New review of Terminal Research
by Barbara Watkins – freelance reviewer
Based on a true story: "Terminal Research" by Jon Batson, should be the name you see when the credits role at the end of a suspense thriller at your local theater. This book had all the makings of a five star movie matinee. Mr. Batson takes each one of the characters and brings them to life, and the storyline glides with simplicity. Writing great dialogue is essential in forming a personal connection to the reader - Jon Batson does just that!
As the story begins, a young woman is held against her will in a mental institution. Is there a conspiracy going on here? Creator of a newsletter titled `Look Both Ways' Jack Richmond is following a lead to find the person or persons that had robbed him of his platform - burned his newsletter office to the ground and attacked his friends. Driving up Topanga Canyon Boulevard, he looks out for anyone that appeared suspicious. Jack spots a slender black woman with stunning features coming out of the nearby post office. He soon realizes its Letitia, an old friend from New York. He quickly recalls remembering how she and another friend, Jacob, had mysteriously vanished from his life. Going on a gut impulse, he decides to carefully follow her. Stopping in front of a house, Letitia gets out and goes in. Glancing at the mailbox, Jack gets the surprise of his life when he reads the inscription underneath their names, `Look Both Ways.' Could it be! Could it be his old friends were the culprits? What reasons would they have to betray their friend? On the other hand, could there be a greater work of evil going on here? Oh, you had better believe there is!
I am not going to get into the story any deeper than that. However, `Terminal Research' is most definitely a conspiracy thriller indeed - a story that will keep you thinking about what you have read long after the book is placed on the bookshelf. I highly recommend this read, and suggest to my readers they check out Mr. Batson's other literary works.
Jon Batson is the author of `Deadly Research' - `Research Triangle' - `Terminal Research' - `Murder at Thompson Bog' - Encounter in a Small Café' - `Doll Bodies' - `Nina Knows the Night' - and `The Rands Conspiracy.'
For more information about Jon Batson, visit [http://www.jonbatson.net]
Review by Barbara Watkins, Reviewer for Bookpleasures
WRITTEN BY BEVERLY K. EAKMAN
WEDNESDAY, 13 APRIL 2011 19:28
Most adults recall the iconic musical comedy, How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying. It is still a mainstay of annual high-school school plays, drama schools, and replays on classic-movie channels. The title speaks for itself, but the entertainment experience remains uproarious.
Over the past three months the Republican Party, the Tea Party and conservatives activist organizations in general (even Libertarians) have produced their own adaptation on the theme — a dark comedy that would, in any other era be funny. While the tendency in politics to criticize one’s own smacks of treason, it is time for a reality check. Joseph Curl delivered one such critique in his April 10 piece for The Washington Times just ahead of Campaign 2012. He stated, in essence, that even publicity-hound Donald Trump knows more about strategic politics than the current “sad sack” cast of characters with their hat already in the ring. Or, sort of in the ring, depending…. To wit: Newt Gingrich (“perennial benchwarmer”), Tim Pawlenty (pictured above: “’milquetoast’ is too racy an adjective”), Mike Huckabee (last go-around’s third-place finisher), Rick Santorum (“who?”), Haley Barbour (“polls at just 1 percent”), Sarah Palin (with “negatives out-matching Newt Gingrich”), Rep. Michele Bachmann (“political lightweight”). He then produces a long list of dark horses with baggage but no ideas, and miscellaneous “hotshots” who can be counted on to take potshots instead of demanding the proverbial pound of flesh.
So, the question comes up: If one were a left-leaning political tactician, how would that person best provoke a general disinclination among potential voters to support conservative candidates, be they social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, foreign-policy conservatives or even liberal-leaning voters who suddenly are having second thoughts? What would be the best method of targeting all four categories in one fell swoop in an election cycle increasingly disenchanted with a socialist-leaning, overbearing government elite inhabiting federal, state and local agencies — not to mention the judiciary, whose preferred approach to criminal justice is targeting six-year-olds rather than tending to our borders or taking violent criminals permanently off the streets?
The best strategy leftists might employ to dim enthusiasm for conservative candidates would be to encourage a policy of non-responsiveness by conservative leaders to average voters. In other words, make it standard operating procedure for conservative leaders, legislators, organizational heads and columnists to ignore letters, e-mails, or any other attempts by average citizens to communicate with them, except by proxy (which is to say, “Lost in Space”).
Such a strategy is ever easier in the Era of Blog, when people are encouraged to vent — as long as it is solely to one another — leaving anyone in a position of leadership and influence above the fray, feeling no responsibility to respond, other than to fellow colleagues and occasionally to the press.
The ubiquity of the Internet has produced a curious mix — both an expectation of “connectedness” and disinclination toward face-to-face interaction. The advent of first e-mails, then texting, mass-distribution, Twitter, and Facebook has made in-person confrontation unnecessary, yet people still expect personalization — especially an individualized response to communications, given the apparent ease with which they can be created. This result is a dilemma, entails creating multiple-choice “boilerplate” letters, one for every conceivable occasion, such that the first paragraph (usually one sentence) is tailored to leave space for the citizen’s name and issue at hand, and the rest offering feel-good pap and organizational, "canned" drivel. On-line, only names are inserted today; individuals must select from a drop-down menu of pre-selected issues.
It isn’t all that easy, of course, especially without staff. Because individuals no longer, as a rule, send snail-mail letters outlining their concerns, official offices and better-known individuals receive avalanches of daily communications via the electronic medium — more than were ever delivered by the old-style Post Office. So, while the task can be overwhelming for those without the ability to pay staff, with staff the job is not so time-consuming. Even so, the practice of non-responsiveness remains.
The means to monitor American concerns through polls and surveys is easier than ever before, making it easier for individuals who fancy themselves “famous” and “official” to ignore those who are not. Leftists are more apt to get around this problem using the faux-forum — a “packed” (and media-enriched) Town Hall meeting so as to appear interactive; whereas conservatives tend to rely on professional “handlers” to provide them a feel for “what the people want” and insulate them from the rest.
Thus do conservative leaders with an already-skewed view of constituent concerns (and their own popularity) brush off individuals who attempt to contact them — even some who head medium-to-large sized organizations in far-flung states. What they don’t realize, is that the various ignored individuals and groups increasingly are “finding” each other via the Internet — thanks to mass-dissemination lists, YouTube, “Apps” and other new means of ever-morphing electronic contact.
This problem is frustrating the conservative base at precisely the wrong time in history. It threatens to unravel any stop-gap gains made in midterm and “special” elections. Thus shielded from the hoi polloi, they work their way into becoming household names and national leaders. The list includes some conservative columnists and once-approachable organizational leaders. They wind up antagonizing the very individuals who would support them.
Of course, there are always those willing to travel in vans and busloads, stand out in the rain and chant supportive slogans just to catch a glimpse of the “powerful” — and maybe garner a few “attaboys” and “thank-you’s.” But a bevy of vans or busloads today does not energize a nation, especially in a climate of liberal-leftist media coverage. What’s more, the financially well-endowed and Type-A executives and administrators not caught up in the political rat-race are not going to be among the enthusiasts waving signs, chanting slogans and wearing plastic rain-garb.
Bottom line: Conservatives have failed to comprehend new media gimmicks. They understand the appeal of web sites and include tabs to “Contact Me,” but they do not understand what it takes to actually “connect” in that environment, nor do they care to. Instead, they’re doing what Boomers’ parents used to call “cutting off your nose to spite your face.”
Their web sites tend to place the reader/viewer into a closed-loop trap from which there is no escape — typically used for data-gathering and fund-raising letters. Many conservatives are beginning to “get it” and are expressing frustration with the practice, beginning with the demand for registration once one has clicked on “Contact Me.” Even seasoned professionals have complained of spending hours attempting to track down the addresses or phone numbers for heads of conservative organizations listed under “Contact Me.” Of course, if it’s a speaker one wants, they reach PR staff, not the organization’s head or columnist.
Examples of "unapproachable conservative leaders" are too numerous to list, but here’s a sampling: The heads of the three primary Tea Party organizations: Judson Phillips, Tea Party Nation; Amy Kremer, Tea Party Express; Mark Meckler, co-founder Tea Party Patriots. There’s the heads of supposedly media-savvy organizations like Ed Fuelner of The Heritage Foundation; Beverly LaHaye and Janet Crouse of Concerned Women for America fame; conservative columnists such as Michelle Malkin and Jeffrey Kuhner (all having become “fellows” of some prestigious organization, meaning they get a paid-for address there and their names on a roster); R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr., Editor-in-chief, The American Spectator; Jonathan Garthwaite, the ever-faceless editor-in-chef of Townhall, which boasts celebrity columnists and speakers; Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform; Minnesota Republican and Tea Party favorite, Rep. Michele Bachmann, among most other federal and state legislators and governors. A few candidates have even brushed off potentially big donors of influential organizations, such as those heading arts and cultural foundations alarmed about the downward caliber of art and entertainment, and whose contacts include even more endowed donors.
You get the picture.
What happens is that individuals who read and listen to these saner conservative voices work up a laudable go-get-’em resolve and vigor — and then find the door locked, so to speak, unable to ask so much as a simple question of their organizational directors and managers.
Time was, as late as 1986, that the late President Ronald Reagan would pen handwritten notes to struggling conservative supporters, respond extensively to their exact questions, advise them on issues within his sphere of influence, and annotate helpfully the writings of up-and-comers to suggest improvements. He had his staff send hand-written, personalized Christmas cards to someone who may merely have said something nice about him in a non-syndicated column somewhere out in the boondocks. This author should know; she received them all at one time or another between Mr. Reagan’s governorship in California and presidency in Washington, and a then-ingenue named Peggy Noonan revealed in her first book how President Reagan red-lined her early speeches for him, without any snide remarks or putdowns. By contrast (irrespective of specific political beliefs), today’s conservatives behave more like American Idol’s Simon Cowell, not the Class Act, Ronald Reagan.
There is, of course, a place for registration to qualify for posting blogs and comments — to weed out the proverbial nut-cases, the potential security threat, spam and phishing and what many call “permanent pen-pals.” This author has received them all, and so have most newspaper and magazine editors, organizational chiefs and legislators. But the fact remains that sometimes there is a really good “egg” mixed in with the rabble, that key individual who comes up with an idea or information that could change the course of a campaign or issue. But will these potentially valuable supporters be able to make personal contact and offer their wares?
Also, we have just seven months before the active campaign season begins in which to get our collective, conservative act together and turn this nation around.
If some columnists (this author included) can respond personally to some 200 e-mails a day without staff (albeit in the wee hours in many cases), leaders with staff can, and should, do better.
Many American voters are beginning to balk — in letters to the editors, in blogs (of course) and in e-mails to columnists who actually read and respond to queries. But more are noticeable by their absence — at fundraisers and rallies. This should serve as a clear warning that off-putting dismissals are not a formula for turning the encroaching American socialist-authoritarian state, which is becoming ever more entrenched.
Failure by mainstream conservative groups to heed common-sense good manners speaks to a massive cluelessness regarding political tactics and strategy. The fact is, there exists a virtual army of activists who gave up perfectly good jobs in the late 1990s and early 2000s to devote themselves to the work of turning America around and putting what little they subsequently made back into the cause. Examples include Roni Sylvester Bell, chair and former president of Land and Water USA; Ron Ewart, president of the National Association of Rural Landowners Association; Michael Shaw, president of Freedom Advocates; Mark V. Trostel, Chairman, Good Neighbor Law; Michael Coffman, president of Environmental Perspectives, Inc.; Tom DeWeese, founder and president of the American Policy Center, and hundreds more. Most are prolific writers, have produced best-selling DVDs on issues like energy, education, and "sustainable development," and several have Ph.D.s in their field. All have hundreds, if not thousands, of fans and followers who would jump at the chance to support a candidate with guts, knowledge, integrity, dedication and charisma.
Unfortunately, most of the “mainstream” conservative movement is focused only on charisma — of the loud and noisy variety — the kind that can garner $20,000 per speech, but offer primarily acerbic gibes, and little new in the way of information and ideas.
Maybe that’s why people jumped out of their seats at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) when Donald Trump took the podium. Perhaps they thought, if nothing else, that maybe “the Donald” would surround himself with outside-the-box thinkers instead of “yes-men” (and women), behave proactively, and above all, be responsive whenever the fire hits the fan — the kind that brings not just a room, but a nation, to its feet.
Trump may have missed the mark when it comes to offering sound constitutional solutions, but, as Joseph Curl observed, his strategic game plan and personal presentation might be employed by others who are closer to the constitutional bullseye, but are P.R.-challenged.
At this writing, a piece of state legislation in Maryland, HB 235, has passed the state House in Annapolis and is poised to be fast-tracked through the state Senate via the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee within a matter of days. Conveniently, there will be no public hearing on the Senate side, because there is no Senate version of the bill. This is not exactly an anomaly, but it’s not Standard Operating Procedure, either. Almost no one likes the bill, as it involves using the force of law to impose cross-dressing, "transgenderism," and a range of related behaviors in public places. As written, the bill appears designed to intimidate average citizens, most of whom, despite Maryland’s liberal bent, still lean, in practice, toward traditional values and standards.
Because HB 235 defines gender identity as “a gender-related identity or appearance of an individual, regardless of the individual’s assigned sex at birth,” the bill:
- requires Maryland employers, including government agencies, to hire, promote, and include cross-dressers in all facets of the workplace without bias, with business owners facing threats of lawsuit or punishment if, say, men cannot wear dresses to wait on customers.
- extends into public schools and day-care centers, which will be legally bound to hire cross-dressers and “transgenders,” if they apply, to teach and work with children.
- normalizes "transgenderism," cross-dressing, and related behaviors and incites activists to promote bizarre sexual conduct through diversity-training workshops targeting businesses and school assemblies.
- covers real estate transactions — further eroding the right of choice in renting or selling units and homes.
- provides for easy access by “transgenders” — and sexual predators — to restrooms in stores, restaurants, schools, day-care facilities and workplaces.
- forbids genetic testing to determine the actual sex of any employee or applicant.
It should be noted here that attempting to change one’s sex is biologically impossible, as every human cell’s chromosomes identify one as male or female. While it may be true that secondary sex characteristics occasionally get mixed up, there’s a medical term for that: birth defects. By lumping together homosexuals, exhibitionists and those with bona fide birth deformities (i.e., rare instances in which male babies are born with undersized genitalia or, at onset of puberty, breast development; and females who never menstruate), HB 235 is bureaucratic overkill.
Opponents of the bill are expected to fight it on moral and religious grounds. Advocates backing and promoting HB 235 are counting on that, because it gives them a psychological advantage. They already know that neither the U.S. Constitution nor the Bill of Rights provides any stipulation about individuals having a “right” to choose their gender or change their mind about which sex they want to be.
Moreover, undercutting traditional norms and religious beliefs are, for advocates, only spin-off returns from this bill. Proponents have a larger stake — namely, compromising property and ownership rights, thereby diverting more authority to government to regulate people’s lives. Miss this causal relationship, and taxpayers lose — twice.
The fact that there is no Senate version of the bill to debate facilitates the process of taking what is essentially a “pilot project” in Maryland from the blueprint stage to a national mandate. Passage of model legislation in one state serves as a precedent for others. Once a number of states have passed similar bills, the national/federal version is usually a slam-dunk.
That is how the “medicinal” marijuana tactic helped normalize and legitimize marijuana use; how the “civil unions” approach assured passage of same-sex “marriage” in state after state; and how psychological screening of schoolchildren under the cover of health reform made privacy violations part and parcel not only of the educational experience, but normalized interrogations, searches and seizure projects that spread to other demographics.
A prime example is the New Freedom Initiative (NFI). It blazed a trail in federalizing unpopular state initiatives. What began as survey to identify troubled schoolchildren now covers nursing-home residents, pregnant women and others. More significantly, it promotes the use of newer, more expensive antipsychotics and antidepressants as a sop to drug companies which, of course, can bankroll politicians.
Here’s how the scheme worked: A 1995 blueprint called the Texas Medication Algorithm Project (TMAP) was funded via a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation “philanthropic” grant and support from then-governor George W. Bush. While Texas was enacting the TMAP blueprint, Illinois was drafting the national legislative model: Its state legislature passed the $10 million Illinois Children's Mental Health Act creating a Children's Mental Health Partnership (ICMHP), which promptly was picked up, with a phrase changed here and there, by other states. (Such well-coordinated efforts are frequently facilitated by the Commission on Uniform State Laws.) ICMHP required the Illinois State Board of Education to develop and implement a plan that — get this! — incorporated social and emotional standards as part of mandatory Illinois Learning Standards. Social and emotional standards became the benchmarks for universal mental-health screening — the New Freedom Initiative (NFI), ostensibly an early-detection strategy.
By 2004, pre-emptive mental-health screening was ubiquitous, even though it didn't work. President George W. Bush created the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health in 2002 and instructed more than 25 federal agencies to develop a nationwide implementation plan based on the old TMAP blueprint (Read "What? Are You Crazy?" by this author). NFI was born. The U.S. Congress passed it by a large majority, making behavioral “health” a priority, with assessment of private opinions, and referrals to psychiatric services. Other states jumped on the bandwagon with their own versions of mental health screening, expecting monetary “incentives.”
Inevitably, such federal incentives to state and local entities translate to government dictating how citizens must live. As columnist and Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly stated in her March 2005 analysis of TeenScreen, an integral part of NFI aimed at youth depression, parents find themselves facing coercion and threats from school staff; permanent, stigmatizing labeling of their children; charges of child neglect for refusing privacy-invading surveys; and an avalanche of unproved, even deadly, medications.
What does this have to do with Maryland’s HB 235? Just this: The route to nationalization is following a familiar course, in the name of pre-empting discrimination in housing, education, employment and providing tax-supported social services.
In an effort to explain her support for the bill, Maryland Senator Karen Montgomery wrote to this author in an e-mail that “[t]his bill is just clarifying that it is not acceptable to discriminate against people regardless if it is a choice, part of their genetic make-up, or a ‘shifting psychological state’…. ”
So, HB 235 isn’t about disability. It is a blank check aimed at providing sexual license and, in so doing, also restricting the property rights and decision-making prerogatives of citizens who balk.
Consider: Most people with embarrassing medical conditions do not wear a sign announcing their ailments. An individual with migraine headaches or kidney disease may approach a potential employer with the caveat: “I get migraines and occasionally need to lie down,” or “my kidney condition requires dialysis at specified times. But I'm good at what I do; please hire me anyway." If the job-seeker’s credentials and background are otherwise solid, many employers would go the extra mile.
If, on the other hand, a job-seeker approaches an employer (or an apartment owner) loudly announcing his or her sexual proclivities, then that candidate is a provocateur. In an era when special keys or codes are required to enter an office restroom and abductions and sexual murders by deviants are almost daily news, accommodating exhibitionists is counterproductive — unless, of course, there is another agenda entirely, one that utilizes sexual license as a side-show to divert attention from ulterior motives.
Let’s hope Marylanders see through this one before HB 235 goes from state model to federal law. Right now, most of the advocacy seems to be on the side of the bill’s proponents, while its real originators sit back and watch outraged traditionalists miss the larger issue — again.
My wife woke me up for Face the Nation this morning. She does that. She knows I like the show. I hate that it is on at the same time as Meet the Press, as I'd like to see both shows. Getting a fair and balanced view of what is happening in my state, my country, my world, is near impossible, with so many opposing sound bites out there.
By the time I had a cup of coffee and was focused on the guest speaker, Harry Reid, D – Nev, Senate Majority Leader, the question on the table was “Will the government shut down at the end of the week?” It was a question he did not answer. Instead he sang the same old song: Oh, the poor children! Oh, the poor vets! Oh, all our favorite causes!
The senator hit the high notes right on cue: “We're going to have to cut Helping Hand, all the aid to orphaned children and homeless veterans.” Every time someone brings up actually running the government on a budget, out come the widows and orphans, the homeless vets. Next comes the police, fire and education. (See my earlier blog on balancing the budget.)
What, does Senator Reid say, is causing the difficulty? It's the Republicans and the Tea Party causing all the trouble. Congress is afraid of the Tea Party, when there aren't any members around. Sn. Reid says that at the last rally, “there weren't thousands, there weren't hundreds, there were tens...”
We're talking about 12% of the budget, right? So what about the hundreds of redundant government agencies and top heavy bureaucracy? There are more people in the Department of Agriculture than there are farmers. If you go in with a paring knife and carve out some of the fat and waste in the government, you will find that we can run the country on a budget.
Going for the heart, lungs and brain as the first to go when cutting out fat is insane. Let's get rid of the crazy people and put someone sane in the government.
Then came Lindsey Graham, R – South Carolina, who brought up another ghastly waste of government funds, the proposed State Department Army.
Our choices seem to be, in Libya and other countries, 1) putting soldiers there for years and years, 2) arming the rebels or 3) putting a State Department Army there for years and years (see option 1 – only more expensive.)
Remember that we poured money into Libya for the current regime to stay in power. Now we should pour more in to oust him and put in another government? The rebels we arm today will be the enemy we fight tomorrow – and they will be armed with our guns. We have squandered American taxpayers' money giving it to other countries and now we are throwing good money after bad in expensive “Police Actions” which will be followed by expensive rebuilding. The United States is the only country in the history of the world that rebuilds a country after it destroys it. How stupid are we?
Teddy Roosevelt, a Democrat, gave us the Big Stick. We should , as Senator Graham has suggested, take the fight to the leaders, sitting fat and happy in their stronghold, and end this thing. Then let them rebuild without us. It will be a lesson to the rest of the world: “Mess with us and we leave you broken.”
Arm the rebels? No! Build a State Department Army to hemorrhage money onto foreign soil? No! Take the fight to Gadhafi and his crew? Yes – and then stop sending our money overseas, we have need of it here. You want to rebuild something? Rebuild New Orleans.
When there is a bully in the neighborhood, you take him out and then you go home. You do not then become the next bully. And when there is a household budget to trim, to make it fit within your income, you do not cut the buying of food, clothing and shelter first.
It has been a song heard too long by government voices, all chanting in unison: if you want to cut the budget, the first things to go will be the fire department, police department and education – then all your favorite charitable agencies. Oh, weep for the widows, orphans and homeless vets. They are the chorus of the old familiar song. What is missing from the song is the billions showered on the Middle East and countries that want us dead.