The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency – Chris Whipple

 Books, History  Comments Off on The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency – Chris Whipple
Jul 092017

This is a must-read for anyone who’s interested in how the White House works.  It’s a well-researched, non-partisan history of every Chief of Staff since Sherman Adams, who first held the position under Eisenhower.  The first “modern” Chief was H.R. Haldeman, who under Nixon developed the staff system that’s proved indispensable to every administration since.

The White House Chief of Staff is the second-most powerful man in Washington: it’s a little-understood but crucial job that determines the effectiveness of any administration.  He’s first and foremost the “Gatekeeper”: the single person through which everyone – internal and external – communicates with the President.  The most important resource of any administration is the President’s time, and a good CoS guards it zealously, while still providing face-time with numerous staff and other persons on important issues, being an “honest broker” who faithfully transmits ideas and positions to the President for his consideration without filtering them through any personal agenda of his own.  The Chief of Staff must also impose discipline and focus on the staff, and ride-herd on any and all issues big and small, short- and long-term.  Most ominously, he is the President’s “son-of-a-bitch”, telling him what he needs – not wants – to hear, and taking the heat for unpopular decisions, along with dropping the hammer on anyone and anything that becomes a liability to the execution of the President’s agenda.

Aside from the Presidency itself, it’s the worst job in Washington, and the most important.

Don’t Panic: ISIS, Terror and Today’s Middle East – Gwynne Dyer

 Books, History, The Widening Gyre  Comments Off on Don’t Panic: ISIS, Terror and Today’s Middle East – Gwynne Dyer
Jul 092017

As someone who’s eschewed current events for history the last few years, I’m a little behind on things.  This history of Islamist terrorism and ISIS (now “IS”) went a long way towards catching me up.

Drive Angry (2011)

 Video  Comments Off on Drive Angry (2011)
Jun 252017

Great little-known Nick Cage action movie.  A-list quality, and B-list flair.  Or maybe a B-list movie that you’ll enjoy more than lots of A-list movies.  It’s surprisingly well-written, but with no pretension whatsoever, and fun as hell.  The female lead, Piper, is quite well-done: a role-model for little girls everywhere.  It’s one of those movies you can’t judge by an aggregate of critic reviews, cause, spoiler alert, most critics are nitwits.



 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Inuyashiki
Jun 212017

A wonderful manga.  Gorgeous, kickass, touching, & heartbreaking.  Then kickass again, then all the other things again.  The premise sounds ridiculous, but it’s understated and well-done.  Spoiler that’s not-a-real-spoiler: the aliens appear only on a few pages in the first issue, never to return.  What follows is a nuanced story of good versus evil, with an unconventional hero.

Inuyashiki (Crunchyroll)

Recommended listening for this is Keaton Henson (see below).  And Meat Loaf.  FYI, I know this is unintuitive, but Meat Loaf goes well with tons of manga.