Friday, April 24, 2009


Dale McFeatters, reporter for Scripps Howard, had this to say about the BO entourage for the G-20 Summit. The final lines sum up the theme perfectly.

The president is entitled to all the security, communications and support he feels necessary to do his job but surely, when we're trying to project a more restrained, humble image to the world, the president's huge retinue could be scaled back to something less than the triumphal march from "Aida."

That is all. Disperse.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Endangered species

This morning I received an email full of pictures of strange and sometimes disgusting animals, many of which I already knew and saw up close and personal when I lived in Panama and other countries. Animals like the marmoset, alpaca, sloth, etc. I have handled and, in a couple case, rescued with my father's help. He also loved animals of all kinds. I don't know whether or not these animals are endangered, but one thing I have learned is that many times what we think is gone is not always gone. There are reports of land and marine animals long believed extinct showing up all over the world and this is a very big world with lots of places to hide that we have barely seen, places our eyes in the skies cannot penetrate, even when they can trace ancient and long lost caravan routes through the desert of the Middle East. Much is still hidden from their highly polished and technologically marvelous optics, just as things and the motives of people we think we know are often hidden or obscured even when they seem to be in plain sight.

I engaged someone I thought I knew in a discussion of politics. Nothing new there. He was going on about how we have to hold Obamessiah to account for his actions. I agreed, but asked why it should be any different from holding any other elected representative to account for his or her actions, listing Bush and Clinton and Carter. Then he flamed me. He called me a Neo-Con, homophobe, Bible-beating, gun toting, slack-jawed redneck whose only source of information was Fox News and Sean Hannity. I'm surprised he didn't throw in Rush Limbaugh. And all because I said we should hold ALL elected representatives to account for their actions. Oh, and there was that mention of Obamessiah's decisive response to the Somali pirates by writing them a huge check because the only reason they have turned to piracy is lack of funds, despite having the funds to buy shoulder mounted missile launchers, heavy artillery and high grade munitions and speed boats.

Anyone who has read this journal, or any of my other blogs and articles, whether or not they agree with me, could tell him that none of his descriptions or epithets are in any way accurate. I don't watch commercial television so that lets out Fox News and Sean Hannity and I am far from homophobic or fundamentalist as a pagan. I don't own a gun, but I do have a nifty collection of edged weapons ad the rest of his description is just plain ignorant. But that is what this country and the Left are beginning to do, lump all opposition into very narrow stereotypes. It doesn't matter that he called my just and honest questions based on extensive reading and study as a diatribe and denying me the right to speak freely. It's a sign of the times and freedom of speech is headed for the endangered species list.

The Fairness Doctrine is being bandied about again. Broken down to its basic elements, it says that no radio or television station will air any point of view without giving equal time to the opposing side. It sounds like it supports free speech, but it doesn't. The financial bottom line is that liberal talk programs don't make money and conservative talk programs do, and historically more people listen to people like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity than they do to anyone the liberals have fielded. So, if radio stations airing Limbaugh cannot find and make viable a talk program with a liberal then they have to take Limbaugh off the air. Does that sound like freedom of speech? It's like saying, if I can't make money having my say then you can't make money having yours. It's a child's raspberry and "nanny nanny boo boo" argument against an opponent from a safe distance behind a teacher or other adult authority. At this rate, I can see Radio Free America being broadcast from bomb shelters and offshore radio studios so Americans can listen to something other than the liberal party line.

Demonizing opponents of the left, stereotyping and denying free speech. What's next? Thought crimes? Oh, right, we already have those and more are coming. Honesty is not tolerated in a world where the President's dog rates front page coverage and is all over the news while his more important policies are either hidden in blurbs or as an aside in reports in liberal newspapers and those who question his policies are flamed and screamed down, like the demonstrators at the Tea Parties that took place on April 15th and have been taking place since February in the wake of the giant pork fest that was the stimulus package.

There was one other thing my detracting fan said about me, that I was one of the people in the rainbow wigs at the Durban II conference in Switzerland when most of the European representatives walked out during Ahmadinejad's speech about Jewish racism. I was right here working, but that also tells me that he supports an extremist terror monger who denies the Holocaust happened and calls for the extermination of all the Jews in the world, and specifically of the complete eradication of Israel in the Middle East with a nuclear bomb. The Iranian president's fiery rhetoric isn't playing at all well back home where his opponents in the upcoming elections are coming out for Israel's right to exist. Looks like we can add Ahmadinejad to the endangered species list. I see it as a portent for the future of this country as well.

Israel should have learned by now that whatever Ahmadinejad touches, turns to dust. He promised to put oil money on the table of every Iranian family. Instead, he took money away through high inflation and irresponsible expenditure policies which have ruined the Iranian economy. Ahmadinejad promised to “cut the hands of the corrupt”, instead they now have longer hands with bigger biceps. He promised to bring justice to Iranian society, instead the gap between rich and poor is growing every day.

I wonder if the liberals will rush to Ahmadinejad's defense now that he's endangered. After all, they do prefer the underdog, which is going to prove quite problematic for them as they continue to marginalize any opposition. Soon those who speak out against the current President will be marginalized and become the underdog. I wonder if it will be as spectacular a logic bomb explosion as when Kirk and Spock faced Nomad.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Time capsules

I worked until 4 a.m. this morning. Just couldn't sleep, but at least I was being productive and earning a living. Two things kept me awake: a letter from one of my cousins about a letter she received from me last Saturday and Beanie being upset because of something I wrote seven years ago. In the end, it's all about me.

My cousin, Ellen, and I have been getting to know each other after not seeing or hearing from one another for 20+ years. It started when I sent out notices of my stories being published. Many of my family began contacting me after that and some of them I hadn't heard from in a very long time. Even my ex-husband and his foul-mouthed wife contacted me, his wife to tell me I didn't know anything about writing and that fans of my blog weren't real people.

Yesterday's email from Ellen was different. She wrote about working in her front yard, glad for the warm spring day after so many wet, cold days and thinking about Allyson, her niece, who died a few months ago. She was melancholy and remembering back to the day Bobbi Jean and her husband brought Allyson home from the hospital after she was born. Ellen waited on their porch for a long time so she could hold Allyson as long as she wanted without having to share her with the rest of her large family. When the mail truck drove up she went to the mailbox and saw my letter and sat down on the porch to read it and she sobbed.

It was a good had been building all day, and I finally released it! This Spring has been so gloomy and cold...before I received your letter, I had thought about the "sadness" in the Spring...but I NEVER could have described it like you did. ... Funny how something like that can really be such a gift to someone.

Then there's Beanie who was upset about what I wrote yesterday in this blog (scroll down to yesterday's post to read).

She emailed to tell me I wasn't at Gram's bedside when she died, but nothing in the post says I was. Mom did relent and tell Gram she could go the day she died in the nursing home with family around her, but that was about two years later.

People see what they want to see in someone else's words. They sometimes miss what's right in front of them. They get angry over something they've misread because the truth is painful or brings up feelings they'd rather not acknowledge. Sometimes people get what you intend when they read the words. They know you understand how they feel and give them a voice, and often from the very same words.

Whether I write for myself or for someone else, I always share my heart and a piece of myself. I don't always remember what I write, but the spirit of the words stays with me and I can conjure again the feelings from the first few words.

I decided to write Ellen another letter because in some way answering her in an email seems less true, less meaningful, less me. She told me she enjoys each of my letters and that they are like gifts. I may write Beanie a letter to let her know I understand why she reacted the way she did. One thing I do know is that all this technology and these bits and pieces of life and feelings and time capsule moments are fragile. When the technology is gone, all of it will cease to exist as though it were no more than smoke in the wind, but my letters will remain, held together by a ribbon or dried out rubber band that crumbles the moment it is touched and stretched. The paper will be brittle and yellowed with age, but the words will still be readable, a relic of the past with words and feelings that reach out through time and space to touch another heart and mind, or just show that in the mundane moments of the past long gone, people were still the same. Another time capsule waiting to be opened and experienced anew.

Monday, April 20, 2009

At the starting gate

When I started blogging it was because of two people, another writer who had been bugging me to move with the times and my mother who got hold of my journals and said I should have them published. She said she didn't know I was so unhappy. I wasn't unhappy all the time, but between the covers of all those journals (about 40) there were times I was very unhappy. She also didn't know I thought about the kinds of things I mused over; she thought they were all about her. Religion, theology, politics, history, quantum physics and so many more subjects covered those pages, and they still do. But since it has been nearly seven years since I started this blog, I thought you'd like to see what came before.

July 19, 2002 Life and Death

Maybe by putting this online I will be able to think clearer. I usually think better when I'm writing, but have had a major case of writer's block for a while. Lots of ideas circling like hawks waiting for prey to emerge from the undergrowth. I did, however, manage a piece on abortion that has been caught in my head for a long time.

Have you ever had an idea that sounded so good when it rattled around in your head or when you tried it out in the shower, but when it came time to put it on paper or on the screen you lost all the wonderful words strung together like glowing black pearls and everything came out garbled and crippled? Me, too.

A very good friend suggested this and called it "mentally barfing" on the page. Sounds like the criticisms of George Sand so maybe barfing on the page isn't such a bad thing and could even be lucrative.

I have also been thinking a lot about mortality and death and the dignity of death. Never has that been clearer than now.

Several years ago I stood at the foot of my grandmother's bed while my mother leaned over her, clasping her hand and weeping and begging her mother not to leave her alone. My grandmother had suffered several strokes and was little more than a unfocused-eyed child whose face was wreathed in empty reflexive smiles. Seldom was she lucid enough to know who spoke to her, but I knew somewhere in that vegetating mind she clung to life to give her daughter, my mother, what she asked. Grandma spent most of her life giving my mother whatever she wanted, spoiling her and teaching her that all should bend to her wishes.

Even at that late stage of her life when she no longer had control of her body or her mind, when she had no quality of life, when she was force fed through a tube in her stomach and her body curled in on itself getting ready to enter the womb of death, even then my mother wouldn't let her own mother go. I was furious with her and we had a horrible argument. I told her she was selfish and cruel and she had no right to prolong what was no longer my grandmother's life. I told her Grandma wouldn't wish to live like that, entombed in a body kept alive by machines and tubes and her daughter's pleadings, clinging to some small spark of existence because she couldn't deny her daughter anything, not even the pain of lying for hours in urine- and feces-soaked diapers, in skin that tore like tissue paper at even a loving touch, in a body curling into a petrified fetal position. Not even that. But she would have her way and my grandmother lingered out of love for her.

My mother told me the other day she had a few mini strokes. She knew her mind was failing, as she grasped for names and places and memories familiar as her face in the mirror, things she had always known and were no longer where she put them. "I don't want to die in a nursing home," she said.

There is some small part of me, a cruel streak in my nature, that wants her to suffer as she made Grandma suffer, but it is a fleeting thought. No one should suffer that way. Fear moves her to prayer. She pleads with God to 'take her home' and set her free from the bondage of failing mind and body.

I understand now. It's about fear.

Fear of being alone.
Fear of mortality.
Fear of change.

We cry at the funerals of loved ones, not so much because of them but because of us. The world is changing and what we believed was constant and immutable is gone. Nothing is the same. Yes, we will miss our friends and family, but mostly we grieve for ourselves.

I remember thinking my parents were immortal. They would always be there. Intellectually I knew they would eventually die, but it was like being thirty years old -- too far in the future to matter. But time slips away and our parents get older, feebler, closer to death, and then they're gone. Immortality is a lie, a fantasy. And if they can die, those strong pillars supporting our the framework of our lives, then so can we, so will we.

The older we get the more we see the constants in our lives disappear. Aunts and uncles, grandparents and friends, all succumb to the reaper's scythe. How long will it be before we follow them and are lost in the dust of time? Who will remember us? Who will care we lived?

No matter what we believe, what religion we espouse, we begin to believe death is the end and there's nothing on the other side. Suddenly, life is so much sweeter and we don't want to give it up. The pain and anguish and confusion no longer seem so bad because at least we're still alive, still breathing, still here. Anything is better than the nothingness that faces us when death comes. If we can just keep our parents alive, by whatever means, we can stay death's hand and live one more month, one more week, one more day, one more hour, one more...

I understand now, but I'm not afraid. I don't need to trade my mother's dignity to keep death at bay. I don't need to punish her for putting my grandmother through such torture. I can let go because when my time comes I leave knowing I enjoyed every painful, ecstatic, joyful, and confusing moment of my life. Hopefully, my children will understand and not mortgage my life for their fears.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

How to boil a frog

In getting to know a young man from Mumbai, I was surprised that he wanted to come to America, to live here and be an American. His main reason for wanting to be here is philosophical. It's not about making money or religious and social freedom, but about the very things our forefathers believed possible when they wrote the Constitution and gave birth to this nation in blood and fire. It's about freedom and a government like no other on this planet. It's about our democratic way of life.

There are other democratic countries with constitutional monarchies and parliamentary democracies, but there is only one America. That is why no matter what the current President does or say to undermine this country and its people, no matter what he gives away or how he denigrates the people and the men and woman who fought and continue to fight for us all, the United States of America will remain like a shining beacon in the encroaching darkness.

America is not just a country, but an ideal, a way of life and belief that is unlike anything that has come before or since. Our government was an idea, an experiment born out of the failures of democracies throughout history, and experiment that works and still works. While illegal immigrants may come for the money they make and send home, people like that young man from Mumbai come because they believe in what America stands for: freedom and justice. You can't certainly can't tie an idea to a building or a statue and what you cannot destroy you cannot kill.

Lynn and I were talking, as we do every Sunday morning, about Star Trek and freedom. The one thing that makes this country unique is its tolerance for other ethnicities, beliefs and religions. It is our strength and the reason why people come to our shores and become citizens. It's also our weakness. We will fight to protect the freedoms guaranteed in our Constitution and those very freedoms can be used to undermine our government and destroy those freedoms we hold dear.

When people of other faiths and religions come to our shores they know they can practice their beliefs in peace and safety -- for the most part. There will always be idiots prejudiced against any beliefs but their own. As we open our arms to welcome and embrace these people, we should also be aware that not all of them want to live free and protect those around them. They want to destroy our way of life so that their beliefs are the only ones accepted. Anything that undermines or goes against the laws and truths laid down in the Constitution should be removed the way a surgeon removes a cancerous tumor. If even so much as one cell remains, it will grow another tumor in time. We must remain vigilant and recognize that a poisonous snake, however tame it seems, will always be a poisonous snake and its nature is undeniable. Given the opportunity, when it is no longer cold and near death, as it warms to life it will strike with deadly purpose. So when we welcome other people to our shores, we must keep in mind that although they are free to practice the religion of their choice, they are not free to bring with them their laws; those laws stand contrary to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Every township, city and state that makes room for and allows Shari'a practices to become the rule of law is in violation of the principles on which this country is founded and is an affront to every man, woman, and child in this country. When government officials say they believe Shari'a Law and the Constitution can be practiced side by side evidently has never read the Constitution. We have no room for another government or rule of law. We have our own, no matter how some lawyers seek to twist and bend the words and the intent of the law. Any elected or appointed government official who gives credence and validity to Shari'a is a traitor to this country and to the people s/he serves.

We are frogs sitting in a pan of water under which the heat is slowly rising and if we do not jump out of the pan now it will be too late when the water is boiling. Do not be fooled by smiles and empty rhetoric. Don't turn a blind eye to the truth. Do not take the country or your freedoms for granted or you will soon find yourself without any freedom at all while Shari'a Law determines your fate and, as in Britain, the Democratic Rule of Law, the law of the land, longer applies.

The pot is simmering.

Hope for the fifties

I forgot to mention some very good news that came my way earlier this week. My cousin, Bobbi Jean, whose daughter, Allyson, died in January, is getting married this summer. She's been divorced almost as long as I have been and it seems she has kept him under wraps mostly. Bobbi Jean is 53 and she will get married this summer. There's hope for the rest of us old maids and divorced women over fifty. Who knows? Some day a prince will come for us. It's certain, from the description that I was given of Bobbi Jean's fiancé, that her prince has indeed come and she will join the ranks of other women in our family who have married Jims.

I doubt, however, there's hope for me since I'm not looking for a husband or even want one most of the time (check with me again when the moon is blue or the whores are moaning), but it is nice to know that if I really want one, a prince is out there waiting for me to accept his proposal. Bobbi Jean has held her prince off for some time, but finally gave in and said, "Yes." Congratulations, Bobbi Jean and Jim.

That is all. Disperse.

Highway to Hell

It's hard to find time to post nowadays since I'm busy with rewrites and working extra hours and still trying to keep my head above water with review books (I have three to go in the latest shipment), but I do take an hour in the morning to read newspapers and check email. And then there are the new fans from my latest long review on Atlasphere who have been so thoughtful as to engage me in discussions that I just cannot resist, but it doesn't mean I've forgotten any of my long term friends, just a little bit preoccupied of late.

Anyway, I found this this morning and my head is still spinning. Nothing like biting the hands that feed you and keep you safe in favor of pirates and international hubris. If there's a problem, just throw more Chinese money at it because it's all about the world liking you and everyone being at peace. The way to end piracy is to pay ransom and bribes send financial aid to Somalia. It never occurred to the State Department or the POTUS that if the pirates can afford to buy rocket launchers, boats and artillery the they already have money. It's North Korea all over again. We send food and financial aid and Kim Jong-il turns it into building material and uranium for his nuclear missile program. Good job if you can get it and it looks like the Somali pirates have come up with the same idea, following in the footsteps of Hamas, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Throwing money and good deeds at the problems is a good way to go down with the ship. Does anyone remember Edith Keeler?

Meanwhile, returning vets and peaceful protesters are getting short shrift and being branded as traitors and enemies of the State who do nothing but stir up trouble and foment rebellion and Iraq is now forgotten as the troops begin to rotate home, job done. Right! Now, let's talk about that swampland in Louisiana just perfect for a summer timeshare resort.

The most humbling experience this week has been feverishly finishing the editing on my novel to find out that I need to go back and redo it since my laptop locked up. Several days and dollars later, the result is a flaky motherboard and I have to redo the work. Well, there is one more plot point I'd like to flesh out, so that gives me time to do that, but it puts me behind schedule on everything else, like laundry, vacuuming and cleaning, not that anyone's looking. The only thing that would make this week complete is my mother coming for a visit. Oh, right, she did threaten to do just that. Week complete.

In the continuing saga of e-cards lost in cyberspace, my youngest son emailed me again to ask if I got their Easter e-card. Um, no, I didn't. I also didn't get the e-cards for Xmas, New Year's, or my birthday. Oh, right, they forgot when my birthday actually is. But at least this time they thanked me for the Easter cards and gifts I sent to my grandchildren by snail mail. That was a first. Thanks for previous birthday cards and gifts sent by UPS and snail mail have gone unremarked, but they're really glad I want to be part of my grandchildren's lives. I have news for them. Sending gifts and cards is not being a part of anyone's life, especially when there is no communication back and forth, no letters, cards, phone calls or even videos getting to know one another. That's what they, and a lot of other people, do not get. Sending a card or gift or even emailing from time to time does not a relationship make. There must be communication. Phone calls, visits when possible, the back and forth of "I am fine and how are you" and filling in the blanks. If it's all about them or all about you with no give and take, then there is no relationship. At this point, it's all about me sending cards and gifts and the occasional, if pressed, thank you without any real give and take. Well, there's take, but no give, and give, but no take. Confused? It's simple. I give and they take. They don't give so there's nothing for me to take.

It's like a lot of relationships in this world, especially in reference to the White House. You knew there had to be some connection. The taxpayers give and are now expected to give a little more. Dig deep, people, you're about to give a whole lot more. The White House and Congress in turn take from the taxpayers (that would be you and me) and give to the world: Hamas, Pakistan, Somali pirates, etc. All give and no take. But the world is giving back: contempt, disgust and thumbed noses. After all, the once might United States of America, the only remaining world super power, has finally been brought to its knees. What took 233 years to build has taken just slightly less than three months to destroy. We, my fellow Americans, are on the highway to hell and it has been paved by our good intentions and our tax dollars.

That is all. Disperse.