PARADIGM SHIFT

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills

Recorded by:  Professor Steven Novella

Produced by:  The Great Courses

STEVEN NOVELLA (AMERICAN CLINICAL NEUROLOGIST, ASST. PROFESSOR AT YALE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE)

STEVEN NOVELLA (AMERICAN CLINICAL NEUROLOGIST, ASST. PROFESSOR AT YALE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE)

“Your Deceptive Mind” offers lessons for two paradigm shifts occurring in America today.  One is gun control; the other is sex discrimination.  Professor Steven Novella’s lessons apply to other important issues, but none seem to have the same political momentum for change.

Novella begins by inferring we all deceive ourselves.  Novella explains it is caused by the nature of human consciousness. Novella argues that human brains are designed to make coherent sense of remembered experience; not to necessarily recount accurate details of events.   We often add facts and change details to improve coherence of our memories.  

Memory does not work like a film clip.  It is not caste on celluloid that can be replayed as a memory.  Memory is re-invented by reconstruction of facts to fit a story that makes sense to the person who remembers.

AR-15 (Type of semi-automatic rifle used in Florida High School shooting.)

As of April 15, 2021 there have been 148 people murdered and 485 injured in mass shootings. The most recent is at the Indianapolis FedEx facility that killed eight people. One is reminded of William Butler Yeats:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre   
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere   
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst   
Are full of passionate intensity.

The 17-people murdered in a Florida high school in 2018 raises the issue of gun control in America one more time.  Americans see this incident from three views.  One, from the perspective of people who heard it on the news; two from the perspective of people who responded to the event; and three from the perspective of victims.  Based on Novella’s assessment of critical thinking, all three views distort reality.

FLORIDA HIGH SCHOOL SHOOTING

The 17-people murdered in a Florida high school 2018 raised the issue of gun control in America one more time.

JOHN F. KENNEDY ASSASSINATION

JOHN F. KENNEDY ASSASSINATION – Memory does not work like a film clip.  It is not caste on celluloid that can be replayed as a memory.  Memory is re-invented by reconstruction of facts to fit a story that makes sense to the person who remembers.

Novella tells a story of a woman accompanying the John F. Kennedy trip to Dallas, Texas.  Soon after Kennedy’s death, she explains that she did not see anything that happened.  As the years pass, she recalls seeing smoke from a grassy knoll near the shooting.  Novella explains that each time she tells the story more details are revealed.  No evidence is ever found to suggest a shot is fired from anywhere but the Dallas, Texas book-depository.  What she is doing is creating facts to improve the coherence of a memory.

Facts of Florida’s murders and other gun-related incidents are remembered differently.  All who heard of, responded to, or are victimized by guns tell different stories.  There is no singular consensus on what caused it to happen, who is responsible, or what can be done.  Facts seem not to matter.  In Florida, seventeen human beings are dead.  One person killed them.  One automatic weapon is used by a troubled high school student who used a gun designed ONLY to kill people.

Victims of the school shooting ask why America cannot protect their children.  A flood of responses is given but each person at the school is influenced by a subjective recollection of events.  In many cases, facts are ignored because they do not fit the narrative of the person telling his/her story.  It has little to do with facts; i.e. except as those facts fit the re-created memory of a horrific event. Like the woman seeing smoke coming from a grassy knoll, some facts just fit a reconstructed story; not the truth.

Critical thinking skills mean addressing facts, using those facts to create a constructive analysis, a plan of action, and implementation.  Seventeen people are dead in Florida from one shooter.  They are dead at the hand of a troubled teen.  The weapon used is only designed to kill people.  Everything else is irrelevant.  Those are the facts.  That is the truth.  What is needed now is constructive analysis, a plan of action, and implementation.

The same can be said of sex discrimination.  An example is the King’s law that particularly applies to women who speak insolently.  They are to have their mouths scoured with salt; i.e. a law applying only to women slaves.  Of course, the law begs the question of why women are slaves.

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

Novella’s argument that every memory is a subjective recollection may mean testimony of women who are abused and/or discriminated against are misreading the facts of their recollection.  However, many facts are independent of recollection. 

There is overwhelming evidence; i.e. fact-based films, recordings, physical examination records, and statistical studies that show women are abused and discriminated against all over the world.  Those are the facts.  That is the truth.  What is needed is constructive analysis, a plan of action, and implementation.

Gun control and women’s rights: Has America reached the tipping point for acting on critical thinking?  Have we finally reached the threshold for a paradigm shift in gun control and women’s rights?  Doubtful.

WHEN CIVILIZATIONS COLLIDE

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

Things Fall Apart

By Chinua Achebe

Narrated by Peter Francis James

CHINUA ACHEBE (1930-2013)

NIGERIAN NOVELIST, POET, AND CRITIC (1930-2013)

map_africa

Chinua Achebe explains what happens when civilizations collide in “Things Fall Apart”.  Achebe lived a life that reinforces hope.  He was born in Nigeria but educated in English at the University of Ibadan, the oldest university in Nigeria (founded in 1948).  Achebe wrote “Things Fall Apart” in the 1950s (published in 1958).  It sold more than 12 million copies and was translated into more than 50 languages.  Sadly, Achebe died on March 21, 2013.

african society
Two thirds of “Things Fall Apart” explains life in an African village that is untouched by a white man’s world or any civilization outside of its clan and their related communities.

Without knowing Achebe’s background, a first reading of “Things Fall Apart” begins in confusion but as the story progresses its meaning becomes clear.  The listener is being offered an understanding of a 1950s African village’s culture.

V0016256 An African shaman or medicine man dressed in ritual mask and

AFRICAN SHAMAN: This clan’s insular existence creates an independent patriarchal culture that believes in many gods, supernatural forces, and rigid rules for life.  Being a man means following rules of the culture.  Any transgression is considered womanly, a cultural euphemism for cowardice. 

Women are respected but only within the context of their duty as the source of tribal growth.  Women have restricted roles in this society as maternal caregivers.  In all respects women become property of men.  They may be beaten and treated with near impunity.  Boys are raised to be tough, outwardly unemotional, and obedient.  They are expected to revere and emulate their fathers.  Wrestling prowess is a measure of male respect in the tribe.  Farming productivity and honor of tribal tradition are measures of value to the tribe.

War among the villages is rare because negotiated peace and village interdependence make war too wasteful.  Violation of communal laws can be mortal offenses.  A story is told of a father murdering his adopted son because he is told it is necessary to please the Clan’s gods.  Though this murder troubled the adoptive father, he accepts the Clan’s admonition and rationalizes his grief by knowing he has other sons.

OLDEST HUMAN SACRIFICE DISCOVERED IN CENTRAL AFRICA (A negotiated peace between clans may mean the sacrifice of children to nearby tribes for transgressions of communal laws but overt war between tribes of the same clan is rare.

OLDEST HUMAN SACRIFICE DISCOVERED IN CENTRAL AFRICA

The most serious consequence to a violator of Clan’ law is banishment from the community.  Banishment can be either permanent or for a number of years, depending upon the gravity of the violation.  Murder out of anger means permanent banishment.  Murder by accident means 7 years banishment.

Achebe explains women having twins are ordered to kill them at birth because twins are unnatural and a curse of the gods.  One woman has twins three times; all are murdered.

1950s IRON HORSE

1950S JEEP (Achebe explains the fear that causes natives of one tribe to murder a white missionary and tie his iron horse to a tree.)

As Achebe explains these local customs, he describes how an intruding civilization is introduced to his village.  The intruders are Christian missionaries.  The first intruder is a white man riding an iron horse.  This is the first white man who native villagers have ever seen.  The engendered fear causes natives of one of the tribes to murder the white man and tie his iron horse to a tree.  The murder is revenged by returning outsiders that destroy the population of the village.  Neighboring villages hear of the massacre.  They choose to respond to the next intruder more circumspectly.

New intruders come with plans to build a church on tribal property.  They ask for permission and tribal leaders meet to discuss the request.  The decision of the tribal leaders is to offer land in the worst part of the village; i.e. land that is used to bury evil shamans, tribal criminals, and diseased bodies.  The tribal leaders believe the Christians will die from their location in this forbidden human and mystical dumping ground.

The irony of the tribal leader’s decision is that it strengthens the Christian movement.  The Christians do not die and the church begins to attract tribal followers that begin to believe Christian’ beliefs are stronger than Shaman’ beliefs.  The woman who had been told to kill her twins joins the church.

One culture is replaced by another culture; first with small steps, and then with generational leaps.  The good and bad of one culture is replaced by the good and bad of another.  One guardedly hopes cultural change moves humanity toward a better life; not just cosmetic change.

CULTURAL CHANGE

Over many generations, some tribal members have become outcasts from the tribe.  Their outcast position draws them to the Christian movement because they wish to become part of a community again.  Some women turn to Christianity because it offers a refuge from the violence of their husbands.  Some sons turn to Christianity because it offers escape from the iron rule of their fathers and the tribes’ cultural laws.

Donald Trump is a rule breaker, a main stream outsider.

From the perspective of any individuated culture “Things Fall Apart” when change comes from the outside.  Has Trump changed America into two tribes–one Republican and another Democrat?

MADOFF’S PERPETRATORS

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

Ponzi Supernova—Madoff Speaks

Recorded by: Audible Original

Produced by:  Steve Fishman

STEVE FISHMAN

STEVE FISHMAN (NEW YORK MAGAZINE REPORTER)

In “Ponzi Supernova”, Audible offers recorded interviews with Bernie Madoff and other perpetrators of the largest Ponzi scheme in history.  Steve Fishman conducts several telephone interviews with Madoff while he serves a life sentence for fraud.  Steve Fishman gets the telephone interviews after wheedling his way into Madoff’s confidence through a fellow prisoner.  To round out Fishman’s story, he captures telephone conversations with several other crooks, investigators, and victims of Madoff’s crime.

BERNARD MADOFF (AGE 74) SERVING 150 YEAR PRISON SENTENCE

BERNARD MADOFF (AGE 74) SERVING 150 YEAR PRISON SENTENCE (Madoff died in prison on 4/14/21 at the age of 82).

Fishman shows how a sixty billion-dollar Ponzi scheme is created and how it escapes detection for over twenty years.  Supplemented by audio books like “The Big Short”, and “No One Would Listen”, Fisher amplifies Madoff’s unconscionable crime with recordings of victims who lost their life savings.   Fisher explores the perfidy of banks and investment companies that mindfully ignored Madoff’s impossible investment returns; all the while, being financially benefited from Madoff’s lies.

MONEY, POWER, PRESTIGE

“Ponzi Supernova” reveals how Madoff created an empire of greed.  Madoff comes off as an average intellect with a big ego, meager technological skill, and zero empathy.  He hid behind the shadow of prestige.

Madoff refuses to take responsibility for his crimes and exhibits no remorse for the grief and death of others effected by his crimes.  As a person, Madoff reminds one of a sociopath

Madoff manages to appeal to the greed of human beings and blames others for their greed.  He manufactures investment data that hides the truth of his investment skill and his organizations’ portfolio.  He takes investor’s money and uses new investor’s money to pay earlier investor’s returns.  Few real trades support Madoff’s extraordinary portfolio performance.

“Ponzi Supernova” implies most of the investment firms; investment firms that knew of Madoff’s firm should have and could have exposed his lies.  However, they were paid a fee for their service.  Rather than investigate Madoff’s investment methodology, most investment firms gathered fees and left investors to fend for themselves.

INVESTMENT COMPANY LOGOS

Fisher notes how one analyst is sidelined by his investment company because he asked too many questions.  The questions would have exposed Madoff’s scheme.  Fisher also interviews an independent analyst that tells a client not to invest in Madoff’s company because she saw too many red flags.  For instance, Madoff would not provide examples of his past investments to show how he made such remarkably steady returns; even in a falling market.  Madoff’s standard refrain was “trust me”.

Like stories in “The Big Short” and “No One Would Listen”, Fisher’s recordings show institutional incompetence by government regulators, and greed from the private sector.

no one would listen

The SEC interviews Madoff on numerous occasions.  Often the SEC representative is young and inexperienced.  When reports are requested, Madoff’s back-office team manufactures whatever information is requested.  The reports have no basis in truth.  The reports are manufactured to satisfy whatever question is asked.  If the SEC had called to confirm whether the trades had really been made, they would have exposed Madoff for fraud.  Rather than check specific trade transactions, the SEC settled for a simple report that said Madoff had a trade account.

Nearly eleven billion dollars of the sixty billion-dollar Ponzi scheme is recovered.  However, the recovery is largely limited to American investors by what are called “claw backs”.  The “claw back” is from investors who had taken their money out before Madoff’s collapse in 2008.  Other countries had no “claw back” provisions which meant many non-Americans lost everything.

GOVERNMENT REGULATION

Madoff and a few of his employees went to jail, but many escaped with fines and admonishment.  “Ponzi Supernova” clearly implies both the government and private sector were guilty for losses by many small investors.  These investors relied on government regulation and private sector financial advice.

If there is a lesson in this story, it is that every person should closely monitor their own investments.  Most, if not all, human beings are seduced by money, power, and/or prestige.  It is every investor’s responsibility to know how their investment adviser is benefited by your investments in their recommendations.  Better to make your own investment mistakes, rather than rely on others who have a financial interest in your trading decisions.

WEAPONS OF WAR

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

The Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Detroit, and an Epic Quest to Arm an America at WarThe Arsenal of Democracy

Written by: A.J. Baime

Narration by:  Peter Berkrot

A. J. BAIME (AUTHOR, WRITER AT LARGE)
A. J. BAIME (AUTHOR, WRITER AT LARGE)

“The Arsenal of Democracy” takes a retrospective look at an epic quest by America to build an arsenal of weapons before entry to World War II.  Some surprising names are shown to have Nazi sympathies and anti-Semitic beliefs.  Those abhorrent sympathies and beliefs are cloaked by pacifist and capitalist credos.

There is the capitalist credo that unregulated self-interest is the most important determinant of success.  There is the  pacifist credo that someone else’s tragedy is an opportunity for economic gain.  Some pre-WWII movers and shakers are tainted by capitalist greed and prejudice. A. J. Baime shows there are two sides to the story of “The Arsenal of Democracy”.

CHARLES LINDBERGH’S 9/11/1941 SPEECH IN DES MOINES, IOWA;

HENRY FORD (1863- 1947, AMERICAN INDUSTRIALIST, FOUNDER OF FORD MOTOR CO.)
HENRY FORD (1863- 1947, AMERICAN INDUSTRIALIST, FOUNDER OF FORD MOTOR CO.)

Henry Ford, the “god” of America’s industrial revolution, is awarded the “Grand Cross of the German Eagle” by Nazi officials in 1938.  He is 75 years old.  The Grand Cross is the highest honor that can be given to a foreigner by the Nazi government.  (The only other American recipient is Charles Lindbergh.)

Baime accusatorially notes that Ford is the only American named in Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”; i.e. the most well-known anti-Semitic book ever written.  Ford did not wish to enter WWII.  One may draw their own conclusion, but it stretches credulity to believe it is unrelated to Ford’s personal prejudice and presumed economic gain.

JOSEPH KENNEDY (1888-1969)
JOSEPH KENNEDY (1888-1969)

Ford is not the only self-made millionaire who believes America should not enter the war.  Joseph Kennedy is equally opposed.  Of course, before Pearl Harbor, the majority of Americans were against entering the war.  However, Ford and Kennedy share a capitalist entrepreneur’s amoral belief that everything is negotiable, including peace with Hitler.

This amoral belief is characteristic of an idealized business model reflected by writers like Ayn Rand; i.e. it is a belief that the strong survive. and the weak deserve their fate.  (This is an amoral belief evident in today’s American President, and a number of congressional representatives.)

Though Kennedy is not as clearly tainted by anti-Semitism as Henry Ford, both believe war is not a solution to Hitler’s aggression.  Business men like Kennedy and Ford believe political leaders, like prudent business leaders, will fail if they do not benefit their country’s citizens and employees by staying out of war and making a profit.  They, like most Americans, could not believe holocaust rumors could be true.  Baime suggests the stark evidence of Jewish slaughter after the war shakes Henry Ford’s conscience.  (One is inclined to doubt Baime’s conclusion considering Ford’s history of anti-Semitism.)

WW2 CONSPIRACY—FORD BUILDS TRUCKS FOR NAZIS, B-24S FOR USAAF,

FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT (1882-1945, 32ND PRES. OF U.S.,1933-1945)
FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT (1882-1945, 32ND PRES. OF U.S.,1933-1945)

Baime primarily focuses on how “The Arsenal of Democracy” came into being.  Baime recounts “The Arsenal of Democracy” speech given by FDR on December 29, 1940.  The year before Pearl Harbor, Henry Ford reluctantly agrees to join the automobile industry mavens in re-tooling car manufacturing for the defense of America.

WILLOW RUN ASSEMBLY PLANT,

Ford’s brilliant innovation in assembly line manufacturing is recognized as key to FDR’s vision of “The Arsenal of Democracy”.  Ironically, Ford despises FDR and explains that Ford Corporation’s contribution is based on defense of America and not intervention in a European’ war.  The leader of the Corporation, on paper, is Edsel Ford but Henry, until Edsel’s death in 1943, retains veto power over any corporate decisions.

THE ARSENAL OF DEMOCRACY SPEECH BY FDR:

EDSEL BRYANT FORD (1893-1943, SON OF HENRY FORD, PRESIDENT OF FORD MOTOR CO.)
EDSEL BRYANT FORD (1893-1943, SON OF HENRY FORD, PRESIDENT OF FORD MOTOR CO.)

Edsel and Ford Corporation’s managers finally convince Henry to build Willow Run, the largest assembly plant of its time, to produce American bombers.  The goal is to produce a completed airplane bomber at a rate of one per hour.  Baime argues that the goal is achieved through Edsel’s leadership; complemented by innovations created by Ford Corporation’s experienced managers; e. g. men like Charles Sorenson, the lead engineer and designer of the company.

In a muddled side story, the role of Harry Bennett is explored by Baime.  The story is muddled because it is shrouded in mystery involving rumors of Bennett’s mob-informant role for the FBI; his contacts with foreign interests, and his strong-arm tactics against union sympathizers. Henry Ford expresses great confidence in Bennett’s ability.

BRIEF BIOGRAPHY OF HARRY BENNETT : <iframe width=”640″ height=”390″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/Z0jyOfSg0P8&#8243; frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen> Baime suggests Henry Ford treats Bennett like more of a son than Edsel.  When Edsel dies, Baime writes that Edsel’s wife accuses Henry of being the proximate cause of Edsel’s death because of Henry’s constant criticism (Edsel dies in 1943 with a diagnosis of stomach cancer).

FOOTAGE OF THE 1941 STRIKE WITH A GLIMPSE OF HARRY BENNETT: <iframe width=”640″ height=”390″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/PLN1svpbPBA&#8221; frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>

This is an interesting story but one has to remember the context of the time to have a fair perspective of villains in sheep’s clothing.  Henry Ford is an anti-Semite but he joins a vast number of Americans that were equally anti-Semitic.

5 CORPORATIONS THAT HELPED CARRY OUT THE HOLOCAUST: <iframe width=”640″ height=”390″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/RXh7HfEFhik&#8221; frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>German anti-Semitism did not suddenly spring from one demented leader.  Henry Ford came from the same primordial swamp that all human beings came from.

THE TWO FACES OF HENRY FORD:

Baime notes that Edsel Ford had contact with Hitler’s French puppet government leaders.  Edsel is accused of aiding Ford Corporations’ manufacturing capability in occupied France.  Intertwining relationships often distort truth but there is a conflict-of-interest odor surrounding Ford Corporation’s actions before and during the war.

The facts are that creation of “The Arsenal of Democracy” would have been a pipe dream without Henry Ford, Edsel Ford, Charles Sorenson, the industrial capability of the auto industry, and the American people.  Truth and history do not forgive anti-Semitism, manager’s exploitation of workers, human greed, illegal dealings with the underworld, or nasty treatment of a sons by fathers.  The truth is and always will be–human beings are good and bad.  Baime’s story of “The Arsenal of Democracy” joins a pile of books affirming the moral duality of humankind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AMERICA’S MOMENTUM

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

America’s Bitter Pill: Money, Politics, Backroom deals, and the Fight to Fix Our Broken Healthcare SystemAMERICA'S BITTER PILL

Written by: Steven Brill

Narrated by: Dan Woren

STEVEN BRILL (AMERICAN LAWYER, JOURNALIST, AUTHOR)
STEVEN BRILL (AMERICAN LAWYER, JOURNALIST, AUTHOR)

“America’s Bitter Pill” is a policy wonk’s dream and an American citizen’s nightmare.  It reveals the role of money and politics in American government.  Steven Brill overwhelms readers, which are not policy wonks, with disgusting political backroom deals and entrenched private and non-profit interests.  The disgust comes from the distortion of the most important legislation passed by the American’ Federal Government since the New Deal.  Government leaders, private industry, and non-profit corporations worry more about being re-elected or having their pockets lined than providing basic health coverage to the American’ public.

FRIEDRICH AUGUST von HAYEK (1899-1992)
Even the “god” of conservative economics, Friedrich von Hayek, believed government had a responsibility to provide “…a comprehensive system of social insurance in providing for those common hazards of life against which few can make adequate provision.” 

Brill indicts a political process that seems freighted with more venal self-interest than good will.  How can one argue that the private sector through an “invisible hand” is adequately providing health care to a general public in the richest country in the world?  Too many Americans have no health coverage because they cannot afford it.  All one has to do is ask how many Americans do not go to the doctor because they cannot afford the visit and do not have insurance against catastrophic illness.  Even the “god” of conservative economics, Friedrich von Hayek, believed government had a responsibility to provide “…a comprehensive system of social insurance in providing for those common hazards of life against which few can make adequate provision.”

What Brill shows is that the value of high profits to private and non-profit insurance and medical facilities is more important than offering reasonably priced health care to the general public.  What every special interest lobbied for in the Affordable Care Act depended on improving or maintaining profit.  “America’s Bitter Pill”, the Affordable Care Act, is laced with greed.  The Affordable Care Act has extended insurance to more people in the United States than ever before, but it continues to rankle knowledgeable Americans because it is based on the false belief that it will cure an incurable disease, human greed.

ADAM SMITH (1723-1790, AUTHOR OF -THE WEALTH OF NATIONS)
ADAM SMITH (1723-1790, AUTHOR OF -THE WEALTH OF NATIONS-Many politicians hid behind the mythic part of an “invisible hand” to rationalize their cave-in to special interests.)

Many politicians hid behind the mythic part of an “invisible hand” to rationalize their cave-in to special interests.  Hiding is shown to be non-partisan by Brill because it includes both Democrats and Republicans.  The mythic part of the “invisible hand” is the belief that self-interest is always in the best interest of the public.

President Obama chose the only path he could see to have any chance of passing an Affordable Care Act.  The only voting majority in America’s bicameral Congress that had any chance of success is shown by Brill to be dependent on acceptance by insurance companies, hospitals, the pharmaceutical industry, and ancillary medical service equipment manufacturers.

An optimist chooses to believe America’s flawed legislative system will, in the long run, serve its public better than any other known form of government.  The optimist believes the Affordable Care Act will be improved over time and will mitigate increased health care costs.  The pessimist believes the Affordable Care Act is a boondoggle. The pessimist believes American government is accelerating its move toward tyranny.  A realist suggests the Affordable Care Act is Democracy in action.

THE ARC OF JUSTICEEven in these troubled times, the messiness of American Democracy bends toward a resolution of intractable social ills.

The momentum for health reform, ecological balance, and equal rights is unstoppable.  No singularly elected American politician will change the direction of that momentum.

EISENHOWER

The “Wall Street Journal” calls the Eisenhower monument, “Monumentally Mediocre”. Jean Smith’s interesting biography suggests otherwise.

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

Eisenhower in War and PeaceEISENHOWER IN WAR AND PEACE 

Written by: Jean Edward Smith

Narrated by: Paul Hecht

JEAN EDWARD SMITH (AUTHOR, JOHN MARSHALL PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE AT MARSHALL UNIVERSITY &amp; PROFESSOR EMERITUS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO)
JEAN EDWARD SMITH (AUTHOR, JOHN MARSHALL PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE AT MARSHALL UNIVERSITY & PROFESSOR EMERITUS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO)

Jean Edward Smith’s biography of Dwight Eisenhower defines the meaning of political leadership. Smith does not show Eisenhower to be a great intellect or military genius.  Smith suggests Eisenhower is similar to Ulysses Grant in having come from a modest family to rise to the office of President of the United States. 

Like Grant, Eisenhower is shown to be a consummate leader who politically manages and develops people who understand how to get things done.  Unlike Grant, Smith shows Eisenhower to be a better President than battlefield commander.

The newly revealed Eisenhower monument in Washington D.C. shows Eisenhower in command of others.  It correctly infers Eisenhower is a leader who trusts others to be the best they can be.  Eisenhower is not a doer but a manager of others who do.

Eisenhower leads Allied forces on D-Day by using the best battlefield generals of WWII.  Smith implies–without the Allied generals’ experience in battle, Eisenhower would likely have failed on D-Day.

Smith notes that Eisenhower had minimal combat experience.  The one time Eisenhower directly manages a battle is in Sicily.  If it had not been for superior manpower and material, Smith argues Eisenhower would have been defeated.  Smith goes on to suggest that British Field General Montgomery is unjustly scapegoated for Eisenhower’s Italian campaign mistakes.

FIELD MARSHAL BERNARD MONTGOMERY (1887-1976, ENGLISH FIELD MARSHAL THAT MATCHED WITS WITH GERMAN FIELD MARSHAL ERWIN ROMMEL)
FIELD MARSHAL BERNARD MONTGOMERY (1887-1976, ENGLISH FIELD MARSHAL THAT MATCHED WITS WITH GERMAN FIELD MARSHAL ERWIN ROMMEL)

Smith also notes Montgomery’s role in D-Day is unfairly characterized.  Montgomery argues for concentrated forces at critical points in German defenses; while Eisenhower demands a broad frontal attack along the entire front.  Eisenhower’s tactics, in some generals’ opinions, prolong the end of the war by six months; i.e. increasing the casualty count and stalling Montgomery’s advance on Omaha Beach.

However, Smith’s biography of Eisenhower shows that military successes and failures make him a perfect political leader. 

Smith reveals an inner moral compass that defines Eisenhower’s beliefs and decisions.  Eisenhower uses that moral compass to become Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in WWII; and later, President of the United States. 

Smith infers, despite tactical failures as a battlefield commander, Eisenhower’s innate ability to get things done through other people make him one of the great twentieth century American Presidents.

EISENHOWER AND SOMERSBY
Eisenhower is no saint.  His power as Allied forces’ general leads to the Somersby affair even as Eisenhower professes a deep need and affection for his wife, Mamie.

Smith offers a comprehensive picture of Eisenhower.  Eisenhower is no moral saint.  His power as Allied forces’ general leads to the Somersby affair even as Eisenhower professes a deep need and affection for his wife, Mamie.

Somersby appears to have been loved by Eisenhower, but she is unceremoniously dumped in a “Dear John” letter when Eisenhower is ordered back to the United States.  On the one hand, Smith is showing Eisenhower is human; on the other, Smith is showing the perfidy of men in power positions.

Smith explains Eisenhower’s path to the presidency.  A part of that trail is festooned with Eisenhower’s sense of duty, but it is also tainted by the power and glory of high office.  Eisenhower is solicited by both Democratic and Republican parties.  In the end, the Republican platform more closely adheres to Eisenhower’s belief in fiscal conservatism.

However, Smith shows Eisenhower to be a domestic social liberal.  Eisenhower is no ideologue.  The inner compass that directs Eisenhower’s life recognizes the cruelty of poverty, the shallowness of red-baiting exemplified by Joseph McCarthy, and the importance of patience when dealing with international and domestic affairs.

EISENHOWER'S VIEW OF SOCIAL SECURITY

Eisenhower resists the hawkish tendencies of his Republican colleagues.  He insists on withdrawal from the Korean conflict.  Eisenhower abjures any suggestion that nuclear bombs should be used to attack American enemies.  He forthrightly confronts Governor Faubus when the governor refuses to integrate schools in Little Rock, Arkansas.

MOHAMMAD MOSADDEGH (1882-1967)
MOHAMMAD MOSADDEGH Though Eisenhower initially rejects a British assassination plot against Mosadegh in Iran, he changes his mind when he begins to believe oil availability is more important than one human life. (1882-1967)

On the other hand, Eisenhower succumbs to the machinations of his defense department and several covert plans to overthrow foreign governments.  Though Eisenhower initially rejects a British assassination plot against Mossadegh in Iran, he changes his mind when he begins to believe oil availability is more important than one human life.  

Though Mossadegh dies from natural causes, America supports a military junta that overthrows Iran’s government.  Eisenhower’s support of the overthrow is based on British settlement of an Iranian oil agreement with Iran, and Iranian oil availability in the United States.

Eisenhower also mistakenly establishes the domino theory of communist infiltration.  Though he refuses to support the French in Indochina, he believes the fall of Vietnam will expand communism in Southeast Asia.  Eisenhower sets the table for Kennedy’s and Johnson’s mistakes in Vietnam.

Eisenhower is well-known for his opposition to the military/industrial complex growing in America.  He insists on balancing the budget by reducing military expenditure.  He reduces financing for American military forces while strengthening Air Force capability as a more modern military deterrent.  Eisenhower faces down numerous military commanders that insist on expanding conventional forces that can intercede in foreign conflicts without employing weapons of mass destruction (an argument that is being made by today’s military establishment).

COMMUNIST DOMINO THEORY
Eisenhower mistakenly establishes the domino theory of communist infiltration.

 

recruiter
Eisenhower faces down numerous military commanders that insist on expanding conventional forces that can intercede in foreign conflicts without employing weapons of mass destruction (an argument that is being made by today’s military establishment).

Smith shows that Eisenhower refuses to balance the budget by cutting domestic programs that serve the poor and aged.  Eisenhower presses unsuccessfully for increases in medical services for the American public (quite different from today’s Republican President).

Smith offers a balanced picture of Dwight Eisenhower.  America benefited from Eisenhower’s political acumen.  He may not rank with Washington and Lincoln, but he drew from an inner moral compass that makes human beings as good as they are capable of being.

In contrast to America’s current President, Eisenhower made one proud to be an American. (This was written when Trump was President of the United States.)

ADAM ONE AND TWO

Audio-book Review By Chet Yarbrough (Blog:awalkingdelight) Website: chetyarbrough.blog The Road to Character Written by: David Brooks Narration by:  Arthur Morey, David Brooks DAVID BROOKS (AUTHOR, POLITICAL AND CULTURAL COMMENTATOR-WRITES FOR THE NYT AND OTHER DAILY PAPERS) Of course, Brooks means both men and women in his singular reference to Adam. In David Brook’s “The Road … Continue reading “ADAM ONE AND TWO”

Audio-book Review

By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)

Website: chetyarbrough.blog

The Road to Character

Written by: David Brooks

Narration by:  Arthur Morey, David Brooks

DAVID BROOKS (AUTHOR, POLITICAL AND CULTURAL COMMENTATOR-WRITES FOR THE NYT AND OTHER DAILY PAPERS)

DAVID BROOKS (AUTHOR, POLITICAL AND CULTURAL COMMENTATOR-WRITES FOR THE NYT AND OTHER DAILY PAPERS)

In “The Road to Character”, David Brooks refers to Adam one and two (a nod to biblical creation) as two forces of nature embodied in all human beings. 

Of course, Brooks means both men and women in his singular reference to Adam.

In David Brook’s “The Road to Character”, the forces of nature are classified as Adam one and Adam two. Adam one is characterized by logic, and rationality. Adam two is characterized by sex-drive, instinct, and emotion. Brooks suggests these characterizations apply to both sexes.

Of course, categorization of logic and instincts in human beings is not a revelation.  But, Brooks notes these categorizations are the foundation for character.  Brooks does a masterful job of recalling several historical figures that are the gravel base and pavement for his “…Road to Character” argument.

Because Brooks turns to the past, there is an inference, and some suggestion, that the present and future are threatened by an imbalance between logic and instinct; with a result that implies diminished character in modern times. 

The seemingly erratic behavior of the past President of the United States offers evidence to support Brooks’ observation.

FRANCES PERKINS (1880-1945, SERVED AS U.S. SECY. OF LABOR 1933-1945)

Brooks recalls the first woman Cabinet Member, the U.S. Secretary of Labor, Francis Perkins.  Perkins is raised in a wealthy family in Maine, educated at Mount Holyoke College, University of Pennsylvania, and Columbia.  Perkins becomes the woman behind the New Deal of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

FRANCES PERKINS (1880-1945, SERVED AS U.S. SECY. OF LABOR 1933-1945)

In spite of her wealthy upbringing, Perkins is incensed by poverty and its causes.  Her “Adam one” tells her that poverty is not caused by lethargy or want of ambition but by social circumstance. 

Perkins is drawn to this conclusion by the struggles of her own life and those around her.  Perkins becomes engaged with humanity while struggling with a mentally deranged husband and a financially and emotionally dependent daughter.  Perkins lives a life that shows she is not in control of “Adam two” but that “Adam one” can ameliorate through hard work and service to others.  Perkins is a consummate organizer; i.e. an essential manager needed to make Roosevelt’s New Deal effective.  She supports her husband and daughter throughout the struggles of her life.

Brooks goes on to give thumb nail histories of Dwight Eisenhower, George Marshall, Bayard Rustin, Mary Ann Eliot (aka George Eliot), Samuel Johnson, and others.  In each vignette, Brooks outlines a struggle between “Adam and Eve one” and “Adam and Eve two” views of the world.

DWIGHT EISENHOWER (1890-1969)

Brooks notes Eisenhower’s caddish dismissal of his long-term mistress as evidence of a character formed by an “Adam one” view of the world.  The importance of Eisenhower’s duty to family, to position as President, and as example to country outweigh “Adam two” emotions of an illicit affair; i.e. he summarily dismisses his mistress with a memo.

DWIGHT EISENHOWER (1890-1969)

Brooks suggests the importance of Eisenhower’s duty to family, to position as President reflect “Adam one” behavior that outweighs “Adam two” emotions of an illicit affair.

Brooks stories reflect on the agony felt by human beings struggling with logic and rationality, and its conflicts with spirit, sex drive, instinct, and emotion.

Eisenhower engages Civil Rights conflicts during his presidency.  However, his engagement is principally based on upholding “rule of law” when the Supreme Court settles Brown v. Board of Education.

One presumes Eisenhower’s political decisiveness is based on an “Adam one” belief in Constitutional enforcement of the law of the land.  Eisenhower’s road to character is paved with “Adam one” duty.  Jean Edward Smith’s “Eisenhower in War and Peace” reinforces Brook’s assessment.

The same case is made for General George Marshall.  Duty-to-country is at the base of Marshall’s public “…Road to Character.”   

GENERAL GEORGE C. MARSHALL, 
(1880-1959)

Like George Washington, Marshall serves his country without desire for fame or fortune but with a reasoned need to do what they perceive is right. 

GENERAL GEORGE C. MARSHALL (1880-1959)

Like Washington, Marshall is a hard task master.  He expects much from his army and from himself.  He is confident, without being arrogant.  He suppresses “Adam two” emotions to do his duty.  He confronts obstacles directly.  Outwardly, Marshall neither fears any man or position.

The folly of hubris is never evident in either Washington’s or Marshall’s actions but each is willing to do what their country asks of them.  Brooks tells the story of Marshall wanting to lead the D-Day invasion but agreeing with Roosevelt’s decision to appoint Eisenhower, Marshall’s subordinate.

Harry Truman (1884-1972. 33rd President of the United States.)

Marshall intends to retire after the war but is called to duty by Truman to form the Marshall Plan for the recovery of Europe.

Ironically, the Marshall Plan cements Marshall’s name in history.  The point being made by Brooks is that seeking fame is a fool’s road to character.  Marshall did his duty.  He did not seek fame.  Fame found him through good works based on character.

Brooks notes how Marshall confronts General Pershing when he criticizes Marshall’s lesser command; and later, confronts Roosevelt when the suggestion is made that WWII will be a war of machines rather than men.

A surprising thumb nail history is given of Bayard Rustin, a black activist that happens to be gay.  Rustin is compelled by “Adam two” emotions that drive him to serial relationships with men.   Rustin is shut out of King’s march on Washington because of a threat from Adam Clayton Powell Jr. to expose an intimate King-Rustin relationship.  Rustin remains in the movement but is forced to reduce his profile. 

BAYARD RUSTIN (1912-1987, Social Movements leader for civil rights, nonviolence, and gay rights.)

Brooks notes that Rustin is a primary influence in Martin Luther King’s non-violence, pacifist movement, founded on Gandhi’s philosophy of resistance. 

BAYARD RUSTIN (1912-1987, SOCIAL MOVEMENTS LEADER FOR CIVIL RIGHTS, NONVIOLENCE, AND GAY RIGHTS)

Though Rustin’s “Adam two” sex-drive besmirched his character, “Adam one” logic placed him on the right side of history.

Another fine vignette is the story of Mary Ann Eliot; better known as George Eliot.  Mary Ann is raised in a strict catholic environment.  She rebels by denying the myths of Christ’s story of resurrection and healing.  She firmly believes in God but not the truth of biblical apocryphal stories. 

After Eliot’s father’s death, Mary Ann is driven by her emotions and sex-drive to become serially involved with men for gratification, attention, and recognition.  This insatiable desire continues until she meets the love of her life, George Lewes. 

George Eliot

It is Mary Ann Eliot’s courage to flaunt convention that paves her “…Road to Character.”  Like Rustin, Eliot struggles with her personal life but through hard work and insight to human nature, she becomes a woman of substance and a writer of great human understanding.

George Lewes becomes Eliot’s muse, constructive critic, and eternal admirer.  Eliot becomes the famous writer of “Middle March” and “The Mill on the Floss”.  Lewes is characterized as a lesser light but exactly what Eliot needs to realize her literary gift. 

George Henry Lewes (1817-1878, Philosopher, literary, theatre critic.)

Lewes is married but has a reputation for philandering.  Eliot chooses to become Lewes companion in Europe in spite of the harm it would do her reputation.

Brooks profiles Samuel Adams and Montaigne in the last chapters of his book.  They are equally well-formed men of character; forged in the face of human struggle. 

In the end, Brooks suggests “The Road to Character” is defined by the base upon which the pavement is laid.  What is troubling about Brooks’ conclusion is the inference that the way children were raised in the past is better than they are raised today.  The inference is that children are not punished enough or are too coddled with praise to be motivated to achieve great and good things.  Further, that today’s environment fails to build character because there is less understanding or appreciation of hard work and its rewards.

Brooks may be misreading today’s youth.  Today’s youth are children longer than in the past.  They also have more years to live.  Human hardship will always be with us and even the coddled learn from mistakes made in their youth. 

The substance of character has not changed but it may take more years to reveal it.

WORLD CITIZEN

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

The SympathizerTHE SYMPATHIZER

Written by: Viet Thanh Nguyen

Narration by:  Francois Chau

VIET THANH NGUYEN (AUTHOR)
VIET THANH NGUYEN (AUTHOR)

“The Sympathizer” defines the idea of a world citizen.  It is the first novel of Viet Thanh Nguyen.  In the beginning, “The Sympathizer”, Nguyen’s fictional hero, seems like another version of a war Americans would like to forget.  Chugging through the story a listener nearly derails but the denouement spectacularly realigns one’s senses.

As widely acknowledged, America’s abandonment of Vietnam in 1973 left thousands of South Vietnamese soldiers in peril. (A scenario that may repeat itself in 2021 with America’s departure from Afghanistan, but that is another story).

In 1975, the last American marine leaves the roof of the American Embassy in Saigon.  Nguyen’s novel begins with hard decisions made by South Vietnamese commanders to identify native supporters, and their families, who would or would not be saved by American military transport.  Nguyen’s main fictional character is chosen to be one of the lucky evacuees.  The irony of that selection is that he is a communist sympathizer, a spy.

LEAVING SAIGON
 In 1975, the last American marine leaves the roof of the American Embassy in Saigon.

Nguyen’s spy is a Vietnamese outcast.  He is one of the “children of the dust” noted in the musical “Miss Saigon”.  He is a bastard son of a white American priest who seduces his teenage mother.  As a sympathizer, he becomes an undercover agent working for a committed South Vietnamese general.  It appears this communist sympathizer has gained the trust of the General by being the go-between for the murder of North Vietnam collaborators.

WHO SHOULD STAY-WHO SHOULD LEAVE
When evacuation from Saigon is imminent, the General asks the sympathizer to choose who should join them on their flight to America.

When evacuation from Saigon is imminent, the General asks the sympathizer to choose who should join them on their flight to America.  The sympathizer has two close friends.  One friend is a communist; the other is not.  The three are “blood-oath” brothers, characterized as “The Three Musketeers”.  The two friends are chosen by the sympathizer to go on the journey to America.  The communist friend declines and stays in Vietnam to be the sympathizer’s handler; the other friend agrees to leave when his wife and son become collateral damage in the war.  His communist friend tells the sympathizer to never come back to Vietnam.  The significance of that statement becomes clear at the end of the story.

FREEDOM
Most of the novel is about the sympathizer’s experience in America.  He experiences a degree of freedom and independence never felt before. 

Most of the novel is about the sympathizer’s experience in America.  He experiences a degree of freedom and independence never felt before.  But he still reports to the General.  His close non-communist friend is an assassin for actions demanded by the General.  The sympathizer is the go-between when orders are given.

The obvious irony is that this communist sympathizer carries out orders to kill suspected communist sympathizers in America when he is the penultimate sympathizer.

The General is planning an insurgent action to be organized in Thailand to attack communists in Vietnam.  The sympathizer’s best friend is selected as one of the people to go to participate in the insurgency.  The sympathizer asks the General to let him go.  However, his primary reason for going is to protect his friend.  The General initially says no but recants when another suspected spy is targeted.

The General advises the go-between sympathizer that he does not feel he is qualified for the Thailand mission because he has never killed anyone himself.  If he can murder the newly suspected spy, the General will let him go on the Thailand mission.

SLEEP DEPRIVATION TORTURE
The sympathizer, upon returning to Vietnam, is protected by his friend by using sleep deprivation to make him understand something he knows but cannot remember; the other is left to be physically tortured by camp rules, but not killed because of the camp commander’s orders.

The sympathizer haphazardly murders a suspected spy and goes to Thailand.  The valued meaning of the story becomes clearer.

The sympathizer and his friend are caught by a communist cadre.  The cadre is led by the communist friend (the third musketeer) that told the sympathizer to never come back to Vietnam.

Both the sympathizer and the non-communist friend are imprisoned, under the command of their communist friend.  Under the guise of communist re-education, the communist friend protects his two blood-brothers.  The sympathizer is protected by his friend by using sleep deprivation to make him understand something he knows but cannot remember; the other is left to be physically tortured by camp rules, but not killed because of the camp commander’s orders.

While many escaped death from America’s abandonment of the South Vietnamese, the communist friend who stayed is severely wounded from an American napalm attack.  His experience from the severe wounds and life under communist rule appears to have taught him an indelible lesson.

NAPALM USED IN THE VIETNAM WAR
While many escaped death from America’s abandonment of the South Vietnamese, the communist friend who stayed is severely wounded from an American napalm attack. 

The communist friend asks the sympathizer what is most important about being either a citizen of America or of Vietnam.  After many days of sleep deprivation, the sympathizer says it is freedom and independence.  Wrong says the friend.  After more sleepless days, the sympathizer says death.  Wrong again.  Finally, after more wakeful nights, the sympathizer answers the question correctly.

CITIZEN OF THE WORLD
All people are citizens of the world.

The answer is a seven letter word–nothing.  The answer cuts through political ideology.  All people are human beings; subject to the sins of being human.  All people are citizens of the world.

RUSSIAN REALPOLITIK

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

Red NoticeRed Notice

Written by: Bill Browder

Narration by:  Adam Grupper

WILLIAM FELIX BROWDER (AKA BILL BROWDER-CEP AND CO-FOUNDER OF HERMITAGE CAPTIAL MANAGEMENT, NOTED CRITIC OF PUTIN)
WILLIAM FELIX BROWDER (AKA BILL BROWDER-CEP AND CO-FOUNDER OF HERMITAGE CAPTIAL MANAGEMENT, NOTED CRITIC OF PUTIN)

If only a few of Bill Browder’s facts and accusations are true, the realpolitik of Vladimir Putin shocks the senses.  “Red Notice” reflects on the diplomacy of Russian power.

In his book, “Red Notice”, Browder tells a story that implies Putin is a thug.   Browder infers that Putin will lie, steal, and murder with the brutality of Joseph Stalin, the cunning of Machiavelli, and the tenacity of Genghis Kahn.  Browder believes Putin uses his position as President to acquire wealth as second only to his desire for power.

Acquiring wealth is something Browder knows quite a lot about.  William Browder is an investment fund manager/partner who ventures into Russia at the beginning of glasnost.  Russian businesses and industries became private rather than state-owned enterprises at the end of the 20th century.

Beginning in 1996, Browder and his investors assemble a capital investment fund worth billions of dollars in 2005.  Browder began the fund with other people’s money.   The fund becomes known as Hermitage Capital Management.  As a result of his analysis, Browder’s investment group buys Russian assets at steeply undervalued prices.  He earns over two hundred million dollars per year for himself in 2006 and 2007.

BROWDER’S STORY OF HERMITAGE CAPITAL: 

In 2005, Browder is deported by the Russian government.  In 2006, Browder is black listed by the Russian government as a “threat to national security”.  In March of 2013, the bank that serves as trustee and manager of Hermitage Capital Management announces it will cease funding operations in Russia.  Browder gleefully points out in “Red Notice” that all of Hermitage Capital Management assets had been surreptitiously withdrawn in 2007.  Browder is presently being sued in absentia by the Russian Government for tax evasion.  Therein lays a tale of suspicious deaths, human greed, and conspiracy.

Browder assembles a great deal of evidence that suggests two people are murdered; that murder’ accomplices are paid a great deal of money, and that President Putin either sets the example for thuggish behavior or is complicit in a scheme that defrauds the Russian people.

DUTCH JOURNALISM’S INVESTIGATION OF THE RISE OF PUTIN:

SERGEI MAGNITSKY (1972-2009, RUSSIAN ACCOUNTANT AND AUDITOR VITIMIZED IN RUSSIA--WORKED FOR BILL BROWDER)
SERGEI MAGNITSKY (1972-2009, RUSSIAN ACCOUNTANT AND AUDITOR VITIMIZED IN RUSSIA–WORKED FOR BILL BROWDER)

The two alleged murders are Sergie Magnitsky and Alexander Perepilichnyy.  Magnitsky dies in the custody of the Russian government.  He is identified as an attorney in Browder’s book but research suggests he is not licensed as an attorney in Russia.  Magnitsky discovers a scheme by Russian government employees to recover taxes paid by Browder’s companies in Russia.  The scheme is based on charges that the companies that paid the taxes were illegally pilfered by Browder’s investment company.  The companies were transferred, without Browder’s knowledge or authorization, to shell company Russian owners.  These owners are found to be two officers in the Russian secret police.  The new owners suggest the companies they own have been pilfered and that they should be reimbursed for taxes that were paid to the government because of Browder’s fraudulent transfer of worthless assets.

Magnitsky and two Russian lawyers present evidence to the Russian government about the fraud being perpetrated by the two Russian officers.   The two Russian lawyers decide to flee their country when they believe they are going to be arrested.  Magnitsky believes facts speak for themselves; that he is safe, and the government will recognize and arrest the real criminals.  Magnitsky is arrested, beaten, and dies in prison.  The two officers, Artem Kuznetxov, and Pavel Karpov remain free.

MAJOR KARPOV EXPOSE:

ALEXANDER PEREPILICHNY (OLIGARCH THAT MAY HAVE BEEN MURDERED AT AGE 44 FOR EXPOSING RUSSIAN TAX FRAUD CASE ASSOCIATED WITH BROWDER INVESTIGATION)
ALEXANDER PEREPILICHNY (OLIGARCH THAT MAY HAVE BEEN MURDERED AT AGE 44 FOR EXPOSING RUSSIAN TAX FRAUD CASE ASSOCIATED WITH BROWDER INVESTIGATION)

Alexander Perepilichny was a Russian business man who defected from Russia in 2009.  Perepilichny dies at the front door of his residence in the UK.  Magnitsky was a forensic accountant in Russia.  Living in England in 2012, he contacts Browder to say he has evidence of how the Moscow tax office rebated taxes to the two government officials.  Browder contacts the chief constable of Surrey in England to tell them of Perepilichny’s evidence.  Browder accuses Russian officers of fraud, costing the Russian state $230 million dollars.

Three videos of the alleged fraudsters are created as evidence of the Russian officers’ fraud.  The evidence relies on their life style versus the income they receive from the Russian government.  In Browder’s book, this evidence is overlaid with the prosecution of Russian oligarchs by Putin with the inference that those oligarchs that do not offer money to Putin are at risk of being jailed.

SYNOPSIS OF THE MAGNITSKY CASE:

“Red Notice” is a powerful statement about one man’s view of Vladimir Putin.  As noted at the beginning of this review, “if only a few of Bill Browder’s facts and accusations are true…” Putin’s reputation, if not his power and wealth, are diminished.  At the same time, Browder’s ludicrously large capitalist windfall at the expense of the Russian economy, and two Russian’ deaths, does little for his reputation.

THE NATURE OF CORRUPTION

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.blog

Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security

Written by: Sarah Chayes

Narration by:  Sarah Chayes

SARAH CHAYES (AUTHOR, SENIOR ASSOCIATE IN THE DEMOCRACY AND RULE OF LAW PROGRAM AT CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE)

SARAH CHAYES (AUTHOR, SENIOR ASSOCIATE IN THE DEMOCRACY AND RULE OF LAW PROGRAM AT CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE)

Unquestionably, Hamid Karzai and his administration were corrupt during his ten years as President of Afghanistan.  There is ample proof of corruption.  “Thieves of State” is a tiresome revelation by an author one admires for confronting state sanctioned corruption.  However, Sarah Chayes etiology for corruption is askew.

As Sarah Chayes notes, Mubarak’s government in Egypt was comparably corrupt.  Chayes ten years in Afghanistan and her ability to speak Arabic offer tremendous credibility to her observations.  However, her suggestion that corruption threatens global security is tiresome because “Thieves of State” exist in all forms of government, including the United States.

HOSNI MUBARAK (FOURTH PRESIDENT OF EGYPT 1981-2011)

HOSNI MUBARAK (FOURTH PRESIDENT OF EGYPT 1981-2011)

Most, if not all, governments have some level of corruption because their leaders are human.  In Afghanistan, Karzai protects his family’s interest by allowing his brother to sell land at high prices when it is virtually given to him by the government. 

TRUMP'S EMPIRE

President Trump chooses to stay involved in the management of his corporate interests around the world.  His justification is day-to-day management is in the hands of his sons.  How credible is that argument?

HAMID KARZAI (PRESIDENT OF AFGHANISTAN 2004-2014) Karzai protects government functionaries that require bribes for favors because they are loyal to him. 

Trump has tweeted that loyalty, above all, is expected from the people who report to him.  Trump chooses to use government functionaries that are closely tied to industries that the government intends to regulate.  When does loyalty become more important than fair-dealing? 

Greed is a part of human nature.  It is disingenuous to think Vice President Cheney did not have an interest in seeing his former employer become the military supplier in the Iraq war. 

Money, power, and prestige motivate all human beings.  Societies only defense is government regulation but even that is subject to human nature and motivational force.

Rod Blagojevich (Former Governor of Illinois)

Desire for money, power, and prestige has no political party.  It is in the nature of all humankind.  Ironically, President Trump sets Rod Blagojevich free at the end of his presidency.

The irony is multifold. Trump is elected as a Republican, Blagojevich is elected as a Democrat. Trump is alleged to have tried to bribe a foreign head of state. Blagojevich is alleged to have tried to bribe a former President. Both choose use their elective offices to advance their ambition for more money, power, and prestige.

Chayes is absolutely right when writing about how important it is to listen to the general population about their government and its affect on their lives.  Only then can one gain some understanding of a nation’s corruption.  The consequence of human nature’s truths are dire.  Human nature’s truth, when added to an outsider’s cultural misunderstandings, can be catastrophic.

IED

Chayes suggests that an Afghani citizen will refuse to warn Afghani policemen of an IED “…because policemen require bribes to do their job”.  Chayes concludes “…corruption is a threat to global security”. 

This is a reasonable conclusion but what can an outsider do about it?  Correction of corrupt practices can only come from the people who are governed. America can only lead by example; not by force of arms. America fails itself and the countries it forcefully tries to change. Yesterday it was Vietnam, Iran, and Iraq– today it is Afghanistan.

KARL MARX (BORN TRIER, GERMANY 1818-DIED LONDON, ENGLAND 1883)

KARL MARX (BORN TRIER, GERMANY 1818-DIED LONDON, ENGLAND 1883) History shows that cultural outsiders destroy national comity and identity.  Marx was an outsider in the Russian revolution but he formed the basis for communism’s takeover of Russia.

Lenin, Stalin, and to a lesser extent, Trotsky (all indigenous Russians) changed the government based on an outsider’s machinations.  The same can be said of Mao’s China and Castro’s Cuba.  Change comes from an outsider’s interference; while revolution only comes from within.  The only consequential role an outsider like Chayes can play is publicizing indigenous public discontent.  That is the true value of her observations in “Thieves of State”.

Chayes points to a Nigerian oil CEO who makes $1,000,000 per year.  Chayes exposure of kleptocracy in Nigeria is only legally different from that which exists in the United States.  The difference is that kleptocracy in America is legalized by a stable government.  Robert Walker of Andarko Petroleum makes over $15,000,000 per year.  American tax subsidies and American tax policy subsidize the oil industry. THIS TYPE OF CORRUPTION IS LEGAL IN AMERICA.

US-POLITICS-TRUMP-CABINET

The American government protects CEO incomes that reinforce a widening gap between rich and poor.  At least two of President Trump’s cabinet are billionaires and most are multi-millionaires.  Few of the super-rich have much interest in, or concern for, the poor.

Chayes’ book would be more interesting if she had contrasted America’s corruption with Afghanistan’s.  She limits her comparisons to medieval Eastern, African, and European cultures.  Listening to “Thieves of State” is off-putting because America, like all nation-states, have some level of corruption; i.e. legalized corruption is still corruption.

HEARTS AND MINDS

Invading Afghanistan is understandable because of its role in harboring terrorists.  However, it is a waste of American lives to believe an outsider’s intervention will change the hearts and minds of an indigenous population.

If America makes the mistake of invading Iraq or throwing money at the Afghanistan economy, it is only we Americans who are to blame.    It is not only the fault of Afghani or Iraqi corruption.  It is the innate nature of humanity.  Fault lays at the feet of an outside country invading a foreign culture.

Respectfully, Chayes invested her time in understanding Afghanistan which puts her far and away ahead of most Americans but she misses the root cause of corruption which is unregulated human nature.  That is why many countries that have poor government regulation turn to religion. 

If a secular government cannot regulate human nature, Taliban-like martinets fill the vacuum with public executions or Mullah Dictates.  Neither secular nor religious governance is a guarantee of perfect human justice, equality, or equity.  Justice, equality, and equity must come from the desire of indigenous populations.