Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Top 10 Signs You're at a Bad Mall

Top Ten

#10 Crate and Barrel only has crates; ran out of barrels.

#9 PA system has Alvin and the Chipmunks’ Christmas Song on continuous loop.

#8 Chris Christie lingerie show.

#7 Remote controlled helicopter outside Brookstone armed with air-to-surface missiles.

#6 Tommy Siberia – Purveyor of the Gulag Lifestyle

#5 Other stores are so bad, desperate customers actually go into the piano dealership.

#4 Body Shop sells actual bodies.

#3 Only restaurant in food court is International House of Salmonella

#2 Mall Santa Mitt Romney keeps telling kids to get a job.

And the #1 sign you’re at a bad mall: You find a parking space.

Thankful for Capitalism Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, hospital gowns, and freedom.

Check it out on Amazon.com.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Movie Review: Red Dawn

Entertaining remake improves on original.

Today is the 71st anniversary of Pearl Harbor, so it seemed appropriate to review a movie about another surprise attack on the United States.

Red Dawn is, of course, a remake of the 1984 movie about Soviet forces invading America and occupying large parts of the country. The story of a gang of teenagers taking to the hills and fighting back captured the patriotism and unapologetic anti-communism of the Reagan era.

Fast forward to 2012, when Occupiers wear Che Guevara t-shirts and the nation has just re-elected a president who, if not a communist himself, had communists as the major influences in his life. To release a remake of Red Dawn in this environment is box office roulette. The mainstream media has been predictably harsh. In what’s getting to be a habit, Roger Ebert prostituted his artistic judgment to his political views. His review followed the same technique as his rant against last year's Atlas Shrugged, Part I: he savaged the movie on narrow technical grounds that don’t make sense if you actually watch the thing. Overall, review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave Red Dawn ‘12 an 11% rating, compared to 53% for Red Dawn ‘84.

This is too bad, because Red Dawn is the rare remake that's actually better than the original.

The small budget feel of the 1984 film, combined with the cast of peripheral Brat Packers (including Lea Thompson, Jennifer Grey, and Charlie Sheen) made it seem like a John Hughes coming-of-age comedy about a camping trip instead of the war epic it was supposed to be. There were two scenes that I especially didn’t like. In the first, one gang member, Robert (C. Thomas Howell), having shot his first deer, must drink its blood by way of initiation. In the second, the gang discovers that the enemy has implanted a tracking device in the mayor's son, Daryl (Darren Dalton). I thought both of these scenes should have played out differently. More seriously, the script was flawed dramatically: in a consequence-free plot, the small band of pubescent partisans had almost nothing to do with the larger war of resistance raging in the America beyond the kids' campsite.

In contrast, a plot-line in the 2012 version about capturing a critical piece of enemy technology put the kids in the game. The enemy this time was North Korea instead of Russia, and the movie captured the harsh reality of occupation. Improved battle choreography, better special effects, and more scenes of urban fighting added realism and grit. The cast delivered some intense performances. In particular, Thor’s Chris Hemsworth was thoroughly convincing as Jed Eckert, the combat-tested marine on leave. I wasn’t thinking Marvel Comics at all. Kudos also go to Adrianne Palicki for screen presence. The woman is hot and she knows it.

Oh, and those two scenes I didn't like in the original: they’ve been rewritten.

The one disappointment was the leader of the occupation, Captain Cho (Will Yun Lee). His 1984 counterpart, Colonel Bella (Ron O’Neal) was one of the most vivid characters in the film, and one of the few who showed real character development. 2012’s Captain Cho, by contrast, was a cardboard villain.

Still, the existence of villains is one thing that hasn’t changed since the 80’s. It’s still a dangerous world, and sometimes it’s necessary for men and woman with guns to stop the bad guys. Red Dawn is an entertaining reminder.

Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about resistance, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Tea Party Show

Here are some highlights from my interview with Terry Reiber. Terry talked to me about my novel, Full Asylum on his program, The Tea Party Show.

“There’s always the scene in the James Bond movies where Bond goes back to his hotel room and there’s a beautiful woman in his bed. Now, I’ve stayed at a lot of hotels, and this never happened to me, not once, but I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if it did? Wouldn’t it be fun to have this story about a young engineer, which is what I was when I first thought of this, who keeps getting himself into these kind of James Bond situations – he gets in a shootout or a car chase or he comes back to his apartment and his beautiful upstairs neighbor is in his bed?”

“A lot of it has to do with political correctness. Bond sleeps around, he shoots things, he blows stuff up, he used to smoke, he drinks heavily, and none of that is politically correct anymore.”

“One of the things I did try to do in this book is kind of capture the spirit of the early James Bond movies.”

“Who doesn’t want to be James Bond?”

“I wanted to have the heroine of the book be a lady wrestler. I thought that would be a fun thing to have.”

“When you don’t have freedom in your society, you lose the opportunities to excel.”

“If [Dinesh d’Souza’s movie] is about 2016, Full Asylum is ten years after that. What I project is continued loss of freedom, continued economic stagnation, a nanny state absolutely out of control, cameras in the cafeteria checking to make sure you don’t eat anything unhealthy, and I’m not even going to go into what I did with airport security, but it involves a privacy curtain and a rubber glove.”

Terry: Did you see some parallels between the future in your book and Atlas Shrugged II?
Mike: It’s very different because my book is a comedy.

“You cannot have a modern technological society with a high standard of living if you don’t have freedom.”

“If you look at history, capitalism, freedom, and the technological flowering that we’ve had in the last two centuries have all gone hand in hand.”

“The founding fathers that created this country were pretty smart guys and they designed a system that’s very difficult to destroy.”

“The years ahead are going to be rough. It’s definitely a good time for me to be starting a career as a dystopian novelist, but I do think that truth is on our side.”

“The reason that authors get so many rejection letters is they don’t do their homework: they don’t look for a publisher that’s a good match for their book.”

“The publishing world is run by liberals…nobody’s doing conservative and libertarian fiction…I decided I wanted to be the one that fills that niche, so I started the Monteferro Press.”

Terry: I notice your writing style is very visual…
Mike: That’s ‘cause I grew up watching television.

“I didn’t sit down and say that I’m going to write a conservative book or a Tea Party book, I sat down and said I’m going to write a book that I want to read.”

“Some of my characters, Cheri Tarte in particular, are far less polite than I am, so I can say things that I would never say in my own voice.”

Terry: I kind of like the hippie character a lot.
Mike: If you’re going to have any kind of stock character like a hippie, you have to have a twist, and in this case, he’s a hippie, but he’s a hippie for the Right.

And here’s the full interview…

Thankful for Capitalism Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, hospital gowns, and freedom.

Check it out on Amazon.com.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Top 10 Ways to Avoid the Fiscal Cliff

Top Ten

As the nation hurtles toward the automatic tax increases and spending cuts known as the “fiscal cliff,” Congress and the White House seek alternative cost cutting and revenue enhancing measures:

#10 Take tax revenue to Vegas, bet everything on red.

#9 Cut Michelle Obama’s travel budget. On her next trip, she can only bring 20 of her closest friends.

#8 McDonald’s Extra Value meals at state dinners.

#7 Put off buying new fighter jets until Black Friday sale.

#6 Ask Romney for a loan.

#5 Sell the original Constitution to a collector; Obama wasn’t using it anyway.

#4 Have Massachusetts Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren open a casino (Get it?).

#3 Botox tax. The CBO estimates this would raise a billion dollars, just from Pelosi.

#2 Charge Biden a quarter every time he says “malarkey.”

And finally,
#1 Let Sandra Fluke pay for her own damn birth control.

Thankful for Capitalism Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns.

Check it out on Amazon.com.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

News from the Asylum: Presidential Crucifixion Edition

NASA announced yesterday that astronaut Mark Kelly will launch into space in 2015 to begin a one-year stint at the International Space Station. The mission will be the longest in history for an American. The space agency explained that it would take that long to beg another nation to give Kelly a ride home.

Time Magazine released its nominees for the 2012 Person of the Year. The list includes Aung San Suu Kyi, who assumed her seat in the Burmese House of Representatives this year after enduring 15 years of house arrest for her opposition to the military dictatorship in that country. Also nominated was Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who survived a bullet to the head from Taliban insurgents angered by her advocacy of education for girls. Ms Suu Kyi and Ms. Yousafzai face stiff competition, however: nominee Sandra Fluke had to contend with being called names by Rush Limbaugh because of her advocacy of forcing someone else to pay for her birth control pills.

UN Ambassador and potential Secretary of State nominee Susan Rice met with Senators this morning to answer questions about her role in the aftermath of the September 11 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi. When asked why it took so long to schedule this meeting, Ms. Rice said she was waiting for the White House to furnish her talking points.

Following the meeting, South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham said, “I am more disturbed now than before,” to which a White House spokesperson responded, “You certainly are.”

The Conference Board’s index of consumer confidence rose in November to its most optimistic level since February 2008. In an unrelated story, a recently published SEC Study Regarding Financial Literacy concluded that Americans “do not understand the most elementary financial concepts.”

Angus T. Jones, the actor who plays the “half” in Two and a Half Men, said on a video produced by the Forerunner Christian Church that the show is “filth” and that viewers should stop watching. Jones first suspected the show was not entirely wholesome when, during the most recent episode, double entendres about vagina sizes, penises, the clitoris, and cunnilingus occurred – all in the first 50 seconds.

Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi issued a decree last week, expanding his powers by declaring his actions immune from judicial review. “This edict is absolutely essential to ensure the courts don’t interfere with administration policy,” Morsi explained. “Unlike President Obama, I can’t count on John Roberts.”

Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians took to the streets of Cairo and Alexandria, resulting in violent clashes. I didn’t know they had Black Friday in Egypt.

The Truth by Michael D’Antuono

Bunker Hill Community College, a public institution in Charlestown, MA, displayed a painting depicting President Obama as a crucified Jesus Christ. The exhibit is groundbreaking because, for the first time on record, liberals approved of a religious display on government property.

The White House released a statement yesterday, timed to coincide with cyber-Monday, threatening that failure by Congress to act on President Obama’s tax proposal could ruin the Christmas shopping season – or, as the White House called it, the non-denominational, multiethnic, gender-neutral, environmentally-friendly pre-winter solstice capitalist exploitation season.

Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Pilgrims were communists, man

Brownie McCoy Thanksgiving is definitely my favorite holiday, both for the celebration with family and friends, and for the little-known back story. In this excerpt from my novel Full Asylum, everyone’s favorite hippie-for-the-Right, Brownie McCoy, tells what really happened at Plymouth Plantation:

      The McCoys’ dining room table was set with rough terra cotta plates. Bottles of homemade turnip wine communed with bowls of cornbread stuffing and cranberry relish. The spicy smoke of incense blended with the aroma of roast turkey. On the walls, framed posters of moons, sunbeams, and kaleidoscope patterns duplicated an acid trip in sunset colors. A reproduction of Peter Max’s Liberty Head watched sternly as Brownie carved the bird…
      Brownie had let his hair down and replaced the dingy shirts and doublewide ties that he wore around the Test Nest with a t-shirt and jeans. The t-shirt said Thankful…for capitalism on the front and “for it made all hands industrious” on the back.
      When Gimbel asked about it, Brownie explained, “Thanksgiving is all about capitalism.” He slid another slice of turkey onto the serving platter. “The Pilgrims were communists, man. When they started Plymouth colony they agreed to joint ownership of land, tools, and stuff. Whatever crops grew they would split equally. Trouble was, when it was time to work, the Pilgrims split. They starved, man.”
      Mrs. McCoy had heard this speech every year…“Are you ever going to pass that turkey?” she said. Brownie handed the platter to Gimbel. As Gimbel loaded his plate with white meat, Brownie continued. “So then they tried something different. They divided up the lands and the tools, and they told everyone they could keep whatever they grew on their own land. Now everyone was working for himself. Suddenly it was like Foodstock. They had more than they could eat. That’s why they invited the Indians over.”
      Brownie offered the gravy boat to Gimbel. Several mushrooms floated in the thick brown sauce; Gimbel eyed them suspiciously. “Anything you want to tell me?” he asked.
      “I think you already know. The Pilgrims and the Indians gave thanks to God and everybody stuffed themselves.”
      “No, I meant about the gravy.”
      “It’s cool, man. They’re normal ‘shrooms, not tripping ‘shrooms.”
      “I didn’t know the story about the Pilgrims,” said Gimbel. “At least, not the way you told it.”
      “They don’t teach it in school.”
      “But it was four hundred years ago. How does anybody know it?”
      “They wrote it down, man. Governor Bradford kept a journal. He wrote that the change ‘made all hands industrious’ and that ‘much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.’”
Thankful for Capitalism Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, hospital gowns, and being thankful.

Get a Brownie McCoy “Thankful for Capitalism” t-shirt of your own at Zazzle.com.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Movie Review: Lincoln

Not-so Honest Abe and the political cost of freedom

I wish Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, starring Daniel Day-Lewis in the title role, had come out three months ago. If the Republican Party had had the opportunity to take the movie’s lessons to heart, the outcome of the 2012 election might have been different.

As with all good biopics, Lincoln focused on a particular episode, rather than attempting to cover the subject’s entire life in 2½ hours. In this case, the episode was the passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which outlawed slavery. The action takes place almost entirely in January of 1865. By that time it was clear the Union would win the Civil War. Abraham Lincoln was looking ahead to what would come next. Although the Emancipation Proclamation had been in effect for two years, Lincoln was skeptical that he ever had the authority to issue it in the first place: he had justified it as a wartime expedient and was fearful that the courts would overturn it in peacetime. A measure to ensure that the liberty of the black people would be permanent was still needed.

Alas, he didn’t have the votes.

In 1865, the party of freedom was the Republican Party; the Democrats stubbornly fought to keep Americans in chains. Some things never change. But even if every Republican in the House of Representatives voted for the 13th Amendment, which was uncertain, they would still be shy of the two-thirds majority required to amend the Constitution. Lincoln had to somehow persuade 20 Democrats to break party ranks.

And so the wheeling and dealing began; it reminded me of another movie about wheeling and dealing for freedom, 1776. In that earlier film, Benjamin Franklin remarked, “New nations come into the world like bastard children – half improvised and half compromised.” As with the Declaration of Independence, the improvisations and compromises that brought the 13th Amendment into the world were many. Lincoln roundly abused his authority to fill patronage jobs. He issued deliberately misleading, or in one Democrat’s words, “lawyerly,” statements when necessary. One congressman was even promised that a disputed election would be settled in his favor in exchange for his vote. And in a key moment, the whole debate hinged on whether the radical abolitionist, Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania (Tommy Lee Jones), could keep his mouth shut.

The parallels to 2012 are clear. As in 1865, there was a battle between freedom and slavery. But politics is the art of the possible; to win, one seldom gets to be pure. The purists who didn’t step up to the plate this year because they thought Romney was too conservative, or not conservative enough, or too vague on this or that issue, should see this movie. As should a certain two Midwesterners (we all know who they are) who would be on their way to the Senate today if only they had not felt the need to say everything that was on their minds.

Abraham Lincoln is a tough role for any actor. Most who attempted it were a little bit off, making them unconvincing. I’m happy to say that was not the case with Daniel Day Lewis. He reportedly spent a year researching the role, and his hard work paid off. Some critics fault him for the high and rather soft voice he used for Lincoln, going so far as to compare it to that of Mr. Burns from The Simpsons. But historians say that this was more accurate, and in any case, it worked. By refusing to give us a stereotypical Great Man with a resonant, Gregory Peck voice, Mr. Day-Lewis added realism. His performance, combined with attention to detail in costumes and sets, made me feel like I was a witness to history, actually watching Abraham Lincoln.

The sixteenth president was famous for his stories and jokes, and I was glad that some were included in the script – more glad anyway than Secretary of War Edwin McMasters Stanton (Bruce McGill). In one comic scene, seeing what was coming, Stanton shouted in frustration, “He’s going to tell a story,” and stormed off. Lincoln told the story anyway and it was the best one in the film.

The main criticism I had was that the portrayal of the political situation was too involved. In particular, Preston Blair (Hal Holbrook) led a faction of “conservative Republicans,” whose agenda and motives were, at times, unclear to me. Also a subplot involving Lincoln’s son Robert (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who wanted to join the army over his parents’ objections, didn’t add anything.

But these were minor considerations. If you want to see history come alive, and at the same time learn some lessons about how things really work in Washington, go see Lincoln.

Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and the disappearance of the Lincoln Memorial. Check it out on Amazon.com.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Top 10 Signs You’re Watching a Bad James Bond Movie

Top Ten

#10 Martini is stirred, not shaken.

#9 007 goes back to hotel room, finds Chris Christie in his bed.

#8 M has to resign after affair with Paula Broadwell.

#7 Chase scene is on Segways.

#6 Thanks to QE3, Miss Moneypenny now worth only half a penny.

#5 Villain named Ernst Stavro Boo Boo.

#4 UN Small Arms Treaty requires Bond to use a gun that just fires a flag with “Bang!” written on it.

#3 Q’s workshop staffed entirely by Oompa Loompas.

#2 Villain has evil scheme to sell health insurance that doesn’t cover contraception.

And finally…
#1 Bond says to girl, “Let’s just cuddle.”

Michael Isenberg is the author of the James Bond parody Full Asylum. Check it out on Amazon.com.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Top 10 Obama Plans for 2nd Term

Top Ten

#10 Learn how to pronounce “corpsman.”

#9 Grab ankles; ask Putin if that’s flexible enough.

#8 Travel to 38 countries, none of them Israel.

#7 Ship uncounted Romney ballots to that Raiders of the Lost Ark warehouse.

#6 Give Paula Broadwell a debriefing, if you get my drift (oops – that’s Bill Clinton’s plan for Obama’s 2nd term).

#5 Drunk dial House of Representatives, ask to speak to Speaker “Boner.”

#4 Visit Freedom Tower, tell architect, “You didn’t build that.”

#3 Find out what this economy thing is that Romney kept talking about.

#2 Change name to Obama Boo Boo

#1 Blame everything on the first Obama term.

Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Learn more at www.FullAsylum.com.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Movie Review: Skyfall

I haven’t been a huge fan of the Daniel Craig James Bond movies. In fact, I was just telling my sister yesterday, “They’re entertaining and I enjoy them, but they just don’t feel like James Bond.” Having cut my teeth on Dr. No and Diamonds Are Forever, it didn’t feel right that Bond was blond, that he seemed to have a series of personal problems, that M’s office looked like an airport control tower, and that we haven’t seen Q or Miss Moneypenny since 2002’s Die Another Day. In fact, one of the reasons I wrote my novel Full Asylum was to recapture in a book the spirit of the early Bond movies that I could no longer find on the silver screen.

Skyfall begins promisingly enough in Istanbul. The opening scenes include views of the St. Sophia Mosque, where Bond met with Tatiana Romanova in From Russia with Love, and a motorcycle chase through the covered market (and on top of the covered market) where MI-6's genial Man in Istanbul, Kerim Bey, had his headquarters in that 1963 classic.

Alas, the mission goes wrong, an enemy agent escapes with a hard drive containing the identity of every allied mole planted in the world’s terror networks, and a wounded and left-for-dead Bond sulks on a beach for three months. Then an attack on MI-6 and the destruction of M’s office in an explosion (she wasn’t in it) shakes 007 out of his lethargy. He returns to London—out-of-shape, dressed like a slob, and in need of a shave. Not my childhood James Bond.

M certifies him fit for duty anyway. We’re reintroduced to Q, played as a computer nerd by Ben Whishaw (I want him cast as Gimbel O’Hare, if they ever make a movie of Full Asylum!). Q-branch is still rebuilding after the explosion, and Bond must go after the hard drive armed only with his trademark Walther PPK and a homing beacon. “A gun and a radio,” he says, disappointed. “Not exactly Christmas, is it?”

“Were you expecting an exploding pen?” Q replies.

As the story unfolds, one moment stands out for me as a turning point. M and Bond are escaping from the villain, Mr. Silva, and Bond stops the car at an old garage in order to swap vehicles. He removes the padlock, opens the door and inside is a silver Aston Martin DB5 – the car from Goldfinger — complete with front-end machine guns and ejector seat. “We’re going back in time,” Bond explains (metaphorically). They speed off, accompanied by the original Monty Norman James Bond theme music. Bond is back. For real this time.

The cinematic craftsmanship in Skyfall is first rate. The visuals are striking, especially a fight in silhouette in front of an LCD screen with an enormous blue jellyfish. I kept saying to myself, “This is f-ing brilliant,” a compliment I usually reserve for the works of Quentin Tarantino. Director Sam Mendes is a master of the dramatic pause and I laughed at the one-liners. My favorite was when Bond jumped onto a speeding subway train and a commuter waiting in the station says, “He’s keen to get home.”

There are a few flaws: some minor plot holes – at one point Q does something stupid that no one in his position would ever do – and the story drags in a couple places, mainly during rants by the half-deranged Silva. The final confrontation between Bond and Silva is a little disappointing – conventional shootouts and explosions with nothing particularly clever.

After the fires are out and the bodies are buried, however, there is one last scene. I won't give away what it is, but if you are a long time Bond fan like myself, I guarantee you will leave the theater absolutely delighted.

Michael Isenberg is the author of the James Bond parody Full Asylum. Check it out on Amazon.com.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Top Ten GOP Comeback Strategies

Top Ten

#10 Next time, campaign in all 57 states.

#9 Honey Newt Newt

#8 New Obama nickname: Ol’ Doodyhead

#7 Chris Christie sumo wrestling

#6 Fox News – now 20% foxier.

#5 Zombie Ronald Reagan – Gangnam Style

#4 Complementary Election Day shuttle for billionaires

#3 Elisabeth Hasselbeck Playboy spread (Be honest: you’ve thought about it).

#2 Dick Cheney’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve

And the #1 GOP Comeback Strategy: GET MORE DAMN VOTES!

Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

In Defeat: Defiance

This is the entry I posted the day after Obamacare passed the House. Unfortunately, it is still appropriate today, in the wake of Mitt Romney's loss in the presidential election:

In 1938, Neville Chamberlain, then Prime Minister of Great Britain, betrayed the Czechs to Hitler at Munich, and thereby passed up the best opportunity of stopping the Nazi war machine without a war. When the news reached England, an aging and washed up politician named Winston Churchill talked about getting a group of friends together and throwing a brick through the Prime Minister’s window.

Churchill has been much on my mind since the House of Representatives passed the Health Insurance Takeover last night, and not just because I have an urge to chuck construction materials at certain D.C. residences.

There’s no point in sugar coating. Last night was a disaster. It was the worst defeat for freedom in three decades. But we can draw inspiration from the example of Mr. Churchill when facing a disaster and a threat to freedom that was far worse.

As a result of Chamberlain’s appeasement at Munich, most of Europe lost its freedom during the next two years. On May 10, 1940, the German armies poured into the Netherlands, the collapse of France was imminent, and the Nazis were weeks away from driving British forces off the continent. In Churchill’s words, “The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us.” Under those horrific circumstances, compared to which Obamacare is, like a dripping faucet, merely a minor annoyance, Neville Chamberlain resigned and King George asked Winston Churchill to become his new Prime Minister.

And then Churchill rallied his country. In the next several weeks, he gave two of the most famous speeches in the English language.

On June 4 he told the House of Commons, “I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once more able to defend our Island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone.

"Even though large parts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

And then, on June 18, “Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.

“Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, 'This was their finest hour.’”

Churchill’s oratory was remarkably effective. In the following months, under sometimes nightly bombings, there are stories of the British singing “Roll out the Barrel” and “White Cliffs of Dover” in their air raid shelters. Hitler did not break them in their island, and he lost the war.

Without losing sight of the gravity of the situation and the cost in lives, Churchill not only led his people during dark times, but he had fun doing it. If you go to London today, you can visit Churchill’s own air raid shelter, the underground war rooms built to protect the Cabinet during the Blitz. But it turns out he was rarely there. More likely he was up on the roof, watching the bombs fall. On a visit to America, he recited poetry to Franklin Roosevelt and told jokes to a joint session of Congress ("If my father had been American and my mother British, instead of the other way 'round, I might have got here on my own.")

So yes, last night was disaster. But if we harness the power of oratory and if we never surrender, we will have our finest hour. And let’s have fun doing it. Because you know, those angry people, who never mix humor and politics, tend to be on the other side.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Obama: Injuries and Usurpations


Image Source: The Daily Caller

One of my left-of-center friends recently posted on Facebook that she “just doesn’t get” the intensity of conservative opposition to President Obama. By way of response, I thought I would assemble a list of the actions taken by the administration that conservatives find objectionable. As I jotted down ideas, it occurred to me that Thomas Jefferson once put together a similar list (As Mr. Limbaugh would say, "I'm referring to the Declaration of Independence, for those of you in Rio Linda."). Anyway, it seemed appropriate to plagiarize shamelessly Mr. Jefferson's style and phrasing, which, after all, are far superior to mine. So here goes…

The history of the current President of the United States is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world:

He has expended recklessly our public funds without benefit to our people ($800 billion “stimulus”, 28% increase in annual outlays in the first three years), thereby burdening our children with colossal debts and damaged credit ratings (National Debt up 5.6 Trillion, or 53%, in the first three years).

He has imposed burdensome regulations that hinder our trade, sap our industries, and destroy the livelihoods of our people (It’s about jobs, folks! Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, 231,250 pages of regulations published in the Federal Register in the first three years).

He has obstructed enterprises most wholesome and necessary for the public good, including the distribution of essential fuels, the assembly of jet aircraft, and the manufacture of Rock and Roll guitars (Keystone pipeline, Boeing 787, Gibson Guitar).

He has distorted the operation of the free market by the transfer of funds from the Public Treasury to politically connected enterprises for the production of products in excess of consumer demand (Solyndra, A123, Chrysler, General Motors).

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of new officers to harass our people and eat our their substance (I didn’t have to change Jefferson’s words at all on this one! Financial Stability Oversight Council; Office of Financial Research; Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research; task forces on Preventive Services and Community Preventive Services; National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council; Independent Payment Advisory Board; Administration for Community Living).

He has put at risk the health of our people by giving his assent to legislation that will raise medical costs and reduce treatment options, apparently while suffering from the delusion that increasing the demand for a product lowers its costs (Obamacare).

He has appointed officers of the United States who are hostile to our constitutions, inimical to our traditions, and astoundingly ignorant of their own professions (Van Jones, Valerie Jarrett, Elena Kagan, Samantha Power, Alan Kreuger, Ben Bernanke).

He has enabled the murder of law enforcement officials and diplomats of the United States by neglecting measures for their safety and supplying armaments to criminals (Benghazi, Fast and Furious).

He has risked the safety of United States military personnel by delaying strategic decisions, and then, when he made them, providing insufficient resources to carry them out (Afghanistan).

He has damaged the interests of the United States abroad:

  • by denigrating, during speeches in foreign nations, the moral sense and national vision of the United States of America (“Apology Tour”),
  • by supporting anti-government demonstrators in a country friendly to the United States (Egypt),
  • by failing to support anti-government demonstrators in a country hostile to the United States (Iran),
  • by proposing diplomatic initiatives which, if enacted, would pose an existential threat to an allied nation (the Prime Minister of Israel has said the effect of Obama’s Mideast proposal would be “wiping out Israel’s future as a Jewish state”).

    He has undermined the integrity of our electoral system by refusing to prosecute individuals who have intimidated our voters (New Black Panthers case) and by blocking one of the several states from implementing legislation for the purpose of ensuring that only voters may cast votes (South Carolina Voter ID law).

    He has encouraged our fellow citizens to report to the Government those of their countrymen who disagree with his policies, a practice closely paralleled in the most barbarous age of Soviet communism (Attention snitches: you may report me by sending e-mail to flag@whitehouse.gov).

    He has excited class warfare among us (Osawatomie Speech, tax proposals, attacks on executive compensation), and has endeavored to bring into our public spaces the clueless Occupy Wall Street demonstrators, whose known rule of protest is an undistinguished destruction of all property, hygiene, and logic.

    He has violated his oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States:

  • by assenting to laws that assume powers for the Federal Government not enumerated in our Constitution (Obamacare),
  • by threatening to enact, by his will alone, other laws, without the consent of our legislature (Cap and Trade, Dream Act),
  • by circumventing, in the appointment of officers, the advice and consent of the Senate, by means of recess appointments at a time when the Senate was not technically in recess (Richard Cordray, Richard Griffin, Sharon Block, Terence Flynn)
  • by acting in contempt of the Judicial Branch in defying a court order to suspend a policy found by the court to be arbitrary and capricious (Gulf drilling moratorium [Hornbeck Offshore Services LLC v. Salazar]),
  • by acting in contempt of Congress in permitting one of his officials to withhold documents in a lawful investigation (Fast and Furious),
  • by usurping, in violation of our laws, the Constitutional authority of the legislature to declare war (the military intervention in Libya without Congressional approval violated the War Powers Act),
  • by trampling, in violation of the First Amendment, the right of citizens not to pay for products to which they object on religious grounds (Obamacare contraception, sterilization, and abortifacient mandate).

    In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated insult ("Bitter Clingers," "Enemies," "Revenge," "Racists," "War on Women"). A President whose administration is thus marked by every act which may define an incompetent twit is unfit to govern a free people. Therefore, we the people of the United States do solemnly publish and declare, that Barack Hussein Obama shall be, and ought to be, totally shellacked at the ballot box. And for the support of this declaration, we mutually pledge to each other our time, our campaign donations, and our sacred honor.

    P.S. I regret I couldn’t find fault with Obama’s small number of vetoes. That’s too bad, because I really, really wanted to use the phrase “He has prostituted his negative”.

    Originally Posted 1/18/12 Revised 11/6/12

    Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

  • The time is now near at hand...

    We built it!
    Photo source: Harry E. Walker via Mother Jones
    Last in my series of election commentary from the characters of Full Asylum. Tina Lee is the founder and CEO of Byte Yourself Software:

    Yesterday, my competitor Isaac Ross threw in his one-fiftieth of a dollar’s worth about the election. He told us that Mitt Romney just doesn’t understand that most people aren’t enlightened enough to make their own decisions. They need the government to make them for them.

    I used to work for Isaac. Back then I had an idea for the first operating system designed specifically for the networked home. I put together some slides and pitched the idea. He rewarded me with a lecture on how I was thinking like a programmer instead of a businesswoman. “You’re going to have to offer more enticing bait than that if you expect me to bite, missy,” he said.

    “Bite yourself, Isaac Ross!” I replied angrily. I walked out of his conference room—and out of his company. Two weeks later, I incorporated Byte Yourself Software. I lured the best engineers with technical challenges and stock grants. Inspired by dreams of wealth, we dove into our task. We begged forgiveness from family members for missed Little League games, forgotten birthdays, and in the case of one programmer, late arrival at her own wedding. After eleven intense months, we surfaced with Byte Yourself IROSS—the Intranet Ready Operating System Software—Version 1.0. Within five years, IROSS became the world’s most popular operating system. We built it.

    The core issue in this election is the same as it was in 1964. That was the year Ronald Reagan asked us “whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.” Isaac Ross and Barack Obama definitely have their money – excuse me, our money – on the little intellectual elite. During the past four years the elite has been in overdrive, planning us into poverty.

    It told us what health insurance we had to buy. It told us how much we had to pay our employees. It told us how much we had to spend on charity. It told us what industries to invest in. It told us what the gas mileage had to be in the cars we manufacture. It told us what banking practices are too risky. It even told us what we may order when we go out for a bite to eat. Byte yourself, Mr. President.

    What Obama doesn’t understand, and the reason economic performance has been so lackluster during his administration, is that prosperity requires excellence and excellence requires freedom.

    Unlike the president, Gov. Romney has actually built a business or two. He gets it. He understands that you can’t excel by doing the same thing as everybody else. You have to have the freedom to do something different. You have to have the freedom to take the risk that something that hasn’t been tried before will work. Sometimes you have to have the freedom to be the fool that rushes in where angels fear to tread. Excellence isn’t just risky, though. It’s also time-consuming. You better have the freedom to put in long hours developing your product instead of filling out compliance paperwork for a bureaucrat.

    I’d like to leave you with this thought – it’s something George Washington said to the troops during the summer of 1776: “The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves.”

    It really is.

    Tina Lee is a character in Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Her views do not necessarily reflect those of author Michael Isenberg. Check out Full Asylum on Amazon.com.

    Daily Reminder: Jobs

    Last one.

    Obama's Record: Unemployment
    Data source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Jan 2009, Oct 2012

    Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

    Sunday, November 4, 2012

    High Energy Rally with Senator Scott Brown

    With two days until Election 2012, Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown rallies supporters at Boston's historic Faneuil Hall: "Do not go to bed Tuesday night saying, darn, we should have done more."

    Did you see him nod to me at 7:38?

    Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

    Obama Knows Best

    Full Asylum character Isaac Ross
    Photo source: Human Events
    Continuing my series of election commentary from the characters of my novel Full Asylum. Today we hear from one of the villains, Isaac Ross, CEO of Consolidated Industries.

    Isaac is a crony capitalist who spends his spare time writing second rate philosophy books. Any resemblance to George Soros is purely coincidental.

    Since the time of the ancient Greeks, philosophers have identified two types of social structure: the cooperative society and the competitive society. Through most of history, the competitive society has predominated. But a competitive society is like a sick body. A body would not survive if the lungs and the heart competed with each other to pump blood or provide oxygen. Similarly, a society would not survive if those best suited to drive trucks competed with programmers to write software, or those best suited to write software competed with philosophers to make decisions. We saw the end game, the final illness of the competitive society, in the excesses that led to Bush’s 2008 Financial Meltdown. The poverty, homelessness, and psychological stress that we now see all around us are the inevitable result when society is run by those who put profit and gain above enlightenment and compassion.

    If a competitive society is a sick body, then a cooperative society is a healthy one. Although a true cooperative society has never existed, we know from Plato’s Republic what it would look like. Each member of the cooperative society knows his or her place and has a role to play that is suited to his or her natural abilities. In a healthy body, all the parts work in harmony. Similarly, in a healthy society, all citizens work in harmony. In a healthy body, all operations are coordinated under the control of the brain. Similarly, in a healthy society, all operations are coordinated under the control of the government. The enlightened and compassionate people who staff the various departments are able to make the decisions that are beyond the ability of the lesser citizens. Mitt Romney might think, for example, that a truck driver has the enlightenment to decide the best health care plan. Fortunately, Barack Obama knows better and passed the Affordable Care Act so HHS could tell the truck driver what to buy. Mitt Romney might think that private businessmen are enlightened enough to know what technologies in which to invest. Fortunately, Barack Obama knows better and put $90 billion for green energy in the stimulus bill. Mitt Romney might think that a software engineer has the compassion to help the poor through private charity. Fortunately, Barack Obama knows better and increased welfare spending 32%.

    The president has been under some criticism lately. His critics say that he has not been entirely honest about his agenda. They say that his justice department hasn’t done enough to combat voter fraud. They say the he tried to cover up his own incompetence by arresting Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the filmmaker whose Islamophobic video enraged the demonstrators that attacked the US consulate at Benghazi. What the critics would realize if they were more educated is that, since the government makes the rules for society, the existence of rules presupposes the existence of government. It is therefore illogical for the president and other government officials to be constrained by the rules set down for lesser people. Illogical, and also unnecessary. Regardless of the rules, Barack Obama is an enlightened and compassionate leader, and will always act in the best interests of the cooperative society. If those interests require him to arrest an innocent man, rig an election, or conceal his true intentions behind a mask of falsehood, then it is not only permitted for him to do so, it is a moral imperative.

    Isaac Ross is a character in Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. His views are satirical and most definitely do not reflect those of author Michael Isenberg. Check out Full Asylum on Amazon.com.

    Friday, November 2, 2012

    Stuck in the Middle Ages

    Progress
    Photo sources: Wikipedia, The Atlantic, zmescience.com, fiftiesweb.com

    P.S. An observant viewer will notice an anachronism in one of the pictures.

    Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

    Thursday, November 1, 2012

    Who the hell wants to be the 99 percent?

    Full Asylum heroine Cheri Tarte
    Continuing my series of election commentary from the characters of my novel Full Asylum. Today's installment: lady wrestler Cheri Tarte does some trash talking.
    HEY, OCCUPY WALL STREET: YOU SAY YOU’RE THE 99 PERCENT…WELL I SAY IT'S NOTHING TO BRAG ABOUT! DON’T YOU WANT TO BE SOMEONE SUCCESSFUL?!

    I’m Cheri Tarte: rising star of the Universal Wrestling League’s Women’s Division and PROUD 1 PERCENTER. Before I tried out for the UWL, I worked in the administrator’s office at a government hospital. The hospital was overrunning its budget and we were supposed to contain costs. We did a lot of unnecessary testing—MRIs that were unlikely to find anything and so on. At the same time, we had patients dying while they waited for operations they really needed, like coronary bypasses. I went to my boss with some ideas to improve things, but he said, “Don’t worry about it. You get paid either way.” I realized that I would never be allowed to excel working in a bureaucracy. The whole structure rewarded mediocrity, and that’s not what I’m about.

    It sure is what Obama’s about, though. Do you know the mark of mediocrity? Excuses instead of results. The economy limps along at less than 2% growth and Obama says, “It’s Bush’s fault.” “Worst economy since the Great Depression.” “The Republicans in Congress were mean to me.”

    Obama keeps telling us this election is a choice between two fundamental visions for America. SO, B.O.: WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO BE HONEST ABOUT YOURS? The closest he ever came was when he told Joe the Plumber he wanted to “spread the wealth around.” That’s the polite way of saying he wants to rob the successful to pay for handouts for the mediocre. But when you punish success and reward mediocrity, mediocrity is what you get.

    No wonder the losers flock to him. Like the Obamaphone Lady. Or Sandra Fluke, who’s the poster child for Obama’s America: thirty years old, still in school, and looking for a handout. Did you hear her convention speech? Six minutes of whining about what a victim she is. She even complained that Mitt Romney didn’t stand up for her when Rush Limbaugh called her a slut. Ignoring for the moment that Mitt did stand up for her, WHY DON’T YOU STAND UP FOR YOURSELF INSTEAD OF BEGGING A MAN TO DO IT? THAT’S WHY YOU’RE A VICTIM! AND BY THE WAY, YOU OUGHT TO SEND RUSH A PRESENT. IF HE HADN'T CALLED YOU A SLUT, NO ONE EVER WOULD HAVE HEARD OF YOU!

    The trouble with Sandra isn’t that she’s a slut, of course; the trouble is that she’s a freeloader. She wants someone else to pay for her birth control. She calls that “access.” AND TAKE A BIOLOGY CLASS, BITCH. YOU CAN’T GET PREGNANT FROM OTHER WOMEN!

    The Democrat narrative as to why Romney doesn’t stand up for the Flukes of the world is that he’s out of touch because he’s rich. WELL, I SAY IF TO BE RICH IS TO BE OUT OF TOUCH, THEN WE NEED MORE OUT OF TOUCH PEOPLE! Romney got to be rich because he worked hard and excelled at what he did. He competed in an open market and made the tough choices to build Staples and a bunch of other companies. He deserves every penny he got, and we’re all better off for it.

    Obama is right about one thing. This election is about two fundamentally different visions of America. Obama’s America, where second-rate morons fight over handouts carved from an ever-shrinking pie. Or Romney’s America, where those who would compete and excel and succeed are free to do so. The only thing I can’t figure out is why the polls are so close. I know there's not that much mediocrity in America.

    Cheri Tarte is the heroine of Full Asylum, a novel about mediocrity, excellence, and professional wrestling. Her views are satirical and do not necessarily reflect those of author Michael Isenberg. Check out Full Asylum on Amazon.com.

    Daily Reminder: Long Term Unemployment

    While the total number of unemployed is close to what it was when Obama assumed office, long-term unemployment is a growing problem.

    Obama's Record: Unemployment
    Data source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Jan 2009, Sep 2012

    Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

    Wednesday, October 31, 2012

    The Journey to the Dark Side

    The attacks by Andrea Mitchell and others on Mitt Romney's storm relief efforts are a disgusting spectacle. Some things transcend politics - or should.

    Emperor Palpatine
    Photo source: Wikipedia

    Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

    Daily Reminder: National Debt

    Last week I posted the total national debt, the $16T that is commonly reported in the media. According to the US Treasury much of that is "held by Government trust funds, revolving funds, and special funds; and Federal Financing Bank securities." Many economists argue that the debt held by the public is a more useful measure of the nation's liability:

    Obama's Record: National Debt
    Data source: US Treasury

    Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

    Tuesday, October 30, 2012

    Disaster Relief




    No politics as usual today. My thoughts are with the first responders, power company linemen, and brave volunteers who are struggling to keep us safe and dry in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Please remember the Red Cross in this time of need. This article describes some of the relief efforts:

    One of the Red Cross shelters that opened Sunday was in Pleasantville, N.J., and by mid-day it was filling with a steady stream of people who were seeking safety from the approaching Hurricane Sandy.

    Most of those arriving – from babes in arms to senior citizens –- were coming from Atlantic City and nearby towns on the barrier islands along the Atlantic coast, but at least one was a vacationer from San Diego.

    Shelter manager Duncan Wiedman and his team – most of them volunteers from the Southern Shore and Jersey Coast Red Cross chapters – were preparing for 150 people in the high school and another 150 in the middle school next door...

    HOW TO HELP People can help by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief online, by text or by phone. Donations help the Red Cross provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance to those affected by disasters like Hurricane Sandy.

    To donate, people can visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-RED-CROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to someone’s local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

    Monday, October 29, 2012

    News from the Asylum: Special Hurricane Edition

    Hurrican Sandy Tracking Map
    Photo source: Weather Channel

    Mandatory evacuation orders have been issued for coastal areas in the mid-Atlantic and New England states. Asked for comment, Vice President Joe Biden called the orders “malarkey,” grinned idiotically, and laughed for no apparent reason.

    In an official statement, President Obama said, “this is going to be a slow-moving process through a wide swath of the country, and millions of people are going to be affected.” It was unclear whether he was referring to Hurricane Sandy or the weak economic recovery. The president added, “I inherited the worst storm since the Great Depression.”

    A Labor Department official stated today that the Bureau of Labor Statistics has made no decision yet as to whether the October unemployment report, due Friday, will be delayed as a result of Hurricane Sandy. The report will be the last set of data about the jobs situation prior to the presidential election. “We’ll decide what to do after we see whether the numbers are favorable to the president,” the official said.

    Seen on FB: Just read reports that Hurricane Sandy is a "spontaneous weather event" sparked by a Weather Channel video on YouTube. (Thanks, JW!)

    Also seen on FB: Just heard the governor on the radio say: If you have a gas-powered generator please I repeat please, locate it in an open area. <--- thank goodness for this guy, 'cause I had mine all set to go...under my bed. (Thanks, BR!)

    CNN reports that 765,000 people are without electric power — and some of them aren't even victims of the EPA's war on coal.

    What's the difference between Obama's economic policies and Hurricane Sandy? One blows and the other is a storm system.

    All kidding aside, I hope everyone stays safe and dry. Please support the volunteers of the Red Cross as they endeavor to help those hardest hit by the hurricane. You can read about their efforts and make a donation at http://www.redcross.org/news-events.

    Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

    Daily Reminder: GDP

    The Commerce Department released preliminary 3rd quarter GDP Friday. The economy continues to recover - weakly.

    My left-of-center friends think it's unfair to compare the Obama recovery to the Reagan recovery. They say the underlying recessions were so different. Seems to me the main difference between the Reagan Recession and the Bush/Obama Recession is how the presidents responded. Reagan slowed the growth of government, reduced the pace of regulation, and appointed a Fed chairman who exercised monetary restraint. Bush and Obama did the exact opposite on all three points.

    Obama's Record: GDP
    Data source: BEA

    Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

    Friday, October 26, 2012

    Daily Reminder: Unemployment

    Did the Democrats say something about a war on women?

    Obama's Record: Unemployment
    Data source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Situation Summary, September 2012, January 2009.

    Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

    Thursday, October 25, 2012

    Romney, Obama, and Weed

    Brownie McCoy
    As the 2012 election enters its final weeks, I decided to give the characters from my novel Full Asylum a chance to weigh in. First up is Brownie McCoy, sysadmin for the Byte Yourself Software corporation and infamous hippie for capitalism:

    Ronald Reagan, man. He used to tell this story about a Republican politician who was campaigning down south, back in the days when Dixie was still Democrat. Arriving at a farm, the politician asked the farmer if he could, like, talk to him. When the farmer heard that the politician was a Republican, he was juiced. “Wait right here ‘til I go get Ma,” he said, “She’s never seen a Republican before.” When the farmer returned with his wife, the politician looked for a podium, but all he could find was a “a pile of that stuff that Bess Truman took 35 years trying to get Harry to call ‘fertilizer.’” The candidate climbed up on the mound and gave his speech. When he finished the farmer said, “That’s the first time I’ve ever heard a Republican speech.”

    The politician replied, “That’s the first time I’ve ever given a Republican speech from a Democratic platform.”

    It’s a primo joke, man, but this year the Republican platform got as much fertilizer as the Democrat one. Obama and Romney are both fascizoids. They’re like Republicrats. Neither one of them is serious about getting government under control. They’re both beaucoup with the spending. Romney’s amigo Ryan got a plan to balance the budget — in the year 2040. As for Obama, his budget never balances. Also, neither of these hosers is going to legalize weed. That’s a bummer; Cheech Marin — or was it Tommy Chong? — said marijuana is the friendliest drug there is. Puff on a joint and your first instinct is to hand it to someone else. And those government CREEPS could stand to be friendlier. This one time, one of them was trying to take my brownies away and I said, “I got rights, man” and he hit me with the butt of his rifle. If he got a little baked, he wouldn’t be so hostile.

    Speaking of weed, did anyone see this from Family Guy? Fox is pretty ruthless about preventing bootlegging, but this guy rebelled and got it on YouTube by adding a bogus intro. Start about 35 seconds in:

    Oh, I almost forgot. The election. The only candidate for president who can spell freedom is Gary Johnson from the Libertarian Party. He says he’s going to balance the budget next year, repeal the Patriot Act, audit the Fed, and put limits on TSA pat-downs. He’s the only one that gets that free enterprise means no bailouts, no corporate welfare, and no protectionism. Also he wants to legalize weed. ‘Cause it’s important to legalize weed.

    I know, Johnson’s probably not going to win. But if the Federales try to come after my weed, I’ll be ready. I’m building something in the basement that’ll make them think twice.

    Love and Greed,
    Brownie

    Brownie McCoy is a character in Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and chocolaty baked goods. His views do not necessarily reflect those of author Michael Isenberg. Check out Full Asylum on Amazon.com.

    Daily Reminder: National Debt

    Hard to believe a month has gone by since I last visited the National Debt. It's gone up $189 billion since then.

    Obama's Record: national debt
    Data source: US Treasury

    Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

    Wednesday, October 24, 2012

    Daily Reminder: Money Supply

    Money supply growth is the principal cause of inflation. Milton Friedman argued that a healthy economy required restricting growth to the 3-5% range.

    Obama's Record: gas prices
    Data source: Federal Reserve. Data is for Sept 2011 to Sept 2012.

    Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

    Tuesday, October 23, 2012

    If you want peace...

    When Horace said, "Ignorant of the way to make life secure, he diluted war with peace," he must have been thinking about Joe Biden.

    Biden on rattling sabers.
    Photo source: CNN

    Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

    Daily Reminder: Gas Prices

    The president has argued that this is an unfair comparison, that the price of gas in 2009 was due to a bad economy. Does that mean the economy is good now and that $3.687 per gallon is acceptable?

    Obama's Record: gas prices
    Data source: Energy Information Administration

    Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

    Monday, October 22, 2012

    Five Other Foreign Policy Questions for Barack Obama

    Obama & Medvedev
    Barack Obama with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev
    Photo source: AP

    Tonight’s final 2012 presidential debate is dedicated to foreign policy. Given that there are only so many times Romney can ask the president what he knew about Benghazi and when did he know it, here are five other questions I’d like to hear:

    1. Mr. President, prior to committing US air power to the overthrow of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi, you obtained authorization from the United Nations Security Council, but not the United States Congress. Was this the right thing to do, and did it violate the War Powers Act?

    2. The Arab Spring has brought the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamad Morsi to the Egyptian presidency, a man who is on record supporting the use of force against Israel and warning Coptic Christians they “need to know that conquest is coming, and Egypt will be Islamic, and that they must pay the jizya or emigrate.” In view of these statements, did you make a mistake in demanding the ouster of Morsi’s predecessor, Hosni Mubarak?

    3. In 2007 you said, “I will make an absolute commitment that we will do everything we need to do to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.” In light of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s August report that Iran has accelerated its uranium enrichment activities, can you say that this commitment has been kept?

    4. In his debate with Rep. Ryan, the vice president affirmed the administration’s promise to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan by 2014. Is that deadline realistic in view of the continuing violence in that country?

    5. In March, you told Russian President Medvedev that you would have more “flexibility” regarding missile defense after the election. What did you mean by that and what do you plan to do after the election that you aren’t doing now?

    Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Join him on Twitter for live tweets of tonight’s debate.

    Daily Reminder: Green Energy

    Another government-funded green energy company filed for bankruptcy last Tuesday.

    Obama's Record: Prices
    Data source: Forbes.

    Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

    Friday, October 19, 2012

    Daily Reminder: Welfare Spending

    The Congressional Research Service tallied up spending for 80 government welfare programs, including Medicaid, food stamps, child-care, and direct cash payments to the poor. The sum tells a story of ballooning government dependency under the Obama administration.

    Obama's Record: Prices
    Data source: CRS via The Washington Times.

    Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

    Thursday, October 18, 2012

    How Liberty is Lost

    Full Asylum CREEPS

    Some of my friends are skeptical. When I tell them that the 2012 presidential election will determine whether the United States of America continues to be a free country, they tell me our freedom isn’t even threatened.

    I explain the threat in my novel, Full Asylum, in which I portray a future where America is no longer free. Government has become involved in every corner of our lives, and storm troopers called “CREEPS” are standing by to kick in our doors if we don’t fall in line. In this excerpt, I describe how we got to that point. It shows what happens when an economy fails to recover and politicians look for someone to blame. The setting is familiar to fans of the James Bond series — it’s the scene where the secret agent goes to his boss to get his orders:

            “Good morning, sir,” said Dunn.
            “Good morning, Beta Eleven,” said Alpha One. He sat at his massive oak desk in front of a painting of a fox hunt. “Sit down.”
            Dunn sat in one of the leather wingback chairs in front of the desk. A small gentleman moldered in the other one. “You know Sir Brandon Pringle, Chancellor of the Exchequer,” Alpha One said.
            “Chancellor,” said Dunn. Sir Brandon grunted.
            “What do you know about economic sabotage?” Alpha One asked Dunn.
            “It’s a new category of crime since the Financial Crises,” Dunn replied. “The Americans call it E.S. Individual saboteurs are referred to as sabos. After the Third Financial Meltdown, the G-20 powers responded with appropriate measures to expand the money supply and re-regulate out-of-control markets. Although there were some initial signs of their effectiveness, in the long run, the global economy did not improve. Eventually, governments around the world realized the reason. Their political opponents deliberately harmed their efforts: scared off investors, cut jobs, and even committed acts of vandalism.
            “The sabo threat is particularly severe in the United States, where Congress responded by passing the Federal Economic Sabotage Act. The act, also called FESA, gave the government the powers necessary to combat the problem. One provision of the act prohibited criticism of government economic policy. There was a constitutional challenge to this, but the Supreme Court upheld the provision on the basis of the governmental interest in safeguarding the integrity of interstate commerce.
            “To enforce the law, the government created an elite civilian military unit. The Coordinated Response Emergency Economic Protection Squad reports directly to the attorney general. Although its acronym should be pronounced CREE-TWO-P-S, certain elements of the public have taken to calling the unit members CREEPS, and this pronunciation has, regrettably, caught on. This new force has made significant inroads against the sabos; however, it has not been able to eradicate them entirely. I think that’s all, sir.”
            “Yesterday afternoon,” said Sir Brandon, “the Advanced Missile Corporation filed for bankruptcy. Seventy-eight thousand people around the world are filing for unemployment compensation as we speak, fifteen thousand of them in England.”
            Alpha One pressed a button on his desk. The fox hunt painting slid into the wall, revealing a large flat panel display. On the screen a photo sprang into view. It depicted a short, middle-aged woman in a fashionable red and black business suit. She had short dark hair and large dark eyes and was smoking a cigarette in a long black holder. Sir Brandon continued, “Iona Klimt, head of Klimt Defensive Software Corporation—KDS. Born in Soviet Russia, 1967. Emigrated to the US in the 1980s during the last days of the Cold War. Estimated net worth: 12.6 billion dollars.”
            The picture morphed to an office park. There was a pond with a fountain and two green glass buildings. “KDS headquarters. Just outside Washington, DC. The company is…was…Advanced Missile’s largest competitor.”
            “Iona Klimt is one of the leaders of the information revolution,” said Dunn. “Do we suspect she is engaged in economic sabotage?”
            “That’s for you to find out,” said Alpha One. “You leave for America as soon as you draw your equipment from Double-G Branch. That’s all, Beta Eleven.”

    To find out what happens when Dunn comes face-to-face with Iona Klimt, check out Full Asylum on Amazon.com.

    Tuesday, October 16, 2012

    The Wastebook: Your Tax Dollars at Work

    Wastebook
    Photo source: Office of Tom Coburn
    Yesterday, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) released his annual Wastebook, highlighting “more than $18 billion in examples of some of the most egregious ways your taxpayer dollars were wasted in 2012.” Of the 100 examples cited, here are my personal favorites:

    #6 The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Advanced Food Technology Project…has already developed a recipe for pizza and about 100 other foods that could be served some day on Mars. Of course, NASA no longer has a manned spaced fleet and no current mission plans for human space flight to Mars. $947,000.

    #7 Researchers at San Diego State University and the University of California (Davis) spent a portion of a $325,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to construct a robotic squirrel named “RoboSquirrel”

    #8 The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) spent $300,000 this year to promote caviar.

    #14 Relive prom week with National Science Foundation video game – $516,000

    #20 With just a quick glance of a face, many people can accurately guess someone’s sexual orientation, according to researchers at the University of Washington and Cornell University, in a study supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

    #25 Government-funded study finds golfers need to envision a bigger hole – $350,000

    #26 Fighting obesity with giant graffiti carrots – $13,000

    #29 Free bus rides for Super Bowl attendees – $142,419

    #32 In an effort to prevent drunk driving, the Michigan State Police used $10,000 in federal funds to purchase 400 talking urinal cakes.

    #35 Science research dollars go to musical about biodiversity and climate change – $697,177…Characters in the first act stand around awkwardly in a train station, and sometimes head into the “jungle,” complete with flying monkey poop.

    #49 Pentagon raids weapons program to buy jerky – $700,000

    #54 Circus classes – $20,000

    #55 Watching television reruns gives people an energizing chance to reconnect with pseudo-friends, according to a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study published this year. Researchers used part of $666,905 in NIH grants to look at the phenomenon.

    #61 How not to flip a house: renovate with federal funds and sell far below market value – $18,410

    #70 Male fruit flies are attracted to young females more than to older ones, according to academics funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). $939,771

    #73 A New Hampshire brewery, Smuttynose, will use $750,970 in federal funds to construct a new brewery and restaurant on farmland outside of Portsmouth.

    #74 Using taxpayer dollars, an academic team developed a dancing robot named Shimi to serve as a disc jockey for smartphones. $547,430

    #86 The 2012 Alabama Watermelon Queen Tour – $25,000

    #92 Thirty-thousand Legos to build an 18-foot long model street – $3,700

    #95 With part of $548,731 in grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), one group of researchers discovered adults in their thirties who drink heavily also feel immature.

    #97 Red Velvet, snickerdoodle, and cinnamon buttercream are cupcake flavors that are attractive not only to the paying consumer, but also to Uncle Sam. The Small Business Administration in 2012 arranged over $2.0 million in loan guarantees for ten cupcake shops across the country.

    #100 D’oh! Postal Service overprints Simpsons and other commemorative stamps – $2 million

    For additional details, and the rest of the entries, see www.coburn.senate.gov.

    Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

    Monday, October 15, 2012

    Daily Reminder: Inflation

    Thanks to C.C. for sending me this one.

    Obama's Record: Prices
    Data source: USA Today.

    Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

    Friday, October 12, 2012

    The VP Debate: Contending with a Fool

    Joe Biden
    Photo source: CNN.

    Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.

    Movie Review: Atlas Shrugged Part II

    Atlas Shrugged Part II
    Photo source: atlasshruggedmovie.com
    I almost didn’t write this. For the first 80 minutes of Atlas Shrugged Part II, I didn’t think I could write a good review and I didn’t want to write a bad one. Ayn Rand’s dystopian epic about a collapsing economy and Americans giving up in despair has long been one of my favorite books. I had written a great review of Part I, but the first two-thirds of this new movie were disappointing.

    The problem was directing. Although he had an experienced and talented cast, director John Putch just couldn't seem to get good performances out of them.

    Samantha Mathis, as railroad executive Dagny Taggart, couldn’t deliver a line naturally to save her life. Mostly she moped around like a wet washcloth. Jason Beghe as steel magnate Hank Rearden sounded like he escaped from the cast of The Godfather, and Esai Morales made for a rather subdued Francisco d’Anconia. The speeches were flat and disconnected from the scenes around them.

    Then came Directive 10-289. The government sought to prevent the economic emergency from getting worse by outlawing change. Businesses were prohibited from raising or lowering their output. Employees were prohibited from leaving their jobs. In other words, they were slaves. New Yorkers halted in the street to watch identical images of the president announce the new law, Big Brother-like, from every giant screen in Times Square. Suddenly, Atlas Shrugged Part II had become drama.

    The rest of the movie was exciting and fast-paced. Rex Linn gave the best performance of the film as Kip Chalmers, a politician on his way to a fundraiser. He seemed to channel Fred Thompson as he bullied Dagny’s brother James to provide a new locomotive when the one pulling his train broke down. An older, and possibly unsafe coal-burner was found and in a gripping scene, the train got stuck inside a smoke-filled tunnel—with an army munitions train hurtling towards it in the other direction.

    And then we even got to see Dagny become forceful. I wanted to cheer when she finally stood up to smarmy bureaucrat Wesley Mouch.

    I didn’t completely hate the early parts. There were touches here and there that I enjoyed, many of them provided by the minor characters. Diedrich Bader was very likable as Quentin Daniels, as was, surprisingly, Bug Hall as the Wet Nurse. Star Trek Voyager’s Robert Picardo played Dr. Stadler the way I always imagined him. The production values were better than in Part I: views through the windows made the offices of New York City seem less like movie sets and more like, well, the offices of New York City. There was a great discussion about Rearden Steel on a news show, with Sean Hannity and Juan Williams as panelists. Mr Hannity defended Rearden, of course. And we got to hear the music of Richard Halley. Although his Fourth Concerto had, in the movie, become a rhapsody, the piece was true to the description in the book: “The notes flowed up, they spoke of rising, and they were the rising itself….[Dagny] listened to the symphony, thinking: This is why the wheels have to be kept going.” These bright spots kept me going until the movie got to the good stuff—which really was worth seeing.

    Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a dystopian comedy about a collapsing economy and Americans fighting back. Check it out on Amazon.com.