Sunday, July 31, 2011


    posted by Jo Robertson
    Our visitors are very clever; many of you pointed your fingers toward the Golden Rooster, and I must admit, he's a likely thief.
    But, let's face it (whispering loudly), I don't think the chook's smart enough to pull it off.
    After much deliberation, I let my two sons decide and . . . ta dah!!! Tyler and Rand are sure the culprit is . . . WAIT FOR IT!!! . . .
    A Conspiracy of the Outside Caterers!!! The e-book download goes to DONNELL
    Donnell, send your snail addy to and when the download is available, I'll see you receive it.
    The winner of a free copy print copy of THE WATCHER by random drawing for those of you who sent me your address is . . .
    ELLIE!!! Congratulations. Your book will be going out this week.
    Thanks to everyone for playing our CSI game Saturday.
    FYI: I'll be blogging at the following sites on the corresponding dates:
    Aug 3 -- with Terri O. and Ms. Hellion
    Aug 9 -- with P.J. and the gang
    Aug 12 -- with Sia M.
    Aug 16 -- with Mason's "Thoughts in Progress"
    Aug 22 -- with Jen T.
    Aug 25 -- with Aunty Cindy
    Aug 31 -- with Donnell
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The Roué's Progress

Opinion: Why Obama Could Still Win in 2012

    You can't blame him for being smug.
    Every four years we hear the same cliche... "this is the most important election of our lifetime." But the upcoming Presidential election next year might really be the "most important" in America's history.

    I say this because there is so much on the line, that the future of our nation will be hanging in the balance.

    For the past three years President Barack Hussein Obama, D-Kenya, has totally botched his job, making every problem he inherited much worse.

    The only way you can debate this point is to completely ignore the facts. Our economy is in much worse shape today than it was when Obama first took office, and he had a clear field for the first two years with supermajoritites in both houses of Congress.

    If there was something Obama wanted and didn't get from Pelosi and Reid, then it was simply because he failed to ask for it. The President might have "inherited a mess" but he completely owns it now. He got every bill he wanted passed into law, and every single one of his initiatives has failed miserably.

    These are facts that only the most partisan left wing leg tingler could take issue with. Obama had his chance, and he blew it. He had a blank check, and he squandered his opportunity, so it is time for a real change back to competent, experienced, and more rational leadership.

    I say that 2012 election could be the last hope for America because we are truly at the crossroads.

    Even though this President has dug us into a deep hole it may not be too late to reverse the damage and bring our nation back to prosperity. It might take two more decades to undo the damage he did, and pay off some of the huge debt he has amassed for our children, but it still can be done if we get the right leadership next year. If the President gets four more years to continue his foolish "borrow, spend, and hope things get better" plan, then America is doomed.

    You see, President Obama is not a very bright man. He is a leftwing ideologue, who is simply using Keynesian policies that he doesn't understand, and that are obsolete in today's economy. Somewhere in his college days he heard some professor say "Keynesian economics pulled us out of the Great Depression" and he took this to be an absolute truth that should still work 80 years later.

    So his entire "plan" consists of borrowing huge sums of money and spending it as quickly as possible, hoping it will somehow create lots of new jobs. Unfortunately, this is 2011 and not 1931. This time, it's not working, and he refuses to change course. He wants to borrow even more and spend it. This is the typical leftwing response whenever one of their ideas fails... "the plan was good, we just failed to spend enough money on it."

    Failed President Carter debating future President Reagan
    Many people, myself included, developed a false sense of reassurance by making parallels between the upcoming election in 2012 and the election of 1980.

    We reasoned that Obama was this generation's "Jimmy Carter" and the voters will simply recognize his complete failure and replace him with a real President in 2012.

    Just like how the nation rejected Jimmy Carter in 1980 and replaced him with one of the finest Presidents in our history, Ronald Reagan.

    That thinking doesn't apply this time because too much has changed in the past 32 years:
    1. The voters have been considerably dumbed down by public schools, the media, and our changing culture. Facts don't matter as much today. They have been brainwashed into thinking our most urgent problems are global warming, having more diversity, recycling, and other progressive causes. It was no accident that our schools stopped emphasizing math. Without understanding math, you can't understand the danger of a growing national debt.
    2. Almost HALF the voters who elected Ronald Reagan in two landslides are now dead. They have been replaced by younger voters who have gone through the process described above, and the net result is a societal change in values to the extreme left. You can see this in the leftward drift in polls taken about gay marriage rights, the death penalty and abortion rights. It would have been impossible for someone with a blank resume like Obama to win in 1980. In 2008, he won easily. In 2012, he might win again.
    3. The media is now much more bitterly partisan, and they lean hard left. True, there are a very few exceptions, like Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, but fully 98% of media will spin the news to help the liberal agenda. Unlike 1980, they will not report "both sides of the story" but rather they see themselves as shills for the Liberal Democrat Socialists. They make absolutely no attempt to even appear non partisan, as they see their role as crusaders for a more progressive society.
    4. The Democrats have skillfully expanded the number of voters who don't pay taxes, and who are dependent on more government benefits. These are people whose own best interests lie in expanding government spending. So, while we see 9.2% unemployed as a terrible thing.... they see it as 9.2% who will always vote for anyone who promises another extension of unemployment benefits. This also explains why every liberal solution involves "taxing the rich." Most voters aren't rich.
    5. Thanks to uncontrolled borders, our immigrant population is much larger today. Most of these people eventually become voters, and they tend to vote for Liberal Democrats. And every President in recent memory has advocated "speeding up" the naturalization process, even by means of amnesty, to move our electorate further leftwards.
    6. Big business has "switched sides" and is now firmly in the camp of the radical left. President Obama accomplished this by giving them generous taxpayer funded bailouts, huge tax breaks and lots of new loopholes, and by relieving them of their biggest employment expense... the cost of healthcare benefits for their workers. Essentially, the President has taken this cost off the backs of huge corporations and placed it squarely on the backs of taxpayers. No wonder huge corporations love him. President Obama has made it possible for them to mismanage their businesses, and still get generous bonuses, which are often paid directly by the taxpayers!
    I'm not saying this to be an alarmist, just to lay out the challenge facing us next year. Unseating President Obama will be much more difficult than unseating Jimmy Carter, because so much else has changed. Too many powerful forces want to keep his policies in effect.

    And the GOP will not win unless they offer a CLEAR alternative. Serving up another RINO will only result in an Obama landslide.

    In a very odd way, the Democrat Party moving to the hard left has created a vacuum, and has drawn the GOP into the "soft left." There are precious few conservatives left in American politics today, and those remaining ones are routinely demonized by the media and the entertainment industry.

    The campaign is in full swing to make every conservative as unelectable as Barry Goldwater, Dan Quayle and Robert Bork. Do NOT underestimate this. They have done it before, and they can do it again. Even many in the mainstream GOP are prone to dismiss the Tea Party Movements as "kooks" and "extremists" while those might be the only people left getting it right.

    Beyonce Knowles has enough money to want higher taxes
    Don't be too encouraged by President Obama's recent slide in approval rating polls. The media will put him back on top. They have the power to influence election results, and they aren't shy about using it.

    God help us.

    I just hope we have the energy and the will to prevail, and to turn our nation back onto a sensible course.

    Because, if the ship sinks, then all the passengers will drown. Even the liberals. They just aren't smart enough to understand this.Source URL:
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On Battleship Hill

P J Harvey - In the Dark Places

First look: Balmain’s lower-priced line

Claudia Schiffer’s cashmere collection hits the web

Maharaja”s ”Tiger-Car” Rolls-Royce on auction

    The luxury Lifestyle blog (the home of luxury Lifestyle) presents Maharaja”s ”Tiger-Car” Rolls-Royce on auction.

    One of the world’s most unique Rolls-Royce adaptations is set to go under the hammer next month, with the sale of a model equipped specifically for tiger hunting.

    The 1925 Rolls-Royce New Phantom was originally commissioned by Umed Singh II of India, the Maharaja of Kotah, for use while tiger hunting.

    This led to some additions such as a mounted Howdah double-barrel shotgun, a rifle stand in the passenger compartments and a mountable Lantaka cannon.

    The model also boasts a hissing snake horn and a hidden safe, while for night-time hunting, Rolls-Royce added two powerful searchlights and a separate machine gun mounted on a matching trailer.

    The massive 8.0-litre six cylinder engine is set to a low-gearing ratio, allowing it to move through the jungles of Rajasthan.

    Tiger hunting is, of course, no longer an option for would-be owners of this beast, as the wild tiger is now one of the most threatened species on the planet and hunting is illegal in most countries.

    Bonhams, the auctioneers behind the sales, believes the model will sell for $750,000 – $1,000,000 and it is believed to have already been requested once by Indian authorities as a piece of national heritage.

    It will go under the hammer on August 18-19 at the Quail Lodge sale, a two-day event held as part of Pebble Beach Classic Car Week and Monterey Auto Week in California.

    The week culminates with the 57th Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, one of the world’s most famous classic car sales.

    Source: AFPrelaxnews

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Abu Dhabi posts record tourist results

    The luxury Lifestyle blog (the home of luxury Lifestyle) presents Abu Dhabi posts record tourist results.

    A fall in Abu Dhabi‘s hotel prices has prompted a record year for the Emirate so far, according to figures released July 27.

    The first six months of 2011 showed the best hotel results in the history of the country, with the number of visitors climbing 11 percent to just over one million.

    Authorities hope to break the two million visitor target for the first time this year.

    The figures also suggested that people are staying 13 percent longer in the country than in 2010, with the average length of a stay just under three nights.

    According to the tourist board, average room rates have fallen by 15 percent compared to the same period in 2010, making Abu Dhabi a more affordable destination than upscale competitors such as Paris, New York or Tokyo.

    That trend could also continue, with a glut of new hotels expected to open in the emirate before the year is out — a total of ten luxury five-star properties will open their doors in the coming months.

    Big names include Westin, Anantara, Hyatt, Park Hyatt, St Regis, Rocco Forte Hotel, Ritz-Carlton and Jumeirah at Etihad Towers.

    Source: AFPrelaxnews

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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Summertime and the Living Is (Not) Easy!

    posted by elfreda ica

    We've reached the end of another GREAT month in the Lair and I'm thrilled to send July out with a BANG (or is that boom?) by welcoming my good friend and Lair favorite Marie Force back for a visit. The third book in Marie's "Fatal" series, Fatal Consequences, was released this month, along with a lot of other stuff. But I'll let Marie tell you all about it:

    Greetings to the Banditas! Thank you SO much to my dear friend Aunty Cindy and the gang for having me back again to celebrate the release of my new book, Fatal Consequences. This is book 3 in my Fatal Series, which pairs D.C. homicide detective Lt. Sam Holland with U.S. Senator Nick Cappuano. The Fatal books mix romance with politics and mystery, and book 3 has plenty of all three. Here’s a brief bit about the book:

    The murder of two members of the Capitol Cleaning Service might’ve been just another homicide investigation—that is if one of them hadn’t been romantically involved with a married senator from Arizona. Lt. Sam Holland and her team are plunged into another complex case that at first seems open and shut. But as Sam tugs on the threads of the investigation she uncovers a deep, dark Washington secret that threatens the careers of some of the government’s highest-ranking officials. Racing to catch a killer before he can strike again, Sam and her fiancé, U.S. Senator Nick Cappuano, attempt to plan a wedding while her colleague Detective Tommy “Gonzo” Gonzales faces life-changing news.

    It’s fitting that I should end what has been one of the most insane months of my life with my friends at the elfreda ica. I definitely need to celebrate that July 2011 is coming to an end. Let me give you the rundown… keeping in mind that Fatal book 4, Fatal Flaw, was due yesterday.

    July began with the final day of the Romance Writers of America conference in New York City. Fatal Flaw was about half done at this point, and not going well for reasons to be discussed later. After sprinting home to spend the Fourth of July holiday with my family, I had to re-pack for a six-day trip to Atlanta for my day job’s annual meeting. Not a word got written on Flaw while my daughter and I were in Atlanta.

    Returning home, we celebrated her 16th birthday and the launch of Fatal Consequences, both on the 18th. That same day, she started driver’s ed from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. for ten straight weekdays. Oh the joy of hauling a sixteen-year-old out of bed at 5:20 a.m., in the summer, for driver’s ed. Around that same time, she got her first real job, working as a hostess in a five-star restaurant in downtown Newport, RI, which is about thirty minutes from where we live. And did I mention my son, soon-to-be 13, is attending sailing camp, also in downtown Newport, but during the day. One kid to Newport in the morning, the other kid to Newport in the afternoon and an 11 p.m. pickup for the working girl. My husband helps, but since I work from home, most of it falls on me.

    Did I mention that we are gearing up at work to move our company’s website to a new platform? To save some money, we decided to hand move all 800 pages and 10,000 linked files and images ourselves. And that started this week , the same week my book is due and the same week the quarterly magazine I edit for work is on deadline. Calgon, where are you when I need you? Thankfully, (and I never thought I’d say this), our designer is running late on the magazine, and it got bumped to next week. There is a God.

    Back to Fatal Flaw, which hung over my head like a shiny, sharp guillotine this entire month. I finished it at 9 p.m. on July 29, the day before it was due. I wrote 18,000 words in three days, and my hands feel like they’re 80 and arthritic. Thankfully, I have three faithful beta readers who were critiquing as I went, which is how we managed to discover. . .wait for it. . . a fatal flaw in the story.

    This is my 19th book, so I have somewhat of a routine by now, but nothing was working, and I didn’t have the luxury of time to blame it on the stress and chaos of my life. The writing was like pulling teeth, and I couldn’t figure out why. Then, when I was 70,000 words into the book, my betas helped me identify a major problem (aka the fatal flaw) in the story. Once I fixed that by writing five new opening chapters—something I have never done before—the writing flowed the way it normally does, giving me an ‘ah-ha’ moment: If the writing is like pulling teeth, something is wrong. Figure out what’s wrong and fix it. My editor and I have chatted about watching out what we name future books so as not to bring the bad karma to the writing.

    To say I am THRILLED that July 2011 is behind me is putting it mildly. I plan to spend August working on that website migration at work and in my free time, catching up on my TBR, lolling about on the beach and my dad’s boat, hanging with my kids and having a bunch of family and friends visit. I am sooooo ready for a break from the pressure cooker. Later in August, I plan to get to work on my fourth McCarthy book and hopefully a Christmas novella for that series. In addition, I have four other books I am preparing for publication, starting later this year: Georgia on My Mind as well as my beloved Treading Water trilogy: Treading Water, Marking Time and Starting Over, so be on the lookout for all of them soon!

    Summertime and the living is easy—or not. Which is it for you? Thanks for coming by and helping me to celebrate the end of the month from hell! I’ll give a copy of Fatal Consequences to one commenter today.

    Keep an eye out for the Sept. 5 launch of the FREE Fatal wedding novella, Fatal Destiny, in which Sam and Nick tie the knot. Until then, I’ll be at the beach!

    Enjoy the beach, Marie! Sounds like you could use a rest!

    Marie Force is the bestselling, award-winning author of the Fatal Series from Harlequin’s Carina Press. The series includes FATAL AFFAIR, FATAL JUSTICE, FATAL CONSEQUENCES and FATAL DESTINY, which is out Sept. 5. FATAL FLAW is coming in February 2012.

    Earlier this year, Marie published her popular, bestselling McCarthys of Gansett Island Series: MAID FOR LOVE, FOOL FOR LOVE and READY FOR LOVE, with more books coming soon in the series. Find out more about Marie and her books at her website:, on her blog at, where she runs the weekly Romance & Oreos Book Club, on Facebook at, and on Twitter @marieforce.
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Profiles in Stupidity: Senator Patrick Leahy

    This is the eight installment of "Profiles in Stupidity" in which we  highlight the dumbest politicians in America today.

    Patrick Leahy is the senior United States Senator from Vermont and a member of the Democratic Party.

    He is the first and only elected Democratic United States Senator in Vermont's history. He is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Leahy is the second most senior U.S. Senator, and second longest-serving Democrat in the U.S. Senate having served since 1975.

    Leahy was first elected to the Senate in 1974. then reelected in 1980, 1986, 1992, 1998, 2004, and 2010.

    Senator Patrick "Leaky Leahy" is probably best known for the time he leaked classified documents during the Iran-Contra hearings in Washington. Here are just a few highlights:
    • Leaky Leahy actually threatened to sabotage classified strategies he didn't like.
    • Leahy "inadvertently" disclosed top secret communications intercepts during a 1985 TV interview.
    • That intercept made possible the capture of the terrorist who hijacked the cruise shop Achille Lauro.
    • Leahy's leak cost the life of at least one Egyptian operative involved in the operation.
    • In July 1987, Leahy leaked secret information about Reagan's plan to topple Mulhmar Gaddhafi.
    • U.S. intelligence officials said Leahy sent a written threat to expose the operation. 
    • Weeks later, news of the secret plan turned up in the Washington Post, causing it to be aborted.
    • A year later, as the Senate was preparing to hold hearings on the Iran-Contra scandal, Leahy had to resign his Intelligence Committee post after he was caught leaking secret information to a reporter.
    He should have been indicted, tried and sentenced.

    Leahy's Iran-Contra leak was considered to be one of the most serious breaches of secrecy in the Intelligence Committee's 10-year history.
    Of course, the most famous Patrick Leahy quote wasn't said by him, but to him.

    On June 22, 2004, Leahy and Vice President Dick Cheney participated in the US Senate class photo. After the vote, Cheney was only talking to Republicans. When Leahy asked him to come over and talk to the Democrats, Cheney upbraided Leahy for the Senator's recent excoriations of Halliburton's activities in Iraq.

    At the end of the exchange, Cheney told Leahy, "Go fuck yourself."Source URL:
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P J Harvey

Anna Calvi

Mr Rat

Friday, July 29, 2011

CSI Launch in the Lair!

    by Jo Robertson

    We're not exactly having a Launch Party today. Do I hear groans and sighs of disappointment. The Banditas and their BB's are always up for a raucous event.

    Never fear! We have the usual finger foods and goodies on hand. Sven's been hard at work in the kitchen making canapes and those little barbecued sausages, as well as caviar and champagne.
    Unfortunately he's not getting the usual "help" from Lars, who's promised everyone a foot massage today. It's probably just as well since Lars tends to drop things.

    The party preparations are on temporary halt, however, because we have a serious problem in the Lair.
    Someone (andI'm not mentioning any names) stole the proof copy of Jo-Mama's debut book "The Watcher."

    In case you're confused look to the left for Evidence #1 -- the purloined book!

    Missing, MISSING, I tell you! And someone must pay!

    You might suspect the Golden Rooster carried the book off to the Land of Oz or even -- shudder -- to the "right coast." Or perhaps a Bandita Buddy from down south "appropriated" the proof prize. Not naming names, again, but I hear some of those southern gals have sticky fingers.

    In fact, our famous Chook is NOT the culprit, but the investigator. So line up the usual suspects and let the case begin!

    What? What? Oh, that's right, some naughty visitor to the Lair has stolen Jo-Mama's proof of "The Watcher." Let me see, let me see (dons his Sherlock Holmes hat and whips out his magnifying glass).

    Not I! I've been slaving in the kitchen for days (looks darkly at Lars). With NO help, I might add.

    Don't look at me (eyes Aunty Cindy's pretty colored toes greedily). I've been playing with pinkies all day.

    [Enter Gladiators Demitrius and Marcus, flashing swords.]

    What about those two?

    Not likely. They never learned to read, just a bunch of steroid-pumped hunks (looks jealously at the Gladiators).

    Say it isn't so! Reading is the foundation of civilization!

    Whatever. (Bends over, examining a dusty spot on the end table of the reading room.) Hmmmm, looks like the book was lying here.

    Good grief! How can you tell MY book was there? There are millions of Bandita books around here. (Flings her arms wildly) It IS the elfreda ica Lair, after all. Books are coming out all the time!

    I see dead people.

    What are you talking about, you crazy chook?

    Dead people! Aren't your books full of dead people?

    Well, sure, "The Watcher" is a romantic thriller, but it's not ALL about murder and mayhem. There's a very sensual love story in it. Kate and Slater have an instant connection between them, and although she's single minded to the point of annoyance, Slater's just the man to, uh . . . distract her.
    Take a look at Evidence #2 -- the back cover blurb:

    Forensic psychiatrist Kate Myers believes the killer of two teenage girls in Bigler County, California, is the same man who savagely murdered her twin sister over fifteen years ago. Working with a single-minded tenacity, she sets out to prove it.

    Deputy Ben Slater hides his personal pain behind the job, but Kate's arrival in his county knocks his world on its axis. He wants to believe her wild theory, but the idea of a serial killer with the kind of pathology she proposes is too bizarre.

    Together they work to find a killer whose roots began in a small town in Bigler county, but whose violence spread across the nation. A Janus-like killer, more monster than man, he fixates on Kate. The killer wants nothing more than to kill the "purple-eyed girl again."

    [Enter Paolo, Lucius, and the Hockey Hunks, led by Zach, all bearing trays of champagne and bottle of Coke and Pepsi -- perennial rivals in the Lair]

    (shouting at the top of his lungs) Let the festivities begin!

    (Grabbing for the champagne) Give me one of those! (sniffs loudly) I hope that nasty Ermigarde isn't going to eat all the food.

    (Stumbles about, muttering) Clues, clues, must follows the clues.

    Readers, join us in the hunt for my proof copy of "The Watcher." Who do YOU think purloined the book? One of the Banditas or Buddies? One of the Lair denizens or guests? Or someone we'd never, ever think of! Heh, heh, who's the main suspect??!!

    One clever commenter who convinces me who the guilty culprit is and WHY will receive a free download of "The Watcher" when it becomes available the end of August.

    Everyone who emails me a snail mail addy ( will receive an autographed postcard of the book cover and will be entered to win a PRINT COPY of "The Watcher."
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President Obama smashes all previous spending records

    Washington DC, Jul 29, 2011. When President Obama gets his debt ceiling deal, and he will eventually get some sort of deal from Congress, he will become the most free spending President in our nation's history.

    elfreda ica criticized former President GW Bush for his reckless spending habits, but President Obama is making President Bush look like a miser by comparison.
    Clinton was a tightwad

    When President Obama took office in Jan 2009, our national debt was just over $10 trillion. Once he gets his third debt ceiling increase, he will very likely end up with a $16.7 trillion national debt by the end of his term, which means he added $6.8 trillion to the national debt in just 4 years. Or roughly.... $1.7 trillion per year!

    In contrast, President GW Bush added $4.2 trillion to the national debt in his 8 years in office, or just over $0.5 trillion per year.

    President Clinton added only $1.4 trillion in his 8 years, or just under $0.2 trillion per year, making him a real penny pincher!

    Created 16 million jobs
    President Reagan during his 8 years in office added just $1.6 trillion to the national debt. That works out to just $0.20 trillion per year, or roughly the same debt rate that Clinton had. And Reagan created 16 million jobs, won the Cold War, liberated Eastern Europe, and enabled the reunification of Germany!

    If President Obama serves four full years in office, his impact on the national debt will be GREATER than the debt accumulated by the first 43 presidents from 1791 to 2003.

    You read that correctly. It took 43 different Presidents 213 years to accumulate $6.7 trillion in debt, and President Obama will have exceeded that amount in just 4 years.

    Now here's a real shocker.... in his 13 years in office from 1933 to 1945 President Franklin D. Roosevelt added just $.023 trillion to the national debt, or just $.0018 trillion per year! And he brought us through a Great Depression and won a World War, and built the Hoover Dam and the TVA!

    And before you tell me that the dollar was worth a lot more back then, let me adjust it for inflation for you. If we convert FDR's $18 billion a year in added debt to today's dollars, then it means FDR added the "equivalent of $300 billion a year" in debt compared to Obama's $1.7 trillion per year... IN CONSTANT DOLLARS!

    So President Obama is adding six times more each year to the national debt than President FDR did, and he still doesn't have a single shovel ready job to show for it.

    FDR spent a lot less... and got a lot more done
    Why does this make sense to anyone? Does any sensible person actually think we can go on borrowing and spending forever?

    And why is it, that whenever anyone suggests "spending less" the president will demagogue  the issue by saying "they want us to cut off Social Security and Medicare?"

    The truth is, most of President Obama's profligate spending is for political reasons. To reward his special interest groups, to buy votes from minorities, and to cover up his gross incompetence and prevent food riots.

    The President is doing what serves his political interests, even if it will destroy the nation.Source URL:
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Have a wonderful weekend.

The Madonna of Perfidy (photohunt)


Fun wine labels

Candy bars

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Just Call Me Auntie

    by Susan Sey

    My summer has been frantic.

    All summers are frantic, I know. They're billed as the height of relaxation--all hammocks & cool lemonades, campfires & fishing--and I seem to remember that experience from when I was a kid. But now that I'm a mom, I'm manufacturing summer rather than experiencing it & it's a hell of a lot busier.

    This summer, for example, one of my kids got the theatre bug so next thing I know we're committed to rehearsals from 6-9 p.m. four nights a week.

    And then there was Summer Academy for one kid. (It's an extension of the school's Gifted & Talented program, so how can a decent parent say no?) Summer Academy had us at the bus stop at 7:15 a.m. for all of June. So our day started at 6 & wrapped up at 10.

    Then there was RWA's national conference backing up to the Fourth of July weekend, and then there were houseguests. Lots and lots of houseguests. Beloved relatives, yes, but...right there in the house.

    Then my sister had a baby. And whenever one of my sisters has a baby, I load up the kids in the big green van & we drive twelve hours home to Michigan to greet the new cousin. (It happened twice last year, & once this year. I have a lot of sisters.)

    As you might imagine, I was exhausted by the time I rolled into Detroit. Really, honestly, to-the-bone exhausted.

    Then I met Lucy Abigail. (This isn't her, btw. Out of respect for my sister's privacy I found a random cute baby on the internets for your viewing pleasure.) But still, there she was. Lucy. All 6 lbs, 10 oz of fresh-out-of-the-oven miracle & I thought, "Why don't I drive home more often?"

    Seriously. That is the severity of my weakness for babies. I hadn't slept more than five hours at a pop for a month, I'd left house guests behind & would come home to another set (once more beloved relatives but still) and here I was trying to slot more travel into the schedule.

    I'll admit it. This is an addiction. I have an addiction to babies, & I will move heaven & earth to feed it. Especially if they are my sisters' babies. Holding those fragile, precious little bundles of brand new life, inhaling that new baby smell, knowing this is my blood even though I didn't have to do irreparable damage to my own ha-cha-cha to bring it into this world? It's a miracle, & it gets me every single time.

    How about you? Do you have any unreasonable addictions you'll go to any lengths to feed? Obviously mine is nieces & nephews, but I'll also cop to Diet Coke & romance novels. Your turn! Source URL:
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Miranda's Winner!

    Thanks so much for turning Miranda's visit yesterday into such a party! Wow, we sure rocked the lair!

    The winner of Miranda's wonderful THE AMOROUS EDUCATION OF CELIA SEATON is:


    Congratulations, Laurie. The book sounds delish. Please email Miranda on miranda @ mirandaneville .com (no gaps) with your snail mail details and she'll get your book out to you pronto!Source URL:
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UK: National Healthcare Begins Rationing Treatments

    London, Jul 28, 2011. In a shocking preview of what will happen in the USA, Britain has begun rationing healthcare in order to cut costs.

    Hip replacements, cataract surgery and tonsil removal are among operations now being rationed in a bid to save the NHS money.

    Two-thirds of healthcare providers in England are rationing treatments for "non-urgent" conditions as part of the drive to reduce costs in the NHS by £20bn over the next four years.

    One in three primary-care trusts (PCTs) has expanded the list of procedures it will restrict funding to in the past 12 months.
    Examples of the rationing now being used include:
    • Hip and knee replacements only being allowed where patients are in severe pain. Overweight patients will be made to lose weight before being considered for an operation.
    • Cataract operations being withheld from patients until their sight problems "substantially" affect their ability to work.
    • Patients with varicose veins only being operated on if they are suffering "chronic continuous pain", ulceration or bleeding.
    • Tonsillectomy (removing tonsils) only to be carried out in children if they have had seven bouts of tonsillitis in the previous year.
    • Grommets to improve hearing in children only being inserted in "exceptional circumstances" and after monitoring for six months.
    • Funding has also been cut in some areas for IVF treatment on the NHS.
    Doctors are known to be concerned about how the new rationing is working – and how it will affect their relationships with patients.
    And this is precisely what will happen here in the USA once President Obama's Universal Healthcare law goes into effect in 2014.

    The Obama health care law will limit what health care providers can do to save the lives of your family members. It does so by telling doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers just what diagnostic tests and medical care are considered to meet “quality and efficiency” standards.

    This applies not only for federally funded programs like Medicare, but also for health care paid for by private citizens and their nongovernmental health insurance.

    The Obama health care law can limit senior citizens’ right to use their own money to save their own life.

    It does so by eliminating an option added to Medicare due to NRLC’s persistent efforts to assure that seniors could choose health insurance whose value was not limited by what the government might pay toward it.

    State insurance exchanges will limit your right to use your own money to save your family members’ lives. It does so by denying consumers the right to choose plans offered by insurers who allow their customers to spend what state bureaucrats deem an “excessive or unjustified” amount for their health insurance.

    New “Shared Decisionmaking Resource Centers” and “Patient decision Aids” may attempt to persuade patients they’re better off without treatment.

    Although not named in the law, there is a pattern in the former state efforts to utilize group that discourage patients from choosing treatment that may be extensive or costly.Source URL:
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Do or don't: Guys with beards

    When Alex accidentally grew a beard three years ago (he had the flu), I told him he looked rugged and handsome. Surprised, he said I was the only women he'd ever known who actually liked beards. But doesn't everyone love a good scruff? I'm curious: Do you prefer guys with beards or definitely not?

    Today Alex wrote an article about what it feels like for a guy to have a beard. It was funny to hear a man's perspective! Read it here, if you'd like.

    P.S. Before and after.
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Project Runway premiere

Farage responds to Speroni and Borghezio

    This is from theUKIP site

    Nigel Farage, Leader of UKIP, today contacted Francesco Speroni, co-president of The Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD), a group in the European Parliament, to demand an immediate retraction and apology following his remarks and those of his fellow Northern League MEP Mario Borghezio.

    The comments, both made in recent radio interviews, were in response to the tragedy in Norway where seventy-six people were killed by Anders Behring Breivik. If no retraction is forthcoming then UKIP will suspend its membership of the EFD group in which it sits alongside the Italian political party.

    Borghezio, described the ideas of Breivik as "good" and "excellent". Speroni has now said he believed Borghezio's comments to be "in support of Western civilisation". UKIP totally disassociates itself from the remarks of Borghezio and Speroni. The Northern League is due to meet tomorrow (Friday) to discuss the issue. In the meantime Northern League minister, Roberto Calderoli has condemned Borghezio's remarks.

    Nigel Farage said: "I find Breivik's actions and idealogy of hatred totally repugnant. Anybody who would praise the political ideology of this mass murderer is morally and politically misguided. Consequently I have written to the leadership of the Northern League party to demand an immediate full retraction and apology. If my request is not met, then we will suspend our membership of the EFD group."

    Good. THis is not meant to be a political post as such but concerning scumbags and the response to themSource URL:
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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Going Back to Scotland with Sandy Blair!

    interview with Suzanne
    Dear Banditas and Bandit Buddies, usually the 28th of the month is my day to blog, however today, I am sharing my day and am so excited to be welcoming back my very good friend to the Lair, Sandy Blair, author of witty Highland historicals, to talk about her newest release, THE KING’S MISTRESS.

    Suz: Sandy, pull up a seat here at the bar and we’ll have a drink, Merlot for you, a Bellini Martini for me! Can you give us a brief description of THE KING’S MISTRESS?

    Sandy: Sure, and it’s so very nice to be here again. Thank you for the invitation!

    THE KING'S MISTRESS, featuring captain of the king’s guard Britt MacKinnon and identical twin Geneen Armstrong, begins one week before the real events on which this story are based--when Britt is ordered to fetch back to Edinburgh the king’s favorite paramour. Intent on protecting her pregnant twin, on making the court think she and her sister are one in the same, Geneen doesn’t tell Britt he’s escorting the wrong woman to the king. Lies build upon lies at break neck speed as readers enter the perilous world of Scotland’s early medieval court, where intrigue, murder and deception rule. To a time and place where live and loves were won and lost while Scotland’s destiny hung in the balance.

    Suz: How did you come up with the idea for this story?

    Sandy: Truthfully, I read non-fiction histories before bed in hopes of triggering my muse into a “What if…?” moment, and happened upon several confusing accounts about Alexander III’s widow following his death, his heir’s sudden (and yet to be explained) death and the resultant political chaos that followed. Thus The King’s Mistress was born.

    Suz: How are the sisters Geneen and Greer different?

    Sandy: Greer, a graceful beauty and song bird, is all about Greer. Quick to laugh and entertain, she took full advantage of her role as a lady-in-waiting, loving the attention and life found at court, but is now paying a hefty price.

    Frank in speech, Geneen’s gifts for husbandry and archery serve her well. She’s been able to keep a roof over their heads and her sister in gowns. Although equal in beauty, she’s never seen herself as such. Being the younger of the two and awkward, she has always idolizes her twin and was content to remain at their holding, tending to their cattle and crops until that dreadful day when her twin came home pregnant with the king’s bastard.

    Suz:  How does Britt react when he realizes he doesn’t have the right sister?

    Sandy: You sneaky devil. I can’t tell folks that! If I do they’ll have no reason to read the story.

    Suz: This is your first foray into e-book publishing, how have you enjoyed the process?

    Sandy: Overall, I found the process surprisingly enjoyable. I loved having input into my title and cover art. I’ll admit doing copyedits in e-format was initially intimidating but I eventually figured out the system. Best yet , my editor responds immediately to questions and maintains a Yahoo group just for her authors. Great fun!

    Suz: That's a great cover you chose for your book. Is there anything new in your life that you’d like to share your readers?

    Sandy: As a matter of fact, there is. We recently moved from hot-as-hell Texas to coastal New Hampshire, where lovely beaches, in-laws and out-laws are now only minutes away. We’re hoping their close proximity will eventually blunt the loneliness we’re experiencing missing our Dallas friends. (I can’t tell you how wonderful it was seeing so many DARA friends—and in particular Suzy--at RWA National.)

    Suz: She didn't mention the foot of snowfall every day she had this past winter, did she? Me thinks the hot-as-hell-Texas wasn't looking so bad back in January and February! 

    Sandy: Suzie, come a little closer so I can smack you!

    We’ve been in the house 4 months now, still have pictures to hang and window treatments to buy, but did manage to put in our first-ever veggie garden. When squash and beans started flowering, I, jubilant, began waxing poetic about 3-bean casseroles, zucchini loaves and stuffed tomatoes. Scott wasn’t so impressed. A dye-in-the-wool carnivore, he immediately took up surf fishing since clamming season is over. Unfortunately for him, the fish have yet to cooperate. Healthy life-style here we come.

    Below is the film trailer one of Sandy's good friends and a major fan, made for her:

    So, since Sandy has moved, where do you think we should meet for some BFF time? I'd love someplace new, exciting, (Scottish) to go visit. Sandy will be giving away a signed copy of THE KING'S MISTRESS to one commenter.
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Billionaire Booty!

    Thanks to everyone who stopped by the other day to say hello and talk about Moms, billionaires, and books. :-)

    The random winner of the first two Duke Brothers books, THE MILLIONAIRE MEETS HIS MATCH and SWEET SURRENDER, BABY SURPRISE, is . . . [drum roll!!] . . .


    Congratulations, Deb!

    Please send your snail mail address to me at and I'll ship your books out ASAP!

    Source URL:
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