Amazon ate my earlier review, probably because they did not like all the links I included to make the point that while Patrick Buchanan is dead on target as an individual minds, there is a *huge* convergence of public opinion from left to right that boils down to this: government is broken, from war criminals in the White House to doormats in Congress abdicating their Article 1 responsibility to balance the power of the Executive.
I regret the loss of my detailed review, here are just a few of the notes from the flyleaf:
+ Insufficient focus on Cheney, but does correctly evaluate Wolfowitz as a madman.
+ Tars Bush’s ideology as a “false God”as “modernity’s Golden Calf.”
+ Respect Gore Vidal in citing “perpectual war for perpetual peace.”
+ Opens book with excellent discussion of the cost of lost wars and the mismantling of artificial nations (there are 177 failed states today,up from 148 in 2006 and 75 is 2005.
+ This may be the most credible and thoughtful author on the subject of treason in modern times. He explicitly accuses corporate chiefs who favor globalization and “transnationalism” with being traitors to the Republic.
+ He states that Islamic militarism is not a threat to America. I agree.
+ Pages 153-154 provide a brilliant articulation of seven reasons why China is not a threat to the US.
+ I note: “This is the epitaph for the village idiot.”
While I am not quite prepared to say the US should be a white, Christian nation, in part because the Native Americans and the people of color we brought here in slavery have every bit as much right as we do to the place, I *am* prepared to say that we need to emulate the Spanish and issue an expulsion edict for all Muslims who refuse to adopt our customs. Any Muslim that continues to beat their wife and demand that she dress in Muslim fashion, should be shown the way out of here. Any Muslim that speaks or hears without protest the advocation of the murder of Americans on American soil should be immediately evicted with all property confiscated. Indeed, I am beginning to believe that we should outlaw foreign ownership of anything and especially land, as well as absentee landlords, and of course revoke corporate personality.
I am going to list some books at the end of this review because while the author is utterly brilliant and on point, he overlooks all the evil things the US Government is doing “in our name,” and I will be the first to say we cannot restore our Republic unless we first restore both our moral compass and the sovereignty of We the People, demanding that the Constitution and Electoral Reform be the only two issues that matter henceforth.
The authors table of contents says it all, and I have never seen a better more organized laydown of content than this one, so good that I am spelling it out here because for many, the table of contents alone is sufficient (but I urge buying the book, it is very readable and thought-provoking).
An Economy in Hock
La Reconquista (the Reconquering, Mexico has gotten all the way back to the Guadalupe-Hidalgo line)
Subordinating Our Culture
Subordinating Our Country
An Ideology of Submission
Enforcing the Ideology
Spreading the Ideology
Can America Be Saved?
Reclaiming the Individual
Reclaiming the Economy
Reclaiming the Government
If All Else Fails
This is an enormously important book that speaks to the heart and mind of every person of any race or faith who believes in America the Beautiful, in dignity, justice, and liberty for all. That’s not what we stand for today, and that is a travesty of epic proportions.
One final observation: the author is completely correct in all that he says, but we have to recognize that it is the virtual colonialism, unilateral militarism, and predatory immoral capitalism (a class war on both our workers and middle class and those of other countries) that are the foundation for the mass immigration toward America. There is plenty of money for peace–for just one third of the $900 billion a year military budgets of all nations, we can resolve every single one of the ten high-level threats to humanity identified by the United Nations (with LtGen Dr. Brent Scowcroft representing America) and created infinite stabilizing wealth, what Medard Gabel calls in his forthcoming book, “Seven Billion Billionaries.” We know what needs to be done, we have to take back control of the US Government from the corrupt politicians and crooked Wall Street gangs that have legalized the marginalization of the majority of all citizens.
The blind support for an Israel that is both fascist and genocidal, combined with the idiocy of hundreds of billions of dollars for Egyptian arms purchases and total subservicen to the depraved and desposit Saudi regime are signs of a government that is totally out of touch with both reality, and the possibilities of peace and prosperity. No one in Washington cares about us, only about their next bribe or paycheck or lunch hour.
I have been reading since the 1960’s, but it is only in the last ten years that I have seen a virtual nuclear explosion of discovery, dissemination, discussion, and deliberation over matters that in the past have been hushed up, censored, ignored, ridiculed, or crushed.
This is such a book. I list a few others that merit study below. America was, as the author puts forth, a virgin territory in which the Indians were genocided (both deliberately and accidentally, e.g. by infectuous diseases not yet known to them) so that a European war could play out between Catholics, Protestants, and secret societies, the Freemasons in the forefront.
I am not a fan of conspiracy theories, but I do believe that when documentation reaches a critical mass, it is essential that we keep an open mind and “deal with it.”
EDIT Inspired by 1st Comment: Rule by Secrecy, which slipped my mind, ends by suggesting that aliens populated the earth and the secret societies evolved as their “straw bosses” when it was realized that the larger mass of now much more intelligent humans could not be “penned up” as slaves. This is certainly plausible, but my own interim explanation is that the secret societies, which evolved to challenge the authorities of both king and pope, may have seen it convenient to claim that they were the represenatives of a “higher order” such as the Illuminati appear to claim. Either way, the longer we continue to eat our own seed corn and kill our own children of the Earth, the less likely we are to defeat these secret societies and redistribute the wealth–there is PLENTY of money for peace and prosperity across the planet, it is simply too concentrated in greedy, corrupt, arrogant, and irresponsible hands.
There is no question in my own mind, as a reader of non-fiction reviewed here at Amazon (the last 1000 books, not the first 2000+), but that the US Government is not in charge of anything. We the People are not in charge of the US Government. I see a very clear connection between secret societies, select bankers, corrupt corporate chiefs all too eager to screw their stockholders and their employees and their customers, and a Congress and a White House that are nothing more than prostitutes.
This is an important book, because it begins to fill the gaps. The people have a digital memory now, and those that have abused power cloaked in secrecy, now need to help create infinite wealth–there is no need to confiscate ill-gotten gains as long as those who have the concentrated wealth now do not stand in the way of our creating “seven billion billionaires” (Medard Gabel’s term).
This book earns my vote for top transpartisan book of the decade, along with “All Rise” (see link below). This great man is saying things that I and others have been saying since 2000, but because of his stature, we now finally have the national enema that we all need. Lee Iacocca, in my personal view, should link up with Reuniting America, and volunteer to form a Sunshine Cabinet of transpartisan retired leaders (corporate, military, law enforcement, education, and others). We need to show America that it is possible to create a balanced sustainable budget, and to have common sense priorities.
The book opens with a discussion of the nine C’s of leadership: Curiosity, Creativity, Communicator, Character, Courage, Conviction, Charisma, Competency, and Common Sense. In evaluating the current crop of candidates for President, all fail with the exception of Joe Biden for President and John Edwards for Vice President.
He stresses people and prioities, and for the first time in any book I have read, he calls for all presidential candidates to appoint their Cabinet BEFORE the election so the people can evaluate the team and not just the Man. This is something I have advocated since 2000, see the original documents at Citizens-Party.org.
His comments on Bush-Cheney cronism are devastatingly on the mark. He points out that the insider game excludes top talent.
He finds Congress to be failing at the five top issues for all Americans: Iraq, Jobs, Health Care, Education, and Energy.
He is critical of the Executive for telling lies to get a war with Iraq, for condoning torture, and for being reactive instead of proactive.
To make his point, he notes that for what we have spent in Iraq, we could have instead hired 8 million teachers, 8 million police, fire, and medical support specialists; funded 25M college scholarships, and given every citizen a year of free gas and health care.
In criticizing the Iraq strategy, he points out that unlike Gulf I, there are no Arab nations in the coalition this time, and that is the truth-teller. He specifically laments the loss of “America the Good” in the eyes of the world.
Among the top issues he personally focuses on in the book are Energy, Fair Trade vice Free Trade, restoration of moral capitalism and an end to the CEO looting of companies at the expense of workers; the protection of the middle class, the reduction of medical (and I would add, educational) bureaucracies, and the US brain gap–South Korea, Japan, and Singapore are getting a reverse brain drain from the US, as well as training their own better than we are.
He slams James Carville for representing the worst of the structured political process, where a candidate is told what their policies will be based on political consultants and focus groups.
The book closes with a discussion of four traits he learned from others: Optimism; Common Sense; Discipline; and–from his mother–Love.
At the end, he calls America to action, asking each of us to give something up, put something back in, and elect a LEADER.
I do NOT agree with those who are critical of either the author or the book. This is an easy to read totally straight-up book that is now, along with “All Rise” and “The Tao of Democracy” among my top-rated Transpartisan books. See my varied lists on Transpartisan, democracy, immoral capitalism, impeachment of Cheney, etc.
If he will help form a Sunshine Cabinet, and Reuniting America can raise $500M a year ($20 from 25 million Americans, or $100 from 5 million Americans) we can close down the Republican and Democratic partisan machines that have corrupted our democracy, and we can restore informed engaged democracy. We need this man’s common sense now more than ever.
Of all the books I have read, inclusive of a good number on religion, on knowledge, and on the pathologies of power, this book is perhaps the single clearest, most up to date, and most compelling definition of the extreme right in America as the world’s new fascists.
I created the image that I am uploading with the review several years back, when Condi Rice and others had the temerity to call General Tony Zinni a traitor when Zinni, the most recently retired Command-in-Chief of the US Central Command, made a clear public case for NOT invading Iraq. Collin Powell was more subdued, saying “if you break it, you own it,” but Bush-Cheney do not compute nuances, and were not listening. They both reflected this book’s basic premise, that when dissent is considered treason, one is dealing with a neo-fascist regime.
The author is uniquely qualified as both a graduate of a top-level divinity school, and a world-class investigative journalist, to make this case.
He opens the book with an annotated list of fourteen features of fascism that set the stage, and I list them here because of their importance–buy the book to get the whole picture:
1. Cult of Tradition
2. Rejection of Modernism
3. Action for Action’s Sake
4. Critics are Modernists
5. Dissent is Treason
6. Fueled by Frustration
7. Lacking Identity, Contrives Birthright
8. Humiliated and Delusional vis a vis external enemies
9. Pacifism is evil
10. Elitist contempt for weak (similar to poorest of whites contempt for hard-working blacks)
11. Cult of Hero, Cult of Death
12. War as Sexual Sublimation
13. Selective Populism (generally White versus All, but Colored can “Become” White)
14. Newsspeak, Hijacking of Language
This very educated and quietly balanced author cites Karl Popper’s seminal work on Open Society and its Enemies on the pathological outcomes from faith in excess, faith that is intolerant of others. It is clear throughout this book that America is under siege from two faiths in excess–the external far enemy of violent intolerant Islam, and the more subversive internal danger of neo-Nazi fascists in waiting, mobilizing the dispossessed whites who do not read a lot, and get “all they need to know” from Pat Robertson’s 700 Club and other similar self-serving channels whose primary role is to raise cash for the Hitler’s in Waiting.
Blinding insight from this author: the extreme right does not limit it’s cherry-picking to intelligence–it routinely cherry-picks from the Bible, which contains ample violence and bigotry and hatred for the ends of the extreme right: channeling fury into funding.
The author discussed “dominionism” as the fascist rendition of the Christian faith.
Key intellectual and patriotic contributions in this book include a study of the evangelicals and the number that take the Bible literally, the naming of names at the top who are a danger to American democracy, and in three pages of damning indictment, the manner in which neo-fascist Kenneth Blackwell, Secretary of State for Ohio, stole that state’s electoral votes for Bush by manipulating and disappearing voting registrations and actual votes.
Chisto-Facism is a closed system that demands total obedience and indoctrination into a culture of hate that demonizes all who do not “believe.” Holy Cow! This is not just fascist, it’s a cult!
As the book draws to a conclusion, the author compares totalitarian regimes and their elaborate spectacles for the masses, with the Christo-fascists in America. The similarities are compelling, especially when the author discusses how Hitler used homosexuals as an early target group to test drive his extra-judicial witch-hunts.
A very helpful description of the conversion process, which is scripted, deceptive, and akin to “love bombing” as practiced by the Moonies, shows that individual are being recruited into a closed system that labels all “non-members” to be outside the circle. As the author sums it up, this system divides families, friends, and communities.
The author frightens me when he discusses how the non-profit (i.e. not taxed) extreme rightist religion fuehrers favor unrestricted capitalism, the elimination of all taxes, while paradoxically including international bankers with Muslims and others who will be “Left Behind.”
On that note, the author says that the Left Behind series is a window into the souls of the blindly faithful.
My two take-aways from this superb book:
Labor unions and the progressives need to get back into the fight for America’s soul. See also my review of “The Left Hand of God.”
School Boards are the weak link in the entire infrastructure of government. The extreme right has adherents from School Boards to State Legislators to Congress. On the one hand, this leads to a complex range of decisions in which our Constitutional separation of church and state is undermined every single day; and on the other, it leads to the unholy alliance of these extremists, who help elect neo-conservative extremists, even if they do not receive the promised concessions after the election (See also my review of “Tempting Faith,” and of “American Theocracy”).
This author is a brave and intelligent man. He is calling it as it is: a fascist is a fascist. I am reminded of the number of white Nazi’s admitted to the US after WWII under special intelligence exemptions. Otto Reich, Karl Rove, and the Bush Family are the current manifestation of American fascism. It’s time we run them out of town.
Best Insight into Organized Crime-Vatican-Wall Street Collaboration,
January 29, 2007
Alan B. Jones
I am going to put my reputation on the line, and the 850+ non-fiction books I have read that make me the #1 Amazon reviewer for non-fiction (and to my great surprise, today #49 over all fiction, movies, music, and software as well as non-fiction) for the simple reason that too many people discuss books such as this by labeling it “conspiracy theory.”
It’s not a conspiracy theory if it is true. I will try to be brief as well as illuminative.
First off, the author has culled a handful of books that support his case against a global financial elite, and these tend, with the exception of the Quigley book, to be left of left of center. I am however happy to add a number of books that support his essential theses that a handful of banking families control the central banks which are NOT government banks, and through loans, control governments, impoverish the middle class, and harvest profit without conscience from the “working poor.”
Try these on for size:
1) Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins. 85% rock solid, 15% flakey, but in my view, a perfectly reasonable slam on the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund as instruments for impoverishing lesser developed countries, not empowering them.
There are many other books that support this author’s book reviews in great detail and from many varied perspectives. I refer you to my various lists, including the list on “Screwing the 90% that do the work.”
The author has some pretensions and some slop, his arguments are not always consistent, but then neither are mine. On balance I regard this book as a first rate personal effort that should be read by every middle class person wondering, as Lou Dobbs on CNN has wondered, why we are exporting middle class jobs and importing poverty in the form of illegal aliens.
The author wraps up his varied reviews with a focus on the relationship between organized crime and the super-elite as well as their political elite (e.g. the Bush family, the best of the servant class), and on the relationship between drugs, covert operations, and Wall Street. Here again the author draws on a very tiny sub-set of books while not listing many others that support his thesis so I will mention a few here.
Having been through both Viet-Nam as a youth and the Central American Wars as an adult, I am quite certain that there are at least four different slices of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) where I served for ten years as a clandestine case officer:
A small slice does what the White House wants, including black bag jobs.
A small but more important slice does what Wall Street wants, and helps Wall Street with access to financially relevant information that the public which pays for the CIA does not get. Buzzy Krongard, until recently Executive Director of the CIA, comes to mind as the most recent leader of this section.
A larger slice, that does covert action off the books with funding from Saudi Arabia and others, sometimes called the Safari Club, sometimes having off-shoots like Ted Shackley’s Southern Air Transport, and so on. This slice can provide the intersection between criminal activities, white collar crime profits, illegal White House activities, and plain profiteering.
Finally, 90% of the CIA, folks like me that did not realize they were simply going through the motions and giving the local counterintelligence service a full-time rabbit to follow while the commercial clandestine boys and girls looted the bank in bright daylight.
I have two intelligence lists that can be helpful here, but I have not focused on creating crime lists. I’ll just say that between the books on the The Working Poor: Invisible in America and on being Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in Americaand books on immoral predatory capitalism and unilateral militarism of the Dick Cheney variety (I have compiled a list of 25 specific impeachable actions by Dick Cheney based on three books:
There is a very clear-cut and direct relationship between dictators, transnational organized crime and terrorism, and Wall Street as well as the Republican and Democratic National Committees (see Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It)
That reminds me: there is an entire literature on petroleum, peak oil, petrodollars, and so on. Americans have been betrayed by their government since at least 1975, and more likely, back to the 1950’s when naiveté about international affairs was replaced by active complicity.
Good news. 1) Internet leveled playing field. 2) Not enough guns to kill us all. 3) A few of the really rich have realized they need to help us create infinite wealth for ourselves, or lose all they have to locusts. Read, be vocal, be active, we’re going to get a grip on our commonwealth soon.
Tip of the Hat to Jere for the following added links:
When Corporations Rule the World
The Road to Serfdom: Text and Documents–The Definitive Edition (The Collected Works of F. a. Hayek)
Money Masters of Our Time
One Extra Star for Cool Idea That is Also Uplifting
October 3, 2006
If you are an Amazon buyer you are probably not average, and Amazon reviewers even less so. I was compelled to buy this book simply on the premise that it would be interesting to learn what “average” was. I was NOT expecting an uplifting book that inspired reflection about what it means to be a good man, a good citizen, a good husband and father, and that is what this book is.
Yes, it would have benefitted from maps as well as a statistical table and a calendar of the search, and I would normally have given it four stars for lacking those “visualization & closure” elements, but I simply cannot get over the fact that this book made me feel good about America and good about the standard run of the mill American.
The idiocy and mendacity of our leaders aside, this is a great Nation, and I have tears in my eyes as I conclude the book, where the man chosen by the author as the average American, informed on the 4th of July, properly concludes that it is a great honor. Honor indeed. This is a superb book.
Patrick Buchanan is much more serious, much more relevant, than either Newt Gingrich or the current illiterate President of the United States (illegally, through two stolen elections), George “Bring It On” Bush.
He opens the books with quotes from Teddy Roosevelt and from Wilson that set the context perfectly: you cannot have a Nation if there is, as Alexander Hamilton warned us, a tyranny of minorities that do not buy into the proposition of citizenship and loyalty to the flag.
The author is clearly very well read and historically grounded. He noted that Nations dye when they have dying populations, disintegrating cultures, and unresisted invasions.
His most important point, across the book, is that the Mexicans are invading deliberately and in massive force, and the federal government is failing to fulfill its constitutional responsibility for protecting states from invasion. He specifically suggests, and I agree, that Bush Junior is impeachable for failing to protect (and indeed inciting) illegal immigration.
According to the author:
1) We have gone from 5 to 57 million Asians and Hispanics;
2) There is moral rot in both parties;
3) 1 in 12 of the illegal aliens is a proven criminal
4) Aliens are 12% of the population and 30% of the incarcerated;
5) US allows foreign governments, e.g. China, to refuse returns;
6) Local police are hand-cuffed and not allowed to arrest and depot illegal aliens;
7) Illegal immigrants are a major vector for disease and potential pandemics.
8) Mexico, at 6 to 1, is the primary offender, and 58% of Mexicans believe that the US Southwest belongs to them and they are simply taking it back (to the Guadalupe-Hidalgo line);
9) CORPORATIONS are demanding the importation of poverty by supporting illegal immigration; CORPORATIONS are passing on to the individual taxpayer the social, cultural, and economic costs of accepting millions of poor, uneducated illegal aliens.
10) The churches and the film industry have become propagandists for illegal immigration.
11) America has lost its Christian characters, and is now a mélange of disloyal self-serving religions of all kinds, including Wahabbism which has since the 1990’s had imams preaching the murder of Americans from pulpits on American soil, to individuals NOMINALLY U.S. citizens.
12) The emergence of the Minutemen (now spreading across America, not just at the border) is reflective of the fact that illegal immigration is the “crisis of the age.”
12) Babies born in America should NOT be automatically accorded American citizenship unless one of their parents is American; nor should dual citizenship be allowed. RIGHT ON!!!!
This is a tremendous book. I respect the author very much, and believe that he merits the full support and attention of every loyal American that believes that one should speak the language of America–English–and honor the flag of America. The illegal immigrants that displayed the Mexican flag during the recent demonstrations should all be deported.
America has lost its integrity. We need a new leadership team that can protect our borders, protect our middle class, protect our economy, and protect our culture. George Bush is a much greater threat to America than Bin Laden, because he is busy selling America out to the Saudis for oil, to the Mexicans for migrant labor, and to the Colombians for drug profits.
Pat Buchanan is a bright shining light, and this book is a very important contribution to the dialog needed to save the Republic.
The contributing editors, Ted Halstead and Michael Lind, again shine as “hubs” for blending diverse thinkers, including James Pinkerton of the right, and I believe they are completely correct when they say that the State of the Union address has become shallow, partisan, and trivialized. More substantively, they might have offered a piece on the ten reasons to impeach Bush-Cheney, and another on the failure of Congress, which has struck out with the American people: strike one is incumbents shaking down lobbyists for cash; strike two is the extremist leaderships (Democratic as well as Republican) forcing “party line” votes that are totally against the Constitutional intent of having Representatives represent their CONSTITUENCIES; and strike three is the extremist Republicans serving as foot soldiers to a mendacious White House, instead of, as the Constitution intended with Article 1, being the FIRST branch of government. The extremist Republicans (I am a moderate Republican) are nothing less than Constitutional perverts, and I use the term advisedly. (See my reviews on books about these two topics in last two months).
The book is ably summed up in the Preface, which states that neither party has proven capable of offering a coherent, honest, or forward-looking agenda to guide America. Peter Peterson, Chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations and author of Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It would certainly agree, as do I. It is my hope that this group might coalesce around someone like Senator Collins (R-MA) running with Governor Warner (D-VA), and announcing a coalition cabinet and one commitment: to electoral reform. Karl Rove knows how to steal close elections, the only way to beat him is to field a multi-party TEAM that can win by a LANDSLIDE. America is ready for that, and the ideas in this book are all implement able by such a team approach to what might be called “networked governance.”
While I have six pages of notes on this excellent volume, still relevant to the future, I will touch on just a few highlights:
1) Mass middle class is vital, and Washington has destroyed that base for democracy.
2) American people are not as polarized as their extremist political leaders
3) Our humans are productive but our processes are not. I am reminded of the book in the 1980’s on “Human Scale.” The federal government has indeed become dysfunctional, running at 3-5 mph while the rest of us are going 100 mph.
4) Need a new social contract. Authors identify the first one as building a nation, the second as healing from the civil war, and the third as building a middle class. We need to re-build the middle class with governance that again represents the citizens and their communities rather than predatory corporations.
5) Private sector, not just government, needs reform.
6) Health care can shift from business to government, and in the process we can find $60 billion a year in savings by using information to create metrics to reduce waste and over-treatment. The author discussing this suggests that 20-30% of what we spend on health care is waste. They do not discuss medical tourism, which I find quite interesting as a trend.
7) We need a nation-wide industrial policy that restores the relationship between business, community, and family, while also restricting the mobility of capital unless it restores the social contract with labor.
8) Radical tax reform could yield $200 billion a year (the author’s say this is a low estimate, I agree, import-export tax fraud alone is $50 billion a year, I think the number is closer to $500 billion a year).
9) Take back the airwaves in the public interest.
10) James Pinkerton is brilliant in explaining the three eras of education as agricultural (nine-month school year), industrial (rote learning) and experimental (nostrums at expense of basics). See also Derek Bok’s piece on “Reinventing Education at Forbes.com. James missed the opportunity to discuss how free universal access to all knowledge, and using serious games to educate on a just enough, just in time basis, in all languages, could reconfigure education world-wide.
12) A thread that I found interesting throughout the book is how we lack the information needed to make smart choices. We lack statistical information on medical treatments and results that might allow “evidence-based medicine.” As I have pointed out elsewhere (Google for <ten threats, twelve policies, and eight challengers>), the U.S. Government is remarkably ignorant and uninformed across all these areas.
13) The rest of the book on aging productively, incentivizing exercise and penalizing fast food, on rebuilding the heartland with information infrastructure, on mixed races where third generations inter-marry at a 55% rate, on conflicted Muslims, on “opportunity lost” in foreign affairs and national security, all top notch.
The book ends brilliantly, as it began, with a commentary on the dysfunctional duopology of the extremist Republicans where dogma trumps honesty, and the divided Democrats trapped in the past. As the founder of a small non-rival party blog, Citizens-Party.org, I consider this book, and the New America Foundation, to be the people’s voice at a time when the Congress and the White House most certainly are not.
Checks & Balances Not Working, Need Robust Economy,
May 31, 2006
Senator Edward M. Kennedy
This will strike the most critical as a “formula” book, covering the “seven challenges” of constitutional democracy, new definition of national security, full participation in the world, an economy that works for all, health care for all, equal opportunity for all, and restoration of our values. I do not consider it a formula book. In the context of the other 700+ books I have reviewed as the #1 Amazon reviewer of non-fiction related to national security and competitiveness, I can safely say that no other person in America has written a book quite as relevant, quite as competent, to our declining dollar and our vanishing democracy. I am, incidentally, a moderate Republican.
The Senator, whose brother Jack was in my view assassinated for wanting to end the arms race so profitable to Wall Street, and whose brother Bobby was in my view assassinated for wanting to make government work as intended, is quite correct when he opens by suggesting that the checks and balances intended by our Founding Father are NOT WORKING. Excessive secrecy on the part of the Executive branch, combined with an abdicating Congress and a compliant Judiciary (the latter just rules against freedom of speech for government employees, penalizing those who denounce government waste, fraud, and abuse), have put not just democracy, but the fiscal and military health of the Republic at risk.
The Senator is very strong in emphasizing that national security today is too narrowly focused on a military mis-fit to terrorism, at the same time that we have lost the international moral authority that has long caused America the Good to be America the Safe. He articulates a complex but understandable approach to national security as being an integrated results of proper economic, educational, energy, infrastructure, counter-proliferation, and moral choices.
He sums up the failure of our global diplomacy (our unilateral pre-emptive diplomatic charade) as saying that we cannot deal with our enemies is we do not first deal fully and fairly with our friends.
He joins C.K. Prahalad (The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid) and Jeffrey Sachs (End to Poverty) as well as Alvin and Heidi Toffler (Revolutionary Wealth) in discussing how globalization is NOT a threat if we invest in our people’s education, training, and health. Critics of this book confuse universal health care with free health care. What they do not understand is that health care costs are a form of imposed slavery, preventing individuals from reaching their full potential because they cannot move from one employer to another without losing health care–or if they have none, they lose the ability to heal and jump back into the work force. The Senator focuses wisely on preventive health care. He does not actively condemn the mis-management of the current U.S. health system, but one need only look at the jump in medical tourism to India and Singapore, where major operations cost one tenth to one fifth of what they cost in the USA, to understand that our health system, like our military systems and our prison system, is dysfunctional.
There is a solid focus in this book on life-long education, and a strongly stated concern about the rise in inequality that accompanies failures in education. The top 1% and 10% of the American households are capturing MOST of the wealth in America, at the same time that middle and lower class earnings are dropping. The Senator advocates an increase in minimum wages (what some call “living wages” at the same time that he recognizes that illegal immigration is part of what is keeping wages down (and cost to government up).
He focuses on 2006 as an opportunity to put the country back on track. Based on my drive across the Nation (from Missoula, Montana to Oakton, Virginia) I would say that the Nation is ready. I was stunned by the number of common sense people, from Harley Davidson mechanics to truck stop waitresses, that think that this government has lost its mind and is a major part of the problem. As I read this book I also read in the news about how the White House is approving unlimited surveillance of all domestic communications; the Director of National Intelligence can exempt corporations from Security and Exchange Commission accountability and reporting; and government employees have no freedom of speech, even to report crimes by their superiors. This country does appear to be going insane, and Washington, D.C. is the central nuthouse.
As the author states, government is supposed to be a guarantor of individual rights and equality (all men created equal and the rest of that good stuff in the Founding documents), but the Republicans (the extremists that have disenfranchiese we moderates) have been mounting a determined assault of government, seeking to reduce its role in protecting the majority, while favoring the special intersts that can afford to bribe our Representatives with houses, yachts, and private jet trips to play golf in Scotland…and of course cash. [I also recommend Tom Coburn’s book, “Breach of Trust” in which he documents the corruption of the Republican and Democratic party leaders who demand that representative vote the “party line” rather than what is good for their district). Washington is BROKEN.
The Senator’s final recommendation is brilliant: the U.S. budget must become more transparent. I call this “reality based public budgeting.” What he is really talking about is the degree to which the budget is concealed from the public with escoteric earmarks, off budget funding, and budget decisions that bear no resemblance to our needs, but instead respond to bribery from special interests, and the ideological fantasies of extremists.
Overall this is a book that is full of common sense, that is thoughtful, that is easy to read and to understand. I put the book down thinking that the author is indeed a “great man” in the classical Churchillian sense of the word. He has a great mind, and he would make a good President. He has earned my total respect.
The introduction is nothing less than an implicit (NOT explicit) manifesto for the impeachment of the current Administration and its political neo-conservatives and their extremist fundamentalist right-wing Christian religious zealots (who, coincidentally, are aligned in the Middle East with extremist Jews and completely corrupt energy and construction companies that profit from war).
Consider this one sentence from the introduction: “Most of our political leaders have extolled state and local autonomy, attempted to control deficit spending, avoided foreign adventurism, minimized long-term peacekeeping commitments, preserved the separation of church and state, and protected civil liberties and personal privacy.” The only thing President Carter does not include here that I would is “and respected the separation of powers and particularly the Congressional prerogatives of declaring war and controlling the public purse.”
This book is nothing less than a national-level sermon on what is wrong and where we need to go. I have often thought over the years that President Carter was too far ahead of his time. He paid heavily for being honest about the need to deal with future growth issues and national malaise in the 1970’s. I am struck, not only by how right he was, but by how he may be just what we need now, returning him to the Presidency in 2008, especially if he asks John McCain to be his Vice President and commits to both a coalition cabinet announced in advance, and a platform with just three planks: restore the integrity of the individual vote (by ending gerrymandering, campaign contributions, and lobbyists; reinstate the League of Women Voters as the debate managers, open to all parties; move voting to week-ends to accommodate the working poor); restore morality in both governance (end our support of 44 dictators) and business (end subsidies, tax breaks, and predatory capitalism); and balance the budget (end both debt and trade deficits, in part by localizing energy, transportation, agriculture, and production).
President Carter nails it when he states in his conclusion that the greatest challenge we face is the growing chasm between the rich and the poor on earth. He is at one with C. K. Prahalad (The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits (Wharton School Publishing Paperbacks) )when he observes that “extremely poor people demonstrate remarkable intelligence, innovation, and effectiveness.” I had no idea of the extraordinary results the Carter Center has been achieving around the world–unlike other Presidential Centers that focus on glorifying their subject, the Carter Center has been focused, in relative anonymity, on actually saving the world.
He concludes that what defines a great Nation is not its economy or its military, but its “demonstrable commitment to truth, justice, peace, freedom, humility, human rights, generosity, and the upholding of moral values.” Implicit throughout the book is also the need to return to a separation of church and state, and our traditional respect for providing our citizens with accurate information, welcoming dissenting voices, and accommodating free and open debate on controversial issues.
President Carter does not, in any way, shape, or form, call for the impeachment of this current Administration, nor does he comment on the Democratic Party as an alternative. My own view is that the Democratic Party cannot be trusted as an alternative–they are as corrupt as the Republicans (I am a moderate Republican dismayed by the current “coup d’etat” engineered by the neo-conservatives). My own view is that President Carter’s vision for the future of American will not happen unless we first do two things:
1) Insist that anyone who wishes to be elected or re-elected in 2008 to Congress campaign as an Independent, and strive for a coalition Congress led by Independents with Democratic and Republican incumbents not up for re-election as minorities; and
2) Devise a coalition Executive team, ideally led by President Carter, to win in 2008 with the sole and explicit objective of restoring the integrity of the individual vote so that the common sense of the people might hold sway over all the other decisions that face us.
I am mighty impressed by this book and the wisdom in this book. Other candidates for President pale in comparison to this author. It would be a mighty fine sign of divine providence if we were to have a chance to bring Jimmy Carter back as president, but not as a Democrat–as an Independent American.
EDIT of 11 Dec 07: Lou Dobbs on CNN is calling for all Americans to consider re-registering as Independents, and Jim Turner, Naderite #1, led Naderites for Gore 2000, is seeing signs of 100 million who have opted out on partisan politics, coming back for the big one.
Devastating on Middle East and Europe, Uncritical of US,
August 24, 2005
Ralph Peters is more compelling than Tom Friedman, goes deeper than Robert Kaplan, runs the numbers as well as Clyde Prestowitz, and runs as many risks as Robert Young Pelton. All of these men are among the best and the brightest of our generation. Ralph Peters is first among these equals.
New Glory is most devastating in its professional appreciation of the crash of Islamic civilization and the hollowness of Europe, with Germany and France coming in for special scorn. While Peters is acutely sensitive to the mistakes that France and Germany have made with immigration–allowing millions to immigrate without enfranchising them or assuring their loyalty as citizens–he tends to overlook the same faults in the US and the UK, and this is my only criticism: patriot that he is, he tends to downplay US errors and misbehavior. Having said that, I would also say there is no finer observer of reality outside the US than Ralph Peters.
Like his earlier book, Beyond Terror, Peters again excels with gifted turns of phrase that sound like pure poetry. Peters is not just a grand strategist equal to the likes of Scowcroft or Brzezinski (while less diplomatic than they), he is a gifted orator and his book reads as if one were in the Greek Senate listening to Socrates hold forth.
Especially strong in this book is the author’s focus on Africa and Latin America as area rich with potential that the Americans are ignoring. Instead of obsessing on assassinating Chavez, as moronic an idea as there ever was, we should be focusing on how to include Africa and Latin America in our free trade zone, along with India and Japan.
Peters jumps into the intellectual stratosphere when he takes on the issue of bad borders, the cancerous heritage of colonialism. I would recommend that the book by Philip Allott, “Health of Nations,” and also the book by Jed Babbin, “Inside the Asylum” (on the UN) be read along with this book. I would add Mark Palmer’s book on “The Real Axis of Evil” as well, about the 44 dictators we support. Taken together, perhaps adding Joe Nye’s book on “Understanding International Conflicts” to have a really fine grasp of current challenges.
Peters, author of a novel about treasonous defense contractors, comes out in the open with his sharp criticism of the military-industrial complex, pointing out that they are among the worst enemies of our national defense. Their corruption, legalized by a Congress all too eager to take its standard 2.5% to 5% “cut” on delivered pork, diverts tens of billions of dollars from education, infrastructure, border control, public health, and other sources of national power. When added to light-weight decision-making at the very top, where we go to war and waste thousands of lives and over $187 billion dollars on a war that was both unnecessary and pathologically in favor of Iranian ambitions against Iraq, one can quickly see that General Eisenhower and General Smedley Butler (“war is a Racket”) were both correct–we are our own worst enemy. Peters concludes his real-world damnation of contractors by summing up the many problems that occurred in Iraq when contractors failed to deliver to US troops the ammunition, food, and water, as they were contracted to do. I myself heard of units that lost 30 to 40 pounds per man after months on a diet of water and *one* Meal Ready to Eat (MRE) per day.
Peters draws his book to a close with compelling thoughts down two distinct lines. First, he clearly favors a policy of carefully identifying and then killing those who will not heed any other means of peaceful coexistence. As with the author of “Civilization and It’s Enemies,” he reminds us that liberty comes at the price of regular shedding of blood. It is not free.
Peters’ second line is the most interesting to me. He is scathingly on target when he labels US intelligence professionals to be uniformly timid and bureaucratic in nature, part of the problem, not part of the solution. He goes on to dissect how we fail to listen to foreign cultures, and fail to understand what is in the minds of the very people we are trying to reach. Finally, he concludes that education, not guns, are the heart of power. Consistent with the findings of the Defense Science Board in their reports on “Strategic Communication” (July 2004) and “Transition to and From Hostilities” (December 2004), Peters recognizes that open source information in all languages must be gathered, read, understood, analyzed, and acted upon, before we can possible communicate any message to anyone. He would agree with those who say “forget about the message, deliver the tools for truth–the Internet, education, translation software, information sharing devices–and get out of the way: the people will educate themselves, and in educating themselves, will be inoculated against terrorism.”
In passing, Peters points out that the US Navy and US Air Force have largely fallen into irrelevance because of their obsession with big expensive systems that are useless most of the time, and he notes that a larger Army, and a sustained Marine Corps, remain the true core of American national power.
This book is a “tour d’force” to use a term of phrase in a language Peters churlishly suggests is used only by waiters and dictators. I myself find much that is good in France and Germany and the UK, but overall, I agree with Peters when he says that Europe is a failing civilization, following Islam into chaos, and that Africa, Latin America, and South Asia (Indian Ocean) are the future. Interestingly, Peters sees no conflict with China brewing–they are too dependent on US consumption.
Elegant, Deep Detail on the Year and the First Battles,
July 4, 2005
Somewhere between Honors American History in high school and a solid political science degree, I never really understood the historical importance of the crossing of the Delaware and the first battles in 1776. Today, as a 53-year old, I finally do, thanks to this brilliant author.
This is a moving book with exactly the right amount of white space, easy to read, yet deeply detailed about key personalities and key battles. For the first time, I understand with awe the degree to which tens of thousands of mixed Americans were able to mobilize, fight, move cannons weighing over a ton along hundreds of miles, construct earthworks (British General Howe on the works at Dorchester Heights: “these fellows have done more work in one night than I could make my army do in three months.”), survive disease, drink a bottle of rum per day per man, and on balance, make the miracle of the Republic.
The author tells the story with a light hand, and among the points I found especially noteworthy were his comparison of the speed with which good ideas from the ranks made their way to General Washington, unencumbered by the bureaucracy of the British military; and Washington’s appreciation for intelligence and Washington’s constant focus on the mind of his counterpart and what that counterpart might be thinking.
It also merits comment that the original revolution sought only to be afforded the rights due an Englishman, not Independence, and it was the heavy-handed actions of King George that led the original American leaders to take the final step of full treason (which, if you win, is not treason, but cause for celebration).
The acknowledgements and the notes are themselves worthy of careful study, for the author appears to have meticulously combed through every possible archive, and hence, he not only provides a walk through a year of American history–*the* year–but also a record of where the pages of that history are archived and honored around the world.
I started this book yesterday afternoon and finished it this afternoon, at 1600 on the 4th of July 2005. There is no finer manner in which I could have spent the eve and the day on which we celebrate the ideals that led to Independence. I only pray that we cast off the immoral capitalism and support for 44 dictators around the world–many of them practicing genocide–and return to the ideals of these great early Patriots.
Edit of 21 Dec 07 to restate importance of this work and add links.
UPDATED to comment on Hugo Chavez at UN.
Hugo Chavez and his Iranian counterpart, together with the leaders of Brazil, China, India, and Indonesia, among others, brought reality to America with the United Nations presentations. It is noteworthy that not a single member of the General Assembly disagreed with their harsh assessments of the Bush-Cheney regime. I reviewed this book before it was made popular by Chavez, and I will say just two things: 1) order it now, it is worth the wait; and 2) Bush-Cheney may not be interested in reality, but reality is assuredly interested in us. It’s time the public realized that Chomsky, not Bush, is the real deal.
Yes, Chomsky tends to be repetitive and to rehash old stuff, so take away one-star. However, and I say this as the #1 Amazon reviewer of non-fiction about national security, to suggest that Chomsky is ever anything less than four stars is to betray one’s ignorance and bias. He adds new material in this book, and perhaps even more importantly, he delivers this book at a time when America is faced with what may well be its sixth most important turning point in history (after independence, the civil war, two world wars, and the cold war). How America behaves in the 2004 election is going to determine whether the Republic deteriorates into a quasi-totalitarian and bunkered society with a lost middle class and a gated elite, or whether we restore the world’s faith in American goodness, moral capitalism, and inclusive democracy.
Chomsky brilliantly brings forth a theme first articulated in recent times by Jonathan Schell (The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People) by pointing out that the *only* “superpower” capable of containing the neo-conservative, neo-totalitarian, neo-Nazi militarism and unilateralism of the current Bush Administration is “the planet’s public.”
Chomsky updates his work with both excellent and well-balanced footnotes and an orderly itemization of the arrogance, militarism, contempt for international law, arbitrary aggression, and–Bible thumpers take note–proven track record for supporting dictators, Israeli genocide against Palestinians, and US troop participation in–directly as well as indirectly–what will inevitably be judged by history to be a continuing pattern of war crimes.
Chomsky, past master of the topic of “manufacturing consent” now turns his attention to the manner in which the Bush Administration is attempting to establish “new norms” that, if permitted to stand, will reverse 50 years of human progress in seeking the legitimization of governance, respect for human rights, and collective decision-making and security.
He is especially strong on documenting the manner in which US aid grows in direct relation to the degree to which the recipient country is guilty of genocidal atrocities, with Colombia and Turkey being prime examples. The case can be made, and Chomsky makes it, that the US arms industry, and US policies on the selling and granting of arms world-wide, are in fact a direct US commitment to repression, genocide, and terrorism sponsored by one big state: the US. He is most interesting when he discusses the new US approach to repression, the privatization of actions against the underclasses of the world.
Morality plays big with Chomsky, who brings new ideas in with his discussion of moral asymmetry and the lack of moral integrity in US decision-making. Sadly, the US public is too busy trying to survive the abuses of the Bush-Cheney regime, and do not realize the crass immorality of all that is being done “in their name.”
Chomsky reminds us that George Bush the Second pardoned a known international terrorist, Luis Posada Carriles, because of his ties to the extremist Cuban-American community that his brother Jeb Bush is so dependent upon for support.
Over the course of the middle of the book Chomsky addresses the competing models for national development, with Cuba prominent as an alternative model that the US has sought to destroy, as the US worked very hard to destroy Catholic “liberation theology” because of its temerity in believing that the poor should be protected against repressive governments and their American corporate paymasters. Chomsky is correct, I believe, when he states and documents that the US model of capitalism has pathologically high rates of inequality and poverty (even CNN has noticed–as I waited for an airplane in Salt Lake City, a bastion of common sense, the lead story was the collapse of the US middle class).
Chomsky moves from his discussion of exceptions to US capitalism to a discussion of the importance of regional differentiation, and this is of course in direct competition with the US view that the world should be a homogenized generic variation of the US culture, with one big difference: 80% of the benefits for the US, while the rest of the world shares the left-overs.
Chomsky agrees with Dr. Col Max Manwaring and other mainstream strategists (see my review of The Search for Security: A U.S. Grand Strategy for the Twenty-First Century when he identifies the legitimacy of governments, and the sanctity of human and civil rights, as the two litmus tests for determining if balance and fairness exist in a society. By this measure, the US is now failing.
The book begins to conclude with a semantic discussion of terrorism, what is terror, who sponsors terror, and here Chomsky draws on both his linguistic and historical background to make the case that the US is the primary sponsor of terrorism in the world (something both the Indonesian and Malaysian leadership would tend to agree with), and he notes that the US, in a bi-partisan manner among the elite, has consistently been hypocritical about terrorism. Nelson Mandela, and his resistance party, were labeled terrorists by the US for many years.
Are we in a passing nightmare, or the beginning of a renaissance? The jury is still out. I personally believe that John McCain would have been a vastly superior president that this lightweight bully that we have now, with his out-of-control neo-conservatives, none of whom ever served in uniform and some of whom–as with Dick Cheney–were active draft dodgers. However, I also believe that both John McCain, and Dick Gephardt if he were to be elected, are too close to the “business as usual” crowd of beltway politicians capitalized by beltway bandits. In other words, Howard Dean would not have been possible without the excesses of George Bush Junior. God does indeed work in mysterious ways, and I pray that the American public will both read Chomsky, and understand that they represent the only super-power that can restore legitimacy, sanity, comity, and prosperity to the American Republic. Down with the carpetbaggers–El Pueblo Avansa–EPA!.