Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The Speech

It's a privilege to be here. I'd like to talk about our history as a free people, examine some of the problems we face, and suggest a path forward.

Americans rightly celebrate our achievements. We landed on the moon. We accept the idea of competition and "creative destruction." If you haven't heard that term before, creative destruction is the willingness to embrace and reward progress, to let go of traditional ways of doing things. Daily newspapers used to be composed with individual bits of lead, letters of the alphabet that fell down tubes into rows of words in an iron form. Then it became cheaper and faster to use a film strip on a spinning drum, to flash letters on strips of photographic paper that were pasted down in columns and re-photographed to make a metal plate. Then came computers. No lead, no photo sensitive paper or plates, an entirely new method of distributing news without printing presses, ink, or newsprint -- on the internet.

Radio was the dominant means of transmitting entertainment, then television, then color television, three national networks and cable TV, superceeded by cinema-quality big screen digital video, hundreds of competitive channels and razor sharp Blu-Ray, free HD YouTube and handheld mobile devices -- inconceivable to the pioneers of radio 100 years ago.

The same thing happened in transportation. When I was a boy, there were tens of thousands of miles of passenger rail service, connecting small towns and big cities. Only rich people traveled by air, and passenger planes had propellers. Then came the jets, and I remember the excitement of riding in a huge four-engine Boeing 707 that thundered into the air. Gone now, of course, replaced by 727s that were kicked out of service in turn by quieter, fuel efficient two-engine jets -- creative destruction resulting from competition among Boeing, Lockheed, Douglas, Airbus, Pratt & Whitney, Rolls Royce, and competitive airlines who wanted better aircraft. Efficient airlines survived. Braniff, Pan Am, and TWA did not.

In Houston, Texas, there are very few old buildings. Houston has thousands of brand new buildings, brand new highways, constantly being renewed as one of America's most dynamic multicultural centers of commercial trade and truly superb medical care. There are wealthy families who live in Houston, but its strength as a sprawling, busy metroplex is a wide, deep horizontal spread of middle class employment and opportunity for all. The same is true of Silicon Valley -- new companies, new jobs, new wealth, new buildings, new roads. It was historically true of Los Angeles, once an industrial powerhouse of aerospace pioneers and machine shops, optical research, electronics, oil wells and advanced drilling tools.

I know that America has changed, no longer quite as muscular or industrious. When I was a teenager, I worked in a shoe factory in Wisconsin. Pretty good job for a kid. A noisy, busy factory with a lunch break, a good starting wage and training. Later on, I was offered an apprenticeship at a machine shop. Gone now, of course. Whole factories were disassembled and shipped to China from Cleveland, Akron, Milwaukee, Detroit, Toledo, Buffalo, Chicago. Our industrial heartland was hollowed out as a source of working class income and pride.

The 1950s and 60s were cold, long winters and big snows, unlike my parents' experience in the exceptionally warm 1940s. The March of Dimes raised literal dimes to eradicate polio, and we fought a Cold War to deal with treason that gave Russia our nuclear secrets. Soviet power was our own creation, you know -- a policy of pragmatism to defeat Adolph Hitler. We sent weapons and food, and director Frank Capra depicted Slavic peasants as medieval, smiling innocents in U.S. propaganda films shown to every American soldier. FDR gave Stalin the breadbasket of Central Europe at the Yalta Conference, tripling the population under Soviet control. We gave them oilfield tools and financed exploration and development of Russian oil and gas fields, powering Red Army transport and Soviet air power.

Red China arose as a result of American indifference and exhaustion. We had other things to do, with Europe in ashes, millions of "displaced persons" to feed. We paid France to reoccupy Indochina and Britain to retake Burma and Hong Kong. We occupied Japan and Germany, and the Marshall Plan put Western Europe on a path of sullen dependence, from which it never recovered. I lived in England several years during the 80s and 90s. The misery and squalor of socialist Britain under the Labour Party was shocking -- and Margaret Thatcher's valiant quest to modernize and liberate England failed. I was in the newsroom at ITN when she resigned as prime minister. ITN's university-trained journalists celebrated with a case of champagne, intellectually committed to British labor unions and the explicit creed of communism. Mrs. Thatcher was unable to uproot or reform the National Health Service or government housing benefit that perpetuated poverty and sloth, a frozen society of a privileged few and millions of beggars, incapable of building anything new -- not much different than Soviet Russia.

After decades of American sacrifice, the USSR collapsed. We did not defeat it militarily. It's a fiction that Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher forced Russia to reform. I don't know why we attribute all social change to speechwriters and sabre rattling. Communism collapsed because communism is absurd, pretending that central planning by bureaucrats and secret police would improve the world, driven by committees of obedient party members with no incentive to change anything. They built public monuments and misdirected the private lives and labor of interchangeable, rightless victims, instead of freeing or feeding them. It was a Russian proverb under Soviet rule that "We pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us." Independent thought was a crime, American free enterprise damned as exploitation.

It is therefore tragic that the U.S. incrementally became communist, all power centralized in the hands of overpaid bureaucrats and prosecutors, no different than the Soviet system in its haydey. I have a specific reason for saying that. If you've been alert to the scandal of CIA and FBI officials fabricating a case against Donald Trump and his campaign aides, while turning a blind eye to Hillary Clinton's felony crimes and obstruction of justice, then you know what I'm saying is true. Career bureaucrats like Rod Rosenstein and Lois Lerner looked like deer caught in the headlights, nothing to say in public and agreeing to everything demanded by those who held real power -- the power to prosecute and bankrupt a bureaucrat, like snapping a twig. Million dollar legal fees are commonplace if the FBI decides to investigate a "process crime" like forgetting an email you sent, or something you said in a pub, over drinks.

The pioneer colonies in America were communist, especially the Puritans led by wealthy tyrants who tolerated no dissent, no discussion of theology or policy. They interrogated and exiled anyone who deviated from the party line, which included the policy of buying slaves and capturing Indians to exchange for more slaves. Our founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington were slaveholders, which they regarded to be a supernatural right. An early U.S. Supreme Court decision held that Cherokee Indians were in a permanent condition of pupilage with no right to property or due process of law.

There's no undoing history, whether ours, or ancient civilizations like Sparta and Rome that waged war as a first principle of shared social purpose. It's good that the Russians launch our astronauts to the International Space Station, and the Chinese make consumer products and Christmas decorations, but that does not disguise the fact that we have military bases in 120 countries, 700,000 Defense Department structures worldwide, bombers and ICBM silos on hair-trigger readiness, a big fleet of strategic and hunter-killer submarines, guided missile cruisers, destroyers, and carrier battle groups patrolling the world, coordinated by hundreds of surveillance and communication satellites. Who pays for it?  We do -- or rather, some of us do, private sector citizens who are employed and pay Federal income tax. Roughly one-third of all Federal taxes and Federal borrowing are devoted to readiness for war. I'll return to that topic, but first I'd like to discuss the notion of civilian employment.

When I was a boy, there was nothing else. If you wanted food, or shelter, or transportation, or medical care -- you had to work for it and pay for it. Schools were provided by localities who voted reasonably small property taxes. Teachers did not have big salaries or retirement benefits. They were admired as public servants, no different than police officers or judges. Federal taxes including Social Security contributions were small, and the job of politicians was to balance their budgets and limit state and Federal spending for essential programs like national defense, higher education, and scientific research. The University of Wisconsin developed vitamins and agricultural science that justified the money invested in research. Hospitals trained our doctors and nurses and promoted public health knowledge. There was a state hospital to treat mentally ill people and a prison for criminals, although communities and families looked after most of those who had difficulty managing their own affairs. We seldom locked our houses or cars. Milk was delivered daily to homes in glass bottles. Bakers and butchers had individual shops on a main street with local banks and a dozen Mom and Pop retailers who stocked American-made clothing, American-made furniture and shoes, sporting goods, TV sets, locally grown vegetables and fresh fish from Lake Michigan, bolts of fabric and sewing notions from New England.

None of that exists today. Government employment, government contractors, and welfare beneficiaries soared to a quarter of all working-age U.S. citizens. Taxation claims half of all private sector labor and profit. Government debt, state and Federal, is measured in trillions, most of it held by foreign lenders, growing every year without hope of paying it down. Our cities and towns are beseiged by drug abuse, alcoholism, violent crime, seething envy and accusations of "white privilege." We import shoes, clothing, fabric, furniture, flooring, sinks, toilets, and computers from China, allegedly clean produce, deadly narcotics, and auto parts from Mexico, smartphones, big screen TVs, and deepwater drilling rigs from Korea. It would be nice to think that Americans still produce jet aircraft, but it's an illusion. Boeing airframe parts are sourced globally, with critical titanium shapes imported from Russia. Our DC motors, permanent magnets, and solar panels -- the nuts and bolts of "green tech" -- are Chinese, a near-monopoly producer and supplier of scarce rare earth metals. There are tens of millions of undocumented Mexican and Central American migrants, African and Arab refugees who will likely remain wards of the state forever, clustered in enclaves, uninterested in becoming English-speaking Americans, contributing nothing except resentment and lawlessness. Our doctors and nurses are quitting the profession. The cost of health care for an average family and the threat of serious illness is a new nightmare, last in line for diagnosis and treatment unless you're a government worker or military veteran or welfare beneficiary entitled to free care and free food, paid by those who work and pinch pennies to put food on the table for their sullen, screen-addled children.

It did not have to be this way. And so far, I have not named the worst problem of all.

In the 1950s and 60s, Americans were fabulously wealthy, compared to the rest of world. We had industrial processes and transport that no one else had -- and Americans were welcomed with open arms wherever they traveled, paid universal respect and thanks for the role we played in liberating the world during World War II. I experienced it personally when I went to Holland in the 1980s -- immediate, open gratitude and warmth extended to me as the son of an American soldier who drove a halftrack in World War II and liberated Holland.

One of the places where American know-how and money were respected and welcomed was Arabia. The Brits were a colonial power historically, not exactly the nicest, friendliest people to do business with -- and no longer strong enough or rich enough to command respect. Arab kings and ministers were delighted to welcome American geologists and engineers to look for oil in the desert. Oil wealth would enrich a primitive, sparsely populated kingdom. What we found was the world's largest oil reserves -- a vast subsurface carbonate platform that was like the fairy tale of Goldilocks and The Three Bears. Not too low, not too high, just right to cook and capture three hundred billion barrels of light, sweet crude, two-thirds of the known oil on earth. After American equipment manufacturers and American drillers built a massive infrastructure to tap the reserves of Ghawar, the Saudis seized everything. Expropriation of U.S. and British international oilfield assets would happen repeatedly -- Mexico, Venezuela, Persia, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Brunei -- empowering the world's worst dictators and setting the stage for a global cartel called OPEC that would hold us hostage, because America was no longer able to produce enough oil domestically to fuel American growth. We're still stuck in that squeeze, importing 5 million barrels a day from Arabia, despite heroic, high tech horizontal fracking of U.S. shale deposits, a process that costs five times more than a straight hole in the Arabian desert. Arabs have to employ American contractors, and the Saudi crown jewels aren't as productive as they once were, but it remains that Arabia is the sole source of oil for Germany, Japan, Korea, India, and Israel, who are 100% dependent on imports. Our U.S. Navy 4th, 5th, and 7th Fleets escort supertankers past adversaries and pirates, to deliver oil to our allies, to China, and half of the world's population, including us, as net importers.

I mention this, to discuss something else. With oil wealth gushing for 70 years, Middle East populations exploded. Saudis funded construction of mosques worldwide and preached the evil of American liberty, American military power, and our defense of Israel, who repeatedly smashed Arab armies and keeps millions of dispossessed Muslims in concentration camps. Sorry to be blunt. It's no secret that Israel attacked Lebanon and Syria, that America supports dictators in Egypt and Jordan to bribe their cooperation in defense of Israel, and we are at war with Iran, an oil-rich tyranny challenging American-backed Israeli power and our military alliance with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar. The entire region is a powderkeg, squatting on two-thirds of the world's oil reserves, riven by division of Islam into two rivals camps.

Let's ignore the fact that 15 of the 19 World Trade Center and Pentagon cutthroats on 9/11 were Saudi nationals, and that Osama bin Ladin was a Saudi cleric, the wealthy son of a Saudi family who were quietly flown from Beverly Hills to Riyahd by our government after 9/11. I want to speak about something less despicable than secret foreign policy. It's almost trivial that Mossad tricked us into invading Iraq, at a cost of 75,000 U.S. "wounded warriors" and two million Iraqi refugees and war dead, a fertile breeding ground for ISIS and another bout of mass murder and misery, unending civil war in Syria, three million more refugees and their terrified, sickly children with no hope of repatriation to a war-torn, shattered homeland.

What I'd like to focus on instead is the threat of terrorism on U.S., U.K., French, and German soil. It has little to do with payback for our combined military operations in Arabia, however cruel and utterly pointless that was. The principal reason for Islamic resentment of the West is our cultural decadence, which radical jihadis see as punishable by death. They are at war with pornography, homosexuality, and equal rights for women, who are free to dress almost naked in public, as they perceive it, compared to the sweltering black bags that Middle East women are forced to wear. I worked in Libya for a time, before Khaddafi was gang raped and dismembered -- and I was viscerally revolted by the constant unending misery inflicted on women and female children in an oil-rich, vaguely modern, utterly filthy Arab city. We had to buy bottled water, because tap water was unsanitary.

Angry resentment of Western obscenity and decadence isn't limited to radical Islam. Roughly one-third of white, native-born Anglo-Saxon Americans are equally disgusted and outraged about homosexual marriage, pornography, drug use, illegal immigrants, welfare queens, anchor babies, urban violence, and teenage abortion on demand without parental consent. They lost confidence in American democracy, voted for Republicans who did nothing and continued to spend us into penury. They held their noses and voted for Trump because they had no choice. American evangelicals were desperate to reverse the edicts of activist judges and Federal regulations that were strangling economic growth. Let's put that aside. The well of revival has been poisoned by the Deep State and apparently unsolvable social problems.

Before we go any further, I want to confess that I'm equally culpable in the disipations and de-evolution of American society. I was a child of the TV generation, easily tempted by Hugh Hefner and the Sexual Revolution, a pot smoking hippie and sex-mad libertine, free to travel and raise hell as a freelance filmmaker -- privileges that were bestowed by U.S. industry and global military dominance that I did nothing to support or provide. Along the way, I made a few observations from an independent perspective.

I'm sorry. I don't think there's any hope of reconciliation between black and white Americans, between Born Again true believers and Hollywood whores -- or the hordes of homeless who are living on the streets of Los Angeles in tents, dazed and drunk and drugged, shitting on the sidewalk, immune from arrest. It has special meaning for me. I lived in Los Angeles, worked at the studios, got my start as a film director by working for black producers. There was a gap in American history during the 1980s, a racial concordance that allowed a straight white boy to work with independent black producers, black writers, and black stars. It no longer exists. The reins of power today are solidly LGBT, cloistered in Malibu and Beverly Hills, protected by private security guards, because the streets of Los Angeles are no longer safe. Studios are dark, film labs closed, and production is something that happens in Canada, or New Mexico, or Georgia, and in darkened digital animation cubicles in groovy Marin County.

Something else has changed for the worse, affecting every U.S. city, after 50 years of urban Democrat rule. American policing collapsed. It became too dangerous to enforce the law. I did a survey of state-of-the-art police technology recently -- gunshot locators, drones, and cell tower triangulation that allows digital cops to monitor every known bad guy and listen to his conversations whether his cellphone is active or turned off. Response times are better, but the result in law enforcement is not. DC cops were at the scene of the Seth Rich shooting within minutes. They transported him to a nearby hospital while he was still conscious. The cops had body cameras. No final words before he died at the hospital. No culprits identified. It remains an unsolved murder, forgotten, despite huge cash rewards offered for information leading to arrest and conviction of the murderers, allegedly robbers who forgot to rob the victim, a Democrat National Committee staffer who backed Bernie. Puts one in mind of the Meuller special counsel team, 18 Democrat prosecutors who grilled hundreds of witnesses, spent 25 million dollars, and took two years to conclude that there was no Trump conspiracy to investigate, after leaking lies to the press, to smear Trump and swing the 2016 midterms, no interest in the fact that Hillary destroyed 30,000 emails subpeonaed by Congress.

In a wider context, I think what we're witnessing is the folly of policing. FBI field agents knew and reported that secretive Saudis were enrolled in a Florida flight school, training to fly 757 jets on a simulator, no interest in learning to land it. Saudi diplomats were seen meeting with other 9/11 conspirators in Los Angeles. Mass shootings by known jihadis and known lunatics slipped through the fingers of FBI and local police. Our border enforcement and the War On Drugs are in tatters. America's civil society has been robbed and denuded of security. I don't blame law enforcement. Failure demonstrates the folly of policing. Peaceful, well ordered society is a cultural phenomenon. Cops cannot correct a broad collapse of social norms.

Nor can our military forces achieve global security. What could they possibly do about Iran or North Korea? Nuke them? Invade and occupy them? -- with millions of dead and dying to pick up and say, shit, we're sorry, orders were orders.

America talked itself into industrial poverty, dependent on Mexico and China, intellectual poverty, unable to question the bureaucratic bluff of "climate change" or transgender fables taught to kindergarten students. When I was in kindergarten, the main attraction was seeing how a butter churn worked, milk and graham crackers, a midday nap on individual mats.

I worry about conservative appeals to the Constitution and our Founding Fathers, ignoring the Civil War, civil rights legislation, Congressional re-districting by race, college admissions by race, and mandatory employment by racial quota. Anyone who takes a cursory glance at the Founding Fathers would see tax evaders and brutal opportunists who won independence from England by the grace of a French fleet that arrived in time to save a Continental Army who the Founders neglected to pay. Appeals to Biblical "law" are no different than jihadis mesmerized by the Koran. Have you ever considered what the Declaration of Independence actually claimed? -- the "separate and equal station" to form a new government. Swell. A new nation divided against itself, winners and losers, property owners and paupers, masters and slaves, a ritual show of hands with Kavanaugh confirmed by a single vote, the thinnest possible "majority" after smearing him with unsupported, almost cartoonish lies told in a quavering voice by a CIA contractor whose father and grandfather were CIA operatives. She shed no tears in testimony. She couldn't say how she got home after being laughed at by two high school boys at a party with loud music in the distant past. She was not raped.

You've been very patient, while I painted an ugly portrait of the current situation. I will finish with a simple American idea, one that contains everything we need to save ourselves and our innocent posterity. It's liberty -- a long forgotten concept that actuated Americans throughout American history and gave us every good thing worth having. Do you remember how I began this speech? Competition and creative destruction, conducted by individual actors without restraint by Soviet committees or a show of hands in a swing state or a party convention.

No one wants to discuss liberty or common law justice, because they're beyond the reach of sovereign government. They're not in the Constitution, nor in the Bill of Rights. I should note in passing that James Madison was opposed to a Bill of Rights, because it reversed the notion of limited powers in the Constitution. He was forced to yield by a nervous Virginia Assembly led by Patrick Henry, who thundered against ratification of the draft Constitution. In Virginia and New York, it was a very close contest, to ratify or reject Union. Just two individual votes among 57 state convention delegates in New York could have sunk the U.S. Constitution.

The origins of common law predated the Constitution by five centuries, and it was a firmly fixed principle of U.S. constitutional law from the very beginning, that every provision had to be interpreted according to the principles of common law -- which were not spelled out in the text of the Consitution. We inherited common law from England and a medieval priest named Grotius, who examined the question of a shipwrecked sailor who had been cut off from the protection of his homeland. He concluded that such men had individual rights, not given by God as such, but by his circumstance. So, think of yourself as a shipwrecked sailor, possessed of individual rights, reflected in modern common law, in property, contracts, and family life. If you think about it, we live in defacto liberty most of the time, deciding without government permission which career to pursue, who to love and marry, where to live and work in a fundamentally free society.

The funny thing about liberty is that there's no guarantee of success. Competition among our friends and rivals keeps moving the goalposts with creative destruction and new standards of achievement, personal as well as professional. Women expect more from men today. There is no guarantee of success, but freedom historically gave us prosperity and pride. Throwing up your hands in surrender is never profitable. As Baruch Spinoza taught -- another medieval philosopher -- all things noble are as difficult as they are rare.

Thank you.


Sunday, April 21, 2019

Shunned, ignored, or stupid?

My first book (1991) sold 10,000 copies. I was hired to write video scripts in London. Then two prominent weekly webzines separately and independently published me above the fold, an audience of 40,000 unique page views per month. A couple years later, I won 25,000 followers at Seeking Alpha who were notified when I wrote a new financial article. My weekly columns for Alrroya were published in English and Arabic. I appeared opposite Krugman.

Consequently, I acquired the idea that I could write. Whether I could write fiction was a coin toss. Some readers said nice things about Mars, others had technical complaints, and literary agents declined it. Very few "print on demand" copies sold. There was equal disinterest in a paperback pairing a hot female cop and a handsome plutocrat. The work of creating Harry and Laura, followed by Janet and Archie, distilled and precipitated a commitment to romance as the overwhelmingly dominant factor in psychological life, especially during our 30s and 40s when careers are made or ruined, risky gambles taken, passionate love and electrifying eros the result of sudden thermonuclear chemistry. No one expects romance to happen.

Romance in the wider sense is a heightened adventure that presents difficult and dangerous choices, horsewhipped in my longform debut Mars Shall Thunder, more comically but equally grim in The Good Walk Alone. Life and health are risked universally a thousand times a day, in traffic, at a fast food restaurant or school cafeteria, at a gay nightclub or at home. It happens to everyone. We age and die. Vital young adults in their 30s are eager and beautiful, at the summit of physical strength. Murderous conspiracies challenged Harry and Laura on Mars and likewise Janet and Archie in Atlantis to respond, wielding official government powers.

The next thing to do as a novelist was to delete official government powers, make it private wildcat power, totally anarchist and indifferent to money, an independent Chris and Peachy. They kept me busy two years. I had some nice reviews, enough to persuade me that I was on the right track and should continue writing fiction. That's easier said than done. After a major project involving characters I care about, I always had to detach and bang out some nonfiction gumph, a quart of creative Drano. Readers avoided my nonfiction without fail, and reviewers deigned to throw spitballs. Unfortunately, in the course of not writing novels, I hit a couple home runs in the philosophy of law, important work that needs to be seen and studied.

I'm unable to do anything to promote readership, and I've stopped writing. Book sales have flatlined after single digits last year. I'm satisfied that 'Partners' was a masterwork (the whole extent to which I possess any talent) and 'Executive Branch' sharpened matters. I'm done.

Why I'm shunned and ignored, I dunno. Nothing I can do about it. It might be a social disease. The political conspiracy against Trump is congruent with a boycott of action adventure stories involving a powerful white guy and an equally courageous white superbabe. I assert that such people exist in reality. I've met them. Chris and Peachy are a little more active, a little sexier than most, but not so different than hard combat vets and the hot females who want them.

Let's be honest about it. A straight white hero, armed and dangerous?  And worse than that, indifferent to people of color and liberal government, a blur in the rear view mirror. Chris and Peachy were pampered sprigs of wealthy clans in control of institutional power -- a pair of ruling class black sheep. What they do as often as possible is to celebrate a red hot sexual attraction that can't be delegated or saved. It ought to be obvious. There is a cohort of white male warriors, ex-Marine Corps "devil dogs" with superior fighting skills. If threatened, they attack. Their women are likewise armed, dangerous, devoted, and unafraid.

Chris and Peachy -- an irresistible, unending, permanent romantic union. Polygamy doesn't change anything. They were bonded by physical and mental chemistry that no complication can bend or distort, destined to cleave closer in four wild action adventure novels.

Whether it was a long, lonely multi-year folly or a milestone reached and won, the intimate saga of Chris and Peachy freed me to show and tell what I knew about life. 'Partners' was a personal retrospective of how life used to be in the simpler 1970s, when ordinary men and women needed and defended each other and accepted the truth of life on life's terms.

Baffles me how anyone can believe the absurdity of immaculate conception and virgin birth, resurrection of a dead man, and retail immortality bestowed by faith. It also troubles me that I outlived Paul Tweeten. I think Paul gave up. It's a heavy burden to fail as a filmmaker.

Tough that I, too, failed as a film director, but it escapes me why I've been blackballed as an novelist. Straight white people don't read any more? There's been a flood of self-published indie authors, a vast clutter of dsyfunctional chick lit, vampires, and LGBT fantasies.

A handful of positive reviews kept me going.

    "A master of sly observations, of the truths hidden in words, echoes to the time when men were men, and writers weren't afraid to tell stories."
    "The combination of courage, tenderness, integrity, brains and raw sensuality is way out of the ordinary. Alternately growls, whimpers and seduces."
    "The truth is often dark and brilliant at once. DeVoon is great with description."
    "Gripping, marvellously portrayed."

Hmph. Flowers that bloomed a few days like dogwood. Easily the prettiest tree in the forest, a spectacular herald of Spring, bare again in a blink. Puzzles me that my intellectual work was quoted by a constitutional scholar in Kathmandu, totally ignored in America.

I recorded a series of videos, put up a web page to archive my stuff for posterity. I expect to be erased from Google, banned by Amazon, and buried in an unmarked grave, no obiturary. The future belongs to legislators, school teachers, Jews, and people of color. I'm not angry about it, but it worries me that inertia should squash everything else, zero interest in liberty or private heroism, hand on heart fealty to religion and a show of hands, fascist government by morons and ugly manipulators incapable of producing or preserving anything of value.

As a pauper, it's a struggle to find 1000 calories a day. Prices matter. I ate ultracheap canned mackerel imported from China, until I noticed the label warning about cadmium and lead. If this is my last year, always a threat, it was worth every hardship that I endured as a creative explorer, and I have no regrets. Embarrassment wasn't much of a deterrent or penalty.



Sunday, March 31, 2019


Well, it had to end some time, right? Long illness left me dry. I can neither read nor write. My body of work became uninteresting and inert. It used to be a sparky adventure, always eager to stand taller and straighter, better magic to gamble and triumph again.

 All gone. Whatever I achieved, so be it.

If it matters, or if anyone cares, the Playboy centerfold twins were real. The vacation house in Holland and the snowbound Belgian chateau were real. Assaulting the Dept of Energy and the rest of First Feature were real events. The Last Book was real, and Dreamland was 7/8 factual. I carried a gun and fired it. When Chris Cable went to prison I was writing from experience.

Obviously, I never went to Mars, but the characters were real people I encountered. Cocktail happens in the real world, people and places I knew, and it addressed an uncomfortable fact of life. Sexuality trumps everything else. Private actors do what government cannot do. They can't be stopped by religion or laws or common sense or physical danger if they fall in love.

It's hard to name the story I liked best, but Charity was closest to the truth of life, Partners my finest saga of raw courage, and The Executive Branch a fair guess of what's likely to happen in reality when things fall apart.


Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Weak and very ill

I wish there was more to say. Let me look. There may be something in the files.

I guess it was 1990. The managing director had arranged an afternoon seminar for the sales people, and he wanted me to say a few words about what writers did. Not being innately clever, I said what I knew about it: "Writers go naked in public." Got a big laugh.

There are other consequences, of course. Wrecked marriages, credit card debt, inability to hold a job, paying assholes to write terrible 3-star reviews, and being ignored and dissed for decades are relatively small potatoes. Truly awful consequences are in the work itself. For instance, once glimpsed a story must be told convincingly in its entirety. The language has to be original. It has to sing and frighten and dazzle in believable grit and grandeur. Events in the third act have to be foreshadowed on Page One.

Hours and weeks and months fly by. In the old days, there were piles of balled paper and spent typewriter ribbons on the floor of an office that doubled as a bedroom, back rent due. Nowadays computers hide how many ideas and sentences get junked. I miss physical paper, never had to worry about software crashes or lightning strikes. I use a USB drive for back-up when I get close to the end of a chapter, a frantic procedure when I'm nearing a complete final draft, re-reading the whole thing six or seven times to fix a single comma, or alarmed at repetitive use of a word, an emergency to conceive a substitute. Professional writers use a thesaurus. I think it's cheating. I did it once in 1997 and regretted it. Felt phony.

Worse, finished work is finished work. It would be treason not to publish it. After a while the business of life recedes in importance, can't matter and doesn't matter. I could be taken any second, and it wouldn't matter. Stories matter. Nothing else.