Archive for the ‘SLICK!’ Category


This could be my last post for a while. I may have to go into hiding. Because powerful forces are seeking to hunt down and destroy those of us who satirize them. Witness Wednesday’s report in “The Daily Currant” ( of Egypt’s arrest order for Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show.”

Well, maybe that’s a stretch. “The Daily Currant” is a satirical news blog. And what could be sillier than Cairo seeking to arrest Jon Stewart just because he prompts some major laughs at the expense of hypocrites? Unless it’s Cairo arresting the Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef for poking fun at Egypt’s president Mohamed Morsi. And that’s no joke.

Youssef believes that Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood are not all they would like Egyptians—and the world—to believe. So the government—Morsi disclaimed responsibility—arrested Youssef a week ago then released him as the world media shone a bright light into a dark hole. Nonetheless, Cairo threatens to withdraw the license of his TV channel. Its response resembles that of Seinfeld’s fabled Soup Nazi: “No freedom for you!”

I could be next. My novel Slick! points a big finger at the hypocrisy of Arab politicians who rule—or seek to rule—in the name of God. (For grins I skewer Washington, too.) Maybe the Muslim Brotherhood wants to go after Jon Stewart and me in tandem—two Jews daring to say that something’s not kosher in the Arab world. And that goes beyond Egypt.

A week ago, a Palestinian Authority court upheld a one-year prison sentence handed down to the journalist Mamdouh Hamamreh for posting a photo on Facebook likening P.A. president Mahmoud Abbas to a villain on a popular Syrian TV show. The P.A. then thought better of its stupidity and released Hamamreh.

Laughter indeed is serious business. Poke fun at a powerful figure in the Middle East—or at someone like Russian president Vladimir Putin (which I’ve done)—and you take your life in your hands. Morally corrupt leaders fear one thing above all: being turned into a punch line. Incredibly, they make it so easy.

People repeatedly ask me, “How do you come up with so many ideas for novels?” My answer is simple. “Every morning, I wake up.” Each day, a malevolent despot, despot wannabe, religious leader or corporate tycoon models the foolish emperor in Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” He’s the character whose vanity blinds him to the fact that he’s parading stark naked in front of his subjects—themselves willing believers. It takes an innocent young boy to reveal the truth.

Of course, satire isn’t the only weapon against hypocrisy. Drama does a fine job. Netflix’ original series “House of Cards” with Kevin Spacey offers a nasty condemnation of Washington politicians. Yet no one (publicly at least) has suggested banning the show or arresting its creators. We have the First Amendment. Also, a hint of legal action would spur more people to sign up for Netflix and watch the show.

Still, satire remains my weapon of choice. Because the smallest barb of humor often cuts more deeply than the sword.

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Read the first three chapters of David’s new novel, SAN CAFÉ at SAN CAFÉ is available at, and


When it comes to humor, there’s dry and there’s Sahara dry. A writer can craft a piece so tongue-in-cheek it flies over readers’ heads. I plead—maybe—guilty.  Several readers thought “An Affront to Humanity” (November 23) concerned a real woman’s real experience on a San Francisco Muni bus. Nope. As I wrote in a postscript last week, it was all about Israel and Hamas.

True, dry humor can be rewarding. The novelist Claudia Long wrote about my first novel, a geopolitical satire set in the Persian Gulf: “SLICK! is filled with action and atmosphere so deftly drawn that we don’t realize until a moment later that David Perlstein is pulling our leg.” (No cash changed hands.) Claudia must be right. Kirkus Reviews gave SLICK! a star as a “book of remarkable merit” and featured me in a column in their April 15 issue. (More big news in two weeks.)

So will readers “get” my new novel, SAN CAFÉ? Set—except for two scenes in the Bay Area—in the fictional Central American nation of San Cristo, SAN CAFÉ is anything but dry. When the novel begins, it’s raining like hell. Moreover, SAN CAFÉ has lots of dark moments. Kirkus—bless ‘em—cites “a no-holds-barred willingness to examine some considerably dark terrain.” (Let’s also not forget Kirkus’ comment about the “whip-smart prose.”) Yet the satire often is broader than in SLICK! To be on the safe side, I offer an author’s guide to understanding several of the main characters.

Jesús Garcia-Vega is an ardent leftist. His name combines the obvious with that of a brand of cigars my father smoked when I was a kid—Garcia y Vega (four for a quarter). Silly? Heck no. Garcia-Vega admires Fidel Castro. Fidel’s nickname? The Big Cigar.

Capitán Enrique Hauptmann-Hall is a Cristano but doesn’t have a Spanish name. No, his grandparents weren’t Nazis who fled the Allies’ wrath. Like many of the wealthy in Latin America, his family descended from powerful European colonialists who, in their Christian-mercantilist fervor, took the natives to the cleaners. No wonder he has an attitude. He also flips out. See chapter one.
Whitman Scharq is founder, chairman and CEO of Mobys Inc., the world’s largest coffee retailer. And yes, he’s left a lot of blood in the water. But what can you expect from the head of a company pioneering Yo Mobys! And ¡Mobys Aquí¡ pushcarts to keep people in America’s ghettos and barrios alert while generating extra corporate revenue?

Maria Skavronsky is an exotic beauty, half Cristano (mom) and half Russian (dad). An alumna of Stanford and of Harvard Law, she’s also a former modern dancer and a devoted single mom. No wonder she’s so damned dangerous.

Easy, right? Although we haven’t even discussed the Italian media diva Adella Rozen (what’s wrong with purple hair?) and Bobby Gatling, my hero—kind of—with nerves of steel, a heart of gold and a right knee resembling papier maché.

As a former hockey-mom vice-residential candidate from the state with the nation’s largest landmass likes to say, “How’s that workin’ for ya?” Or am I being Sahara dry?

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Read the first three chapters of David’s new novel, SAN CAFÉ at SAN CAFÉ is available in soft cover and digital format at, and


Yesterday’s Opinion Pages in The New York Times asked, “Can the United States stay engaged with modern democratic Middle Eastern countries that have sizable anti-Western populations?” The answers by the chosen debaters were reasonable. The question was misleading.

Modern democratic Middle Eastern countries don’t exist—with the exception of Israel. Now let’s be clear: Millions of people in the region want their nations to move into the category of “modern democracy.” But millions more don’t share that desire. The recent attacks on American embassies in Egypt and Yemen—and the deaths of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya—reflect real differences with the modern democratic West that can’t be papered over. Kings? In the Middle East, they rule as well as reign. Ayatollahs? They run Iran. Autocrats? Syria’s makes headlines daily. Elected presidents? Yes, even those—but men ruling over fractured states where the rule of law has yet to be established let alone extended to all citizens.

Emotions in the U.S. are raw now. That’s understandable. So it’s time for a reality check, which I’ve reduced to three salient points (although I welcome you to add more).

1. Societies in the Middle East really do have different worldviews. Take free speech. In the U.S., we cherish it. Sometimes we abuse it, but still we uphold it even when we fault the abusers. The Middle East? Someone—not Washington—made a hateful film about Muhammad. Most Americans condemn and dismiss it. Egyptians and Yemenis stormed our embassies. Sudanese forced their way into the German embassy. In Tripoli, Lebanon, one person has been killed in a protest. These stories are still unfolding. Political dissenters? I can yell “Screw Obama!” ‘til the cows come home. In the Middle East, dissenters face intimidation, imprisonment or death. Iranians and Syrians, among others, can tell you.

2. American power to foster change is limited. (Read Slick! for a satirical take on that.) The world is not a machine that can be repaired by a competent mechanic. In part, our options are restricted precisely because the Middle East is not like us. What we believe to be rational, progressive arguments often fall on deaf ears. Moreover, we’re condemned when we don’t step in (Egypt) and reviled after we do (Libya). Does anyone really want to send U.S. troops into Damascus?

3. The Middle East will remain a political and religious powder keg for a long, long time. Europe experienced centuries of bloodletting before achieving peace. The horrors of World War Two and the Holocaust are less than seven decades behind us. In the Middle East, the forces of Islamism (by which I mean theocratic dictatorship, not Islam) battle those seeking modernity, with or without a Muslim flair. Add to that Islamists battling among themselves. And stir in age-old clan, tribal and ethnic animosities. Can you say “Iraq?” With prudence, we can contain the fire. But only the people of the region can extinguish it.

Should we then turn our backs on the Middle East? No. The world is far too interconnected. Moreover, those of us who support Israel’s right to exist cannot risk a second Holocaust through disengagement. Let’s hope those in power or seeking power in Washington will adopt both perspective and patience. Because as we also saw this past week, a shot from the hip often lands in the foot.

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Read the first 2-1/2 chapters of SLICK! at Which, by the way, received a great review and coveted Star as “a book of remarkable merit” from Kirkus Reviews. To purchase a signed copy, email me at SLICK! also is now available at, and


In mid-June, I wrote about having become my father, Morris. Yet we all have two genetic parents. As it happens, my mother, Blanche Finkle Perlstein, died thirteen years ago on August 1, 1999. I’ll say Kaddish for her tonight. And I’ll carry some of her with me—only not as much as I’d like.

Don’t misunderstand. I’m glad to resemble my father. Yet I’m also different, which I attribute to my mother. She was a woman of incredible emotional intelligence with an uncanny ability to charm even strangers—and even under challenging circumstances. Yet she never dominated a conversation. She asked questions and let others speak while sharing her own experiences and feelings with uncommon tact and diplomacy.

What fascinates me is that my mother was as much an extrovert as my father was an introvert. Yet they not only had a forty-seven-year marriage but also a good one. Which adds to the lore that opposites attract—unless we’re talking about genes with opposite traits that tend to do battle on the field of your personality. As they do on mine.

Take cocktail parties. My mother would have a great time. My father? I imagine he felt as I do in such settings—uncomfortable, often miserable. Like my father, I am not a chit-chatter. My mother’s genes try to ease my way. I cheer them on. More often than not, they fail. I remain an introvert.

But here’s the thing: Introverts aren’t necessarily anti-social. In the March 2003 Atlantic, Jonathan Rauch—himself an introvert—wrote an article that offered me great comfort. Rauch pointed out that introverts value and require time alone. Lots of it. But they also can be very social—in small groups (say a dinner party for six) or one-on-one (or -two or -three). Introverts, in fact, can be great conversationalists—when a conversation is focused and specific.

Moreover, introverts can enjoy large events if that same focus exists. Public speaking? I love it. The larger the audience, the more the fun. But remember, I’m focused. I enjoy hosting a big celebration, too. Not simply because I know the guests but because the event focuses (there’s that word again) on the reason for the celebration. When I hosted my launch party for Slick! last November, a crowd filled the house. It was easy to speak with people because the subject was writing in general and my book in particular.

Admittedly, I suffer at most big occasions even when surrounded by people I know. To be honest, I avoid them when possible. I don’t mean to offend. I’m not snubbing anyone. I’m just freeing myself from terrible discomfort.

So at the end of this analysis, I can say that I am like my mother—kind of. She gave me enough of her extroversion to manage—even shine—during certain occasions. Which is why, among many other reasons, I saw the bright flame of her personality in the yarzheit (memorial) candle I lit Wednesday night. And why I will carry my mother with me through the rest of my days not only with love but also with enduring gratitude.

Responding is simple. Click on “comments” above then go to the bottom of the article.

Read the first 2-1/2 chapters of SLICK! at Which, by the way, received a great review and coveted Star as “a book of remarkable merit” from Kirkus Reviews. To purchase a signed copy, email me at SLICK! also is now available at, and


In Slick! Russia’s ambassador to the Persian-Gulf sultanate of Moq’tar points out to Bobby Gatling that while Moq’tar is 3,700 kilometers from Moscow it is 11,000 kilometers distant from Washington. The message: Russia, too, has legitimate geopolitical interests. But today, those interests seem to matter very little. And Russia’s demise as a world power offers a valuable lesson for the United States.

Russia has always been concerned with its “near abroad.” But the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1991 left Russia in disarray. Since 1999 when Vladimir Putin became president following Boris Yeltsin’s resignation—a position Putin still holds with time out for one term as prime minister during which power was transferred to that office—Russia has sought to regain power and prestige. Plentiful oil money boosted its economy. Oligarchs and mafia chieftains made billions in the new private-enterprise environment. An upper class emerged with incredible wealth. But economies built on commodities suffer inherent weaknesses. And those with autocratic governments stifle many of their best and brightest along with possibilities for an economy and a society that are more diverse, inclusionary and sustainable.

As to Putin: Although he won a five-year presidential term last March and can run for another in 2017—which would make him Russia’s most powerful man for 23 years—Putin’ has been poutin’. It seems that the rest of the world, observing Russia’s political, military, economic and health problems along with a population shrunk to 143 million—less than half that of the U.S.—doesn’t take the Russian bear seriously.

About the only authority Russia now exercises on the world stage is its veto in the United Nations Security Council. It regularly blocks positions against Iran’s development of nuclear weapons and condemnations of the Assad government’s brutalization of the Syrian people. And why not? If the UN supports change in clerical Iran and dictatorial Syria, why not in authoritative Russia where dissidents are beaten and jailed, and journalists routinely killed?

Putin’s body language tells the story. He seeks to project the image of a man’s man symbolic of Russian might, walking with his arms held out from his sides like a muscle pumping schoolyard bully. Or think of the blowfish, which defends itself by inflating to three times its size. Photos show him riding horses shirtless, swimming with dolphins and firing weapons. Russia, he wants us to know, is still a player.

Not so, according to Ian Bremmer, president of The Eurasia Group and author of Every Nation for Itself. He points out that U.S. Ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul openly sides with Russian dissidents. This angers Putin. But Washington doesn’t care. Yet the White House, Bremmer claims, would never let our ambassador to China speak that way. Russia, he asserts, has simply become irrelevant.

The lesson for us? The world changes. Power shifts. And we must adapt. I’m not suggesting that the U.S. is about to become irrelevant. But we have lost some power and influence, which we may never regain. We can accept our limitations and remain relevant. Or we can posture like Vladimir Putin and risk confrontations we may come to regret.

I’ll appear in the second half of CBS-5 TV’s “Mosaic” this Sunday morning (June 24) at 5 am. Talking about writing, of course. Easy to record for playback at a more convenient hour.

Responding is simple. Click on “comments” above then go to the bottom of the article.

Read the first 2-1/2 chapters of SLICK! at Which, by the way, received a great review and coveted Star as “a book of remarkable merit” from Kirkus Reviews. To purchase a signed copy, email me at SLICK! also is now available at, and


In the 1960s, Marshall McLuhan, a Canadian university professor, theorized that in the new television age, everyone would enjoy 15 minutes of fame. The artist Andy Warhol took up that theory. After all, TV was fast becoming a global phenomenon. I remember the coverage of the first manned lunar landing in July 1969 and Richard Nixon visiting China in 1972—a nation that seemed as remote as the moon.

In the digital age, everyone will have 15 seconds of fame what with websites, social networks, YouTube and—gasp—blogs. Not to mention Twitter. My 15 seconds involve my novel Slick! (What? You haven’t bought a copy yet? And read it? And encouraged family and friends?)

Truth be told, I had a previous 15 seconds—maybe even 60—in 1998. Crown Publishers, a division of Random House, brought out Solo Success: 100 Tips for Becoming a $100,000-a-Year Freelancer. KCBS NewsRadio interviewed me. I was quoted in a few magazines freelancers read—which spiked sales. And I spoke at a few marketing-group lunches. I wrote a column for a company’s web site. For which they paid me! Alas, that did not make me a national figure.

Now, Slick! has given me another small taste. Kirkus Reviews gave it a Star as a book of “remarkable merit.” They also ran a Q&A with me in the April 15 edition. But let’s put it all in perspective. No one is anyone unless they’ve been on TV. So I recorded a segment of “Mosaic” for CBS-5 San Francisco. Then again, it runs this Sunday, April 22, at 5 am. But people watch, they tell me. And you can record it. But don’t think I have a swelled head. A profile of me is scheduled to run in the May edition of the Richmond Review, a neighborhood monthly. It’s free. They toss it onto your doorstep.

Where will all this lead? Hopefully, to an agent or editor, who will inquire about what I’m writing next. Which happens to be a follow-up to Slick! titled San Café, set in Central America. Not to mention a new and very different novel, The Boy Walker. It’s about a father and adult son who are estranged but live in the same house right here in the Richmond District. Death and stand-up comedy play major roles—among other surprises.

Can I live without achieving a full 15 minutes of fame? Sure. The Kirkus review helped reinforced my belief that I write well. Just as important, my wife, Carolyn, and a lot of other people have been supportive. And bottom line, the approval and commendation that really count come from the people we love and work with and know through our various interests.

So here’s a thought. While you’re waiting to collect your 15 seconds—or another 15—give a little appreciation and encouragement to someone else. As a wise man told me years ago, “We all want a little applause.” It’s easy to put your hands together, and it doesn’t cost a dime. Yet it makes the world a better place.

I’ll be taking a break for the next four weeks and put up a new post on May 25. Feel free to browse through some old posts. Today’s is #80. And now for the usual (but important) post-post doggerel:

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Read the first 2-1/2 chapters of SLICK! at Which, by the way, received a great review and coveted Star as “a book of remarkable merit” from Kirkus Reviews. To purchase a signed copy, email me at SLICK! also is now available at, and


They—whoever they may be—say that truth is stranger than fiction. As a novelist and a lover of satire, I’ll go along with that. Because based on what recently transpired in Afghanistan and what I’ve recently experienced with my novel Slick! truth indeed can make us wonder, “How did that happen?”

As to Afghanistan, we know that an American soldier allegedly (just using the legal jargon in self defense) massacred 16 civilians—women and children. You could write a novel about an incident like that. But in many ways, nothing you create would be any more moving, angering and mind blowing than this tale as it unravels regarding the alleged killer’s deeds, motivations and background, which appears to include multiple combat tours in the Middle East, a head injury and marriage problems.

At the same time, nothing I wrote in Slick! including the march during which Moq’tari protestors chant, “Hoops yes! Bagels no!” could be more bizarre than the radio report of the Taliban, allegedly representing God and a higher civilization, referring to American soldiers as animals and calling for their heads to be chopped off. You can make this stuff up, but you don’t have to. A satirist just observes the world and lets loose.

As for me—hey, it’s my blog and I can self-promote all I want—a writer from Kirkus Reviews interviewed me last Sunday for a profile scheduled to appear in the April 15 issue. The publication, which has reviewed books since 1933 and calls itself “The World’s Toughest Book Critics,” gave Slick! a great review and awarded it a Star as a book of “remarkable merit”—their description, not mine. I checked out their site. Not many books get a Star, including those brought out by major publishing companies.

What I find gratifying is that I published Slick! independently—a euphemism for “I couldn’t get an agent let alone find a publisher.” So there’s stuff here for a novel. Writer writes book. Writer believes in book. Writer’s editor, wife and a few friends believe in book. No one else does. Except a major industry publication.

And then I get a call to appear on a local show, Mosaic (CBS-5, San Francisco) to talk about my non-fiction book, God’s Others: Non-Israelites Encounters With God in the Hebrew Bible. But maybe I’ll save that for next week.

Back to Slick! If all this was the plot in a popular novel, agents and editors would soon be calling. I’d be swamped with offers. They’d also want to publish my follow-up novel set in Central America. And they’d be salivating over the other novel I just completed, an entirely different book about death, cancer, Down syndrome, stand-up comedy and dogs. The usual stuff. And let’s not even talk about Hollywood! On the other hand, a more literary novel about my writing career might offer a different plot. Acclaimed work. No agent or publisher in sight. A man writes into his sunset years waiting discovered in vain. Move over, Vincent van Gogh.

Okay, I’m dramatizing. But truth writes itself every day in so many ways that often resemble fiction. And every human life really is a novel that crafts itself. I plan to keep turning the pages to see how it all comes out.

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Read the first 2-1/2 chapters of SLICK! at To purchase a signed copy, email me at SLICK! also is now available at, and


Herman Cain and I have something important in common. God speaks to us. Regarding Cain, I guess God wanted to comfort him after four women accused him of sexual harassment when he headed the National Restaurant Association. And what could make someone feel better than God urging him to be a candidate for the presidential nomination? Las Saturday, Cain told young Republicans in Atlanta that God said exactly that. Ever humble, Cain told God he was the wrong man—not another Moses. But think about it. If God wants you to be president, how can you lose?

As for me, I was walking on Clement Street when I saw something burning. Not a bush exactly. Well, not at all. Actually, a fire was burning in a trash container. Like Moses, I had to take a closer look.

That’s when the voice called to me. “David, David.” Or at least, I thought it called my name. I could have been talking to myself. I do that. A lot. The thing is, a name called twice in the Torah signifies a major breakthrough in the history of humankind. Bigger than Texas governor Rick Perry drawing a blank on the third federal agency he wants to axe (oops!) if he becomes president.

“Hey, man, go inside that store there, get me a six-pack and leave it right here,” the voice commanded. “Is that you, God?” I asked. “Whatever floats your boat,” the voice answered. Except that’s more the story of Noah and the Flood. “How do I know it’s really You?” I asked. The voice had a ready answer. “I spoke to Herman Cain. And to Rick Perry’s wife, Anita. Ask them. I get around during election season.”

“Not so fast,” I said. After all, Abraham took on God about destroying Sodom and Gomorrah. “You told Cain he should run for president, and you told Perry’s wife the same thing?” The voice came right back without missing a beat. “I talk to all Republicans. Have you ever heard of one who hasn’t spoken with me?” I shook my head. The voice went back to command mode. “Beer. Now.”

I stared at the fire and startled. It was getting smaller. Not like the burning bush. Then I noticed a tiny speaker on the light pole a few feet away. D’oh! God wasn’t speaking to me at all. No matter how self-important I may be—I’m the author of SLICK!, a helluva terrific novel full of geopolitical satire—I know I’m no Abraham, Moses or King David (although red hair runs in my mother’s side of the family). I walked away.

“Hold on!” cried the voice. “When God talks, everyone listens.” I flipped him off. “That’s a take-off on the old TV commercial for a brokerage that doesn’t exist anymore. ‘When E.F. Hutton talks, everyone listens.’ Crappy spots. Buy your own beer. I’m outta here.”

I felt somewhat bad about deserting whoever it was who’d rigged up the speaker. The ploy was clever. You’ve got to respect that. But when it comes down to it, some people will say anything for a drink. Or a vote.

Want to respond? Click on “comments” above then go to the bottom of the article.

Read the first 2-1/2 chapters of SLICK! at To purchase a signed copy, email me at SLICK! also is now available at

I’ll be reading from SLICK! this Monday night, November 21, 7:00 pm — Phoenix Books, 3957 24th Street between Sanchez & Noe, San Francisco.



My SLICK! launch party went well. I read parts of three scenes. One described the aged Sultan of Moq’tar being confused about present-day events but remaining proud that neither Jews nor Israelis live in the sultanate—except for a long list of both who actually maintain residency, as well as monthly visits by an Israeli cardiologist.

Hypocrisy inspires satirists. And where do satirists collect their material? From the world around us. This past week, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that Iran is attempting to build a nuclear bomb. Innocent, peace loving Iran? The Iran that wants to wipe Israel off the map? As Captain Renault (played by Claude Rains) remarks in the classic film Casablanca regarding accusations of gambling at Rick’s Place (owned by Humphrey Bogart), “I’m shocked.” Of course, Major Reynaud gambles at Rick’s all the time.

As expected, Iran vociferously denied the charge, calling it a fabrication emanating from a bullying Washington. And Iran has its allies, even if they remain an arm’s length away. Russia and China—paragons of virtue both—continually seek to counter American influence. They may not like Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but they will use their seats on the UN Security Council to prevent further sanctions or other actions from deterring Tehran. Business is, after all, business. Russia engages in much trade with Iran in the areas of agriculture, telecommunications and aviation. China needs every drop of oil it can get.

The news is quiet today. But Israel, according to the media, is seriously contemplating an attack on Iran. Truth or dare? It’s possible that Israel—if Prime Minister Netanyahu can get sufficient agreement in his cabinet—will actually pull the military trigger, as fraught with risk as such an attack might be. On the other hand, Netanyahu may be goading the U.S. and NATO to launch their own attack, perhaps with Israeli assistance. Or he may be pushing the UN to implement what French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé has termed “unprecedented sanctions”—in spite of Russia and China’s opposition—rather than risk seeing a major conflict in the Gulf, which France and Germany oppose.

If an attack does take place, the Sunni Arab states of the Middle East will doubtless continue to reveal their own hypocrisy. Although hardly fond of Israel, Oren Kessler reported in the Jerusalem Post online (11-9-11), they privately support Israel doing the dirty work for them while condemning such action publicly. Saudi Arabia and Egypt fear a nuclear Iran and may feel compelled to go nuclear themselves. But what else can we expect from peace loving nations who are Muslim brothers at heart?

Where do we go from here? Iran states that any attack on its soil will be met with “iron fists.” U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta yesterday warned against an Israeli attack citing “unintended consequences.” Anyone who has played sports understands the concept of trying to intimidate an opponent. “Woofing” we used to call it.

Let’s hope that woofing is all it is. Because this game may produce a great many losers. And there’s not a satirical sentiment in that statement.

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Read the first 2-1/2 chapters of SLICK! at To purchase a signed copy, email me at

And a special salute to all veterans. We care!


I wanted to devote this post solely to SLICK!, my new novel available now as an e-book at Amazon and soon in digital and soft-cover formats at Amazon,, and (Barnes and Noble). And why not? SLICK! covers territory that’s as fresh as last Saturday’s New York Times.

In SLICK!, the United States seeks to strengthen ties with the small Persian Gulf sultanate of Moq’tar. American military forces may need a new base of operations to project power in the region. Truth followed fiction. The Times reported that the U.S. military will build up forces in the Gulf now that our troops will be out of Iraq as of January. Fiction followed truth. In 2003, we began pulling troops out of Saudi Arabia. Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain took on increased importance as staging points. How stable they will be remains to be seen.

Truth and fiction intertwine here in America, too. I refer to the Occupy movement, occupying lots of media coverage in the Bay Area—particularly events in Oakland.

Yes, Americans should vent their rage against unfettered capitalism, a greed-filled financial industry that believes it’s “doing God’s work” and Washington’s rejection of responsible regulation. The nation’s right wing has contributed to the problem, not the solution.

But the movement that started with the occupation of Wall Street and spread nationwide has, at least in Oakland, been hijacked. And, that hijacking was inevitable. While well-meaning people from all walks of life assembled to raise their voices—that’s what the First Amendment is all about—virtually no one had anything to say beyond, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.” The “leaderless” crowds displayed no desire to propose a specific agenda for Washington and support political candidates—which the Tea Party did admirably, as much as I disagree with their economics.

An Occupy movement rudderless from the beginning proved highly susceptible to being taken over by anarchists. A tiny minority, which shows up at protests of all sorts, they make big headlines by provoking and engaging in violence. As if Oakland’s city government were the problem. (It has its own problems to be sure.) In the process, they display no qualms about making it difficult or impossible for the small businesses downtown to do business, thus hurting many of the city’s working people whom they claim to represent.

It’s easy to smash a window, set a car on fire or put someone’s eye out. It’s not so easy—or cheap—to replace the window, repair the car or restore someone’s vision. I repeat a point I made in “Post-Mubarak Egypt and Torah” (2-11-11): Marlon Brando, as a Hell’s Angels-type in The Wild One (1953), is asked what he’s rebelling against. He answers, “What do you got?” When the folks standing and camping out in Oakland’s Civic Plaza figure out what they’re for and communicate it, they’ll occupy a proper place in history.

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Read the first 2-1/2 chapters of SLICK! at To purchase a signed copy, email me at