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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Buckskins Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Apr 2012 at 04:26
Nothing Like It in the World.
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and may you want to as long as you live.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Apr 2012 at 09:32
I just read Titan of Ben Bova. Good novel, Asimov style.


Now I am re-reading the Li Yu-Tang classic (1937) The Importance of Living, a marvellous book.


I am also reading Paolo Bacigalupi's The windup girl (2009), but so far I don't like it.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Apr 2012 at 09:58
Currently reading Umberto Eco's The name of the Rose
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Captain Vancouver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Apr 2012 at 11:21
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

I just read Titan of Ben Bova. Good novel, Asimov style.


Now I am re-reading the Li Yu-Tang classic (1937) The Importance of Living, a marvellous book.


I am also reading Paolo Bacigalupi's The windup girl (2009), but so far I don't like it.


 
I read The Windup Girl last year. What didn't you like about it Mr P.?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Apr 2012 at 12:08
I don't know if I will like it after I read fully. However, so far, it looks like a childish tale about a world that goes back to animal power. Besides, genetics so far looks more like magic than the actual thing.
I am a fan of the really smart writers like Heinlein, Asimov and Clarke, (or Verne in the 19th century) and I stand some other later writers when they prepare themselves, like Crichton, Vinge or Stephenson, but I really hate those Cyberjunk writers that have no idea about science. Let's hope Bacigalupi is not one of those, because I hate wasting my money in crap.

It is too early to judge the book as yet, but so far it is booring me.


Edited by pinguin - 16 Apr 2012 at 12:10
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Captain Vancouver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Apr 2012 at 12:57
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

I don't know if I will like it after I read fully. However, so far, it looks like a childish tale about a world that goes back to animal power. Besides, genetics so far looks more like magic than the actual thing.
I am a fan of the really smart writers like Heinlein, Asimov and Clarke, (or Verne in the 19th century) and I stand some other later writers when they prepare themselves, like Crichton, Vinge or Stephenson, but I really hate those Cyberjunk writers that have no idea about science. Let's hope Bacigalupi is not one of those, because I hate wasting my money in crap.

It is too early to judge the book as yet, but so far it is booring me.
 
I had mixed feelings about the book. I thought it reproduced an interesting and evocative future world- and clearly the author was familiar with Bangkok, and Thailand, the setting for the story, but I lost interest towards the end, as I think the author failed to come up with convincing characters for his story. This is perhaps the hardest part for a novelist, creating real people on the pages of a book.
 
You have listed some big names in science fiction, but for me, I wouldn't include Michael Crichton, IMO a hack if there ever was one. He should have stuck with medicine, something perhaps he had some knowledge of. Or- maybe he didn't, and that's why he took up writing.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote lirelou Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Apr 2012 at 16:18
The Men Who Persevered, by Bruce Davies and Gary McKay. An account of the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam, by two of its highly respected veterans.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Apr 2012 at 23:08
Originally posted by Captain Vancouver Captain Vancouver wrote:

I had mixed feelings about the book. I thought it reproduced an interesting and evocative future world- and clearly the author was familiar with Bangkok, and Thailand, the setting for the story, but I lost interest towards the end, as I think the author failed to come up with convincing characters for his story. This is perhaps the hardest part for a novelist, creating real people on the pages of a book.
 

Indeed. I really don't know how that guy managed to get an Hugo. I am reading "The Moon is a harsh mistress" by Heinlein right now, and the difference in quality with Bacigalupo is astronomical. So far, the "Wind up girl" looks like a clone of "The age of diamond" of Neil Stephenson.

Originally posted by Captain Vancouver Captain Vancouver wrote:


You have listed some big names in science fiction, but for me, I wouldn't include Michael Crichton, IMO a hack if there ever was one. He should have stuck with medicine, something perhaps he had some knowledge of. Or- maybe he didn't, and that's why he took up writing.


Crichton had some very good ideas. I read "Sphere" and I found it pretty good. "Andromeda strain" has some very good critics, and, above all "Jurasic Park" is an idea that still keep scientists thinking.
I don't agree with you on Crichton. Tell me a single Sci-Fi author of the last 20 years that achieved more than him.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Captain Vancouver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Apr 2012 at 02:53
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

Originally posted by Captain Vancouver Captain Vancouver wrote:

I had mixed feelings about the book. I thought it reproduced an interesting and evocative future world- and clearly the author was familiar with Bangkok, and Thailand, the setting for the story, but I lost interest towards the end, as I think the author failed to come up with convincing characters for his story. This is perhaps the hardest part for a novelist, creating real people on the pages of a book.
 

Indeed. I really don't know how that guy managed to get an Hugo. I am reading "The Moon is a harsh mistress" by Heinlein right now, and the difference in quality with Bacigalupo is astronomical. So far, the "Wind up girl" looks like a clone of "The age of diamond" of Neil Stephenson.

Originally posted by Captain Vancouver Captain Vancouver wrote:


You have listed some big names in science fiction, but for me, I wouldn't include Michael Crichton, IMO a hack if there ever was one. He should have stuck with medicine, something perhaps he had some knowledge of. Or- maybe he didn't, and that's why he took up writing.


Crichton had some very good ideas. I read "Sphere" and I found it pretty good. "Andromeda strain" has some very good critics, and, above all "Jurasic Park" is an idea that still keep scientists thinking.
I don't agree with you on Crichton. Tell me a single Sci-Fi author of the last 20 years that achieved more than him.
 
William Gibson
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Apr 2012 at 08:50
Song of Ice and Fire half way through third book, also: Anarchy in Action (Colin Ward).
"There was glory in pissing, Corabb decided as he watched the stream curve out and make that familiar but unique sound as it hit the ground." So true.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Apr 2012 at 11:29
Originally posted by Captain Vancouver Captain Vancouver wrote:

... 
William Gibson


Confused. Gibson? Neuromancer, you mean?
Please, that guy was the creation of a literary cult called Cyberpunk. But as a Sci-Fi writer, he is very far behing marvellous writers like Vernor Vinge, and other modern writers. But still, none of them is as famous as Crichton.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Apr 2012 at 08:14
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

Originally posted by Captain Vancouver Captain Vancouver wrote:

... 
William Gibson


Confused. Gibson? Neuromancer, you mean?
Please, that guy was the creation of a literary cult called Cyberpunk. But as a Sci-Fi writer, he is very far behing marvellous writers like Vernor Vinge, and other modern writers. But still, none of them is as famous as Crichton.

William Gibson's work helped create the "literary cult called Cyberpunk," not the other way around. I would not dispute your personal taste in "Sci-Fi" authors, however.

I think that Crichton's earlier work was reasonably good. Later stuff, not so much. Fame in the world, for science fiction authors, comes from having movies made of their work, thus Crichton is more famous than most. Fame ≠ high quality, however.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Apr 2012 at 10:13
Originally posted by L'Emmerdeur L'Emmerdeur wrote:


William Gibson's work helped create the "literary cult called Cyberpunk," not the other way around. I would not dispute your personal taste in "Sci-Fi" authors, however.


Certainly. But Gibson's work is not original at all. You can see his same ideas going around in Sci-Fi since the 1970s, before he copied them in his novel that started his punk-style school of writing.

Originally posted by L'Emmerdeur L'Emmerdeur wrote:

I think that Crichton's earlier work was reasonably good. Later stuff, not so much. Fame in the world, for science fiction authors, comes from having movies made of their work, thus Crichton is more famous than most. Fame ≠ high quality, however.


So, do you think than authors like Gibson, Stephenson and Bacigalupi (and the hundred of clones) are prodigious in quality? While poor Crichton (who had the bad fortune to become famous worldwide) lacks it. Confused

I don't agree. For me, that I have read all of them, the work of Gibson is pure crap, if you compare to really good sci-fi authors, like extraordinary Robert Heinlein, for example.




Edited by pinguin - 23 Apr 2012 at 10:14
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Apr 2012 at 16:17
Everyone has their own taste, and it seems that is what we're discussing. Gibson's work can be considered derivative, but really so can a great deal of other science fiction. It seems that we both acknowledge his contribution to science fiction, for which he will be remembered whether his basic ideas were derivative or not. "Prodigious in quality"? No, I wouldn't say that, but neither would I call it "pure crap." 

I haven't read anything by Bacigalupi, so can't make any judgments regarding his work. 

Stephenson's most impressive work so far (in my opinion) is actually more historical fiction than science fiction. I'm thinking of The Baroque Cycle, of course. I do enjoy his science fiction, however, and consider him a good writer.

As for Crichton, I didn't say that his work was bad, but I have never considered him an important writer of science fiction.

I enjoyed Heinlein's earlier works, but felt that he allowed his standards to fall as he got older.

Maybe I'm showing my age, here.  LOL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Captain Vancouver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Apr 2012 at 03:26
I think one has to differentiate between quality and fame. Many writers achieve fame, but have only modeste talents. Fame depends on a number of factors, including such things as having a good agent, and pure luck.
 
Catching the attention of Hollywood these days is by no means any assurance of quality, in fact the opposite is true to an extent. Hollywood aims at an audience that averages about 14 years in age, and hence one that is not the most sophisticated in their literary tastes. Crichton's work fits well with this audience, as it is usually full of shoot 'em ups and cliff hanging suspense. But ulitimately, Crichton fails to deliver three dimensional characters, nor does he leave an audience anything to think about after they leave the theatre or put down his book. What he did manufacture was thrills for the short attention span, something that found a wide market.
 
Bye the way, welcome to the forum L' Emmerdeur.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Apr 2012 at 10:05
Stephen King

November 22nd 1963
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Apr 2012 at 11:19
Originally posted by Captain Vancouver Captain Vancouver wrote:

I think one has to differentiate between quality and fame. Many writers achieve fame, but have only modeste talents. Fame depends on a number of factors, including such things as having a good agent, and pure luck.
 
Catching the attention of Hollywood these days is by no means any assurance of quality, in fact the opposite is true to an extent. Hollywood aims at an audience that averages about 14 years in age, and hence one that is not the most sophisticated in their literary tastes. Crichton's work fits well with this audience, as it is usually full of shoot 'em ups and cliff hanging suspense. But ulitimately, Crichton fails to deliver three dimensional characters, nor does he leave an audience anything to think about after they leave the theatre or put down his book. What he did manufacture was thrills for the short attention span, something that found a wide market.
 
Bye the way, welcome to the forum L' Emmerdeur.


The famous "flat characters" once again?

There are wonderful literary talents that describe people quite precisely, but that are ignorants in science at the same time. Others, like Neil Stephenson, seem obsesed with sex, or perhaps just write about theirs own hidden homosexuality. Another bunch preffer the description of depresing cities and societies; the more depressing the better. Even others, preffer brutal violence and destruction in industrial scale. And they are all considered "great" artists!! Confused

In my case, I can't tolerate an ignorant that writes science fiction. And Crichton was a very educated man, indeed. With respect to his adventures, I enjoyed them, and that's why I like him.

Jurasic Park was a great idea!






Edited by pinguin - 25 Apr 2012 at 11:23
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Apr 2012 at 11:21
Originally posted by fusong fusong wrote:

Stephen King

November 22nd 1963


He is a genius. No doubt about it. After Poe and Lovecraft, Stephen King.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Aug 2012 at 07:55
Currently reading The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell.  Kind of light, but not too bad at all. The last book I read which relates to this era and group of people (if only indirectly) was Revel, Riot and Rebellion, by David Underdown. Kind of a hard act to follow.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote lirelou Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Aug 2012 at 16:20
Picked up Henning Mankell's "Les Chaussures Italiennes" at a backpacker hostel in Aussie last week. Interesting tale of a retired doctor living all alone on a remote Baltic island who opens his door one day to find a long-ago jilted girl-friend on his door now afflicted with a terminal disease who plays upon his sympathy to take her to a remote black water lake he once talked about. Off they go, and she casually mentions that she would like to also stop by and visit her daughter on the way back, who coincidentally turns out to be his own. 

And that's just a third into the story. Translated from the Swedish into French. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Aug 2012 at 21:00
Does it count that I just finished the 22-episode DVD set of Foyle's War, the British (ITV) police series set in ww2 in Hastings (presumably chosen for the symbolic name)?

Apart from being a cut or two above most police procedural series in acting and character studies, the program gives an excellent idea of what life was like in Britain from spring 1940 to autumn 1945. I didn't see it when first broadcast, since I didn't have a satellite dish at the time, but ITV3 reran some episodes a few weeks ago and I decided to get the whole set.

Wikipedia picks up a few anachronisms ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foyle%27s_War ) some of which I noted at the time, but misses the worst fault of having Hastings (or East Sussex) police report to a Scotland Yard assistant commissioner. And of course mysterious crimes are more frequent than in reality.

Still those are details that don't affect its depiction of everyday life in wartime England. 


Edited by gcle2003 - 18 Aug 2012 at 21:00
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote lirelou Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Aug 2012 at 02:38
GCLE, actually, it should count. I didn't realize how long the effects of WWII had lasted in the in the U.K. until I read Andrew Salmon's excellent account of the 29th Commonwealth Bde in the initial year of the Korean Conflict. Their reaction to the meals issued frontline troops on Thanksgiving Day, 1950 was: Dinners back in the U.K. hadn't been that sumptuous in years. (in "Black Snow, Scorched Earth")

Conversations with Aussie mates indicate that Australia, too, was a long time coming out of the effects of both the Depression and WWII.

In post-1945 America, the economy was taking off and prospects were bright.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Aug 2012 at 04:14
I've seen 'Foyles War' as well - excellent series.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Aug 2012 at 04:59
Originally posted by lirelou lirelou wrote:


Conversations with Aussie mates indicate that Australia, too, was a long time coming out of the effects of both the Depression and WWII.

Don't say that! Our excuse for being reamed by Bradman's Aiustralian side in 1948 was that their fast bowlers  were better fed (on steaks, even).

I didn't get to Korea unlike my contemporaries, beiing retained by her Majesty for duties elsewhere, but in 1950 I went to Paris at Easter and to Switzerland in the summer and had the same kind of culinary exerience.

It's not so much a question of strength of the economy though, as the sheer availabolity of home-grown food.   
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I'm reading philosophical books, well more, re-reading.
The Book of Changes, Fu Xi
 
The Analects, Kong Fuzi
 
Lanting Xu, Wang Xizhi
 
The Art of War, Sun Tzu
 
Yin Pu of 1589, unknown author
 
and a few others. I wanted to read these before I had to send them to my granddaughter for her children to read later on.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote David Greenwich Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Aug 2012 at 10:03
I'm reading a book I can thoroughly recommend:
 
Story of a Secret State by Jan Karski
 
The only bad thing about it is the title which doesn't really communicate much about its contents.
 
It is actually an autobiographical account of the author's service in the Polish Home Army during WW2 as a courier and agent.
 
It is really a vivid account of what it was like to live in East/Central Europe after the outbreak of WW2. It fills in a lot of the gaps left by dry historical accounts. There are fascinating insights into life in the various parts of occupied Poland, in Russia, in Hungary, Slovakia, Italy and France.
 
I put in on a par with Victor Klemperer's diary of his years in Dresden as part of the persecuted Jewish community and on the run after the bombing of Dresden gave him the opportunity to escape the extermination programme.
 
What is past is not necessarily settled.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Aug 2012 at 10:28
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

Originally posted by lirelou lirelou wrote:


Conversations with Aussie mates indicate that Australia, too, was a long time coming out of the effects of both the Depression and WWII.

Don't say that! Our excuse for being reamed by Bradman's Aiustralian side in 1948 was that their fast bowlers  were better fed (on steaks, even).

I didn't get to Korea unlike my contemporaries, beiing retained by her Majesty for duties elsewhere, but in 1950 I went to Paris at Easter and to Switzerland in the summer and had the same kind of culinary exerience.

It's not so much a question of strength of the economy though, as the sheer availabolity of home-grown food.   
 
LUCKY!! I spent 1950 finding a way to learn English, and fast! And all while you avoided Korea (even if you had the choice, I wouldn't have suggested going there. I went there and if you think Chinese food is bad, DON'T GO THERE!), and going to Paris!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote David Greenwich Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Aug 2012 at 11:55
Originally posted by Lao Tse Lao Tse wrote:

Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

Originally posted by lirelou lirelou wrote:


Conversations with Aussie mates indicate that Australia, too, was a long time coming out of the effects of both the Depression and WWII.

Don't say that! Our excuse for being reamed by Bradman's Aiustralian side in 1948 was that their fast bowlers  were better fed (on steaks, even).

I didn't get to Korea unlike my contemporaries, beiing retained by her Majesty for duties elsewhere, but in 1950 I went to Paris at Easter and to Switzerland in the summer and had the same kind of culinary exerience.

It's not so much a question of strength of the economy though, as the sheer availabolity of home-grown food.   
 
LUCKY!! I spent 1950 finding a way to learn English, and fast! And all while you avoided Korea (even if you had the choice, I wouldn't have suggested going there. I went there and if you think Chinese food is bad, DON'T GO THERE!), and going to Paris!
 
So why did you have to earn English so fast? 
 
For me I think of mastering English as being like driving a Ferrari...why wouldn't you want to?
 
I speak as someone brought up in a family whose first language was not English - but I hate to think of being deprived of the opportunity to speak and think in English...by a quirk of history it just happens to be the language that takes us to the forefront of thought in humanity.  It could have been Norse, or Mandarin, or Portugese, or Spanish, or Dutch or French - but it happens to be English.  
 
 
 
What is past is not necessarily settled.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Captain Vancouver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Aug 2012 at 12:44
Just finished  "Emergency State", by David Unger. The author proposes that US presidents, and those close to the center of power, have attempted over some time (quite successfully) to usurp powers not really envisioned by the original framers of the constitution in order to meet their own political ends. This goes all the way back to FDR, according to the author, but Unger is particularly critical of recent presidents. Reagan did a secret and underhanded deal to sell arms to Iran for his own geopolitical hobbyhorse. GW Bush, following on precedents set by former leaders, bypassed congress on war making, and other important issues, making the now longstanding defense of national security. The irony that Unger describes is that the US is actually not any more secure today for all this erosion of the democratic state- in fact, less so. Ideological and financial interests have hijacked many of these events, from the military-industrial complex to vote buying from AIPAC. In the meantime, American workers loose out as the economy is ever more hollowed out in favour of globalization (read: more profits for large international corporations), and the rentier class gain from ever more lucrative military contracts, even if it is for questionable systems, like the F-35 fighter, or multi-billion dollar ships. These are of benefit to a few, but for most, a rational form of international diplomacy would be better in the long term.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote David Greenwich Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Aug 2012 at 13:14
Originally posted by Captain Vancouver Captain Vancouver wrote:

Just finished  "Emergency State", by David Unger. The author proposes that US presidents, and those close to the center of power, have attempted over some time (quite successfully) to usurp powers not really envisioned by the original framers of the constitution in order to meet their own political ends. This goes all the way back to FDR, according to the author, but Unger is particularly critical of recent presidents. Reagan did a secret and underhanded deal to sell arms to Iran for his own geopolitical hobbyhorse. GW Bush, following on precedents set by former leaders, bypassed congress on war making, and other important issues, making the now longstanding defense of national security. The irony that Unger describes is that the US is actually not any more secure today for all this erosion of the democratic state- in fact, less so. Ideological and financial interests have hijacked many of these events, from the military-industrial complex to vote buying from AIPAC. In the meantime, American workers loose out as the economy is ever more hollowed out in favour of globalization (read: more profits for large international corporations), and the rentier class gain from ever more lucrative military contracts, even if it is for questionable systems, like the F-35 fighter, or multi-billion dollar ships. These are of benefit to a few, but for most, a rational form of international diplomacy would be better in the long term.
My understanding is there is a to and frow between executive and legislature. The Congress took some powers back off the presidency in effect in the early 70s re war-making.
 
But no President can ever raise revenue - any revenue raising has to be approved by Congress. If I am wrong, please let me know as I am not an American. :)
 
What is past is not necessarily settled.
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