Review DVD: Answer Man

Reviews (DVD Only)

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5.0 out of 5 stars

Low-key, probing, phenomenal, a definite must see

October 31, 2009
Jeff Daniels, Lauren Graham
This is one of four films I caught on this last trip to Europe, so I am surprised it is listed as “pre-release” but glad that Amazon allows reviews.

This is a mix of low-key romance and deeper torment played without pathos.

Jeff Daniels is an author whose book about conversations with God is a national best seller to the point that he is tired of being mobbed and has become a recluse with severe back pain.

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Review: A Constitutional History of Secession

5 Star, Secession & Nullification
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Give me Liberty or Give me Death–Time to Demand Restoration of the Constitution, November 10, 2008

John Remington Graham

Published in 2002, this book summarizes all the reasons the individual US states may today freely contemplate secession from the United STATES of America. The author has special authority apart from his scholarship–he was among those who served as counselors to the high court of Canada that decided in 1998, irrevocably, that Quebec has the right to secede.

Two things about this book really impressed me apart from its obvious value in confronting our present reckless, arrogant, and more often than not criminal central government: first, slavery was on the way OUT in the South, and everyone knew it then; and second, the North used slavery as a strategic deception, a form of public deception acutely similar to the 935 lies Dick Cheney orchestrated on Weapons of Mass Destruction, to violate the Constitution multiple times over, and ultimately ruin the South for the benefit of Northern capitalists and the European banks behind them. Given that the Democratic Party is nothing more than a lighter version of the Republican Party–both criminally corrupt, this book is relevant NOW.

The introduction is by David Livingston, whose Wikipedia page is worth reading and opens with: “Livingston has developed some renown as a constitutional scholar and is an expositor of the compact nature of the Union, with its concomitant doctrines of corporate resistance, nullification, and secession. The doctrine coincides with federalism, states' rights, the principle of subsidiarity. His political philosophy embodies the decentralizing themes echoed by Europeans such as Althusius, David Hume, and John Acton and Americans such as Thomas Jefferson, Spencer Roane, Abel Parker Upshur, Robert Hayne and John Calhoun, which holds the community as the basic unit of political society.”

The author makes the point early on that secession is about RESTORING the rule of law, and that it is a uniquely peaceful form of revolution, a rational and orderly process with antecedents in the “Glorious Revolution” and the accession of William and Mary.

The constitution right of secession is based in natural law and was THE animating principle of American constitutional thought until 1860, when Northern bankers were directed by the Rothchilds and Morgan banking families in Europe to create a war.

The author's research is deep and compelling. The States delegated LIMITED powers to the federal government (which they explicitly refused to call a “national” government), and at no time did they surrender their individual sovereignty, many of them sovereign from England well before the Declaration of Independence.

1775: Continental Congress authority was derived from the States, not the people.

1778: Articles of Confederation, “Every State retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence.” Further on, Union is perpetual UNLESS–and later of course, by compact of the States, this version was dissolved.

Citing James Madison: a breach of any article by any party leaves all other parties at liberty to consider the whole dissolved.

George Mason of Virginia is highlighted as true patriotic and intellectual hero who was responsible for the clause that specified that all powers not expressly DELEGATED to the federal government were reserved for the States.

The author demystifies the confusion between the Union created by the States and the Union confirmed by the People. While each State still retained its own sovereignty, the Constitution, unlike the Articles of Confederation, was confirmed by a Convention of People in each state, and thus achieved a new status as a republic in form–this does NOT, however, remove the sovereign rights of each STATE.

In discussing the nullification crisis the author illuminates the distinction between the States' sovereignty power–the power to make and unmake Constitutions–and the day to day powers DELEGATED to the federal government, hence not to be interfered with absent a need to nullify, or in extremis, to secede.

1798: Nullification is a precursor to selection. This matters today as the federal government seeks to place CEILINGS on State control of corporations and pollution. Such mandates can be nullified by the States if their leaders rediscover their heritage. Virginia and Kentucky passes resolutions specifying that the federal government was created for SPECIAL (i.e. limited) purposes and was not the exclusive and final judge of its own powers, which are derived from the States.

Stephen Douglas, although a servant of the financial powers, rose to great heights after Lincoln's “election” (the author says Lincoln's election was so rigged he did not bother to campaign), and proposed a withdrawal from forts in the south so as to avoid sparking a war. Lincoln refused. Similarly, General Winfield Scott advised Lincoln to let Fort Sumter go, and Lincoln instead ordered the provocative reinforcement of Fort Sumter.

The author is at pains to document that neither Congress nor the Executive may declare war on a member State; on four separate occasions the Founding Father explicitly denied this power to Congress.

The author suggests, and documents, that General George Brinton McClellan was not the incompetent that Secretary of War Stanton sought to libel and slander, but rather very respected by the South to the point that he could have won with minimal bloodshed, and reunited the Union rather than destroy the Southern half.

Costs of Lincoln's impeachable decision to war with the south are itemized by the author as including dictatorship, bankruptcy, enslavement of the white population and looting of the south, and conscription on a scale that made death on a massive scale inevitable.

In creating its new Confederacy, the South demonstrated its moral superiority and good intentions by forbidding the future importation of slaves; repeating the fugitive slave demands on the North, recognizing all Indian tribes in its western territories as sovereign unto themselves, and rejecting Alexander Hamilton's imperial pretensions for centralized government.

I have many other notes that I have posted at my primary website. In the comment below I provide a short link, and nine quotes from the book that would not fit here within the 1000 word limit.

On our present crisis in America:

Obama – The Postmodern Coup
The Bush Tragedy
Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency
Breach of Trust: How Washington Turns Outsiders Into Insiders
Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It

On secession:

Secession: How Vermont and All the Other States Can Save Themselves from the Empire
Is Secession Treason?
One Nation, Indivisible? A Study of Secession and the Constitution

Details of my patriotic position can be found in:
Election 2008: Lipstick on the Pig (Substance of Governance; Legitimate Grievances; Candidates on the Issues; Balanced Budget 101; Call to Arms: Fund We Not Them; Annotated Bibliography)

My shared vision for the future:
Collective Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace

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Review: Intelligence Matters

5 Star, Intelligence (Government/Secret)

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5.0 out of 5 stars One of Top Five Books on Topic, But Has Some Gaps,

September 13, 2004
Bob Graham
Edit of 20 Dec 07 to add links.

The negative reviews on this book are by people that have not read the book carefully (one appears to have not read it all, having only seen the author on television). I am comfortable, on the basis of my career in intelligence, my three published books on intelligence (two with forewords by Senators, one Democratic, one Republican), and my 1100+ reviews on non-fiction about national security issues, is saying that this book is easily one of the top five books on the topic that most Americans should consider reading. The other four are the Webster Tarpley's book 9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made in USA, Fourth Edition which displaced the utterly imcompetent and unethical 9-11 Commission Report, the Aspin-Brown Commission Report (1996), Jim Bamford's book, A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America's Intelligence Agencies and George Allen's book on the failure of intelligence in Viet-Nam, None So Blind: A Personal Account of the Intelligence Failure in Vietnam There are many others, but for 9-11 and the urgently needed reforms to intelligence after 9-11 (three years ago, still no reforms of note), these are the five.

The book is most important as an unclassified record of what can be known about our failures–in both intelligence and in policy–as understood by the then serving Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI). It does have gaps–it is much less detailed than the 9-11 Commission Report, harder to read than Jim Bamford's book, and suffers from considerable gaps in both what went wrong and what needs to be fixed, as covered by my own books as well as the many other intelligence reform books that I have reviewed in their own Amazon spaces. That does not diminish its relative value as a “touchstone” for all Americans.

There are, in my view, three compelling bottom lines in this book that cannot be ignored:

1) Senator Graham recognizes better than most that in the absence of public pressure for reform, there is little incentive for Congress or the Executive to take action. As one Member is reported to have told Amy Zegart “America still does not get it–it will take another 5,000 body bags.” It is my view that the combination of intelligence community leadership misrepresentation (“its all better now, no need to make major changes” and the White House denial that there was an intelligence failure at all, which defies understanding, have led the country to fall asleep again–a point that “Anonymous” makes in Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror.

2) Page 243 covers both of the other two points. The first is that the Department of State has become a neglected orphan in US intelligence and US policy making about global threats, and this needs to change. It is worthy of note that the Department of State got it right on Iraq despite its small numbers and tiny budget, and I agree completely with Senator Graham–State has to get back in the business of being America's *primary* foreign and national security policy strategist. I put together THE SMART NATION ACT: Public Intelligence in the Public Interest but State leadership at this time is intellectually and morally challenged (2007).

3) Although disappointing in its brevity, especially since both the Aspin-Brown Commission and the 9-11 Commission found cause to note the importance of open sources of information, Senator Graham also notes on page 243 that a primary corrective measure to the failure of the intelligence community to “connect the dots” and related “incestuous amplification” lies in combining a renewed primary by the Department of State with greatly increased investments in Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) such as Congressman Rob Simmons (R-CT-02) is planning to put into the House Armed Services Committee legislation addressing 9-11 deficiencies.

Senator Graham joins Dick Clarke (whose book, Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror I strongly recommend) in condemning both Saudi Arabian sponsorship of terrorism, and the bi-partisan Clinton-Bush pandering to the Saudi's, accepting despicable sustained actions by the government of Saudi Arabia against the government and people of the United States of America, for the sake of cheap oil (see also the book by Michael Klare, and by Robert Baer). While I distinguish to an extent between Saudi intelligence, which sponsors terrorism, and Saudi royalty, which tried to deny its roots in Arabia, the bottom line is that both governments knew that Bin Laden was being nurtured by Saudi intelligence, and both chose to ignore the danger.

Senator Graham ends his book by lamenting the lack of accountability in both intelligence and policy. He is completely correct. George Tenet failed to resurrect the clandestine service in the seven years he served as Director of Central Intelligence, and then had the audacity to tell the 9-11 Commission that he needed seven more years to do this, now that he realized it was broken. No way, Jose. It is time to fire all the losers that have been testifying to Congress on how they would do things differently, and bring in the people who resigned their commissions in order to go public from 1985-2001. It is noteworthy that both the House and the Senate have failed to ask the latter to testify–virtually all of the witnesses on 9-11 are from the crowd that allowed 9-11 to happen in the first place.

Intelligence matters, indeed. It is clear from this book that the public does not yet grasp this, and it is not clear from this book that Congress ever will. The current legislative proposals are still in lip-service, cosmetic mode. The Members are still too reliant on ignorant staff and still too prone to substitute press conferences for deep discussions with the top 15 practitioner-authors who know what is needed.

There *will* be another 9-11, and there *will* be a “nuclear hell-storm” in America, courtesy of Al Qaeda. You cannot have smart spies in the context of a dumb Nation…..

See also, with reviews:
Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA
Web of Deceit: The History of Western Complicity in Iraq, from Churchill to Kennedy to George W. Bush
On Intelligence: Spies and Secrecy in an Open World

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