Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Front Lines of the Culture Wars...

I was trying to find a good quote about the culture wars. As I slogged through what seemed like the hundredth post-election article with the words conservative despair in the headline, I found this gem in the comments:
Stories are important. Storytellers have a specific type of power. They shape memories and impressions. The victors write history – but anyone can write a story, and those who write the best and most popular stories win the culture wars. Don’t just give it up to them. Fight back. – Jamie W.
As one of the characters in The Fountainhead said, “Do you think I picked the things in my art gallery by their signatures?” I didn’t have to follow the link to know who “Jamie W.” is. Jamie Wilson runs and is a senior editor at Liberty Island Magazine. So she knows about storytelling, and she’s right, of course. Before our fellow citizens will vote for liberty, they need to understand it and believe in it – and stories are an effective way to connect with them on a gut level.

But stories can't change hearts and minds if no one reads them. This is especially problematic for writers of conservative and libertarian fiction: they're mostly indie authors who do not have the publicity department of Random House or the sales force of Simon and Schuster to promote their life's work.

Never Surrender

With that end in mind, I’m pleased to announce the first issue of my new e-mail newsletter, Never Surrender, will be released on Friday, February 1. The title, of course, is taken from the advice Winston Churchill gave to the British people when the Nazi hordes were consolidating their takeover of France and the Battle of Britain was imminent.

In Never Surrender, I will share the latest from novelists whose characters take responsibility for their own lives and live traditional values; comedians who laugh at the absurdity of political correctness; and filmmakers who use the power of cinema to tell tales of liberty overcoming tyranny, and, along the way, give us a sense that there are things in life that are sacred. Issue 1 will feature capsule reviews of works by Kia Heavey and Christopher Bunn and news from FrackNation, Loren Spivack, and (speak of the devil) Jamie Wilson.

In a shameless effort to build circulation, I’m going to commit marketing. Subscribe to my free newsletter, Never Surrender, by February 28 and automatically be entered in a drawing to win a copy of your choice of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged or Glenn Beck's The Overton Window.

To begin your free subscription to Never Surrender, and be entered into the drawing, email

Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about hospital gowns, freedom, and never surrendering. Check it out on

Monday, January 28, 2013

Top Ten Obama Sitcoms

Top Ten

#ObamaSitcoms was trending on Twitter the other day, so I did my part to invent some:

#10. Everybody Loves Food Stamps

#9. The Nanny…State

#8. Sabrina the Teenage Mother

#7. Beavis and Biden

#6. Unmarried with Children

#5. I Dream of Lenin

#4. How I Got Bin Laden

#3. Malcolm in the Unemployment Line

#2. The Big Keynes Theory

And the #1 Obama sitcom…
The Blunder Years

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

Friday, January 25, 2013

Book Review: Lovers and Lunatics (The Potter Family Files, Volume I)

The book description on Amazon began, “Normal guy Frank Potter is forced by his wife to join a local acting group. He enters a terrifying world of hefty thespians, impromptu drama, and crazy people. Mayhem and ambulances ensue. A large Russian woman also falls on top of someone from a great height.”

Not promising. The printed word isn’t exactly the best medium for slapstick.

But we were well into the week, I needed something for today’s book review, and Lovers and Lunatics is only 118 pages long.

Also, author Christopher Bunn had assured me in a Facebook message that his novella is comically politically incorrect (Is that the right word? Novella? It’s only 118 pages, so I think that’s the right word). Without getting off my ass, I hit the one-click Buy button and started reading on my Kindle. Technology is amazing.

I got two paragraphs into the novella (I think that’s the right word. I’m going to stick with it), up to the point where the narrator describes his children as “our three little in-house savages,” when I realized something:

This book (or novella) is, as we say in Boston, wicked funny.

It consists of three short stories: “The Revenge of the Demented Thespians,” “The Attack of the Crazed Environmentalists,” and “The Night of the Thanksgiving Turkey Terror.” The stories chronicle the adventures of the charmingly clueless Frank Potter. He's the kind of guy who, when his wife tells him to answer the door, he always manages to hear something like “Would you like a fried egg sandwich with sausage after I get the doorbell?”

Frank is perennially cranky. Among the objects of his displeasure are poets (“[W]hile I normally disagreed with the domestic policies of Josef Stalin, I did agree with his long-standing rule of exiling poets to Siberia”), pretentious arthouse plays (“[W]henever I read reviews that use phrases like ‘brave and unflinching’ I know a film or play is going to be incredibly boring…The phrase ‘affirmation of life’ in a review means the story will feature at least one suicide.”), bureaucrats (“He had a sour expression on his face, like he spent his free time sucking on lemons and thinking about how he wanted to buy more lemons,”), TV journalists (“I won an Emmy back in ’93 for my groundbreaking segment ‘Public School Lunches: Your Child and Radioactive Food.’”), nouvelle cuisine (“I think it’s seaweed...And pine needles. And this wispy stuff is called Spanish moss.”), and day spas (“[I]t’ll be all giggles, right until someone drowns in the mud”).

And the French. (Did I mention this is a politically incorrect novella?)

While I enjoyed all three stories, the first was my favorite, thanks to the hilariously awful play, Concrete Flowers Deux, that the demented thespians perform without having seen the script ahead of time. I laughed all through it. It reminded me of A Midsummer Night’s Dream’s play-within-a-play The Most Lamentable Comedy and Most Cruel Death of Pyramus and Thisby.

I look forward to Volume 2.

Learn more about Lovers and Lunatics on

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

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

One Generation Away from Extinction

Statue of Liberty
Photo source: Wikipedia
If you look at history, freedom is not normal. Most people in most times and places lived under oppressive regimes where there was no freedom of speech, no freedom of religion, and no due process. The government could lock you up and torture you at any time without having to give a reason, and in feudal Europe there was even the right of primis noctis which gave the lord first crack at deflowering your daughter. Even in today's America, most people want the government to prohibit others from doing things which they dislike, offering freedom for the things they do like as a consolation prize.

It's clear then why, in Ronald Reagan's words, "freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction." Freedom is rare and precarious, and we cannot be too careful about preserving the checks and balances that make it possible - including an armed population that can resist the power of the government if it ever becomes necessary. It might not be realistic, in the nuclear age, to expect the sort of weapons parity that would permit the people to beat the government in open combat, but they should at least be armed well enough that a would-be dictator would think twice before taking them on.

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

Northborough Tea Party

Northborough Tea Party

Good turnout:

Northborough Tea Party: Good turnout

Businessman and former Congressional candidate Brian Herr makes the case for term limits:

Brian Herr

Listening thoughtfully. Professor Nick Sanchez, activist Len Mead, Northborough Cable Access's Rick Nieber, WCRN's John Weston:

Nick Sanchez, Len Mead, Rick Nieber, John Weston

Nick reviews the contest for Republican State Party Chair:

Nick Sanchez

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

Monday, January 21, 2013

Martin Luther King's Last Speech: "I Have Been To The Mountaintop"

The Constitution. American exceptionalism. Freedom of assembly. Freedom of speech. freedom of the press. Refusing to back down in the face of opposition. The language of the Bible.

Where does one hear these things today?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say the true heir to Dr. King is the Tea Party.

Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about hospital gowns, freedom, and refusing to back down. Check it out on

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Mass. Statehouse 2nd Amendment Rally

Even in Massachusetts we believe in the Second Amendment. Here's an album from today's rally at the Mass. Statehouse:

MA 2nd Amendment Demonstration

We the People.

My favorite musket is my AR15.

Hey, Deval: Are you limiting your own security to seven rounds, too?

MA 2nd Amendment Demonstration

I will not give up liberty or property for your false sense of security.

A visceral reaction to a tragedy won't prevent crime.

Liberty, not tyranny.

Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and cool-looking guns. Check it out on

Friday, January 18, 2013

Movie Review: Zero Dark Thirty

The climax of Zero Dark Thirty is an above-average action sequence which manages to be suspenseful even though we all know how it ends. Through the greenish hues of night-vision goggles, we watch highly skilled Navy SEALS execute a surgical strike on Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad, Pakistan compound, killing the man behind the 9/11 Attacks.

But the events prior to the departure of the first helicopter to Abbottabad are what are really interesting about Zero Dark Thirty: a nine-year, not-so-surgical manhunt. The CIA operatives on the case, Dan (Jason Clarke) and Maya (Jessica Chastain), exhibit steely determination as they try to persuade skeptical bureaucrats to act on incomplete information that came from ethically-challenged sources. Some of their leads result in dead ends for their colleagues – in the tragic and literal sense of the word dead.

And sometimes they use torture.

Director Kathryn Bigelow doesn’t sugar coat. Most of the movie’s first hour consists of gruesome scenes of prisoners being subjected to “enhanced interrogation techniques,” including waterboarding. One CIA operative even manages a smirk when she sees Barack Obama on TV, sermonizing about how these techniques diminish the moral stature of the United States. (Incidentally, that’s Obama’s only appearance in the movie. Zero Dark Thirty is definitely the story of the spies and the soldiers who did the heavy lifting in finding and killing bin Laden, not the politicians.) Regardless of their effect on our moral stature, the techniques work. A prisoner cracks and gives Dan and Maya the name of the al-Qaeda courier who eventually leads them to bin Laden.

Of course, the question with any work of historical fiction is: is that how it really happened? According to then-CIA Director Leon Panetta, yes. In an interview three days after bin Laden’s death, he said, “enhanced interrogation techniques were used to extract information that led to the mission's success.” But Panetta’s successor, Acting Director Michael Morell, presented a more nuanced picture. In a letter to CIA employees about Zero Dark Thirty he wrote, “[T]he truth is that multiple streams of intelligence led CIA analysts to conclude that Bin Ladin was hiding in Abbottabad. Some came from detainees subjected to enhanced techniques, but there were many other sources as well. And, importantly, whether enhanced interrogation techniques were the only timely and effective way to obtain information from those detainees, as the film suggests, is a matter of debate that cannot and never will be definitively resolved.”

So we have conflicting reports and I leave it as an exercise for my readers to decide for themselves: was torture justified in bringing to justice the man responsible for 3,000 murders on that sad and terrible September day?

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

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Top Ten Additional Obama Executive Orders

President Obama released his much-hyped executive gun control orders today, and they were a big anti-climax: piddling initiatives like “Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers” and “Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.” The president will have to wait on Congress for the big stuff like banning “assault weapons” (good luck with that, Barry).

Well, piddling is what Obama does best. No doubt he’ll do more of it. Here then are my predictions for Top Ten Additional Obama Executive Orders:

#10 Income tax audit for that guy that was mean to him in 10th grade.

#9 Michelle Obama fat jokes now punishable by six years in Leavenworth.

#8 New Obamacare mandate: extra-large suppositories

#7 White House staff to be issued those cool Che Guevara hats.

#6 Raise the ethical standards of the administration by appointing new cabinet secretary Lance Armstrong.

#5 In order to receive federal education funds, school districts must replace Pledge of Allegiance with Obama National Anthem

#4 If Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling, no dessert.

#3 In honor of Elizabeth Warren, September is now National Fake Indian History Month.

#2 Twenty percent increase in Snausages for Piers Morgan.

And the #1 Additional Obama Executive Order…
Special 150% tax bracket for all citizens named “Rush.”

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