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review 2018-04-20 00:36
Fire and Fury
Fire and Fury - Wolff-Michael Roth,Holter Graham

It's been about a week and a half since I finished this one, and I've procrastinated on reviewing it.  (Well, part of that is I've been away at a conference this week.)  I am once again copping out on assigning a "star" rating.  I don't thinkof this book as either good or bad.  In certain ways, it confirms what I would have expected about the inner-workings (or lack thereof) of the Trump White House, though in other ways it's my expectations augmented exponentially.  At least two of his inner circle reportedly compared him to a toddler (trying to figure out what a toddler wants; working with a recalcitrant two-year-old).  And of course that is genuinely terrifying.


According to Wolff, the White House staff were essentially divided into two camps:  the Bannonites (aligned with former campaign manager Steve Bannon) and the "Jarvanka" team (aligned with Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka Trump, both of whom had installed themselves into the White House as loosely defined advisors).  Bannon's vision of Trump as disruptor were at odds with Jarvanka's desire to appeal to more moderate contingents, while positioning their own political rise (Ivanka musing that she'd be the first female president of the U.S.)


The epilogue ends with Bannon making some terrifying pronouncements about "President Bannon" and "Bannon 2020."  


Bottom line:  check out this book if you are curious.  Check it out from your library. (Or download the audio from their website, as I did--though I also downloaded the Kindle version and, again, went back and forth between audio and text).


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text 2018-02-28 12:00
February 2018 Reading Wrap Up
American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land - Monica Hesse
AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America's Upper Classes from Military Service -- and How It Hurts Our Country - Kathy Roth-Douquet,Frank Schaeffer
The Great Silence - Juliet Nicolson
Dark in Death - J.D. Robb


BL/GR: 17/52 (32%)

PS Reading Challenge: 11/50 (22%)

COYER Winter Switch, Phase 3: 4 books


Read and Reviewed

1. American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land by Monica Hesse - 4 stars

2. AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America's Upper Classes from Military Service - and How It Hurts Our Country by Kathy Roth-Douquet and Frank Schaeffer - 3.5 stars

3. The Great Silence 1918-1920: Living in the Shadow of the Great War by Juliet Nicolson - 4 stars

4. Dark in Death (In Death #46) by JD Robb - 4 stars



5. Redeeming the Dream: The Case for Marriage Equality by David Boies and Theodore B. Olson


Set Aside for a Future Reading

6. Gambled Away anthology by Various Authors

7. A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev


Currently Reading

8. Women Heroes of the World War I: 16 Remarkable Resisters, Soldiers, Spies, and Medics by Kathryn J. Atwood

9. Forgotten Voices from the Great War by Max Arthur


Hours Volunteered at the Library

January: 13 hours, 5 minutes

February: 12 hours, 55 minutes

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review 2018-02-25 16:29
AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America's Upper Classes from Military Service - and How It Hurts Our Country by Kathy Roth-Douquet and Frank Schaeffer
AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America's Upper Classes from Military Service -- and How It Hurts Our Country - Kathy Roth-Douquet,Frank Schaeffer

This short book raises some very serious questions about how sustainable the all-volunteer force that makes up the US military really is in light of today's geopolitical sphere. Originally published in 2006, I think the problem is worse now then it was when the book was first issued. Some of the root causes and issues around the all-volunteer military stems from the Vietnam War and is explained why in detail.


However, a lot of their writing comes from their personal experiences dealing with the military and how others perceive them. Roth-Douquet is married to an Army officer; Schaeffer is the father of a Marine. While they are military-adjacent, they are not military and therefore there is a certain "sit down civilian" feeling I had towards the authors, such as when R-D goes on and on about deployments and the toll it takes on the service member. Both authors are very status-concerned and worry about how others in their admittedly upper class tiers look at them. There is also the Odd Couple sense to the authors; R-D worked in the Clinton administration and Schaeffer is a self-identified Republican that leans Liberitarian. This difference in politics comes up frequently, as if they were in a musical adaption of the book. 


Both authors serve up some solutions to re-balancing the all-volunteer force, and bringing back the draft is such a big item that it gets it's own debate; R-D is all for bringing it back with a few tweaks and Schaeffer is for using a draft as an absolute last option.


Overall, a serious discussion was raised about the state of our military that should be talked about more in our media and homes. I am glad I read this book and thank the authors for bringing this to my attention. It just needed some editing and more voices, especially from those who have worn the uniform. 

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review 2018-02-01 19:59
Fire and Fury: A review with feathers
Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House - Wolff-Michael Roth

Here we are, at the end of a long, challenging read. There were moments I wasn't sure I could make it, but I persisted, as is a woman's way. And what have I learned from this 300 page clusterfuck?


Our president is a bird brain.


Don't believe me? I brought the receipts. 



I want to introduce you to Snow. 



Snow is an only child, quite happy with his lot in life, and by all intents and purposes the President of the United Cage of Cockatiels. Stay with me here.


Snow, who was the runt of the clutch, was the only baby we kept out of four little cockatiels. He has been pampered, spoiled and allowed to run the show. He thinks he has all the chirps, the best chirps. He can be loud when ignored, and petulant when angry.


He literally will chew the perch out from under himself if it means it will take down one of his flock mates he's in a spat with.



He is, in short, a little shit.


But according to everything I have read, he is completely qualified to be our elustrious leader. They are so frighteningly similar it gives me pause. Is Donald Trump a bird? Nah, just a bird brain. Let's explore this further with quotes from the book. This is the first time I have ever highlighted in a book I purchased because I just didn't want to miss anything.


1. Cockatiels have notorious short attention spans.


Early in the campaign, in a "Producers"-worthy scene, Sam Nunberg was sent to explain the Constitution to the candidate: "I got as far as the Fourth Amendment before his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in his head."


This was one of numerous times Trump had no patience for anything not to do with him. More than once it was noted he would simply get up from a meeting with a world leader and leave because he was bored. This was also why he couldn't seem to hire people: they ran on numbers and he ran on drama. He would likely not hire the proper person simply because they used data.


Cockatiels are trained in 10 minute intervals, by the way. Birds just don't do well with extended periods of learning.


2. Cockatiels love to preen, strut and be the center of attention. Even if it makes no sense.


...he lied about his height to keep from having a body mass index that would label him as obese.


Some seducers are preternaturally sensitive to the signals of those they try to seduce; others indiscriminately attempt to seduce, and, by law if averages, often succed  (the latter group might be regarded as harrassers). That was Trump's approach to women- pleased when he scored, unconcerned when he didn't  (and, often, despite the evidence, believing he had). And so it was with Director Comey.


Here is another peculiar Trump attribute: an inability to see his actions the way most others saw them. Or to fully appreciate how people expected him to behave.


One of Trump's deficiencies- a constant in the campaign and, so far, in the presidency- was his uncertain grasp of cause and effect.


The virtue of Donald Trump- the virtue, anyway, of Donald Trump to Steve Bannon- was that cosmopolitan elite was never going to accept him. He was, after all, Donald Trump, however much you shined him up.


Snow spends his day trying to woo his own mom. When that fails, he sits and crows at the top of his lungs for any attention the others might lavish on him. They mostly ignore him because they have grown tired of his obnoxious squawling. He is the cleanest of the four birds in the cage, but will poop in his own food dish. He makes little sense to his cage mates. But to himself he is an amazing, vocal superstar.


3. Cockatiels aren't known for their strategy.


As for the President, it was quite clear that deciding between contradictory policy approaches was not his style of leadership. He simply hoped that difficult decisions would make themselves.


...Steve Bannon was running the Steve Bannon White House, Jared Kushner was running the Michael Bloomberg White House, and Reince Priebus was running the Paul Ryan White House. It was a 1970s video game, the white ball pinging back and forth in the black triangle.


My tiels are notorious for getting themselves into messes. Like crashing into things then laying helplessly and waiting for me to come pick them up. They are like kamikaze pilots. I see very much of the White House in their motions. At least no lives but their own hang in the balance when Snow convinces his cage mates to blow that taco stand and fly head first into the mantel.


4. And finally, as much as I love them, sometimes cockatiels just aren't all that bright.


Trump didn't read. He didn't really skim...Some believed for all practical purposes he was no more than semiliterate. 


Not only didn't he read, he didn't listen...And he trusted his own expertise- no matter how paltry or irrelevant- more than anyone else's.


Here was a key Trump White House rationale: expertse, that liberal virtue, was overrated. After all, so often people who worked hard to know what they knew made the wrong decisions. So maybe the gut was as good, or maybe better, at getting to the heart of the matter than wonkish and data-driven inability to see the forest for the trees that often seemed to plague U.S. policy making. Maybe. Hopefully.

Of course, nobody really believed that, except the President himself.


Snow literally bites the hand that feeds him. And he poops on his food. Plus, might I refer you back to the picture of the chewed rope perch? 



So, in conclusion:


The book was frightening in its honesty. Trump isn't in charge so much as he is being led around by whoever gives him to most compliments. He's easily frustrated, he hardly works, he has turned our democratic process into a oligarchy/monarchy, and he has absolutely no grasp of why people hate him. He is a narcissist who expects everyone to love him or bow to him. He has the mistaken idea that a president is a king. And he has zero idea about policy. The sad thing is he said a few things in this book that sort of showed a real human being, but then it was completely crushed by his fragile ego. 


Fire and Fury confirmed he never wanted to be president. He did this to martyr himself and raise his brand, but when he won he became power hungry. He has no business in DC.


As for the book itself, it was well written, needed some more editing and had a couple of grammatical errors. I haven't ever read a political book before so I got a crash course in realpolitik language. But man, after this, I need a stiff drink. How about...Trump vodka?


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review 2018-01-31 17:24
Die Liebe und die Angst
Rimbaud und die Dinge des Herzens - Samuel Benchetrit,Olaf Matthias Roth

"Weißt du, Charly, man muss lieben ... Im Leben muss man lieben, und zwar sehr. Man darf niemals Angst haben, zu sehr zu lieben. Das ist wahrer Mut! Sei niemals egoistisch, was dein Herz angeht. Wenn es voller Liebe ist, dass zeig das auch. Lass dein Herz aus dir heraus und zeig es aller Welt ...  Es gibt nicht genügend mutige Herzen ... Es gibt nicht genügend Herzen, die ganz nach außen gekehrt sind. Ich rede hier von deinem persönlichen Glück ... Damit dein Leben schön wird, musst du so stark wie möglich lieben. Verachte diejenigen, die dich warnen wollen. Sie werden weniger glücklich sein als du. Diejenigen, die den Schmerz fürchten, glauben nicht an das Leben ... Wenn du jedoch einem liebenden Herzen begegnest, folge ihm, mach es zu deinem Freund, lerne von seinem Beispiel, damit dein eigenes erfüllt wird! Verstehst du Charly ... Was auch geschieht, sieh zu, dass dein Herz immer voll ist. Pass auf dein Herz auf..."


Ein kleiner Junge, der manchmal viel zu alt fühlt für sein Alter. Berührend. Kinder sind mit sich und ihren Emotionen oft ehrlicher, als wir Erwachsenen, die mit Angst gefüllt sind.

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