Friday, January 22, 2016

A Review of Ronald Reagan (The American Presidents Series #40)

In one way, Reagan isn't hard to understand at all: he knew what he believed, meant what he said, and made clear what he intended to do.  He didn't suffer from anxiety or self-doubt.~Jacob Weisberg
Ronald Reagan by Jacob Weisberg is the 4th book on Reagan that I've read so far.  I was offered a free copy of the book if I would review it.  Since, I love to read biographies on the presidents and first ladies, I was more than happy to review the book.

It is part of The American Presidents series, which says, "It is the aim of the American Presidents series to present the grand panorama of our chief executives in volumes compact enough for the busy reader, lucid enough for the student, authoritative enough for the scholar."  

I think this book definitely accomplishes the above objectives.  It does a fairly good job of giving a concise view of Reagan as a person and as a president.

I did a 3 part series on this blog entitled, Why I Love Ronald Reagan, so I will admit that I'm a little biased in his favor.  That said, I felt like Weisberg's liberal bias did come through at times.

While giving Reagan credit for some things, he seems to hold the elitist view that many have had for him that he wasn't overly smart and was lacking depth.  The following quote is a perfect example, "Reagan's televised address, which he rewrote heavily himself, displayed both his limitations as a thinker and his tremendous gifts as a communicator."

This wouldn't be the first book on Ronald Reagan that I would recommend, but I would recommend it for those who want a nice, short biography that gives a good overview of his life.

Friday, January 01, 2016

A Review of Raven and My Study of Jonestown

-The Jonestown massacre on November 18,1978 has always been a topic of interest to me.  I have watched documentaries and read books on it over the years.

-After I read Leslie Wagner-Wilson's book, Slavery of Faith, I knew I needed to read a comprehensive book about Jonestown.

-Tim Reiterman's book is described as, "the seminal book on the story of Jonestown."  To say it is the seminal book is an understatement.  Everything you'd ever want to know about Jim Jones, The People's Temple and Jonestown are in the 600 plus pages.

-Tim Reiterman was a journalist who wrote about Jim Jones and The People's Temple.  He wanted to visit Jonestown to write about it, but didn't get a chance until Congressman Leo Ryan's trip in November of 1978.

-When leaving Jonestown, Congressman Ryan and 3 others were shot and killed on the airstrip by Larry Layton and other Jones loyalists.  Reiterman was one of many who were shot, but only injured.  They had to wait till the next morning for rescue.

-Reiterman not only reported on Jonestown, but he became a part of its demise.

In his eloquent and almost biblical prose, Jones disguised his agnosticism--or atheism--and hid the fact that he was using religion for social goals.--pg. 50

While he pursued the conventional goals of an aggressive fundamentalist preacher--money and members--he also moved in new directions: toward cultlike control of his people and toward communism under the guise of Christian Communalism.--pg. 57

Step by step Jones was leading his people to the conclusion that he was a prophet.  The people trusted him and stood in awe of him; they compromised themselves by accepting his destruction of the Bible.--pg. 93 of Raven
-Jones has sometimes been described as an "evangelical preacher".  When I researched Jones, that doesn't describe him at all.  He didn't even really believe in God or Jesus, he thought he was god.  He believed in socialism and in getting people to worship him.  While still in the U.S., he supported both Democrats and Republicans so he could have power.  But he definitely allied himself with liberals who believed in socialism.

-Jones did fake healings, and all kinds of bizarre things even before he left the U.S. for Guyana.  His closest advisors and confidants knew that he was a fraud, but thought the ends justified the means when it came to their socialistic goals.

-Amazingly, once Jones had people following him, they put up with inconceivable things.  He was not only a serial adulterer, but bragged from the pulpit that he was sleeping with many different women and men.  Many of these people didn't want to voluntarily sleep with him, but felt that they had no choice because of who he was.

-He manipulated people, and got away with it, until some people started to defect.  When that happened and the media got wind of it, he moved over 1,000 of his people to the socialist country of Guyana in South America.

-When people arrived, their passports were immediately confiscated and many of them realized quickly that they had made a huge mistake in giving up their freedom.  Jones required everyone to work long hours, there wasn't much food, and they were often denied sleep.  Jonestown was an armed encampment where people weren't free to leave.

-By the time the "concerned relatives" (of some Jonestown inhabitants), Congressman Ryan and the journalists came to Jonestown, Jones had already conditioned and rehearsed mass suicide events with his people.  So when people started leaving Jonestown, and Jones realized he was losing control, he initiated the mass suicide.

-If people didn't comply, they were forced to drink the cyanide.  In the recording of the event you can hear children screaming and crying and Jones urging everyone to die with dignity.

-It is incomprehensible how brainwashed the people had to have been to comply.  Ironically, a sign at Jonestown read, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."  Jones dead body was found right underneath it.

Slavery of Faith by Leslie Wagner-Wilson
Raven by Tim Reiterman & John Jacobs
Escape from Jonestown
Jonestown: Paradise Lost
Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Review of And the Good News Is...

Over the years that I worked for him he became much more to me than my boss or even the President of the United States.  He became like a second father, a friend, and a confidant.--Dana Perino 
-I ended up loving this book and Dana Perino much more than I expected too.  She followed Tony Snow as the White House Press Secretary and those were big shoes to fill.

What I loved about her and the book:
-Her optimism-she has this in common with her former boss, George W. Bush.  Optimism endears me to people and was one of the things I loved about W.
-Her love and loyalty for George W. Bush
-Her patriotism
-Her unashamed defense of being a conservative
-She too was upset by Scott McClellan's book unfairly attacking the Bush Administration
-She reaffirmed my respect for Bush as a man and a president
-She reaffirmed my love and respect for Tony Snow
-I appreciated the advice she gave, and it was helpful to me
-She was able to say nice things about Obama and Biden as men, even though she disagrees with them.
-I enjoyed hearing about how she met and fell in love with her husband.

-What was incredible to me as I read the book, was how emotional I still get about the loss of Tony Snow

-I can't recommend this book highly enough.  If you want to be inspired by a strong woman, Dana is your gal.  She represents conservative women well.  I'll be watching The Five much more often.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Fox Business/Wall Street Journal GOP Debate (11-10-15)!

Marco Rubio: "We can’t even have an economy if we’re not safe. There are radical jihadists in the Middle East beheading...
Posted by Fox News on Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Rubio had his usual stellar night, it's simply amazing! There's no
subject on which he's not fluent, forceful and passionate.~Charles
According to many, Marco Rubio is now 4-0 at the GOP Debates.  Below is a great summary of the debate and assessment of the candidates:
My take on the Republican presidential debate that just ended: I thought Marco Rubio won again. He's got tremendous raw political skills, and he gave a preview of the argument he'd like to make against Hillary Clinton in the fall--that this is a time for generational change. 

Ben Carson showed more energy but no mastery of issues. 
Jeb Bush did better than in previous debates but not well enough to stop the momentum for Rubio among donors. 
Kasich may have hurt himself with his interruptions and unpopular answers. 
Trump was more mellow than before, but he strikes me as the least wattage intellectually on stage. 
Carly Fiorina had a good night and had some nice lines. 
And Ted Cruz may have the highest IQ but the lowest EQ.~Nicholas Kristof

Things I was happy about:
-Mike Huckabee didn't make the cut to be a part of the main debate.
-Rubio did a great job as always.  He is knowledgeable on all the issues and does an amazing job of presenting them and in responding quickly to other candidates.
-Rubio crushing Rand Paul.
-Trump getting booed twice!
-Carly Fiorina holding her own.
-The moderators not being idiots.

Things that annoyed me:
-Trump insulting Kasich.
-Rand Paul attacking Rubio.
-Bush and Kasich bumbling and trying to interrupt.  It just looked kind of pathetic.
-Ted Cruz annoys the hell out of me every time he talks.  He just comes across as smarmy, and like a slick used car salesman.

More praise for Rubio:
Rubio knocked it out of the park when debating military spending and the right role for America in the world with Rand Paul. He got a meatball of a question when asked  by the moderators about Hillary Clinton's résumé as compared with his own; he, unsurprisingly, answered it well and easily. Time and time again, he oozed knowledge while appearing entirely relaxed.~The Washington Post

If you rank everybody, Rubio, of course -- look he has done well, and he’s been at the top of the top. ~Karl Rove

I thought Marco Rubio did very well. I thought he did exceptionally well. ... He’s not only knowledgeable, which is important, he’s good at politics because part of running for President is showbiz. I mean that in the best sense, and he’s good at that as well as being knowledgeable.~Bernie Goldberg

Rubio and Cruz leaning a bit toward Rubio.
2. Carly had a good night.
I think everyone else was kind of just a mix. All did fairly well but had something that set them back.~Glenn Beck

Monday, November 09, 2015

First Lady Profile #9~Abigail Adams

Abigail was the support and 'dearest friend' who helped John reach the greatest heights. She will be remembered for this and also for her own strengths. Self-reliant, she raised her family and managed the farm for the many years that John was away during and after the war. Brave and caring, she inspired her family and friends to stand up for their beliefs, and found time to comfort them in time of need. Spirited and witty, she brought cheer to all around her.--Kem Knapp Sawyer
-Fortunately, there is a wealth of knowledge about Abigail Adams.  She and John wrote many letters during their frequent absences from each other.  These letters were saved (unlike the letters between George and Martha Washington, which were destroyed), thus giving us a wonderful picture of history:
Abigail started writing at a young age, and she never stopped.  She used her pen to reflect on-and influence-the course of history.--Kem Knapp Sawyer
-Abigail was born in November of 1744 in Weymouth, Massachusetts.  Her father was a minister and a farmer.
-She wanted to go to school but was sick a lot as a child and girls didn't have the same schooling opportunities as boys.  Her mom taught her the basics and she educated herself by reading many of the books from her father's library.
-She married John Adams on October 25th, 1764.  She was 19 and John was 28.
-Abigail had 6 children: Abigail (Nabby), John Quincy, Susanna (who only lived 13 months), Charles, Thomas and a baby that was born stillborn.
If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.~Abigail Adams
-She was a strong woman who took care of her children and managed the farm during John's many absences in service to their country.
-Abigail actually watched the Battle of Bunker Hill from their farm and wrote about it to her husband.
-She was her husband's confidant and principal adviser as he helped shape the country by being a part of the Constitutional Conventions, being a foreign minister, the vice president and finally the 2nd President of the United States.
-She was a fierce advocate for the rights of women and African Americans.  Both she and John were against slavery and never owned slaves.
-She died on October 28, 1818 and sadly never got to see her oldest son become the 6th President of the United States.

First Lady Links:
-National First Ladies Library
-C-Span Series on First Ladies

My Abigail Adams Books:
-First Ladies: Presidential Historians on the Lives of 45 Iconic American Women--Susan Swain C-Span
-America's First Ladies--Diana Dixon Healy
-First Ladies--Betty Boyd Caroli
-First Ladies of the White House--Nancy J. Skarmeas
-John Adams--David McCullough

Reference Material that I checked out from the library:
-Abigail Adams--Kem Knapp Sawyer
-Abigail Adams--Alexandra Wallner
-John and Abigail Adams (PBS Video)
-Abigail Adams: a Revolutionary Woman--Jacqueline Ching

Previous Profiles:
-Martha Washington
-Dolley Madison
-Louisa Adams
-Julia Grant
-Lucretia Garfield
-Frances Cleveland
-Edith Roosevelt
-Eleanor Roosevelt

Monday, November 02, 2015

KC Royals #TakeTheCrown and win the World Series Against the Mets!

The Royals took the crown and beat the Mets 7-2 on Sunday to win their first World Series since Ronald Reagan was President. Not having had a championship season since 1985, the KC team were in last year’s World Series but came up short against the San Francisco Giants.~Dominic Patten
-I'm not a big baseball fan, but when your whole city gets excited about something, it is hard not to get excited too.

-I bought my Royals' shirts to wear at work, and started watching the games.

-So many of the postseason games were exciting as I watched them be down by runs and then come back to win in the end.

-It was electrifying tonight to see the game go into extra innings, and then for them to pull it off and become World Series champs.

-Congrats KC Royals!!! Congrats Salvador on winning MVP!!

-And the above photo makes the win even sweeter!!

Sunday, November 01, 2015

2015 Book List--Part 1

My goal last year was to read 60 books, and I surpassed that.  So, this year my goal is 65.

There were some great movies at the end of last year, based on amazing books.  American Sniper and Unbroken were both so good, I knew I needed to read the books.  I finished Unbroken, and I plan on reading American Sniper before the end of the year.

Here are the books I've read so far:
1) Top Secret Twenty-one--Janet Evanovich
2) America's Suicide--Michael H Davison
3) The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation--Gene Roberts
4) Selma and the Voting Rights Act--David Aretha
5) The Murder of Emmett Till--David Aretha
6) A Call to Conscience: The Landmark Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.--Clayborne Carson
7) Unbroken: A World War II Book of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption--Laura Hillenbrand
8) Churchill--Paul Johnson
9) Freedom Summer--David Aretha
10) Marching in Birmingham--William J. Boerst
11) The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement--Taylor Branch
12) James Madison--Jeremy Roberts
13) The Finish: The Killing of Osama bin Laden--Mark Bowden
14) John Quincy Adams--Debbie Levy
15) The Conscience of a Conservative--Barry Goldwater
16) Gandhi: A Pictorial Biography--Gerald Gold
17) No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission that Killed Osama Bin Laden--Mark Owen
18) Lost and Found: Finding Hope in the Detours of Life--Sarah Jakes
19) True Love--Jennifer Lopez
20) I am Malala: The Girl who Stood up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban--Malala Yousafzai
21) Martha Dandridge Custis Washington--Charnan Simon
22) Skinnygirl Solutions--Bethenny Frankel
23) I Suck at Relationships So you don't Have To: 10 Rules for Not Screwing Up for Your Happily Ever After--Bethenny Frankel
24) The Lost Girls: The True Story of the Cleveland Abductions and the Incredible Rescue of Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and Gina DeJesus--John Glatt
25) The Attack on the USS Cole in Yemen on October 12, 2000--Betty Burnett
26) Lady Washington--Dorothy Clarke Wilson
27) Lost and Found: The True Story of Jaycee Lee Dugard and the Abduction that Shocked the World--John Glatt
28) Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland--Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus
29) 41: A Portrait of My Father--George W. Bush
30) Practice to Deceive--Ann Rule
31) Slavery of Faith: The Untold Story of the Peoples Temple from the Eyes of a Thirteen Year Old, Her Escape from Jonestown at 20 and Life 30 Years Later--Leslie Wagner-Wilson
32) Praying God's Word: Devotional Journal--Beth Moore
33) The Assassin's Accomplice: Mary Surratt and the Plot to Kill Abraham Lincoln--Kate Clifford Larson
34) Martha Washington: An American Life--Patricia Brady 
35) Yes Please--Amy Poehler

2014 Book List
2013 Book List
2012 Book List
2011 Book List
2010 Book List
2008 Book List

Saturday, October 31, 2015

A Review of 41: A Portrait of my Father

1st--I ended up liking this book a lot more than I thought I would. I wasn't paying attention to current events when George Bush Sr. was president. As a result, my view of him was tainted by the few facts that I heard about him from various sources.

2nd--I was impressed with Bush Sr. once I saw him as a whole man--the way he lived his life, his character, the jobs he took and his principles. The Bush family was admirable as well.

3rd--I loved getting the unique perspective of a presidential son of his presidential father. It was neat to have him compare different events in both of their presidencies, and how they affected him and his father. As George W. Bush brings up, historian David McCullough said he would've loved to have read a book written by John Quincy Adams about his father, John Adams.

4th--I love George W. Bush and think he was an amazing president. I enjoyed hearing him read this audio book himself.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Paul Ryan Becomes the 54th Speaker of the House!

So after all the meshugas on the right over the past few years, the Republicans could wind up with two new leaders going into this election, Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan. That’s a pretty excellent outcome for a party that has shown an amazing tendency to inflict self-harm.

Ryan is the new House speaker and right now Rubio is the most likely presidential nominee. The shape of the presidential campaign is coming into focus. It’s still wise to expect (pray) that the celebrity candidates will fade as the shopping phase ends and the buying phase begins.~David Brooks
-I've been a huge Paul Ryan fan for a long time.  I used to live in Wisconsin, and was so impressed to see such a strong conservative get elected there.

-I was excited when Romney put him on the ticket in 2012.  If only the VP picks could've saved the actual candidates in both 2008 and 2012.

-So, when it looked like Ryan was going to get the speaker job, I was happy.  It sounds like a grueling job to have, but I think Ryan could actually make a positive difference.
My friends, you have done me a great honor. The people of this country, they have done all of us a great honor. Now let’s prove ourselves worthy of it.~Paul Ryan

-The above video gives a small glimpse of his character.

Ryan's plans:
Before Ryan embarks on some of his legislative goals — tax and welfare reform, for example — he'll face the task of following through on his promises to the rank and file. To prove he’s serious about reforming the institution, Ryan is embarking on an overhaul of internal House procedures, restructuring a powerful committee that selects committee assignments. Ryan has told his colleagues that he plans to rewrite internal institutional rules by the end of the year, with the help of the entire House Republican Conference.
-I look forward to the future with Ryan as speaker of the House and hopefully, with Rubio as the Republican nominee for president.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

October 28th GOP CNBC Debate!

All the Republicans came out to play hard tonight but Senator Marco Rubio and Governor John Kasich clearly won—but for two different reasons. Rubio weathered very tough attacks with facts, passion and style.~John Zogby
Marco Ru­bio knocked just about every ques­tion he faced at the third Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­en­tial de­bate out of the park, wheth­er it was from the CN­BC mod­er­at­ors or from one of his rivals. The Flor­ida sen­at­or re­gistered a clean coun­ter­punch against Jeb Bush, one of his top com­pet­it­ors, and he lam­basted one of con­ser­vat­ives’ fa­vor­ite punch­ing bags, the main­stream me­dia.
All the while, Ru­bio suc­cess­fully de­flec­ted some of the most com­mon cri­ti­cisms he’s en­countered on the cam­paign trail: namely, his sparse con­gres­sion­al at­tend­ance re­cord and the hand­ling of his per­son­al fin­ances. And the audi­ence took no­tice, of­ten re­spond­ing with re­sound­ing ap­plause or even laughter.~Adam Wollner
-I had a lot of competing TV choices tonight.  The World Series with my Kansas City Royals was on, my kids and I always watch Survivor, and then for this political junkie, I had to watch the GOP Debate.

-To be honest, the main reason I was excited to watch, was to see my guy Rubio do well, and he never disappoints.

-CNBC showed their true colors in how they ran the debate, the moderators were condescending, extremely biased and didn't control the debate well at all.  They tried to pit the Republicans against one another, but it backfired.  It seemed to unite the Republicans and enabled Rubio and others to shine in light of it.

Rubio had some amazing moments tonight, and there are quite a few video clips that show just how well he knocked it out of the park.

1) The truth about candidates missing votes while running for president!  The above clip shows exactly what Zogby was talking about, Rubio responded to the moderator and to Jeb with "facts, passion and style".

-Jeb blew it when he tried to pile on, Rubio mopped the floor with him, and this might be the final nail in Jeb's coffin.

2) The truth about Rubio's tax plan!  John Harwood proved he was an idiot by using incorrect information about Rubio's tax plan, that he HIMSELF had to correct 2 weeks ago, wow!!  Below is the correction:
The best quotes of the night from Rubio:
The democrats have the ultimate Super PAC- it's called the main stream media.

The more you tax something, the less of it you get.

We have 11 good candidates on this stage, the Democrats can't even come up with ONE.

I'm against anything bad for my mother.
The best quotes from others:
The questions asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media. This is not a cage match.~Ted Cruz

Do you want me to answer or do you want to answer? Because I got to tell you the truth, even in New Jersey what you’re doing is called rude.~Chris Christie

Folks, we’ve got to wake up. We cannot elect somebody that doesn’t know how to do the job.~John Kasich

I may not be your dream candidate, just yet, but I can assure you: I am Hillary Clinton’s worse nightmare.~Carly Fiorina
Some great articles about the debate:
-The 15 most explosive moments of the GOP debate

-Marco Rubio made a big splash at the third GOP debate

-Is Marco Rubio's Breakout Debate Win Enough to Oust the Outsider Candidates?

-Who Won the Third Republican Presidential Debate? 
In Conclusion, Bill Kristol sums up the debate and the World Series game in one short tweet: