Tuesday, July 26, 2016

U.K. Bestseller Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris Available August 9, 2016 in the U.S.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Available in the U.S. on August 9, 2016, Behind Closed Doors written by B.A. Paris is a good choice for a late summer read.  If you are looking for a page turner of a piece of fiction, this may be your best bet. 

Paris' first published novel, Behind Closed Doors is a dark thriller of a story about a newlywed wife held hostage by her domineering, sadistic husband.  A successful lawyer in London, Jack Angel is, in fact, too good to be true.  He swept Grace off her feet and after initial hesitation, she left a career of her own to begin a new life with Jack.  He built a beautiful home for them just outside of the city and as they honeymooned in Thailand, the truth began to emerge. 

Grace is left guardian of her mentally disabled younger sister, Millie, when their parents move to New Zealand.  Millie lives in a group home and when she turns eighteen, she ages out of the arrangement.  Grace convinced Jack to arrange for Millie to live with them when the time came.  As the story develops, Jack makes it perfectly clear that he intends to inflict the same abuse to Millie as he does to Grace herself. 

I won't give away the ending but you will not be disappointed.  This novel keeps the reader's interest from the first chapter and is a fast read.  It makes for a great summer's distraction for any reader.  Already a bestseller in the U.K. (with the movie rights sold) , Behind Closed Doors will be available on August 9, 2016 in the United States.



*Full Disclosure*  St. Martin's Press sent a free Early Readers Edition to me in exchange for a written review and social media publicity.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Ted Cruz and His Convenient Conscience Breaks RNC Pledge



From the Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Cruz’s sudden burst of “conscience” would be more believable if Mr. Cruz hadn’t played Tonto to Mr. Trump’s Lone Ranger for most of the primary campaign. When it mattered last year, when Mr. Trump still might have been stopped, Mr. Cruz was lip-syncing the businessman’s lines.
While other candidates were opposing Mr. Trump on immigration, Mr. Cruz was imitating him and even moving to his right. Mr. Cruz wrote an op-ed in this paper with Paul Ryan supporting trade promotion authority. After Mr. Trump opposed it, Mr. Cruz came out against the bill right before the Senate vote.

If nothing else, the utter hypocrisy of the Cruz stream of conscience is suspect, given the introduction of the assaults on Melania Trump's character alone laid at the feet of the Cruz campaign.  The pictures of Mrs. Trump from her modeling days are everywhere in the Internet universe and were indeed used by Cruzers.  Using an unflattering photograph of Mrs. Cruz and a tweet from Mr. Trump implying he might mention her past troubles was his response. To clutch pearls and act as though that isn't anything other than ordinary behavior in today's politics is a bit much.

Senator Cruz also noted the silly accusation that perhaps his father, a Cuban immigrant, was somehow involved in the assassination of President Kennedy.  That was bad form coming from a tabloid grocery store rag - hardly an unusual occurrence. Trump says he had nothing to do with that story. It's politics, it's as old as time.

Describing these incidences as just too brutal, Cruz decided to not honor the RNC pledge made at the beginning of the primary campaign season - each candidate agreed to support the eventual Republican nominee in exchange for access to the RNC databank.  Senator Cruz now claims he's entitled to be a sore loser with hurt feelings as the voters hold him accountable for his less than gentlemanly behavior.

The reality is this:  Cruz lost this race and his ego is bruised.  He is a bitter man who is a divider, not a uniter.  He will always put himself over the Republican Party and rely on supporters who are perfectly ok with that.  He will rely on blind support as he calls other Republicans "cartel" members - drug lord thug talk - and think that is bold behavior.  It is not.  It is boorish and juvenile.

Cruz though he'd receive the Republican nomination by pandering to the evangelical voters and those more loyal to him than to the Republican Party - the newbies, the people not familiar with the party system or the workings of the RNC, those looking for an outsider.  Does anyone really think someone who has been working in and around Washington, D.C. and Austin Texas since 2000 is an outsider?  No.  Cruz was caught off guard by two real outsiders - Dr. Ben Carson and Donald Trump.  Neither were office holders in any form.  Both from the real world of business.  (I don't include Carly Fiorina because she ran unsuccessfully for office  and also served as an adviser to previous Republican officeholders - she was a part of the system.) 

Instead of focusing on working to take out Donald Trump during the primaries, Cruz chose to focus on exaggerating and misleading on the records of others - including those he called friends.  Senators Marco Rubio and Rand Paul were early targets.  He distorted their records for his personal benefit.  This, too, is politics; it is as old as time.  His conscience didn't prevent that.   He called Donald Trump his friend, a great man, and promised to "continue to sing his praises."  Why?  Cruz thought eventually Trump would drop out and Cruz would be the last man standing.  Cruz thought he'd get those Trump supporters for himself.  He was wrong.

Not only did Cruz's overwhelming support from evangelicals not materialize in a significant way - Trump bested him in many states with that group - but he soundly lost in the deep South.  Cruz was using his own Southern strategy and expecting enough early victories to put him in the lead.  Wrong again.  Though Cruz referenced Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions as a voice on immigration he listened to, especially leading up to the Alabama primary because he desperately wanted his endorsement, Sessions endorsed Trump in Alabama - the first Senator to do so.  Cruz had done his best to get to the right of Donald Trump on immigration - though in his Senate work, he tried to ride Senator Marco Rubio coattails for immigration reform, only to later deny it  - and again failed.

Ted Cruz has no success of note in his time in the U.S. Senate.  Clearly he ran for that office so that he could use it to run for President.  He had never held elected office before going to the Senate - he served in appointed positions in Washington, D.C. and Austin, Texas - and has proven he is ineffective in elected office.  Most of his failure comes from his inability to work with others - he may boast of not being a team player but that all came back to bite him.  His continued stunts for the camera to keep him in the public's eye - like the faux filibuster to shut down the government - have all been for his own benefit. 

Cruz thought he could disrupt the Republican convention and somehow wrestle the nomination from Trump.  The problem, though, is that grassroots Republicans are loyal to the party, not to a particular politician.  Politicians come and go, the party remains.  The convention delegates were already well on the way to a unified front. The #NeverTrump bunch were never organized.  Those who suddenly voiced support for candidate Cruz when that was their only choice against Trump were doing so because they had no other choice, not because they truly wanted Cruz as the nominee.  They were settling. 

The most amazing result to the Cruz temper tantrum, for me, has been the utter disgust leveled by previously loyal Cruz supporters.  I don't think Cruz is able to understand the depth of damage he has done to his political future.  When Cruz runs for president in 2020, does he think the Trump voters won't be there?  The party has changed because the voters have changed.  The newly energized voters - on the right and on the left - no longer trust or believe politicians.  It's a new world.

Senator Mike Lee made a fool of himself on national television, followed by former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, on the floor of the convention.  Lee wasn't able to make a decision to endorse either Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz during the primaries, claiming both to be good friends.  Then he endorsed Cruz when Rubio suspended his campaign.  He is hardly a voice of courage.  Libertarians have glommed on to Lee.  Libertarians are not Republicans.

Governor Pence endorsed Cruz in the Indiana primary - though he was hesitant to do so.  Cruz lost the Indiana primary and then suspended his campaign.  Pence is now the Vice Presidential candidate.  Prominent members of Cruz super PACs are now working for the Trump campaign.  Loyalty to the party is necessary and will continue. 

I am thankful I could vote for Senator Marco Rubio in the Texas primary.  He is the face of the future of the Republican Party - just not now.  I am a #RubioRepublican.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Miss USA Pageant Puts Politics Into Finalist's Question



Sunday night, the 2016 Miss USA Pageant was held in Las Vegas with the usual array of beautiful young women and a musical performance by The Backstreet Boys.  The contenders were a diverse group and for the first time, the last three finalists- Miss Hawaii, Miss Georgia and Miss District of Columbia-included two black women. The winner was Miss District of Columbia - the first winner serving in the U.S. military (Army Reserves). 

So, it was a pageant of firsts - including inserting politics into the questioning of the finalists. When it came time for the big question posed to Miss Hawaii, the eventual second place winner, she was asked for whom she would cast her vote - Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.


"Chelsea Hardin acknowledged that there was no way to correctly answer the question during the beauty pageant. The question was framed with Clinton's likely status of being the first woman nominated by a major political party for the White House. Hardin responded that gender doesn't matter when deciding the next commander-in-chief. The 24-year-old college student from Honolulu simply said the new president should push for what's right for the country."

Unlike the writer of this account,  I do not think she "punted" her answer.  I think she handled it as gracefully as possible.  And, good for her for not taking the bait.  In this country, we have a private ballot and this pageant's winner is tasked with representing people throughout the country.

Clearly, this was a shot at Donald Trump, the former owner of the pageant and a kiss to Hillary Clinton, the first woman to be nominated by one of the two major political parties.  No doubt the pageant owners and producers fall in line with the demand of liberal women - women have a duty to vote for Hillary.  Fortunately, as we have seen in the voting statistics, young women feel no such obligation.

The reaction on social media was swift and angry when the question was asked.  The audience loudly booed, too.  The pageant had to tweet out an explanation that the question was written by the pageant organization, not the judge stuck with asking the question. Some of the bottom feeders in online journalism immediately took the question to be a slam to Trump. 

I applaud any young woman not willing to allow liberal Hollywood to write the narrative.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

What if This is The GOP's Big Tent Moment?

Donald J. Trump will be the Republican Party's presidential nominee at the completion of its national convention this summer. With the suspension of the Cruz campaign Tuesday night, a whole lot of drama is playing out on social media.  Politics ain't bean bag.


I get it, I really do.  I was depressed for days when Marco Rubio suspended his campaign on March 1.  He was the complete package.  He also had the highest favorability numbers in all the polls.  He was the most electable.  He had years of experience - from local to state to national government.  He has a penchant for foreign policy.  He is an extraordinary communicator.  I could go on, but in the meantime...

Let's just take a breath.

I feel you, my tribe. The anger and disappointment is everywhere.  With this election cycle, we have reached the tipping point.  Voters are no longer interested in political experience, policy points, electability, or frankly, a candidate you'd like to have a beer with.  Donald Trump checks none of those boxes. He has higher unfavorable numbers than Hillary Clinton. He is loud, crude, egotistic, vulgar. He holds none of the Republican principles I hold dear.  And the people can't get enough of him.


A massive re-alignment has been brewing for both parties for years. The two political parties? The voters are over them. A majority of voters now call themselves Independents.  It is increasingly difficult to recruit activists as candidates.  The absence of women in elected office in the Republican Party is particularly distressing to me. Lots of things have to change.

In a normal year, a more traditional Republican would be the nominee and the various factions would be going back and forth on whether that candidate would meet everyone's expectations.  No candidate ever does, of course, because people aren't all the same.  After decades as an active Republican, both publicly and privately, my idea of the best candidate may not be the same as yours. That is the beauty of a political party, though, and it is essential to embrace all those who would call themselves Republican voters in order to sustain and grow a party.  This lesson still hasn't been learned by enough people, it appears.

Ted Cruz thought he would be the outsider, though he has been in politics since the contentious 2000 election and the George W. Bush administration. Cruz thought his path to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was on the backs of Evangelical voters.  That didn't work either.  Donald Trump drew in voters who have never voted, voters who are union members, voters who are solid working class people - those who get up every day and actually do the work that keeps America going.  Trump even found some long lost Reagan Democrats.  Are you getting the picture?  This is what it takes for the Republican Party to win in November.  A very broad coalition of voters must get out and vote or Republicans don't win.  We start out behind the Eight Ball in the Electoral College map and in order for Republicans to win the presidency, states have to be won that are not traditionally in the R column.  And swing states are crucial.

Now, about those Independent voters - they don't care about parties. They vote for the candidate.  In this year's cycle, not only do we have a man who has never held elected office as the party's nominee, he is running against a Democrat woman who holds as high unfavorable numbers as him.  Plus, in her case, she may be facing federal indictment before the election rolls around.


It's too early yet to expect a big kumbiya moment with Republican and conservative leaning voters to hug it out and vow to work together for November victories.  Most Republicans will understand that getting out to vote and supporting down ballot candidates is so very important.  Think of the judicial candidates and party chairman races that depend on voter participation at the local level.  All politics is local.

The big tent has been erected.  We just didn't realize it would be by a Democrat who now calls himself a Republican.  If Trump had held an R next to his name for years, though, he would be embraced by the same people now declaring they cannot possibly vote for him in November.  They would find a way to hold their noses and vote for him, just as some in the party always have to do with our nominees.  I've done it. There is no perfect candidate who pleases everybody.  Some conservative leaning voters aren't able to look at the bigger picture or even look down the road a bit.  I understand that.  Most voters aren't political nerds - policy papers, campaign strategy, candidate recruitment and C-SPAN don't interest them. There is no passion.  Some just show up on election day and vote.  That's the most important part.

Do not succumb to the ugliness of mocking and name calling now seen on social media towards Trump voters.  Americans are free to support any candidate.  It is the job of each candidate to win over voters. I know you have reasoned with people in your life who declared there was no way they could vote for this person or that one. It's happened to all of us - maybe it's been us. In today's culture, which Republicans have failed miserably to embrace or even try to understand, this Trump guy gets all the media attention and everyone knows him.  Chances are, you, too have a family member or friend who is a Trump voter in their state primary or caucus.  They aren't less intelligent or uneducated.  They are doing what we have asked them to do all along - get out and vote, preferably for a Republican candidate. They just don't want another politician as the candidate. 


Trump is a master marketer. It is his super power.  The challenge is this - does the Republican Party embrace his enthusiastic voters and those newly interested in politics as it relates to them or do we brush them aside and continue to fade into the sunset? Those of you who sat out the last two presidential elections because you were unable to bring yourself to vote for a John McCain or a Mitt Romney, as they didn't pass your political purity test - well, that is how we ended up with Barack Obama. How's that worked out for you? When I have moments of weakness, two words come into my mind - Supreme Court.  That's all I need.



Saturday, March 26, 2016

Breaking: #CruzSexScandal Lights Up Social Media - Now a New Twist

If you are a political junkie, you have no doubt checked out some of the kerfuffle developing over the past 48 hours concerning the National Enquirer's piece on a sex scandal and GOP Presidential candidate Ted Cruz (R-TX).  Falling on Easter weekend, it is a particularly unsavory bit of tabloid fodder for the candidate in the race claiming to be the evangelical Christian conservative.


The story goes that Cruz enjoyed dalliances with five women all connected to life in politics, particularly Washington, D.C. politics. There's the first bit of irony, right? The guy who planned on running as the outsider in the race, (though that was always a silly pretense) only to be foiled by Donald Trump, is entwined with these women of Washington - allegedly. Where the guy found time for all that escapes me but that's the story.  As with all stories these days, social media was leading with the gossipy story.  It was all over Twitter, as you would expect, and that is where the firestorm ignited. 


Following on the heels of a back and forth between Cruz and Trump over their wives, this story took off.  Immediately Donald Trump was accused of driving the story because he is known to be close friends with the CEO of the National Enquirer.  What wasn't reasonable, though, was the immediate blame put on former candidate,  Senator Marco Rubio.  There is a very real Rubio derangement in social media by Cruz supporters - and to a lesser extent Trump supporters - and that derangement was in full bloom.  Finger pointing and anonymous sources of rumors was the order of the day on Good Friday.  Instead of tamping down the muck, Cruz chose to find a television camera ( as is his habit) and said the story was smut and that Trump was behind it, along with his "henchmen".  The loudest, nastiest Cruz supporters claimed all roads led to Marco Rubio.


Yeah, it was crazy.


Then an interesting tidbit developed Friday night.  Here in the Houston area, a local show on the Fox affiliate is shown live each Friday night.  The show host is Isiah Carey and the show is an interesting mix of local stories and politics, too.  Fellow conservative blogger, Kathleen McKinley, is a regular guest who speaks about conservative political opinion next to a local liberal woman.  Last night, Kathleen said that she spoke with a D.C. friend earlier and that person laid the blame of the #CruzSexScandal story at the feet of David Brock.  That makes a lot more sense than, frankly either Trump or Rubio promoting the story.  If you are older, like me, you remember that name from the days of the Republican Revolution in 1994 and the Clinton presidency.  Brock was a one time Republican loyalist to Newt Gingrich and the first Republican takeover of Congress in some 40 years.  Later, he decided he was a Democrat and left for greener pastures with the Clintonians in D.C.  He is a known dirty tricks operative.


Thanks, Kathleen, for bringing some sane perspective into the mix.  Let's hope some of the louder, uglier accusations on Twitter and Facebook take a pause and do a bit of reflection.  Whether there is any truth in any of these accusations against Cruz, the truth  will come to the surface eventually and everyone's life will go on.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Carly Fiorina, Opportunist Extraordinaire

Opportunity knocked for former Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina and she answered the door. Wednesday Carly made a splash by appearing on stage with candidate Ted Cruz and formally endorsing him for President. Not only did she endorse him, she went into full snarl to do so.


Up until Wednesday, I was a supporter of Carly Fiorina. I understood her personal story as well as her professional story.  She was the full package for a Republican woman looking for more conservative women to run for political office.  She is truly in her element when railing against Hillary Clinton, which is where she shines.


Thursday morning, Fiorina appeared on Fox News and did an interview with anchor Bill Hemmer about her endorsement.  When asked by Hemmer why she chose Cruz over endorsing Sen Marco Rubio or Gov John Kasich, she said it was because Rubio and Kasich are "not conservatives."  This is inexcusable and just plain phony. How sad for Carly Fiorina to succumb to his kind of low brow politics.  No wonder she failed so badly in her bid for president, and in her senate race in California before that.
On June 18, 2015, Keep the Promise 1 - a Ted Cruz Super PAC - donated $500,000 to Carly Fiorina's presidential campaign. That donation is under FEC investigation. This is the Super PAC run by Robert Mercer, a Wall Street hedge fund manager.
Maybe it's all just a coincidence. Maybe Fiorina is telling the truth that now she happens to think that Ted Cruz is the best candidate running for president. Maybe she really went into that voting booth and ignored her own name on the ballot and, instead, voted for Cruz. I don't believe that but maybe you are less cynical.
In January, 2016 Fiorina appeared on Fox News with Greta van Susteren.  During that interview, Fiorina said that Ted Cruz was too divisive to beat Hillary Clinton.  She said that "he says one thing in the drawing rooms of Manhattan and another thing in the living rooms of Iowa."  Does she now think he is an honest broker?  How does a grown man get the character of truth telling in the span of a month and a half, especially in politics? 
Maybe the fix was in a long time ago.  The donation in 2015 may have brought with it some strings for the future of the campaign. Maybe she is just looking for a way to stay relevant in the fray.  She is getting face time on television again. 
Whatever the reason, it looks smarmy and desperate.  A sad ending for a once promising woman in politics.












Thursday, February 11, 2016

Carly Fiorina Defined Feminism and It Is Perfect







Republican presidential primary candidate Carly Fiorina suspended her campaign Wednesday.  As she did so, she left what is perhaps the best definition of feminism from a conservative point of view that I have ever seen on Facebook.  Here is what she said:


"To young girls and women across the country, I say: do not let others define you. Do not listen to anyone who says you have to vote a certain way or for a certain candidate because you’re a woman. That is not feminism. Feminism doesn’t shut down conversations or threaten women. It is not about ideology. It is not a weapon to wield against your political opponent. A feminist is a woman who lives the life she chooses and uses all her God-given gifts. And always remember that a leader is not born, but made. Choose leadership."


It doesn't get much better than that.


Fiorina provided a much needed female voice to the debates.  She provided the strongest voice in opposition to the Hillary Clinton candidacy. She was fierce. And the Democrats hate her.  She is everything that Hillary Clinton is not.


All conservatives should thank Carly Fiorina for her contribution to the primary.  Republican women are natural leaders and a greatly underused resource.  Let's hope that changes soon.  One candidate at a time.