Friday, June 23, 2017

Open Letter - How We Got Into This Mess and Can We Recover by Burt Hall, author of The Right-Wing Threat to Democracy







For over thirty years, World War II veteran and author Burt Hall assessed accountability in government and national security. Now, this seasoned, professional analyst delivers a tough account of what went wrong in our politics and system of government over the past two decades and what we can do about it. 

The right wing (not to be confused with Conservatism) has hijacked the Republican Party and wrecked havoc on our nation. It exploited basic flaws in our system to gain power and a series of major setbacks and a weakened democracy have followed. 

The Right-Wing Threat to Democracy lays out clearly what the basic flaws in our system are and how they can be fixed. The danger is that an ongoing shift of political power to the very wealthy and suppression of voting rights is silencing the voice of the average citizen. 

If elected officials do not fix the basic flaws, the American people have alternatives in our democracy and must take matters into their own hands.

OPEN LETTER – HOW WE GOT INTO THIS MESS AND CAN WE RECOVER

         May 17, 2017
Dear Presidents Carter, Clinton and Obama,

As Woodward and Bernstein would say, “the best obtainable version of the truth” is in the enclosed article now on a virtual book tour.  It concerns me how we lost part of our democracy, public accountability and America’s exceptionalism. There is increasing concern about external Russian interference with our democracy but not with internal Republican interference that has compromised the integrity and results of our elections for nearly three decades with devastating results.
Historically, the Democratic Party has not stood its ground against Republican assaults on our democracy to achieve a one-party system.  After owning the White House for 12 years, Republicans outraged at the loss of the presidency, began to delegitimize and obstruct performance of Democratic presidents and sought to remove one from office and force another to fail. They declared war on the Democratic Party and their win-at-any-cost strategies are detailed in the enclosure. Nevertheless, the two Democratic presidencies managed to survive the onslaught and are ranked by historians at near the top ten of U.S. presidents.
However, the damage was done – Republicans created a divided country and a dysfunctional government and by rigging our electoral system remained in control of an obstructionist House. If Republicans had accepted the people’s choice of president, the two Democratic presidents certainly would have achieved a lot more and today might be ranked near the top five of U.S. presidents.
A Republican president, sandwiched between the two Democrats, got involved in 9/11, two wars and a great depression. He and his vice-president mistakenly reversed the previous president’s priorities on balanced budgets with surpluses and on combating international terrorism. Unfortunately, both 9/11 and the two wars were avoidable based on information readily available and known to the White House at the time. In other words, a trained ape would have known what to do. Cover-ups followed the breach of national security and reckless war decisions. Neither the Democratic Party, the 9/11 Commission nor the media held Republicans accountable.
The failed Republican presidency was awarded a second term which also failed. The Republican strategy boomeranged. Instead of Republicans causing Democratic presidents to fail, their own president failed twice. As Tom Friedman of the New York Times recently said, the Republican Party “has lost its moral compass”
Republicans also employed a strategy to suppress participation of groups likely to vote Democratic and, for those who did vote, dilute their value or make them worthless. Diminishing the value of the vote was achieved by using a high-tech computer-aided method to draw distorted and partisan voting districts to elect only members of one party. Also, Republican-controlled legislatures are trying to rig future presidential electoral vote contests by using voting districts won rather than popular votes won, as we do today.
 It was these kinds of abuses of our voting rights plus low Democratic midterm turnouts that contributed to the large Republican majority in the House.  Republicans would have you believe that its majority resulted from the public’s desire to repeal Obamacare. Actually, it was derived from rigging our electoral system which the Supreme Court has yet to rule unconstitutional.
Democrats are no match for Republicans who do not play by the rules and use win-at-any- cost strategies. Republicans held Democrats accountable for things they essentially did not do and Democrats did not hold Republicans accountable for things they actually did do. The public was both misinformed and uninformed and vulnerable to choosing a president they did not deserve. By 2016, a grossly uninformed electorate frustrated with a Washington not working for them chose an outsider president. Now, the Republican Party that failed two terms is back in office and headed by someone without governmental experience.
The public must be informed on our deteriorating democracy and what can be done about it. How else can the public hold the people they elect accountable and make well-informed decisions at the ballot box? The bottom line is both parties must assume some responsibility for the current state of affairs and go above and beyond to work together and unify the nation. Should the current administration get out of control, the two parties together must take extraordinary measures to protect our nation and the American people from further devastating results.
If the two parties continue to refuse to work together in the public interest, dramatic action will be necessary. In that event, the enclosed article suggests two options to restore our democracy and deter further interference, whether by a political party or by a foreign power. One involves shutting down Senate business on Republican priorities until they agree to return powers stolen from Democrats over recent decades. This would include enacting major legislation that has been languishing for years in Congress to strengthen and protect our democracy.
The second option involves open public hearings conducted by distinguished statesmen and backed by previous presidents. You three, the media and the private sector would combine to support these public hearings. There are many moderates of both parties and independents who would be willing to participate. The public must be informed on how we got into this mess so it can assess accountability and take ownership of efforts to restore our democracy. History will have a way of repeating itself if the public is left out in the cold on how well the people they elect serve.
A third option is to combine the first two. It might be the most effective one should the current administration oppose democracy reforms. Please give it some thought. You may be our last hope.

Burt Hall
CC:  Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, Tim Kaine, Mark Warner, Tom Perez, Keith Ellison


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Interview with Raymond Floodgate, author of Life 2 the Full








Life 2 the Full is a self-help book that shows the reader how to improve health and well-being by preventing Illness from happening in the first place. This book will guide you through the elements needed to help you live your life to the full. Life 2 the Full covers such subjects as health and well-being, food, exercise for the body, and exercise for the mind. Stress is also covered in this book, including ways to eliminate it. Other topics include breathing, relaxation, meditation, money, and abundance. The goal is to help the reader achieve a life that is lived to the full. If you are struggling with your life through constant recurring illness, stress, food-related problems, or lack of purpose, Life 2 the Full will teach you how to change the life you are living now into a life that you never thought possible. The book is written in plain English, is easy to understand, and will give you an insight into how easy it is to change your life should you want to.

THE INTERVIEW

Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?

Life 2 the Full explains the reader how they can live their life to the full. I wrote this book in order to present to the reader the 5 element suggested in the book which, when practiced, will help them to live a life without illness and stress and with a mind that is focused and a body that is fit and healthy.

How did you come up with the idea?

After many years of training and studying the subject matter, I realised it was time to put this information into a book and give anyone who was interested the chance to change their life.

What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of this book?

Everything in the book has come from the lifestyle I have been living over the past forty five years I have a daily training regime that includes Tai Chi, Qigong and Meditation; any other information has come from many hours of contemplation or from my own experiences.

Can you give us a short excerpt?

Can you imagine a world, especially your world, being a place where the common cold does not exist, where all major diseases and illnesses no longer occur in the body or in the mind? In your world right now, you may be 40 or 50 or 60 or 70 years old, but still only feel 25 years old. You may notice that friends, relatives and acquaintances who are about the same age as you, are starting to take shorter steps when they walk and their back may be starting to hunch slightly but your strides are long and your back is straight, your muscles are strong and your joints are flexible. Your mind is particularly sharp and alert while those of a similar age to you are starting to dither and be forgetful. When you can be aware of the way you are in your world, and notice how others are in their world, it may concern you a little to see the people you know and love beginning to deteriorate before your eyes, you will then realise that you are now living your life to the full.

In your own experience is it hard to get a nonfiction book published today? How did you do it?

I wanted to get my book out there, so I went down the route of self publication but that also its problems. Promoting, marketing and publicising the book is extremely expensive and doesn't necessarily mean the book will become successful.





Raymond Floodgate is a certified Reiki master and teacher, a qualified practitioner of energy healing, and an energy healing teacher. He was a practitioner and instructor of Shotokan karate for twelve years but now focuses on preventing illness. To this end, he has studied Tai Chi, Qigong, and meditation.


Interview with Bob Smith and Sara Rhodes, authors of Iniquities of Gulch Fork








In the worn and tired town of Gulch Fork, Arkansas, certified nursing assistant Samantha Caminos heads to her patient Rob Dean's home and wonders how she can find common ground with the aloof, disabled Vietnam veteran who suffers from not only PTSD but also severe neuropathy caused by Agent Orange. As Samantha approaches the house, she has no idea that very soon their lives will take a new turn. Gulch Fork, a town once filled with Ozark tranquility, takes on an aura of evil when bizarre events begin to affect Rob and two other war-scarred veterans, Peter Ness and Ron Woods-Samantha's father. But when Samantha learns that two elderly couples without living relatives in the area have fallen prey to fraud and embezzlement by a man who claims to be a pastor, she sets out on a quest to piece together a complex mystery fueled by those hell-bent on taking advantage of citizens too fragile to defend themselves. In this compelling novel based on true events, three veterans seeking peace and serenity from PTSD fall victim to injustice, prompting a young health care worker to investigate the evil that has infiltrated their once peaceful Arkansas town.

THE INTERVIEW

Could you please tell us a little about your book? 

This is a book about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from two viewpoints. A) From a Vietnam veteran who spent one year in a war zone. B) From the daughter of a veteran with PTSD who’d grown up as the victim of one who suffered from PTSD.

Who or what is the inspiration behind this book? 

When a veteran and his caregiver begin discussing PTSD they find they have many experiences in common. By writing about their personal experiences it helps them understand the disorder better as well as serve as a form of therapy to improve their insight and understanding.

What cause are you most passionate about and why? 

Animal welfare. Why? Because animals are the best source of therapy for people with severe PTSD. Also, they are the purest souls.

Do you have any rituals you follow when you finish a piece of work?

No

Who has influenced you throughout your writing career?

Bob- I always loved Edgar Allan Poe Sara- Robert Frost

What are some of your long term goals? 

Bob- To see the book be a success. Sara- Continue working with people like Bob, and when his health permits maybe do another book. 



Bob Smith is a naval officer who had Agent Orange spilled on him in Vietnam and suffers from severe PTSD in addition to disabling neuropathy. After living in Spain, he returned to America and settled in the Ozarks, where he is happily pursuing his dream of writing. Sara Rhodes is a wife, mother, and certified nursing assistant who originally lived in Alaska before moving to the Ozarks with her family. Bob is her former patient whose teachings about PTSD helped her recognize her own father's battle with it. Both Bob and Sara find animals to be a great source of comfort.



Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Book Feature: Demons and Devils by Amanda Jayne Forbes








This is a compelling story about the evil that lives among us from day to day. There are many demons and devils. You may ask how one may know the difference. To most people, you may not, but I have realized from a young age that I have an exceptional ability to see through people—I mean, right through people. Sometimes it was as if they were not there at all. Then I realized this was some sort of block from that particular being. I would go, like, completely blind. It would be like a warning that this person is from what we call the dark side.


Monday, June 12, 2017

Book Feature: The Trials of Allura by Dina El Shammaa








Allura’s life is a testament to the strength and resilience of educated Middle-Eastern women in the modern age, who are railing against a life that makes little sense, with all its twists and turns. A tower of courage and energy, her enthusiasm to challenge life’s obstacles and temptations reflects some of the mind-blowing hardships various women face. Bound by passion, linked by need, Allura offers readers a better understanding of life in a cross-cultural environment, where women are wrongly perceived by the outside world as spoilt, reclusive, and vulnerable. Social constraints, family upheavals, and unexpected tragedies force Allura to stand on her two feet at a young age and make life-changing decisions, which is when her whole world begins to unravel. Join Allura on her extraordinary journey of highs and lows, humorous encounters, and fateful experiences, which transform her from a shy and sheltered teenager to a courageous, resolute, fiery, and tempestuous woman.




An author inspired by innocence, simplicity and beauty, Dina El Shammaa’s extensive writing background helps her uncover unexpected daily occurrences that affect the lives of millions of women in the region and beyond.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Interview with Dr. Patrick Mbaya, author of My Brain is Out of Control







Although Dr. Patrick Mbaya’s illness caused a lot distress and nearly took his life, the emotional symptoms of the depression he developed helped him understand and empathize with patients and how they feel when they become ill. In My Brain is Out of Control, Mbaya, fifty-five and at the peak of his career, shares a personal story of how he suffered from a brain infection in 2010 that caused loss of speech, right-sided weakness, and subsequent depression. He tells how he also dealt with the antibiotics complications of low white cell count and hepatitis. He narrates his experiences as a patient, the neurological and psychiatric complications he encountered, how he coped, and his journey to recovery. Presenting a personal perspective of Mbaya’s illness from the other side of the bed, My Brain is Out of Control, offers profound insight into battling a serious illness.

THE INTERVIEW

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

I am a medical doctor, specialising in psychiatry. I share my personal story after I suffered from a brain infection in 2010, which caused loss of speech, right sided weakness, and clinical depression. I also suffered from antibiotic complications of low white cell count, and hepatitis. I narrate my experience as a patient/doctor (on the other side of the bed), neurological, and psychiatric complications I suffered, how I coped, and my journey to recovery.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced writing it?

My illness was very traumatic to me, and nearly took my life. I found it very difficult to write down what I went through. It took me four years before, I could gather the courage to write the book.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Maybe in future.

When and why did you begin writing?

Following my serious mystery illness in 2010, I wanted to share my personal story, although it took me four years before I could do this. What I went through was very difficult for me, and for my family, and although I was writing down what I was going through during my illness, it took me four years before I was comfortable enough to share my story by writing the book. I also felt it is important for doctors to see things from the patient’s perspective, and also to give hope to people with depression or brain disorders, and their families.

What is your greatest strength as an author?

My greatest strength is that I am a medical doctor specialising in psychiatry (psychiatric physician), and I suffered from a serious brain infection causing physical, psychiatric, and antibiotic complications. I discuss the clinical conditions I suffered from, in simple, and easy to understand language. People who are not in the medical field, will be able to understand, and follow the story.

Did writing this book teach you anything?

Writing the book has been therapeutic, and has helped me try to come to terms with my illness. It has also made me understand what sort person I am, and what I need to do to make myself a better person!




Dr. Patrick Mbaya is a medical doctor specializing in psychiatry. He is a consultant psychiatrist and honorary clinical lecturer in psychiatry at the University of Manchester, United Kingdom. He has a special interest in mood and addiction disorders.



Thursday, June 8, 2017

Interview with Sondra Luger, author of Enter Venus








In ENTER VENUS the Goddess of Love comes to earth to save a marriage that’s falling apart. In the course of her magical ministrations, the art masterpieces at the magnificent Frick mansion spring to life and into action and a torrential downpour sweeps characters from a New York City street to Venice, Italy.


How did you come up with the title?

It suits this fairy tale and indicates that the goddess Venus  plays a controlling part in the story.

What is your writing environment like?
          
A comfy living room chair where I put pen to paper  and write.

What are some of the best tools available to writers? 
          
Imagination, a knowledge of human nature and a  Harvard outline (or similar).

What inspires you to write?
          
A desire to see love rule the world in general and  our lives in particular.

Did you learn anything while writing this book?
     
It reinforced my belief that love can overcome obstacles.

What is your favorite quality about yourself?
           
Compassion. I'm interested in people, why they behave as  they do.



Sondra Luger taught English in a New York City high school. Her first romantic novel, RICH, NEVER MARRIED, RICH was inspired by Jane Austen’s PRIDE & PREJUDICE, and her second, BACK FROM BORA BORA, was inspired by the business world of the young and the resilience and energy of the so-called aged. Her mysteries, DROP ME OFF IN HARLEM and MURDER ON BROADWAY, both of which feature the same female fashion model detective, are a tribute to the Roaring Twenties and to the author’s mother, who was a high fashion model. Sondra comes from an arts-oriented family with musical talent, and she has recorded a music CD with her sister, singer and songwriter Carolyn Luger. The songs were written by music icons of the twentieth century. The album is TAKING A CHANCE ON LOVE.



Monday, May 22, 2017

Book Blast: The Right-Wing Threat to Democracy by Burt Hall







For over thirty years, World War II veteran and author Burt Hall assessed accountability in government and national security. Now, this seasoned, professional analyst delivers a tough account of what went wrong in our politics and system of government over the past two decades and what we can do about it. 

The right wing (not to be confused with Conservatism) has hijacked the Republican Party and wrecked havoc on our nation. It exploited basic flaws in our system to gain power and a series of major setbacks and a weakened democracy have followed. 

The Right-Wing Threat to Democracy lays out clearly what the basic flaws in our system are and how they can be fixed. The danger is that an ongoing shift of political power to the very wealthy and suppression of voting rights is silencing the voice of the average citizen. 

If elected officials do not fix the basic flaws, the American people have alternatives in our democracy and must take matters into their own hands.




After early careers in the aircraft electronics field and as a CPA, Burt Hall joined the USGovernment Accountability Office (GAO), where he served as group director analyst on national security and other matters. For more than thirty years, he reported to Congress and testified before its committees on behalf of the GAO. Mr. Hall graduated from the Harvard Advanced Management Program and was loaned twice for two years, once to a bipartisan congressional commission and later to the Reagan White House.

With Ed Asner, who also contributed to The Right-Wing Threat to Democracy, Hall coauthored Misuse of Power. He coauthored the bestselling book, How the Experts Win at Bridge, with his wife, Lynn.