Friday, December 19, 2008

Last Minute Gift Ideas or What I Have Been Reading Lately

The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion at the Twilight of the American Empire, Matt Taibbi. Very entertaining book about nuts on both ends of the political spectrum who have abandoned belief in objective reality. The author goes undercover at John Hagee's Cornerstone Church and in the 911 Truth Movement. Highlights include vomiting demons into paper bags and the 911 group whose big accomplishment was scheduling a movie night.

Robert Kennedy: His Life / by Evan Thomas. A fascinating character who grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth, enthusiaticly supported Joe McCarthy, and wound up as a crusader for the poor and downtrodden.

The Conscience of a Liberal , Paul Krugman. A very well written explanation of why everything is the conservatives' fault.

The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too, James K. Galbraith. Another very well written explanation of why everything is the conservatives' fault.

Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, James W. Loewen. Excellent.

Chain of Blame: How Wall Street Caused the Mortgage and Credit Crisis, Paul Muolo, Mathew Padilla. There is truly plenty of blame to go around although Bill Clinton's support of the Community Redevelopment Act had nothing to do with it.

The Coldest Winter : America and the Korean War, David Halberstam. Fascinating book on a little known war. Truman stands up to MacArthur, the arrogant general who never spent a night in Korea during the entire time that he commanded the American forces there.

The Great Upheaval : America and the Birth of the Modern World, 1788-1800, Jay Winik. The French Revolution, Catherine the Great and George Washington's administration all packed together.

The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World, Alan Greenspan. Although he is much more candid and clear than he was in his days as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, Greenspan has a gift for making the most tumultuous financial events utterly tedious. I had a feeling that this was going to be a snorer when the library called me to tell me it was available. There had been seven people ahead of me when I reserved it and I got it three weeks later.

The End of Prosperity: How Higher Taxes Will Doom the Economy--If We Let It Happen, Arthur B. Laffer, Stephen Moore, Peter J. Tanous. A defense of supply side economics. Although I am only half way through, I notice that the authors only seem to make comparisons to the 1970's. They conveniently ignore the 1950's and 1960's when the United States was the dominant economic power in the world and the top marginal tax rate was as high as 90%.

The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals, Jane Mayer. I saw Philadelphia radio talk show host Mike Smerkonish telling Chris Matthews the other day that he had no problem with using any means necessary to extract information from Al Queda suspects. He figured that the CIA's best interrogation specialists must have figured that waterboarding was the best way to get the information. The only problem is that the CIA did not have any interrogation specialists; the FBI did but they were cut out of the loop because they did not believe in using torture.

Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War, Michael Isikoff and David Corn. The facts were there but Bush and Cheney weren't interested in them.

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