Thursday, November 28, 2013

Winter reading vs. follow the music

Charles Krauthammer    Alan Dershowitz           Erik Prince

If you are in the mood for winter reading

I reviewed more than a few books during my time as an active journalist, but right now I wish only to recommend three without actually reviewing them. Do a bit of further research if, after reading these brief introductions, you think you might benefit from and/or enjoy one or all of these books:

Charles Krauthammer: "Things that Matter"

Krauthammer was a medical student when he dove into a swimming pool and emerged to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. Despite the crippling injury, he finished his studies at Harvard Medical School and became a practicing psychiatrist. As a political liberal, he changed fields and became a speech writer for Democrat then-Vice President Walther Mondale, eventually moving on into journalism. Over the course of a few decades, he transitioned to become a conservative. He writes that as a doctor, he was trained to be a pragmatist; hence, he saw that conservatism worked while liberalism did not. The book is a compilation of columns Krauthammer wrote as a journalist, and offers the reasoning and progression why he and others evolve from a liberal to a conservative political philosophy as they gain in knowledge about rights, responsibilities and freedoms. Incidentally, Krauthammer is a Pulitzer Prize winner for his newspaper columns.

Alan Dershowitz: "Taking a Stand"

I might label this book under the category of "know thy enemy" because many of the beliefs Dershowitz professes and many of the actions he has undertaken during his adult life I find somewhere between objectionable to downright offensive. He has spent his entire career teaching at Harvard Law School and defending in courtrooms those who often are indefensible (in my opinion). For instance, he was an advisor in the defense of O.J. Simpson at his trial for the murder of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman. Never-the-less, the book is fascinating in the sense of understanding the world as seen through the eyes of those who believe in an extremely liberal social and political philosophy. There are times the best friends might be political opposites, and Dershowitz could easily be one in a strictly social sense. However, to me he seems unable to draw a line between legal concepts and justice, and is willing to act as a legal mercenary if he is paid well enough.

Erik Prince: "Civilian Warriors"

This is one fascinating story. Prince, originally from Michigan, dropped out of the U.S. Naval Academy, but after graduating from Hillsdale College became an officer and a SEAL in the U.S. Navy. For a time, he belonged to a SEAL/CIA "nasty" team. (Nasty is my term, since assassination teams do not exist under the official auspices of the U.S government, right?) After the Navy, he returned to run his family's billion-dollar business and later created Blackwater, which, in polite terms, would be called a private security firm and the world's largest private military company. A generation ago, it would have been called an outfit for training and supplying mercenaries to the highest bidder, which included (whoops, you probably guessed it) Uncle Sam. Is it not fascinating how rhetoric and semantics have changed the face of America? Prince explains how Blackwater often took the bullets and the blame when things went wrong for U.S. government operations and assignments in places like Iraq. Prince has vowed he never again would work for the federal government because of its corruption and dishonesty. I, for one, agree wih him.

FramWinter: November through March

Those who have passed this way at this time of year before know that I do not measure seasons by the calendar, but, rather, by their general arrival and departure in my niche of the world. So, then:

FramWinter began November 1. It will end March 31. Which is not to say winter storms cannot occur before or after those dates, but is to say this is a pretty accurate, general measurement of typical weather in this neck of the woods.

I really would like to hibernate this year, more so than most years. I often say I have bear blood in my veins because, just about the time October is in full stride, I want to sleep and to forget the world until the sun awakens me around the end of March. Well, we shall see what develops between now and Yuletide. Perhaps, the end of 2013 is not too late to leap off some proverbial cliff and to discover what awaits below.

As for the music, this time around includes a pair of songs I have used in past posts. The first is representative of the "never a winter alone again" promise I made to myself during the winter of 2009 and failed to keep .... here I go again .... alone again, without you. The second is symbolic of my mood and my thoughts and my notion of going on the road for a while and following the music until I arrive at a place in the sun.

Happy Thanksgiving ....


A Cuban In London said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you, too. I quite liked that line about "legal concepts and justice". It's the same with fairness and morality. Philosophically speaking the boundaries of where justice starts and where jurisprudence ends are too grey and too blurred to attempt to box them into a category.

OJ is a good example, isn't it? :-)

Greetings from London.

Fram Actual said...

There always are lines in law which should not be crossed, I think, and lawyers frequently seem to cross them in the generally-accepted interpretations of their oaths as attorneys. And, the worst of the worst lawyers usually are those with political ambitions who circumvent both fairness and morality in defense of their own actions. Richard Milhous Nixon and William Jefferson Clinton come to my mind. I will not mention the current resident of the White House because I am waiting for his own words to hang him irrevocably.

Yes, I am sure the infamous trial of O.J. Simpson would be the first to enter the minds of most in terms of justice gone awry, but a bungling prosecution and inept police work probably were as much the cause of that situation as were legal concepts as interpreted by the defense team.

Ironically, I think O.J. is in prison today not because of what he did to get himself there, but because of a perverted sense of payback for being acquitted in the murder trial. I do not know if you noticed, but his bid for a new trial on armed robbery and kidnapping charges was denied just this week. In prison he will stay.

I guess O.J. did not believe the cliché, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." (I am trying to be funny. Did I make it?)

Thank you, for the Thanksgiving wish and for your visit to my page, CiL.

Kelly J. Call said...

Hello Wolfie :-)
Nice post!
In the past I would become upset when someone that I felt committed a crime "got away with it." This doesn't bother me as it used to because the level of recidivism is so high with criminals. They may not be convicted the first time around, but almost certainly they will be back, and eventually, they will be caught. O.J. is a very good example of that.
Interesting reading list, one sad song and one happy, they form a lovely juxtaposition. I hope that you find a way to take a leap and find your way out of FramWinter into sunshine, exciting adventures and happiness!
Happy Thanksgiving to you :-)

Fram Actual said...

Well, thank you, California girl.

Among the people who stop by here somewhat regularly, you are the one who, perhaps, can make the most objective and the most personal observations about lawyers, crime and punishment, since your day-to-work is in a Los Angeles courtroom. You watch while "the accused" face a judge and a jury. Then, there is me, who, for a while in my life, watched the ones who went from a courtroom into a prison and who had the frightening authority to make many decisions which would affect the lives of those convicted forever and ever.

I have looked into the eyes of people who have committed every crime imaginable, and had to make decisions about their honesty, their "rehabilitation" and their ability to live outside prison walls without returning to a life of crime. Scary thought, hah? Me, having such responsibility? And, I was pretty (pardon me) damn young when I was doing it.

I think most career politicians enter the same mindset most career criminals fall into: They begin to believe they are better than anyone and everyone else. They begin to think they will never be caught, that they are above the law, that their charisma will see them through any obstacle, that they lead charmed lives. Some make it through to the end; most do not.

As for you, you should write a book about your experiences, Kelly.

As for the reading list, I am afraid too many people read to escape rather than read to learn. I do that at times, through novels, but all of us should drop out of reading dopey self-help books by charlatans and, instead, read books by people who actually have led meaningful and significant lives -- lives which might have an impact on us whether we realize it at the time or not.

And, the music. I am glad you noticed. Dokken is a band that I really enjoy, but it is just a band with a couple of special songs. Jon Bon Jovi's music usually is happy music and thoughtful music. He and his band look like they love being where they are and doing what they are. More importantly, they appear to be trying to pass those feelings along to the audience. Happy is the right word. This music is a good experience, not just a rock experience.

Needless to say (I hope), I am glad you came to visit me here, Kelly.

Kelly J. Call said...

Yes, Wolfie, I do agree that we all need to read more books about people that have lived significant and meaningful lives. They inspire us and make us better least they inspire me.
I believe you to be a fairly good judge of character so I am not skeptical of you deciding the fate of incarcerated individuals. You are an extremely cautious person.
Criminal law presents a fascinating study into the criminal mind. I, too, look into their eyes and wonder how they got to the place they now sit. Was life hard on them? Were they terribly hurt? Or, are they just genetically tweaked? I know that people can come from good homes and just come out...well, bad. They do terrible things. Their mind is not right. The saddest for me are the young ones. I want to shake them silly and I, at the same time want to hug them and love them, and let them know that life does not have to be like's tough.
Maybe one day I will write a book. Truth IS definitely stranger than fiction :-)
Have a nice day prowling about, Wolfie :-)

Fram Actual said...

My persona always has been a jack-of-all-trades type, and I was able to experience working with every element which makes up the structure of a prison while I was a policy and management analyst and, later, when I was running a small prison, experience learning the personalities of the inmates while working face-to-face with people who had committed every crime on the books, both men and women, the youngest being age fifteen and the oldest being a man in his eighties who had been incarcerated more than sixty years. If there is a more fascinating place to work than inside a prison, I do not know where it might be, Kelly .... hmmmm .... possibly in a Los Angeles courtroom, maybe ??

I do not think I ever felt sympathy for a single inmate, which might say something about me, but I always treated them openly, honestly and, as the training for such work recommends, "the way I would want to be treated if I were a prisoner."

We need to find a cop, Kelly, then we can write a three-way book: The arrest, the trial, the incarceration.

Thank you, for being here.

Daliana Pacuraru said...

Happy Thanksgiving ! Here was Black Friday, the shopping war I mean! Imported from US ! As you might guess, I’m not a fan of Black Friday....the little Friday, so wonderfully placed between a holiday and weekend, deserves better...I don’t like crowds, shopping, excess consumerism. I wish you a day of clarity, peace, and reflection! My best regards!

Fram Actual said...

Well, welcome back, Daliana. As the cliché goes, you have been conspicuous by your absence, not only in the sense of comments on my page, but the infrequency of your own posts. Trial, tribulation and just plain being busy, busy, busy happens to all of us on occasion, and I hope the obstacles which have kept you away from the blogs will soon disappear and you will be here more often once again.

My own feelings about Black Friday activities echo the sentiments you expressed here. A few days ago, I wrote my thoughts with words similar to these: Black Friday activities in the U.S. now, apparently, are being supplanted by the majority of sales actually beginning on Thanksgiving Day rather than the day after. Now, an entire holiday weekend is being ruined by greed and self-centered materialism.

I can recall when Americans were told that saving money, rather than spending it, was part of the process to being a responsible citizen. Now, led by the federal government, spend, spend, spend has become the mantra of this country. And, again led by the President and members of Congress, most of the money America and Americans are spending is either borrowed or, as the saying goes, soon will not be worth the paper it is printed on.

Whether one thinks of the November/December holiday season in a religious or a secular manner, my respect and admiration go to the people who observe it with tradition and respect and common sense.

Now, I will climb down off my soapbox and say, thank you, for coming to see me, Daliana. I appreciate your visit and your Thanksgiving wish.

Smareis said...

Esses livros devem ser fantásticos. Charles Krauthammer: "As coisas que importam" parece excelente em relação alguns detalhes escrito a respeito do escritor. Pela sua indicação com certeza os três são muitos bons. Obrigada pela dicas.
Sangue de urso nas veias e bom que aguentar qualquer inverno.
Gostei dos videos, e também das escolhas musicais.
Deixo um abraço!
Belíssima semana!

Fram Actual said...

All three of these men have great determination and strength of character, I think, most particularly Charles Krauthammer. I do not always agree with his analyses, but he has proven himself correct more often than not and no one can argue with the scope of his accomplishments. I would add significant physical courage to the attributes of Erik Prince. Speaking in an old-fashioned, perhaps, archaic style, he is a man among men. In any case, the words/books of all three of these men certainly are worth reading and considering.

Yes, Smareis, blood of the bear, and I also carry that name as one of my own names, although the wolf is my totem.

As for the music, as I told someone earlier this evening, I did not care for most of Jon Bon Jovi's songs when he was younger -- when I was younger, too -- but I do now, for whatever reason. I suppose he looked like a "punk" to me back then, but looks like a "nice guy" now.

By the way, it took me three visits to your blog before I was able to leave a comment this evening. I want to make you aware of this in case others are experiencing a problem, too.

Thank you, for coming to visit me, Smareis. I am happy when you do.

Something special ....