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

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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