Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Devil's Hearth

It is to my great shame and disappointment that Russ Feingold is the senator representing me in Congress. I remember when he was running the first time and visited all of the local parades shaking hands. He talked about term limits and how he could change things as an outsider in Washington. It's to my even deeper dismay that I fell for his rhetoric and voted for him. But only the first time, I didn't make that mistake twice. While serving as a senator, he's quickly made himself an insider and a power player doing much for the Democrats, but little for Wisconsin, or for those of us fools who thought he would follow through on his promises. I rejoiced yesterday to see the Supreme Court uphold the decision to allow Wisconsin Right to Life to air ads just days before an election. The WRL says that the ads were focused on issues and not candidates, and the Supreme Court agreed, affirming their free spreech. I know this opens up the kinds of ads we will see closer to campaign time, and everyone was sick to death of the ads last November, but it is about free speech. Feingold responded by saying he hoped that the decision wouldn't "open the door to phony issue ads and unlimited corporation and union spending on campaigns." First of all, WRL is not a phony issue, not matter how you say it. Abortion is a hot topic, and people have the right to know where their candidates stand, although Feingold has never hidden his pro-choice stance. Second, who cares how this opens the campaign ads up to spending? Most people are smart enough to make their decision despite the commercials, not because of them. Also campaigns are no longer about who the best candidate is, it's about how much money they have. The representatives from my state are a millionaire, a wealthy lawyer, and a "millionaire doctor." None of these people know what it's like to have their back ache after a long day at work and still have to go home and put supper on the table, or to float a check before payday, or live their lives at the whim of a miserable supervisor. People who have to work for a living can't afford to run for office. Read the history of our country, that's not how our Founding Fathers intended the political system to be. The huge gap between the rich and the poor makes it so that only the rich are represented. It doesn't matter which party a candidate is from, they have money, and they want to go to Washington to spend our money. Sorry, rant over. I guess the heat and the humidity of the day has my blood boiling.

The Devil's Hearth by Phillip DePoy is the first book in the Fever Devilin series about a folklorist in the Appalachias of Georgia. Fever "Dev" Devilin returns home to Blue Mountain after a long absence to recover from the loss of his job at Burrison College. Unfortunately he's welcomed by a corpse on his front porch that bears an uncanny resemblance to Dev. With his friends Deputy Skidmore "Skid" Needle and colleage Dr. Winton Andrews, Dev quickly starts investigating the mysterious death and find out who may want him dead. This book is full of twists and turns, most of them in Dev's own narration. As a folklorist, he truly loves the people of his home and their stories and skills. Often the mystery takes a backseat to the explanation of a rope lathe for making ladderback chairs or the story behind a folksong. Dev is torn about his family's unusually twisted past. (Wouldn't you get angry if everyone kept telling you "You know how your mother was"?) The pieces come together slowly even as Dev insists that the mystery itself is far more interesting than the solution. His investigative skills make him the perfect detective and Skid and Andrews make for humorous foils. DePoy alternates violence with quiet humor in a bittersweet way. The villain does a great deal of exposition at the end, but I'm sure DePoy will work out that flaw in future books. Dev is an engaging tourguide through the mountains of Georgia and its people.

Tomorrow the temperature is supposed to drop and so also will my temper. Pray for rain!