You might recall a few months back I asked a lot of you what you’d think about an idea I had to develop what was basically a Jon F. Merz magazine – something much more than just a newsletter, with free fiction, reviews, non-fiction, and more in it. Based on your responses, I’ve decided to reformat my official newsletter BOSTON NOCTURNE and turn it into a newsletter/magazine very much along the prototype I asked you all about.

Tomorrow, issue 1 – the February 2010 edition – launches.

BOSTON NOCTURNE is free. Free fiction. Free reviews. Free opinion. Free practical safety tips. And free much more. Imagine an innovative experience unlike any other author newsletter and you get BOSTON NOCTURNE. It will be published monthly and delivered straight to your email, hassle-free.

The only way to get it: send me an email. That’s it. Quick, simple, easy, and best of all – free.

One more thing: if you’re already subscribed to my original newsletter from way, waaaaay back, you don’t need to resubscribe. I’ll import your email address from that list and get you going right away. But if your address has changed or if you haven’t gotten any recent updates, you’ll definitely want to send a new email to receive BOSTON NOCTURNE.

The Importance of Memorial Day

Here in Boston right now we’ve got an absolutely gorgeous day warming outside. Sun’s bright. There’s a nice dry heat with no humidity out there and it feels like an early summer. Without a cloud in the sky, it’s easy to imagine you’re in the midst of paradise. All over our country right now, people are excited about leaving work early, maybe cranking the grill and enjoying the unofficial start of summer.

And I’m right there with them. I love a nice long weekend. I love the idea of sleeping in and catching up with friends and family. Fifteen years ago, I got married on Memorial Day weekend and every year I get to be with my wife is time spent in no better fashion.

But I also love Memorial Day for what it is truly about: thanking those brave warriors who have laid down their lives in service of our country.

We’re not unique in observing a holiday like this; most countries have a day set aside to honor those who have paid the ultimate price. But far too often, the importance of Memorial Day is overshadowed by car sales, shopping, and early release from work. Too few remember who this holiday is really for. Too few understand the sacrifice. Too few know what it is like to walk in the boots of those who have braved far greater strife in seconds than most will ever encounter in an entire lifetime.

And too many mock the holiday itself with idle commentary and insipid attempts at humor. Usually this comes from cowards who don’t possess even a fraction of the courage it takes to serve or the intelligence to understand what it means to face death.

Whether you support the wars being waged right now is irrelevant. Whether you voted for Obama or McCain is irrelevant. Whatever party you belong to is irrelevant. What is most important about Memorial Day is understanding that without the sacrifice of so many brave men and women in uniform, we would not have the nation we have today. Memorial Day is a time to pause – no matter how momentary – and give thanks to those souls who have known the roar of explosions, the sound of gunfire, the pounding of heart and lungs, the urge to throw up, urinate and defecate simultaneously, the sting of sweat, and the smells of blood and too many far less pleasant things, and the rush of tunnel vision, shouting, screaming, crying, praying – who have kept going, kept advancing, kept fighting because that’s what they were: soldiers, marines, sailors, airmen – dedicated to a country they loved, duty-bound to defend and fight for her ideals, and honor-bound to protect those who served beside them.

When you enjoy the weekend, no matter how you choose to celebrate, take a little time away from the fun and festivities and remember those who have fallen, those who are no longer with us, those whose families feel the pain of their absence – and say thank you. The flags that wave in the breeze or stand in silent homage at cemeteries are there to remind us of the citizens who have answered the call, endured much, and fallen in distant lands and closer backyards. Without their sacrifice, our nation would be a far different land. With their sacrifice, we all enjoy more than most. And it’s a place we call home-flawed yes, but a wonder still-even for the cowards who may never understand the true significance of such a day.

In honor of those who have gone before, in remembrance of those who have braved the crucible of combat…Happy Memorial Day.

This Election: A Chance to Get It Right

I’m less twelve hours or so away from proudly casting my ballot for Barack Obama to become the next President of the United States of America.  And in the waning hours of this historic campaign, it’s coming down to every single vote.

I know that there might be many people who read this blog post and shake their heads at me.  They know that I’ve served in the military, and done my part for this country throughout the years.  They think that because of this, that I should be voting for McCain.  But to me McCain isn’t putting this country first at all.  He’s only putting himself and his personal ambitions first.

His choice of Sarah Palin for the VP spot should have been the wake-up call for every single American.  Very rarely do we have the chance to see the brilliant true nature of a politician.  By selecting Palin to be one heartbeat away from the White House, when there were other far more qualified GOP women (Olympia Snowe from Maine comes to mind first) out there, shows that McCain only thinks about his election and not about the country.

And yet, to this day, there are still people who feel that Palin is great, wonderful, and a bed of roses.  These people are beyond hope as they’re so terminally stupid that I actually feel they should have a chance to be a citizen under a McCain/Palin administration just so they can see how utterly awful it would be – just not here in the United States.  Perhaps we put a string of barges together and float them offshore or something where they can have their own fiefdom of idiocy.

Look, I know Obama’s not perfect.  I don’t know any politician I’ve ever truly ever trusted 100%.  But Obama also knows he’s not perfect.  He’s got humility and he’s got the courage to know that he needs smarter people around him for the stuff he doesn’t know.  McCain paints himself as this nation’s greatest hero.


The primary directive of any Prisoner of War is to a) give as little information to the enemy as possible and b) try to escape.  And yet McCain never tried to escape from his prison.  Another captive did repeatedly and endured far worse treatment because of it.  And prior to this, when McCain crashed yet another plane and caused a huge fire aboard his carrier, he went to the pilot’s lounge instead of helping out.

McCain’s entire career has been about himself and how he can get ahead.  He has bedded every major lobbyist of every stripe.  He owes more favors to corporate America than any other politician.  He is – without a doubt – the biggest fraud that has been foisted upon this nation.  His voting record has mirrored W’s 90% of the time.  This is not the change we need; this is damage we need to get rid of.

An Obama administration will once again restore this nation to the greatness it deserves and the position in the global community we need to occupy.  We have a lot of wounds to mend and we have a lot of rectifying in our own country to get to.

Perhaps people are holding back because they make decent money and don’t want their taxes to go up.  If you are truly that selfish, then there’s very little that can be said to you to make you into the compassionate person you truly ought to be.  Think about your fellow people and how the variety of social programs can help others less fortunate than yourself.  Don’t be miserly with your money; celebrate the chance to use some of your good fortune to the benefit of mankind.   A rising tide floats all boats, not just the corporate yachts.

I’m hoping every single person who reads this post understands that I am probably one of the most national security-conscious people I know.  I hate terrorists.  I agreed with the war in Afghanistan but bitterly disagreed with Iraq.  I have scores of friends in the service and have served my country.  On good years, I am happy to pay Clinton-era taxes on my bounty so that others may have a little less stress in their lives, because I’ve been in those shoes, too, and know what it’s like to lay awake at night wondering when the tide of fortune will change.

It changes tomorrow for the United States of America.  Take your right as a citizen of this great nation and use it to make it a greater one.  Cast your vote for Barack Obama and help put this nation one track for a great future full of hope, accomplishment, and prosperity!


General Colin Powell Endorses Sen. Barack Obama for President

If you saw Meet the Press this morning, then you had the opportunity to witness retired General Colin Powell endorsing Senator Barack Obama as the next president of the United States of America.  Powell spoke eloquently and perfectly articulated a great deal of the same things that I have felt regarding the McCain ticket.  Among them, the erratic nature of McCain, his choice of Palin for the VP spot, the “narrowing” of the Republican Party that now excludes a great majority of more centrist Republicans as well as Independents, and vicious attacks that focus on petty aspects rather than on the overwhelming issues now facing American citizens.

For me personally, it was great to see Powell back as himself rather than as the somewhat puppet I felt he was under George W.  I had an opportunity once to meet General Powell and was very much struck by him as both a person and a warrior of the highest caliber.  It was only a meeting in passing at an event long since passed, but the magnitude of his patriotism and his personal accomplishments stayed with me for many years after.  I have watched his career with much interest and was somewhat saddened when he seemed to lose himself, even if only for a few years, under the Macchiavelan antics of George W. Bush and Company.  To see him come out today and fairly condemn the Republican Party for its tactics and philosophy is a great thing.  As I’ve mentioned before, I’m an Independent and have voted for both Republicans and Democrats in the past.  But today’s Republican Party isn’t something I would ever want to be a part of with its divisiveness and general lack of tolerance.

Powell said it perfectly: our nation needs to once again prove to the world that it is a better country than it has been in the last eight years.  A vote for McCain further prolongs the failed policies of an administration that cares little for the majority of Americans.  A vote for Obama signals a new era for our country, and indeed, for the world.  And in this age of globalism, such a thing is long overdue.

Kudos to General Colin Powell for his endorsement.  He wins my Best Person of the Day award for Sunday, October 19, 2008.

Why November 4th Can't Come Soon Enough

First, some background on me so you’ll know where I’m coming from:

I consider myself an Independent (I’m registered as one) and have voted both for Democrats and Republicans in previous elections.  I was fortunate to turn 18 back in ’88 and took pride in voting for Bush Sr. whose background in national security impressed me despite my lack of worldliness (in other words, at 18, I hadn’t exactly been many places or knew nearly as much as I liked to think I did).  I’ve made sure that I vote in every presidential election since then because (despite my belief that the electoral college needs to go) I also believe that if you don’t vote, then you don’t really have much to stand on if you start complaining.

I served in the United States Air Force and have worked for Uncle Sam.  Following that, I worked in private sector security doing a variety of jobs including executive protection.  As a result of my lifelong study of martial arts, I’ve also taught defensive tactics to a variety of government agencies including the Department of Justice, Bureau of Prisons, and the US State Department.  A significant chunk of my adult life, therefore, has revolved around national security and personal protection.

Given these tidbits, one might think that I might be backing McCain in this election.

I’m not.

George W. Bush has been, without question, this nation’s worst president in its history.  At every level and in almost every instance he has shown an abject lack of brains, wisdom, maturity, and pretty much everything else that a president needs.  The one time I did agree with him was immediately after 9/11 when he pledged to go into Afghanistan and hunt Bin Laden and al-Qaeda down and destroy them.  I agreed because that was the right place to go into – it was the right war.  Even the way the Afghanistan action was being handled was smart.  Spearheaded by United States Special Operations Command, the conventional troops were being used as support while specops was taking the lead.  Al-Qaeda, bin Laden, and the Taliban were an unconventional enemy and that called for our best unconventional troops.

Then Iraq rolled around.  And everything changed.  No longer was our focus on hunting down and terminating the bastards responsible for 9/11.  Instead, Georgie wanted to impress his dear ol’ dad and the result is the stupidest, dumbest, most idiotic use of our military ever conceived.  The basis for the Iraq invasion was nothing but a bed of lies.  There were no WMDs.  I have many friends still serving and between those I know in the UK and those I know in the US who were charged with “finding” those WMDs, the response has always been the same: “We knew it was a bogus op.”

We’re spending $10 billion per month in a nation we shouldn’t even be near.  “Yeah, Jon, but what about Saddam?  He was so mean.”  Yep, I agree.  He was a scumbag dictator.  And we helped him get that way because of Iran.  But here’s the thing: Saddam wasn’t doing much of anything except talking a good game.  And he still had Iran to worry about.  Those two countries hated each other.  In terms of Iraq gaining any sort of heinous stockpile of ricin or related WMDs, it simply wasn’t happening in the near future.  And we had a much more pressing mission in Afghanistan.

We’ve had eight years of a morally bankrupt administration.  Cheney, Rumsfeld, all of them.  They’re scum who have denigrated the reputation of the United States via their various antics that have cost us precious resources, not the least of which are the brave souls in uniform who have paid the ultimate price.

And now we’ve got John McCain attempting to win the presidency.  As a former member of the armed forces, I salute anyone who has served the country.  But he’s no hero.  His background is a carefully constructed narrative designed to push all the buttons of those with more “patriotism” than brains.

Our current economic debacle is a direct result of many factors, but overriding them are the facts that McCain has supported the Bush policies of the past eight years.  McCain has also figured prominently in more de-regulation than should have ever been tolerated.  He is in bed with lobbyists of every stripe.  The leader of his transition team was in Saddam Hussein’s pocket.  At every instance, John McCain is a walking hypocrite and outright liar.

I’ve watched all three debates.  Perhaps more in last night’s debate than any other, those watching got a chance to observe McCain as he truly is: an angry man fed up with the fact that for all his lies, machinations, and hypocrisy, he can’t fool enough people into voting for him.  His “outrage” over his actions being paralleled with those of George Wallace was ludicrous.

Here’s a simple fact: McCain/Palin followers are shouting the most atrocious comments at their rallies.  “Kill him!” is not something that should be tolerated by either candidate, but the tone of hatred and intolerance at McCain/Palin rallies is out of control.  McCain should be ashamed that these nutjobs are even voting for him.  Instead of making a public statement last night regarding that issue, he had the unmitigated gall to sit there and whine about someone calling him out on his nasty tactics.  Any honor McCain might have once had has surely been flushed down the crapper.

The McCain we’ve seen since this campaign started has been erratic, grumpy, outright rude and condescending, and his decision to choose Sarah Palin as his running mate will surely have historians laughing or shaking their heads or both long after he has passed on.  (The real winner on the Republican side will surely be Palin herself who will no doubt coast into a comfy job at Fox News thereby providing endless hours of fun for her devotees.)

The United States of America is in desperate straits.  Our economy is a shambles.  Our national reputation is laughable.  Average, hardworking people are losing their homes and their savings.  We need a president who has the resolve and demeanor to see us through the maelstrom and get us to the other side where we can hopefully begin to repair what we’ve had broken, misused, and raped for so long.

I’ve never been as involved or cared so deeply about an election as I do this one.  While I haven’t had time to do much, I have raised several hundred dollars for the Obama campaign and my vote goes to Barack Obama on November 4th.  I will no doubt be up all night long watching the results until I know that this country – one that I love so much – is safe from four more years of the same crap we’ve already endured so much of.

With almost three weeks remaining before that date, however, I shudder to think of what underhanded and slimy things McCain will attempt.  As has been seen, nothing is off-limits and the most dangerous opponent is always the most desperate one with nothing left to lose.  Since McCain has obviously long since sacrificed his ethics and morality in his quest for personal glory and aggrandizement, I have no doubt things will get worse before we have a chance to make them better by sending the Arizona senator back to one of his seven homes, instead of the new 8th one he wants so badly.