#138: Year in Review
from Book Riot – The Podcast (01:15:26)
This week, Jeff and Rebecca look back at the year. The coolest, most frustrating, most interesting, and most notable stories from 2015.

Good episode that highlights President OBama’s interview with Marilynne Robinson, Hugo beating off the attack by Right-wing front, Sad Puppy, and some of the best books and most intriguing publishing stories of 2015.


MUMBO JUMBO by Ishmael Reed Book Review: A novel about Haiti and America and Ragtime 90 Years Ago

“It’s a way we had over here for living with ourselves. We cut ’em in half with a machine gun and give ’em a Band-Aid. It was a lie. And the more I saw them, the more I hated lies.”– Apocalypse Now

I just finished Ishmael Reed’s 1971 Novel MUMBO JUMBO, a biting, absurdist, fantastic satire, that also happens to be, like the best of satires, a cutting and revealing and true depiction of our ids and our angsts. It is for a work of fiction, far more true than are so-called “history”. It is such a rich and deep and sprawling and compelling and… brilliant novel.

I consider myself a pretty informed reader, and this 4 decade old novel had insights into not just our history but our humanity, that i had never even considered.


How it defined Museums as store-houses for Pirated/Stolen goods.

I’ve been in and out of museums all my life, and it never even occurred to me to consider them in the context of Robber-Baron’s basically raping and destroying civilizations and bringing home to the west their trophies. Their stolen goods.

And this was like a throw away line in the novel, and it blew my mind. That I who consider myself relatively afro-centric that it did not even occur to me to question the origin and rightness of Museums. And the whole novel is like this, one smashing revelation after another.

And yes it’s a work of sensational fiction, but what makes it even more sensational are the parts of it… that ring true, are true. And speak even today… of true things.

From the hidden Haitian War and Holocaust of the early 20th century, which oddly mirrors the conflicts in Haiti today, even to the search for a talking Android to lead the people astray, which without too much of a jump can be compared to today’s President Obama…. it is almost a prophetic work. Or perhaps it just illustrates how history not learned from, is repeated.

This is the type of book that school curriculums that teach children of color… should cover. Must cover. It’s the kind of book… written with brilliance, and that inspires, ignites a real fire… for more brilliance, and more questions and answers.

It’s the kind of book that inspires… real learning.

It is a challenging read, but stick with it as it does all come together. And I highly recommend hunting down the griot audio book version which is FANTASTIC! It is an essential read, and in light of recent issues in Haiti, I think a surprisingly timely and insightful one. A satire that hints at much that is true, about Haiti’s tumultuous and troubled relationship with Western Powers.

It is an essential purchase. B+/A-


On Presidents, Breaking Faith, Endless Wars and You

What if we’re wrong?

What if we are wrong about all the things we wanted to be right about?

What if we’re wrong about apple pie, and liberty, and democracy?

What if we are a police state, not for the good of the many, but for the greed of the few?

What if the FDA doesn’t care about protecting you? What if they don’t care about you staying well? What if a nation filled with the sick, is of more value to them, and their pharmaceutical backers, then a nation committed to being well?

What if a President rode to victory on the promises and the hopes of generations past and generations present, and in a few short months has completely betrayed every oath and every promise?

What if he answers to the same ends, and administers the same means, by which our world has been brought to this endless war? To this odd age, where all America has left to sell… is death.

What if it’s a game? The Republican and the Democrats, rigged puppets pulled by the highest bidder. And your life the ball they play with. What if we are a nation, that is ruled by gangsters and goons and greed?

What if the only true service your nation wants from you, is capitulation, and apathy, and fear?

What if our government taps our phones, reads our emails. monitors our correspondences, fragments our unity, intimidates our associates, and decimates our liberties?

If it does all those things to even one, one person, one group, one area… without checks, without balances, without oversight, is it still our government?

Or is it a state of monstrous governors and the mutely governed? Of butchers and their sheep?

And if so, what are you prepared to give up, to live by their rules, and what are you prepared to give up… to live by your own.

Odd questions for a Friday. Perhaps made all the more odd, by the certainty of the answers.

President Barack Obama’s Stimulus plan… is not America’s salvation, but it may be America’s doom. Democrats have become the new Republicans.


I respect President Obama, to an extent.

The position he holds.

And more, the composure of the man that holds it.

But that said he is a tool.

Not as big a tool as Bush had been, or McCain would have been.

But he is a tool.

And he is being used by business, by his corporate backers to rob America blind.

The stimulus plan, going further in debt to get out of debt, is a bad idea.

The only people who will profit are the big businesses that continue to bankrupt and raid this country, making money in America, without having to pay anywhere near their reasonable share of taxes ( some pay no taxes at all, and take billions out of America).

You want to turn around America’s recession and economic turmoil, then repeal the blank checks that the Bush administration gave to big business that allow them to offshore jobs (ie eliminate America jobs) and still make staggering revenue from America, yet pay no taxes.

So saving America is simple.

Tax corporations the 850 billion dollars, not citizens.

It’s that simple. A 13% flat tax rate to every company that generates revenue from America, and mandatory American labor quotas and America would not have a deficit or a recession.

The answer is to make big business pay.

Big business has led us to this precipice, and on top of the 1.4 trillion (two 700 Billion expenditures in 2008 ) already paid to business for being incompetent and placing us here, President Obama and the Democratic congress are leading the American people down a path of further denigration to big business, and further stratification between rich and poor [And if you will look at the Democratic controlled congress, the democrats are largely stocked with conservatives. I noticed this in the 2008 election, while I voted for Obama (the lesser of two evils) it was clear the sane choices, the liberal choices, for some of the lesser seats… were republicans (not all, but some, and I voted accordingly].

The Democratic party, is not to blindly be trusted. Especially not today. This has happened before. After the reconstruction, where the liberal Republican party became conservative. That seashift is happening again, in reverse, the Democratic party is becoming conservative.

So don’t follow the damn labels.

Look at the god damn voting record of the person running.

Do your homework.

Before we’re all out of time.

America doesn’t have another 850 billion dollars to give away to big business. To support companies that are crippling us. You will only further sell generations not yet born into financial bondage to bail millionaires and billionaires out of the natural aftermath of their greed, by rewarding their greed.

This is not the way.

Let them pay what they owe. Like other countries, mandate usage of domestic labor for companies that do business in their shores; and also mandate the elimination of tax loops for business (not the granting of further tax loops, which is what Obama’s insane Stimulus package offers).

I respect President Obama to a point.

But that point ends, where he sells out, like Bush before him, the welfare of this nation, to corporate masters.

President Obama is an obviously intelligent man, so he knows absolutely the folly of robbing the poor to feed the rich, robbing the many to feed the few.

And to do it anyway, shows a man with too little grasp of history. And too little recognition of the fact, that he and not his backers will be remembered for the crimes done under his watch.

Like Colin Powell he will be left holding the bag.

He is a tool.

I said as much, if you will remember in my earlier discussion about presidential candidates. But I had hoped… I had hoped he could be more than the strings that bind him.

Less than a month into his reign, and the Gaza Strip is in flames, and the corporate wolves are lined up at your door.

So obviously, my hopes were… misguided. Though I would still like to believe he will rise to the challenge of his times. But this Stimulus package is a falling down, not a standing up.

So, find out who your representatives are, tell them no more money to big business. No ‘stimulus’ package for the architects of a nation’s fall. Find out how they vote. Write their names on your wall, look at it every day, and remember it. Remember the republicans who sold you out. Remember the Democrats who sold you out.

Remember their names.

Because they will come up again.

Begging like dogs for your bone, and counting on your laziness and stupidity, not to even remember how they screwed you last time.

Counting on your stupidity.

Fool them.

Learn their names. Those who voted, and prepare to vote, your rights away.

Learn their names, and prepare for them… a day of reckoning.