Short Takes on library books I have to return

Some of these books I had to return because other people wanted to read them and put a reserve on them, so that’s a good sign, but makes it hard for me to put the time in with quotes that they deserve. Vacation put me too far behind in my juggling of due dates and reserves. 🙂


book jacket with scales of justice
Richard Thompson Ford

Rights Gone Wrong: How Law Corrupts the Struggle for Equality by Richard Thompson Ford (author of The Race Card), 2011

I was not able to do more than quickly glance at this one for particular index terms that interested me. This concept is an interesting parallel to another book on interlibrary loan I hope to extend called “Dred Scott and the Problem of Constitutional Evil.” The law is the law and is not JUSTICE. And the sooner people grasp that, then we have a chance for true equality under the law and social justice. But too many people in power abuse that privilege by passing unconstitutional and unjust laws and because of the weird but sometimes useful requirement of “standing” to be able to act to change the law, we get stuck with them. For example, all the hundreds of limitations that are undue burdens for abortion. The Michigan anti-sodomy law that was passed recently (2016? 2015?) DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE SUPREME COURT RULED SUCH LAWS UNCONSTITUTIONAL (2003?).

One part that caught my attention was an fairly extensive discussion of BFOQ (bona fide occupational qualifications) because he covered the all to frequent requirement that women wear makeup, pantyhose, tight clothes, have big breasts (Hooters), maintain a certain weight, wear “feminine” apparel and high heels, style their hair in a certain way (though he didn’t mention it that I saw but the issue of hair for black women in the military was a very big deal recently), and a myriad of spoken or unspoken criteria that women must meet or be fired for failing to comply by just being a normal person.

This is a very good book. It includes issues of multiple types, including sex, age, disability and other types of discrimination throughout, but the emphasis is on civil rights in particular. And sadly, he notes that some of these injustices cannot be addressed by more or different laws. Other remedies must be developed.

book jacket a black and white half image of WThe Bush Tragedy by Jacob Weisberg (2008)
Kind of don’t care if I read this after all. It looks into the Bush family history and tries to figure out what made W tick, but really, an empty shell of a person with only deep desire to please daddy and read the Bible daily and claim to read much longer and more sophisticated books that seems unlikely is not compelling enough to waste my time. I think the answer is simple, he was a puppet, and nothing more. Nothing to see here folks. Just a damn shame that he is responsible for ISIS and so much death and destruction that we may have to endure until the End Times really does arrive with the serious assistance this loser gave it.

book jacket dollar sign with handsMakers and Takers: The rise of finance and the fall of American business by Rana Foroohar (the economic columnist and CNN global economic analyst), 2016.

Having to return this one, especially since I didn’t get a renewal before someone put it on reserve, is very sad. I will have to get it again! It ties perfectly in my favorite book of the moment, Thomas Frank’s Listen Liberal, that I have kept one week so far overdue rather than give it up before fully writing about it. Frank, like Foroohar, talks about the financialization of American business and it is not a good thing. Basically it means that companies like GE discovered that screwing with their stock prices and doing financial business (GE Capital) was way more profitable than actually MAKING GOODS.

As noted in her book and on the jacket copy, “The financial sector takes a quarter of all corporate profits while creating only 4 percent of American jobs.” And the pay for those non-job creators is insanely high for no good reason other than they have no obligation to do anything else but pay investors percentages of profit and keep the rest.

The tax code continues to favor debt over equity, making it easier for companies to hoard cash overseas rather than reinvest it on our shores.

Our biggest and most profitable corporations are investing more money in stock buybacks than research and innovation.

And still, the majority of the financial reforms promised after the 2008 meltdown have yet to come to pass, thanks to the cozy relationships between our lawmakers and the country’s wealthiest financiers.

I am going to say this is a must read book, especially by politicians, but that is completely futile because they like the status quo.

book jacketRepublican Gomorrah: Inside the movement that shattered the party by Max Blumenthal (2009)

Another excellent historical reality presentation by an author described as a muckraker (so dear to my heart). All kinds of details of behind the scenes manipulation and more deceitful actions. It is amazing to me that the author was able to get all this information and write it as fascinating as any thriller, until you remember that it all happen and has real consequences. Good but troubling read.

book jacket man raising his armsOne Nation under God: How Corporate America invented Christian America by Kevin M. Kruse, (2015)

This should almost be shelved with horror stories. The jacket copy is a good overview of the gist of the book.

As Kruse argues, the belief that America is fundamentally and formally a Christian nation originated in the 1930s when businessmen enlisted religious activists in their fight against FDR’s New Deal. Corporations from General Motors to Hilton Hotels bankrolled conservative clergymen, encouraging them to attack the New Deal as a program of ‘pagan statism’ that perverted the central principle of Christianity: the sanctity and salvation of the individual. Their campaign for ‘Freedom under God’  culminated in the election of their close ally Dwight Eisenhower in 1952.

Unfortunately we ended up with god and government, and Under God in oath and National Prayer Breakfast, and all kinds of unfortunate consequences that are being pushed even further and further today by evangelicals who have their Mission from God to coerce everyone else to believe as they do: antithetical to the foundations of America.

book jacket graphic with red and white stripes one star on blueRules for Patriots: How conservatives can win again by Steve Dease with a forward by David Limbaugh (omg he spawned), 2014 with a blurb praising it by Donald Trump! It’s so cute, chapters are titled so that they become ten commandments.

Unfortunately the author is smart if misguided and a completely heartless [insert rude word here]. Funny how it is always exclusively Republicans who lay claim to the label of patriots as if someone who does not agree with their point of view automatically are opposite of them in terms of patriotism and morality. Sigh.

book jacket cloudy sky and some treesBreakthrough: The making of America’s first woman President by Nancy L. Cohen. (2016)

A little premature, but then we knew the election was rigged. It is all about Hillary of course, but also does some good coverage of women in politics and government on the way. I probably will not bother to renew and read completely. Her conclusion that we have fundamentally achieved change for women is patently false and certainly having Hawkish Hillary with Bill (let’s kill welfare and imprison a generation of young black men) by her side will not be good for anyone except corporations, and Wall Street in particular.

Bernie was our only real hope. Don’t get me started on Trump or any of the god-fearing women hating Republican Christian extremists. Oh, wait, that’s redundant.

book jacket photo of supreme court buildingThe Most Democratic Branch: How the Courts Serve America by Jeffrey Rosen (2006)

Sitting side by side with the Dred Scott book and Rights gone Wrong, this title is almost funny. Because of course the courts do not serve most Americans, not criminal and least of all civil courts. And of course, judges are not elected but are appointed so definitely NOT DEMOCRATIC.

book jacketThe Fight to Vote by Michael Waldman, author of The Second Amendment, 2016

One subhead speaks volumes: The Ramshackle Election System. Good book. Interesting history.


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