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A pertinent scholarly work that highlights a host of significant obstacles to a smooth-functioning democracy.

A sobering look at the forces attacking the current stability of American democracy.

Steinzor, a law professor and the author of Why Not Jail? Industrial Catastrophes, Corporate Malfeasance, and Government Inaction, argues convincingly that what she calls “the six”—i.e., the major far-right groups battering the U.S. government over the last few decades—did not rise from the grassroots level, but were “pushed, top-down, by private-sector special interest groups.” These include “big business; the Tea Party and the Freedom Caucus, its descendant in the House of Representatives; the Federalist Society; Fox News; white evangelicals; and militia members.” While all of these groups have garnered national attention for years, the author examines each in depth and elucidates their shared priorities: power, money, influence, and a determination to peck away at the “size and power of the administrative state, especially agencies that protect public health, worker and consumer safety, and the environment.” Many of these agencies formed in the early 1970s during the Nixon administration and have since been diminished and defunded. During the Reagan era, corporations were empowered to combat the rules of regulations, especially at the Environmental Protection Agency. It got far worse during the Trump administration, when officials attempted to overturn car emission and other standards. The Tea Party was opposed to big government and regulation, the society safety net, and immigration, all issues taken up by the Freedom Caucus. The Federalist Society has essentially aided Republican presidents in choosing the conservative justices on the Supreme Court and elsewhere. Fox News amplifies the far-right talking points, while the white evangelicals and militia direct, often violently, the actions of their extremist leaders. The author concludes with an assessment of the failure of the left to combat these forces.

A pertinent scholarly work that highlights a host of significant obstacles to a smooth-functioning democracy.

Pub Date: July 9, 2024

ISBN: 9781503634596

Page Count: 344

Publisher: Stanford Univ.

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2024

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Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

The comedian argues that the arts of moderation and common sense must be reinvigorated.

Some people are born snarky, some become snarky, and some have snarkiness thrust upon them. Judging from this book, Maher—host of HBO’s Real Time program and author of The New New Rules and When You Ride Alone, You Ride With bin Laden—is all three. As a comedian, he has a great deal of leeway to make fun of people in politics, and he often delivers hilarious swipes with a deadpan face. The author describes himself as a traditional liberal, with a disdain for Republicans (especially the MAGA variety) and a belief in free speech and personal freedom. He claims that he has stayed much the same for more than 20 years, while the left, he argues, has marched toward intolerance. He sees an addiction to extremism on both sides of the aisle, which fosters the belief that anyone who disagrees with you must be an enemy to be destroyed. However, Maher has always displayed his own streaks of extremism, and his scorched-earth takedowns eventually become problematic. The author has something nasty to say about everyone, it seems, and the sarcastic tone starts after more than 300 pages. As has been the case throughout his career, Maher is best taken in small doses. The book is worth reading for the author’s often spot-on skewering of inept politicians and celebrities, but it might be advisable to occasionally dip into it rather than read the whole thing in one sitting. Some parts of the text are hilarious, but others are merely insulting. Maher is undeniably talented, but some restraint would have produced a better book.

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

Pub Date: May 21, 2024

ISBN: 9781668051351

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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