In this feature of the Washington Watch, WW will primarily recommend books you may find interesting but may also now and then mention a TV program and other things. I welcome your suggestions and your input. What have you been reading or watching that you think WW readers might like?
Dissent: The Radicalization of the Republican Party and its Capture of the Court
By Jackie Calmes
Featuring new interviews with his accusers and overlooked evidence of his deceptions, a deeply reported account of the life and confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, set against the conservative movement’s capture of the courts.
In DISSENT, award-winning investigative journalist Jackie Calmes brings readers closer to the truth of who Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh is, where he came from, and how he and the Republican party at large managed to secure one of the highest seats of power in the land.
Kavanaugh’s rise to the justice who solidified conservative control of the supreme court is a story of personal achievement, but also a larger, political tale: of the Republican Party’s movement over four decades toward the far right, and its parallel campaign to dominate the government’s judicial branch as well as the other two.
And Kavanaugh uniquely personifies this history. Fourteen years before reaching the Supreme Court, during a three-year fight for a seat on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, Democratic Senator Dick Durbin would say to Kavanaugh, “It seems that you are the Zelig or Forrest Gump of Republican politics. You show up at every scene of the crime.”
Featuring revelatory new reporting and exclusive interviews, DISSENT is a harrowing look into the highest echelons of political power in the United States, and a captivating survey of the people who will do anything to have it.
[The following is not a new book, but someone recently gave me a copy and I thought others might find it as interesting as I did]
Viva la Repartee: Cleaver comebacks & witty retorts from history’s great wits & wordsmiths
By Dr. Mardy Grothee
For most of us, that perfect retort or witty reply often escapes us when we need it most, only to come to mind with perfect clarity when it’s too late to be useful. The twentieth-century writer Heywood Broun described this all-too-common phenomenon when he wrote “Repartee is what we wish we’d said.”
In Viva la Repartee, Dr. Mardy Grothe, author of Oxymoronica, has lovingly assembled a collection of masterfully composed — and perfectly timed — replies that have turned the tables on opponents and adversaries. This delightful volume is a celebration of the most impressive retorts, ripostes, rejoinders, comebacks, quips, ad-libs, bon mots, off-the-cuff comments, wisecracks, and other clever remarks ever to come out of the mouths — and from the pens — of people throughout history. Touching on all areas of human endeavor, including politics, the arts, literature, sports, relationships, and even the risqué, the book features contributions from Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, Dorothy Parker, Mae West, Groucho Marx, Winston Churchill, Dolly Parton, and scores more.
As entertaining as it is intellectually enriching, Viva la Repartee is sure to capture the attention of language lovers and is the perfect antidote for anyone who’s ever thought I wish I’d said that!
Mine! How The Hidden Rules of Ownership Control our Lives
by Michael Heller & James Salzman
A hidden set of rules governs who owns what–explaining everything from whether you can recline your airplane seat to why HBO lets you borrow a password illegally–and in this lively and entertaining guide, two acclaimed law professors reveal how things become “mine.”
“Mine” is one of the first words babies learn. By the time we grow up, the idea of ownership seems natural, whether buying a cup of coffee or a house. But who controls the space behind your airplane seat: you reclining or the squished laptop user behind? Why is plagiarism wrong, but it’s okay to knock-off a recipe or a dress design? And after a snowstorm, why does a chair in the street hold your parking space in Chicago, but in New York you lose the space and the chair?
Mine! explains these puzzles and many more. Surprisingly, there are just six simple stories that everyone uses to claim everything. Owners choose the story that steers us to do what they want. But we can always pick a different story. This is true not just for airplane seats, but also for battles over digital privacy, climate change, and wealth inequality. As Michael Heller and James Salzman show–in the spirited style of Freakonomics, Nudge, and Predictably Irrational–ownership is always up for grabs.
With stories that are eye-opening, mind-bending, and sometimes infuriating, Mine! reveals the rules of ownership that secretly control our lives.