- December 26, 2001
It is necessary to use this space to criticize those
whom I disagree with or those who just do a lousy job. But it
is also important to recognize those who do well. It should be no surprise
that often the same people are mentioned in both respects.
Mayor David Hollister has taken some unwarranted grief this year. His
overwhelming victory last month was a reward for the way he has dramatically
changed the nature of Lansing politics, probably more than any other
resident since R.E. Olds. The question is how much of his giant trove
of political capital he will spend to seal his legacy as one of Lansings
great mayors. I bet we are in for a few surprises in the coming years.
Kudos go as well to Superintendent Sharon Banks, the Lansing School
Board and Nancy Wonch and the Community Task Force she chaired for embracing
a more open process for developing a new bond proposal. The report is
still not on the districts Web site, nor are the dates of the
public hearings to shape the proposal. Lets get them up there,
solicit email comments and have fruitful multimedia dialogues to gather
enough grassroots support to pass the bond! Lets also continue
Michigans proud tradition of public education finance in the process.
Hats off go to you, the City Pulse readers, as well. You are part of
a significant minority who are interested in multiple perspectives of
public events. Continue to demand accountability and respect from our
political leaders. Reward them well when it is provided and encourage
your neighbors to do likewise.
A holiday reading list for the politically minded
In honor of the holiday season and the commercialism it has come to
represent, and knowing that a number of you may have gifts that you
need to return, the following are offered as a list of books that people
interested in politics might enjoy:
Hardball, by Christopher Matthews, is the best basic political
manual I have ever seen, period. Trust me, the book is much better than
his TV show of the same name. Its purpose is to explain some of the
fundamentals of political action and behavior with a series of anecdotes
that reflect basic dos and donts of the political game.
When I am lucky enough to find it in cutout bins, I buy as many copies
as I can to give to friends. Six stars out of five.
The Power Game, by Hedrick Smith, a then-reporter for The
New York Times, is a more scholarly work. It is long and very worthwhile
reading. Smith did a PBS series based on this book, which explains how
Washington works as well as anything.
Parliament of Whores, by P.J. ORourke. This book is
funny. Its purpose was to satirize Washington by casting an ironic tone
to many of the goings-on.
Man of the House, by Tip ONeill. This is a collection
of vignettes from the late House speaker. A fine read from a fine storyteller
and master politician.
Lincoln, by Gore Vidal. The best of Vidals American
historical novels, based largely on the diaries of John Hay, this is
an amusing and complex portrayal of a man bound to his times. If you
want purer history, try David Herbert Donalds book of the same
Humor of a Country Lawyer, by Sam Ervin. The man who chaired
the Senate Select Committee on Watergate wrote a marvelous memoir of
an extraordinary life.
John Adams, by David McCullough, the latest presidential
biography by the author of Truman casts light on another
somewhat overlooked president.
Post-Capitalist Society, by Peter Drucker. The preeminent
professor of business management looks forward again, explaining well
before the boom of e-commerce the fundamental societal changes
we can look forward to in the next half-century.
Database Nation, by Simson Garfinkel. Frequent Wired Magazine
columnist Garfinkel suggests that our privacy and degree of self-control
we have is already far more compromised than we suspect, and will grow
worse unless we take steps to prevent it.
The Money Game, by Adam Smith. Called the most Xeroxed
book of all time, this remarkable perspective of the motives and
style of major financial market players was published at the dawn of
the computer age in 1966, but remains compelling and fresh today.
Islam, A Short History, by Karen Armstrong. This is an eminently
readable book about a major religion that is far too misunderstood and
Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail 72, by Hunter S.
Thompson. Presidential campaigns arent really like this anymore,
which is a pity, in a sense. This is a classic; go read it again.
Turning Point, by Jimmy Carter. This is the true story of
Carters first political campaign in 1962, for the Georgia State
Senate. It is better than fiction, a classic story of corruption, stupidity
Critical Path, by Richard Buckminster Fuller. Professor
Fuller came to MSU as a part of the Great Issues series and presumably
to promote this book in 1983. It is a remarkably insightful argument.