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Senin, 18 Januari 2016

Book Review: 'Understanding Public Policy' by Paul Cairney

Product Details

Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (October 15, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0230229719
ISBN-13: 978-0230229716
Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.8 x 9.3 inches

Book reviews may or may not become a more regular feature on this blog. Evidently, as a practician, I read a lot. And every so often, I come across a book that is not only a pleasure to read, but also highly useful to my work and research. It is books like these that I find deserves a broader audience. One such book is 'Understanding Public Policy' by Scotsman Paul Cairney, who is otherwise known for having co-authored an introduction to Scottish Politics.

What is in the book?

As with his book on Scottish Politics, Dr. Cairney excels at writing introductions to tough topics that are engaging and informative, yet without compromising on the depth and complexity of the issue at hand.

Understanding Public Policy: Theories and Issues - the title gives it away - introduces the reader to the study of public policy in political science. As it says on the cover, to the theories and issues in this particular field. The emphasis of the book is clearly on the theories, which structure the book. The issues come in throughout the book to illustrate the theoretical points at every step.

The book has 13 chapters, which can roughly be seen as covering 3 parts:

The first two chapters given an introduction and ask "How Should We Study It?". The second chapter in particular seeks to provide the reader with a quick-guide on why theory, models and heuristics are needed and what they do. It also describes some of the pitfalls of studying public policy. Though the chapter can obviously not compete with book fully dedicated to heuristics and (meta-)theory, it does provide the reader with a good introductory primer. It still is the perhaps weakest part of the book.

Chapters 3 to 7 cover the "big" theories in the field, from Institutionalism to Rational Choice. Here, Cairney's strength comes into its own. Each of these fields is a gargantuan literature in itself. He does and excellent job of covering the basics, highlighting formative and current debates and illustrate them with actual issues.

Chapters 8 to 12 cover some of the more specialist theories, ranging from Multi-Level Governance to Policy Transfer. Once more, Cairney's skill in condensing the key elements of these scholarships into readable chapters, studded with definitions and explanations, makes these chapters and the book in general such a highly informative read.
Why should read it and why?

The book makes an excellent introduction for students or scholars entering the field of public policy. These are arguably its main audience and the book does an excellent job speaking to them.

I especially liked the short side-bar definitions of key terms and the occasional box that highlights some of the odder twists and turns that this literature has taken on some public policy questions in the past.

Cairney's ability to draw from both classic and the most recent papers to present the discourse in each of these fields also makes the book an excellent for everyone seeking to refresh his knowledge in one of the fields covered by Cairney. Every chapter is, in essence, an up-to-date (to the publication) literature review of its field, which provides the reader with a solid basis and understanding. From there, it is easy to plunge in, to read, explore and write on any particular research-topic within the field.

I have found the book incredibly useful when I drafted a new conference paper. I recently set out to write on my personal subject of interest, aid evaluation, from a new angle of policy transfer. I couldn't have hoped for a better rough guide to the literature than the one I found in 'Understanding Public Policy'. Highly recommended.

Sabtu, 02 Januari 2016

A Book Review Of George Orwell's "Animal Farm"

Paperback: 124 pages
Publisher: Rupa; First Edition edition (August 31, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 812911612X
ISBN-13: 978-8129116123
Product Dimensions: 7 x 4.6 x 0.3 inches

Animal Farm is a savage satire on communist revolution written by George Orwell. Set on an English Farm named Manor Farm, this fable-like story concerns the misery that the animals faced in the hands of human beings. The story opens with Mr. Jones, a capable farmer, stumbling into bed after a night of excessive whisky drinking. Old Major, a reverential, time-honored pig, called all the animals together for a meeting which took place after Mr. Jones had gone to bed. They gathered outside the big barn on the farm. Old Major told them his extraordinary dream in which he saw his approaching death, and pointed out that their lives as farm animals were miserable, laborious, and short. They were forced to work like slaves up to the last atom of their strength, and once their usefulness had come to an end, they were slaughtered. Moreover, Old Major said that there is no animal in England that was free, and none of them should escape the cruel knife in the end. Old Major affirmed that the root cause of the farm animals' infelicitous existence was the tyranny of man.

For Old Major, mankind is lazy and is the only real enemy of the animals. Mankind is the root cause of hunger and overwork, stealing the whole produce of animal labor and consumes without producing. Indeed, he is the tyrant who serves the interests of no one else except himself. Old Major described his vision of England where animals could live in peaceful and plentiful coexistence with each other, free from the despotic rule of man. He taught the animals "Beasts of England", a song which became their revolutionary anthem.

Old Major exhorted the farm animals to band together to defeat their common enemy by carrying out a rebellion, which led them to the establishment of Animal Farm, their model community in which all animals were equal. Two pigs, Napoleon and Snowball, gained control of the farm when Old Major died a few days after he spoke to the assembly. Napoleon succeeded in ousting Snowball. He became the absolute ruler. The animals adjusted with the human system of labor due to economic necessity, and learned that under the tyrannical Napoleon, their state of lives was as bad as their first when Mr. Jones was still in control.

The plot of the story can be attributed to different political ideologies, one of which was Plato's idea on tyranny. Plato's description of a tyrant is clearly manifested in the government ruled by Napoleon. First, a tyrant appears to be pleasant and gracious at the initial stages of his dominance to get the sympathy of the people. He shows himself as refined and congenial. Napoleon, the fierce-looking Berkshire boar, was primarily silent, allowing Snowball to express his aims and ideas on social and societal improvements. Nonetheless, as time went on, he was seen as always in disagreement with Snowball, and eventually made the latter as his rival. They often debated and this resulted to misunderstanding in almost about everything. The two boars divided the farm animals into two camps of supporters. Napoleon disapproved of Snowball's plan to build a windmill which would eliminate hard labor. He refuted everything and asserted that it would be better if they concentrated on increasing the food production and that harvest was more important than the building of a windmill.

Second, a tyrant is always at war with the good. He uses the art of making war or conflict upon his rivals. He destroys them either secretly or openly because he believes they stand in his way of power. In addition, he undermines associations and takes the lives of his friends and allies who contradict or oppose his ideas. Accordingly, Napoleon thought that Snowball was the obstacle in his path to power. On a debate, he called for ferocious dogs which he trained and drove Snowball off the farm. Napoleon succeeded in ousting his rival and became the single leader of the farm animals.

Third, a tyrant breeds mutual distrust. He destroys associations, isolates people, makes them strangers, and deprives them off of their arms. He humiliates his subjects and makes them incapable of action. Napoleon broke his association with Snowball by expelling him to be able to gain control of Animal Farm. Squealer, Napoleon's spokesperson, was the one who informed the people about Napoleon's ill-meaning plans. His orders were in a way sadistic. The farm animals were commanded to toil to and fro even if it was difficult for them. They worked like slaves and were led to believe that the fruits of their hard work would benefit themselves and not the human beings. Besides, Napoleon pronounced that genuine happiness was gained through hard work and earning frugally. The farm animals' ignorance became his advantage, and convinced them that their efforts would benefit them in the end, even if it exceeded their capabilities. The farm animals had no power to initiate and were utterly enslaved. No one even dared to speak his mind. They became submissive to Napoleon who broke their spirit and made them subservient and inferior. Clover, the cart-horse, being unable to read, was effortlessly deluded by Napoleon's commandments and obeyed false rules due to her illiteracy. It is one of the desires of a tyrant that his subjects should be incapable of action so that they will not realize his misdemeanor, for no one attempts what is impossible, and that they will not attempt to overthrow a tyrant, if they were powerless.

Fourth, a tyrant, once in power, isolates himself from the outside world. He provides for himself with sentinels. Frequently, when Napoleon was already reigning in Animal Farm, he rarely appeared in public. He spent most of his time in the farmhouse. He was protected by his fierce-looking dogs. He issued his orders through one of the other pigs, usually Squealer. Whenever Napoleon appeared in public, he was attended to by his entourage of vicious dogs. He had no regard for any public interest, except as conducive to his private ends. Napoleon aimed for pleasure and had all the vices. He also aimed for wealth for through this only can a tyrant maintain either his guards or his luxuries. Napoleon was engrossed in making pleasure for himself, and became desirous of riches. He was proud, yet his love for money cheated him when Frederick, the owner of Pinchfield Farm, paid him forged banknotes and even attacked his farm and destroyed the windmill.

Finally, a tyrant confuses his subjects by asking writers to compose poems and songs to pay tribute to his glory. This would conceal his transgressions, leading his subjects astray and making them think that their ruler is not ruthless at all. In the story, there were recitations of poems composed in Napoleon's honor. "Comrade Napoleon" was a poetry composed by Minimus, expressing the magnificent reign of Napoleon and the superb feeling towards him on the farm.

Thomas Aquinas's idea on the dangers of tyranny was expressed in the story. According to Aquinas, tyranny is the worst kind of government for the tyrant brings the community to peril through his unjust rule. The government of Napoleon was, indeed, in the form of tyranny. Napoleon paid no heed to the common good and sought his own private good. Yet, Aquinas declared that if the dictatorship is slight, it would be more advisable to tolerate it than for citizens to involve themselves into rebellion against the despot. None of the farm animals dared to go against Napoleon because they were terrified and ignorant, and they thought that if those who act against him were unable to triumph, they would be oppressed and the cruelty that they were experiencing would be graver.

Political ideologies by Niccolo Machiavelli are also apparent in Animal Farm. According to Machiavelli's The Prince, in order to be complied with by his subjects, a ruler, which he specified as a prince, should not deviate from what is good, but be able to do evil if necessary in order to maintain authority. Napoleon even managed to kill his subjects who he considered as supporters of Squealer. Some of them committed suicide, yet the farm animals did not dare to rebel against Napoleon's private actions for some were ignorant and others emphasized that Napoleon could do no wrong, and was thus, always right, which therefore helped him retain his power.

Machiavelli stated that it is very profitable for a prince to give some outstanding example of his greatness in the internal administration. He must endeavor in every action to obtain fame and to appear outstanding for being good and excellent. Nothing would cause a leader to be so much esteemed as having great projects and giving proof of prowess. Napoleon demonstrated himself as a brilliant administrator by wearing medals, most of which were awarded to him by himself. He was attended by his retinue of huge, vicious canines who frisked around him, growling and scaring the farm animals. Napoleon was referred in formal style as "Our Leader, Comrade Napoleon" and other dignifying, invented titles. His alter ego, Squealer, would talk in a speech, with tears rolling down his cheeks, about Napoleon's wisdom, the righteousness of the latter's heart, and the deep love that he showed to all the farm animals, even to those who they thought were discontented and still existed in ignorance and slavery. Every successful achievement and stroke of good fortune were credited to Napoleon. Farm animals were even heard as giving respects and praises to Napoleon, saying that they had profited from his administration.

Napoleon was able to contrive great things. He kept the farm animals' minds uncertain, astonished and gripped in watching the results. These actions have arisen one out of the other, and left them no time to settle down and act against him. Napoleon fraudulently ordered the farm animals to work hard in order to attain their aspirations for a better life. They were immersed with hard labor, believing that its results would be to their advantage. Boxer, who was one of the most loyal workers on the farm, accepted and performed everything that his authorities commanded, despite his poor health, the long hours of labor and insufficient ration of food which were hard to shoulder. Furthermore, the desired ends were not directed to those who exerted efforts but to Napoleon. Machiavelli's notion of a wise prince is one who seeks means by which his subjects will always and in every possible condition of things, have a need for government and that they would always be faithful and obedient to him. He is, indeed, powerful and courageous who will always overcome difficulties by raising the hopes of his subjects, advising them that the evils will not last long, and stressing the greatness of bringing the enemy to justice. Animal Farm showed Napoleon ordering the rebuilding of the windmill, underlining that Snowball, his prime suspect, should be taught a lesson and prove to him that he cannot undo their hard work easily. Thus, the farm animals, though some were in disbelief that Snowball could do such action, toiled hard and grew exhausted. Nevertheless, their hearts blindly continued to burst with pride when their masterpiece was done. It was put forth that alls well that ends well, that the discouragements and iron labor had been overcome.

In the end, the farm animals remained hopeful for a society free from hunger and the whip, all equal, each working according to his capacity. They seemed contented to work like slaves towards the objectives of their tyrannical ruler who eventually aspired equality with humans. The farm animals were satisfied with the fact that the fruits of their labor benefited their fellow animals and not the human beings which they initially considered as the tyrant.

Tyranny would have not continued to control the Manor Farm if the farm animals would have been wise enough to choose their new leader after Old Major died. Since during his reign, they have practiced democracy under the governance of Mr. Jones, the farm animals should have continued their democratic practice, especially in choosing or the election of a new leader. Instead, they just accepted the new government under Snowball and Napoleon, and were made to believe that pigs were clever enough to rule. Napoleon, who was initially a wolf in a sheep's clothing, would not have taken over if the farm animals would have been mindful and sensible enough to elect a governor who is unlikely to become a tyrant. The farm animals should not have shown the white feather and become submissive. The new administration must have been established that the possibility to tyrannize was eliminated. Their new leader's power should have been regulated and that the citizens should have strived to maintain their right to be heard. The power of the single ruler should have been moderated if their government had other branches that would make stipulations if ever their new leader would lead to tyranny. There should have been a marshal to monitor the ruler's conduct. The farm animals, moreover, should have been informed about their ruler's undertakings and asked if they are in agreement or contrary to his plans.

A democratic set-up could have managed the farm animals' situation well. The modern democratic administration employs the success of the ruler is merely not for himself, but also for the majority. The rule of the majority of the farm animals should have prevailed. They should not have left themselves duped by their ruler's wrongdoings and fought for their right to swear in a capable, transparent, and humane administrator. Snowball manifested an optimistic and skillful leader. The farm animals, knowing that he was competent enough to lead their society into the majority's ideal form, should have fought for his rule right at the start, albeit massive destruction would have happened because if they really wanted a new society under a fair government, they would not have left themselves suffering and badly yearning for better conditions, because by hook or by crook, they would have fought for their rights and aspirations.

About the Author :

George Orwell was born in 1903 in India. A year later, his mother Ida Blair moved back to England with her children. Orwell initially studied at a Catholic Convent, but later moved to a boarding school, Cyprian s School. He went to Eton on a scholarship, but did not complete his studies. He joined the Imperial Police and was posted in Burma. He later returned to Europe, and lived in Paris and London, before finally settling down in England. His book, Down and Out in Paris and London, was published under the pen name of George Orwell. In 1945 came Animal Farm, which made him world famous, and his reputation as a great writer was sealed with the publication of Nineteen Eighty Four in 1949, shortly before his death. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against Lyndon Baines Johnson

Hardcover: 424 pages
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing; 1 edition (November 6, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1626363137
ISBN-13: 978-1626363137
Product Dimensions: 6 x 6 x 9 inches

The author of this dark chronicle Roger Stone is a political strategist who had a key role in the elections of Ronald Regan, Richard Nixon, and George H.W. Bush. He also is known for his personal style writing a column for the Huffington Post and his annual "Ten Best & Worst Dressed Men & Women in the World."

How & Why

Stone gets into the why and how of the JFK assassination and picks apart the other conspiracy theories to the bone. The other theories had no motive but LBJ had the biggest motive of all to become President and help his supporters in Bell helicopter get rich.

Lays Out the Case

LBJ not only cowboy-ed his way into the White House he was also avoiding up close and personal destruction at the hands of John and Bobby Kennedy. Stone points the finger at LBJ who scattered eight other murders to cover up his role along the way to seize power in a coup de tat unprecedented in modern times.

Richard Nixon Knew

Nixon was absolutely convinced that LBJ was the mastermind in this bloody episode of American history because he recognized Jack Ruby as LBJ's hired help committing yet another Johnson directed murder when Oswald was gunned down.

Stone Indicts

Roger Stone indicts J. Edgar Hoover, Gerald Ford, Arlen Specter for their roles in the cover-up. He also goes into great detail about why George H.W. Bush lied about being in the CIA and said he was not in Dallas the day JFK was blown away when the truth is he was!

Many Avenues Investigated

Roger Stone's excellent insight into LBJ the man, why he was called Landslide Lyndon, and his fixated hate for Bobby & Jack Kennedy is beyond reproach. He delves into the Kennedy curse, their hated enemy LBJ, the role J. Edgar Hoover plays in the rubber stamped cover-up, and the road to Watergate who was involved and why. He even fingers the man who had the kill shot at point blank range with an American made dumb dumb bullet.


This detailed book into who knew what when, the people involved in the bloody coup, and why LBJ had the most to gain if Kennedy was killed points the finger at the CIA, the Chicago & Dixie mob, LBJ's henchmen, and J. Edgar Hoover big-time. Stone weaves a pattern of betrayal and deceit among the elite bringing us to the realization the powers that be will do anything to advance their agenda at any cost the nation be damned. Stone does a good job at showing who the linchpin is in this massive betrayal of presidential trust and what they stood to gain.

I believe the cover-up continued for these many years because the elite did not want the public to know it was a Democrat that murdered another Democrat just to advance his own agenda. This is sad but very revealing about human nature, why people do what they do to gain fame and power at any cost. Stone puts the hammer down leaving nothing to the imagination. This is an insight into the war mongers that existed then and now in the military industrial complex that will not be happy until the whole world worships at its feet.

About the Author :

  • Roger Stone is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ. He is a legendary political operative who served as a senior campaign aide to Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Senator Bob Dole. Stone would parlay being the youngest staff member of the Committee to Re-Elect the President in 1972 into being a conduit of secret memos from Ex-President Nixon to President Ronald Reagan throughout the 80s. A veteran of eight national presidential campaigns, Stone would spend hours talking politics with Nixon as confidant and adviser in his post-presidential years. Stone is known for his hardball tactics, deep opposition research, biting candor, and love of English custom tailoring. Stone serves as mens fashion correspondent for the Daily Caller.
  • Mike Colapietro is an investigative journalist and researcher who received his bachelors from Eastern Connecticut State and is studying for Masters from the University of South Florida. His work has appeared in the Tampa Bay Times, Smoke Magazine, and Yahoo.com.