Under Tower Peak

[Amazon Link]

I was encouraged to pick up this book by a glowing review in the WSJ back in 2013. (Yes, it can take a while to get to items in my TBR pile.) Comparisons to Hemingway, Cormac McCarthy, and Jim Harrison were made. And I found it a pretty good read too. It is an auspicious debut novel for author Bart Paul.

The narrator and protagonist is Tommy Smith. He and his longtime buddy Lester work in the California mountain wilderness, wrangling horses and acting as guides for tourists who want to rough it in the outdoors. But on an expedition near a remote pass through the Sierras, Tommy and Lester happen upon a plane crash and the pilot's corpse. They remember news stories from months back about a missing billionaire, and reach the obviously correct conclusion: they found him.

Tommy wants to do the obviously correct thing: report the crash site and the body when they return to civilization. But Lester gets way too clever, grabbing the dead guy's Rolex and some loose cash. Tommy reluctantly refrains from doing the right thing. But things get worse: Lester and his girlfriend launch a crackpot scheme to grab some of the billionaire's family fortune in return for their knowledge.

Unfortunate choice, because (as it turns out) there are people who would just as soon keep the billionaire's death unrevealed. And if the only way to do that is to kill everyone who can say different? Okay, fine!

Tommy, just like Liam Neeson, has "certain skills" that might ensure survival. What ensues is a cat-and-mouse can't-trust-anyone thriller.

The Phony Campaign

2015-07-05 Update

[phony baloney]

Chris Christie breaks the (arbitrary) 2% Predictwise threshold today, so he returns to our poll. (His most recent appearance was back in February.)

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Jeb Bush" phony 1,060,000 -180,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 402,000 -29,000
"Donald Trump" phony 268,000 +89,000
"Rand Paul" phony 182,000 +1,000
"Chris Christie" phony 162,000 ---
"Bernie Sanders" phony 147,000 +61,200
"Joe Biden" phony 139,000 +1,000
"Marco Rubio" phony 114,000 -2,000
"Scott Walker" phony 105,000 +8,800

What's new in the world of presidential political phoniness?

  • Chris Christie officially announced his candidacy on Tuesday; the NYT welcomed him with an editorial: "Gov. Chris Christie’s Phony Truth-Telling". As you might expect, they are not fans, and much of it is predictable partisan sniping. Still:

    Sometimes, Mr. Christie wants to make himself a strong, reliable right-winger. He told an anti-gun-control crowd in South Carolina in June, for example, that all of New Jersey’s gun laws preceded his tenure and “no new ones have been made since I’ve been governor.” Actually, he signed three major pieces of gun-control legislation.

    So keep your hand on your wallet when Christie comes to town.

  • Jaime Fuller of New York Magazine writes a brief hit-piece on Jeb: "Jeb Bush and His Friends Have Spent a Lot of Time Explaining His Bad Business Deals". (Although the URL implies the original headline was something like "Jeb Bush Has Apologized a Lot For Helping Crooks".) It is mostly a summary of reporting done by others, including the Washington Post, but still …

    One of Bush's real-estate friends gave the Post the most amusing spin for Bush's nonexistent business bullshit detector, saying that the presidential candidate has a “record for having only a few clients who ultimately turned out to be less than truthful is remarkable, and that record would compare favorably with any firm in this business, either in Miami or another city.” We should be impressed that a presidential candidate didn't get involved in more shady dealings — especially in Florida!

    Jeb appears to be a poor judge of character. Not a quality you really look for in a president.

    By the way, the double standard we can expect from "journalists" is on full display in Fuller's article. An arguably more sleazy association of Hillary Clinton with convicted drug smuggler Jorge Cabrera is briefly described. There's even a picture of Hillary and Jorge in front of a Christmas tree at a White House reception. This is dismissed airily with "that’s what politicians do" and "how would Hillary have known?"

  • Allahpundit considers recent stories about candidate Scott Walker reassuring pro-immigration Stephen Moore that "I’m not going nativist; I’m pro-immigration," allegedly contradicting his current public stance.

    Allahpundit speculates: "Maybe he was BSing Moore."

    Or maybe he’s BSing us. Between his previous agonizing immigration flip-flop-flipping, his well-timed reversal on ethanol in Iowa, and his sudden rediscovery of social conservatism, I don’t really believe anything Walker says anymore. He’s the most conspicuous panderer among the field’s top candidates. If there’s anyone running who might be telling voters one thing in the name of getting elected while telling donors and establishment allies another, it’s him.

  • The NYT unearthed some Deep Thoughts from Bernie Sanders' writings for The Vermont Freeman. Particularly lurid was a column entitled “The Revolution Is Life Versus Death"

    The piece began with an apocalyptically alarmist account of the unbearable horror of having an office job in New York City, of being among “the mass of hot dazed humanity heading uptown for the 9-5,” sentenced to endless days of “moron work, monotonous work.”

    “The years come and go,” Mr. Sanders wrote, in all apparent seriousness. “Suicide, nervous breakdown, cancer, sexual deadness, heart attack, alcoholism, senility at 50. Slow death, fast death. DEATH.”

    So was Bernie about 17 when he wrote that? No, he was thirty. (Or, as the NYT puts it, "barely 30", as if that's an excuse.)

Last Modified 2015-07-07 3:42 PM EDT