The Big Con: The True Story of How Washington Got Hoodwinked and Hijacked by Crackpot Economics
Author: Jonathan Chait
The Big Con is a brilliantly revealing look at how the radical ideas of a small group of economic hucksters have taken over the American political system and perverted our nationa (TM)s policies. Through vivid portraits of self-interested politicians and pseudoeconomists, with wry analysis of their bogus theories, Jonathan Chait gives us the tools to understand whata (TM)s really behind economic policy debates in Washington: a riveting drama of greed and deceit.
The New York Times - Roger Lowenstein
Any writer who accuses his adversaries of being paranoid extremist nuts (epithets like this appear frequently in the book) runs the risk of seeming like a paranoid extremist nut himself. But Chait sets out to disarm us on the first page. "I have this problem," he begins. "Whenever I try to explain what's happening in American politics…I wind up sounding a bit like an unhinged conspiracy theorist. But honestly, I'm not." And he isn't. Chait attacks the tax-cutters' agenda from a sensible middle groundthe terrain he laments has been largely lost in American politics and completely abandoned by the Republican Party. By middle ground, I don't mean that Chait simply splits the difference between, say, Newt Gingrich and Robert Rubin…Instead, what Chait does is to examine the tax cuts on their economic merits. The debate is not new, but Chait's tale is enlivened by his account of how the G.O.P. evolved from a party of strait-laced budget balancers to extremists who resemble old-time Marxists in their rigid adherence to doctrine.
The author, a senior editor at the New Republic, is best known for declaring "I hate President George W. Bush" in 2003. This book traces the roots of his dislike back 30 years, when supply-side economics took over the Republican Party and made cutting taxes the GOP answer to all political and economic questions. "American politics has been hijacked by a tiny coterie of right-wing economic extremists," Chait declares, "some of them ideological zealots, others merely greedy, a few of them possibly insane." To which he adds, "the Republicans' success at defeating the democratic process explains why it has been able to enact its agenda despite a lack of popular support." The rhetoric is inflammatory, but the case is laid out with clarity. Chait claims that traditional Republicans, religious people and social, fiscal and foreign policy conservatives have been cheated as much as liberals, and that unparalleled corruption and ruthless cynicism in Washington and the timidity of nonpartisan media allow the minority to rule. His analysis should appeal to anyone interested in politics, though many may find the style too irritating to endure. (Sept. 12)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
America has turned into a mean-spirited plutocracy, declares the New Republic's senior editor, and mendacious political hacks' universal panacea for the nation's considerable problems is always the same-cut taxes. In a generation, the conservative right has won its way, avers Chait, and to the victors, it seems, belong the spoils: The present political ideology is a conspiracy of self-perpetuating greed. The author demonstrates his thesis with apt, methodical and copious detail. Do not be misled by sporadic achievement on the left, he warns. There has been a seismic shift, a tectonic slide to the right that cannot be quickly reversed. Who has been stealing the government? Chait points to those whose know-nothing convictions yield to no expertise. They include the loony, laissez-faire-thee-well, Laffer Curve, trickle-down economists, but it's about more than crackpot economics. It's about the symbiosis of K Street and Capitol Hill, a merger of the lobbying industry with GOP politicians. It's about well-disciplined neocons and woefully disorganized liberals. It's about the collapse of independent media and the brainless partisan cult of personality. Even as the conservative party line may fluctuate, it always embraces personal attacks on the enemy. It's about Jack Abramoff and Grover Norquist, Ann Coulter and Karl Rove. And it's about egregious pork-barrel earmarks and no regard for the underclass or for the Earth itself. A political party, Chait shows, may enjoy a preponderance of public opinion on the issues and still lose elections. Forget bipartisanship: This is a conflict between red-state NRA gun fans and blue-state NPR listeners. This text is, of course, a jeremiad from the left, anact of active, aggressive partisanship. But it is also methodical and fact-based. Agree or not with the author's liberal beliefs, consider this a stimulating analysis of how public policy is formulated today.
Badge of the Assassin
Author: Robert K Tanenbaum
They were just doing their jobssaving and protectingwhen the unimaginable happened: Officers Waverly Jones and Joseph Piagentini became moving targets, ambushed from behind at a Manhattan housing project. Jones lay dead in a pool of his own blood, and Piagentini lived long enough to beg for his lifebefor ehe was riddled with twenty-two bullet holes by members of a deadly hit squad hell-bent on taking out the men and women of law enforcement.
Masterfully building suspense on every page, Robert K. Tanenbaum reconstructs the vicious murders of Jones and Piagentini and the manhunt for the suspects, and brings to life his courtroom prosecution of the killersrevealing the triumphs and failures of America's legal system.