Friday, October 13, 2017

Rosenberger Posts

My posts related to Joseph Rosenberger and his Death Merchant books can now be found here.

Future Rosenberger posts will be posted at that blog.


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Heylin: "Dylan Delivered An Unceasing Barrage Of Biblical Glossaries"

Updated: More songs below!

From the Introduction to Clinton Heylin's "Trouble In Mind: Bob Dylan's Gospel Years - What Really Happened":
Just as from September 1965 to May 1966, the shows which ran from November 1979 to the following May saw the gospel gauntlet thrown down nightly. Dylan delivered an unceasing barrage of biblical glossaries set to the soundtrack of a heavenly choir and a band of unbelievers riding the musical tide all the way to New Jerusalem. ... He would continue beating his ecumenical drum most of the time for the next eighteen months.

For much of this period, his was very much a voice in the wilderness. Much of the media, and a large percentage of his hardcore fan base, simply switched off. ...

As for the shows themselves, journalists delighted in reporting that this 'voice of a generation' couldn't even sell out intimate theatres. ...

So, on the face of it, hardly the sort of period where a thorough revisit would send ripples of excitement through the Dylan world in 2017. And yet, when at the start of the year Dylan's long-time manager hinted to a Rolling Stone reporter that the next Bootleg Series (lucky thirteen!) would re-examine the gospel years afresh, the fan sites were abuzz with anticipation. ...

The good news – praise the Lord of Happenstance – is that the period 1979 to 1981 turns out to be among the best documented eras in Dylan's six-decade-long career as a recording/performance artist. ...

With the release of an 8-CD Deluxe Bootleg Series, the three studio albums [Slow Train Coming, Saved, Shot of Love] will no longer be the be-all and end-all of the gospel years, and we are a whole lot closer to knowing what really happened, artistically. As always with Dylan, it turns out that the more we understand, the more we can enjoy...
Box Set: November 3.
Book: November 14.

Bob Dylan - Trouble No More: The Bootleg Series - Volume 13


Slow Train, October 5, 1978 (Soundcheck)


Slow Train, October 2, 1979 (Rehearsal, with horns)


Slow Train, November 16, 1979 (San Francisco, CA)


Making A Liar Out Of Me, September 26, 1980 (Rehearsal, Unreleased (and unknown!) song)


Every Grain Of Sand, September 26, 1980 (Rehearsal)


When You Gonna Wake Up, July 9, 1981 (Oslo, Norway)


Monday, October 09, 2017

Last Month, The United States Expressed Its Support For The Murder Of People Because Of Their Sexual Orientation, Or Religious Or Personal Beliefs

Pierre Tristam, Flaglerlive:
Last [month] at the United Nations the United States cast a vote that speaks loads about where this country is going ...

The vote was on a resolution condemning the execution of people for their religious or personal beliefs ... [T]he resolution was condemning executions of people for being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender ...

It was the first time in the history of the United Nations that the world community had agreed more or less together that killing people for their sexual orientation is as fundamental a violation of human rights as murder. ...

Yet the United States voted against it.

This is not the vote of a great country. It's the vote of a small-minded, a mean and demeaning country. ... You may be proud of it. I'm not.
This is a portion of the resolution rejected by the United States (it can be read in full here):
The Human Rights Council,

Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations ...

Deploring the fact that, frequently ... laws carrying the death penalty are used against persons exercising their rights to freedom of expression, thought, conscience, religion, and peaceful assembly and association ...

Condemning the imposition of the death penalty as a sanction for specific forms of conduct, such as apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and consensual same-sex relations ...

Also urges States that have not yet abolished the death penalty to ensure that it is not imposed as a sanction for specific forms of conduct such as apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and consensual same-sex relations ...
Andrew Bacevich, Tom Dispatch:
Consider, if you will, these two indisputable facts. First, the United States is today more or less permanently engaged in hostilities in not one faraway place, but at least seven. Second, the vast majority of the American people could not care less. ...

While serving as defense secretary in the 1960s, Robert McNamara once mused that the "greatest contribution" of the Vietnam War might have been to make it possible for the United States "to go to war without the necessity of arousing the public ire." ... [A] half-century later, his wish has become reality.

Why do Americans today show so little interest in the wars waged in their name and at least nominally on their behalf? ...

1. U.S. casualty rates are low. ...

2. The true costs of Washington's wars go untabulated. ...

5. Blather crowds out substance. When it comes to foreign policy, American public discourse is -- not to put too fine a point on it -- vacuous, insipid, and mindlessly repetitive. ... Cheerleading displaces serious thought.

7. Anyway, the next president will save us. At regular intervals, Americans indulge in the fantasy that, if we just install the right person in the White House, all will be well. ...
Bacevich quotes President Dwight D. Eisenhower:
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.
Azeezah Kanji, Toronto Star:
Last month, two well-known Americans — former president Barack Obama, and whistleblower Chelsea Manning — were supposed to visit Canada. ...

Two weeks ago, Canadian border officials prohibited Manning from entering the country ...

Obama, in contrast, was eagerly embraced when he arrived in Toronto to deliver a speech last Friday. He was greeted by throngs of admirers and acclaimed by media commentators ...

As president, Obama claimed the authority to engage in covert wars without congressional authorization, bypassing legal provisions ...

Obama used the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed by Congress in 2001 ... to justify the campaign against Daesh (also known as ISIS) in Iraq and Syria, even though Daesh publicly split from Al Qaeda in 2014. In 2016 alone, the Obama administration dropped more than 26,000 bombs on seven different countries.

Obama's manipulation of the AUMF transmuted it into a license for open-ended aggression ... Obama increased the use of drones outside official theaters of war, raining death on thousands of people, including unknown scores of civilians. At the same time, his government successfully fought to preclude judges from reviewing drone killings, keeping the use of lethal force behind a wall of secrecy and unaccountability. ...

Under Obama, the only official punished in connection with the U.S. torture program was John Kiriakou: the ex-CIA employee who blew the whistle on it. ...

Obama prosecuted more than twice as many whistleblowers as all previous administrations combined ...

One of the whistleblowers attacked during Obama's presidency was Chelsea Manning ...

None of the documents that Manning publicized were top secret ... And yet, Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison, and subjected to treatment the UN described as "cruel and inhuman." ...

In his speech last week in Toronto, Barack Obama hailed those who work to "pull [the arc of the moral universe] in the direction of justice." But as president, Obama not only failed to pull with the champions of justice; he often punished them.
Bill O'Reilly, "Mass Murder In Las Vegas":
Once again, the big downside of American freedom is on gruesome display. A psychotic gunman in Las Vegas has committed the worst mass murder in U.S. history. ...

[G]overnment restrictions will not stop psychopaths from harming people.

They will find a way. ...

This is the price of freedom. Violent nuts are allowed to roam free until they do damage, no matter how threatening they are.

The Second Amendment is clear that Americans have a right to arm themselves for protection. Even the loons.
Michael Harriot, The Root:
News reporters and anchors have repeatedly referred to the recent tragedy in Las Vegas as the "worst mass shooting in U.S. history." Like all things that are constantly repeated, the proclamation has become fact. ...

Is 64-year-old Stephen Paddock the worst mass shooter in the long history of America? Does the Las Vegas incident qualify as the "deadliest" mass-shooting incident?

Only if you don't count black people. ...

[1850
Bloody Island Massacre
Pomo Indians Remember 1850 Bloody Island Massacre

1873
The Colfax Massacre
The 1873 Colfax Massacre Crippled the Reconstruction Era

1887
The Thibodaux Massacre

1919
The Elaine Massacre
America's Forgotten Mass Lynching: When 237 People Were Murdered In Arkansas

1921
The Bombing of Black Wall Street
The Legacy of the Tulsa Race Riot
It's Been 96 Years Since White Mobs Destroyed Tulsa's Black Wall Street]

We will not count the 1864 Fort Pillow massacre in Tennessee, when Confederate troops mowed down 164 black soldiers who were surrendering, because that is officially a war crime. The same goes for the 1864 Saltville Massacre in Virginia. The Achulet Massacre of Native Americans in California in 1854 doesn't count, either, because they were killed for their land, so technically that is a robbery. Some say as many as 150 were killed in Rosewood, Fla., in 1923, but the official count is six.

The mass deaths at Philadelphia's MOVE headquarters in 1985 don't make the list because law-enforcement officers bombed the men, women and children living there. And the time whites nearly wiped out the Wiyot Native American tribe in 1860 doesn't belong on this list because the Wiyot were killed with knives and hatchets as well as guns.
The Grapevine, October 9, 2017:
"Chance the Rapper Livestreams Police Stop in Chicago in Case It Goes 'Sideways'"

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Gospel Bob: Nine-Disc Set Of Dylan's Christian Recordings Due November 3

Trouble No More – The Bootleg Series Volume 13 / 1979-1981 - eight CDs and one DVD spotlighting Bob Dylan's "gospel period" - will be released on November 3.

Only one of the 102 tracks has been previously released. In addition to dozens of unreleased live performances and studio outtakes, the set features 14 songs which have never appeared on any Dylan album in any form.


Columbia/Legacy:
As the 1970s ended and the 1980s began, Dylan responded to the changing of the decades with a three album trilogy – Slow Train Coming (1979), Saved (1980) and Shot of Love (1981) – of spirit-filled songs of praise, worship and devotion. These songs were as deeply personal and packed with poetics as any Dylan had ever written, but the force of conviction and power of faith evident in these performances baffled segments of Dylan's fanbase (just as Dylan's "going electric" had alienated folk purists in 1965).
I have been fascinated by this short, much-maligned period of Dylan's career for many years. This was a time when Dylan appeared to be performing with a minimum of masks, when he perhaps allowed more of his true self to be seen than at any other. And he was serious. During three short tours in late 1979 and early 1980, Dylan performed only his new religious material; everything else he had written was ignored. He also preached to the audience, sometimes talking for close to ten minutes about world events (especially in Russia and the Middle East), what form the anti-Christ might take, and the coming Battle of Armageddon.


Also available in November: Clinton Heylin's Trouble In Mind: Bob Dylan's Gospel Years - What Really Happened, described as "the first book to focus on the life and works of Dylan as a born-again Christian from the perspective of both his artistic growth and the development of his eschatological worldview. It will draw on previously undocumented song drafts, rehearsal tapes, and new interviews with engineers, musicians, and girlfriends."

Rolling Stone calls this period "an intense, wildly controversial time that produced three albums and some of the most compelling and confrontational concerts of [Dylan's] long career".
Most [of the 14 unreleased songs from the era] have circulated in fan communities, but "Making a Liar Out of Me" has never been heard anywhere. "It wasn't even known to exist until we started going through the tapes," says the source. "Others were just played a few times on concert. We were able to go to the original sources for everything, even if it's just a cassette source. It's all going to sound better than anyone has ever heard before. ...

None of [Dylan's sermons] will be included on the set. "You had to be there at the time for those things to really work," says the Dylan source. "We wanted to find something that would be a little more dynamic." Heylin, who quotes Dylan's sermons at length in his book, is disappointed by the decision to leave them off the set. "It does slightly dull the edge," he says. "I do think that there was an element of power, particularly in the live performances, that comes from some of the things that Dylan was saying between the songs. This does tone down some of the seriously apocalyptic nature of Dylan's performances and some of the things he was writing. I guess that's understandable in 2017." ...

The deluxe edition of Trouble No More opens with two discs of live material culled from every leg of the gospel tour. They had a breadth of material to draw from since an Otari MX-5050 captured every night of the tour. The tapes are two-track, but the sound quality is extremely high, far better than the many bootlegs from the time that exist.
Disc 1: Live
1. Slow Train (November 16, 1979)
2. Gotta Serve Somebody (November 15, 1979)
3. I Believe in You (May 16, 1980)
4. When You Gonna Wake Up? (July 9, 1981)
5. When He Returns (December 5, 1979)
6. Man Gave Names to All the Animals (January 16, 1980)
7. Precious Angel (November 16, 1979)
8. Covenant Woman (November 20, 1979)
9. Gonna Change My Way of Thinking (January 31, 1980)
10. Do Right to Me Baby (Do Unto Others) (January 28, 1980)
11. Solid Rock (November 27, 1979)
12. What Can I Do for You? (November 27, 1979)
13. Saved (January 12, 1980)
14. In the Garden (January 27, 1980)

Disc 2: Live
1. Slow Train (June 29, 1981)
2. Ain't Gonna Go to Hell for Anybody (April 24, 1980; unreleased song)
3. Gotta Serve Somebody (July 15, 1981)
4. Ain't No Man Righteous, No Not One (November 16, 1979; unreleased song)
5. Saving Grace (November 6, 1979)
6. Blessed Is the Name (November 20, 1979; unreleased song)
7. Solid Rock (October 23, 1981)
8. Are You Ready? (April 30, 1980)
9. Pressing On (November 6, 1979)
10. Shot of Love (July 25, 1981)
11. Dead Man, Dead Man (June 21, 1981)
12. Watered-Down Love (June 12, 1981)
13. In the Summertime (October 21, 1981)
14. The Groom's Still Waiting at the Altar (November 13, 1980)
15. Caribbean Wind (November 12, 1980)
16. Every Grain of Sand (November 21, 1981)

[Dylan played Ain't No Man Righteous, No Not One only three times; this is the first.]

Disc 3: Rare and Unreleased
1. Slow Train (October 5, 1978; soundcheck)
2. Do Right to Me Baby (Do Unto Others) (December 7, 1978; soundcheck)
3. Help Me Understand (October 5, 1978; unreleased song)
4. Gonna Change My Way of Thinking (October 2, 1979; rehearsal)
5. Gotta Serve Somebody (May 4, 1979; outtake)
6. When He Returns (May 4, 1979; outtake)
7. Ain't No Man Righteous, No Not One (May 1, 1979; unreleased song)
8. Trouble in Mind (April 30, 1979; outtake)
9. Ye Shall Be Changed (May 2, 1979; outtake)
10. Covenant Woman (February 11, 1980; outtake)
11. Stand by Faith (September 26, 1979; unreleased song)
12. I Will Love Him (April 19, 1980; unreleased song)
13. Jesus Is the One (July 17, 1981; unreleased song)
14. City of Gold (November 22, 1980; unreleased song)
15. Thief on the Cross (November 10, 1981; unreleased song)
16. Pressing On (February 13, 1980; outtake)

[The first two songs were played at the end of Dylan's Street Legal tour. On Slow Train Coming, Dylan sings When He Returns accompanied by only a piano. He recorded a full-band version and I hope that is what's included here.]

Disc 4: Rare and Unreleased
1. Slow Train (October 2, 1979; rehearsal)
2. Gotta Serve Somebody (October 9, 1979; rehearsal)
3. Making a Liar Out of Me (September 26, 1980; unreleased song)
4. Yonder Comes Sin (October 1, 1980; unreleased song)
5. Radio Spot - January 1980, Portland, OR show
6. Cover Down, Pray Through (May 1, 1980; unreleased song)
7. Rise Again (October 16, 1980; unreleased song)
8. Ain't Gonna Go to Hell for Anybody (December 2, 1980; unreleased song)
9. The Groom's Still Waiting at the Altar (May 1, 1981; outtake)
10. Caribbean Wind (September 23, 1980; rehearsal)
11. You Changed My Life (April 23, 1981; outtake)
12. Shot of Love (March 25, 1981; outtake)
13. Watered-Down Love (May 15, 1981; outtake)
14. Dead Man, Dead Man (April 24, 1981; outtake)
15. Every Grain of Sand (September 26, 1980)

[An incomplete version of Yonder Comes Sin circulates. Maybe this is the full song. The lyrics to Ain't Gonna Go to Hell for Anybody in December 1980 are completely different from (and far more complex than) the April 1980 version. Maybe we'll be able to decipher the words in the second version with a high-quality recording. And while Caribbean Wind is here, it is (inexplicably) not the live version (the only time Dylan played it - a version many fans find superior to the several studio attempts that have been bootlegged).]

Disc 5 – Live in Toronto (April 1980)
1. Gotta Serve Somebody (April 18, 1980)
2. I Believe In You (April 18, 1980)
3. Covenant Woman (April 19, 1980)
4. When You Gonna Wake Up? (April 18, 1980)
5. When He Returns (April 20, 1980)
6. Ain't Gonna Go To Hell For Anybody (April 18, 1980; unreleased song)
7. Cover Down, Pray Through (April 19, 1980; unreleased song)
8. Man Gave Names To All The Animals (April 19, 1980)
9. Precious Angel (April 19, 1980)

Disc 6 – Live in Toronto (April 1980)
1. Slow Train (April 18, 1980)
2. Do Right To Me Baby (Do Unto Others) (April 20, 1980)
3. Solid Rock (April 20, 1980)
4. Saving Grace (April 18, 1980)
5. What Can I Do For You? (April 19, 1980)
6. In The Garden (April 20, 1980)
7. Band Introductions (April 19, 1980)
8. Are You Ready? (April 19, 1980)
9. Pressing On (April 18, 1980)

Disc 7 – Live in Earl's Court, London (June 27, 1981)
1. Gotta Serve Somebody
2. I Believe In You
3. Like A Rolling Stone
4. Man Gave Names To All The Animals
5. Maggie's Farm
6. I Don't Believe You
7. Dead Man, Dead Man
8. Girl From The North Country
9. Ballad Of A Thin Man

[Dylan began re-introducing his other songs into his sets in late 1980.]

Disc 8 – Live in Earl's Court, London (June 27, 1981)
1. Slow Train
2. Let's Begin
3. Lenny Bruce
4. Mr. Tambourine Man
5. Solid Rock
6. Just Like A Woman
7. Watered-Down Love
8. Forever Young
9. When You Gonna Wake Up
10. In The Garden
11. Band Introductions
12. Blowin' In The Wind
13. It's All Over Now, Baby Blue
14. Knockin' On Heaven's Door

Disc 9 – DVD
Trouble No More – A Musical Film
DVD Extras:
Shot of Love
Cover Down, Pray Through
Jesus Met the Woman at the Well (Alternate version)
Ain't Gonna Go to Hell for Anybody (Complete version)
Precious Angel (Complete version)
Slow Train (Complete version)
The DVD is not of a full concert, as many fans hoped, but "a new feature-length cinematic presentation combining unreleased footage from Dylan's 1980 tours". Variety notes that about three-fourths of the film consists of concert footage. (Dylan's show in Toronto on April 20, 1980 was professionally filmed and bootleg copies have circulated for years. It is essential viewing. Four songs from that show are included on Discs 5 and 6, including Dylan playing piano on a stunning "When He Returns".)

AND ....... If you order the deluxe box set from Dylan's official website, you will also get a bonus two-disc set of the complete show from November 28, 1979 in San Diego. (Only half of that show circulates as a bootleg.)

Friday, September 08, 2017

Still Here

It's been roughly nine months since my last post, but I will be posting again soon.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Death Merchant #69: The Miracle Mission

Holy Avenger

They called themselves the Brotherhood of Belial - a diabolical alliance of Red Brigade and Arab extremists. Together they'd staged one of the most shocking and blasphemous acts of world terrorism: the theft of the sacred Shroud of Turin. Someone has to recover the precious relic and teach the terrorists a lesson they won't forget.

Now the CIA has its own avenging angel. His name: Richard Camellion. 

Only the Death Merchant could lead a strike force of Israeli paracommandos from a daring kidnapping in Damascus to a stunning air assault in Tunisia - and lead his enemies into the hellfires of Judgment Day!

***

As the book's back cover states, a group of terrorists have stolen the famous Shroud of Turin and it's up to the Death Merchant to get it back. For this mission, Camellion teams up with fellow mercenary Lester Vernon Cole (aka the Widow Maker).

Courtland Grojean, Camellion's CIA boss, explains that the terrorists (a mix of Italian Red Brigades and Moslems) "want to strike at Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. The Arabs have a long memory and their hatreds run deep. What better way to show up the Christian world than by destroying the Shroud? ... [It] would be Score One for World Terrorism and could begin an escalation against Catholic Shrines all over Europe. We want it nipped in the bud. ... Camellion, find that Shroud and whack out the scum who stole it. I don't give a damn how you and Cole do it."

The book opens with Camellion and Cole sneaking up on an Italian villa where Ahmed Nasir al-Din is supposedly hiding out with various Red Brigades district leaders. Al-Din is the main contact for the Syrian Vice President, who is also the brother of the President and a major link in financial support of terrorist organizations trafficking in heroin. The CIA had been watching al-Din and tracked him to the villa, which is owned by a "well-known left-wing sympathizer" who is also "a wealthy manufacturer of mass-produced ballpoint pens and pencils".

After their assault on the villa - al-Din was able to escape during the shootout - they learn from one of the survivors that al-Din lives in Damascus and knows who stole the Shroud. (Also, during the shootout, author Joseph Rosenberger takes time out to describe various artifacts in the room that end up being destroyed, including "a recreation of a 1927 sculpture by the famed Arthur van Frankenberg—a nude, in a sleek black lacquer finish, standing on a silver globe, her arms holding up a black half globe on which rested an eighteen-inch-diameter piece of plate glass" and "two prints of paintings by Renoir in hand-carved hardwood frames and a tall green tulip-shaped vase resting on a teakwood side table".)

Camellion says that he and Cole cannot do this job without the help of the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service. There is a meeting with two Mossad agents, who say they know where al-Din lives. An agreement to attempt a kidnapping of al-Din is made. During the meeting, Cole rants about the Pope and all of the children that "God sends" to poor people in Africa and Latin America. (Rosenberger has included this complaint in at least a dozen Death Merchant books, including the last volume. He clearly was no fan of the Pope.)
Cole gave a loud snort. "That's even more ridiculous than the Pope's running around Africa and Latin America and exhorting the populace, who already have countless millions of children they can't feed, to accept all the crumb snatchers 'God sends them'. I didn't know that God was in the business of 'sending' babies to people! I tell you, religion has caused more misery in the world than all the dictators in history!
Then we shift to the POV of the Red Brigade leaders meeting in an abandoned barracks on the top of Mount Mijerda. We get a lot of explanation and exposition as they discuss the possibility of their ransom demands (33 billion lira and the release of six Red Brigade prisoners) being met. The thieves' goals are two-fold: "make the Vatican look like the corrupt, imperialistic suppressor of the workers that it actually is" and to force the Pope to make a speech asking Israel to give a homeland to "our people". (Even if their demands are met, they plan to burn the Shroud.)

Rosenberger must have done a ton of research on the Shroud, and he dumps much of it into a chapter that has Camellion and Mossad agent Benjamin Eshkol talking about the relic on an El Al plane ride. At one point, Eshkol says, "I gather than you think the Shroud is a fraud." Camellion replies:
"A lot of accepted 'truth' today is the result of what people thought in the past. We in the Western world have progressed because, thousands of years ago, our part of the race began following the Greek rationalists. That's why Western man won't leave anything alone, why he is constantly asking 'why' and looking for new ways not only to shape nature but to extend his hopes and dreams and ambitions out into the universe itself. That's the difference between the West and the East. People in the East are content with the past. They are satisfied with what they have. Oh, sure, the Arabs drive cars and carry transistor radios, but their ethics and moral values are the same as those that prevailed a thousand years ago. ...

"The future will prove that almost all of our concepts about god, creation, and the universe are false. Fifty years ago scientists proved that the 'biblical version of creation was only a tale based on ignorance and myth—understandable for those times. We in our own way today are equally as ignorant. Tell the average man that he is not a solid object, that everything he perceives to be solid matter is only electrical points of energy, and he will think you should be carted off to the funny farm. The gods all men worship today are man-created, man-manufactured myths with all of man's own emotions—love, hate, mercy, revenge, blood-letting, punishment—and even regret! We are still intellectual pigmies on the universal ladder of evolution.

"It is for that reason that much of the world's problems are still being caused by religious beliefs that are unrealistic and misplaced in time, rightly belonging to the past, their true origins coming from those days when people believed the earth had 'four corners,' and it was common for deluded men to 'talk with the gods.' The only thing man has to save himself from is his own stupidity and destructive impulses. And what does all that have to do with the Shroud. Nothing, really."
After landing at Lod Airport, they are taken to a meeting with various Mossad generals. The plan is to get into Syria (or, as Rosenberger puts it, "President Assad's little Disneyland of Moslem morons") by way of Jordan. There are spots along the border that are not guarded in the middle of the night. The crossing goes without any trouble and soon they are on the road to Damascus. They eventually arrive at a shop run by Abdullah and Leila Talalka, who know the area in which al-Din lives (Kaft Susah, three miles southwest of the city).

At night, Camellion, Cole and two others sneak up on al-Din's house, which "loomed like some kind of jet-black monolith of evil, daring them to come closer". They shoot it out with the guards and make their way upstairs. Al-Din, his wife and young son surrender and are taken to a waiting helicopter. (Apparently, his wife is not very attractive: "Mrs. al-Din was so ugly she would have to beg a peeping Tom for an appointment.") Once they are in the air, Camellion threatens to toss the young boy out of the copter if al-Din doesn't give them the necessary information. He tells them the Shroud is in Tunisia, in a little village called Takrouna.

Fifteen hours later, in Tel Aviv, discussions are underway about how to attack the village and rescue the Shroud. Camellion knows that Israel is assisting the United States in this mission because the US has promised to give Israel various military weapons. But why is the US so eager to help the Vatican?
[T]he Vatican's influence was actually nil. Nations faced reality, not the "wisdom" of fifteen hundred years of superstition. For the U.S. to be a part of a surgical strike directed at terrorists hiding in Tunisia, something far more than "Vatican influence" had to be involved. The Death Merchant would never know the true answer.
During the planning, Cole nearly comes to blows with a commando named Haim Reber while discussing "the merits and demerits of world religious beliefs". We only hear Cole's side of things, though:
The paratrooper became angry when Cole bluntly remarked that all monotheistic religions are "brutally militant." Cole had then stated that fanatical believers in the Bible, the Torah, and the Koran were "brainwashed halfwits" who had been killing each other for centuries without realizing that they had more in common than they had against one another and that there was simply "no way for anyone with intelligence to decide which of their 'unique revelations from God' was the true one.

"A fanatical Moslem will trot out the same dumb arguments for his point of view as a Bible beater. Neither can listen to reason because their entire system of belief excludes common logic and depends absolutely on following an external authority. The very existence of this authority, as well as the emotional security of the 'true believers,' requires a whipping boy—an excluded class of sinners and heathens and infidels, poor saps you can punish and send to 'Hell.' These religious fanatics believe the weirdest of fairy tales and call this kind of stupidity 'faith.' That Roman lawyer and idiot Tertullian said 'Credo, quia absurdum est!—I believe because it is absurd.' He was a damn fool. Tell a man you believe the moon is only five hundred klicks away, and you believe it because such a belief is 'absurd,' and he'll tell you you're crazy."

Cole had then given a more rational example—and it was this illustration that enraged Reber.

"Or consider how the Jews in Israel expect the world to accept the belief that God 'gave' them the land of Israel five thousand years ago! Only a fool would believe such crap!"

It was then that the enraged Reber jumped to his feet. The Death Merchant, afraid that Vern would break the man's neck, immediately stepped between the two men, as had Colonel Hille, who had then proclaimed loudly that from then on, there would be no discussion of religion or politics between the Americans and the Israelis.

Later the Death Merchant had told Cole, "You've got to learn to keep your opinions to yourself, Vern. We both know the world is five hundred years behind reality."

"Bunk!" Cole had snapped. "You know as well as I do that a truly intelligent person who is honestly religious is as rare as rocking-horse manure!"

"That's not the point. When you castigate a person's religious beliefs, even if you tell him the truth, you seriously interfere with his sense of eternal 'social security,' his adult 'security blanket.' You remind him of his own stupidity. No one likes that."
The Death Merchant has no illusions that the upcoming attack will cause future terrorists to think twice (despite saying the exact opposite earlier in the book: "With this strike into Tunisia, we'll be sending a message to all terrorists, especially the Islamic Jihad: Scum who grab religious relics will pay for it with their lives."). At the same time, Rosenberger gets to sound off on a few political issues:
American planners did not have the capacity to understand the fanaticism of Moslems, especially the psychotics in the deadly Islamic Jihad—"Holy War." Both the CIA and the Mossad had hard intelligence to prove that the Jihad was trying to recruit West European and American mercenaries to carry out specific operations involving nuclear terrorism. Small nuclear devices—ones below the one-kiloton destructive capability range—would kill five to ten thousand people outright and infect thousands more with radiation. It would happen in some city in Western Europe and in the United States. Already four American cities had been targeted—New York, Chicago, Omaha, and Los Angeles. It would happen because European governments did not have the common sense and the ability to stop it. The same applied to the United States, only more so. The American answer to terrorism, other than hot-air speeches about "our greatness," was always given by left-wing trash and unrealistic liberals. They would attack the rights and the freedom of the general public instead of dealing with the real problem and its solution. Led by the Kennedys, O'Neals, Cranstons, and Dodds who were constantly demanding "gun control" as an answer to crime, this bloc of airheads would only reluctantly admit that terrorism of the worst kind was even possible in the U.S.A. If it did occur . . . shucks, SWAT teams could handle it! It was enough to make even a halfway intelligent person vomit. Against automatic weapons, grenades, and shoulder-fired missiles, the best SWAT teams in the U.S. would be blown away as fast as either Camellion or Cole could kill a man with his bare hands. The police couldn't even make the streets safe for citizens! In Washington, D.C., a woman couldn't go out at high noon without being propositioned, or assaulted, by one of her "equals"! Yet SWAT teams were going to protect the American people from terrorism! Childish, ludicrous, and not only ridiculous but pathetic.

The Death Merchant knew the answer: Nothing will be done until ten thousand people are killed in a twinkling of an eye and another twenty thousand die more slowly from radiation poisoning.

Yes, sir . . . we're going to see some exciting times before 1989.
An attack force of 58 Israeli paracommandos heads to Tunisia and as they approach Mount Mijerda, the copters' GAU-8/A Gatling guns start spitting out 30-mm projectiles, riddling the barracks below. As a steady stream of metal death rains down on the barracks, the other copters land and the commandos get out. Meanwhile, inside the structure, one of the terrorists (Rodocanachi) says he's going down to the dungeon to burn the Shroud!

The Death Merchant and the others attack the barracks, tossing in HdGr 69 offensive grenades and Lodtz L-2 grenades (nicknamed the "Revenge of God") as they move room to room. ("When exploded in a closed room, the shower of steel left a victim resembling ground beef over which blood had been poured.") As they do, the "Italian and Middle East pig farmers" retreat back to other rooms. (We get other slurs, too: "sand crab", "sand crawler", "towel heads", "European spaghetti gobblers" and "garlic snappers".)

At some point, it is every man for himself. In addition to a variety of karate moves intended to disarm and kill, Camellion also tosses some choice insults at the terrorists, including "May a camel crap in your curds, you stupid sand eater!" and "May you find a Mullah with measles in your bed—stupid!"
As Ikrit pulled back with the knife and Abu-Akawi picked up an empty Galil assault rifle, the Death Merchant used his right hand in a very fast Teisho palm-heel strike. It caught Ikrit in the end of his chin and snapped his head back with such force that intense pain shot through his cervical vertebrae.

Again Camellion moved to the right to avoid Abu-Akawi. He grabbed Ikrit's right wrist and twisted, forcing the knife to fall to the floor and making the sand crab's shoulder move higher. Before Ikrit could make any moves or even try to free himself, Camellion pulled back hard on the arm, swung the dazed man toward Abu-Akawi, and executed a left-legged Tae Kwon Do Hyung high middle front snap kick, the toe of his boot burying itself deeply in Ikrit's armpit and against the side of his chest. Now it was Ikrit's turn to shriek in agony. Bones cracked, thoracic organs were jarred, nerve endings ripped apart. In agony, Ikrit became a mass of helplessness, shock causing him to stumble around and vomit all over himself.

Kamal Abu-Akawi was only partially disabled, with a few broken bones in his right hand. He felt he was going to die, but he had to try something. He did have more sense than to the empty Galil AR at the Death Merchant. Instead, he tried to spear Camellion in the pit of the stomach with the end of the barrel. Only Camellion wasn't where he was supposed to be! During that minimoment, Camellion had leapt high off the floor. His body was almost horizontal as he executed a thunder kick with both legs, one foot landing on Abu-Akawi's face, the other foot catching him across the throat. Abu-Akawi dropped the Galil, let out a strangled yell, and stumbled over the arm of a corpse on the floor. He fell heavily, landing on his back. He was choking to death, and not only on broken teeth or a broken nose and shattered jaw. The foot that had crashed into his throat had turned his larynx into bloody mush and crushed the upper portions of both his trachea and his esophagus. Within half a minute he would be as dead as he would ever get or could possibly be.

Haj Fayiz Ikrit was still alive, however—and desperately trying to find a hiding place he knew didn't exist. He found only the waiting arms of the Cosmic Lord of Death.
As for the rest of the enemy, "they were in the toilet and all that Camellion had to do was pull the chain and flush them into nothingness". Soon, the fight is over. "The Death Merchant, wishing he had brought a sack of pumpkin seeds with him, looked around. Vern Cole and three paracommandos had come into the room and were also assessing the bodies on the stone floor, some almost piled on top of each other. Among them were dead Israelis, the brown pattern of their cammies contrasting strangely with the terrorists' half-nakedness."

A small group heads for the dungeon. In one of the cells, they see a faint light. It's Rodocanachi, sitting on the floor, cackling quietly in what seems like a lobotomized state ("a picaresque character in some hideous, hellish play"). His hair has turned snow-white and he is now blind. The men smell petrol and see several burnt matches on the floor - and then see the intact, undamaged Shroud. Why didn't it burn? "I don't have an answer," says Camellion. (While everyone is pretty spooked at this, absolutely no one is troubled that the ancient Shroud was completely doused with gasoline.)

They pack up the Shroud and head out. On the plane, Cole is unusually quiet. "What had taken place in the dungeon had unnerved Cole and had forced him to review his value system and his belief in the future, in the eternal". Camellion also has no idea what happened. "The so-called science of coincidence could not be applied, not in this case."

So Rodocanachi went to the dungeon and had plenty of time to destroy the Shroud, but since the Shroud needed to be saved, this was apparently the only explanation Rosenberger could come up with. It's a lame ending, with Rosenberger - who has railed constantly against religion throughout the series - strongly hinting that a miracle has taken place or that there is some kind of supernatural power attached to the Shroud. ("How could anyone even begin to explain the impossible?")

Etc.:

Camellion thinks about George Washington being the father of his country: "If George could come back and see what a mess the U.S. was in, he'd demand a vasectomy!"

Some lazy writing: "He dropped like a stone to the stones, his head making a thud as it hit the floor of the porch. By the time the Red Brigades coglione was stretched out stone dead on the floor ..."

Cole: "Let's not hang around like a big fart in a little phone booth."

"Assad is a stupid sand crab suffering from delusions of grandeur. If he keeps it up, he might even get the ambition to be the governor of Arizona!" (Note: Rosenberger lived in Arizona when he wrote this book.)

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Death Merchant #68: The Hindu Trinity Caper

Deadly Acronym

PAL - Permissive Action Link: the President's "trigger" to the detonation of all US nuclear warheads. Four have vanished from a high security government lab. Now, somewhere in India, a renegade communist spy plans to give the KGB the key to America's atomic arsenal!

Enter Richard Camellion. Posing as a harmless tourist, he leads a team of special agents on a blood-soaked manhunt from the back alleys of Delhi to the Holy Temples of Kashmir...toward an explosive showdown that will leave Uncle Sam's most powerful enemies without a hope or prayer.

***

So ... the Infinite Jest Group Read ended in September and my Stephen King Project has slowed to a pace resembling a jog through quicksand, so it's back to the violent and bloody exploits of Richard Camellion.

Joseph Rosenberger wrote 70 DM volumes and one stand-alone book - twice the length of the regular publications - entitled "Super Death Merchant". Looking at the publication dates, it appears that SDM #1 (titled Apocalypse) was published between #67 and #68 of the DM series. However, I don't believe there will be any problem with reading the final books out of publication order. (And who knows in what order Rosenberger actually wrote them?) I'll continue with the final three books of the series and then dive into SDM #1.

The Hindu Trinity Caper opens with Camellion in Bombay, disguised as a Sikh taxi driver. Faking car trouble, he pulls up to a house full of drug smugglers and asks the owners if he can use the phone. It's a cunning plan to see the layout of the nine-room house, so he can return later that night and apprehend Edgar Bedsloe, an East German intelligence officer. While on the phone, a gun falls out of Camellion's hidden shoulder holster and hits the ground. ... Rut roh! In a "twinkling of a bat blink", a shootout begins. In all of the commotion, Bedsloe runs out of the house. Camellion gives chase through a Dakhma, but cannot catch him.

News of the shootout reaches Mischa Wolf, the head of East German Intelligence. Wolf believes that Bedsloe is actually Franz Holtz, an agent who is planning to defect to the Soviet Union. Then, utterly out of the blue, Wolf and two other men rant about the problem of illegal immigration in the United States. Wolf mentions the "flood of Mexican trash" coming into the US and quotes an article from the New York Times.

In the Soviet Embassy in New Delhi, the Russians are also discussing the shootout, as well as asking questions about Bruce Canover, an American professor visiting India with his wife and 12-year-old son (who are actually Camellion and agents Lana Stanley and Wilbur "Weejee" Theimer (a little person)). They have concluded that Bedsloe is Holtz and that the Canovers are CIA agents. They believe that Holtz has stolen four nuclear safety circuits from the US and will give them to the Soviets when he defects.

The Death Merchant, Stanley and Weejee regroup in a safe house in northwest Bombay. While they wait as Courtland Grojean (Camellion's boss) and the CIA develop a lead on Holtz, we get Holtz's backstory:
The story had really begun almost eight years earlier. It was in late 1980 that MfS, East German Intelligence, sent two illegals into the United States, two highly trained deep-cover agents: Franz Joseph Holtz and Erika Ermatrude Hoffman. Under a man-and-wife cover of "Edgar and Cora Bedsloe," the couple settled in Amarillo, Texas, supposedly moving from Du Quoin, Illinois*.

Their target was the Pantex nuclear warhead assembly plant.

In 1983, Edgar Bedsloe obtained employment at the Pantex facility. A conscientious worker, he was promoted in 1983 to a position that gave him access to the section where the permissive action links were kept.

Bedsloe (or Holtz) was very cautious and bided his time. It was not until October 1986 that he stole four PALs—and vanished.
[* Note: Author Joseph Rosenberger was originally from Du Quoin, Illinois.]

For some reason Camellion and Stanley do not remain in the safe house. They end up going sight-seeing (!) to the Elephanta Caves. Two Soviet agents attempt to kill them during the cave tour, but they are able to gun them down (as well as killing four back-up agents). Camellion and Stanley cannot escape the cave undetected, however, so they turn themselves over the the local police. They claim they acted in self-defense, with Camellion using his superior self-control to foil a lie detector test. While the Indian police privately suspect that Bruce Canover and his wife are CIA, governmental higher-ups order them to be released. They are told to leave the country immediately.

Two police cars escort Camellion and Stanley back to their hotel. But there are two masked men (East German agents) waiting in their room. The masked men kill the cops and attempt to black-bag the Canovers. Another shootout ensues and, after gunning down several MfS agents, Camellion, Stanley, and Weejee escape, stealing a car and heading to a safe house in the Kamatipura District.

Meanwhile, at his country house, Wolf gets the bad news that the assassination attempt has failed. We learn that the Germans have been receiving information from Parveen Babbi, a prostitute who has a relationship with a hard-drinking KGB officer. They need Babbi to find out how the KGB is going to meet up with Holtz. (Babbi will end up passing the same information to the CIA.)

The Death Merchant and his team fly from Bombay to yet another safe house, this time on a betel nut plantation. As usual, Rosenberger is incredibly meticulous in describing the safe house (known as "Ding Bat") and a near-by, half-ruined fort:
Kangra Rasjasthan's house was shaped like half a swastika. There was a long perpendicular section to the north. Connected to this section was an even longer horizontal section that was laid out from east to west. At the west end of this section was the last portion of the house; it, too, was perpendicular. The five rooms of Ding Bat were in the north vertical section.

Next to Rasjasthan's house—to the east—were the rusty-red sandstone ruins of Agra Fort ...

Only Agra Fort's outer front wall, sixty-one feet high and thirty feet thick, was still intact. To the west, the wall moved past the end of the north section of the house, so close that the house's north wall—the perpendicular section to the north—was flush against the south side of the Fort's massive front wall. The wall then curved southeast, then south, then made a wide curve to the northeast.
Inside the house, they chat about Holtz and the PALs before the discussion devolves into racist comments against non-white immigrants.
Gelhart finished his ginger ale and placed the empty glass next to him on the floor. "Win or lose, we're skating on thin ice. I don't think it makes all that much difference in the long run. Sooner or later the Russians are going to lose control of their society. We've already lost control of ours. We're risking our lives to protect a society that is rapidly rushing toward its own destruction."

"That's a very broad generalization," said Lana Stanley, who found Gelhart's pronouncement annoying. "I think there's a lot of good in American society. You've been brainwashed by a media that focuses only on the bad." She glanced at Camellion, expecting him to reinforce her opinion. She didn't like what she got.

"Rory has a good point," he said curtly. "American society has stretched the boundaries of moral behavior so much that we're drowning in a sea of permissiveness. There is a tendency to encourage each delicate ego to become the prime center of its own universe. It's called 'personal freedom,' but it's a freedom that's totally out of control."

"He's right!" Gelhart was quick to point out. "Along with that runaway freedom is the attempt by the liberal-minority coalition to make the American people wholeheartedly accept immigration, integration, and miscegenation."

"That's a racist statement, if I ever heard one!" Stanley snapped. She also gave Camellion a dirty look.

"It's fact," Gelhart insisted. "What the television specials don't tell the American people is that past immigration was almost entirely of European origin, while today it is mostly nonwhite. Today's nonwhite immigrants are coming in so fast and reproducing so rapidly that in a short time white people will become a minority in their own country."

"Nonsense!" sneered Stanley. "There have always been doomsday prophets, and not one of their prophesies have ever come true. I think a lot of immigrants coming into the United States today contribute to society."

"They sure do!" laughed Gelhart. "Go to any large city and you'll see what the majority of these new immigrants contribute—crime, disease, corruption, drugs, poverty, illiteracy—the whole nine yards that's wrecking society."

The Death Merchant said mildly, "Most people don't know it, but the woman who wrote the poem that was placed on the Statue of Liberty, seventeen years after the monument's erection, was named Emma Lazarus. She was a proletarian Marxist, and she called for Americans to accept the 'wretched refuse from your teeming shore.' It's ironic. Today we are certainly accepting that 'wretched refuse'—by the millions!"
The next day, a coded message arrives: Holtz is making contact with the KGB in Fatehpur Sikri, at the Temple of the Rain, in a couple of days.

That night, or rather 3:30 the following morning, Camellion is awakened by Gelhart. Alarms are going off around the house as Indian paracommandos are closing in (it is not explained how they were tipped off to the location of the safe house). After a shootout, during which the house is rigged with explosives, Camellion and his group escape through a secret passage behind a bookcase that leads to the fort, where there is a van stashed. As they leave, they trigger the charges, destroying the house and killing the comandos.

They drive to Brass Coin, the other safe house in town: the colonial home of Malcombe Pratt Walsingham. His motivation for having his house used as a CIA safe place? Money, of course. But also: "He knew that the United States stood for freedom and was the hope of the world."

Finally, the Death Merchant and his associates are at Jammu, mingling with dozens of tourists. As they move leisurely towards the Temple of the Rain, they spy a group of seven men and one woman - and think (correctly, but based on very little evidence) these people have to be Holtz and the Russians. They attempt to surround the group and when they get close, they attack. A huge battle breaks out, and soon there are also KGB agents and East German paracommandos on site.
The Death Merchant didn't walk into Major Bukashev's trap. Bukashev, realizing instantly that he and his men had walked into a trap, was too much of a street fighter to think he could defend himself and still hold on to the attache case with his right hand. He let the handle of the case slip from his hand, feigned a left inside roundhouse kick and a right edge-of-the-hand strike to the left side of the Death Merchant's neck. At the same time, he tried a left hand two-finger spear strike straight for Camellion's throat. The Death Merchant didn't fall into the cleverly executed trap. He blocked the roundhouse kick with a right-legged chado sweep and easily brushed aside Bukashev's knife-hand strike by bringing up his left arm, his forearm slamming against the inside of the Russian's right wrist and throwing the arm outward. The two-finger spear strike was not a problem either. Camellion stepped to his left and the Russian's hand went harmlessly by the right side of his neck.

Bukashev did not have time to reorganize a new attack. The Death Merchant was far too fast, and Major Bukashev had left himself wide open. Camellion used a double-strike. He raised his right arm, and brought the edge of his hand down against the left side of Bukashev's neck in a Shuto sword-ridge slam. Simultaneously, he used his left hand in a Yubi Basami knuckle-fingertip strike.

Major Boris Bukashev might as well have been hit by a fifty-ton tank. Camellion's right-handed strike crashed into the Russian agent's sternocleidomastoid muscle and shook his jugular vein and carotid artery to the extent that, for a second, blood was cut off from the brain.

It was the knuckle-fingertip "claw" that switched off Bukashev's life. Camellion's thumb and first two fingers crushed the thyroid cartilage. Faster than one could say "Praise be to Lenin," there was hemorrhage, and as blood burst from veins the soft-tissues in Bukashev's throat began to swell, cutting off all air. Bukashev's eyes began to expand out of his head as loud gasping and choking sounds poured from his mouth. The hinges in his knees began to fold and he began to sink to the floor. He'd be stone dead within twenty seconds.

Alexander Kogan was having his problems, and Franz Holtz and Suri'an Nushinobey were having theirs. A big man, Kogan had not counted on the speed with which Rory Gelhart would employ a right-legged inside roundhouse kick, any more than Holtz and his Hindu girl friend had anticipated Dillman's cyclone-quick attack.

Almost 90 percent of Rory Gelhart's weight was behind the roundhouse slam, his foot almost burying itself in Kogan's lower stomach and upper abdomen. Blue-hot agony shot all the way to Kogan's face and down to his testicles and through each leg. His bladder and part of his lower intestine were mashed. The femoral arteries were as flat as paper, and the spinal nerves were sending giant impulses of shock waves to the brain. Unable to withstand such an assault of pure pain, the brain exploded psychically. A corpse, Alexander Kogan fell backward.
The Death Merchant is able to grab Holtz and the all-important attache case. Holtz says that there is only one PAL in the case; the other three are in a storage company vault in Chicago.

During the shooting, there are some very close calls!
By the time the other commandos to the east recovered and got into action, the Death Merchant, his three men and their captive were halfway to the first kos minars facing the north. But they were still in a storm of silent death. A 7.62mm projectile tore through the shoulder bag—taken from Major Bukashev—that was bumping up and down against Camellion's right hip. There was a loud ZINGGGgggggg as the bullet hit the side of an M61 Skorpion submachine gun, the impact making Camellion almost lose his balance. Another bullet missed the rear of his head—horizontally—by only half an inch. Several more projectiles tore through the bottom of his long coat, which was fluttering out behind him.

A slug cut through Barry Dillman's clothes and scraped part of his back where the rear of the two scapula protruded. Another tore off the right heel of his jabba boot as his foot was raised. Another came so close, horizontally, to the back of his neck that the metal touched the longer hairs in its passing.

Gelhart, Holtz, and Hondergriff also found themselves in a cloud of flying projectiles. One bullet knocked off Holtz's nritrya; another cut across the underneath side of his right wrist, the same bullet, streaking at an angle, almost hitting Rory Gelhart in the right side.
DARFA troops are standing by with a Panhard M3 command vehicle. They plan to keep the DM's group pinned down until they run out of ammo. A CIA helicopter arrives and uses its 16-Y Ubba chaingun to rain 20mm shells down on the groups of enemy agents.
BBBBBBBRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! Fifty 20-MM projectiles hit the Panhard, forty-eight going easily through the thin armor plate, twelve exploding with the force of a dozen hand grenades. For the space of a heartbeat there was only flame and smoke as the command car turned itself and its four occupants into hot, twisted metal decorated with bloody parts of arms and legs and other parts of bodies, including internal organs. Major Marchchakka's head flew fifty feet into the air before falling to the stones and bouncing for several feet like a basketball running out of air.
During the hellacious firing from the copter, Camellion and the others escape to the Garden of the Moon, where they will be rescued. Holtz is killed in the firefight, however.

Six days later, Camellion is in Langley, Virginia, where he is told by Grojean that he was not supposed to find Holtz! It turns out the CIA had been wise to Holtz for about a year before he made his move. The CIA had by then substituted fake or altered devices for the PALs Holtz was planning to steal. The CIA had no idea why the East Germans wanted these devices, but were thrilled when they heard Holtz wanted to defect. Grojean believed if the Soviets studied the fake PALs, it would set their missile plans "back several years". The Death Merchant is told he was called in only for appearances sake, to make it look to MfS and the KGB like the US actually wanted to capture Holtz. Camellion doesn't seem too perturbed that he risked his life in a pointless mission that didn't really need to be undertaken.

Etc.

Camellion dislikes cursing: "Swearing was only the lazy person's way of expressing emotion."

"Not only had the Death Merchant's pile driver foot-stomp broken the main tarsus bone, it had also injured a large portion of the medial plantar nerve, as well as smaller portions of the deep peroneal nerve and the superficial peroneal nerve."

"Self-contradictions, Gordian knots and paradoxes! The entire world was one big absurdity! In the United States and Europe, overweight was a problem of millions. Yet in the world at large, a human being dies of hunger every eight seconds! The West was obsessed with freedom. There were constant references made to the world's most useless debating society, the United Nations—but forty member nations in the UN do not even allow elections!"

Lana Stanley, an attractive woman posing as Camellion's wife, notes that the Death Merchant "hadn't even made a simple pass at her. Before retiring, he would sit cross-legged on the floor and do yoga breathing exercises, after which he would crawl into bed beside her, say "Good night," roll over, and instantly go to sleep."

"I used to be disgusted with the world; now I'm only amused. The Death Merchant often wished that some of the liberal unrealists in the United States could see the reality of the rest of the world. They would know that there can never be total equality. Each group has its own talents and intelligence level. What makes a people great is not "theory," but what they have accomplished. The world belongs not to "people" but to those who have made civilization."

Despite Rosenberger's frequent statements that the United States is a beacon for freedom in the world, he often has Camellion criticize the US:
Listening to the drone of the engines, the Death Merchant thought of Martin Koss. The poor guy had a lot to learn. He believed he was fighting for "freedom," for "democracy," and for that nebulous entity called the "American people." If Koss lived long enough, he would come to realize that, for comparatively little pay, he was risking his neck for self-serving hypocrites who worshiped money and power, for a system too eager to protect and too reluctant to punish, too "equality" happy to be realistic, yet too selfish to really care. A tinsel town of materialistic morons who thought more of half-illiterate sports figures than they did of scientists—That's what that fool Koss is fighting for!
And finally:
The Death Merchant had only one real regret in his life: that more often than not the people he worked with (and Courtland Grojean) regarded him as a master killer. It was paradoxical not only because he killed only when he had to, but because he considered all life special and precious. Even the pig-farmer trash in the Soviet Union contained a spark of the Eternal. However, there were honest Russians, many of whom were willing to fight and die for their belief in freedom.