Friday, September 30, 2011

Jonathan Turley: Obama Is Worst President Ever On Civil Liberties

Speaking of President Obama's unprecedented order of the targeted killing of U.S. citizens, Jonathan Turley weighs in (before today's report of the successful Obama-ordered due-process-free assassination of 2 U.S. citizens) on President Obama's status as "the most disastrous president in our history in terms of civil liberties:"

One man is primarily responsible for the disappearance of civil liberties from the national debate, and he is Barack Obama. While many are reluctant to admit it, Obama has proved a disaster not just for specific civil liberties but the civil liberties cause in the United States.

Obama failed to close Guantanamo Bay as promised. He continued warrantless surveillance and military tribunals that denied defendants basic rights. He asserted the right to kill U.S. citizens he views as terrorists. His administration has fought to block dozens of public-interest lawsuits challenging privacy violations and presidential abuses.

But perhaps the biggest blow to civil liberties is what he has done to the movement itself. It has quieted to a whisper, muted by the power of Obama's personality and his symbolic importance as the first black president as well as the liberal who replaced Bush. .. It's almost a classic case of the Stockholm syndrome, in which a hostage bonds with his captor despite the obvious threat to his existence. Even though many Democrats admit in private that they are shocked by Obama's position on civil liberties, they are incapable of opposing him. . It looks more like a cult of personality. Obama's policies have become secondary to his persona.

For many civil libertarians, it will be virtually impossible to vote for someone who has flagrantly ignored the Convention Against Torture or its underlying Nuremberg Principles. . . In time, the election of Barack Obama may stand as one of the single most devastating events in our history for civil liberties. Now the president has begun campaigning for a second term. He will again be selling himself more than his policies, but he is likely to find many civil libertarians who simply are not buying.

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Romney's Position On Abortion: Multiple Choice (Video)

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street

Glenn Greenwald: What's behind the scorn for the Wall Street protests?

Firedoglake Kevin Gosztola: Why Establishment Media & the Power Elite Loathe Occupy Wall Street

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Trust In US Government Falls To 15%

Distrust in government is damn close to unanimous:

The public's trust in the federal government has dropped to an all-time low, according to a new national survey.

A CNN/ORC International Poll released Wednesday morning indicates that only 15 percent of Americans say they trust the government in Washington to do what's right just about always or most of the time. Last September that figure was at 25 percent. Seventy-seven percent of people questioned say they trust the federal government only some of the time, and an additional eight percent volunteer that they never trust the government to do what's right. . [A]mong Democrats, more than two-thirds say they rarely trust the government."

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Texas Guinan – Queen of the Night Clubs

“Hello Suckers!” was the regular greeting of the tall, leggy, blonde dripping jewels as the demimonde of New York society crowded into the smoky speakeasy, rubbing shoulders with the criminal class. In the 1920’s Texas Guinan ruled the night, the undisputed Queen of the Night Clubs. A wisecracking, besequined, outrageous dame, who became an exuberant symbol of the Roaring Twenties, as well known as Babe Ruth, Charlie Chaplin and Lucky Lindy. She was extravagant and frivolous, with a heart as large as the state she hailed from. Notorious for her ability to slither through the cracks on nuisance charges, Tex was the best known and loved hostess on the Great White Way, the Toast of Times Square. She was a bundle of contradictions: a good “bad woman” who hung out with gangsters and illegal booze, but who still lived at home with her parents who she supported to the end of her life. She was also a loyal friend who never forgot the people who helped her on the way up, a lover of antiques, and a voracious reader who read a book a day.

Texas was shameless in her quest for publicity during her career. She was one of the first celebrities to endorse a weight-loss product, and during her nightclub years, she once staged her own suicide to just to promote a new club. During her years in the spotlight, she fed a gullible press tall tales about a youth spent riding broncos on a 50,000 acre ranch, running off with a Wild West Show, and entertaining the troops during World War I earning herself a medal from the French, all of it pure bunkum. But Texas never let the truth get in the way of a good story. As far as she was concerned, as long as they were talking about her, who cares what they said? Not that the truth was any less boring.

They say that everything is larger in Texas and Mary Louise Cecilia Guinan was proof of that. She was born in Waco, Texas in 1884, and educated in Catholic schools. Waco was not the dusty cow town that Tex portrayed in her memoirs. Not only did it have electric lights but a little soft drink called Dr. Pepper put the town on the map the year after she was born. From childhood, she was a tomboy, more prone to playing pranks then playing with dolls. An exhibitionist, she delighted in thumbing her nose at the conventions of the day, walking through the red light district, telling her friends where babies came from. Her father Mike was risk taker, concocting shaky business deals. There were years of fortune in the Guinan household and years of poverty. Texas learned from an early age that a man couldn’t be relied on for support.

Texas started acting at the age of sixteen, and after a brief detour into marriage, she made the move to the Big Apple in 1906. It was love at first sight. Although Texas had only a modest talent as a singer and a dancer, she made up for it with sheer chutzpah. She quickly found work in a few Broadway musicals, where she became known for her acerbic wit, but she spent most of her time touring the country in various vaudeville shows. While she didn’t spend time in the trenches in World War I, she did do time in Hollywood, starring “The Gun Woman” and “Fuel of Life” becoming the first female Western star. She eventually made 36 mostly B-movies, although she later inflated that number to 300. Although she never married again, Texas had several beaux over the years. She preferred however to remain independent. “It’s having the same man around the house all the time that ruins matrimony,” she once wisecracked.

Prohibition was the apex of Texas’ career as it was for the various mobsters who saw the 18th amendment as a chance to make some serious dough, bootlegging liquor from Canada and Europe. Despite the law, people weren’t about to stop drinking. By 1922, Tex was looking for a new career, tired as she put it of “kissing horses in horse operas.” One night, she showed up a party at the Beaux Arts Café on West 40th Street, a high class joint where anyone who was anyone was there. The party was desperately dull so someone asked Texas to sing. She willingly obliged. “First thing you know we were all doing things. Everybody had a great time.” Getting people to “do things,” soon became her life’s work.

Soon she was lured away to work at the King Cole Room at the Knickerbocker Hotel on 42nd Street. The King Cole room was seriously swanky; celebrities such as Rudolph Valentino, and John Barrymore were known to frequent the hotel. But Texas didn’t just want to be the hostess with the mostest, she wanted a cut of the action and that is what she got when she hooked up with Larry Fay, an ex-cabbie turned nightclub owner with serious mob connections. Fay hired her at the El Fay Club on West 45th Street, where she presided from a ringside table, cracking wise with performers and customers. Fay gave her a cut of the profits, hired a sexy chorus line, and allowed her free rein. Texas now had a setting that she liked. Her years in the theatre and films stood her in good stead, she knew how to entertain an audience, how to make them laugh. She was the life of the party, the ringmaster, emptying the wallets of her customers without even trying. Her secret was the best booze, the sexiest chorus girls (including a young Ruby Keeler and the future playwright and congresswoman Clare Booth Luce), and her penchant for skewering her customers with her wit, and making them like it. Ironically for someone who spent most of her time cajoling customers to pay as much as $25 for a fifth of Scotch, she never touched a drop of alcohol herself.

Customers flocked to the El Fay and her other clubs, not just the hoi polloi, but millionaires and mobsters rubbed elbows with politicians and athletes, well-heeled Wall Streets and college co-eds vied to get in to empty their wallets into Fay and Guinan’s pockets. Gossip columnist such as Walter Winchell, Ed Sullivan and Mark Hellinger came with pencils poised to dig the dirt for hungry tabloid readers. Several newspapers kept a standing table at the club, with a reporter on deck every night. Her club was said to be a news source as essential as the courthouse or the city jail.

Wrapped in ermine, armed with a clapper and a police whistle, Texas held court night after night, insulting her customers and making them love it. “Hello sucker,” became a common phrase as did her introduction as a performer walked on the stage, “Give the lil’ girl a great big hand.” On another night, an inebriated customer allegedly began handing out $50 bills. When Texas asked what he did to be able to throw money around, he replied that he was in dairy produce. Without missing a beat, Texas exhorted the audience to “Give a big hand for the big butter and egg man.” Playwright George S. Kaufman lifted her line to use as the title of his play “The Butter and Egg Man.”

The money poured in, in one 10 month period Texas and Fay netted something like $700,000 which is over $6M in today’s money. While it seems like a great deal money, Fay and Texas were also paying bribes to cops and other law enforcement officials. That didn’t keep them from raiding the place. But even getting arrested seemed to bolster her reputation. She made front page news every time. “I like your cute little jail,” she cooed after a night in the West 30th Street joint, “I don’t’ know when my jewels have seemed so safe.” Inevitably Texas was released. As soon as one club closed, Texas and Fay opened another one. They opened the Texas Guinan Club on West 48th, when police padlocked that one, they simply moved back to the El Fay Club space.

Texas finally went out on her own, opening the 300 Club on West 54th Street. Fay was not happy about losing his meal ticket, of course he threatened her, but Texas had a powerful new friend in her corner, gangster Owney Madden. She hired some goons, and bought a heavily armored car. Fay wisely backed down and offered his best wishes on her future success. And a success it was, the 300 Club was a smash from the beginning. But the cops wouldn’t leave Texas alone. There was a new sheriff in town, the incorruptible U.S. Attorney Emory R. Buckner, and Texas was in the sights of Prohibition enforcement. In 1927, police raided the 300 Club. By now, Texas was used to the drill. She ordered the band to play the “Prisoner’s Song” as she was hauled off to jail. Paraphrasing one of her most famous lines, a detective quipped, “Give the little girl a big handcuff.” At the police station, Texas entertained a horde of entertainment reporters, prisoners, police and federal agents with several renditions of the “Prisoner’s Song,” during the nine hours that she was behind bars.

Long before the stock market crash in 1929 that ended the good times, Texas was going out of style. She produced a mediocre revue The Padlocks of 1927 that bombed. Trying to revive her movie career, she starred in several movies that also flopped. Texas tried her best, as she quipped “An indiscretion a day keeps the Depression away,” but it was a losing battle. In 1931, she took a troupe to France but was sent packing by the French government. It wasn’t that she was too immoral for the country that gave the world the Can-Can, the Apache Dance, and the Follies Bergeres, but in the hard economic times, she was competing with French performers for audience dollars.

Always with an eye open for publicity, she changed the name of the revue to “Too Hot for Paris,” touring the country from city to city, always on the move. Her career had no come full-circle. By 1933, the late nights and the road finally caught up to Texas Guinan. She suffered an attack of ulcerative colitis. After emergency surgery that failed, she died at the age of 49 in November of 1933 in Vancouver, Canada. On her deathbed, she said, “I would rather have a square inch of New York than all the rest of the world.”

Texas once joked that she wanted her funeral to be a nightclub wake, with a motorcycle escort, and boys singing songs on the way to the cemetery. 12,000 people showed up to her funeral, at the same funeral chapel that had held Rudolph Valentino's services. The New York Times Herald wrote “She was a master showman, and accomplished psychologist….she had the ability too, and would have been successful in any one of a dozen more conventional fields. To New York and the rest of the country Texas was a flaming leader of a period which was a lot of fun while it lasted.” Guinan was laid to rest in Calvary Cemetery, Queens, New York. A month to the day after her death Prohibition was repealed.


Texas Guinan: Queen of the Nightclubs by Louise Berliner

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sarah Palin Threatens to Sue McGinniss for 'The Rogue'

When even liberal stars Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann snub a book that attacks Sarah Palin, something is definitely up. Something like a book full of unsubstantiated gossip. No wonder Sarah Palin is threatening to sue.

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Health Insurance Mandate Appears Headed to Supreme Court

Like all this county needs is more drama. The upcoming presidential election may get the extra tension of a Supreme Court decision on the health insurance mandate:

The constitutionality of the 2010 health-care law will likely be determined by the Supreme Court this term, meaning the decision could come next summer in the thick of the 2012 presidential campaign.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Ask Stacy Schiff Anything

I was lucky enough to get to see Stacy Schiff (author of Cleopatra: A Life) interviewed by Amanda Foreman (author of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire) at the New York Public Library on Friday. Unfortunately they haven't put up the video yet but Alison at sent me this video which I wanted to share with you.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Scandalous Advanced Book Review: India Black and the Window of Windsor

•Author: Carol K. Carr
•Title: India Black and the Widow of Windsor
•Pub. Date: October 2011
•Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
•Format: Paperback, 304pp


India Black is back-Her Majesty's favorite spy is off to Scotland in this new adventure to ensure the Queen doesn't end up getting killed.

When Queen Victoria attends a séance, the spirit of her departed husband, Prince Albert, insists she spend Christmas at their Scottish home in Balmoral. Prime Minister Disraeli suspects the Scottish nationalists plan to assassinate the Queen-and send the ever resourceful India and the handsome British spy, French, to the Scottish highlands.

French will take the high road, looking for a traitor among the guests-and India will take the low road, disguised as a servant in case an assassin is hiding among the household staff. India is certain that someone at Balmoral is determined to make this Her Majesty's last Christmas...

My thoughts:

It’s no secret that I can became an instant fan of Carol K. Carr’s new series India Black after the first book was published back in January. Her latest, INDIA BLACK AND THE WIDOW OF WINDSOR, does not disappoint. In her new adventure, India must leave her beloved London and her business to go undercover as a maid to one of the guests in the royal party. She is assigned to work as a lady's maid to an eccentric and cranky marchioness with a nicotine addiction and a penchant for inhaling any powder that's in the vicinity. What I love about this series is that India is irreverent, sarcastic, feisty and independent. She has her hands full in this novel fending off the grabby hands of that middle-aged lecher the Prince of Wales, all the while trying to smoke out who the brains is behind the plot to kill the Queen.

India is completely out of her depth as a lady’s maid, and it’s a great deal of fun to watch her having to constantly bite her lip to keep from saying what she’s really thinking. India’s relationship with the Marchioness is a hoot and a half, talk about a super couple in the making! The two of them are like Laurel and Hardy, Lucy and Ethel, George Burns and Gracie Allen, name your own comedic duo. Her relationship with French is still on a very slow burner which I actually prefer, I’m not sure that India needs a love interest, although I look forward to finding out more about French as the series continues. The mystery is almost beside the point, I was having such a good time reading about the goings on at Balmoral, and India’s observations, that at times I forgot exactly what is was that she was there for. That’s not a criticism of the mystery per se; it was wonderful to see a story that dealt with Scottish nationalists for a change. When the culprit is finally revealed, this reader was stunned. I had completely gotten it wrong, which is the mark of a good mystery novel! In this novel, the reader is really let it on the limitations and lack of knowledge that India operates under compared to someone like the handsome French, who is more comfortable amongst the aristocracy.

Carr clearly knows the Victorian era very well, the book is filled with wonderful details, about what life was like below stairs, particularly in the royal household with the divisions between her Majesty’s Scottish and Indian servants. I have one quibble with the book, I wonder if the proper address for the Queen would have been ‘Your Majesty’ as opposed to just ‘Your Highness.’

Carr drops hints in the book as to what future mysteries India might be involved in, including one involving her mother. Here’s hoping that there will be more India Black adventures, I’m particularly interested in seeing what she might have gotten up to with the Zulu.

You can find out more information about India Black and author Carol K. Carr at her web-site.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) Is Over! (VIDEO)

Last night, Rachel Maddow covered the end of a shameful era in American history:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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Caption This!

Embarrassing. In a group photo with world leaders, U.S. President Barack Obama becomes the center of attention by waving and blocking the face of the world leader (the president of Mongolia?) standing at his side.

UPDATE: [No, it wasn't photoshopped, unfortunately. Besides the above link, this photo was also seen at MSNBC and then traced back to Getty Images.]

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Elizabeth Warren Leads Scott Brown 46 - 44

Wow. Stand back and watch this woman rise:

Elizabeth Warren has had an incredibly successful launch to her Senate campaign and actually leads Scott Brown now by a 46-44 margin, erasing what was a 15 point deficit the last time we polled the state in early June. Warren's gone from 38% name recognition to 62% over the last three months and she's made a good first impression on pretty much everyone who's developed an opinion about her during that period of time.

UPDATE: Elizabeth Warren is the kind of liberal leader we haven't seen in a very long time. Watch her!:

Video via Big Tent Dem

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White House Denies That A White House Dominated by Misogynists Could Be Sexist

The White House and its friends continue to deny that a White House dominated by known misogynists Larry Summers and Rahm Emanuel could possibly turn out to be 'a hostile workplace for women.'

Meanwhile the Washington Post reveals that author Ron Suskind played the tape of the disputed comments to a Washington Post reporter. The tape included this from Anita Dunn:

“I remember once I told Valerie that, I said if it weren’t for the president, this place would be in court for a hostile workplace. Because it actually fit all of the classic legal requirements for a genuinely hostile workplace to women.”

Known misogynists Larry Summers and Rahm Emanuel may be gone from the White House, but misogynists certainly are not:

Quote of the Day: Geithner Disses Romer's Value

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Book: President Obama Has A Woman Problem; White House Is A Boys' Club

Here's a surprise. According to a new book - by journalist Ron Suskind - the White House is a boys' club! The White House is a "hostile workplace" for women.

In that hostile boys' club, women are routinely ignored and excluded. Wow. Who could have ever predicted such a thing?

The author names names in “Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President:”

In an excerpt obtained by The Post, a female senior aide to President Obama called the White House a hostile environment for women.

“This place would be in court for a hostile workplace,” former White House communications director Anita Dunn is quoted as saying. “Because it actually fit all of the classic legal requirements for a genuinely hostile workplace to women.” . .

“I felt like a piece of meat,” Christina Romer, former head of the Council of Economic Advisers, said of one meeting in which Suskind writes she was “boxed out” by Summers.

“The president has a real woman problem,” an unnamed high-ranking female official told Suskind. “ The idea of the boys’ club being just Larry and Rahm isn’t really fair. He [Obama] was just as responsible himself.” . . According to the book, female staffers, like Dunn and Romer, felt sidelined. In November 2009, female aides complained to the president about being left out of meetings, or ignored. . .

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Hillary's Popularity Soars

Pollsters call her "the most popular national political figure in America today," but she's still not running for president. America had its chance and blew it. Unless, of course, Obama decides to refrain from seeking a second term.

Buyers remorse continues to grow:

Nearly two-thirds of Americans hold a favorable view of her and one-third are suffering a form of buyer’s remorse, saying the U.S. would be better off now if she had become president in 2008 instead of Barack Obama.

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Rash of TV Shows Revisit Overt Brutal Sexism of Yesteryear

Done right, shows like Pan Am and Playboy Bunny could be a sorely needed education for girls and women too young to remember the bad old days:

“Pan Am,” set in 1963 when the airline was a symbol of progress and cosmopolitan savoir faire, has a “Mad Men” gloss: lush cinematography and Buddy Greco singing “Around the World.”

One of the executive producers is Nancy Hult Ganis, a former Pan Am flight attendant, who relied on her own experiences. One of the earliest scenes shows the airline’s mandatory weigh-in and a sour-faced matron slapping one of her charge’s fanny to make sure her girdle is on.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

New York Times Book Review Slams "The Rogue": Sarah Palin Could See This Guy From Her House

Joe McGinniss, the guy who moved in next door to Sarah Palin so that he could stalk her family and author a gossip-ridden book about her, has done just that in "The Rogue." If you've been listening to the stalker-authored soundbites coming from cable news, you've heard dirt worthy of the National Enquirer.

But from the New York Times book review, we learn that the stalker's book "The Rogue" is a "nasty" and "petty" screed that is filled with anonymously-sourced, illogical and "unsubstantiated gossip."

Funny, the little details the cable news channels forget to tell you.

Sarah Palin Could See This Guy From Her House:

Mr. McGinniss explains that he was shocked, just shocked, at the angry response his presence in Wasilla provoked. But “The Rogue” makes the Palins’ widely publicized anger understandable, even to readers who might have defended his right to set up shop in their neighborhood and soak up the local color. Although most of “The Rogue” is dated, petty and easily available to anyone with Internet access, Mr. McGinniss used his time in Alaska to chase caustic, unsubstantiated gossip about the Palins, often from unnamed sources like “one resident” and “a friend.”

. . . Mr. McGinniss’s most quotable, inflammatory lines call Ms. Palin a clown, a nitwit, a rabid wolf and a lap dancer — and those aren’t the parts that assail her as a wife and parent. . . “The Rogue” is too busy being nasty to be lucid. Mr. McGinniss suggests both that Ms. Palin is committed to stealth religious control of government, and that she is not sufficiently devout.

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Title: The Painted Lady
Author: Maeve Haran
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Pan (19 Aug 2011)


'This is my tale and I will leave you to tell whether it be high romance or tragedy.’

Sixteen-year-old Frances Stuart arrives at the Restoration court to find her innocence and beauty are highly-prized commodities, envied by the women and desired by the men. Before long, King Charles II falls passionately in love with her and will stop at nothing to make her his mistress.

But Frances is no conventional court beauty. She is determined to make her own choices in life, and to be with the man she loves. Can she overcome the dangerous pitfalls of the King’s obsession, the Queen’s jealousy, and the traps set for her by the King’s notorious mistresses, and make the life she wants for herself?

Set against the drama of the Great Plague and the Fire of London, The Painted Lady brings to life the vibrant and decadent court of Charles II and in Frances Stuart discovers a passionate young woman prepared to fight for her own destiny.

Frances Stuart, Duchess of Richmond, painted by Sir Peter Lely

My thoughts: King meets girl, King loves girl, King doesn't get girl.  If you change the last sentence it would the story of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, but no this is the story of the one woman who got away from Charles II, the one woman who didn't succumb to his charms, who held out, not for marriage but because she was in love with someone else. Maeve Haran's new book The Painted Lady (published in Britain by Pan Books, thanks to Daphne at Tanzanites Castle Full of Books for alerting me to the book), features a tale as old as time but with fascinating twist.

I'm a sucker for any book set at the Court of Charles II.  Perhaps it's all those Restoration plays that I read in theatre history in college or performed during my acting career, but I adore the licentiousness of the period. It's like Restoration Dynasty, everything is about money, sex and power but it was also a great period in English literature, particularly the stage which had been dormant during the years Cromwell was in power.  All those repressed desires, well not in the case of Charles II who could have used a chastity belt!

The book opens in 1659 when Frances and her family are in exile at the court of Louis XIV, waiting hopefully for the moment when Charles will be restored. It is in France that Frances first makes the acquaintance of the King, but it is not unil 4 years later, that the story really begins.  Frances has been sent to take up a post as a Maid of Honor to Queen Catherine who is just about to arrive in England.  No sooner does she arrive at court when the King spies her beauty and falls madly in love with her. What follows is 400 pages of will she or won't she? It sounds like it would be tedious but surprisingly it isn't.  In Haran's skillful hands, Frances is no goody two shoes holding out for a crown or clutching her virtue with two hands.  She's a romantic girl, also a bit childish (she loves to build castles out of playing cards and to play Blind Man's bluff) but Frances  is also sensible, independent and spunky, at home wearing breeches or a pretty ball gown. She yearns after years abroad to have her own home. Can't fault a girl for that!

As I read the book, I also felt for Charles, a flawed man definitely but one who in is own way years for the same things that Frances wants. Of course, after years of poverty, humiliation and degradation, it's now wonder that he wants what he wants when he wants it. Frances, however, is an astute judge of character, she knows that the King once he has her, will toss her aside. Unlike Barbara Castlemaine who is only after what she can get, Frances has no desire to push herself or her family forward.

Haran is not only a master at getting deep in to her character's psyche, but she manages to make the 17th century amazingly vivid and real. She doesn't shie away from the harsher elements of life, there are countless descriptions of just how dirty and disgusting the streets of London were, and the lack of hygiene amongst even the nobility! My only quibble with the book is that we don't get to see who Frances' other admirers were.  Apparently Pepys thought she was one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen as she was courted by several men before the King staked his claim on her, but the reader isn't privileged to see any of that which I think is a shame. It would have made the book that much richer and explained a little more what the King saw in her, the qualities that made him choose her to be the face of Britannia. The characters in the book seem to spend most of their time envying her or placing bets to see when the King might get lucky!

I enjoyed this book immensely for the rich recreation of Restoration London, and a heroine that was a breath of fresh air, and a love story that makes you believe that someone people are fated to be together.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Support for Obama from California Democrats Drops 10 Points, to 69%

Quote of the Day

"What's sinking him is that most of the decline is among people of his own party and the nonpartisans."

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Omen for Obama: Dems Stay Home in NY, GOP Wins

In a New York district held by Democrats since 1923, liberals stayed home last night. Thanks to Obama's betrayal of core Democratic values, the longstanding New York Democratic House seat now belongs to Republicans:

Polling leading up to the race indicated Obama was dragging down the Democratic candidate. Democratic pollster Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling said that a Turner win would be “largely due to the incredible unpopularity of Barack Obama dragging his party down in the district” after PPP’s polling found Obama with just 31 percent approval in a district he won with 55 percent of the vote in 2008.

A Democratic strategist said Obama has become such a problem for down-ticket Democrats that he was wary of encouraging candidates to run next year. “I’m warning my clients — ‘Don’t run in 2012.’ I don’t want to see good candidates lose by 12 to 15 points because of the president,” said the strategist. . . Republicans were badly outspent in the race, but it didn’t matter.

Also, pissed off labor unions and "disloyal voters" led to a defeat in Nevada for Dems.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Elizabeth Warren To Run For US Senate

Yay! Elizabeth Warren will make it official Wednesday when she announces that she is running for the United States Senate.

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GOP Debate Audience Cheers Idea Of Letting Uninsured Sick Man Die

From the same sick party that recently cheered the death penalty:

Blitzer asked if under Paul’s libertarian philosophy, a sick man without insurance should be allowed to die in the hospital rather than have the state pay his medical bills. Before Paul could answer that question, shouts of “yes!” and cheering bubbled up from the audience.

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U.S. Poverty At 27-Year High

Poverty is up in the USA and the USA's already infamous 'highest child poverty rate in the industrialized world' has now risen to 22%:

More Americans are living in poverty than they have in 27 years, according to census data released Tuesday. About 46.2 million people, or 15.1 percent of the population, are considered in need, which the government currently defines as having an income of $22,314 a year for a family of four or $11,139 for an individual.

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Why Can't A Frat-Boy Nation Take Care Of Kids?

America's failing education system is just another symptom of a frat-boy nation that puts its money where its frat-boy mind is. If we moved kids out of the falling-apart, trailer-filled parking lot, ugly warehouses that pass for schools and moved them into our sweet shiny football stadiums and paid teachers what football players make, kids would get the novel, life-changing idea that they matter.

If kids mattered in patriarchy, men would take care of them.

Why Can't American Students Compete?:

Massachusetts, the only U.S. state with a majority of students (51 percent) above the proficiency mark, trails well behind students in South Korea and Finland, as well as those in top-performing Shanghai.

The percentage proficient in the state of New York (30 percent) is equivalent to that achieved by students in debt-ridden Portugal and Spain. California, the home of highly skilled Silicon Valley, has a math proficiency rate of 24 percent, the same as bankrupt Greece and just a notch above struggling Russia. By the time we get down to New Mexico and Mississippi, we are making comparisons with Serbia and Bulgaria.

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Scandalous Women welcomes Hope Tarr to the Blog!

Scandalous Women is pleased to welcome Hope Tarr to the blog. Hope is the author of fifteen historical and contemporary romance novels, including VANQUISHED, the launch for her “Men of Roxbury House” historical trilogy and currently offered as a free e-book download from 9-12 through 9-26. Welcome, Hope.

Thank you, Elizabeth. As a long-time fan of the blog and now the book of like name, it’s lovely to be here.

VANQUISHED, the first book in your series Men of Roxbury House Victorian trilogy, is being offered by your publisher as a free e-book across all platforms from 9-12 thru 9-26. How thrilling!

It certainly is! Set in England and Scotland in the 1890’s, The Men of Roxbury House trilogy comprises (in order) Vanquished, Enslaved and Untamed. The Vanquished e-book give-away will indeed cross all platforms, so whether you’re an Amazon Kindle user ( or other, you have two weeks to download Vanquished. For free.

No hokey contest question to answer, no information at all required. Click on the ordering link as you otherwise would and the e-book is yours. Free. Period.

Obviously our hope is that Vanquished will act as a “gateway drug” to downloading the other two series books, Enslaved and Untamed, but certainly there’s no obligation to do so.
Would you tell us a bit about The Men of Roxbury Series, especially Vanquished?

I’d love to. Roxbury House is a (fictional) Quaker orphanage in Kent, England where my three heroes (Hadrian, Gavin & Rourke) meet as orphaned boys, all rescued by then Prime Minister William Gladstone. Gladstone made regular sweeps of the London streets in search of prostitutes to help and reform, so my having him also rescue the occasional street boy doesn’t seem a too fantastical stretch of the historical record.

I’ve always been a huge fan of the “underdog,” perhaps because I’m a bit of an underdog myself, and so having heroes, and in some cases heroines, who come from humble, even struggling circumstances, rather than being born to wealth and station, is all but irresistible to me. In point, I adore writing about self made men—and women. Making those stories not only interesting but historically accurate in Victorian England, no less, is a challenge I welcome in my writing.

The particular idea for Vanquished was sparked by the 1998 film, The Governess starring Minnie Driver and Tom Wilkinson. The film focused on early photography, specifically experiments on how to permanently affix the image rather than having it fade away once exposed to light and air. (Okay, there was a passionate secret affair and hidden identities and other cool plot points as well).

In Vanquished, my hero, Hadrian St. Claire is a photographic portraitist fallen on hard times i.e., he has a tendency to drink too much and gamble poorly. It happens. To pay off his debts before his cods are claimed as repayment, he reluctantly agrees to lure women’s suffrage leader, Caledonia—Callie—Rivers to his studio and there take a risqué photograph of her. Such a photograph will discredit her and beyond her, the Women’s Suffrage Movement, ensuring that the latest Parliamentary suffrage bill will be roundly defeated. But first he must win her trust. Along the way, he grudgingly comes to like and respect and ultimately to love Callie, which is enormously inconvenient and causes all sorts of delicious…complications. ;)

Vanquished released in France this April as LA ROSE DE MAYFAIR. How exciting! The cover is very different from the original. Do you have a preference?

At the risk of sounding like a politician on the campaign trail, I like them both. Equally. I think my American publisher, Medallion Press, did a great job of branding the books as a series by using the lone female model on each of the books. My hands-down favorite of the three trilogy book covers is that for Vanquished, which is loosely based on the Sargeant portrait of Madame X, also considered quite scandalous in its time.

I also think my French publisher, J’ai lu, did a great job with the re-imagined LA ROSE DE MAYFAIR, which also features a lone heroine on the cover. (Note: The text is strictly translated from the original). I’ve since learned that they’ve also bought the French print rights to the other two trilogy books, Enslaved and Untamed. I can’t wait to see what they do with the covers for those as well.

Can you tell us a bit about the sequel novels, Enslaved and Untamed?

Enslaved is a classic second chance at love story, and second chances—at love and just about everything else—are big themes in my books. Growing up together at The Roxbury House orphanage, Gavin Carmichael and Daisy Lake are best friends, inseparable. “Through thick and thin, forever and ever, come what may, we'll stay together” is a pledge they repeat nearly every night at their attic orphans club’s secret meetings. Only Gavin is the grandson of a wealthy and respected London barrister. Swept away to begin living his birthright, he and Daisy are literally torn from one another’s arms.

Years later, Gavin is a successful London barrister haunted by his past—and obsessed with finding Daisy. To distract him, his other former Roxbury House friends, Hadrian and Rourke, coax him out to an East End supper club where the headlining act is the infamous nightingale of the Montmartre music halls, Delilah du Lac.

Delilah saunters onstage, creating a collective, sexually-charged hush among audience members. Gavin takes one look at her slanted green eyes, sensuous mouth, and long, slender legs and recognition floods him. Delilah and Daisy are the same girl, now woman, a woman he resolves to save from herself at all costs. He storms the stage, tosses his jacket over her, and carries her off.

Later when Daisy confides her dream to act on a proper London stage, Gavin seizes the opportunity to bind her to him. He strikes a bargain. He will see she gets a part in the upcoming run of Shakespeare’s As You Like It. In return, she must live with him for one month.

Daisy agrees. Gavin’s offer is too tempting to pass on, and the lanky boy of her memory has matured into an exceedingly handsome man. Sharing his bed for the month will be no hardship. Only as their sensual games increase in intensity, Gavin is the one in danger of being enslaved.

The trilogy closes with Untamed, a classic Battle of the Sexes tale—Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew transported to Victorian England. Despite being born an earl’s eldest daughter, life hasn’t been all “beer and skittles” for Lady Katherine—Kate. As a defense, she hides her painful, emotionally abusive past behind a termagant’s temper intended to put off suitors—most especially bluff diamond-in-the-rough Scots Irishman, Patrick O’Rourke—Rourke. Letting the sexy bare knuckles boxer, now railway magnate too close almost led to disgrace once, and Kate isn’t of a mind to repeat the risk.

In the market for a blue-blooded society wife to lend the proper pedigree and patina to his very new money, Rourke isn’t about to take no for an answer. Beyond Kate’s obvious credentials, he has been smitten with her ever since seeing her carte postale society beauty portrait displayed in his photographer friend, Hadrian’s, studio window. When her gambler father allows his marker to fall into Rourke’s calloused and oh-so-capable palm, there’s more than one debt to be repaid. Rourke makes haste to claim Kate as his own. Once wed, he carries her off to his castle in Scotland. There, with the help of a dog-eared copy of Taming of the Shrew and his East Ender con artist friend, now valet, he sets about securing her submission. But when Kate comes across the playbook, she devises a “taming” regimen of her own.

Elizabeth, thank you so much for having me as a guest. What an honor that my fictional “Scandalous Women” can keep company with the fascinating real life femmes you report on in your blog and book.

From Vanquished:

A devil’s bargain…

“The photograph must be damning, indisputably so. I mean to see Caledonia Rivers not only ruined but vanquished. Vanquished, St. Claire, I’ll settle for nothing less.”

Known as The Maid of Mayfair for her unassailable virtue, unwavering resolve, and quiet dignity, suffragette leader, Caledonia – Callie – Rivers is the perfect counter for detractors’ portrayal of the women as rabble rousers, lunatics, even whores. But a high-ranking enemy within the government will stop at nothing to ensure that the Parliamentary bill to grant the vote to females dies in the Commons – including ruining the reputation of the Movement’s chief spokeswoman.
 After a streak of disastrous luck at the gaming tables threatens to land him at the bottom of the Thames, photographer Hadrian St. Claire reluctantly agrees to seduce the beautiful suffragist leader and then use his camera to capture her fall from grace. Posing as the photographer commissioned to make her portrait for the upcoming march on Parliament, Hadrian infiltrates Callie’s inner circle. But lovely, soft-spoken Callie hardly fits his mental image of a dowdy, man-hating spinster. And as the passion between them flares from spark to full-on flame, Hadrian is the one in danger of being…vanquished.
A past nominee for a Dorothy Parker Award of Excellence and a RT BOOK Reviews Award for Best Unusual Historical, Hope Tarr is the award-winning author of fifteen historical and contemporary romance novels including her Men of Roxbury House trilogy: Vanquished, Enslaved and Untamed. She is also a co-founder and current principal of Lady Jane’s Salon (, New York City’s first—and only—monthly reading series for romance fiction. Visit Hope online at and find her on Twitter (@HopeTarr) and Facebook at