Austerity: 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.
Zombie 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
This 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.
F*U*B*A*R: America’s Right-Wing Nightmare by Sam Seder and Stephen Sherrill (2006)
and, in the appendix, “a ringing denunciation by Janeane Garofalo.”
For those of you not familiar FUBAR stands for Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition.
I first “read” this on cd and it was so funny I had to get a hard copy (aka book) o be able to share my delight at the dark humor “exposing the truth about the Right’s blueprint for total domination — over your money, your mind, your sex life, and even your place in the afterlife. . . .” (book jacket copy)
Chapter titles include:
Taliban Dreaming: The Bad News is there’s No Good News
Open your Mind
The Republican Cat Food Promotion Act of 2005
The Republican Neurological Disorder Promotion Act of 2005
Life Begins . . . Just Before Sex
This book was published in 2006 so bear that in mind. It was before the Obama Hope and Change propaganda of neoliberalism screwed Americans all over again as per Bill Clinton’s presidency. Although maybe not as bad, but he didn’t fix things Bill Clinton broke (NAFTA destroyed the middle class) — or Hillary either (Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act 2005 perfect Orwellian NewSpeak title since corporations are protected and consumers are abused). He will absolutely exceed even Republican dreams of total corporate control if he succeeds in getting the TPP passed. Fortunately, since Obama is for it, Mitch (the face of careless disregard for citizens) McConnell is against it.
Down for the Count: dirty elections and the rotten history of democracy in America by Andrew Gumbel (2005, 2016)
This is a MUST READ BOOK. Our democracy has been chugging along despite dirty rotten scoundrels, but that is no longer the case. McCarthyism is when I think tipped us over the edge. No, wait, the internment of the Japanese Americans came first. Previously we had been stumbling at least towards some degree of a sense of social justice. But that was killed by Reagan, compounded by Bill Clinton, and destroyed world over by George W. Bush.
Another on the must check out from library again and do a proper review. Listening to a college course lecturer on McCarthyism now on cd so that will be very informative as a background to the future and potential civil liberty crack downs like the Alien and Sedition Act.
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.
The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America by David A. Stockman (2013)
Yes, that David Stockman, the man who was:
elected as a Michigan congressman in 1976 and the the Reagan White House in 1981. Serving as budget director, he was one of the key architects of the Reagan Revolution plan to reduce taxes, cut spending, and shrink the role of government. He joined the Salomon Brothers in 1985 [and we all know what happened to them] and later became one of the early partners of the Blackstone Group. During nearly two decades at Blackstone and a firm he founded, Stockman was a private equity investor.
Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism by Michelle Goldberg, (2006)
To start, I begin with the quote from the conclusion titled Exiles in Jesusland:
History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a FREE CIVIL GOVERNMENT. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes. –Thomas Jefferson
This is a really excellent book. Well worth buying and reading and rereading because the depth of her discussion and naming names is so complete. Well written so it is easy to follow the arguments she makes and an appreciation for the connections between people and events.
Page 180 at the end of the book, sets out the reason for anxiety:
It’s one thing to have a government that shows contempt for civil liberties; America has survived such men before. It’s quite another to HAVE A MASS MOVEMENT — the largest and most powerful mass movement in the nation — rise up in OPPOSITION to the RIGHTS of its fellow citizens. The Constitution protects minorities, but that protection is not absolute, with a sufficiently sympathetic or apathetic majority, a tightly organized faction can get around it.
Wow! What a book! Gripped me immediately and I could not think of a single way to write clips and just annotate. I thought I was going to have to do a few jpgs to save massive typing. But some of the “blurbs” are included at the GoodReads site in a link in the title above. And I will simply quote a few passages.
Just the Introduction title is compelling: America’s Descent into Madness. Other chapter titles include: The New Authoritarianism, Hurricane Sandy and the Politics of Disposability, The Vanishing point of U.S Democracy, and the concluding chapter gives a nod to George Orwell’s 1984 with the title of Hope in the Time of Permanent War.
Unfortunately, the last chapter begins with a litany of reasons to NOT be hopeful, so after all the dismal commentary of the book, I did not end up feeling particularly hopeful, despite his plea that we should not, must not, give up societal hope.
His words are like reading machine gun fire, each word a bullet to the heart.
This woman proves the point that a single person can change the world. Alas, the implication is generally that the world can be changed for the better. Not so with Phyllis Schlafly who fucked a generation and more of women while living a life she wanted to denied the rest of us. And her big bogeymen, mixed sex bathrooms and women in combat and subject to the draft arrived anyway! Meanwhile we are still underpaid, undervalued, and fighting for personal autonomy and against forced birth. And she’s still alive (91), dammit. And still self-righteous. And still an evil horrible human being. But that doesn’t maker her wrong about everything. And I was shocked and a little horrified that this book contains many facts that everyone should know, although perhaps interpret them somewhat differently.
Yet it is funny because, unlike the deep and resounding hatred I hold for Henry Hyde (deceased 2007), Jesse Helms (deceased 2008), and the blessedly dead (2016) Antonin Scalia, somehow I seem to be acting in a sex discriminatory manner for not hating this woman as much as these men. Don’t get me wrong, I do hate her and what she did to stop the simple ERA and her absurd belief that women should stay home and have babies and be good Christian Madonnas serving and servicing their husbands regardless of abuse, adultery, or financial withholding. She is a smart Harvard-educated woman, a lawyer, and a mother of six. She remains a plague upon our nation continuing her involvement with Republicans “usually as a delegate, at every Republican National Convention since 1952” (back jacket copy).
Her heir apparent is the revolting Ann Coulter who did a back jacket blurb that will give me nightmares:
A Choice Not an Echo “changed the Republican Party forever. . . Without Schlafly, without that book, without Goldwater’s candidacy [and Hillary Clinton as a supporter], it is unlikely that RONALD REAGAN would ever have been elected president.”
Oh for a time machine! Of course the problem with that is you cannot tell if you would make matters worse (such as killing Hitler alternative histories, though with him never born, pretty sure the world would have been better off under any scenario). I try to picture a world without her effect, without Reagan, without Hyde and Helms, and especially without the legacy of Scalia (and Thomas and Alito and Mitch McConnell and all the other slime we are living with that are killing democracy and the rights of women. Toss in the rise of the un-Christian theocrats, the American caused rise of radical Islam (that is, the rise of murderous bullies and thugs in the name of religion, oh wait, that applies to the forced-birther Christians too!), and the state of perpetual war, the rule of the few, the theft of economic security and rise of the debtor slaves, oh the dominoes go everywhere and reach everyone. To my sorrow. The damage she has done really needs an in-depth historical review.
We are all kind of used to the “since you like that, you might like this” helpful features of shopping sites like Amazon or GoodReads recommendations. In Library and Information Science this type of search is sometimes referred to as a “pearl growing” strategy. You find a known, truly amazing author (or musician in Pandora for example) and an algorithm figures out what other things you might like. Pandora has the nice added feature of thumbs down so if you get something that is really off the range, you don’t have to suffer more of that same offering.