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Books by and about 2020 presidential candidates
Crippled America,
by Donald J. Trump (2015)
by Cory Booker (2016)
The Truths We Hold,
by Kamala Harris (2019)
Smart on Crime,
by Kamala Harris (2010)
Guide to Political Revolution,
by Bernie Sanders (2017)
Where We Go From Here,
by Bernie Sanders (2018)
Promise Me, Dad ,
by Joe Biden (2017)
Conscience of a Conservative,
by Jeff Flake (2017)
Two Paths,
by Gov. John Kasich (2017)
Every Other Monday,
by Rep. John Kasich (2010)
Courage is Contagious,
by John Kasich (1998)
Shortest Way Home,
by Pete Buttigieg (2019)
The Book of Joe ,
by Jeff Wilser (2019; biography of Joe Biden)
by Michelle Obama (2018)
Our Revolution,
by Bernie Sanders (2016)
This Fight Is Our Fight,
by Elizabeth Warren (2017)
Higher Loyalty,
by James Comey (2018)
The Making of Donald Trump,
by David Cay Johnston (2017)
Books by and about the 2016 presidential election
What Happened ,
by Hillary Clinton (2017)
Higher Loyalty ,
by James Comey (2018)
Trump vs. Hillary On The Issues ,
by Jesse Gordon (2016)
Hard Choices,
by Hillary Clinton (2014)
Becoming ,
by Michelle Obama (2018)
Outsider in the White House,
by Bernie Sanders (2015)

Book Reviews

(from Amazon.com)

(click a book cover for a review or other books by or about the presidency from Amazon.com)

Smart on Crime
by Kamala Harris

(Click for Amazon book review)

    Click on a participant to pop-up their full list of quotations
    from Smart on Crime, by Kamala Harris (number of quotes indicated):
  • Kamala Harris (5) California Democratic candidate for President; California Senator
    OR click on an issue category below for a subset.

BOOK REVIEW by OnTheIssues.org:

I'm a progressive and I should like Kamala Harris but I don't. I donate to all candidates of color running for president, and I prefer to vote for women over men for all offices, including for president I consider Kamala's demographic background as "ideal" for a presidential candidate. But there's a big conflict in her progressive credentials because she was a criminal prosecutor for so long, and then Attorney General (which is like the capo di tutti capi of all prosecutors). And I can't get past that so my support goes to other progressive candidates.

This book attempts to reconcile that conflict. On the campaign trail in 2019, Kamala calls herself a "progressive prosecutor," whose goal was to change the system rather than perpetuate an inherently racist system. So I read Kamala's book about her time as a prosecutor this book was published in 2009 in the hope that she could prove her case and her 2019 book as well. Her record says she is just another prosecutor, not a progressive prosecutor at all. Yes, she believes in applying some social programs to replace imprisonment (that's the core of the progressive view of the criminal justice system) but she believes in the current concept and implementation of policing / arrest / imprisonment. Progressives don't believe in that we instead believe that the current criminal justice system is inherently racist, and inherently unjust, and only radical overhaul can change that. Kamala believes in some incremental reforms, but not radical overhaul.

To her credit, Kamala believes in SOME parts of the progressive agenda in criminal justice reform, but only SOME - in particular in her attitude toward the War on Drugs. In this book, she portrays herself as a Drug Warrior: "Drug crimes exact a terrible toll and rob people young and old of hope," she intones in the book's introduction. Phrases like that scream "watch out! conservative nearby!" and are antithetical to core progressive values. But since announcing for the presidency, Kamala has changed her attitude on the Drug War, asserting that marijuana "gives a lot of people joy, and we need more joy in the world" (for example, Washington Post, Feb. 11, 2019). Yes, THAT is a progressive attitude but to count as a "progressive prosecutor," Kamala would need to expand her expressions of joy into criminal sentencing guidelines that shut down the rest of the war on drugs which she didn't do in this book, and hasn't done yet on the campaign trail. Progressives are overjoyed that Kamala sees joy in marijuana use but we're still waiting for how she would spread "more joy in the world," based on that.

Kamala does "get it" on what progressive policy demands for criminal justice reform: she describes "the courage to reject the myths and the outmoded approaches of the status quo". Her solution to replace the "outmoded approaches" is to focus prosecution on violent criminals instead of nonviolent offenders (that's the focus of the book's preface and introduction), and to apply social programs to nonviolent offenders, after arresting them but before incarcerating them. In my view, that is MORE progressive than most prosecutors, but it ain't progressive.

That was 2009 has Kamala "evolved" since then, to "get it" on criminal justice reform? In her 2019 book, The Truth We Hold, she writes, "America has a deep and dark history of people using the power of the prosecutor as an instrument of injustice -- of innocent men framed, of charges brought against people of color without sufficient evidence, of prosecutors hiding information that would exonerate defendants" (pp. 24-5). Yup, that is how I view the existing criminal justice system, and as a progressive, I do appreciate that Kamala understands that viewpoint. That's definitely MORE progressive than prosecutors who DON'T understand and express that viewpoint, but by accepting the existing framework of the current system, she's not really a "progressive prosecutor."

Kamala does NOT "get it" on the progressive viewpoint of the moral aspect of criminal justice reform either: here's an example that demonstrates she has not evolved by 2019. In her new book, she describes spending several years "disrupting the network of brothels masquerading as massage parlors" (p.35-6; that's police-speak for "shutting down whorehouses and arresting prostitutes"). Phrases like that scream "watch out! moralizer nearby!" and are even more antithetical to core progressive values than her drug warrior talk. How is founding a program to shut down brothels (a non-violent crime) focusing on violent criminals? Kamala justifies that by showing how she established "a safe house for sexually exploited youth--a sanctuary that would offer substance abuse and mental health treatment." That's a good progressive action, but Kamala couched it amid an arrest-prosecution-imprisonment program.

Bottom line: Kamala Harris has a demographic background that appeals to progressives, but this book disqualifies her from consideration as a "progressive" candidate. If you believe in being "tough-on-crime" but you consider social justice important to add to the criminal justice system, then Kamala is a good candidate for you. But she ain't no progressive.

-- Jesse Gordon, jesse@OnTheIssues.org, editor-in-chief of OnTheIssues, March 2019

 OnTheIssues.org excerpts:  (click on issues for details)
    Kamala Harris: Smart on Crime: focus on violence, youth, & prevention.
    Kamala Harris: Crime pyramid: nonviolent offender isn't hardened criminal.
    Kamala Harris: Treat crime economically: most safety for the investment.
    Kamala Harris: Deal with drug addiction in offenders, but still arrest them.
Principles & Values
    Kamala Harris: Grandfather served as high-level diplomat in India.

    Click for quotations from other sources by:
  • Kamala Harris California Democratic candidate for President; California Senator

The above quotations are from Smart on Crime
by Kamala Harris.

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by Jesse Gordon and OnTheIssues.org
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Page last edited: Apr 03, 2019