Tag Archives: cia

This and that

It’s been about a month since I last posted. After our trip to France, I needed a bit of a “blogacation.” I’m back with a mixed bag of thoughts.

The hot news out there this past week has been the sex scandal surrounding David Petraeus.

David and Paula Broadwell in happier times.

What a waste! It is interesting to note the double standards our society has for those in the public eye. If Petraeus were a Hollywood celebrity or a professional athlete, the entire episode might not even be worth a mention in People Magazine. I think we, as a society, tend to be a little sanctimonious when it comes to a good scandal. I’m not justifying marital infidelity, but I don’t understand why today that activity needs to ruin a good career. In the not-to-distant past, many great and admired leaders had a little, or a lot, action on the side. (Hello, FDR, Ike, JFK, Teddy K, etc.)

I got a chuckle out of a set of petitions that have been circulating around the Web promoting states to secede from the Union following President Obama’s re-election. What a bunch of sore losers! I’m not an Obama supporter, and, while fairly centric, lean more towards the right side of the political spectrum. (Big surprise there, huh?) This is a democracy folks. If you want someone you like in any elected office, then go out and convince enough people and get them to vote. If you can’t, then suck it up and live with it. Don’t just try to take your ball and go home. And, oh, by the way, didn’t we settle the issue of secession back in the 1860s? You would think the folks here in Georgia would remember that.

How messed up is college football? Imagine this. My Florida Gators are 10-1 and ranked #4 in the country. With just a couple of games going the “right way” this weekend, (wins by UF, USC, and Alabama) they could play for the national championship. And this, for a team with an offense so bad they would have trouble getting a first down against Sister Mary’s School for the Deaf and Blind. I love the Gators, but I do wish they would play some offense.

And if sex scandals, a replay of the Civil War and the BCS aren’t enough controversy for you, how about skydiving cats? There has been a uproar (or at least an upwhisper) over a Swedish insurance company television commercial that featured supposedly skydiving cats. I like cats. I have two of my own, one of whom is snuggled in my lap as I write this. But when I heard about this, I laughed. Jeannie Moos with CNN picked up on the story and had this tongue-in-cheek report.

The key here, folks — they didn’t really throw cats of airplanes. It’s all a joke. And besides, don’t cats always land on their feet anyway? (That’s also a joke.)

Two good books

I recently read two pretty good books that are definitely worth a mention.

Liar’s Poker – Michael Lewis

I have been a Michael Lewis fan ever since I read his “The Big Short” that explained the way several people got rich during the housing-mortgage crash of several years ago. Since then, I have also read “The Blind Side” (which, I think everyone is familiar with via the movie) and “Boomerang,” in which he examines why the economies of countries like Greece, Iceland and Ireland crashed over the past several years.

“Liar’s Poker” was published in the 1980s and, in it, Lewis tells the story of his brief foray into the world of bond trading. As with Lewis’s other books, it is both enlightening and hysterically funny. Lewis has the ability to explain complex issues and be very entertaining at the same time. It’s a good story about some really crazy times.

Kill Shot – Vince Flynn

I’ve enjoyed Flynn’s novels since my cousin turned me on to him several years ago. Flynn’s main protagonist is CIA assassin Mitch Rapp. The books are almost a 21st century American version of Ian Fleming’s original James Bond novels, but without Bond’s worldly sophistication or Fleming’s sometimes off-the-wall bad guys. Flynn initially wrote 10 Rapp novels that brought the story to the present day. Then for books 11 and 12, Flynn went back in time and wrote two (“American Assassin” and “Kill Shot”) that tell the story of Rapp’s recruitment, training and his first few assignments.

Flynn novels are pure adventure. There isn’t a subtle bone in his protagonist’s body. There are the good guys and the bad guys, and very little in between. Rapp is one of the good guys, and his stories pit him against his obvious enemies, usually Islamic terrorists, and sometimes the not so obvious — like American politicians.  And in Rapp’s world, the bad guys almost always get what they deserve.

In “Kill Shot,” Flynn tells the story of one of Rapp’s early “hits” that went bad and all the subsequent fall-out.

Flynn doesn’t write an intricate, slowly developing story like a Fredrick Forsyth.  But his novels are exciting, fun and difficult to put down. “Kill Shot” and the rest of Vince Flynn’s books won’t be remembered as great literature, but they sure an entertaining read.