Donald Trump vs. the American way.

Yeah, Yeah. More anti-Trump stuff. Not a billionaire. Sexual predator. Blah Blah.

I hope I can say that this blog will be different and maybe, significant even to Trump supporters. Today I stumbled on a post on Facebook. Someone read her anti-trump post and started arguing. The result was that the Trump supporter told her to “leave”.

The meaning was clear. This person was telling her tow leave the country because she had trouble with Trump. I will admit that I went ballistic but only when I read that word: Leave.


Trump voters have the right to make their case and, as constitution loving American I will defend that right to the death though I don’t agree with them. The same goes for Hillary supporters. For those of you that missed civics 101 that is what we do in America and what defines our country. So what is wrong? I believe that Trump has injected an idea into the American consciousness and it’s a toxic, ugly, incredibly un-American idea and has no place here. It’s something that people have died for on a hundred battlefields throughout our national history.  It’s called the constitution. The idea that Trump is selling is that the way to be an American is to push for your own agenda and ignore the basics of what a democracy is. Ignoring the basic nature of the electoral process and deciding that your “right” is to ignore the rights of any other American to speak their mind and, worse yet, remain in the United States, is nothing but fascism, something that has always been poison to American values. While this Trump supporter I’m describing undoubtedly felt he was being patriotic because he was lucky enough to be born in the US and decided his “passion” for Donald Trump is the same as patriotism, he ignored our history where soldiers have died to defend the meaning of being an American as laid out in the Constitution.

It isn’t the same as patriotism; being an American is a responsibility, not a privilege, one that requires discipline and a willingness to put the Democratic systems above personal desires; the opposite of Trump’s philosophy. At the risk of being corny I will run down the high points of what is most definitely what America is about. At the time of the revolution, clearly fascist British royalty had been oppressing colonists both in terms of basic freedoms and unfair taxation. As we all know, the colonists fought back. But in establishing their new republic, rather than repeating the ugly repression of their oppressors or even ignoring ethics and moving on, they did an extraordinary thing, something that hasn’t been done in history.


They esblished their new nation as being founded on the idea of individual liberties, being part of God’s legacy. There is both faith and unparalleled morality in the acts that preceded the formation of the United States. The contract that our founding fathers made required an awareness of exactly what had brought about the revolution in the first place: a selfish fascist agenda that suited the needs of the powerful. What seems to confuse many Trump supporters is that, when people talk up the United States, comparing it to fascist states like Russia, it is always the freedom aspect that makes us superior. That freedom involves an implied compromise in the form of state sanctioned free expression of political view and, more to the point, elections. Every four years we gamble that our “side” will be the dominant side. But, as Americans, we can’t ignore the rights of the other “side” who may very well win an election. For Americans, real Americans, the preservation of this system is far more important then their own agendas. For selfish Americans, it about them. To me that’s pissing on an amazing concept of democracy that has never been repeated in history.

It bears repeating: this is what our founding fathers had in mind:

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Thomas Jefferson


Now I know that most Trump supporters would support this. How easy would it be to ignore it? Millions of people in the military have died preserving the philosophy in these words. It is the hallmark of the American system, one that makes us respected around the world. But Trump himself has always played fast and loose with the idea of democracy. He has stated unequivocally that he would not necessarily respect the transfer of power after the election, a complete misunderstanding of his duties as a citizen of the United States. He has also proposed ordering soldiers to commit war crimes. He has impugned the skill of our military. Though he has never come out and said it, Trump feels that he will able to be president following his own rules backed by old style bigotry and un-American sentiments. And he has passed this message on to his followers, many of whom have accepted it.


What trump has sold to many of his supporters is the idea that force, bullying and unilateral agenda are what America is all about. But if you respect your country, you’ll have to admit it isn’t. This isn’t the first time that would-be dictators have pushed their way into influencing policy by using paranoia and fear. Look up Joseph McCarthy. There have also been braindead actions like imprisoning Japanese Americans during World War II or Operation Wetback which caused among other things, several hundred United States citizens being illegally deported without being given a chance to prove their citizenship.

All these disasters, sometimes resulting in ruined lives and enforced financial reparations by the U.S. government, were brought about by selfish people who thought they were the only important people in the United States and that they were only true Americans.

The erosion of democracy should be the biggest boogeyman in our national consciousness. Even staunch Trump supporters should be shaking in their boots at the thought of the destruction of what has distinguishes us from the dictatorships around the world. A failure to maintain our democracy is a failure that everyone in the United States will regret, though they might not realize it at the moment.


Electing America’s Pastor: Jerry Fallwell Jr. and Donald Trump.

I just read a statement from “Liberty United Against Trump”, a group of Liberty University students that object to the connection made between their school and Donald Trump by the university president, Jerry Fallwell Junior. What might not be surprising is that, as devout Christians, this group of students object to being associated with a man who represents a set of values that opposes theirs.


Recently, on CNN, the Reverend Falwell was interviewed regarding his unshakable support of Trump as a presidential candidate. When the conversation turned towards the Access Hollywood video of Donald Trump discussing privileged sexual assault, he repeated that “we are not voting for a pastor, we are voting for a president”. The point being that we can ignore disgusting immoral behavior because a president only deals with “practical” issues.

I take issue with this claim. It’s been too long since we took a good look at the Constitution in terms of our political system, demonstrated by the success of Donald Trump. The foundation of our nation is in this famous bit of text:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.


Right there it becomes clear that the founding fathers felt that the health and morality of our country was based on rights given to us by our creator, that the essence of the United States IS an issue of morality towards individuals,  not only the ability to be a competent bean counter or an administrator as Fallwell suggests. Surprisingly, being a president, as Jerry Fallwell sees it, isn’t simply an outgrowth of the morality expected of us by God but someone who has the basic ability to deal with the practical issues. I will suggest that part of the presidential bag of tricks includes acting as steward of the United States and providing a moral compass suggested and informed by the constitution. The fact that Fallwell, the scion of a religious dynasty, would separate the basis of having a free nation like ours from religious and moral considerations is disturbing and shows what the effects of celebrity and power can have even on people who are supposed to be spiritual guides. It seems clear that Falwell has either fallen victim to the cult of power that is based on the thrill of being associated with powerful men and women or he is more concerned about issues such as immigration and the dominance of conservative values than a basic morality in our nation.


For years, talking heads on both sides of the aisle have discussed “values” and “passion” when talking about the two party system. And what are these values? Are they based on anger and the resolution of that anger? Are they based on racism, developing a strutting “player” male persona, “counter punching”? I will suggest that the “values” suggested by the constitution involve a consistent, unstoppable, effort to keep the moral bar high, always being aware of the effects of any policy or decision on even the smallest groups in our nation. This is in opposition to the fascist exercise of royal power that brought about the American revolution in the first place. The suggestion that we can ignore these moral imperatives is disturbing and highly un-American and, in my opinion, the opposite of our religious values.

Let’s say that we don’t need a “pastor” per se, but we need a Chaplain. A Chaplain serves the faith needs of a number of groups as a religious steward. The fact that an army Chaplain deals with more than one religion makes clear that we are a nation of religious freedom and the needs of many religions are part of our national fabric. This “national chaplain” has, in the past, dealt with such things as racism. Any student of history know that George Wallace attempted to block two black students from entering the University of Tuscaloosa in 1963. President Kennedy sent 100 troops to help the local federal employees in bringing justice to two black students whose rights were and still are equal education opportunities.


This was not a practical administrative issue. It would have been easy for a career politician ignore the issue and let it play itself out. But Kennedy was no career politician; he was, among other things, a responsible steward of the republic and he was not going to let our moral values slip based on the actions of a  counter part of the jack booted British generals in the American revolution.

Dealing with faith and faith-based values is a slippery slope in a nation that is based, in part, on separation of church and state. Yet we continue to make the effort to implement the morality suggested in the Declaration of Independence; the founding fathers handed us a tough job that requires good judgement and an excellent moral compass. We’ve come to many crossroads in our national history where these values have seemed like they would go the way of the dodo. And yet, somehow, we manage to dig our nails into the dirt and hold on.


I can only hope that the outrage of the “Liberty United Against Trump” will result in an epiphany for Jerry Fallwell Jr.; young people often have a lot to teach older ones. While I’m sure that Donald Trump serves Reverend Fallwell’s political aspirations, it seems impossible that Jerry Fallwell  could not be deeply offended by Donald Trump the man. It makes me wonder what his priorities are in terms of his faith.




The Dust Lady: another 911 tragedy.


On 911 I was standing in a subway that had been stopped between stations. The reason that our train wasn’t moving is because the Twin Towers were collapsing above us. No one told us that but the timing was unmistakable.

I have told this story before. But this blog is not about what happened to me but about a relationship I’ve had with a certain lady for years. Each year it’s tough to watch T.V. as the parade of rehashing documentaries pass across my T.V. screen; I become a bit depressed and those feelings come back from that day. But I have made my piece with what happened to me (though not with what happened to my city). With a little avoidance of the television and stressful situations, I can make it through the week or two that I have come to call “the 911 season”.


There has always been one thing that throws me off my game.  A picture of woman in what looks like a business suit, covered with dust. I didn’t realize that she had been dubbed “the dust lady” in the news until a couple of weeks ago. In fact I didn’t know anything about her until recently. For me she was just that one picture that still took my breath away and took me back to that day.

And then, recently,  I read about her and learned everything that, it seems, everyone else had known about her for years. Her name was Marcy Borders. Like me she became covered with dust. It entered her mouth and her ears. And when she tried to wash the dust off it fomed little balls and strings in her hands, refusing to come off. I know because I did the same thing. And if we’d ever had the chance to have a conversation, we would have had a lot to discuss.

But there is a lot that happened to Marcy that didn’t happen to me. Perhaps it’s because she was out in the street longer than I was, that she watched the cloud of dust bear down on her as the towers collapsed. My friends who had the same experience told me of people screaming as the cloud overtook them like their death was at hand. Perhaps it was seeing people jump from the towers to avoid burning to death. There are things that people are not meant to see.


Marcy’s life as an active city worker ended that day. She refused to leave the dubious shelter of Bayonne New Jersey and return to Manhattan. Tall buildings and planes sent her into a panic. She never worked again. And as the weight of what she’d seen and what she knew tipped the scales, Marcy turned to drugs and alcohol.

Many people downplay the effects of PTSD as weakness. If you look at the record of returning military personnel and, more specifically, the effects of 911 on people, we learn that certain experiences will can destroy a persons ability to face day to day life. I know someone who also was forced to watch people jumping from the towers because he was too frightened to leave his office building, directly behind the twin towers. His life was destroyed and he never returned to his lucrative position in the financial industry. There are countless other stories that I’ve heard from my friends that show various levels of fear based reactions to things that push you beyond the sanity we all depend on.

Marcy Borders’ damage can be seen in the “dust lady” picture; it’s in her eyes and in the expression on her face. I experienced only a part of what she did and I can own, to a smaller extent, everything that she suffered. I never got lost in drugs or alcohol and gave up on my life, but I am lucky, not brave or a Darwinian success. To understand Marcy, you’d have to have been in the subway where I was and seen the people the with me and their heart-breaking reactions. You’d have to have friends who left New York City as quickly as possible days after 911. You’d have to know someone who collapsed in on themselves and could never come out.


The thing about the picture of the “dust lady” is that so much of what made 911 what it was is there in her face. The numbing shock, the fear, the destruction of confidence, the soul crushing sadness, the loss of the American dream. For all of us in the New York area, not just those who got covered with dust, that was the way we felt. And I realize now that, despite the walls I’ve put up about 911 and the accommodations I’ve made to my fear and depression, seeing Marcy Borders covered with dust, mouth open, stupefied and in shock, brings it all back and destroys my defenses.

Marcy manifested all the evil I’ve mentioned in her life, against her will,  which make her an incredibly important figure. Look at it this way: a devoted mother, an ambitious woman happy to be working for a large reputable company, a solid citizen, this person, in a period of a few hours became an empty shell, unable to work, barely able to leave her house. That was the loss of 911 embodied in a young woman.

What hit me most and made me cry when I read about Marcy a few days ago was the end game. Marcy Borders died of stomach cancer three years after she came out of rehab. Catching up with her when she had always been my 911 muse and nothing else after all these years was devastating To have Marcy become a real person in seconds and have all this back story wash over me was horribly disturbing. What was worse is that it seems likely that her illness came from the asbestos, glass dust, and other toxic substances she breathed in for hours on 911. As she said, despite her efforts, it had finally caught up with her. She had lost.


All of us are ordinary people, fathers, mothers, workers, and all of us were what you saw in Marcy Border’s life: she was the most ordinary person you could think of who was gut-punched and robbed of her humanity and her future. And that is the essence of terrorism, destroying culture and destroying faith In culture. Marice died days before the 911 anniversary in 2014. On 911 her circle celebrated her life.

As odd as it sounds I would have wanted her to be there and it galls me that she wasn’t. Because Marcy Borders could have been me and most of the people I know who comes from the New York area. After looking at her picture for years I had always hoped that I would meet her. But that won’t happen.

Here’s to Marcy. And all she wanted for herself and her children. I won’t forget her.


The fading memory of 911. It the memory still relevant?


For those of us who experienced 911 the answer is definitely yes. Yet, even for people who were there, it becomes hard to convince everyone of the relevance of a fifteen year old tragedy, no matter how epic it was. For those that said “We will never forget” many years ago, the passion is no longer there with the same energy and forgetting may very well have started. For just about anyone, putting on an American flag pin, as everyone did back then in the months after September 11, would now seem ludicrous though at the time it made sense to an amazing degree. What is most maddening is that there are children who have no memory of 911 who will soon be adults. That’s the way life progresses.

So is it time to “let it go”? Considering the scourge of ISIS, the answer has to be no. But how to convince young people or people who’ve let the memory fade that the second major attack on American soil in all of American history is relevant, especially when ISIS attacks are on their T.V.s now. Does the urgency of now make history, all history, meaningless?


The answer should be no. The fact that 911 was the second major attack on American soil is only part of what makes it so significant an incident. From my perspective, what may be more important, is that we lost our innocence as a nation that day. Being in Manhattan in the weeks after 911, I was able to see a smaller but concentrated version of our countries loss of innocence. There was a look in people’s eyes, a sense of the ground being pulled out from under us, of no longer being children being cradled in the arms of our nation, but frightened adults left on their own. There were countless reports of children as far away as Australia seeking therapy to deal with the terror of what they had seen on their televisions. It was a vicarious loss of innocence that overtook the world. That was the plan of Osama Bin Laden. And now the plan of ISIS.

For me there is no option to forget as is the case for thousands of people. I have respiratory issues that haven’t gone away and get slightly worse as each year goes by. I was in the subway, in an unmoving train that had stopped because the towers were coming down, though we didn’t know it at the time. And each year as the anniversary day approaches and the inevitable documentaries start cropping up like weeds, I f eel a familiar sense of loss and depression.

But I didn’t die that day. And neither did anyone I knew.


So what is the point of beating my breast about 911. It’s what we lost. And if I may be so bold to make a complicated analysis I think we are seeing the result of that loss in our current Presidential election. There was a time that I can remember when the level of vitriol and divisiveness we’ve seen would have been poison to any candidate in the America that was the land of the free and the home of the Constitution. Without doubt. A nation needs values and we’ve lost touch with ours. Yes of course I’m talking about Donald Trump. But this isn’t an anti-trump rant. It’s about what we were and what we’ve become.

In many ways I will say that the terrorists who perpetrated 911 lost, for the most part. New York, in its sledge hammer way is still moving forward. We have a new tower, something significant, though I would have wished for a repeat of the old model; that would have been a fine screw you to the psychopaths who killed 3000 people.

But all in all no one can kill New York City and the USA. Except in one way, a subtle way that we are not even aware of. If it was intentional then it was quite a coup. It involves a small thing called the Constitution and the Bill or Rights. Both have been a hot potato for years. Some people have always thought that it was obstruction, a road block, a speed bump for personal agenda masquerading as patriotism. Some look at it as the closest thing to divinity outside of the Bible. And for good reason: it was the first time in history where the rights of the individual are emphasized over the rights of a regime. It has never been stated in the same way: “We hold these truths to be self-evident…”


I am from the latter, constitutionalist school, a fan of the constitution. And what we’ve lost IS the constitution.   Khizr Khan, the Gold Star father, had it right. It will be easy for you to ignore a man with darker skin than yours and a silly accent. Just like my grandmother who was a Jewish woman with a strange accent, someone who no one trusted back in the early part of the twentieth century and who gave me a life as an American. Mr. Kahn knows the value of the constitution. And some of us don’t.

What the Saudis who perpetrated 911 managed to do is this: They separated us from the constitution and gave birth to Donald Trump. But not quite Donald Trump. He’s simply a messenger of the downfall of the U.S. though many people consider him a “movement” with a “message”.

You can decide to ignore the constitution. You can decide to ignore the need for values that we can be proud to pass on to our children.  You can let your anger and fear rule you and piss on the only document in the history of the world to outline the freedom that many have said made the Russians inferior to us. You can support a man who believes in the cult of power, in Vladimir Putin, in crushing people under his boot. But that was exactly what the British wanted to do and what separated us lock stock and barrel from the European royal model centuries ago. Something that thousands died to put to rest.


The sad thing is that even Hillary Clinton has fallen into the realm of fear. And for the first time in years both candidates are disliked by most American voters. So I’ll make a proposition. What if we stuck with the constitution, not matter what it cost us. It cost our forefathers a lot. And we are pissing on that by giving into our fear.

That’s what we lost on September 11, 2001. And what has dogged us since then. And it’s taken fifteen years for it to become obvious. Here is my view: Adherence to the constitution defines Americans, even if it’s “inconvenient”. Defending our forefathers values is the hard way and doesn’t lend itself to solving immediate problems, making ourselves feel safe right now and fearing immigrants when they won’t bother to mess up our lives because it is isn’t worth their time. Fear and finger pointing is easy. Maintaining a republic of values isn’t.

I experienced fear on 911, fifteen years ago. I had hatred and anger and not much else. I lost my city. But I know what Americans are supposed to be. And I won’t let terrorists take that from me.

We will never forget. If we do, we are destroyed.


The Railroad is free on Amazon in honor of the fifteenth anniversary of 911!



The Railroad by Neil Newton is free on Amazon in honor of the fifteenth anniversary of 911 ! A compelling mystery that parallels the author’s personal experiences trapped in the subway as the Twin Towers fell.

The Railroad has received two Golden Bookworms (Highest Honors) from the Readers Review Room site. It has also been nominated in the Romance and Mystery Categories in the Summer Indie Book Awards. Finally it has received eleven five star reviews!

Here is a review  of The Railroad:

By Over the Rainbow on February 21, 2016

This story actually starts out as two, seemingly unrelated, stories, but as it progresses, the two tales are woven together so skillfully you almost forget that they were once separate. First, there are hints about some abductions of women and children that are taking place, but you can’t quite figure out what’s going on. But there’s enough given that you’re immediately hooked from the first page. Then there’s the story of Mike Dobbs, a man who is wrestling with PTSD and the big question of what he wants out of life. And all of this is set against the dramatic backdrop of the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

Overall, I have to say I love this book!! Mr. Newton tackles hard issues like child sex abuse, dealing with and healing from trauma, and the consequences of apathy and ignorance. He does an excellent job of highlighting the inadequacies of the justice system when it comes to protecting children from abusive parents. And the suspense he builds without even seeming to try will keep you on the edge of your seat! But even though I would classify this book as a suspenseful thriller, I would also say the writing qualifies as literary in nature. Mr. Newton really explores the human condition and what it feels like when people form unexpected bonds with others. All-in-all, five stars, and I truly hope Mr. Newton writes more stories for others to enjoy!🙂


Get the Kindle version of The Railroad free!


See the book trailer:


Please get involved with the 911 memorial effort! We will never forget!



The Ninth Hour By Claire Stibbe


“The ninth hour” is like no book I’ve ever read. It could easily be characterized as a serial killer story or perhaps a story of ritual murder. But no matter hard I tried, I couldn’t come up with an easy categorization.

My first impression was “film noir”. Not that this book reminds me of Fred MacMurray in Double Indemnity, but there is an abiding darkness to this book, a strong sense of the underbelly of life. There is no break in the tension and  very little humor or  down time from the disturbing tone that Claire Stibbe manages to skillfully  maintain throughout the book.

David Temeke is a detective with the Albequerque police department. While this is interesting in that Albuquerque is not a common location for detective novels, Stibbe takes this one step farther. Temeke is a British son of African immigrants to Britain. His reputation as a detective is impeccable and his is considered an amazing interrogator. In keeping with the dark tone of the story, Temeke is a tough police tsunami, but he is addicted to weed and his relationship with his wife is less than stellar. Throughout the story we are given small windows into Temeke’s personal life and it enhances the sorrowful and hopeless feeling of the book.

In the world outside his personal life Temeke does what he does best; he is fully absorbed by every bit of pain, anguish, and psychopathy of police work. In “The Ninth Hour”, he is chasing a serial killer whose MO is deeply rooted in the legends of his homeland, Norway. For this serial killer, a perversion of Norse mythology guides him in his murderous activities. For Ole, he needs to collect heads for Odin. Nine female heads.

Stibbe creates fascinating characters. Ole is a remorseless serial killer but he has elements of a lost child and at times craves love and acceptance. As he executes his reign of terror, Ole taunts whoever he can, establishing himself as an alpha male. From the father of one of his victims to detective Temeke himself, Ole sets up situations where he can threaten and bait everyone he considers his enemy, threatening their lives in the process. Risk is not an issue to him, only his ability to control situations and prove his superiority.

Part of the dark tapestry is Temeke’s new partner. Malin Santiago is a woman with a past that she is not proud of. Now a policewoman, her past surfaces in a number of ways, much to her chagrin. Like all of the primary characters in “The Ninth Hour” there is sorrow and shame in Malin’s life. What is interesting and gratifying is that Temeke takes her under his wing and helps shield her from ridicule. There is an excellently developed bond between the two, expressed in the subtle almost emotion averse style that characterizes this story.

All in all Stibbe is expert at creating a dark hopeless landscape without taking it too far. The prose is poetic as she describes the beautiful landscape of New Mexico and the characters are fully developed and fascinating. For fans of dark “noiresque” detective fare, this book will provide an excellent read.


Action, Military, Uncategorized

Review of “The Siege” by Charlie Flowers.

In “The Seige” Charlie Flowers skillfully unwinds a tale of “no-holds-barred” action and with a unique twist of irreverence and humor. Captain David Mahoney is a British intelligence officer working to foil the activies of terrorists lead by, of all people Saddam Hussein. While plans are laid to seize and destroy the Iranian Embassy in London, Mahoney is working to foil the entire plot. Mahoney has placed a man, Tariq, inside the cabal of terrorists.

As the plot unfolds we are introduced to Mahoney and his fellow soldiers. What makes “The Seige” unique and entertaining is that the lack of standard blood and guts banter. The soldiers involved in this tale, especially Mahoney, are irreverent, arch, and totally unconcerned with authority. Mahoney, obviously a veteran of numerous intelligence campaigns, is charmingly vulgar, flip, and unconcerned. The only truly serious issue for Mahoney is the welfare of his undercover man Tariq and the people he is protecting; these are the only issues that cause him to be fully serious.

As the plot unfolds we are introduced to dozens of stoic brits who enjoy the chase as much as they love victory. This is not your standard espionage novel and what might have passed as stiff upper lip military men in another standard espionage novel are replaced by men who combine joy with duty. Not boy scouts, these soldiers, but balls to the wall fighters with a touch of the prankster.

Not to say that Mahoney and his colleagues are not skilled. The reader is witness to a number of skillsets born of years of sieges and terrorist attacks. While the discussion of weapons and technology is often above the heads of many readers, the descriptions are fascinating and realistic. These men even use models of a target building to plan their attacks. All in all there is a sense of passion, competency and shared comradery between disparate departments in the military and the intelligence community.

Anyone who enjoys a good espionage story will love this book. But there is a bit more, a bonus in the creation of characters that add a more human dimension to what could be a dry and formulaic story. Definitely a must read.