Pity the Billionaire

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“It is as though the frightening news of recent years has driven them into a defensiveness so extreme that they feel they must either deify the system that failed or lose it altogether.”

No, not the Republican Party in connection with Donald Trump.

The Republican Party in connection with Republican voters’ gullibility in believing the Right’s propaganda machine that rationalized away Wall Street’s unmitigated hubris and unconscionable greed amid the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008-2009. As is well known, the rich were made richer and poor, poorer in the second half of the single-digit 2000’s. The GOP’s clever aftermath-messaging led to big wins for them in the 2010 midterm elections.

The Book of the Week is “Pity the Billionaire, The Hard-Times Swindle and the Unlikely Comeback of the Right” by Thomas Frank, published in 2012. This short volume described how the political group called the Tea Party (“TP”), a subset of the GOP, whipped an alarmingly high number of Republican voters into a hysterical rage against the Obama administration’s handling of bailouts of financial institutions and foreclosed-upon ex-homeowners.

It appeared to be counterintuitive, that the TP raged against bailouts for bankers, brokers and lenders. After all, taxpayers were forced to reward these greedy perpetrators of the economic disaster. Through flawed reasoning, though, the TP propagandized that capitalism should be free of any and all economic intervention from the government, whether in the form of regulation or assistance. They pretended to be an enemy of big business, screaming “Socialism!!!” at the government’s every move. They did this because the resulting continued excessive deregulation would make Republicans wealthier and more powerful, and each trait would feed on the other ad infinitum. As ought to be well known– politics cannot be divorced from economics.

The TP was really pushing for 100% pure, capitalistic Libertarianism. Under the “you have two cows” scenario (look this up on the Web): you can do with the cows whatever you wish, whenever, wherever. Also, remove: ALL regulation from all aspects of American life, taxation and social safety nets. And to make the situation truly American, throw firearms into the mix and see what happens. Absent rule-of-law, sanity and civility, the resulting ruthlessness would evolve into (judging from the federal-level administrations’ gyrations of the most recent thirty years) a dictatorial kleptocracy (sort of like Zaire (aka Congo) in the 1980’s), and then anarchy, not unlike… Somalia (?)

Fortunately, a sufficient number of Americans– despite most politicians’ cronyism with big-money donors– clung to the country’s democratic underpinnings (reasonable regulation, taxation with representation, and social safety nets) to weather the storm. The author harshly criticized Obama and his Democratic party for not punishing the morally bankrupt financiers and enforcing the law in helping the bankrupted borrowers. It is possible the president felt it was worth selling his soul to those big-money donors; he wouldn’t have been reelected otherwise and wouldn’t have been able to accomplish more of his agenda. His Democratic party, too, was too nice to get down in the gutter and use the GOP’s sleazy propaganda techniques.

Anyway, read the book to learn of how the pronouncements of the TP and Glen Beck and the contents of Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged influenced numerous voters in 2010, and other reasons the nation’s political history unfolded the way it did in the early 2000’s.

Open Skies – BONUS POST

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The Bonus Book of the Week is “Open Skies, My Life as Afghanistan’s First Female Pilot” by Niloofar Rahmani with Adam Sikes, published in 2021.

Born in December 1991 in Afghanistan, the author deserves major bragging rights. For, she possessed the courage to serve as a liberated female role model (given her culture) by risking her own life and her family members’ lives in serving her beloved homeland. She joined the air force in December 2010. According to the book (which appeared to be credible although it lacked Notes, Sources, References, or Bibliography and an index) this was at a time when the Americans and NATO were running the show.

The Taliban and other devout Muslims were less than thrilled that she was the first Afghan female ever to learn to fly a fixed-wing aircraft. Pursuant to the Koran, a female’s priorities were: submissive girlhood, wifehood, motherhood, and womanhood (and usually, the first three were forced on females simultaneously), and taking care of a household; only then, might she work outside the home if her oldest living male relative allowed her to.

The author spent her early childhood in a refugee camp in Pakistan. Anomalously, but fortunately for her, both of her parents believed in educating her and her siblings (mostly sisters), and encouraging them to pursue the career of their choice. The family eventually moved to Kabul. Unsurprisingly, the author’s career choice provoked angry reactions from the male-dominated air force and males in her country. The most fanatical ones began to smear, spy on, and threaten her and her family.

Nevertheless, the author’s parents martyred themselves in so many ways for their children’s futures. Her father continued to encourage the author to keep flying, even when her family was under siege and suffering many hardships due to her focusing on her dream job.

A barbaric incident that occurred in March 2015 was just one indicator that in Afghanistan, the tide was turning toward the dark side yet again: a huge flash-mob of outraged, radical Muslim men tortured and killed a devout Muslim woman wrongly accused of burning the Koran.

The victim was set upon because a mullah (a credible, influential religious leader) was her accuser. Just a few of the vicious untruths spread about her were that she was a prostitute, a blasphemer of Islam, and was an agitator sent by the Americans (perceived as the evil occupiers). The author herself was subjected to roughly equivalent, ugly utterances.

Read the book to learn how the author cheated death in this wordy, redundant yet suspenseful volume.

By Way of Deception

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The Book of the Week is “By Way of Deception, The Making and Unmaking of A Mossad Officer” by Victor Ostrovsky and Claire Hoy, published in 1990. The former’s slightly sloppily edited, detailed account asserted that the Mossad (a spying agency in Israel that acted like a self-regulatory organization– that conducted operations with neither the government’s permission nor knowledge, so that leaders would have plausible deniability) had become too big for its britches. By the mid-1980’s, the Mossad had about twelve hundred true insiders and an unknown number of agents or contacts worldwide.

The author was born in Edmonton, Alberta, in Canada in November 1949. He grew up in Canada and Israel, and began his Mossad training in the early 1970’s. At that time, the Mossad pretended to recruit women, but never actually hired any to be insiders; for, women were harder to protect, and even though women were used as enchantresses and seductresses (and were killed when necessary) no Arab men (Mossad’s main target) would accept them as their bosses.

For starters, the author passed months and months of numerous, rigorous hiring tests that required him to be dishonest yet naturally creative and charismatic– getting strangers to do his bidding. During his two years’ training to be a spy, the author was brainwashed into living a lie without a second thought. In his business, one also needed to be paranoid.

There were no second chances for the inexperienced. In June 1973, a PLO terrorist thought he was careful in checking his car for explosives (under the hood, underneath, in the trunk, and in the exhaust pipe) on every occasion prior to driving. However, he was killed by a pressure mine under his car seat.

In the 1970’s, France possessed the Exocet, a missile with cutting-edge technology– it could walk on water, undetected by radar. Israel wanted this weaponry, but its reputation in the world was tarnished, so France and the countries that bought it wouldn’t sell to Israel. In 1976, the Mossad stepped in and brokered a secret deal among Chile’s number two man under Pinochet, and Panama’s number two man under Noriega. The agency successfully paid a million American dollars for the head of the missile, which was all Israel needed to reverse-engineer it and manufacture it.

In the eventful year of 1981, the Mossad didn’t want to see peace in the Middle East. It launched a complicated operation involving missiles, raisins and hash that put millions and millions of dollars in its coffers (the revenue was a happy side effect) “… with the ever-treacherous PLO… the key was to ensure that everything was synchronized in Vienna, Hamburg and Frankfurt…” It wrapped up in July, when the said cities’ local police arrested tens of spies, and at least one person was killed.

Read the book to learn of additional ways the Mossad’s sociopathic operatives disregarded rule-of-law in order to achieve their missions in mostly playing adolescent-boy spy games, but occasionally orchestrating international incidents in which the course of history was significantly changed, and in which innocent people died.