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64 of 81 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative, September 14, 2010
This review is from: Young Guns: A New Generation of Conservative Leaders (Paperback)
The latest entry in the season of political books took three authors to craft and begins with a foreword by yet a fourth. Yet Young Guns: A New Generation of Conservative Leaders, by Republican Congressmen Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor, and Kevin McCarthy, for the most part manages to avoid the perils of group authorship and to succeed in concisely conveying a sense of what these three men are up to.

The foreword by the Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes calls Mr. Ryan "the most influential Republican thinker in Congress." Mr. Barnes predicts that Mr. Cantor "will be speaker or majority leader the next time Republicans control the House," while Mr. Ryan "will be in line to become chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee."

The book proceeds to a "roundtable discussion" among the three authors, with Mr. Ryan charging that the Democrats have a "hardcore-left agenda," of wanting "to transform this country into a cradle-to-grave European social welfare state and change the idea of America forever."

The authors, who, after the initial roundtable, handle the rest of the book in three separate chunks each attributed to a single author, are not afraid to criticize their fellow Republicans. "We've seen Republicans who claim to believe in limited government spend the taxpayers' money like teenagers with their parents' credit card," Mr. Cantor writes. Republicans, he writes, "became what they had campaigned against: arrogant and out of touch."

At times, though, they blame Democrats when the fault belongs to both parties. Mr. Cantor writes, "Then the Democrats got into the auto business. Instead of allowing its union cronies and corporate CEOs to be held accountable for their poor decisions, they made the taxpayers accountable by buying Chrysler and General Motors." He leaves out that the CEOs of both Chrysler and General Motors lost their jobs, and that the government got into the auto business by putting $4 billion into Chrysler on January 2, 2009, $1.5 billion into Chrysler's financing arm on January 16, 2009, $13.4 billion into GM on December 31, 2008, and $5 billion into GMAC on December 29, 2008. All of that was during the Bush administration, before President Obama took office.

Mr. Cantor also writes movingly about the death of his cousin, Daniel, in a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv in 2006. In a terrific section, Mr. Cantor faults the Obama administration for what he calls a "shocking double standard" in the administration's reprimanding Israel for approving construction in Jerusalem during a visit to Israel by Vice President Biden but ignoring the fact that during the same visit by Mr. Biden, "Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party held a ceremony dedicating a public square in Ramallah to Dalal Mughrabi" a terrorist who had led an attack on a bus full of Israeli civilians, killing 38, including 13 children.

For the most part, though, the book leaves foreign policy and social issues aside and focuses on the case for turning back the growth of government. Core principles? Mr. Cantor writes: "Government doesn't create jobs and build wealth; entrepreneurs, risk takers, and private businesses do."

On the detailed policy proposals, there's room to quibble. The authors tout their alternative to the Democratic stimulus plan. The alternative included "allowing small business to reduce its tax liability by 20 percent" and "a home-buyers credit of $7,500 for those buyers who can make a minimum down payment of 5 percent." Mr. Cantor explains it as an effort to be "realistic" and "work with the administration," and says they would have "much preferred" a bill that "lowered all tax rates."

Mr. Ryan's "Roadmap" budget plan would alter Medicare for future seniors to provide "more support for those with low incomes." He writes that under his Roadmap, "For both Social Security and Medicare...the wealthy will receive smaller benefit increases." He doesn't really get into the question of why the Republicans would want to join the Obama-led effort to balance the budget on the backs of the "wealthy."

Other proposals seem sensible, such as Mr. McCarthy's recommendation that the text of spending bills "be posted on the Internet at least a week before the vote."

Somewhat surprising is that these politicians come off at times as such delicate flowers.

Mr. Ryan complains that Democrats responded to his "Roadmap" by circulating "a so-called 'fact sheet' peppered liberally with fighting words like 'privatize.'" Mr. Ryan may choose to complain when Democrats accuse him of privatizing, but other politicians such as Margaret Thatcher and Stephen Goldsmith have been successful by communicating and demonstrating to the public the benefits of privatization rather than by shrinking from the term as if it were some kind of slur.

This is a political book more than a policy book. These guys are, after all, politicians, a fact that occasionally shines through. Mr. McCarthy was elected to Congress in 2006 after the retirement of his "mentor and friend," Bill Thomas, for whom Mr. McCarthy had worked for 15 years starting at age 22. Mr. Thomas had served 28 years in Congress, which makes the complaint elsewhere in the book, directed at Democratic House committee chairs, that "the people who are making the nation's energy and tax policy for America's small business haven't been in the private sector for over three decades," ring a bit hollow.

The list of "members of the House Republican Young Guns" at the end of the book includes Lamar Smith, a congressman from Texas who is 62 years old and has been in Congress since 1987, and Buck McKeon, who is 72 and has been in Congress since 1993. If readers are left with the sense that the definition of "young guns" is a bit, well, liberally expansive, they will nevertheless come away from this book with a deeper understanding of three men who are already significant players in Washington and are likely to become even more so if their party retakes control of the House in November's election.
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Showing 1-10 of 18 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 15, 2010 10:14:52 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 11, 2010 2:30:24 PM PDT
We appreciate your well-written review. However, "Young Guns" glosses over idealistic conservative policy prescriptions by avoiding discussion of their harmful realities such as unfettered greed; profit at the expense of safety concerns; further irreparable destruction to the environment; major dependence on fossil fuel sources for energy needs . . . While your post gives impression that "Young Guns" assigns blame fairly between Republicans and Democrats, the book actually employs a substantial amount of republican propaganda and falsehoods unfavorable to the Democrats, precisely to make points sound more convincing. For example, re the health care bill, Nancy Pelosi never said, as Paul Ryan (who proved to be quite the liar) claims, "But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it."

October 11, 2010
We stand vindicated. Fox news/You Tube clip fooled you.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 15, 2010 10:21:35 AM PDT
Ira E. Stoll says:
Speaker Pelosi did say essentially that ("we can find out," not "you can find out")...Amazon doesn't usually allow links to off-Amazon material so I can't give the YouTube URL, but if you type "pelosi pass bill find out what is in it" into your favorite search engine the videos pop up.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 25, 2010 8:54:50 AM PDT
Here you go:

While you are at it:

Posted on Sep 25, 2010 10:08:50 AM PDT
Thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to correct us on our huge blunder! We are so shocked to find out that Speaker Pelosi would have EVER made such a STUPID statement. We stand corrected and thank you again for your graciousness.


Dr & Mrs Scott & Cleatus Pomazal-Smith

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 25, 2010 7:30:02 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 25, 2010 7:32:51 PM PDT
MilkandHoney says:

Sorry...I see this was already posted.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 29, 2010 8:15:13 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 29, 2010 7:15:24 PM PDT
Thank you! We were notified of our most embarrassing assumption re Pelosi statement by another reader. It is the kind of statement that was SO moronic for Speaker Pelosi to make, and we apologize sincerely for doubting your credibility, Mr. Stoll.

However, why are not there any recognized, serious, credible reviewers of this book yet to surface? Why can you cite only a notoriously conservative individual to recommend this book? For a book that purports to lead the US out of the "socialist" path Obama has led us, solve the entitlement problems through privatization, and return the economy to prosperity, etcetera, why has not more attention been paid to it?

Your book on Adam Smith (which received its share of severely critical reviews--including by Barnes & Noble--compared to other biographies of Smith) was not considered valid, scholarly, compelling, or nonpartisan enough for The New York Times to review. The NY Times also refuses to review anything by Malkin, Beck, Ryan/Cantor/McCarthy, and other partisans, because they are rejected as perpetrators of the same old failed conservative politics of the right. No one with any intellectual gravitas takes these books seriously--especially Young Guns--because it is awash with platitudes and lies and in the prosaic business of propagandizing disproved conservative views that history has verified under both Reagan and Bush simply do not work.

All three young guns tout the "Reagan Revolution" as the conservative model on which they base and extrapolate policies with which to govern America's future. A sober review of Reagan's presidency doesn't yield the seamlessly conservative record being peddled today. Reagan entered office as an ideologue who promised a conservative revolution, vowing to slash the size of government, radically scale back entitlements, and deploy the powers of the presidency in pursuit of socially and culturally conservative goals. That he essentially failed in these missions has not stopped partisan biographers from pretending otherwise. Many of these hagiographies are written by noted conservative authors (Buckley, Noonan, D'Souza) or former Reagan staffers (Wallison, Martin Anderson, Michael Deaver), under the auspices of conservative think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute (Wallison), the Hoover Institution (Anderson and Schweizer), and the Heritage Foundation (Stephen F. Hayward).

Federal government expanded on his watch. The conservative desire to outlaw abortion was never seriously pursued. Reagan broke with the hardliners in his administration and compromised with the Soviets on arms control. He repeatedly ignored the fundamental conservative dogma that taxes should never be raised. His assault on entitlements never materialized.

Reagan openly mused about restructuring Social Security to allow individuals to opt out of the system--an antecedent of the Young Guns privatization plans. At the start of his administration, with Social Security teetering on the brink of insolvency, Reagan attempted to push through immediate draconian cuts to the program. But the Senate unanimously rebuked his plan, and the GOP lost 26 House seats in the 1982 midterm elections, largely as a result of this overreach.
The following year in 1983, Reagan made one of the greatest ideological about-faces in the history of the presidency, agreeing to a $165 billion bailout of Social Security to save it. In almost every way, the bailout flew in the face of conservative ideology. It dramatically increased payroll taxes on employees and employers, brought a whole new class of recipients--new federal workers--into the system, and, for the first time, taxed Social Security benefits, and did so in the most liberal way: only those of upper-income recipients. (As an added affront to conservatives, the tax was not indexed to inflation, meaning that more and more people had to pay it over time.)

By expanding rather than scaling back entitlements, Reagan--and Newt Gingrich after him--demonstrated that conservatives could not and would not launch a frontal assault on Social Security, effectively conceding that these cherished New Deal programs were central features of the American polity.

All of this has been airbrushed from the new literature of Reagan. But as any balanced account must make clear, Reagan acceded to political compromises as any president must. In fact, many of his actions as president may actually be viewed as facilitating liberal objectives. What this clamor of adulation, particularly by Ryan/Cantor/McCarthy, is seeking to deny is that beyond his conservative legacy, Ronald Reagan also bequeathed a liberal legacy, as established by independent sources and references.

Thus, the conservatism in Young Guns may sound good in theory. After all, it was the Great Communicator Reagan who originally espoused most of these ideas and made them seem so desirable. But neither the effect of the Laffer curve or Hauser's law were evident under Reagan or Bush. We shall see (again) how these ideals will recede into fantasy as they did under Reagan and Bush.

Re "In a terrific section, Mr. Cantor faults the Obama administration for what he calls a 'shocking double standard' in the administration's reprimanding Israel for approving construction in Jerusalem during a visit to Israel by Vice President Biden but ignoring the fact that during the same visit by Mr. Biden, 'Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party held a ceremony dedicating a public square in Ramallah to Dalal Mughrabi[,]' a terrorist who had led an attack on a bus full of Israeli civilians, killing 38, including 13 children . . ."

Terrific? Oh brother. We are Jewish and even we recognize that the Palestinian Authority has a long, strong tradition of using terrorists as role models by naming public places, facilities, and events after them. Dalal Mughrabi, who is not known for anything other than her murderous terror attack on Israel, is just another example of a terrorist who is promoted as a worthy role model. The following have also been named after her in the past four years: two PA Dalal Mughrabi girls high schools (2006); Shahida (Martyr) Dalal Mughrabi Computer Center (2009); school graduation ceremony named after Mughrabi (2008); two Shahida (Martyr) Dalal Mughrabi summer camps (2008); Dalal Mughrabi football championship (2008); Dalal Mughrabi Square in Al Bira, Ramallah region (2009);with more cites and sites to follow.

This PA practice is not as reprehensible as Israel's stealing Palestinian land by resuming settlement construction in the West Bank, an exploit which has received international criticism from the United Nations, European Union, and US, and which will put an end to the peace talks.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 10, 2010 12:32:19 AM PDT
Andrew says:
After that Pelosi assumption you should know that no one will really care about what you have to write.

It amazes me that every citizen of the United States hasn't seen or heard about Pelosi's idiotic comment. I'm guessing 67 million Americans are just looking the other way, as they have been for nearly two years.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 11, 2010 11:13:39 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Oct 11, 2010 2:49:24 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 11, 2010 2:22:18 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 11, 2010 2:32:32 PM PDT
For your information, when Nancy Pelosi made alleged statement, she was addressing 2010 Conference for the National Association of Counties in a speech she gave on March 9, 2010. She was not addressing Congress, who already knew what was in the bill, as Fox news/You Tube cut would have viewers believe.

Furthermore, Fox/You Tube's clip intentionally isolates a fragment of what Pelosi stated. Her full statement was,

"You've heard about the controversies within the bill, the process about the bill, one or the other. But I don't know if you have heard that it is legislation for the future, not just about health care for America, but about a healthier America, where preventive care is not something that you have to pay a deductible for or out of pocket. Prevention, prevention, prevention-it's about diet, not diabetes. It's going to be very, very exciting.

[BUT WE HAVE TO PASS THE BILL SO THAT YOU [meaning the attendees at the National Association of Counties Conference] CAN FIND OUT WHAT IS IN IT AWAY FROM THE FOG OF CONTROVERSY.] Furthermore, we believe that health care reform, again I said at the beginning of my remarks, that we sent the three pillars . . . education and innovation . . . clean energy and climate . . . and the third . . . is health care, health insurance reform . . ."

Thus, true to form, Fox news deliberately failed to identify forum and cut Pelosi's original words to a precise fragment in order to impute to Pelosi an inflammatory statement/meaning. Once the context, audience, and full statement are disclosed, the Fox/You Tube clip is no longer damaging in the least.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 11, 2010 2:22:42 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Oct 11, 2010 2:50:19 PM PDT]
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