A fascinating catalogue of impeachable offenses and prosecutable crimes. Is Miller right? Stay tuned.

FOOLED AGAIN

HOW THE RIGHT STOLE THE 2004 ELECTION, AND WHY THEY’LL STEAL THE NEXT ONE TOO (UNLESS WE STOP THEM)

Media-studies maven and dedicated Bush detractor Miller (Cruel and Unusual, 2004) argues that moving on and getting over it are exactly the wrong things to do.

Setting forth a circumstantial argument that would probably not stand up in court but that serves fine for the purposes of speechifying and politicizing, Miller deems the Bush/Cheney victory in the last presidential election “startling. It was, in fact, miraculous, even if the US press chose not to point that out.” And why miraculous? Well, for one thing, the exit polls in contested states such as Ohio and Florida gave Kerry/Edwards a slight edge; for another, a Gallup poll conducted just before the election showed that the incumbent’s approval rating was at a dangerous low, and in all events, “Kerry’s numbers were considerably higher in the swing states.” So what happened? Well, Miller asserts, a theocratic, fundamentalist movement working in concert with sinister forces within the administration, and over a long and steady campaign: Its various agents saw to it that felons were disenfranchised (for criminals, presumably, vote blue), scared away minorities from the polls, capriciously closed voting places on Election Day, set up fewer voting machines in poor districts than in wealthy ones, kept the press from conducting exit polls, designed ballots so that Bush/Cheney were the first choice, rigged machines so that the GOP candidates somehow received many more votes than there were registered voters, tallied the vote in secret, made it difficult for Democrats to vote absentee and told many big lies. Miller’s case relies strongly on anecdotal evidence, though a reader inclined to accept the very possibility might well imagine that an independent counsel of the Ken Starr variety could easily turn up firmer proof; suffice it to say that Miller’s argument is pitched to true believers against the vast right-wing conspiracy.

A fascinating catalogue of impeachable offenses and prosecutable crimes. Is Miller right? Stay tuned.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-465-04579-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2005

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A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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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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