Resurgence of Political Ignorance

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Although political pundits sorely miss W with his idiotic misstatements like, “Those who enter this country illegally, are breaking the law!” we can rest assured that should Sarah Palin seek public office she will step into that void and provide us with endless hilariousness. Most recently Bill Maher quoted or misquoted her as saying “…my heart goes out to all those people in Ebola.” Well personally I’m glad she’s so sympathetic but it would be better if she knew exactly what, where and to whom her sympathies were being directed! Perhaps she would benefit from a geography lesson that pointed out Angola is not the same as Ebola, one is a country the other a deadly virus. Duh! We can all breathe a sigh of relief that she is not looking for a job with the World Health Organization or the Center for Communicable Diseases, the world has enough trouble without adding her to the mix!

And did she really brag that she can kill her dinner before she cooks it?  Let’s imagine this. There she is wearing her latest $2500 Versace creation, slaving over her recently shot goose (or wolf as the case may be) preparing a little Sunday dinner. And perhaps while her goose is cooking, she saunters into her bedroom and peeks out her window at Russia, just to check on how things are going over there, with that Ukrainian problem. And then, she gets this brilliant idea. Why doesn’t she give Putin a call, them being practically neighbors, she’ll invite him over for dinner. He’ll hop on his MasterCraft x46 and zoom right over. To make political capital from her efforts she’ll call the press to take pictures of the little peace conference about to take place at her dining room table. She’ll even ask him to bring along some of his Pro-Russian Ukrainians. They’re his neighbors, so they’re practically her neighbors too. Hell, they could bring along those hungry folks from Ebola too (they’re somewhere south of Ukraine according to her map)!

She’ll step out back, shoot another Canadian goose, (she doesn’t think Canada will mind they have a lot of them) and be plucking in her kitchen in no time. She grins contentedly as she plucks, thinking how the world has underestimated her unique brand of diplomacy. Those Democrats, she scoffs, they don’t know how to bring people together. We’re all just neighbors after all. I’ll wow them with my latest culinary kills and remind him, as I did in that stupid Couric interview, that there’s a narrow border between Alaska and Russia. Putin and I can resume trade relations, she thinks. We’ll call it the Palin-Putin Peace Plan. I’ll convince him that Obama will never know; DC is awfully far away. This little violation of the US/Russian sanctions can be our little secret, she thinks.  We’ll trade lots of stuff back and forth. It will be simple, I’ll stack stuff in my garage and at night Todd (he still comes around) and I can carry stuff down to the dock and zip over to Russia. “I’ll get you the stuff you need,” she’ll reassure him. And since he’s a reputed wildlife advocate, she’ll toss in a few polar bears to sweeten the deal. She’ll smile as she fanaticizes about those icy blue eyes melting. All it took was her womanly wiles, some good home shot food and voila!

Where have all the flowers gone??

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There is something different about the world today. Something is gone, off in the distance but nonetheless palpable. It’s not often that I eulogize stars; not often that I even think of them or remember their roles or the names of their shows. This time it’s different. This … is one that I remember … almost know or think that I do. There’s always been something emotionally risky about the man, something that drove him up to the edge; something scary I picked up from him in spite of his outstanding humor, talent, supremely challenging roles. He would go too far, put too much of himself into the role. That’s what made him such a fabulous actor, but it’s also what worried me about him. There were insufficient boundaries – no limits to what he would do to fully occupy the role; to fully immerse himself in the persona of the moment. It seemed to me, always the therapist, that he didn’t keep enough of himself for himself.

That’s what scared me about Robin Williams. I always saw deep sadness, bordering on hopelessness in his eyes, even if they sparkled with laughter. In his quiet moments, in an acting role or in a TV interview, I saw his despair. Many of the things I’ve read about him: his need for an audience, his discomfort with ‘one-on-one’ encounters, his substance abuse, depression, all those things fit my ‘sense’ of him and while I think he was the finest broad spectrum actor I’ve ever seen, he always felt fragile to me. While I enjoyed him, those viewing experiences they were accompanied by my own mental subtext that read ‘this man is in pain.’

I feel a loss. I suppose many of us do. Of course, it’s not really a personal loss, but it feels like it is. He’s been a continuous thread in the fabric of our entertainment world since Mork and Mindy and he will be missed. Missed for all that he was and for all that he might have done. I have to think that his last show, “The Crazy Ones” was not only a doomed concept, but a self-statement. When I first saw the ads for the TV show, which I deliberately never watched, by the way, I worried about him. I thought then that is was a hauntingly negative title… again too close to the edge, too close to his inner reality. Too reflective of how Robin Williams viewed himself. When the show came out, I worried he was boxing himself in. The title was a foretelling… like “will I be loved for my true self, my crazy self? Will others accept that real dark hidden (mostly) part of me?”

Ok, you’re going to say, it was just a show, just a title, it was a comedy. Ok, I hear you, but words do mean things. He did play the starring role in a show that identified him as ‘crazy’ and apparently acted the part. Then the show didn’t do well. (Not surprising) Then it was cancelled. Then he died. OK, of course there are other elements here, his severe depression and the onset of Parkinson’s disease can’t be underestimated. Each blow likely had some idiosyncratic, highly personalized meaning culminating in his final conclusion. It’s sad that he didn’t mean as much to himself as he apparently meant to others; that he didn’t hold himself in high regard, make use of the people in his life who cared for and about him; that he didn’t listen to his own wisdom.

In Good Will Hunting, he told his young patient, “You’ll have bad times, but they’ll wake you up to the good times you weren’t paying attention to.” I wish he had been able to listen to his own words, words he spoke and rehearsed and encapsulated for all eternity on film. He seemed sincere when he said them. He seemed entirely genuine speaking to his patient, perhaps a younger mirror image of himself, but was he listening? I don’t know. I can’t say if he was or not; if those words and all the other deep and meaningful things he said to others or muttered to himself in role sunk in. Perhaps they did but they didn’t mean enough in the scattered utterances of his mind to turn him in a different direction. I wish they had. No doubt most of us do.

Do You Remember My Little Red Keurig?

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Well, believe it or not, the time has come! After weeks of deciding and planning and choosing and changing my mind and deciding again, the time has come. New stuff is waiting in a warehouse and soon there will be workers tearing apart my kitchen. Walls, floor, ceiling, lighting, plumbing, cabinets and countertops will all go. Everything has to be packed up and stored elsewhere. After many trips to Goodwill, the kitchen will be empty and waiting for the demolition crew.  My house will be a dust trap for weeks on end…not to mention the noise. The cats will endure the indignity of being boarded, but Daisy has agreed to endure the mess so she can stay at home and supervise the workmen. Yes, I’m sure the end result will be lovely and I can’t wait to get there, but in the meantime we’ll be eating carryout off of paper plates!

I suppose anything good is worth waiting for and I’ve waited for years to renovate my kitchen. Now that the time is here I find myself grimacing rather than grinning. All that work and mess; all that disorder and disorganization, well it doesn’t thrill me. But adapt I shall. Advice has been pouring in from my sister and several friends about things to do and ways to manage. Others have survived such things and I am sure so will I! Probably by the time you read this blog I will be contentedly settled into my brand spanking new kitchen. Say, maybe I’ll even post some pictures of it, Talaverra tiles and all!

OK! I admit it! I have Writer’s Block!

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Someone asked me this week why I haven’t been posting to my blog… “You need some new stuff up there,’ she said. “What’s going on, you have writer’s block?” ‘No,’ I smiled, ‘of course not,’ I replied without giving it much thought. “I’ve just been busy.” Well, here I am sitting at the keyboard and guess what? I’m blocked! Well, maybe blocked isn’t quite it – maybe it’s stuck.

There are so many horrible things happening in the world, so many dangerous hotspots, I don’t know where to begin much less pontificate about. Regrettably, I declare myself among the millions of uninformed or barely informed Americans who get by on CNN and online news briefs. But, I am aware enough to be worried … no make that horrified.

First, as examples of international impotence, there are those 200 missing Nigerian girls kidnapped in the middle of the night by the Boka Haram. Despite the huge international outcry and pleas for their return they are still out there somewhere. How can that be with our “eye in the sky” satellites that can detect a wisp of smoke from about a million feet in the air? It doesn’t make sense. They can’t be that hard to find! Where is our international A Team when we need them? Where are our Navy SEALs or Britain’s SAS or Russia’s Spetsnaz? There are specially trained tactical forces all over the place skilled enough to rescue a bunch of girls hidden somewhere. Where is everybody? If it had been government or political officials would we be sitting on our hands? What if the President of Nigeria had been taken? Would his family members be out there with placards crying out for someone to help find him? I think not.

When Malaysian Flight 327 turned up missing there was an enormous outpouring of international help, people were falling over themselves, trying to track and locate that plane. Helpers and experts from across the globe showed up to pool their talent and resources to find the missing plane. They didn’t, but at least they tried and they spent days, weeks, and months trolling the oceans, reviewing maps and theorizing about every detail. So, here are two groups of hapless victims, two groups of hysterical families, one generated a massive outpouring of international support, the other, not so much.

And what about our own immigration problem with hundreds of unaccompanied children and teens flooding in from Mexico, Central and South America, fleeing the terror and poverty of their homelands only to end up herded into temporary facilities and setting off a political firestorm between the already polarized liberals and conservatives. And with no easy solution in sight, those children are at the mercy of patchwork solutions and half-hearted compromises, which leads us to a much larger question. What it will take to stabilize their home countries so that their citizens feel safe enough to live there?

Then there’s ISIS, an Islamic militant group, determined to conquer the entire Arab world marching across the Syrian and Iraqi borders killing and conquering with impunity. And in spite of worldwide growing alarm and finger pointing they are proving that national borders are invisible when trampled over by intruders armed with conviction and weaponry (which by the way, we provided to the Syrians or left stockpiled in Iraq when we left after Iraqi Freedom.) This is a scary militant group seemingly without what we in the West would call conscience. They routinely commit mass murders, as they inch closer toward their goal of a caliphate (an Islamic state/empire headed by a supreme religious leader). ISIS plans to erase and replace currently recognized nations; each body buried in the sand moves them closer to their goal: rule the Islamic world, eliminate legitimate governments and replace them with a single caliph. Now that sounds scary as hell to me. With that kind of unchecked authority, the caliph’s powers are limitless. Again, where is everybody?? How come ‘this band of sociopaths’ has been able to get so far? Why isn’t the United Nations, Interpol, Mossad, The Arab League, Delta Force …. someone doing something to stop them? How come our world’s leaders aren’t all over this situation? Where are our International Secret Superheroes? Seriously what is everyone waiting for?

And while we’re in the Middle East…just look at what’s happening on the Gaza strip, again. Hamas and like-minded Islamic Jihadists bent on the destruction of the State of Israel are tunneling under the sand and shelling their hated neighbor who in turn is fighting back. In the process people, innocent ones and not necessarily innocent ones are dying. The eyes of the world are upon them as they cloud the skies with their explosives and public opinion swings back and forth with each kidnapped, murdered teen and each playground child torn apart by shrapnel. The tension is so high that the slightest action could catapult these two nations into all-out war. Our hearts break for those caught up in the struggle that theoretically brilliant world leaders should be able to resolve. But no! Peace conferences are dreams for future generations and the battle rages on as warring parties proclaim their innocence and defend their actions, while the bigger questions remain unasked. Bigger questions include: Do you want hatred to rule your lives? Can you look beyond your immediate situation and see a different kind of life free from embattlement? If you imagine a world beyond now, what are you willing to do to get there? Seriously, look at the sacrifices you are making fighting a war no one can win.

Then, if we have a speck of energy left we might cast our gaze to the right and take a peek at our former cold war enemy, recently thawing ally and quickly refreezing non-ally … Russia.  Dear Lord what is happening there now? It appears that the Soviet Union is not dead and Russia cannot give up its dreams of yesterday. No it will reassert its Imperialist leanings! It simply took Crimea, with little more than a slap on the wrist from the world community and is working on reclaiming Ukraine. Cleverly it aligned with Russian-leaning Ukrainian insurgents who are fermenting their own brand of coup d’état. In the process of their fight, the Ukrainians’ shot down a passenger plane and now seem intent on keeping everyone concerned out of the crash site as the bodies decay and evidence is degraded. The world community now focuses on the crash site and those obstructionist rebels but really the bigger question is where are the thinking rational world leaders and what are they doing to stop Putin, who admittedly is hard to stop. Our leaders must know that the more he gets away with the more he will try to get away with. It’s simple behavioral science. But in the long run, no nation is an island (so to speak) and were the world community to unite (‘to dream the impossible dream’) they would be able to stop him and any other egomaniacal leader determined to thrust his will flagrantly upon others.

And then as if we need another example of short-sighted egomaniacal politics at its worst we have our Esteemed Speaker of the House, Boehner who has brilliantly selected this very moment of global catastrophe to attack our President – for attempting what no president before him has been able to do – provide healthcare to all Americans. And to make matters worse he managed to drag 225 votes from other members of the house, thus setting off a potential Constitutional crisis  and managing to weaken the world’s most respected leader of the strongest nation on earth, at the exact moment that his competence and power must be irrefutable.

Well good for you, Boehner. You get the Idiot of the Year award. Even if Boehner and all his 225 cohorts were right on every point of contention, which stretches the imagination, this is NOT the time to do anything but create a united front presenting strength, rationality and peacemaking in the world. Do you members of the House of Representatives really not get that? Have you not watched CNN lately? Why would these global warring parties sit down at the negotiating table with when our own Congress refuses to stop their infantile backbiting?

Our Legislative Branch knows that we live in a world where chaos reigns, where war is breaking out all over the place, where polarized people cannot compromise on critical matters and then turn around and do the exact same thing? What is wrong with you people? This is just not the time for this type of infighting. The whole world is turning to the U.S. for help and leadership and you choose this time to cripple our leader? Really!? If you’re looking for someone to impeach try looking in the mirror – all 225 of you!

Then as if politics, war and deadly plane crashes aren’t enough we have an outbreak of EBOLA in Africa! Talk about scary! No cure, highly contagious and deadly. An Ebola carrier from Liberia got on a plane that crossed borders demonstrating that a simple flight could carry that virus across the world leading to a pandemic that will simply end all this infighting and nation building and kidnappings and mass murders.

Everyone needs to take a step back from tilling his own patch of soil and look at the bigger picture. We need to move from ‘I want what I want when I want it’ and think of ourselves as Jean Luc Picard did — as ‘earthlings.’ Though we are all different we do share this globe and we can blow it up or fix it up. These disruptive leaders suffer from extreme egomania which leads to extreme tunnel vision. World leaders and negotiators need to unify whichever nations still have a modicum of rationality and unite around several key points. Organizations like the United Nations, the European Union and the Arab League need to take a good look at reality. All of you! All at the same time! Get united behind strong interventions. Diplomatic Mr. Nice Guy isn’t working anymore and sanctions… ha! When dealing with individuals and groups who are lawless, blinded by their own passions you cannot expect them to cooperatively abandon their missions. You can’t expect masses of Palestinians to say ‘Ok this isn’t working for me. I’m going to relocate to Egypt or Saudi Arabia. You guys stay and fight over the West Bank as for me I’m outa here.’ And you can’t expect ISIS to say ‘You know, that whole Arab world under one Umbrella thing is not such a good idea after all.’ You can’t expect the Arab nations all of whom hate the Jews to say ‘Israel is a nice country and we’re glad to have them in the neighborhood.’ And you can’t expect Putin to say, ‘You have your country and I’ll have mine.’ You can’t expect any of these things to happen, at least not without pressure.

I know people like Secretary of State Kerry and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon are working their metaphorical ‘asses off’ trying to fix these messes and I respect them for all their efforts. But by themselves they can’t make anything happen. Hillary Clinton coined the phrase ‘it takes a village’ I’d suggest taking it just a bit further; try ‘it takes a globe.’

Death March

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It’s not that I know much about the world. I have to admit, compared to professors, researchers, academics, covert information gatherers and world leaders, good and bad, I know nearly nothing. History, political science and government are classes I took long ago and probably they have little to do with world conflict today. While I freely admit I have little factual information about the world’s hot spots, I think I may know something about people. I also think I may know a little something about what is or is not reasonable. So when I say I want to make some remarks about the group called ISIS or ISIL, it is with a 100 foot high disclaimer in which my ignorance is duly noted.

What little I know, however, is scary. Damn scary. That a small, determined, hate-filled force can gather so much momentum and attract so many fighters and manage to expertly train those fighters in such a short amount of time is awesome and terrifying. This group has no moral code, not scintilla of doubt about the rightness of their murderous rampage. There are no limits to their destructiveness, their violence, their homicidality. It matters not a whit that they are murdering human beings by the thousands, that those human beings are their brethren or at least are sheltered under ‘Semitic’ people category, referring to their common language base or that they dwell in the same part of the world and labor under the same difficult political, economic and familial circumstances. No, apparently none of that matters. What seems to matter is land…they want more and more land. Why, not to develop peaceful communities where their families can live in peace. NO. They want land so they can control and monopolize the entire region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf. Why?? I’d just be guessing here, but I’ll go out on a limb and say it’s about control. Control of the region, control of the oil in the region, control of every country in the region until, as each nation/government falls before them there will be One Single Arab presence in the world. One Arab Country controlled and led by one ‘duly elected’, though through armed violent takeover, government.

Now, admittedly, I’m not too familiar with the Shiites or the Sunnis, but I am familiar with hatred. I am familiar with discrimination based on something; skin color, religion, sex, size, age, race, property ownership, disability or personal philosophy. And what I can say about hatred, strife and ongoing inter-generation conflicts over rights and property, is there’s a lot of it going on. And there has been since Cain and Able, since Romulus and Remus.

The wars we create to fight others who are more like we ourselves than they are different are endless. Since the beginning of time, when man could hardly string more than a few simple words together, there have been fights to the death. This is my cave, my dead mammoth, my woman. We clubbed one another until we learned how to make knives, spears, swords, bow and arrows, guns, submachine guns, guns that could be mounted on Sikorsky helicopters, guns popping out the top of Russian armored tanks. There’s been endless gunfire, an endless effort to create greater and greater weapons, endless dead bodies scattered across the scorched earth. So why is it, given our advanced education, our advanced intellectual prowess, our advanced technology, our amazing stream of inventions and conveniences all the result of mankind’s incalculable intellect and creativity, given all these exceptional advances our problem-solving abilities are so dramatically inadequate, our abilities to negotiate are so limited and our communication skills are so stunted. With so much hanging in the balance, the delicate and increasingly fragile balance, I wish improving our ability to talk with and cooperate with one another would be more highly valued. Returning to the basics seems indicated. And I don’t mean the basics like hunting for our own food or living in log cabins. I mean the human basics…person to person basics. That’s the ticket.

In schools there are ‘anti-bullying programs’, in companies there are ‘sensitivity training’ classes, there are pre-marital programs for soon to be newlyweds, there are ‘parent effectiveness training classes’ for parents wishing to improve their relationships with their children. Interpersonal skill sets are out there folks but we need to recycle them, re-purpose them. Let’s write a new course and call it ‘Unite our Differences.’ Let’s make it mandatory for every leader of every tribe, clan, county, city, state, municipality or nation across the globe. Let’s help those who matter in these daily battles to think differently. The goal would not be homogeneity but respect for and appreciation of one another’s thoughts, feelings, needs and beliefs no matter how different from our own they might be. Only from that place can reasonable communication begin and honest negotiations start. Hey, at least it’s a beginning…

The Odd State of Authorship

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It interesting to me that many writers plan their work; they write outlines, develop complex plot strategies and spend months creating characters before writing page 1. That’s amazing to me. Admirable self-restraint and long range planning! Me, I sit down and type and as I create the characters they write the story. For example, before I wrote Relentless, I had a completely different plot in mind. I was going to write a completely different story. It started, well the first 10 words anyway, started with a former patient in mind, a young woman whose tragic life experiences begged to be told. However, my intent was thwarted before the first page was completed. The second character made an appearance and changed the direction, intent and passion of the story. This character instantly became bigger than life and the story configured itself around his personality structure, history, desires and needs. He, along with the other characters who evolved to play interesting, captivating and important roles emerged whole out of my imagination and out of hard earned understanding of human behavior.

Once history, personality and interpersonal characteristics were in place the characters wrote their own scripts. I wrote what I knew they would do based on who they were and once in place the characters played in a theater of ‘their own creation.’ Odd as it may seem being open to the characters and the plots they devised allowed me the freedom to simply create what came to mind trusting that whatever it was would lead to the outcome that was right for these characters and their plot. On occasion, ‘being open to the universe’ also led to other startling discoveries. On several occasions, for example, I chose a location where something was to take place only to learn after the fact that indeed it had taken place there!

I guess my kind of writing requires a certain amount of freedom of thought, a willingness to make mistakes and perhaps willingness to risk being wrong, but at this point in my life, such issues hardly matter. I want to create good books I enjoy writing and that other people will enjoy reading. As a life-long humanitarian and social advocate, I want to make certain social, cultural, philosophical or political statements and hopefully present these issues in a way that can not only entertain, but also inform and perhaps, even, enlighten. Forgive my arrogance with that last bit; just read Relentless and my other books that will follow and see if you, too, can see something just peeking from under the surface that might be able to inch open that consciousness of yours. 

Thanks for reading and ….in a few more weeks… for listening. My audiobook should be completed and available this Fall!

Watch for Relentless

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Relentless Cover

Coming to an Amazon.com near you is my first novel in the Elisabeth Reinhardt series, its action packed, mysterious and an interesting study in psychopathology, all at the same time. A complex plot weaves together the lives of a young doctor, the killers who are obsessed with her, the lawmen trying to stop them and the therapist who is trying to rescue her in more ways than one. Characters are well-developed and described in striking detail through a winding plot and a surprising ending.

Hardback and digital copies will be available through Amazon.com soon to be followed by the audiobook narrated by the author, herself, available through Audible.com and iTunes.

Readers have called Relentless “…a great read” and others have said they “couldn’t put it down.” I’d love to hear what you have to say. So please read it and feel free to leave me a comment here, or visit me on Facebook. I can’t wait to hear from you!