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The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule by…
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The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule

by Thomas Frank

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The audio CD of “The Wrecking Crew” is handled by Oliver Wyman, who after a few hours begins to sound eerily similar to Casey Kasem. I’ve read a couple of books labored over by Thomas Frank (“Commodify Your Dissent” and “One Market Under God”), and find that he is erudite, crisply efficient, and relentlessly adversarial with respect to the fetishization of markets as moral instruments. For those who are familiar with the machinations of self-styled “free market capitalists,” there isn’t a great deal in this book that will surprise; however, it does an excellent job of categorizing and delineating the nature and scope of modern Conservatism. It is a one-sided argument, which by no means lessens its merit – it is incumbent upon the opposition, after all, to mount a defense. While I agree with the central point of the book (i.e., that doctrinaire Conservatism seeks to dismantle government bureaucracy in league with the business lobby), Mr. Frank does a regrettably inadequate job of addressing inevitable counter-arguments. For example, non-Libertarian Conservatives are known for their support of some government bureaucracies (i.e., military, police, utilities, commerce, and infrastructure); a more robust explanation of why this “Constitutionalist” worldview is intellectually bankrupt seemed wanting.

On the whole, however, I found that the central premises of the book would be perfectly acceptable to many Conservatives… which is perhaps the most frightening aspect of the whole story. To the hardcore ‘Winger,’ Jack Abramoff was man who’s criminality was entirely separate from the good work he did as a foot soldier for the Republican Party. This isn’t a book about hating Conservative governance; it’s a book about understanding it. ( )
1 vote Narboink | Oct 24, 2009 |
This guy is my favorite political writer! (Not that I read a a lot of them, but that's besides the point). He takes on the "Conservatives" no-holds barred. A thorough examination of what makes them tick and suggestions for ways to suppress this "demonic" ideology.You will probably find yourself sick to your stomach for most of the ride but the world will look somewhat different when you are arrive at the finish line, maybe not brighter but definitely clearer. An absolute must read. Of course, right-wingers need not apply. ( )
2 vote msf59 | Apr 30, 2009 |
As with his previous book (What's the Matter with Kansas?) this one is intriguing, interesting, well-researched, and ultimately over-stated. ( )
1 vote DaleQ | Jan 14, 2009 |
I don't usually spend a lot of time on 'political' books; either I agree with them, in which case they're a waste of time, or I think they're wrong-headed, in which case they're a waste of time.

In "What's the Matter With Kansas" Frank put his finger on a phenomenon that needed explaining; in his follow-up, he's done a wonderful job analyzing what's gone wrong with the postwar 'liberal' consensus.

This is a terrific read, and I recommend it highly. ( )
1 vote AsYouKnow_Bob | Dec 15, 2008 |
What's the Matter with Kansas is one of my all-time favorite political books and helped explain my own political sojourn and how I look at modern conservatism. The Wrecking Crew is the logical successor to that book and it explains, as the subtitle suggests, how conservatives rule.

And they don't rule all that pretty. Conservatives have a basic mistrust of government in all its forms and have gone to great lengths since Reagan to make government unworkable. How? Through a series of deregulation, suppression of civil service salaries, privatizing government services and the like. None of this sound especially new, but in Franks hands, the entire endeavor takes on an intellectual clarity and made me think about conservatism in a new way.

The evolution from the competent civil service of years ago to "Brownie's" FEMA is bewildering, but Thomas Frank deftly explains this depressing event in all its absurdity. One of the later chapters of the book looks at life in the American possession of Saipan -- a self-described free marketeer's dream. The island is rife with social stratification, exploitation, prostitution, corporate media, and the like. Frank offers it up as a sort-of Tom Delay utopia and it ought to give us all pause. As we sit in the midst of what may be an earth-shattering economic upheaval, we ought to be very careful how much trust we place in the hands of the god of the free market. ( )
3 vote dmcolon | Oct 13, 2008 |
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In his new book, “The Wrecking Crew,” Mr. Frank turns to the question of “How Conservatives Rule” once they’ve gotten into office. Less humorous and far more hectoring than “[What's the Matter with] Kansas,” this volume quickly devolves into a highly partisan, Manichaean-minded screed against conservatives and private-sector economics.
 
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805079882, Hardcover)

From the author of the landmark bestseller What’s the Matter with Kansas?, a jaw-dropping investigation of the decades of deliberate—and lucrative—conservative misrule

In his previous book, Thomas Frank explained why working America votes for politicians who reserve their favors for the rich. Now, in The Wrecking Crew, Frank examines the blundering and corrupt Washington those politicians have given us.

Casting back to the early days of the conservative revolution, Frank describes the rise of a ruling coalition dedicated to dismantling government. But rather than cutting down the big government they claim to hate, conservatives have simply sold it off, deregulating some industries, defunding others, but always turning public policy into a private-sector bidding war. Washington itself has been remade into a golden landscape of super-wealthy suburbs and gleaming lobbyist headquarters—the wages of government-by-entrepreneurship practiced so outrageously by figures such as Jack Abramoff.

It is no coincidence, Frank argues, that the same politicians who guffaw at the idea of effective government have installed a regime in which incompetence is the rule. Nor will the country easily shake off the consequences of deliberate misgovernment through the usual election remedies. Obsessed with achieving a lasting victory, conservatives have taken pains to enshrine the free market as the permanent creed of state.

Stamped with Thomas Frank’s audacity, analytic brilliance, and wit, The Wrecking Crew is his most revelatory work yet—and his most important.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:27 -0400)

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Frank argues that conservatives have taken pains to enshrine the free market as the permanent creed of state, selling off the government, deregulating some industries, defunding others, but always turning public policy into a private-sector bidding war.… (more)

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