Sunday, June 28, 2015

Political Correctness Corrected

Daddy Please Stop Talking!: And Other Things My Kids Want But Won’t Be Getting – Adam Carolla – (Dey Street/Harper)

Actor, comedian, television host, podcaster and bestselling author Adam Carolla is out with his latest publishing effort Daddy Please Stop Talking!: And Other Things My Kids Want But Won’t Be Getting; a fresh take on parenting and fatherhood that bound to drive the politically correct and sensitivity trained among us right over the edge.

Carolla’s insight is fresh, but not new; he not only sees the absurdity of today’s overwrought, overscheduled and over the top society, but he’s man enough to call us out on it. The minute you start to question the way things have become or wish for the way things used to be, you get labeled a relic or old fashioned, but Carolla correctly points out kids got to be kids and not the drugged, mind-numbed, video game and fast food addicted messes that we find ourselves parenting today.

I found myself nodding in agreement throughout the book probably because I have said, hell I have preached many of the same things for years. Where’s the proof that Johnny is better off with Ipods and Ipads and 70 inch flat screen TVs and organized soccer leagues? One realistic look at your surly, sulking and fat 14 year old and I think Carolla has more than made his case.

And how about a little appreciation for Dad! You know the guy who gets up early every day and heads off to work to earn the money to keep a roof over your head and food on the table…remember him? Oh that’s right, in a society that has inundated us with images of men too stupid to buy a can of paint or take care of the kids by himself, is it any wonder that the value of Dad’s has been relegated down to the same level as our trust in Congress?

Carolla sounds the rallying cry that it time for Dads to step up and return to their rightful place as the head of the household and please all you namby pamby whinners who think I sound like a caveman your choice is simple; grow up or shut up! Because I don’t care what you think!

Friday, June 26, 2015

A Headline Ripping Spenser

Robert B. Parker’s Kickback – Ace Atkins – (Putnam)

Law and order is always an easy sell; keeping in line those who choose to paint outside the lines of the law. In an effort to keep delinquent teens in line a supposedly by the book judge is taking said book and tossing it squarely at those wrong doers. The problem…the judge seems to be writing his own book and isn’t playing by the rules himself. These so-called criminals get sent in droves to a mysterious, privately owned island prison camp.

Magically the judge seems to be living well beyond his means; is something nefarious afoot? Bestselling author Ace Atkins artfully fills the substantial shoes of legendary tale-spinner Robert B. Parker in his latest Spenser outing, Robert B. Parker’s Kickback by ripping a page straight out of recent headlines.

For unfortunate parents and residents who call Central Pennsylvania home, this story may ring all too familiar. The so-called cash for kids scandal involved a pair of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas judges; President Judge Mark Ciavarella and Senior Judge Michael Conahan, who were found guilty of accepting cash payments in excess of $2.5 million in exchange for feeding a steady stream of youthful offenders to a privately owned incarceration facility.

Zero tolerance is the order of the day in Blackburn, Massachusetts and teens convicted of minor or non-existent crimes find themselves being shipped off to an island prison camp. When a parent raises questions about the whole process, Spenser once again rides the rescue looking to right wrongs and put bad guys in their place. Atkins does a nice job of mixing classic Parker’s characters into the mix along the way. This one is a tight read and a perfect Spenser-ish story line.   

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Meet the new enemy…same as the old enemy

Those who think that the Cold War is an artifact of history are in for a rude awakening with three new books, from master craftsmen of the thriller form. The war on terror is alive and well; and our old nemesis, Russia is borrowing a page or two from the terrorist playbook in these new outings.

Independence Day – Ben Coes (St. Martin’s Press)

A highly skilled, rogue Russian hacker is out to right what he believes to be wrongs from the past and settle a score with the United States. While they say that revenge is a dish best served cold this hacker, dubbed Cloud, has decided to go hot and deliver a nuclear warhead targeting America’s East coast. He enlists willing jihadists to deliver the blow and in the long haul take the blame.

Seemingly the only thing standing in his way is former special forces operator Dewey Andreas in the highest of stakes game. With Independence Day, Ben Coes continues to solidify his position as one of the top tier players in the thriller game with the fifth entry in the Andreas series.

In a game of beat the clock, Andreas must bounce back from the brutal murder of his fiancĂ©e and prove that he hasn’t lost his edge and is up to the challenge he is faced with. Coes knows how to pace the action, develop red-blooded characters and deliver just the right twists at just the right time. Andreas has quickly become a character that fans of Scot Harvath (Brad Thor) and Mitch Rapp (Vince Flynn) will gravitate towards and cheer on.

Radiant Angel - Nelson DeMille (Grand Central Publishing)

Veteran thriller master Nelson DeMille has squared former NYPD detective and current government alphabet soup contractor John Corey off against all form of terrorist, Middle Eastern and home grown domestic in prior outings. So it only seems natural that the wise-cracking Corey would one day face off with Russian thugs hell bent on doing damage to the homeland. 

In Radiant Angel, Corey has moved on from his contracting role with the Anti-Terrorist Task Force to a new assignment with the Diplomatic Surveillance Group. Tasked with openly following Russian diplomats, who in reality are spies, Corey grabs a tiger by the tail in the form of Vasily Petrov, a Colonel in the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service. Petrov is playing diplomat, but in reality he is an assassin who has been tasked with striking a blow for Mother Russia.

Corey track Petrov to the Hamptons estate of a Russian oligarch and ends following his well-tuned gut right into the middle of what is shaping up to be an international incident. Petrov disappears from the estate and the hunt is on for antique Russian nuke which could take out the Big Apple and more. DeMille delivers all we have come to expect from John Corey, a wise-cracking, everyman hero, hot on the trail of saving the day.

Palace of Treason – Jason Matthews (Scribner)

Author Jason Matthews spent 33 years in the employ of the Central Intelligence Agency’s, National Clandestine Service, working as an operations manager, specializing in counterintelligence and counterterrorism, among other areas. It is that been there, done that level of realism that he uses to populate pages of his thrillers.

Out with Palace of Treason, the follow up to his debut novel Red Sparrow, Matthews is once again ready to heat up the Cold War and make the case that espionage efforts between the two heavyweight superpowers is alive and well. Matthews injects a real world scenario with the Russians looking to curry favor with Iran.

Once again Matthews centers the story on CIA operative/handler Nate Nash and Russian SVR agent/CIA penetration operative Dominika Egorova. To borrow a line made famous by Liam Neeson; Dominka has a very special set of skills that she brings to the party. Palace of Treason crackles with an insider’s energy and pacing.


Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Self-Inflicted Death of Liberalism

The Silencing – How The Left is Killing Free Speech – Kirsten Powers (Regnery)

It used to be that liberals were open to new ideas and would engage in rigorous debate to support their point of view. Not so much anymore. Kirsten Powers, a self described liberal who lays claim to being raised in a liberal household full of that rigorous debate, is columnist for USA Today and The Daily Beast as well as a Fox News contributor, who in her new book makes a solid case that it is the left who are on a mission to kill free speech.

In The Silencing – How The Left is Killing Free Speech, Powers sets the nail in the heart of what she renames the illiberal left and proceeds to drive it home again and again; making her case almost to the point of redundancy. The reaction that she has received from her fellow liberals reiterates her points; rather than trying to engage Powers in a debate the left resorts to name calling.

While the left loves to wrap themselves in the banner of being the smartest people in the room, clearly smarter than the backwards, science hating conservatives; Powers clearly outlines that the left has become as she puts it, “isolated from the marketplace of ideas.” Rather than trying to engage those with differing points of view, the left has been reduced to tactics that involve an almost non-stop creation of “phobias” which created the illusion that those who disagree with the liberal viewpoint are somehow mentally challenged. Thus we get things like homophobe or Islamophobe; which really are nothing but name calling and intimidation.

Rather than challenging conservatives, the left resorts to trying to remove those who dissent from the playing field. How many times have you heard the left call for the firing or removal of those they disagree with? Powers cites nearly countless examples. The problem for the left is this has amounted to a weakening of their ability to make their case and as a result their point of view is dying a slow, painful death of a thousand self-inflicted wounds.

I have engaged numerous, supposedly highly educated college professors, and been able to swat aside their arguments like child’s play; only to be attacked and called names for pointing out their flawed thinking. Because I have a different perspective on things does not make me a denier, a phobic, or a fill in the blank - ____ist of some variety and it’s not my goal to have you removed from the debate, but to make the case why my viewpoint is the correct one; something Powers clearly makes the case that liberals are no longer interested in.

Monday, June 1, 2015

American Sacrifice

American Wife: A Memoir of Love, War, Faith and Sacrifice – Taya Kyle (William Morrow)

I have never been a fan of those pundits, commentators and journalist who use the phrase “ultimate sacrifice” to describe those warriors who lost their lives in battle or on behalf of our country. The folks at Merriam Webster define the word Sacrifice as- “the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone.” Most if not all of the members of the military that I have had the pleasure to have met, know or call friend would never willingly “give up” their lives; they would fight tooth and nail to return home to their family and if they died in battle they would do it with honor.

With her book American Wife: A Memoir of Love, War, Faith and Sacrifice, Taya Kyle, the wife of Chris Kyle, the man dubbed the American Sniper has released a story that is part loving tribute to the legendary warrior and a poignant reminder of the difficult sacrifice that the families of our all-volunteer fighting force make when they allow those men and women to go off to far flung places to fight for the freedoms we all in enjoy. It is a story that has never been given enough play and one that we all need to be reminded up more often.

While those family members are not subject to the level of danger that the warriors face a solid case could be made that many of those family members and survivors need to be given the support to deal with the stresses and strains involved with loved ones subjected to battle in far flung places for extended periods. Mrs. Kyle details the efforts to impact the lives of not only warriors, but also their families through work started by Chris before his devastating murder and continued by her with untold strength and grace.

She provides insight into not only the difficulties of separation, the uncertainty spawned by the dangerous career choice of sniper, but also the rollercoaster ride that she and her children have been on since her husband’s murder. Throughout she maintains a level of, at least by outward appearances, even tempered candidness, that I personally can’t muster when it comes to things like the legal case brought by the dirt bag former Governor of Minnesota, turned conspiracy theorist whack-a-mole, Jesse Ventura.