Dave Collum's Year in Review - The War in Ukraine - Epilogue

Peak Prosperity Publishing Note: This is the War in Ukraine and Conclusion sections of Dave Collum’s Year in Review (exactly as it appears in the full review). We are posting this as a means to have a conversation in the comments on this portion of Dave’s Year in Review. We will post one section per day for the holiday week, each with it’s own comment section.

The full Year in Review can be found HERE.

The War in Ukraine–Epilogue

The Russians are dying. It’s the best money we’ve ever spent.1

~ Lindsay Graham to Zelensky

Lindsay is an unindicted criminal who is impossible to underestimate, but let’s move on. Last Year I put my heart and soul into understanding the War in Ukraine as evidenced by the title, “All Roads Lead to Ukraine.”2 I found 40–50 serious thinkers who I felt were trying to get it right, a list that included Glenn Greenwald, Max Blumenthal, Aaron Mate, Chris Hedges, Ray McGovern, John Pilger, John Mearsheimer, Jeff Sachs, Colonel Douglas MacGregor, Scott Ritter, Colonel Richard Black, Tucker Carlson, Tulsi Gabbard, and Jeff Sachs. Notable newcomers to the anti-NATO team include David Sacks (Elon’s former partner),3 Cornel West,4 RFK, Jr,5 Simon Hunt,6 and Donald Trump.7

There are some who want to force Hungary into the war, and they are not picky about the means with which to achieve that goal. Ukraine is our neighbor where Hungarians live as well. They are being conscripted and are dying by the hundreds on the front... In the decisions adopted in Brussels, I recognize American interests more frequently than European ones...In a war that is taking place in Europe the Americans have the final word.7a

~ Viktor Orbán, Hungarian Prime Minister

If you think Russia’s military adventures in Ukraine were unprovoked and that this story is simply a fight for Ukraine’s democracy you have work to do: stop reading right now and read last year’s analysis.8 I collated the analyses of the serious pundits, scavenged the internet for data and anecdotes from the battlefield, and wove them into a narrative that is my best geopolitical analysis to date. Watch this speech by Viktor Orbán, the Prime Minister of Hungary, as many times as you must to grasp how little you understand the politics underlying the Ukraine War.9 Billions are being committed to get Orbán to get with the program and oppose Putin.10 Watch recent rants from Jeff Sachs11 or Colonel Jeff Maness.12

We demand an explanation on what basis China and Russia consider the whole world to be their region?

~ Lloyd Austin, US Secretary of Defense, lacking introspection

To those who say that assigning blame is simple—Putin attacked so he is necessarily evil—please answer the following questions: which country—Russia or the US—bombed more countries in the world and killed more people over the last 20 years? I don’t have the stats on Russia, but the US is estimated to have caused 4.5 million deaths during the War on Terror.13,14 Of those seven Muslim countries bombed by liberal democrat and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Barack Obama, how many attacked us? Let me help you out: it begins with a “z” and rhymes with “Nero.” I have 4.5 million whataboutisms resulting from our iatrogenic foreign policy to jam down your throat the minute you tell me Putin’s aggression is the whole story.

The US wrecked Afghanistan for 40 years—destroyed that country mercilessly cynically ignorantly brutally. And they're gonna do the same with Ukraine unless the Ukrainians wake up and say, ‘God we're being killed by this approach.’15

~ Jeffrey Sachs, economist, Columbia University

So how is the war going this year? An open letter written by 14 high-ranking ex-US military wonks in

May calling for a swift diplomatic end to the war in Ukraine was published in the New York Times.16 The letter’s 14 signatories, after the requisite condemnation of Putin, called the war “an unmitigated disaster” and noted that “future devastation could be exponentially greater as nuclear powers creep ever closer toward open war.” They emphasized the “serial invasions of Russia by foreign adversaries” and underscored the need to “understand the war through Russia’s eyes” with “strategic empathy, seeking to understand one’s adversaries.” In their words, “This is not weakness: it is wisdom.” They also underscored the part that all the mindless Ukrainian flag wavers always seem to miss: “Since 2007, Russia has repeatedly warned that NATO’s armed forces on Russian borders were intolerable—just as Russian forces in Mexico or Canada would be intolerable to the U.S. now, or as Soviet missiles in Cuba were in 1962…Russia further singled out NATO expansion into Ukraine as especially provocative…NATO expansion, in sum, is a key feature of a militarized U.S. foreign policy characterized by unilateralism featuring regime change and preemptive wars.” Seems pretty clear, eh? To repeat, go back and compare this letter’s key points to my 2022 write-up.

NATO Document: NATO’s enlargement has been a historic success.

John Pilger: I read that in disbelief.17

Our dual goals are to degrade Russia’s military-industrial complex & reduce the revenue it can use.

~ Janet Yellen, former economist, said ahead of a meeting of G20 finance ministers & central bankers.

NATO made a few miscalculations. They thought they could choke off Russia by kicking them out of the Swift banking system and cutting off their energy sales, isolating them from the world.18 Neither action dented Putin’s plans. The rising price of oil cranked up Russia’s cash flow from the global oil market. The Rooskies also know how to endure discomfort.

Let's imagine—obviously this situation which will never be realized—but nevertheless let’s imagine that it was realized: The current head of the nuclear state went to a territory, say Germany, and was arrested. What would that be? It would be a declaration of war on the Russian Federation. And in that case, all our assets—all our missiles et cetera—would fly to the Bundestag, to the Chancellor's office.19

~ Dmitry Medvedev, responding to Germany’s threat to arrest Putin

That is not to say that Putin didn’t flub a few things, but it was nothing that duct tape and some WD40 couldn’t fix. Scooch around and let me commie-splain that to you. He moved into Ukraine with a very small force, all evidence pointing to an attempt to throw a fastball past NATO’s and Volodymyr Zelensky’s chins to force them to meet him at the negotiating table. There is no evidence he wanted to take over Ukraine nor destroy its infrastructure: he simply could not and would not cede control of Ukraine to NATO. It was an existential risk—a bright line—for Russia. Although Zelensky tried to get to the negotiating table in April 2022, he misjudged the determination of NATO to ensure that Zelensky would never ink a deal.20 The US (sorry: NATO) wanted, to steal a phrase from Assange, “an endless war, not a successful war” to eventually destroy Russia, impose regime change, possibly gain control of vast resources via a more US-compliant regime as America’s 51st state, and line a few pockets with war profits along the way.

Even Americans who have no particular interest in freedom and independence in democracies worldwide should be satisfied that we’re getting our money’s worth on our Ukraine investment.

~ Sen. Richard Blumenthal

You want World War III? Just tell the head of a nuclear power you are seeking regime change. While NATO flooded support into Ukraine, the Nordstream Pipeline and Kerch Bridge got bombed (more on that below). Realizing that negotiations were no longer an option, Putin quickly assembled a very large and highly weaponized army and took the war to the next level. In some twisted psychological defense against exhaustipation, this is where I lost interest. It was chess in 2022 with loads of propaganda rubbing Vaseline over the world’s lens. This year has turned Ukraine into a devastating meat grinder.

At the NATO Summit in Madrid [in June 2022]...it was clearly delineated that over the coming decade, the main threat to the alliance would be the Russian Federation. Today Ukraine is eliminating this threat. We are carrying out NATO’s mission today. They aren’t shedding their blood. We’re shedding ours. That’s why they’re required to supply us with weapons.21

~ Oleksii Reznikov, Ukrainian Defense Minister

Putin is clearly losing the war in Iraq.22

~ Joe Biden

The Ukrainian-to-Russian kill ratio was estimated by guys like Colonel MacGregor (no doubt from Pentagon sources) as well as by the Israelis (who have great intelligence) at 6–10:1.23 Retired Marine Corps Colonel Andrew Milburn, who was training the Ukrainians on site, said that the Ukrainians in the battle for Bakhmut were “taking extraordinarily high casualties. The numbers you are reading in the media of about 70 percent…are not exaggerated.”24 Upwards of 500,000 Ukrainians have been either killed or incapacitated, which is worse because their care puts a drag on their society. Recruits were being placed in full combat just 5 weeks of training,25 with life expectancies estimated at “4 hours” according to an ex-Marine on site.26 I wonder if the 400,000 families think this border war was worth it. By the end of 2023, the Ukrainian draft had been expanded to include both genders and ages 7–70.

I have reported a number of wars and have never known such blanket propaganda.

~ John Pilger on Ukraine

Nearly every war that had started in the past 50 years, has been a result of media lies.

~ Julian Assange

I can hear y’all saying, “Wait a darn minute there, Dave. Those are not the numbers I’ve been hearing on CNN/NBC/NPR/NYT…” Let me help you out here again. Our intelligence owns all of those media outlets. The US propaganda machine is the size of Russia’s GDP. They lie like teenagers while blocking the counter-narrative from leaking into the public consciousness. This should not shock you by now. As an aside, of the 8 million Ukrainians who fled the war and country, an estimated 2 million headed to Russia.27

NATO needs to be disbanded and we can get some peace on the continent of Europe because you are about to trigger World War III....We need to get our butts out of there.28

~ Colonel Rob Maness

I’m sure if President Trump were president today, there’d be no war inflicting Europe and Ukraine.29

~ Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s Prime Minister in support of Trump, 2024

Some notable events at ground level are worthy of the few bullets I have left:

  • A bunker 400 ft below ground with hundreds of Zelensky’s top leadership and dozens of NATO officials was rumored to have been taken out by a Russian supersonic missile in response to Ukrainian incursions into Mother Russia.30 I guess you might call it a bunker buster, but I might be mixing technologies. This story is suspect just like everything else.31 The hypersonic weapons, however, are serious.
  • What appeared to be a Patriot missile facility fired off dozens in short order, only to be taken out by what is said to be their target—a hypersonic Russian missile.32 The Whitehouse would not confirm or deny the reports.33
I can see Ukraine from my dacha.

~ Vladamir Putin (in Sarah Palin’s voice)

  • The Ukrainians professed to have some victorious moments, but they were short-lived. A much-ballyhooed offensive—who uses the word ballyhooed?—that would finally put the Rooskies in their place fell flat almost immediately.
  • Leaked Ukrainian documents suggest the overall picture of Ukrainian combat power is atrocious owing to “systemic shell shortages”, very few tanks, 30,000 troops, and inadequate support from NATO (although still far too much in my opinion).
  • Ukraine supposedly had some victorious moments. A direct attack on the Kremlin seemed like a pyrrhic victory given that it had the kick of a bottle rocket and didn’t seem to phase two guys climbing a ladder toward the point of impact.34,35 Maybe the Meme Team gets the credit.
Seymour Hersh generated headlines by reporting that the US blew up the Nordstream pipeline with orders straight from Biden.36 Of course, we all knew this, but Hersh’s connections bring it as close to official as if Karin Jean-Pierre announced it. (Moreso given how much shit she makes.) The Germans blamed it on the Ukrainians using a yacht (face in palm),37 prompting Hersh to ask rhetorically, “They can't be that stupid! Are they that stupid?”38 Former Polish defense minister Sikorski, having thanked the Americans for blowing it up in a tweet the day it happened, then blamed it on the KGB mastermind (code named: “The Professor”) working under the guise of the cruise ship, “The Minnow”, captained by “Gilligan.” Hersh called the Ukrainian role “a total fabrication by American intelligence that was passed along to the Germans.”39 Why not just fess up? Simple. It was an act of war under international law. The charade must go on no matter how obvious the lie.

If we proceed from the proven complicity of Western countries in blowing up the Nord Streams, then we have no constraints—even moral—left to prevent us from destroying the ocean floor cable communications of our enemies.40

~ Dmitry Medvedev, former Prime Minister of Russia

Zelensky on the Edge. While Zelensky appeared to be starring in episodes of Dancing with the Stars to raise money and support, the pressure was having its effect. Journalist Paul Ronzheimer suggested, “Zelensky seems to me either completely exhausted, then again active, even cheerful … He answered some questions angrily, others emotionally.” Some suspect drugs or maybe it’s Zelensky’s body doubles.41,42 When Biden showed up in Kiev to pretend to care, with air raid sirens blaring they took no chances of a catastrophic incident by warning Putin not to bomb Kiev that day.43

The Ukrainian government is one of the worst in the world—corrupt, controlled by a few rich people I mean really unfortunate for the people of Ukraine.44

~ Bill Gates

Hersh suggests the Ukrainians have been using foreign aid on luxury cars and ostentatious lifestyles. This is my shocked face: :<O. Some of the generals and government are PO’d that Zelensky’s kickback—what we would call “10% for the Big Guy”—dwarfs theirs.45 In a surreal assertion, Hersh says Zelensky bought diesel from the Rooskies.46 If you are just going to blow up their diesel reserves anyway, you might as well sell it to them first. For Zelensky, it beats the Pentagon’s $400 per gallon price tag.47 The price does not matter because, technically speaking, he was spending US taxpayers’ money anyway. Ukrainians also allow Russian gas through the pipeline to Moldova to service Russian troops. This is a strange war.

If China allies itself with Russia, there will be a world war.48

~ Volodymyr Zelensky

Xi Jinping: Change is coming that hasn’t happened in 100 years, and we are driving this change together.

Vladimir Putin: I agree.


Zelensky and the Ukrainian people won the 2023 Charlemagne Prize for “work done in the service of European unification.”49 He is, however, what you would expect for a leader in that region of the world. Amnesty International castigated him for using children and other civilians as human shields.49 Ukrainians are arresting the Orthodox Priests.50 A slug of his administration resigned owing to a corruption scandal.51 It was not very democratic when he canceled the elections.52,53 We got all bent out of shape when Putin snarfed up a US journalist, but when Zelensky grabbed journalist Gonzalo Lira,54,55 the State Department was silent.56,57 Gonzalo became the front-runner for the 2023 Darwin Award when he live-tweeted his escape…and then got grabbed up.58

Unbelievable, but it is a fact: we are once again being threatened with German tanks—Leopards—that have crosses [painted] on their sides...Those who expect to win on the battlefield apparently do not understand that a modern war with Russia will be utterly different for them. We are not the ones sending our tanks to their borders.59

~ Vladimir Putin

Military Support. Much to the West’s surprise, the War in Ukraine turned into a rather traditional artillery war from the onset, which lopsidedly favored the Rooskies. Russia has more tanks than all of Europe. The US has promised him 50-year-old Abrams tanks—we ain’t sendin’ the good stuff—but we make only 40 tanks per year at current production levels.60 Germany has stated plans to start production of tanks inside Ukraine and, unsurprisingly, Medvedev has promised to blow the shit out of the facilities with “salvos of Kalibr (cruise missiles) and other Russian pyrotechnic devices.”61 I am reminded of the Field of Dreams: “Build it and they will come.”

Ukraine needs fresh young Americans to help fight on the ground war. The US will have to send their Son's and Daughter's... to war...and they will be dying.62

~ Volodymyr Zelensky, in his dreams

The Bidens coerced me to pay $10 million in bribes. I’ve got 17 recordings of the Bidens as insurance.63

~ Mykola Zlochevsky, owner of Burisma

Of course, this is a US-Russia war with the Ukrainians as pawns. The Russians have accused the US of planning a malaria-infested mosquito drop, but who knows.64 A huge hit on a Western munitions depot with depleted uranium munitions caused surging radiation levels.65 Again, the truth may be lost in the fog of war. The West offered F-16s66 and got a response from the Kremlin noting that F-16s can carry nuclear weapons to Moscow. Lavrov said they will not wait around to ascertain if these jets pose non-nuclear or nuclear threats.67 It doesn’t take a military genius to recognize that F16s will not be maintained or flown by Ukrainian pilots. The evidence of US casualties is mounting.68,69

If that were true, it would potentially be a war crime.70

~ Jen Psaki, 2022, on rumors of Russia using cluster munitions

We are interested in testing modern systems in the fight against the enemy, and we are inviting arms manufacturers to test the new products here.71

~ Oleksii Reznikov, Ukrainian Defense Minister

The idea that providing Ukraine with a weapon in order for them to be able to defend their homeland, protect their civilians is somehow a challenge to our moral authority, I find questionable.72

~ Jake Sullivan defending cluster bombs sent to Ukraine

The Ukrainians are running out of ammunition.

~ Joe Biden, on why they are sending cluster bombs

President Biden approved sending cluster munitions to Ukraine even though 120 countries have banned them as inhumane and indiscriminate.73,74 They are as verboten as nerve gas. According to Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Colin Kahl, “They will not use the rounds in civilian populated urban environments.”75 They also promised to keep track of them so that they don’t end up on the black market.76 I sure hope they didn’t cross their fingers. And on that note, Javelin missiles sent to Ukraine are showing up in Mexico.77 The Whitehouse confirmed that U.S.-supplied cluster munitions are now being deployed against Russia: ”We have gotten some initial feedback from the Ukrainians, and they’re using them quite effectively."78 On cue, Putin says that they have a “sufficient stockpile” of the cluster bombs to use if necessary.79 Peachy.

Russia is sliding into what can only be described as a civil war.80

~ Anne Applebaum, Putin detractor and wife of Radek Sikorski, former foreign minister of Poland

Prigozhin. One of the more interesting stories is the dynamics between Putin and Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the private military Wagner Group inflicting the most damage on Ukraine. On the surface, it appeared as though Prigozhin—a beast and psychopath by Western metrics—was turning against Putin. The Intercept noted that “Prigozhin is a pathological liar, a professional disinformation artist” but then gullibly went on to praise “brief and surprising bout of honesty when Prigozhin launched into an online tirade against what he said were the lies used by Moscow.”81 The Western neocons led by Coup Master Victoria Nuland aka Victoria the Hutt “exploded with seemingly libidinal excitement” at the prospects of a civil war, ignoring that bit about pathological lying and disinformation.82 I doubted this narrative from the get-go as did Colonel MacGregor. I reached out to a veteran intelligence expert, Lee Slusher,83 who also doubted the story and noted that other trappings of a coup were missing. War is about deception—Maskirovska84—and this looked straightforward. As Prigozhin ostensibly moved toward Moscow to the applause of the Western propaganda machine (media), few noticed that the path moved his troops rather close to Kiev.85

Then, without warning, the coup was called off and Prigozhin seemed to patch the rift between these two BFFs. Prigozhin claimed he was pissed off about blunders by incompetent officers in the general army. As Prigozhin and Putin negotiated a new path forward,86 a body language expert says that both Putin and Prigozhin were not showing “tells” of tension.87 All was well until Prighosin took a trip to North Africa. Alas, his plane was shot down, killing all on board. Presuming he died, which I think must be true given months have passed, it would be rash to assume that you know who brought him down. The West blamed Putin for causing discord in the ranks. Putin was reported to be scrambling in haste back to Moscow,88 telling me that he did not know it was coming. The situation was chaotic given Putin’s core support was hardcore nationalists who loved Prigozhin.

Even Americans who have no particular interest in freedom and independence in democracies worldwide, should be satisfied that we’re getting our money’s worth on our Ukraine investment.

~ Sen. Richard Blumenthal

Fading Support. The support for the war seems to be fading if my Twitter feed is any indicator. Week after week we heard Whitehouse pronouncements of support for Ukraine and little to nothing about the Lahaina Fires, the East Palestine chemical spill, massive inflation, and crushing debt.

  • An “accounting error” revealed another $6.2 billion for Ukraine, which sounds like somebody drew the “Chance” card: “Advance to Ukraine. If you pass go collect $200 billion.” Now they are fighting about the Debt Ceiling.
  • The US has been paying 2,500 euros to young adults in the Balkans on a US base in Poland. 60 Minutes discussed the vast support of Ukrainian domestic programs,89 which contrasts with events on the homefront.
  • Hersh ratted out the CIA for knowing about widespread corruption in Ukraine and the embezzlement of US aid.90 Knowing? How about fostering?
  • The Hungarian Foreign Minister claims that the other Eurowankers are expecting to commit to €5 billion per year. I am not sure how this squares with Orbán’s anti-war stance.91
  • In the fall, Team Biden put together a package of aid starting at $100 billion—about $500 per taxpayer (suckers)—but climbing from there.92 The logic of such a massive commitment is to avoid having to do another before the 2024 election. The deal was laced with some support from Israel to purchase a few Republicans, but I suspect the Israelis now have other plans for their munitions.
Joe Biden has been slow in providing military resources to Ukraine.

~ Mike Pence, former Vice President and now former presidential candidate

The Chinese expressed optimism the war was nearly over,93 and I shared that view, but I have no clue now. I suspect Putin will go for the gold and take nothing less than everything he wants.94 We may get the endless war that the neocons want, although the Palestine-Israel crisis may satisfy that desire. I stand firm that this war could have been avoided with no shots fired if the US had simply backed away from its push to militarize and annex Ukraine into NATO. Matt Orfelea (@Orf) makes great short videos: this one is sarcastically titled, “It’s not about NATO.”95 For those who think this isn’t all about NATO enlargement, maybe you ought to listen to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg admit Putin went to war to prevent NATO from absorbing Ukraine.96

The background was that President Putin declared in the autumn of 2021, and actually sent a draft treaty that they wanted NATO to sign, to promise no more NATO enlargement. That was what he sent us. And was a pre-condition for not invade Ukraine. Of course we didn’t sign that.98

~ Jens Stoltenberg, New Nato Chief

Allies have agreed that Ukraine will become a member of our alliance.99

~ Jens Stoltenberg, New Nato Chief

NATO enlargement and U.S. missile defense deployments in Europe play to the classic Russian fear of encirclement.97

~ William Burns, CIA Director, 2007

We should not be wasting US tax money and taking on more military obligations expanding NATO. The alliance is a relic of the Cold War, a hold-over from another time, an anachronism. It should be disbanded, the sooner the better…The expansion of NATO to these seven countries, we have heard, will open them up to the further expansion of US military bases, right up to the border of the former Soviet Union. Does no one worry that this continued provocation of Russia might have negative effects in the future? Is it necessary?100

~ Ron Paul, Congressman from Texas, 19 years ago

I suspect that the Israel-Palestine crisis means we will hear almost nothing about Ukraine now, much to the relief of mass murderers Jake Sullivan, Victoria Nuland, and Lindsay Graham who would have some ‘splainin’ to do if the press was inclined to call for it. Bottom line: 500,000 dead Ukrainians and the total destruction of Ukraine was for what goal? Well, they are getting digital IDs,101 although dental records are probably more practical.

If you say he's a war criminal, it's going to be a lot tougher to make a deal to make this thing stopped…I don't think in terms of winning and losing. I think in terms of getting it settled so we stop killing all these people.102

~ Trump, excerebrating Kaitlan Collins on a CNN Town Hall

War does not determine who is right—only who is left.

~ Bertrand Russell


Well, that was painful to write. I try to pick contentious topics that are ignored by others or unconventional angles on standard topics. I got a little kinky on a brief Obama writeup. I smuggled some bizarre ideas in the section on the scandalous Lahaina Fires that led me to directed-energy weapons. I was told that section has a strong Alex Jones flare to it. I’ll nervously accept that as a compliment.

I hope I have one last section in me. This is the section warranting the title alluding to “rabbit holes.” I’ve sorted the notes and graphics and made progress on the key sections. With luck, it will examine the World of Woke and the Gender Wars, hoping to write my way to wisdom while focusing on the defense of vulnerable children and women’s sports. The soul-crushing adventure unlike any I have experienced was the dozens of hours spent digging into the global pedophile network and its implicit role in geopolitics. It inescapably leads to Satanic cults. Sounds like fiction, eh? Here is the one inescapable fact: over a million kids disappear every year. These numbers are only estimates but are not contested. We hear about the horror of it and are provided glimpses of the traffickers and archetypes of the perverts. However, there are awkward questions that are totally swept under the rug. Where do these children go? Who are the end consumers of a million missing children? The potential answers and their experiences are the stuff of nightmares.

Pedophilia is the induction glue of the Deep State.

~ Robert D. Steele, CIA Whistleblower

Before you leave, you might check out the books I’ve read over the last two years with brief critiques (book reports). And, with that, I will show myself to the door.


Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.

~ Henry David Thoreau

I have too many blogs and articles to read to find time to read books, forcing me to go essentially 100 percent audio. Not so many years ago I had Amazon send me a link to all non-fiction audiobooks and then went through all 2,300 looking for interesting titles. There must be millions now. Although many think audiobooks are for long trips, the optimal time for me is about an hour. The long trips require I take a ritalin and then rotate through several audiobooks, trying not to get a speeding ticket. My 12-minute commute means that I can get through about a dozen books per year. When my wife asks me to run an errand, she is really asking me to read for a few minutes. And, unlike podcasts, they are one-decision listens. My wife gives me guff saying I am not reading: “You use your eyes, I use my ears, and Helen Keller used her fingers: what’s your point?”

Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren’t very new after all.

~ Abraham Lincoln

I particularly enjoy books that I call “sticky”—books that stick with you long after you’ve finished. As I age, this gets more elusive. I have books that I know I have read but only because a compile the list at the end of each year. Seems discouraging that I cannot remember reading them. I post the Emerson quote below every year to remind the reader that sticky is a nuanced concept. By habit, when I write my synopses, I read Amazon evaluations that oppose my own views—usually the weak ones since I pick my books carefully—to see what I missed and possibly address the criticisms.

I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

War is a Racket by Smedley Butler

Smedley was a very famous and tough-minded World War I soldier who wrote the pocket guide to the sinister traits of the industrial-military complex long before Eisenhower’s famous speech. War has always been about bankers and arms dealers making profits. It is a very short, engaging read.1

The Marxification of Education: Paulo Freire’s Critical Marxism and the Theft of Education by James Lindsay.2

I am only half done, but this is an in-depth look at the rise of Marxism in the US. It is not for the faint of heart. I postponed it to read Chris Rufo’s book (below), which is a more neophyte-friendly analysis of the problems that have been marinating within our academic system for a half century.

America’s Cultural Revolution: How the Radical Left Conquered Everything by Christopher F. Rufo. This is a fabulous read that traces the origins of modern-day neo-Marxism from early philosophers (prominently, Herbert Marcuse and his wife), through the turbulent 60s with militants like the Weather Underground, Angela Davis, Eldridge Cleaver, and Huey Newton, to the present. The evolution of this school of thought was never broken, only quiet as they changed strategies from blowing up the American system to rotting it from within by grabbing control of academia. The revolution continued ever so quietly, but it evolved in baby steps to the very odd form of Marxism dominating many discussions on college campuses. The foundations of modern day “wokism” and its purpose of upending the status quo was in plain sight, but they were built incrementally and now have a vice grip on college campuses.All of this is not-so-unlike the appearance of Sharia Law inside Saudi Arabia.3

The Canceling of the American Mind by Rikki Schlott and Greg Lukianoff.

Many of you will recall the brilliant treatise by Haidt and Lukianoff, The Coddling of the American Mind. One can view this as a sequel; it is largely the brainchild of Rikki Schlott, a rapidly rising twenty-something star fighting the culture wars. It is a brilliant analysis of cancel culture, giving me pangs of PTSD throughtout the journey. The nuanced analysis of the implications is great. The authors hold a mirror up to me by pointing out places where the political right participates in cancel culture despite its reputation as being driven by the activist-left. (I still think it largely is.) My blood was curdling as she described, for example, how it has snuck into the psychiatric world where therapists are taking in the most vulnerable patients and then blaming them for their “white privilege” and other bizarro evils of being a non-minority.4 This is top-shelf reading material.

These Are the Plunderers: How Private Equity Runs—and Wrecks—America by Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner.

These two accomplished authors describe in lurid detail how the monstrous private equity firms such as Carlyle, KKR, and especially Leon Black’s Apollo rape and pillage companies. They buy them, start stripping assets and firing employees, take on huge debts to pay themselves huge compensation packages, and then eventually take the worthless shell of a company back into the open market. If monetary policy was tighter, there would not be enough dumb money to buy up these Potemkin companies, but there is so much stupid money, these guys can profit multiples of their investment. They destroy pensions, cause massive job losses, swallow up insurance policies, and mortally wound viable companies. If the world were just, these private equity guys would be taken behind the Eccles Building and dealt with. I am unclear why vigilante justice has not taken root (yet).5

Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order: Why Nations Succeed or Fail by Ray Dalio.

Like Druckenmiller, I have never been a Ray Dalio acolyte, but this book surprised me. In a nutshell it is a variant of Strauss and Howe’s The Fourth Turning but with slightly different timescales (100- rather than 80-year cycles), and a much stronger emphasis on military and economic forces. I highly recommend it.6

Behold a Pale Horse by Milton William Cooper.

This is about the New World Order and all sorts of Deep State secrets, which I am inclined to take very seriously. Unfortunately, it could quit halfway through, even though it is short.7 The 4.5 star rating with 235 entries suggests that maybe another crack at it would pay off.

One Nation Under Blackmail, Vol. 1 and 2: The Sordid Union Between Intelligence and Crime that Gave Rise to Jeffrey Epstein by Whitney Webb.

This is a monumental effort to document massive white-collar crime over the last century. Volume 1 is pre-Epstein; volume 2 is the Epstein era, but not as much Epstein as you would expect. You could easily jump to volume 2, and it is better because you will know more of the players. I would rename it Encyclopedia of Crime, Corruption, and Grift. As my friend Rudy Havenstein said, it is not a book to be read left to right but rather used as a reference. I did the audio, but somebody sent me the hard copies, which gives me both. The more you know about the relationship of organized crime, intelligence agencies, banks, and other corporations the more you will get from the book. Guys like Roy Cohn—the badass of sexual blackmail and political kingmaking—gets a lot of coverage as do the Clintons. Trump gets winged a little but not as much as Trump haters would like. The Jewish mafia gets hit very hard, although I cannot detect antisemitism. You can’t help but conclude that above some quantity of wealth and power, the CIA and big-money power brokers have control. Whitney would have made more money if she had dumbed it down to a narrative, but she wanted to throughly document the corruption. In a podcast she noted that the first volume was important to slowly open the Overton Windows of the readers before hitting the modern era where dismissal of the story as fiction would be tempting. The Amazon critics totally missed her intention: they wanted an easy read.7,8

Operation Gladio: The Unholy Alliance Between the Vatican, the CIA, and the Mafia by Paul L. Williams.

This was a natural follow-up to Whitney Webb’s encyclopedic analysis of the Deep State. Operation Gladio was set up as a for-profit drug trade to funnel profits into the hands of the three players. I knew the CIA and Mafia dabbled in the drug trade at serious levels. Williams makes a compelling case that these three groups were and likely still are the entire drug trade. The Vatican is the banker, the CIA clears serious geopolitical hurdles, and the Mafia gets the drugs to the street. You would be hard pressed to convince me that any other group would dare try to take over this market from these serious players. I find myself asking a simple question: does the CIA work for the US or is it just a US-domiciled international crime syndicate?9

Hate Inc.: Why Today’s Media Makes Us Despise One Another by Matt Taibbi

This 2019 condemnation of the media could have had a dated feel because a lot has gone south in the media since then—Covid, Ukraine debacle, Twitter files, his personal Congressional testimony on censorship—but it held up brilliantly. I thought it was a masterful autopsy on a media that is now largely dead on arrival now. Those who didn’t like it (low Amazon scores) were mostly thin-skinned Trumper supporters who were incapable of tolerating Matt from picking on “their guy.” They were. Matt has leaned hard left his whole life, but crosses political lines seamlessly. I loved the book.10

Invaded: The Intentional Destruction of the American Immigration System by J. J. Carroll.

As a 25-year veteran of patrolling the US-Mexican border, Carroll brings interesting views of what is actually happening down there and how the floodgates that the Biden Administration opened mutated a manageable problem into a potential catastrophe. It was helpful to me, but I would say it was light on the child trafficking, which is why I read the book. If there is a weakness, it is its exceedingly strong pro-Trump slant. I believe he is sincere, but that alone will prevent many doubters from becoming believers.11

The Rape of the Mind: The Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide, and Brainwashing by Dr. Joost A.M. Meerloo and Chris Matthews.

This is a 2021 reprint of the 1961 edition. It has a strong emphasis on brain washing in military contexts in which they analyze the near impossibility of captives successfully resisting being broken by their captors. The detailed protocols are painful to ponder. It migrates into a general discussion of propaganda. Some of the psychoanalytic ideas have given way to more modern analysis. I read it to understand the role of brain washing in sex trafficking. The conclusion is that a child under the control of determined adults has no prayer. They are converted into emotional slaves, requiring no physical incarceration.12

Cave of Bones by John Hawks.

This is a very short, riveting story of a cave discovered in South Africa in 2013 in which intrepid anthropologists crawled through an extraordinarily tight passage to find 1000’s of bones that included 25 complete hominid skeletons pulled out to date. It is a monumentally important discovery of bones of a small species of hominid that evolved in parallel with homo erectus. What is extraordinary is that they have found compelling evidence of culture (cave etchings) and ritual burials, phenomena believed to have appeared only as recently as 70,000 years ago by fully evolved homo sapiens. Many questions remain because it is a recent discovery. A curious theme that I have detected in previous books on anthropology emerged yet again: it is a community that is based on careful analyses of limited fragments leading to bold extrapolations that the field then embraces too strongly.13 When dogma is challenged, the old guard shits their pants, and they have done it in this case too.

The Enemy Within by David Horowitz

This political rant was too lopsided. I am no fan of books that force a false equivalence of both sides of a story even when one side is moronic, but this book had no nuance. It is pure right-wing from start to finish. (reminding me of one of Kim Strassel’s books.) The right might enjoy it and use it to strengthen their talking points, but it will just make them more rigidly angry. The left will make it 10 percent through and then quit. Nobody will be converted. This is very unlike Taibbi’s book for the open minded reader. The 1,100 favorable reviews were quite likely 100% right of center.15

Woke, Inc.: Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice by Vivek Rmaswamy

This book was clearly one of those books you write to launch your campaign. It was fine but you could also just watch a couple of podcasts and get the same messages. Ramaswamy is a fascinating addition to the public stage, stating almost everything traditional conservatives and right-leaning libertarians will like. The problem I have is that he seems too polished—produced like a boy-band.16

The Franklin Scandal: A Story of Powerbrokers, Child Abuse & Betrayal by Nick Bryant

This book was hugely influential in my pursuit of the role of pedophile networks on geopolitics. There are documentaries out there, but they are so low budget that I do not recommend even watching them. This treatise was thorough and convincing. The central bad guy was a highly connected political operative named Larry King (no relation to the famous one) who worked at the orphanage named Boys Town made famous by several movies. Larry had political reach up to the Whitehouse. The witnesses in the scandal are all broken with multiple personalities, broken lives, and drug addictions, but Bryant brilliantly chases leads and cross references testimony. Although many of the horrors of sex trafficking children are clear, the breadth of the network, which reached cities around the country, was not really the core story. When the network began unraveling the gloves came off. The chief of police was worthless—he was one of the local pervs—while the attorney general of Nebraska shut everything down. A citizen group hired a former state cop to investigate, and his very dogged pursuit of the truth landed him and his son in a corn field from an unexplained plane crash. The FBI destroyed witnesses—horrifically, eventually flipping some to turn on the others and testify they were liars. Threats of perjury to the witnesses were stifling. A grand finale was when one persistent witness ended up in the Nebraska Supreme Court facing a judge assigned to the case who had no legal standing to handle the case but very quickly displayed his role in subverting justice. Throughout the story the local Omaha Newspaper attacked the accusers and the group of concerned citizens. Curiously, Bryant falls short of naming the famous purchasers of the kids, but Whitney Webb picks up that trail in Volume 2 of her book. Of course, Wikipedia calls it a hoax but, as told to me by the cofounder of Wikipedia, Larry Sanger, the FBI and CIA have total control over Wikipedia. The biggest challenge in reading about organized pedophilia networks is that they are so far outside your world view—way outside most people’s Overton Window—that it is difficult to grasp.17

Bubble in the Sun: The Florida Boom of the 1920s and How It Brought on the Great Depression by Christopher Knowlton

This is the most recent book on the legendary 1920s Florida real estate bubble. It is especially useful to those interested in market structures to remind themselves there is “nothing new under the sun.” (Sorry.) It was a classic boom-euphoria-total bust story. It was an entertaining historical treatise on the origins of famous cities in Florida as they started life as basically swamps. The Florida today owes its origin story to this mania. The banks started failing in 1925 and everybody shook it off as those nuts in Florida. Then banks throughout the south began failing and the same rationalization was used. By the mid 30s, 12,000 banks had failed nationally. Florida real estate is given credit for being more than just a trigger but rather major proximate cause of the Great Depression. By the end, the four biggest players ended up destitute. In a modern era, they would be saved by your money.18

The Psychology of Totalitarianism by Mattias Desmet

I was reluctant to read this because I thought it would be another Covid book, which I was trying to put behind me. I was pleasantly surprised that it was much more general and an excellent treatise explaining how bad ideologies take hold within the populace. The message is that it is not just evil guys at the top taking control of the gullible masses but the ideology gaining control of everybody. The malaise in societies—isolation, lack of goals, frustration—tees up the call for change and leads to somebody promising a solution. (It sure feels like that is happening.) It is a warning not to trust credentialed experts. He leans heavily on the scholarly writings of Hannah Arendt without falling into a trap of taking it so deep that the average reader can’t grasp the message—a Gladwellian reductionist approach.19

The New Abnormal: The Rise of the Biomedical Security State by Aaron Kheriaty

I was drawn to Covid by Kheriaty’s massive overview of the Covid epidemic and our deeply flawed response like a moth to a flame. Aaron started as the head of the University of California—Irvine’s Director of Medical Ethics Program at the medical school, where he was commandeered to run the University’s vaccination program and eventually morphed into a militant doubter. To my shock, he went down every dark rabbit hole, joining the ranks of the Covid-vaccine battlers whose world view has become profoundly dark. I enjoyed the overview of a topic I had been pounding on for two years. I asked Aaron if he was predisposed to go down rabbit holes or if the flawed Covid narrative came out of left field. He basically said he knew there were issues in the world, but that the whole story hit him like a truck. If somehow you still think the covid story presented to the populace was legitimate then you ought to read this book and get a CT scan.20

The Brain: The Story of You by David Eagleman

It is ironic that by the time I wrote this review, I could not remember anything that was in the book. I used Amazon reviews to remind remind me what I had read: “Oh yeah. Now I remember.” Well, that didn’t even happen. I bet I liked it—the 5,000+ reviews did—and the topics look great, but I really don’t recall reading it. Every book I’ve read on the brain and neuropsychology and neuralplasticity are blurring together I guess. Maybe the Amazon reviewers wrote reviews before they had forgotten what they had read it.21

Poisoner in Chief: Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control by Stephen Kinzer

Stephen is a prolific investigator on all things Deep State. I had already read Overthrow (it was great) and The Brothers, the story of Allen and John Foster Dulles (good). Don’t read this book to feel good about the world. This is a horror story about the role of Sidney Gottlieb (no relation to Scott that I could find) who ran the CIA’s most demented mind-control programs, including the infamous MKUltra. I must confess that I was not aware of how much above-the-fold the MKUltra program had become in the early 70s. These guys were totally twisted bastards. While the Department of Defense grabbed German rocket scientists (logically) the CIA grabbed all the doctors (possibly including Mengele, although that is not completely clear.) They put them on payroll and had them continue their studies of human torture at Fort Detrick. They eventually morphed their efforts into brainwashing using psychedelics (LSD et al.) The goal was to create foot soldiers of the type protrayed in the Bourne Identity. When outed, they claimed it didn’t work and terminated the program. There is no evidence that either is true. Having read volumes on the CIA, I am convinced that they have their paws on absolutely everything with no adult supervision. It is such a sleeper cell-based model that I am in no way convinced that the head of the CIA has a clue what is going on in his organization.22

The Illuminati by Jim Marrs.

I was hoping to get my arms around the elusive Illuminati, the small group of global players who some people believe still rules the world. Almost 700 reviewers like it with a 4.5 star rating, but 10% into the book they were talking about aliens from distant planets, and that was enough for me.23

The Coming Collapse of China by Gordon G. Chang.

I had high hopes but wasn’t getting shit out of it. There was too much Chinese history that removed all sense of stickiness. I quit. I read a half-dozen books on the Middle East years ago and got nothing from them either. I did not have an intellectual framework to hang the information from. Too many foreign names, places, and concepts.24

2022 Books

Because I ran out of gas, my 2022 bibliography never got published. I try to choose my reading materials carefully enough that they do not go out of date.

The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin by Stephen Lee Myers.

While trying to sort out complex stories, I avoid reading books. I want to assemble a narrative rather than reiterate somebody else’s. Of course, even the pieces have embedded narratives and may be laced with propaganda. It is my compromise. However, I broke my no-book rule this time by reading The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin25 recommended by America’s favorite Roosky, Lex Fridman. I must admit it seemed remarkably balanced and unbiased until the moment Putin was elected President. From that page on, Myers had nothing favorable to say—not one positive word. It was as though a new author took control, some aggressive editing was inserted, or the Zebra changed the color of his stripes at that moment. I should add that, while conceding he is a sociopath by Western standards, my opinion of Putin as a world leader is many standard deviations to the favorable side of the norm in the West. We in the US of A elect idiots.26

The Psychology of Money: Timeless Lessons on Wealth, Greed, and Happiness by Morgan Housel.

This was a great discussion of how people stumble into trouble handling money and investing. It has a little touch of Millionaire Next Door and is at about that level of intensity. The number of new insights was not high, but I like how Morgan formulates the ideas. It would be an excellent book for a young adult. I will warn you: at the end of the book he goes on to tell you to buy a 60:40 portfolio, which shocked reviewers looking for a magic formula.27

The Price of Time: The Real Story of Interest by Edward Chancellor.

Ed is one of the legends in the history of markets. I thought this was going to be another one of those books that offers marginal new insights but articulates the principles with a flare, but I was pleasantly surprised the underlying details were more than I expected. The book hammers home the point that cheap money as exemplified by artificially low interest has, without fail, ended in tragedy. Authentically low rates—rates set by price discovery rather than autocratic central bankers—are emblematic of a sluggish economy. He also notes that every time rates drop to 2%, a crisis is not far behind. Assuming he was referring to nominal rates, we are royally hosed. If he was alluding to real rates, a new metaphor will be needed. The case is well made that, no matter what, intervention in price discovery within the credit markets is problematic and should be minimal. There is nobody alive today who remembers such a market, so that is a problem.28

The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

I had started this book and progressed enough in my 2021 Year in Review to give it a ringing endorsement. Having finished it, I would say the >24,000 rave reviews on Amazon are not wrong. This book will warp your mind and force you into one of two diametrically opposed conclusions: either Anthony Fauci is a mass murder and has been so for decades—I am not being metaphorical here—or Robert Kennedy should be sued into bankruptcy. Kennedy names names, quotes experts, and references it all. His army of fact checkers and lawyers were charged with keeping him out of bankruptcy court. I have yet to read a single credible push back against the book, suggesting Kennedy will retain his inherited wealth. It is overwhelming tales of rigged clinical trials using such notable subjects as inner city foster kids (14,000 of them). If Kennedy is correct, Fauci and many others should be frog-marched to Nuremburg, tried, and, if convicted, hung from their necks until dead.29

Sickening: How Big Pharma Broke American Health Care and How We Can Repair It by John Abramson.

So let us assume some of you don’t trust Kennedy because he does have a sketchy reputation no doubt created by big-cap pharma. Harvard Medical School’s John Abramson wandered into the world of big-cap pharma corruption when he determined that Merck’s Vioxx was killing tens of thousands of consumers, leading to the most expensive recall in history. This is a tell-all about the seedy world of clinical trials and drug marketing. Case studies examine the corruption that has taken hold within the world of clinical studies, which includes pharma, fly-by-night clinical trial companies, the FDA, and academic institutions helping commit fraud. I now have a new policy: never take a drug that doesn’t cure a specific medical condition. Y’all can take those drugs to change some blood level of some biochemical marker, but I will not. It better cure an infection, significantly reduce pain, or clean up a rash. Claims by others that 75% of all drugs currently prescribed do nothing are credible. Heads up: Abramson was writing his book in 2022, so comments about the efficacy of the vaccine were probably filler and founded on little evaluation of the data. As an aside, more than 70 percent of mainstream media’s ad revenues come from pharma. The ads are not to sell you or your doctor drugs with unpronounceable names that let you wander through life with a smile on your face. It is to capture the media with addictive revenues.30

The End of the World is Just the Beginning: Mapping the Collapse of Globalization by Peter Zeihan.

Peter is a career demographer with early training at Stratfor, the private intelligence group that got wrapped up after a cyber attack got ahold of 2 million potentially touchy emails. He suffers from being a neocon and from unbelievably high confidence in predictions of future global events that probably require more circumspection. With that said, his data is probably excellent and predictions are provocative. By example, while everybody thinks China is going to dominate the World, he predicts the complete collapse of the Han dynasty in 10–15 years. He systematically looks at shrinking populations and their role in deglobalization, which will not be fun. An important take-home message for me was that the US’s projection of power around the globe since WWII—a non-Monroe-Doctrine approach to geopolitics—was the most critical ingredient that allowed unfettered global trade. No other military can project their power globally to keep the sea lanes open. The deglobalization that he predicts (with great confidence) as inevitable and imminent, will be highly inflationary, which I think makes total sense. Americans should take heart: Peter makes a good case that the coming decades will suck for us too but not as bad as for everybody else.31

The War on the West by Douglas Murray.

Doug is one of the social justice warriors fighting against the other social justice warriors who are indoctrinating the globe with neo-Marxist ideas. He is a fluid writer. If you are moderate or right of center, you will be highly entertained (and a bit discouraged) by his analysis of the state of the world. If you are a neo-Marxist, he will either piss you off royally or carry out a world-class intervention on your world view.32

The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements by Eric Hoffer.

This analysis of mass movements written in 1953 retains extraordinarily relevance to the present. Hoffer talks about how mass movements start, who the players are, where the movements get their oxygen from, and why they sometimes succeed or fail. The recurring theme is that ideas first proferred by intellectuals—the “talkers”—articulate foundational principles. This could be Satoshi to the Hodlers, Mercuse to the woke crowd, or the scientists to Climate Cult. The highly visible and often stunning fanatics are unflatteringly characterized as having little to show for their lives in the present, rendering them happy to support change for the unknown future because it must be better. They are looking for meaning in the group that their personal lives lack and distance themselves from blame for their wretched existance. Often the movement involves self-sacrifice, whether it is ancient clerics forfeiting all Earthly belongings and pleasures or modern-day climate activists who claiming they will give up modern conveniences for the lofty goal of saving Mother Earth. Hoffer’s book has the potential of changing your world view.33

War Without Rules: China’s Playbook for Global Domination Audible by General Robert Spalding.

This book complements Pillsbury’s book (below) in that it analyzes and interprets a recently translated and relatively little-known book on Chinese military strategy entitled, “Unrestricted Warfare” written by two Chinese colonels in 1999. Robert attempts to understand the mind of the Chinese military leaders and their deep-seated philosophy that anything and everything can be weaponized, which contrasts with the West’s view that warfare is largely kinetic (blow shit up.) It was not sticky—China is a seriously foreign world to me—but should be read for those trying to understand China. May God have mercy on your souls.34

Red-Handed: How American Elites Get Rich Helping China Win by Peter Schweizer.

Peter has documented the vast corruption of those inside the beltway and how they pilfer huge sums of money by selling us down the river. He is probably best known for Clinton Cash and Secret Empires. Red-Handed thoroughly documents the corruption of US politicians by China. Alas, it reads a bit like an Excel spreadsheet with column 1 being the names of all elected officials and political operatives and column 2 being their vig. The sheer magnitude of the grift is nauseating. I am in contact with Peter and expressed my condolences for his depressing life prowling the Swamp.35

The Hundred-Year Marathon: China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower by Michael Pillsbury.

Michael is an ex-CIA agent—if there is such a thing as an ex-CIA agent—who was the man in China. Of course, this narrative was vetted so caveat emptor. With that said, he describes Mao’s hundred-year plan to re-enter the world of global politics and become the dominant power within 100 years. You will not find such long-range thinking in the West although some people are old enough to have done so. In the event, Pillsbury claims to have completely misjudged China’s approach for the first 25 years of his career. He emphasizes their penchant for patience and deception. Everybody does this in warfare, but the Chinese have brought it to a Sun-Tzu-like art-of-war level. They avoid at all costs taking on a strong opponent directly. And, you may have noticed, China does not have a history of offensive warfare. They defend themselves.36

Facing Reality: Two Truths about Race in America by Charles Murray

I am a Charles Murray fan. (Incoming!) I loved Coming Apart. This short treatise on the invasion by neo-Marxists was enjoyable. I recommend you read Doug Murray’s book (no relation) instead.37

Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media by Noam Chomsky

Noam was being Noam. He is a detail guy, sometimes at the expense of the reader. This 1980’s vintage treatise focuses on the bullshit we were fed as the US overthrew various banana republics. Alas, it was scholarly but dry. I would recommend Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq by Stephen Kinzer. It is an easy read, describing our aversion to democracies around the world. (We tolerate some, but prefer to work with cigar-toting dictators.) Noam had a huge influence on Taibbi’s thinking. I know Noam is a commie and went totally off the rails on Covid, but he is still a genius worthy of your attention.38

Propaganda by Edward Bernays.

Continuing with my propaganda theme and its relationship to rising authoritarianism, I went straight to the 1926 seminal treatise on the field. Ed figured out how to sell pianos to the wealthy, cigarettes to women, and refrigerators to eskimos. He describes how the entire populace is immersed in propaganda and how it works. I cannot say it was my favorite book but a must read for those professing to care about enroaching authoritarianism. (If you can’t see it, I cannot help you.) The funny part was that he kept saying politicians hadn’t yet figured out how to exploit the tools. Well, Eddie: they certainly corrected that little gap in their knowledge. I have since discovered that the spooks exploited Ed and his ideas too.39

The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt.

My authoritarian theme dragged me to the pinnacle of the field. Hannah is a legend. Unfortunately, her writing is brutal. I chatted with a friend who spent two years in an attic hiding from the Nazis who is a genius (Nobel Prize and all). He said she was difficult to read. It is a must for some but tough on me.40

The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down by Colin Woodard.

Arrrgh. This was a fun read about the pirates who set up shop in the Caribbean with a strong emphasis on their empire’s home base at Nassau. The 17th century pirates are not well documented. Their booty—Spanish gold—raises a question: if you steal gold and you are stuck in the Caribbean, what do you do with it? As the piracy market evolved, the quality of the booty decreased. Grabbing linen and barrels of some marginally edible crap is less exciting and profitable than bullion from galleons. As the story goes, life on a pirate ship was considerably more enjoyable than on a sovereign naval ship. The book dovetails well with Eric Jay Dolan’s Leviathan that describes the growth of the whaling industry and how it founded the New England industrial juggernaut.41

What Darwin Didn’t Know: The Modern Science of Evolution by Scott Solomon.

As a genetics major I had a particular affinity for evolutionary theory. This trimester-length course from the Great Courses Series (see Amazon) was really enjoyable. After wandering through the historical backdrop of evolutionary theory, it brings the listener up to speed on what has changed and the revolutionary new advances in the field. I suspect it is friendly to the non-scientist, but I could be wrong.42

Rigged: How the Media, Big Tech, and the Democrats Seized Our Elections by Mollie Hemingway. I decided to take a retrospective look into the 2020 election after my pulse had dropped a few notches. Mollie presents a one-sided view of the tricks of electioneering. You have three choices: (a) assume what she says is bullshit, (b) assume both sides do it, and there are just as many bad stories about the right she skipped over, or (c) reconcile why the Democrats are just so much more devious than republicans. I followed the story closely and found it credible and comfortably within the guard rails. The Republicans appear to be outplayed, even though I am confident they do nefarious things to corrupt elections (like place polling stations in horrible places). I am confident that the 2020 election had no guard rails because too many people on both sides of the aisle convinced themselves that Trump was the second coming of Hitler. I also distinguished “corrupted” where profound biases leaned heavily to achieve an outcome from “rigged” where the actual voting process was broken profoundly. Hemmingway’s narrative provides a convincing tale of corruption. Some of the stories are horrifying while all of the stories, when put together in one narrative, are nauseating. The case that it was rigged is speculative: the opportunity to rig it was there, but is the evidence that it was rigged undeniable? No. I fall back on the belief, however, that if it could be rigged, they rigged it. Every other imaginable attempt to pull Trump out of power was used. I doubt they would overlook any possibility. As an audiobook, it was fine. I am not sure I would want to take valuable reading time to rehash this sordid chapter of history.43

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://peakprosperity.com/dave-collums-year-in-review-the-war-in-ukraine-epilogue/

Rip John Pilger

John Pilger was one of the best. Rewatched a couple of his documentaries:
“The War You Don’t See” & “Palestine Is Still The Issue”
ie I’d be careful of Dave’s recommendation re Aaron Mate. He never came to terms with how Covid played in the larger picture & actively pushed people to get the jab. Many of us tried…