Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Immigration Reality Check: Earn It

Dear America – Notes of an Undocumented Citizen – Jose Antonio Vargas (Dey Street)

“Yes I am lying, but I am going to earn this box.” The box in question is the one next to the line that reads “A citizen or national of the United States” on an employment application. With the flick of a pen Jose Antonio Vargas claims he committed his first lie about his citizen status at the age of 19. What he brushes over is the fact that in the process, he knowingly committed a crime.

In his new book Dear America – Notes of an Undocumented Citizen, Vargas, a native of the Philippines, details how he came to be in the United States and the struggles and quite frankly his triumphs during his time here. A respected and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Vargas claims that we are living in “the most anti-immigrant period in modern American history” which is complete and utter bullshit.

This is nothing more than the usual journalist’s hyperbole about immigration. While certainly there are pockets of virulent anti-immigrant folks, the vast majority of Americans on both sides of the political spectrum are not against immigration. However that vast majority is against illegal immigration; follow the rules and you won’t have a problem, it’s really that simple.

Vargas has already admitted to being a liar, so I guess I wasn’t surprised to read him spread the outright LIE that “everyday at least 34,000 immigrants are locked up, at enormous cost to American taxpayers.” First off, “immigrants” are not “locked up” any that are, are here illegally, yes they have broken the law. Second, liberals love to claim that there is a Congressional mandate that at least 34,000 illegal aliens be locked up in a daily quota. This is a flat out LIE. The mandate is for the number of beds that must be available to house the illegal immigrants on a daily basis. Just imagine the outcry from Mr. Vargas and his ilk if there was a shortage of beds for this purpose and an excess of people. 

Another bullshit stat that gets floated is that “immigrants” commit crime at about half the rate of the native-born population, 1.6% to 3.3%. This is a not so clever mixing of metaphors when you consider that fully 100% of illegal aliens commit a crime just by being here. Most compound that crime by committing fraud by lying on applications and claiming to be legal and/or identity theft when it comes to false social security records or fake identification.

Vargas details his 2014 visit to the Texas, Mexico border at McAllen, Texas to document the so-called “immigration crisis” and his detention by authorities. He claims this is the first time he was ever the recipient of legal documents from the U.S. Government. I find it amusing that for all of his teeth gnashing about President Trump and his illegal immigration policies, his arrest occurred during the Presidency of Barack Obama.

I must admit that I may have missed the part of the book where Vargas details how he has a gun held to his head forcing him to remain in the United States. If things are so hard for him here, why not accept the largess of the U.S. government in the form of a one way ticket home? He claims his life would be in danger from Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte due to his crack down on journalists. Maybe life in the U.S. isn’t so bad. I would think that Mr. Vargas has the wherewithal to quickly pass through his native country and on to anywhere in the world he would like to plan his next steps.

Problems and Solutions   

Like so many problems/issues we face, liberals tend to think that the solution has to be BIG – as in big government. We really don’t need a massive immigration overhaul, to match say the EPIC FAIL of Obamacare. It’s time to look at the real issues and break them down piece by piece instead of throwing a massive blanket over it, why not try using a laser to pick away at the problem areas.

In healthcare it was pre-existing conditions; why not address that relatively small issue in the grand scheme of a multi-trillion dollar healthcare system and take care of that need instead of blowing up the whole system? The so-called Dreamers who were brought here illegally when they were kids; why not develop a system to identify these folks and get them legal, without the baggage of creating anchor families or the radical leftist thoughts of no borders. There clearly is a solution that can be developed without using a nuclear weapon.

The issue of Middle East refugees is different and separate from immigration and should be treated as such. One look at the utter mess in European countries that threw open the gates and who knows who is walking in and creating a national security nightmare. By controlling and limiting the number of folks is the only way possible to avoid a massive problem that we could live to regret down the road. See Germany and France. We need to work to develop a system to provide a closer screening process that keeps us safe. Is this a perfect or fool-proof system? NO! No system ever is, but it’s better than what currently exists and what Europe has in place. Will that delay or slow the process? YES, but isn’t a little inconvenience worth the risk involved if we don’t do it?

To Mr. Vargas, I like most United States Citizens would be more than happy to have you “earn the box.” Sorry if we are not willing to scrap our system just to help you or anyone else in your situation out. You have to EARN it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

A I Artist

Alien Covenant: David’s Drawings – Dane Hallett and Matt Hatton (Titan Books)

To be honest up front, I was not a huge fan of the movie Alien: Covenant. However I did find the android David to be one of the more interesting and genuinely evil characters in the ongoing Alien movie arc.

So I was intrigued by this companion collection of movie art, Alien Covenant: David’s Drawings, from Dane Hallett and Matt Hatton the film’s onset artists. This incredible package contains two distinct volumes housed in a sturdy, foil wrapped, slipcase. The first is a hardcover sketchbook with over 200 illustrations that are supposed to track David’s transition from research studies of the film’s Engineer’s Planet’s, plant life and indigenous species and his descent into the evil side of experimentation on the creatures he encounters.

The second volume is a soft bound edition which features a detailed interview with the creators/artists. It also offers insights into the pair’s creative process; walking you through things in steps.

The drawings are oddly beautiful and striking in their often gruesome detail and content. The thought that David’s evolution is made all the more creepy when you consider the fact that he is an android. Despite being a machine based lifeform, through the depths of his human based feeling of isolation his artificial intelligence pushed him to this desperate and evil direction.

This gruesome artifact of the creators clearly twisted and creative mindset would find a comfortable home on the shelf or coffee table of any Alien movies fanatic or even the collectors of scary movie facta.  

Monday, August 20, 2018

The Worst President Ever...Hint It Isn't Trump

The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama - Matt Margolis and Mark Noonan (Bombadier Books)

The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama by Matt Margolis and Mark Noonan probably won't set the literary world on fire for it's writing. Where this book scores in a huge way is the utter completeness of this compendium in recapping the staggering number of issues, malfeasance, ineptitude, lies and outright crimes committed by Barack Obama and his administration.

Early on, I labeled Obama's first term as nothing more than Jimmy Carter's missing second term. It didn't take Obama very long to make the Georgia peanut farmer President look like a piker when it came to ineptitude and cluelessness.

Margolis and Noonan literally lay out chapter and verse, running down 200 separate entries, spread over a broad range of categories detailing a litany of examples to illustrate their thesis, all backed up with 124 pages of endnotes citing source materials. One of the striking things as you read through this book is the amount of things the mainstream media never bothered to cover, gave passing coverage to or made excuses for during Obama's White House tenure.

Then add to that a comparison to how utterly apoplectic these same media clowns have been about Donald Trump's Presidency and any hint of alleged wrongdoing, has these clowns shouting impeachment, indictment, treason or worse. When compared to the actual, verifiable things that Obama got away with, make the media outrage laughable at best. While the media asshat brigade deep ends about former CIA head John Brennan being stripped of his top secret clearance as a mythical assault on the First Amendment, Obama's cry real attain on the media barely rated a passing footnote from the elite media. Brennan, a stupid, liberal gas bag is still free to spout his ridiculous bullshit, with or without his security clearance; so the silly story isn't worth the air time it has garnered or the ink spilled.

The frustrating thing about this hefty volume is the unanswered question - why - hen actual crimes have been committed, like the vast list of Hillary Clinton crimes, hasn't there been any prosecutions, pep walks or jailings? Hopefully this handy guide will serve as a clear reminder for DOJ prosecutors. Given that the swamp still is far from drained, I can't any that I am hopeful.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

A Brilliant What If

The Other Women - Daniel Silva - (Harper)

What started out as a one off, one book only affair, featuring Gabriel Allon a grieving man and art restorer, turned avenging assassin, master international spy and later the head of the Israeli Mossad; as turned into one of the most reliably entertaining franchises is all of thriller fiction, spanning 18 books. One of the reasons for the sets ongoing success is the slavish, almost to the point of obsession, eye for detail that author Daniel Silva brings to the stories; he truly seats the details.

Silva's latest Allon outing, The Other Women, offers up a truly inspired "what if" scenario; what if infamous British spy, Kim Philby, who betrayed his country for Russia, had an illegitimate offspring that grew up in the hands of Russian spymasters and was groomed to follow in their father's nefarious footsteps? Silva does a masterful job of immersing the reader in the full Philby story without capsizing the pace of the story he is telling.

Silva knows the right levers to throw, to keep the story headsratchingly plausible to the point where you may starting to think this might be fact rather than fiction. The detail of the geography of the jet setting international locales is spot on as long time Silva readers would come to expect.

The comfortable cast of usual suspects is on hand to aide and abet Allon as he unravels the story by pulling on ever-present threads. As with the best of Silva's outings, betrayal is always on the menu and served up right until the final pages and by some unexpected cooks. Another great read that will leave you just the right mix of satisfied and yearning for more.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Beach Reads - Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Call me a sucker for the beach read thriller; that perfect mix of plot, breakneck pacing and twisting turns. As we roll into August and summer’s home stretch I couldn’t help but notice that a trio of perfect summer reads had taken on, with apologies to Steve Martin and the late, great John Candy, the theme of planes, trains and automobiles.

The Banker’s Wife – Christina Alger – (G. P. Putnam)

First the plane…

Combining a great mix of locales, high finance, high power and a high flying private plane that crashes to set the stage for the globetrotting thrills to come. Christina Alger’s, The Banker’s Wife is set in the world of international banking and leans heavily on today’s headlines kind of feel.

There are seemingly familiar characters sprinkled throughout the story; some may see Bernie Madoff in the high-profile scam artist banker who is alleged to be deceased, but who leaves a trail of cash in off shore banks. The better analogy might be financier Marc Rich who took it on the lam to avoid prosecution right up until his pardon by Bill Clinton. Add to the mix a billionaire New Yorker who is pondering a run for the White House and who has groomed his son to take on the family business, which sounds strikingly familiar.

Strong, smart characters populate both sides of this story as both insiders and truth crusading reporters try to unravel the high stakes tale of offshore billions and a life or death race to the finish. While Alger telegraphs the not so surprising ending, The Banker’s Wife, is a terrific escape for the beach, the patio or under a favorite tree.

The Real Michael Swann – Bryan Reardon – (Dutton)

Now the train…

It’s one of those moments that will leave you wondering if technology has really improved our lives and it’s oh so relatible. You’re on the phone with your husband, wife, child and in mid-sentence their cell phone cuts out. Did the call just drop? Did their phone charge die? Or did something awful happen? Your mind works overtime and you’re left fearing the worst. You frantically dial to call them back, but the call goes straight to voicemail. No matter how you try to reassure yourself, you just know that something is not right, something awful has happened.

That is how Bryan Reardon sets the stage for his new outing, The Real Michael Swann, then he quickly ratchets things up by confirming the worst possible fears; something awful has happened at Penn Station, an explosion has left Julia Swann frantically searching for her husband and answers. While most of us end up with a simple explanation for the dropped call, everyone can relate to the tension you have self-inflicted when fearing the worst.

Reardon masterfully sculpts The Real Michael Swann, deftly mixing the backstory of the Swann’s relationship and the drama the currents events as they play out, injecting the right amount of suspense and twists to propel the story forward. The concept that this one is built upon really sets the hook early and soon you’re along for the ride.

Half Moon Bay – Alice LaPlante – (Scribner)

And the automobile…

A tragic and senseless car accident has taken Jane’s teenage daughter, leaving her life in shambles and sowing confusion and devastation in it’s wake. Her marriage destroyed by the accident Jane hobbles forward into a small coastal town and tries to reassemble what passes for a life, but her new “normal” is anything but.

In Half Moon Bay, Alice LaPlante has pieced together a psychological thriller that delivers great bursts of intensity. The writing style here is at time frenetic, driving you forward with great intensity and then seemingly easing off on the throttle, not so much slowing things down, but actually just letting you catch your breath. Just when you think you know where LaPlante is leading you, she shifts gears and drops a twist in the story.

While the town is small and seemingly idyllic, children are suddenly disappearing and while Jane can certainly relate to the parents loss when the girls are found, made up and placed in an morbid tableau, no one can come up with answers as to who is doing these evil acts and fingers can seemingly be pointed in any direction. The affect is chilling and the plot will have you guessing until the end. Maybe not your typical beach read, but certainly a great one for the inevitable rainy weekend.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Way to the Sea(food)

The Provincetown Seafood Cookbook – Howard Mitcham – (Introduction) Anthony Bourdain – (Seven Stories Press)

With so many online food outlets, cookbooks find themselves at a crossroads; they can’t just be a list of recipes and ingredients, those are over the web. Pretty pictures of delicious looking food aren’t going to make the difference either, for the same reason. I am sorry, but cookbooks by alleged super-models with chipmunk cheeks and butter faces just aren’t believable; I am not buying what you’re selling.

So maybe aspiring cookbook authors or chefs should take note of the newly re-release of the classic The Provincetown Seafood Cookbook by artist, storyteller and chef Howard Mitcham. A perfectly tasty mix of history, fisherman’s tales and seafood is served up with some original drawings courtesy of the author, with just a nip of salty sea air permeating this wonderful tome.

You can find original copies of this book for sale online for hundreds of dollars or settle in to this retro upgrade complete with a new introduction from late chef and raconteur Anthony Bourdain. Bourdain relishes his early days in the food industry when someone gifted him a copy of the original. I think the thing that separates the true culinary masters from the super-model pretenders is the fact that these folks immerse themselves in not only the food, but the stories that go into the recipes they create.

Mitcham was one such character; he not only gives you the tasty victuals, he also steeps you into the history and the details of how he acquired the recipe or the fish tale that goes with it. This one is as much fun to read as it is to cook from. It’s easy to understand why for Bourdain, and so many others this became the go to way finder when the goal was to achieve a delicious seafood feast.

Bias Re-Visited…with a Side of Fake News

Outrage, Inc.: How the Liberal Mob Ruined Science, Journalism and Hollywood – Derek Hunter (Broadside)

Back in 2001, former CBS News reporter Bernard Goldberg set the news media industrial complex on it’s ear with his bestselling expose of the network news business’ clearly left leaning tilt in the book Bias. Goldberg’s colleagues cried hysterically and denial in reaction to the examples of the liberal slanting of the news.

Now 17 years later, conservative columnist, blogger and contributing editor Derek Hunter has served up a kicked-up version, that not only details media bias, but how the media world has changed dramatically in the intervening time; where clueless comedians masquerade as newsman and are taken seriously, low IQ nitwits can air their grievances online and Twitter, Twitiots can take down CEOs with a concerted #hashtag campaign.

In Outrage, Inc.: How the Liberal Mob Ruined Science, Journalism and Hollywood, Hunter cites chapter and verse examples of how even the minimally aggrieved have run amok as mobbed up, often anonymous tyrants who aren’t satisfied until they utterly silence those they disagree with. It not enough to have public debate and discourse, if you dare to differ, you will be pummeled.

Liberals love to claim conservatives “hate science”, but who has done more damage to actual science than nitwits like children’s television host Bill Nye or Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astro-physicist who masquerades as a climate science “expert”. The clueless cabal can’t be bothered to ask what makes these two circus clown experts about what the preach when it comes to climate science. If you dare to question, be prepared to forever be labeled a “denier”.

Unlike the lefties he takes down brick by brick, Hunter actually backs up his theories with countless examples that get backed up with actual, reliable sources. Imagine that!

Fake News, Propaganda, and Plain Old Lies: How to Find Trustworthy Information in the Digital Age – Donald Barclay - (Rowman and Littlefield)

It used to be a cornerstone of primary education that students were taught critical thinking skills. It was what would form the basis for something (depending on your age) that your parents or grandparents would label common sense. In the mad rush in public education, to make sure Johnny feels good about himself, critical thinking skills were tossed off the education island so a couple of generations (at least) have gone lacking when it comes to common sense.

So much of the national machination over what has been popularly dubbed “fake news” it gets lost that if you bring even a bit of critical thinking skill to the table, much of this stuff falls apart under its own weight. Leave it to a librarian to serve up what I can only call a needed lesson in common sense and critical thinking in the form of Donald Barclay’s Fake News, Propaganda, and Plain Old Lies: How to Find Trustworthy Information in the Digital Age.

Barclay kicks it old school and offers great examples of not only the current state of propaganda, but also the historical use of the form. He also points out how we as news consumers can fine tune our bullshit detectors and raise good, thoughtful questions about what comes across our screens on a daily basis. In my humble opinion, question everything should be the starting point for, well, everything.