Love is a Dog from Hell

by Taylor MacHenry

Not long ago, my friend and fellow writer, Kirk Ellis, posted his contribution to his friend Stuart Rosebrook’s challenge to post on Facebook banned books and drive Facebook censors crazy. Yes, a worthy cause.

Of course, my heart went straight to Harper Lee’s brilliant novel that won her the Pulitzer Prize for literature in 1961 and was voted by the American people its favorite novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. A book that has been banned multiple times since 1968 through today with other people knowing best what a person ought to be ALLOWED to read. Set in a time when Jim Crow laws caused many innocent poor people to suffer terrible injustices, like the railroading of Tom Robinson, innocent but convicted anyway because he’s Black. That was a time when mentally challenged people like Boo Radley suffered persecution no different than Quasimodo. Scout and Jem and father, Atticus Finch, knew better, despite that ugly world that told an American truth that held up a mirror to our biased faces and helped make us better for it.

Oh, but why even enter such things in the mind? We must control the narrative that the people hear, so they can act pure and be pure and not hate. Right, that’s called brain washing. Censorship is in a way a means to wash the minds of the people, so they will agree on the prescribed politically correct path.

Me? I was always the kid who wondered why books got banned, so I searched out underground copies of the forbidden texts and read them.

Hate is hate. Thus, censors scurry today to rid us of such trash that perhaps might offend us or cause us hurt. So, they ban To Kill a Mockingbird, and of late, they remove from publication six books penned by Dr. Seuss, yanked by the sensitive publishers at Penguin Random House. Because they might be hurtful.

And that brings me to my entry of books best consumed in brown paper wrappers, for fear that the thought police might see us reading them.

As a writer, I find inspiration from an odd assortment of authors, poets and novelists, all tormented by inner demons, with which I use to mold myself into the writer I want to be, and perhaps explain why I share such demons with them. Among this sordid cast of mostly human trash, foreign to polite society, living in the shadow of down-looking noses, rises perhaps my all-time favorite, Charles Bukowski.

I find connection with such nihilistic social rejects as Hank Moody, the main character in Tom Kapinos’ creation, Californication. Totally depraved and yet inspiring. It did seven seasons on Showtime, so someone watched it. Besides me.

I liked it because I know Hank Moody’s heart. Since I have not talked to Tom Kapinos about his inspiration for Hank, I can’t say for sure. But I suspect that Kapinos, like me, draws much inspiration from the insufferable reprobate Charlie Bukowski and his even more deplorable alter-ego, Henry “Hank” Chinaski.

Hank Moody and Hank Chinaski are their own worst enemies. Very much alike. If you’ve watched the seven seasons of Californication, and related to Hank, then you must also read Bukowski’s five novels that take us through the life of Hank Chinaski.

Read the five novels in this order:

First, read Ham on Rye, then next slum your way through the pages of my offering for the list of books that offend the Facebook censors, Factotum. You’ll be hooked with Ham on Rye, and Factotum picks right up.

Then you can settle into the steamy drunk pages of Post Office, where we journey with Hank Chinaski, aspiring to be a novelist but needing to eat, gets a job delivering mail. That, and seducing women, and staying drunk as he tries to write, and keep afloat, resisting everything except temptation. Yet Hank finally reels out his first novel, as Post Office slides to a slow stop.

Next on the reading list we find Bukowski’s introspection of himself through Henry Chinaski in his novel called, Women. In it, life gets good for Henry Chinaski after his first novel takes him to stardom. Down on life, down on stardom, cynical yet fun-seeking, Hank Chinaski and Hank Moody would live well together, if they ever met. And somehow, I believe that Tom Kapinos probably did just that with these two howling mad writers.

A trail of lost loves in his own life, shown to us in the life of Hank Chinaski, I am not surprised that Charlie Bukowski wrote a book of poems entitled: Love is a Dog from Hell.

While the last in the life of Hank Chinaski, the novel Hollywood takes our hero to the land of crazy, phony and glitter, Los Angeles. Here we see Henry Chinaski write the screenplay called, Barfly.

And while Hank Chinaski lives the depraved, careless and self-absorbed life of a writer spinning out of emotional control in the novel, Hollywood, Charles Bukowski lives a similar, depraved life for real as he writes the screenplay for the 1987 feature film, Barfly, which starred Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway.

When you finish reading Hollywood, get a copy of the book form screenplay, Barfly. It’s the final edit of the script, all written by Charles Bukowski.

Charlie Bukowski died in San Pedro, California on March 9, 1994, at the age of 74 years old. Same as my age now. And just as cranky and cynical.

He got his first story published in 1944 and never stopped smoking and drinking and living life with little to no control. His physical body’s worst enemy and his emotional being’s champion of self-abuse, Charlie never stopped writing for the next 50 years.

That’s when God stopped him.

Dead.

In his tracks.

A few weeks before the Grim Reaper took Charlies Bukowski down for the count, Black Sparrow Press published the first edition hardcover of Charlie Bukowski’s (Hank Chinaski’s) final novel, Pulp.

While looking Lady Death square in the kisser, Bukowski dedicates his story told in Pulp to “bad writing.”

His novel, you see, takes dead center aim at writers and publishers and spoofs their pretentious, over-inflated, narcissistic world.

No ground is sacred.

Replete with everything vile and reviling, lewdness, drunkenness, debauched, hurtful, insulting, immoral but downright funny and heartbreaking.

No Facebook censor could ever allow any of these novels to appear on these hallowed, sensitive and politically woke webpages.

So, I offer to the Facebook censors Charlie Bukowski the man, and Hank Chinaski the fictional hero, and maybe his sidekick, Hank Moody. I guarantee them to be fairly and justly insensitive, insulting and hurtful to all.

But, God bless them, our world would be pretty sad without them.

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/factotum-charles-bukowski/1100609520?ean=9780061842412

A Righteous Warrior’s Ethic

by Taylor MacHenry

A friend posted on his Facebook page some pictures of smoldering aircraft wreckage taken from the battlefields of Ukraine in past days. The caption read, “For those who have trouble identifying Russian aircraft.”

Each window in the display contained a wreckage photograph and a label of the type of aircraft the wreckage was: MI-8, MI-24/35, MI-35 or SU-34 or SU-25. In each picture, I could imagine the catastrophic event that occurred with the aircraft as the missile or exploding projectile took out the airplane and everyone inside it.

I have mixed feelings while I look at this wreckage.

Yes, enemy aircraft shot down by the good guys. Still, many of these wrecks hold the remains of a human being, the pilot, or in some cases of helicopters shot down, the wreckage contains the bodies of pilot, crew, and passengers. Enemies all.

Not long ago I watched a video of a young Russian soldier captured by Ukrainian forces. No more than a child in his late teens, the boy stood confused and scared to his core, fearful that at any second his captors might murder him. After all, the Russians are murdering noncombatant Ukrainian civilians hiding in their homes. Bombing them. So, why not murder Russian prisoners of war, some of whom may have committed the war crimes?

Righteous warriors do not murder.

We must treat our enemy prisoners with decency. Treat them as we wish that our enemy would treat our own soldiers when captured.

That terrified Russian soldier, a mere boy, now a prisoner by Ukraine forces was conscripted into Vladimir Putin’s army, not his choice but the choice of the despotic ruler who demanded this child’s presence with a rifle on the battlefront. Consider that fact before heaping wrathful vengeance upon this enemy.

Then, a few days ago, I saw a Russian pilot captured. He wore an orange flight pressure suit, typical of equipment worn by pilots flying fast-moving aircraft that draw a lot of Gs during maneuvers.

This fellow knelt, his hands with fingers laced behind his head, also terrified: Now in the hands of Ukrainian captors who could as easily murder him as take him prisoner.

This Russian pilot commanded an echelon of aircraft, like a squadron commander in America’s flying forces. Certainly, he had valuable intelligence his captors might gain, and so did the frightened conscript boy. Killing the man or the boy would be a tactical mistake, human ethics aside.

What I am reminded of while looking at the pictures of smoking aircraft wreckage, and something I was taught by my Marine Corps leaders is that we must respect our enemy.

Yes, we kill them in horrible ways, and he kills our brothers in equally horrible ways, but as warriors we must respect our enemy.

Major Jim Land, one of the founding fathers of the Marine Corps Scout-Sniper program instructed me with a valuable lesson about the idea of warrior ethics. It is a lesson that was doctrine during my active-duty days and still should be doctrine taught to Marine Corps Scout-Snipers and Critical Skills Operators today: We do not kill to punish our enemy, not to gain revenge or achieve retribution for his side’s war crimes. We respect life and do not take a life casually. We are about the mission.

Such emotion-driven attitudes and conduct will corrupt us as warriors.

We cannot be effective to the mission if we are corrupt.

We never know how treating the enemy that we capture with respect will turn out. It may come to nothing, or it could come to something of great value. Reinforcing the hatred of the enemy toward us by treating him with cruelty and abuse can only hurt us in every respect, during the war and afterwards.

Most importantly, we all must kneel before God and face judgment, regardless of whether a person believes in God or not.

We all must account for ourselves.

Furthermore, after war, as we live, as I do, as old men with memories of our better years, we must also live with ourselves and what we did.

When conscience is nearly all that an old warrior has to keep him company, it needs to be a good conscience. Not shame.

So, looking at this wreckage of enemy aircraft, I also see the human beings who were inside them and died because of the ideals and desires for power of the politicians who sent them to war to die or to kill, and in Vladimir Putin’s case, to commit murder of innocent noncombatants.

It is not the dead or captured warriors upon whom we should focus our wrath, but on the man who sent them.

Goodnight Kabul: Another Failed American War With No Declaration

by Taylor MacHenry

Today, I watched in horror and agony as thousands swarmed the Kabul airport hopelessly trying to escape the wrath of the Taliban with their bare-rock tyranny and unbridled cruelty that lies ahead for all Afghan people who did not side with the Muslim extremist rulers. My stomach twisted as I saw Afghan people clinging to the wheel wells of a US Air Force C17 transport aircraft as it taxied to the runway and took off. What happened to those who helplessly clung to the wheel wells and any other surface of the aircraft’s exterior where they could take a handhold?

President Joe Biden denies that this is another American war won by US Warriors but lost by America’s political leaders who lacked the fortitude nor the will to arm and equip the Afghan people and transition to their own defense. A process that takes years and cannot be done in a matter of a few months. It is just like the way that the United States Congress tied the hands of the President and quit and ran from Viet Nam in 1975.

President Gerald R. Ford told me in 1994, when I spent time with him in New York, working on my book, Goodnight Saigon, (Berkley Books, Penguin-Random House, 2005, New York, NY) that the fall of Saigon was the most tragic day of his life. He said, “It was terrible to be President of the United States and sit and watch as America quit and ran.”

No, America should not have gotten ensnared in Afghanistan, just as they should not have gotten ensnared in Viet Nam. Not with the weakness of a Congress of men and women who have no idea of the cost of war, and the horrors that the innocent people caught in the jaws of that war suffer.

When we see our beloved brothers in arms die at our sides; when we see the innocent people caught in that war suffer and get maimed and killed, collateral damage sloughed off no better than flotsam and jetsam in the wake of a war waged by cowards and prosecuted by the valiant who believe their rhetoric, it brands the memories with a hot iron of we who were there to see these things while we fought the war and endure it.

We veterans keep saying, “Never again.” But the fools in Congress and the White House keep doing it. We keep warning that the cost of going to war is not in money but in blood, and not just an enemy’s blood but the blood of the innocent and blood of the loyal. Yet those cautions go ignored when the politicians have a political status to keep, and votes to get.

For those narcissistic wastes of skin who sit in high office, basking in their self-aggrandizing glory, human life and human misery do not affect their souls, because they have no souls.

A nation cannot go to war and still go shopping at the mall, as if there is no war. Going to war means total commitment by the nation, not just the warriors that the nation treats like disposable hired help who matter for nothing. All of the people of the nation that goes to war must put themselves into the effort, share the bleeding. That is, if they desire to win it.

The last war where America totally committed to war was World War II. Every conflict, every military action in which America has stuck its big toe in the water, since World War II has failed.

President George W. Bush should have listened to his father, who warned him sternly against getting America entangled in the nation building that takes place after America quashes an enemy. He should have pounded Afghanistan into submission for the crime that they helped Osama bin Laden and his zealots commit, but instead of remaining in the country, nation building, winning the hearts and minds of the populous, he should have just left them to their misery and the Taliban to continue governing. If the Taliban hosted more terrorists, bomb them again and again and again.

That’s why President George H. W. Bush left the boss thug in charge in Iraq when America blew his armies back to Baghdad when they invaded Kuwait. No nation building. And President father warned President son to leave Iraq alone.

But son did not listen to the wisdom of his father.

Thus, with the ouster of Saddam Hussain, radical zealot armies like ISIS emerged.

Once the blood bath in Kabul ends, as the Taliban exercises its wrath on all those who supported the Americans, filling the gutters with blood, I fully expect to see Afghanistan rise up as the Phoenix of Islamic terror, home base for ISIS and others who live to kill Americans and destroy the Christian nations and the Christians wherever they exist.

Yes, America should have departed Afghanistan long ago, but with an exit strategy that gave the people at least a fighting chance. What President Biden has done is cowardly and cruel. The blood of these people is on him today. It is not just like Viet Nam. No. The North Vietnamese were a nicer bunch.

This is much worse.

Hypocrite Corporations Who Decry Racism and Discrimination but Exploit the Poor and Use Slave Labor in China

by Taylor MacHenry

Today, I read an article about how Nike, Coca Cola, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Apple, Adidas, The North Face, Abercrombie, GAP, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Land Rover, General Motors and several other worldwide corporations with strong China manufacturing ties make a big public show of how they deplore all forms of racism and discrimination, pitching millions into the PR effort, but behind corporate doors are not shy about exploiting forced labor of slaves in China, most notably the enslaved Uighur Muslims of northwest China, a heavily oppressed racial minority of Turkic people.

(For a more extensive list of these companies, go to the Business and Human Rights Resource Center website at: https://www.business-humanrights.org/en/latest-news/china-83-major-brands-implicated-in-report-on-forced-labour-of-ethnic-minorities-from-xinjiang-assigned-to-factories-across-provinces-includes-company-responses/)

For many of us, this news is not at all surprising. It is the stock and trade of the “limousine liberal” progressive left elitists. They have lots of money, and want to put on a good face to the flotsam and jetsam of common working people who spend their hard-earned dollars in support these villians’ markets and profits. So, they make a public and highly hypocritical showing of their tender hearts for the plight of oppressed people, and throw money and promises at the causes. But in truth, their hearts are very dark indeed.

Black lives really do matter, in my opinion. So do cop lives and all other walks of society. As do Latino lives matter as well, and the plight of these and other struggling people who seek to feed their families and at least have what America’s Constitution and Declaration of Independence states, and promises. “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” (happiness meaning that you have your basic human needs met of hearth, home, food and family security). God created all of His children (humanity) equally in His eyes and in His love.

Yet, these progressive left elitists speak with “forked tongues,” much like the prominent Southern Cheyenne chieftain, Black Kettle, said of the American government, after seeing the “great white father” break the Pine Lodge Treaty–broken as a matter of expedience for the way west, the rail roads and other profit motives of the puppet-string pullers.

While talking publicly out of the left side of their mouths, saying how everyone needs to open all the doors for all people, especially those who suffer discrimination (true indeed), yet from the other side of their mouths they probably whisper among their boards of directors, “we need the slave labor of China to ensure that our profits increase while we fleece American consumers and other world markets by charging the people with few competitive options more money for increasingly inferior goods and delivering less and less.”

They have taken out all the screws that they can eliminate and trimmed off all the engineered support parts of their products, resulting in poorer quality but another penny or two in profit. However, their biggest profit gains come from not paying for labor, skilled labor. Skills cost dollars, and workers with greater manufacturing skills bring home more dollars per hour. So the companies close their American factories and go offshore where poor, desperate people, including children, will work for pennies instead of dollars. Skills matter less too, because if the product lasts past its flimsy warranty, that they make purposefully difficult for consumers to use when needed, then that is all that matters. In fact, it is good. The consumer has to buy a new one.

So, these companies not only use slave labor in China, maximizing profits like ancient Egyptians, but they also lobby Congress to keep the slave labor operating and fulfilling their American market needs. Yes!

These are the friends and supporters of the Joe Biden Administration–heavily supporting China. Congress even passed a bill in the House of Representatives that would prohibit the purchase of any goods to sell on the American market if those goods were manufactured by Chinese slaves, like the Turkic Muslims of Northwest China, the Uighur people. Downtrodden souls enduring endless “re-education,” working as slaves in forced labor camps turning out goods for American brands. However, the guilty parties–at last count, 83 major corporations with dirty hands using slave labor to spin out the parts for assembly plants elsewhere, or making shoes, shirts, trousers and other similar goods–put up big bucks in political candidate campaigns to kill the bill. A bill that had passed the United States House of Representatives with only 6 nay votes.

Bottom line–Money is Power.

And while we talk of Slave Labor, let us not forget America’s own version of Slave Labor: The poor people from Latin America who risk their lives to slip into los Estados Unidos (the United States) just to make a living and feed their starving families. Because they do not have legal status in the USA, they must work under the covers of secrecy and subterfuge. False documents and phony identifications that enable them to work and get paid something, usually cash with no benefits. And what do they get paid? Not nearly what the employer might report.

For example, I went to a temporary labor agency in Colorado Springs not that many years ago seeking two laborers to perform cleanup and barn repairs for me. The two men came to my home, neither of them speaking English, so I thankfully spoke enough Spanish to get the job done. During our work, for which I thought I was paying each man $14 dollars an hour, I discovered that each man actually received a little less than $6 dollars an hour, and they were glad to get it.

Yes, the temporary labor service does collect a fee for connecting me with the laborers. It should be no more than a couple of dollars, though. So, I asked the men if they received a pay stub that showed their deductions, such as FICA, Social Security and Medicare. But the truth was ugly.

Both men got paid cash at day’s end when they checked out of work for the day at the service. They got a little less than $6 dollars an hour, for which I paid $14 dollars an hour, and they got no explanation of deductions.

Neither man had a social security number, nor even knew what or where to get one. One man’s wife had an American drivers license, and she drove them out here to work at my place in the country and then drove them home again at days end. A 45 minute drive each direction in an old car that did not get good gas mileage. So, fuel costs were another deduction from their daily earnings.

Learning the truth they innocently told to me, I telephoned the temporary labor service, to whom I had given a check in advance, as they required, to cover the wages–eight hours a day for five days for two men at $14 dollars an hour.

The woman with whom I spoke, a boss there, started out her lies by telling me that the men were legal, documented workers, and that they got paid net wages after federal and state deductions were collected plus the company’s 10-percent commission for finding employment for the men and maintaining the wage and work documents required by federal and state law. To which I responded that I spoke to both men with my admittedly limited Spanish language abilities, but communicated well enough to fully understand that the men were not American citizens, had no documentation and that her company was ripping the men off with false deductions that were greater than the men’s net earnings. How could either man collect any Social Security or Medicare benefits when they became eligible if they had no clue of a Social Security number or even get a tax refund?

The woman hung up the phone without saying another word. And the company never cashed my check. They destroyed the paper trail that led to these two men and to my doorstep. Fine with me!

Next morning, the two men came for work and told me that they were fired, but that they had made a commitment to me to do the work and were keeping their promises. Standing by their word!

I said fine. But I insist on giving you each $10 dollars an hour cash for every hour that you work.

They worked through the week and most of the next week too. I paid them cash each day. Exactly as they wanted me to do. Just like ranchers out here did when I was a boy, and Braceros regularly and legally crossed the border to work, get paid cash, and went home to Mexico at season’s end. What happened to that system that worked well in the American Southwest until the mid-1960s? Politics and corruption.

When the men showed up for work the first day, and it was pretty cold weather, heavy frost covering this part of Colorado, only one of them had a coat. An old Army field jacket with no liner.

“Where’s your coat?” I asked the man in shirt sleeves. He shook his head, no and said, “No tiene.”

The other fellow smiled and showed me his Army jacket with no liner. Little better than him wearing a canvas shirt over his shirt. But he was a lot better off than the other guy.

So, without a word, I went in the house and pulled out two good, warm barn coats, each with wool flannel lining over a layer of insulation, to keep the men warm. After handing each man a coat to put on, I got in my truck while the men now happily worked, saying nothing again, and drove to the Big R ranch store where I bought good winter work coats for each man. Each a gift, not tied to their work.

As I exchanged their new coats for my loaners, that were well worn, I told the two fellows that it was part of the benefits package at my ranch. Everybody that works for me gets a coat. No charity. Just the right thing to do.

Besides, I could not bear the idea of either man working in cold weather without a coat! And what kind of cruel and heartless person would allow anyone to work in the cold with no coat?

Next day, after I had gotten the men coats of their very own. New coats, not worn out or thrown away items. The one man’s wife brought homemade breakfast burritos for my wife and me as well as the men. We ate breakfast together as men with mutual respect, and went to work afterward. Then one day, as a gift, she also brought us a sack full of homemade tamales, which I love. It’s a regular winter thing in a Latin household, making tamales. A family time. It warmed my heart and my stomach too.

When we finished our work, a little more than a week later, after working together and my Spanish language skills improving daily, I asked the men what they would do next?

They said that they had saved a good deal of money during the year and were heading back to central Mexico. The man with his wife would drive there, and give the other man a ride home to his wife and four children. The money would give them a start in a construction business of their own down there.

They hugged me goodbye and I never saw them again, nor have heard from either man.

But the bottom line here is a clear example of doing what is only right in the face of what is blatantly wrong, and remains wrong today: Exploitation of the poor and desperate by the wealthy. It is common in America and openly done in China as outright slavery!

Slavery is the reason for human trafficking. It is big business. Bigger business and even more profitable than the drug business. That is why the underworld of China and the Mexican cartels exploit human trafficking as a major source of their profits.

And these so-called respectable international corporations like Nike, Apple and Coca-Cola and all the 80 or so other hypocrites, are not one bit better than the underworld crime organizations in China and Latin America, and in the United States.

Right is right and wrong is wrong. Slavery and exploitation of the poor and desperate people struggling to simply survive and hold their families together is perhaps the most wrong of all wrongs done in the world today.

It stands against the ideals of the United States Constitution and Declaration of Independence, the very foundation of America.

And it stands against God! An affront to God! It goes against everything that Jesus Christ stated in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) that begins His Sermon on the Mount.

Mark my words, regardless of whether any of these corporate leaders believe in God, the Lord God Almighty will hold these people who exploit and enslave God’s children accountable. Just as God will hold us all accountable on Judgment Day.

Plus, there is this thing that some people call, “Karma.” I call it, God gets even. And He does. Just stand by.

 ©Copyright 2020 Charles W. Henderson