Judy, my wife and co-publisher at The Permanent Press, has been after me for months to start a blog--something I have always resisted doing. My reasons? With a million blogs out there, why would anyone be interested in reading the millionth and first?
"You could talk about our books," she says. "Okay," I answer," but The Permanent Press already has a website." "Then talk about politics." My answer: "Why bother: Frank Rich at The New York Times does that better than I can."
So far, so good in avoidance techiques. But then she trumped my objections by declaring: "Here's what I want for Christmas: paint the front of the silverware drawer in the kitchen, which looks too shabby, and start your blog," following which she called our son, Caleb, who lives next door -- and who is most knowledgeable about setting up these things. Half-an-hour later he was here, so there were no excuses left.
To find a title, I phoned Daniel Klein, who co-authored the Best Seller Plato and Platypus walked Into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes. We're publishing his novel The History of Now in March. He came up with The Book Stops Here for a header, and when that was unavailable for a URL, Chris Knopf, who has written the acclaimed Sam Acquillo/Hampton mysteries (his fourth in this series, Hard Stop, comes out in May) came up with TheCockeyedPessimist. Which brings me to the "Book Part" of this initial blog: sharing a series of coincidences that reads like the beginning of a Rod Serling Twilight Zone episode:
On Monday, December 8th, Publishers Weekly reviewed both Danny's novel and our February novel, Efrem Sigel's The Disappearance to excellent reviews, which you can view on The Permanent Press website, http://www.thepermanentpress.com/ . It also turns out that both Danny and Efrem went to Harvard, both live in Great Barrington, both novels are set in Great Barrington, and both have wives named Frederica... and neither had ever known or heard of one another. Of course, if the stars are so much in line, might both books also gain wide readership? Who is to say in The Twilight Zone, though I can tell you that both are eminently deserving.
One last book comment before going on to politics: I plan on asking individual authors to write columns on future postings.
And now on the the surreal aspects of politics, brought on by reading the Sunday, December 14 issue of The New York Times. The first page alone would warm the heart of Will Rogers or Lenny Bruce. If you haven't seen it, here's the essence of it all: Chuck Schumer, a member of the Senate Banking and Finance Committes, a so-called "populist" Senator from New York has clearly been the front man for Wall Street interests going back for 13 years, pushing for less regulation, lower taxes, less oversight, preventing limits on executive pay, blocking the policing of the credit rating agencies that overestimated the strength of corporations and banks, and has worked his magic in ten major bills over this period of time. "A Champion of Wall Street Reaps the Benefits" was the headline. And, in the text, it reported that Schumer reaped more money in donations than any other Senator, with the exception of, surprise, surprise, another "populist," John Kerry. The further irony is that members of the George Bush's Securities and Exchange Commission were pushing for regulation as they attempted to protect investors and the public from potential fallout.
What does it all look like from here? Take nothing for granted! The Democrats, supposedly that party of Main Street, protected Wall Street while some Republican appointees, from the party of Wall Street, were trying to protect the public. So here's another question to ponder. Who is more venal, Governor Rob Blagojevich with his penny-ante, crude attempts to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars with his personal "pay for play" demands, or Senator Schumer's raising hundreds of millions of dollars from Wall Street for his own campaigns and those of Democratic Senatorial candidates? While Schumer has not, as far as we know, pocketed this money for his own personal nest egg, he far outranks the Illinois Governor on the damage done to this economy and the costs to tax-payers for his support of Wall Street deregulation and bail-outs.
It seems to me that Schumer is part of a grander "Pay to Play" system, and that the major differences between him and Blagojevich have more to do with style than substance.