December’18 Books

The Long Honduran Night
Resistance , Terror, and the United States in the Aftermath of the Coup by Dana Frank

A story of resistance, repression, and US policy in Honduras in the aftermath of a violent military coup.
This powerful narrative recounts the dramatic years in Honduras following the June 2009 military coup that deposed President Manuel Zelaya, told in part through first-person experiences, layered into deeper political analysis. It weaves together two broad pictures: first, the repressive regime that was launched with the coup, and the ways in which U.S. policy has continued to support that regime; and second, the brave and evolving Honduran resistance movement, with aid from a new solidarity movement in the United States.
Although it is full of terrible things, this is not a horror story: the book directly counters mainstream media coverage that portrays Honduras as a pit of unrelenting awfulness, in which powerless people sob in the face of unexplained violence. Rather, it’s about sobering challenges with roots in political processes, and the inspiring collective strength with which people face them.
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Marcia Bookstein’s Bookshelf November’18

bookshelf

Marcia Bookstein’s Bookshelf

The most important book I’ve read so far is:
War Is A Racket, by Brigadier General Smedley D. Butler
Yes, his first name is  a bit unfortunate, but he is, as far as I know, the most decorated war hero in our history. 
He started out in the Marines, believing that he was fighting for freedom and democracy. Towards the end of  his 33  years in the military he came to understand that he was fighting for the wealthy capitalists. It’s an eye-opener, and makes you want to make illegal all wars fought on other people’s lands.
Make sure to read the introduction. There you will find some obscure but important military history, and the plot to assassinate the President and take over the country–by the multinational corporations. It’s fascinating and shocking, and, yes, we should have our eyes uncovered.

There are two other books, not directly political but essential reading. First, an introduction: One of my neighbors died and I offered to play for his memorial gathering at his widow’s home. Before playing I mentioned that I would rather play for people while they are alive, as they would enjoy it more. After playing, his granddaughter asked if I would play for her wedding. After we discussed repertoire she asked what my fee was. “A book that changed your life.”

Bonus! There were two books, and I want to share them with you:

Solar Storms, by Linda Hogan, Hogan herself is a Chickasaw Indian, but she writes a hero’s journey of four Cree Indian women. I have never witnessed nature described so lovingly and beautifully, as if it were another character in their adventures. And the story weaves in their characters with the abuse the Native Americans and their beloved land received by both the US and Canadian governments.

At Home On the Street, by Wasserman and Claire, two sociology professors who camp out with the homeless in Birmingham, Alabama, over the space of one or two years. I’m still reading this book, as the language is pretty academic. (I was a music major in college). But it destroys your preconceived ideas of why people are homeless. When they were first talking of “social structure”, and “economic structure” I had no idea what they were talking about. Reading further I figured it out. Capitalism creates the top, and, necessarily, there is a bottom. I’d skipped to the end and got weepy when the profs were saying their goodbyes and their homeless peeps gave them gifts from their stash of nothing. In this book they cover every conceivable aspect of homelessness, with plenty of footnotes and references after each chapter.  

Happy Reading!

October’18 Books

america

America: The Farewell Tour – by Chris Hedges, Simon & Schuster (August 21, 2018)
Chris Hedges’s profound and provocative examination of America in crisis is “an exceedingly…provocative book, certain to arouse controversy, but offering a point of view that needs to be heard” (Booklist), about how bitter hopelessness and malaise have resulted in a culture of sadism and hate. More

exceptionalism

Curing Exceptionalism: What’s Wrong with How We Think about the United States? What Can We Do about It? – by David Swanson, David Swanson
(March 26, 2018)
U.S. exceptionalism, the idea that the United States of America is superior to other nations, is no more fact-based and no less harmful than racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry.
The purpose of this book is to persuade you of that statement.
This book examines how the United States actually compares with other countries, how people think about the comparison, what damage that thinking does, and what changes we might want to consider making. More

Sept’18 Books

climate leviathan

Climate Leviathan: A Political Theory of Our Planetary Future – by Joel Wainwright & Geoff Mann, Verso, (February 13, 2018)

How climate change will affect our political theory—for better and worse

Despite the science and the summits, leading capitalist states have not achieved anything close to an adequate level of carbon mitigation. There is now simply no way to prevent the planet breaching the threshold of two degrees Celsius set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. What are the likely political and economic outcomes of this? Where is the overheating world heading?

To further the struggle for climate justice, we need to have some idea how the existing global order is likely to adjust to a rapidly changing environment. Climate Leviathan provides a radical way of thinking about the intensifying challenges to the global order. Drawing on a wide range of political thought, Joel Wainwright and Geoff Mann argue that rapid climate change will transform the world’s political economy and the fundamental political arrangements most people take for granted. The result will be a capitalist planetary sovereignty, a terrifying eventuality that makes the construction of viable, radical alternatives truly imperative.

Marcia Bookstein’s Bookshelf

Marcia Bookstein’s Bookshelf

Here are three highly recommended books.
1. The first is “A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn. Beautifully written, it gives you the history of what’s not written in the history books from high school. From the murderous rampages and trickery of Christopher Columbus’ people to the trajectory-changing election of 2000, Zinn takes us on a fascinating journey through our history. Not pretty, but you just can’t look away. In order to change the present in the future, you need to know where you come from. This book will tell you everything you need to know and more. A long but engrossing read.

2. At present I’m just finishing “Reporter,” by Seymour Hersh. I love this book. What a brave and energetic person. He follows a lead and will not let go until he finds his man or woman. (For the My Lai story it’s men he’s after.) When he finds him he’ll knock on the door at two a.m. and someone will answer and want to talk to him! I wouldn’t answer the door at two a.m. The reason they want to talk is because he’s done his research beforehand and knows enough to make the other person want to spill as many beans as possible. What’s fascinating is the reaction of the executive editor at The New York Times. How reluctant he was to put some of this stuff in print. Often Hersh would have to get another entity to publish first. It’s incredible the lengths Hersh would go through to get to the truth, and amazing how, if it wasn’t what was thought to be the truth in the general public, the reluctance to print would be nearly insurmountable. Makes me look at that “newspaper of note” with different eyes. This is a super story and not to be missed. One thing: he sounds like a reporter! This might be a turn-off for some. But this book is a must-read.

3. I’ve read 119 pages of Thomas Piketty’s book, “Capital in the 21st Century.” I started to read this book to help with my insomnia. Economics! What could be more boring, using up lots of brain glucose and putting me into a delicious slumber? Wrong. It’s fascinating, and kept me up way past my bedtime. Difficult for me, for sure. (At UCLA I took Econ 101. After one class and not understanding a single word except for “the” and “and” I gave up. Flash forward a bit more than thirty years and I’m thinking, “I’m not giving up on myself!” I started with The Worldly Philosophers.) OK, full disclosure: I’m still not sure what alpha equals r times beta means. Did I get that correct? Piketty looks at every aspect of wealth and income, private and public, mostly comparing the US, France and Britain, and this is why his book is over 500 pages long and I’ll be reading it into 2020. But what an important book! Now I know how wealth inequality happens (it’s math!) and how potentially devastating it is for a society. He adds in wealth in literature, and the picture is complete. If you can understand it. Apparently this is in the top ten of the most bought, started, and never finished books. But it is super-important to try to understand what we’ll be fighting against for a very long time. And the fight against the super-wealthy is essential. I will tell you why next time in a fabulous and short book by the most decorated war hero this country has ever seen.

Club Platform

Here is the complete list of items proposed to be included in the club’s platform:

ELECTIONS:
Same day voter registration
Sunday elections
Publicly funded elections
Elect President by popular vote
End super delegates
Restore voting right for convicted felons
Stop gerrymandering (redistricting reform)
Overturn Citizens United
Release of 5 years’ tax returns for President
TAXES and FINANCETax reform
Wall Street transaction tax
End Federal Reserve
State Bank
City Bank
Carbon Tax and Dividend

PRISONS
Prison reform (solitary confinement, etc.)
Eliminate death penalty
Support ACLU bail reform
Criminal Justice Reform
Only publicly owned prisons
WARS, MILITARY, WEAPONS
End wars of intervention
Reduce military budget
100% sales tax on gun sales
Ban on assault weapons
Mandatory background checks on all gun sales

HEALTHCARE
Reproductive health care for all
Medicare for all
Expand right to die
All states must provide Medicaid coverage
Support Planned Parenthood
Cannabis off DEA Schedule
ENVIRONMENT
No sale or transfer of Federal Public Lands or Monuments
No sale or transfer or leasing for extraction purposes of state public lands
Move SONGS waste inland
New US “green” energy system
Rejoin Paris Climate Accord
Community Choice Energy

Support the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities
Free public education (pre-school to 4 years of post high school education)
Strengthen and encourage unions
Livable wage
Basic income grant