Category Archives: Books

One White Man’s Apology (Along With a Book Review)

I’ve long been confident that I’ve had my eyes open wider to the mistreatment of black Americans than at least 90%, and likely 99%, of white Amerinca.

And I still am. In fact, probably more confident.

But I’m also coming to grips with my own ignorance of how horrific, how systematic, how diabolical, how treacherous, and how brutally persistent the persecution of black Americans has been from the end of the Civil War through the present day. Continue reading

The GOP’s descent into authoritarianism

This is not your father’s GOP. The carcass of the Republican Party has been hollowed-out by the parasitic radical extremist fringe elements of the far-right. These are the “double high authoritarians” that John Dean warned about in his 2006 book, Conservatives Without Conscience. See Michael Bryan’s 2006 book review, John W. Dean, “Conservatives Without Conscience”.

They have now coalesced around a demagogue, a professional grifter and con man given to conspiracy theories and appealing to the worst human instincts: racism, bigotry and fear of others and the unknown. Add white nationalism, fundamentalism and political party tribalism, and it forms a toxic brew.

Supporters of Donald Trump are willing to allow him to fulfill his dream of becoming an authoritarian despot, like his pal Vladimir Putin, and rejecting American democracy in favor of “Dear Leader,” according to two new polls taken this week.

Laurie Roberts writes at the Arizona Republic, Would Trump supporters really nix free speech and democracy?

Just how far are Republicans willing to go in their support of President Donald Trump?

Pretty darn far, it seems. Scary far.

They actually believe Trump’s spiel

According to a recent academic survey of 650 Americans who identify with or lean toward the Republican Party, nearly half (47 percent) say Trump won the popular vote in 2016. Sixty eight percent believe that millions of illegal immigrants voted.

Meanwhile, 52 percent said they would support postponing the 2020 election if Trump said it needed to be delayed until the country can make sure that only eligible American citizens are voting.

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Book Review: Toxic Inequality

I just returned from an awesome family vacation in Peru. Although certainly not the highlight of the trip, six plane flights and two lengthy train rides made for a lot of reading. I finished Shattered, the inside look at the Clinton 2016 campaign, then read Locking Up Our Own, an analysis of how black leadership in Washington, DC, helped pave the way to mass incarceration of black Americans, and Toxic Inequality, by Thomas Shapiro, which, of all the books I’ve read on the subject of economic inequality, is one of the very best in terms of insightful analysis.

Each book was excellent, but Toxic Inequality is the most noteworthy. Continue reading

Rev. William Barber Is reviving Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ‘Poor People’s Campaign’

The Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP and leader of the Moral Mondays movement that opposed North Carolina’s “most restrictive voting law in the nation,” recently scored a major victory against this TeaPublican tyranny. Strict North Carolina Voter ID Law Thwarted After Supreme Court Rejects Case:

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to revive a restrictive North Carolina voting law that a federal appeals court had struck down as an unconstitutional effort to “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision.”

The court’s decision not to hear an appeal in the case effectively overturned one of the most far-reaching attempts by Republicans to counter what they contended, without evidence, was widespread voter fraud in North Carolina. The law rejected the forms of identification used disproportionately by blacks, including IDs issued to government employees, students and people receiving public assistance.

Fresh off this victory, Rev. Barber announced last week that he will step down as president of the North Carolina NAACP and lead a new national initiative that aims to end poverty and begin what Rev. Barber calls “a national moral revival.” The Nation reports, The Rev. William Barber Is Bringing MLK’s Poor People’s Campaign Back to Life:

This new Poor People’s Campaign will pick up where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. left off 50 years ago when he turned his focus to uniting poor people across lines of race and geography and pushing their priorities onto the federal agenda.

The campaign, which launches in partnership the Kairos Center at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, will bring together organizations with a longstanding commitment to confronting poverty and inequality—local and national groups such as Picture the Homeless in New York and the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization. Barber said a task force made up of poor people and economists, theologians, and other experts will in September release a report called “The Souls of Poor Folks” that will lay out the campaign’s agenda.

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Book Review: Killing the Host

I finally got around to reading Michael Hudson’s Killing the Host. I think it was released over a year ago. Hudson is a professor of economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City, which is where some of the most progressive work is being done, particularly in monetary theory.

This book is not especially well written. The editing was downright sloppy, in my opinion.

But it’s written well enough to follow and the content is valuable. Hudson’s central thesis is that economic policy has moved in the exact opposite direction of what economic philosophers of the 19th and early 20th century foresaw. They believed the world would become increasingly egalitarian, as economic and tax policy would favor industrialists and labor. Instead, it has favored rent seekers, particularly those in the finance sector.

Hudson likens the relationship of the finance sector to the economy to that of parasite to host. Eventually, the parasite drains the life out of the host.

For those interested in economic policy, Killing the Host is an important read. There are insights in this book I’ve not seen elsewhere. So, even though it could have been better written, I recommend it.

 

Taibbi on “Shattered”: A Book Review Perhaps More Important than the Book

I’ve been told by friends I should read Shattered, the devastating takedown of the Clinton 2016 campaign by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes. I may, but it’s not high on my priority list. That’s not to say it’s uninteresting or poorly written. From all I’ve read, it’s a really good work, and a page turner.

I’m just not sure I should spend hours on gory details that do nothing more than confirm what I already believe.

I did spend the few minutes required to read Matt Taibbi’s review of the book, and am glad I did. Taibbi’s intellect is as keen as any journalist out there. In this case, his takeaways from the book, not about the Clinton campaign, but about the Democratic Party, the Democratic establishment, and American political campaigns, have more long-lasting relevance than Shattered itself. Taibbi: Continue reading