Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street by: Neil Barofsky

I will begin by saying that I was and still am against T.A.R.P..  With that being said, it was passed and we had it.  Neil Barofsky is a Democrat and donated to the Obama campaign in 2008.  He was nominated as Inspector General of T.A.R.P. by President Bush and was confirmed by both sides with barely any incident. 

Barofsky nails it in this book.  He starts by being critical of the Bush administration and then states that he is hopping that the new administration (Obama) and his appointments will be better in trying to create the atmosphere of corruption that would allow T.A.R.P. recipients to game the system.  Those hopes were crushed by Timothy Geithner and his minions.

I am not saying the Bush and Obama were directly involved, but at a minimum, it makes them inept and indirectly responsible with what happens on their watch; especially something as big and egregious as this.  Barofsky breaks down the Troubled Asset Relief Fund (TARP), Public Private Investment Program (PPIP), roubled Asset-backed Loan Facility (TALF) and other boondoggles by our Federal Government. He describes in layman's terms how the system was gamed and by whom.

He describes encounters with Treasury officials, Congressmen, and Senators and how he informed them and warned of how the system could be and would be gamed. Those warnings fell on deaf ears. 

Required reading if you are interested in what happened and worst yet, how the more things change, the more the stay the same.  We are doomed.

Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Free Press (July 24, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1451684932
ISBN-13: 978-1451684933

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Along the Way By: Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez

Amazing story of father and son.  Ramón Antonio Gerardo Estévez AKA Martin Sheen and son Emilio Estévez take you on a journey through their lives.  I was never a hard core fan of any of the Sheen/Estevez clan until this book.  WOW!  What a life young Emilio and the rest of his brothers and sister lived.  They were jet-setting all around the world while their father Ramon (Martin) was on location filming movies.  

It is written in a way where the father reflects on a time period and then Emilio does the same.  You get to hear both sides and how Marin felt when Emilio was coming into his own and how Emilio felt during the same time.  Fame, travel, and money notwithstanding, I find parallels in mine and Emilio's life.

Amazingly, his youth in Malibu was surrounded by the up and comers Rob Lowe, Sean and Chris Penn, Robert Downey Jr that lived on Emilio's block and they grew up together.  Also during the casting for The Outsiders, Tom Cruz lives with the Estevez/Sheen family.

I found myself re-watching Apocalypse Now, Bad Lands, and The Outsiders with an entirely different view of the movie.  Knowing some "insider" information gives you perspective on the films.  I plan to watch "The Way" which inspired this book.

What a great book for any father to read.  I have already started putting certain things into practice with my kids.

Highly Recommended.

Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Free Press; 1 edition (May 8, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1451643683
ISBN-13: 978-1451643688

Thursday, July 26, 2012

An American Son by: Marco Rubio

Well Well.  Mr. Marco Rubio is certainly an interesting person.  I was attracted to this book because he is my same age and we grew up somewhat the same way as sons of immigrant exiles of  Fidel Castro's regime and the long lost country.

The book details the plight of his parents and grandparents as they struggled to provide for their families both here in the US as well as in Cuba prior to coming here.  Rubio details his life as a football loving, specifically Miami Dolphins, political junky.  He states in the book that he was following the election of Jimmy Carter.  I consider myself to be somewhat of a political junky but do not really remember being interested at that age.

Rubio gives the impression of a spoiled egotistical calculating person.  Although people may say that is typical of Republicans, I think it is typical of politicians in general.  He made it clear that he felt politics was a career.  He painfully states, atnasium, how much better he did for himself that his parents. 

The book also covers the tumultuous campaign between him, Kendrick Meeks and Charlie Crist.  The book gives you an insight which I have not seen in other books.  He shares certain aspects of the campaign and how the tacticians thought and acted.

The criticism notwithstanding, I like Marco Rubio and I think he has potential.  He needs to embrace the Constitution more and relax on the Jingoism.  I follow his actions in the Senate and there is some wasted time on his part voted for frivolous things that do not benefit or protect the State of Florida which should be his job.

Reading level: Ages 18 and up
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Sentinel HC (June 19, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595230947
ISBN-13: 978-1595230942

Monday, July 23, 2012

Boardwalk Empire By: Nelson Johnson

If you are looking for a book to mirror the HBO series, continue to look. I must admit, it was what I was looking for.  I wanted more insight on Enoch "Nucky" Johnson AKA Nucky Thompson.  Although it was not that, I was pleasantly surprised.

Very interesting book about the rise, fall and rise again of Atlantic City, New Jersey or formally known as the Island of Absegami.  Although it does spend a considerable time on Enoch "Nucky" Johnson and his predecessor, Louis “Commodore” Kuehnle, it delved into the lives of their lieutenants and their henchmen who subsequently rose to and fell from power.  It sheds light on the cronyism and corruption of the olden days.

Not surprisingly, the book makes the Republican Party out to be the racists by using statement like this "The switch in loyalties came in part as Blacks recognized the racist tactics of the Republican machine." - Chapter 8.  The previous quote being in the 60's.  So what the author is saying is that the racial tension, lynching, Jim Crowe, Black codes etc created and perpetrated by the Democratic Party theretofore were benign; yet the Republicans caused the black loyalty to falter because they marked ballot cards? Ironically, Nucky earned the black vote in his tenure because of the pre-new deal help he gave black families.

The book is more about the political cronyism than that of the traditional "mob" stories. It does move back and forth in time although it is understandable due to the nature of the book.  Some of the "no-names" during Nucky's rein, went on to be a force to be reckoned with and the author needed to re-trace their steps.

All-in-all the book is good.  If you can put aside the partisan bashing you should be OK.  To the author's defence, AC was definitely run by Republicans.  The book's author is Nelson Johnson (No relation to Enoch Johnson), a former New Jersey Judge.

Hardcover: 312 pages
Publisher: Amereon Ltd (April 5, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0848833228
ISBN-13: 978-0848833220

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Wrong on Race: The Democratic Party's Buried Past By: Bruce Bartlett

Where do I start on this book?  The premise of the book is one that attracted me early on.  I had it on my "to read" list for quite a while.  Finally I read it.  I agree with the author on the latter years of the Democratic Party, however as most of my review state, I do NOT agree with this author that Lincoln went to war with the South to free the slaves.

The author says:
"Those who murdered, tortured, abused, and enslaved millions of black people should be given a pass, they implicitly said. Let's just pretend that nothing happened; in effect saying that hundreds of thousands of people on both sides died for nothing"

Funny thing though, the author leaves out how Sherman and his march to the sea murdered innocent civilians that did not own slaves and were not part of the rebel force all under the orders of "The Great Emancipator".

The author paints ALL the North as non-racist, anti-slavery and all around great people.  However his opinion on the South is a bunch of racist, slave owning, ignorant fools that deserve the death and destruction they suffered by the hand of the North.  The North, being the ones that wanted to "save the Union".  I guess by exterminating thousands of women and children that had nothing to do with the South's or North's issues.

"People won't risk their lives in war to fight against a tariff; no war in history can be traced to that origin." Here the author tries to tell you that the war was indeed fought from the south to keep slaves even by those that did not have slaves fought (only 4% of the South were slave owners).  He obviously chooses not to remember the Stamp Act of 1765 which can be argued was the genesis of the Revolutionary War.

The book does show the twisted affinity of blacks in this country to the Democratic Political Party which has done so much to keep them to this day enslaved and used for political posturing.  I do NOT agree that you party affiliation makes you or precludes you from racism.  Racism is something that would not exist if we all ascribed to the notion that ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL.  I believe by allowing the government and others to label you or associate you to a group, whether it be race, creed, sexual orientation or whatever, we are segregating ourselves and giving fuel and opportunity to those who use "race" as a political weapon.

This book is chock full of examples of how disingenuous the Democratic Party is about its past.  I truly believe that one of the reasons the Dems accuse the Republicans of being racists is to draw the attention away from their dark past with regards to race.

The book is very informative and I think you should read it if only to inform yourselves of the racism the blacks have endured.  It is truly sad to see the Human Family act in this fashion.  Although slavery is an abhorrent institution, I have to say that level of treatment and abuse suffered by blacks in this country after slavery and up until the late 20th century is far more abusive and vindictive than what we saw with the founding father's era of slave ownership.  I do not give them a pass.

Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; 1st edition (January 8, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 023060062X

Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever By: Bill O'Reilly & Marting Dungard

Aside from numerous inaccuracies and "bold fresh" (pun intended) lies coupled with the selective blindness by the author; the book was OK.  O'Reilly suffers from what so many today suffer; he suffers the apotheosis of Lincoln syndrome.  To O'Reilly, Lincoln can do no wrong.  I have read numerous books on this subject and know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the "Civil War" was indeed not fought for the purpose of freeing slaves.  Anyone that does not call out Lincoln for being a racist of the highest order has not done the most basic research on the subject.  

The first 5-6 chapters reads more like a Civil War book than that of a Lincoln assassination book.  Then, the author takes off touching on Mary Sarat's involvement and painting the conspirators web.  O'Reilly leaves much of the details out and on NUMEROUS occasions, leaves facts out or adds theories and conjecture which have already been disproved and presents them as fact.

O'Reilly is wrong on his assertions that presidential assassins plan their "hits" for a long period of time.  This is not the case of any of the book I have read regarding such Presidents as McKinley, Garfield, Lincoln, Jackson and even Kennedy.   

I enjoyed the book because I happen to love the subject matter, however there are better books (Please see my review of American Brutus by: Michael Kaufman)

The book is fairly safe for a young reader 12 and over.

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; First Edition edition (September 27, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0805093079
ISBN-13: 978-0805093070

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Litigators By: John Grisham

A bit anti-climactic.  The book is well written however the story takes you down this long drawn out mass tort case about a drug names Kraoxx that is suposed to be causing death and heart attacks.

David Zinc is a well paid attorney for a big "hordy-tordy" law firm in Chicago.  He is making $300,000.00 a year but works way too many hours.  He finally snaps and suffers a meltdown causing him to quit the firm unexpectedly.  In his new found freedom of the morning he quit, he stumbles into a bar and gets sauced all day avoiding calls from him co-workers and his wife.  He finally leaves the bar and ends up in a law office far from the heavy hitting downtown firm he left.  He finds his way to Law Offices of Finley and Figg; a motley crew of ambulance chasers and divorce attorneys.  Wally Figg ends up finding a mass tort case that is about to take them to the big times and away from the divorce and personal injury cases. 

The problem with this book is that it takes you into the world of mass tort law suits explaining in details the trial proceedings.  Then proceed to wrap everyting up in two chapters (out of ~49).  ****SPOILER ALERT**** I have to say though, I found myself on the tip of my seat when David did the cross-examination on the clinical testing practices of Varrick, however I was let down quickly by the loss of the case.  Then the actual case they [David] win, without a trial mind you, is quickly glossed over.  I think the title of the book should have been placed in "" since they obviously did not show any skill in litigating save that of David cross-examination.

I will give Mr. Grisham another chance.  This is the first Grisham book I read.

Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Doubleday; 1st edition (October 25, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0385535139
ISBN-13: 978-0385535137