What I’ve been reading…

These are very strange times. I’m not ignoring them. How could I?

Most important is to take care of yourself and your family.

What a shock, my friends say; friends who have worked all their lives; conscientiously paid their bills on time, and taught their kids to do the same. There is so much to say about that but you know exactly what I mean: the special potion that makes this country work, the magic stuff that made us the “envy” of the world.

Isn’t it mostly the Freedoms that we have enjoyed?

We will certainly know more of the “truth” soon. My visions range from something grim right out of Charles Dickens’ 19th century London, to, to, to, well, my imagination just brakes on Dickens.

(Sometimes I fear not even Harry Potter and his powerful cadre of mad magicians can put us back together again.]

The past couple of months, I’ve read several new “political” books, all published in 2008, before I heard Pres Bush make a very brief announcement on a recent Monday morning, stating that a piece of paper [the original “bailout”] had to be signed immediately, or else, he said, a lot of people were going to lose their jobs.

First I read Scott McClellan’s “What Happened: Inside the Bush White House.”

The author, the former White House Press Secretary, has written a political “tell-all” book but the real value lies in the biography. Most intriguing to me was learning that Mr. McClellan’s political mom is, or was, the Texas comptroller. His sister,  Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, may become part of President-Elect Obama’s cabinet (Homeland Security.]

Next I picked up “The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How The War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals,” by investigative journalist  Jane Mayer. She writes for the “New Yorker,” so it’s a good read.

Basically, her argument is that “terrorists” should be interrogated by the FBI instead of the CIA. Why? It has to do with the “old school” techniques practiced by the FBI, which, in the opinion of Mayer’s sources, produce cooperation without resorting to illegal physical and mental torture.

The Cuban-based American prison, Guantanamo Bay, an offspring off the CIA mentality, is not governed by traditional US criminal justice.

I am still reading “Angler,” by Barton Gellman. “Angler” is White House security’s code name for Vice President Dick Cheney. This book is riveting because Gellman, a Pulitizer Prize winner, offers up many details on how the VP operated at the White House. His Modus operendi. Cheney’s enemies tell us as much as they can.

The vice president was not a newcomer to the world of politics or the White House. He did not drop down from the sky. He served as chief of staff in the Ford administration and as Sec of Defense in the Bush, Sr. White House.

In a bureaucracy as vast, deep and wide as our government is, to have real power, you must be able to move your agenda at lightening speed. Cut out the middle-men and middle-women. Every top notch executive secretary knows the value of a cooperative contact in every sphere of work life. That was one of Cheney’s skills, the ability to cut through all the rules and regulations.

Finally, before becoming president of the United States, George W. Bush was the governor of Texas. I believe it was Scott McCllellan who said the  office of the Texas governor could be described as that of a figurehead, with the real power residing in the lieutenant governor.


P.S. I don’t know if MSNBC’s Chris Matthews knows it but he looks like he is “trying very hard” to get a job in the new adminstration.. Don’t be surprised, if in a year or two, he becomes Obama’s press secretary. Keep hammering on Palin, Chris.

I Have A Question About This Book

So far (I’m still reading): Where does the author do her research? Where does she get her experience? In my lifetime I’ve done a lot of research–but this is very “specialized” work. (If you’ve read the book, you know what I’m referring to… This lady knows her sex….)


Getting to Know the Characters in Jane Smiley’s New Book: Ten Days In The Hills

So far: Movie types, their supporting lovers, family & friends are living out a sexy movie (jealousy not allowed!) in this “you want to get to the next page” novel of ten days in a beautiful Southern California house–a lifestyle that we in Northern California have always known exists. Pulitzer Prize winning author Jane Smiley lives in N. Ca where the high tech riches and hijinks of Silicon Valley might make a good thriller but could they match the imagined and real love-making scenes that our brothers and sisters in So. Cal are accustomed to?

Oh, and…..it’s 2003 and every so often the characters remember the war in Iraq…..

Does that make sense? I love this book.


Arlington Park by Rachel Cusk


This book must have arrived in my post office box by mistake….I don’t remember ordering it, the subject matter is all wrong….but it’s a wonderfully funny (even laugh out loud) page turning short read… a novel about the queasy inner & rigid outer lives of young mothers (like the first awkward moments when they realize how much time they will be spending with their children inside the fenced playground)… and the ephiphany of one who begins to insist to herself that men (as in husbands) slowly “murder” their wives.

Very…Very….Interesting But “Next” May Make You Feel Uncomfortable…


The legal possibilities addressed in Michael Crichton’s new biotech mindstretcher called “Next” are apparently already happening even if you weren’t aware of it.

Like the bitter divorce, involving child custody…where the husband requires that his wife take a battery of DNA tests to determine if she is a fit mother….

Like the black sheep of a family who never thought her father was really her father–and when he dies in a suspicious car accident, she calls the hospital and asks that they draw samples of blood from his body for DNA testing…

Like the man who is cured of cancer and believes he is healthy when, suddenly his doctor, who doesn’t fully explain his actions, brings him back to the hospital for test after test–as well as signatures on legal documents. You’ll have to read the book to find out what happens in this twisty-turny story.

And I admire the way Crichton weaves together characters who seem to not be connected but they really are. Much of the action takes place in our own high-tech state of California–and, frankly, some of the characters may sound familiar even if you don’t recognize the name.

However, “Next” is not a legal thriller about the biotech world–it’s loaded with how, what and why people are manipulating DNA for this and that– and “Next”, which could have been named “Now”– may make you feel squeemish and uncomfortable–even when you learn there’s a “comfort” gene to take care of that problem.

Best of all, Michael Crichton is a good teacher who always keeps us up-to-date.

But what I haven’t figured out is why, when, I crack open the book, it makes so much noise. It’s a noisy book–you’ll see when you flex it.

I Finished The New Grisham Book

I’ve 0385517238-01-_SCTHUMBZZZ_V60929157__2.jpgread the first 100 pages of the new John Grisham book (The Innocent Man) and it’s riveting. There are some repetitions of information that bug me but I’m thoroughly enjoying it.

Update, Update:

Finished the book highlighting major miscarriage of justice in Oklahoma–Couldn’t put it down ’til I got to the last page…Grisham’s version–IN REVERSE–of Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood”–my opinion..

Did I tell you that I was reading B000HEW0RA-01-_BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-dp-500-arrow,TopRight,45,-64_AA240_SH20_SCLZZZZZZZ_V60537578_.jpgand just finishing it up when the controversial, activist Russian reporter (critical of Chechnya policy) Anna Politkovskaya was murdered on Putin’s birthday, or so an obituary said. She was shot, execution-style. I remembered she was mentioned in the book and looked her name up in the index–the authors said that Politkovskaya, the mother of three children, had received death threats, calling her a friend of the CIA and that she would pay.