposed to implying that he's reached factual conclusion.
But all things considered, the facts presented in the book make it clear that average people are unknowingly and unwittingly paying higher fees to corporations because corporations are using the gov't to codify higher fees than market competition would otherwise allow. ...more
The Party is Over is a concise must read indictment about the current highly dysfunctional state of American governance which begs the following questThe Party is Over is a concise must read indictment about the current highly dysfunctional state of American governance which begs the following question: Which is worse? Is it Republican rule, or is it obstructionist gridlock where nothing gets done and problems only get worse?...more