A brilliant preface, one might guess, to further legal actions against the disgraced former president for his crimes.

UNTHINKABLE

TRAUMA, TRUTH, AND THE TRIALS OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY

The constitutional lawyer and U.S. Representative considers the events of Jan. 6, 2021, and the lawless administration that fomented them.

“How did we end up here, with fascists trashing our Capitol Building and killing people?” asks Raskin, who led the House’s second impeachment proceedings against the former president. His narrative has three strands. The first is personal looking out on the political, recounting the experiences of his father, one of John Kennedy’s “best and brightest,” who left government in opposition to the nuclear arms race. More effective, and saddening, is the second: the suicide of his son, beset by anxiety and depression, who was buried on Jan. 5. The following day brought “strategic violence by extremist elements outside the Capitol…fusing with manipulative tactics inside the Capitol to coerce Vice President Pence and Congress to overthrow the electoral votes in the states and force us into a contingent election.” Raskin makes two related things eminently clear. First, he and other House leaders were prepared for the Republicans’ coercive ploy, albeit surprised that Pence, “despite lots of genuflecting to the disseminators of the Big Lie,” did the right thing. What they were not prepared for, he writes, was an armed mob storming the Capitol and pursuing elected officials through its corridors. For this, Raskin assigns a measure of self-blame, since Alexander Hamilton warned of just such a possibility in the first of the Federalist Papers, and the former president had recruited “thousands of the…‘very fine’ people he had seen marching on the fascist side of the street in 2017 in Charlottesville” to stage his insurrection. Raskin’s detailed account of the second impeachment proceedings goes on at great but not burdensome length, joining Adam Schiff’s Midnight in Washington as a close study in how such matters work.

A brilliant preface, one might guess, to further legal actions against the disgraced former president for his crimes.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-063-20978-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 6, 2022

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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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The choir is sure to enjoy this impassioned preaching on familiar progressive themes.

SORRY NOT SORRY

Essays on current political topics by a high-profile actor and activist.

Milano explains in an introduction that she began writing this uneven collection while dealing with a severe case of Covid-19 and suffering from "persistent brain fog.” In the first essay, "On Being Unapologetically Fucked Up,” the author begins by fuming over a February 2019 incident in which she compared MAGA caps worn by high school kids to KKK hoods. She then runs through a grab bag of flash-point news items (police shootings, border crimes, sexual predators in government), deploying the F-bomb with abandon and concluding, "What I know is that fucked up is as fundamental a state of the world as night and day. But I know there is better. I know that ‘less fucked up’ is a state we can live in.” The second essay, "Believe Women," discusses Milano’s seminal role in the MeToo movement; unfortunately, it is similarly conversational in tone and predictable in content. One of the few truly personal essays, "David," about the author's marriage, refutes the old saw about love meaning never having to say you're sorry, replacing it with "Love means you can suggest a national sex strike and your husband doesn't run away screaming." Milano assumes, perhaps rightly, that her audience is composed of followers and fans; perhaps these readers will know what she is talking about in the seemingly allegorical "By Any Other Name," about her bad experience with a certain rosebush. "Holy shit, giving birth sucked," begins one essay. "Words are weird, right?" begins the next. "Welp, this is going to piss some of you off. Hang in there," opens a screed about cancel culture—though she’s entirely correct that “it’s childish, divisive, conceited, and Trumpian to its core.” By the end, however, Milano's intelligence, compassion, integrity, and endurance somewhat compensate for her lack of literary polish.

The choir is sure to enjoy this impassioned preaching on familiar progressive themes.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18329-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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