Review: Democracy More or Less – America’s Political Reform Quandry

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Amazon Page

Bruce Cain

4.0 out of 5 stars Academic Smoke — Disdain for the Public & Denial Over Two-Party Tyranny, May 24, 2015

I spent some time reviewing the author’s history (he’s been writing about electoral matters since the 1970’s) and what Amazon offers through its superb Inside the Book feature, as I am unemployed and between the book price and what Amazon charges for delivery today this would have been a $40 commitment. My call: not worth it for the electoral reform activist, but useful as the nay-sayer summary for graduate level courses in politics.

The book suffers three strikes:

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May 24

Review (Guest): The Open Source Everything Manifesto – Transparency, Truth & Trust


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Robert David Steele

5.0 out of 5 stars PREPARE TO HAVE YOUR MIND BLOWN!,June 24, 2012

B. Tweed DeLions “B.T.”

If there’s a single Founding Father of the Open Source movement, Robert D. Steele is it. Everyone else has been playing catchup. And if you don’t know what the Open Source revolution is, you need to read this book. You don’t even need to know why! You need to buy it, read it, and then you’ll *know* why. No other book on Open Source can open your eyes the way this one can. That’s because there’s no potential use of Open Source intelligence that Steele hasn’t anticipated. Collective Intelligence is coming! It’s an unstoppable force. And it will change everything. So if you like to know about things like that in advance, you need to buy this book.

The information age that was created by personal computers was just a kiddie car with a squeaky horn. By comparison, the open source revolution is a freight train. Its potential to change your world is orders of magnitude greater. This is not hyperbole. In fact superlatives can’t begin to express the ground-shaking potential of this next wave of human evolution.

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Jun 24

Review: Delusional Democracy – Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government [

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Joel Hirschhorn (Author)

4.0 out of 5 stars Needs Updating, A Fine Start, Some Serious Mis-Steps,November 25, 2011

This is an important book, one of many about the downfall of democracy in the USA with some suggestions for action that are a mix of great ideas, out of date items, and a couple, such as Instant Run-Off, that I also fell prey to and have now been corrected on by the crowd-sourcing of the Electoral Reform Act of 2012 (easy to find online).

First off, the author was well-ahead of his time and this book joins four books in particular:

Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny
Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It
Breach of Trust: How Washington Turns Outsiders Into Insiders
The Broken Branch : How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track (Institutions of American Democracy)

Here is what the author himself summarizes as the key changes we need to make–I agree that Electoral Reform is the ONE THING that we can all agree on, but he has not availed himself of all of the expertise possible as I have in my open call for input, so we each lose one star–I wrote a book that was not focused on solutions, and he has written a book that needs to be updated and fleshed out.

A number of electoral reforms are necessary to rescue American democracy:

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Nov 25

Review: Gods of Money – Wall Street and the Death of the American Century


William Engdahl

5.0 out of 5 stars Before Griftopia, There Was Liar’s Poker and Gods of Money,November 1, 2011

This book deserves a much more detailed review that illuminates the author’s early connection of Wall Street fraud and Washington neo-conservative lust for looting the world….a bi-partisan (never mind the 63 parties that don’t get to play, or the 43% of the US voters who are independent). Liar’s Poker by Mark Lewis blew the cover of Wall Street’s practice of “exploding the customer” and Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History later followed on John Bogle’s The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism and William Greider’s The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy, but William Engdahl is the one who nailed down the Trilateral Commission and Wall Street cabal focus on looting the world way beyond what John Perkin’s discusses in Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.

Now the world is noticing. He appeared on Russia Today TV, which has eclipsed BBC as the English-language trusted source (and also excels at migrating its TV shorts to the web and to print), and here are some of his own words that illuminate how important his book is:

He says:

The ultimate goal of the US is to take the resources of Africa and Middle East under military control to block economic growth in China and Russia, thus taking the whole of Eurasia under control, author and historian William F. Engdahl reveals.

­The crisis with the US economy and the dollar system, the conduct of the US foreign policy is all a part of breakdown of the entire superpower structure that was built up after the end of WWII, claims Engdahl.

“Nobody in Washington wants to admit, just as nobody in Britain a hundred years ago wanted to admit that the British Empire was in terminal decline,” claims the author, noting that “All of this is related to the attempt to keep this sole superpower not only intact, but to spread its influence over the rest of the planet.”

William F. Engdahl believes the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa is a plan first announced by George W. Bush at a G8 meeting in 2003 and it was called “The Greater Middle East Project”.

While I personally do not believe that Washington is behind the Arab Spring – the Department of State has always been incompetent at public diplomacy and CIA places dictators about the public (losers there go to counterintelligence and covert action staffs) – what matters here is that the Daydream Believers: How a Few Grand Ideas Wrecked American Power have created an Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.

The US Government is out of control, and it is out of control because a two-party tyranny (less turnover than the Politburo, in Peggy Noonan’s great line for use by Ronald Reagan) has nurtured a combination of Wall Street legalized greed and neo-con military-industrial complex that has sold out the US taxpayer — 5% earmarks “buy” a 95% corporate hand-out, one third of that money borrowed in our name.

I take this book and the author’s views with a small grain of salt, but the evidence is over-whelming. From Michael Kalre’s Blood and Oil : The Dangers and Consequences of America’s Growing Dependency on Imported Petroleum The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot, we now know all we need to know about who is the greatest threat to the Republic and the Constitution: the two-party tyranny and their financial partners.

Occupy Wall Street is incoherent right now – when they get their act together, it is my hope they will focus on an Electoral Reform Act of 2012 – in my view, there is nothing wrong with America the Beautiful — all these enormous crimes against humanity not-withstanding – that cannot be fixed quickly by restoring integrity to our electoral system, hence our govenrment, hence our society and economy.

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Nov 1

Review: The Politics of Happiness–What Government Can Learn from the New Research on Well-Being


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4.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Righteous, Mis-Leading Title

June 20, 2010

Derek Bok

First off, I’m back. After three months integrating into a field position with a prominent international organization, with three days off the whole time, I am finally able to get back to reading, and have about fifteen books on water I was going to read for UNESCO but will now read and review for myself. Look for two reviews a week from this point on, absent another tri-fecta (volcano, storm, minor coup).

This book is the first of three books that I am reviewing this week, the other two are The Hidden Wealth of Nations, which will be a five, and Identity Economics: How Our Identities Shape Our Work, Wages, and Well-Being, probably a five as well, but I continue to be stunned as how people limit their references to the last 10 years when so much has been done that is relevant in the last 50.

This book is not about the politics of happiness. It is more about the possibilities of public administration of happiness.

This will be a long review–apart from the author being one of a handful to truly top-notch minds with a historical memory, the topic is important–much more important than I realized until I starting following unconventional economics (ecological economics, true cost, bio-mimicry, sustainable design, human development and non-financial wealth).

The author opens with Bhutan and its Gross National Happiness (GNH) concept, with four pillars (good governance, stable-equitable social development, environmental protection, preservation of culture). Elsewhere (on the web) I learn that the 72 indicators are divided into nine domains (time use, living standards, good governance, psychological wellbeing, community vitality, culture, health, education, and ecology).

From there the author moves to the 1800’s and Jeremy Bentham, and of course our own Founding Fathers who included “the pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence. As I have commented before in reviewing other books such as 1776; What Kind of Nation: Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, and the Epic Struggle to Create a United States, and The Thirteen American Arguments: Enduring Debates That Define and Inspire Our Country, happiness in those days was interpreted as fulfillment, “be all you can be,” not frivolous joy of “excessive laughter.”

The author identifies and discusses six factors pertinent to happiness in the US context as he defines it: Marriage; Social Relationships; Employment (wherein trust in management is VASTLY more important than the paycheck); Perceived Health; Religion (in sense of community not dogma) and Quality of Government (as which point I am reminded of George Will’s superb Statecraft as Soulcraft; Quality of government is further divided into Rule of Law, Efficient Government, Low Violence and Corruption; High Degree of Trust in Public Officials and Especially Police; and Responsive Encounters by Citizens with Government.

Note: 30 million in US population are “not too happy.”

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Jun 20