Nothin' But Blue Skies

Nothin' But Blue Skies
Nothin' But Blue Skies: The Heyday, Hard Times, and Hopes of America's Industrial Heartland by Edward McClelland
2013 | EPUB + MOBI | 2.18/1.01MB

The Upper Midwest and Great Lakes region became the "arsenal of democracy"-the greatest manufacturing center in the world-in the years during and after World War II, thanks to natural advantages and a welcoming culture. Decades of unprecedented prosperity followed, memorably punctuated by riots, strikes, burning rivers, and oil embargoes. A vibrant, quintessentially American character bloomed in the region's cities, suburbs, and backwaters.

But the innovation and industry that defined the Rust Belt also helped to hasten its demise. An air conditioner invented in Upstate New York transformed the South from a sweaty backwoods to a non-unionized industrial competitor. Japan and Germany recovered from their defeat to build fuel-efficient cars in the stagnant 1970s. The tentpole factories that paid workers so well also filled the air with soot, and poisoned waters and soil. The jobs drifted elsewhere, and many of the people soon followed suit.

Nothin' but Blue Skies tells the story of how the country's industrial heartland grew, boomed, bottomed, and hopes to be reborn. Through a propulsive blend of storytelling and reportage, celebrated writer Edward McClelland delivers the rise, fall, and revival of the Rust Belt and its people.

Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked

Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked
Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked by Chris Matthews
2013 | EPUB + MOBI | 3.47/4.56MB

TIP AND THE GIPPER is a magnificent personal history of a time when two great political opponents served together for the benefit of the country. Chris Matthews was an eyewitness to this story as a top aide to Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill, who waged a principled war of political ideals with President Reagan from 1980 to 1986. Together, the two men forged compromises that shaped America’s future and became one of history’s most celebrated political pairings—the epitome of how ideological opposites can get things done.

When Ronald Reagan was elected to the presidency in a landslide victory over Jimmy Carter (for whom Matthews had worked as a speechwriter), Speaker O’Neill realized Americans had voted for a change. For the first time in his career, O’Neill also found himself thrust into the national spotlight as the highest-ranking leader of the Democratic Party—the most visible and respected challenger to President Reagan’s agenda of shrinking the government and lowering taxes.

At first, O’Neill doubted his ability to compete on the public stage with the charming Hollywood actor, whose polished speeches played well on TV, a medium O’Neill had never mastered. Over time, the burly Irishman learned how to fight the popular president on his key issues, relying on legislative craftiness, strong rhetoric, and even guerrilla theater. “An old dog can learn new tricks,” Tip told his staff. Of O’Neill, one of his colleagues said, “If Martians came into the House chamber, they’d know instantly who the leader was.”

Meanwhile, President Reagan proved to be a much more effective and savvy leader than his rivals had ever expected, achieving major legislative victories on taxes and the federal budget. Reagan and his allies knew how to work the levers of power in Washington. After showing remarkable personal fortitude in the wake of the assassination attempt against him, Reagan never let his political differences with Democrats become personal. He was fond of the veteran Speaker’s motto that political battles ended at 6 p.m. So when he would phone O’Neill, he would say, “Hello, Tip, is it after six o’clock?”

Together, the two leaders fought over the major issues of the day—welfare, taxes, covert military operations, and Social Security—but found their way to agreements that reformed taxes, saved Social Security, and achieved their common cause of bringing peace to Northern Ireland. O’Neill’s quiet behind-the-scenes support helped Reagan forge his historic Cold War–ending bond with Mikhail Gor­bachev. They each won some and lost some, and through it all they maintained respect for each other’s positions and worked to advance the country rather than obstruct progress.

As Matthews notes, “There is more than one sort of heroic behavior, and they don’t all look the same.” Tip and the Gipper is the story of the kind of heroism we need today.

Rights at Risk: The Limits of Liberty in Modern America

Rights at Risk: The Limits of Liberty in Modern America
Rights at Risk: The Limits of Liberty in Modern America by David K Shipler
2012 | EPUB | 2.3MB

An enlightening, intensely researched examination of violations of the constitutional principles that preserve individual rights and civil liberties from courtrooms to classrooms.

With telling anecdote and detail, Pulitzer Prize–winner David K. Shipler explores the territory where the Constitution meets everyday America, where legal compromises—before and since 9/11—have undermined the criminal justice system’s fairness, enhanced the executive branch’s power over citizens and immigrants, and impaired some of the freewheeling debate and protest essential in a constitutional democracy.

Shipler demonstrates how the violations tamper with America’s safety in unexpected ways. While a free society takes risks to observe rights, denying rights creates other risks. A suspect’s right to silence may deprive police of a confession, but a forced confession is often false. Honoring the right to a jury trial may be cumbersome, but empowering prosecutors to coerce a guilty plea means evidence goes untested, the charge unproved. An investigation undisciplined by the Bill of Rights may jail the innocent and leave the guilty at large and dangerous. Weakened constitutional rules allow the police to waste precious resources on useless intelligence gathering and frivolous arrests. The criminal courts act less as impartial adjudicators than as conveyor belts from street to prison in a system that some disillusioned participants have nicknamed “McJustice.”

There is, always, a human cost. Shipler shows us victims of torture and abuse—not only suspected terrorists at the hands of the CIA but also murder suspects interrogated by the Chicago police. We see a poverty-stricken woman forced to share an attorney with her drug dealer boyfriend and sentenced to six years in prison when the conflict of interest turns her lawyer against her. We meet high school students suspended for expressing unwelcome political opinions. And we see a pregnant immigrant deported, after years of living legally in the country, for allegedly stealing a lottery ticket.

Often shocking, yet ultimately idealistic, Rights at Risk shows us the shadows of America where the civil liberties we rightly take for granted have been eroded—and summons us to reclaim them.

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