Thursday, April 13, 2023

Books: On Politics & Current Events

There are three new books out that will shed light on the current political moment that will deepen your understanding of what has brought us here, and what the future holds: The January 6 Report, by The January 6 Select Committee & The New York Times; The Case For Cancel Culture, by Ernest Owens; and Only The Strong Survive, by Tom Cotton.

The January 6 Report: Findings From The Select Committee To Investigate The Attack On The U.S. Capitol With Reporting, Analysis, And Visuals By The New York Times

By The January 6 Select Committee & The New York Times

Twelve; paperback, 608 pages; $19.99

The January 6, 2021 attack on the United States Capitol is an event still seared into the minds of Americans, as supporters of President Donald J. Trump attempted to overthrow the election of Joe Biden. 

Soon after, in February 2021, President Trump was impeached for the second time, and last June, the House of Representatives convened the Select Committee to investigate the attack, and the country was riveted to its presentation throughout the summer months.

This version of Select Committee's report is presented with reporting and analysis from The New York Times that put their findings into context. There is insight from their reporters who covered the story from the beginning.

This is a critical examination of one of the darkest days in American history, and it is presented in a way Times readers will find familiar. There is a timeline of key events, plenty of photos and illustrations, including detailed maps that show the paths insurrectionists took from President Trump's rally to the Capitol; and a list of key participants from the Jan. 6 hearings. There are also interviews, transcripts and documents to complement the Committee's investigation.

This report has new urgency as former President Trump was just indicted by a Manhattan grand jury for a hush money payment made during the 2016 campaign, and pending litigation in Georgia over his attempts to overturn the election, directly affected to a lot of what it covered in this engrossing work by the Times and the Committee.

In this excerpt, New York Times reporters Luke Broadwater, Alan Feuer, Maggie Haberman, Katie Benner and Michael S. Schmidt write: "Like 9/11, Jan. 6 needs no year attached to convey its dark place in American history. On that Wednesday afternoon, 64 days after Election Day 2020, a mob of President Donald J. Trump's supporters assaulted the Capitol, disrupting the official count of the electoral votes confirming that Joseph R. Biden Jr. would be the next president of the United States.

It was the most brutal attack on the building since the War of 1812, injuring more than 150 police officers and sending lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence fleeing for their lives; at least seven people died in connection with the rampage. But 'Jan 6' has also become shorthand for something bigger: a monthslong campaign by Mr. Trump and his allies to subvert American democracy and cling to power by overturning an election.

In the immediate aftermath, the House impeached Mr. Trump on a charge of incitement of insurrection. Republicans orchestrated his acquittal in the Senate, where a majority favored his removal from office, but the vote fell short of the two-thirds necessary under the Constitution. Republicans blocked the creation of an independent commissions to investigate the attack, but House Democrats set up a special committee to do that work.

Over more than a year, the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol conducted more than 1,000 interview, obtained more than 1 million documents and issued more than 100 subpoenas. Its hearings in June and July 2022 produced blockbuster revelations, with an average of 13.8 million Americans tuning in. After the hearings began, the panel received more than 10,000 submissions to its tip line. As they drew to a close, the panel issued a subpoena to Mr. Trump himself, directing him to produce a wide range of material related to nearly every aspect of his plot to cling to the presidency; he never complied.

At the final presentation of its findings in late December of 2022, the committee formally accused Mr. Trump of committing four federal crimes and recommended that the Justice Department prosecute him for inciting insurrection, conspiracy to defraud the United States, obstruction of an act of Congress and conspiracy to make a false statement. It was the first time in American history that Congress had referred a former president for criminal prosecution, and the coda to the committee's 18-month investigation into Mr. Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

The evidence, the Committee wrote, 'has led to an overriding and straightforward conclusion: The central cause of Jan. 6 was one man, former President Donald Trump, who many others followed. None of the events of Jan. 6 would have happened without him.'" 

The Case for Cancel Culture: How This Democratic Tool Works to Liberate Us All

By Ernest Owens

St. Martin's Press; hardcover; $26.99

Ernest Owens in an award-winning journalist and CEO of Ernest Media Empire, LLC. He is the Editor at Large for Philadelphia Magazine and hosts the hit podcast "Ernestly Speaking!" As an openly Black gay journalist, he has made headlines for speaking frankly about intersectional issues in society regarding race, LGBTQ, and pop culture.

The Case for Cancel Culture is Owens' first book, and in this deeply engrossing work, he makes the first major case in favor of cancel culture as a fundamental means of democratic expression and an urgently needed tool for combating systems of oppression. He shows how cancel culture gives everyday people a collective way to hold the powerful accountable. 

Owens makes his case using examples from politics to pop culture, as a way to show cancel culture as a powerful instrument for social change. He illustrates how it has existed in various forms for a long time, from The Boston Tea Party to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and the Anti-Apartheid Boycotts in South Africa. Owens also argues that the Left uses cancel culture to expand rights and freedoms for more people, while the Right uses it to retain power, wrapped in a nostalgia for "the good ol' days."

Owens writes, "Cancel culture isn't new at all. In fact, its genesis is far from the modern confines of social media and celebrity takedowns. The ethos of cancel culture has been here since the beginning of time and is deeply ingrained in our historical fabric. Boycotts, censorships, petitions, social media calls for resignations, and protests are some of the major elements that fuel cancel culture. To treat this current era of accountability as being something new is intellectually dishonest. You don't get America, its Constitution, civil rights, women's rights, LGBTQIA rights, parental advisory stickers on CDs, or other democratic expressions without cancel culture. Regardless of changes in its aesthetic presentations over time, cancel culture's core in accountability.

"On the most basic level, the definition of the term cancel is simply 'to end,' but this shouldn't be confused with the term cancel culture. Humans choosing to reject something or someone has been as essential to our existence as breathing. Such actions aren't automatically cancel culture, but choosing to reject something because you believe it fundamentally impacts your way of life - is. For example, when millions of Americans elected Joe Biden the U.S. president in 2020, they were also canceling the re-election bid of incumbent Donald Trump simultaneously. This was an act of cancel culture because the decision was rooted in a voter's sociopolitical beliefs. Not all votes are examples of cancel culture - but in the case of Joe Biden versus Donald Trump, people truly felt like a way of life was at stake. Boycotts against companies that discriminate against people is cancel culture. A person not liking a company because they have an ugly logo isn't. Cancel culture is about substance, not style."

Only The Strong: Reversing the Left's Plot to Sabotage American Power

By Tom Cotton

Twelve; hardcover, 288 pages; $30.00

Tom Cotton is a United States Senator from Arkansas, and the New York Times bestselling author of Sacred Duty (click here to read our review from 2019). He served in Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division and in Afghanistan with a Provisional Reconstruction Team. When he was between his combat tours, he served  with the 3rd Infantry Regiment ("The Old Guard") at Arlington National Cemetery. His military decorations include the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman Badge, and the Ranger Tab. He serves on the Senate Intelligence, Armed Services, and Judiciary Committees.

In Senator Cotton's new book, Only The Strong, he exposes the progressive left's decades-long plot to sabotage American power, which culminates in a behind-the-scenes look at the dangerous failures of the last two Democratic Presidents, Barack Obama and Joe Biden. 

Senator Cotton explains what must be done to recover America's strength, and tells how progressive ideologues and Democratic politicians abandoned the American tradition of strength, pride, and honor. He feels that the failures of Obama and Biden aren't just from incompetence or bad luck, but by design.

From the start, early progressives such as Woodrow Wilson repudiated the Founding of the United States in favor of globalist fantasies abroad and big government at home. By the time of the Vietnam war in the 1960s, the left began to blame America for the world's problems, and Senator Cotton writes that the pattern continued under Obama, who apologized and sought to atone for America's supposed sins. As this has happened, Democrats have sold out America's sovereignty and hollowed out the military to restrain American power. 

Senator Cotton also contends that even when Democrats have acted tough, it usually ends in disaster, from John F. Kennedy's debacle at the Bay of Pigs in 1961 to Bill Clinton's fiasco in Mogadishu in 1993.

In this excerpt, Cotton writes of how to improve our standing in the world: "Joe Biden's Afghanistan fiasco will live in infamy as a strategic blunder of the first order. So many people asked me at the time, 'How did they let this happen?' The simple answer to our humiliation in Afghanistan is Joe Biden's rank, reprehensible incompetence.

But the deeper, unspoken questions lurking in the background were, 'How did we get to this point?' and 'Why doesn't America win anymore?'

I wrote this book to answer those questions.

America's recent decline isn't an accident. It's decline by design. For more than a century, liberal Democrats have plotted to sabotage American power. These Democrats believe a strong and confident America brings war, arrogance, and oppression - not safety, freedom, and prosperity. They want America to pull in its horns and apologize for its sins. I don't assert these liberals are necessarily un-American or hate our country - though plenty are and do - but they genuinely believe American power is dangerous for both America and the world.

This book explores how the Democrats adopted these strange beliefs and the consequences for our nation. We'll start at the beginning, more than a century ago, when the original Progressives repudiated the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. This little clique of liberal intellectuals, led by Woodrow Wilson, ridiculed the Founders' defense of God-given natural rights and limited government. They entrusted the nation's business not to the people, but to supposedly nonpartisan, scientific, elite 'experts.' On the world stage, too, they believed our affairs should be managed by so-called experts who rose above what they considered petty nationalism. For instance, Wilson eagerly advocated the surrender of American sovereignty to globalist institutions. The Progressives might wage war, as Wilson did in World War I, but only for abstractions and other nations' interests - not America's national interest...

Of course, Republicans can make mistakes; we're all human, no one's perfect. George H.W. Bush reacted too mildly to the massacre at Tiananmen Square. George W. Bush didn't dedicate enough troops during the early days of the Iraq War; I witnessed the consequences of that mistake firsthand. Donald Trump waited too long to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. Yet they often recover from their mistakes, as the younger Bush did with the surge and as Trump did with the 'maximum pressure' campaign against Iran. More to the point, these were mistakes - not a deliberate effort to rein in America and sabotage our power.

But this book comes to resurrect American power, not to administer its last rites. In the final chapters, I explain how we can take the road back to American greatness. It starts with restoring a distinctive strategy that puts America first and looks after the safety, freedom, and prosperity of our citizens. Our people deserve a government that champions their interests - not the interests of a few or the interests of some other people or some ideological abstraction. We also have to regain America's strength. We can only protect our interests by rebuilding vital elements of national strength: an indomitable military, secure borders, energy independence, and strong alliances of friends against our foes."

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