Thursday, May 31, 2012

Print Edition of Full Asylum Novel Now Available

I'm happy to announce that the print edition of my new novel, Full Asylum, is now available. Buy it today here.

Full Asylum Now Available in Print

Plot Summary: The economy has crashed (again), the Nanny State is out of control, and software engineer Gimbel O’Hare just wants to do his job. Not easy, given that his boss is out to get him, the Department of Justice has him under surveillance, and one of his co-workers is suing him for sexual harassment. He finds refuge from the stress by indulging in spy movies, an obsession that leads him on an off-the-wall journey around metro-Washington. From the ruins of a once fashionable mall to a psychiatric ward in a military hospital, Gimbel is on the trail of a dangerous – and possibly imaginary – conspiracy to steal a presidential election and fundamentally transform America.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Full Asylum Novel Now Available for Kindle

I'm happy to announce that my new novel, Full Asylum, is now available for Kindle. Buy today at

Full Asylum Now on Kindle

The print edition should be available tomorrow, May 31.

Plot Summary: The economy has crashed (again), the Nanny State is out of control, and software engineer Gimbel O’Hare just wants to do his job. Not easy, given that his boss is out to get him, the Department of Justice has him under surveillance, and one of his co-workers is suing him for sexual harassment. He finds refuge from the stress by indulging in spy movies, an obsession that leads him on an off-the-wall journey around metro-Washington. From the ruins of a once fashionable mall to a psychiatric ward in a military hospital, Gimbel is on the trail of a dangerous – and possibly imaginary – conspiracy to steal a presidential election and fundamentally transform America.

Friday, May 25, 2012

This Memorial Day, Remember Those who Served

I recorded this video in 2010. Gold Star Mom Debbie Lee tells about the 2006 death of her son Marc in Ramadi, Iraq. “He gave up all of his tomorrows,” she says, “so that we could have our todays. And I want to challenge you to not waste the todays that have been gifted to us by the men and the women who serve in the military. They have sacrificed and given so much.”

Also features Diana Nagy of Tea Party Express, singing “Where Freedom Flies.”

Please remember our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and their families this Memorial Day and consider giving to the many charities that cater to their needs. Here are some worthy ones:

From their website,

Thanks to your generosity, the USO fulfills its mission of lifting the spirits of America’s troops and their families. Through the USO, you touch their lives through an extensive range of programs at more than 150 centers in 27 countries, and at hundreds of entertainment events each year. Thousands of USO volunteers do everything possible to provide a home away from home for our troops and to keep them connected to the families they left behind.
The USO makes sure your help goes to those who need it the most: troops serving in combat, their families, our wounded warriors and their families, and families of the fallen.

Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society

The mission of the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society is to provide, in partnership with the Navy and Marine Corps, financial, educational, and other assistance to members of the Naval Services of the United States, eligible family members, and survivors when in need.

The Military Friends Foundation (Do not confuse with, which is a dating site):

The Military Friends Foundation recognizes the unique contributions and sacrifices made by Massachusetts National Guard and Reserve families. We are proud to offer financial assistance to eligible families who have faced hardships related to active service.

You can donate to these organizations at their websites. Please be generous with your support. Our military is certainly generous in supporting us.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Full Asylum Publication News

Full Asylum

The proof for my upcoming novel, Full Asylum, arrived today - on track to go on sale at the end of this month! Learn more at

Sunday, May 13, 2012

George and Gracie Discuss the Dishonesty of Banks

In view of last week's disclosure that JPMorganChase lost $2 billion in derivatives trading, it seemed appropriate to post this exchange from the December 7, 1950 episode of the George Burns and Gracie Allen show:
George: Mr. Vanderlip was here—
Gracie: Oh, don’t mention that man’s name to me again. I’m never going in his bank again.
George: Why not?
Gracie: Well, because it’s dishonest.
George: Dishonest?
Gracie: I was there yesterday to make a deposit and as fast as I put money in one window, somebody was taking it out of another.
Obviously Gracie subscribes to the Austrian school of economics.

The exchange about banks is at 26:00, but the whole episode is worth watching.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Gerry Dembrowski for State Senate

State legislators spend our taxes, determine our business climates, and make our marriage laws. Amid the hype over the race for the Oval Office, it’s worthwhile getting to know candidates for offices closer to home. I’ve been doing that here in Massachusetts, most recently by attending the campaign kickoff of Republican Dr. Gerry Dembrowski. Gerry is running for State Senator from the 4th Middlesex District, which includes Woburn, Lexington, Arlington, Burlington and Billerica. He grew up in the district, playing varsity hockey at Woburn High, before getting degrees from Salem State College and Palmer College in California. Today he is a chiropractor, and therefore a businessman.

AM1200 morning show host Jeff Katz headlined the kickoff with stories about something his father and father-in-law have in common: they’re both afraid to tell their wives they’re Republicans. Mr. Katz was followed by Jim Knott, founder of Riverdale Mills, whose epic battle against trumped up charges by the EPA was the subject of this 60 Minutes segment:

It’s exactly this sort of harassment of businesses by government that Gerry seeks to prevent. According to his website, he “believes his experience as a small business owner is critical to understanding the impact legislation will have on the life blood of our economy – small and medium sized businesses. He is a strong, fiscal conservative and believes that the free market, including businesses and individuals, will fuel our economic recovery – and that government's job is to facilitate and foster a business friendly environment, not to hinder prosperity with burdensome taxes and regulations.”

When it was his turn to talk, Gerry noted the historic nature of his district – the American Revolution began there. He believes the make-up of the district is favorable to the GOP. In the 2010 special Senate election, Scott Brown won Woburn, Billerica, and Burlington by greater than 60% – sufficient margin to offset the liberals in Arlington and Lexington. “This is a winnable race,” Gerry said. “We can take back our state. We can take back our country. We can take back the White House.”

You can learn more about Gerry at As always, if you like what you see, I encourage you to be generous with your time and financial support.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sleight of Hand

Obama discusses same sex marriage.

For the record, I applaud Obama's support for same sex marriage. But let's not get distracted.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Maybe They Should Have Stuck with Rush

ProFlowers seems to be having trouble with its advertising since it canceled its sponsorship on the Rush Limbaugh Program:

Forget Mom

Monday, May 7, 2012

Movie Review: The Avengers

As a fan of Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer I always wondered what would happened if he ever got some funding (to steal a line from the series). In his new movie, The Avengers, he had $220 million dollars worth, but the opening sequence wasn’t promising. It was typical of today’s action flicks: lots of shooting and computer-generated special effects as a substitute for anything interesting or clever. I wondered if I was in for two hours and twenty-two minutes of boredom.

Fortunately, the opening was not typical of the movie.

Avengers Movie Poster

Photo source: Wikipedia

Just as with last year’s Thor, what made this movie intriguing was the interaction among the characters. The theme of Thor was family relationships; the theme of The Avengers was team building. The plot actually followed the stages of Ohio State University psychologist Bruce Tuckman’s group development model: forming, storming, norming, and performing (Dr. Tuckman’s full name, BTW, was Bruce Wayne Tuckman so I suppose his model is appropriate for a movie based on a comic strip). The storming phase was the most entertaining, with personality clashes between Iron Man and Captain America, and the entire team suspicious of leader Nick Fury’s ultimate agenda.

A couple aspects of the movie appealed to my right-wing political sensibilities. The villain, Loki, reminded me of Obama when he said in the opening scene that he had come to set mankind free from the burden of freedom (Ok, so there was one thing in the opening scene that I liked). It was also refreshing to see Hollywood portray a chronically straight-laced character like Captain America as a hero. He reminded me of many of the real soldiers I met during my career in the defense industry. In another nod to conservatives, he even adhered to Christian theology. When told that Loki was a god, he replied, “There’s only one God and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that.”

That response was typical of the many great lines in the movie. My personal favorite came from another exchange about Loki – this one between Thor and the Black Widow:

Thor: He's my brother
Black Widow: He killed 80 people in 2 days
Thor: He's adopted
Exchanges like this made The Avengers lots of fun; they definitely compensated for the opening.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Fed Gets One Right

Thanks to The Life of Julia and today’s crappy unemployment report, this story got lost in the shuffle. But it’s a big one.

Remember John McCain’s explanation for the mortgage crisis?: “The regulators were asleep at the switch.” The crisis handed him an opportunity to give the voters a clear choice between capitalism and socialism, and he chose to join Obama in embracing the socialist narrative. No wonder he lost.

Now, an unlikely source calls the socialist narrative into question. Christopher L. Foote, Kristopher S. Gerardi, and Paul S. Wille—three economists at the Federal Reserve—have issued “The Causes of the Foreclosure Crisis”. According to the abstract, “This paper presents 12 facts about the mortgage market. The authors argue that the facts refute the popular story that the crisis resulted from financial industry insiders deceiving uninformed mortgage borrowers and investors.”

Two theories of the mortgage crisis

Source: Federal Reserve

The twelve facts are:

Fact 1: Resets of adjustable-rate mortgages did not cause the foreclosure crisis.
Fact 2: No mortgage was “designed to fail.”
Fact 3: There was little innovation in mortgage markets in the 2000s.
Fact 4: Government policy toward the mortgage market did not change much from 1990 to 2005.
Fact 5: The originate-to-distribute model was not new.
Fact 6: MBSs, CDOs, and other “complex financial products” had been widely used for decades.
Fact 7: Mortgage investors had lots of information.
Fact 8: Investors understood the risks.
Fact 9: Investors were optimistic about house prices.
Fact 10: Mortgage market insiders were the biggest losers.
Fact 11: Mortgage market outsiders were the biggest winners.
Fact 12: Top-rated bonds backed by mortgages did not turn out to be “toxic.” Top-rated bonds in collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) did.
Instead of the “Insiders” theory, the authors offer a much simpler explanation for the mortgage crisis: the “Bubble Fever” theory. Everything lenders, borrowers, and investors did during the housing bubble can be explained by their belief that housing prices would continue to rise.

Systematic failure requires systematic explanation.

The full report is rather long (62 pages) but I strongly recommend reading at least the introduction. It is available on the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston website.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Ron Paul Coup?

Santorum and Gingrich are out of the race and the New York Times is showing Romney with 847 delegates out of the 1,144 needed to win the Republican Presidential nomination.

The view from the Ron Paul camp is they got Romney right where they want him.

New England Liberty Love Fest.

On Saturday I attended the Liberty Love Fest in Worcester, Massachusetts. Ron Paul supporters from all over New England gathered for speeches, music, and an occasional cigarette that didn’t smell like tobacco.

But what really excited the faithful was the outcome of the state GOP caucuses earlier in the day. Although Mitt Romney won the Massachusetts primary on Super Tuesday with a big enough margin to get all 27 delegates up for grabs, when it came time to actually select the delegates at the caucuses, the preliminary result was more than half went to Ron Paul. The Boston Globe explained, “The complexion of the delegation may not matter much to Romney’s nomination: All delegates and alternates are committed to vote for him. But the delegates will get to choose the chairman, vote on a platform, and support whomever they choose for vice president.” (“State GOP’s caucus picks leave Romney slate slighted”, April 30, 2012). As the Globe article notes, the rules commit the delegates to vote for Romney on the first ballot. However, in theory, if they had enough votes, they could change the rules (Ted Kennedy tried that maneuver, unsuccessfully, at the 1980 Democratic Convention).

Since Saturday I’ve encountered similar articles from around the country:

  • PolicyMic, April 29 “Ron Paul Embarrasses Romney Campaign By Winning Louisiana Delegates”
  • PolicyMic, May 1: “Ron Paul Keeps Winning as Supporters Prepare For a Battle With GOP Old Guard”
  • Las Vegas Sun, May 2: “RNC to NV GOP: Don’t let Ron Paul delegates take over national convention slots or don’t bother coming to Tampa”

    Is there a story here, or just wishful thinking by the Ron Paul camp? Hard to say without a clearer idea of the number of delegates involved. What I can say is that if Mitt Romney’s supporters had half as much enthusiasm, persistence, and organization as Ron Paul’s, the November election would be a shoo in for him.

  • Wednesday, May 2, 2012

    Sean Bielat: It takes a Marine

    Last week I participated in a blogger telecon with Congressional candidate Sean Bielat. A marine and a businessman, Sean is running as a Republican in the 4th Massachusetts District - the seat currently occupied by Barney Frank. In announcing his retirement, Barney conceded that the “spirited campaign for re-election” that Sean gave him in 2010 contributed to his decision to turn in his Congressional lapel pin after 32 years.

    Sean Bielat at 2010 rally

    The author (lower right) records Massachusetts 4th Congressional District candidate Sean Bielat during a 2010 rally.

    The 2012 election, Sean says, “is about jobs and the economy.” On the campaign trail, he’s had the opportunity to meet many small businessmen who told him how much damage the Obama administration and the Democrats in Congress have inflicted on the economic front. Out-of-control regulations are undercutting job creation. A man with a painting business, for example, told him, “I’m in a position right now where I could hire one or two people, but I’m not because I don’t know what’s coming.” (For some stats on how Obama compares with his predecessors in this department, see my recent blog entry, With Obama You Get More—Regulations.)

    During the telecon, I was impressed by Sean’s willingness to take on the difficult issues. I wrote previously that, without cuts in defense, Social Security, or Medicare, or increases in revenue, you could shut down the rest of the government and still have a deficit (The Budget Battle: What you need to know). Sean gets this. “There’s a lot of demagoguery about Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid,” he says, “but there aren’t a lot of solutions.” I asked Sean for specifics. I confess I was somewhat skeptical that he would provide any, but he did: means-based testing and increased age of first benefit. As for military spending, he says, “There’s no way you can be serious about deficit reduction without taking a look at the Department of Defense…There’s a smart way you can do it and a dumb way you can do it…Cut civilians instead of soldiers.”

    This commitment to budget cutting stands in stark contrast to that of the likely Democratic nominee, Joseph P. Kennedy III. The proposals for “Balancing our Budget” on Mr. Kennedy’s website are a laundry list of programs he won’t cut. His idea of cost "containment" is the trillion dollar Obamacare program. Mr. Kennedy is so wary of committing himself to anything that he won’t even comment on MTV’s Fantasy Election 2012 game.

    Apparently, it takes a Marine to make the tough decisions.

    You can learn more about Sean at As always, if you like what you see, I encourage you to be generous with your time and financial support.