Sunday, February 26, 2012

Jan Brewer – Scorpions for Breakfast: My Fight Against Special Interests, Liberal Media, and Cynical Politicians to Secure America’s Border (Broadside Books)

This is not a typical political biography, but the story of what spurred the Arizona law known as SB 1070 – Support our Law Enforcement & Safe Neighborhood Act.

Article IV – Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution imposes on the Federal Government the duty to “protect each [State] against invasion…domestic violence.” At its best, the federal government selectively enforces our laws with regard to protecting our borders and immigration. That lack of protection and the violence and high costs that have become part and parcel of life along our southern border spurred Arizona to action.

The Arizona law has been labeled racist and worse, but that can be said of just about anyone or anything that disagrees with President Obama. What it really boils down to is a fundamental difference in the interpretation of the Constitution and private property rights. Brewer correctly believes that citizens have the Constitutional right to be safe on their property.

Brewer outlines not only the negligence of the Federal government for not enforcing our border security, but their complicity in the death (in Arizona) of border patrol agent Brian Terry. It was the Obama administration failed program known as Fast and Furious, in which the Justice Department, under the failed leadership of Attorney General Eric Holder, that allowed 2020 weapons to be purchased and funneled to Mexican drug cartels on the border. One of those weapons was used in Agent Terry’s murder.

Brewer quotes Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever’s testimony to the Senate Homeland Security Committee; “We cannot sit by while our citizens are terrorized, robbed, and murdered by ruthless and desperate people who enter our country illegally.

In contrast, Obama and his ilk would have you believe that every illegal – or as they dub them, undocumented – alien is a hard working family man with a wife and two small children, he is desperately trying to feed, clothe and put a roof over.

Holder highlighted his incompetence in exchange with Texas Congressman Ted Poe, where he admitted that he hadn’t actually read the 10-page law – but that hadn’t prevented him from publically and with some regularity stating his opinion that the law was unconstitutional.

Holder would later be joined by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and State Department spokes-weasel P J Crowley, two more members of the Obama administration who criticized the Arizona law that were forced to admit publically that they hadn’t bothered to read the law before registering their public denunciations of it.

This amazing account not only spells out Brewer’s courageous fight to secure and protect the people of Arizona, but serves to highlight the utter incompetence of the Obama administrations law enforcement and Homeland Security leadership.    

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan– Michael Hastings (Blue Rider Press)

If you believe:

  • That terrorism should be dealt with as a law enforcement matter…
  • That you can use diplomacy and negotiate with terrorists…
  • That the treatment of prisoners during interrogation at Abu Ghraib amounted to heinous acts of torture…
  • That politicians and diplomats have all the answers….

Then this book is for you.

The Operators is Michael Hastings’ book length adaptation of his Rolling Stone magazine article entitled The Runaway General, which profiled General Stanley McCrystal and caused the firestorm that led to McCrystal’s sacking from his role as commander of the Afghanistan operations.

Of course to buy into the story, you would have to buy into Hastings contention that General McCrystal and his team, are the first members of the military that ever blew off a little steam and chose to disagree with their boss, in this case President Obama and his policies. Hastings seemed genuinely shocked that McCrystal and his pals would occasionally consume large quantities of adult beverages and bad mouth the boss and tell a few bad jokes.

Hastings seemed concerned about the honor of no less an intellectual heavyweight than Vice President Joe Biden from being labeled Joe “Bite Me”. Imagine the outrage…soldiers who swear, drink and drop F-bombs! Oh the humanity!

After reading The Operators I can’t help but wonder what the Pentagon leadership is thinking when they delude themselves that they can win friends and favorable coverage by allowing access to clearly liberal reporters like Hastings and equally liberal outlets like Rolling Stone. That magazine came of age during the Viet Nam war and while society has evolved, Rolling Stone has remained firmly implanted in the mindset of mistrust of the military and anything but liberal socialist government.

Hastings disdain for the military seeps through in his writing despite his desire to be a part of the action and fit in with the people he writes about. I can’t quite shake the image of Jack Nicholson’s monologue from A Few Good Men with the line about wanting him out there on that wall…Liberals love to disparage the military at the same time they enjoy and indulge in the freedoms that the military fights to preserve every day.

Hastings seems to have three guiding forces at play throughout the book; he is first and foremost a liberal. Second he is clearly a supporter of Hillary Clinton and is influenced by the Clinton doctrine – that treats terror a legal rather than military issue, that would have us go back to the do nothing approach to dealing with terror where we try diplomacy and to buy our friends. Third, he supports Obama, but only because he sees the President as a fellow traveler while clearly questioning whether President is Liberal enough.

The only real revelations to come out of The Operators was the sickening fact that the Pentagon was actually considering awarding a medal for “courageous restraint” to members of the military who put themselves in harm’s way, but rather than taking out a threat with force they held back. The clear stupidity in this thought process would have lead more often than not to this being a posthumous award. It isn’t now, nor has it ever been the charge of the military to restrain themselves; their purpose has been twisted over time by Liberal outcry.

The second revelation is that even in war torn Afghanistan the Obama administration feebly clings to the ridiculous notion of so-called “green energy” as Hastings describes the Afghan disgust over a $1.9 million solar panel array that ‘didn’t work.”

Friday, February 17, 2012

Vince Flynn – Kill Shot (Atria Books)

Kill Shot marks the 13th novel from thriller author Vince Flynn and the second installment of the American Assassin series of books, designed to back fill the story of Flynn’s heroic killer Mitch Rapp.

The story finds Rapp diligently and single-handedly working his way through a hit list of terrorists when someone throws a wrench in the works and sends assassins after the assassin, leaving Rapp on the run and doubting the players on his own team.

The story line of Washington insider infighting, political types getting in the way of people doing the heavy lifting is a familiar one to Flynn fans. Flynn does a masterful job of painting the halls of power and the action in the field. You can feel the slime of the Washington insiders and envision the hulking thugs.

Kill Shot is light on plot but heavy on great characters and does its job of filling in the blanks about how Rapp became the stone cold hero. While the whole story takes place over a short period of time and limited space, it is the interactions between the characters and their often diametrically opposite goals that drives the story
Flynn draws characters in black and white, who remain interesting and easy to love or hate. While the initial shot in this series, American Assassin, left some fans short, this round has Flynn back and track and me looking forward the forthcoming third installment.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Dylan Ratigan - Greedy Bastards (Simon & Shuster)

I have always found the portrayal of Conservatives as “angry white guys” entertaining and misguided. Grab your Advil, tune in MSNBC, which is guaranteed to induce a headache, and soak up to nearly non-stop anger and bitterness of the cavalcade of Liberal hosts.
That is the point you have to start from when you read Greedy Bastards by Dylan Ratigan, host of MSNBC’s The Dylan Ratigan Show, described by the press materials accompanying the book as “one of the highest-rated, daytime shows on the network.” Talk about damning with faint praise…given the cable news channel’s less than stellar audience numbers.

In Greedy Bastards, Ratigan attempts to details his perspective on our “broken system.” He runs down what ails a wide variety of problems ranging from banking to the stock market and healthcare to big oil/energy. Taking off on his crusade to remove money from politics, Ratigan attempts to draw correlations between the root cause of the problem and the flow of cash to politicians.

I don’t disagree! But I do find it interesting that Ratigan spent much of his early career as a financial journalist covering Wall Street yet he didn’t do a whole lot to raise red flags about the ridiculous Ponzi schemes and outright fraudulent financial instruments that the folks he was charged with covering were creating that became part and parcel of the financial meltdown tsunami that mowed down the housing, banking, finance and insurance industries in it’s wake. These guys created a financial house of cards that got a total pass from the regulators and politicians that wrap themselves in the cloak of looking out for the little guy and Ratigan stood idly by and said nothing until now.

Full disclosure; my day job is in the healthcare industry, so I read that section of the book with great interest. Ratigan lays out a classic example of his friend “Larry” who was clearly suffering a repetitive stress hand injury and was offered medical advice to address the issue with physical therapy which would have offered some relief. “Larry” decided not to follow through on the exercises that were recommended…let me stress that point; “Larry” decided not to follow through on the exercises that were recommended, and later needed to have surgery to solve the problem. It seems more than a bit ridiculous to indict the entire industry based on a patient choice.
Surprisingly, Ratigan does offer up a market based solution to the problem of the high cost of healthcare, rather than turning to the government to fix the problem. He advocates for a solution that I have pushed for many years; allowing market forces of health savings accounts and patient choices to drive down the cost of healthcare through competition and increasing quality.
The roadblock to most solutions tends to be the government and a HUGE increase in regulation. Ratigan bemoans some regulation, while pushing for new regulations, never accounting to the very real costs of those regulations and the fact that regulatory costs get passed through the so-called “greedy bastards” and get paid by the end-users.
The cartoonish cover may not have been the best choice, because it sets the tone for Ratigan’s BAM, BIFF, POW, approach; skimming the surface of very real issues, yet not really offering much in the way of in-depth solutions to the problems. Instead he chooses to nibble around the edges of solutions or offering up tried and failed solutions; like the electric car to solve the so-called energy crisis.
The real solution is not getting money out of politics, which is a limitation on free speech. The real solution is an energized, alert and informed electorate that pays attention and calls their elected officials when the put self-interest over public interest and an electorate that understands that the government is not the source of solving problems, but the source of creating problems.