Tommy Red

Tommy Red
The Progressive Killer

Our motto ...

Leave the (political) party. Take the cannoli.

"It always seems impossible until it's done." Nelson Mandela

Right now 6 Stella crime novels are available on Kindle for just $.99 ... Eddie's World has been reprinted and is also available from Stark House Press (Gat Books).

Thursday, December 31, 2009

REVIEWS … POLITICS … HAPPY NEW YEAR! ... DOC says ...

Amici:

KNUCKSLINE REVIEWS ...


Murder in Four Parts ... The town of Clearview has more than its share of nuisance police calls but every once in a while the real stuff goes down and Sheriff Dan Rhodes is the one who has to take care of it, including an alligator eating chicken(s), a disgruntled divorcee determined to streak his way to revenge (and a strange sense of justice) and the never-ending squabbles among and between neighbors. In Murder in Four Parts (#16 by my count in the Sheriff Dan Rhodes series), a local florist is found dead, his head caved in and there are any number of suspects. His shop is one of a few different stores located in a strip shopping center that is feeling the pinch of bad economic times and the bigger nearby competition. There’s a gambling joint there that figures into the mix as well as some of the seedy characters frequenting it. Rhodes’ sidekicks, Hack and Lawton (these guys are great and I’ve known several such BB’s in my day) have a way of inviting frustration for the good Sheriff with each new discussion (business or otherwise); they are well skilled in the art of ball-breaking. Dan does his best to play off these two. It isn’t easy but it is always enjoyable for the reader.

Aside from local squabbles between neighbors and such, the town of Clearview also has its fair share of curmudgeons and short tempered types. Dan is forced to deal with those characters on their terms a time or two (including a pretty funny fight involving paint) but he’s become a master of dealing with the people he knows so well in a more reserved manner. There are twists and turns aplenty. There is also a reference to an old flame of mine (not that she knew it) ... Adrienne (rackem’ if you got’em) Barbeau.

Swamp Thing ... one of the greatest movies of all time.

Ultimately, what makes the Sherriff Dan Rhodes series so enjoyable are the characters; we all know people just like them; we all know of the kinds of squabbles Rhodes has to wade his way through and we all wish we had a guy like Rhodes to keep things cool while those around him are blowing their gaskets. A couple of women have written a book based on Sheriff Dan and it has become quite the big seller (with a movie based on the book to boot). Rhodes insists it has nothing to do with reality, except for his looking like Brat Pitt.

Still, not all the problems of Clearview are resolved with talk alone. A scary train chase involves some acrobatics and gymnastics before it is over and pits Rhodes against the bad guy. Does Sheriff Rhodes join the Barbershop Quartet (a no spoiler moment here, folks)? Well, I’m not sure, but somehow I see Annette O’Toole looming large in his future.

We don’t provide spoilers at Temporary Knucksline and prefer yous to read, amici. Like Ed Gorman, Bill Crider has been in the business for more than a gazillion books/short stories and novel series. You can read up about the author here (it is pretty amazing how much this man has accomplished and continues to accomplish).

Murder in Four Parts is a very enjoyable read about a Sheriff and his town and a few characters that will make you smile from beginning to end.

Next Knucksline review will be on Raymond Carver’s Fires (essays, poems and stories).

Mammoth ... Gael García Bernal (Y tu mamá también) stars in this movie about a young well-to-do family that seemingly has it all juxtaposed against the lives of their live-in maid and her two sons back home in the Philippines. Bernal is a genius at designing video games and is about to sign a multi-million dollar contract but has to travel to Thailand to do so. Of course he gets stuck there, leaving behind his wife (a very busy surgeon) and daughter. The girl is being taken care of by a Philippine live-in maid who has two boys of her own across the world. The story lines intersect and break apart. It’s a good movie, but a new release I had to spend $7.99 for. Waiting until it’s cheaper On Demand might be the way to go.


KNUCKSLINE POLITICS ...

WTF ... is Dick Cheney really tossing verbal bricks about Obama-Bush III’s response to terrorism? Look, we at Knucksline would like to see military tribunals and then very quick executions for the guilty, but the last person we want to hear from on any of this is the guy who led us (and the moron he worked for) into a war with Iraq for no good reason. He really has become more despicable than he already was and the fact this Mr. Braveheart chose deferments, five of them, rather than show the patriotism he so often brandishes in his offensive rhetoric says it all. Hawk that Cheney is, he’s never done much of anything aside from proposing wars, sending young people to their deaths and shooting a friend in the face. He’s no doubt rooting for something terrible to happen during Obama-Bush III for the sake of his legacy and party, but we here at Knucksline would prefer it if he just went home to Wyoming and focused on improving his shooting skills. He had his chance, 8 years to get OBL and what he gave us instead we’ll be reeling from for decades.


The bomber ... the DOC was upset we didn’t spend more time on this clown because we refuse to take those “agencies” serious. So long as Whitey Bulger continues to outwit the FBI while the Justice Department deals away serial murderers for the sake of single prosecutions, we can’t be bothered with the lack of communication and dissemination of information between the several federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. We’re sure most FBI (and other law enforcement agents and officers) are as pissed off as we are that the Justice Department time and again finds it necessary to let murderers (of as many as 21 people) start a new life under a new name in some unknowing community, but so long as they go along with business as usual rather than stand up and publicly decry what I read about in Playboy’s last issue (an article about a DEA agent that is probably more par for the course than otherwise), we’re not going to jump on this (or any) President about who slips through the cracks because of incompetence or lack of effort in the relevant department agencies. The Justice Department continues to let home grown murderers they know are guilty go free … why should they bother catching ones that “might be” guilty?

And if you don’t think the practice of deal making exists on the terrorist level, you probably were waiting near the fireplace to take Santa’s picture last week.

In the meantime, this guy seriously deserves a Nobel Peace Prize.


Blackwater ... for those who think America’s image around the world is enhanced because we hold criminal prosecutions at home for alleged terrorist criminals, the Federal Courts may have just turned that theory on its head. From the Washington Post: A federal judge on Thursday threw out charges against five Blackwater Worldwide security guards accused of killing 14 people in a 2007 shooting in downtown Baghdad.

Does anybody really think this decision will be considered justice outside of this country? Does anyone think the trial of any of the terrorists/criminals will be regarded as fair outside of this country? Use any excuse to permit those charged with the crimes a day in court, but please give up on our image around the world already. Like Sonny in a Bronx Tale said, “Nobody cares.”


Maureen ... feeling somewhat less indifferent to Knucksline’s take on the bomber, Ms. Dowd delivers a Bushism aimed at Obama … or was it the other way around? Click here.


Afghanistan ... oh, boy ... here we go again ... Click here. Word is all those Americans killed and injured worked for the CIA.

And then there’s this from the LA Times ...

Heck of a job Barry, indeed.

Necessary war my ass.


Happy New Year!


How 'bout those Buffalo Jills!



—Knucks

And the DOC says ...

And a happy New Year to you too, Knuckster.

Sorry it took so long to get back to you. I'm just not myself when the bamster is on vacation. I miss him not being on TV 4-5 times a week, constantly showing up on my favorite shows...Meet the Press, David Letterman, Rachel Ray, American Chopper. Now, the attention whore is golfing his way across Hawaii after his nearly successful attempt at poisoning Rush Limbaugh.

I even miss that weird speech pattern of his. The only thing that comes close to it is the chick in my GPS.

Cheney's deferments? Come on, Chaz. Deferments in Washington are like assholes. Everybody's got one. ... except G.W. He flew jet fighters and it's a bitch flying one of those things with a hangover (that should get those veins exploding in your head).

It's probably not such a good idea for you to be bad-mouthing Blackwater. Many of the Bamster's "saved or created" jobs are in that very organization.

You also seem particularly down about Obama's "Necessary" war... Afghanistan. A country with virtually no natural resources. No oil. No trees. No grass. No wildlife except for spiders the size of Smart cars. It seems the only thing that will grow in Afghanistan is opium. Next year I'm going to plant my whole garden with poppies. If those suckers will grow in that shithole, they have got to be some bad-ass, hard-to-kill flowers.

Now, you might ask why the hell would we want Afghanistan?

Numero uno... moon landing pictures. If we ever have to fake moon landings again we won't have to build Hollywood sets. We've got Afghanistan.

Numero secondo... rocks. When the Bamster has spent all the money in the country, what will be the new currency... rocks. Afghanistan's got them.

Numero thirdo... tourism. When the jet set finds out that Afghanis are even more rude than the French... Kabul will be the new Paris.

Now, Maureen Dowd turning on Fredo is a whole other thing. That's Betty turning on Archie. That's Grace turning on Will. That's Mrs. Woods chasing Tiger down the driveway with a 9 iron. That's all the amicis skipping the Knuckster's party because of snow flurries.

What is this world coming to?

Come back BO. I miss you.
Doc

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Reviews … Politics … Sports … Dieting … DOC says ...

Amici:


KNUCKSLINE REVIEWS ...



Ticket to Ride ... “He was going to torch Ringo” ... it’s one of my favorite lines in Ed Gorman’s latest Sam McCain novel, Ticket to Ride. The year is 1965. The Beatles are big, Vietnam has started to become the ultimate downer it would prove to be and the division between those against the war and those supporting it has begun to sprout violence. A former colonel who served in WWII and Korea (and had recently lost a son in Vietnam) is found murdered shortly after attending and interrupting a war protest our protagonist (Sam McCain) fully supports. Sam is asked by a former girlfriend to defend the suspected murderer (a loud mouth bragger nobody, including Sam, can much stand). Sam’s investigation triggers reactions from guilty parties going back to another suspected murder that had been ruled an accidental death by fire. No spoilers here, except to say the author is a master at offering several potential guilty parties and then pulling the rug out from under your feet.

What makes this particular series so much fun to read is the protagonist, Sam McCain; he isn’t a stereotypical bad ass PI/Lawyer who spends half the book lying drunk in the gutter. Instead, he’s a loveable guy who not only knows and accepts his limits, he can relate his flaws in a poignant and humorous fashion. For one thing, McCain doesn’t see a hawk going crazy when the colonel breaks down crying at the war protest. He sees a man who has lost a son. Likewise, throughout the novel (and the series), McCain realizes when he’s being snobbish over a former athlete (something he wasn’t) showing signs of intelligence and or admits that even his ongoing battle with the grumpy, conservative (and good looking) judge Whitney (who continues to nail him with rubber bands) can be fair (a Republican portrayed as fair by a Democrat?). It’s what makes the Sam McCain series fun to read. The back and forth between McCain and the usual cast of characters in Black River Falls, Iowa is an absolute pleasure.


The other thing I enjoy with this series is the nostalgia. 1965 was probably the last good year for my family; I was nine and we were all together. I didn’t know what divorces or a cheating spouse was about yet. I had my Mets to root for and our grandparents (my mother’s parents) lived with us. Color television was the biggest innovation to behold and we couldn’t afford one. The McCain series brings that home to me; the better memories of a family that would disintegrate and go through some very difficult emotional times (probably like most families).

For those who aren’t familiar with the author, Ed Gorman has a few books to his resume. In a business where many are falling by the wayside for a variety of reasons [none of them a good reflection on our society (lack of reading and/or the economy)], Ed has managed the toughest thing for any writer—to be consistently on top of his game over and over again, year in and year out.

He’s also one of the nicest guys in the business and/or on the planet.

Next on the Knucksline Review block is from another author (with a HUGE resume) who has managed to stay alive in a dying business. Bill Crider's Murder in Four Parts.



Andrzej Pityski's Katyń Memorial, sitting at Montgomery Street at Exchange Place in Jersey City, honors the victims of the Katyn Massacre.

Katyń ...
a Polish film directed by the son of a victim of the massacre that took place in 1940 in the Katyń forest in Russia. The nearly 22,000 victims of the Soviet army were Polish intelligentsia and Polish military officers. The film documents how the massacre became a political football of propaganda as the Russians blamed the Germans and the Germans blamed the Russians. In the end, it was determined that the massacre was a Russian war crime that went unpunished. The film is riveting and graphic but very well done and was a best foreign film nominee at the 80th Academy Awards.



Eddie Coyle ... One of the Dons (Kirkendall) over at Men Reading Books received the new DVD of The Friends of Eddie Coyle from his kids for Christmas and pointed out to me that Entertainment Weekly praised the new DVD. The DVD has some commentary by director Peter Yates Don felt was “probably the best I've ever heard”.



KNUCKSLINE POLITICS ...

Janet Napolitano ... All we can say is “heck of a job, Janet”.

At this point, after the Obama-Bush III administration pardoned CitiGroup from paying back $38 BILLION in taxes (our money the administration volunteered to GIVE to CitiGroup from fear it wouldn’t be able to pay back its TARP loan), Knucksline is no longer surprised at this administration’s similarity to the last administration. So when Ms. Napolitano had her “Brownie moment”, we considered it par for the course. Republicans and Democrats alike have been FUCKING SILENT on this and if that doesn't tell you the game is rigged, nothing will.


Health Care ... well, considering it was a sellout to Insurance Companies and Obama-Bush III intends to take "credit" (certainly the insurance companies were happy with it) for something he hardly had anything to do with it (his absence of arm twisting on behalf of single payer was pretty predictable given his 131 “present” votes while in the Illinois Senate), what can Knucksline say but remember the last few things Congress rammed through without reading … and in case you have trouble remembering beyond the insane bailouts, it goes back to the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time. That was considered better than doing nothing too.


KNUCKSLINE SPORTS ...


Coltless ... I’m not sure I’d blame Jim Caldwell for pulling his starters in a meaningless game. While I’m not a fan of slacking off, there’s no denying the risk factors of playing a few meaningless games to starters who would make or break any team's chances of winning it all. Peyton Manning goes down and the Coltless are out of it, pure and simple. Pulling all the starters at least shows respect to the rest of his team. I like that move rather than pulling just Manning.

Bills ... what can we say? Our Beloved New York State Buffalo Bills suck. Everybody knows it and there’s nothing much we can do until an asteroid takes out the planet and we get to start over again.

Moonachie Giants ... a GIANT disappointment. One can only assume they're still living off the greatest upset in history from a few years ago when they ruined the cheaterfaces perfect season (although to all Bills fans, the cheaterfaces going 18-1 will always be the perfect season).

Moonachie Jets ... should they make it to the tournament, an easy one and done come January.

Conference Predictions ... Eaglettes v. Aints and the Coltless v. the Wes Cravens.


Rock of the Week … the Wes Cravens ruin the Oakland Raiderettes and are in.

KNUCKSLINE DIETING ...

My second cousin Jason and I visited Antietam battlefield this past Sunday and had a great time. Jason drives a Cadillac but opted for the version without the moveable passenger seat so the ugly one had a tough time getting in and out of said automobile. In fact, I fractured two ribs, pulled several muscles and came to realize the nurse party that wasn’t (because of the snowstorm two weeks ago) has added something like 10 pounds to my girth (there were, like, 7 trays of lasagna waiting to be consumed).


Climbing the observation tower alongside the Bloody Lane (above) was particularly tough (who knew it was 26 stories high--see very deceptive picture above?). It took me about 20 minutes to control my breathing and then we headed off to one of the most picturesque scenes I’ve ever witnessed (Burnside’s Bridge below). With the snow on the ground and the sun shining brightly it was truly a beautiful scene to take in. The carnage that took place there is another story, but standing on the bridge and looking up the steep hill the confederates of a Georgia brigade (400-500 men in total) were shooting down from makes it very clear that a direct assault on the bridge was a real bad decision.


Gordo v. the scale ...


Jason has taken control of my diet … he’s the coach and we’re starting over (I can hear DOC now) ... the new starting weight is 333.0 … the goal is 299 for April 1, 2010 and the publication of Johnny Porno. There’s a power lifting meet on January 30, 2010 I was considering lifting in but that will be determined by how much strength I lose over the next few weeks. The day before we left for Antietam, I lifted very well but that had much more to do with the extra weight I had gained (I’m sure) than anything to do with genuine strength gains.

Or maybe it was because I shaved my back ... who knows.


—Knucks

And the DOC says ...

Geez Chaz,

You just can’t get over that $38 Billion, can you? Perhaps your background in Street Finance is shading your judgment.

Once a guy with a cigarette asked me for a light. I gave him my book of matches. When he offered to give them back I said, “You keep them.”

This is the same thing. I had another book of matches in my jacket and Fredo has a printing press.

Now, onto the BVD bomber:

“All we can say is “heck of a job, Janet”. (Knucksline 12/29/09)

Wow! In-depth coverage of another burning issue of the day, Chaz. Meanwhile the Bills get their customary 500 words.

I’m already hearing words like “alleged” and “suspect” being applied to this terrorist. Let me give you a news flash, Janet. Anybody who got off that jet with a char-broiled talleywhacker is your bomber. He is not an “alleged” anything. Granted, this is surely not one of Janet’s areas of expertise, but then again, neither is homeland security.

How the hell did she get this job anyway? Wasn’t she the governor of Arizona? A state with so many illegal aliens you have to press “2” for English.

Several days later, the bamster halts his Hawaiian vacation to announce. “We will not rest until these plotters are brought to justice.”

Then he ambles off to the golf course.

News flash for Fredo... once the bomb goes off they’re not “plotters” anymore. They’re terrorists. This particular terrorist just happens to have a very high voice, as of late. To add insult to injury, we can’t use the excellent guest facilities at Club Gitmo anymore. We’ll have to provide the weiner-bomber a staff of traitorous ACLU lawyers.

Imagine the scene, Chaz. The bomb goes off. Umar goes up to heaven. Allah presents him with his 72 virgins. Umar smiles lustfully, then suddenly realizes he just blasted his love puppet into the overhead luggage compartment.

Bummer, dude!

What about those Buffalo Bills!
Doc

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Antietam … Knucklespeare … Merry Christmas!

Amici:


Antietam ... It was the bloodiest day of the Civil War. By days end September 17, 1862, the union would suffer 12,410 casualties; the south, 13,724. Because the two combatants named the battles differently, the battle of Antietam (a creek), as it was called by the North, is also known in the South as the battle of Sharpsburg (the town).


Special Order 191 ... Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s direct order for the movement of the Army of Northern Virginia was either lost or stolen in the Maryland countryside. A union trooper found it and before long General George McClellan was able to stop Lee’s invasion.

My cousin Jason and I are headed to the Antietam battlefield this Sunday. American Civil War history ... some guys can’t get enough.


Knucklespeare ...

Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house;
Spartacus threw a party for a couple thousand mouse(s);
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care;
the rats ate Santa’s cookies, drank his milk, then his beer.

The children were nestled all snug in a rug;
Somethin’ bit me on the ass, but it wasn’t a bug.
I said to the Wife: "Was that you, you crazy broad?"
She looked at me once and then I was floored.
When out on the lawn there arose such a noise,
I crawled up to see Spartacus and his boys;
Walking the lasagna out in its trays;
“Quick, wife, stop them!” I says.


The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow;
Seemed dim in comparison to the sudden great glow;
Of the wife with her flamer thrower out on the lawn;
Roasting our guests from dusk until dawn.

And what to my wondering eyes did appear,
but a miniature sleigh, and eight roasted mouse reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
Spartacus was gone before you could say St Nick;
He brought his complaints to me in the flesh;
And said, “Do something about that psycho or else!”

More rapid than eagles his relatives returned,
Except for those left behind dead and burned.
He whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!
And left me with the wife for the duration to explain;
How they were moving back in and would appreciate,
Leaving the fridge open or installing an easy access gate.

Then he sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a thumbs up,
As they marched off with the dessert and my best coffee cup;
But I heard Spartacus yell as he drove out of sight,
"Thanks for the grub, fatty, merry Christmas and good-night!"

—Knucklespeare


Merry Christmas ... to all yous amici.



—Knucks

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Atlas Shrugged; Knucks Drank … DOC says ...

Amici:


The undertaking was long and tedious, but I had a game plan; 100 pages a day between Monday-Friday (and whatever I could get in on the weekends). The goal was to finish it within 14 days. I started making notes after 400 pages, disbanded those and began again at 780 pages. I used Google and Wikipedia and watched a couple of videos of the author (see below); one with Mike Wallace from 1959 and another with Phil Donahue twenty years later. I had read The Fountainhead about a month ago and did a brief review of it here at Knucksline. Now that I’ve finished Atlas Shrugged, as Rand would have it, I owe myself some happiness and intend to drink until I fall down.


Wallace and Rand, 1959; Part I

Ayn Rand’s novels profess her philosophy of objectivism; the concept that reality exists as an objective absolute; man needs a rational morality (morality based on reason) to guide him in his quest for happiness.


Donahue and Rand, 1979; Part II

Her controversial novel, Atlas Shrugged, is way too big to recount here. Essentially, however, it is one story told over and over (and over); a novel 700 pages too long featuring writing as melodramatic as it gets. After a while, at 400-500 pages, say, it became torturous. I found it incredibly dishonest, but suspect that Ayn Rand wasn’t trying to convince me (or my ilk) of anything she had to say. It is aimed at a particular crowd; one that buys her shtick; that greed is good and altruism is evil.

The author portrays altruism as phony, weak and ultimately how society will collapse. She also makes no bones about what she doesn’t like. The characters she paints as the bad guys (those espousing altruistic views) are vapid, lazy, ignorant or badly intentioned; they are mindless leeches and followers of those seeking power and/or those seeking power at the expense of the truly deserving. She goes further, however and almost always gives them unattractive physical attributes; they are ugly, fleshy, fat, graceless, etc.

On the other hand, her heroes and heroines are supermen/superwomen who are physically beautiful, geniuses in their own right and the hardest working, most single-minded existentialists you’ll ever come across. Their only flaw, if they have any, is some seemingly inherent subservience of women to men (although I suspect Rand or her followers wouldn’t see it this way, even the apparently welcomed rapes). Dagny Taggart, the heroine in Atlas Shrugged, much like Dominique, the heroine in The Fountainhead, doesn’t mind being slapped, raped, inclining her head subserviently or sitting at the feet of the supermen in her life.

The men, of course, have no flaws to speak of.

The evil of a society that enforces equality for all was much more succinctly (and interestingly) dealt with by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. in his wonderful short story, Harrison Bergeron. I doubt, however, that Mr. Vonnegut would subscribe to Rand’s hypothesis that any attempt at leveling the playing field (as opposed to actually handicapping the intellectually, creatively and/or physically gifted) is self destructive in itself and if successful would lead to the end of society as we know it. In her attempt to paint altruism as evil, Rand conveniently ignores the achievements of those who reject her theory and live by a more humane moral code (i.e. Mozart, Albert Schweitzer … Lech Wałęsa to name a very few). None of these people (or their types) existed in her novel.


John Galt is her übber hero and the first 700 pages of the novel are peppered with the phrase “Who is John Galt?” As I said, this is far too big a novel to summarize, except to say that altruism has made it impossible for those with the brains and balls to achieve from achieving further. Welfare has become so rampant that the brains and workhorses behind the scenes (the producers—who also happen to be the owners of the means of production—the Galt’s of the world) have decided to stop the motor of the world from running. They have created their own society of like-minded people where gold has become the standard monetary value and all take an oath: “I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man nor ask another man to live for mine.” This place (Galt’s Gulch) has permitted them to escape the “looters” (the bulk of society that had been content to live off of others abilities). Galt delivers a LONG speech (70+ pages worth) at the end of the novel explaining Rand’s philosophy (so feel free to skip the first 900+ pages). He praises individual achievement and enlightened self-interest.

One of the things I couldn’t help but notice (especially after being dumbfounded by the rape in The Fountainhead), was the lack of women in Galt’s new society. There were very few we actually meet. This made me wonder if the author was suggesting her heroine had multiple rapes to look forward to.

Yes, I became that cynical of the absurdity.

Like Aristotle, Rand believes the universe does not permit contradictions; contradictions do not exist. If an egg is egg it cannot also be a brick. If man is inherently corrupt, then a society formed of men cannot exist without corruption. Liberty is man’s most precious right. To inhibit liberty is to create slaves. Capitalism is the only method by which man can achieve his true potential. Life demands man’s rational selfishness; reason is man’s basic survival tool.

It is an arrogant philosophy, no doubt, but it does have its followers. It also flies in the face of reality itself. Not all those with an opposite view of life and morality are lazy, incompetent, weak (or unattractive). Man, in fact, does co-exist within structured (governed) societies. Greed, as we recently learned from our Rand-like society of bankers, isn’t necessarily good.



I suspect Ayn Rand upchucked her caviar at the point in Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol when Jacob Marley bemoans: “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

A constant flaw I find in the arguments of those who subscribe to Rand’s philosophy is the use of “morality” to justify much of their motivation. I don’t believe in an objective definition of morality (if there is one). Rand claims that man’s highest moral purpose is the achievement of his own happiness. I say what is moral to one man may be immoral to another (talk about contradictions co-existing); one might read Rand’s take on morality as hedonism gone wild. I sure would.

Those who adhere to Rand believe that to take from one man (i.e., a tax) to give to another (welfare) is immoral; that unless it is a charitable contribution an individual makes of his own free will for another’s benefit, it is looting and therefore evil. “Why take from what I have earned to give to another who hasn’t earned it?”

It is a valid argument, except it assumes all those who might need the benefits of such a tax (i.e., the unemployed) are in bad shape of their own free will; that all have had an equal opportunity to “make good” and that those who don’t have made their own poor choice. Strict followers of Rand go one further and claim that even if one has a legitimate need, why should others be forced to provide whatever it is?

I’ve gone back and forth over these types of arguments over and over at a conservative political site where I’m one of a few outsiders (or looters, if you will), but that is not to suggest the people there aren’t bright, polite and just as passionate about the discourse they engage in. Yes, there were/are some heated exchanges, as always happens in political discussions of any nature, but it is mostly polite and a place to understand some of the contrary opinions out there. I was challenged to read Ayn Rand and I did so because what do I have to lose (besides time)? I'm glad I did read her work, but I won't read more.

A couple of the left wing blogs I used to visit (or torture, depending on how you took me) apparently took so much exception to contrary opinions they posted hissy fits and shut down. The nastiest thing I’ve been called at the conservative site was a “savage” but I later learned (from reading Rand’s novels) that “savage” is part of the author’s lexicon. There is something to learn ...

I suspect those at the conservative site won’t agree with my analysis of Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, but we do come from different starting points. I am one of those who believe that man in the state of nature wasn’t to be trusted; that without a social contract, he would do what he had to do to survive and it wouldn’t be pretty. Governments were formed for the betterment of mankind and that those which have been bastardized (dictorships, fascism, etc.) have more to do with time and circumstance than the nature of greater mankind. No matter how contradictory that is to the Rand philosophy, I do believe that men (inherently greedy alone) created social contracts to protect themselves.

While I don’t believe in an absolute welfare state, I no longer believe that capitalism works (at least not for the greater good). The gap between the richest 1% and the rest of us is too great and unnecessary. Nobody needs to earn $192 million a year, but everybody needs to eat, have shelter, health insurance and a job. It isn’t something easily attainable, nor does it have to be at the absolute expense of the fat cats on Wall Street, but the fat cats on Wall Street (and that 1% of the wealthiest) don’t need what they “earn” either. The “sweat of my brow” argument, it seems to me, only applies to those who actual sweat for what they earn; not those sitting on piles of cash and investments either gifted through inheritance or “earned” through some windfall that involves 90% luck and 10% actual work.

The problem with Galt’s Gulch in Atlas Shrugged is that sooner or later, assuming Rand’s model was correct and the world of the looters would come to a standstill, those same looters would get hungry enough to look for food. By sheer numbers alone they would overrun Galt and Company to sustain their lives. And if rational selfishness is what it’s all about, savages or not, they’d be the ones who survived ... and to that end, social Darwinists wouldn’t have much to complain about.

There aren’t exact formulas for solving the problems of society. Rand believes there is a basic one, but her position is arrogant and like most arrogance (including the arrogance of some on the left who dare call their counterparts stupid), it looks down its nose and refuses to see the possibility that it is wrong. So be it. Pride goeth before a fall.

My challenge back to those on the right (at the conservative site I visit) will be for some of them to read George Bernard Shaw’s, The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism and Capitalism. I don’t expect them to be converts, as I suspect they didn't think Atlas Shrugged would turn me into a Randite, but The Guide is an interesting read.

—Knucks

And DOC, on a potentially snowed-out nurses Christmas party at casa Stella this fine Saturday evening:

I was thinking you should do a dramatic reading of "The Night Before Christmas": Rudolph, with no expression on his face, said to Santa, "I can get you some toys."

Doc

And the DOC says (Sunday morning--he made it to the party ... it was us and him) ...

My dear Chaz,

That was an incredibly insightful and informative multi-media review of "Atlas Shrugged". I would consider it perfect if it did not conflict with one of my personal tenets of book reviews (i.e., The book review should never be longer than the actual book).

I've set aside March and April to read your review of the Bamster's 2,000 page Health Care plan.

Your pal,
Doc

Friday, December 18, 2009

And then there are these nuts …

Amici:


The last few days we spent relaying the FACTS of President Fredo’s administration, but let us not forget these nuts …

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Some of yous ask why bother calling for a third party (whether it be Ralph Nader, Ron Paul, socialists, communists, John Birch, etc.)? We say because between the inept Democrats (who can’t get anything done) and the lunatic Republicans (above), Knucksline says we better have another choice or else.

Curmudgeons in 2012 … because “they’re so cranky, they’ll annoy the inept and the whackos into making the changes we seek.”

Have a great weekend!


—Knucks

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The New Voice of Right Wing America … the Rock of the Week ...Pharmaceuticals ... DOC says ...

Amici:

Pharmaceuticals ... If our post yesterday wasn't enough proof that this administration isn't doing much different than the last, how's this: Yesterday the Senate voted down a chance for all of us to purchase pharmaceutical drugs from outside the US&A at a cheaper price. One more victory (or defeat) for the Barrack O-Bush administration? This amendment also fell short of the 60 votes needed for approval; the tally on it was 56 in favor, 43 opposed.

Let’s see ... there are currently 58 Democrats, 40 Republicans and two Independents (Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders, both of whom caucus with the Democrats? Well, okay, let’s scratch Joe on this one—he’s a total sellout to anything health care related). But Sanders, as we know, is a self-described democratic-socialist (God bless him).

But no matter how you slice it, amici, it’s yet another check mark on the Saturday Night Live box score of President Fredo’s lack of accomplishments.

“On broader Healthcare issues, Obama promises in his manifesto that he will lower the costs of prescription drugs and will repeal the ban that prevents government from negotiating with drug companies.”

Still don’t think we need a third party to save us from two versions of the same political scam?




The New Voice of Right Wing America ... Last week on Sixty Minutes, President Obama talked tough. “I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street.” He went on to say: “Well, let's see … You guys (Wall Street Bankers) are drawing down $10, $20 million bonuses after America went through the worst economic year that it's gone through in decades, and you guys caused the problem. And we've got ten percent unemployment. Why do you think people might be a little frustrated?”

So what does Mr. Obama/President Fredo do two days later?

From last night’s Washington Post: The federal government quietly agreed to forgo billions of dollars in potential tax payments from Citigroup as part of the deal announced this week to wean the company from the massive taxpayer bailout that helped it survive the financial crisis.

The Internal Revenue Service on Friday issued an exception to longstanding tax rules for the benefit of Citigroup and the few other companies partially owned by the government. As a result, Citigroup will be allowed to retain $38 billion in tax breaks that otherwise would decline in value when the government sells its stake to private investors.


Now, can one of yous please confirm for me whether Barrack Obama is a Republican or a Democratic? The one note boring samba that it has become here at Knucksline (and other places—see Huffington Post for any number of Bush-Light/Bush-Heavy decisions), seems justified in light of how the Democratic Party gave George Bush (and Wall Street) just about everything he (and they) asked for before and after they (Democrats) had a majority in Congress and why now that they have a veto proof majority in Congress, Democrats continue to vote the Republican line of tax breaks (and just about everything else—see Afghanistan troop escalations, Blackwater budget increase, watered down healthcare that guarantees insurance companies more customers (and that Howard Dean says should be scrapped), and, of course, we’re still in Iraq, etc.), etc., etc. ...


Back in my bleeding heart liberal/loyal to the Democratic Party at all cost days, I used to be amazed how anybody in my financial boat (or under it) could vote Republican. Why would they do that to themselves? Republicans are for the rich. Republicans don’t care about the little guy. Republicans are too eager to go to war with our kids. Republicans are for big business and big business only.

Okay, so yous tell me the focking difference now that this Democrat is President?

Frankly, I don’t know what has DOC’s panties in a bunch. This guy couldn’t govern more to the right with a gun to his head. Citibank gets to walk away from $38 billion in taxes after we had to bail them out? What the FOCK is that all about?

Clearly, Obama wasn’t ready for the job. He looks good on camera and he can speechify with the best of them, but that’s where it ends. We’ve now been disappointed by two Ivy League Presidents; Yale gave us President Moron and now Harvard has given us President Fredo. Here’s a thought … how about somebody from Brooklyn College? Or Katharine Gibbs or TCI (Technical Career Institutes) or a some Croupier school or one of the instructors from the Evelyn Wood school of speed reading or the American bartender academy (Knucks has a certificate from there). Or, as I’ve said many times in the past, how about somebody who can run a pretzel stand at a profit?

Or how about a haberdasher? That seemed to have worked pretty well once.

Harry Truman has always been my favorite President.

Last week Fredo gave himself a B- on Oprah for his first year in office. Knucksline gives him a big fat F. You know the reasons. What he contributed to the dismantling of labor gains for American workers with the two things he should’ve voted “present” on (the bailouts and his half-assed stimulus—which consisted of 1/3 tax breaks—how Democrat of him) remains unforgivable. What he’s done with the political capital he was handed after his inauguration and a clear Congressional majority is nothing short of a fiasco. He’s watching Americans continue to lose their jobs and homes while continuing to supply Wall Street with all the ammunition it wants (between flying around the world, of course). He gave them OUR money with the understanding that they’d lend it back and they haven’t. He gave them OUR money without protecting any of us and not only do they reward themselves with bigger bonuses than before the "crisis" (and for screwing up the economy in the first place and requiring US to bail them out), some of those FAT CATS didn’t even bother to show at his emergency meeting the other day.

Because they don't take him serious and frankly, neither should we.

We’re all getting shot by Wall Street assassins and Fredo, on cue, is fumbling the gun.


President Fredo he is.

Change we can believe in?

Change my ass.



The Rock of the Week ... down we went last week (my beloved new york state buffalo bills went and won another game--idiots--didn't anybody in Buffalo ever hear of Draft Picks?) ... so take the Aints over the Cowgirls in a good old romp ... because it's December and the girls just don't show up this time of year.

—Knucks

And the DOC says ...

Hey Chaz,

So now it's okay to call the Chosen One, Fredo? Thanks. I hope you didn't stumble getting off of your high horse. But at least we know that the horse must be relieved.

I do, however, object to your comparing Fredo to Bush. Bush may have spent money like a drunken sailor, but Fredo is spending like a teenage girl with her first credit card and trust me, I have first hand experience with this.

Yesterday, Fredo was given a bill to sign that would increase government budgets by 10% with an additional FIVE THOUSAND pork projects included. Cost of the bill... $1.1 Trillion! Suddenly, the Repubicans leapt to their feet and shouted, "With this economy we cannot continue to waste money on pet projects." With equal fervor, the Dimocrats stood and said, "By God, you're right. We too will cancel all of our pork spending."

The Bamster looked to the heavens and then at his brace of teleprompters and declared, "It's a good thing you have finally come to your senses. Throughout my campaign I told the American people that I would not sign any bill that included pork projects. That first bill only included 9,000 pork projects, so I let that one slip through, but I was actually going to be true to my promise this time."

At that point, both houses of congress dropped to their knees and recited the Lords Prayer. Fredo was a little slow to kneel, because at first he thought they were talking to him.

And then I awoke from my dream and both parties were snout-deep at the trough and Fredo had just pissed away another Trillion Dollars to make government even bigger. But fear not, we're only spending $3+ million to study "Surgery in Space".

Next week, Chaz, we should delve into the logic of how if we don't spend another Trillion Dollars on health care we will be bankrupt. Hmmm, spending money, you don't have, to avoid bankruptcy. Over the weekend, I'll have my daughter explain that to me again.

Hope and change, brother
Doc

Monday, December 14, 2009

One for Obama … The Tiger Tally … Travels with Charley … A Two-For … DOC says ...

Amici:


One for Obama ... here’s something we think President Obama is doing right, supporting charter schools such as those featured on 60 Minutes two weeks ago. Geoffrey Canada is the man behind the great success he’s made of a pet project that is yielding phenomenal results. A Harvard man that knows how to get things done and is getting them done, Canada will fire teachers, directors and porters who can’t get it done. He’s about success and refuses to accept failure. Compare his school’s progress to what the public school system produces and what you have is night and day. Kids get into the school by a lottery and when the drawing is held, the parents of the unfortunate ones who aren’t picked (and are doomed to a public education) are visibly upset (to the point of tears). Education is the key to any society/country’s success. Should Obama become a one and done president, schools like this one may not survive.


Mr. Canada has proved himself a one man wonder. He promises his kids that every one of them will go to college and he means it. Although he manages to fund his program with mostly private funds, there’s no doubt a less sympathetic political party could (and probably would) undo the great success accomplished in Harlem. This is a big deal and one reason Obama should do whatever he can to keep himself from being one and done .



The Tiger Tally ... it’s up to 12 and closing in on the Knucksline Over/Under fast …


Travels with Charley ... In 1960, shortly after fighting Hurricane Donna to save his sailboat moored in Sag Harbor, Long Island, John Steinbeck took off across and around America in a camper he’d named for Don Quixote’s horse, Rocinante. The camper was specially built for his trip In Search of America. This was a fun read from start to finish because the travelogue provides one of America’s greatest authors speaking to us directly through his pen rather than his characters. He’s also speaking to Charley (his pet French Poodle—the standard size) and several of the people from around the country he meets along the way.


Steinbeck claimed he wanted to see the country he had written about and he did so in the tiny camper so overstocked with provisions he had to have the tires changed after they blew out during the trip. He’d brought guns and fishing poles and booze and beer and Charley. The pooch was sick a couple of times during the trip and at one point Steinbeck had to take a four day break while Charley recovered at a vet’s office in Texas. Although his wife joined him twice along the way for brief overnights, Steinbeck eventually grew tired of the trip as he went through the South where he’d experienced some racial ugliness in New Orleans. It was a chance for the author to relate in his travel memoir a past memory of a black family he’d grown up with in Salinas, California and how there were never any lesser expectations of them than anyone else in the community. The hard working black family flourished, as did the children Steinbeck grew up with.


The book is broken into four parts and each is a joy to read. This one is highly recommended, if for no other reason than the fun of Steinbeck’s playful words and the exchanges he had with his pooch.


A Two-For ... A book Knucksline reviewed here back in October has made it to the Washington Post’s best of 2009 mystery list … the author, David Zeltserman, also made it to the same Washington Post’s 2008 list with his previous novel, Small Crimes. Dave is one of those unsung authors too often ignored by some of the circle jerkers in the business. It happens.


Zeltserman resides in Bean town and aside from the fact he’s a die-hard Patriation fan (and has been a spotter for coach Cheaterface stealing defensive signals against all three much better teams within their division), Zeltserman also has a black belt in the martial arts and has been known to hustle pool rooms across America.


—Knucks

and the DOC says ...

You have some 'splaining to do Lucy!

How exactly does Fredo get a point for a school that is paid for mostly by private donations? If you win the lottery you get an education and if you don't win you get advanced courses on running the deep fryer at Mickey Ds. The D.C. school system just handed out $15 million in bonuses and their reading scores are the 4th worst in the nation.

I would give the Bamster a point if he would fire the teachers who suck and hire new ones, but that might piss off his paid-for union voting block. Not to mention his "Safe School Czar" who thinks that all school children should read gay porn. Luckily, school kids can't read. Okay, I'll give Fredo a point for that.

Actually, I think that is how the new health care works as well. If you win the lottery you get the hip replacement. If you don't they give you a milk box with skate wheels on the bottom, so you can sort of roll around.

Man, I am getting sick of hearing about who Tiger Woods has been diddling. That is personal information and should only be a matter of interest for Tiger Woods himself and Mrs. Woods' squadron of lawyers.

I read "Travels With Charlie" when I was in high school. And yes, that was when we kept our muskets in the cloak room so that at noon we could go out and shoot our lunch. And yes, they actually did call it a cloak room. Good Lord, how freaking old am I?

Your colonial pal,
Doc

Friday, December 11, 2009

Letter from DOC … Just War … No More Kirkus …

Amici:

An Open Letter from DOC …

Keith Olbermann may have his “special commentary” and Bill O’Reilly may have his “talking points memo” but Temporary Knucksline has that wild and crazy curmudgeon from the FARRRR right, the DOCster ... and here’s an open letter from him to moi, Knucskline and all a’yous ...


Oh, Chaz,

I think I need an intervention. I almost did a terrible thing tonight. I almost blogged. Worse than that, I almost blogged at the New York Times!

I was innocently reading an article about the use of Blackwater employees by the CIA in the Middle East. Shockingly, they are not just being used as guards. They were actually supporting CIA missions.


Now, you know that I am not someone who is prone to sarcasm, but I was tempted to drop that information I discovered about gambling in Casablanca on the NYT. Then I got to the "Readers Comments" section.. Good God Almighty!

It seems every one of their readers was represented, because there were like 28 comments. 28 comments and Bush/Cheney was mentioned 112 times. And the outpouring of outrage and disgust and indignation and moral superiority just about made me gag. I will never again accuse you of having your panties in a bunch. Your panties might be a tad wrinkled. These NYT people are in full blown, atomic, ninja, panty bunch mode. This is "the crabs are gasping for air" panty bunch mode.

Needless to say, there was much talk about arresting Blackwater, the CIA and of course Bush/Cheney. (In NYT land "Bush/Cheney" is one word and I would imagine that most NYT readers have their computers programmed to print "Bush/Cheney" just by hitting the "B" key.)

So, my new plan is to arrest Blackwater, the CIA, the entire military and of course Bush/Cheney and have the 28 readers of the NYT put their flip-flops and Birkenstocks on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan. Let's see how the uber-conservative Taliban reacts to our new capuccino drinking, clove cigarette smoking, Keith Olbermann groupie, all gay army strike team. I think a week or two of their self-absorbed, catty, holier than thou, liberal wienie banter will have those mullahs packing up and moving to Jersey. Then we could just round them all up at the falafel stand in Patterson.

Do you think I might be onto something here?

Your pal,
Doc

PS: I would love to go to your Christmas Party, but if anyone wishes me "Happy Holidays" I will need to have the Jennster shoot them. I would also like to know what your arrangements are for dealing with the accumulation of deadly CO2 gases.

I'm not paying any carbon taxes to Al Gore! He'll just buy more food with it.


TK Editorial comment regarding above ... President Nobel Peace Prize actually upped Blackwater’s Budget (if you were looking for change—there’s one example) ... so maybe when dealing with Bush-Cheney from now on in regards to anything Blackwater or CIA, perhaps Obama needs to be added to the mantra: Bush-Cheney-Obama.


Bellum Justum ... Speaking of the Nobel Peace Prize, while Knucksline found President Obama’s peace speech eloquent as usual, we found the concept of a “Just War” used after 8 years of war against a rather nebulous enemy (we know they’re out there, all reportedly 100 of them) a bit dramatic and spurious. Should the entire nation state of Afghanistan suffer for our defense of a corrupt regime? Doesn’t that kind of negate the “Just” part of the formula?

What makes it more difficult to swallow, quite frankly, is the lack of questioning being done about what has now become Obama’s war. Except for Bob Herbert, a New York Times columnist quoted here at Knucksline often in regards to anything Afghanistan related, including a polite criticism of President Obama and his “tragic mistake” of sending an extra 30,000 to war there, we’re not hearing any of the questions that quite rightly plagued the Bush administration about both wars.

If we’re going to fight a war for a just cause, why aren’t we invading Darfur, North Korea and/or Iran?

And what’s up with the nation building?

And, while we’re at it, what’s up with Blackwater? Why the increase in their budget?

If Al Qaeda is going to be our evil enemies forever (and we’re not suggesting they won’t be), what happens if in two years after we leave Afghanistan (assuming we ever leave), they return? Do we go back for that Just Cause?

Hey, you know what? Enough already. Bring the kids home and lets tend to business here. And please, President Obama, feel free to start initiating some of that so-called socialism (since wingnut loons like DOC are accusing you of it anyway). You’ve rescued Goldman Sachs and AIG ... now it’s time to rescue all of us. That would be a more than welcomed change.


No More Kirkus Reviews ... On a VERY sad note for the ugly one ... one more publishing collapse in an industry beset with collapsing, Kirkus Reviews is no more. Kirkus had been more than kind to the fat one (that Charlie Stella character). Known as the tough one on the reviewing block, Kirkus gave Stella two starred reviews (Eddie’s World & Shakedown) and a bunch of very good reviews with just one so-so review. They did not review Mafiya.

From New York Entertainment ... The Pepsi to Publishers Weekly's Coke when it comes to prepub press, Kirkus was always known, to the booksellers and industry reporters who relied on its write ups of forthcoming titles, as the cranky one. Where PW went soft for a big name or a fresh face, Kirkus could usually be counted on to demolish the overblown writers, and to be unsparing when it came to first novels by photogenic young things. A rave in Kirkus was truly a prize; a hatchet job was an easy enough excuse for a bookstore owner, besieged by the sheer volume of books being flogged, to move on.


—Knucks

In Memoriam:


“And so the dance along Mean Street begins, as complex as it is violent and brutal. Bobby will have to step lively to keep from paying the piper. With his fifth entertaining entry in the gangster follies, Stella earns a place among the most readable writers in crime fiction."Kirkus *Starred* Review


"Fresh, fast and darkly-funny. A sure-footed debut from a writer with a spare, no-nonsense prose style who can make you like characters you think you shouldn't."Kirkus *Starred* Review