Political Book Summaries, Reviews and Opinions

Political Book Summaries, Reviews and Opinions

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Book Summary: Freakonomics


Book Summary: Freakonomics

Book Summary: Freakonomics

Introduction: The Hidden Side of Everything

In this introductory chapter, co-author Stephen Dubner offers an overview of the diverse and seemingly unrelated topics that renowned economist and co-author Steven Levitt has addressed in his body of research. The authors state that there is no unifying theme of the book, although the aim throughout is to explore the hidden side of things and the subtle relationships that link everyday phenomena. Read more of this post

Book Summary: The Conscience of a Liberal (part 2)


The Conscience of a Liberal by Paul Krugman
The Conscience of a Liberal by Paul Krugman

Part 1 of 2 | Part 2 of 2


“Chapter 8: The Politics of Inequality”

This chapter seeks to identify the cause of partisan divide. Some claim that such a divide is abstract, yet reality crushes any such claims. Bipartisanship is clearly demonstrated by Presidential tax policy; Republicans decrease tax on the wealthy and Democrats increase tax on the wealthy. This is just one example, but party lines are clearly drawn. Republicans endorse cut cuts for the wealthy, minimization of government, and elimination of welfare programs. Democrats support tax increases on the wealthy, and government enhancement of a welfare state.

Inequality arose through many channels. Radicalization of the right wing, rooted in Movement Conservatism, drove such inequality. Reagan’s radical policies were constrained by strong Democratic presence in the legislative branch. After Reagan, Republicans sought to revoke the policies of the New Deal; some policies going as far as to annul the estate tax. As there have been no equivalent radical acts by the Democratic Party, one can assume that Republican radicalism has driven bipartisanship.

Today, various think tanks and foundations incentivize Republicans to be extremists. They found campaigns, ensure posh post-political positions, and publicly scrutinize those who don’t endorse far right-wing antics. These foundations also aid in influencing the general public with skewed, pro-conservative facts and partial truths. The institutions have also established the permanence of movement conservatism, as Republicans across generations share the same beliefs.

Bipartisanship is now the norm, but the true causation is unclear. Krugman attributes this to the growth of Movement Conservatism, aversion towards welfare, anticommunism, and racism. However, this is not the complete answer. As will be discussed in the following chapter, Krugman thinks that Republican antipopulist economic agenda may be the missing piece of the puzzle.


Chapter 9: Weapons of Mass Distraction

In chapter 9, Krugman discusses the microeconomics of voting and dispells a long standing myth in that voters have been duped by the GOP. Particularly, voters must experience a utility to vote that exceeds their utility of not voting, and Krugman says that a candidate’s promotion of voter self-interest is not enough to create this utility shift. While he states that the GOP has used linguistic chicanery in building their support base, especially in regards to national security, Krugman argues that issues such as class and race have divided American voters more than other issues, such as war and religion, have.

In regards to race, Krugman revisits Reagan’s rhetoric that he employed to win the White House. For instance, he discusses Reagan’s contrived story of a “welfare queen” in Chicago. Additionally, he note the significance of Reagan choosing Philadelphia, Mississippi, the site of a 1964 lynching of three civil rights workers, as the opening location for his 1980 presidential campaign. As we have seen from other chapters in the book, Reagan also openly supported discrimination by private landlords based on race or other immutable individual characteristics. Accordingly, Reagan’s and Johnson’s social positions helped shift the Southern white vote to the Republicans. However, due to the 2008 voter turnout of African Americans and younger voters, Barack Obama’s election appears to have reversed this trend.

Other enumerated factors that have shifted voter support in favor of the GOP are patriotic rhetoric, the evolution of the Christian evangelical neoconservatives and their rising political impact through voting and policymaking, the growing numbers of immigrants, illegal or otherwise, who are not able to vote, and vote blocking, such as what occurred in the 2000 election when Katherine Harris purged a large number of African American voters from the voting rolls who were misidentified as felons.


“Chapter 10: The New Politics of Equality”

The chapter opens with discussion of the 2006 Democratic victory in Washington. What would come of a Democratic House and Senate? Was it a signal of changing times or a response to Bush “strategery.” In the summer of 2007, 74% of Americans were dissatisfied with the overall performance of the United States. Despite strong national economic indices, the majority of citizens frowned upon current economic conditions. Strong national numbers did little to decrease growing inequality or improve average living conditions. Nor did they hide the fact that corporate profits and executive salaries were reaching record highs.

Will future policies focus on correcting economic inequality and insecurity? And if so, will history repeat itself? Krugman argues that this is unlikely. First, Clinton’s failure to popularize his health care reform could have been salvaged through improved communication and leadership. Additionally, current economic frustrations are increasing the call for government interference. Lastly, Movement Conservatives have lost the ability to distract and persuade the general public. Iraq and policies on national security have negatively contributed to conservative credibility.

However, national security is likely to play a major role in shaping future policy. Republicans have worked long and hard to establish an identity as being tough on national security. Bush and his counterparts were able to intensify and extenuate coverage of his “war on terror.” This effectively minimized coverage on economic conditions. Bush’s schemes were effective for quite some time, but today aversion with the management of the Iraq War is the norm. Krugman argues that this will likely have long-term effects on American politics. Bush’s failure in Iraq can be accredited to mistakes common to movement conservatism. Dedication to decreasing taxes on the rich led to insufficient funding in Iraq. Corruption and lack of accountability were also prevalent throughout the war. Therefore, it is unlikely that Republicans will be able to rely on their policies on national security to win elections. However, historically Republicans have won without a focus on national security. This was accomplished by a focus on race. Will conservatives continue to use race as a source of strategy?

Today, race is not a strong point of movement conservatism. Krugman first states that America is becoming less white, specifically non-Hispanic white. Growth of the immigrant population usually shifts political control to the right; however, immigration is an issue which has long divided the party. Movement Conservatism is grounded in those who favor white dominance over blacks. As stated by Krugman, it is difficult to be anti-black without also discriminating against immigrants. Republicans have fought this trend with attempts to keep minorities disenfranchised. Additionally, it appears that racism does not carry the same weight it has in years past. (We just elected the first black President) This lessens conservative’s abilities to gain votes associated with racial tension.

 It seems today that voters are looking for answers.  Voters are no longer naïve and are willing to question the government.  Based on the facts stated above, Movement Conservatism is at a halt.  Liberals need to find solid ground to sustain control and influence.  They can’t simply be the lesser of two evils.

Chapter 11: The Health Care Imperative

Krugman begins this chapter by discussing the argument against guaranteed health care for Americans. He writes that opponents of guaranteed health care argue that while life is unfair and gives certain people bad breaks in regards to their health and their access to health care, others, who do not suffer these misfortunes, should not be burdened with subsidizing the corrections of other peoples maladies. However, Krugman asks, “Is this the right thing to do?” Well, according to some polls that Krugman discusses, it is not the right thing to do. In fact, a majority of Americans support guaranteed health care for all Americans. Furthermore, politicians, i.e. movement conservatives, recognize this and do not publicly admit that they do not think everyone is entitled to health care insurance. Instead, the simply deny that there is a problem with health care in America; they play to fears that guaranteed health care will diminish individual choice and the quality of care; they claim it is not possible, or they amalgamate portions of all of these arguments to fight against universal health care.

Sadly, these arguments are just another attempt to promote economic inequality within our health care system, so approximately 45 million Americans go uninsured every year while another 16 million are underinsured. Moreover, nearly forty percent of private bankruptcy filings are attributable to burdensome medical bills. Since I worked in the health care industry for nearly twelve years before attending grad school, the following paragraphs are based on my observations and perspectives; however, it was encouraging to see that Krugman supports every one of them in this chapter.

While there is a moral hazard involved with making one person pay for the health care of another person, especially when the needy person created his or her health condition, there are worse moral hazards at play in supporting private health insurance. Private health care insurance programs generate profits in two ways: by selecting the least risky clients and by finding ways to deny coverage for the clients that they have selected. By allowing insurance companies to select the least risky clients, our society allows these insurance companies to profit from denying health care coverage to other individuals based on profit motivations. Second, our current system allows private health insurance companies to violate their contracts with their insured by trying to find loopholes to deny coverage despite the fact that these insureds may have paid every single premium on time.

In addition to the moral hazard mentioned above, people frequently state that they do not trust the government and a bunch of bureaucrats to run their health care. I have one simple question for these people. Do they trust CEOs to make those same decisions? If so, why? Private insurance is more likely to deny coverage for health care than a bureaucrat because the private insurance is driven by personal financial motivations where a government agency will likely not reimburse its employees with financial incentives.

Doctors often complain that they do not want bureaucrats telling them what treatment that they can and cannot offer. However, doctors are told what treatments that they can and cannot offer every day by people at insurance companies. I do not believe that the doctors fears are well-founded anyway. Medicare denies claims far less frequently than private insurance companies do ([[5]]). Additionally, I believe that doctors will be able to operate with less stress under a government system because they will know what one payer provides instead of trying to discern the payment policies of multiple payers. Therefore, the economic condition of medical offices will improve because they will not need to spend time trying to obtain authorizations for coverage or appealing reimbursement denials. This of course will allow doctors to see more patients and generate more revenue. Cost of care analysis will be simple and straightforward. Finally, it will facilitate business planning because physicians will be able to employ demographics to analyze how their patient base will change over a certain number of years. After all, do physicians really believe that the government wants them to go out of business?

Do you ever wonder why new pharmaceuticals gain approval faster in European countries than they do in America? Sure, different regulatory standards dictate the approval process, which by no means argues that European standards are less stringent than ours, but they are different. Another reason is that the government is involved in the pharmaceutical process from an early stage because European governments pay for medications. Therefore, the European governments approve drugs on safety and economical issues nearly simultaneously. For instance, if a European government finds that a drug is safe but determines that its cost outweighs its marginal benefits so decides not to pay for it, then the pharmaceutical industry will not develop the drug. This should be good news for pharmaceutical manufacturers because it will allow them to allocate research and development costs more predictably and efficiently. Of course, some people would say that the government is not in a position to decide the costs and benefits of pharmaceuticals. Is a private insurance company in this position because the do it all the time? Furthermore, it seems from data in Krugman’s chapter that the government is in a better position to do this than insurance companies because the average life expectancy in Western European countries is far greater than America’s life expectancy is.

At this point in my discussion, I just want to say that private health care entities are creating their own demise. They continuously increase costs, which leads people to seek alternative solutions, sort of like the recent hike in gasoline prices. I imagine in a few years that we will have a number of health care companies asking Congress for a bailout like the automakers are doing now.

Even though people argue that the private sector must do a better job than government at providing care, many studies demonstrate the superiority of government systems. First, for every dollar spent on health care, fifteen percent of that dollar is consumed in administrative costs under private plans on average versus five percent consumed by government plans on average. Is this any surprise considering the disparity in salaries between the two? Additionally, as my previous internet link and Krugman’s book shows, insureds consistently choose government plans over private plans when given the option. On a personal note, my step-father has been a Medicare beneficiary for fourteen years. During the beginning of this process, he elected to let Medicare provide his benefits. After a couple of years, he went with a private Medicare HMO. After the first year, he reelected Medicare and has remained with Medicare ever since. By the way, he is a Republican. The reason that people choose government plans over private plans is not only because of the greater efficiency with which government programs operate, but because they have greater choice with government plans. While private plans have a certain number of doctors, hospitals, outpatient clinics, etc., that people can choose, Medicare patients can go virtually anywhere. Finally, if the government actually operates hospitals and employs physicians as well as administer the plan, then tort litigation will decrease because the government can dictate how, when, where, and why it is sued and who sues it. Therefore, health care costs will decrease for this reason as well.

Another excuse that people offer for the impossibility for guaranteed health coverage is the inability to pay for such a system. Interestingly, my families employer-sponsored health insurance premiums have consistently cost over $300 per month. Since government health programs, such as Medicare and the V.A., typically operate more efficiently than private health programs, I imagine that we will notice an increase in our real income because we will be paying less in taxes to support a government health plan than we do in premiums to run a private health plan.

As Krugman’s book and the above demonstrates, guaranteed health care is possible in America and should be implemented immediately. It will improve the quality of life of every American and improve the economic prosperity of the country itself due to greater productivity and decreased economic burdens that require bankruptcy. Of course, the plan must be comprehensive in that it must not only cover physiological conditions, but mental health issues as well.


“Chapter 12: Confronting Inequality”

In this chapter, Krugman discusses methods to reduce economic inequality. He first states the following reasons why equality is vital: lack of economic progress for lower and middle class Americans, and the American dream of being able to better yourself from the class you were born into. Great inequality has negative effects on society and politics.

Income inequality is problematic if it leads to social inequality, and it has. The wealthy live extravagant lifestyles filled with life’s luxuries. While the lives of the rich seem unfair to many, the damaging aspect is that many simply cannot afford to meet basic needs. To finance common needs such as housing and education many Americans are forced to take on large sums of debt. This results in more and more families and individuals declaring bankruptcy. Many attribute the rise in bankruptcy to more and more people trying to mimic the luxurious lifestyle of the wealthy. Studies however show that this is not the case, as many Americans are spending to provide opportunities for their children. It has been proven that the more opportunistic ones upbringing the more likely he or she is to succeed. Chances of upward social mobility are much lower in the United States, but why? To begin, we lack the national health care and other amenities provided by most developed nations.

The impact of inequality goes beyond the average family and leaks into our political system. As Krugman has repeatedly stated, abundant financing goes a long way in politics. Particularly damaging is the how income in politics tends to support Movement Conservatism ideology.

Lastly, inequality breaks the bonds of society. A society in which people are labeled “us” and “them” doesn’t support policies for the greater good. We need to be the “United” States of America.

So how do we decrease income inequality? Krugman first points out two forms of income inequality: market Inequality and inequality of disposable income. Market inequality is continuing to increase and is nearing the rates of the 1920’s. Market inequality generates taxes for the government which is then redistributed to various entities. Inequality of disposable income, income after taxes, is less than market income but greatly affects the living conditions of many. Krugman states that one way to reduce inequality is to distribute a larger percentage of market income. This appears to be an absurd concept to Republicans, and many claim this would disincentivize people to work. Krugman states that lower GDP in France is a reflection on French work ethic instead of a negative impact of greater income distribution.

If the United States elected to adopt such policies, what impacts would we see? To begin, we would need to revise many existing tax policies, particularly tax cuts for the elite. Adopting progressive taxation would generate the capital needed to finance many national welfare programs. Existing loopholes must also be identified and eliminated. A particularly damaging loophole is taxing capital gains at a lower rate than ordinary income and the ease with which one can declare income as capital gains. Again, it would be difficult to gain support for these concepts.

The government should also take initiative to reduce market inequality. The first step was taken when Congress increased the minimum wage in 2007. Krugman disputes the popular argument that increasing minimum wage will increase unemployment rates. Additionally, increasing the minimum wage will put upward pressure on wages for employees at the bottom of the food chain. Lastly, an increase in union membership would help to reduce inequality. Countries with high unionization rates do not have nearly the same income inequality as the United States. Unions work to assure that members enjoy the same wage increases as most middle-class Americans. They also promote same pay for the same job. As stated in previous chapters, unions also spread information and encourage members to vote and become actively involved in politics. Having more union members, typically middle-class, involved in politics will increase support for Democratic policies.

If we as a society don’t take measures to reduce vast inequality, are we setting ourselves up for yet another Great Compression?


Chapter 13: The Conscience of a Liberal

Krugman ends his book, and I end this discussion, by demonstrating an interesting paradox, which is that while Republicans have invoked patriotism and conservatism, Democrats have become conservative in trying to preserve nearly seventy years of history while the Republicans have tried to dismantle these institutions. Democrats have become the true patriots in trying to protect all Americans while Republicans have pushed for inequality. Democrats have tried to extend Democracy by affording rights to people imprisoned in the “War on Terror” while Republicans have tried to horde Democracy at the expense of America’s global credibility. In fact, it seems that movement conservatism has tried to create the same type of government found in Iraq: an authoritarian theocracy.

Krugman closes the book with the call to be liberal, which means being simultaneously progressive and conservative. Krugman argues that this is not a paradox because to be conservative, we should complete the New Deal and move it forward, which will progress America. I will add one thing to Krugman’s argument, and that is that not only health care should be guaranteed, but college education should be as well. As recent numbers have shown, the rising cost of college education has outpaced health care, food, and energy over the last twenty years. If we are to remain competitive on a global stage, this must change.

And finally, since no one has yet answered one of my initial questions, I will reintroduce it here: how can middle class Americans who claim that they support the middle class embrace a party that wants to destroy the very policies that created the middle class?

Return to part 1


This is a Summary from Wikisummaries available under GNU Free Documentation License 1.2

FairTax the Truth: Book Summary (Chapters 11, 12)


FairTax: The Truth

By: Neal Boortz and Congressman John Linder with Rob Woodall

Index

Quotes

Chapter Eleven: The FairTax Grassroots Army and its Victories

“Casting your vote for a candidate for economic change and growth is a good first step, but implementing the principles of the FairTax is going to require more.” Page 195

“The FairTax is just such a phenomenon, and we’re grateful to all who participate. ” Page 203

Voting is a good first step. But more is needed. We need citizen Co-Sponsors, citizens willing to fight for the FairTax. Write letters to newspapers, show support for the FairTax at rallies. Explain the FairTax to your friends and neighbors. Hold training seminars to teach others about the FairTax. Volunteer to help candidates who’ll stand up for the FairTax ideals. There are many examples of Citizens all over the country doing just that.

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Fairtax The Truth: Book Summary (Chapter 10)


FairTax: The Truth

By: Neal Boortz and Congressman John Linder with Rob Woodall

Index

Chapter Ten: The Good and Worth Answering


1. What is the rate? 23% or 30%

The problem here lies with the confusion between two perspectives of taxation, inclusive and exclusive. Right now, you pay an inclusive income tax and an exclusive sales tax. The difference between the terms is purely one of mathematic perspective. If you earn $1,000 per pay day and pay 20% taxes, $200 is deducted from your paycheck and you get an $800 pay check. That’s called in inclusive. Now pause a moment, and realize that $200 in taxes is 25% of $800. That’s exclusive. If you divide the tax paid out of the take home pay, you get 25%. If you divide it by the total amount, it’s 20%. They’re both legitimate numbers and opponents try to confuse people about what the FairTax does. Since the FairTax is replacing Income and Payroll Taxes (which are always discussed in inclusive terms) we use inclusive terms to discuss the FairTax. We are trading the current inclusive income tax brackets of 10-35% and the inclusive 15% payroll tax with an inclusive sales tax of 23%. If you want to talk exclusive rates, then we’re exchanging the current exclusive income tax brackets of 11-54% and the inclusive 18% exclusive tax with an exclusive 30% sales tax.

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Fairtax The Truth: Book Summary (chapters 7 – 9)


FairTax: The Truth

By: Neal Boortz and Congressman John Linder with Rob Woodall

Index

Quotes

Chapter Seven: The Criticisms: How to Judge them

“These professionals responded by saying that we should evaluate tax reform based on the following principles/criteria: Simplicity, Fairness, Economic Growth and Efficiency, Neutrality, Transparency, Minimizing Noncompliance, Impact on Government Revenues, Certainty, and Payment Convenience.” Page 83

We’re not prepared to move into the real and substantial attacks on the FairTax. To confront them, we’ll set three ground rules.

  • We’ll evaluate the FairTax as conceived, not as some would modify it.
  • We’ll evaluate the FairTax in light of it’s praise.
  • We’ll evaluate the FairTax in light of the criticism leveled against it.

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FairTax the Truth: Book Summary (Chapters 4-6)


FairTax: The Truth

By: Neal Boortz and Congressman John Linder with Rob Woodall

Index

Quotes

Chapter Four: Taxation: The Who, What, and How

“The progressive income tax we currently follow was made popular by none other than Karl marx. In Marx‘s list of ten necessary precursers to Communist worker’s paradice, the progressive income tax sits proudly at number two” Page 49

“Can you imagine what would happen to the sacrosanct forty-hour workweek in the United States if American workers could suddenly work (and get paid for) more than those forty hours- free of federal taxation?” Page 52

The question of who what and how to tax is an incredibly important question. People argue about what taxes should be paid, by whom and how we should collect those taxes, but no one argues to remove taxes, they are unavoidable and the FairTax accepts that truth. In recent years other countries around the world have been moving away from highly progressive taxes to flat consumption taxes. 29 of the 30 OECD countries use VAT (a version of consumption tax). Ireland initiated massive job growth by cutting corporate taxes and attracting corporate investment in their country. France initiated economic growth by not taxing workers income past the first 35 hours of labor.

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Fairtax The Truth: Book Summary (chapters 1-3)


FairTax: The Truth

By: Neal Boortz and Congressman John Linder with Rob Woodall

Chapters 1-3

Chapters 4-6

Chapters 7-9

Chapter 10

Chapters 11-12

Reviews

I have been a fan of the fair tax for a long time. There are certain weaknesses, possible fraud being high on the list, the potential unforeseen dangers of putting all our “tax eggs” in one basket being a bit higher. That said, I wanted to be clear and upfront that I am a full fledged supporter of the FairTax and probably any future versions. That said, I still intend for the summary part to remain non-biased.

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Fire-Breathing Liberal (review)


Fire-Breathing Liberal

How I learned to survive (and thrive) in the contact sport of Congress

By: Robert C Wexler with David Fisher

Summary to come. (eventually….)

Brief summary
The book is a history of Rep. Robert Wexler’s time in the House and the various political fights he’s gotten into in his time. It’s part biography (politicians do-so-love to talk about themselves) and part civics lesson. Both parts are delivered with a know-it-all humility and liberal slant.

Was it a good book?
Yes. Quite amusing, even in the parts I disagreed with him, it was a thoroughly amusing book exposing the inner workings of congress. His discussion about why he wanted to be on the judiciary committee, as well as back-room discussion about how you get such a seat, was very interesting. Him answering foreign dignitaries about the President was very revealing, and his personal take on the hanging chads in the 2000 election (it was his district) are al very interesting, well written, and thoroughly absorbing.

The good?
Call me a wonk all you what, my favorite parts were the civics lessons. How government really works from the inside. For example, did you know that for the 2 minutes before every vote the traffic lights between the Capital Building and the congressional offices across the street all go red? That way congressmen can literally stall to the last moment and then race across the street without getting run over. Or that they have cubicles for outgoing congressmen are right out of some sitcom? I found that stuff highly enjoyable. I even started a conversation about this stuff with some friends over beer. Yeah, I got blank stares and then they changed the conversation. 😦

The bad?
I don’t have much negative to say about the book. It’s well written, it’s amusing, and it’s informational. The parts I may not agree with are policy points that I won’t mark against the book. The goal of the book is, I think, to just be an interesting read. I really don’t think the guy is even trying to get people to vote for him, as he says, he has a very safe seat and hasn’t had anyone run against him in years. So for the bad I’ll put “He’s hardcore liberal” Take that tree huggers.

Conclusion
The book covers some of the most controversial political events of he last several years and does so while interjecting a lot of personal in-the-action perspective. He was involved in the impeachment of Clinton, tried to impeach Bush, was there for the 2000 election disaster, and as a Jew discusses the equally disastrous Israel/Palestine situation.

A good book if you want to understand how congress works, a great book if you’re a liberal and want to agree with the guy you’re reading.

Others:

“With enthusiasm and candor, a passionate Democratic congressman gives readers an inside look at the House of Representatives during a period of declining government accountability . . . Wexler’s Southern Florida district was the center of the “butterfly ballot” controversy during the 2000 election, and he angrily recounts the zeal and heartbreak he saw in his elderly constituents, hundreds of whom mistakenly cast votes for Pat Buchanan that were never properly recounted. A staunch supporter of Israel and a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, he endured a tense meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad because he saw it as an opportunity to learn more about a powerful figure in Middle Eastern relations. When Assad asked, “Is George Bush crazy?” Wexler’s description of the thought process behind his carefully phrased answer offers a mini-lesson in diplomacy. His clarity and humanity in no way dampen his zest for picking fights. His list of Republican misdeeds includes strong-arming for votes, using fear to galvanize public support, misleading Congress into war and illegally wiretapping citizens . . . After loudly decrying the Clinton impeachment on the grounds that the president did not betray his country, he now declares that a worthy candidate for impeachment currently sits in the White House. Yet Wexler never loses humor or optimism. His wife, children and belief in democracy keep him grounded and working hard for civility and the ideals on which the nation was founded . . . Wexler’s approachable, eye-opening political autobiography overflows with intriguing detail and insight.”
–Kirkus Reviews

“I enjoyed Congressman Wexler’s book even more than I enjoy cocaine and prostitutes.”
–Stephen Colbert, host of Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report

Letter to a new President: Summary (Chapters 4-6)


Letter to a new President

Commonsense Lessons for our Next Leader

By: Robert C Byrd with Steve Kettmann

Chapter 1

Chapters 2 – 3

Chapters 4 – 6

Chapters 7 – 10

Review

Quotes

Chapter Four
A big Lie is still a Lie: Tell the Truth

“We can not shy away from calling a lie a lie.” Letter to a new President, Page 88 

 “The Bush Administration, not to put too fine a point on it, built much of its program around a basic commitment to lying.” Letter to a new President, Page 93 

“I do not think that we as a nation can afford any more of that.” Letter to a new President, Page 96 

“False not upset you lied to me,” quipped Nietzsche, “I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.” Lies at the top of our government hurt our democracy. It is a slippery slope New President, please set an example. Politicians can sometimes slip up and use the wrong word, but sometimes a lie is simply a lie. It’s important that Politicians never mislead. When the President inserted a clear falsehood into a State of the Union, that is a lie.   

I liked Bill Clinton, but he lied. I made sure to treat the case of his lying seriously, as it was a serious matter. I voted against the impeachment in the end, but only after agonizing over it long and hard. I say this, because we must stand up to lies no matter who speaks it. 

Telling the truth isn’t always easy, but the frequent lying of the last President hurt the country, and it’s important you set a better example. ‘The truth will set you free.” (John 8:31) 

More Information

Review, Critique, Thoughts

Robert Byrd

B-Note | Posts | Wiki 

George Bush

B-Note | Posts | Wiki 

BushLies.Net 

The Greatest Story Ever Sold
Summary | Review 

One thing I didn’t like about this was that after setting up the lie about Clinton, Byrd basically just drops it to the side and says “blah”. Mind you, I understand, I think most Americans thinking back about him lying about a BJ tend to think “blah”. Still, he’s talking about lying, specifically brings it up to make the point that you need to stand up to lies, and then he backs down instantly without adequate reason. I know why I think impeaching a President is stupid over a simple BJ, but since he brought the issue up, I expected him to answer why he did so. The thing I liked the most was the several quotes. I like how he quotes lots of other wise people to make points. He’s got the bible, Nietzsche, Mark Twain, even Plato! It’s very cool. I like that a lot. Better, he uses those quotes very well to move his point forward. The point being, George Bush lied to America frequently with big and bold lies that were believed and that hurts Democracy, so please, New President, don’t lie like Bush did.

On the left I put in a link to Bushlies.net I do not endorse the site, I only breiefly read it. But they’ve gathered the assorted “lies” people accuse Bush of and you can judge the merit of them on your own. Additionally, I put in a link to the Greatest Story ever Sold. The entire book is about how the Administration mislead America. 


Quotes

Chapter Five
Build your Presidency around Accountability

“THE BUCK STOPS HERE!.” Letter to a new President, Page 99 

 “The example of Harry Truman, once dismissed as an accidental President, now held aloft as a paragon of presidential greatness by Democrats and Republicans alike, illustrates the positive impact of establishing accountability…” Letter to a new President, Page 102 

“I do not think that we as a nation can afford any more of that.” Letter to a new President, Page 96 

Harry Truman was an earthy man, a humble and great man. He was also an accidental President, Vice President for only 83 days before Roosevelt died. He rose up to the challenge and faced some of the toughest decisions any President ever has. But he faced those challenges. He famously said the “the Buck stops here.” That was accountability.

The Iran-Contra scandal was more than just dishonesty, and there was certainly a lot of lies told, both to American and to Congress, but it was a break down in accountability. Reagan broke the law to supply Contra rebels and pay a ransom for US citizens. To do this, he hid the truth from everyone, including Congress. When this came to light, he hit from accountability by pardoning those who were guilty to protect George H. W. Bush. The Bush 43 Christmas Eve pardons changed the course of our history by curtailing a criminal investigation, covering up a crime, and protecting our leaders from accountability. 

These are important pieces of our history New President. Please make yourself an example of accountability that would make Harry Truman proud. 

More Information

Review, Critique, Thoughts

  DemocratsB-Note| Posts | Wiki 

Republicans

 

This chapter deals mostly with a comparison between Harry Truman and Ronald Reagan. Harry Truman, it seems, was a very good man. Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush are less so. Specically, the (criminal) actions surrounding the Inra-Contra scandal and the cover-up at the very top where Bush pardoned six people to protect himself from his own criminal behavior. 

Now, one could make the argument that by making the pardon himself and not just doing some back-door sneakyness is a level of accountability. Who is to blame for those 6 guys walking? George H. W. Bush. There’s no ambiguity about it. But that’s aside the point, which is that our elected leaders broke very important laws involving them interfering in other countries and selling weapons to our enemies. These serious actions were under investigation when those being investigated were pardoned so they’d not testify against thoes who gave them their orders. The result is a loss of accountability. Which is a compelling narrative.

Of course, politicians doing everything they can to avoid getting in trouble is hardly limited to those of Byrds opposing party. The only example he can think of is Clinton’s pardon of Mark Rich. Regardless, it was a decent chapter. 

Quotes

Chapter SixLet the Press do it‘s job, even when that might sting

“Those reporters in the postwar years at least minded when they were told lies.” Letter to a new President, Page 109

 
“I would suggest to you, new President, that a healthy and probing press corps is vital to your success or failure in leading the country.” Letter to a new President, Page 121 

 

There was a time when America could depend on their fourth branch of government, the Press. Those reporters would hardly recognize the reporters of today. There was a time when reporters questions to the President were unscreened. That changed with Bush. There was a time when a loud reporter, by the name Sam Donaldson would call out questions to Reagan as he was getting on Marine One, and get answers. That changed with Bush, declaring he didn’t have to answer questions from “has-beens”. The Press has become timid and excitable, they have lost their desire to learn all the facts.  

The dismissive behavior of the Bush Administration, matched with their lies, manipulations and control of the Press Corps has led to a decline in the Fourth Branch. That decline is partially responsible for why America got caught up in the Iraq war, and that has to change. So New President, please remember, that though you will inevitably have to present positive interpretations of events, always remember that being accountable and answerable to your people is for the good of the country.

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Category: Media Failure

Post: Media Fails us: It was a fender bender

A nice chapter. There is a bit of awkwardness as the author is trying to tie in the failure of the media to the president. I don’t think it’s really fair to blame Bush for the media being useless. That’s like complaining that the kid who stole a cookie is to blame for his mom not watching him better.

That said, the chapter chronicles a few instances of how the Bush Administration did they’re part to help the Media down the pit into uselessness.

Presidents and Near Presidents I have known: Summary (chapters 4-6)


This is the book summary of Presidents & Near Presidents I have known. It is a digital book I was given a chance to read. What follows is a summary (a fair non-biased summarization of the content of the chapter) and then a review of the chapter. The idea is that you can read the summary and reviews in about fifteen minutes and get the gist of the book, if you think you’d like it, go buy it.

Presidents & Near Presidents I have known

By: Lionel Rolfe

Chapters 1 – 3

Chapters 4 – 6

Chapters 7 – 9

Chapters 10- 14

Reviews

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Quotes

Chapter Four: An Apocalypse Is Just What This Sinful World Needs

“To Bush, it was OK to kill Iraqis if you dismissed them as collateral damage.”  Page 16

“The plain and simple truth was that Bush was a Taliban. It’s just that he was a Christian Taliban rather than a Moslem Taliban. His vision was that of a Christian fundamentalist who venerated ignorance and hated science. It’s the same vision that Moslem fundamentalists have.” Page 17

Today’s youth have joined me in protesting the war George Bush sent us into, and protesting the apocalypse he seemed interested in bringing about. They’re not the same kind of protesters that we had in my day, they have less hope than we did.Even Nixon didn’t want war. When America turned on France because they didn’t want to kill Iraqis we learned just how debased his followers were. George Bush is a Christian Taliban, he’s violent, hateful, stupid and takes joy in killing Iraqis.

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Lionel Rolfe does not like George Bush. Doesn’t like him at all, several accusations are made without proper documentation and argument, analogies are made (such as the Christian Taliban) but only at the end, and then almost as if a throw-away line, an afterthought. This was a disappointing chapter.

Quotes

Chapter Five: A Most Unappetizing Gang of Hypocrites and Liars

“Bush and his gang of four are truly the American Taliban.” Page 18

“Had Bush had his way, social security would be totally insolvent by now.” Page 20

“And being Calvinist rather than papists, their Christianity is harsh and mean and warlike.” Page 27

Bullying and intimidation is a political tool well used, and frequently, by the “Gang of four“.

Rush Limbaugh, after preaching about the evils of drugs was forced to admit to being a drug addict, while attacking Clinton for the Lewinsky affair, is a three-time divorcee. He cares not one bit for truth, is racist and sexist, and regularly attacks his opponents in the most base, most bully-ish manner possible, mocking their appearances or comparing them to enemies of state. 

Newt Gingrich lead the attack on Clinton for his affair with Monica Lewinski, he did this while cheating on his wife, and then serving her divorce papers while she was still in the hospital. She eventually went on to require charity for their children because Gingrich was a deadbeat dad. More important than being merely caught cheating several times, was his greed and corruption. His book deal, 4.5 million, was little more than a bribe as Rupert Murdoch needed Gingrich’s help.

Jerry Falwell, and his ilk, are on a mission to Christianize this country. Their stated goal is to completely get rid of public schools and have al children educated by Christians, he founded the Moral Majority, a group set up to fight abortion, feminism, homosexuals and pornography. 48 hours after the terror attacks of 9/11, he would blame those groups for attacks.

The last member of the Gang of Four is former Representative Henry J. Hyde. While standing on the Senate floor and leading the charge to impeach Clinton for the Lewinsky affair, a man watching at home recognized him as the man that had lead a 5-year affair with his wife. Shortly there after Hyde retired from the House. Hyde is known for the Hyde amendment, a bill that prevents federal spending on abortions, though he had tried to ban all abortions.

Together, these four men, their ilk, and President Bush, have been trying to turn America into a Christian fundamentalist nation.

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Rush Limbaugh

Post | Wiki

Republicans

B-Note | Post | Wiki

Now this was a meaty chapter. The author uses the Clinton impeachment episode as a board against which to bounce the hypocrisy of four men whom he names the “gang of four” though exactly how they connect to each other is never really clarified. The first three make sense, the Media leader, the House Leader, and the Religious Leader. How Hyde fits in, except as a simple example of hypocrisy, I’m not sure.

What follows is a long discussion (but wandering and often disjointed) discussion of numerous examples of these four being, well, bad. Hypocrites, racists, sexists, liars, etc. For the most part the examples are pretty damning. But one of the things I hate about Ann Coulter is how she’ll throw an attack at someone she doesn’t like, and then boom, walks away. Same idea here. There was no documentation on several things in here, such as Gingrich’s wife collected money from charity for her kids. I’d not heard that before. Source please? If there’s no source, just the Author saying it, it’s hearsay. I suppose I could Google it, but if I’m reading someone’s book, I shouldn’t have to go to Google to get the information.

Also, the well-discussed bad things about these four people only not withstanding, I don’t think the argument is well made they constitute an American Taliban.Also, as a simple fact check, the wall street crash would not have left social security insolvent for the simple three facts that

A only new people could put their money into wall street

B only 25% of their money could be put into stocks the rest would stay government

C the Wallstreet crash, though bad, was nowhere near bad enough to wipe out even what would have been in there.


Quotes

Chapter Six: The New American Fascism

“Republicans, a majority of Americans finally figured out, are for the most part a collection of hypocrites, thugs and pious thieves. That is why they are not just old-fashioned conservatives, but American fascists.” Page 32 John McCain’s son did drugs. Most Republicans are hypocrites and American-fascists. Bush started a war, made everyone but the rich pay for it and crippled our economy all at the same time. While Obama provides intellectual leadership, the Republican Party has been hijacked by the same know-nothings that plagued Roosevelt’s time. Bush and McCain, with Palin in tow, may not be Manchurian candidates, but are the result of massive corruption and worship of ignorance.

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Lionel Rolfe Writings

I’m not sure what to say about this chapter. I had hoped, after the last one, that the book was about to get a lot better. It didn’t. This chapter is titled “The New American Fascism” but rather than make any kind of argument towards that end, the chapter is basically name calling aimed at Bush, McCain, Palin, and Pat Buchannan.