Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Communist – Paul Kengor, Ph.D. (Mercury Ink)

“You may know a man by the company he keeps” – Proverb

There have been many variations of this proverb…you may have heard it as “judge a man by the company he keeps.”

Best-selling author/scholar Dr. Paul Kengor really makes no judgments in his new book The Communist, an accounting of self-proclaimed communist Frank Marshall Davis and his mentoring of a young, would be President, Barack Obama.

When you stack this carefully researched, detailed and notated book alongside the President’s relationship with domestic terrorist turned college professor Bill Ayers and his wife, fellow Weather Underground terrorist, Bernadine Dohrn and the Reverend Jerimiah “God Damn America” Wright it makes for a thought provoking portrait of those who influenced the development of President Obama’s political mindset.

Aside from not reading the book, slinging the usual mud and name-calling, Kengor’s detractors will undoubtedly try to minimize the level of influence that Davis had on the young Obama, and will shout about the dangers of “guilt by association.” Those complaints don’t stand up to scrutiny, when you know that Obama himself regularly referenced the influence “Frank” had in his life in his autobiographical memoir “Dreams From My Father”.

So who was Frank Marshall Davis? Kengor details Davis’ life from a youth growing up in racially constricted Kansas, to his becoming (literally) a card-carrying member of the Communist Party USA (#47544 based on his FBI file) a Communist sympathizing columnist and mentor to Barack Obama. In the prophetic final line Kengor rightly proclaims; “The people who influence our Presidents matter.”

Kengor extensively details the brutal racism that Davis was subjected to and speculates that it may have moved Davis to the dark side and a ripe candidate to be attracted to communism. Davis became a community activist, not only through his columns for the Chicago Red Star newspaper, but also as a labor movement activist.

Davis Influencing Obama

The most striking part of The Communist is what I can only describe as the constricting, concentric circles that seem to surround President Obama; the incredible “coincidences” and crossing of paths between Davis and those who continue to influence the President and his decision making process. The Valarie Jarrett’s and David Axelrod’s of the world.

Davis’ influence is clear.

What would motivate a newly elected President, in one of his first acts in office, to return a bust of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill; a gift from one of our staunchest allies, that held a place of honor in the George W. Bush Oval Office? A quick read of Davis’ scathing writings on Churchill might be a good indication to the cause of this bizarre move.

Davis’ formula for economic recovery in the 1940s may seem familiar with his Qbama-esque “public works projects” (shovel ready jobs), anti-Wall Street “big business” and “wealth redistribution” writings.

While Obama decries “tax cuts for the rich”, Frank Marshall Davis decried “GOP would spare the rich with (a)20 percent tax cut plan”…January 11, 1947! Is it any wonder that Conservatives say that the Democrat party have no new ideas?! Davis and the Red Star regularly accused Republicans of wanting to “hurt the poor and pad the wallets of the rich…with phony tax cuts that only benefit the rich and corporations.” Sound familiar?

One of Davis’ favorite target of scorn was General Motors. He regularly derided GM’s wealth and referred to GM leadership as “General Motors Hitlers.” Obama “saved GM” by nationally the company and seizing control with the government bailout. Davis favored redistribution of wealth to have “healthcare for everybody.” The crippling financial and healthcare meltdown we face due to Obamacare is still to come.

Is Barack Obama a Communist? I will suggest you follow Kengor’s advice; read the book and decide for yourself. Is he misguided politically and has he been negatively influenced by the company he keeps?  In my opinion…without question.   

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Marcus Luttrell – Service: A Navy Seal At War (Little Brown)

On a June night in 2005, on the mountainous border between Afghanistan and Pakistan the world changed forever for Navy Seal, Marcus Luttrell. As the best laid plans of Operation Redwing to track and capture a notorious al Qaeda leader came unglued, leaving Luttrell and his team surrounded by a heavily armed force and ending with his teammates dead and Luttrell severely injured by a rocket propelled grenade and the lone survivor.
Luttrell told the story of that horrific battle and that of his mates in the bestseller Lone Survivor.
How does a badly injured Navy Seal respond to the loss of his entire team and serious injury? By dusting himself off, returning to crushing training schedule and flinging himself back into battle; this time in the al Qaeda hot bed, Ramadi in the Anbar Province.

In Service: A Navy Seal at War, Luttrell details the process he went through to recover from not only his bodily injuries, but the scars left by the loss of his Seal team. In many ways, Luttrell’s return, not only from that ill-fated mountain side but in many ways to life is due to the dedicated members of his military ‘family”.
You have to wonder what it is that drives these brave individuals to subject themselves to the torturous training, the unrelenting pace of military operations and the constant position as the tip of America’s military spear. The only answer is that these are a special breed of human beings, cut from a different cloth and called to a higher purpose.
Luttrell takes inside the pre-planning, staging and execution of a steady stream of operations and those operators who risk life and limb every time they step into battle. As the plan for the battle for Ramadi evolved, Luttrell talks extensively about the real change of mindset when it comes to the approach of involving the Iraqi people in the process of the battle for and protection of their own freedom.
Luttrell’s insights into the warrior’s mindset and the conversion of Iraqi religious and sectional leaders from supporting terrorists to supporting freedom. You can read between the lines, the internal struggle that Luttrell subjected himself to, as he went through a life transition.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Edward Klein – The Amateur – Barack Obama in the White House (Regnery Books)

When he was elected, I labeled the Barack Obama presidency the “second term of Jimmy Carter” and I could not have been more right! The similarities are striking! The hallmark of both the Carter and Obama administrations is economic turmoil, global unrest and glaring ineptitude on the part of the President to address any of the pressing issues facing the nation.

What’s the old saying is a man is judged by the company he keeps? Here is yet another striking similarity between Obama and Carter. As Edward Klein points out in his latest book The Amateur – Barack Obama in the White House Obama, much like Carter came to Washington with almost no leadership experience and surrounded by an equally neophyte group of advisors.

Carter surrounded himself with likes of rookie political strategist Hamilton Jordan, corrupt businessman Bert Lance, former community organizer Andrew Young and liberal academic Zbigniew Brzezinski. Obama has repeated that mistake selecting a cadre of the ill-equipped, inexperienced and downright clueless senior staffers. Washington, DC and the White House is no place for a huge learning curve.

Klein runs down an almost frightening resume of ineptitude on the part of Obama’s primary advisor Valerie Jarrett; who’s only apparent claim to fame is her ability to “fail upward.” She started her political career as the “public black face” of Chicago Mayor Richard Daily. Despite screwing up as a “city planner” and costing Chicago millions in funding, she managed to land on her feet taking on the role of executive director of a public housing project, with a salary and deferred compensation in excess of three quarters of a million dollars.

The role of these senior advisors is to guide any President around the pitfalls that confront them on a daily basis. Klein outlines Jarrett’s seemingly self-centered focus; more concerned with conserving and protecting her power rather than aiding Obama. Either blinded by loyalty or cowed by his own stupidity, Obama has been able to grasp the shortfall in his own team.

While his status as a card-carrying amateur is certainly glaring when it comes to dealing with the mounting economic issues facing the country, Klein points out that Obama’s ineptitude is never more dangerous than in the national security front. Clearly Obama lack of real world experience and his allegiance to an almost childlike world view fostered by liberal academics has led to him on a global, apology tour of the Middle East, Asia and Europe.

This lead from behind approach has led to the glaring mishandling of hot spots like; Egypt, Libiya, Yemen, and Syria, among others. He continues to send muddled, incoherent messages on what role he believes the United States should play in world affairs.

It is Obama’s reliance on an organizational chart, top-heavy with un-vetted czars and his apparent boxing out of advice from those members of his Senate confirmed, Cabinet members that is striking.

The best example of his apparent tone-deafness is illustrated by his endless rounds of golf, to date over 100 rounds, and he and First Lady Michelle Obama’s high-priced taste when it comes to world travel and high end vacation spots. At a time when the much of the country is hurting and nearly half of U. S. households are cueing up for food stamps, the Obama’s jet set lifestyle isn’t sitting well with the average taxpayer. The defense coming from amateur advisors that “the President deserves a vacation” rings very hollow. No one would begrudge the President a break, but over 100 rounds of golf?

The Amateur – Barack Obama in the White House is a scathing indictment and a solid case for sending this collection of rank amateurs packing back to Chicago.

Michael Hyatt – Platform: Getting Noticed in a Noisy World (Thomas Nelson)

I have a dual confession to make…I love to read books on business, leadership and marketing, but I never buy them when they are new. I am amazed the tidbits and strategy that I have picked up on over the years that I use in my own business and my “day job” but I don’t get sucked into the latest and greatest “must have” books.
Why you ask? Call me cheap, but more often than not business people jump on the latest trendy thing, rush out and buy these books, are excited to dive right in and then about 3 chapters in the brakes lock up and book ends up collecting dust on the shelf. Then six months later they get donated to a local charity sale or end up in a yard sale and that’s where I come in!
I think more often than not, these kinds of books offer great ideas, but don’t offer the easily actionable steps that allow people to put the strategies into action. And I think that is exactly what sets the latest book from best seller author Michael Hyatt apart from the shelves of other similar books.

In Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World Hyatt lays out an easy, step-by-step road map for building your personal brand. While many business strategy books offer lofty platitudes about process improvement and paradigm shifts, Hyatt literally walks the user through the process in a manner that doesn’t go so far as saying his way is the only way, certainly offers guidance through the process.
Hyatt further illustrates many of the steps with how he himself has not only used the process, but also made missteps and errors along the way and how to avoid the pitfalls. I found myself for the first time since college taking a highlighter to a book and keeping a notebook handy to jot down the ideas that Platform generated along the way.
When you ponder the so-called fire hose of information that we deal with a daily basis with things like: websites, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and other social media outlets, it can seem like a daunting task to deal with all that’s involved, whether you are starting your own business, an established business or charged with marketing for a company. Hyatt helps to pare that process down to manageable bits.
He not only addresses the something to sell or say, he also tackles the development of your business or product; after all it is the foundation upon which your platform is built.
The problem I ran into during the course of reading Platform was that it generated so many good action steps that it can seem overwhelming. Hyatt does a nice job of reminding the reader that building their platform is a process and it can and should be done over the course of time. Which is why, at Hyatt’s suggestion, I now find myself using Evernote to keep track of everything that is on my plate!
I can guarantee that Platform: Getting Noticed in a Noisy World will end up on your desk for you to refer to often rather than gathering dust on your bookshelf.