25 Oct 2014

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Robert Mutch, Buying The Vote: A History of Campaign Finance Reform

Using money to influence—ie. purchase—elections began when Thug gave Ugg a big, sharp rock in return for his vote for cave leader. It’s an ugly scene – and it has never stopped.

But with the advent of formalized democracy, purchasing a vote has gone through a psychological shift. With money, you can buy a voter’s neurons, board the brain like a pirate, and steal the booty—some poor schmuck’s “choice” made in a voting booth.

19 Oct 2014

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Helen Caldicott, Crisis Without End: The Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Catastrophe

Dr. Helen Caldicott is the co-founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility, a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, and the 2003 winner of the Lannan Prize for Cultural Freedom. Both the Smithsonian Institute and Ladies’ Home Journal have named her one of the Most Influential Women of the Twentieth Century. In 2001 she founded the Nuclear Policy Research Institute, which later became Beyond Nuclear, in Washington, DC. The author of The New Nuclear Danger, War in Heaven (with Craig Eisendrath), Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer, and Loving This Planet and the editor of Crisis Without End (all published by The New Press), she is currently president of the Helen Caldicott Foundation/NuclearFreePlanet.org. She divides her time between Australia and the United States.

18 Oct 2014

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Jamie Kilstein and Allison Kilkenny, #Newsfail: Climate Change, Feminism, Gun Control, and Other Fun Stuff We Talk About Because Nobody Else Will

Both Jamie Kilstein and Allison Kilkenny are trailblazers when it comes to independent media. Week-to-week, with their “Citizen Radio” show, they combine sharp wit with thought-provoking commentary. The book is an opportunity to introduce the show to people, who may have never heard of them or bothered to listen to them.

12 Oct 2014

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Ha-Joon Chang, Economics: The User’s Guide

Understanding some basic economics is crucial to understanding the world we live in, which in turn enables us to be better consumers, producers, and voters. Ha-Joon Chang’s Economics: The User’s Guide offers much of what people need in order to achieve this understanding in a way that is noticeably different from what a traditional introductory textbook looks like.

11 Oct 2014

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Suzanna Danuta Walters, The Tolerance Trap: How God, Genes, and Good Intentions Are Sabotaging Gay Equality

From Glee to gay marriage, from lesbian senators to out gay Marines, we have undoubtedly experienced a seismic shift in attitudes about gays in American politics and culture. Our reigning national story is that a new era of rainbow acceptance is at hand. But dig a bit deeper, and this seemingly brave new gay world is disappointing. For all of the undeniable changes, the plea for tolerance has sabotaged the full integration of gays into American life. Same-sex marriage is unrecognized and unpopular in the vast majority of states, hate crimes proliferate, and even in the much vaunted “gay friendly” world of Hollywood and celebrity culture, precious few stars are openly gay.

05 Oct 2014

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Heather Cox Richardson, To Make Men Free: A History of The Republican Party

Heather Cox Richardson has a gift for seeing the connections in American history—for synthesizing a picture that makes sense out of a broad range of elements. She integrates larger economic and cultural developments with the experience of men and women at all levels of society, as well as the decisions and conflicts of policymakers and power brokers. She demonstrated her powers as a writer and historian brilliantly in her books West from Appomattox and Wounded Knee, and does so again in her brilliant To Make Men Free.

28 Sep 2014

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Erwin Chemerinsky, The Case Against The Supreme Court

Today’s Book Salon is going to be very special. Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of the University of California Irvine Law School, has authored an absolutely fantastic book, “The Case Against The Supreme Court.” Both of your hosts today know, and have very long admired Dean Chemerinsky. We both often get asked by friends and readers who, if we got to make the next appointment to the Supreme Court, would we choose. Erwin is at the top of both of our lists. He is truly a progressive and innovative legal mind.

27 Sep 2014

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Dr. Isabel V. Sawhill, Generation Unbound: Drifting Into Sex and Parenthood Without Marriage

Sawhill, a senior fellow in economics at Brookings Institution, a public policy think tank in Washington, still strongly supports marriage. But in her book Generation Unbound, released this week, she writes that she has come to believe that while marriage is an important symbol of commitment and usually a good thing for children, it is no longer what those who care about children should insist come first. She says:

Even if we believe that more marriage would be helpful to children (as I do), turning the tide here…is likely to be difficult. Reducing fertility, on the other hand, is going with the tide, and has even more potential to improve child well-being.

14 Sep 2014

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Eileen Appelbaum and Rosemary Batt, Private Equity at Work: When Wall Street Manages Main Street

A couple weeks ago, Burger King announced a merger with the Canadian coffee-and-donuts chain Tim Hortons. Well, not actually Burger King, but 3G Capital, the private equity firm that owns a 70% stake in the fast food chain. This was 3G Capital’s second big deal in recent months, having also purchased the venerable H.J. Heinz ketchup company. And to secure the deal, 3G Capital paid a substantial amount in shares to Scout Capital Management and Highfields Capital Management, who were buying up Tim Hortons stock in preparation their own private equity takeover.

Nothing about this is unusual. As researchers Eileen Applebaum (Center for Economics and Policy Research) and Rosemary Batt (Cornell University) explain in their important book Private Equity at Work, 2,797 private equity firms in the United States have investments in 17,744 companies, directly impacting the employment of 7.5 million workers, according to the latest statistics. They are highly focused in retail, food service, health care and really wherever money can be plucked.

13 Sep 2014

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Terry Golway, Tammany Hall and the Creation of Modern American Politics

We all know the story as it’s the one we were taught in grade school: The Tammany machine was the epitome of public corruption. It ruled New York City with an iron fist until good-guy reformers like Teddy Roosevelt rode to the rescue and broke its power.

What this official story leaves out is that Teddy’s distant cousin, Franklin D., wound up happily making common cause with Tammany Hall, and they not only backed his run for the White House but helped inspire his creation of the New Deal.