One Way I Choose to Fight

So, last year a thing happened. A thing I was — and am — not happy about. If you’re reading this, I imagine you feel the same because the people who read my books generally seem to be cool like that.

What can I do about this? has been a pretty common refrain since the election. And the good news is that there’s a lot we can do, both collectively and individually. I’ve been donating money to worthy organizations and keeping on top of my elected officials, for example.

But I’ve wanted to do more. I’m not a politician or much of an organizer, but I’m a writer. So I figured out a way to make writing be my way of “doing more.”

For every month in 2017, I will publish a different short story. Some of these stories will be short. Some will be long. Some will be old. Some will be new.

They will all cost $1.99.

And every cent I make will go to the American Civil Liberties Union.

The stories will only be available for one month each. If you miss the January story, well, it’s gone. I’m hoping this imposition of a form of scarcity will motivate people to buy.

Let me be clear about this: I’m not keeping your money. I’m not taking a single penny for myself. You’re handing money to me so that I can give it to the ACLU. (If you want to just give money straight to them or donate directly to them as well, don’t let me stop you!)

Do I expect this to make a difference? Beats the hell out of me. Look, if this crazy thing of mine spreads and gets lots of attention, it could end up being a significant chunk of change. If not, well, I guess every penny helps, right?

Please tell everyone. Please tweet it and Tumblr it and Facebook it and Snapchat it and Instagram it and do whatever else. Heck, you can even tell people about it face-to-face. (I know — crazy, right?)

The first story is already up. It is titled “The Ghosts at 95,” and you can see the cover and description below. It will come down late on January 31/early on February 1, depending on where you live. The clock’s ticking. Go buy it.

Ghosts at 95 cover


The year is 2006, and Jeremy Castle has it pretty good. His girlfriend has left him, true, but he has a job at a top downtown financial firm that has made him pretty rich. From his new apartment, he can see the Statue of Liberty and the construction at Ground Zero. If only he could figure out the meaning of the lights that only he can see. And those voices… Why does he keep hearing those voices…?

In “The Ghosts at 95,” Barry Lyga tackles the themes that made his reputation: Isolation, being an outcast, and the fear that your best self and your worst self may be one and the same.

An Open Letter to Nancy Pelosi

Dear Ms. Pelosi,

We don’t know each other, but apparently you have my email address and feel comfortable using it to ask me for money. I have some thoughts on your most recent request. But first, let’s take a look at it:

I am not — nor have I ever been — a registered Democrat. Nor am I a registered Republican. I suppose I’m one of those sought-after “independent voters” we hear so much about quadrennially.1 However, for the past several cycles, I’ve been pretty reliably in the Democratic corner, mostly because the alternatives are — I won’t mince words — typically insane.

But let’s talk, shall we? [Read more…]

  1. My reasons for being so are steeped in history — 1990, to be exact. Let’s just skip it for now.


I usually don’t begin my political blogging in earnest until the actual conventions, but man — I feel like I have to get something off my chest.

Donald Trump is calling for closing the borders to Muslims, period, based on a stew of fear-mongering, paranoia, and real-time clickbait. The cheers of his crowds (I hesitated slightly, nearly calling them “mobs”) grow louder and more forceful as his rhetoric ratchets ever higher. He’s called for cataloging citizens in a database, spying on them, informing on them, and now barring them from the country. Seriously, he has only two more rungs on this ladder — round them up; exterminate them — and the first primary vote hasn’t even been cast yet.


Then there’s Ted Cruz, rising rapidly in the polls. When President Obama had the temerity to talk to the American people like adults, counseling calm and rational thinking in the wake of the San Bernardino terrorist attack, Cruz said this:

As if the only thing standing between us and the end of ISIS has been someone willing to say, “Get rid of ISIS.” As if the President of the United States is a mafia godfather who can have an entire organization and socio-religious philosophy whacked in an alleyway. This is a very special combination of intellectual dishonesty and utter cluelessness.

Other GOP candidates offered similarly useless and idiotic rejoinders to the President, all long on attitude and snark and smug self-satisfaction, short on facts and knowledge and actual details.

Where the hell did this collection of feckless thugs come from? Where the hell did they get their oversimplified platitudes and ignorant bigotries?

I speak not as a foe of the Republican Party. I’m not a registered Democrat, after all. I registered as an Independent when I could first vote (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth) because I recognized good people and smart ideas in both of the major parties.1 At the time, given that each side seemed to have something to offer, it seemed absurd to pledge fidelity to one and lose the ease of borrowing from both.

Today, the Democratic Party is still largely similar to the one I knew at eighteen. But the Republican Party has metamorphosed into a monstrous chimera of hate, bigotry, and abject ignorance. Facts mean nothing when blasted with the force of sheer rage and fear. And policies on important issues are reduced to macho posturing, meaningless slogans, and double-talk.

The result is nonsense like making certain terrorists on American soil have ready access to firearms and risible codswallop like Cruz’s inane comment about ISIS.

This proclivity toward policy via road rage and governance by temper tantrum in today’s GOP is a grievous insult to the many fine Republicans of decades past who served their country with honor.

What in the hell is wrong with these people?

If they truly believe what they’re spewing, that’s horrifying enough. If it’s just a way to game the beleaguered and easily gulled, that’s even worse — it means today’s GOP is willing to drag the country into a sucking mud pit, so long as they can rule the swamp.

It’s nauseating. It’s grotesque. It’s a vicious kick in the gut to the ghosts of the party, proud Americans who at least gave a damn and tried.

I don’t know how any of them can look in a mirror. And the voting has yet to begin — it’s only going to get worse.

  1. And also because — like our Founders — I dislike the idea of political parties in general.

Election Talk is Stupid (with a Graph!)

trumpIn the course of a well-deserved takedown of Donald Trump, the Huffington Post recently obviated its own coverage of the primary election campaign…as well as everyone else’s.

Look, it’s a known fact — uncontested — that primary election coverage has become more and more ridiculous in recent cycles, its tumorous, exponential growth a blight on our body politic. So I’m glad that the Huffington Post has — apparently without realizing it — sown the seeds of ending the charade that anything happening in electoral politics right now matters. At all.

In a story titled “Donald Trump ‘Has Never Been A Fan’ Of The Huffington Post,” Senior Politics Editor Paige Lavender and Reporter Ariel Edwards-Levy skewer Trump’s bombast and egotastic disgorgements. They do an excellent job at it, but in the course of doing so, they also point out how idiotic it is to be paying attention to the 2016 Presidential election at all.

A chunk of the story, in case you can’t be bothered to go check it out yourself:

Screenshot from HuffPoAs Lavender and Edwards-Levy point out, at this point in the election cycle, nothing matters. Chumps like Herman Cain and Rick Perry had sizable leads coming their way at a similar time in the 2012 cycle. (Go back to 2007 and recall that Hillary Clinton was inevitable, and the black dude with the funny-sounding name from Chicago didn’t stand a chance…right?)

If “so few voters [are] paying attention” and “Polls this early…should…be taken with a dose of skepticism,” then why the hell are we even taking those polls? And reporting on them? And talking about them? This article could be summed up as “Donald Trump is angry about our reporting, but our reporting doesn’t matter, so HAH!”

Why do our media insist on punishing us with an endless churn of meaningless crap every primary season?

Quite simply, it’s a case of “if you show it, they will come.” The past several cycles have bestowed upon us a clown-car’s-worth of political hacks, has-beens, never-weres, and flat-out lunatic chumps because the world is paying attention. Jackasses like Herman Cain and Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin throw their hats into the ring not because they actually think they can win, but rather for the publicity that accrues to the attempt, publicity they can then spin off into lucrative speaking gigs, book deals, and TV appearances.

But if we stop paying attention, they’ll stop doing it. And when I say “stop paying attention,” I mean that people like Lavender and Edwards-Levy and the rest of their ilk in the world of political journalism need to back the hell off. If you starve a ranting, right-wing fire of its oxygen, it will snuff itself.

Some people may find the absurdity of the primaries entertaining. Or may enjoy the schadenfreude of watching a political party slowly disintegrate itself. I say look elsewhere for your entertainment and your smug self-satisfaction.1 This isn’t a reality show with a predetermined villain, or a penetrating look into the life of a celebrity couple. This is the very serious business of the future of our republic. Sorry if it makes me a killjoy, but I don’t think our Presidential elections should be treated with the same care and attention to detail as, say, Brad and Angelina’s outing to get ice cream with the kids.

At this point in the process, there’s no sense caring about who’s doing or saying anything. On either side. Polls don’t matter. Debates don’t matter. Early next year, when the first primary ballots are actually cast, yes, then you can start caring. But unless you work for a candidate, turn off the constant baying of the political class, which earns big bucks by making you think any of this matters.

And speaking of that political class, well, two of its members just admitted that this whole thing is a charade, and a useless one at that. The media should shamefacedly step away from the crack cocaine that is pre-primary idiocy and focus on something important.2


Trump image via Flickr

  1. Recall that it was only a generation ago that the other side was the one committing suicide by primary. The knife cuts both ways.
  2. Just as an example…