Review: Theodore and Woodrow – How Two American Presidents Destroyed Constitutional Freedom

PRINTABLE DOC: (4 Pages): Review Theodore and Woodrow

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Andrew P. Napolitano

4.0 out of 5 stars Valuable Op-Ed Book, Missing the Eye Candy, October 31, 2013

I broke with the Republican Party over Iran-Contra and belatedly, the one trillion a year that Reagan started shamelessly borrowing to fund the dual welfare system — a dysfunctional military-espionage-industrial complex for the right, and a dysfunctional regulatory myopic and equally toxic individual welfare system for the left, all while ignoring banking and corporate predation. Fox News broke with me when I said, on live Fox, that the Global War on Terror was a fraud. Fox may be getting smarter, certainly this book causes me to reconsider where the right might be. I like the book very much. Although an Op-Ed book that lacks the eye candy (the Constitution as an appendix, and charts showing the specifics of Roosevelt’s and Wilson’s violations, maps of global and domestic depravities carried out in the public name and at the public’s expense), this is a superb primer, a superb eye-opener, not just for the normal American with little time to read, but also, absolutely, for those like myself who read a great deal but may not have been well grounded in the areas where Judge Napolitano has spent hard time in the trenches.

I notice immediately that among his many books are two that resonate with everything that I and others do at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog (“The truth at any cost lowers all other costs”):

Constitutional Chaos: What Happens When the Government Breaks Its Own Laws
Lies the Government Told You: Myth, Power, and Deception in American History

This book is a measured and hence valuable overview of thirteen unconstitutional turns in our last century and a half. I thought, with all the other excellent reviews already up, that the best contribution I could make is single out the one where I learned the most, and then offer an additional recommended reading in each of eight other areas where the author has sharpened my understanding and heightened my patriotic anger.

EYE OPENER: I never gave much thought to the 17th amendment that took states’ right away by taking away the role of the Senators as representatives of the State, instead turning them into the standard mob mouthpieces of the two-party tyranny. Now I am in Afghanistan, where a federal system has made corruption the central fact of life, destroyed the diversity and integrity of the provinces, and set the stage for another civil war when the US limps out. The older I get and the more I learn, the more I treasure grass-roots diversity down to municipal and county rights — NO from the bottom must trump “because I say so” from the top. I am adding reversal of 17th Amendment to my “to do” list at We the People Reform Coalition, joining my view that secession is the right of every state, and nullification in the public interest is the OBLIGATION of every Governor and state legislature.

Now here are eight of the thirteen chapters, each a lesson plan on its own, my only contribution here is to add a short blurb and one recommended additional reading for each of these chapters (I have reviewed each, my reviews are summary in nature for those who do not have the time or do not wish to purchase the books).

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Nov 1

Review: Waging Nonviolent Struggle – 20th Century Practice And 21st Century Potential

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Gene Sharp

5.0 out of 5 stars Foundation Work Not Yet Appreciated,August 28, 2012

In 1992 I was the second-ranking civilian in Marine Corps intelligence, and with the support of the Marine Corps, sought to get National Intelligence Topics moved from denied areas that were few in number and declining in importance, toward “low-intensity” threats and conditions in the Third World. The Marine Corps also tried to shift the US intelligence collection system from “priority driven” (collect over and over on the same limited set of targets) to “gap driven” (do a first pass on everything, then start over focusing on gaps). I’ve been thinking for a very long time about the deficiencies in US diplomatic, information, military, and economic (DIME) predispositions, bias, capabilities, and Achilles heels. I had more or less given up on the US Government specifically ever coming to its senses, when a bolt of lighting came out of the blue — Admiral James Stavrides, Supreme Commander for NATO, gave a TED talk about “open source security.” That is code for a complex range of things called Operations Other Than War (OOTW), Stabilization & Reconstruction (S&R), Public Diplomacy, and International Assistance, among other things. The US stinks at all of them, in part because we do not have a Whole of Government strategy, operations, intelligence, and logistics approach to anything — stovepipes, each badly managed and crossing wires, seem to be the standard.  The “M” in the Office of Management and Budget is not just silent, it is non-existent.

While I have read many other books relevant to the ideal of creating a prosperous world at peace, a world that works for all, this book was recommended to me as a starting point for avanced thinking in non-violent peace and prosperity operations, as I like to think of them, along with the author’s previous work, The politics of nonviolent action (Extending horizons books).

This is a practical book with very specific case studies and very specific itemizations (198 of them) that may replicate some of the author’s earlier work, but easily make this one book a stand-alone reference work for advanced studies by diplomats, warriors, and policy wonks long isolated from the real world. This book is not a replacement for Howard Zinn’s A Power Governments Cannot Suppress or Jonathan Schell’s The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People. The three go well together.

For the grand strategic view I would suggest Philip Allott’s The Health of Nations: Society and Law beyond the State; at the operational level, Mark Palmer’s Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World’s Last Dictators by 2025, and at the tactical level, Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail (BK Currents (Paperback)).

This is a multi-purpose volume. One can skip the case studies and ingest the beginning and the end, which is what I did, or one can use the volume as a distributed reading and research exercise–if I were using it each case study would be the foundation for a student paper on what never happened — the obliviousness of the UN, NATO, the US, etcetera, to the non-violent intervention points and the importance of NOT persisting with support to dictators and foreign military sales. As an aside, the dirty little secret of the CIA is that they are never serious about deposing evil, they just like to toy with dissidents on the margins — the best documentary on this long-standing fact is Charlie Wilson’s War: The Extraordinary Story of How the Wildest Man in Congress and a Rogue CIA Agent Changed the History of Our Times.

I value the book for the brevity of its main point: non-violent power is real and practical and has many manifestations (most of them not really known to me in a coherent scheme before reading this book). State power is context dependent, and much — *much* — more subject to public will than most realize.

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Aug 28

Review (Guest): The Open Source Everything Manifesto – Transparency, Truth & Trust

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Robert David Steele

5.0 out of 5 stars PREPARE TO HAVE YOUR MIND BLOWN!,June 24, 2012

B. Tweed DeLions “B.T.”

If there’s a single Founding Father of the Open Source movement, Robert D. Steele is it. Everyone else has been playing catchup. And if you don’t know what the Open Source revolution is, you need to read this book. You don’t even need to know why! You need to buy it, read it, and then you’ll *know* why. No other book on Open Source can open your eyes the way this one can. That’s because there’s no potential use of Open Source intelligence that Steele hasn’t anticipated. Collective Intelligence is coming! It’s an unstoppable force. And it will change everything. So if you like to know about things like that in advance, you need to buy this book.

The information age that was created by personal computers was just a kiddie car with a squeaky horn. By comparison, the open source revolution is a freight train. Its potential to change your world is orders of magnitude greater. This is not hyperbole. In fact superlatives can’t begin to express the ground-shaking potential of this next wave of human evolution.

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Jun 24

Review (Guest): American Nations – A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America

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Colin Woodard

Phi Beta Iota:  Elevated to four stars on recommendation of Chuck Spinney.  Synopsis of book in article for:  A Geography Lesson for the Tea Party

3.0 out of 5 stars How many sub-nations compose the USA?,October 10, 2011

Many people think of the United States as a nation with two regional or sub-national entities — the North and the South. The two sub-nations have identifiable differences in outlook. The South, a traditionally rural and agricultural region, has always been perceived to have a relatively conservative and individualistic outlook, oriented toward small government and states rights. The North, dominated by urbanized commercial centers, has always been relatively more aligned with big government agendas, a natural characteristic of densely populated areas where most people’s livelihoods are derived from industry and commerce.

The geographical, political, and cultural divides between the North and South have been fairly well defined by the “Mason-Dixon Line” — approximately the line of the Ohio and Potomac Rivers . Indeed states like Kentucky and Maryland are called “Border States” as if they were on an international frontier. And of course a military frontier DID materialize between the North and South when the Southern sub-nation attempted to assert its sovereignty during the Civil War.

This great divide between the Northern and Southern sub-nations continues to this day. I’ve read commentaries from foreigners who explain the politics of the United States as consisting of a struggle for dominance between the Northern and Southern sub-nations. We Americans refer to this as the “Red State / Blue State” divide. So the idea of the USA consisting of two sub-nations is well established.

The question this book addresses is whether it makes sense to subdivide the United States into MORE THAN TWO subnational entities. Others have asked this question before. Joel Garreau wrote about it in 1981 in his book THE NINE NATIONS OF NORTH AMERICA. I read NINE NATIONS then and concluded that it was partially valid in an economic sense, i.e. relatively more Westerners earn their livelihoods from mining, relatively more people on the Great Plains earn their living from growing wheat and corn and livestock, and relatively more Northerners earn their living from Industry. So from that perspective there are arguably nine economic nations in North America. But Garreau did not convince me that there are more than two political sub-nations inside the USA.

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Oct 18

Review (Guest): Deep Green Resistance – Strategy to Save the Planet

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Derrick Jensen (Author), Aric McBay (Author), Lierre Keith (Author)

About the Authors

Activist, philosopher, teacher, and leading voice of uncompromising dissent, DERRICK JENSEN holds degrees in creative writing and mineral engineering physics. In 2008, he was named one of the Utne Reader’s “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World,” and in 2006 he was named Press Action’s Person of the Year for his work on the book Endgame. He lives in California.

Writer, activist, and small-scale organic farmer ARIC MCBAY works to share information about community sufficiency and off-the-grid skills. He is the author of Peak Oil Survival: Preparation for Life after Gridcrash and creator of “In the Wake: A Collective Manual-in-progress for Outliving Civilization.”

LIERRE KEITH is a writer, small farmer, and radical feminist activist. She is the author of two novels, as well The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability, which has been called “the most important ecological book of this generation.” She’s also been arrested six times. She lives in Humboldt County, CA.

5.0 out of 5 stars finally, a book to meet the scale of our predicament,June 7, 2011
By  Owen Lloyd (Eugene, OR) – See all my reviews

What is different about Deep Green Resistance is that it is the first book that offers a solution that is scaled to the size of our predicament.

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Aug 11

Review (Guest): Cotton and Race in the Making of America

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Gene Dattel

5.0 out of 5 stars Now I Better Understand What It Was All About,June 10, 2010

By  Richard P. Canon (Spartanburg, SC United States) – See all my reviews

Being a proud fifth-generation Southerner, I thought that I fully understood why the Civil War was fought. Most of my understanding was based upon the influence of society and culture within which I grew up. Although none of my family were flag flying Confederates, there was very much pride in being a Southerner and having ancestors who fought for the Confederacy.

After reading this book, I honestly believe that I better understand why the Southerners did what they did. Within my lifetime I have been told over and over that the war was fought over the issue of slavery. As this book shows, slavery was at the root of the war. The primary issue of the war, however, was pure economics.

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Jul 22

Review: The Two Trillion Dollar Meltdown–Easy Money, High Rollers, and the Great Credit Crash

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Charles R. Morris

5.0 out of 5 stars Forward to Future of Capitalism and GRIFTOPIA

November 8, 2010

This book was flagged to my attention in the Comments section of my own review of Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America, where my review includes the following quote that I share here:

QUOTE (32): What has taken place over the last generation is a highly complicated merger of crime and policy, of stealing and government. Far from taking care of the rest of us, the financial leaders of America and their political servants have seemingly reached the cynical conclusion that our society is not work saving and have taken on a new mission that involved not creating wealth for us all, but simply absconding with whatever wealth remains in our hollowed out economy. They don’t feed us, we feed them.

I defer to the other reviewers on the substance of the book, but want to provide links here to several books that address the larger context of the soul of capitalism and the corruption of the two political parties that have undermined the US Government and US economy with malice aforethought.

Capitalism:
The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism
The Betrayal of American Prosperity: Free Market Delusions, America’s Decline, and How We Must Compete in the Post-Dollar Era
The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy
The Genius of the Beast: A Radical Re-Vision of Capitalism

Corrupt Two-Party Tyranny
Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It
Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny
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)
The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track (Institutions of American Democracy)
Breach of Trust: How Washington Turns Outsiders Into Insiders

I am blogging twice a week at Huffington Post on what a Virtual Cabinet doing sane evidence-driven policies in the context of a balanced responsible budget might look like, and would welcome visits there by those interested in getting back to honest government and responsible capitalism.

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Nov 8

Review (DVD): Unthinkable

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Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Sheen Director: Gregor Jordan

And Carrie-Anne Moss (Amazon stinks at listing all authors and actors)

5.0 out of 5 stars

Astonishing–Riveting–Thought Provoking–Beyond Five Stars

May 28, 2010

EDIT of 27 August 2010: The Intelligence Science Board, the top advisory board to the Director of National Intelligence, has just come out with firm documented conclusions against coercive interviewing and absolutely demanding non-coercive interviewing. People like Col stuart Harrington and I have known this for decades, but it is nice to have the following (full links at Phi Beta Iota):

The ISB study notably dissected the “ticking time bomb” scenario that is often portrayed in television thrillers (and which has “captured the public imagination”). The authors patiently explained why that hypothetical scenario is not a sensible guide to interrogation policy or a justification for torture. Moral considerations aside, the ISB report said, coercive interrogation may produce unreliable results, foster increased resistance, and preclude the discovery of unsuspected intelligence information of value (pp. 40-42).

Bottom line: all of you that hate this review (shoot the messenger) have the best of intentions but you have absolutely no clue about real-life. Intelligence, not ideology, should be restoring America the Beautiful. That will not happen until We the People wake up and recognize that there is a two-party tryanny owned and operated by Wall Street, and we are being treated as expendable pigs.

Edit of 28 June 2010: the voting on this review appears to mirror the divide in America between left of center and right of center, with no dialog. I encourage a dialog in the comments section and will respond on a daily basis. The world is NOT “win-lose,” it is only “lose-lose” or “win-win” or what one author calls “Non-Zero.” We can either die as a species, or live as a species, there is no “eugenics” possible as much as Henry Kissinger (who can never return to France) might like the term. There is only one “we.” What we lack right now is educated leaders with open minds who have integrity. This topic–torture–and this review–against torture of Americans by Americans–and these votes–American against American–are a window into our soul and what I am seeing is no basis for happiness.

– – – – – – –

I am 57 years old, been a spy, did Viet-Nam (63-67) as the son of an oil man going through ten coups d’etat, did El Salvador where I was personally threatened with assassination by the guys running the country who did not like me talking to leftists, and so on. I am also one of the handful of Americans who signed the letter to Senator John “POWS in VN? What POWs” McCain against torture. The thousand five hundred non-fiction reviews I have done all serve as a foundation for saying that this movie is a MUST SEE for every American.

For some time now I have felt that the US Government is out of touch with the American public, out of touch with reality, and out of touch with ethics. Ethics is a really important word that has been central to my life these past twenty years as I along with a number of others have realized that most of what the US Government does in the way of both secret intelligence and global military operations is unethical, unprofessional, unrealistic, predatory, and generally a waste of the taxpayers’ money.

This movie is not like Sum of All Fears or Live Free or Die Hard (Unrated Edition) or any of the other good guys win in the end movies. This movie focuses on our soul as seen in torture, and it very ably calls into question the idiocy of US foreign policy these past fifty years.

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May 28

Review: Secession, State, and Liberty

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5.0 out of 5 stars Phenomenal Overview, Timely, the One Book to Buy If…
September 12, 2009
David Gordon
I read in threes and fours on any given topic, and in some ways I regret getting to this book last, but on the other hand, having read the other books below first, it makes me appreciate, and be willing to certify, that this one book is the one to buy if you only want to read one book on the topic.
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Sep 12

Review: Secession–How Vermont and All the Other States Can Save Themselves from the Empire

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Elegant plain speaking, superb overview, November 4, 2008

Thomas H. Naylor

This book is a follow-on to The Vermont Manifesto, which I absorbed and reviewed in 2006 when I first realized that there existed a vibrant nation-wide network of secessionist movements, with Vermont being among the most ably represented.

I strongly recommend this book for every citizen. Regardless of who “wins” this mock election, we all lose–the two-party bi-opoly is a crime family, and absent electoral reform the Republic is dead. As the author of this book puts it, “our” government is corrupt to the core.” I will be speaking briefly to the annual reunion of the two dozen secessionist movements in New Hampshire on 15 November 2008, and I will be encouraging every one of the movement to announce an intent to exercise its right to withdraw from a corrupt Union *unless* the pseudo-President agrees to implement four core reforms (they are outlined, along with the legitimate grievances of the varied secessionist movements, 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).

This book opens with a tremendous introduction by Kirkpatrick Sale, author of Human Scale and dean of the Middlebury Institute that furthers the secessionist movement.

The book then offers a summary of the earlier work, eight points in the manifesto:
1) increasingly difficult to protect ourselves from big everything
2) government is too everything, including intrusive and unresponsive
3) US government has lost its moral authority both at home and abroad
4) we have a single (criminal) political party [I for one weep at the charade that the Democrats have put on with 700 million in largely illegal contributions made possible by Obama not being able to honor his word to the public)
5) The “American way” is a way of greed, exploitation, and waste
6) America’s foreign policy is immoral and illegal as well as unconstitutional
7) To be a part of the Empire is to invite terrorist attack
8) The existing “nation” is ungovernable, unfixable, and unsustainable.

Beginning on page 43 the author addresses each of the options he can think of (the author is a professor emeritus from Duke):

1) denial
2) compliance
3) political reform
4) implosion
5) rebellion
6) dissolution

I am charmed by the author’s overview of many of the emerging trends, mostly negative, that I have found in so many non-fiction books over these past few years. He outlines examples of domestic imperialism, calls into question the 9/11 “official story”, and lambastes both corporations and the federal government for fraudulent book-keeping.

On page 76 he lists the eight principles that are explained at length in the earlier work:

1) Political Independence
2) Human Scale
3) Sustainability
4) Economic Solidarity (some would call this “buy local”)
5) Power Sharing
6) Equal Opportunity
7) Tension Reduction
8) Mutuality

This program is achieved in four steps that are discussed in detail by the author:

1) Denunciation (I have certainly tried to do that with my own reviews)
2) Disengagement
3) Demystification (i.e. secession is NOT sedition, it cannot be)
4) Defiance

The middle of the book is a description of Vermont in compellingly attractive terms, and two points stay with me: they outlawed billboards; and Vermont is one of two states whose banks did not fail in the Great Depression, and one of three states whose banks did not fail in the 1980’s.

The author observes that the Inter-State Commerce Act is used to force Wal-Mart into Vermont, and sadly notes the reality that too many Vermonters do not understand that cheap prices from Wal-Mart are achieved by destroyed local jobs and the rest of the earth (see among many works, Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price.

The author provides a very helpful overview of Constitutional History of Secession which is the thickest book in my secession reading pile, and the last I will get to. Bottom line: every state has a right to secede from the Union, and it is the Constitution, not the Union, that we are all sworn to uphold.

The author provides a fine overview of how Eastern Europe led the way in modern secession, with favorable references to Vaclav Havel and his book, Power of the Powerless: A Brother’s Legacy of Love (Crossroad Book).

The book moves to a conclusion in observing that Alaska, Hawaii, Texas, and California (the latter with three secessionist movements calling for three separate republics to be made out of the state, the eighth largest economy on the planet per the author), are all ripe for activism. The author does not make this point so I will: the best time for any group to secede is when the larger group is bogged down in a foreign war that is bankrupting the whole.

He ends by citing Switzerland, with 7.3 million people total, as an excellent model for the Second Vermont Republic by itself, but his own hope is for a New Arcadia consisting of the eastern part of Canada with New Hampshire, and Main joining Vermont. This presumes Quebec’s eventual success (and one can also anticipate Alaska moving on the Empty Quarter while British Columbia links up with Washington and Oregon and the sane part of California (the northern part). See The Nine Nations of North America, still the best overview around.

I cannot say enough good things about this book, I consider it a core reading for any adult with brain who cares about the Constitution, the Republic as it was conceived by the Founding Fathers, and the cause of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness which our federal government is supposed to be about, but is not.

Three others books within my ten link allowance:
The Tao of Democracy: Using Co-Intelligence to Create a World That Works for All
A Power Governments Cannot Suppress
Collective Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace

I do not favor secession IF (big IF) we can force the matter of the four reforms on the pseudo-President at the Citizens Summit that will take place in Denver in February 2009.

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Jul 3