29 Nov 2014

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Jeff Madrick, Seven Bad Ideas: How Mainstream Economists Have Damaged America and the World

Sociopathic bankers, captured regulators, corrupt politicians, greedy real estate flippers – there are plenty of culprits to blame for the Great Recession and its antecedent speculative bubble and financial crisis. In “Seven Bad Ideas,” though, Jeff Madrick has skipped all these, taken a step back, and aimed his sights at a bigger target: conventional wisdom in the field of economics. Part primer on economic theory, part history of the economy and economic thought, the book meticulously describes and refutes the assumptions at the core of the free market orthodoxy that has characterized mainstream economics since the 1970’s.

23 Nov 2014

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Gus Speth, Angels By The River: A Memoir

Gus Speth’s Angels by the River is not an autobiography or traditional memoir, it’s a series of reflections on the life of one the nation’s most influential environmental activists, selectively chosen for how they relate to our current and future struggles. As we confront an environmental crisis that is growing increasingly dire, we have to turn to our past failures and successes before we proceed.

22 Nov 2014

FDL Book Salon Welcomes James Risen, Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War

After reading James Risen’s tour de force PAY ANY PRICE, I went right to my computer and tweeted this:

Every chapter of @JamesRisen’s book makes me shake my head in wonder at the moral abyss this country is in. Money and power saps our souls.

From his opening story about the vast shipments of cash to Iraq in the early days of the U.S. invasion to his final chapter on the U.S. government’s attacks on Diane Rourk and the four NSA whistleblowers, Risen paints a brilliant but tragic portrait of a country gone mad with power and greed during the 12 years of the Bush-Obama “war on terror.”

16 Nov 2014

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Zephyr Teachout, Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin’s Snuff Box to Citizens United

When Louis XVI presented Benjamin Franklin with a snuff box encrusted with diamonds and inset with the King’s portrait, the gift troubled Americans: it threatened to “corrupt” Franklin by clouding his judgment or altering his attitude toward the French in subtle psychological ways. This broad understanding of political corruption—rooted in ideals of civic virtue—was a driving force at the Constitutional Convention.

15 Nov 2014

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Matt Farwell, discussion about Michael Hastings and The Last Magazine

Michael Hastings’ “The Last Magazine,” is a scathing satire and indictment of the way the New York / DC big media world works. When I first read it, in an all-nighter months after his death, it was an amazing surprise: he was his gone, but his voice was still out there, and for a good 80,000 words, completely new and fresh. Anyone halfway familiar with the New York / DC news & media apparatus will recognize the characters behind the characters. Hopefully the way they’re portrayed is as disturbing to you as it was to me—as essentially out-of-touch, solipsistic, preening weenies who, for some reason, we keep listening to on TV & Radio & reading in print.

09 Nov 2014

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Brandon L. Garrett, Too Big to Jail: How Prosecutors Compromise With Corporations

Six years after the Financial Crisis of 2008 — with its $13 trillion global price tag, including $2 trillion in property values lost, 8.7 million jobs destroyed, and evidence of corporate lawlessness seemingly in plain sight — the public policy problematic might boil down to a single question: where are the prosecutions?

08 Nov 2014

FDL Book Salon Welcomes George Lakoff, The ALL NEW Don’t Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate

The subtitle of the book is “Know your Values and Frame the Debate.” The sub-subtitle is, “The essential progressive guide for the issues that define our future: climate, inequality, immigration, healthcare. and more.”

Just reading the cover overwhelmed me. I stopped thinking about that Elephant and moved to, “Those conservative Republican bastards are making the world worse! How could people vote for them! Why did those jerks in the democratic party blow the mid-terms! Who do I punish?”

02 Nov 2014

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Paul Street, They Rule: The 1% vs. Democracy

Since Barack Obama announced his intention to run for president in 2007, Paul Street has distinguished himself as one of candidate Obama and President Obama’s most consistent critics from the left. At a time when many liberals were starry-eyed about the possibilities for an Obama presidency, Street was documenting Obama’s commitment to a pro-business, neoliberal agenda.

01 Nov 2014

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Nell Bernstein, Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison

Bernstein’s second book, Burning Down the House, is an urgent account of why we need to abolish juvenile prisons, not merely make them more humane. In the first half of the book, she outlines the history behind the rise of the juvenile prisons and the many kinds of violence kids face on the inside, from physical and sexual abuse to solitary confinement. Bernstein explains how the idea of the violent, “morally impoverished” youth super-predator is still with us today, for example in provisions across all fifty states to try children who commit particular offenses as adults. The author also challenges readers to rethink our own notions of “other kids” by narrating the experiences of trauma and deprivation that so often precede young people breaking the law.

26 Oct 2014

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Ken Hughes, Chasing Shadows: The Nixon Tapes, the Chennault Affair, and the Origins of Watergate

Ken Hughes has been at this a long time. He started working as a researcher for the Miller Center at the University of Virginia in 1996 and is rightly considered one of the nation’s experts on the Nixon Tapes (and the Johnson tapes). His book, I think his first, is a fascinating look into the Nixon character and a scandal that dwarfs the Watergate break-in.