Rachel Maddow’s Drift – A Review

Rachel Maddow is best known for her show on MSNBC. She does have the credentials to write and research about the military-industrial complex, including a doctorate in politics from Oxford and a public policy degree from Stanford. Whether you are liberal or conservative, you cannot help but shake your head as Maddow explores the power struggle between Congress and the Presidency over the control of the military.

One repeated point in the book is the intent by the framers of the Constitution to limit the executive power to declare war. When you think about the type of ego that is attracted to the Presidency, is it any wonder that that ego gets in the way of clear-headed policy making for the good of all? And Congress has become as spineless as non-voters in waiting to see the results of popularity polls on Executive military actions, instead of debating and taking a position on those actions beforehand.

But don’t we get what we ask for? Jimmy Carter is the only president in memory, who actually wanted to focus on the internal concerns of the United States. If he had been allowed to work on energy alternatives, perhaps we would have had the energy business as a substitute for the loss of all those manufacturing jobs.

If nothing else Maddow demonstrates the validity of my anger whenever someone likes to point his or her finger at immigrants stealing our jobs and resources with our tax dollars. It is much easier to point at foreigners than at ourselves. We have allowed our leaders to play whatever games they want on a world stage with our tax money for what exactly? What benefits have come from nuclear arms, Granada, the Iran-Contra fiasco, Bosnia, Kuwait, Afghanistan, etc.? We’ve played G.I. Joe for so long, that few of us realize the billions of tax dollars wasted on the military-industrial complex, which now includes outsourcing non-military personnel and the CIA to do jobs long held by the military.

It is no wonder that our bridges and infrastructure are deteriorating and that our healthcare and educational systems are underwhelming when compared to other countries. As leaders of the free world, what exactly are we leaders of?

Maddow has successfully stated the problems and how we got to our present state of affairs. She has also suggested ways to reverse these dangerous trends. Unfortunately, many of us prefer ignorance and who can blame us? We choose to live our lives focusing on things that matter to us and on things that we feel we can control, like family and community, and we choose to disregard the egos and cowards, who bankrupt all of us from being all that we can be.

America, Sweet Home and Our Government

I have not lost resolve or commitment to our wonderful nation and home, The United States of America, but I want to stress the concept of “United.” If you, the reader, find yourself relating to the concepts that I present, then I know that I have selected well. I can see with one eye that this is not the America that my Dad grew up in and helped to make strong and free. Time for some honest-to-goodness spring cleaning in our government!

I believe that our Motherland is in danger, but not as much danger as it would appear to the untrained eye. As the “silent majority,” or more accurately, “the straight-thinking majority,” we have been observing and analyzing all of the seemingly insane antics of a Government run amuck. I feel confident in stating that all of the profound failures and constitutional violations of Big Government will only serve to make us all more responsible in the future; and we will never stray down these Socialist and Marxist paths again. (Say that last part quickly) One needs only to see the aftermath of these twisted schemes in Europe and elsewhere to appreciate how “dead-end” these paths truly are.

Be vigilant my friends. Know the issues and know the candidates. Get out and vote responsibly. It seems the least that we can do, considering the rewards that come with living in the greatest nation under God’s heaven.

I believe that each of us needs to protect our personal rights and freedoms, but realize that when our actions violate the rights of others. They are no longer our “rights.” Likewise, when the government encroaches upon our rights as American Citizens, then it becomes our duty and privilege to stand firm and say “NO!” “You, Mr. Government, are of, by and for us, The American Citizens, and don’t you forget it for even a moment.” Actually, I think the politicians have forgotten it.

I say the government does not decide what is best for us, but rather it’s sworn duty is to look to us for guidance. Listen to us, Mr. Government! Dissolve your delusions and visions of grandeur and get back to reality. Operating smoothly and efficiently is your people’s will.

We have had more than enough. We have given you way too many chances. We are a united people; much more so than current government realizes. We are not a bunch of mindless sheep walking quietly to the slaughter.

Look boldly at recent history where charismatic “leaders” have swiftly and heartlessly led their “followers” down the road of ultimate destruction. Not to the American People you won’t, No Sir! Be ye warned, we will not tolerate.

Travis Perkins, Author

I am Travis Perkins and I went from a stay at home mom to an operator in the oil industry for 30 years to an entrepreneur building an EMPIRE! My joy comes from sharing HOW I did this. I encourage you to write and submit original high quality articles to Ezine Articles to increase your sales and traffic to your site. Not only do I produce articles, but my passion is writing true-to-life stories.

Afghanistan And Pakistan Conflict, Extremism And Resistance To Modernity – By Riaz Muhammad Khan

A dispassionate analysis of the most sensitive region in the context of extremism in the world, the book, coming from the former foreign secretary of Pakistan, is a breath of fresh air in the plethora of literature on the subject. Without prejudice for or against Pakistan, the book is an exception to the usually mundane literature produced by the former Pakistani diplomats. Then, it is not sensational but rather precise in giving a cool-headed analysis of the current situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Divided into three parts, with a dose of history in the first part, it delves into the origin of the intellectual crisis gripping Pakistan in the second part and leads to the author’s perspective on the possible recipe for resolution of the issue in the region. One doesn’t see the usual Pakistani narrative of being threatened by India as a reason for becoming a security state. The author, instead, focuses on the internal dynamics of the Pakistani politics, the weakness of its political institutions, the role of its military elite and the subsequent Afghan jihad as the reason for this development. India, while playing a part in this development, has not been singled out as the sole factor of this degeneration. He specially mentions the role of General Zia ul Haq, the Pakistani dictator in 1980s, in the drastic radicalization of the Pakistani society. General Zia introduced the draconian Hudood laws in Pakistan and supported the religious organizations, including the militant ones, for his own convictions and political expediency. The Americans and the Saudis in particular supported this phenomenon to counter the former USSR in Afghanistan. Subsequent policies in Kashmir and Afghanistan in 1990s, dictated by the army in Pakistan, only aggravated the situation. Taliban and al-Qaeda, were the products of this helpful environment.

In the second part, the author focuses on the prevalent ideological confusion in Pakistan with regard to the nature of extremism and the likely responses to it. The author goes back to the origin of the militancy, starting with the student wings of the religious parties on the University campuses in Pakistan. These outfits gained strength during the dictatorship of General Zia in 1980s. Encouragement by the state also led to gradual increase in influence of the religious organizations within army, bureaucracy and media. A spawning network of the madressas, the religious seminaries, added to the constituency of the religious organizations. This expanded influence resulted in the policy confusion post-9/11, when the Pakistani state had to revisit its policy regarding Afghanistan and India. The state could not own the war on terror as its own for quite some time. This only emboldened the militants, who hid behind the cover of Islam and termed any action against their activities as the steps by a puppet government against Mujahideen at the behest of the Americans. The lack of political direction and army’s fascination with flawed doctrines of strategic depth only added to the procrastination and formation of a national consensus.

After a brief analysis of the interests of the regional countries that peace in Afghanistan is good for all of them. He urges Pakistan not to interfere in the Afghan matters in any way. It should not even ask for a role for itself in the reconciliation process and should only help if asked for it explicitly by Afghanistan. Pakistan’s concerns should be limited to ensure that the Afghan territory is not used for any activity against peace and stability in Pakistan. It should focus more on the development and progress of its people, in which an opening up to the world, including over-land trade between Afghanistan and India will be beneficial to it. The role of the international community, as he sees it in the context of Pakistan, may be restricted to meaningful economic help in terms of market access, health and educational reforms. He singles out Saudis for special responsibility for the de-radicalization of the Paksitani society as he sees their charities and funds as an important factor in promoting extremism in Pakistan.

Afghanistan, he believes, will need some time to consolidate on its own. The drawdown of the US’ forces will be helpful in creating an environment for reconciliation efforts of the Afghan government to succeed. Exclusion of the Taliban from the political setup, he says, never was an option. Similarly, the NATO’s plans for raising a 250,000 strong Afghan-national army were unrealistic in view of the poor economic conditions of the country. He foresees a loose arrangement of quasi-autonomous regions under influence of various tribes owing allegiance to Kabul as a short term arrangement.

Book Review: ‘Understanding Public Policy’ by Paul Cairney

Book reviews may or may not become a more regular feature on this blog. Evidently, as a PhD student, I read a lot. And every so often, I come across a book that is not only a pleasure to read, but also highly useful to my work and research. It is books like these that I find deserves a broader audience. One such book is ‘Understanding Public Policy’ by Scotsman Paul Cairney, who is otherwise known for having co-authored an introduction to Scottish Politics.

What is in the book?

As with his book on Scottish Politics, Dr. Cairney excels at writing introductions to tough topics that are engaging and informative, yet without compromising on the depth and complexity of the issue at hand.

Understanding Public Policy: Theories and Issues – the title gives it away – introduces the reader to the study of public policy in political science. As it says on the cover, to the theories and issues in this particular field. The emphasis of the book is clearly on the theories, which structure the book. The issues come in throughout the book to illustrate the theoretical points at every step.

The book has 13 chapters, which can roughly be seen as covering 3 parts:

    • The first two chapters given an introduction and ask “How Should We Study It?”. The second chapter in particular seeks to provide the reader with a quick-guide on why theory, models and heuristics are needed and what they do. It also describes some of the pitfalls of studying public policy. Though the chapter can obviously not compete with book fully dedicated to heuristics and (meta-)theory, it does provide the reader with a good introductory primer. It still is the perhaps weakest part of the book.
    • Chapters 3 to 7 cover the “big” theories in the field, from Institutionalism to Rational Choice. Here, Cairney’s strength comes into its own. Each of these fields is a gargantuan literature in itself. He does and excellent job of covering the basics, highlighting formative and current debates and illustrate them with actual issues.
  • Chapters 8 to 12 cover some of the more specialist theories, ranging from Multi-Level Governance to Policy Transfer. Once more, Cairney’s skill in condensing the key elements of these scholarships into readable chapters, studded with definitions and explanations, makes these chapters and the book in general such a highly informative read.

Why should read it and why?

The book makes an excellent introduction for students or scholars entering the field of public policy. These are arguably its main audience and the book does an excellent job speaking to them.

I especially liked the short side-bar definitions of key terms and the occasional box that highlights some of the odder twists and turns that this literature has taken on some public policy questions in the past.

Cairney’s ability to draw from both classic and the most recent papers to present the discourse in each of these fields also makes the book an excellent for everyone seeking to refresh his knowledge in one of the fields covered by Cairney. Every chapter is, in essence, an up-to-date (to the publication) literature review of its field, which provides the reader with a solid basis and understanding. From there, it is easy to plunge in, to read, explore and write on any particular research-topic within the field.

I have found the book incredibly useful when I drafted a new conference paper. I recently set out to write on my personal subject of interest, aid evaluation, from a new angle of policy transfer. I couldn’t have hoped for a better rough guide to the literature than the one I found in ‘Understanding Public Policy’. Highly recommended.