Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The political season is in full force @ library


It's the Middle Class, Stupid! by James Carville and Stan Greenberg

Kirkus Reviews –

Liberal pundit Carville (40 More Years: How the Democrats Will Rule the Next Generation, 2009, etc.) and Democratic pollster Greenberg (Dispatches from the War Room: In the Trenches with Five Extraordinary Leaders, 2009, etc.) discuss campaign strategy and why a focus on the middle class is crucial to the Democrats' chances this November. The authors both advised Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign, the mantra of which was "it's the economy, stupid"--a relentless focus on economic policy that helped propel Clinton into the White House and shaped his domestic programs. The authors take a similar tack here, asserting that President Obama and other Democrats must zero in on the needs of the middle class in order to win the upcoming election: "When we think of an issue and a solution, we have to stop and think, How does this protect America's middle class?" It's a logical campaign aim, as the middle class makes up a majority of the electorate, especially if one defines "middle class" expansively, as the authors do, from families in poverty to those making up to $125,000 per year. Carville and Greenberg lean heavily on polling data to bolster their arguments. Among many other issues, the authors focus on health care reform and increased spending on education, and they suggest that "voters are not divided on the issue of raising taxes on rich people." The book is aimed squarely at Democrats, and, as might be expected, there is a certain amount of preaching to the choir. To the authors' credit, however, they are refreshingly specific in some of their policy recommendations in areas such as energy investment and campaign finance reform.




Red Ink: Inside the High-Stakes Politics of the Federal Budget by David Wessel

Kirkus Reviews –

Accessible overview of America's contentious deficit politics by the Wall Street Journal's economics editor. Anticipating another summer of posturing and gridlock over the federal budget as President Obama's re-election hopes and the majority of both houses of Congress hang in the balance, Wessel (In Fed We Trust: Ben Bernanke's War on the Great Panic, 2009, etc.) provides a slender but highly informative volume designed to give voters a grip on what exactly is at stake in this corrosive battle. He begins by clarifying some common misunderstandings: Almost two-thirds of the budget gets spent automatically, with or without the consent or amendment of the current Congress; the U.S. defense budget exceeds those of the next 17 largest powers (including Russia and China) combined; Americans pay less of their income in taxes than citizens of any other developed nation, and have been paying less and less in taxes for 30 years. Wessel then tries to answer the most basic questions about the deficit: how we got here, where the money goes and comes from, and why we need to solve the problem sooner rather than later. He's the least successful on the last question; the best argument seems to be, "Because everyone thinks so." Wessel cites experts from left and right, including Paul Krugman and Paul Ryan, among others, without stating a preference for any side. (The hero of the story seems to be Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, a nonideological Democrat who, as a congressman, helped forge agreements that made the surpluses of the 1990s possible.) Without explicitly recommending a course, Wessel makes clear that a solution to the problem would necessarily be repugnant to all sides and would include some major changes to entitlement programs as well as increases in taxes for at least several years. Wessel doesn't tell you how to think, but he does give you the facts to think more clearly about what needs to be done.




The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama's Mentor by Paul Kengor

Overview –

In his memoir, Barack Obama omits the full name of his mentor, simply calling him “Frank.” Now, the truth is out: Never has a figure as deeply troubling and controversial as Frank Marshall Davis had such an impact on the development of an American president.

Although other radical influences on Obama, from Jeremiah Wright to Bill Ayers, have been scrutinized, the public knows little about Davis, a card-carrying member of the Communist Party USA, cited by the Associated Press as an “important influence” on Obama, one whom he “looked to” not merely for “advice on living” but as a “father” figure.

And yet, The Communist is not unsympathetic to Davis, revealing him as something of a victim, an African- American who suffered devastating racial persecution in the Jim Crow era, steering this justly angered young man on a misguided political track. That Davis supported violent and heartless communist regimes over his own country is impossible to defend. That he was a source of inspiration to President Barack Obama is impossible to ignore.

Is Obama working to fulfill the dreams of Frank Marshall Davis? That question has been impossible to answer, since Davis’s writings and relationship with Obama have either been deliberately obscured or dismissed as irrelevant. With Paul Kengor’s The Communist, Americans can finally weigh the evidence and decide for themselves.





The Corruption Chronicles: Obama's Big Secrecy, Big Corruption, and Big Government by Tom Fitton

From Publisher –

Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch, America’s largest nonpartisan government watchdog (challenging George W. Bush as well as Bill Clinton), has been investigating Obama ever since he splashed onto the national scene in 2006. Now Fitton exposes devastating secrets the Obama administration has desperately fought—even in court—to keep from the American public. For a while, the Obama stonewall seemed to be holding. Until now. And the revelations are astonishing.

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