Making the click-through worthwhile: Huge personal news and an addition to your summer reading list, the consequences of opposing Trump while emulating his worst traits, and California liberals grow comfortable with building a big, beautiful wall . . . to keep the homeless out of their neighborhoods.
Behold, for Your Summer Reading List: Between Two Scorpions
Before we get into the day’s headlines, a very special announcement, news I’ve been itching to share with you readers for a long time: I’ve written a thriller novel entitled Between Two Scorpions. It’s about a small team of CIA employees trying to hunt down a terror group that has deeply studied America’s worsening cultural divisions, and who are plotting a series of attacks designed to maximize paranoia and put America’s social fabric through a wood chipper.
To be honest, I’m a little terrified, because while this is my fourth book, I’ve never written anything quite like it. While this story undoubtedly has some observations about the current state of our culture, it’s not really political. While it has some of my usual humor in it, it isn’t a satire like The Weed Agency*. If you’re getting tired of the world of politics and the 2020 presidential campaign seems exhausting already, Between Two Scorpions is the relaxing series of chases, explosions, gunfights, snake pits, flaming craters, femme fatales, and showdowns that you’ve been looking for.
The official release date is June 11th and the e-book and paperback are published by an imprint of Amazon, which means for the time being, it is only available through the Amazon site. The e-book is an entire $3.99 and the paperback is $12.99.
Several of top thriller writers have been kind enough to read BTS and they came back with praise that has me blushing. Mark Greaney, author of the Gray Man series and the New York Times Bestsellier Mission Critical, said Between Two Scorpions was “powerful, real, and relevant . . . A well-written and dynamite page turner and a welcome addition to the thriller genre.” John A. Daly, author of the Sean Coleman Thriller series, calls it, “a fun and quirky international thriller — a fast-paced story against a recognizable backdrop of societal division and cultural ruthlessness. A compelling read.”
And James Gagliano — a man who has lived this sort of thing, as a retired FBI Supervisory Special Agent and former member of the FBI’s elite counterterror unit, the Hostage Rescue Team, and who’s currently a law-enforcement analyst for CNN — said BTS was “taut, vivid, and engrossing. A deliciously messy entanglement requiring unforgettable characters to confront the action — and their individual failings — head on. It all leads to a spine-tingling denouement, leaving the reader gasping for breath and craving a sequel.”
And you’ll want to click through to the Amazon page to see what Ben Shapiro and Kurt Schlichter said.
For those of you who will be in or near Hilton Head, South Carolina on the week of June 17th, I will be doing an event organized by my Beaufort County Publicity Manager, a.k.a. Dad.
First and foremost, I hope readers have a good time and enjoy the characters — a new spin on the motley crew of specialists out of Mission: Impossible, Alias, or Firefly. The settings of Between Two Scorpions are the strangest and most otherworldly real-life locations I could find: the Brazilian island with more poisonous snakes per square meter than any other spot in the world, a giant flaming crater in Turkmenistan that never burns out, an unbelievably creepy island of forsaken children’s dolls in Mexico City, a completely abandoned major airport in Cyprus . . . This is not a supernatural thriller, but it’s one that’s got a moody atmosphere — weird dreams and nightmares that may be prophetic, momentary visions, hallucinations . . .
Also, while this is not a supernatural novel, it’s one that takes matters of faith seriously. Some characters are devout, some are atheist, and some are wavering in-between, but both the protagonists and antagonists are driven by strong beliefs and a certainty that this is what they’re meant to do. I included a lot of references to little-known religions, mythology, cults, and ancient symbolism. When the good guys say they’re on the side of the angels, and that they may have to fight to the gates of Hell, they mean it. I wanted to create a sense that the forces of good and evil are building to an epic clash with the fate of the country or perhaps the entire world at stake – and a foreboding sense that this story may not end with a quick, easy, “and then the good guys won” conclusion.
I will try not to be a relentless automaton when it comes to promoting Between Two Scorpions (“Too late!” — Jonah’s couch) but this is part of what an author is expected to do nowadays. And if you’ve ever felt like doing me a favor or saying thanks, clicking “purchase” on BTS would do it.
*Okay, there’s at least one subtle reference to The Weed Agency in it. I may have to give some prize to the readers who spot it.
Those Who Take on Trump, Emulate His Worst Traits, and Fall Because of Those Traits
Yesterday, federal prosecutors indicted Michael Avenatti for the third time, meaning the once ubiquitous cable-news guest is now facing charges of aggravated identity theft, extortion, embezzlement, and fraud. If convicted, Avenatti could go to prison for the rest of his life.
Back in October, Avenatti tweeted at Donald Trump Jr., “If I were you, the last thing I would be doing is referencing other people getting out of federal prison. Because after you are indicted, you will likely be passing them on your way in.” Let’s take a moment to savor that irony.
Ed Morrissey uses the term “complicit in pathology” in describing cable-news media’s short but passionate relationship with Avenatti, and it is a perfectly accurate description.
The world has a lot of folks who touted themselves as one of President Trump’s most ardent foes, and along the way succumbed to their own temptations to copy his worst habits, like incendiary rhetoric and dishonesty, and ended up in worse shape than they began.
Kathy Griffin lost “an endorsement deal, her comedy tour was canceled, and CNN ended her long-running job as co-host with Anderson Cooper on New Year’s Eve. She was placed on a no-fly list, and under investigation for conspiracy.”
Jussie Smollett is, as of this time, not scheduled to return to the Fox television series Empire.
You know who’s off the air? Former ESPN anchor Jemele Hill.
Steve Bannon trashed the Trump children, and is now he’s off trying to build an international coalition of nationalists working across borders to . . . fight the globalists.
As mentioned yesterday, a slew of Democratic presidential candidates who touted themselves as the biggest, toughest, most uncompromising opponents of Trump are flopping: Kirsten Gillibrand, Beto O’Rourke, Eric Swalwell, Bill de Blasio. Part of it is that this isn’t a particularly unique “brand” in the Democratic primary, but another part of it is that impassioned opposition to Trump isn’t sufficient to inspire excitement or loyalty, even among committed Democrats.
Former FBI Director Jim Comey is getting increasingly mocked for his philosophical staring-into-the-distance social-media posts. Some of the big scoops about the Mueller report from BuzzFeed and McClatchy turned out to be genuine “fake news.” The folks on Twitter who made up “The Resistance” and predicted that Mueller would shut down the whole Trump presidency are now spinning ever-greater conspiracy theories.
There are some Trump fans who would look at the above list and conclude, “This is what happens when you mess with Trump.” I’d argue the lesson is a little different. This is what happens when you oppose Trump and conclude that he’s so terrible and that he’s such a threat to the country, that you don’t have to hold yourself to any standards in how you oppose him.
Some of these folks said they hated Trump’s incendiary rhetoric, but they grew to use the same kind of rhetoric. They hate his dishonesty, so they exaggerate his misdeeds — ironically when the truth is damaging enough. They think he’s so unethical and corrupt, that they’re entitled to cut corners in efforts to get him. Carlos Lozada of the Washington Post reviewed Rick Wilson’s book, Everything Trump Touches Dies, and observed that Wilson lamented the “fashionable cruelty” of the Trump era, with its “endless stream of dick-joke-level insults.” Lozada noted that in the book, Wilson insulted Trump, his top aides, and his supporters with page after page of crude insults and endlessly mocked their appearance.
If you’re not careful, you evolve into what you set out to fight.
Build a Wall! Build a Wall! No, We Meant a Different Wall in a Different Place!
Farhad Manjoo is going to get a lot of grief for this New York Times column, because he’s dared tell the readership something they don’t want to hear:
Reading opposition to SB 50 and other efforts at increasing density, I’m struck by an unsettling thought: What Republicans want to do with I.C.E. and border walls, wealthy progressive Democrats are doing with zoning and Nimbyism. Preserving “local character,” maintaining “local control,” keeping housing scarce and inaccessible — the goals of both sides are really the same: to keep people out.
“We’re saying we welcome immigration, we welcome refugees, we welcome outsiders — but you’ve got to have a $2 million entrance fee to live here, otherwise you can use this part of a sidewalk for a tent,” said Brian Hanlon, president of the pro-density group California Yimby. “That to me is not being very welcoming. It’s not being very neighborly.”
Wait, it gets even worse (or better, depending upon your point of view): The argument about building a wall to keep out undesirable American citizens is not merely metaphorical.
Some Silicon Valley residents don’t want new apartment buildings changing their suburban towns, and they get angry at the thought of affordable housing bringing poorer people to their neighborhoods. Two years ago, about 500 local residents showed up at a meeting to discuss small, temporary housing in San Jose. Many screamed and shouted at Loving and her colleagues. At one point, the crowd chanted “build a wall” to keep homeless people away.
So, liberal friends, clearly we now agree on the concept of a wall, we just disagree on where it should be placed . . . except the argument from most folks on the Right is that the wall shouldn’t be designed to keep out American citizens.
ADDENDUM: This morning, Johnny Walker Lindh is out of prison. I know lots of folks say he should never have released. I’d argue we should give him a free phone and see who he calls.