Charlie's Books

Charlie's Books
Buon Giorno, Amici!

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).

Sunday, December 27, 2015

David Rawding’s Taking on Water … Giving Women a Pass … Momma Stella turned 86 …


Taking on Water, by David Rawding … James Morrow suffered child abuse as a kid and he’s retained a hair trigger temper he has to suppress at all costs. As an adult, he's a social worker sifting through the paperwork of child abuse cases. He’s married a beautiful African-American woman, Maya, who is also a detective. The action takes place on a small New Hampshire coastal town called Newborough, which has become a launching pad for some of the epidemic heroin flow our country faces nationwide.
While the local kids are at risk from the infusion of heroin, the local police can’t seem to get a hold on the drug trafficking. Early on Maya saves a few fellow officers when she shoots and kills a drug dealer during a drug raid. James spots a potential child abuse victim, Kevin Flynn, and inserts himself into the family when he notices the kid has bruises. Kevin’s father, Tucker, is a lobsterman struggling to survive a dying business. James befriends the Tucker family to learn what he can about Kevin’s condition.
I love learning from books and Rawding’s Taking on Water does a terrific job describing the life of lobstermen; from their daily difficult routines to the economic, climate, and familial challenges they face. The author also highlights the problems of earning a living in an unforgiving economy; how the pressure to survive a laissez-faire mindset and structure can easily lead men astray. Rawding touches on several social issues in this novel, including economics, survival, child abuse, drug addiction and law enforcement.
There are no spoilers here, but the twists in this book are wonderfully dark. I thought the ending was a magnificent touch. This was a book I purposely took my time reading (4 days) and I found myself anxious to get back to it day by day.
Taking on Water is a noirish view of what can happen to men when their industry suffers a slow but steady death. The spiraling concomitant effect it will have on one good man when his world is suddenly and brutally shattered is both terrifying yet righteous.
Giving Women a Pass … The same way I understood how African-Americans would vote for Barack Obama no matter what back in 2008, I accept the same from women regarding Hillary Clinton. I don’t think either was (or would) necessarily be the smart choice, but I accepted votes based on race then and I accept votes based on gender now.
Obama was supposed to lead a resurgence of liberal politics that would lift all boats via progressive ideas. Many chose to ignore his Wall Street money for the sake of a first half African-American/half white president. So it went (including his promise to curb Wall Street).
Hillary provides an opportunity for women to experience their first female President and many are more than willing to ignore her track record on pretty much everything. So it may go.
There are also some women who refuse to take the bait and vote against their self-interests for the sake of a gender victory (my wife included).
I understand the desire and won’t fight the former unless asked to in Facebook debates. A word of caution for those looking for that debate: you better believe I’ll point to her defense of a child rapist (during which she joked about getting him off), her willingness to stay with a husband through several sexual scandals, including one he eventually perjured himself in, and her ever-changing shifts in positions regarding everything from her desire for restrictions on some abortions to her changeups on marriage equality (all always directly coinciding with shifts in the political winds).
Her being on the corporate board of Walmart can be ignored by some, but it will never be ignored by me (where was her advocacy for female employees then?). Nor will her consistently wrong insistence on regime change not come up in those debates. Regime change has failed miserably twice now (Iraq and Libya) and she was in favor of one and an architect of the other.
Frankly there are too many flip-flops on policy to take Hillary Clinton serious beyond the gender factor, so I no longer bother unless provoked.
Middleclass women who want to shoot themselves in the foot, have at it (you have my condolences and respect). If you can’t see the forest for the trees, nobody can make you see it.
Middleclass women willing to see the bigger picture, right on!
Momma Stella turned 86 on December 26th, and we had a party in her room. I got to see my cugino Jason and his wife Alison, Disney (Zia) Fran, my son Charles, his wife Leslie, and the co-star of the show, Evelyn Amelia Stella.
It was a great time … and yes, she called me a stupid ass, a moron, a shithead and a dopey bastid, but those are words of affection for her Sonny Boy ... and yes,
I love my Mommy!


MSNBC finally speaks truth to power … what sends democrats scurrying under their beds.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Silence of the Dems …


This past weekend Bernie supporters proved Bernie Sanders right. "When millions of people stand together, there is nothing we can’t do."
I’m not sure how many millions stood together after the bogus DNC suspension last week, but there were enough voices from the left on social media to back down the DNC Chair, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (hereinafter referred to as “DWS”). 
But where were the rest of the democrats? Why aren’t they upset about the HNC/DNC? Why do they not voice their disapproval at the way this primary is being handled?
25-6=19 debates wiped clean from the debate schedule (as compared to 2008). Weekend debates during the football season, including playoffs, the Star War release weekend and holiday shopping. A DNC/HNC made up of former Hillary people and relatives of DSW (see the several articles about just who the vendors running the database are).
Yet most democrats, especially those who call themselves “liberals,” seem to have lost their voices. These are democrats who claim they want Bernie, but they’ll vote the lesser of two evils should Hillary win. It's a fair enough choice, but where was their angst at their party's dishonest primary tactics? They don’t seem to mind the corrupt process that has made a total mockery of democracy.
For people who are so stubborn about their insistence on fair play and a level playing field, they seem to have shielded their eyes and/or turned their backs on their principles.
The silence is deafening and it speaks volumes to me. Where have all the democrats gone who went ballistic at GOP Congressional redistricting? Are they really okay with what the DNC/HNC is doing?
Some are terrified of the GOP bogeyman … they point to the possibility of a Trump or Cruz Presidency (as if they’d accept any of the others over Hillary). They ignore the fact that the carnival barking from Trump is totally unconstitutional and could never happen. They shit their pantaloons and ignore their own party’s corrupt primary. The fact they are so afraid of a GOP their own party more mirrors than deflects is mind boggling.
While both party frontrunners talk shit to sway their base, democrats ignore their frontrunner’s constantly shifting positions. And suddenly they seem fine with Hillary Clinton’s insistence on yet another regime change, this time in Syria. It is a policy that has consistently proved a horrendous failure and the most destabilizing factor in the Middle East. Hussein and Gaddafi weren’t enough for Hillary Clinton. Now she wants to go one more, including risking a No Fly Zone with Russia in the mix.
As stated on MSNBC just this morning, nobody seems to care what Hillary Clinton and/or her gestapo in the DNC do. They seem fine with everything and anything. They remain terrified of nominees that haven’t been nominated yet. They forget that some of the most damaging economic policy came from Bill Clinton (i.e., his repeal of Glass-Steagal and his NAFTA free trade policy). The economic crisis of 2007-08 was directly connected to one, and the loss of millions of manufacturing jobs to the other. They forget that one of the architects of our current failed Middle East policy is their frontrunner. They are more than fine with her campaign finance; that it comes from the very banks and corporations who have turned American democracy on its head. They ignore her countless scandals and abuses of power. It is as if her claim at the Benghazi hearings is their new mantra: "What difference does it make?"
I have to applaud people who look at the corrupt political process we have to live with and refuse to vote. I say they’re smart not to waste their time. Why bother when corruption is accepted wholesale? Why get all worked up when it just doesn’t matter? To fear the GOP while your own party nearly mirrors it, and in many situations has acted even worse, is nothing more than hysteria. It is something I’ve noticed when it comes to democratic voters, not all, but enough seem to embrace political hysteria.
They embrace hysteria about a potential GOP president and ignore their own parties abject corruption.
This is is the first election in my lifetime where an honest candidate with a 40+ year history of liberal consistency is on the democratic ticket, even though he had to join the party to get there. So-called liberal democrats applaud his efforts, yet go silent when his efforts are thwarted at every turn. They are the same democrats who could say nothing more than “they were disappointed” when President Obama failed to go after Wall Street, when he failed to support the public workers union in Wisconsin, when he re-engaged in "the wrong war at the wrong time in the wrong place," when he made a mess of Libya, and oversaw the horrendous income inequality gap widen daily during his two terms.
I titled this post the Silence of the Dems, because what I witnessed this past weekend on social media was a deafening silence from some liberal democrats that baffled me.
My bad. I should’ve known better.


This is what loyal democrats ignore. This is why the difference between both parties is negligible. This is why the country is fucked.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

"When millions of people come together, the DNC is fucked!"


BERNIE supporters, last night was our tea party moment. We proved that the DNC cannot win without the left. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Hillary’s henchwoman, was sent a powerful message last night when social media was filled with our collective voice. Ignore us and continue to sabotage our campaign and we’ll ignore you (the DNC and Hillary) come the general election. Many of us threatened to either boycott the general election in 2016 or vote for the GOP candidate (whichever lunatic they nominated). We proved that BERNIE has been right all along … “when millions of people come together, there’s nothing we can’t do.”

We are a powerful political voice and should NEVER accept the lesser of two evils again.
And just look at the "coincidences" in this fiasco.
Let's hear it for Debbie Wasserman-Schulz, the Gestapo of the DNC ... she just handed Bernie the nomination.
And while this Hillary shill and the corporation he works for (MSNBC) tries his best to spin this against Bernie, undecided voters get to see the media bias that bought Hillary Clinton a long time ago.
Nice try, Johnny ... you just proved how "progressive" MSNBC is ... totally in the tank for Hillary ... how's it feel being the token fool?
- Knucks

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Putin Factor … Book Review: John Crow’s Devil … Stamkos to Toronto? ... BERNIE OR BUST!

The Putin Factor … bet yous thought this was about Donald Trump, huh? Well, it may well be in the end, but it’s not for this post. This is about how the corruption of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and her rule of the Democratic National Committee (hereinafter referred to as the “DNC”) have gone the one extra inch it took to sway all those voters in Casa Stella to swing from extreme left to whatever knucklehead the GOP manages to nominate. The DNC can consider it a protest vote against their corrupt management of what is supposed to be a democratic process. Bad enough that in 2015, when we’re supposed to be the model for democracy around the world, we still have closed primaries, effectively shutting out at least half the voting public, but now that WE THE PEOPLE (Democrat and Republican alike) allow a former co-chair of one candidate to rule the roost over the entire process, going so far as to eliminate 19 debates (as compared to the last Democratic primary, when Obama vs. Hillary saw 25 debates), cutting it down to just 6 (with 3 of the 6 being held on Saturday nights during football/playoff season) [with a threat to eliminate candidates from the DNC debates should they decide to debate on their own], now the DNC Head Gestapo in charge of blatant corruption is threatening to bounce Bernie’s campaign from access to … well, here’s how one online news source ( that isn’t tied directly to the DNC put it: “The DNC hires a group to manage their database and firewall between the campaigns. They screw up and some low level Sanders staffer sees and reports it. Nothing is saved or printed out and now the DNC is withholding crucial access to voter data until the Sanders campaign can prove it doesn’t have the data from the Clinton campaign and won’t release access to voter data unless somehow the Sanders campaign can prove a negative – that they have destroyed data they don’t have. Which is impossible.”
So, for those democrats still shitting their pants over the possibility of a Republican winning the Presidency, here’s what’s going to happen at Casa Stella (plus some other family members). I was going to vote for Jill Stein when the DNC finished sabotaging Bernie’s campaign, but now that they’ve clearly showed themselves for the corrupt pool of political skanks they are, the DNC can count on at least 4 votes going directly against the DNC coronation queen over to the GOP candidate (no matter which lunatic they nominate).
So, for the loyal democrats who thought they were being so clever by asking me if I could live with a President Trump, Cruz, Fiorina, et al … here’s your answer: GO GOP, GO!
The left could’ve learned a valuable lesson from the tea party by forming its own coalition (no matter how much scared shitless Bill Maher advised against it). Look at how further to the right the GOP has been moved by the teabaggers (and thus dragged the Democrats along with them). Hillary is a progressive and I’m a skinny motherfucker.
But loyal Democrats tend to shit their pantaloons when it comes to their never-ending whining about “the lesser of two evils” … they accept the disgrace Hillary Clinton has been her entire political career. No matter she’s a hawk. No matter she’s a corporate sellout. No matter she’s been involved in one scandal after another. She’s the lesser of two evils.
Here’s my advice to loyal Dems. Grow a fucking pair already. You’re not being afraid of ISIS is a good thing, but then you ruin it by being afraid of a potential GOP president and therefore won’t send a collective message to the DNC that would alert them to the fact that they don’t get to ignore you anymore. Now they’ve gone one further. At the first “hint” of a possible political revolution within their loyal ranks (Bernie Sanders), they turn into a politburo.
Fine, as soon as Hillary secures her corrupt crown, I’ll be doing my best to register as many independents as I can and/or sway as many liberals as I can to protest what Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and the DNC have done to democracy. I’ll do my best to get them to vote for whichever lunatic is running against the DNC’s Queen of corruption.
Now, hopefully the backlash from this absolutely disgraceful DNC maneuver will be so strong, more Democrats will protest come the primaries and vote for Bernie Sanders instead of the corporate shill/war hawk (and mother of all no-shamers), Hillary Clinton.
John Crow’s Devil, by Marlon James.

Although this novel takes place during the 1950’s on the island of Jamaica, it seems more fitting today than may be comfortable. It’s a good vs. evil tale of two preachers, but even the good one has issues (he’s a drunk). Hector Bligh is the Rum Preacher who was kind of put into his position in a plantation environment’s by the plantation owner. When a fire and brimstone preacher, Apostle York, arrives in town one day, everything changes. The fire and brimstone version of a preacher has more severe issues than Bligh, although they’re revealed over time.
After York beats Bligh to a pulp and sends him on his way, the Apostle wants to know “Who’s ready to be violent for the Lord?”
While Bligh soaks his head and heals his wounds in the home (and later arms) of a widow, York takes control of the town’s parishioners. A gang of five becomes York’s muscle. One of the five becomes something else for York. The common thread between both preachers seems to be guilt over sexual inclinations, a fitting touch considering men of the cloth are supposed to be above the common fray. There’s always a form of witchcraft (or maybe it is witchcraft and/or delusion) alongside the appearance of birds, but ultimately it is an adherence to religious beliefs and the manipulation of those beliefs which relate to the insanity of today’s world; the self-righteous manipulation of people to stand on one side or the other.
Stamkos to Toronto? … He’s an NHL superstar who most often plays 110 MPH, but is known (at least to my eyes) to do some pretty stupid shit at times (i.e., trying to split defenders, sometimes as many as three, while on a rush), toss a puck out in front of the net while in the defensive zone … hog pucks for shots when there are better options.
Look, there’s no denying his speed and aggressiveness. I stipulate he’s world class, and his slap shot is as good as any in the game, including Ovechkin’s. The problem with Steven Stamkos, as I’m seeing it, is not that he wants more money. Hell, the owners aren’t putting their health at risk. In most cases, an NHL player’s shelf life is very short, and even for those who go on to have longer careers, they’ll be fortunate to walk without limps (never mind talk with their original teeth). The bottom line is that all the hype and praise thrown Stamkos’ way seems to have affected his attitude within the organization. I don’t blame the man if he has a problem with the front office and/or the coach, so if he wants out, good luck to him. The recent tweets and all the other negotiating gamesmanship, whether his agent suggested it or not, none of it helps the team. I’d like to believe Stamkos is still a team player.
But what if he leaves? I think Kucherov will fill his shoes just fine, and we can always use another solid defenseman (should we manage a deal). We’re still young and talented enough to be a force in the league, maybe enough to catch a break and find our way back to the tournament … and if not this season, then the next for sure. I’ll take a topline defenseman and a first round draft pick and thank Mr. Stamkos for all his efforts thus far. I’ll even wish him luck, but if he’s going to play tweeter-war with the front office, I’d rather he just upped and left, but not for the front office’s sake (I’ll RARELY take their side) … it’s all about your teammates, Steven. Always.
Bernie or Bust! … Amici: I’m starting a new political movement: F the DNC!
Please feel free to join the party. Simply put, this is our mantra: Bernie or Bust!
Bernie supporters have had to put up with nothing but corruption from the DNC. The time has come to push back and PUSH BACK HARD.
We all know who the co-chair for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s run against Barack Obama was in 2008 – Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. So how fair can it be that Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is now running the DNC? Does anyone not see the obvious conflict of interest?
Well, it’s too late to do anything about Schultz now, but let’s take a look-see back to 2008, when there were 25 debates amongst the Democratic candidates. That was a good thing, a very good thing. Voters had the chance to see and hear their candidates 25 times. But now that Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is running interference for her BFF, there are only 6 debates, 3 of which were scheduled for Saturday nights during college and professional football seasons (the last of those 3 during the NFL playoffs). And this week’s debate occurs on the same opening weekend as Star Wars.
Coincidence or a kick in Bernie’s ass?
Everyone knows how the corporate controlled media has completely ignored Bernie’s campaign regarding coverage, right? And isn’t it curious (at least) how Bernie refuses corporate coin and Hillary can’t live without it? Maybe there’s another conflict of interest? Just maybe?
So here’s the deal. We’re sending a message to the DNC: It’s BERNIE OR BUST! 
Once again, simply put, if the DNC doesn’t take back this absurd suspension of Bernie’s right to Democratic voter id’s (something the DNC’s own vendor is responsible for), if the DNC gets their wish and THEIR nominee wins the primary and is the Democrat nominee for President, Bernie supporters will do one of the following come election night 2016:
1) Write-in Bernie’s name with their vote.
2) Go see a Star Wars movie 
3) Watch a replay of the playoff games scheduled for the 5th debate.
4) Vote for Jill Stein
5) Vote for whichever lunatic the GOP nominates
The thing not to do is fall in line with gutless Democratic voters to reward the DNC’s corruption. Hillary Clinton is not worthy of voters selling out for the lesser of two evils. She is and always has been a corporate shill, a liar, and a hawk. Bernie Sanders is the ONLY full-out honest candidate in MY lifetime. He’s also the ONLY candidate to ever represent the poor and middle classes with total and absolute integrity.
Amici: Join the movement. BERNIE OR BUST! And F the DNC!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Finding Tambri, by Sherry Meeks … New Band in Town … Meet the New Boss …


Finding Tambri, by Sherry Meeks … a wonderful telling of the effects the loss of a child can have on a person. We pick up on Tambri after the loss of her son, Sammy. Her marriage to Sammy’s father, Daniel, has failed since their tragic loss. Failed relationships/marriages begin to mount as Tambri moves from one wrong man to another, never fully recovering from the loss of her child. Each story in the collection that makes up the novel is presented in first person, offering different character perspectives of the same events, and/or linking the several relationships and their consequences together.
Her best friend, Vickie, has made helping Tambri her crusade. The alternative to Tambri finding herself is a depression that won’t quit. Tambri’s one caveat to meeting new men is that they don’t have children. Her journey from one failed relationship to another was foretold to her in a deck of playing cards Tambri’s grandmother read when Tambri was a young girl. With each failed attempt at love, Tambri loses a little more of herself. Each wrong man in her life possesses his own special flaw. When anyone feels as if he/she doesn’t deserve any good in their life, the struggle to survive can quickly become unbearable. An accident in a sporting goods store leaves Tambri with a concussion that fuels a dream in which she sees her son, Sammy, and her grandmother. What happens after that is a spoiler we won’t reveal.
Can an electrician with kids of his own, recently separated from his cheating wife, make things better or worse for Tambri? After the loss of a child, can anyone ever recover? Can Tambri ever find herself?
Finding Tambri is a wonderful read that bares the soul of a woman desperate from the loss of a child. With poignant narrative, humor and heartfelt emotion, Sherry Meeks does a terrific job of telling the story of one woman’s search to find herself. Very Highly Recommended.
Call in with questions at this number: (646) 716-9922
Listen to me, amici: This band can play. They call themselves: The Great Depression Sux … Their last weekend tour was from 11/5 until 11/8. Starting in Philadelphia, than New Brunswick, NJ, East Hampton, MA, and last was Southbridge, MA. They have two more of similar tours coming up in January and February (dates/locations aren't exactly "set" yet). They have an E.P. for free here (click on the link). They will be recording a new record within a couple of months. They’re also on Facebook.
You like good music? Check them out …
Meet the New Boss … As you can see, he’s already won his Mommys heart. Originally, we were looking for a dog a little less like our beloved Rigoletto. I kind of fell for the pit bull puppy from the movie, The Drop, and thought I’d name the next addition to Casa Stella, Tom Hardy or Bob Saginowski. As it turned out, a Rigoletto clone found us first. His name is Scrapper (because he loves to play-fight and teethe on our faces, toes, socks, fingers … you name it, he’ll teethe on it). His full name is Scrapper Tom Hardy Cucci-Stella and he’s already taken over Casa Stella. He demands full-time attention, as I learned earlier this morning when I went to use the bathroom, shave and shower. He barked and cried the entire time I left him caged in the kitchen. And he was pissed off when I came down to release him. Since then, I’ve had to move his bed into my writing room or he lets me know he still wants attention.
Our first visit to the veterinarian was a good one this morning.
Scrapper’s mantra seems to be: No attention, no peace!
We’re hoping to secure a partner for him, a rescue named Charles (although we’d probably change his name) … to Bob Saginowski?)
There’s life back in Casa Stella, amici … and it’s a beautiful thing.
Why the entire Chicago city administration should be facing jail time, including their scumbag of a mayor.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A few words about our Rigoletto ...

The vast majority of nights, when I climbed into bed with a book in my hand, he would climb atop my stack of pillows and lick my head and ears until I said the magic words: “You kissa the daddy, doggie.” It was a nightly ritual that defined our bedtime routine. He wouldn’t stop licking and eventually I’d have to say the other magic words: “Okay, thank you. Thank you, Rigoletto.”
Then he’d stop and make his way over to Ann Marie, his Mommy, where he’d burrow his head against her body and sleep. Some mornings I’d wake up feeling him lying against my back, but most mornings he was asleep alongside Ann Marie, often with his head buried between her neck and shoulder.
Of course there were nights when he had a rough time and would wake up to prance around the bed until one of us woke up and took him downstairs to pee. And for a while, it just wasn’t bedtime until Rigoletto threw up on my arm, but like most things, over time you get used to them. One thing we never had to get used to was Rigoletto being in bed with us. We loved having him there.
Most mornings he’d give Ann Marie a rough time by lying in bed for some overtime, forcing her to rush to get dressed for work at the last minute because she couldn’t stand to disrupt his sleep. When I was left to do the chore of bringing him down for his morning bathroom break, breakfast and his insulin shot, Rigoletto would move to the center of our king-sized bed, forcing me to stretch a little more than my back would allow. I had at least two back spasms until one or two of the brain cells I have left figured out it was better to pull the sheet (and Rigoletto) toward me, than to stretch my old ass until something snapped.
Yeah, duh …
When we first brought him home, I tricked my wife into driving the car so I could hold him and bond before she did. It was a dirty trick, considering it was her dog we were buying. That bond may have lasted when it came time for certain of Rigoletto’s rituals, but there was never any doubt about who Rigoletto needed to survive. Rigoletto was Ann Marie’s dog through and through. Even after he first went blind, he’d wait with his head pointed toward the door for her arrival home from work each night, and as soon as he heard the back door sliding open, off he ran, sometimes into a wall or chair, but he’d keep going until she was holding him and calling him her baby in her most squeaky voice.
He was about 5 years old when he was first diagnosed with diabetes. I was as clueless about such things in animals as I’m clueless about way more than I like to admit, but Dr. Sal Pernice (of Dogfella fame) saved Rigoletto for us when we lived in Brooklyn. I’d just received an advance for a screenplay and it quickly went from our hands to the veterinary hospital on Carroll Street.
The best five grand I ever spent.
There would be another cost, a bigger and ultimately better one, the day Rigoletto’s back legs were paralyzed. He needed a back operation to fuse his spine. Eight grand later, we were crying like babies when we picked him up from Red Bank, New Jersey, because he was walking again. The recuperation period was long and difficult, and Ann Marie bought a blowup mattress and slept on the living room floor with him for 3+ weeks because we couldn’t take the chance that he’d fall off the bed so soon after the operation.
I tried it one night and turned the air mattress into a placemat.
He had a great run for so long, some 14 years (98+) … and he was the gentlest, kindest, most loving dog I’ve ever owned. He could make a mess when I left something like a gum wrapper in my trash can under my desk, and at least twice he found Christmas candy and ate entire boxes of chocolate (and threw up for a few days afterward—probably how he developed the diabetes), but Rigoletto was truly the perfect dog for us. We will miss him terribly.
As I sit here crying while I type this, I’m already haunted by that handsome face I loved to hold with both hands as I kissed the top of his head. My wife is distraught, but was incredibly strong in the room where Rigoletto was administered the shots. She talked to him the entire time, while all I could do was sob. It was very tough saying goodbye to our little guy.
This atheist can only hope there is a heaven, at least for animals.
Thanks for all your support and condolences. I’ll be a mess for a few more days, I suspect. We had talked about how we’d handle his passing as regards rescuing another dog, but right now it’s just too difficult to contemplate. How do you weigh the pain of loss versus the opportunity to provide an animal with love and shelter?
Listen to me, amici … the smart money is on a rescue sometime down the road.
Rest in peace, little guy.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Finding Tambri (preview) ... Morons for Trump … Chicago … What Difference Does It Make?


I started reading Finding Tambri, by Sherry Meeks, the other day, and although interrupted by Thanksgiving, I’m back on it today. It’s a terrific read about a woman who has lost a child and herself in the tragedy life can sometimes become. Review next week, although I’ll finish reading tomorrow for sure. GREAT stuff, amici.

Morons for Trump … Although it isn’t a good segue, a terrific book to an ugly megalomaniac, I believe the time has finally come when we can safely say the phony billionaire has decided it’s time to leave center stage and return to stiffing small businesses and workers everywhere. The record the Trump organization doesn’t put out there is the one where he doesn’t pay contractors his organization hires, stiffing workers across the board.

So it goes.

But who really needs that bit of information when we’ve had The Donald all along? The guy is worse than an absurdity, he’s a national embarrassment. While those of us who knew better could point to the obviousness of his narcissism (that has been on display forever, including the over-exaggerations of everything from his wealth to crowd sizes at his KKK-like events), the recent flurry of his special brand of stupidity/evil is what we’ve been waiting for. Not because we care about whether or not he drops in the polls, but more so because we’re anxious to see how many of his die-hard supporters find the balls (they seem to admire in others) to abandon ship.

Let’s face it, either they do so (abandon Trump) or they grab those balls with both hands and clutch the flag of racism between their teeth while marching through the streets. Many of Trump’s supporters prefer bumper sticker nonsense speeches to actual policy, but now they’re required to defend the indefensible. It’s one thing to say racist shit about Mexican and African-Americans (especially when the same Trump supporters adamantly defy the institutional racism this country seems to take pride in), and Trump could even manage to incite a racial beating at his “for whites only” southern campaign rally, and/or the shootings like those in Minneapolis by white supremacists without dropping in the polls, but now that he’s made fun of a person with a physical disability, I believe even some of his supporters, at least those with functioning brain cells, will start to look elsewhere for someone to lead them to wars we can’t win and tax policies that will further the income gap.

Or I could be wrong and America is in a much more fucked up place than the cynic in me can imagine.

What I believe is that Trump has had his fun and seeks to exit the stage under the guise of media bias. He’s actually attempting to claim he didn’t mean what the media portrayed in the video above. Why shouldn’t he? The morons sticking with him saw stadiums that held 40,000 people at a full capacity level less than half-filled and were fine with the 40,000 plus he claimed were there.

Oy vey …

Chicago … well, here we go again, except this time the insidiousness of an obvious cover-up is almost equal to the crime itself. I’ll let Francesca Fiorentini and AJ+ handle the story, because retyping it just makes me angry.

My question remains (will always remain) … if the other cops on the scene filed false reports and/or corroborated a false report, why are they still on the job? This clown, Jason Van Dyck, had 20 prior civilian complaints filed against him and was NEVER even admonished.

What Difference Does It Make … well, loyal Democrats certainly don’t care. They’re all in with Hillary and yet another Oligarchic victory for those (like Donald Trump) who feel their wealth entitles them to tell us how to live, when to go to war, how to vote, and who to vote for.


AJ+ rocks TK … A Swedish lesson for our men in blue …

Friday, November 20, 2015

Book Reviews: All the Major Constellations, by Pratima Cranse and Where Desert Rivers Die, by Michael Harris … AND, a Lesson from the Tea Party …

All the Major Constellations, by Pratima Cranse … it is 1995 and a trio of friends, Andrew, Marcia and Sara, are about to graduate and take big strides out of their homes into new social settings. Andrew has a crush on a member of a Christian sect, Laura. There’s a car accident that leaves Sara in a coma and Marcia, the class valedictorian, tending to her. Meanwhile, Andrew is consumed with feelings of guilt/resentment, and an overwhelming desire to be with the unobtainable Laura. At home, things aren’t cool; Andrew’s jock brother, Brian, seems to enjoy smacking Andrew around emotionally and physically, but when he’s accused of rape, their father, who is also a bit physical when drunk, can’t handle the embarrassment. Brian is clearly his favorite, and Andrew’s mother is a bit of a mess herself.
When Laura invites Andrew to join her evangelical group. Uh-oh … do the sparks fly? Is there more to it? Andrew befriends a guy who seems ashamed of his sexuality. Is he with the religious group to overcome it? Is he attempting to pray the gay away? No spoilers here, amici.
I’ll tell yous this much, you’ll want to keep turning the pages to find out how it all turns out for every wonderful character in this book. This terrific debut novel is definitely a must read.
Kirkus and Publishers Weekly both gave this novel *STARRED* reviews.

Where Desert Rivers Die, by Michael Harris … You punch out a guy at work and you pay the price by losing your job, but what if you already lost your job? What’s to stop you from pounding the S.O.B. then? It’s a question Warren Holt doesn’t bother to ask himself until it’s too late, and the punch has bigger consequences than he can imagine (although he does imagine a bunch of scenarios as he heads out of town toward the desert and ultimately Denver). Warren is a man down on his luck and on the wrong end of capitalism. He’s just bought his wife an American dream home but cutbacks at the paper lands him a ticket to the unemployment line. His stepson, Ray, is a good kid born to a Mexican mom. When Warren escapes to a small town, he takes Ray with him (yes, it’s kind of kidnaping when you think about it), and they stay at a motel with a restaurant where Ray meets a waitress, a Mexican girl/woman, Maria. He experiences what he believes might be love at first sight. Overwhelmed by his feelings of a possible first love, Ray can’t ignore Maria. But there’s a story behind her situation, and it isn’t pretty. Things fly out of control fast, until Ray makes a decision to escape. There’s a manhunt on for Warren and Ray wants out, but he wants to take Maria with him. It’s a fast paced novel with different perspectives guiding the way. Difficult to put down and fulfilling at every turn. Michael Harris is one hall of an author.
A Lesson from the Tea Party … consider this MY answer to all those Democrats who can’t stand to read my Facebook posts calling for the left to abandon the Democratic Party in the 2016 Presidential election. First of all, let’s get a few things straight and in perspective.
With the exception of ONE candidate from either party (Sanders), all the candidates are currently playing to their base and NOT stating what they’ll actually be able to do if elected.
No, I don't think Bernie can get one-eighth of what he wants to do, but he isn't stating something new. He's been stating his case for 40+ years now, and more importantly, it isn't about what he can or can't do. It's about a political revolution that rejects the corruption our current system protects. So there's more to his campaign than meets the eye.
Meanwhile, the GOP candidates are trying to sound tougher than they can act once in office, saying crazy shit (as those of us on the left perceive them) … they’ll build walls, they’ll keep refugees out, they’ll engage ISIS with boots on the ground, they’ll increase defense spending, they’ll give even more tax breaks to the rich and everybody else (while balancing the budget?), etc. The recent string of attacks by ISIS on innocent populations (in the air and on the ground) have shifted the political winds to the far right. Even on the democratic side of the spectrum, Hillary Clinton, who one week claimed she was “moderate and proud of it,” then a few weeks later claimed she was a “progressive who wants to get things done” (translation: establishment politician who will do what the political winds and/or what the money that bought her tell her to do), is now talking tougher than her usual hawkish self. But let’s face it, amici, both the GOP and DNC candidates are mostly talking shit to garner support from their bases. The single exception is Bernie Sanders.
While the blowhard on the right (who has a more liberal background than Hillary Clinton and switches positions about as often), The Donald, is talking nonsense and gathering most (although not all) of his support from those proud to never have attended college (the flag waivers who can’t (or refuse) to see the hypocrisy of wanting to go to war again while being terrified to take in refugees), nobody else takes him seriously (certainly not enough to elect him president).

So it goes.
By now, most of Bernie’s supporters (myself included), kind of know it’s a fruitless attempt to win this election. A) the DNC would duke their diapers if a candidate who refused corporate coin ever won their nomination (they are EQUALLY as corrupt in that regard as the GOP), and B) the attacks by ISIS have fomented more than enough fear for America to jump back into yet another war it can’t possibly win.
So, what does this all have to do with lessons from the Tea Party, yous ask? I’ll tell yous … first of all, no matter how crazy the tea party may sound to me and most liberals, they have been an effective force regarding the GOP. They continue to sway the GOP platform. We liberals may think it’s insane, but there’s no denying their power.
Secondly, if you live in a mostly democratic state (i.e., a blue state), chances are more than likely your single vote for Jill Stein and/or decision to stay home and watch a hockey game are not going to change the outcome of an election in your blue state. I, for instance, can only hope that my single vote (or my wife’s vote), is/are the deciding votes in New Jersey, where I had to register as a Democrat this election (which pisses me off no end) because it is a closed primary and I want to vote for Bernie Sanders … I can only HOPE my vote is the one that costs the DNC and Hillary Clinton the presidential election, no matter who is challenging her from the GOP.
Thirdly, and most importantly in my opinion, is the fact that not only is our election process a complete and utter sham that has very little to do with the democracy we’re supposed to be, but voting for either major party’s candidates is a reward to the same corrupt system. I don’t know how (or why) most people can agree to vote the so-called “lesser of two” evils and continue to keep the corruption in place for another 4-8 years. It baffles me the way my not caring who wins the election under the current system baffles loyal Dems.

To get into the damage Democratic Presidents have done vs. Republican Presidents only thickens the quagmire. It was a democrat who started the war in Vietnam, and another who escalated it. It was taken over by a Republican who took it even further and involved us in bombing a neutral state, Cambodia, and thus helped bring to power another evil force, the Khmer Rouge (i.e., the killing fields, so make no mistake, they were at least as brutal as ISIS). It was also a democrat, Bill Clinton, who repealed Glass-Steagall and set the stage for the 2007-8 financial crisis on Wall Street. Clinton also enacted NAFTA, no matter how much Republicans began the process, it was Clinton who enacted it (so quit lying to yourselves about that fact). And we all know about Iraq and how progressive Hillary Clinton was with that disaster. What we don’t seem to care about is her role in the Libyan disaster deposing Muammar Gaddafi.
And is there anyone from either party more comfortable with Wall Street than the Democrat, Hillary Clinton?
Outside of war, Supreme Court appointees are the most influential political decisions a president can make, but does anyone in the Democratic Party really believe Hillary Clinton won’t opt for a moderate appointee? Will her appointee vote to overturn Citizens United? We know what she says, but since when can Hillary Clinton be trusted? And let’s not forget that it was a GOP appointed majority court that just ruled in favor of the ACA (Obama care) twice, and also ruled in favor of gay marriages.
Once again, more important than any of the above, is the reform in our election process that is an absolute requirement for us to return to democracy (if we ever really were one). We need a third and fourth, and even a fifth political party. For the left to continue to accept being ignored by a political machine (the DNC) changes absolutely nothing under the “lesser of two evils” justification.
So, please don’t ask me again how I can vote for Jill Stein, once Bernie is defeated by the machine. While both Noam Chomsky and Bernie Sanders himself say it is best to support the lesser of two evils once the lines have been drawn, I couldn’t disagree with either more. Chomsky is one of the most brilliant minds of our lifetime, and he fears the noble campaign Bernie is running will quickly fade once the election is over, no matter who wins (he also doesn’t believe the DNC would allow a Sanders candidacy). He’s for a ground game, the likes of which Bernie is running, but it needs to last (and he’s right about that). Most likely it won’t because our economy and the government it owns has us all way more involved in survival than political movements. The problem is, the longer the corruption continues, the more burdened with survival we all remain.
And please don’t ask me how I can accept a Trump or Cruz or Rubio or another Bush, while you vote for another Clinton and reward a process that spits in your face.
You know what I tell yous who swear by the lesser of two evils justification? I says to you, I says, “Grow a fucking pair.”

AJ+ rocks TK …

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Paris …


Paris … it’s a horror story that has become all too familiar. An Islamic terrorist groups seek to inflict damage on innocents who reside in a country that provides military assistance to the war against Islamic Fundamentalism. Most of the world is shocked at what happened in Paris. Many here cry out for vengeance, pointing to the inevitability of a Muslim vs. Christian way of life coming to malls and theatres and stadiums near us ... and another ginning up for war has already begun. Presidential candidates use the news of the day to put more fear into a population anxious to do something about ISIS, et al. Many overanxious for war Americans react like a mob and want swift justice, suddenly forgetting all the insults they’ve hurled at the French; many forget calling them “cowards” at every opportunity for their failure to stop the Nazi invasion of France in WWII. The war drums are beating mightily today in the United States. The risk of a similar attack here and to every country with military in the Middle East is great, and it is no doubt enhanced by the success of the attack in Paris yesterday (success being defined by the number of innocents killed and the fear it has garnered).
Make no mistake, the Paris attacks are despicable acts of cowardice. Killing innocents so blatantly, without regard for anything other than their citizenship and/or where foreigners/other innocents were at the time of the attacks, is horrific. They killed them because they could. It’s is always so damn easy to take people unawares.
Now, imagine yourself an Arab living in the Middle East. You’re someone trying to raise a family in poverty. You have no regard for Sharia Law or a Caliphate or anything else. You’re just trying to survive. You’re trying to keep your two or three kids from starving to death. You’re trying to avoid the psycho band of religious fanatics ruining a religion you may or may not follow. You may or may not have faith yourself, but your immediate concerns have more to do with survival than what some prophet may or may not have said. And one day there’s a sound in the sky just a few seconds before your entire family is wiped out from an air strike. Everything you’ve lived for, like some of the people in Paris yesterday, is gone, just like that.
But you had a brother and sister, and they had kids, and when they learned that a United States or French or United Kingdom or now Russian bomb dropped from a drone or a fighter jet killed your brother and his family, they maybe start to think (especially the kids) that what the psycho religions preach (us against them), may have some merit. And new recruits who may one day visit Paris or London or New York or Moscow with bombs strapped to their chests or handguns hidden in their backpacks become the reality.
The moral to this story is try not to forget that what happened in Paris yesterday has been happening in the Middle East for a very long time. Foreign countries dropping bombs on innocent Muslims, no matter how well-intentioned those bombs may have been to kill bad guys and to minimize collateral damage, they have killed far more innocents, and those innocents killed remains the greatest recruiting tool this particular psycho religions has.
And today from fear and justifiable rage, we can’t wait to do more of it, except we need to think about what it will accomplish in the long run.
As horrible as what happened in Paris yesterday is, and it is extremely horrible, it isn’t hard to see (if one bothers to look) how the chickens are coming home to roost yet again. What is baffling to me is how the yahoos looking to go to war again today can refuse to see the other side of this conflict. I’m not talking about killing ISIS. I look forward to the day those religious psychopaths are gone, but I am talking about the innocents (just like those in Paris last night) who are killed regularly; how more Iraqi civilians were killed during our invasion there than were Iraqi soldiers: Counts of deaths reported in newspapers collated by projects like the Iraq Body Count project found 174,000 Iraqis reported killed between 2003 and 2013, with between 112,000-123,000 of those killed being civilian noncombatants.
And then there’s this statistic, something our government and media seem reluctant to deal with … not to mention all the flag waving super patriots rooting our volunteer army on to more war, because for many of the flag waivers, for all their American exceptionalism blather, they have ZERO skin in the game (i.e., their kids won’t be the ones going to war) … they all seem to ignore the picture and the stats show on it below.
This is not an attempt to minimize the horror and tragedy in Paris yesterday. Those poor Parisians and tourists, etc., suffered a horrific tragedy yesterday. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the first time, and we all fear and know that it won’t be the last time. Nor is this post a defense of what/why it happened. I have zero use for any religion, whether it is used as an excuse to kill or not. This is a wake-up post to anyone who would read this and accuse me of anti-Americanism. It is an attempt for people to see the bigger picture in these terrorist attacks and to think about what is going on in the Middle East; why so many there have turned their fear of the U.S. (and all the other foreign nations with militaries dropping bombs on the innocents there) into a hatred for them. Make NO mistake, to the innocents in the Middle East being killed regularly, the survivors view us along with all the other countries dropping bombs on them as the terrorists ... and can you really blame them?
And for those crying for us to “wipe them out already” … “kill them all” … “nuke them back to the stone age they came from,” etc., just remember that when we nuke them there, there’s a great likelihood nukes will be fired back at us in return … and when those chickens come home to roost … well, remember to duck your heads under your desks.
And there’s this inconvenient truth … please pay attention.