Thursday, April 20, 2006

Hell Comes to the Low Country

I'll be signing copies of Good Day in Hell at the Bay Street Trading Company in Beaufort, South Carolina on Friday April 21 at 1:30. (Remember: in South Carolina, the town is pronounced "Byoo'-furt". The North Carolina coastal town with the same spelling is "Bow'-Furt.")

My publisher has chosen to book me on the same day that the Marines graduate two companies of trainees at neighboring Parris Island. So if any of you freshly minted Marines are looking for something to do with Mom and Dad and the relatives in the afternoon after graduation, c'mon by.

Saturday at 1:00 PM I'll be at the wonderfully named Happy Bookseller in Columbia South Carolina. All Palmetto State Hellions are welcome to attend.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Phrase Of the Day

The always entertaining Secret Dead Blog has a great interview today with Victor Gischler, author of the classics Gun Monkeys, The PistolPoets, Suicide Squeeze and the new Shotgun Opera. It contains this gem:

SDB: You've espoused 'going Bruckheimer' whenever the going gets rough in a novel. Is this you being silly, or is there a glimmer of real advice in there?

VG: Was it Chandler who said if things get slow have a guy with a gun walk into the room? 'going Bruckheimer' is the 21st Century version of that, I guess."


In case you're not familiar, Jerry Bruckheimer is famous for films in which a lot of stuff gets blown up.

I guess, given a choice, I'd prefer "getting all Tarantino" to "going Bruckheimer," but hey, whatever works.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

My Life As a Republican, Week 4: Vertigo

Latest Newspaper Column:

Well, it’s my fourth week as a Republican, and I’ve got to say, it’s been harder than it looked at first.

Oh, I’m still down with the whole IOKIYAR (It’s Okay If You’re A Republican) thing, the principle which says you can do pretty much anything and your fellow Republicans will excuse it. But when it comes to matters of public policy, that doctrine is putting my mind through some pretty severe loop-the-loops.

For instance, just a few months ago, Democratic Congressman John Murtha suggested a pullback of combat troops from Iraq, leaving a “rapid reaction” force and an “over the horizon” detachment of Marines to deal with crises. In other words, Murtha, a former Marine himself, had gone soft. He wanted to “cut and run,” like some French pansy.

One of the party’s rising stars, Jean Schmidt, got up on the House floor and said she’d just talked with a Marine who wanted her to deliver a message to Murtha: “Cowards cut and run, Marines never do.” Of course, the whole “message” turned out to be totally fabricated; the Marine whom Schmidt quoted later said he’d never said any such thing. But why let truth get in the way of a good quote on the House floor?

But now, I open the paper, and lo and behold, one of our party’s leaders, the awesome former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, is saying we should withdraw most of our forces from Iraq, leaving only a “small force behind similar to the postwar forces in Korea and Germany,” according to the Associated Press.

“It was an enormous mistake for us to try to occupy that country after June of 2003,” Gingrich recently said in a speech at the University of South Dakota. “We have to pull back, and we have to recognize it.”

So what’s a newly indoctrinated Republican to do? I mean, do I need to start slamming Newt as a coward and sneering that maybe he’d like to see Saddam back in power? Do I need to just pretend that the whole Murtha thing never existed?

Then my head got yanked around again by recent revelations in the ongoing investigation of who leaked the name of CIA agent Valerie Plame to the press. It seems that Lewis “Scooter” Libby testified that he got authorization to leak certain classified information about pre-Iraq-war intelligence, and that he’d got it from no less than the president and the vice president their own selves.

Libby didn’t say he got the green light specifically to expose a CIA agent, but the president and VP did want information leaked to counter allegations made by former Ambassador Joseph Wilson regarding pre-war intelligence about WMDs.

This was confusing to me because of this quote from our president soon after the investigation began: “This is a town where a lot of people leak. And I’ve constantly expressed my displeasure with leaks, particularly leaks of classified information.” And this: “I mean, when the classified information first seeped into the public, I called [congressional leaders] on the phone and said, ‘This can’t stand. We can’t have leaks of classified information. It’s not in our nation’s interest.’”

Now the president apparently says that, oh, it’s OK, because he’d “declassified” the information in order to leak it, which he, as president, can do for reasons of national security. “I wanted people to see the truth and thought it made sense for people to see the truth,” Bush said during a recent appearance.

Fair enough. As a Republican, it’s important for me to believe that the president has unlimited power, at least so long as the president is a member of the Party. But knowing that the president has that power only deepens my confusion, because, if he’d “declassified” it so people could “see the truth,” then why leak it, especially when you’ve said publicly you don’t like leaks?

Why not just call a press conference, or have Scotty McLellan read it out from the podium during the press briefing? Why this back-channel stuff to The New York Times? I mean, I’m experiencing some serious mental vertigo here.

So let me ask the more experienced members of the party: Is this level of confusion and disorientation normal? Is there, maybe, some sort of newsletter or memo that I’m not getting that tells us how to deal with stuff like this? Is there some technique you guys use to blot out all memory of statements previously made in the strongest possible terms by members of the party, statements that now apparently mean nothing?

Is it like a Zen thing, where we learn through meditation and mental discipline to just live in an eternal Now? Or is there some operation we can have to remove our long-term memory entirely?

Somebody let me know, because I’m not sure how much longer I can keep on like this.