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The Book of the Week is “Baseless, My Search for Secrets in the Ruins of the Freedom of Information Act” by Nicholson Baker, published in 2020.

From the 1940’s through the 1960’s, the CIA funded, and was supposed to supervise certain big-name American universities’ and the U.S. military services’ secret research; this, in biochemistry, pathology, mycology, entomology, etc. for the purpose of developing weapons of mass destruction. Such weapons would cause deaths of famine from crop failure or from fatal diseases, or spur regime changes. Government officials lost control of the experimenters’ spending and activities. The “researchers” were accountable to no one.

Pursuant to their actions, the researchers generated documents that they desired remain classified forever, or else redacted in large portions thereof, so as to become incomprehensible or prevent their readers from connecting the dots, because such secrecy allows them (to this day!) to hide their unethical, even evil behavior and shameful harm to society.

This book’s author repeatedly asked for said documents under the United States’ federal law called the “Freedom of Information Act” (or FOIA); he did hours and hours of reading to detect the truth about the wrongs committed by American officials. Those officials’ excuse for their coverups (during the Cold War– it was anti-Communist measures) is always “It’s a matter of national security.” The government keeps on violating FOIA by taking years (instead of weeks or months) to fulfill the author’s numerous requests.

Despite the government’s stonewalling, American society is changing in ways that offset the harm done by the lack of information on the government’s past evil actions; among them:

  • muckraking gadflies such as the author (who globally disseminate information on the shameful behavior of society’s leaders);
  • the increasing number of females (who are displacing alpha males in the shrinking “old boy network” and generally do not behave like alpha males) who are taking top leadership positions in America’s institutions;
  • propagandizing of celebrities, such as Bill Maher, (who, a number of years back, joked that “If your kid’s not learning in school, don’t blame the teacher– fire the parent!” which has perhaps influenced recent legal cases in which failures of parents have been perceived as a major factor in their kids’ shooting people– involving “parental responsibility statutes”);
  • the quantum leap in knowledge-sharing made quick and easy by the Internet (in spite of disinformation), through countless international, multi-media human-interest stories and videos that are raising awareness of the importance of voting and other actions Americans can take to help maintain their democracy;
  • the fact that the Internet has fostered a grass-roots communications revolution by allowing ordinary Americans to express themselves in a decentralized global network at the speed of light, absent the filtering of past societal influencers such as journalists, politicians and celebrities;
  • the fact that the body of knowledge of power-abusing American presidents in the past half-century has been amply globally publicized so as to significantly lessen the impact of their historical revisionists– and that Americans’ learning curve on them has run its course;
  • the COVID lockdown of 2020, which forced all different stakeholders to deal with education and childcare issues, and showed how the wisdom of life-experience has been imparted from the older generation to the younger one.

The author pointed out that every president to hold office since the 1930’s has committed evil of one kind or another– funding terrorists or authorizing the use of unethical practices in creating weapons of mass destruction (which were actually seldom used, and of course, were a ridiculous waste of taxpayer money) to supposedly keep America’s enemies at bay.

The author listed a number of online primary sources of governmental misdeeds and James-Bond wannabe activities; among them (in no particular order):

Internet Archive (

Brill ( — charges a fee for its services

MuckRock (

The Black Vault (

And, he listed the physical libraries that contain the said Swiss-cheese, needle-in-a-haystack, “smoking gun” information: the National Security Archive at George Washington University and the CREST database in the FOIA Reading Room at the CIA.

One of many specific studies the author mentioned, involved 1940’s germ-warfare experiments that resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of hogs and fowl, and the subsequent early 1950’s actual use of bacteria in North Korea and East Germany. On civilians.

Other evil scientists sought to learn whose buildings burned longer– Japan’s or Germany’s, in the early 1950’s, as the U.S. was then firebombing both North and South Korea. Interestingly, each territory’s building materials differed, and so burned at different rates.

Read the book to learn a lot more about the research– how men were promoted to the highest military or government positions and hailed as heroes for the info they gathered on how to do grievous harm to other human beings; the unexpected, mysterious deaths of certain of them; and everything you ever wanted to know about their plausibly deniable, willfully ignorant, fear-mongering propaganda campaigns (which was their true ulterior motive in the midst of all that distracting sociopathic “science”; it was thought that rattling the enemy psychologically more than physically, did more harm).

Liars’ Theme – BONUS POST

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“Our vision stands in stark contrast to Crooked Joe Biden and his Far-Left special interest allies who want to keep the status quo and end American Exceptionalism at home and abroad… The radical Biden Democrats have had their time and their tried-and-failed Marxist agenda has been a disaster.”

So says a May 2024 mailing that is soliciting donations for the Trump National Committee. One wonders whether donations would go toward paying MORE hush money to who knows whom.

Here’s the trial situation:


sung to the tune of “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” with apologies to Christopher Cross, the Estate of Burt Bacharach, Carole Bayer Sager, and the Estate of Peter Allen.

All of his life Trump FOUND them.
Accomplices who kept word from GETting around.
Michael Cohen made himself, the, TALK of the town.
After-his-ordeal, he’s still with us.
What comes around, goes around, in this town.
Wondering whether he’ll take, Trump, down.

When Trump got caught with Michael COHEN in New York City…
Both are phony. Is anything new?
When Trump got caught with Michael COHEN in New York City…
The best that they could do, the best that they could do, was cover up.

Donald, he does what he pleases.
All of his life, he’s mastered power.
His claques, flacks and sycophants are ACTing, ACTing loyal.
Tired of court, time after time,
thinks he’ll never be doing, ANY time.
Showing his suck-ups the way, they WISH they could be.

When Trump got caught with Michael COHEN in New York City…
Both are phony. Is anything new?
When Trump got caught with Michael COHEN in New York City…
The best that they could do, the best that they could do, the best that they could do, was cover up.

When Trump got caught with Michael COHEN in New York City…
Both are phony. Is anything new?
When Trump got caught with Michael COHEN in New York City…
The best that they could do, the best that they could do, the best that they could do, was cover up.

When Trump got caught with Michael COHEN in New York City…
Both are phony. Is anything new?
When Trump got caught with Michael COHEN in New York City…
The best that they could do, the best that they could do, the best that they could do, was cover up…

Bounds of Silence – BONUS POST

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Interesting factoid: Donald Trump paid hush money to most everyone who worked for him when he was president. For, as a hiring-condition, they signed non-disclosure agreements that legally barred them from speaking publicly about their employment experiences. These workers were forced to choose between whistle-blowing and loyalty to their boss, but the boss hogged all the free speech for himself. Here’s what happened.


sung to the tune of “Sounds of Silence” with apologies to Simon and Garfunkel.

Hypocrisy is Trump’s known trend.
He’s been confronted yet again.
Because legal-cases continuously
leave their seeds and are proliferating.
And the secrets, that were buried by his PR team
gathered steam, within the bounds of silence.

In gag-agreements signed by all,
through his own scandals and stonewalls,
under the spotlight of the tabloid camp,
sued by his-transition-team, employees and tramps.
His sins were outed, by-a-clash with the betrayed Right.
To his enemies’ delight.
And breached the bounds of silence.

And in attorneys’ offices one saw
one hundred people, maybe more.
People talking and people speaking.
People hearing and people listening.
People writing books.
Their thoughts were finally shared.
People dared. Breaking the bounds of silence.

Fools bound by Trump.
Free speech with a dreck-show dump.
Read their words and they might teach you.
Trump would slam them, with his crew.
But their words, through social networks spread.
Volumes out of the bounds of silence.

And this made Trump’s gang afraid, of the free-speech mess they made.
And democracy rang out in ITS glory, in a civil-rights success story.
And the courts say the words Americans-express are always free except-for-threats

or epithets.

We’re out of the bounds of silence.

[Heads exploding.]


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“The political hacks and blackmailers were to be fired forthwith. No more midnight break-ins at the Capitol. No more cloak-and-dagger work. No more arrests.”

— In the mid-1920’s, Harlan Fiske Stone tried to rid the Bureau of Investigation of partisanship and re-position its function from spying to catching criminals. That endeavor lasted less than a decade, given the turbulent times.

The Book of the Week is “Enemies, A History of the FBI” by Tim Weiner, published in 2012. With regard to catching criminals who cross state lines, spying, and national security, various recurring themes have emerged over the decades. This, as a result of America’s alpha-male-dominated culture and leadership. The major themes include:

  • incompetence, corruption and billions and billions of wasted taxpayer dollars due to inter-agency rivalry and power struggles among the FBI, Army, Navy, State Department, Secret Service, U.S. Marshals, large urban police forces, the office of the Attorney General, CIA and other law-enforcement groups;
  • violations of the civil rights of countless ordinary Americans, in the name of “national security”;
  • smear campaigns launched by America’s leaders, against its domestic and foreign enemies (which could change “on a dime” pursuant to the tenor of the times);
  • traitors‘ sale of secrets to the Soviets, undetected for years due to the hatred between the FBI and CIA;
  • an outdated, disorganized filing system that lasted into the 1990’s;
  • lack of Arabic translators (resulting in the severe crippling of the FBI’s ability to spy in the Middle East; it had one translator until the early 1990’s);
  • total absence of communication among the FBI’s fifty-six field offices with the others, and rare conferences between agents and headquarters, analysts or the White House through the 1990’s;
  • a culture of secrecy in which all classified documents won’t be disclosed to the general public for decades and decades; and
  • high turnover of personnel— means no one knows who’s in charge– even years after the 2005 consolidation of America’s national-security services encompassing intelligence, counter-intelligence, and counter-terror operations.

To be fair, the kinds of men who are a good fit for the culture of intelligence organizations tend to be James Bond wannabes, predatory stalkers and bullies.

In July 1908, president Theodore Roosevelt authorized the creation of the Bureau of Investigation (later named the FBI), which started with thirty-four agents. By August 1919, as head of the Bureau’s Radical Division, the twenty-four year old J. Edgar Hoover supervised hundreds of agents.

World War I gave rise to the Espionage Act of 1917, which gave Hoover an excuse to order that foreigners and countless others be spied on and arrested– right up until the day he died in 1972!

The author used the terms “informant” and “informer” in a confusing manner, and didn’t clearly define either one. But “mole” or “infiltrator” are more clear terms: an intelligence agent who joins a political, ideological or labor group targeted for spying, who eventually– of course on flimsy or no evidence, uses smears and lies to arrest and jail the group’s members.

Hoover’s favorite techniques included using infiltrators, mail-theft, sending agents to engage in break-ins, planting of hidden microphones, and warrantless wiretapping of phones (violations of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution) at the homes of people he perceived as enemies of America– named on his list.

Sometimes, law enforcement denied due process to suspects just to quell public fear or outrage, such as in the Sacco and Vanzetti case in the 1920’s. Over decades, there have been many incidents whose perpetrators were never caught. Spring 1919 saw one example of political terror. In acts of protestation against the federal government’s xenophobia and crackdown on innocent people, suspected anarchists sent tens of mail bombs to high-level public officials. The U.S. attorney general blamed Communists.

In November and December 1919, the Bureau of Investigation corralled and deported hundreds of the Union of Russian Workers. A few months later, the Attorney General’s office, run by A. Mitchell Palmer, basked in the glory of catching thousands of suspected Communists across the entire country– by way of spying operations and stomping on due process; he was fortunate to have Hoover’s authorization and talent for plotting the complicated operation. The jails overflowed with foreigners.

The hysteria against foreigners, anarchists, labor unions, Socialists and Communists was such that president Woodrow Wilson’s administration allowed the American Protective League (comprised of vigilantes– ordinary Americans who volunteered to, and were authorized, by wearing badges!) to spy on, burglarize the homes of, and beat up, suspected subversives. The group’s membership at its peak numbered approximately three hundred thousand.

Clearly, after WWI, the world wasn’t ready for president Wilson’s proposed League of Nations– a group of the world’s most industrially and technologically advanced countries that were attempting to cooperate in maintaining world peace. They couldn’t even quell their own citizens’ unrest, and were too busy jockeying for territory and resources of other sovereign states.

WWII saw historical events that forced human beings to evolve sufficiently politically, economically, culturally and socially, so that they did cooperate, more or less. And yet, there’s still so much hatred.

Anyway, FDR allowed Hoover to install listening devices in the German, Italian, French, Russian and Japanese embassies in the United States. However, the U.S. Army, Navy and FBI did not share intelligence among themselves prior to the Pearl Harbor attack. So failure to connect the dots resulted in countless deaths and ruined lives. The FBI crowed every time it caught criminals who could harm America in wartime, but in one of countless instances, in spring 1942 it omitted inconvenient facts from its narrative. Two of eight saboteurs had an attack of conscience and revealed their evil plot to the Bureau before the plot was executed. They would not have been caught otherwise.

In January 1946, president Harry Truman wisely disallowed the growth of a monstrous, oppressive, Stalinist kind of organization run by one individual. He dashed Hoover’s dream of running all worldwide spying operations on behalf of the United States– by ordering the founding of the CIA, which would spy internationally, while the FBI would do so domestically. Nevertheless, unsurprisingly, “The routine destruction of FBI files ensured that no accurate count [of break-ins and buggings] existed.”

Seething, Hoover secretly vetted men who went to work for the CIA, and publicly shamed them if they had Communist affiliations or homosexual tendencies. He contended that they were vulnerable to blackmail if they were employed in the government, colleges, law enforcement or public schools. He rooted them out and got them fired.

In the late 1950’s, Hoover began to target the Civil Rights Movement, saying its members palled around with Communists; in 1963, he deemed MLK “the most dangerous Negro in America.” Hoover’s spies infiltrated King’s cohorts, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), and other religious and political groups. Although Hoover wanted to go after Soviet spies, attorney general RFK wanted him to spy on the KKK. But Klan members in Alabama and Georgia were employed in local law enforcement, so it was hard to fight City Hall.

There is nothing new under the sun. The FBI collected information on the sex lives of U.S. Senate and House members, and any deviant behavior could be used for blackmailing. It kept the reports in a safe. “The president wondered allowed whether they should be leaked selectively.”

Beginning in late 1967, LBJ let Hoover sic spies on about a hundred thousand Americans who were protesting the Vietnam War and civil rights violations. Hoover manipulated the FBI (of course), plus the U.S. attorney general’s office, army, NSA, CIA and community leaders. A couple of months later, LBJ’s own administration was under surveillance.

President Nixon kept pressuring the FBI to prove that the Soviets were to blame for the civil-rights and anti-war protests. But they weren’t to blame. Into the 1970’s, the Weather Underground, a subgroup of SDS, destroyed property through tens of terrorist bombings in the United States. The FBI solved none of the cases. Major media outlets such as Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Time magazine reported there was something rotten in Denmark.

Read the book to learn:

  • how Hoover made a “new normal” of ignoring the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to spy on everyone during four presidential administrations (Supreme Court rulings be damned);
  • how this has come full circle now, intruding on the lives of all Americans;
  • what happened under presidents Ford and Carter;
  • of infinite occasions of mis-allocation of the FBI’s resources (such as the time when hundreds of agents investigated president Bill Clinton’s affair with a White House intern instead of chasing after criminals who were stealing from, terrorizing or killing people);
  • and a century’s worth of the FBI’s adventures and (mostly) misadventures in law enforcement.

Tangled Vines

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The Book of the Week is “Tangled Vines, Greed, Murder, Obsession, and an Arsonist in the Vineyards of California” by Frances Dinklespiel, published in 2015. The moral of this book’s main story is “Lawsuits followed and winemakers like Viader made mental notes never to be cavalier about the disposition of fire-damaged wine.”

According to the author, as of 2013, Americans drank the largest quantity of wine, 13% of all the wine of all the countries in the world.

In October 2005, a majorly evil crime was committed at the Wines Central warehouse on Mare Island in Vallejo. An assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern district of California– an expert in wine fraud and arson, and an agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives assessed the damage and investigated the site. The latter used an acceleration-detection canine, also called an arson dog.

The perpetrator committed: mail fraud (for shipping wine across state lines under a false name), interstate transfer of stolen property (because it wasn’t his wine to sell), arson, and tax evasion.

Fire destroyed millions upon millions of dollars’ worth of wine (stored in the warehouse) of mostly mom-and-pop wineries. As is usual in such instances, insurance claims of winemakers whose wine was covered, were denied, because the insurers contended that the wine was “in transit.”

In the single-digit 2000’s, Bill Koch of Koch family fame, didn’t spare a dime in finding out how he had become the victim of wine fraud. He employed investigators in various fields: ex-FBI agents, ex-Sotheby’s workers, a glass historian, and experts in cork and adhesives and labels. He sued the auction house and original seller of the wine.

Read the book to learn about the kinds of people who are passionate about making and selling wine, how they became victims of one especially bad actor, and a few other incidents in the life of the California wine industry.

Character & Characters / Retail Gangster

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The first Book of the Week is “Character & Characters, the Spirit of Alaska Airlines” by Robert J. Serling, published in 2008.

Alaska Airlines (AKA) came into existence in the mid-1940’s with the buyout of Star Air Service. It faced stiff competition from Northwest Airlines, and Pan American– which was already monster-sized from: its contract with the federal government to deliver the U.S. mails, and exchanging many political favors.

Mostly, AKA transported passengers between the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. In early 1949, it completed a dangerous mission, flying about 140 Jews from Yemen to the airport in Tel Aviv, while an Arab bomb could have hit the plane anytime.

In the 1950’s, top executive Charlie Willis had such passion for and loyalty and dedication to AKA, that he borrowed $100,000 using his personal house as collateral, in order to restore the pilot-pension-fund shortfall, to keep his employer from going out of business. Beginning at the dawn of the 1960’s, he enabled his second-in-command-executive to engage in deficit spending. They broke the bank to do promotional gimmicks.

In the back of its model CONVAIR 880, AKA installed a stand-up beer bar, even though it replaced eight passenger seats. AKA generated goodwill by throwing parties it couldn’t afford for industry players, such as its own employees and trade associations. In the late 1960’s, it bought hotels and a ski resort. AKA was one of the very first airlines to provide in-flight movies and music. So it hovered near bankruptcy, repeatedly unable to meet its employee payroll. For years.

Commercial airlines, initially transporting wealthy passengers, employed stewardesses in sexy uniforms– with no or minimal training, and offered alcoholic beverages included with the airfare. With evolution came the organization of labor– of pilots, flight crews and ground crews. Alaska’s bush pilots who had gotten in on aviation’s ground floor, had become disenchanted with the changing times. Bob Ellis sold his tiny airline in Alaska because he was no longer having fun, was emotionally exhausted from the government’s imposition of regulations, and didn’t understand the need for union labor. He had treated his employees well.

The Civil Aeronautics Board, one of the government’s regulatory bodies, was soon to stop subsidizing the (small, financially struggling) regional airlines (including AKA) in Alaska. The consolidation of the industry in the 1960’s meant no more floatplanes, biplanes, and single-engine monoplanes. These were replaced with DC-3’s and other faster, technologically superior aircraft.

Competing airlines were growing in size, complexity, and needed economies-of-scale and scope. Bosses couldn’t afford to pay for their employees’ expensive personal problems as though they were in a small business anymore. There was backlash by the workers against this vanishing era. They no longer felt like a family.

In summer 1970, AKA’s Willis (rumored to be an alcoholic) was able to get a new air route: to the U.S.S.R. Ironically, AKA had to lease a Pan Am 707 in order to do it. Willis became a drinking buddy to his Aeroflot counterparts. The passengers, who flew to Siberia, consisted mostly of Native Americans from Alaska visiting family, missionaries, and businessmen. They were treated to flatware made of gold, caviar in their Caesar salads, wine, and Russian samovars. The flight attendants dressed in Cossacks’ attire, with bear fur hats. Unsurprisingly, the flights proved insufficiently profitable over the course of three years.

AKA suffered less disastrous financial losses when the oil industry in Alaska kicked into high gear, in the late 1960’s. Oil-pipeline construction around Prudhoe Bay in the North Slope area became all the rage. From the Seattle-Tacoma airport, the airline’s Hercules’ C-130 planes transferred cargo, including hazardous materials that could accidentally cause a lot of wrongful deaths and property damage: 25,000 pounds of dynamite, heating and fuel oil and big, heavy drilling rigs for ground vehicles, and heaters.

In the early 1970’s, many pipeline workers liked hunting, but they got drunk before they flew home. AKA allowed rifles on their planes, so they hired the equivalent of bouncers who served as ground-crew screeners, and had a locked-up special gun-rack section in the front of the plane.

Read the book to learn a wealth of additional details on Alaska Airlines’ role in the development of aviation, people, power struggles, technologies, and the tenor of its times up until the book’s writing.

The second Book of the Week is “Retail Gangster, the Insane, Real-Life Story of CRAZY EDDIE” by Gary Weiss, published in 2020.

Currently fading from Americans’ memory, is “Crazy Eddie.” Launched in the mid-1970’s, it was a retail chain of electronics stores in the northeastern United States. The company became known for a spokesman who flooded all kinds of advertising media with emotionally-charged screaming, that Crazy Eddie’s prices were insane. The repetitive repetition of this singular message worked. Eddie projected an image of success that fed on itself.

However, from the start, the store’s top executive– Eddie Antar– committed financial crimes. He had selfish, greedy intent, unlike the aforementioned Alaska Airlines executives, who were merely big spenders out of unbridled optimism and honest ineptitude.

Starting in 1984 when the company sold shares to the public, Eddie and his key employees (mostly his relatives) engaged in securities fraud. They had ongoing, frantic bursts of activity in which they: “…stuffed cash in the ceiling, stole store sales-taxes, [plus, they falsified inventory records] and defrauded insurance companies without a second thought. They did not expect to be caught, and if the Antars had any doubt on that score, they had only to look to City Hall for inspiration.” New York City’s government had committed exactly the same kinds of accounting fraud for years and years, beginning in the 1960’s. As the behavioral-economics cliche goes, “The fish rots from the head down.”

By 1987, Crazy Eddie had 2,250 workers in 32 locations from Philadelphia to New England. Read the book to learn a slew of details on the fates of Eddie, his families, and his businesses.

Oh, My Homes – BONUS POST

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Here’s what Trump is singing now.


sung to the tune of “Kodachrome” with apologies to Paul Simon.

When I look at all the political crap and how the courts rule,
it’s a wonder they’re allowed to judge at all.

And they’re unfair and un-American, they’ve hurt me some.
They’ve totally defamed me with their gall.

Oh, my ho-o-omes, you gave me tax breaks and loans,
gave me changes in zones.
Helped me build my perfect businesses every day, oh yeah.

I got a bunch of supporters.
I say this IS a Witch Hunt.
So judge, don’t take my magnificent homes away.

You know I didn’t do ANY of the crimes
I’m accused of.
And if you really know HOW to do right,
you’d agree I’m innocent and all my protestations,
AREN’T-inciting racial tensions between black and white.

Oh, my ho-o-omes, you gave me tax breaks and loans,
gave me changes in zones.
Helped me build my perfect businesses every day, oh yeah.

I got a bunch of supporters.
I say this IS a Witch Hunt.
So judge, don’t take my magnificent homes away.

Judge, don’t take my real estate away.
Judge, don’t take my hotels away.
Judge, don’t take my businesses away.

Judge, don’t take my free speech,
Judge, don’t take my mo-ney,
Judge, don’t take my golf courses away.

Judge, don’t take my declassified documents.
Why don’t you leave me the hell alone?

Judge, don’t take my candidacy away.
Judge, don’t take my freedom away. Arrgh.
Judge, don’t take my magnificent homes away.