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).

Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Day the 60’s Died … Mike Callahan looking out for American Vets … SNHU MFA news from Merle Drown, Diane Les Becquets, Pratima Cranse and Richard Adams Carey…


The Day the 60’s Died … in a Gallop poll taken after the Kent State murders in 1970, 58% of the country believed the students were at fault. Just 11% blamed the National Guard. One woman interviewed on camera stated, “They were warned and I'm sorry they didn't kill more.”

It had to do with the anti-Vietnam war sentiment that snowballed after President Nixon announced we were involved in Cambodia as well as Vietnam. It was an illegal war launched against a neutral country under the guise of protecting American troops. The North Vietnamese were using so-called sanctuaries along the Cambodian-South Vietnam border to attack American troops. The American response was an overkill that devastated an entire nation and left the grounds fertile for revolution--an offshoot of Mao’s Cultural Revolution that led to the Khmer Rouge and their killing fields. I covered that topic in a thesis paper for an International Law class at Brooklyn College. Much of my reference material came from the brilliant William Shawcross book called Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon and the Destruction of Cambodia. I also used several of Noam Chomsky’s books on American Imperialism throughout South America and Southeast Asia.
So what does all that have to do with the price of eggs, Knucks? What it has to do with is the idea so many have expressed of late regarding the officer in South Carolina who turned over a desk with a 16-year old girl in it, then threw her the length of the floor into a wall. She refused to put her cell phone away. The students at Kent State refused to disperse. Eric Garner dared to argue with the police about to arrest him for selling “loosies” (cigarettes). Sandra Bland refused to put out her cigarette, etc. The list goes on.

Rather than an “attack” against the police, what so many on the right prefer to label any attempt to hold accountable those wearing badges who act outside the law, it is a question I wonder about of late. Have we returned to a 1970 mentality, wherein anti-war demonstrators were often met with violence at the hands of both the police and some of the public? Are we returning to a society that demands we love it or leave it? Are we swallowing a police state mentality? Are we supposed to accept our death as a legitimate response from those wearing badges and/or uniforms when their demands aren’t met? And how fast does our acquiescence have to come before it’s deemed taking too long and bullets fly without accountability?

In 1970, the American mindset was clearly split. Those on the left protested to end a pointless and illegal war. There was a draft at the time and people had a bigger investment at stake—their lives. Those on the right saw those protests as disrespect toward their country. Anyone remember the 1970 movie, Joe? It was tough to watch, yet brilliant.

Today there are many who feel the 16-year-old girl in South Carolina who refused to turn off her cell phone “got what she deserved.” She’d refused several requests to turn off the phone and/or leave the classroom. She was at fault, no one doubts that. But after a resource policeman respectfully asked her to leave and she refused a number of times, he turned her desk over, then lifted and hurled her the length of the floor into a wall. And then he arrested her. Someone in the classroom filmed the incident and the policeman was suspended, then fired. Most people agree it was in indefensible reaction. The kid may have been 100% wrong in her refusal to obey authority, but the policeman’s response was overkill. And some believe that such disrespect for authority demands a reaction, no matter how excessive. It is a “don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time” attitude that somehow conflates a refusal to turn off a cell phone and/or a refusal to put out a cigarette with a criminal act, except the reaction often suggests it is a violent criminal act deserving of the most severe reaction.

Watch the Kent State documentary and decide for yourself.

And/or watch this one about the illegal bombing of Cambodia.

The result of our bombing a neutral nation state (Cambodia) permitted the rise of the Khmer Rouge (the “killing fields” Khmer Rouge) … sound familiar? Think the Iraq war and ISIS …

If you still feel the cop in the video did nothing wrong, and/or if you side with the National Guard who shot four students at Kent State, then why not just mow them down with machine gun fire the next time? Remember the civil rights protests and/or riots of the late 1960’s? Remember those from the last few years? Should the authorities start mowing down all those who break the rules? Should the Air Force have strafed those who participated in the Occupy Wall Street movement?

If I’m not mistaken, this country was formed after illegally taking it from the indigenous population that was doing fine and dandy on their own. Our forefathers (and I hate using that term) broke all the rules and revolted violently for the sake of their independence.
And the FACT of the matter is that without cell phone videos, none of these acts of excessive violence by the police would even be an issue.

Doing the right thing by American Vets … Mike Callahan up in Rochester, New York, is giving more than the political lip service we so often hear from politicians on both sides of the aisle. While John McCain and Bernie Sanders actually try to legislate improvements to how American veterans are treated, Mike Callahan is offering them jobs. From his Facebook page: Please let Veterans know we are hiring as well as anyone else that may be interested in plowing this winter.

Mike owns and runs Callahan’s Lawn Care and Property Management, Inc. up in Rochester, New York. He also writes for the industry periodical, Lawn & Landscape Magazine. So, any Vets looking for work in the Rochester area, Mike Callahan is doing the right thing by you. Go Mike!

SNHU MFA news … Merle Drown’s wonderful novel, Lighting the World, has a book trailer put up by his publisher. Take a look see below. It’s a wonderful book we reviewed here back in March. Click on the link for the review.


Diane Les Becquets’ new novel, Breaking Wild, received a *STARRED* Kirkus review and is now available. Read the review here.

“A transcendent, breathless exploration of the darkest depths of loneliness and the unbreakable human spirit.” –Kirkus Reviews

Pratima Cranse has nailed two STARRED reviews, one from Kirkus and the other from Publishers Weekly … "Easygoing Vermonter Andrew discovers the complexities of spirituality and sexuality in this heartfelt debut. . . Moments of wry humor compliment Andrew's subtle changes as he realizes there are no easy answers, perhaps not even one right answer. Readers will cheer him on as he makes a path to find his answers. A stellar voice to watch." —Kirkus, starred review

“Cranse’s compassionate debut astutely conveys the joys, heartaches, and angst of coming-of-age.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

Get it here.

Not only great reviews, but a second printing has been called for with Richard Adams Carey's incredible telling of the violence inflicted on a small town in New Hampshire back in August of 1997.

Second Printing!  GREAT news, amici, for a GREAT writer, teacher and person.

Read our review of In The Evil Day here.

Get the book here.


AJ+ does it again …

Monday, October 26, 2015

Movie Reviews: A Wolf at the Door … Compared to what? … The GOP’s ongoing nightmare(s) … Homeland goes boring … The Affair is pissing me off too …


A Wolf at the Door … no, not Hillary Clinton, a very tough (in a good way) foreign flick about a cheating spouse and the consequences of his fun on the side that makes Fatal Attraction look like a Disney movie. There’s a back and forth flavor to this film that was wonderfully directed, a script that worked in so many ways as to humble lesser talents. No spoilers, especially with this one, but it is VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Compared to what? The documentary airing on Showtime about Barney Frank offers an understand to much of the feisty Congressman from Massachusetts, including some deeper explanations about Dodd-Frank, the financial crisis of 2007-8, the art of compromise (as regards the title), and his personal relationship with his partner, Jim Ready. The ending is a moving one that shows a tearful wedding ceremony and celebration. Best line in the documentary comes when Frank is campaigning for Joe Kennedy and states: “Vote democratic. We’re not perfect, but they’re nuts.”

The GOP’s ongoing nightmare(s) … what has to worry the GOP more than The Donald himself these days is not the fact that religious whackjobs in Iowa have pushed his (so far) only significant challenger, Ben Carson (a bumper sticker for crazy talk), ahead of Trump in the polls there, it’s because those two are at the top of their polls everywhere. Falling by the wayside is the so-called smartest Bush, Jeb, and the long string of also running mainstream GOP candidates. It seems the only hope for the GOP these days comes in the form of a Senator with an abominable voting record (Obama wasn’t much better and/or worse) who just stated that he hates his job.

After the latest Benghazi hearing fiasco, to say the GOP has handed the Democrats (and Hillary Clinton) the White House is perhaps premature, but it sure does make me wonder about an ultra-left conspiracy theory; that it’s all a game already rigged for victory no matter which party wins; the difference in financial policy between the two parties is too thin for the true power brokers (banks) to really care who wins the White House.

Certainly Wall Street doesn’t seem concerned about a Hillary Clinton presidency.

Handling his second place showing in recent Iowa polls, Trump responded in his spoiled-brat-self typical fashion … by being a bigger jerk than when he’s winning. Life must be very tough if you’re a member of the Republican Party these days … Barney Frank wasn't wrong ... they are nuts.

Homeland goes boring … I watch this shit and The Affair because Sunday nights are my mental preparation for my most productive writing day (Mondays). Translation: I want my mind blank from entertainment.

I’m not sure how many times the writers of Homeland can get away with the same fucking formula (Carry off her meds/giving up her daughter/about to be killed, etc.), but the last two episodes found me switching to Sunday night football (talk about boring) … had the Lightning been playing on the west coast Sunday night, the problem would've been solved, but last night the Bolts were off. Apparently so were the writers of Homeland. I’ll give it one more episode before I walk away for good, but I really am tired of the routine. The other characters in the show have become much more interesting than the main one, which is a shame because Claire Danes is a terrific actress … except when she’s going through the Carry off and on again routine, which is GREAT if you're playing come bets on a craps table, but not a TV series.

The Affair is pissing me off too … not to be outdone pissing me off, The Affair has now so thoroughly confused me, I’m ready to walk away from that one too. Maybe I wasn’t paying close enough attention (that happens quite often actually) but what the fuck was the deal last week (or was it two weeks ago?) with the scene outside a courtroom with Allison holding a baby? Was that Cole’s dream. Was it real? Are they trying to piss me off? Look, I’m a simple MF’er … just let me know what’s going on or I start to question my sanity. I’m there now, questioning it. I won’t question it much longer, okay?
The entire cast in this show is terrific (the oldest daughter is a standout), but I'm favoring Helen Solloway (Maura Tierney) in a big way and was grateful for the episode with her last night ... the two other main characters (Noah and Alison) are putting me to sleep of late.


From AJ+ and Francesca Fiorentini … watch and learn …

Monday, October 19, 2015

Movie Review: The Lesson … Shawn Mills on tenor, Stephen Costello … AJ+ and Francesca Fiorentini on The War on Drugs … Bills-Jets …


The Lesson … Bulgarian flick about a teacher in a bad financial way due to bad economic times and her useless husband. It begins with a classroom situation wherein a student has stolen some cash from another student … the teacher plots to expose the thief, but there’s plenty of mess to cleanup at home. Her husband is a good-for-nothing-much, but her young daughter dotes on her dad. In the meantime, his all-consuming project (to repair a camper for sale) is a bigger disaster than a blown sale … he’s used the mortgage money to buy new parts … the bank wants payment or will auction the house …the teacher (wonderfully portrayed by Margita Gosheva) has to come up with the money … her father has coin, but he’s remarried a woman the teacher can’t stand … the teacher remains loyal to her dead mother and visits her grave often … she blames her estranged father for her mother’s suffering before she passed and has issues asking him for money (he’s wealthy enough to help) … she works a second job as a translator but the business is a deadbeat one and she’s always being stalled on payment for work done … what’s the poor woman to do? Well, there’s always a loanshark, right? And the police are, well, corrupt. I love this movie and Ms. Gosheva’s understated portrayal of a woman striving to maintain her morality in an immoral world is both poignant and brilliant.

Heartbreak Almost Destroyed This Opera Singer’s Voice, by Shawn Mills … the TK faithful seen my video clips of tenor, Stephen Costello, singing with Soprano, Ailyn Perez … here it is again.

The couple having so much fun with one of my favorite arias from La Boheme in the video married … but their break-up nearly cost Costello his career … read about how he was forced to bow out of a Metropolitan Opera performance of La Traviata because he’d temporarily lost his voice. Read the article here.

AJ+ produces the best progressive videos on the planet … Francesca Fiorentini delivers the goods with humor, irony and very accurate information. Here they are teamed together for The Failed War on Drugs … where Big Banks (HBC, Wachovia and Bank of America) and private American business (gun manufacturers, private security, private prisons, etc.) profit from money laundering to incarcerations for drug offenses ...  all for the benefit of drug cartels and American business …


Bills-Jets … some of yous may be wondering what’s up with TK’s disowning the Bills and/or the NFL of late. Well, it’s not true, not fully, but I’m close … damn close. I’ve been a Bills fan since I abandoned the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets as a season ticket holder the day they moved to Moonachie, New Jersey. I became a Bills fan that day and have suffered many years since. I don’t mind suffering when my team blows and there’s just not enough talent to win. The Bills are a different story. Yes, you need the talent, but let’s face it, the NFL isn’t made up of wannabes. Coaching does make a difference, a big difference, and for too long my beloved New York State Buffalo Bills have had issues with hiring African-American coaches. While I understood the interest in hiring Rex Ryan for the sake of ticket sales and extra media exposure, letting a few very established African-American coaches interview for the sake of NFL rules governing minority coaching interviews, and then ignoring them, wasn’t the smart move.

This latest Bills disaster is fast becoming yet another Bills blunder.

Rex Ryan had a couple of good years with the Jets and then everything fell apart. His method of defending his players first may work well in the locker room, but in post-game press conferences, it’s already grown stale. The Bills are loaded on defense with talent, yet perform at a mediocre level, especially against good offensive lines. Okay, so the players aren’t getting it done … nor is the defensive game plan, but like his brother over in New Orleans, Rob Ryan, it’s getting hard not to look at those two as bad jokes praying on desperate fans. Ryan has managed to cut down on the absurd number of penalties committed by his team, yet they continue to lose and lose bad.

I don’t know what it’ll take for the new Bills administration to see through the clown act, but season ticket holders at Rich Stadium aren’t going to be patient much longer if the Bills wind up taking another step back (which is where they’re headed this season as it stands right now). If you look to the Jets organization, a total joke until now in pretty much everyone’s opinion, things have turned around in a very big way, at least after five games. We have Rex and are 3-3, with some very humiliating losses. The Jets have Todd Bowles and are 4-1. We beat Rex Ryan’s Jets twice last year. What will happen if the Jets beat us twice this year?

And how on earth do NFL owners continue to get away with paying players in the most dangerous sport what amounts to the lowest salaries of the big four sports? Talk about income inequality. If Rex Ryan wants to put his players first, then do it with a microphone in front of the public he’s maneuvered with a clown act for the last several years. Oh, right … then he’d be fired and blacklisted. I guess he really isn’t a players-first coach after all.

Unfortunately, most fans believe that professional athletes should shut up and take the millions they’re offered and be thankful for it. The fans never realize how short a professional career is, or how physically debilitating the injuries from playing some sports can be. It isn’t so different from the capitalism we all experience day-to-day, where workers perform the bulk of the work and are paid the lowest wage possible for the greatest gain of owners. You think professional athletes are overpaid? Take a look at the owners’ books.

Oh, right, they won’t allow that, will they?

Isn’t it amazing how we fight amongst each other and always at our own expense?


From AJ+ and Francesca Fiorentini … watch and learn …

Monday, October 12, 2015

Debate Americano … Hockey Americano … November 7th meet in Philadelphia …

Debate Americano … well, it’s finally here … the great democratic debate … the one that’s been stalled for two months … the one of six the DNC is restricting to a format that precludes any sense of fairness and/or democracy. It’s pretty difficult to decide who is more deceitful, Debbie-Wasserman Schultz or the candidate herself, Hillary Clinton. Ms. Schultz refuses to answer questions about the number of Democratic debates. She also refuses to address the fact that Bernie Sanders is a democratic-socialist who refused to take corporate coin. Ms. Schultz is there for Hillary, of that there is no doubt. Look at the look she gives Martin O’Malley after he calls for more debates (look at 15:10 of the video) … hilarious.

And check out this particular item of undemocratic procedure. Should the other candidates (there’s only one according to the DNC, at least until Joe Biden declares) choose to have a debate on their own, the DNC will preclude them from debating their choice for their loyal followers. Bernie debates O’Malley and neither can debate Hillary.

Wow, and they have the nerve to talk about the GOP’s attempt to restrict voting?

Anyway, we’ll know more about Hillary’s attempts to appear “authentic” tomorrow night. She’s been practicing mock debates for weeks now. Bernie hasn’t started yet. Let’s face it, he has nothing to fear. His positions have been consistent forever. Hillary, on the other hand, switches positions with each new pole.

Check out Hillary regarding how much past records matter …

Her latest attempts to look more progressive are a joke, but loyal mainstream democrats appear determined to ignore her latest “evolutions” … she’s trying to be Bernie for the sake of gathering his support once/if the DNC is successful in defeating his grass roots campaign. Then the DNC and Hillary both expect progressives to join lockstep with their absolute disgraceful behavior. It’ll be interesting to see how many progressive are willing to REWARD both Hillary and the DNC for IGNORING them yet again.


I don’t think so …

Hockey Americano … Hey, it’s back and today there’s a bonus bunch of games, including the 1:00 p.m. match between the Tampa Bay Lightning (GO BOLTS!) and the Boston Brunettes. Right now the Strangers of New York are looking extremely tough and have to be considered the front runners in their division to maybe repeat winning the President’s Trophy (most points in the regular season), but it’s a long season and injuries mean everything. The Strangers probably wish they had Mats Zuccarello last year vs. the Lightning and the Lightning wish they had an injury free Tyler Johnson in the finals vs. the Blackhawks.

I like the Strangers to win the Metropolitan and the Bolts to win the Atlantic, but anything can happen along the way. What I don’t see is a Canadian team (outside of the bad bagel Montreal Expos) having a shot making it to the Eastern Conference finals.

In the meantime, it’s GO BOLTS!

In the Left Coast conference, I don’t much care which team shows up come the finals. Like most people, I assume the Hawkettes will make it back (assuming Patrick Kane isn’t indicted on rape charges). I don’t know how to gauge that situation because it is a horrendous charge to walk away from if Kane is innocent. On the other hand, if he’s guilty, he wouldn’t be the first sports superstar to get preferential treatment when it comes to an investigative process. On this one, we’ll just have to wait and see how things proceed.

November 7th meet in Philadelphia … the thing about weightlifting is it can be addictive. Last year I dropped 91 pounds over 9 months, but that weight loss required me to preclude going anywhere near a gym, except for the aerobic training that helped cut the calories. Unfortunately, a few months back I couldn’t maintain the 12-step program to stay away from the weights. It has been an absurdly slow process (gaining strength) and an equally absurd fast process (gaining weight). I’m afraid to step on the scale and several attempts to get through a weekend of dieting haven’t fared very well. I suspect I’ve found 40-50 pounds of the lost 91 by now. There’s a meet in Philly on November 7 (way too close for comfort) and my lifting has been for shit of late. Yesterday there was some minor progress but I won’t know for another two weeks whether it’s worth my while to test myself in Philly. The ultimate goal is to achieve some scaled back weightlifting goals on my 60th birthday (June 1, 2016) … so I can’t back off for long on the weights. A normal training cycle is 12 weeks (for me) and I’m well into week 13-14 now. Muscles need to rebuild, but I don’t feel like mine have been tested (and/or cooperating) enough to merit a rebuilding period. We shall see over the next few weeks.



Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A bad, bad word … The right to slam … NBC’s shilling for the DNC …


There’s a scene in one of my favorite movies, The Pope of Greenwich Village, when Eric Roberts’ (Paulie) car is towed by a hard-on of a traffic cop. During his internal struggle with being screwed, and having no power over the situation, at least at the time, Paulie says, “Cocksucker.” It comes at exactly 3:00 into the video below.

In that scene, at that moment, at least to my mind, Paulie is calling the hard-on cop any of the following: prick, scumbag, fuckface, piece of shit, hard-on, motherfucker, etc.  He chose to use the word “cocksucker,” probably because it holds some similar meaning for him (the character), much the way my calling Rex Ryan a “cocksucker” the other day summed it up best (for me). I could’ve called him any number of other names, but “cocksucker” happens to be my favorite curse word (although I have to be pretty pissed off to use it). See this interview by Len Wanner with me from a long time ago. He asked me what my favorite word was ... take a guess?
Like many bad words, “cocksucker” can have several different meanings. Perhaps the “several meanings” explanation was best explained in the movie, Donnie Brasco, when “Forgetaboutit” was put to the test.

Make no mistake, this isn’t a defense of the use of the word “cocksucker.” It is an explanation, a one-time only, probably the last time only, deal. If anyone is offended at my use of the word, I’m not sure what to tell you. I'm sorry if you're offended, but I'll probably use it again. I don't see a need to find other insults, especially when frustrated to the point of exploding (being a Bills fan will do that). I'd like to think I’ll think twice before using it in the future, but that would require my thinking a first time. When I use it in anger, off the top of my head, there isn't much thought going on, so I’d suggest to maybe look beyond the word more toward the character of the person uttering it. If you still feel it’s an offensive term at that point, and/or you feel the person using the word is expressing some hidden agenda (or outright agenda), you’d be wrong, but that too is out of my control.

Like many of the characters in my dopey crime novels, I often speak the same way they speak, and sometimes it isn’t pretty.

So it goes.

Now, I don’t need “bravo” for fighting political correctness. This isn’t about that. Nor do I need a “pass” from those offended. And if those offended can’t let it go, so be it.

Here now, end of lesson.

The right to slamthis has everything to do with my recent slamming of my beloved New York State Buffalo Bills. Loyal Bills fans often remind me of Democratic loyalists, willing to eat shit and smile about it. I’ve been a Bills fan since giving up my season tickets to the New York Jets (when they were a New York team/before they became Moonachie Green) … the Bills sucked then, and quickly became a semi-powerhouse in the NFL … semi because you don’t earn credit (not from me) for finishing 2nd 4 x’s in a row.  Many Bills fans were upset with me back then, mostly because I blamed the no-huddle offense for our failures. Today some Bills fans are upset with my criticism of a team with a historical record of ignoring black head coaches. We have a new owner now, and while I’ll give him a pass on hiring Rex Ryan and all the hype that went with Sexy Rexy, I won’t give the owner, and/or Rex, a pass after that miserable excuse for a post-game press conference where Rex more or less ignored 17 penalties (and our historical league setting status in that regard) while pointing at our “fight” and never give up attitude. What friggin’ game was he watching, one wonders. Fight? Really? We lost by 2 TD’s, right?

The point being, not only do I reserve the right to call Rex a “cocksucker” for the absolutely shit job he’s doing regarding disciplining his players, I also reserve the right to shout: “A quarter of the fucking season is gone and we’re less than mediocre all over again!”

Bada-boom, bada-bing. I’m still a Bills fan … but I won’t be concerning myself with their games again until they can prove they’re a touch more professional than the disgrace they’ve become regarding beating themselves with penalties.

NBC’s shilling for the DNC … wow, anyone catch the Today Show the other day when they held a town hall meeting for Democratic Front runner, Hillary Clinton? Of course the state where the town meeting was held was New Hampshire, where Bernie Sanders is actually the front runner, but, hey, they wanted to spike Hillary’s numbers after her SNL (another NBC show) appearance.
Democratic process, huh?
Here’s your girl, DNC … one of us ... the working class ... riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight ...

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Kyle Carey's new music video ... The GOP Twilight Zone … Free Stuff … The Pope and Ms. Davis … Next week in the NHL … This week in the NFL …


You know her daddy from our last blog post. Richard Adams Carey wrote an amazing account of a horrible day in August 1997. In the Evil Day: When Violence comes to one small town (in New Hampshire). Well, he has an equally talented daughter, and she has an angelic voice.

And here’s the release of Klye Carey's latest music video.

The GOP Twilight Zone … Oy vey, vey iz mir (roughly translated: “Oh, woe is me.” … and/or “Oh, shit!”) … so, yous ask, what the hell am I Oy veying about now?

Well, it hasn’t gone unnoticed just how anxious the Republican presidential candidates are to return to a state of war. It’s kind of mind baffling when you think about it for more than a few seconds. Some argue, me included, that it has been our imperialistic approach to foreign affairs in general that has led to one blunder after another, from Vietnam and/or Afghanistan to Iraq. And, sure, Libya counts too. As for our latest desire for regime change, this time in Syria, have any of the Republican presidential candidates bothered to research our influence in regime changes throughout history? What about the concomitant blowback we’ve often suffered because of it?

We like to claim that Iran is the leading sponsor of worldwide terrorism, yet some argue that we’re the ones doing the terrorizing. It’s not like Iran rests alongside Canada and/or Mexico. It’s across the friggin’ globe, far out of our sphere of influence and/or business. Those victimized by our military initiatives on their lands throughout the Middle East probably feel we’re the leading sponsor of terrorism.

Not so long ago we instituted a coup d'état in Iran to undo the nationalization of oil there. We installed our puppet, Shah Pahlavi (whom would later declare himself the King of Kings in 1967). That regime change worked just great (for us), but obviously not for those living under the tyrant, or there wouldn't have been an Islamic Revolution there in 1979. I’m pretty sure we don’t require seminars on how that’s worked out.

Regime change aside, we’re a country that has been at war 214 out 235 years. There’s been a lot of bluster coming from the GOP candidates, almost all of whom have never been in the military. The GOP primary has become a parade a macho muscle flexing. Even the single female in the race, Carly Fiorina, a woman who denies and defies facts with wild abandon, is ready to throw down. The question is, do they even know who we’ll be throwing down against should they get their wish?

The Russians are coming! … Now the Russia has taken the opportunity to flex its muscles in its more direct geographical sphere of influence (than ours), the GOP candidates and talk radio hosts seem to have lost their minds. I often turn on Mark Levin’s show during my drive home from work. I listen for the 3-4 minutes I can stand to hear his voice and/or insane rantings, but on Wednesday night this past week he was going ape-shit over Russian involvement in Syria. A guest on his show, some right wing female journalist, was fueling the fire regarding America’s inability to respond until we have a new president. Doesn't anybody in that party remember what happened to the Russians in Afghanistan?

I’m not sure if they understand what they were calling for when they insisted we have to show toughness. Going to war with Russia on their side of the globe? Hey, great idea!

Oy vey ...

I guess the GOP mantra goes something like this: We have to look tough, so we should engage in yet another war, perhaps one that could lead to a nuclear showdown.

Oy vey, Oy vey ...

The GOP frontrunner, The Donald, suggests we let the Russians and ISIS fight it out, and then we’ll “pick up the remnants.” Has anyone suggested to The Donald that the remnants could be the Russians?

Oy, Oy, Oy, Oy vey!

Frankly, listening to these candidates is akin to living in a twilight zone episode. It’s already a scary enough world, but just the rhetoric of these macho men and that single “Facts aren't fun” woman is terrifyingly naïve. I’m not sure where it ends, but it sure suggests to me that hawks of all stripes, whether they’re chickenhawks (i.e., most of the GOP presidential contingent) who chose to defer their personal opportunity to fight in Vietnam, and/or just hawks anxious to prove their toughness (i.e., Carly and Hillary), they should be ignored at all costs.

Free Stuff … Dear conservative friends (to include blue dog democrats): To be clear as to why at least some of us on the left prefer a democracy over an oligarchy.

1: Greedy People—We do not believe that those who have accumulated wealth are inherently bad people and/or necessarily greedy, but we don’t like the few making decisions for the many, especially when the methodology used to procure such influence comes from coin (i.e., Citizens United and legalized bribery).

2: We love—no, check that—we LOVE small businesses. We have no issue with people starting their own business and growing it so they can hire workers, earn a profit, and contribute to society as a whole. We do take issues with corporations that get to set policy (see above regarding Citizens United and/or the attack on unions), not to mention look to swallow small businesses. We feel workers should have a voice too.

3: We don’t really want “free stuff” … nor do we want YOUR stuff. It isn’t about redistributing wealth downward so the so-called lazy class can get free goodies. The problem is there has been a consistent redistribution of wealth since the Reagan administration, when taxes were cut for the wealthy, and then further cut by Bush (and now both Jeb Bush and Trump want to cut them even further). We see THAT as a redistribution of wealth. After all, we’re the ones doing the work (those of us employed). What we want, as stated twice above, is an equal opportunity. It isn’t just a coincidence that America’s middle class prospered most when taxes for the wealthiest tax brackets were set above 90%. Since Reagan’s “trickle-down economics,” followed by George Bush’s tax cuts, the highest marginal income tax rate has been dropped to 35%. How’s that worked out?

4. Work Ethic … Most of us already work for what’s ours, thank you very much, and most of us work pretty damn hard (two family members working two jobs, etc.) We don’t need “free stuff.” And those who aren’t working, aren’t lounging around because you’re handing out free stuff. More than likely, they aren’t working because in your never-ending pursuit of maximizing profits for fat ass board members enjoying cocktails before tee time at the country club, you’ve taken jobs overseas and left nothing behind.

5: Wars … we’re all for defending the country, but we’re no longer willing to defend the cherry-picked countries (usually having to do with oil) politicians owned by the 1% choose. Frankly, we don’t want to go to war with any country unless they directly attack us. The country of Afghanistan didn’t attack us on 9-11. Certainly Iraq had nothing to do with that attack. Regime change hasn’t worked for us going back to our covert coups in Syria (1949), Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Tibet (1955-70’s), Indonesia (1958), Cuba (1959), Iraq (1960-63), Democratic Republic of the Congo (1960-65), Dominican Republic (1961), South Vietnam (1963), Brazil (1964), Chile (1970-73), Afghanistan (1979-89), Turkey (1980), Poland (1980-89), Nicaragua (1981-90), Iraq again (1992-96), Venezuela (2002), Iran (2005-present). What makes us think for a second, regime change in Syria will fare any better?

6: Social issues … we’re all perfectly willing to follow the teachings of Jesus as regards doing unto others as we’d have them do unto us … even the atheists among us, but YOU don’t get to interpret for US what that means (i.e., equality for all, including marriage, justice, etc.)

That’s pretty much it … for now.

The Pope and Ms. Davis … some of my liberal friends, including my wife (who I love like crazy), have taken issue with the Pope on his alleged embracement of Kim Davis’s plight regarding gay marriages. Although I wish the Pope didn’t support Ms. Davis’s born again whackiness, I also didn’t expect him not to. He’s a religious guy. While I don’t agree (or believe) in his religion and/or God, I can’t expect the guy to be an atheist. I mean, it doesn’t make sense, right? I’m happy enough the guy is taking gigantic steps toward a more liberal approach to the world (and his religion). The fact he’s being labeled a “communist Pope” by the psychos on rightwing talk radio gives me great pleasure. He’s addressing very serious issues regarding income inequality and the need for some restraint on capitalism gone wild. While I’m not a great fan of incremental change, no one can label this Pope’s church reform incremental change. So, come on, give the guy a break.

Next week in the NHL … October 8 is the opener (as far as Lightning fans are concerned). The Bolts will be taking on the Flyers in Tampa Bay. Last year I flew down for games 2-4 and it was a blast. This year, however, I’ll be watching from my perch alongside my trustee bottle of Chivas (opening day bottle), trusty pipe, and several dozen matchbooks. I’ll be looking forward to the new season and anxious to see how the Bolts do coming off last year’s incredible run that fell just short of the Stanley Cup. Expectations, no doubt, are very high.

Go Bolts!

This week in the NFL … Okay, so my first week’s picks were a disaster (can you here The Donald saying that?) … it wasn’t much better week 2 (although I kept it to myself) … but this week? Forgetaboutit, take Knucks’ picks and (if you're smart) ...  go the other way!

Tonight it’ll be the Wes Cravens over the Steelerettes, 24-14.

Dolphinations bounce back over the Yets, 28-24.

Pantherless over the Bubonic Bucs, 24-17.

Chefs halt the Bengalese, 30-20.

Coltless, barely over the Jagwires, 24-23.

Chargerless over the Brownettes, 40-20.

The Packing Co. crush the 9’ers, 34-16.

The Aints finally win over the Cowgirls, 19-16.

My beloved New York State Buffalo Bills over the Moonachie Blue team, 23-20.

Raiderettes over the Bearless wonders, 24-17.

Falconless over the Texas Two-Steppers, 24-13.

Eaglettes over the Skinless in Washington, 23-12.

Vikingless upset the Broncettes, 27-24.

Cards crush the Ramettes, 27-16.

And the Lions upset the Hawkettes Monday night, 24-22.

Here's Kyle Carey again ...