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Archive for the ‘Book reviews’ Category


Posted by heyrandy on January 2, 2016

Liberators, John Wesley,Rawles. 2014.

He has done it. A new tale of a plucky band of the well-armed expel first the French then the Chinese. This time the action takes place in British Columbia. It is the Canadians’ turn to be brave, resourceful, and victorious. Fans of Rawles will like the book. I give it a C. Post-apocalyptic novels usually follow the same formula: crash, improvising survivors, victory. This is the case with Rawles’ latest. The details are there to give technical information to the readers. I did not find anything new.

One thing that I did find odd was Rawles’ description of the French occupiers as “Frogs.” He did not refer to the Chinese as anything other the Chinese.

The book does end on a positive note. Twenty-two years after the crash, a war story is corrected with a bloody nose. Last time it was ice cream. I guess the Canadians are different.

Rawles has a new book out. It is about a plucky band who are building a libertarian-cum- state in the no man’s between Sudan and Kenya. Review to soon follow.

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The Holy D9

Posted by heyrandy on November 8, 2014

Goliath Max Blumenthal, 2013

Blumenthal has given us a very clear account of the state of affairs in Israel. The Holy Land is full of very unholy people. The Israelis have become what they hate. The victims of the holocaust have now become the new persecutors. The Israeli government is now conducting the new holocaust. The victims are anyone who is not a persecutor.

The state of Israel has become a racist, murdering machine. And it is all legal. The process is an old one. The Palestinians are the primary target of this tyranny. The government seeks to purge the land of them. Routinely denounced in the Knesset, the Jews regard the Palestinians as vermin, worthy only of destruction. The Knesset accomplishes this by passing anti-Palestinian laws.

Blumenthal says that the new symbol of Israel is the Caterpillar D9 bulldozer. The Israeli government uses the machines, with added armor plating, to clear land of Palestinian homes. This allow the building of Jews-only settlements (or Jews-only roadways connecting those settlements.) The Palestinians have no say. Any resistance meets brutal force. Such is life in a total police state. Palestinians are often murdered by Israeli security forces. Justice for the victims? Never. They don’t count.

Blumenthal interviews a lot of people from all viewpoints. The only Israelis who are not total bigots are the very tiny dissenting groups. They are all pariahs, hated as much as the Palestinians. The favorite retort is “Holocaust denier.” This epithet has been applied to Holocaust survivors who object to the government policies.

Israel is now filled with recent immigrants from eastern Europe. These Jews, mostly Russian, view Palestine as their land which the Palestinians stole from them. The government encourages this thinking. This keeps the common people deluded. As long as the government panders to the populace, the populace will keep the government in power. Power is what it is about. This is why the book’s subtitle, Fear and Loathing in Greater Israel, is so correct.

The greatest power in Israel is the Israeli Defense Force. The IDF is the Church. It is worshiped. Woe to those who refuse military service. Woe to those who expose IDF wrongdoing. Woe to those who criticize “the only thing that prevents the Palestinians from murdering us in our beds.” It is that bad. The common attitude is that the Army is always right. It is impossible for them to lie. Blumenthal and a group of dissenters discovered how entrenched this attitude is. When dissent groups challenged the official story of the Israeli commando raid on the aid ship Mavi Marmara, the IDF retracted several official statements about the raid. The few news organizations within in Israel that ran the retraction story buried in the back pages. The television news did not mention the retraction.

Israelis do not just hate the Palestinians. They hate each other. The society is stratified. At the top are the Ashkenazi élite. Below them are the recent European immigrants. At the bottom are the African Jews. The only things lower are the detested Palestinians and the Sudanese refugees. Which of those two groups are hated more is determined by who is asked.

The big mistake Blumenthal repeats throughout the book is to equate democracy with freedom. Israel is a democracy. It elects its representatives to the Knesset to pass laws that hurt the Palestinians.

The book is very well worth reading. It will give you a perspective that you will not hear on the Israeli, or American, news.


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Foreigners and Domestics

Posted by heyrandy on January 11, 2014

Expatriates, James Wesley-Rawles, 2013

As he predicted the author has written another novel in his series about survivors of the financial collapse. This time the locales are the Philippines, central Florida, and Australia.The events are much the same. Plucky folk do what they have to do to stay alive. The same plucky one drive out the UN’s occupation force in America and a combined Indonesian and Malaysian army in Australia. Rawles did not explain how rival factions within Indonesia and Malaysia over came language and cultural barriers to make an effective combined fighting force. Minor omission.

I found the novel a little dull. The genre is limited. What can you really say? His characters are all thin. Every thing is too neat. Providence is always providing. The boat did not even run out of coconut oil fuel for its diesel engine until safely docked in Australia. They even had ammunition left over.

The book contains the usual technical details about firearms (.25-06? “Next time buy a .308.”), the admonition to have you supplies ready, and how to set a simple tactical ambush (it helps if your enemy is stupid and the defenders are so disciplined the no one fires prematurely, tipping off the attackers.)

In a recent interview the author has stated that he is in the process of writing another novel. I shall lie in wait, imaginary .308 at the ready.

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Sheriff Nate to the Rescue

Posted by heyrandy on January 3, 2014


The electrical power grids in America (we have three) are vulnerable to attack. There is not a lot that anyone can do to make them more secure. This is the theme around which Gridlock revolves. The book is an apocalyptic novel about international machination, the Internet, terrorism, criminal networks, and a county sheriff who saves all.

Nate Osborne, the one-legged sheriff of Obscure County, North Dakota is the man who keeps the lights on in America when America’s American-made enemies try their best shut off the current. It seems that Iran and Venezuela have decided to get back at the big Yankee idiot. They have hired a Russian killer and a stupid computer genius to do the work. The Russian is quite capable, the computer kid thinks that getting his Ph.D from MIT at age 14 makes him impossible to defeat.

The book is filled with the impossible. The trouble starts when the Russian shoots a high-voltage power line insulator. He uses a long-range gun, one that he recently acquired and has not test fired. I guess that the scope was perfectly adjusted since he made the very difficult shot of hitting the insulator with his first round. The scope must have kept inline even though the Russian used the barrel to bludgeon to death his first victim.

What is even more far-fetched is amazing coöperation of all the government agencies involved. The CIA borrowed an airplane from the U.S. Navy so the FBI could fly the sheriff to Amsterdam.

Key to the book is the Internet. By way of the internet we have intercepted phone calls and e-mails. (The Russian does it. The NSA had not yet been exposed.) The computer virus would of course come via Internet.

There is the usual technical babble about guns. You cannot have an action novel without guy stuff! There is also a totally gratuitous rape–sans details.

The women in the novel come out as the heroes.  Fighters all. The most silly scene is when the sheriff’s girl friend is standing behind the Russian, shotgun in her hands, but does not blast the Russian. She runs at him; he disarms her.

In the end all is well. The grid does not crash (Two 2.5 megawatt transformers are lost to saboteurs. Why bother?) The Russian returns to his ignorant wife whom he had planned to eventually kill but now decides to retire with her. She reveals that she knows he is not all he says. “I sell arms.” Must have been a side business to help in the lean times between killings. It would also give a good rate on ammunition. The sheriff keeps the trigger-shy girl. The Chinese whack the Doctor Stupid. Having your fingerprints surgically removed makes for a clean getaway.

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A Remedy for the Lies

Posted by heyrandy on July 22, 2013

Nullification How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century. Tom Woods, 2010

It is our only hope. The Federal Government has grown so large, so intrusive that there is little chance of stopping its all-controlling nature. In the last one hundred years the government has gone from delivering the mail to regulating our toilets (and the water that flushes them), our light bulbs, our air, our medicine, and our cars. That is just the beginning of a larger list. Uncle Sam’s bureaucrats now regulate everything. Woods poses a solution.

The principle of nullification dates back to the founding of the republic. Nullification has a long,glorious history. You would never know that by listening to nullification’s critics. They all insist that nullification is illegal and would re-institute slavery. Woods shows why all this is wrong.

Woods also shows why nullification is necessary. Without nullification there is no way that the people can restrain the Federal Government. The states would become merely administrative districts of the central government. This was a great fear of the states. Assurances from the Federalists were not well received. This is one of the reasons the Bill of Right was included in the Constitution. The principle of nullification was well understood. It is embodied in the Tenth Amendment.

Ratification the Constitution was not a simple process. Woods shows from the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers that the states were worried that the central government would overtake the states. Proponents of the Constitution assured the doubters that no such thing would ever happen. The doubters insisted on adding the first ten amendments as a guarantee that federal tyranny would be prevented. The amendments have proven ineffective. The amendments have been steadily weakened. They are now a chimera. Nullification is all that is left.

Woods lays out the theory of the Constitution as a compact among the states as opposed the nationalist theory that the Constitution comes from a single people. The compact theory has been eclipsed by the nationalist theory since 1830. We see the result.

Woods recognizes the difficulty in enacting nullification. In addition the ignorant media shills who screech and scream against the theory, there is the serious matter of Federal funding for state and local projects. Since the lower levels of government are so desperate for Federal money, the Federal government can threaten to withhold this money if the states nullify any Federal law. The states will be hard pressed to resist the will of voters angry that their kid’s school in no longer getting all that free Federal money. This threat of withholding of Federal funds was used in the 1970s to coerce the states into accepting the 55 mile-per-hour speed limit. No state refused.

Nullification is now getting some attention by the states. It along with a renewed interest in the 10th Amendment give us some hope in taming the Federal monster.

The second part of the book is a reprinting of “Eleven Essential Documents.” These documents give historical force to Wood’s argument. The documents also show that the founders did serious thinking about these issues in the early days of the country. These documents set forth the real meaning of nullification. Read this book and nullify.

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Posted by heyrandy on July 17, 2013

Founders A Novel of the Coming Collapse, James Wesley,Rawles, 2012

The is the third in the author’s series of post-apocalyptic novels. (A fourth volume is due in October, 2013.) This volume expands on some of the characters mentioned in his previous works. The book centers on a couple who leave Chicago, Illinois and travel to safe-house retreat in Idaho. The couple does not get out of Chicago before their vehicles are stopped and captured by rioters. The couple then proceeds on foot.

Along the way we meet other characters and are treated to discussions of their religion, gun calibers, and how people who survived did so. For the combat partial there a several shootouts.

I found the book trite. It is almost unbelievable that two people could make it as far as they were supposed to with as little difficulty as they encounter. It is almost a isn’t-it-wonderful-that-the-world-has-ended situation.

The book ends 178 years after “the collapse” with someone using a metal detector to find scrap metal. It is a great day when he finds seventeen old, rusty fence posts. If the situation is this bad, where did he get the metal detector? The man does find the pirate treasure. This lets him take his child helper out for ice cream. The best idea in the book.

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Deep Dope

Posted by heyrandy on July 15, 2013

The Politics of Heroin, Alfred McCoy, 1991

The production and sale of heroin has deep political roots. The trade prospers because of government permission. Sometimes that permission is government cooperation. All governments need money. This is an easy way to get it.

Opium is grown in the remote hills of third-world countries and through an elaborate series of chemical processes is turned into the white power of heroin. The profits in this business are so great that many countries’ secret intelligence services have used the trade to finance their clandestine operations.

The book focus on the area of southeast Asia called the Golden Triangle. This is the border areas of Laos, Thailand, and Burma (now Myanmar.) Peasant framers grow opium and then trade it to mostly Chinese merchants. The merchants then sell the opium to secret laboratories which turn it into heroin. The heroin is then smuggled into the western countries.

Along the way there is massive bribery and corruption of government officials.

The unspoken thesis of this book is that the trade is unstoppable. As long as people want heroin they will bet it. Government would go broke without it.

The book gives the history of heroin and how it became illegal. It was once a minor problem they grew when the drug became illegal. There is a lesson here. Read the book to learn it.

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Nut Town

Posted by heyrandy on July 12, 2013

Insane City, Dave Barry, 2013

Where do you go to find Burmese pythons, billionaires, illegal refugees, and the ultra-trendy in an atmosphere alive with ethnic tensions? If you said Miami, Florida, you are right. Welcome to the crazy place. I forgot to mention the orangutan.

Barry, a former columnist for the Miami Herald, writes about all this to not only give a view of the city that the tourist promoters do not like but to raise the very important questions of immigration policy, drug laws, and the influence money has in politics.

The story concerns Seth, an indolent, under achieving only child of elderly Jewish parents, and his fiancee Tina, the eldest of two daughters of billionaire Mike Clark. Tina is everything Seth is not. A hard-driving, take-no-prisoners graduate of Harvard Law School. Seth is a graduate of a state school “with a solid B average” in marketing. He writes pseudo tweets for feminine care products. She does “important legal work” on behalf of groups that advocate for the “undocumented” immigrants. She has never met any of the people for whom she files legal briefs.

Secondary themes running through the book are the value of college educations, obsession with being part of the elite within the elite, vanity, and hypocrisy.

The language of the book is vulgar. There are numerous sexual references. But if you can get through all that, the book addresses serious issues in the style that Barry is famous for: truth is funny enough.

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You Are Guilty

Posted by heyrandy on July 10, 2013

Three Felonies a Day, Harvey Silvergate.

If they want you, they will find the crime to fit. This is the thesis of Silvergate’s book. He gives many examples of how this is so. There is almost no one the federal prosecutors cannot indict and convict.

The reason it is so easy to indict people is the vast number of federal laws and the ambiguity with which they are written. There is also the problem of how prosecutors stretch the laws well beyond their original intent to make the law useful in getting someone.

Silvergate reveals all the tricks used by prosecutors. Squeeze the low-level people, even if there is no crime, so they incriminate a higher-up. Then repeat the process with the higher-up until you get your man. It is called ladder climbing. Prosecutors pile on phony charges such as mail fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy. The prosecutor can then offer to drop these charges in exchange for a plea deal. Justice doesn’t matter, convictions do. It is about numbers. You can’t quantify justice, but convictions add up nicely.

The courts go along with this horror. Prosecutors routinely ask the courts to freeze the defendants funds, claiming the money is part of the crime. This makes it difficult for the victim to get good legal counsel. It also make it easier to get a conviction.

It is a case of us all being criminals.We just have not yet been convicted. While you wait your turn you can read Silvergate’s book and count the felonies you have committed.

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Scatter Shot

Posted by heyrandy on July 9, 2013

Hit List, Richard Belzer and David Wayne, 2013

Belzer and Wayne proceed upon the thesis that the deaths of so many of those involved in the JFK assassination as witness, no matter how peripheral, is evidence of a conspiracy. The authors point out that the statistical probability of this number of people dying in a group of about 1400 is almost too vast to calculate.

The book is a series of short chapters on many people who have died in a short time after the assassination. Some of the people are directly involved in the assassination, e.g., Lee Harvey Oswald, but many of those included in the book are not even tangentially related to JFK’s death. Francis Gary Powers (of U2 fame), really?

Even if we discount the extraneous inclusions, the book still suffers from a lack of real evidence. Yes, the deaths of people like JFK’s paramour Mary Meyer are unsolved, but this does not mean she was on the verge of blowing off the lid on the conspiracy.

The authors admit that some of the people they profile may have died for other reasons than to keep them quiet about the assassination. It is always difficult to interpret the murders of mob bosses. Jimmy Hoffa hated the Kennedy brothers, but Hoffa’s real enemies were the mob thugs who controlled the union. They wanted to keep Hoffa’s replacement in office.

If all the people mentioned by the authors were actually involved in the killing, just how big was this conspiracy? If the conspiracy was as large as the authors imply, it is amazing that we know so little of it. The old saying applies: it is not a secret when if more than one person know it. The authors believe that there were a lot of people involved.

The book is of little value even to the die-hard conspiracy theorists. I found their treatment of the evidence to be superficial. Many of the chapters end on a very tentative notes. There is little concrete here. The dead deserve better.

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