Review: Republic Lost – How Money Corrupts Congress – and Plan to Stop It

5 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation), Budget Process & Politics, Capitalism (Good & Bad), Congress (Failure, Reform), Crime (Corporate), Crime (Government), Culture, Research, Democracy, Economics, Education (General), Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Impeachment & Treason, Intelligence (Public), Justice (Failure, Reform), Misinformation & Propaganda, Nature, Diet, Memetics, Design, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Politics, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Priorities, Public Administration, True Cost & Toxicity, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized)
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Lawrence Lessig

5.0 out of 5 stars Diplomatically Provocative — A Foundation, Not a Structure, March 22, 2012

I come late to this book but my review will be much more detailed and useful than most others now posted, including the several that I voted for. I received it this afternoon and it has absorbed me every since.

As someone who ran for the Reform Party nomination for President with the specific intent of putting all the good ideas in one place (BigBatUSA (org), and who also tried to get Occupy to understand that electoral reform was the one thing that would make them central to all stakeholders, allow them to raise money from a broader coalition, and flush Congress down the toilet, I have three contextual disagreements that I place at the end of this review. In no way do they detract from this specific work that does what it set out to do.

The highest praise I can give this book is that I found it engrossing and learned from it. Gary North has done a great job in his article at featured at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog, “Administrative Law (New World Order) versus Democracy (Live Free or Die).” What I learned from this author is that administrative regulations are how Congress creates its “protection racket” and manipulates conditions so that those who gain ($1 in lobbying yields $6 to $20 in government earmarked pork) have to “give” every year.

From start to finish this book provokes me. As a professional intelligence officer who has been fighting since 1988 for a Smart Nation and a Whole of Government decision-support capacity that is not secret, not expensive, and not obsessed with contrived threats to the detriment of opportunities to create a world that works for all, I love the following:

QUOTE (1): Government is an embarrassment It has lost the capacity to make the most essential decisions.”

That is of course because all of government is corrupt — the Cabinet officers are there to protect budget share and serve the recipients of the taxpayer dollar, not to serve the taxpayer — the President is a puppet, all theater, today with a nanny from Goldman Sachs installed as “National Security Advisor.” The Supreme Court, thanks to Lewis Powell, is equally corrupt — the author is too kind to them in this book, while offering some very deep criticism of Justice Kennedy and CITIZENS UNITED.

MUCH later in the book, on page 247, the author relates the Jon Stewart – Bill O'Reilly exchange that got him started on this book, I would have liked it up front so I offer it here with a strong recommendation to buy this book because as these two neo-toxic opponents were quick to agree, corruption is at the heart of all these problems. I will give them the benefit of the intellectual doubt and hope they mean a lack of integrity — I consider lies to be corruption, and all forms of deception and propaganda and misinformation to be sand in the gears of an extraordinarily complex delicate system of systems. You can look for my posting on this topic, “Journal: Reflections on Integrity UPDATED + Integrity RECAP” and see especially the first two earlier postings cited there.

Mindful of Amazon's quote limit, here is the heart of the book:

QUOTE (7): The greatest threat today is in plain sight. It is the economy of influence now transparent to all, which has normalized a process that draws our democracy away from the will of the people.

The bulk of the first third of the books explores the twin outcomes, bad governance and lost trust, and the three corruptions: the author's articulation of “dependency corruption” that is in turn the foundation for very limited “venal corruption” (direct bribery) and pervasive “systemic corruption” where a “gift economy” and implied obligations destroy the integrity of the government across all topics.

The author offers examples that lead to the conclusion that government cannot be trusted to keep products safe. I know from many other readings that the USA is now considered a dumping ground for products not allowed in Europe; that the government is creating ceilings for state regulation instead of floors especially with respect to environmental responsibility (were I a governor, I would be nullifying at least half the regulations, most written by mega-industries intent on putting small town butchers and others out of business); and that the government is completely lacking in decision support across the board. The US Intelligence Community spends $80 billion a year in corporate welfare, and this produces, according to General Tony Zinni, USMC (Ret), then Combatant Commander of US Central Command, “at best” 4% of what he needed to know. [Disclosure: I helped create the Marine Corps Intelligence Center precisely because nothing the national or other service centers did was useful to a force specializing in expeditionary operations. This is when I realized — and subsequently testified and proved to the Aspin-Brown Commission — that there is nothing in the secret data bases useful to 90% of our needs.]

I love the author's brief but point examination of the role that money plays in distorting conclusions across a range of industries. When industry pays, the information is severely constipated. When independent efforts are undertaken, the results are severely critical. There is no think tank, anywhere, that I consider to be completely honest or capable, and I share Derek Bok's concerns in Universities in the Marketplace: The Commercialization of Higher Education.

About halfway through the book I have a note that this is a subtle graceful book. The author is adroit at stating ugly facts in a beautiful way. He emphasizes the value of trust, which I also emphasize in my next book, and points out that when addressing systemic corruption it is not about the absolute good or absolute bad, but about all the gray shades of bad in-between.

Bad Policy + Lost Trust = Republic Lost

He articulates the importance of clarity, diversity, and integrity (most of the subtitle of my last book) in stressing that none of us are expert at all things or even anything, and we have to be able to trust something — presumably government — to do the due diligence. Now that he is at Harvard, I imagine he is talking more with one of my own favorite authors, David Weinberger, whose latest book is all about this point: Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren't the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room.

The author's discussion of the financial ruin that Congress is bringing upon us all is illuminating. With all my reading, there is stuff here I did not know and do appreciate. Especially enlightening to me is a much deeper survey of not only how much we do in the way of subsidizing bad business that externalizes diseconomies to the public, but how FEW are the beneficiaries. The author points out that the 1% are essentially poor businessmen who have figured out how to harvest the public treasury by bribing the US Government.

A number of charts are offered throughout the book, and I like them very much. Two of these charts make the point that anti-reformers outspend reformers by 10 to 1. With respect to the financial derivatives crash, the author names names: Mark C. Brickell, Phil Gramm, Bill Clinton, and Alan Greenspan. He does not mention the Secretary of the Treasury (owned by Goldman Sachs for the last several administrations) or the Office of Management and Budget which has not known how to manage anything for a very long time.

I really like the author's bottom line and how he clearly places the responsibility on government (too little and totally lax regulation) combined with promised bailouts from the Fed and Treasury. He also explores how New York members of Congress such as Charles Schumer came to represent Wall Street. What this really means — and Joe Markowitz, one of the few minds still in government for whom I have absolute respect has said this before — is that contractors do what the government incentivizes them to do. While this does not excuse the high crimes of the financial industry, it does place the blame where it belongs: corrupt government.

Here is an astonishing fact from this book (page 83): Financial Services spend more to lobby congress and contributed more to Senate and House campaigns thatn the COMBINATION of those spending for energy, health, defense, and telecommunications.

He cites a good member of Congress, Jim Leach from Iowa, using his honest service as an example of the good that comes from NOT taking money from those you are supposed to be helping to govern. Indeed, the author stuns me in citing Dennis Thompson to the effect that Congress today is among the least corrupt Congresses in history. I find this very hard to believe given the inability to stop borrowing money we cannot pay back. I know for a fact, from Hill staff, that the standard payback for an earmark is 5%, and that the earmarks have not been eliminated, they are just hidden now in “defense support.” Evil triumphs when silence enables it.

The fall of Congress is traced by the author in part to Lyndon Johnson's going for broke on civil rights, which split the Democratic Party, and Newt Gingrich's success in raising money to take over Congress and then destroy Speaker Wright, a long sad story told in The Ambition and the Power: The Fall of Jim Wright : A True Story of Washington. It is Newt Gingrich that destroyed bi-partisanship and turned Congress into foot-soldiers for the President, which is, by the way, treason. It is the root cause of Congressional abdication of its Article 1 responsibilities. To abdicate a prescribed Constitutional responsibility is treason, in my view. Other books on the fall of Congress include Senator Coburn's Breach of Trust: How Washington Turns Outsiders Into Insiders and The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track (Institutions of American Democracy).

To understand the failure of Congress one must understand the corruption of the two-party tyranny, something not addressed at all by this book, for those insights I recommend Peter Peterson's Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It and Theresa Amato's Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny. I honor her by adopting her sub-title, never mind the angst it causes those who prefer fairy tales. Obama was elected by 30% of those voting, 56.4% of the eligible voters. A TEAM of Independents and excluded parties could still win in 2012, but only if we all come together in an Electoral Reform Summit that also creates a coalition cabinet in which each of the presidential candidates agrees to abide by public choice as crowd-sourcing blesses the final slate just prior to election day.

I learn that in the period up to 2004 50% of retiring Senators and 42% of retiring Representatives migrated to K Street as lobbyists. The author makes the point that apart from the systemic corruption associated with campaign finance, there is now the revolving door corruption, in which Congressmen act in Congress in such a manner as to “qualify” for “promotion” to K Street. Sickening.

As the author moves toward solutions, I am taken by his articulation of the Founding Fathers' intent in establishing checks and balances and INDEPENDENCE among the elements of government, precisely to avoid any dependency OTHER THAN on the will of the people. I am charmed by the phrase on page 130 “sophisticated constitutional architects.”

I will not summarize a very strong section on how money and systemic corruption destroy good governance, the author addresses:

01 Distraction from duty
02 Distortion of agenda
03 Lost trust of the public

Between charts and text I am fascinated to learn that Congress uses Administrative Law to extort funds from those affected. This is the flip side of how the extreme rich in the USA become so by manipulating changes in government policy (the KEYSTONE pipeline is criminally insane at multiple levels, including use of water to flush tar sands, external diseconomies running the length of the pipeline, and the aged legacy refineries being used to create products for EXPORT. We have more than enough energy in the USA, this is a rip off and Obama has sealed his servant status with his recent support for this anti-public project.

Discussing CITIZENS UNITED I am surprised to learn that the Supreme Court had a leg to stand on, the First Amendment does not speak to freedom of speech for *people* only to freedom of speech, but the author then dismantles Justice Kennedy for confusing contributors with voters, and points out that chasing contributions is completely different from chasing voters.

QUOTE (247): Our Congress is politically bankrupt.

To which I would add, and so is everything else in this country, including universities, charities, foundations, labor unions, and law enforcement, the latter prostituting itself for counter-terror funding while Mayors neglect everything else — just today the news is out that cities across America are prohibiting the feeding of the homeless.

Buy the book to understand the solutions the author proposes. I like the democracy voucher but government should not administer it (just as I am now worried about government hijacking IRAs as collateral on debt). Imagine 100 million voters giving $10 each to BigBatUSA, whose purpose is to fund a coalition cabinet and balanced budget announced in advance of election day. Game over.

QUOTE (269): We have corporate welfare because we have privately funded elections.

The author really renders a service in pointing out that $3 billion a year spent to fund honest open elections would allow for the elimination of over $90 billion in corporate welfare (I think the total is closer to one trillion including agriculture, energy, defense, intelligence, and homeland “security”).

Some of his strategies intersect with mine, but I believe mine [because I have drawn on Jim Turner (#2 to Nader for many years and much more personable), Mike Cudahey (key aide to Barry Goldwater), Jock Gill (communications specialist for Bill Clinton) and many others], are more comprehensive and coherent. I must mention that my solution called for Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, Rocky Anderson, Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, and Buddy Roemer to all agree to support an Electoral Reform Summit at which we would also announce that we were all running as a TEAM, with a publicly validated ticket and coalition cabinet and balanced budget announced in advance of election day. Rocky Anderson had the grace to call me, but all of the others were like deer in the headlights — beyond their ego trips, for sure. I am thinking about posting my letters (in my former status as a Reform Party candidate) to all of them — clay feet to the man and woman.

The author has been championing a Constitutional Convention for some time, and while I think it is a bridge too far, and the Electoral Reform Act of 2012 with its eleven crowd-sourced points is more than ample for cleaning house, I totally enjoy this section of the book and especially appreciate his naming several “good rich:” Arnold Hiatt, Alan Hassenfeld, Jerry Kohlberg, Edgar Bronfman Jr., and Vin Ryan; his mentioning that the greatest fear when he speaks about this is the fear of public ignorance; and his recounting of how Google under Eric Schmidt has blown it, refusing to use its powers to empower the public. [I am a huge critic of Google, as I am of Microsoft — Google is math hacks on digital garbage, Microsoft is second rate buggy heavy software long over due for being thrown out, as the universities in India have just done — they are going open source everything, and just in time.] My graphic of what Microsoft could have done to rise like a pheonix reached the new CTO who blew it off, it can be easily found by searching for < Graphic: One Vision for the Future of Microsoft >.

The author speaks briefly to the Constitutional Convention being randomly selected citizens. In support of that I suggest the reader search Amazon for books on appreciative inquiry, deliberative dialog, and collective intelligence, but I especially recommend Tom Atlee's The Tao of Democracy: Using co-intelligence to create a world that works for all, Jim Rough's Society's Breakthrough!: Releasing Essential Wisdom and Virtue in All the People, and Kevin O'Keefe's The Average American: The Extraordinary Search for the Nation's Most Ordinary Citizen.

The book ends with 42 pages of notes — this is not an opinion piece, it is a scholarly work — and I learn for the first time about WebCitation (org).

Below are three contextual disagreements I have with the author, and hope that one day we might be together at a round table. This book made my day. This book deals with reality, is authentic, and is very much in the public service.

Robert Steele

First disagreement: getting money out of politics means nothing if the two-party tyranny continues to block ballot access, use gerrymandering to pick its voters, engage in ballot fraud across all fronts, undermine the Electoral College with “winner take all” hijackings of losing candidate delegates, and so on. We need an Electoral Reform Act of 2012. Watered down versions of this act have been introduced nine times, four of those times by Ron Paul. Congress has the power to demand that all states put all accredited national parties (there are eight: Constitution, Democratic, Green, Libertarian, Natural Law, Reform, Republican, and Socialist) on all state ballots for FEDERAL offices; and that candidates from all parties be included in all debates regardless of who is sponsoring the debate — if it is federal, it must be inclusive.

Second disagreement: to expect Congress (as now monopolized by a two-party tyranny driven by fund-raising and control of access to the public purse including the unconstitutional act of borrowing one third of the federal budget and creating an Administrative Law state that micro-manages what it does not understand in order to extort funds from those affects) to do anything in the public interest, is in my view delusional. Occupy had Congress worried for a couple of months but Occupy blew it. Had they occupied every Congressional home office over the holidays and demanded the Electoral Reform Act of 2012, they could have formed a public majority and accomplished far more than this author imagines in this book. But they did not.

Third disagreement: Systemic corruption — the author's signal contribution discussed throughout the book — pervades all elements of the USA. We have become a The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead as David Callahan describes it so well. I wrote “Paradigms of Failure” as a preface to one of my books, it can be found free online. There are eight major intellectual “tribes” in the USA and around the world: academic, civil society, commerce, government, law enforcement, media, military, and non-governmental/non-profit. Every single one of them is corrupt, lacking in integrity (my definition is the holistic one, I agree with the author that systemic corruption embraces good people trapped in a bad system).

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Review: DOPE, Inc. Britain’s Opium War Against the World (and Lydon LaRouche’s War Against Henry Kissinger)

4 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation), Atrocities & Genocide, Banks, Fed, Money, & Concentrated Wealth, Budget Process & Politics, Capitalism (Good & Bad), Complexity & Catastrophe, Congress (Failure, Reform), Crime (Corporate), Crime (Government), Crime (Organized, Transnational), Culture, Research, Economics, Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Impeachment & Treason, Intelligence (Government/Secret), Intelligence (Public), Justice (Failure, Reform), Misinformation & Propaganda, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Politics, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Secrecy & Politics of Secrecy, Threats (Emerging & Perennial), True Cost & Toxicity, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized)
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Editors, Executive Intelligence Review

4.0 out of 5 stars Beyond Six on Detail, Loses Credibility on Mistakes,February 20, 2012

I have never been one to seek out conspiracy books. Reading in 98 categories, it was not until the combination of 9/11 and the multiple legalized crime bubbles that exploded in 2008-2010 that I finally realized I had been oblivious to the obvious that books such as this have been addressing for years, with more mainstream books finally starting to come into play.

This book has mind-boggling detail, most of it credible. It loses considerable credibility in making truly outrageous claims such as Executive Order 12333 being the order that authorized the framing and then incarceration of Lyndon LaRouche, an individual who cannot be stereo-typed. Indeed, this is a man that is so complex, stepping back and forth over the line — the very thin line — that separates sheer genius from errant lunacy — that I strongly recommend a reading of his Wikipedia page before reading the book. LaRouche is a convicted criminal — I see that — but I respectfully submit that every partner in Goldman Sachs, Morgan, Citi-Bank and others is an unindicted unconvicted criminal solely because the US Government lacks the intelligence and integrity to go after them.

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Review: Leverage – How Cheap Money Will Destroy the World

5 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation), Banks, Fed, Money, & Concentrated Wealth, Budget Process & Politics, Capitalism (Good & Bad), Complexity & Catastrophe, Congress (Failure, Reform), Corruption, Crime (Corporate), Crime (Government), Economics, Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Impeachment & Treason, Intelligence (Public), Justice (Failure, Reform), Misinformation & Propaganda, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Philosophy, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Priorities, Public Administration, Threats (Emerging & Perennial), True Cost & Toxicity, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized)
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Karl Denninger
5.0 out of 5 stars STRONG FIVE – Original, Award-Winning, Major Contribution, February 5, 2012

On the very last page of the book I learn that the author received the Reed Irvine Accuracy in Media Award for Grassroots Journalism, for his coverage of the 2008 market meltdown. This confirms my own already formed very high estimation of the author and his work. In fact, although I normally do links at the end of the review, let me open with some other books that are world-class and within which I place this work as comparable:

The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism
The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy
Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History
SAVAGE CAPITALISM AND THE MYTH OF DEMOCRACY: Latin America in the Third Millennium
Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism (New in Paper)

Here is the author's three-line conclusion to the longer chapter that ends the book (my own notes in parenthesis):

01 Federal and state governments KNEW what was going on, and are COMPLICIT. (This introduces me to the reality of “control fraud,” where the government commits impeachable acts that are not sanctioned; I also learn in this book that when Congress passes laws it does not include sanctions for failure by the GOVERNMENT to uphold those laws.)

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Review: Anyone That Works for a Living and Votes Republican is an Idiot

5 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation), Atrocities & Genocide, Banks, Fed, Money, & Concentrated Wealth, Budget Process & Politics, Capitalism (Good & Bad), Civil Society, Complexity & Catastrophe, Congress (Failure, Reform), Consciousness & Social IQ, Corruption, Cosmos & Destiny, Crime (Corporate), Crime (Government), Democracy, Economics, Education (General), Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Intelligence (Public), Misinformation & Propaganda, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Politics, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Public Administration, Threats (Emerging & Perennial), True Cost & Toxicity, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized), Water, Energy, Oil, Scarcity
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Clyde Coughenour

5.0 out of 5 stars Alternative Perspective, Very Naive on US Reality, January 30, 2012

I *like* this book. I've been running for the Reform Party nomination for President (there were three of us, now there are two, and I might drop out soon if I get a federal job and the Hatch Act kicks in). I mention that mostly to emphasize that everything I have learned in the six weeks I've been registered with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC ID C00507756) is relevant to the second half of my review. This book came to my attention via a press clipping service that helps me follow any mention of a third party — this book calls for a new third party Of, By, and For Workers — we used to call that Communism (just kidding), but seriously, the last part of my review is a pitch for what workers should do if they really want to take charge, as workers finally did in Norway and Sweden (it took them 25 years).

I would normally rate this book at four stars, there is a lot missing, but I have to say that in terms of earnest honest patriotic down-to-earth common sense and indisputable pro-labor attitudes, this book is solid, so I am putting it at five stars and linking below to some books that add the missing “weight” to this read. My reviews of all of the books I list are summary in nature, to help those with little time or little money.

The book is scattered, providing snapshots of all of the issues, showing very clearly where neither party, but especially the Republicans, can be trusted to look out for workers. Politics is theater–nothing is decided in the open, the real deals are behind closed doors and the taxpayer ALWAYS loses. I certainly give the book high marks for distilling a very complicated corrupt mess into a simplified structure, and I totally agree with the author that there are no reliable statistics from the government or corporations, but let me give you three that matter:

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Review: The Military Industrial Compex at 50

5 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation), Budget Process & Politics, Capitalism (Good & Bad), Congress (Failure, Reform), Corruption, Crime (Corporate), Crime (Government), Culture, Research, Democracy, Economics, Education (General), Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Environment (Problems), Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Force Structure (Military), History, Impeachment & Treason, Intelligence (Public), Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Politics, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Priorities, Public Administration, Science & Politics of Science, Secrecy & Politics of Secrecy, Strategy, Survival & Sustainment, Threats (Emerging & Perennial), True Cost & Toxicity, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized), War & Face of Battle, Water, Energy, Oil, Scarcity
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5.0 out of 5 stars America Desperately Needs More Illumination Such as This January 16, 2012

I received a review copy of this book [note to publishers: always ask first] and was glad to be offered a chance to read something as important as this. America desperately needs more illumination on the corruption in our government, and the evil done in our name without our permission but very much at our expense.

As a career veteran of the national security community–the Marine Corps and the Central Intelligence Agency–followed by seventeen years teaching 90 governments — 66 directly — how to get a grip on Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) that provides 95% of what we need to know at 2% or less of the cost of what we spend now on secret intelligence–I am well-qualified to read this book from a patriot's point of view.

A strong national defense capability does NOT exist in the USA today. Posturing fools such as Senator Rick Santorum have no idea what they are talking about when they seek to discredit those of us who do. The infantry, four percent of the force, takes eighty percent of the casualties and receives ONE PERCENT of the Pentagon budget. Within the other 99%, half–at least–is fraud, waste, and abuse that makes America weaker, not stronger.

This book, edited by David Swanson, is a very good deal at $25. Its 368 pages include chapters from thirty other authors besides the editor, and include contributions from Ray McGovern and Karen Kwiatkowski, whose work I have admired in the past. If there were one flaw in the book, but not so serious as to lose a star, it would be its isolation from the pioneering work done by Pierre Sprey, Chuck Spinney, and Winslow Wheeler, with a genuflection toward John Boyd, the real pioneer of smart sufficient national security.

What is uniquely valuable about this book, something I have not seen elsewhere, is its provision of a holistic examination not just of the military-industrial process and fraudulent, wasteful, abusive bad design, bad performance, and bad cost, but of the costs that the military-industrial complex imposes on all of us and our economy and our society. This is a world-class book that should be translated into other languages to help others avoid our long-running mistakes.

Here are the blinding flashes of solid insight that stayed with me and merit the broadest possible public understanding:

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Review: Gods of Money – Wall Street and the Death of the American Century

5 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation), Atrocities & Genocide, Budget Process & Politics, Capitalism (Good & Bad), Complexity & Catastrophe, Congress (Failure, Reform), Corruption, Country/Regional, Crime (Corporate), Crime (Government), Economics, Electoral Reform USA, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Impeachment & Treason, Intelligence (Government/Secret), Justice (Failure, Reform), Military & Pentagon Power, Misinformation & Propaganda, Nature, Diet, Memetics, Design, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Politics, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Public Administration, Science & Politics of Science, Secrecy & Politics of Secrecy, Security (Including Immigration), Threats (Emerging & Perennial), True Cost & Toxicity, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized), War & Face of Battle, Water, Energy, Oil, Scarcity

William Engdahl

5.0 out of 5 stars Before Griftopia, There Was Liar's Poker and Gods of Money,November 1, 2011

This book deserves a much more detailed review that illuminates the author's early connection of Wall Street fraud and Washington neo-conservative lust for looting the world….a bi-partisan (never mind the 63 parties that don't get to play, or the 43% of the US voters who are independent). Liar's Poker by Mark Lewis blew the cover of Wall Street's practice of “exploding the customer” and Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History later followed on John Bogle's The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism and William Greider's The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy, but William Engdahl is the one who nailed down the Trilateral Commission and Wall Street cabal focus on looting the world way beyond what John Perkin's discusses in Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.

Now the world is noticing. He appeared on Russia Today TV, which has eclipsed BBC as the English-language trusted source (and also excels at migrating its TV shorts to the web and to print), and here are some of his own words that illuminate how important his book is:

He says:

The ultimate goal of the US is to take the resources of Africa and Middle East under military control to block economic growth in China and Russia, thus taking the whole of Eurasia under control, author and historian William F. Engdahl reveals.

­The crisis with the US economy and the dollar system, the conduct of the US foreign policy is all a part of breakdown of the entire superpower structure that was built up after the end of WWII, claims Engdahl.

“Nobody in Washington wants to admit, just as nobody in Britain a hundred years ago wanted to admit that the British Empire was in terminal decline,” claims the author, noting that “All of this is related to the attempt to keep this sole superpower not only intact, but to spread its influence over the rest of the planet.”

William F. Engdahl believes the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa is a plan first announced by George W. Bush at a G8 meeting in 2003 and it was called “The Greater Middle East Project”.

While I personally do not believe that Washington is behind the Arab Spring – the Department of State has always been incompetent at public diplomacy and CIA places dictators about the public (losers there go to counterintelligence and covert action staffs) – what matters here is that the Daydream Believers: How a Few Grand Ideas Wrecked American Power have created an Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.

The US Government is out of control, and it is out of control because a two-party tyranny (less turnover than the Politburo, in Peggy Noonan's great line for use by Ronald Reagan) has nurtured a combination of Wall Street legalized greed and neo-con military-industrial complex that has sold out the US taxpayer — 5% earmarks “buy” a 95% corporate hand-out, one third of that money borrowed in our name.

I take this book and the author's views with a small grain of salt, but the evidence is over-whelming. From Michael Kalre's Blood and Oil : The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependency on Imported Petroleum The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot, we now know all we need to know about who is the greatest threat to the Republic and the Constitution: the two-party tyranny and their financial partners.

Occupy Wall Street is incoherent right now – when they get their act together, it is my hope they will focus on an Electoral Reform Act of 2012 – in my view, there is nothing wrong with America the Beautiful — all these enormous crimes against humanity not-withstanding – that cannot be fixed quickly by restoring integrity to our electoral system, hence our govenrment, hence our society and economy.

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Review: We Meant Well – How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People

6 Star Top 10%, America (Founders, Current Situation), Budget Process & Politics, Civil Affairs, Complexity & Catastrophe, Congress (Failure, Reform), Corruption, Crime (Corporate), Crime (Government), Culture, Research, Diplomacy, Economics, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Humanitarian Assistance, Insurgency & Revolution, Intelligence (Government/Secret), Iraq, Military & Pentagon Power, Misinformation & Propaganda, Nature, Diet, Memetics, Design, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Public Administration, Security (Including Immigration), Stabilization & Reconstruction
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Peter Van Buren

5.0 out of 5 stars 5.0 out of 5 stars Six Stars & Beyond–Open Heart Surgury on a Corrupt Ignorant Government,September 29, 2011


The author himself begins the book with a reference to Dispatches (Everyman's Library Classics & Contemporary Classics) followed by Catch-22: 50th Anniversary Edition, to which I would add A Rumor of War. This is a great book, an important book, and I salute the Department of State people with integrity that approved it for publication, while scorning the seventh floor craven autocrats that have bullied the author for telling the truth. This book is the real deal, and I have multiple notes along the lines of gifted writing, humble *and* erudite, quiet humor, ample factual detail, gonzo-gifted prose, an eye for compelling detail, *absorbing,* a catalog of absurdities and how not to occupy a country.

Late in my notes I write “Reality so rich it stuns. A time capsule, priceless deep insights into occupation at its worst.”

And also write down an alternative subtitle: “The Zen of Government Idiocy Squared.”

This is a book, from a single vantage point, of the specifics of “pervasive waste and inefficiency, mistaken judments, flawed policies, and structural weakness.” Speaking of the Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT), the author says “We were the ones who famously helped past together feathers year after year, hoping for a duck.”

Continue reading “Review: We Meant Well – How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People”