Friday, February 26, 2010

Why Some Faced Five Shilling Fines

Peverill Squire and Keith E. Hamm. 101 Chambers: Congress, State Legislatures, and the Future. Columbus, Oh..: The Ohio State University Press, 2005.

This book compares 99 state legislative chambers with the two Congressional chambers. All can trace their origins to colonial assemblies. These chambers have numerous differences, including numbers of members, numbers of residents per district, qualifications to serve, term limits, degrees of professionalism, staffing, pay, rules, organizational structures, etc.

The U.S. House emerged by using colonial assemblies as models in determining its procedures and structure, including creating committees and establishing leadership positions. The colonial assemblies were all changed by becoming part of a new nation as each state created their own Constitutions which reformed their legislatures.

The settlers of 14 Colonial assemblies (East Jersey and West Jersey would later merge into New Jersey) elected colonial assemblies that ranged from initial memberships of 11 in New Hampshire to 42 in Pennsylvania. 12 became bicameral. Pennsylvania started as bicameral in 1682 and become unicameral in 1701. They were established for societal and economic purposes, which colonies having different reasons for creating them. Most states used the British Parliament of the Tudor period as their guidelines in organizing their legislative assemblies. Almost all sought to have legislatures acting separately from the Governor. Most states have Councils that were appointed by and represented the Governor or, in Maryland, the Proprietor. These Councils mostly favored the interests of the King’s government. In some states, the Councils and Assemblies initially met together. Eventually, they all met separately. Thus, the authors note that bicameralism was due to political disagreements between the two bodies. These disputes were not class based, they note. The British government turned to bicameralism due to class as the House Lords membership was passed down from father to son.

The assemblies gained power during the 18th century. Most assemblies had political power equivalent to that of the Governor by 1763. This allowed the public to openly question the policies of their British government leaders.

Colonial representatives were more accessible to their constituents than were members of Parliament. There were 14,367 constituents for every House of Commons member in England compared to 1,200 or fewer constituents for every assembly member in New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Rhode Island.

Individuals could petition assemblies. About half of 18th century law passed by assemblies began as petitions.

Virginia’s House of Burgess met for five days in 1619 compared to an average of 157 days from 1728 to 1749.

Most assemblies had standing committees. Pennsylvania and Virginia had subcommittees.

Parliament had a tradition of reading bills three times that continues. After second reading, bills were referred to committees. If a committee reported a bill, it was debated, could be amended, and voted upon. The tactic of amending a bill to change it into a new direction was developed in the 1760s.

People of the elite, economically and socially, served in colonial assemblies. Legislative leaders were often from the top echelons of the elite class.

Most colonial assemblies required members to formally address the Speaker while debating. Pennsylvania, Virginia, Georgia, and Maryland assemblies stated that the name of a member with an opposing view could not be used in debate.

Georgia required assemblymen to be Christians and Pennsylvania required them to follow anti-Catholic laws. Maryland, from 1704 to 1716, prohibited tavern keepers as assemblymen. Ministers were prohibited from being legislators in seven states, a policy that also existed in Parliament. In 1978, a court decision eliminated Tennessee’s law preventing legislators from being ministers.

Of the 39 signers of the U.S. Constitution, 32 had served in state legislatures and 18 had served in colonial assemblies. The creators of Congress were familiar with legislative processes.

Thomas Paine and Ben Franklin favored unicameral legislatures. Franklin compared bicameralism to having horses of opposite ends pulling the same cart in conflicting directions.

Voters elected the earliest state legislators, except in South Carolina and New Hampshire where lower house members elected upper house members and in Maryland where voters elected electors who then elected their state senators.

While most state legislatures developed their initial constructions from states’ experiences with their colonial assemblies, the legislatures in different states experienced different evolutions.

All state legislatures were created in their state Constitutions. Each Constitution, except in North Carolina, allows the legislators to create their own rules and procedures. Yet many state Constitutions have been amended to place specific requirements upon legislatives rules and committee structures. The Colorado Constitution was amended to require every billt o have a committee vote.

Some states gave their legislatures supremacy powers over other branches. Some legislatures chose the Governor and who would be Judges. Rhode Island still allows the legislature to make appointments, which could even be legislators, to over 300 Executive positions. 200 of these appointments were also legislators, as of 1998.

Three states, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Maine use joint committees from both houses to consider bills. Alaska requires both houses to meet in joint session to vote on veto overrides and also to approve appointments made by the Governor.

The first legislature with term limits was Pennsylvania in 1776.

There were efforts to increase the professionalism of legislatures, with full time legislators with staffs, in the 1980s. Two decades later, there were movements in some states to reverse this trend.

28 states, as of 2004, have the number of days of legislative sessions determined by their state Constitutions.

In 1683, Pennsylvania legislators received three shillings daily pay and faced a five shilling fine per day of willingly not attending.

The first Congressional staffers were hired in 1856 as part time committee staffers. The first personal staffs were hired by the U.S. Senate in 1885. The U.S. House followed with personal staff in 1893.

Some state legislatures had staff members in the 19th century. New York’s legislature had 41 staffers in 1852. The Wisconsin Assembly had 50 staffers in 1887. The Illinois state legislature had 101 staffers in the early 1890s. Most states began hiring more legislative staffers in the early 20th century.

The authors found that wealthier states were more apt to have more professional legislatures. More professional legislatures tended to pass more bills.

The variation in the number of leadership positions rangers from one, the Speaker in Louisiana and Mississippi Houses, to Connecticut were 49 of its 191 members are leaders.

Fund raising patterns for state legislative races vary among states. Some states rely heavily on central party organizations led by legislative leaders to conduct the bulk of fund raising for legislative candidates. In some other states, individual candidates are primarily responsible for their own campaign fund raising.

Legislative committees were common in the 1840s. Mississippi, from 1948 to 1956, had 46 Senate committees for its 49 Senators. The 1950s saw Florida with 38 committees for its 39 Senators, so every Senator was either a committee chairs or its President.

Most state legislatures require conference committees to have equal representatives from both Houses. Congress does not have this requirement.

Approximately 5% of bills introduced into Congress become law. Most states legislatures have higher rates of per cent of bills introduced that are enacted. Most states pass at least 20%of bills that are introduced.

The U.S. House Speaker has full discretion in referring bills to committees. The U.S. Senate President’s committee designation powers can be appealed. State legislatures use an assortment of referral processes. Some use the Majority Leader or a Senate Pro Temo, or another leader, or a committee chair, or a clerk to refer bills to committees. In Maine, referrals are by a chamber vote. Pennsylvania and a few other states prohibit changing a referral decision.

There have been several notable filibusters. One lasted eight days in the 1990 Maryland Senate. Two members had a 36 hour filibuster in the 1957 Texas Senate. A continuous three day filibuster in the 1924 Rhode Island Senate was halted by a stink bomb. Some chambers limit debates to prevent filibusters.

A few states require every bill before a legislative committee to be reported out of committee. Most other states have procedures to discharge from committee a bill that has not been reported. The Pennsylvania House allows 4% of its members to discharge a bill, which gives minority party members potential powers that don’t exist in most other legislatures.

In the early 17th century, there were several examples of members of Congress, including one U.S. Senator, Charles Carroll, who left office in preference of serving in the state legislature. (He resigned in 1792 to serve in the Maryland State Senate). State office lured 48 U.S. Senators from 1790 to 1849 and 8 U.S. Senators from 1850 to 1949.

Farmers composed 62% and lawyers 7% of the Maryland Assembly members in 1635 to 1688. Records are incomplete but farming was a leading occupation of legislators through the end of the 19th century. Lawyers increased as a percent of legislators from then on.

The turnover rate for legislators leaving office saw a most noticeable swing in Pennsylvania when its turnover rate went to 62% in 1696 to 1705 to 18% in 1766 to 1775. Many Pennsylvania legislators served for over 15 single year terms. Legislative turnover rates were relatively higher in most states during the first half of the 19th century. Longer service was found to have tended to produce more involved legislators who created more complex legislative structures.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Boring Academic Insights into South Carolina Republican Politics

Jenny Sanford. Staying True. New York: Ballantine Books, 2010.

This is the autobiography of the wife of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. Her father and uncle was part owners of the Milwaukee Braves baseball team. Her husband was having an affair and they had separated so he could “get his head right” as he had claimed the affair was over. Unfortunately, he lied, the affair was continuing, and the press found out.

When they were engaged, Mark jokingly asked her to sign an agreement that her personal expenses, including any medical bills, would be capped at $100 per month. While it was a prank, it also showed the male chauvinism in his humor.

Mark became bored at work and decided to go into politics. He ran for Congress. Jenny saw him as an idealistic candidate campaigning against enormous odds of winning. They loaned the campaign $100,000, which included money shoe was inherited. Her sister-in-law made homemade campaign signs. The press considered Mark Sanford as a fringe candidate. He handed out fake billion dollar bills as a protest against Federal spending. He campaigned in favor of term limits and was the only candidate who promised to limit himself to three terms. A poll six weeks before the primary had him running in fifth place with 2% of those surveyed supporting him. He began campaigning on the fact him campaign had spent less money than had been raised. A poll a week before the primary had him in fourth place with the support of 14% of those surveyed.

Mark Sanford learned a lesson in politics and the media. A reporter asked how he would vote if a bill had funds for roads in his district but contained billions of dollars of wasteful projects. He replied he would vote against it. The press then reported he was against roads in his district. Sanford finished second with 19% compared to leader Van Hipp’s 31%. In South Carolina, a runoff is held if no candidate receives a majority. Sanford won the runoff with 52% of the vote.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee criticized Sanford for having been a professional goose exterminator in New Zealand. His opposition to increased spending for creating more police officer positions had him labeled as “pro-crime”. Sanford still won with 67% of the vote.

Jenny Sanford stayed in South Carolina to raise their three, and later four, boys. She writes about the strain it was living apart. Several members of a Congressional fellowship advised her not to get angry at Mark.

The author also learned that fundraising is a constant part of politics. Her husband was often away at fundraisers.

Mark Sanford was elected Governor. Jenny Sanford had to worry that her sons did not break things in the Governor’s Mansion. Her four year old son once became stuck in an elevator, which became a news item. She also learned to accept that the University of South Carolina Gamecocks sports teams made it appropriate for her sons to wear hats that read “COCKS”.

Over time, the author noticed her husband became more distracted. He would spend even his spare time away from his family. Jenny discovered the affair. He promised the affair was over just hours before he bought tickets to fly with his mistress to Argentina.

When Governor Sanford flew to Argentina, his staff as well as Jenny did not know where he was. Word that the Governor was missing hit the news. The affair became public.

Jenny Sanford used prayer and her faith to forgive her husband. She also moved out of the Governor’s mansion and left him.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Where Former Presidents Go to Fly

Carol Felsenthal. Clinton in Exile: A President Out of the White House. New York: Harper, 2009.

Bill Clinton left the Presidency in 2001 with a 66% approval rating in one poll. Clinton states he enjoyed being President. In his last days in office, numerous people asked him to pardon people. He pardoned or commuted the sentences for 140 people.

Al Gore was an influential Vice President who was deeply involved in policies, especially in foreign relations and environmental issues. Clinton had great personal relation skills and Gore had a strong intellect as well as good Congressional ties.

Clinton called many people for advice. Clinton respected Gore’s advice. Gore distanced himself from Clinton during the 2000 campaign and didn’t ask for Clinton’s help with campaigning. Former Democratic National Committee leader Don Fowler, among others, believe this was a mistake by Gore.

Tabloid reports claimed the Clintons left the White House with items that belonged in the White House. These reports were mostly false as the Clintons took things given to them personally, yet they did return some times. Other false reports emerged that the Clinton had removed items from the Presidential aircraft and that his staff had damaged White House equipment. This was followed by criticisms of the people he had pardoned.

Clinton’s pardon of Marc Rich was criticized even by some leading Democrats. Clinton was surprised by the outrage.

Former Presidents get official offices. Clinton accepted the idea of Rep. Charles Rangel to put his office in Rangel’s Harlem district. This was one of the least wealthy urban districts.

One of Clinton’s first major post Presidential efforts was to raise money for rebuilding and relief efforts in the aftermath of a major earthquake in India.

Clinton had earned $35,000 as Arkansas Governor and $200,000 as President. He had legal bills of $12 million. He sought to buy a house in New York yet was, at first, turned down for a mortgage. Clinton was able to pay debts by lecturing at a $100,000 minimum price. He earned over $50 million in lecture fees in seven years.

Clinton did not like Jimmy Carter. Clinton felt Carter had caused his defeat for reelection as Governor by placing 1,800 Cuban refugees in Arkansas, 1,000 of whom escaped and rioted, even after Carter had promised not to send Arkansas more refugees. Many Arkansas voters blamed Clinton for allowing Carter to do this. Yet, Clinton admired how Carter’s post-Presidency had served many good causes worldwide.

Carter and Clinton disagree on matters such as Haiti, where Carter was attempting to the resignation of its dictator while Clinton sent in troops to remove the dictator. Carter was also critical of Clinton for his sex scandals.

Clinton received $12 million for his autobiography. This may be the largest advance for a nonfiction book every paid.

Clinton hangs around with many billionaires, including ones who are single and have airplanes that they loan to Clinton. Clinton’s reputed best friend is Ronald Wayne Burkle, a billionaire.

Clinton has been active in fighting AIDS in Africa. He negotiated lower prices for pharmaceutical prices for AIDS medications. Ira Magaziner administered these efforts. Their efforts have persuaded South Africa to allow proper medicines to be distributed. They have helped hospitals be built.

Clinton argues his Administration properly handled the threat of terrorism. He blames the Bush Administration for losing the focus on terrorist groups.

Bill Clinton in 2006 saw Barack Obama as a strong contender against Hillary Clinton for President in 2008. Bill Clinton urged Hillary’s advisers to attack Obama and prevent him from becoming too popular. His advice was ignored.

When Hillary announced for President in 2007, Bill campaigned for her. In part, this would demonstrate to Gore and others who had shunned his support that he was still valuable as a campaigner. Questions over their joint tax returns emerged. This damaged the campaign.

All Hail Sjur Lindebraekke

Gerard Loewenberg, Samuel C. Patterson, and Malcolm E. Jewell (eds.) Handbook of Legislative Research. Cambridge, Ma.: Harvard University Press, 1985.

Heinz Eulau notes how Woodrow Wilson in 1885 observed that the executive and legislative branches of American government were a “fusion of powers”.

Donald R. Matthews observes there are varying avenues open to different types of people to become legislators in different jurisdictions. Legislators tend not to emerge from the “average” of who they represent. They tend to be wealthier, more educated, and have higher status than their constituents. Legislatures often have a much higher percent of lawyers than exist within their jurisdictions, although this is mostly an American trend not found in most other countries. Legislators are more apt to be men.

Matthews notes academics are aware of only once where a person was forced to be a legislator against his will. Norway’s Constitution required those elected to Parliament to serve. Sjur Lindebraekke was nominated by the Conservative Party despite not wishing the nomination nor being a party member and was elected despite refusing to campaign and arguing he didn’t want to be elected.

Lynn Ragsdale notes that voters and the media often portray legislative elections as more competitive than they really are.

Malcolm E. Jewell notes that representatives can have elements of being both representative of their constituents and being authoritative in determining their own views. Legislators seek the view of their constituents. They also consider the depth of those views and the degree to which they may dissent from their opinions. Many legislators feel conflicting pressures as to whether they should do what is best for their district or best for their nation/state. Loyalty to the positions of their political parties can take priority over their constituents’ views. A study published in 1977 found Pennsylvania was one state where legislators had relatively low allegiance to political party positions. Many legislators seek services for their districts, although the degree to which they seek these varies and often depends on such variables such as staff support.

Jewell notes it is important for legislators to comprehend the degree to which their constituents feel about certain issues.

David W. Brady and Charles S. Bullock, III observe legislators often represent factions in internal splits within their own political parties. They also note that coalitions of groups often form over policies seeking legislative action. Studies indicate that, as the number of groups involved in a coalition increases, the more unstable it is over time.

Robert L. Peabody observes there is both formal and informal legislative leadership. The first Speaker of Congress, Frederick A. C. Muhlenberg, who previously had presided over Pennsylvania’s legislature, was chosen by the entire body with few partisan concerns involved in his election. Over time, Congressional leaderships have increased partisanship. U.S. House Speakers Thomas Reed, in the late 19th century, and Joseph Cannon in the early 20th century, held much power as they chaired the Rules Committee and appointed committee memberships. The Speaker’s powers were reduced afterwards.

Susan Webb Hammond notes that the use of legislative staff began escalating during the 1960s. Prior, staff mostly served as experts on legislative committees or as legislative agency staff. Several state government reform movements in the 1960s helped create support for more legislative staff. Legislative staff were used to support caucuses and as personal staff to specific legislators.

Ronald D. Hedlund notes the culture of states affects how their legislators are organized. Some states have voters with strong ethical views while other states have voters have tended to have stronger profit motivations. Some states find most legislators commute to work while larger states require legislators to stay in their Capitol cities. Most of these legislative structures results in legislative actions of issues in a piecemeal fashion.

Legislators with more members tend to have more opportunities to have members with expertise on more topics, tend to have shorter debates, are more complicated in structure, and often have stricter operating rules.

Melissa P. Collie notes how legislative votes depend on such matters as the cohesiveness of their affiliated political parties, constituent opinions, personal policy beliefs, etc. Legislators in districts with fewer reelection worries tend to be more loyal to the positions of their party leadership.

Bert A. Rockman notes that the strategy that an Executive uses may determine success in legislative relations as much as do part personal relations with legislators. The degree to which legislators use their oversight functions over the Executive branch varies. A leading determinant of the degree to which legislators interact with the Executive branch is the degree of the aspirations of legislators to engage in Executive policies. Factors that increase legislative oversight include providing legislators with the authority to change Executive policies and the availability of staff resources. Other matters than can affect oversight include opposite party control of the Executive branch, media attention on an issue, a public appeal for oversight, or legislators seeking oversight roles as advancing their legislative roles. Alan Rosenthal concluded that legislative oversight is more a faction of having a legislative process in place to conduct oversight than the desires of individual legislators desiring oversight.

Keith E. Hamm observes many legislative committees have majority representation of members who agree with legislative leaders. He further observes that many legislators tend to have mostly members who support the type of business that concerns the committees.

Bruce I. Oppenheimer found amateur state legislators often lacked the technical skills to evaluate technical issues such as water resources policies.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

We Republicans Don't Need No Stinkin' Justice

William Keisling. Maybe Four Steps: or, The Shame of Our Cities: The Politicalization of Our Criminal Justice System. State College, Pa.: Yardbird. 1991.

The author alleges that the son of Pennsylvania Governor Richard Thornburgh used cocaine, even in the Governor’s mansion, and that the Governor used his influence with the U.S. Justice Department to keep his son out of trouble.

Ironically, Richard Guida, who was in charge of prosecuting drug cases for the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office had his own drug problem. Guida was indicted and claimed, in a deal with prosecutors, that Henry Barr, an assistant to Governor Thornburgy, used cocaine.

Meanwhile, Auditor General Don Bailey questioned a Pennsylvania Transportation Department contract where it turned out that the purchased trucks from this contract had smaller engines that ordered and had tampered serial numbers. The U.S. Attorney’s office decline to look into the matter.

The author claims some state government administrators awarded jobs in return for 5% of salaries being returned to their political campaign committees. Auditor General Al Benedict was convicted of doing this.

A Federal prosecutor claimed Auditor General Bailey continued to employ a number of people suspected of engaging in Benedict’s jobs scheme. Bailey replied he had no proof these people had been involved in wrongdoing. Bailey did not fire them. Barbara Hafer used this as a campaign issue to defeat Bailey for reelection. Hafter fired these employees. The employees suied and an arbitrator ruled for the employees.

When Dick Thornburgh was U.S. Attorney, he prosecuted John Torquato, Sr., Cambria County Democratic Party Chariman. Joseph O’Kicki told the author how he contributed 5% of his salary as Assistant County Solicitor to the Cambria County Democratic Committee, but that only 2% was expected to be contributed. O’Kicki also claimed one committeeman had a system where he filled out all the ballots counted in his election district.

U.S. Attorney Thornburgh prosecuted Allegheny County District Attorney Robert Duggan, alleged he received $137,416 in unreported income. Some of this money allegedly came from collections from criminals in return for not prosecuting them. Duggan died from a gunshot, which was ruled a suicide.

John Torquato, Jr. had a business in California, the Computer Technology Associates (CTA). CTA sought a contract to collect overpayments from state employees. State Treasurer R. Budd Dwyer negotiated and receive for the state better terms. Dwyer also insisted CTA incorporate in Pennsylvania and that 25 Pennsylvanians be hired for basic CTA operations. Dwyer also required CTA to provide a contract of approximately $55,000 to the School Board Association to handle mailings to School Districts. Dwyer still balked at signing a final agreement. Robert Asher, Republican State Committee Chairman, told Dwyer that the Republican State Committee would deny funds to Dwyer’s campaing unless he approved the CTA contract. Torquato then contributed $300,000 to Dwyer’s political campaign, to which the author states Dwyer replied “fine, but no quid pro quo.”

Attorney General Leroy Zimmerman was requested to offer an official opinion concerning the CTA contract. William Smith, Dauphin County Republican Party Co-Chairman, stated he told Zimmerman that Zimmerman’s election campaigns would receive $100,000 if Zimmerman’s decision favored CTA. Zimmerman learned there was a Federal investigation into the contract and decided he was unable to issue an opinion.

Dwyer, as State Treasurer, questioned travel vouchers submitted by First Lady Ginny Thornburgh. This upset the Governor. The author theorized the Governor’s office was aware of the CTA scheme and acted to set up Dwyer in revenge. Dwyer, Asher, and Smith were convicted in the scheme. Dwyer committed suicide before sentencing.

The author claims Republican legislators and staff deliberately increased state spending to force the next Governor, Democrat Bob Casey, into raising taxes.

The author writes how a former Judge told him how justice could be bought. The Judge claims he took $10,000 to an Attorney General on behalf of narcotics dealers.

Monday, February 01, 2010

We Know No Republican Would Hide the Truth Like This

Daniel Archangel. Two Babies. Liverware Publishing, Inc. 2009.

This intriguing and well written novel provides insights into the emerging powers of the Internet as a political fact checking source. Bloggers and Internet researchers are confronted, in this book, with suspicions about a politician’s truthfulness. They find themselves delving into stories the mainstream press ignores, undercover information that mainstream reporters do not bother to seek, and publish them.

This fiction book gives a nod to a real political story. It points out how Internet research can be faulty, but it can also allow people to dig for, and find, the truth. Internet bloggers are increasing their importance as news sources.

The book presents a blogger who describes himself as a citizen-journalist. It notes that many bloggers write mostly opinions and that many of their writings have little value except to a few readers. Yet more bloggers are seeking truths on matters and are doing so without financial gain. They may editorialize, but they seek to present a truth as they see it.

A scandal is in the eye of the beholder, as the author demonstrates. People were shocked when Gennifer Flowers claimed she had an affair with Governor Bill Clinton, Yet when she claimed she was rewarded with a secretarial job that paid $17,000, others began doubting the degree of scandal that any relationship between the two would yield such a small salaried position.

A politician is presented in this book. Many suspect she has a secret. The author contacts an obscure relative whom the mainstream media has ignored. Through this contact, he solves the puzzle of a scandalous family secret.

The mainstream political media is presented as a group that en masse prints similar stories. They mostly learn what politicians tell them, report it, and each reporter devours the same facts as presented to them by politicians’ opponents. Few reporters seek to discover facts from outside the mainstream sources.

The book notes the nastiness of politics. Candidates find small facts about opponents and exaggerate them to make them appear more scandalous than they really are. For instance, a person who pays child support and pays late once becomes a “deadbeat dad”.

The book’s leading character questions why a pregnant politician with an admitted high risk pregnancy whose waster broke, a condition most physicians state should require immediate hospitalization, would fly several hours and drive several more hours to a hospital. That trip is illogical. Meanwhile, her unmarried daughter has missed the last four months of school. The blogger searches for a connection, and discovers an answer that most would not suspect. Might a ruse sending suspicion to a daughter who proves not to have been pregnant in fact have hidden who really was pregnant?

The main character realizes the truth can be established in medical records. Yet, the politician refuses to release the records that could validate her claims she was the birth mother and not a daughter. When the doctor releases a statement, it fails to convince the critics, as it mentions the politician “has” the baby but never alludes to the fact that the politicians gave birth to the baby.

The blogger, in contact the disregarded distant relative, learns a family secret he observed while attending a family funeral. While bloggers were speculating about the birth hiding a scandal, might there in fact have been an even greater scandal that was hidden? This book expertly unwinds the mystery.