Cooley knows his stuff and the book has a "been there, interviewed him" feel to it. It could use a little editing and organization, but by the end, ICooley knows his stuff and the book has a "been there, interviewed him" feel to it. It could use a little editing and organization, but by the end, I had a far better picture of how we got to where we are now.
When given the choice of a number of books to read for a class on the law of war and terror, I chose this one, and I was not disappointed. Primarily concerned with US action in Afghanistan and the rise of the Taliban and later Osama bin Laden in the mire left by the Soviet occupation in the 1980s.
Cooley has an incredible amount of information and relies on interviews he conducted with key players over the last 30 years. He sees the rise of terror in that state as largely a result of the unchecked flow of weapons and money to the mujaheddin from the United States to support the guerrilla war against the Soviets. With the exodus of Soviet tanks from Afghanistan, the US left also, closing, almost overnight, intelligence operations and diplomatic presence. The result was a disastrous civil war between warlords and religious fanatics that allowed the rise of the Taliban.
Citing the US as a culprit in the quagmire, a significant amount of responsibility is placed on the actions of the Pakistani intelligence services. Controlled by religious ideologues, the Pakistani intelligence services operated nearly autonomously from other Pakistani government branches, and often in opposition to stated policy. It's ostensible purpose was create a religiously friendly state on Pakistan's western border so as to take weight off of pressure created by the often contentious, and occasionally violent, relationship with India on it's other side.
Eventually, it leads to the exportation of the "holy warriors" around the world, and followed later by opium as a cash crop supporting the somewhat outcast Taliban government.
In short, a must read.
The book suffers from a lack of editing and a somewhat choppy organization. However, the sheer volume of information easily makes the difficulty following the reading well worth the challenge....more
The law of terrorism is a difficult topic to broach, no matter what your political affiliation, and given the history of the last eight years since 9/The law of terrorism is a difficult topic to broach, no matter what your political affiliation, and given the history of the last eight years since 9/11, it has become even more difficult. However, even as a non-lawyer, Wittes provides some interesting and compelling ideas. His evaluation of what has happened provides engaging discussion of not only how the Congress and President Bush have tried to grapple with the new and difficult issues presented by terror in a globalized world. Terrorists don't fall under the normal classifications of enemy soldiers, who are acting as instruments of the state, nor do they quite seem to qualify as criminals, and therefore for all the rights and procedures that come with the US criminal procedure regime.
SO what system of law do you apply? Obviously, detainees for terrorism cannot be kept incommunicado indefinitely, but neither can they be treated as common criminals. A hybrid system? And lead by whom: the executive or the Congress? And why hasn't the judiciary taken a more leading role in preserving the basic human rights of detainees.
No easy answers, but Wittes does a good job of examining what has happened to date, and what might be the course of action Congress (who he believes should take the lead) might take in the future to remedy some of the failings of the Bush Administration....more
[UPDATED REVIEW. PREVIOUS REVIEW APPEARS BELOW] We received this The Book of Nurturing as a gift from my parents back before we had children. Mom and[UPDATED REVIEW. PREVIOUS REVIEW APPEARS BELOW] We received this The Book of Nurturing as a gift from my parents back before we had children. Mom and Dad have always been big fans of the Eyres, allegedly raising us based on the stuff they picked up from the Eyre's many books. We read it, found it interesting, and decided it was all good stuff.
And then we started having children.
Talk about a dose of reality. Kids are messy, unique, and rarely act how you predict...at least, so it seems. My degrees are in political science and law, not marriage and family development, and though I'm the oldest of six, I doubt anything really prepares you to have kids, except, perhaps having kids. By that time, it's on the job training.
With The Book of Nurturing, though, it's clear that the Eyre's get this.
We opened the book again recently, six years into our sojourn as parents, and started reviewing what we had read before becoming parents. "Does it actually apply?" "Have we even used any of this?" and "Does it have any secrets for getting kids to stay in bed?" were questions that crossed our minds as decided to review what we had read before. Instead of hard and fast techniques for getting your kids to do what you want, the Eyres provide some basic principles for building strong families, share anecdotes from their long career in the parenting advice field (I think they also have something like a bazillion kids, too, so they might know something about parenting), and give you some questions to ask yourself about how you want your family to look and act.
As a wise man once said, "I teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves." The Eyres law out a few (or nine) and let you figure out what matches your family situation--whatever that situation is--and let you figure it out yourself.
To make it interesting, or maybe it's the hook, the Eyres have gone to nature to find examples of each principle. Whales for communication (they communicate over long distances), geese for sticking together and looking out for each other, crabs for avoiding criticism, and the tortoise and the hare for teaching and living consistency, and so on.
When we pulled out the book again, we decided to use it in cooperation with our children, which, coincidentally, is along the lines of how the Eyres suggest it be used. We would read about each animal or principle from nature, watch a short nature film about the animal that demonstrated the principle, and then talk with the kiddos (6, 3, and 10 months) about how it applies.
Stop laughing! We did, and it worked. Sure, the 10 month old didn't have a ton to contribute, but the six-year old and the three-year old were riveted as we would watch the geese herding their goslings across a crowded road of stopped traffic, honking at the cars to stay back until each of the babies was across and to safety. We told them that Mom and Dad would always put them first, that we stick together, and we look out for one another.
Would you believe my surprise when a year and a half later (we started going through the book with them a year or so ago) the six-year old busted out all of the principles and what they meant? I was so excited that she remembered them that I about served her a heaping bowl of ice cream right there and then.
Parenting is hard, but so very worth it. I figure that the most difficult years are ahead of us, still, but with any luck, and some consistent application of these principles, the kids might turn out okay. Buy this book, read it, apply it, and enjoy the wonder years. _____________________
[PREVIOUS REVIEW]When I was given this for Christmas, I was at first a little skeptical. My parents, and I think my in-laws, had all read or mentioned the Eyres as those parenting self-help book writers that left parents feeling overwhelmed.
Despite this initial reticence, I opted to give it a try and read a few pages. Our first, Abby, was about six months old and though Britt had already poured through a number of "What to expect when..." books aimed at parents, I had not myself read any more than selected passages (and few of those). This would be the book that I read to be a better dad.
And I am glad that I gave it a try. I think the Eyres might have had skeptical and busy parents like me in mind when they wrote it. With my short attention span and busy schedule, the book is organized and designed to teach quick, short lessons based on various animals. I began to think of it like an Aesop's Fables for parents. Most of the lessons are way beyond Abby, right now, but as she is growing, I am starting to see their applicability. The elephant's trunk is strong and firm, but gentle and articulated, as parents should be. Crabs never let each other each other climb higher, as criticism can do to families. Geese always put their goslings first, just as the family, children and spouse, should be the first priority.
And so on. Each chapter starts with a story or demonstration, followed by a real life example or two. Next, the principles are stated, followed by very short demonstrations of how different families have implemented the principles. If you don't like how the Eyres decided to apply the principles, there are a dozen or more examples of how other families did it, and each one different and unique to them. Then the chapter ends with a set of blank lines where you are encouraged to evaluate how you will apply the principles. It provided Britt and I a wonderful opportunity to discuss and evaluate what we want our family to look like and how we can begin to plan for the future.
Obviously, with only one child, and a baby at that, it's hard to anticipate everything that will happen. But this has help us to start off on the right foot, to begin making plans, and to make those plans together. I recommend this book to parents, grandparents, and nurturers everywhere. ...more
If you've ever looked at your pay check and wondered why IRS was taking so much of it, then you need to read this. A no-nonsense, down-to-earth look aIf you've ever looked at your pay check and wondered why IRS was taking so much of it, then you need to read this. A no-nonsense, down-to-earth look at why the IRS needs to go, this is a great idea whose time has come. As our Congress and President faces the worst economy in 60 years, this prudent and wise look at getting our country out of debt, returning more money to our pockets, and ending taxation of our income is a wise and thoughtful explanation of how to save our children's future.
I didn't actually read the whole thing, just the chapter on Cato...but that's really all I checked it out for, anyway, and it served that purpose adeqI didn't actually read the whole thing, just the chapter on Cato...but that's really all I checked it out for, anyway, and it served that purpose adequately....more
if you want a great on the ground history of a common man's view of the communist movement in America in the 1920s and 1930s, start here...I couldn'tif you want a great on the ground history of a common man's view of the communist movement in America in the 1920s and 1930s, start here...I couldn't make it through it, though. Beautiful writing, but just don't have the patience at this juncture....more
It's guys like Scott Rothstein that give attorneys a bad name. And it's guys like Alan Sakowitz that prove that humanity is, at its heart, good.
I receIt's guys like Scott Rothstein that give attorneys a bad name. And it's guys like Alan Sakowitz that prove that humanity is, at its heart, good.
I recently finished "Miles Away, Worlds Apart" by Alan Sakowitz, an attorney and real estate investor whose path crossed with Scott Rothstein, an attorney and one time Ponzi scheme artist. Billed by some as a "criminal thriller," I found it to be more of cautionary tale, a combination memoir and homage to the good people in Sakowitz's life compared to the tragic flamboyance that he found in Scott Rothstein.
Sakowitz first met Rothstein when he was invited to participate in an investment in what was billed as "structured settlements," a scheme that would return investment of at least 20 percent, often more, in as short a time as three months. The structured settlements turned out to actually be pre-settlement funding or financing, and the promised return on investment would often be astronomical, even unbelievable. Investors, upon committing to secrecy, were investing large amounts of money and receiving large returns. Rothstein was a respected member of the bar, a partner in a reputable and growing law firm, politically well connected, and philanthropically generous. His sales pitch was convincing, and people were trusting him with their money to the tune of over $1.2 billion dollars.
But, as has been astutely noted elsewhere, "if it's too good to be true, it probably is," and so thought Sakowitz. A veteran real estate investor and attorney, he began to do his due diligence on the scheme, and red flags began to pop up everywhere. The more he researched, the more questionable the investment seemed, and the less the numbers would add up. Finally, he concluded that what was going on had to be illegal, and he called the FBI.
The rest is history. Rothstein fled to Morocco just in front of an FBI warrant to search his law offices, one of a few countries that does not have an extradition treaty to the United States. He returned later, upon pleading from his partners, and turned himself into the FBI to cooperate in their investigation. Disbard for life, he was later sentenced to 50 years in prison, and is serving his time in a federal detention center in Miami.
That's the Rothstein story, but it's not half of the book. What makes Sakowitz's book interesting and worth reading is the dichotomous nature in which he has written it. Instead of weaving a tale about Rothstein's corruption, hubris, and crimes, which he does do, Sakowitz also intersperes the account with anecdotes about the selfless individuals that have added value and meaning to Sakowitz's life. His stories include those of his parents, rabbis, community members, individuals he admires from afar, and others who he has seen selflessly give of themselves to others. It is intended as a contrast to Rothstein's selfishness, and it is an intimate and touching portrait of many of the unsung heroes of our world. All too often we hear and read about the people and egos who thrust themselves into our consciousness in the news and media, and it is refreshing to hear the stories of those who quietly go about doing good without any hope or expectation of reward. Although I do not share Sakowitz's faith, as a person of faith myself, I found much in Sakowitz's book in common with people in my own life, and I was inspired by the thought that there are people out there doing good for good's sake alone.
Scott Rothstein was a selfish fool, and his greed hurt a lot of people. But fortunately, there are good people out there, too and in Sakowitz's account we see a few of them. They are unsung, usually, and only quietly going about doing good. But it is their actions and choices that give me hope that in the end we can choose the good side of our nature--what Sakowitz calls the "right side" of our hearts--over the bad....more
If you walk away with nothing from this book, and from this review, it should be this: by using data, organization, and money, there are political opeIf you walk away with nothing from this book, and from this review, it should be this: by using data, organization, and money, there are political operatives out there manipulating how voters think about their candidates, and not necessarily with accurate information.
Without a doubt, the book is what it purports to be: a blueprint for the Democratic strategy to successfully turn Republican leaning states, districts and offices over to Democrats. And it's already worked. Democrats, in what was in 2002 one of the reddest states of country, now control the state House and Senate, both US Senate seats, the Governors mansion, and five of the seven Congressional seats. Further, as the authors, Adam Schrager and Rob Witwer, argue, it's a plan that is being exported to other states, and even being used nationally, to take down Republicans everywhere.
So what's the secret? How do Democrats turn a conservative state into a left leaning Democratic stronghold? Tom Tancredo, former Republican Congressman, summed it up nicely:
"It doesn't matter if you are running for the state legislature or the president of the United States. Brilliant organization, unlimited resources, and the effective use of technology all in the hands of bright people who are driven more than just simple ideology create the most formidable campaign strategy imaginable."
And that's exactly what happened. Conceived as a project by several millionaires--and not just your garden variety millionaires, but including dot-com millionaires with a penchant for data manipulation and a surplus of cash--the Colorado story is that of a small cadre of intelligent individuals bypassing the traditional political parties to orchestrate an ambush on Republican office holders that flipped Colorado to the Democrats. Using huge influxes of cash channeled through shadowy 527 non-profits, Democrats used data collection methods to target vulnerable and marginally successful Republicans with vicious mailers and only marginally true television advertising. Republicans never saw it coming, and it wasn't until almost six years later that they started to pick up the game. Using a method of directing donations to candidates and non-profits categorized as 527s under the IRS tax code, Democrats were able to hide the actual amount of money being spent to attack Republicans, pool from wealthy donors nationwide, and target only a few swing votes to turn elections in several states.
It's a brilliantly executed strategy, and one I am sure that every politico wishes he had conceived. The tools are available to anyone who will organize them and that is willing to raise and find the money.
As for a read, the book moves fast and feels like an extended magazine piece, full of quotes and interesting anecdotes. However, it's probably better designed for a political wonk than for the average reader.
As I stated at the outset, the scary aspect of the book is the ability of these operatives, infusing enormous amounts of money, deft and witty campaign messaging (read: attack ads and mailers that smear candidates), and highly organized grassroots management, can, and are, winning elections, and not necessarily on the merits of their candidates.
Fascinating read. Pick it up. Or borrow it from me. ...more