Review: Who Rules America (2013)

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G. William Domhoff

5.0 out of 5 stars 6 Stars for Early Warning on 1%, Holistic Analytics, and Clear Attention to Weakness of the 99%, April 19, 2014

This book was central to my education in Political Science (more political than science, more passive aggressive than normative). In light of all that we know now, the book MUST be considered both a 6 Star classic (in my top 10%, I read non-fiction in 98 categories), and highly relevant today.

It distresses me that there are no good reviews visible right now, this is partly because Amazon has destroyed really great reviews from past editions in order to make way for new generations of young reviewers, most of whom do not get pointed toward this book by their college professors, if they are lucky enough to even go to college.

Here is the 6th edition of the book where useful reviews are to be found:

Who Rules America? Challenges to Corporate and Class Dominance

Click on Image to Enlarge

Click on Image to Enlarge

I am posting an image from the author that shows how the social, corporate, and “hired hand” elite (for the latter, think tanks and politicians) intersect, with the 1% shown in the center (I added that bit).

Democracy is hard. Responsibility in democracy cannot be delegated or integrity is lost. When I and the author speak of integrity we are talking about accountability, the assurance of diversity in all councils, feedback loops, and the recognition of true costs of any decision. When the public delegates its responsibility for self-government, democracy is quickly lost. For other books that support this one, which can be considered “the original” in modern history (Toqueville’s Democracy in America (Penguin Classics) is THE original), see my easily found list of my Amazon reviews on this topic and its anti-thesis corruption, by searching for:

Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Democracy Lost & Found

Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Corruption 2.0

For anyone wanting more than is available from Inside the Book, or seeking a summary of the book, there is no better summary available than that provided by the author himself on a very powerful web site of his own, search online for:

The Class-Domination Theory of Power by G. William Domhoff

For myself, this book is both a celebration of what Politica Science can offer (see also the books listed below within my ten link limit), and also an indictment of the discipline of Political Science. I am in the process of thinking about how to change the discipline to answer these three WHAT IF questions:

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Apr 19

Review: The Zero Marginal Cost Society

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Jeremy Rifkin

3.0 out of 5 stars Never Mind the Total Cost Terminal Society, April 13, 2014

Books like this would make me crazy if I took them seriously. This is a fad book for shallow minds that have no clue about holistic analytics, true cost economics, or anything remotely resembling the humanities (which is to say, the preservation of the good from one generation to the next). This book is the singularity cult on crack. Buy the book, by all means, to understand how seriously stupid is now in vogue.

There are some clever (which is to say, fad of the day) observations in this book but they vary from wrong (MOOCs have a 4% completion rate and are absolutely useless to 90% or more of the five billion poor who do not have the time to do MOOCs) to incomplete — who crowd sources against corruption and waste? Part of the answer is in this book, but no more than 20%. I’ve raised the book from one to three stars on a second pass, but I am still irritated.

The one place where Rifkin and I are 100% in harmony is on free energy…but he pulls his punches. Free energy is here now but the “system” is intent on keeping energy expensive and the 99% in rentier status. To truly understand the alternative energies now in hand, there is no book available, but if you search for Sepp Hasslberger @ Phi Beta Iota you will be on the bleeding edge of intelligence with integrity on this one topic that is so vital to all of us.

Marginal Cost is the cost at scale after all the FIXED COSTS (little things like water, fuel, child labor, tax avoidance, imposed disease) have been “accounted for.” The problem with Rifkin’s book, which would be a great riff at a late night show where everyone is smashed beyond cognition, is that it discounts reality by 99%. This book is the epitome of what Dr. Russell Ackoff would call “doing the wrong things righter instead of the right thing.

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Apr 13

Review: Still Ours to Lead – America, Rising Powers, and the Tension Between Rivalry and Restraint

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Bruce Jones

4.0 out of 5 stars One Third Provocative, One Third Delusional, One Third Ignorant, March 22, 2014

I was given this book as a gift, by someone who knew I can recite from memory the ten high level threats to humanity (as identified and prioritized by the UN High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change, and reported out in A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility–Report of the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, which is also available free online as a PDF.

My first impressions were negative. On a second pass I found more to appreciate, but the most compelling impression I was left with is that Obama is Bush and the Brookings Institution has lost its moral and intellectual compass.

One Third Provocative

To the extent that good is to be found in the two-terms of the ObamaBiden Administration, this book serves as a fine guide. I wondered more than once which foreign policy position the author was applying for appointment to. Sadly, what the author offers in the way of positive must be construed by any realist grounded in international reality as a second application of lipstick on the pig, the first being when the neo-conswervatives and Wall Street successfully trotted Obama out as the savior of the two-party tyranny. [I credit the term to Theresa Amato’s Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny — it is not possible to be a serious observer of American idiocy without first understanding that there is no real difference between the extremists of the right and the extremists of the left — they are both toxic.

One Third Delusional

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Mar 22

Review (DVD): THRIVE

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Foster and Kimberly Gamble

5.0 out of 5 stars Free Online and Worth Buying to Support the Endeavor, March 14, 2014

This is a riveting movie with phenomenal visuals. I’d rather it had been an hour long instead of two, but in the spirit of slow food and slow Internet, certainly worth two hours of your time as an inspiration to change how you live for the rest of your life.

The movie is a personal contribution of Foster Gamble of the Proctor & Gamble family, but he grew a soul starting in elementary school and by the time he finished at Princeton, he was on his way to being a full-blown radical thinker with libertarian tendencies.

The first third of the movie is focused on free energy and all the pioneers from Telsa to Trombly to Bedeini to Hutchinson to Mallove who created proven sources of free energy only to suffer raids from the FBI (we do not make this stuff up) and other abuses including in some cases the torching of their labs and murder. I am hugely impressed by this portion of the movie, which includes short interviews, and I strongly recommend the movie for this part alone if you lack patience for what follows.

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Mar 14

Review (Guest): The Empire of Necessity – Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World

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Greg Grandin

5.0 out of 5 stars The complexity of the moral landscape during America’s founding generation, March 2, 2014

Herbert L Calhoun “paulocal”

The reader is unlikely to find a book that better contextualizes or sharpens the focus of the moral issues confronting America’s founding generation than this book. Using the metaphor of “empires of necessity,” the author shows how America’s westward expansion made it the advance-guard of the world, beating a path through the wilderness. But America has never acknowledged that it was enslaved peoples who were in fact beating that path called Manifest Destiny: cutting down forests, turning the wilderness into plantations and into marketable real estate, and picking cotton and cutting the sugar cane that drew more and more territory into a thriving atlantic economy. Slavery alone was the issue at the top of the world’s agenda throughout the era of the founding of America. The evils of slavery and the slave trade was the constant refrain of sermons each Sunday from Connecticut to Montevideo; and from Seville to London.

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Mar 2

Review: How America Was Lost – From 9/11 to the Police/Warfare State

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Paul Craig Roberts

5.0 out of 5 stars Most Credible Consistent Truth-Teller I Read…., February 21, 2014

I have been following Paul Craig Roberts, a former Assistant Secretary of Treasury in the Reagan Administration, for years. Originally he specialized in economic commentary, and I was much taken with his hard-hitting critical commentary and particularly his illumination of the false statistics being released by the Bush and Obama Administrations with respect to unemployment and other major measuring rods of our Nation’s health. He was the commentator that introduced me to shadowstats.com, which documents 22.4% unemployment at a time when the Obama Administration claims 7.5% more or less — never mind lies that are 300% removed from reality.

Paul Craig Roberts is non-partisan in his critical commentary. I consider him a patriot with a brain, a capable author, and a voice much needed within all political circles, and most particularly within the Republican Party which is now at war with itself as the real common-sense conservatives recognize that the GOP has been hijacked by Zionists, Evangelicals, and other nut-cases who are all about personal privilege (including pedophilia) and personal profit and both personal and institutional power while disregarding the Constitution and betraying the Republic.

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Feb 21

Review: The People’s Advocate – The Life and Legal History of America’s Most Fearless Public Interest Lawyer [Danny Sheehan]

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Danny Sheehan

5.0 out of 5 stars 6 Stars on Substance, Revolutionary Illumination, February 20, 2014

This is a book for smart people who care about the Constitution, the Republic, and America the Beautiful — the America of good people with big hearts and strong souls who do the best they can while trapped amidst a complex of corrupt systems that now include most labor unions, most non-profits, and most religions — all the safety nets are gone. It is not an easy read but it could be the most important book you could read right now, as we prepare for the 2014-2020 civil war between the 99% and the 1%. For a sense of where I see Danny Sheehan in modern US history, see my review of Arsonist: The Most Dangerous Man in America. Danny Sheehan’s is to the second American revolution as James Otis was to the Founding Fathers. The 1% and their political bi-opoly (the best of the servant class in the eyes of the 1%) are the target for a massive apolitical cross-cultural uprising rooted in natural law, social justice, and common sense.

Danny Sheehan

Danny Sheehan

The book cannot be fully appreciated without first understanding that the author has been a major player in every fundamental Constitutional case having to do with public agency — the sovereignty of the public versus the assumption by the “government” that it has inherent powers once reserved for kings, and that the citizens “donate” (abdicate) their powers once they “elect” said government. I highly recommend Wikipedia’s biography on Daniel Sheehan (attorney). This — or the timeline below — is what should have opened the book in the first place. I take the trouble to do this because the value of this book lies with the next generation, the generation now in college and graduate school (or unemployed and unOccupied), not in the generation that rose with Danny and failed to beat down New York money, Texas energy, and the Nazi hydra combined with elite embrace of drugs, money laundering, and pedophilia, among other high crimes against the Republic.

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Feb 20

Review (Guest): The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man

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Luke Harding

4.0 out of 5 stars Ed Snowden and the American tribal fear meme, February 19, 2014

 

This is a story about what one American saw atop the tip of an iceberg called the “American national security state.” In the end, Ed Snowden, a 29-year old, $200,00/year High School dropout turned Computer Systems Administrator for Dell, and then Booz Allen Hamilton, both of which were under contract with the NSA, is little more than a proxy for the rest of us: the “paying customer” zombies and drones for the American “national security state.”

As he tried to “ride out” his tenure astride this violently bucking institutional Orwellian Frankenstein, Snowden quickly realized that he was losing ground to this secret self-fashioned protector of America’s deepest values. In our life time, the NSA had joined a long string of other self-justifying, self-certifying, security institutions, like the CIA, the FBI, Swat Teams, the DEA, even local police intelligence units, especially in America’s inner cities. In our lifetime, these institutions have acquired immense and unwarranted powers, often even unauthorized, unconstitutional and unearned and even criminal influence over our democratic institutions. Today, as this evolving behemoth huffs and puffs and bucks wildly out-of-control, Snowden decided he had no choice but to “jump ship,” taking with him a treasure trove of all that lay below the national security waterline.

What exactly is it that Ed Snowden saw that frightened him out of his wits and out of his $200k job and into the hands of a most curious savior of last resort: Vladimir Putin’s Russia, the ex-Communist ex-superpower that, since it was forced to commit suicide as an empire, has now become a capitalist Wild West frontier, a land full of out-of-control oligarchs, which is exactly where Ed Snowden’s favorite political hero, Ron Paul would like to take America — if he is ever elected president, that is.

As he now sits ensconced somewhere in Russia, one thought above all else must have occurred to Mr. Snowden: Is this some kind of sick joke? That me, a freedom-loving American, who willingly exercised my civic duty as a free-thinking defender of American values and the U.S. Constitution, conveying crimes being committed against that very Constitution, is now forced to run, hide and seek refuge in a failed ex-Communist state?

That Snowden’s reality is true in a nation that is still living on moral credit, and that takes much more credit for being democratic than it deserves or its historical record can substantiate, is almost as embarrassing an irony and contradiction as seeing the U.S. being “in hock up to the hilt” to Reagan’s other Axis-of-evil: the last standing Communist Police State, “Red China.” And lest we conveniently forget, said “Red China,” is the same state that less than three decades ago, we were referring to mockingly and derisively as being backwards? Now, that they are in bed with our capitalist oligarchs (the Red Chinese “Job Creators,” par excellence) rather incongruously, China has now become the world’s leading capitalist country, holding 60% of our debt, while the U.S. slides noisily, defiantly, but nevertheless persistently and decidedly, backwards. There is an embedded poetic logic to this irony that Snowden’s Ron Paul-Ayn Rand Libertarian sensibilities seems to have missed?

This book rather inarticulately unravels the story of exactly what it is that Ed Snowden saw; why he was so alarmed; and why he had no choice but to expose what he saw to the American public and then had to run. It tells how in the ultimate act of patriotic suicide, Snowden had to respectfully sue for the mercy of the “Obama Courts.” However, since he knew that with the “Obama Justice Department,” a fair trial was already off the table, he had no choice but to “punt early” by “going on the lam,” and seeking protection and a haven elsewhere.

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Feb 19

Review: American Nations – A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America

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Colin Woodard

5.0 out of 5 stars Nine Nations Was a Snap-Shot — This Is Deep History & Ends Thoughtfully, February 16, 2014

I bought this book prepared to dislike it, having given a rave review to Joel Garreau’s The Nine Nations of North America. Let me settle that one immediately. I loved this book. As the author himself points out early on, Garreau’s book was a snap-shot, this book is a deep history. I was also quite taken, at the end of the book, with the author’s acknowledgements that begin with Garreau and go on to others such as Wilbur Zelinsky’s The Cultural Geography of The United States: A Revised Edition and Raymond Gastil’s Cultural regions of the United States.

Although I would have liked some illustrations and maps in relation to each section of the book — there is only one map for the entire book — I found the book riveting, and would like to see it become a standard text for multi-disciplinary education across history, political science, sociology, and cultural studies.

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Feb 16

Worth A Look: Manufactured Crisis – The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare

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Gareth Porter

Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare

Manufactured Crisis provides unique and timely background to the ongoing diplomacy around Iran’s nuclear technology program. In it, award-winning investigative journalist Gareth Porter offers a well documented critique of the official ‘western’ account of what the Iranian government has been doing, and why.

In Manufactured Crisis, Porter brings together the results of his many years of research into the issue–including numerous interviews with former insiders. He shows that the origins of the Iran nuclear “crisis” lay not in an Iranian urge to obtain nuclear weapons but, rather, in a sustained effort by the United States and its allies to deny Iran its right, as guaranteed in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to have any nuclear program at all. The book highlights the impact that the United States’ alliance with Israel had on Washington’s pursuit of its Iran policy and sheds new light on the US strategy of turning the International Atomic Energy Agency into a tool of its anti-Iran policy.

Praise for the Book:

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Jan 22