Profile for John C. Mckee > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by John C. Mckee
Top Reviewer Ranking: 498,120
Helpful Votes: 5

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Amazon Communities.

Reviews Written by
John C. Mckee "cmckee6" (Spring TX)
(REAL NAME)   

Page: 1 | 2
pixel
City Limits
City Limits
by Paul E. Peterson
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 32.92
31 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Yeah it's dry, April 6 2004
This review is from: City Limits (Paperback)
Paul Peterson makes an obvious point: there are limits to the service obligations cities can safely take on. However, it is substantially more complex than that commonsensical point.
Cities face a dilemma, they must balance the requirements they have to provide services with the tax loads they can adequately impose on their citizens. Provide too little in the way of services and the quality of life in the city suffers. Provide too many or too varied a service mix and the taxing requirements to fund these services will drive the productive population beyond the physical limits of the city.
Cities must provide services to the poor. If they do not, the social pathologies of the poor then drive down the attractiveness of the city as a place for entrepreneurial activity. So cities must spend and tax productive populations (those consuming services in a negative ratio to the taxes they contribute) in order to fund these services. However, tax too much and provide too many services and the productive populations will exit the city to more tax friendly areas. Due to the spatial limits of cities, cities cannot extend their taxing reach. Thus cities must provide the bare essentials and encourage economic growth.
The solution to the dilemma is to allow the federal government to provide the majority of redistributive (aid to the poor) services and focus, as a city, on the provision of distributive (road repair, police) and regulatory services (health, sanitation).
Not a ringing cry to help your fellow man, but a cogent analysis of the fiscal demands and limitations facing urban America.
Urbanists, planners and public administration scholars will encounter this book somewhere in their professional training.
John C. McKee

The Elusive Executive: Discovering Statistical Patterns in the Presidency
The Elusive Executive: Discovering Statistical Patterns in the Presidency
by Gary King
Edition: Hardcover
10 used & new from CDN$ 8.28

3.0 out of 5 stars Moving beyond case studies, March 24 2004
The study of the Presidency can never get far beyond the analysis of the particular person who occupies the White House. The quantitative approach to the study of political science has often found itself stymied when trying to apply the methods of quantification and analytical methods to the study of the Presidency. Thus, presidential studies are often perceived to suffer from a case study approach with a lack of rigor, generalizability and the other trappings of modern social science.
This book by King and Ragsdale provides a starting point at which to begin the quantitative analysis of the presidency. They provide table after table of historical statistics and discuss various research questions amenable to quantitative analysis.
In my opinion, and this has been mined by several scholars already, is the analysis of bureaucratic outputs and presidential decision,is an area ripe for analysis.
While this is not a easy read; it is more like a reference book than an argued hypothesis driven monograph, the data and approach provide a sorely needed corrective to an other wise qualitative section of political studies.
John C. McKee

Presidential Power and the Modern Presidents: The Politics of Leadership from Roosevelt to Reagan
Presidential Power and the Modern Presidents: The Politics of Leadership from Roosevelt to Reagan
by Richard E. Neustadt
Edition: Paperback
28 used & new from CDN$ 13.77

4.0 out of 5 stars Machiavelli in the White House, March 23 2004
This is indeed one the classics in the field of presidential studies. Neustadt's contribution, although somewhat commonsensical at first glance, is that despite the huge increase in formal powers that the president has acquired over the years, the most fundamental power the president possesses is the power to persuade.
The president must persuade other independently elected officials to do as he sees fit. This, in a city such as Washington DC where people have seen powerful politicians come and go over the years, is easier said than done. The president must be attuned to the nuances of political issues and not allow himself to become cut off from the political back and forth by his retinue of aides. He must retain the prerogative of making the final political decision and avoid becoming a clerk and simply ratifying the decisions made form by the staff and the bureaucracy. Further, he must define what is in his political self interest.
The president does so by keeping himself informed, by employing a system of information that allows him to be at the center and making real decisions; and by carefully husbanding the power and carefully cultivating the image of the president. While the president does posses the power to command, instances where he must rely on command are a prima facie failure of persuasion.
Finally, the president must ensure that others understand his power. He must be able to strike a modicum of fear into both his allies and his foes. In the political sense, this means the ability to hurt someone electorally. If I as the president can campaign against you and make it stick, you will be more likely to fear me and be persuaded by my requests.
This is not an easy read, but if you are involved as a student of politics you WILL read this book at some point. A classic and well worth the effort.
John C. McKee

The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York
The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York
by Robert A. Caro
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 19.44
40 used & new from CDN$ 9.78

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Power corrupts . . ., March 20 2004
The Power Broker by Robert Caro deftly weaves together a myriad of stories, histories, biographies and sociological trends into a fascinating narrative on the development of New York City and the man who guided, controlled and ultimately placed an indelible stamp on the physical layout of modern world capital.
Robert Moses, a man of considerable intellectual capacity and enormous energy, demonstrates also an insatiable appetite for political power. His flaw is his fundamental dislike for the people he serves. The type of power he seeks is not that based in electoral competition and consent of the governed but that of bureaucratic power in the service of the most powerful segments of society. Having once attained power, he employs all of the tools at his disposal to become the indispensable man, repeatedly challenging his politically elected, nominal bosses to fire him. His ability to continue in office through repeated changes in leadership is a testament to his tenacity and ruthlessness. He then uses the appointed positions he has attained to acquire others.
One of his early positions is as an aide to Al Smith in the New York Legislature. Here he learns to write laws and, using his considerable talents masters the arcane art of drafting legislation. This serves him well in later years as he cajoles and bullies legislators to create special districts, which have as the head of the district whoever is currently the head of the Long Island State Parks Commission. Who might that be? You guessed it.
His power continues to grow through the century and his influence on the growth of New York is inescapable. That he may have done a lot of good is a question open for debate. Are the results of an undemocratic and in many ways authoritarian process good? Do the ends justify the means? He may have been able to "get the job done" and "he made the vaunted bureaucracy of city hall bend to his wishes" but he did so in highly disagreeable and bullying way. It is also a testament to his personality that Robert Moses continually went out of his way to sabotage the career of his brother and to the day he died, his only brother hated him.
It is only when he runs up against Nelson Rockefeller that he meets his match. Here Moses has an adversary with equally developed ego and with enormous resources to take him on. Indeed, the bonded funding for much of Moses' projects came from the Rockefeller controlled Chase Manhattan Bank. It is this leverage that Rockefeller use to finally push Moses out of power.
An incredibly well written book. Highly detailed and long with a densely layered structure.. This is one long book that I did not want to end.
John C. McKee

The Decline And Resurgence Of Congress
The Decline And Resurgence Of Congress
by James L. Sundquist
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 22.95
15 used & new from CDN$ 22.95

4.0 out of 5 stars The title says is all, March 19 2004
This is a classic study of the struggle for policy leadership and, indeed, preeminence between the Congress of the United States and the President. James L. Sundquist, a highly respected student of Congress, charts the decline of Congress as the leading policymaking body in the early and middle part of the 19th century and also shows the increase in power of the President.
The President, with the active participation and acquiescence of the Congress, begins to assert a broader and more decisive leadership role in terms of managing the economy. The Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, the creation of the modern Office of Management and Budget, and the Employment Act of 1946 give the President unprecedented powers in managing the economy.
The President also asserts broader powers with regard to foreign policy. The war and tariff setting powers are delegated to the President. Further, the President acquires even more influence as the initiator of legislation for the consideration of the legislative branch.
These trends are long term and evolve over a long period of time beginning in the early part of this century. The reach their zenith with the Presidency of Richard Nixon.
Nixon so abuses the relation with the Congress and attempts to use the powers given to the President that the Congress finally moves to reassert its prerogative.
By a series of legislative actions, (the War Powers Act; the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974; the extensive use of the legislative veto {later declared unconstitutional}; a thoroughgoing reform of the committee system and legislative process; and an a strengthening of Congressional capacity by increasing resources available to individual members) Congress reasserts is legitimate role in the policymaking process.
A very interesting story and well told. It is a very detailed book and a must read for Congressional specialists.
John C. McKee

A Sea of Words: A Lexicon and Companion to the Complete Seafaring Tales of Patrick O'Brian
A Sea of Words: A Lexicon and Companion to the Complete Seafaring Tales of Patrick O'Brian
by Dean King
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.87
35 used & new from CDN$ 2.63

4.0 out of 5 stars Great Companion Piece to the Series, March 18 2004
While I somewhat enjoyed the task of deciphering and tracking down the myriad of specialized, arcane and obsolete words employed by Patrick O'Brian in his majestic Aubrey-Maturin series, the discovery of this book provided a much more concise and handy way of doing this.
O'Brian's vast vocabulary and vast knowledge of seagoing nomenclature as well as late 18th and early 19th century social mores is impressive. This book allows one to appreciate the level of scholarship applied by O'Brian. However, this is much more than a simple glossary. It includes short biographies of leading personages of the day, histories of important battles, diagrams of ships and rigging and geographical references.
While one can probably get along without this book; assuming one has access to a good dictionary, encyclopedia and other reference books, this tome certainly eases the task.

The Federalist Papers
The Federalist Papers
by Alexander Hamilton
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 8.54
37 used & new from CDN$ 2.58

5.0 out of 5 stars The Foundation of an Unique Government, March 17 2004
The Federalist Papers are rightly considered one of the most authoritative explanations of the provisions of the Constitution in existence. While much further interpretation and definition of the Constitution has taken place over the past 200+ years through the slow accretion of judicial interpretation, the Federalist remains the source for a contemporary explanation of the political causes and justification for virtually every clause in the Constitution.
Some passages are less thrilling than others but Nos. 10, 39, 48, and 51 are about as good as it gets in terms of explicating the structure of what became the US government.
A must read for political science majors, history majors and selected parts for high school students in every government course.

The Oxford History of Mexico
The Oxford History of Mexico
by Michael C. Meyer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 54.82
24 used & new from CDN$ 5.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Exhaustive Treatment, March 16 2004
The "Oxford History of Mexico" is a well researched multidisciplinary book of history. It is an edited book, meaning that many authors devote their energies to the analysis of a single aspect of the glorious and heartbreaking history of Mexico. Thus, while each topic is well covered, there is some lack of narrative flow. Editor Michael Meyer is the author of another excellent history "The Course of Mexican History" that has a great narrative pace combined with a high level of detail. However, his book has been criticized for slighting the colonial experience. So, I guess with a story as complicated, long and eventful as the history of Mexico, you must sacrifice some narrative flow to provide detail or sacrifice detail to narrative flow.
That quibble aside, this is truly an excellent book. The colonial experience is vividly detailed with sections on the resistance of the Indian to exploitation, the social stratification of the Indian class during the colonial period, and the role of women in society including marriage and childbirth. Further, Santa Anna, an enormously polarizing character comes in for justifiable criticism (Texas, his ideological flip flops and lack of constancy to any of his allies over the years) but also is praised for his bravery and consistent patriotism and opposition to all forms of foreign domination of Mexico.
Finally, the role of ideology in the revolution is explored. While there were socialist overtones to much of the rhetoric that came out of the revolution, pragmatism and Mexicanidad prevail. That is, a truly independent course, truly Mexican, emerges without the ideological straight-jackets worn by other revolutionaries.
A remarkable effort and a recommended read to anyone with a interest in Mexican culture, history and politics.

Data Analysis for Politics and Policy
Data Analysis for Politics and Policy
by Tufte
Edition: Paperback
22 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear exposition and nascent use of clear graphics, Nov. 12 2003
Prior to becoming THE authority on the graphic display of quantitative information, Edward Tufte was a political scientist of the first order, an excellent statistician and a teacher par excellence. This slim volume is one of the clearest introduction to the use of regression analysis one could hope to find. I used it extensively in graduate school and have consulted frequently since.
The clear use of graphics foretell Tufte's groundbreaking later work and provide a guide for thinking statistically.
More importantly, Tufte is rigorous and demands one to constantly evaluate the quality of the data at hand and the logical or causal relationships one is positing. \
A great book for the beginning data analyst and a must for political science graduate students.

Laberinto de la Soledad y Otras Obras, El
Laberinto de la Soledad y Otras Obras, El
by Octavio Paz
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.44
27 used & new from CDN$ 9.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Majestuosa Obra de Literatura Mundial, Aug. 1 2000
No cabe duda que Octavio Paz a creado una obra de arte sin igual en el mundo, no solo el mundo de habla hispana. Su retrato del el Mexicano casi atrapado por su propia imagen de si mismo es una de las mas misticas exploraciones de la psicologia nacional.
Mi pregunta es come se puede reconciliar esta vision de Mexico con el Mexico dinamico, international, con vista al exterior, maduro y confiante en sus habilidades que existe en le presente? Creo yo que el el arte de Paz capturo una fase en el desenvolvimiento Mexicano. Hoy en dia, esta vista ya no le queda.

Page: 1 | 2