Category: Government

Thieves in High Places by Jim Hightower

book jacket author with sandwich board sign in red long johnsThieves in High Places: They’ve Stolen our Country and it’s Time to Take it Back by Jim Hightower (2003)

Another funny book by the author of:
 If the gods had wanted us to vote they would have given us candidates (2000).

Funny but it makes you want to cry way, book of commentary and actual facts from Jim Hightower. He starts the introduction with a very appropriate word for the W days: Kleptocrat Nation. I have since learned another word that better suits the 2017 administration: kakistocracy.

For those of you who don’t want to click the link, Wikipedia defines it to mean:

“a state or country run by the worst, least qualified, or most unscrupulous citizens”

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Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea by Mark Blyth

book jacket showing an empty walletAusterity: The History of a Dangerous Idea by Mark Blyth (2013)

I could start and end my commentary with this simple imperative: BUY THIS BOOK.

Economics was one subject about which I had little interest and a lot of hostility when forced to take it in college. The teacher tried his best, but trying to explain economic theory to a bunch of kids who have possibly never had any knowledge of how much money their parents make, spend, or what things cost is a rather hopeless proposition. At least for me, combined with minimal exposure to life long enough to seen the actual consequences of economic theory in policymaking and being able to see the short-term and long-term impact of such policies, made the content just too much of a word salad to be useful.

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Zombie Politics and Culture by Henry A. Giroux

book jacket with dark street sceneZombie Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism by Henry A. Giroux (2011)

Though the whole zombie bit grows old, this slim volume expresses my views on the current state of affairs only now we are worse off post 2016 election. This is a MUST READ BOOK!

I wrote about another of his books that was amazing too, The Violence of Organized Forgetting.

The author writes for Truth-out so his thoughts subsequent to this book are also available online at www.truth-out.org here are a few links I picked up on a Google search for “henry giroux” 2016 election:

Anti-politics and the Plague of Disorientation: Welcome to the Age of Donald Trump
T
his one begins with a great quote:

“Ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.”
— James Baldwin

The Authoritarian Politics of Resentment in Trump’s America (November 13, 2016) Here’s the opening paragraph to it (LOVE his use of language!):

In the face of a putrid and poisonous election cycle that ended with Trump’s presidential victory, liberals and conservatives are quick to argue that Americans have fallen prey to a culture of incivility.

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IF THE GODS HAD MEANT US TO VOTE THEY WOULD HAVE GIVEN US CANDIDATES

clever book jacket with his face in cowboy hat and blue and red stripes with stars on either side with the photo of heads of politiciansIF THE GODS HAD MEANT US TO VOTE THEY WOULD HAVE GIVEN US CANDIDATES: More political subversion from Jim Hightower (2000)

Note, there is an updated and revised 2010 edition. This cover image is from the 2000 edition I got from the library. They may have the newer version too, and I definitely want to check it out (pun intended!).

I had heard the name of Jim Hightower and recognized him as a politician. I had no idea he was so FUNNY! Since he was from Texas I just assumed he was one of the humorless, hostile, conservative types. Turns out he will SKEWER ANYONE with equal delight!

Jim Hightower, America’s most popular populist, is a bestselling author, radio commentator, public speaker, and all-around political sparkplug whose credo is “You can fight the gods and still have fun.” Twice elected to statewide office in Texas, he has long battled the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought to Be: the working families, consumers, the environment, small businesses, and just plain folks.

Though the jacket copy above used the cringe-worthy “folks” that has forever been made vomit-inducing from the W use of it (and followed by Obama continuation of same while speaking in an elegant fully literate way otherwise), I was delighted to read this description, itself amusing.

The title alone perfectly sums up the 2016 election without needing any updating. In fact, it might be even more applicable to 2016. The 17 losers (and I include 45 in particular despite the Electoral concept biting US all in the ass), was astonishing in the shallowness of the candidates, the YUUUUUGENESS of their egos (45!! Unbelievable. Trust me. Believe me. Sad.)

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The Age of Sustainable Development by Jeffrey D. Sachs

book jacketThe Age of Sustainable Development by Jeffrey D. Sachs (2015)

This is a book worth reading despite some egregious realities that are not even touched on at all (disability). It has a massive scope ranging from poverty and economics to healthcare and fertility, biodiversity and climate change, and more. With pictures! And graphs!

More than a bit depressing and overwhelming too since we humans were gifted with brains and mainly chose to use for exploitation and degradation of all of earth and life of all kinds.

I wanted it to read the chapter (11) on “Resilient Cities”

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America’s Unwritten Constitution by Akhil Reed Amar

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America’s Unwritten Constitution: The Precedents and Principles We Live By. (c 2012) Akhil Reed Amar,

the author of America’s book jacket title and image of quill penConstitution: A Biography (c 2005)

Okay read. Could be better.

 

 

I am completely mystified about this blank page. I am sure I wrote something on the first title of these books, but I see I tagged it “must re-checkout from library.

As I recall, this first one was a good book. I remember have a few criticisms like the ill-designed index and somewhat inadequate index (not the author’s fault, professional indexers are usually used to create).

I learned a bunch of stuff from this book and it really peeves me that I read and did not, apparently, write a post at the same time. I guess that means it had pretty gripping material.

I do recommend it for a read.

 

book jacketI also checked out his other book, The Constitution Today Read parts and skimmed most, but did not find it particularly good. To explain what I mean by good, it has to tell me stuff I didn’t already know, be organized in a coherent and useful pattern, and have some kind of consistent point-of-view. It seemed to me that this was just a thrown together collection of somewhat outdated essays. Not recommended reading; a disappointment.

 

 

 

 

Enabling Acts by Lennard J. Davis

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Enabling Acts: The hidden story of how the Americans with Disabilities Act gave the largest US minority its rights by Lennard J. Davis (2015)

Fascinating history of the ADA but somewhat boring to read. Worth the read to gain a full understanding of the background and significant too for the behind the scenes kind of wrangling by opponents and their ilk. BTW, as the Rethuglicans gained power in the White House and Congress, they sought to undo the good things of the ADA as they are currently no doubt planning to do as well. The amended statute was signed into law by George W. Bush just before Obama was elected in 2008. The ADAAA changes the way ADA cases could proceed, protecting business and harming plaintiffs of course.

I am finding it amusing (per the “I used to be disgusted, but now I am amused.” coping mechanism), when I read historical material AND now know the level of scum that were doing bad deeds on the side while holding themselves as holier than all else. In one case, the now disgraced sexual predator and pervert Dennis Hastert “hammered away at people who were testifying.” (p. 182) As always, the Republicans did not want to do anything that would help people for any reason. It should be their party platform: “We’ve got ours, you can hurry up and die.” Terrify to think he served so long as Speaker of the House and thus 3rd in line for the presidency. There really has to be better vetting of candidates for office!

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Affairs of Honor by Joanne Freeman

book cover of affairs of honor with cartoon of founding fathers fightingAffairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic by Joanne Freeman (2002), the author was an excellent speaker on the binge watching of C-SPAN3 covering American History. A good follow on with my initial reading on the development of political parties.

Again, I read a bunch but did not write at the time so will have to check out from library again to be able to share the best parts and write my commentary.

Wrong and Dangerous by Garrett Epps

book jacket with scrap of Constitution showingWrong and Dangerous: Ten Right-Wing Myths about Our Constitution by Garrett Epps (2012)

This slim volume is a fun read (the touches of sarcasm are a delight) about what the Constitution actually says and directly refutes right-wing claims to the contrary. Excellent notes and list of books for further reading by categories like “the Bill of Rights” and an appendix that provides the actual text of the Constitution plus the first version that failed to meet the needs of the nation due to lack of sufficient federal authority over states’ rights. Personally, I long for the day that the entire concept of “states’ rights” is abolished. My rights as a citizen should not depend on geography. States’ rights is a vestigial concept leftover from the fear of a central “kingdom” type of government.

I may write the author and suggest he dedicate another volume to the Fourteenth Amendment, and social justice issues related to it that have had Supreme Court (bad or good) rulings, especially in the area of racism and sexism.

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The Violence of Financial Capitalism by Christian Marazzi

book jacket plain brownThe Violence of Financial Capitalism by Christian Marazzi, Kristina Lebedeva (Translator) (2010)

This is a MUST READ BOOK.

I had to return to the library so will have to get again to add the essay part and quotes. But I decided to hit publish anyway because it is so good and I just want to get the recommendation out there.