A powerful warning about the future of constitutional government and an indictment of the ways it has been undermined in the...

POWER WITHOUT CONSTRAINT

THE POST-9/11 PRESIDENCY AND NATIONAL SECURITY

Edelson (Government/American Univ.; Emergency Presidential Power: From the Drafting of the Constitution to the War on Terror, 2013) raises troubling questions about the Barack Obama administration.

The author, who specializes in constitutional history, points to President Obama's failure to put his money where his mouth was during the 2008 election campaign when he refused to hold accountable those who had violated both domestic and international law during the administration of George W. Bush. Edelson faults Obama for failing to seriously challenge the arbitrary willfulness of rule by presidential prerogative, which violates both the Founders’ intent and the Constitution's allocation of the president's powers. This failure, writes the author, may encourage future presidents in the belief they can “safely set aside laws.” Obama did follow through on his opposition to torture when he issued an executive order banning the practice and reaffirmed the authority of the Army’s field manuals. However, he failed to hold anyone accountable for breaches. Not doing so, Edelson argues, “is itself a failure to impose limits on presidential power.” Furthermore, the absence of enforcement has “effectively vindicated” the prior administration's prerogative-based argument that it could authorize and carry out torture with impunity. The author compares the Obama administration's words and actions to the institutional guidelines created by the Bush administration, and in no area has there been fundamental change. An administration dedicated to transparency has used secrecy consistently to protect itself from scrutiny by the court system or press, and Congress has acquiesced. Charges have not been brought against those who carried out torture, nor have investigations been launched to find the truth. Among present legal experts, Edelson references those who suggest, “under Obama, as under Bush, ours is no longer a government under law. It is a government of options,” adopted at presidential whim.

A powerful warning about the future of constitutional government and an indictment of the ways it has been undermined in the recent past.

Pub Date: May 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-299-30740-0

Page Count: 244

Publisher: Univ. of Wisconsin

Review Posted Online: March 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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