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Robert David STEELE Vivas RSS Feed (Oakton, VA United States)

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The Onboard Medical Guide: First Aid and Emergency Medicine Afloat
The Onboard Medical Guide: First Aid and Emergency Medicine Afloat
by Paul G. Gill
Edition: Paperback
37 used & new from $0.39

4.0 out of 5 stars The Best in Its Time, Superceded by Marine Medicine, March 29, 2015
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Dated but exceptional.

I have been so unhappy with the "standard" references such as Advanced First Aid Afloat that that I created my own informal study guide for offshore use, one page per item, description/diagnostics, treatment, and photo.

Recently a new book has come on the market that I recommend without reservation, Marine Medicine (Adventure Medical Kits). This new book has the advantage of combining the expertise of one of America's top sailor doctors, and one of America's top wilderness doctors.

I continue to value this book, and have it integrated into my own informal guide, but if you want to buy one book to carry on your boat, the book I recommend is Marine Medicine (Adventure Medical Kits).

Marine Medicine (Adventure Medical Kits)
Marine Medicine (Adventure Medical Kits)
by Eric A. Weiss MD
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.25
48 used & new from $4.44

5.0 out of 5 stars BEYOND First Aid, a Super Medical Primer, March 29, 2015
I've been an offshore sailor since 1988, off and on, and in all that time I have been very frustrated by a wide range of largely mediocre medical references, to the point that I created my own First Aid Afloat reference (one page per issue, description/diagnosis, treatment, photo).

This is not only the first maritime medicine reference that meets my standards, but it combines the extraordinary experience and wisdom of one of our foremost maritime medical experts, with one of our foremost wilderness medical experts. In short, this is THE gold standard.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of listening to Dr. Jacobs lecture the US Safety at Sea Seminar in Annapolis -- this is the premier US Sailing event of the year -- and today I had the further pleasure of an interactive session with the good doctor. I found him to not only be a superb professional, but the perfect gentleman whom I would recommend as a lecturer, mentor, and hands-on trainer.

Use Amazon's "Look Inside the Book" to review the extraordinary table of contents. I will be blunt: the US Red Cross book, and books such as Advanced First Aid Afloat, do not satisfy me. This book does.

BRAVO ZULU to the authors.

See Also:

Wilderness and Travel Medicine

Guerilla Politician: The #1 Guide in America for 3rd-Party Candidates
Guerilla Politician: The #1 Guide in America for 3rd-Party Candidates
Price: $6.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rough around the edges, useful starting point, March 12, 2015
This book is rough around the edges and overlooks prior works by others with the same level of patriotism and hard-earned experience. It is however very timely, very honest, very much on point, and I therefore recommend it without reservation.

Since I review so many books, including over 300 on "democracy lost" and what to do about it, I will point readers toward my master list (every review comes back to its Amazon home page) before listing ten books as Amazon allows. Search online for

Worth a Look: Democracy Lost & Found Essay, Book Review Blurbs and Links [Updated 3 MAR 2015]

Now here are a few books, including the latest from Ralph Nader, that highlight the revolionary nature of our times within which this book in both Kindle and CreateSpace is a useful addition:

Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedom
Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It
Momentum: Igniting Social Change in the Connected Age
Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State
Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny
Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History
We the Purple: Faith, Politics, and the Independent Voter
Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism
Extreme Democracy
The Tao of Democracy: Using Co-Intelligence to Create a World that Works for All

Best wishes to all,
Robert David Steele
OPEN POWER: Electoral Reform Act of 2015 - Open Source Activist Tool-Kit

Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State
Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State
by Ralph Nader
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.29
77 used & new from $6.40

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Valentine for the Real Conservatives -- Bland and Not Transformative, March 9, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Positive up front: reading a book by another person is like getting a few hours of their time to yourself, so any book by Ralph Nader is a substantive value to anyone interested in ethics and governance. However, this is not the transformative book I was hoping for, and I even have to wonder if all the great minds providing blurbs even read the book. For the long critique of this book, which I totally embrace, see Herbert Calhoun's 3-star review, This is Both an Accurate and a Useful Treatise, But ...?, October 25, 2014. I'd like to see it voted up, Mr. Calhoun, whom I have had the privilege of meeting at Amphoras in Vienna, is one of the most intelligent and broadly read individuals I have ever encountered.

Second positive up front: in terms of inspiring generations of independent thinkers some of whom have become thought leaders in their own right, Ralph Nader is special. Jim Turner -- co-author with Lawrence Chickering of Voice of the People: The Transpartisan Imperative in American Life and Theresa Amato, whose own book Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny contributed to my radicalization, stand out.

Two thirds of this book can be read quickly, and the chapter on twenty-five proposed redirections and reforms is bland to the point of irrelevance to the future of the country. All basic stuff, which is no doubt the point -- the author has gotten left and right to agree that the sky is (occasionally) blue.

For me the real value of this book is to be found in Chapter 6, "Obstacles to Convergence and How to Overcome Them." That is the gem in this book and that is the one chapter in this book worth using in the classroom and circulating among activists. That is the chapter that explains why all the good people who come to Washington with the best of intentions ultimately go bad. See also Tom Coburn's Breach of Trust: How Washington Turns Outsiders Into Insiders.

There are bits and pieces of the book that resonate enough to earn a marginal notation, a few that I will list here include:

01 Corporations have hijacked the conservative label to mis-represent many very un-conservative policies and actions
02 Adam Smith's "invisible hand" assumed a decentralized marketplace, not one dominated by monopolies
03 Corporations do not just stop bi-partisan legislation dead, they also stop federal commissions and studies
04 It helps to start with an agreement on ends, and then work back toward means which is where most of the differences lie
05 Agrarians, Decentralists, Legalists, and Reformers are among the Conservative groups of principle that Liberals should be connecting with
06 Patrick Buchanan receives special attention and I agree with this completely -- a rock-star equal to Nader and Dennis Kucinich
07 Useful critique of summits that fail for being too short, too many people, not focused enough, without sustaining resources

The letter to the billionaires is long and turgid. It's three recommendations (fund writings, convocations, and organizations) are pedestrian. A much more inspiring book on billionaires and how they are trying (and failing) to do good is offered by Darrell West Billionaires: Reflections on the Upper Crust. However I do want to emphasize that Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and Tom Steyer have all gone on record with respect to the system being broken, and the latter two have admitted that their hundreds of millions given to charity have not had the desired outcome [something Russell Ackoff would have told them for the price of one book, for example Ackoff's Best: His Classic Writings on Management, they have all been "doing the wrong things righter instead of the right thing." The right thing -- not really touched on in this book, is Electoral Reform. The author makes the fundamental mistake of concluding on page 154 that "the electoral doors are closed to basic challenges." WRONG! See my Kindle book, #2 in Civics yesterday, for a $2.99 contrarian perspective.

Reflecting on this book at this point in time, I would have to conclude -- and this is why it earns four stars instead of three as Herb Calhoun has assigned -- that Ralph Nader has done a superb job of reaching out to some of the key Libertarians and Conservatives, he has helped separate true conservative philosophy and ethical intentions from platitudes and hijacked programs, and this provides an opening. There is no question in my own mind, as I focus on Open Power and Electoral Reform in 2015 (in time to elect and Independent President and a slide of Independent and small party Members in 2016) that Ralph Nader continues to offer a great deal to any alliance seeking to go beyond the left-right divide.

Critically, and the reason this book is not in my view worthy of a fifth star, he neglects the perspective of the hundreds of authors I review in my free online essay and linked list at Tiny URL /Steele-Reform, here Amazon only allows me five more links:

Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism
Democracy's Edge: Choosing to Save Our Country by Bringing Democracy to Life
Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History
Society's Breakthrough!: Releasing Essential Wisdom and Virtue in All the People
The Big Disconnect: Why The Internet Hasn't Transformed Politics (Yet)

Dare I say this? Ralph Nader is insular and out of touch with the collective intelligence and deliberative dialog movements, and I don't see much in the way of transpartisanship in this book either. It is not about left-right anymore, reading anything by Paul Ray and Sherri Ruth Anderson should make that clear. There are 110 million out of 319 million in the USA who are at or near the poverty level -- while Walmart employees are mentioned in this book, I do not get the feeling that the author is actually focused on addressed the urgency of achieving a transformation that speaks to the needs of that 110 million -- or the 130 million eligible voters that chose not to vote in 2012.

A giant, without question. Unfortunately, the author is stuck in a corporatist mind-set that is too removed from where Occupy, the Independents, the Greens, the Libertarians not owned by the Koch Brothers, and the Working Families are to be found. Now I see that we all need to reach out to Ralph Nader. #ElectoralReform. Happening now.

Best wishes to all,
Robert David STEELE Vivas
OPEN POWER: Electoral Reform Act of 2015 - Open Source Activist Tool-Kit (Kindle with links)
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 11, 2015 12:47 PM PDT

Reform or Revolution and Other Writings (Dover Books on History, Political and Social Science)
Reform or Revolution and Other Writings (Dover Books on History, Political and Social Science)
by Rosa Luxemburg
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.40
48 used & new from $4.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tedious, Some Valuable Provocative Original Thinking, March 6, 2015
I bought this book along with On Marx: Revolutionary and Utopian (Liveright Classics) at Powell's in Portland, one of the truly great bookstores in the USA along with the Tattered Cover in Denver (which is a tenth the size of Powell's). I bought it largely because of its focus on the general strike versus the partial strike as a tactic that might or might not be possible depending on the country and where it is in its economic degeneration.

Although I received a very good education in political thought from Charles Bednar at Muhlenberg, I confess that it is only now at 63 that I have realized that most of what our government, media, think tanks, and even universities offer in the way of commentary on "political economy" is ideological crap -- they do not do their homework, they really have no clue, and they get away with it because everyone else has no clue either.

Peter Linebaugh's Stop, Thief!: The Commons, Enclosures, and Resistance (Spectre) is what forced me to reconsider Marx's critique of capitalism and I recommend that 2014 publication to anyone who wishes to think critically about capitalism today, along with the following:

Occupy the Economy: Challenging Capitalism (City Lights Open Media)
Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
No Logo: 10th Anniversary Edition with a New Introduction by the Author
Liar's Poker (25th Anniversary Edition): Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street (25th Anniversary Edition)

In short, the rest of us have caught up with Marx. Predatory Capitalism is toxic and unsustainable. While Communism (along with Socialism and Facism) have proven to be just as bad as predatory or plutocratic capitalism, Marx, as an intellect and economists, and others such as the author of this book Rosa Luxemburg, are now recognized by a growing body as having been over a century ahead of their time.

On Marx: Revolutionary and Utopian (Liveright Classics)
On Marx: Revolutionary and Utopian (Liveright Classics)
by Alan Ryan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $12.47
65 used & new from $6.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Gem of a Book, Author's Synthesis is Priceless, March 6, 2015
<i>EDIT: I have placed in bold the paragraph everyone is missing.</i>

I picked this up at Powell's Bookstore in Portland (10 times bigger than Tattered Cover in Denver, both worth going out of your way to visit) and it is a GEM of a book in two ways: the author provides a summary overview of Marxism that is hugely beneficial to anyone looking for a sound critique of capitalism as we know it today; and the author has selected a few pieces by Marx to be read in the original.

Peter Linebaugh's Stop, Thief!: The Commons, Enclosures, and Resistance (Spectre) is what forced me to reconsider Marx's critique of capitalism and I recommend that 2014 publication to anyone who wishes to think critically about capitalism today, with this book as a very fine follow-on.

QUOTE (64): "The modern republic attempts to impose political equality upon an economic inequality it has no way of alleviating.

This is the heart of the matter and I salute the author (Alan Ryan for the clarity of his essay, which is the real value in the book. This informed opinion of his is helpful in evaluating the many excellent works of Richard Wolff, himself an emeritus student of Marxism, I particularly recommend as relevant today his 2012 Occupy the Economy: Challenging Capitalism (City Lights Open Media).

I cannot say enough good things about how ably the author presents the essence of Marxist thinking as it is relevant to our challenges today. He opens with:

QUOTE (13): "The history of political thoughts is in large part a series of answers to the question whether human beings are capable of self government, and if so, under what conditions."

I confess to only now, at the age of 63, understanding what Charles Bednar was trying to teach us in the 1970's when he drew contrasts between Plato (no) and Aristotle (yes). In modern times the question has been answered - and the answer awarded a Nobel Prize in Economics, by Elinor Ostrom with her Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action (Political Economy of Institutions and Decisions).

My copy of the book is loaded with marginal notations. As a former Libertarian, I have to stand up and take notice of this Libertarian fallacy:

QUOTE (26): "Thus, capitalism was committed to the thought that every individual could own his or her own property, but unless the laborer was propertyless, and separated from the means of production, he or she could not be compelled to work for a capitalist employer."

As I contemplate the claims and now increasingly evident shortfalls in Austrian economics, it becomes clear that Libertarians have become confused between an ideological fantasy focused on keeping government out of their lives, and the harsh reality that 42 billionaires own the government and the country -- including all its lands.

I treasure the author's gentle discussion of how Marx was great at dissecting capitalism and the Weberian (German fascist top down because I said so) model of government, but he was terrible to the point of being an empty shell, when it came to proposing how things ought to be. The purpose of the state is to maintain order, nurture the economy, and advance society. On this, R. M. McIver's The Modern State, annoyingly not carried by Amazon, remains "Ref A." Put most clearly by the author, Marx failed to address the possibilities or process of informed self-governance.

<b>So to be clear, especially since there will surely be those who accuse me now of being a Marxist, Marx's value is in his brilliant detailed critique of capitalsim (basing the economy on finance and empowering the few over the money), not (NOT) in his errant and somewhat accidental metamorphosis into communism as an alternative means of governance.</b>

Another fascinating observation that the author brings forward -- this is also in Rosa Luxemburg's Reform or Revolution and Other Writings (Dover Books on History, Political and Social Science) that I bought at the same time -- is that the welfare state has been a capitalist tool, a means of keeping the masses quiet. Today, as we observe the collapse of the welfare state and the collapse of financial capitalism, I have to conclude that the 1% blew it -- had they been willing to continue their disproportionate sharing, they might have lasted forever. It is our good fortune that they became stupid (incest and inherited wealth does that, see Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century and greedy).

I am much taken by the author's concluding thoughts that center on whether the masses can be roused from their inattentiveness and contrived ignorance, and on the possibilities of what my friends Mitch Ratcliff and Jon Lebkowsky call in their book by this title, Extreme Democracy.

This small volume is a treat to read, and absolutely most heartily recommended.

Other books that comes to mind -- but see my many lists of lists of book review at Phi Beta Iota's Reviews Page (and especially my essay and reviews on Democracy Lost) -- include:

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
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

In short, the rest of us have caught up with Marx. Predatory Capitalism is toxic and unsustainable. While Communism (along with Socialism and Facism) have proven to be just as bad as predatory or plutocratic capitalism, Marx, as an intellect and economists, and others such as the author of this book Rosa Luxemburg, are now recognized by a growing body as having been over a century ahead of their time.

Occupy the Economy: Challenging Capitalism (City Lights Open Media)
Occupy the Economy: Challenging Capitalism (City Lights Open Media)
by Richard D. Wolff
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.82
67 used & new from $1.63

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SIX STAR Primer on the Necessary Socio-Economic Revolution, February 28, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
SIX STAR (my top 10% across 2000+ non-fiction book). This is an extraordinary book full of straight talk and common sense that sets the stage for a socio-economic revolution, first in the USA and then elsewhere. It does not address the many isolated incidents of collaborative capitalism and the commons that are in motion around the world -- for that look up Michel Bauwens and the work of others on the economic commons -- and it neglects the coincident need for a political revolution which is what my latest book on Open Power is about -- but on balance this is easily a six-star offering.

The author's focus is on asserting democratic process and privilege within the workplace -- restoring the unions, giving workers and their communities rather than the 1% the decision-making power over what is made where at what cost to what end. The author does not present the concept of true cost economics as pioneered by Herman Daly in many books including Ecological Economics, Second Edition: Principles and Applications and For The Common Good: Redirecting the Economy toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future but the learned reader will see that true costs -- the destruction of families, neighborhoods, and societies -- is a very clear focus with the book.

It is a tremendous complement to two books I have recently reviewed, Elinor Ostrom's Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action (Political Economy of Institutions and Decisions) and Peter Linebaugh's Stop, Thief!: The Commons, Enclosures, and Resistance (Spectre). Just a couple of other books that are at this level of value: Matt Taibbi's Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History, John Perkins'Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, and Michael Hogan's SAVAGE CAPITALISM AND THE MYTH OF DEMOCRACY: Latin America in the Third Millennium.

A word about Ostrom: she received the Nobel in Economics for her book, which made the point that the only governance that is both fully-informed and situationally aware all the time, and able to both set sensible sustainable rules and enforce them in a humane pertinent, manner, is LOCAL. Governance that does not embrace extreme democracy is not governance, it is dictat, corrupt, flawed, and harmful.

I must mention the co-creator, David Barsamian, whose questions are brilliant and elicit answers that are world-class.

The core point of the book is that we have allowed flawed capitalism to define and then dominate flawed democracy. The author focuses on putting open democracy into the workplace, this is a view I embrace and I see it starting to happen across cooperatives and collaborative commons here and there, but I do not see it being pervasive or successful in the short run. A more radical and potentially quicker faster solution is to harness he anger and righteous energy of the 100 million working and unemployed poor in the USA (one third of the total population), create the Working Poor Party -- an indictment as the name suggests, no one should be poor who is willing and able to work -- and go for the Electoral Reform Act [for an online tutorial including links to over 200 books relevant to Democracy Lost here at Amazon, use TinyURL /Steele-Reform] and strive to dump the two-party tyranny (see Theresa Amato's superb book, Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny while electing and INDEPENDENT executive and a sufficiency of Independent and small party (Constitution, Green, Libertarian, Reform) Members to Congress. This will restore integrity and make democracy affordable, interoperable, and scalable again.

I differ with the author's emphasis on changing corporate governance because Franklin Roosevelt (whom the author discusses in most pertinent terms) understood what most do not: corporations operate under a public charter and they can be both regulated and shamed into being ethical and respecting true costs, PROVIDING THAT the government itself is ethical and driven by ethical evidence-based decision-support (intelligence) which is not the case with the US Government today -- all thre branches are corrupt to the bone and do not represent the public interst.

Where the book stands out for me and easily jumps into my SIX-STAR (top 10%) tier is in the author's combination of facts and balanced sensible case-making. This book is a primer on economics for the larger adult population that has been fed a diet of crap by the schools, the media, think tanks, and the government. This book is truth straight up in easy to understand terms.

While I believe the author understates unemployment when he settles on 15-17% (I accept the 22.4% documented at, there isn't a chapter in this book that does not teach me something. In fact, I went to sleep watching Donald Trump make an ass of himself at CPAC (following Rand Paul who was impressive but both were talking platitudes without facts). I happen to be the guy that designed the 450 ship Navy (for which I was nearly fired in 1992), and I am the guy that knows how to BOTH cut 30% waste from defense AND create a 450 ship Navy, a long-haul Air Force, and an air-mobile Army while also closing down all our overseas bases, ending all military assistance to dictators, and actually creating a foreign policy of transparency, truth, and trust (the sub-title of my next to last book on open source everything). These people are LIARS. The spoon-feed lies to an ignorant mass of wanna-bees who lack the education and integrity to questions these lies and platitudes. Sadly, they are joined by equally ignorant Democratic masses and equally unethical Democratic "leaders." So for me the bottom line is that this book is HALF the answer -- get a grip on economic reality -- but the vision and good of this book cannot be realizes without the other HALF of the answer: electoral reform restoring integrity to our electoral process and our government.

I also differ from the author on taxation. He offers a partial solution that is worthy of discussion but not nearly as good or as easy to implement as Professor Edgar Feige's Automated Payment Transaction (APT) Tax on every transaction including currency and stock transactions. In all other economic details, I salute the author as a master.

I want to end by praising the author on the level of detail and the methodical outline to which he worked. This is not a textbook but it might as well be. This is one of the finest educational call to arms essays I have ever read, and I credit the interviewer with his questions as much as the author.

I have multiple lists of books I have reviewed at Amazon that bear on the problem this author addresses, rather than list them all I will just point to Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog, click on the Reviews page, and browse away. Every review leads to its Amazon home page. The two master lists of lists are easily found by searching online for their titles:

Worth a Look: Book Review Lists (Positive Future-Oriented)
Worth a Look: Book Review Lists (Negative Status-Quo)

Best wishes to all:
Robert David STEELE Vivas
OPEN POWER: Electoral Reform Act of 2015 - Open Source Activist Tool-Kit

National Insecurity: American Leadership in an Age of Fear
National Insecurity: American Leadership in an Age of Fear
by David Rothkopf
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $21.41
66 used & new from $10.02

4.0 out of 5 stars SUPERB Conclusion--Has Flaws But Still a Strong Contribution, February 25, 2015
Wow. I have met the author and I gave an earlier book of his, Running the World: The Inside Story of the National Security Council and the Architects of American Power a strong review, but I was not expecting the deep common sense and pragmatic observations that conclude this book. There are many aspects of our insecurity that the author is not willing to address -- notably the deep corruption of our political system and undue influence by foreign "allies" that are in fact enemies but that pales in light of his deep evaluation of how badly we are doing as a government. There are many flaws in the author's arguments better covered by Reviewer Frank J. Wassermann, I put this down to the author trying too hard to not completely alienate all the mandarins he still meets for lunch and at evening events. I embrace most of Reviewer Wasserman's comments but still give the book four stars instead of his two.

Mel Goodman's book by the same title National Insecurity: The Cost of American Militarism (Open Media), published a year earlier, strengthens the emerging field of critical scholarship and joins earlier books such as General Smedley Butler's War is a Racket: The Antiwar Classic by America's Most Decorated Soldier and Chalmers Johnson's The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project) and most recently James Risen's Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War.

We have been a corrupt, grubby little nation whose policies and practices range from stupid to criminally insane. The system is broken across the board, at both the process and policy level, and the political level. Although this has been the case, more or less, for over a century, it was not until after WWII, when we combined an embrace of resettled Nazis into the USA (see The Nazi Hydra in America: Suppressed History of a Century) with off-budget criminal conspiracies financed by captured gold (see Gold Warriors: America's Secret Recovery of Yamashita's Gold) to become the 900 lb village idiots wreaking havoc around the world.

It is important to emphasize that the US Government is the lesser of two great evils, the larger evil is represented by Wall Street and particularly Goldman Sachs, alone with a multinational corporate culture that destroys entire cultures and economies for its own convenience. Matt Taibbi's Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History and John Perkins' Confessions of an Economic Hit Man are just two among many references I have reviewed here at Amazon.

What strikes me as important about this book, apart from the author's presentation of facts and opinions based on his real-world experience, is that for the first time a number of serious people that in the past would have hovered quietly in the wings, fearful of criticizing the hand that feeds them, are speaking up. I have never had a problem with speaking up but I have indeed felt very lonely. That has now changed. Truth-telling is now in fashion, and I dare hope that the recent Army publication "Lying to Ourselves: Dishonesty in the Army Profession," is, along with this book, a clear sign of change.

It will get worse in the balance of the Obama-Biden Administration -- see Tom Englehardt's Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World -- but I do believe the times they are a'changing -- and with the Interne
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 10, 2015 6:02 PM PDT

National Security and Double Government
National Security and Double Government
by Michael J. Glennon
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $27.10
43 used & new from $20.86

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars World Class on One Half of the Challenge, Misses the Other Half Entirely, February 25, 2015
If Mort Halperin, who wrote the original book with the memorable "Rule 1" (Lie to the President if you can get away with it), Bureaucratic Politics and Foreign Policy is kind enough to praise this book, I will over-look the hype (it is NOT the "first"). This is an important book and very helpful to a deep study of the deep state, but it is also severely deficient to the point of mis-leading the public away from the 42 billionaires that own the government; away from the religious and ideological treason that skews government policy; and away from the lack of intelligence with integrity that we have a right to expect from our "intelligence" community. It also soft shoes the elite pedophile protective network within the FBI, and the drug-running money-laundering side show at CIA as well as the totally out of control Pentagon elements willing to murder US citizens including military officers to keep their boat afloat -- the deep deep state. [I revere the FBI, CIA, and DoD as institutions -- my point is that we don't do serious counterintelligence in the USA, all of those organizations have layers of corruption going back to their founders, each layer recruiting and promoting its successors, all far outside the ken of this book.]

On the half of the problem that is within our government, where William Binney has summed it up nicely -- the bureaucrats live to keep the problems alive and the money moving, this book is now the new gold standard, and Bravo Zulu for that. It does, not, unfortunately, point the way toward how we might restore the US Constitution, Article 1 particularly, and re-establish integrity across the three branches of government, each subverted by religious, ideologicial, and financial treason not adequately addressed by this book -- hence the reduction to four stars.

The index is most helpful in confirming what I consider a form of "slight of hand." This is a book that has the best of intentions and stellar scholarship in its focus on one narrow aspect of why US foreign policy is criminally insane, but it obscures, with stunning nonchalance, the deeper pathologies of how the US Government is managed of, by, and for the 1%; with two specific foreign countries -- Israel and Saudi Arabia -- having catastrophically pernicious influence on our policies and how we spend the taxpayer dollar.

The author's focus on NSA surveillance is a compelling contribution. I was among those who tried to tell Mike Hayden he was in violation of the Constitution, and I know Bamford and Binney and Drake and admire them all -- Snowden leaves me confused -- at first I thought he was a first class Chinese op now I wonder if he is a White House sanctioned CIA slam on NSA's going one blackmail op too far -- but I embrace Snowden's outcomes as useful. NSA and CIA and USDI are out of control. I applaud the author's focus on excessive secrecy -- I testified on this point to the Moynihan Commission both publicly and privately in the Senator's office. The bottom line, however, is that none of this would persist if we had an honest Executive, an honest Legislature, and an honest Judiciary.

In my view, the Executive was neutralized when John F. Kennedy was assassinated by a mix of LBJ and Hoover and private sector interests along with Israel (Rabin was in Dallas as was George Bush Senior, at the time a CIA proprietary officer -- CIA Office of Technical Services probably provided the Secret Service credentials that allowed Hunt and the others to escape). The question we have to ask is this: is CIA, immortalized by Col Fletcher Prouty The Secret Team: The CIA and Its Allies in Control of the United States and the World truly corrupt as an institution, or does it have elements, as I have written elsewhere ("Seven CIA's") that are directly responsive to Wall Street, to the Nazi Hydra, and to the Mafia as well as the Catholic Church, Saudi Arabia, and Zionist Israel? If the FBI were a serious organization, I would not have to be asking this question.

Congress was neutralized by Newt Gingrich when he destroyed Speaker Jim Wright, a story told in The Ambition and the Power: The Fall of Jim Wright: A True Story of Washington. That was when Article 1 was dumped and the two-party tyranny took over, turning all "Members" into foot-soldiers for party voting sold to the highest bidder -- as of last week, 42 specifically identified billionaires led by the Koch brothers. We no longer have a government, we have hired hands doing the bidding of a very small class of very wealthy individuals, and the public is so blinded by lazy academics, pontificating think tank pundits, and down-right corrupt media personalities, that we can reasonably consider -- as Princton recently concluded -- that democracy does not exist in the USA today.

The Judiciary was finally neutralized at the Supreme Court level by Justice Powell and the US Chamber of Commerce after a 25 year campaign culminating in CIITZEN's UNITED.

I note the author's appreciation for Amy Zegart's work -- we are indeed in a fix big or don't fix at all situation -- but he is missing the larger point: the out of control bureaucracy is not the problem, the problem is the out of touch citizenry. Absent Electoral Reform and the restoration of integrity to our electoral process and our government, we will continue to be a criminal state not because the bureaucrats want it that way -- millions of good people trapped in a bad system -- but because the 1% both at home and abroad want it that way. We have been captured. Washington is not in friendly hands and it is in constant betrayal of the public trust with the active and persistent approval of many of the author's key membership institutions, the Council on Foreign Relations among them.

Here are a few other books to balance this one.

The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil, and the Attack on U.S. Democracy (War and Peace Library)
The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)
Killing Hope: U.S. Military and C.I.A. Interventions Since World War II--Updated Through 2003
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World
Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History
Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War

Washington is not the heart, soul, or brain of the Republic -- it is at best the arms and legs, the base of the tentacles with global reach. Most troubling to me is that this excellent book feeds the cultural disposition to blame the bureaucrats rather than Goldman Sachs, George Soros, the Koch Brothers, and others whose greed outside the government is vastly more responsible for the sorry state of affairs than any irresponsible spend-thrift bureaucrat.

Best wishes to all,
Robert David STEELE Vivas
OPEN POWER: Electoral Reform Act of 2015 - Open Source Activists' Toolkit
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 25, 2015 12:04 PM PDT

Very Special Intelligence
Very Special Intelligence
by Patrick Beesly
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
52 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly Brilliant and Highly Relevant to Today's Dysfunctional Ops-Intel World, February 16, 2015
This is a brilliant piece of work, and extremely relevant today. Had America had an Operational Intelligence (OpIntel) Plot (24/7 operationally-oriented put it all together all the time watch center), I daresay the terrorist attacks on America would have been prevented in good time.

I started reading this book the week prior to the attacks, having bought it off the shelves of the Army War College bookstore, whose judgment I have always respected, and I have been absolutely absorbed--thrilled--with the deep insights that this work provides on how best to manage an operationally-oriented watch center that does "all-source fusion" against a constantly changing real-time real-world threat.

It became clear to me as I worked through every word of this superior work that modern intelligence has become too bureaucratic and that all-source analysis has become too distant from both the sources and the consumers. The Operational Intelligence Center (OIC) whose story is told here worked with no fewer than seventeen distinct sources streams, each with its own idiosyncrasies, its own fits and starts--and it worked directly with its operational clients, fully appraised of friendly plans and intentions and able to provide workmanlike inputs at every turn. We need to get back to this approach!

There are a number of vital lessons to be learned from this book, which I recommend in the strongest terms as one of my "top ten" relevant *today*. Among them:

Sharing Secrets Matters. It was the Russians who helped the British get started in 1914 with a gift of a German Naval Signal book, and it was the Poles who saved the day early on in World War II with a gift of two working Enigma machines.

Ops Must Sleep With Intel. Too many times I have seen operators ignore intelligence because they do not understand it-there are too many breakdowns in communication along the way, and if the operators have not trained with, lived with, slept with, caroused with, their intelligence counterparts, the two cultures do not come together effectively in times of crisis.

Ops Cannot Do Raw Sources. The corollary of the above is that Ops simply cannot keep up with the nuances of sources and is not able to evaluate sources in context to good effect.

Intel Must Sleep With Ops. The intelligence propensity to compartment everything to the point of meaningless, and the "green door" mentality that is especially characteristic of the crypto-analysis community, amounts to a death wish. Some secret sources must be "ultra" secret, but some form of bridge is needed-the OpIntel Center (which the U.S. Navy, alone within today's US secret bureaucratic archipelago, does well) appears to be a vital and relevant solution.

Plots Must Be Co-Located and Ideally Integrated. Early separation and distance between the intelligence plot, the commercial shipping plot and the operational plot leads to waste and death. Ultimately an integrated plot, or at least a blue-green plot next door to the red plot, is absolutely vital to effective prosecution of real-time war.

Lose the Old Guys. The first thing that needs doing when preparing for a long war is to lose the old guys. No disrespect intended, but as has been documented time and again, those that get promoted in peacetime bureaucracies tend to be too conformist and too subservient to peacetime protocols to adapt well to unconventional and very fast-moving wartime conditions. [Present company always excepted!.]

Hire the Retired. This is not a contradiction. Old guys with big egos and high ranks have to go-but bringing in the best of the retired, generally at the field grade level, can have an extraordinary positive impact in the rapid maturation and stabilization of the full-speed-ahead wartime watch.

Doctrinal Disputes Kill. Unless there is a homeland defense doctrine that fully integrates and exercises the capabilities and internal cultures of the Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, and civilian agencies (and civilian agencies!) there will be a year or two of major and almost catastrophic losses until it gets sorted out the hard way.

Home Arrogance Kills (UK Version). The persistent unwillingness of home side personnel to admit that their own security measures can be broken by clever enemies, and the general sloppiness of all hands with respect to Operations Security (OPSEC) will take a heavy toll.

Home Arrogance Kills (US Version). There is a theme with regard to the Americans. While their money and their manpower are gratefully accepted, their arrogance knows no bounds. They entered the war believing that there was nothing the British could teach them-further on into the war, the Americans risked Ultra by acting too aggressively on its information.

Red Cell Oversight Needed. One thing that jumped out at me from this book was the urgent need for having a very senior person-a retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for example, managing a Red Cell to provide oversight over operational decisions to exploit the most sensitive sources. [By this I mean, a senior authority who can overrule and forbid operations whose success might endanger the special source.]

Negative Reports Matter. I was really struck by the circumstances surrounding a German break-out up the Channel, in which a number of normally reliable and overlapping intelligence collection endeavors all were forced back by weather, broken down or what-not. From this I took the lesson that negative reports matter. By failing to report to the OIC on their non-status, they failed to focus the OIC on all the possibilities. Thinking the flank covered, the OIC left the flank open.

Tommy Brown Matters. The book ends on a marvelous note, pointing out that without the heroism of Tommy Brown, a 16 year old cabin boy and youngest recipient of the George Medal as well as two other adults who died in the process of grabbing vital enemy signals materials off a sinking vessel, the allies would have been deaf for much of 1943. At the end of the day the best technical intelligence comes down to a brave human who risks all to make it possible.

Most of my other reviews of intelligence non-fiction can be found by seeking out online

Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Intelligence (Most)

All reviews lead back to their Amazon page, and are sorted by category (e.g. all on CIA, on NSA, etcetera).

Best wishes to all,
Robert David STEELE Vivas

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