has  a candidate been so open and sincere about buying an election.

Romney Told Bosses to Tell Their Employees Whom to Vote For

By Adam Clark Estes | The Atlantic Wire – 23 hrs ago

  • Romney Told Bosses to Tell Their …

Mitt Romney wants your vote. And if you’re a small business owner, he wants your employees’ votes as well and insists that there’s nothing wrong with giving them a little guidance this election cycle. On June 6, Romney led a conference call with support from the über-conservative National Federation of Independent Business and — to cut to the chase — urged the bosses on the call to persuade their employees to vote for him in the upcoming election.

“I hope you make it very clear to your employees what you believe is in the best interest of your enterprise and therefore their job and their future in the upcoming elections,” said Romney in a recording obtained by In These Times. “Nothing illegal about you talking to your employees about what you believe is best for the business, because I think that will figure into their election decision, their voting decision and of course doing that with your family and your kids as well.

Okay, Mitt. You’re right. It’s not technically illegal for employers to tell their employees how to vote. That doesn’t mean that it’s ethical or understandable or even acceptable to connect people’s livelihoods with their political beliefs. There’s a fine line between an employer telling an employee, “Vote Romney!” and a boss telling a subordinate, “Vote Romney, or else!” At least, in the eyes of the inevitably subordinate employees there’s not.

This hierarchical method of political persuasion is turning into a bit of a trend for Republicans this year. Just a couple of days ago, we learned that the Koch Brothers sent their employees a list of people to vote for, or else they could “suffer the consequences.” That was just a few days after the chief executive of a software company told his employees that he didn’t “want to hear any complaints regarding the fallout that will most likely come” if they voted Obama back into office. And a few days before that the CEO of Westgate Resorts and the owner of the largest house in America similarly said that he would “have no choice but to reduce the size of this company” if Obama won. “Whose policies will endanger your job?” he asked his employees.

RELATED: Romney Taps Michele Bachmann’s Debate Coach

Mitt Romney’s campaign wouldn’t respond to questions about his proposition from that June conference call. We don’t blame them, either. After all, this is the guy that very publicly said he likes being able to fire people. Combined with the let-me-tell-you-whom-to-vote for proposition, this has to scare the crap out of your everyday middle class American wage earner. Especially the women. The binders full of women.

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OUTRAGE – Arnaldur Indridason

OUTRAGE is an Inspector Erlendur book without Erlendur.  He has taken some time to investigate another case, using personal time and leaving Detective Elinborg in charge.  The author has given her colleagues time off as well and Elinborg owns this story.

Elinborg and her team are called to the apartment of Runolfur, a man who works in the telecommunications industry, has lived a quiet life, has never been in trouble, and is unknown to the police.  He is a frequent patron of many of Reykjavik’s most popular bars and he never leaves home without a supply of Rohypnol in his pocket.  Runolfur is a serial rapist, drugging his victims to guarantee their compliance and their amnesia.  In this case, the circumstances have been flipped.  There is evidence that a female was with Runolfur but he is dead and the woman is gone.

While looking for Runolfur’s killer, Elinborg finds herself drawn into a cold case, the disappearance of a teenage girl six years before.  One of the suspects in that case is Edvard, a teacher who is a close friend of Runolfur.  Are the cases connected?

OUTRAGE is a character driven story and the author devotes much of the book to presenting characters who are people in full.  Elinborg brings the readers home with her, witnesses to her strong relationship with her husband and the loving/challenging interactions with her children.  Indridason creates people familiar to readers in every country and culture.  The story goes back in time, proving again that the past is always present for good or for ill.  OUTRAGE will pull  readers in from the first page and will not let go till the last.

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CROSS BONES GRAVEYARD – Dan Waddell on Murder Is Everywhere

Dan posted this very interesting piece on November 5, 2010, giving up the opportunity to write about Guy Fawkes Day.

At the end of the post, Dan offers a link to some very entertaining information about the cemetery and the  “single women” who are buried there.

Back to the topic of London. Back to the topic of its dead. The two, of course, are inextricably linked, in this city full of ghosts. Despite those ghosts, and the ever present weight of the past, we don’t go a bundle for Halloween. Or at least we didn’t when I was a kid. In recent years, it has become more popular, importing from the US the idea of trick or treat and kids bagging a swag of sweets. Harmless fun I suppose. I remember trying it once when I was young, and being greeted with a stern lecture on the iniquity of demanding money with menaces.

A few places enter into the true spirit of Halloween and invoke the dead. One being the wonderfully named Cross Bones Cemetery in Bankside, London, just behind Borough High Street. The picture above is taken at Halloween after a procession has made its way to the graveyard gates – the cemetery closed in the 1850s – and a ribbon tied in memory of those buried, or once buried there, The Outcast Dead as they have become known

It is a wonderful story. The age of the graveyard is unknown, but the place was first recorded in the 16th century as a last resting place for ‘single women’, an Elizabethan euphemism for prostitutes, whose sinful ways precluded them from a Christian burial in consecrated ground. The Bishop of Winchester allowed them to ply their trade because the area was under his jurisdiction and not London’s, and the permissive area he controlled was known as the Liberty of the Clink, given its name by the notorious medieval prison (‘Clink’ is still used as a euphemism for jail over here). He licensed the brothels, and so the women became known as ‘Winchester Geese.’ When they died, some of sexually transmitted diseases, others of smallpox, turbercolosis and other common maladies of the time, they were buried in Cross Bones. As time passed, it wasn’t just ‘fallen’ women who were buried there, but also paupers unable to afford a Christian burial. It was closed in 1853 after becoming ‘completely overcharged with the dead’ and then forgotten.

Excavations for the Jubilee line in the 1990s unearthed the cemetery and its inhabitants. Many were stillborn babies, or ones that had failed to live a week, while many more were infants under a year. Of the adult bodies the vast majority were women estimated to be 36 or over. Since the excavation, a local chronicler, John Constable and a team of fellow devotees have celebrated the graveyard and its denizens, the site of which remains unbuilt on, in writings and performances. Each Halloween they perform to an audience a mystery based on the life of Winchester Goose, followed by a walk to the memorial gates, which are then decorated with hundreds of ribbons and other garlands.

A celebration of the outcast in a city that was built and shaped by them.

There’s a great audio slideshow here.

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TRICKSTER’S POINT – William Kent Krueger (Reviewed by Ted Feit)

Cork O’Connor has faced many perplexing situations in this
long-running series set in Upper Minnesota.  None, however, is as
stunning as takes place in this latest chapter, perhaps because it
begins at Trickster’s Point, where, according to Native American
legend nothing is what it seems as the spirits play games.  At the
foot of the monolith sit Cork and Jubal Little, the presumptive future
Governor of Minnesota.  An arrow protrudes from Jubal’s chest, right
through his heart.  He asks Cork to remain with him rather than go get
help, and it takes three hours for him to die, during which he rambles
on, sort of confessing many past transgressions, but really leaving
more questions than answers.

The arrow is an exact replica of those Cork makes for himself, leading
to the suspicion that Cork may have killed his boyhood best friend.
And Cork has to solve this mystery to exonerate himself.  Another body
is found nearby, that of a white man with a rifle.  Who is he, and why
is he there?  Was he to have been backup in case the killer missed his

While the murder mystery is an essential element of the novel, more
important is the look at the relationships of the various characters,
to each other and to the locale.  The author’s appreciation of Native
American culture and the environment in which the story takes place
is, as usual, sensitive and insightful.  Jubal is an enigmatic
character, almost too large to be believed.  Cork, however, continues
to grow with each new entry in the series.

Highly recommended.

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Something to consider as school begins.

Simon Lelic’s first book, A THOUSAND CUTS, is a perfect story for our time. Samuel Szajkowski, the grandson of a Polish immigrant and a history teacher, walks into an assembly and kills three students and a teacher before killing himself. Detective Inspector Lucia May is assigned the case, an easy one, because there is no doubt about the identity of the killer.  Still, Lucia finds herself returning day after day, drawn to the school because she can’t make herself believe that the crime is as simple as it appears.

Interviewing students and faculty, Lucia learns that Szajkowski was the victim of constant harassment and bullying from his students who have the tacit approval of the headmaster. A victim of sexual harassment as the only woman on the detective squad, Inspector May refuses to rush her report, refuses to take things at face value, refuses to ignore that the atmosphere at the school was poisonous. Neither teachers nor students were safe from the bullies, and Lucia’s boss is giving into pressure from the headmaster. As she probes, Lucia discovers that there has been a conspiracy of silence surrounding the beating of another student and she becomes more determined to prove that the teacher was a victim, goaded into killing because he believed that in killing some he was protecting others.

The structure of the book is unusual and it brings an immediacy to the means by which Lucia gathers the information. The story is told with alternating points of views, from the first person interviews of the students, faculty, and parents to the narrative of Lucia’s investigation in the third person. It is very effective, especially as it is the words of those involved who move the story further and further away from the obvious solution presented in the beginning of the story.

Death by A THOUSAND CUTS is a perfect description of what happens to those who are hounded by those without a moral compass. It is a police procedural only in the most general meaning. It is really about heroism in facing the thing one most fears. There are few who are innocent and many who are guilty because they turned the other way. From the first page, the reader will be compelled to continue to the end.

The book is an indictment of society. Bullies seek out the weak and they are enabled by the adults who tacitly and overtly encourage it and by parents who don’t demand moral responsibility from their children and adults in leadership positions who are afraid to take on the bullies for fear of being bullied themselves.

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1222 – ANNE HOLT

1222 is a book that hooks the reader from the very beginning.  “As it was only the train driver who died, you couldn’t call it a disaster.  There were 269 people on board when the train… came off the rails and missed the tunnel through Finsenut. A dead train driver comprises only 0.37 percent of this number of people.”  The narrator of 1222 is retired police inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen.  Confined to a wheelchair after a bullet shattered her spine, Hanne is traveling from Oslo to Bergen to meet with American doctors attending a conference. The derailment forces her to share space with the other passengers, far more than an inconvenience for a woman who has shunned people for most of her life.  Hanne is not interested in other people but she is a trained and talented observer.

The blizzard that led to the derailment forces the passengers to stay at the hotel  that was built as part of the station.  It will likely be days before help can reach them.  The storm makes it impossible for helicopters to land.  The derailed train prevents rescue from one direction and the depth of the snow prevents it coming from the other direction.  Roads have been shut by the storm and by order of the government because of the danger to life inhrent in being in the open.  Life in Norway has come to a stop with this “once in a century” storm.

Those skills place her in the middle of events when, within a few hours, the body of one of the passengers is found.  Cato Hammer is a well-known religious leader in Norway.  The majority of Norwegians belong to the Church of Norway but few attend services.  It is highly unlikely that Hammer’s murder has a religious connection.  As the only person with any sort of connection to the police, Hanne becomes the de facto representative of the law.  In spite of herself, Hanne has to admit she misses being involved in the process of crime solving.

The passengers pass through various stages – the spirit of community giving way to boredom and then on to rebellion just  under the surface of polite social behavior.  When a second murder is discovered, polite behavior gives way to fear and anger.  And, always there is the storm, weighing on them, distorting perception.

1222 is peopled by interesting characters and Hanne allows herself to become drawn into their circle.  She does not allow herself to forget that there is a murderer among them.

Anne Holt has written the most atmospheric novel I have read in a long time.  The blizzard is a character in the story.  It’s moods and its moves circumscribe the actions of the humans.  The hotel is staffed, warm, and well-supplied with food.  The goods necessary to sustain life are there in abundance but the means to escape danger are held out of reach by the storm.  Holt’s writing is incredibly evocative

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Reviewgate: Book Reviews for Sale and What it Really Means

Reviewgate: Book Reviews for Sale and What it Really Means.    Taste in books is as individual as the way we take our coffee or at least it should be. Remember when Americans took pride in being rugged individualists? Remember when achievement was it’s own goal?  Do writers have so little faith in their own talent that they cheat to inflate their sales?

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WHAT IS MINE – Anne Holt

Anne Holt writes wonderful boks that are very different from each other

First –

WHAT IS MINE – Anne Holt

Posted on October 7, 2010

“She was walking home from school.  It was nearly National Day.  It would be the first 17th of May without Mommy.  Her national costume was too short.  Mommy had already let the hem down twice….  ‘Selbu? That’s your name, isn’t it?’…Never talk to strangers.  Never go with anyone you don’t know.  Be polite to grown-ups….’Yes’, she whispered and tried to slip past.  Her shoe, her new sneaker with the pink stripes,sank into the mud and the dead leaves. Emilie nearly lost her balance.  The man caught her by the arm.  Then he put something over her face…An hour and a half later, Emilie Selbu was reported missing to the police.”

WHAT IS MINE is many stories centered on the same theme, the terror that lives in the back of every parents’ mind – the disappearance of a child.

The story also centers on two dedicated professionals who come to the story from different paths.  Johanne Vik is a lawyer, a psychologist and an FBI profiler.  She is deeply committed to proving that a man accused of the murder of an eight year-old girl in 1956 was unjustly convicted.  The story is complicated because Aksel Seier had applied for parole eight times, writing only two sentences, “I am innocent.  Therefore I request a pardon.”

Alvhild Sofienberg’s first job was as an executive officer for the Norwegian Correctional Services.  She was responsible for preparing applications for royal pardons and Aksel Seier’s application piqued her interest.  She sent for all the documents associated with his case and she concluded that he was innocent of the crime.  Seier wouldn’t meet with her, rather unusual under the circumstances, so she attempted to get the attention of those above her in the chain of command.  But the documentation, a yard high, disappeared.  The files were reportedly collected by the police.  And then she was told confidentially that Aksel Seier had been released.  Sofienberg is dying and she wants Johanne to find him, to prove that he is innocent.  The release gave him his freedom but it didn’t clear his name.

Detective Inspector Adam Sturbo wants Johanne to be an advisor, a profiler, on his team.  A second child has disappeared and Norwegians know well that this category of crime isn’t confined to the United States.  Johanne is more than reluctant but Adam isn’t giving up.  And then a dead child is delivered to his mother.

It is generally believed that the kidnapping of a child falls into three categories: ransom, parental custody disputes, and sexual abuse.  But the child’s body shows no signs of abuse, no ransom note was delivered, and the parents are together.  The pathologist cannot find a cause of death.  The police have nothing.  Johanne has nothing.  Then, gradually, Adam and Johanne begin to pick apart the lives of the parents to find common commonalities.

Anne Holt’s story lines include the death of a child in the 1950′s by a man who was unjustly convicted, released without notice, and has not been seen since the day he walked out of prison.  Children are disappearing in present day Oslo and bodies of the children show no cause of death.  The story is told from multiple view points, with changes in time and location, and nothing is lost in the reading.  The author glides from one character, to another location, to a different time without losing the reader at any point.

The book comes together for an ending that is satisfying to the reader and keeps the characters true to the personalities and principles with which the author has endowed them.

WHAT IS MINE is worth reading.

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DETROIT BREAKDOWN, another book in the Will Anderson series, will be availble September 4.  This is the review of the second book in the series which is set in the early years of the twentieth century.  Will Anderson witnesses the beginning of two of the biggest moments in American history: the century in which America emerges as a world power and a financial juggernaut and the birth of the automotive industry.  The internal combustion engine is the catalyst that creates the America that stretches from sea to shining sea.

Posted on October 26, 2011

MOTOR CITY SHAKEDOWN is the type of book I really enjoy: history and mystery blended so well that it is difficult to separate fact from fiction.  It had an extra hook as well.  The time period is 1911 and the city is Detroit, a time and a place I know very little about.  The author remedied my ignorance by offering plenty of information on both.

Will Anderson is the son of William Anderson, owner of Detroit Electric, a company on par with those other companies in the city that make vehicles using the internal combustion engine.  In the early 1900′s, there is real competition between the supporters of each and the competition is not played as a gentleman’s game.  Will is a survivor and an avenger.  His best friend,  Wesley McRae, was murdered in a particularly horrifying manner and Will lost the use of his hand, and some fingers, when he tried to save himself and his former fiancee, Elizabeth Hume, from being killed in another diabolical way.  These events led Will to develop an addiction to morphine, something easily purchased from a pharmacist, and about which no one seems to have much concern.

Will is certain that crime boss, Vito Adamo, had something to do with Wesley’s murder.  He wants to talk to Adamo and he figures the best way to make that happen is to have a talk with Carlo Moretti, Adamo’s driver.  Will has been following Moretti and on this hot summer night he makes up his mind that he won’t put off the conversation again.  Moretti has a routine that involves some time with a prostitute before he returns to Adamo’s bar.  On this night, the woman leaves in a hurry and Moretti doesn’t leave at all.  When Will goes to investigate, he finds Moretti dead, unmistakably a victim of homicide.  He knows he will be the first suspect and, when a woman identifies him as the man coming from Moretti’s room,  he is proved correct.

There is constant action in MOTOR CITY SHAKEDOWN, so much action that to tell a little is to tell too much.  Detroit is a city on the move.  The infant automotive industry has the power to push it to the top of American cities.  The money the industry brings to Detroit has the weight to pull it into the sewers.  The fascinating thing about the story and the historical background is how much the city has not changed in one hundred years. Drug addiction was rampant, crossed socio-economic lines, and gave rise to gangs competing for the lucrative trade.  The Teamsters Union was becoming a force to be reckoned with and that made it an attractive target for organized crime.  Crime families had roots in the villages of the “old country” and ethnicities dominated various parts of the city, each brutalizing their own people and any other people who challenged them.  The families of the automotive industry gave their names to their companies, fought to be on the top of the heap, and, in many cases, sold their souls for success.  It is interesting that Edsel Ford, whose name became a joke after a car was named for him, was actually a decent and warm human being, proving that on occasion the apple is smart enough to roll as far away from the tree as momentum will carry it.

The America of the early 1900′s was a place where all sorts of maladies were blamed on the “fast” life styles created by the speed of transportation, communication, and invention and where those maladies were cured by electroshock therapy.  How much creative genius was destroyed through medical “miracles”?

The author introduced me to “Taylorism”,  a “System of scientific management advocated by Fred W. Taylor. In Taylor’s view, the task of factory management was to determine the best way for the worker to do the job, to provide the proper tools and training, and to provide incentives for good performance. He broke each job down into its individual motions, analyzed these to determine which were essential, and timed the workers with a stopwatch. With unnecessary motion eliminated, the worker, following a machinelike routine, became far more productive.”  Eliminate the part about providing incentives for good performance and we have the “assembly line” made famous by Henry Ford.

MOTOR CITY SHAKEDOWN upended all my views about life at the turn of the century.  The Detroit of 1911 is the Detroit of Prohibition and, in its worst aspects, the Detroit of 2011.  The motor city has been taken down by the disappearance of the auto industry and the poverty continues.

This book is a must read for anyone interested in cars or American history.

I received a copy of this book from TLC Book Tours, a virtual tour posting a different review each day.

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THE FOURTH WATCHER – Timothy Hallinan

THE FOURTH WATCHER is the second book in the Poke Rafferty series.

Posted on August 15, 2010

  No matter how hard Poke Rafferty tries, even  when he isn’t looking for trouble,trouble comes looking for him.

Poke  is the author of the “LOOKING  FOR TROUBLE” travel books that give readers ideas on how to  escape the beaten path if they are willing to risk being beaten.  More than ready to settle down with Rose  and their adopted daughter, Miaow, Poke has decided to abandon the  series for the domestic life he craves.

In THE FOURTH WATCHER,  trouble shows up in the form of a US Secret Service
Agent, Richard Elson.  Peachy,  who manages Rose’s housekeeping business, has
been arrested for passing  counterfeit money, money she got from a bank.  Poke
learns from his  friend, Arnold Prettyman, a spy, maybe, that North Korea is
trying to flood the world with counterfeit American and Thai currency  that is
so good it is difficult for even experts to tell the  difference.  Clearly,
someone is passing the notes through reputable  banks and on to innocent
customers like Peachy.  Prettyman warns Poke to  stay clear of this mess; Poke,
of course, will not.

In the  meantime, Poke realizes that he is being followed by people who take
their roles very seriously.  When he is attacked and kidnapped, he wakes up in a
garage.  A young woman tells Poke someone wants to talk to  him.  “…Poke sees
an old man shuffle around the end of the van, his  feet in cheap carpet
slippers.  The edge of the light hits his knees,  and then, as he moves forward,
his waist, and then his shoulders, and  then his face, and Poke looks at the
face twice before he launches  himself from the chair, shaking off Leung’s hand,
and does his level  best to break his father’s nose.” (page  84).  Poke hasn’t
seen his father since he was 16.  Frank had abandoned Poke and his mother to
return to China, to the woman to whom he was all ready married.  Poke hasn’t
wanted to see him and Frank’s appearance isn’t changing Poke’s mind.  Frank
Rafferty introduces Poke to his female abductor, Ming Li, the half sister Poke
didn’t know he had, and to a  box of rubies that Poke doesn’t want to know
anything about.

From this point things get complicated.  When  Rose and Miaow become pawns, Poke
realizes that a family created by blood  isn’t the same as a family created bybonds, until Rose teaches him  something different.

THE FOURTH WATCHER is the second in the Poke  Rafferty series; Timothy  Hallinan
creates characters better than most authors.  He doesn’t  let the reader forget that Bangkok is a character, too

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