Saturday, April 26, 2014

DeMinted History

The Pilot Newspaper: Opinion:

Look, I know it’s an article of faith among those on the American right that government is ineffective, useless, even downright evil — unless people who look and think like them are in control of said government. Then everything the government does is righteous, true and ordained by God.
But former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, now leader of the ultraconservative Heritage Foundation, recently took this tenet to an absurd and typically incoherent extreme. In an interview on the right-wing radio show Vocal Point, DeMint argued that the federal government didn’t free the slaves — the Constitution did:
“Well, the reason that the slaves were eventually freed,” he said, “was the Constitution, it was like the conscience of the American people. … The Constitution kept calling us back to ‘all men are created equal and we have inalienable rights’ in the minds of God.”
Stirring words. Problem is, the “all men are created equal” language is from the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution. And lest, we forget, this is the same Constitution that originally acknowledged and condoned slavery by counting slaves as three-fifths of a person for purposes of determining representation. Once again, Sen. DeMint proves that the right-wingers who talk the longest and loudest about the Constitution seem to know the least about it.
DeMint goes on, in typically DeMinted fashion:
“A lot of the move to free the slaves came from the people, it did not come from the federal government. … So no liberal is going to win a debate that big government freed the slaves. In fact, it was Abraham Lincoln, the very first Republican, who took this on as a cause. And a lot of it was based on a love in his heart that comes from God.”
Got that?
All those soldiers (government employees, let us remember) didn’t do squat. All those people working for the Union, funded by the first progressive income tax signed into law by Abraham Lincoln to finance not only the war effort but a vastly expanded federal government — none of them did a thing to free a single slave.
’Twas the Constitution that did all the work. Which is why there was this conversation on the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg:
Gen. Lee: “Gen. Pickett, are your men ready to assault the Union line?”
Gen Pickett: “My Virginians are ready, willing and able, sir!”
Lee: “Very well, commence the …”
Gen. Longstreet: “Look! There on the ridge! It’s the Constitution! They’re waving it at us!”

Pickett: “Blast! There’s no way we can attack now! Might as well go home!”
Lee: “Yep. War’s over, boys. They’ve got themselves copies of the Constitution. Back to your farms. And I guess we have to tell all the slaves they’re free.”
Longstreet: “Dang.”
And, of course, there was this great moment from the civil rights movement:
Aide: “President Kennedy! Gov. Wallace is standing in the schoolhouse door at the University of Alabama to defy a judge’s desegregation order! Should we federalize the National Guard?”
Kennedy: “Nah, just hahve those black fellahs carry a copy of the Constitution.”
Aide: “Mr. President! It worked! And now all the schools are desegregated and black people have equal rights without the federal government lifting a finger!”
Kennedy: “Wicked pissah! Let’s celebrate with some chowdah!”
Apparently, Mr. DeMint feels that the Constitution is like the Ark of the Covenant in the first Indiana Jones movie. Just carry it before you, and it lays waste the enemies of freedom, with no human intervention at all.
It is undeniably true that the Constitution is a mighty document, inspired by the best impulses of the 18th century enlightenment and informed by the memories of men who had seen what tyranny really was.
Even with its original flaws (see “three-fifths of a person” above) it remains the greatest monument to the ideals of freedom and democracy ever created by the hand of Man.
But without people to carry those ideas out, it’s just words on paper. Sometimes those people work for the federal government. Sometimes those people are there to remind that government of its responsibilities.
But to claim the government has no role at all to play — and especially to hold Abraham Lincoln, of all people, up as an icon of limited government — is to deny the lessons of history and warp it beyond all recognition in the service of ideology.

It’s pretty silly, too.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Review: The Unburied Dead, Douglas Lindsay

The Unburied Dead (Thomas Hutton, #1)The Unburied Dead by Douglas Lindsay
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A serial killer is brutally slaughtering young women in Glasgow. In pursuit of the maniac is the most dysfunctional police squad I think I've ever encountered in print. Drunks, has-beens, cuckolds,  horndogs of both sexes and all orientations, every blessed one of them seriously morose and's astounding that they just don't all join hands and jump into the River Clyde together, except they seem to loathe one another too much to get that organized.

In the center of it all is DS Thomas Hutton, who's carrying around a head full of nightmares from his wartime service in Bosnia. As the investigation goes on, members of the team start dying, and Hutton begins to suspect that the murderer may actually be one of their own. And it wouldn't be the first time...

I love discovering a great writer I've never read before, and I really loved this book. It's dark, grimly humorous, with twists, reversals and surprises that made me go "holy sh*t!" out loud, more than once (if you're wondering how to pronounce that, the "*" is silent). I've already got the second book in the series from Blasted Heath Publishing, and I'm looking forward to it, after a short break to recover. It's got that kind of impact.

Highly recommended.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

The Big Blog Hop

Okay, so there I am, minding my own business, when out of the blue fellow Polis Books author Casey Doran (writer of the Jericho Sands series) drops into my e-mail inbox to ask if I wanted to be part of the International Blog Hop. "The whut?" I answered in my best Gomer Pyle accent.  It's simple, he said: you just answer four questions  about the way you write, add a pic of you, a cover pic of your latest book with a buying link; plus a link to your website and FB page. Your posting date would be Monday April 21st. You then need to invite three more authors, and tell them that if they agree, they will need their post scheduled for Monday April 28

Sure, I said, and so, here I am. 

What am I working on?

I recently turned in my fourth Jack Keller novel, DEVILS AND DUST, to Jason Pinter at Polis Books. I’m still waiting on notes for that, so in a sense, I’m still working on it. In the meantime, I’m working on what I call “my latest venture in career suicide.” See, the conventional wisdom is that your next book should be pretty much like your last one, only different enough so that the reader doesn’t feel ripped off. That’s why so many series go on longer than they should, and, I think, why an awful lot of writers burn out. So I’m constantly writing something different. In addition to the Jack Keller and Tony Wolf/Tim Buckthorn novels, I’ve written a standalone (STORM SURGE), a legal thriller (LAWYERS, GUNS AND MONEY), a military thriller (GALLOWS POLE) a military/space opera/vampire novel (MONSTER) and a medieval fantasy/mystery crossover (THE KING’S JUSTICE). It seems I want to write at least one book in every genre I enjoy. So for my next act, I’m trying a comic heist novel, a la Donald Westlake. It’s about a group of eccentric crooks who decide to steal this: 

No, not the model. The fantastic, outrageously expensive jewel-encrusted bra that Victoria’s Secret uses every year as a promotional gimmick. There are redneck crooks, Jersey mobsters, and, of course beautiful women. Working title: BOOBS: A COMEDY OF APPEARANCES. It’s a lot of fun to write. I was in the middle of it when Jason and I struck up the conversation that led to me picking up Keller again, and now I’m back at it. 

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Other than the fact that, as noted above, I’m all over the map genre-wise, I think my work tends to deal more than most with the effect of violence, even so-called “good” or “justified” violence, on the people who commit it. Jack Keller kills people, often for excellent reasons, but the violence takes its toll. Mark Bishop, the leader of an elite and highly clandestine anti-terrorist team in GALLOWS POLE, is still dealing with a terrible choice he had to make to save one of his people on an op gone wrong, a choice that violated his own sense of morality to the point where he literally built his own prison and locked himself in it, because no one else will do it. Laura So, the genetically engineered vampire commando of MONSTER, is literally born (or more accurately created) to kill, but even as she quests across the cosmos taking revenge on the people who murdered her unit, she struggles not to become the monster she was designed to be.

Why do you write what you do? 

Because these are the movies that are playing in my head. I tell you, I am not a well person. 

How does my writing process work?

The flippant answer that comes to mind is “only sporadically,” but I know that’s not very helpful. I’ve gone in recent years from being a total seat of the pants writer (or “pantser” as I’ve heard it called) to being a bit more of an outliner, especially once I got the hang of the wonderful program called Scrivener. But I still tend to only plot out a few chapters ahead in advance, with the vaguest of ideas as to where I want to go from there. And then, as usual, my characters look at what I’ve planned out for them, laugh, and go “Yah. As if.” Then they do whatever the hell they want anyway. 

So, anyway, there you are. My four questions. As for my latest, it's BROKEN SHIELD, the sequel to my best-selling BREAKING COVER, featuring sheriff's deputy Tim Buckthorn. Get it exclusively at Amazon (for now) in both e-book and trade paperback. 

As for who I'm tagging to follow up next Yes. Well. I seem to have let that skip my mind. Sorry. So let me get back to you on that, ASAP....anyone want to volunteer, drop me a line at

Review: Louise's War, by Sarah Shaber

Louise's WarLouise's War by Sarah R. Shaber
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

At the height of World War 2, young widow Louise Pearlie comes up to Washington DC from her home in Wilmington, NC and finds a job as a file clerk at the ultra-secret OSS (precursor to the CIA). When her boss is murdered and a file with connections to an old friend of Louise's who's trapped and endangered in Vichy France disappears, she dives in to set things right.

Louise is an engaging character, the kind of tough, no-nonsense Southern girl I can't help but like. Sarah Shaber also perfectly evokes the setting of the nation's capital in time of war: the near-chaos, the paranoia, the unsettling sense that the world is changing in ways no one really understands or has any control over. I definitely recommend this one.

View all my reviews

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Lo, Even As I Have Said It, So It Has Come To Pass

I ended the last column thusly:

Normally, when I pose these sorts of questions to my fellow Americans, I get attempts to change the subject or angry denunciations of President Obama and/or “libs,” “leftists,” “statists” or “Obama-bots,” none of which have any connection to the question asked.

And so far, here are the answers from the usual gang of chattering monkeys that make up the conservative commentariat at the Pilot: 

From "fugitiveguy" who comments every week, while claiming he doesn't read the column: 

I actually read the article in its entirety. This guy sure asks a lot of questions with the angle of defending his king and deity. To the majority of those questions I would just answer I don't know. I am glad I don't have the responsibility although I think I am just about as qualified to run the show as the president. I have seen recipes longer than his resume. But I digest [sic] so therefore I must go now.

I'm not sure if "But I digest" is a malapropism in an attempt at humor, or this person really doesn't know the language. "Fugitiveguy's" posts are usually so dimwitted, I suspect the latter. 

From "Pappy", another constant commenter: 

Mr, sure is a lot of questions !!
Before we can start a conversation, can I assume that you think your king handled each situation to the 12 questions / paragraphs correctly ??
This "king" bullshit is a constant refrain among these pathological liars, who claim, despite all the evidence, that I'm a mindless sycophant who never criticizes the President. (See my columns on getting involved in Syria and Libya in the first place for a refutation). 
From "OceanGypsy": 
Great way for the columnist to try to deflect attention from just a few of the many, crazy bad failures of this administration by using directed questions which deflect attention from the key failures of each, then piling them all on top of each other so that no one in their right mind will bother to try to tackle any of them. But hey, he's a lawyer after all.
Simple answer. If you truly read up on and objectively study each issue brought up you will find the answer to each. And quite possibly become a Libertarian too.
Ah. A Libertarian. The douchey, condescending tone should have clued me in. But, you'll notice, not even an attempt to answer one question, just another version of the lame old "look it up yourself" dodge that inept Internet debaters use when they're asked to back their bullshit up.

I am pleased to announce, I did actually get one attempt to actually address one question:


Let’s take a crack at your first question . “If you think President Obama’s weakness in Syria is what led Putin’s annexation of Crimea, what  do you think we should have done in Syria? 

If he (the president) was not willing  to take action he should have just kept his mouth shut. 

It was Obama’s bluster that led the world & Putin to see that Obama continued to be a  fleckless blow hard. When he stated that Assad’s use of chemical weapons would cross a red line that would have consequences and then nothing happened it proved it. Putin knows that Obama will do do nothing no matter what happens. 

Obama’s mantra is shoot your mouth off, carry a small stick and then try to change the subject

My answer:

Actually, at one point, I was in agreement with you about the "red line." You can look it up.

But then it actually worked and Assad agreed to give up his chemical weapons, rather than be bombed. So the "red line" actually worked. And I had to admit I was wrong

Would you rather he still have those weapons? Because if President Obama had "kept his mouth shut", he'd still have them and would still be using them.

Thanks for reading. 

I'll let you know if I get a response. But I predict the same "you'll never criticize your king Obama" bushwa. These idiots are nothing if not predictable.