Sunday, December 30, 2018

Perfectly Clear: Escaping Scientology and Fighting for the woman I love By: Michelle LeClair

Another Scientology books to add to my list of read Scientology Books.  This book however touches on a church taboo subject of Scientology; homosexuality.  Michelle LeClair was a young daughter of a Scientologist mother who was indoctrinated into the church at an early age after a close call auto accident.  LeClair struggled with her sexuality from early on.  Once she joined the "church", she was forced to publicly right off homosexuality.

As all Scientologist, she was audited and was constantly questioned about her past transgressions by subsequent auditing sessions.  She was forced by the church to "find a man".  She eventually meets and marries Sean Seward.  Her relationship was rife with challenges one of which was he inability to be sexually active with her husband.  LeClair had 1 child, adopted another, and then in twist of marital rape, she becomes pregnant with twins before filing for divorce.  Eventually she meets someone that "does it for her" and she is a woman.  She soon realizes that she is in fact a lesbian.  However she needs to continue to hide it from the church.

Michelle is an absolutely beautiful woman.  The Church of Scientology has a website up that attacks her character. In full disclosure, here is the link.  I have read lots of books on Scientology and what I find interesting is that as long as she was writing fat checks, all was good.  LeClair gave up her lucrative career in insurance and has vowed to repay her clients their losses.

As I have stated before, I have read many books on this subject.  This book did not shed any additional light from a Scientology perspective, however this is the first book that talks specifically about the anti-LGBTQ mindset of the church.  For those that have not been exposed to the amount of information I have, this book does a good job in explaining the overall beliefs of Scientology and touches on many of the taboo parts of the church.

Michelle, Charlie, Mother and kids

Michelle's Mother in Sear Org uniform

Michelle and Charlie 
The irony is not lost on the the picture that Charlie looks similar to Tom Cruise; also a Scientologist.

Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Berkley (September 11, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 110199116X
ISBN-13: 978-1101991169

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

American Made: Who Killed Barry Seal? Pablo Escobar or George Hw Bush (War on Drugs) By: Shaun Attwood

Interesting book about the life and journey of Barry Seal. A drug runner, turned CIA and DEA informant. Seal ran so much cocaine into the US, it is rumored that a majority of all the drugs coming into the US during that time was smuggled in by Seal.  A movie was made about Barry Seal starring Tom Cruise.  The book is marketed as the "True story untold by the Tom Cruise movie".  I saw the movie and it does differ substantially.  

Attwood tells the story beginning with Seal's time as a commercial pilot, throughout his "journey" and culminating with his Assassination.  Attwood poses the question of who was the driving force behind Seal's hit. Was it Pablo Escobar or George H. W. Bush?  Attwood makes the case for both Bush and Escobar while implicating Bill Clinton, former POTUS.

Interesting enough, this book has piqued my interest on the Bush dynasty as well as the rise and fall of Pablo Escobar. Both topics are briefly covered in this book in the final chapters.  Actually, the Bush and Escobar chapters were the best in my opinion, better than the other 40-some-odd chapters.

I recommend this book to anyone interested  in real life crime stories. 

Series: War on Drugs (Book 2)
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Gadfly Press (September 12, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0993021530

ISBN-13: 978-0993021534

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Spygate: The Attempted Sabotage of Donald J. Trump by Dan Bongino, D.C. McAllister & Matt Palumbo

Bongino breaks down in great detail the "Russian Collusion" investigation of President Donald Trump.  This book is replete with references and quotes that can be confirmed.  This book sadly shows the bias that this country has and how a party has gone out of their way to go after a President that was duly elected and sworn in and have challenged his legitimacy as POTUS.

Full Disclosure:  If President Trump is guilty of impeachable actions, he should be impeached.  Similarly, if he has committed actual crimes, he too should be prosecuted and serve time if necessary.  However by the same token, so should Obama, Clinton, the Bidens, and all other that have been guilty.  The "FACT" is that Obama used a fake name and email to communicate with Hillary Clinton on her private email domain.  This shows intent by Obama and Clinton.  They subpoenaed her server and she purposely wiped the data to DOD standards so as not to be able to recover the data.  Anyone else would have been convicted immediately and would have already been in prison.  It is also a fact that if anyone had the experience, ideology and political power to benefit Russia it is by far Hillary Clinton.  The Clintons received millions of dollars via their Clinton Foundation from very rich and powerful Russian business men.

Additionally disturbing is that the FBI took the word of CrowdStrike and did not actually do any investigation to corroborate anything they provided in their report.  I can tell you from first hand experience that even the FBI's actions during a forensic investigation can and have been blown out of the water for inconsistencies and problematic "results".  I, myself have testified against the FBI and Secret Service and have had then reverse themselves on testimony and investigation techniques they made.  And I do not consider myself an expert compared to many others that have come before and have followed me in that role. 

If you look at what Russia has "gotten" from a Trump presidency pales in comparison to what they got under Obama with a Clinton Secretary of State.   Uranium one benefited Russia in a huge, ginormous way and subsequently, Bill Clinton was give money for speeches and  monies to the Clinton Foundation. 

What I find funny (not in a ha ha funny way, but a hmmmm way) that during the Starr special council investigation of Clinton, the Democratic Party was offended by his teams investigation even though there was blatant proof of his and her guilt.  Now these same Democrats are doing more and worst with Trump.  Don't get me wrong, I don't know if Trump is guilty or not, but as the writing of this blog, the most we have seen as a prosecution under "Logan's Act" which was around in the 1700's and only 3 people have been prosecuted under it heretofore.  Another thing, during the debates between Clinton and President Trump, the media went wild when then candidate Trump said he would not accept the results of the election because of the shenanigans going on with the Democratic Party.  The media accused him for "challenging the fabric of this country" then, after he wins, the entire Democratic party "challenges the fabric of this country".

The book is short, but full of interesting facts and quotes.  Read it and judge for yourself.  I am not claiming Trump's innocence, but if he is guilty, then man-o-man is there a bunch of people that need to go to jail.  Personally, I think it is the best thing that can happen.  I think once the politicians see that the people are not going to put up with law breakers at any level, and by any party, maybe then this insanity will stop in D.C.  We need to make these politicians accountable; that means even if they are from "your side".  This is why I love Ron Paul so much.  Even as a Republican, he would stand up anywhere and lambast the Republicans when it was necessary and of course the Democrats as well.  There were no safe parties with him. 

Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Post Hill Press (October 9, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9781642930986
ISBN-13: 978-1642930986
ASIN: 1642930989

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

I Heard You Paint Houses: Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran and the Inside Story of the Mafia, the Teamsters, and the Final Ride of Jimmy Hoffa

This was an interesting book. I have never been into the "Hoffa" genre, but this title called my attention.

The book is the story of Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran.  Sheeran was former soldier that came back from war to find himself looking for work. He soon hooks up with the mafia, without knowing the extent of what the mafia was.

Sheeran was "a friend" of Russel Bufalino, a known mafioso. Although Sheeran was friends with Hoffa, he had an allegiance Bufalino which surpassed any friendship to Hoffa.

The book tracks the rise and the subsequent fall of Jimmy Hoffa regarding the Teamsters and the "witch-hunt" from Bobby Kennedy as US AG.  The author tells the tail of the murder of Hoffa at the hands of his friend "The Irishman".  Before his death, Sheeran is on record corroborating the contents of this book being accurate.

This book has been made into a movie soon to be released in 2019 by Netflix. I will surely watch the movie.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Untied: A Memoir of Family, Fame, and Floundering By: Meredith Baxter

The beautiful, Meredith Baxter's brave memoirs.  Her life story is fraught with disfunction and pain which eventually led to her multiple marriages and alcohol abuse.  Baxter-Birney, as she was known after marring David Birney.  David Birney, probably the worst offender in causing Baxter's pain.  He repeatedly physically and emotionally abused her.  Although Baxter "outs" him for the abuse, she glosses over the amount of times he actually beat her.

Although David Birney was truly a scumbag of the highest order, he is not the only one that caused her pain.  Early on, Baxter's mom made her children call her by her stage name, Whitney Blake.  Baxter tells the story of coming home from school one day and saying "mommy, I'm home" and got no response, she then repeats her statement, still finding no response.  It was not until she said "Whitney, I am home" that her mom responded.

Seeing her on TV, you would never have imagined the abuse she hid for so long.  She recalls the different projects she worked on which was a little difficult since she is much older than me and I found myself Googling some of the actors and actresses she mentioned by name. Additionally, I had never heard many of the movies and TV shows she mentioned.

She had dabbled in homosexuality early on before she jumped feet first in being a "lesbian".  Even living her gay lifestyle, she still struggled to stay in a relationship.

Baxter was a beautiful young woman and even in her old age, she is still sexy and as gorgeous as she was before.  She has 5 kids; two  (Theodore and Eva) from her first marriage to Robert Bush.  In 1971, she divorced Bush.  She later married David Birney and had three children, Kathleen and fraternal twins Mollie and Peter.  Baxter struggled to be a better mother to her children than "Whitney" was to her.   Baxter came out to the public at the age of 62 which is pretty brave.

Young Baxter

Family Ties cast

Meredith Baxter and wife Nancy Locke

I recommend this book.  This is a good primer for how not treat someone you are in a relationship with.

Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Crown Archetype; Reprint edition (March 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307719308
ISBN-13: 978-0307719300

The Princess Diarist By: Carrie Fisher

The last book written by the late Carrie Fisher, best know as Princess Leia in the epic saga known as Star Wars.  I thought this book would be a "tell all" book about the secrets behind the scenes look at Star Wars.  The actual book should have been named "My Affair with Harrison Ford".

The book was entertaining.  Fisher does have a darker sense of humor than what you would imagine from her role as "The Princess".  I really did not follow any of her other work save that of the Star Wars saga.  Seeing her drop profanity was interesting.  The book drags on about her relationship with Harrison, or as she made it abundantly clear in the book "Carrison".  The latter part of the book is the actual diary entires which drone on and on.  One of the tings I realized is that my journal/diary entries are boring and elementary compared to hers. The book glosses over her childhood and her early carrier in Shampoo.  Looking now at IMDB, I can see that I have not really followed any of her work except for Star Wars.

If you are looking for a behind the scenes book on Star Wars, this is not the book.  If you are looking for a book about Carrie Fisher's relationship with Harrison Ford and personal inner thoughts.

The Princess with the famous hair

Carrie Fisher - Phased

Carrie Fisher and Mother Debbie Reynolds
Apparently, losing her daughter was too much for Debbie Reynolds died of a stroke a day after her daughter passed away of a heart attack.  A sad ending to an era.

Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Blue Rider Press; 1st edition (November 22, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9780399173592
ISBN-13: 978-0399173592
ASIN: 0399173595

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Diabolical How Pope Francis Betrayed Clerical Abuse Victims Like Me -- And Why He Needs to Go By: Milo Yiannopoulos

A sad and disturbing look at Yiannopoulos' past and a harbinger of what is to come.  Yiannopoulos peels back the covers on the scandal of the Catholic Church generally, and the priesthood specifically.   Of course, Yiannopoulos make striking connections to politicians and specifically the liberals.

This book, well almost a long pamphlet, is a telling history of the Catholic Church and the systemic abuse of underage boys.  Yiannopoulos make the claim that the mainstream media gives the priests a pass in most cases because they politically align with the guilty priests.  In full disclosure, I am not Catholic but the abuse needs to be dealt with.  If it were up to me, they would be met with a death sentence as far as I am concerned.

Yiannopoulos, is as always, an acquired taste.  When you read his work or listen to him, you have to fight the urge to label him homophobic, white suprematist, and anti woman.  However he is a self-proclaimed "Jewish, fag that loved black dick". It all falls apart at that point.  If you can handle his dark humor and offensive talk (compared to today's politically correct environment), I recommend this book.

File Size: 1013 KB
Print Length: 118 pages
Publisher: Bombardier Books (October 30, 2018)
Publication Date: October 30, 2018
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English

Monday, November 19, 2018

The Lost Symbol By: Dan Brown

I read this book the day it was released in 2009.  I read it cover to cover in two days.  I figured I would re-read the book in 2018.  I am a Master Mason and a Past Master of my Lodge.  The premise of this book, more specifically the video which made it a "National Security Issue" is ridiculous.  The fact that someone of power sitting in a room where a ritual is taking place that is allegoric in nature somehow puts the nation at risk is ridiculous.  If you follow any religion, there are strange ritual that would be viewed as insane from an uninitiated.  Although some of the facts are correct, some are not even close.  The technology in this book was off as well.  Taking into account that this book was written 9 years ago, the tech on it was off even then.  For example, the IP address was in a different format not seem before?  Really?  There is IPv4 which has been around since the inception of the Internet.  IPv6 was around back then but not used by any carriers.  How the hacker was able to track it if it was not standard IPv4, is beyond me.

This book takes place in Washington D.C. and revolved around the Freemasons and the hidden secrets associated with the "Order".  Robert Langdon is back to his adventure.  In one of the last books, IMHO, where Dan Brown wrote a decent book, he is able to spin a web full of twists and turns.  Langdon is invited to D.C. to give a speech by Peter Solomon.  Solomon asked Langdon to bring a package he was entrusted to keep by Solomon years earlier.  It soon becomes evident that Langdon has been pulled into yet another adventure where his knowledge of symbolism is necessary.

Based in Washington D.C., it is easy to follow and visualize the scenes.  Sadly, there were rumors about this book being made into a movie.  Sadly, there has been nothing but rumors.

Hardcover: 510 pages
Publisher: Doubleday Books; 1st edition (September 15, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0385504225
ISBN-13: 978-0385504225

Monday, November 12, 2018

The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down By: Colin Woodard

This was a fantastic book.  I have always been fascinated by pirates and have read dozens of books, fiction and non-fiction and this is one of the best.  Actually, I started getting into pirates about seven years ago.  Woodard is engaging and the book has a great flow to it. I was on a business trip and read it in a couple of days.  I will not lie to you, I usually take the side of the pirates.  I always saw them as revolutionaries and "taking it to the man".

Woodard covers the 17th and 18th century pirates.  Most intriguing was Edward Teach (A.K.A. Blackbeard) and Charles Vane.  Woodard spins the tale of the pirates, before they were pirates and in may cases what led them to "the pirate's life for me" way of life.  For many it was rebellion for others it was part of their DNA.  Some were Navy Sailors and later became pirates.  In addition to the pirates themselves, Woodard also talks about the politics of the time and the Pirate Island of Bahamas, Madagascar and Jamaica.

Woodard paints the pictures of the battles and skirmishes in detail to allow the reader to visualize the acts.  No pirate book would be complete without the tail of the defeat of said pirates and the subsequent hangings of the same.  Reading the demise of Blackbeard actually made me sad.

This is a great book for anyone "into" the Pirate Lore and the history surrounding the pirates.

Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (May 7, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0151013020
ISBN-13: 978-0151013029

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Full Disclosure by Stormy Daniels

The long awaited book by Porn Star, and presidential "mistress" Stephanie Gregory Clifford (A.K.A. Stormy Daniels) was very entertaining but predictable.  The book describes Daniel's life and her one-time tryst with now President Donal Trump.

The book starts off with Daniels making it obvious that she is setting the stage for her final chapters where she drops the Trump story.  Daniels overtly talks about her "photographic memory" and how "smart" she is.  I feel this was important for her because even though she appears to be proud of her past, she makes a point to break the stereotype of "dumb blond" & "whore".

Daniels make a comment about how her story was "the biggest political scandal in history", obviously delusions of grandeur.   Stormy makes it clear in the beginning of the book that her aspirations were to be an author.  She claims her "photographic memory" yet on numerous points, was not able to remember facts and names.

Daniels talks about her tryst with Trump but fails to give details about her though process making her decide to actually have sex with him.  She goes from Trump sitting on the edge of the bed, to laying with my head against the pillow and Trump going "in her".   She was repulsed by him based on her many, many comments as such but still decided to have intercourse with him?  I am not judging her decisions by no stretch of the imagination.  I am a libertarian thinking, independent party and do not have a problem with anyone's life decisions.  Fiscally, I am more conservative than Conservatives and socially, I am more liberal than Liberals.

Her life is certainly interesting and I do think she is a successful business person and smart.  I will say that although I am not a "Trumper", I do not see any difference with Trump wanting her silenced, to Bill Clinton wanting the same or from anyone, ever that has been unfaithful to their spouse.  Attorneys exist to protect their clients.  It comes with the territory.  I am going to say this, I really have a problem with both parties taking the moral high grown when it is politically expedient for them.  The Republicans have a long history of being anti-gay, which is one of the reasons I left the party; not because I am gay, but because I do not have a problem with someone choosing to be gay, all-the-while getting caught in gay sex or pro-gay situations.  By the same token, the Democrats seem to be pro-women unless the woman is a Republican. People like Trump with the "grab them by the pussy" statement mortified Democrats because he was "talking" about assaulting a woman, yet Clinton somehow gets a pass when has was accused of actual rape?  The Clinton victim(S) are written off and attacked by Hillary as part of the "vast Right wing conspiracy".  The interesting piece of that last statement is the during the Supreme Court nomination of Kavanaugh, anyone that questioned the validity of the accuser was labeled a sexist and supporting rape, but Hillary was not afforded the same treatment after she, being on record, bashing the accusers of her husband's rape and assaults.

I think she really exaggerates the security thing.  Does she really think that Trump is going to whack her? Really?  Come one.  Trump is an assassin as much as Clinton (which BTW, Hillary has a more believable assumption a la Seth Rich) is. 

As I said before, the book is entertaining but as far as any enlightening information, it is void.  Trump has and will lie, but then again, both Clintons did as well and to this day, continues to do so.  As did Obama and every single politician even my heroes George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Maddison.  This new mid-term election results will give the Democrats the ability to right the wrongs regarding the violence and vitriol coming from their side.  We shall see if it is more talk as we have seen in the past from both sides.

Trump and Stormy when they met

Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Macmillan (October 2, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1529013771
ISBN-13: 978-1529013771
Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches

Sunday, October 21, 2018

The Corporation; An Epic Story of the Cuban American Underworld By: T.J. English

This was a great book.  It struck a cord with me specifically, because growing up in a Cuban family with Cubans all around, "bolita" (illegal numbers racket)  was a normal thing we were used to seeing.  I had close family members that were "boliteros" (racketeers placing and taking bets).  This book takes place in many of the places I remember growing up around.  

The book starts out during the pre-Castro era, when Batista was the Scum Bag de'jour.  The irony, which I did not know until reading the book, was the history of Baptista and Fidel.  Batista was the president of Cuba and was corrupt and in bed with mafiosos.  He lost a bid for reelection and moved to Tampa, FL.  Later he wanted to re-take his power and ran for reelection again.  Knowing he would lose, he decided to plan a coup.  Once he had taken power again, Fidel wanted to take Batista to court because HE believed that Batista was not properly elected and as such did not recognize Batista as president.  When attempts to bring him to court failed, Fidel himself assembled a coup and took the island nation for himself.  Later being more brutal and more corrupt than Batista ever was.  

English then spins the web of criminality by Juan Miguel Battle, a Bay of Pigs "hero" and his rise and subsequent fall in a criminal enterprise between Florida, New York, New Jersey and even Internationally to Spain, Peru, and other countries. Along with family and friends who assisted Battle in his criminal enterprise.  Starting with numbers racket (which remained the staple of their incoming) and moving into murder for hire and narcotics.

The book is exceptionally researched and well written.  The one thing that bothered me a bit was the unnecessary use of Spanish words when the book was written in English.  Words like: Rata (rat), hombre (man), pronto (soon), barrio (neighborhood), La Causa (the cause),  patria (country).  These words were used when it was not necessary.  The English version would have sufficed.  Other than that, it was a book I enjoyed and plan to read other books by Mr. English regarding the Cubans in Miami.

Hardcover: 592 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (March 20, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062568965
ISBN-13: 978-0062568960

Fame: The Hijacking of Reality By Justine Bateman

I was drawn to this book because I followed Bateman years ago when I was growing up.  Her writing style is a bit strange.  It is rife with fragments and repetitions.  At many points in the book, I considered ending it and writing this book off as a loss.  However I pressed on.

Bateman covers the ups and downs of fame.  Not so much a memoir but a glimpse into what fame brings you and quite frankly takes away.  Bateman talks about her early career and her  metric
 rise to 'A List' status. The one concept she drives home is that Fame is not something you set out to get, it is actually something that is bestowed upon you or "sprayed on you"  The book shows an interesting perspective and calls out some of the fallacies we concur up when we thing of fame.

Obviously, the timeline of her "fame" is a pre-social media one and she discusses the pain of reading articles written about her.  We tend to think that actors or famous people are immune to the painful comments people make about us, but Bateman breaks it down to see the famous person's perspective.

She discusses her appearance and how the media attacked her.  Although she did not discuss it, in real life, she struggled with an eating disorder where should would binge and purge.  She eventually got help for it and was able to move past it.  She has aged as anyone would.  I do not think she is ugly today.  She is certainly not the 17 year old we grew to love when we were that age, but then none of us are.

I recommend this book.  It is a little distracting at first, but when you get the cadence of her repetition and her fragmented style, you can learn a lot about fame and people's thought process from a different perspective.

Justine in her teens and today

Justine is the sister of Jason Bateman, a famous actor himself.  Although he has continued to act, Justine has take a role behind the camera and in different aspects of "the business"

Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Akashic Books (October 2, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1617756601
ISBN-13: 978-1617756603


Thursday, October 11, 2018

Lost Kingdom: Hawaii's Last Queen, the Sugar Kings and America's First Imperial Adventure By: Julia Flynn Siler

I have always been fascinated by Hawaii and how it came to be a state.  I do not wear rose colored glasses and I understand wholeheartedly of the incorrect things we, as a nation, have done.  From the Indians (Natives), Slavery, and imperialism.  Hawaii was a pristine archipelago of eight major island.  These islands did not even know mosquitos until the "invaders" started calling Hawaii home.

Hawaii, today known more for pineapples was actually a huge sugar source.  The islands were ravaged by people looking to buy up land and grow sugar.  The Hawaiian Islands where ruled by a king and although the royal family suffered unlucky issues with their health, the final Queen, Hawaii saw was Queen Liliuokalani.  It is sad to read the acts of the US to take Hawaii from her people. 

If you read the book, Hawaii would have been taken over by either the US, Germany or Britain.  Although I am not proud of what we did, I am much happier that it was the US to Germany or Britain. 

This book covers the lives of the different rulers of Hawaii and the various "Sugar Barons" that set up shop and eventually became the downfall of the original Hawaii Monarchy and Hawaii's sovereignty. 

I recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of Hawaii.

Hardcover: 480 pages
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press; 1st Edition edition (January 3, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9780802120014
ISBN-13: 978-0802120014
ASIN: 0802120016

Contempt: A Memoir of the Clinton Invetigation By Ken Starr

This was an interesting book.  Not salacious with sex detail but a "factual" (based on the author) timeline of the events leading up to the impeachment of President William Jefferson Clinton.  When this ordeal was talking place, I was at the apex of my "troubled days" and the last thing on my mind and in my orbit was politics.  I had always heard about Ken Starr and the impeachment proceeding but never really got into the details.

In this book, Starr discusses the events leading up to the impeachment proceedings.  He gives some insight into his life growing up and his career choices.  I have to admit, that the Clinton saga is an incredible tail that movies are made of.  The coincidences of missing docs, missing people, suicides etc are extraordinarily difficult to believe.

Starr covers both Clintons in this book.  Hillary's involvement in White Water and her testimony to the Grand Jury.  The book is not an attack piece either.  It seems to be an honest recollection of what the author went through.

In light of the recent (at the time of this writing) Kavanaugh kabuki theater, I have to ask myself how someone like Bill and Hillary are still viable, acceptable candidates for POTUS and still respected.  I tend to believe that you can pay someone a couple of thousand dollars to make issues go away since it would be more distraction to deal with it otherwise, however if you pay someone $800,000.00+, this is smoke, and there is certainly fire.  Close to a million dollars means that there was some serious impactful information there.

As mentioned above, if you are looking for detailed account of "slick Willy's" sexual escapades a la Fifty Shades, this is not it.

Bill and Monica during his Presidency

Kenn Starr

Bill and Monica present day

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Sentinel (September 11, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9780525536130
ISBN-13: 978-0525536130
ASIN: 0525536132

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The President is Missing By: Bill Clinton and James Patterson

Interesting novel.  This book is a high-tech'ish thriller.  The plot is a massive cyber threat against the United States, a traitor, impeachment proceedings and of course politics.

The book starts off with the President being attacked because it was leaked that he had communicated, off the record, with a terrorist.  Under threat of treason and impeachment, the POTUS denies it all.  You soon realize that the threat of impeachment is the least of his worries.

Surprisingly it appears Clinton takes shots at Obama specifically around the "red line" situation.  Chapter 111 is a little long and made me want to stop reading, but I was too invested in the book, and actually it was not THAT bad.  Later in the book you actually see why the authors did that.  Just when you think you have the entire plot figured out, you soon realize that it is not the case. Of course he takes shots at Trump as well.... but that is par for the course and uses the last chapter as a campaign soapbox, but it was expected.

In summary, the book is really good in my opinion.  I like the fact the Clinton was involved because it does give the book some semblance of believability.  The tech is kind of weak, like explaining what BGP is.  It was a bit painful, but if you are a techie and can get passed that, you will be fine.

Hardcover: 528 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company and Knopf; First Edition edition (June 4, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316412694
ISBN-13: 978-0316412698

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Fear: Trump in the White House By: Bob Woodward

Nothing new here. This book plays out like any day on CNN or MSNBC.  I am not necessarily a Trump supporter, however Woodward makes Trump out to be some ignorant idiot.  Although I did not vote for him, I can tell you that I believe our economy is better than it ever was under Obama.  Because of the environment he has allowed to happen, I have been able to pay off my house.   

Woodward, makes outlandish statements about Trump and his administration.  Specifically that race relations are the worst under his administration.  This is insane.  I have never witnessed, in my lifetime, more racial divisiveness than under Obama, ironically.

As I stated before, I am not a Trump "supporter" but I believe that the Democratic party will do anything and everything to destroy Trump even if he is doing a decent job.  That is a pretty sad state of affairs.  He infers that some how Obama came into the White House with some anointed with some special "president skill" which is insane.  Obama did an amazingly bad job as POTUS in my opinion as did Bush.  Both, and many more before were much of the same.

I like the fact that he challenges his "handlers".  I would rather see someone true to their convictions than someone who is a pushover.  Woodward talks about Trump's handlers telling Trump that certain thing were going to fail from a GeoEconomic perspective, if Trump acted a certain way, yet we see that it actually worked in our favor.

IMHO, past presidents of both parties have contributed to the destruction of the fabric of this country.  

Hardcover: 448 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 2nd edition (September 11, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1501175513
ISBN-13: 978-1501175510

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Small Fry: A Memoir By Lisa Brenna-Jobs

I enjoyed this book.  Being an "Apple Person" this book struck a cord with me.  I read Steve Jobs By Walter Isaacson's back in 2012 and was immediately addicted to Jobs the man.  Not for the same reasons as many may think.  The man was amazing yet cruel and mean spirited.  

It is hard to not admit that Steve Jobs was, above all else, an asshole.  The stories I heard and read about regarding his daughter Lisa and her mother, were always missing some necessary details.  This book delivered them.  The one resounding point in this book, that quite frankly almost brought me to tears, was the regret one has on their deathbed.

Lisa Brennan-Jobs was no stranger to "daddy issues" from early on.  Seeing her father lauded from every corner of the earth while experiencing the loneliness he created was heartbreaking.  I will say that the level of interaction he DID have with her based on this writing was much more than I originally understood.  This book covers the life of Steve Jobs' daughter, Lisa.  It goes through the ups and down of her "relationship" with her father.

In one interaction in the book, Steve Jobs admits to Lisa that "He is not too good at communicating". The irony was not lost in this statement.  The man solely responsible for the success of all thing Apple, that convinced millions of people, including myself, to buy their products saying that he is not a good communicator was strange at a minimum.

You will walk away feeling sadness, outrage, love and despair for Lisa.  Her ability to become a self-contained, functioning, adult outside the shadow her famous father is heroic to some degree; her multi-million dollar inheritance notwithstanding.  

I recommend this book for anyone knowing about Steve Jobs.  Anyone who does know him will be prepared to read about what we always knew about him,  To those new, you will feel outrage during many times in this book.  You will see a vulnerable and troubled Steve Jobs and how his life affected his life with his family.

Steve Jobs and Lisa Brennan-Jobs

Laurean and Steve Jobs

Lisa Computer - Named after his daughter

Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Grove Press (September 4, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0802128238
ISBN-13: 978-0802128232

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath By Ted Koppel

There is nothing really new here for me.  As an InfoSec Practitioner, I have followed most of what Koppel covers here daily from the 'Cyber' aspect.  However this books covers more about prepping and survival than the actual cyber attack.  A lot of the material here though, is covered in the other book I read last year 'Cyber Storm' by Matthew Mather.  I do however believe that it is important to be prepared.  Maybe not to the degree that some of the interviewees stated.  I do think it is important to have food supplies that can last for an extended period of time, weapons and ammunition, supplies, tools and be informed on how to use them all.  If you own an AR15 but have never fired it, chances are you are not going to be able to effectively operate it or can run the risk of losing it to either lack of maintenance or incorrect use.

The book started off talking about the actual vulnerabilities that exists with the power plants and the infrastructure in general, however it then took a 'prepper' turn and which was maintained until the end.  The book was interesting and maybe for someone that has not already taken steps for an EMP and/or  general unrest, it may be very informative, I however am not that person.  I will say that he appears to have interviewed a lot of people for this book.  These days, that is diminishing with the media folks.

Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Crown; 1st edition (October 27, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 055341996X
ISBN-13: 978-0553419962

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

I watched this movies years ago when it first came out.  I have re-watched it over and over again because its anti-government messages of which I have embraced more and more as I have matured.  Although the book differs in many ways from the movie, the movie did in fact stay very close to the book save the ending and some other, for the most part, minor details.

Rarely do I find the movie to be better than the book, however in this case, the movie I think, is better than the book.  The book has a lot or repetition in it.  Sometimes I thought I had lost my page and was re-reading something I had previously read.

I recommend this book or the movie.  The book is short so not a lot of investment of time and effort. If you like the movie, you owe it to yourself to read the book.

Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: W. W. Norton; 1st edition (August 17, 1996)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0393039765
ISBN-13: 978-0393039764

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

This book has been on my "To Read" list for years, literally.  I had added it to my "Goodreads" account years ago.  I stopped logging into Good Reads but recently went back in.  I saw this on my list and I said "What the heck" #YOLO

What a great novel.  This book delivers crimes, love, deception, friendship, action, war; the recipe of a great book.  I truly cannot wait to pick up his next book that picks up where Shantaram left off.  Gregory David Roberts was actually in prison where he wrote Shantaram twice while incarcerated in Australia.  It was destroyed both times by prison guards.  Roberts re-wrote it when he got out.  I guess this is loosely (not so loose) based on his life.

Roberts does a great job developing the characters although at first you do not think he will.  He dives into the history of Khaderbhai, Abdullah, Qasim Ali, Johnny Cigar, Raju, Vikram, Lettie, Ulla, Kavita, Didier and Karla.

Roberts describes the "Arthur Road Prison" scene and I felt anxiety as I was ready that chapter.  It was so vivid in my mind when I read it.  So much so, I felt like washing my feet after reading it.

I was devastated and almost brought to tears when Pravaker died.  It was so unexpected. I could relate that character with many Indians that are my friends.

Roberts describes Lin's cold turkey experience in such detail that it gives the reader a look into this taboo world of heroin even heavy drug users of other kind tend to stay away from.

The 'Big Reveal" by Khaderbhai and his subsequent death came about fairly quickly.  Although there were chapters in the book and certain instances where you question Roberts such as the bear.  I wish they would have elaborated more on the Lin/Lisa relationship.

Pravaker's son was a great chapter as well.  I would have liked them to have named the boy Pravaker Lin or something similar.  Lin felt responsible for Pravaker death since he bought him the taxi and Pravaker died while driving it.

After reading the book, I did some research on the author.  He has become somewhat of a recluse.  He created a "sign off" website where he asks for anyone to remove pictures and videos of him but only leave his "work".  I can respect that.  It makes you wonder how much of the book is reality and how much is the novel.  Here is a quote

"Some experiences from my life are described pretty much as they happened, and others are created narratives, informed by my experience. I wanted to write two or three novels on some bare elements from my life, allowing me to explore the themes that interested me, while keeping the narrative immediate by anchoring it to some of my real experiences. They’re novels, not autobiographies, and all of the characters and dialogue is created. It doesn’t matter how much of it is true or not to me, it’s how true they are to all of us, and to our common humanity." ~ Gregory David Roberts.

Out of respect for Robert's request,  I will not add his picture here.  I really wish Roberts would have continued to write.  I would like to read the follow up to this book.

Hardcover: 944 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First edition (October 13, 2004)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312330529
ISBN-13: 978-0312330521

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Fed Up: An Insider's Take Why The Federal Reserve is Bad for America By: Danielle DiMartino Booth

This is a book about what transpired on the way to the 2008 "Great Recession" by the "Federal" "Reserve".  Of course, anyone knows that they are NOT "Federal" and there are no "Reserves".  Booth is a former Fed employee that blows the lid off of the cabal of the "fed".  She exposes the players of the Fed as a bunch of Phd's that believe that they are smarter than anyone else.  Mostly have no real world experience in anything but academia and Keynesian Economics; yet here we are in the situation we are in today.  Booth, not a PhD herself, made it abundantly clear how the inter-sanctum of PhDs were wrong every step of the way.  I am not saying that PhDs are NOT smart, but what I am saying is that Booth exposes them in this case as blind to what is really going on.

Fed Chair after Fed Chair, PhD after PhD were wrong and were at worst responsible, at best complicit  in the 2008 recession but certainly the housing bubble.  It was an interesting perspective on the Fed. If you are interested in money, economics and politics,  then this book is definitely for you.

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Portfolio (February 14, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0735211655
ISBN-13: 978-0735211650
Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches

Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Real Lincoln By Thomas DiLorenzo

I read this book way back in 2011 It was actually my first review in this blog.  I read it again this week.  In this book, DiLorenzo dives into Lincoln's unconstitutionality with regards to the secession of the south as well as the tyrannical ways of Lincoln.  Throughout my life, like most people my age, we grew up thinking Abraham Lincoln was "the best President of the United States".  We were led to believe that Lincoln was a staunch pro-black, anti slave abolitionist, but a cursory review of the facts tells you otherwise.  The fallacy of his reasons to go to war to "free slaves" is not only false but ridiculous to repeat.  For years I listened to people refer to the "Civil War" as the "War of Northern Aggression" and I had never REALLY understood, in detail what they meant by it.  This book will shed light on that phrase and details the ways of "Honest Abe".  He was in FACT a white supremacist, anti-black, and at best, indifferent on slavery. 

Lincoln was a Whig; first and foremost.  He was all about centralizing the power in Federal government as well as centralized banking and the "American System" advocated by Henry Clay in the early 1800s.

American System: "the policy of promoting industry in the U.S. by adoption of a high protective tariff and of developing internal improvements by the federal government" Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Here are a few key points covered in this book

  • Conscription - Conscription is essentially slavery.  You are forced to fight for someone regardless of your support for the cause and against your will.  So I guess the adage of "Fight fire with fire" or in this case, Fight slavery with slavery held true.

  • People in the North revolted against Lincoln and the war because they did not want to fight for blacks.  Its funny how history shows that EVERYONE in the south was pro-slavery and EVERYONE in the north were abolitionists, when in fact the opposite is true.  Many in the north sold "freed slaves" back into bondage in the South.  

  • Slave States in the North - Even with the "Emancipation Proclamation" by Lincoln which technically did absolutely nothing for the slaves, today's historians credit Lincoln with this genius writing, however the FACT is that when Lincoln and all the way until the end of the war, there were still 4 states in the North where Lincoln ACTUALLY governed that were allowed to keep slaves  (Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Delaware and "West Virginia").  This FACT proves that Lincoln was at the very least indifferent about slavery.  Even in his inauguration speech where he famously stated "I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so."

  • Colonization - Lincoln was a firm believer in Colonization.  Essentially saying, "You can be free, just not in my neighborhood".  I remember Ted Kennedy, Senator from Massachusetts droning on  and on about how, we the people needed to adopt wind turbines because it was good for the environment, up until the point when they wanted to install them in Nantucket Sound where he lived. He became unhinged.  So do as I say, not as I do was the norm.  Again a quote from the Lincoln Douglas debates   “I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races … I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races from living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be a position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”  Ask yourself this, if you made as statement like that, what would become of you?

  • Compensated Emancipation - Looking back at other countries' actions regarding slavery in their respective countries, many did "compensated emancipation".  It would have been much less loss in blood and treasure than that of the "Civil War".  Many countries ended Slavery (in case you did not know it, slavery was not just a United States issue both rather a world wide phenomena) by purchasing the freedom of the slaves.  Slavery is a horrid practice that has no place an any society, But to assume that every southerner owned slaves and fought for slavery is as irresponsible as believing that every northerner was an abolitionist and was fighting for the freedom of slaves.

  • Fugitive Slave Act - Lincoln supported the fugitive slave act of 1850.  Going back to the the 'Slave States in the North' comment, since Slavery flourished in the north on the "border states" Lincoln needed to protect that institution by ensuring that "property" was returned to its rightful owners.  And he did support and enforce the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.  Again this is cursory research that revisionist try to use terms like "well that is difficult" as trying to White Wash (pun intended) history.  

  • Total War - Total War is defined as "involving a complete and unified effort especially to achieve a desired effect total war total theater" Marriam-Webster.  Lincoln waged total war on the south.  This included women, children and non-military personnel.  Lincoln lauded Sherman and Sheridan for the udder destruction of the south.  Women and Children that had nothing to do with the war were rapped & slaughtered by Northern soldiers.  These soldiers would burn down civilian's homes, loot their belongings and kill all animals to ensure that even those that survived the soldiers, would be unable to survive in the long run.  Ironically, at the time, the Geneva Convention was already in effect (first rev of it).  Today, you would be charged with war crimes.  Hell, if you look at Abu Graib where soldiers were prosecuted for far less than what the north did to innocent women and children in the south.

  • Secession was nothing new - In the past leading up to the Civil War and Lincoln's notion that succession was not allowed in the Constitution, there had been plenty of debates regarding other issues that states threatened to leave the union, and never was this challenged by anyone as not being Constitutional (NY being that most vocal).  Actually if you look at the Declaration of Independence "That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; ".  Actually, Lincoln succeeded West Virginia from  Virginia.  He needed the votes.
I can go on and on, but I definitely recommend this book to any one looking to see thing outside of the revisionists view.  The fact is that anyone with 30 minutes and an open mind will see that the Civil War was NOT for the plight of slaves but rather a power grab, that to this day corrodes our states rights, a financial issue, and a Tyrant.   Lincoln controlled the media at the time.  He imprisoned news papers that did not support him 100% or wrote against him, any law maker that did not do the same was also imprisoned and in some cases deported.  He was the poster-child for tyranny.

The irony though is that both of today's political parties want to claim Lincoln as their own.  Democrats will throw the "Dixiecrats" where somehow the "good" republicans and all their good things changed sides while the "bad" republicans and their ilk stayed behind.  The reality is that most of the dictators of this world that have committed atrocities against their people have quotes Lincoln and followed his lead including Adolf Hitler.  Both parties should distance themselves from Lincoln.

I am not a "Greatest President Ever" kool-aid drinker.  I do not view him in only a negative light either although there is more than enough reasons to detest him for what he did, but conversely thinking that somehow this guy was some kind of angel from God sent here to free the slaves and be the "honest" president is cultish and sadly ignorant.  

I highly recommend this book. 

ISBN-13: 9780761526469
Publisher: The Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/02/2003
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 252,117

Monday, June 25, 2018

The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics By: Salena Zito and Bradd Todd

This was an interesting read to say the least.  Not your standard political book.  This book contains interview like vignettes of voters explaining their mindset and subsequent decision and vote for President Donald Trump.  This book covers the states, counties and cities that have historically been hard-core Democratic strongholds. The very same that rocketed President Barak Obama into office during his tenure.  Ironically, many of the voters were still looking for that change promised by President Obama.

The authors describe in statistical detail the numbers involved and the margins when compared to Senator Hillary Clinton that got Trump elected.  The irony is not lost when the very same voters that elected Obama into office, somehow became sexists and racists to deny the Presidency to Clinton.  I recommend reading this book to understand from a person's perspective outside of your "circle of trust" and the folks that tend to agree with you.

Strangely enough, the Republicans were attacked during Obama's administration for being violent, insensitive, hurtful, and other pejoratives; fast forward to the Trump Administration where members of his cabinet are being thrown out of restaurants with their families, and shouted out of other restaurants for simply existing.  The physical attacks against Republicans was never seen by the Tea Party.  The level of disrespect towards this President is insane.  Is he a lovable guy, probably not (for the record, I do not know him personally) but Obama was equally offensive to many of the people he spoke about and then things he said, he was much more suave and debonaire at saying it.  However anyone speaking ill of Obama was immediately and ceremoniously labeled a racist.  Similar to the "woman's groups" that allowed Sara Palan to be repeatedly annihilation by other women and men and NEVER stood up for her.  Even in the face of leftists women (and men BTW) wearing "Sara Palin is a cunt" T-Shirts.

The books shows you that many people see right through the rhetoric and see how unhinged the left has become.  For the record, I am not a Republican.  I do not watch Fox News and I am not a Tea Party member, a racists, sexist, homophobe, a Nazi or anything of the sort.  I am however not blind to the double standards being used by the left.  I welcome others opinions even when they do not match mine.  I promised that I would keep an open mind about Trump as I did about Obama and Bush.  Both Bush and Obama let me down in a big way.  Not so much on how they spoke, or  carried themselves but what their policies did.  Will Trump let me down?  Probably.  My standards for POTUS are more in line with Anarchists.  I believe the Constitution limits the Federal Government and it is specified EXACTLY what the branches of the Federal Government can and cannot do.

Sadly, if we continue down this route where political correctness is demanded but only when talking about the things that are important to you, but when anyone disagreeing with you, you can go at them with everything you have, we are doomed.  Today I was listening to a show about Sarah Sanders and how the owner of the restaurant "that is a majority of LGBTQ workers" said "We do not want to serve her".  This is insane.  The ACLU said it was OK.  This is from the people that went after a baker for not baking a cake for a same-sex wedding?  These are the ones that espoused their moral indignation against anyone that was discriminating against anyone.

Here is the rub.  I do not believe in "gay", "women", or "X", "Y" "Z" rights.  I believe in Human Rights.  There is no need to differentiate yourself because of your sex, orientation, color or anything else.  WE ARE ALL EQUAL.  The issue with that is that now, "Gay" people are of more value than a straight person.  I cannot refuse to make a cake for a gay couple, but I can kick you out of a restaurant because I disagree with you, your political party etc.  In this example, the "gay" person is of MORE value to society than anyone else.  It is identity politics 101.

I hope that this country turns their crap around real soon.  There is nothing good on the horizon if we continue like this.  The level of vitriol coming from the Democratic Party needs to be shut down.  We need to love one another and tolerate other views and opinions.  One last note, if you have any integrity, you would admit that Hillary was a bad pick.  She has broken laws.  That is a FACT.  I had to face it when Garry Johnson (aka Mr. Aleppo) and John McAfee (oh geez) ran on the Libertarian ticket.  I was mortified to associate myself with them.  Dems should do the same with her.  It only hurts your narrative when you would allow Clinton to walk and then go after Trump for what equates to the "Birther Movement" of today.

I will get off my soap box now.  "Mic drop"

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Crown Forum (May 8, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1524763683
ISBN-13: 978-1524763688

Thursday, May 31, 2018

The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity By: Ester Perel

I once stumbled onto Perel a few years back during her  Ted Talk.  She opened my eyes to an issue that has plagued relationships for centuries.  I recommend this box to those that have cheated, those that have been cheated on, those that have contemplated it and those that may be cheating and don't know it.

This book is interesting because it touches on many people's lives.  It discusses the sexual side, commitment side, the betrayal side, and the aftermath.  One of the great lessons from this book is, "what is your definition on monogamy?"  For some, that question eludes them while others have a good understanding of what it means.  For instance, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" ~ William Clinton when he spoke about having Oral Sex with Monica Lewenski. Really?  Really?  Is it watching porn?  It is engaging in inappropriate conversation with a co-worker?  Is it a cigar in an inappropriate place and oral sex?  Some religions even state that lusting over another person is tantamount to infidelity.  I guess you need to ask yourself and your partner to be sure.

Perel discusses the many reasons for infidelity.  She dives into non-sexual relations stemming from either party, emotional void, and many more, but I thought the most interesting one was that a person sometimes will cheat because they are looking for another "themselves".  Someone that they could have been.  The book draws some conclusions that I do not necessarily agree with but the book will definitely make you do what the title says "Rethink Infidelity"

Perel was born in Belgium, studied in Israel and finished her studies in the US.  She is an amazing person to listen to.  She also has a Podcast "Where should we begin".  I learned quite a bit from this book.  I learned that the hurt that cheating causes the other party is not worth the temporary pleasure of the affair.  Also that what used to be taboo many years ago; leaving your spouse for cheating, has been turn on its head today.  Today, the taboo thing is staying together after an affair when you can leave.  She discusses heterosexual as well as gay couples so wherever you find yourself in the spectrum, you should gain perspective from the book.

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Harper (October 10, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062322583
ISBN-13: 978-0062322586