Review: America Back on Track (Hardcover)

5 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation)

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5.0 out of 5 stars 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.

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Review: Our Endangered Values–America’s Moral Crisis (Hardcover)

5 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation), Civil Society, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution

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5.0 out of 5 stars Impeaches Neo-Conservatives with Common Sense,

December 23, 2005
Jimmy Carter
This book should be read together with Cornel West's Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism Peter Peterson's Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It Jim Wallis, God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It (Plus) [slams both Right and Left–the Right for claiming that Jesus is pro-war, pro-rich, and a selective moralist; the Left for not embracing faith and God as part of the politics of America]; and David Callahan, The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead There are many, many other books that support President Carter's wisdom, and my point in mentioning just a few of them early in this review is to stress that we are indeed in a national crisis, and this one book by President Carter provides us with a pensive pause from which we might then begin to take action.

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).

EDIT of 11 Dec 07: Also in support of President Carter, these books just out:
American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America
American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century

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.

Edit of 11 Dec 07: See also:
Society's Breakthrough!: Releasing Essential Wisdom and Virtue in All the People
All Rise: Somebodies, Nobodies, and the Politics of Dignity (BK Currents)
Escaping the Matrix: How We the People can change the world
The Tao of Democracy: Using Co-Intelligence to Create a World That Works for All

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.

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Review: New Glory–Expanding America’s Global Supremacy (Hardcover)

5 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation), Consciousness & Social IQ, Diplomacy, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Future

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5.0 out of 5 stars Devastating on Middle East and Europe, Uncritical of US,

August 24, 2005
Ralph Peters
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.

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Review: 1776

5 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Elegant, Deep Detail on the Year and the First Battles,

July 4, 2005
David McCullough
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.

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Review: New World New Mind–Moving Toward Conscious Evolution

5 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation), Best Practices in Management, Change & Innovation, Civil Society, Complexity & Resilience, Consciousness & Social IQ, Culture, Research, Democracy, Education (General), Education (Universities), Environment (Solutions), Future, Intelligence (Collective & Quantum), Intelligence (Public), Nature, Diet, Memetics, Design, Philosophy, Priorities, Survival & Sustainment, Technology (Bio-Mimicry, Clean), Truth & Reconciliation, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized), Water, Energy, Oil, Scarcity

5.0 out of 5 stars From 1989, Not Updated, Superb Never-the-Less

April 28, 2005

Robert E. Ornstein, Paul Ehrlich

EDIT 20 Dec 07 to add links.

This superb book was published in 1989 and is being reissued, and I am very glad it has come out again. I bought it because it was recommended by Tom Atlee, seer of the Co-Intelligence Institute, and I found it very worthwhile.

As I reflect on the book, I appreciate two key points from the book:

1) The evolution of our brains and our ability to sense cataclysmic change that takes place over long periods of time is simply not going fast enough–the only thing that can make a difference is accelerated cultural evolution, which I find quite fascinating, because cultural evolution as the authors describe it harkens to noosphere, World Brain, co-intelligence, and what the Swedes are calling M4 IS: multinational, multiagency, multidisciplinary, multidomain information sharing–what I think of as Open Source Intelligence–personal, public, & political.

2) One of the more compelling points the authors make is that not only are politicians being elected and rewarded on the basis of short-term decisions that are by many measures intellectually, morally, and financially corrupt, but the so-called knowledge workers–the scientists, engineers, and others who should be “blowing the whistle,” are so specialized that there is a real lack of integrative knowledge. I realized toward the end of the book, page 248 exactly, that Knowledge Integration & Information Sharing must become the new norm.

This is a tremendous book that is loaded with gems of insight. I have it heavily marked up. Although it integrates and reminds me of ideas ably explored in other books, such as Health of Nations, Cultural Creatives, Clock of the Long Now, ATTENTION, Limits to Growth, and Forbidden Knowledge, these two authors have integrated their “brief” in a very readable way–as one person says on the book jacket, they effectively weave together many strands of knowledge.

The annotated bibliography is quite good, and causes me to be disappointed that the publishers did not provide for the updating of the bibliography–the ideas being blended are timeless and need no update.

Two notes toward the end were quite interesting. They speculate that Japan may be the first modern nation to collapse, if it is subject to disruption of the global trade and transportation system. They also have high praise for Global 2000, an integrative work whose predictions for the 2000 period (written in the 1970's, I believe) are turning out to be quite accurate.

Finally, woven throughout the book, is the simple fact that we are now burning up our savings–consuming the Earth at a much faster rate than it can replenish itself. We are very much out of harmony with our sustaining environment, and at grave risk of self-destruction. Interestingly, they remind of the Durants last word in “The Lessons of History:” that the only revolution, the only sustainable revolution, is that which takes place in the human mind. As these authors would have it, if we do not develop a new collective mind capable of integrating, understanding, and acting sensible, for the long term, on what we can know as a collective mind, then our grandchildren will become prey for the cockroaches of the future.

At a time when the new Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Ambassador Negroponte, is seriously contemplating the establishment of a national Open Source (Information) Agency as recommended by the 9-11 Commission, to get a grip on all the historical and current knowledge, both scientific and social, that we have lost touch with, I can think of just three books I would recommend to the DNI as a foundation for his reflections: this one, Buckman's “Creating a Knowledge Driven Organization,” and Wheatley's “Leadership and the New Science.” I would end his tutorial, or perhaps inspire it, by screening Tom Atlee's video, “From Group Magic to a Wise Democracy.”

Strangely, for I tend to be very gloomy about our prospects these days, I find that this book has cheered me somewhat. I sense the possibility of a break-out through a combination of wise information acquisition and sharing policies, and the application of the new technologies that L-3, CISCO, and IBM, among others, are bringing out, technologies that put intelligence on the edge of the network, and permit the creation of infinitely scalable and shareable synthetic information exactly suited to any need at any level.

There *is* an answer to all that ails us, and these two authors discuss it in a very capable manner.

See also, with reviews:

Integral Consciousness and the Future of Evolution
The Tao of Democracy: Using Co-Intelligence to Create a World That Works for All
The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World
Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration
The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom
Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century
World brain
Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World
The World Cafe: Shaping Our Futures Through Conversations That Matter
THE SMART NATION ACT: Public Intelligence in the Public Interest

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Review: Hegemony or Survival–America’s Quest for Global Dominance (The American Empire Project)

4 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation), Congress (Failure, Reform), Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform)

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4.0 out of 5 stars Apex of Moral Critical Thinking,

November 14, 2003
Noam Chomsky
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!.

Recent books supporting the moral intelligence of Noam Chomsky:
Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency
Blood Money: Wasted Billions, Lost Lives, and Corporate Greed in Iraq
American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America
American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21stCentury
The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)
Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq
Independents Day: Awakening the American Spirit
Day of Reckoning: How Hubris, Ideology, and Greed Are Tearing America Apart

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Review: Thieves in High Places–They’ve Stolen Our Country–And It’s Time to Take It Back

4 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation), Congress (Failure, Reform), Corruption, Crime (Government), Democracy, Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Politics

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4.0 out of 5 stars Very Long Opinion Piece, Part of the Big Picture,

October 28, 2003
Jim Hightower
Although Jim Hightower appears to have been first on the block with satirical and details critiques of the extreme rightists and corporate cronies of the neo-conservatives, it was not until Al Franken and Michael Moore made the genre popular that this book seems to have taken off. It is the equal of Franken's and Moore's books, but lacks any sort of footnotes or bibliography while helpfully including an index for looking up specifics. In combination with the first two books mentioned, and William Greider's earlier and most serious “Who Will Tell the People” as well as his most recent block-buster, “The Soul of Capitalism” (about immoral capitalism and why this leads the rest of the world to fear and hate us), as well as “Weapons of Mass Deception,” this book rounds out a very satisfactory public case for sending the current Administration back to the holes they crawled out of.
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