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My Books

This is the post excerpt.

I have been writing since I was six years old. I now have six novels and seventeen stories in print.

My first published book, Friendly Casualties, was a novel in short stories derived from experiences in the thirteen years I trundled between the U.S. and Vietnam to provide signals intelligence support to U.S. Army and Marine combat units fighting in South Vietnam. The first half of the book is a series of short stories in which characters from one story reappear in another. The second half is a novella that draws together all the preceding tales. Originally published as an ebook, Adelaide will be publishing a hard copy version in June 2022.

No-Accounts came from my years of caring for AIDS patients. It tells the story of a straight man caring for a gay man dying of AIDS. I got into helping men with AIDS to help me cope with the horrors of Post-Traumatic Stress Injury. When I was with my patients, men suffering more than I was, my unbearable memories went dormant.

Next came The Trion Syndrome. It begins with the Greek Trion legend about a demigod so brutal to the vanquished that the gods sent the Eucharides, three female monsters, to drown him. The protagonist, Dave Bell, is haunted by half-remembered visions of the war in Vietnam. At his lowest point, he recalls that he killed a child. Dave considers suicide, but a young man appears and helps him. It is his illegitimate son, a child he had tried to kill through abortion, who now helps him find his way home.

Last of the Annamese was published in March 2017. I used this novel to confront my memories of the fall of Saigon from which I escaped under fire. Once again, the image of the boy-child recurs, as the protagonist, Chuck Griffin, a retired Marine, grieves over the loss of his son, killed in combat in Vietnam. He returns to Vietnam as a civilian intelligence analyst after the withdrawal of U.S. troops and encounters Vietnamese boys whom he tries to save during the conflagration.

Secretocracy, published in March 2020, tells the story of an federal intelligence budgeteer persecuted by the Trump administration because he refuses to approve finds for an illegal operation. Coming to Terms, out in August 2020, is a new collection of short stories about people trying to work through the downturns in their lives.

Three Flaws (3)

Over the past two days, I’ve talked about the first two of three flaws in American democracy. That leaves the issue of two Senators from every state, no matter the population. The Seventeenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote.”

The problem is that some states have many more people than others. California is the state with the highest resident population in the United States with 39.24 million people. Wyoming had the lowest population with about 580,000 residents. That means that a voter in Wyoming is more than 67 times more powerful than a voter in California. Wyoming is a “safe red state,” that is, predominantly Republican, whereas California is known as one of the most progressive states in the nation and consistently votes for Democrats in presidential races.

We need to revise the way we allocate the number of senators from each state so that the U.S. Senate offers fair representation of the American population.

As it happens, all three of these flaws favor well-to-do Americans over the more numerous middle- and lower-class citizens. My guess is that was intentional. The Founding Fathers were educated and therefore upper-class and probably wanted to preserve their status. But now times have changed. It’s time to restructure and make our political base more fair for everybody.

Three Flaws (2)

Time to move on the Electoral College.

According to the Cato Institute, the Electoral Count Act (ECA) defines the process when Congress meets every four years on January 6 to count the electoral votes for president and vice president. This meeting is mandated by the Constitution, which requires that all electoral votes be sent to Congress and counted in front of the House and Senate. This count is normally a formality, but the ECA includes a caveat with potentially enormous consequences. Congress can reject an electoral vote, the law says, if a majority of both the House and Senate finds that an elector’s appointment was not “lawfully certified” or that the elector’s vote was not “regularly given.”

Donald Trump in 2021 tried to use procedures specified by the ECA to overturn the election and get himself proclaimed president. That resulted in the attack on the Capitol and multiple deaths. As a consequence, there are now numerous efforts underway to revise the ECA.

But Republicans, for obvious reasons, oppose undercutting the ECA. It resulted in both George W. Bush and Donald Trump being elected president despite losing the popular vote. And since Democrats outnumber Republicans in the U.S., Republicans prefer any factors that will give them a leg up. So the congressional fracas over the ECA promises to be a real rumble.

It’s obvious to me that we should not tinker with the ECA but repeal it altogether and abolish the Electoral College. The candidate who receives the most votes should be president. Period.

But don’t hold your breath. I expect the ECA to prevail for the foreseeable future.

Three Flaws

Three accepted and legal practices in our national legislature, the Congress, regularly debilitate our democracy: the filibuster, the electoral college, and the election of two senators from every state, regardless of size. I want to address all three, one at a time. Today I start with the filibuster.

“Filibuster” is a political procedure in which one or more members of the U.S. Senate prolong debate on proposed legislation so as to delay or entirely prevent it’s passage. It is sometimes referred to as “talking a bill to death” or “talking out a bill,” and is characterized as a form of obstruction. It is regularly used by the Republicans—especially if they are in the minority—to prevent the passage of bills they oppose.

The origin of the term is intriguing. Here I quote the website Oxford Languages: Late 18th century: from French flibustier, first applied to pirates who pillaged the Spanish colonies in the West Indies. In the mid-19th century (via Spanish filibustero), the term denoted American adventurers who incited revolution in several Latin American states, whence filibuster (sense 2 of the noun). The verb was used to describe tactics intended to sabotage U.S. congressional proceedings, whence filibuster (sense 1 of the noun).

The best known and perhaps most outrageous use of the filibuster has been by Republicans to prevent the passage of measures that would reduce gun violence and address civil rights. That problem promises to continue until the Senate agrees to remove the filibuster. That’s not likely to occur as long as the Republicans are in or near the majority.

More next time.

Biden

Following my diatribe against Donald Trump, a reader asked if I could be fair and list the failings of President Joe Biden. I did a search for Biden’s transgressions but couldn’t find anything worth mentioning. His worst failure was the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan. Instead of misdeeds, I came up with a list of his unheralded achievements while president. Here they are:

Securing millions of COVID-19 vaccinations (the most successful vaccine rollout in history), rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, re-engaging in the World Health Organization, reversing Trump’s Muslim ban, introducing ground sweeping immigration reform, reopening Obamacare enrollment, ending Trump’s transgender military ban, unveiling the American Jobs Plan to create thousands of jobs, and sending stimulus checks to millions of hardworking families.

Part of the reason that Biden isn’t given more credit is that so much of his time and energy has been spent on repairing the damage that Trump did. My only real criticism of Biden is that he’s not as effective as I would like him to be in carrying out a superb agenda. He often misspeaks and lacks the charisma of, say, Reagan. On the other hand, it seems to me that the American public has failed to credit him for some of his substantial achievements, like his plan for vaccinating Americans against covid-19. I end up believing he has achieved an amazing amount but gets very little credit.

Vietnam War Trilogy

I am currently reading for review the second book in an historical trilogy on the Vietnam war. It’s by Mark Moyar and entitled Triumph Regained: The Vietnam War, 1965-1968 (Encounter Books, 2022). As noted earlier in this blog, between 1962 and 1975, as a speaker of Vietnamese, Chinese, and French (the three languages of Vietnam), I spent more time in Vietnam than I did in the U.S. and escaped under fire when Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese. My job was assisting U.S. and friendly troops on the battlefield with signals intelligence. So Moyar’s endless tales about American and South Vietnamese forces and their confrontations with North Vietnamese army units sparks memories of my own encounters. I was amused to realize that my Vietnam war order of battle knowledge of the North Vietnamese invaders is far more complete than that of friendly forces. And Moyar’s frequent allusions to placenames where brutal clashes occurred—Van Tuong, Bong Son, Bau Bang, Ia Drang, and many others—reawakened memories long since dormant.

Reading the book and writing the review will be major challenges. Triumph Regained is 692 pages with an index thirteen pages long and 106 pages of footnotes. Moyar writes in detail about numerous battles and provides meticulous description of events that affected the war, such as the Buddhist movement against the South Vietnamese government and disagreements among U.S. officials about strategies most likely to be effective in prosecuting the war. Despite my extensive knowledge and experience in the Vietnam war, this is a lot to absorb.

I will be curious to see how long it will be before the third book of the trilogy, covering 1969 to 1975 and the aftermath of the war, appears in print. The first volume, Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965, was published in 2009. Will it take Moyar thirteen more years to complete the last volume?

I’ll let you know when the review is published toward the end of the month.

Friendly Casualties

I just received word that Adelaide Books in New York has released my novel-in-stories, Friendly Casualties. You can read all about it at https://www.forpressrelease.com/forpressrelease/608108/7/new-book-by-tom-glenn-friendly-casualties-a-novel-in-stories

and

If you read the book, be sure to let me know what you think. Feedback from readers keeps me on my toes.

Biden

Following my diatribe against Donald Trump, a reader asked if I could be fair and list the failings of President Joe Biden. I did a search for Biden’s transgressions but couldn’t find anything worth mentioning. His worst failure was the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan. Instead of misdeeds, I came up with a list of his unheralded achievements while president. Here they are:

Securing millions of covid-19 vaccinations (the most successful vaccine rollout in history), rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, re-engaging in the World Health Organization, reversing Trump’s Muslim ban, introducing ground sweeping immigration reform, reopening Obamacare enrollment, ending Trump’s transgender military ban, unveiling the American Jobs Plan to create thousands of jobs, and sending stimulus checks to millions of hardworking families.

Part of the reason that Biden isn’t given more credit is that so much of his time and energy has been spent on repairing the damage that Trump did. My only real criticism of Biden is that he’s not as effective as I would like him to be in carrying out a superb agenda. He often misspeaks and lacks the charisma of, say, Reagan. On the other hand, it seems to me that the American public has failed to credit him for some of his substantial achievements, like his plan for vaccinating Americans against covid-19. I end up believing he has achieved an amazing amount with very little fanfare and gets very little credit.

Weightlifting (2)

I have lifted weights most of my life, but running was, for many years, my primary workout. I ran ten miles three or four times a week until, some years ago, I injured my right knee and had to have knee replacement surgery. The surgeon botched the job and left me unable to straighten my leg completely and unable to run. Nor can I do leg exercises. So I depend on weightlifting using the upper half of my body to maintain my health.

Exercise is only one of the things I do to stay healthy. I stick to a diet of primarily fruits, vegetables, and soup, with an emphasis on beans and split peas. I drink lots of water and sleep as much twelve hours a day. Thanks to my time in combat where I learned to sleep whenever and wherever I could, I have become an expert on sleep—I’m better at it than anybody I know.

According to TheHealthy.com, one of the factors that can shorten life is lack of physical activity. As I look around me, so many of the people I see are overweight—one symptom of deficient exercise and poor diet. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the national public health agency of the U.S., reports that 41.9 percent of Americans are obese. I am at a loss to understand how so many Americans can go on with a lifestyle that will hasten their death.

But I am also well aware that healthy exercise requires time. Only the relatively well-to-do (like me) have the free time for working out. And statistics confirm that those with more wealth tend to live longer than those with less. If you have more money, you probably have access to better health care as well as more nutritious foods. But you also have the free time necessary for exercise.

Despite all my actions to remain healthy, I’m aging. Once upon a time, I enjoyed weightlifting to the hilt. But little by little, it is becoming more work and less pleasure. That said, I’ll keep it up as long as I can.

I like being healthy.

Weightlifting

I’ve mentioned several times over the years in this blog that I lift weights every other day. I credit that practice as one of the factors in my excellent health for a man my age. A reader asked what my weightlifting consists of. Here’s the answer:

I do thirteen different exercises in a routine that takes over two hours. My goal is to regularly do three sets of twelve repetitions (reps) of each exercise. Most often, I keep doing reps until I reach twenty, then increase the weight in each hand by five pounds. Once I feel that I have reached the ideal weight for a particular exercise, I stick with twelve reps until it begins to feel too easy, then again increase the weight in each hand by five pounds.

The thirteen exercises are pushup, sit-up, military press, bench press, leg lift, shrug, fly, bench curl, lateral raise, upright row, 3-way curl, 2-arm tricep extension, and hammer curl. I pace for thirty breaths between the sets and take a short break after the three sets of a single exercise before I move on to the next exercise.

Early last June, I underwent eye surgery to correct a disorder that caused my lower eyelids to droop. That meant I had to cease weightlifting until my eyes returned to normal to avoid the pressure that heavy exercise puts on the eyes. As a result, between the last day of May and October 16, 2022, I couldn’t exercise at all. Then I had to get back into it gradually. It was like starting all over again. Only now am I approaching the level I had achieved before the surgery.

More next time.