Category Archives: Norman Solomon Was Here

Altered State[ments]

Writers of fiction see the world in a slightly different manner than most everyone else in the room. Rather than formulate a solid position on any given subject, they seek to understand how others have come to their conclusions. They see both sides of an issue – inside out and in-between.

This is not to say they have no opinion, but rather; their opinion is subject to influence. In the New Testament, they are the ones “tossed about by every wind of doctrine.

Some may view this as a weakness, and they are probably right. Not holding to one solid, unwielding point of view makes one appear ungrounded and “wishy-washy.” Stolidly religious types would quote the Ephesians 4 verse and challenge one’s grasp of basic reality.

But the truth of the matter is, writers see every situation, subject, scene and happenstance from a multitude of angles. When they create a character, they know every reaction to every conceivable situation. They know if Norman Solomon does x, then y will happen. But, if Norman Solomon did y instead, perhaps z would happen.

How could one perceive these vicissitudes if not for the ability to see every situation and issue from a multiplicity of perspectives?

Michel de Montaigne opined, in his Essay, Of the Inconsistency of Our Actions:

 It is a hard matter, from all antiquity, to pick out a dozen men who have formed their lives to one certain and constant course, which is the principal design of wisdom; for to comprise it all in one word, says one of the ancients, and to contract all the rules of human life into one, “it is to will, and not to will, always one and the same thing: I will not vouchsafe,” says he, “to add, provided the will be just, for if it be not just, it is impossible it should be always one.” I have indeed formerly learned that vice is nothing but irregularity, and want of measure, and therefore ’tis impossible to fix constancy to it. ‘Tis a saying of Demosthenes, “that the beginning of all virtue is consultation and deliberation; the end and perfection, constancy.” If we would resolve on any certain course by reason, we should pitch upon the best, but nobody has thought on’t:

     ["That which he sought he despises; what he lately lost, he seeks
     again.  He fluctuates, and is inconsistent in the whole order of
     life."—Horace, Ep., i. I, 98.]

Montaigne argues that consistency, while a modern virtue of his time (and ours), is an impossible standard to bear. For we are a product of our experiences, – if we allow for them – and to lock oneself into a finite state of being is to deny our humanity.

The task of the writer, then, is to help us to see things from another point of view even as we stand our ground. They create characters to give voice to those other perspectives that hover just beneath the surface of our resolute positions.

Creative writers are keen observers of life, always aware and always prepared to abandon last decade’s or last week’s point of view for the one they overheard at a cocktail party the other night.

In the novel Tea Party the main character, Jensen Michaels, is set on a course of action that comes from a deeply set conviction of what he perceives as Truth. However, as circumstances unfold, the basis of this verity is revealed a lie. Does Jensen stay the course despite the revelation, or does he reorient his worldview?

In real life, we are reluctant to admit when we are following a false course of action or philosophy. We dig in and construct all manner of rationalizations to justify continuing in a direction we now suspect is false.

A novelist can transcend this tendency of human nature by instructing his or her characters to alter their actions as the new information is realized. In this way, writers can act as a catalyst for change.

It is the ability to imagine things from the other perspective that enables a novelist to transcend the common view.

"Malum consilium est, quod mutari non potest."

          "'Tis evil counsel that will admit no change."
          —Publius.

The Devil we See

Facebook for me is a window into the lives of those people and family with whom I am not in continuous contact.

An unintended consequence is some of the awful posturing and posting of ad hominem and unsubstantiated attacks on various groups and ideals from individuals or groups either from the Right or from the Left or even somewhere in between.

I tire of stories and memes being posted with the intention of causing embarrassment, humiliation or demonizing someone or something from an opposing viewpoint or orientation. These slanders and lies are designed to clearly establish in black and white terms just who the enemy really is.

Gay bashing; for one. Thankfully, those posts are diminishing as our society finally comes around to acceptance. With the LGBT community out in full daylight, we can plainly see that they are like you and like me. They share the same dreams and fears.

There are two situations in current events that are bringing to the fore some of the most awful examples of ideological shaming.

One is concerning the  Islamic State (ISIS) in Northern Iraq. Making its rounds on social media are a series of unsubstantiated reports originating with one source: Mark Arabo, a California businessman and Chaldean-American leader. He is claiming that ISIS militants are beheading Christian children and putting the heads on pikes. So far, none of the major news sources have been able to verify these statements. In fact, many of them are proving to be blatantly untrue. A gruesome video showing a young girl “cut in two” by ISIS terrorists in Iraq turns out to be from the aftermath of a bombing in Yemen – several months BEFORE the situation unfolded in Iraq. A second photograph, purportedly showing a young woman with her head removed by ISIS militants, turns out to be a still from a Hollywood horror film. It is totally fake.

There is no doubt that ISIS is a brutal force in Iraq fueled by a fundamentalist misinterpretation of Islam and a literal reading of the Quran. The Islamic State seeks to establish a Caliphate in Iraq. History has shown that the majority of people in the world reject theocracy, and attempts to bring about one through force can only result in more suffering. I don’t know what can be done in this situation – particularly in terms of US policy – but, making up fake stories of atrocities only fuels the notion that Western society is full of liars. Why give them that ammunition?

In Missouri, civilization is fracturing into warring camps over the tragic shooting death of Michael Brown at the hands of a police officer. The young man was shot six times, and the incident is under investigation.

A video showing the young man allegedly strong-arming a shop owner over $80 worth of cigars was “leaked” to paint a portrait of Michael Brown as a street thug – as though this would somehow justify his untimely death at the hands of law enforcement. The resulting divide falls strangely along partisan lines with Conservative Republicans siding with the police officer and Progressive Democrats siding with the family of the young man and the African American community in Ferguson, Missouri. Misinformation and generalizations abound on both sides of this issue. The police are not jack-booted thugs, and most officers are professional and fair-minded. African American males suffer from gross stereotyping that surprisingly still exists in our modern era.

What these two situations illustrate is a disturbing trend that is greatly amplified in our blizzard of social media outlets. We tend to paint our ideological enemies with as dark a stain and with as broad a brush as possible.

This is nothing new.

C.S. Lewis, a Christian theologian and thinker, put together in writing a series of radio broadcasts he voiced during World War II. He was particularly impressed with the ability of humankind to demonize one another in the course of war with “the enemy.” The following comments were published some time after in a book called Mere Christianity. I think his words are appropriate today:

“Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one’s first feeling, ‘Thank God, even they aren’t quite so bad as that,’ or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies are as bad as possible? If it is the second then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils. You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker. If we give that wish its head, later on we shall wish to see grey as black, and then to see white itself as black. Finally we shall insist on seeing everything — God and our friends and ourselves included — as bad, and not be able to stop doing it: we shall be fixed for ever in a universe of pure hatred.” 
― C.S. LewisMere Christianity

Christian Beer Guide

Years ago, I used to write for a now defunct “Christian Satire” publication known as the Witttenburg Door (yes, the title is intentionally misspelled). I recently found the manuscript for one of my most-liked pieces. Perfect for summertime:

Christian Beer Guide

By: Philip Leiter

 

What would life be like in the brotherhood and sisterhood of saints if it were not for a frosty mug of the foamy substance every now and then?

With the popularity of home micro-brewing, pious pew warmers no longer need risk the embarrassment of a late night encounter with Pastor Bob at the Seven-Eleven as they try to sneak out with a six pack of Pete’s Wicked Ale.

In our continuing effort to promote harmony and understanding within the church, we have prepared a list of the best Christian micro-brews.

These potent potables are making the rounds at tailgate parties outside Promise Keeper rallies, Amway presentations, and Christian Rock concerts nationwide.

Our crack staff has sampled many of these divine distillations (often in one sitting) and offers this handy guide.

We have categorized these by theological proclivities because imbibing without consideration of your denominational inclination can lead to profound spiritual consequences

 

 

The Amish know how to party, and when they do, they reach for a frothy mug of Der Schtikkenmudd Plain Folks Ale. A hearty blend of natural hops, barley, hat-brim sweat, and Old Testament pages, this brew is a great compliment to the Sunday afternoon pig, beef, ox, goat, deer, elk, caribou and road-kill roast.

 

Anglican faithful have been harrumphing over the tasty bitter ale produced by the Abbot Brother’s Brewery called Henry VIII’s Ninth Wife Bitters. It is easy to see why the faithful are losing their heads over this voluptuously traditional English styled ale.

 

When our Apostolic friends aren’t tending their snake pits, they enjoy the sweet flavor of Tongues O’ Fire Malt Liquor. With an alcohol content of 7.9%, this brew will definitely leave you tongue-tied.

 

The Assemblies of God gather together at a river of oak-barrel aged Slain Spirits Bock Beer. A simply charismatic blend of ginger and chocolate flavorings make this unique brew a special selection of the chandelier swingin’ set.

 

Brother Bob’s Basement Brew Pub and Bible Tract Publishing Corporation has produced a brew Baptists literally interpret as possibly the best thing since total immersion: Premillenial Malt Liquor, a rapturous dispensation of wild hops and humble barley. For those “left behind,” Brother Bob offers Pale Horse Pale Ale #666, a stiff brew for a stiff-necked people.

 

 

Hail Mary and pass me a pint of Friar Tom’s Magical Mystery Mead (Transubstantial Ale). Some say it is, some say it ain’t, but those who know, never dribble the Triple M. Catholics of all stripes love this traditional dark ale brewed in the Vatican cellar under the watchful eye of Friar Tom. The good Friar refuses to reveal the secret ingredients under penalty of Limbo.

 

Christian Scientists may deny it, but they take their brewskies seriously, and Say It Ain’t So Sour Mash Malt is one serious beer. Brewed in John Travolta’s garage, this beer takes the bold step of being totally natural – without using a pasteurization process. Those who become ill are advised to “just get over it.”

 

If it ain’t Dutch, it ain’t much and KierkaBier is as Dutch as it gets. This stout beer is brewed at Calvin College in the west wing of the philosophy department underneath a poster of Dutch Reformed theologian, Abraham Kuyper. Devotees of this dark, sturdy beer say they can almost taste the dusty, dank bohemian studios of Dutch thinkers at Amsterdam University. However, at the price of $9.95 a six pack, DRC members – famous for their, uh, frugality – are known to serve Goebel beer at house parties.

 

Episcopalians of all stripes tip a pint of Stodgy Bottoms Amber Ale after a long day on the “links.” This bright red, slightly fruity beer is brimming with Protestant work ethic.

 

Scandinavians, when not warming their bones with Glogg, enjoy a hearty, dark Pilsner called Yasuryabetcha Brown Beer. Flavored with just a hint of cardamom, this official beverage of the Evangelical Covenant (Swedish Free Church) is a perfect compliment to pickled herring and Swedish meatballs.

 

Aimee’s Holy Ghost Ale is particularly suited to the Foursquare Gospel denomination with its precise blend of four sanctified grains and pure California spring water. Named for church founder Aimee Semple McPherson, this amber ale is one spirit-filled experience.

 

Friends don’t let Friends drink rowdy beer, and Peaceable Kingdom Pale Ale is one mellow brew. Conscientiously objective and decidedly low brow, this simple, “hoppy” beer won’t fight with your palate or quake ‘yer sensibilities.

 

Don’t slam the door on Jumpin’ Jehovah’s Witness Wheat Beer until you’ve transfused a draught of this delightfully heady brew. Bottled under the watchful eye of the Bible Tract Society, this new wheat beer is delivered to your door early Saturday morning by two faithful followers of your local Kingdom Hall. Don’t even pretend your not home!

 

Martin Luther would have posted no thesis on the door of Wittenberg Cathedral had he tasted the flavorful subtleties of Nearly Catholic Chocolate Malt Liquor.  Aged in wormwood casks, this chocolate flavored malt beer is one brew Lutherans in every synod agree is worth the protest.

 

“Extremely rigid, yet surprisingly mellow” is how Mennonites of all beard lengths describe Oaken Pew Lager. From an old recipe of Menno Simmon’s grandson, this handcrafted Lager is uniquely flavored with orange Jell-O highlights.

 

Historians claim that John Wesley preached over a hundred sermons a week during his barnstorming evangelical quest of early nineteenth century Europe. With that grueling schedule, a cool draught of Brother Charles’ Methodical Malt helped the itinerate holy man maintain an even keel. Carefully brewed in virgin oak barrels, this saintly beverage prepared the savage heathen for Wesley’s Methodist message to the New World.

 

 

 

A new breed of adult beverage is making the scene at posh new Non-denominational, ecumenical mega-churches across the fruited plain. The Practically Perfect Suburban Pilsner is a blend of discarded hops and barley from some of the more outspoken brews reviewed in this guide. Pleasantly nondescript in taste and temperament, this near beer is appropriate for any gathering of nearly similar saints.

 

Like a baseball bat to the head, Sons of Thunder Malt Liquor is the in-your-face-favorite of Pentecostal penitents everywhere. Holy Ghost Tent Revival Brewery, located somewhere in the hills of Tennessee, has been bottling this hell-fire and brimstone inspired concoction for the faithful since 1965.

 

Calvin & Hops Session Ale is precisely brewed and fermented in stainless steel vats where only the select dare trod. It’s preordained that this fruity, full-bodied ale will keep the elect upright and true. Presbyterians will never tell, but rumor has it that every Elder, Deacon and Session meeting begins with a tall glass of lukewarm C & H.

 

“Interstellar Star-Stuff” is an actual ingredient on the fanciful labels of Ostentatiously Metaphysical Inter-Galactic Omnisciently Sentient Hybernian Pale Ahle (Celtic spelling of ale, we think). Brewed, or some would say boiled, or rather; “left to stand,” in pure silver globes representing Mother Earth (although, one does not have to believe in any earth-mother, per se) for a fortnight (but not necessarily a real fortnight, although no one is quite sure what one is) and stirred for exactly one turn (or more than one, possibly three) with a switch of birch from a low branch of an Essex heath row from an eastern facing bough, this beer – or some would say; “essence of pure earthly mead” – has ambiguous flavorings that tingle the utterly good inner being of the essential Personkind. The official (but non-binding) brew of the Unitarian Universalist denomination, OMIGOSH  Pale Ahle is intended to be consumed in pure ceremonial crystal goblets dedicated to the god of Universal Mead, Lord Humbug (or some such).

Creative Writing and the Jensen Michaels novels.

“Why shouldn’t truth be stranger than fiction? Fiction, after all, has to make sense.” – Mark Twain

Creative storytelling begins in our childhood almost as soon as we can form complete sentences.

Parents call it fibbing.

Small children often get away with the best whoppers. It’s because of their innocence. We think they always tell the truth.  Those big, doe-y eyes, rumpled shirts and tousled hair – the perfect foil!

The veneer of innocence lasts until around 3 or 4 years old. Then one day, something unfortunate happens: You broke your mother’s favorite planter.

Fortunately, you have a younger sibling who has not yet joined the ranks of the articulate, and the first story plot of your life is hatched: Blame it on sister or brother!

That was easy.

Or; … not.

Some of us are terrible story tellers. We don’t have a game face. We blush, we stammer. We make up impossible tales:

A Martian came down and held a ray-gun to Bobbie’s head and he, he… and he knocked over the vase.

Some of us are more creative;

Oh, mother. [dramatic pause] I have some unfortunate news: Bobby was trying to take his first steps and he stumbled. Thinking nothing of my own safety [establishing the fact of your reliability], I ran to catch him, but we accidentally knocked over your vase.

 

Those of us who succeed in the art of misdirection eventually become either writers or politicians.

Fortunately for the world; I chose the former.

Creative writing is something that comes naturally to me.  Every time a school teacher would assign an essay project in lieu of actual work, I inwardly cheered – even as my classmates groaned.

Convinced, however, that the life of a novelist would be one of poverty and loneliness, I pursued the next best thing: Journalism. More specifically: Photojournalism.

To my consternation, Photojournalists are not supposed to be writers, even though we took the same writing classes in college as our writer colleagues. Union newspapers actually forbade Photojournalists from writing our own cut-lines (the captions to photos).

A convenient way around this dilemma was the Photo Essay.

The photo essay evolved into more full length articles, and for a time, this tamed my inner storytelling beast. The only disappointing aspect of this genre was being constrained to what actually happened. It put limitations on my churning imagination.

A change from staff member of a daily newspaper to photo editor of several weekly newspapers allowed me more freedom to choose the story. I now had the option of at least one photo essay a week.

I left the newspaper business behind when I became convinced that the economics of Journalism were not sound. I was working nearly 80 plus hours a week for a compensation that barely rose above minimum wage. Thus began my various careers in sales – more “creative story-telling?”

This is when I began working on my novels.

For years I’ve carried the plots of various stories around in my fertile imagination. One story involves an intrepid newspaper photographer (autobiographical?) who discovers a secret, mystical religious cult operating out of his own small town in Ohio. This story is called Raising the Dead, and will explore the vast and complex world of mysticism in religion.

Tea Party was an idea that came to me as I was reading about a little known plot to overthrow President Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency in 1933. It was at the height of the Tea Party movement, and this polarization we’ve seen as a result is uncannily similar to how divided the country was at that time. The fear of socialism was a call to action.

So, I ceased all of my other novels in progress and pursued this idea until completion. You can order Tea Party through Amazon. If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can download a copy for free for 14 days.

It took me two years of writing at least one hour a night from midnight until sometimes 2AM to complete. I would also write while on vacation.

My writing style is character driven. I visualize a personality in my mind and build a story around that person.

Jensen Michaels, the main character in Tea Party, is a composite of what for me defines a true hero. My father was my hero growing up. He was intellectual, but unassuming. He was brave, but not rash. He was the type of person who had a clear understanding of what the priorities in life are. He would not hesitate to come to the aid of those in need, and would never sacrifice integrity for self-gain.

The risk of this type of personality is that on occasion, you are led down the wrong path pursuing what you think is a noble cause. Perfect fodder for a novel!

Tea Party is a fun read. It is chock- full of little factoids, but not so pretentious that it becomes bogged down.  The plot is fast-paced, and takes several twists and turns that will reward the reader with anticipation and relief. It took me, the writer, on an unexpected adventure and hopefully, you will share in that pleasure.

More importantly, I think that Tea Party sends a message. One reader described it as “a cautionary tale.”

I think that as a nation, we have lost the ability to discuss political issues with civility and common sense.  More often than not, I have witnessed close friends and family members feuding over political and religious issues because we have the mistaken notion that we must be resolute in our beliefs, otherwise we show weakness. Certain radio and television talk show hosts have made fortunes on this notion that there is only one correct worldview and political orientation.

We have reduced our arguments to “talking points” and are missing the whole middle field upon which we can build common ground. It is my hope that Tea Party will begin the dialogue.

 

The next novel in the Jensen Michaels series, currently being written, is called The Farmer with a Dell, and is about Ralph and Adele Farnsworth, pig farmers in southern Illinois, who become tossed about by the Alternative Energy lobby and Federal regulators.

One day, Adele decides to blog about these experiences – on an old Dell computer – and becomes a folk hero for all the zanies itching for a fight. When things spiral out of control, they call on our hero, Jensen Michaels, to help.

A Farmer with a Dell will be available this fall.

Fear of a Non-White, Heterosexual, Male, Christian America.

Years ago I was working as a photojournalist for an inner-city newspaper and was assigned to cover a Rap group called Public Enemy. They had just released their third album called Fear of a Black Planet, and our editors feared something would happen at the locally scheduled concert tour.

Nothing happened, despite the paranoid hype of some in the local, establishment media (including, admittedly, our own newspaper). It was actually a fun, exciting evening with plenty of visual candy to appease the Entertainment Page editor.

Later, I read an interview with the lead singer and songwriter for the group, Chuck D. I was surprised at the rather thoughtful intent and purpose the album was meant to convey. Rather than a call to “Fight the Power” – one of the songs on the album – the overall concept was one of education and understanding.

Chuck D talked about a theory of white supremacy and institutional racism espoused in the writings of Chicago psychiatrist, Dr. Frances Cress Welsing.

A Tribune article at the time nicely summarizes the hour-long interview I witnessed:

 

“It’s fear that divides us, he says; understand me better and you won’t run. Fear of a Black Planet is about achieving that understanding, but on Public Enemy’s terms. In presenting their view of life from an Afro-centric, as opposed to Euro-centric, perspective, P.E. challenges listeners to step into their world.” – Kot, Greg (April 15, 1990). “Rap’s bad rap ‘Fear of a Black Planet’ touches universal concerns”Chicago Tribune (Tribune Company). p. 5

 

I think Public Enemy was largely unsuccessful in convincing main-stream, white America to embrace an understanding of the world as seen through non-white eyes.

I just can’t shake the feeling that we missed an opportunity to cross a cultural divide that has endured in America despite the valiant efforts of reformers such as Malcom X, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and W.E.B Dubois.

Recently, a popular radio talk show host in Texas posted a video on his Facebook page that had one of the authors of the Common Core curriculum explain that part of his reason for helping to write the curriculum is because “as a white male in society, I was given a lot of privilege that I didn’t earn. I think it’s really important that every kid is given an opportunity to learn how to read.”

It was headlined like this:

WATCH: Teacher Admits He Wrote Common Core Standards Because He Was Ashamed Of Being White!

http://www.kprcradio.com/onair/matt-patrick-43500/watch-teacher-admits-he-wrote-common-12385732/#ixzz32gxaOmuc

Nowhere in the video does the teacher say that he is ashamed of being white. Apparently, recognizing that white males have historically been privileged is evidence of such.

I know for a fact that I had certain privileges afforded me simply because of the color of my skin. Yet, I do not feel ashamed of being white. What I am ashamed of is the ignorance of my fellow white males who post stupid things like the above example.

If you listen to the audio, you can hear a gasp in the (mostly white) audience when the accursed equity talk is uttered.

Why do white males feel so threatened?

I think it is sort of like the way popular kids and star athletes in school react once they leave and are no longer the center of attention. They become extremely jealous of their peers. They are more prone to bully their co-workers and even sabotage other’s efforts. They miss the adulation and special privileges they enjoyed as teenagers.

White males in America have lead a charmed life almost from the beginning of the Republic. We tricked the native tribes into giving up the best land, and in a stroke of luck (for white Europeans), nearly wiped them out from our imported diseases.

While hailing our new-found freedom from imperialist English landlords, we built the greatest economy in the world on the backs of our indentured servants and imported African slave labor.

Then when that uppity lawyer in Chicago emancipated our free labor source, we lashed out in anger and resentment toward our former property through Jim Crow laws, poll taxes and lynching.

When the newly emancipated slaves began doing what comes natural to free men – seeking education and gainful employment – we made damn sure they weren’t going to have an easy time of it by reserving all the best jobs and homes for those whose pallor radiated brilliantly in the noon day sun.

So, when we make an attempt to somehow make up for the gross miscarriage of justice of slavery – as if we can…

When we stand for equal pay for equal work…

And, when we try to do the right thing for our gay and lesbian communities who endured our ignorant taunts and even violence…

When we include Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and even Atheists to decorate our public squares…

And when we make an effort to embrace our neighbors on our southern borders…

It’s not because we are ashamed of being white.

It’s not because we are ashamed of being male.

It’s not because we are ashamed of our sexual orientation.

And, it’s not because we are ashamed of being Christian.

It’s not even because we are ashamed of being Americans.

It’s because we are ashamed of being assholes.

NORM

Enhanced Bloviating

Former Vice Presidential candidate and Conservative muckraker, Sarah Palin, recently suggested that  “were she in charge,” we would baptize terrorists with water-boarding .

This is wrong on so many levels, but let me just mention two.

First, there is no reliable evidence – crime dramas and popular films to the contrary – that any form of torture (or, if you prefer the politically correct term; enhanced interrogation) is effective in discovering imminent plots. In fact, most of the time, the intelligence is pure bullshit just designed to end the current torment.

Secondly, even if it were a reliable method for gathering intelligence, how do we square this practice with our idealized notions of America as the pinnacle of Judeo-Christian values?

It bothers me that this is not troubling to many people. Or, maybe it is? The notion of America as the bully nation seems to sit well with the NRA crowd, whom Ms. Palin was addressing with her mixed metaphors.

As a Christian person, I am insulted that one would equate torturing prisoners with the faith I was taught to believe elevated love and brotherhood of man over violence and hatred.

Am I missing something?

NORM

 

 

A Bundy Moment

Does art imitate real life?

My novel, Tea Party, weaves a fantastic tale of how radio and television talk show hosts are used by a scheming anti-federalist named Brigadier General Thompson to take control of the United States.

Using the canard of government overreach (much of which was created by his army of conspirators), General Thompson is able to rally millions of weekend Patriots, hot with the fanned flames of talk radio and television pundits decrying an oppressive government out of control.

Today’s anti-federalists have embraced Cliven Bundy – a scofflaw to the tune of over $1 million dollars – as their government-gone-wild spokesperson of the moment.

Herein lies the Bundy Moment (I’m hoping to copyright the phrase) of the anti-federalist movement spreading across conservative America.

As hundreds of news cameras aimed their lenses at the cowboy-hatted rancher, the inevitable War of Aggression soliloquy proceeded to spew forth causing more reasoned anti-federalists to back-peddle faster than Almira Gulch in a whirlwind.

Not Sean Hannity.

For him, the principle of the thing is at the crux of the debate, not the spokesperson’s prehistoric views on race in America. And on this, we can agree.

And, what is that principle?

Let me be honest. I very much dislike the types of programming that Sean Hannity’s producers shovel over the airwaves. Shouting at guests, hammering three word slogans over and over again and lingering on mistaken concepts long after they’ve been disproven on factual grounds is not how I envision enlightened discourse.

I do not hold Hannity in the same contempt I do the likes of Rush Limbaugh, because I think that Hannity actually believes in his heart that he has a moral imperative to evangelize his worldview, in much the same way a religious fundamentalist proclaims The Truth – as though the Truth is an abstract, fixed singular reality one can embrace without question, to the abandonment of all other worldviews.

Hannity is a disciple and true believer of the doctrine of white man’s rage that has made Rush Limbaugh a very wealthy man.

But, the kernel of truth these talk-show hucksters understand is that American citizens sense an overwhelming loss of control in the day to day operation and direction of our country. This is the thing that motivated Jensen Michaels in Tea Party to support General Thompson originally – and what ultimately [SPOILER ALERT]: empowered him to take him down.

Cliven Bundy is representative of that basic, core instinct that things have gone terribly wrong in our country – yet, we lack the words or a course of action to address it.

I say that this is a Bundy Moment because of what it reveals about the dark heart of the distrust of our Federal Government. At the core is the yet unresolved issues of the reason behind the American Civil War, namely; how far should the United States Government go in regulating the moral actions of her citizens?

Cliven Bundy may be no more than a racist, opportunist using the issue of State’s rights to graze his cattle on the taxpayer’s dime, but Sean Hannity is right – it goes much deeper than that.

Perhaps, rather than make this Hannity’s petard, we can make it a true Bundy Moment and come to a reasonable discourse in America.

The Farmer With a Dell

Ralph Farnsworth extracted himself from his king size, comforter strewn bed as the rooster alarm ringtone crowed on his cell phone. It was set to gradually get louder the longer it crowed. His dog, Rudy just burrowed his way deeper under the covers. It wasn’t his job to feed the pigs.

Ralph allowed the rooster to continue the 4 a.m. ritual as though he really believed Rudy would join him.

He didn’t.

Slippers and an oversized terry cloth bathrobe greeted Ralph at the doorway to his bedroom on the first floor of the Farnsworth family farm in Southeastern Illinois. It is a fallacy that real roosters will crow to greet each morning like clockwork. In reality, they crow at just about any change in their surroundings or environment – including the sun rise (change from dark to light) and even turning a light on in the barn. Some roosters crow for no reason at all. Those tend to live in cities where there is constant noise. And, of course, they crow to talk to each other.

The aroma of coffee begins to erode the drowsiness of slumber. Ralph pre-made the coffee the night before as he does every evening. It is the difference between getting up at 4 a.m. and 3:30. The pigs are unconcerned whether Ralph has coffee or not…

So begins the newest novel in the Jensen Michaels series, The Farmer With a Dell.

It tells the story of a southern Illinois pig farmer who become embroiled in a tug-of-war between government bureaucrats, environmentalists and what Ralph Farnsworth calls the industrial food complex.

More in future posts…stay tuned!

P. Cordell

 

Tea Party Time!

Norman here again.

Well, finally – Mr. Leiter has finished that bloody novel, and is in the process of navigating the waters of the Amazon. No, not THAT Amazon (unless you mean the website Amazon, in which case you would be right).

April 15th is kind of a special day for something called Tea Party, wouldn’t you say?

I don’t want to spoil the Amazon thunder, but here is a short synopsis of the book:

Major Jensen Michaels is a hero of 9/11 and the subsequent Afghanistan and Iraqi wars. He unwittingly becomes involved in a plot to overthrow the government with a member of an organization called the American Liberty League that goes back to an original plot to oust then president Franklin Roosevelt.

Tea Party is a tale of intrigue and moral struggle in an America sharply divided along political lines.

Of course, yours truly makes a cameo appearance – which I am certain will lead to more substantive roles in the future. Hey; maybe even my own novel!

Phil?

OK, so look for some kind of link thingy to purchase your copy.

NORM

The Anti-Blog BLOG

Phil told me that I am required to write what he is calling a Blog post for his new web site. I think blogging is stupid. If you don’t have anything important to say, don’t say it.

So, I thought to myself; what do I have to say? I mean, what do I have to say that IS important?

As a person whose primary role is to help move a story plot along, I think it might be interesting to Phil’s readers to hear from my perspective.

It’s easy for a Returning Character to feel shortchanged. Often, the only reason for our existence in a particular storyline is because the writer is struggling for ideas. We Regulars are already fully developed characters, so; there we are. Convenient.

We are often thrown into  situations that are spiraling out of control. We are a source of stability – a calmness during the storm. We move the plot along.

What could be more important?