Category Archives: Books

Connecting the dots of the Russia investigation

The problem average Americans have with the Special Counsel’s Russia investigation is understanding how the multifaceted bits of information publicly reported over the past two years all fit together like puzzle pieces that come together into a clear picture.

Two new efforts to connect the dots of the Russia investigation are now available.

Craig Unger, an investigative journalist and writer who was deputy editor of the New York Observer and was editor-in-chief of Boston Magazine and a contributor to Vanity Fair, and the author of previous books such as House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between the World’s Two Most Powerful Dynasties (2004) and The Fall of the House of Bush: The Untold Story of How a Band of True Believers Seized the Executive Branch, Started the Iraq War, and Still Imperils America’s Future (2007), is out with a new book, House of Trump, House of Putin: The Untold Story of Donald Trump and the Russian Mafia (2018).

The Washington Post book review by Shane Harris explains (excerpts):

Based on his own reporting and the investigative work of a former federal prosecutor, Unger posits that through Bayrock, Trump was “indirectly providing Putin with a regular flow of intelligence on what the oligarchs were doing with their money in the U.S.”

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Omarosa Tell-All Book is Delicious, Nasty Reading about Trump

During a speech at the White House last November, 71-year-old Donald Trump awkwardly reached for a bottle of water. Then he used both hands to drink it. It looked as if Trump had a small episode of some kind.

“I found it worrisome,” wrote Omarosa Manigault Newman, an assistant who had known him for nearly 15 years. “I believe that Donald Trump is physically ill. His terrible health habits have caught up with him.”

He’s obese, doesn’t exercise, eats junk food, has daily tanning bed sessions and drinks up to 8 cans of Diet Coke a day. When she first met him on The Apprentice in 2003, he was svelte and weighed 30 pounds less.

She estimates that over the last 15 years he’s poured 43,800 cans of Diet Coke into his system. Omarosa thinks it gave him dementia, based on a Boston University study linking diet soda to brain damage.

This is just one of the stories she tells in Unhinged, her nasty, trashy tell-all book about her time in the presidential campaign and the White House. Progressives will enjoy 334 pages of satisying Schadenfreude written by a woman scorned.

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Donkey Feed, August 22nd, 2018

By Michael Bryan

Welcome back to the Donkey Feed. Strap on your feedbag and slip your traces, time to relax and feed your mind.

First a cool tool for you: StampsLicked.org will take your personal message to your House or Senate critter and hand deliver it to your member on the Hill. This sort of communication is the most effective at actually influencing a congressperson, especially if it shares something personal from a constituent. Start putting a human face on policy issues today: FOR FREE! Donations are welcome on their website, but not mandatory.

Now for some graphical goodness. Why does America care so little about reproduction that we won’t give women (let alone men) paid time off work to do it (WaPo) when every other advanced nation (and many not-so-advanced ones) does so? I think this really would be a bigger issue if both political parties weren’t captured and captivated by the money of big corporate employers who will fight a new employee entitlement tooth and nail. To be fair, some Democrats have raised the issue, but none will run on it, and proposed legislation would only put us on par with Pakistan, South Africa, and Mexico. So much for valuing family…

How about reading a couple of books recommended by Barrack Obama?

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover, is about a woman who leaves her survivalist, home-schooled, Idaho roots behind to become college educated; “An American Marriage: A Novel” (Oprah’s Book Club 2018 Selection) by Tayari Jones, is about a newlywed black attorney wrongly convicted of rape and the effect of the wrongful incarceration on his family.

Next up, a standard fundraising pitch, for just small, itty-bitty, teeny-tiny donation:





Support volunteer citizen journalism at the Blog for Arizona with a donation today. Your PayPal contribution keeps the Blog online and sustains a free press in Arizona.


Now, just click on “Continue reading” to enjoy the rest of your feed…

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The History of Political Polarization in America

By Michael Bryan

On the excellent podcast, The Ezra Klein Show, hosted by Mr. Klein, the editor-at-large of Vox Media, former reporter Sam Rosenfield gave some excellent recommendations for further reading for those who want to better understand America’s polarized politics. Sam himself is the author of “The Polarizers: Postwar Architects of Our Partisan Era”.

The discussion on the podcast is well worth a listen and the books Mr. Rosenfield recommends are an excellent backgrounder for how we got to today’s political moment. To see those recommendations follow the “continue reading” link…

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Putting America Last: The Historic Failure of Walls

Historically, walls separating nations do not work as well as intended over the long term. Photo of Gaza/Israel boundary courtesy of the New York Times.

Walls delineating boundaries between nations or barriers for defense have stood since the dawn of human history. Wall Street in Manhattan, for example, received its name because Dutch settlers erected a walled defense against the Native American tribes they had wronged with unprovoked genocidal type raids.

If one wants to visit Christopher Columbus’s house in Genoa Italy, not far from it is the old city walls of Genoa, which is now surrounded by modern buildings. Everyone has heard of the Great Wall of China, the walls of Jericho and Troy, and the Berlin Wall. All of these barriers were created for either defense, to keep people out, or to keep people in. What does history tell us about these walls?

It tells us that while walls may be necessary to preserve boundaries and prevent invasion, they are not foolproof and eventually doomed, thanks to human ingenuity, to failure.

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Comey’s Higher Loyalty: A Must Read

I’ve noticed over the years that media coverage of books can be wildly at odds with my own impression, more so than media coverage of just about anything else.

There’s a logical explanation for that. It would be pretty much impossible to write a 300-page book and not get something wrong or include material that perhaps should have been left out.

The textbook case of this was the criticism of Jimmy Carter’s book, Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid. Alan Dershowitz (yeah, the pseudo-liberal currently defending Trump) and others found a handful of items Carter had wrong. Carter actually admitted to getting a few things wrong. Reading that criticism, I lost interest in the book, as Carter’s view also clashed with my own beliefs at the time about Israel-Palestine. Eventually, however, I read it. For everything Carter got wrong and for which he was lambasted by the pro-Israel American media, he got about 50 things right. Ultimately, the book had a profound influence on my own views.

We’re seeing a repeat of this with the media reporting on Comey’s book, A Higher Loyalty. In this case, it’s not as much things Comey got wrong, but passages he included that the media have labeled spiteful or petty. When you read A Higher Loyalty, however, you see that Comey’s critics are the ones engaged in spite and pettiness. Continue reading