Thursday, April 22, 2010

Guest Post: Ivan G. Goldman author of Exit Blue

Ivan G. Goldman, author of the book Exit Blue, stopped by to share with us a piece he wrote.

By Ivan G. Goldman

Republicans and their govnoed legions, crazier than Cubs fans, are so distraught that health care will now become available to more Americans that some of them are pining for the good old days of the Confederacy.

Govnoed, by the way, is what members of the old Soviet intelligence apparatus used to call people dumb enough to believe their bullshit. It means, literally, shit eaters. Govnoed, many of them in the West, would battle against their own self-interest even though, unlike well-placed party officials and KGB/GRU agents, they received no special perks in exchange for their efforts. Kind of an apt word for tea-party-ers and other right-wing goofballs who act as shock troops for the corporate country-clubbers still running the GOP. How do you explain these crazies? As Voltaire pointed out approximately 250 years ago, it’s difficult to free fools from the chains they revere.

New York Times columnist Gail Collins recently worried over Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s proclamation urging citizens to spend the month recalling the state’s days as a member of the Confederate States of America, you know, back when certain kinds of people he was too polite to categorize more precisely knew their place. The Georgia State Senate recently passed a bill to dedicate April to remembering the Confederacy, and there are similar nostalgic murmurs sweeping across the old Confederacy like the aroma of mint juleps in springtime. It’s becoming apparent that a black president in the White House enacting any of his agenda at all is just too much to take for these folks. And this go-it-alone sentiment isn’t confined to the South. Ex-Gov. Palin’s hubby has been known to pine for Alaskan independence, for example.

Good liberal Collins says she’d worry less about a “national discussion” of Civil War history “as long as we could start by agreeing that the whole leaving-the-union thing was a terrible idea.” Wait. Let’s back up a minute. Why should we automatically assume secession by some of our wackier states is a bad thing? Bear in mind that barely populated places like Wyoming and Utah have two senators apiece. Check out the voting records and character of their senators sometime. Who needs 'em? If any of these backward regions and their shit-eating camp followers elect to leave the union in a fair election, then what, may I ask, are Collins’ grounds for resistance? Think how much sweeter our country would be if we no longer had to try to compromise with right-wing maniacs? We might have a government that actually cares about its citizens.

The Republicans’ answer for the broken global economy, the broken health care system, and virtually every domestic problem we face is to deregulate corporations, cut spending, and trim taxes for the very rich. When it comes to foreign policy questions, their answer is to shoot first and figure the rest out later. Climate change? Easy to fix. Just pretend it’s not there. And think how much more coal we could mine if owners didn’t have to answer to those pointy-headed safety inspectors. Church versus state? No problemo. The church is the state, and visa versa. At least that’s the way they think it oughta be.

In my new novel Exit Blue (warning: shameless plug follows) the union breaks up in another way. A too-familiar Texas dynasty retakes the White House and promptly invades Denmark, calling it the central front in the war on terror. The Blue States, having had enough, secede. How does that work out? I won’t spoil it for you.

But the fact is, the Constitution we’re taught to revere veered off well to the right of true democracy when it established a system that now gives voters in Idaho approximately 90 times the clout in the Senate as voters in New York or California. So should we be surprised that the Senate made things even worse by making sure nothing important can get passed without approval by 60 senators? That same inequality is also reflected in the Electoral College, which is why George W. Bush was handed the keys to the White House even though Al Gore won approximately 540,000 more votes. A key drawback to allowing crazy states to secede is that it would leave their sane minorities at the mercy of the majority lunatics.

Republicans have veered so far to the right in the last few decades that their long-time friends the British Tories are creating as much distance from them as they can in the looming UK election. That's because Tories are actual conservatives, whereas Republicans, having purged their party of moderates, are mostly reactionaries. They want to return to the pre-New Deal era, and some of them, as Ms.Collins points out, seem to be flirting with the pre-Emancipation Proclamation era.

Note that I don't claim Democratic politicians are pure. Many of them, for example, tickled to pick up contributions from Wall Street greedheads, are helping Republicans block banking reform even as we speak. But if corrupt blowhards like Saxby Chambliss and Orrin Hatch could go do their own thing somewhere else it might breathe some fresh air on our polluted landscape, literally and figuratively. Or at least, as Hemingway’s Jake pointed out to Lady Brett, isn’t it pretty to think so?

About the book:

In his third novel EXIT BLUE, best-selling author and former Washington Post writer Ivan G. Goldman crafts a roman à clef depicting the return of a persistent but not terribly talented dynasty out of Texas. The family's latest Oval Office occupant, the oblivious Bunny (not to be confused with her twin sister Beanie), launches a disastrous invasion of Denmark, labeling it the central front in the war on terror.

Preceded by the carpet-bombing of Copenhagen, the attack on a NATO ally is the brainchild of the infamous Magoo, a perennial vice-president whose personal scientists make him younger and healthier month by month. The war, one of several being waged by Washington, triggers outright secession by the fed-up Blue States, which form their own union. Meanwhile, in Denmark, the invading Marines hit the beaches short of ammo and end up watching the NFL playoffs in a Danish POW camp. Undeterred, the zealous Red Zone government dispatches press gangs to fill depleted military ranks.

As Red Zone citizens flee their imploding, trickle-down economy seeking humble work in Mexico, down-on-his-luck ghost writer Delmore LeCorte discovers all is not well in the Blue Zone either. LeCorte is thrust into a love triangle with the Red Zone President and her more astute twin, running afoul of Magoo. Operating from a secret underground bunker, the deranged vice-president has already imprisoned the Dalai Lama, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Sean Penn and Alec Baldwin as enemies of the state while the Dixie Chicks and Bruce Springsteen hide out in Ireland under Bono's protection. For the sake of both Americas, LeCorte must dodge Magoo's wrath as he tries to persuade Bunny to steer her foundering ship of state toward a saner shore. It's left to the reader to decide whether EXIT BLUE is in fact satire or perhaps a prescient look at more divisive times ahead.

About Ivan:

Ivan G. Goldman, who covered the Congress for The Washington Post and worked at the National Desk of The Los Angeles Times, is the author of three novels. A Fulbright Scholar and a columnist for The Ring magazine, his writing has also appeared in Columbia Journalism Review, Utne Reader, The Nation, National Review, Rolling Stone, The New York Times, and elsewhere. His previous novel The Barfighter has been nominated as a 2009 Notable Book by the American Library Association. Booklist calls it "a fine book" that "illuminates a largely unknown world and tells an engaging tale of redemption filled with vividly drawn characters." Kirkus Reviews says his first novel, Where the Money Is: A Novel of Las Vegas is "an impressive debut . . . a stylish twisty first novel."

Goldman was born and raised in Chicago and now lives with his wife in Southern California. You can find out more about his background in his article "Caste and Class on The Washington Post." It appeared in Columbia Journalism Review and is online at


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