What is going on?

No story is ever written in a vacuum. Current events. politics, changes in lifestyle, religion and health all affect an author's words. This is the blog where I will express my point of view. Some of my rants may make you think, you might disagree with others. I sincerely welcome your comments.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

If you like my blog, read my books...

Today I noticed that I have 1,647 comments on my blogs, the great majority of them compliments on my writing.  My blogging activity is dependent upon the sale of my books which cover the same subjects in fiction that the blogs cover in fact. So here it comes, the sales pitch. 

I currently have two books in print.  The first is Shattered Glass. The following is a blurb for the book:

Can love survive and be rekindled when a heart is broken like Shattered Glass?
Milo grew up in fear, hiding the fact that he was gay. Becoming a rock star with his band Shattered Glass was a dream come true. Finally lovers with Liam, the friend he’d desired since childhood, Milo worries about his image and keeping their relationship a secret.
Liam knew he loved Milo, even as a kid. But their fame and fortune can’t buy him the happiness of talking Milo out of the closet, able to freely express their love. Unfortunately, a fellow band-mate with vengeance on his mind conspires to break the lovers up in the most vicious way possible, destroying the couple’s relationship and shredding Liam’s peace of mind.
Six years later, Liam is older, wiser, and has rebuilt his life after the devastating loss of Milo and the band. Forced into a tenuous working reunion, Liam knows his heart still belongs to Milo. Working together to uncover the web of lies that pulled them apart, now all they have to do is survive the psychopath intent on silencing Liam and his music forever.
The plot includes the social and political positions that I discuss in my blogs.  The blogs are the effect of my book and if you want to understand them more throughly, read the book.  Shattered Glass is available from Captiva Press and can be bought at www.captivapress.com and from Amazon's Kindle Store at www.amazon.com.  There is also a buy link on my website www.ackatt.com, with the cover of the book and the words Click to Buy. C licking on this will bring you directly to the buy link on the publisher's website.
My second book is A Matter of Trust from XOXO Publishing. The theme of this book is trust and acceptance of who and what you are.  The following is a blurb for the book:
Donald Bear Drummond has everything, a commercial real estate empire, part ownership of Indiscreet, BDS&M club and status as a Master Dominant. Now he is looking for a special boy to share it with, but Donald is short on trust. Burned before, he is reluctant to take on just any boy. Donald wants the perfect boy, his boy. Can he find happiness with the troubled, Brian, the clumsy boy with horned rimmed glasses and a pocket protector who walks into his office and spills a bottle of Bordeaux on his Persian rug? Can he protect Brian from his enemies and well as Brian's own demons?

It's all A Matter of Trust.
The plot in A Matter of Trust tells of a different lifestyle than most of are accustomed to living.  But the world of Dominance and Submission is not all about pain.  It is about subverting your will to another because you want to please them.  It is about accepting another's complete trust and being worthy of what is given to you. A Matter of Trust can be purchased through its publisher XOXO Publishing at www.xoxopublishing.com.  There is also a direct buy link on my website, www.ackatt.com. where you can click the book cover and go to the publisher's page to buy the book.
Shattered Glass will be out in paperback in late November and again, be available from the publisher and other outlets.  I will keep you posted as to when this will occur.  Both books are relatively inexpensive and they support my blogging activities.  For those of you who enjoy my blogs, you will enjoy my books.
NEWS:  My original novel, The Sarran Plague, a menage a trois is being re-released by Captiva Press, I will keep you apprised of the progress on the new chapters, edits and release dates.
Don't forget my new show on Blog Talk Radio.  My page is www.blogtalkradio.com/ackatt. From my page you can listen to previous shows or catch the upcoming show on Thursday, November 4 at 12:00 noon Eastern, 11:00 am Central, 10:00 am Mountain and 9:00 am Pacific.  
Have a great week everyone and don't forget to VOTE!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Just Do it ---VOTE

It's Time to Vote...

Today we are talking politics and it is time for you, the electorate, to make a decision.  Now, I know quite a few of you will be sitting back in your lounge chair telling yourself that you are not going to vote because all of your choices are nasty.  Too bad.  Vote anyway. If you didn't vote in the primary elections, it is your fault that your choices are limited.  Now it time to "man up" and vote for any of the candidates who you feel can, at least, partially represent your viewpoints.

The privilege and right to vote is one of America's most cherished freedoms and like most of our freedoms it is a use it or lose it proposition.  Due to the Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United Case, major corporations have been  able to pour millions of dollars in this election cycle.  They have distracted the voter from the issues and in some cases printed outright lies.  Now it is up to you, the voter to decide whether or not corporate money rules the outcome of this election, or your vote does.  The only way you can defeat the corporate money is to vote.  Vote you conscience, vote your pocketbook.  I don't care why you vote, just do it!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Boy Scouts are no "Boy Scouts..."

The Boy Scouts are no "Boy Scouts..."

When Jon Langbert enrolled his son in the local Dallas Cub Scout Chapter of the Boy Scouts of America he told them he was gay.  "No problem" was the response he received.  Now, a few years later, he has been stripped of his uniform, yet asked to continue to perform the same service for the local Cub Scout Pack that he performed when he was awarded the shirt.

Jon performed the duty of Popcorn Colonel for the local Cub Scout pack.  As a leader, he encouraged the cubs to sell popcorn to earn gifts and gift cards in the competition to raise money for the pack and its parent organization.  Although Jon and his son, Carter, belonged to the pack for a number of years, it was only a week ago that officials from the State and National organization ordered the local pack to "defrock" Mr. Langbert.  The local pack, however, wants Mr. Langbert to retain his now, untitled, position.

All reports indicate that Mr. Langbert is a good father and performed well in his position with the Cub Scouts.  In a world where the military currently sits under judicial injunction for its DADT policy because this position actually damages the function of the armed forces by preventing the retention of experienced personnel, and laws that discriminate against the LGBT population are being challenged daily in the courts; the position of the Boy Scouts is antiquated and a blatant disregard of first amendment rights.

I am aware that the Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that the Boy Scouts were allowed as a private organization to continue their discriminatory practices, however, my points remains.  Country Clubs, restaurants and stores are not allowed to practice overt discrimination, why make an exception for the Boy Scouts?  For a country that advocates liberty and justice for all, we are very lax in putting our principles into practice.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

There was a time when...

One more US Institution falls to the politics of greed...

I'm turning sixty in January.  Despite the vagaries of age there are some benefits that accrue, such as a sense of perspective.  When I was in my teens and twenties, growing up in a small town in New Jersey, the Chamber of Commerce stirred a sense of pride in community.  The Chamber of Commerce was your town's biggest booster.  They ran festivals, parades, community charity drives and engineered the continued prosperity of the town's business district.  The members were composed of small business owners, lawyers, bankers and the presidents or CEOs of any factory or large retailer that operated within the limits of the town's borders. To be listed on the rolls of membership of your local Chamber was a source of immense pride both to the member and their family.  A member of the Chamber of Commerce was a well-respected pillar of the community charged with the responsibility of ensuring the success of local business and therefore the success of the town.  My how things have changed.

Revelations this week have astounded Americans like myself who remember the old Chamber and its charter.  The new Chamber of Commerce is a multi-national organization no longer charged with local interest, but seriously invested in the welfare of multi-national corporations to the detriment of local and United States businesses.  Recent revelations show that the Chamber solicited and accepted at least $885,000 disclosed donations from over eighty foreign corporations.  Some of the countries involved were India, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Germany, Dubai, Singapore, the Kingdom of Bahrain and Canada.  This money was to be used to promote unrestrained free trade, policies that outsource American jobs overseas to these countries.

In a world where corporate donations to political campaigns through political action committees (PACS), run in the hundreds of millions $885,000 does not seem to be a lot of money.  But, since the Chamber of Commerce and many PACs are not required to name their donors, this amount is likely to be just the tip of the international monetary iceberg that is in the process of sinking the American Political System.  Seriously, does any American citizen want their congressman, senator or President elected due to the impact of money contributed by businessmen and politicians in India, Bahrain, Israel, etc?

The Supreme Court ruled this past year in the Citizens United case that corporations had all the rights and privileges of individuals. And, there was no distinction between local US corporations and multi-national corporations in the court's decision. One effect of this ruling is that large - in some cases multi-billion dollar - corporations are encouraged to think of their ability to make political donations as equal to that of an individual US citizen.  Think millions of dollars worth of contributions versus the hundred dollar donation of the average citizen to a political campaign and all of their dollars promote their interests, not yours.

As an example, the US Chamber of Commerce is using donations from foreign countries to promote foreign interests by paying for nation-wide attack ads on political figures that stand against legislative policies that are designed to ship millions of jobs overseas.

In general, during the midterm elections, donations to Republican politicians' reelection coffers overflowed making passage of good laws that would benefit the health and welfare of United States citizens impossible to enact because those politicians are owned by their corporate friends.

Together with the Chamber of Commerce, many well placed Republican PACs are funding deadly attack ads against congressional proponents of such issues as: universal health care legislation, mine safety legislation, oil drilling lease and drilling regulation reform legislation, government services legislation which ensure and promote the well being of hundreds of millions of US citizens.

For instance, during the last thirty years of mainly Republican administrations, the US Congress quietly repealed the Glas-Stegall Act, rolled back environmental protection legislation, and loosened restrictions on oil and gas regulation.  This was all done to promote the special interests of multi-national corporate, financial, mining, and oil company profit objectives. Now, after all these years of bad legislation and rule-making, any attempt to right these policies runs straight into the jaws of the Citizens United court ruling.  Pity the Congressman or Senator who chooses to cross swords with an involved corporate interest. Now, in 2010, they face the funding realities of the current election cycle with millions of dollars in attack ads being donated to their opponent.  However, after the Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case those dollars have become virtually unlimited.  The campaign coffers of radical right wing conservative candidates have been the chief beneficiaries of both corporate and foreign influences, bought and paid for by undisclosed donors.  This, the first election since the Supreme Court decision, is floating in contributions from undisclosed donors whose agenda may not be in the best interests of United States citizens.

Finally, consider that, as Republicans stuff their reelection campaign pockets with foreign and corporate money, the average unemployment rate in this country in the United States is over nine percent.  If these Radical Conservatives win their proposed agenda, taking the country back to the Bush policies, two-hundred fifty plus million ordinary citizens will suffer greatly. Some of the prospects that loom are the elimination of minimum wage, privatization of Social Security and Medicare, removal of the remaining regulations and restrictions in such agencies as the Federal Food and Drug Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Funding initiatives such as green energy technology, stem cell research, renewal of our aging infrastructure, social programs such as unemployment, food stamps will all go under the axe.  Is this the forward direction our country should take, or is a trip back to Dickensonian England where Oliver dared to ask for more?

If you wish additional information on this blog or my books, I am debuting a fifteen minute segment on Blogtalk Radio (http://www.Blogtalkradio.com/ackatt) on Thursday, October 21 at 10:00 am Mountain Time.  In this segment I will be discussing my book, Shattered Glass, the creative process and how some of its themes relate to contemporary life.

Additionally, you could subscribe to my political blog by RSS feed at http://www.ackattspolitics.blogspot.com or to my book blog at http://www.ackattsjournal.blogspot.com.  Links to my website at http://www.ackatt.com are welcome as well as "follows" for my blog.  I have two new blog outlets at http://Blogs.FanBox.com/ShatteredGlass1, and http://www.ackatt.weebly.com.  I have also created a Ning Network at http://ackatonning.ning.com which you are invited to join.

Please remember that Shattered Glass is available from Captiva Press at www.captivapress.com and from the Kindle Store at Amazon.com.  A Matter of Trust is available from XOXO Publishing at www.XOXOpublishing.com.

Look for the re-release of my first novel, The Sarran Plague which has been re-worked and re-edited to be released by Captiva Press late fall or early winter.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

No Defense Necessary...

A List of Presidential    Accomplishments

I can't see why Democrats are running from the Congress and Presidential accomplishments of the last eighteen months.  Perhaps if we look at those accomplishments, we can see exactly how effective the Obama legislative agenda has been.

Consider the conditions under which President Obama took office.  The banks and mortgage companies were failing underneath a pile of bad debt and even worse business decisions.  The automotive industry was going under for the last time. Wall Street had devised such complicated investment instruments that even the brokers who traded and sold these instruments had no clear understanding of their worth.  We were heavily involved in two wars, one of which upon we never should have embarked.  The President promised change and a new direction, he delivered. Just consider the following (partial) list of political accomplishments:

  • TARP - This program was created by the outgoing Bush administration and supported by Republicans. It was (largely) managed by the Obama administration.  And, to date, the banks and AIG have paid back most of the money loaned to them. There may even be a profit for the taxpayers in the near future.
  • Automotive Bailout - This program was proposed by the Bush administration and enacted by the (mainly) democratic congress allied with the Obama administration.  This initiative directly saved 100s of thousands of jobs for the big three automakers plus indirectly saved millions of jobs for at the auto industry suppliers.  As a result of this program, only 18 months after its inception, GM has paid back the American public and Chrysler is on its way to a payback.  More importantly, the restructuring of both GM and Chrysler under the guidance of the Obama administration has seen both companies thriving in the highly competitive international auto market space.
  • Iraq War - Troop levels in Iraq have been drawn down to 1/3 of 2009 levels and the US mission in-country has been recast to concentrate on: Iraq troop training; providing logistics and support for the Iraq army; combating anti-terrorism operations.

  • The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – During Q1/2009, the Obama and the democratic congress crafter this (Stimulus) plan to save and/or create 3.5 million jobs.  As of October 1, 2010, the Congressional Office of Management and Budget reported that the Stimulus plan is close to meeting this objective by saving and/or creating 3.2 million jobs.     
  • Health Care – The (mainly) democratic party members of congress and the President worked ceaselessly, all through 2009, to deliver healthcare reform legislation to the American public.  The final bill wasn’t perfect, but it did close down the most blatant abuses practiced by the health insurance industry.  The reform legislation also set in place national pricing evaluation rules that will bring healthcare costs under control in the future.
The same bill enabled parents to keep their children on their health insurance policy until the age of twenty six.  It also forced insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions, lifted the ceiling for lifetime expense for an illness and provided incentives for small businesses to provide health coverage for their employees.  The legislation also moved to gradually decrease the “donut hole” in prescription coverage for seniors.
·        Wall Street Reform -- This legislation provided existing regulatory agencies with a set of laws that will foster a much healthier and more effective regulatory environment for Wall Street’s investment banking community.
·        Consumer Protection Legislation – As part of the Wall Street Reform act, congress created an independent consumer protection agency.  This agency will ensure that the design of financial products don’t threaten the well being of the consumers they are sold to.  This covers consumer loans (personal, mortgage, etc.), credit cards, bank accounts, etc.
·        Student Loan Reform – Congress passed legislation that revamped the system for distributing and managing student loans and Pell grants.  Prior to this legislation, these services were handled by banks making huge profits for not much effort on their part.  This legislative action will free up more than $60 billion over the next 10 years to be folded back into more student loans and Pell grants.
·        As part of managing the effects of the BP oil spill, the President negotiated with British Petroleum for a more than $20 billion settlement for the people of the Gulf Coast who lost income and property from the horrendous oil spill.

These and many other achievements benefited the American public despite the Republican Party's opposition and use of the Senate filibuster against each and every piece of proposed legislation.  I wonder what could be accomplished without the Republican threat to halt every piece of Progressive Legislation. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Hidden Agenda of the "New" Republican Party

Minimum Wage

Watch out! For those of you who are currently depending on minimum wage jobs to feed your families during the current economic crisis, be aware that if certain Republican candidates have their way, your wages will go well below the poverty line.

Joe Miller, Republican candidate for the Alaskan senate seat wants to eliminate minimum wage.  He has company.  Linda McMahon, the millionaire owner of the WWE and the Republican candidate for the Senate seat in Connecticut; Dino Rossi, Republican candidate in Washington State; Rand Paul, Republican candidate for the Senate from Kentucky, all agree with Mr. Miller.  With no federally set minimum wage, your take home pay could seriously diminish.

For Senior Citizens in the future, the news is just as bad.  The Republican Party has designs on your Social Security Payments.  Future Senior Citizens will have to work longer hours, in addition to a sharp raise in the retirement age.  While the trend in retirement age throughout the world is for the age of retirees to decrease, the Republican party has plans to raise the retirement age for future seniors.  As if that isn't bad enough, there are also plans afoot to privatize Social Security.  For those of you who think this is a good thing, think about what happened to your 401K during this latest economic crisis.  And, for those of you living close to the poverty line, the reduction in minimum wage and the elimination of Social Security in its present form could leave you destitute when you are no longer capable of work.

As a point of general information, Social Security does not only provide income for retirees.  The disabled and orphaned children also collect Social Security.  The Republican Party would have us return to the age of Dickensonian work houses and orphanages for the indigent.

Additional horrors also await those who do not read between the lines of the so-called Pledge to America. Women are especially at risk.  The Republican Party would seek to overturn Roe vs. Wade and make abortion illegal for even those victims of rape and incest taking away completely a woman's right to choose.  Thus making her twice a victim.

These draconian measures are only some of the tenets of the new Republican Agenda.  Unlimited campaign financing by mega corporations sits squarely as a giant roadblock to democracy.  Current regulations do not even require the disclosure of where the PAC money originates that goes into candidates war chests.  PACS with innocuous sounding names front money for corporations whose agenda is not favorable to the general public.  For example, a PAC named Citizens for Clean Energy may be a front for the same mine owners who ignored safety violations and that caused the collapse of the coal mine that killed and injured miners recently.

For those of you who are now benefiting from sections of the new health care bill, by the relaxation of restrictions on pre-existing conditions, the inclusion of children under twenty-six on the family health policy and the help small business will receive to insure their employees, be assured that this will vanish under a Republican Congress and Senate.  The propaganda war against health care reform will continue and be financed by the insurance companies who want to continue to earn obscene profits by only insuring the healthy and dropping anyone who actually uses health insurance from their rolls. Unlike the lies told by the GOP about death panels you can be assured that your mega insurance company will be dropping grannies like hot potatoes once their condition warrants expensive care.

Is this the type of America you want to sign up for, then vote Republican in November.  If not, get off your sofa and vote for your local Democratic candidates.

As always, I encourage comments.  To find out more about my ideas and opinions visit my website at www.ackatt.com.  To investigate my books look for Shattered Glass from Captiva Press at www.captivapress.com and A Matter of Trust from XOXO Publishing at www.xoxopublishing.com.  My first novel, The Sarran Plague will be re-released later this fall from Captiva Press. Additional information can be found on my blogs at www.ackattsjournal.blogspot.com, www.ackattspolitics.blogspot.com, www.thesarrans.blogspot.com.

Friday, October 1, 2010

What are we teaching our children?

Five incidents this week drew my horror and amazement.  I quote the Village Voice - Yes, quadruple horror stories have emerged as a result of homophobic bullying around the country lately, and Lambda Legal Deputy Legal Director Hayley Gorenberg had this anguished reaction to it all:

"Our hearts and sympathies are with the families and loved ones of the four young people who took their lives:

"Seth Walsh, 13 years old, of Tehachapi CA, who hanged himself; Billy Lucas, 15, of Greensburg, Indiana, who also hanged himself;
"Asher Brown, 13, of Houston, who shot himself in the head; and Tyler Clementi, a college freshman in New Jersey who apparently jumped off the George Washington Bridge after classmates allegedly violated his privacy and webcast live images of him in a sexual encounter.
"But sympathy is not enough -- we all have a responsibility to take action and to keep working until all young people are safe and respected, no matter what their sexual orientation or gender identity." 

What have we become as a nation when our children can torment their peers unto death? Where are the so-called "family values" espoused by so many?  Is it a "family value" that encourages children to rage at those who are different so that another child, a son or daughter of another family is driven to suicide to escape their violence.

Asher Brown was only thirteen years old when he hid in a closet and shot himself in the head.  Asher was a gay teen whose parents had repeatedly reported bullying of their child to both the teachers and administrators at his school to no effect.  I watched a news conference in which the parents agreed to appear in their profound grief to warn other parents of both gay and straight teens to take reports of bullying seriously.

Children who bully other children because of race, religion or sexual orientation do not get their ideas of what is right and wrong from anywhere strange.  Children, especially younger teens adopt the prejudices and stereotypes from their parents.  When parents pass on a legacy of hate to their children, they shouldn't be surprised when their children act on that hate.  In these four cases we have more than four victims.  We have the children who were bullied into suicide, their parents and we have the children who did the bullying who must live the rest of their lives with the knowledge that they are responsible for the loss of a young life, essentially co-conspirators in a murder.

The fifth case of bullying that came to light this weeks is from the University of Michigan.  I quote the Washington Post because the story is so unbelievable that it needs to be told from a respected source -

"Soon after University of Michigan students elected their first openly gay student body president this spring, a Michigan assistant attorney general started Chris Armstrong Watch, a blog to monitor the student leader's every move.
Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell, a Michigan alum, accuses Armstrong of being "a dangerous homosexual 'rights' extremist," among other things. Shirvell chronicles Armstrong's dating life, posts video taken outside the student's house, writes about Armstrong's family and follows the student's friends on Facebook. The first blog post features a photo of Armstrong overlaid with a rainbow flag and a swastika, plus the word "resign."
The state official is demanding that the student official resign. Students are demanding that the state official lose his job."
In my mind Mr. Shirvell is the type of person who would encourage his children to gay bash and perhaps cause a murder or suicide.  What gives this man the right to harass a college student who makes decent grades and contributes to his academic environment.  It is to the credit of the student, Chis Armstrong, that he has not crumbled under this harassment.  But should Mr. Shirvell be allowed to continue to torment Mr. Armstrong?  Or is the law going to wait until it becomes too much and there is a fifth tragedy?  I would like to suggest that the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) contact Mr. Armstrong and offer to help him pursue a suit against Mr. Shirvell for stalking and harassment.  A suit such as this, would bring this type of behavior into the spotlight and perhaps stop future incidents of this type of outrage.
My sincere condolences to the parents, friends and families of the dead teens, I can not even begin to imagine your pain.