2020 has been extended for another six month at least! More Covid deaths, more lost jobs, more families unable to pay their rent, more people hungry etc. If only life could be handled by TV remote, we would be pushing fast forward to arrive at better and safer times.
Sending $600 to Americans for covid relief has about the same benefits as throwing under inflated life preservers to drowning people thrown overboard in raging seas.
If we distributed needed supplies, weapons and armaments to our military in World War II as expeditiously as we currently are distributing the Covid 19 vaccines to our citizens, we all would be speaking German and purchasing groceries in yen.
What if Joe Biden expressed “buyer’s remorse” about entering the White House? He could complain that he was unable to do the proper due diligence and inspection as Trump officials refused to provide him necessary information and background.
Everyone should have a dream of making someone else’s dreams come true.
Masks have become fashion, medical, cultural and political statements. While they hide the nose and mouth of those who wear them they also expose the character and judgement of those who refuse to wear them.
Definition of Misnomer- a misapplied or inappropriate name or designation. e.g. United States of America????
Why is it that content (podcasts, movies, music, websites, news shows, social media) is sandwiched between and among so much marketing and advertising?
“In this, the United States really had no one to blame but herself. By the autumn of 1956, she had shown her preference for a dictatorship over democracy in Iran and Guatemala. She had so thoroughly shred her anti-colonial stance of the Roosevelt years as to aid her European imperial allies in quelling independence movements around the world. Under the leadership of the Dulles Brothers, the United States had compiled the hit list of foreign leaders to be removed, by assassinations if necessary.
Most shameful of all, in the tumult of the autumn of 1956, America may have lost the best chance it ever had to bring the Cold War to an early close, and to avert all the tragedy that was to come.”
The Quiet Americans: Four CIA Spies at the Dawn of the Cold War—-A Tragedy in Three Acts (page 431)
I am used to having my assumptions and preconceptions confirmed when I read a history related book. Sure there may be some minor surprises and some gaps of knowledge filled but when I close most books, there are no major changes in how I feel, especially about our country. Not so with this book…
This book impacted my current thinking about American exceptionalism and honor or lack of as the Pentagon Papers changed my thinking about the Vietnam War and the U.S government when I was in my 20s.
I have always looked at World War II and its aftermath as possibly our greatest hours, based on my knowledge of history. “The Greatest Generation” won a war fought on two fronts and after it was over, helped not only our allies but our vanquished in rebuilding their countries. The United States was respected not only for our military might but also what we stood for, freedom, liberty and democracy.
However as I read Scott Anderson’s well researched and well written book, I realized that much of my thinking was illusion about American history between 1945-1960.
The events within the book post-World War II were viewed by four different men involved in the U.S. intelligence community. They had different backgrounds, personalities, missions and roles but shared disillusionment with many of our foreign intelligence and policy efforts including:
No or little resistance by the U.S. and Britain to Russia’s ruthless takeovers of Eastern European countries including Romania, Poland and Albania. (Churchill negotiated a secret deal with Stalin to precipitate this.)
Intelligence fails by General Douglas McArthur (Philippines invasion by Japanese,; North Korea invasion of South Korea; Chinese troops cross border to fight in Korean War)
In house political fighting by J. Edgar Hoover and others to control collection of foreign intelligence. Damage created by Senator Joe McCarthy’s anti-Communist crusade to morale and recruitment within U.S. intelligence services.
Failure by U.S. and Britain to identify Kim Philby and others as Russian spies. Russia was aware of our atomic weapon secrets and espionage plans.
Various failures at insurgency within Russian satellite countries that were anticipated by the Russian KGB resulting in failed missions and tortured and killed agents.
President Eisenhower’s refusal to provide any aid or support to Hungary and Poland in 1956 when revolts broke out in both countries. His refusal to do anything resulted in the revolts being crushed by Russia (who were ready to agree to pull their troops from the satellite countries), with thousands killed and imprisoned.
Successful violent overthrows initiated by U.S. intelligence over democratic elected governments in Iran and Guatemela. Ramifications over these events still felt today.
Intelligence and strategic planning failures (including assassination of South Vietnam President) in Vietnam that precipitated our military involvement there resulting in tumult and riots within the United States after tens of thousands of American soldiers injured or killed.
Just as we are experiencing in our govenment today, there was a lack of leadership, moral cowardice, unbridled ambition, poor judgment and incompetency during the 40s and 50s. Many of the failures committed in foreign affairs then are repeated today. We started a war over “missing weapons of destruction” that were never found but which the Bush administration said existed.
I recommend the book to all no matter your political affiliation or ideology. Very well researched and written.
Listed below are my “Menckenians,” my observations and aphorisms about politics, sports and life in general… It is a homage to H.L. Mencken who was a renowned columnist, writer and critic of politics, religion, culture and business from 1920 to 1950. His observations from almost a century ago can be applied today. He was that era’s Hunter Thompson, irreverent, caustic and cynical.
If John Paul II can be canonized a saint and Rush Limbaugh can be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, then Pete Rose can be inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame.
If a huge asteroid was hours away from devastating earth, Amazon would still be delivering orders, conspiracy theorists would be posting anti-science Facebook and social media posts, the S&P would rise 5% and Congress would be deadlocked in funding a military operation that would destroy the asteroid.
If all our problems and issues could be tidied up and resolved just like all those at the end of a Hallmark movie.
To document the decline in American “exceptionalism”, compare the behavior, sacrifice, leadership and patriotism of American citizens in 1942, after Pearl Harbor with our national leadership and citizenry today during covid.
Are all Facebook friends, “friends?”
I would not tell a religious person that there is no god with the same consideration that I would not tell a young child there is no Santa Claus.
Alex Trebek worked almost to the moment of his death as host of Jeopardy because he valued education. Donald Trump has played golf, thrown Christmas parties and wasted money on ridiculous court challenges as thousand of Americans die from covid daily. Two men, only one worth the praise and support he is receiving.
Does one become an author when one drafts and publishes a book or essay or until someone reads it? (If a tree falls in a forest, does it make a sound if no one is around?)
Sin? Does it exist anymore?
For Eagle fans excited about Jalen Hurts replacing Carson Wentz, I have the following words for you, A.J. Feely, Bobby Hoying, Mike Boryla, Koy Detmer..
This year I focused on books that I enjoyed and that I think my friends and other readers will.
I have read 57 books so far in 2020. I am recommending eight books that I enjoyed. Four are novels, two are history related, one is a business tale and the other is a sports book about basketball. I also offer two honorable mention books that may be of interest.
The End of October by Lawrence Wright
This novel is about a global pandemic and other disasters and was written and published before the Covid 19 pandemic and what’s most surprising is how the author has eerily forecasted many of the events and issues that we are experiencing now. Surprising ending!
The Splendid and The Vile by Erik Larson
Instructive story on how the English people handled “the Blitz”, the bombing of their cities, homes and businesses by the Germans. Story focuses on the leadership skills of Winston Churchill in maintaining morale and discipline. This story makes an interesting comparison between the conduct of the British people and Churchill in 1940 in combatting the Germans to the conduct of the American people and our leadership today combatting Covid 19.
Fleishman in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
I saw this book listed on so many “Best of 2019” book lists that I wanted to read it. I am very glad that I did. It was a very entertaining story from the first page till the end. The story centered around a man recently separated with two kids trying to figure out the rest of his life. The story starts with his ex-wife literally disappearing and leaving him with the care of his two kids. He also has to balance his career as a doctor around the care of his children and his now burgeoning social life.
Talk To Me by John Kenney
Ted Grayson is a 59 year old network news anchor (think Tom Brokaw) who endures a string of catastrophic personal events: his wife has found a new love and is divorcing him, his daughter, Franny is estranged from him and he is losing his highly visible and well paid network job after suffering a verbal meltdown caught online at a woman employee. The meltdown exposes him to national public ridicule and drives him to deep depression. Great insights on managing aging, the media and trying to find public and personal redemption.
Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber by Mike Isaac
Well researched book. One of the best business management books available. Excellent storytelling by Mike Isaac. Plenty of business and personal lessons for would be and actual entrepreneurs. Fascinating look at how a business idea starts, gets funded, rolls out and tries to survive in a very competitive and regulated environment. Interesting background stories about the perks and peccadilloes of the executives and investors of the company.
The Fall of Japan by William Craig
Explores the defeat of Japan in World War II. I had liked to think I was an armchair expert on World War II but I learned a number of things that I had not read in previous history books. (e.g. Even after two atom bombs dropped on their homeland, there was intense resistance to surrendering by the Japanese military.)
Evil Geniuses : The Unmaking of America by Kurt Andersen
This book is not a page turner. You are stopped nearly every page to digest what information the author has presented or to consider his analysis and thinking. It’s an analysis about how the rich got richer in America. It started in earnest during the Reagan years and grew into an unstoppable force supported by willing politicians, CEOs, journalists, conservative think tanks, investors and right wing economists. Some of the evil geniuses include Ronald Reagan, Milton Friedman, Koch Brothers, Grover Norquist, Donald Trump, John H. Sununu, Stephen Moore, Lewis Powell and more. Who suffers? The middle and lower classes…
Basketball: A Love Story by Jackie MacMullan
I loved the book! If you are a basketball fan (and I am), you will find the opinions, nostalgia and recountings by just about every major figure in pro and college basketball to be fascinating. This book covers both men’s and women’s college and pro basketball. This book serves as the literary companion to the ESPN documentary.
Bonus Book Recommendations:
Bringing The Heat by Mark Bowden
This is one of the best books about the NFL I have read! What made it special was that it covered the 1992 season for the Philadelphia Eagles. A nostalgic journey as it covered a season that was 28 years ago. But I remember so many of the characters covered in this book including Buddy Ryan, Norman Braman, Seth Joyner, Jerome Brown, Randall Cunningham, Wes Hopkins, Reggie White etc. Lots of great anecdotes and candid insights into a very good Eagles team.
Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer by Peter Elkind
Tragic story of a very promising politician and potential Presidential candidate. Smart guy with advanced family, education and financial pedigrees who became Governor of New York and loses it all after his involvement with a female prostitute. Tale reads like a political novel. Interesting to read the extent on how Spitzer tries to cover up his illicit activities.