Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Rat #46 Scuttles Off the Listing Ship of State

     The self-pitying sanctimoniousness of Paul Ryan's official resignation announcement was literally sickening. He didn't seek the job as House Speaker. He wasn't really resigning because of November's Blue Tsunami getting bigger and bigger on the horizon. And, of course, he wanted to spend more time with the Koch Brothers his family.
     And so ends one of the shortest House Speaker tenures in modern American history. It was remarkable for how much damage it had done to the American economy and the entire national landscape as a whole in such a brief period of time. As Joy Reid said on Twitter today, Paul Ryan will be known to posterity for two things- The ruinous tax scam cuts vigorously spearheaded by Ryan and for being a spineless weasel during the Trump administration.
     Right after the Access Hollywood tape came out on September 7th, 2016, Paul Ryan felt a dangerous onset of Sudden Spinal Emergence come on. Running for re-election himself, Ryan not only canceled plans to appear with Trump for the rest of the election season, he even stiff-armed Mike Pence, who had nothing to do with it and who was himself so horrified, he seriously considered dropping off the ticket two months before the election.
     But, like Pence, Ryan valiantly fought back that emerging spine, perhaps through surgical intervention, and put on a brave face whenever he was in Donald Trump's company again. He bravely kept up the pretense of partisan solidarity even as Trump was publicly insulting Ryan on Twitter. With the complete and utter absence of a spine, one could be forgiven for seriously theorizing the only thing keeping Paul off his stomach and in an upright position is a full back brace.
     So now beginneth the usual Republican piranha fight for the scraps that will no doubt be waged between House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who'd already been virtually rejected for the Speaker job, and noted homophobe Steve Scalise, the Majority Whip. I say "scraps" for a good reason. If after the midterms Mueller takes down both Trump and Pence simultaneously, according to the Rules of Succession, a Democratic Speaker would get the top job. Sound unlikely? Consider how unlikely it was that a Democratic insider bearing a two term president's name and with the Democratic establishment's, Super Delegates', Wall Street's and mainstream media's assistance would lose the last election to a thrice-married, fascist womanizing piece of shit like Donald Trump.
     And Ryan was actually #45. Number 46 on the Casualty List (Yes, there's actually a Casualty List maintained by the House Press Gallery) to announce their retirement was Dennis Ross, a Republican from Florida, who announced his own retirement to little if any fanfare just an hour later. Yet Ross' own departure will prove to be more notable than that, a bellwether of what will surely be a fresh wave of Republicans grabbing their umbrellas and sun block before that blue wave hits.
     In Ryan's district, he was facing stiff Democratic challenges from Randy Bryce and schoolteacher Cathy Meyers. On the Republican side? Paul Nehlen, another anti-semite in the same mold as Arthur Jones, running his own fascist, Quixotic campaign out of Chicago. Really, the only way that Bryce or Meyers could lose the seat to Nehlen is if they're both caught in bed with dead hookers and a pound of cocaine in a cheap roadside motel on Highway 66 and maybe not even that would stop the Democrats from vulturing Ryan's seat.
     So Ryan's essentially abdicating his seat to the Democrats and everyone knows it.
     Now, for every lickspittle, Republican invertebrate who announces their retirement, there's some last minute chance at redemption, some last-second appeal to Posterity to not be so harsh to them. That would be in expending their remaining political capital/hot air in blasting a ruinous administration for whom they'd carried water. Senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker found their inner Blue Dogs by insulting Donald Trump and his increasingly irrational and mercurial policies. John McCain, perhaps sensing the end is near for him, as well, had begun before the election by withdrawing his endorsement of Trump just before the 2016 election.
     But Paul Ryan won't do that. Indeed, in his advance concession speech, he never once mentioned the Trump administration. Instead, he patted himself on the back and said he was proud of his accomplishments as House Speaker, such as the tax scam bill off of which the multimillionaire from Janesville, Wisconsin will profit handsomely. He never once stood up to Trump even when he mocked Third World countries as "shithole countries", threatened to pull us into nuclear war with North Korea (and China) and was hit with one raid and sex scandal after another.
     And while I don't agree with radical centrist and Hillary backer Joy Reid, I have to agree with her that posterity will remember Paul Ryan's tenure for a ruinous tax cut bill and not standing up to the most fascist "president" this nation ever had and likely ever will have even after he no longer has a political career to worry about.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Trump is Henry Jekyll's Potion

     It's all about Donald Trump (at least in his funhouse mirror worldview), yet it isn't.
     Those of us in the reality-based community find it all too easy to blame Donald Trump for everything that's wrong with our once-great nation. He's the world's biggest lightning rod and, yes, we can trace the corruption, the forced deportations of Dreamers and Wall Street's instability directly to him. Throw a ton of shit at Trump and at least half of it will stick.
     But let's not give Trump too much credit- He did not shape this country nor create the political climate that makes the Bush and Obama years look like a 16 year-long golden age of bipartisanship. He merely exploited it for his own ends. And, yes, even exacerbated it. Trump's like that hard, white little clot that creates the most gigantic zit so that we're left wondering when the damned thing will finally pop and drain.
     But all Trump is is a vulture. As with Hitler (Yes, I'm invoking Godwin's law- sue me), Trump is a vulture who swooped in during a period of national discontent and stoked the anger of certain demographics still smarting from the fact that a biracial man led "their" country for eight years despite their best efforts. And Trump is now feeding on the carrion that used to be a healthy, functioning democracy that actually began dying decades ago.
     That's why I call Trump a vulture, although perhaps that, too, may be too kind since birds such as vultures, condors and buzzards are actually a vital and necessary part of the ecosystem. And these scavengers actually do their part to clean the earth.
     Donald Trump did not create racism or antisemitism, although one half expects he'll wake up at 4 one fine morning and claim credit for it on Twitter. Racism goes all the way back to the very dawn of our history when white landowners had no problem buying other human beings captured by force in Africa, transported in unimaginably horrid and inhuman conditions during the Middle Passage then sold like cattle in open auctions.
     Donald Trump was born the year after the Holocaust ended. And antisemitism has been around for several centuries longer than our unique brand of racism.
     Corruption has been steadily growing in American politics for at least two centuries. Whereas political patronage had been an unforgivable crime and any allegations of it could easily result in a challenge to a duel, as in Andrew Jackson's time, such a charge results only in yawns. Now we have an EPA administrator in Scott Pruitt who stays at a property owned by a major energy lobbyist for $50 a night and Trump says that's appropriate for Washington DC (If that's true, then someone should suggest he adjust his rates accordingly at his clip joint of a hotel down the road from the White House). And Pruitt fell behind even on that cushy arrangement.
     But the greatest danger facing America is the effect Trump is having on Americans, the real source of power even in this failing, listing democracy. People who ordinarily would have been horrified at the thought of a man having five children with three wives and bedding an endless succession of less-than-morally upstanding women during and between, people who'd previously never would've thought of voting for president a man who openly defended and embraced neonazis and antisemites, are now defending this man to the death.
     People, college-educated, usually articulate people have been fooled into thinking Trump is the greatest president ever even after just one full year in office and get vicious with even family members who say the slightest thing disparaging Trump. He's turned us into monsters.
     Trump is Henry Jekyll's potion.
     Since 2015, we've seen a startling rise in antisemitic activity.
     Since 2015, we've seen an undeniable spike in racist hate crimes.
     Since 2015, we've seen crimes against American Muslims skyrocket.
     And that's just the beginning of the vitriolic hatred we've seen in a country that was supposed to be moving in the direction of multiculturalism and racial and religious diversity.
     Trump is nothing more than an incipiently senile Elmer Gantry. As with Gantry, Trump has renounced booze and tobacco but just can't quite keep it in his pants. He preaches morality  to those who swear by it while proving himself a hypocrite at every turn. However, at the end of the film version with Burt Lancaster, Gantry eventually finds some sliver of conscience after his love interest dies in a fire.
     Trump simply doesn't have a conscience, let alone the ability to find one.
     When Trump Tower caught on fire last night (for the second time this year), all Trump could say was how well it was built and he never said a word about the elderly man who'd died or the four firefighters who were injured battling the 50th floor blaze. And apparently, Trump Tower was Grandfathered out of complying with Mayor Rudy's order to install sprinkler systems, which Trump Tower doesn't have on the upper floors.
     This shouldn't surprise anyone. What should surprise anyone with a shred of moral decency, brains and even a baseline awareness of what's going on is there is literally no red line that Trump can cross that'll get his red meat base to abandon him. They are suddenly comfortable with any cruelty he can possibly inflict or endorse. We've become a nationwide version of the Stanford Experiment.
     Let us hope this one terminates as prematurely and as abruptly as the original.
     Mr. Hyde was always within us. All it took was for Donald Trump to act as its potion to bring it out.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Interview with Mystery Author Valerie Burns

     I know this is a political blog and that whoever comes here generally does looking for political commentary. Yet, considering the negative news we've been incessantly hearing since a certain evolutionary dropout descended an escalator like a bored mall husband and into history, a change of pace is always welcome. So I decided to reach out to one of my more interesting Facebook friends, my current Author of the Month Valerie Burns, and asked if she wished to give an interview and she readily agreed. Val is a Camel/Kensington "cozy" mystery novelist who's currently juggling a fulltime job, three mystery series and a houseful of poodles as well as a blog of her own.

1.    About a year ago, I was chatting on Facebook with another African American mystery authoress and the subject of racial representation came up. She was of the opinion that more people of color don’t write or read mysteries because they feel underrepresented or misrepresented. What are your thoughts on the subject?

     Many people read books because they like the characters or feel they can relate to them. I think it’s important for readers to see themselves in the books, so I tend to agree that people of color may not read books if they don’t see themselves or people similar to them in the stories. Cozy mysteries include a lot of variety in an attempt to appeal to a broad spectrum of people. There are cozy mysteries with themes for practically every hobby or career. Check out any cozy mystery section in a bookstore and readers will see cozies about food, tea, wine, stamp collecting, antiques, knitting, quilting and a host of other topics. The range of topics is amazing and I love the variety. In the same sense, readers want to see themselves to a certain extent. I don’t believe readers necessarily want to take on the risk of an amateur sleuth and put their lives in danger to track down criminals. However, I do believe that it’s important for a reader to be able to relate to the characters. So, if more books with diverse characters are published, then I believe the readership will increase. Ultimately, mystery readers are interested in a good whodunit.

2.    Being an indie author takes guts, even if they are published by Kensington. What made you decide to dive into the perilous waters of indie books and write a series of cozies?

     As a passionate mystery lover, my happy place involves reading and watching cozy mysteries. After decades of reading cozies, writing them seemed to be a logical next step. I had a lot of ideas for books I wanted to read rolling around in my head. Eventually, I decided to take a chance at writing. The journey was long and grueling. Having an idea for a mystery series and actually writing a book with a beginning, middle and end (not to mention clues, and red herrings) isn’t easy. Once I wrote my first book, the next task was how to get that book published. I invested a lot of time, effort, energy and money into pursuing my dream of becoming a writer. However, the next phase of the process was like a maze. There were so many things that I didn’t know. Writing a book is only one part of a long process which involves editing, copy editing, cover art, distribution, sales, marketing and a host of other things that I’m still learning. I know a number of authors who have self-published and I have a lot of respect for them. As a new writer, I didn’t have the courage to self-publish. I needed the validation of having a publisher helping to guide me through the maze. I feel grateful to have Kensington behind me. I appreciate having an editor, copy editors, production editors, publicist and an army of people who can give me the benefit of their years of experience and knowledge. Both of my publishers, Camel and Kensington have been great and I am fortunate to have them.

3.    For those who are unfamiliar with your work, please describe the Dog Club mystery series and its four-legged and bipedaled protagonists.

     The Dog Club Mystery Series features a female protagonist, Lilly Echosby who is in the process of getting divorced. When her soon-to-be ex-husband, Albert, is murdered the police believe her to be their prime suspect. Lilly reconnects with an old college friend, Dixie who is heavily involved in showing and training dogs. Between Dixie and Lillie’s two children, Stephanie and David, they set out to find the real murderer and keep Lillie from paying for a crime she didn’t commit.

4.    When you were growing up, what authors influenced and/or inspired you?

     I am a HUGE Agatha Christie fan. I think I’ve read every book and short story she ever wrote. I even have duplicates of books because some of the titles were different in the U.K. than in the U.S. (And Then There Were None and Ten Little Indians is one example) I still remember when I read my first Agatha Christie, THE MURDER OF ROGER AKROYD. When I got to the end, I was hooked. I never saw the ending coming and was fascinated at how her mind worked to come up with such a creative concept. I also loved Rex Stout, Heron Carvic’s Miss Seton Mysteries, Martha Grimes, and Jill Churchill. I’m a big fan of historic cozies. I love tying to put the pieces together to figure out whodunit. I also prefer books with humor.

5.    Authors who write cozies much more often than not use cats, many of them their own, as characters in their books. You’re different in that respect. Aside from your love of the breed, why poodles?

     When I was a kid, I wanted a dog. Unfortunately, my mother wasn’t a big fan of dog hair. So, we could only have a dog that didn’t shed. After a bit of research, my sister and I discovered that poodles don’t shed. They also have a hyper-allergenic coat so people with allergies can often tolerate the breed. They are exceptionally smart and easy to train. Our first dog was a white toy poodle named Candy. She was amazing and super smart. As an adult, when I decided to get a dog, I chose the breed I knew and loved. I got chocolate poodles Coco and Cash. In my Mystery Bookshop Mystery series, the protagonist has two chocolate toy poodles (Snickers and Oreo) who are based on Coco and Cash. My Dog Club Mystery Series features a black toy poodle named Aggie (after Agatha Christie) who bares more than a striking resemblance to the newest addition to my pack, Kensington (named after my publisher), although I call her “Kenzie.” I’ve heard a lot of people mock the breed. They tend to think that the show cut poodles are shown on television indicates the breed is foo-foo and not very bright. However, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, poodles are one of the smartest breeds which is why they were often used in circuses because they were so easy to train. So, I include poodles in all of my books.

6.    Technological innovations aside, how have cozies changed since your favorite author Agatha Christie’s time or have they fundamentally changed?

     I think cozies have changed a lot since Agatha Christie’s time. The basics of the cozy are the same. There’s a crime, an amateur sleuth investigates and then the Big Reveal at the end. However, a lot of the story and style have changed since Agatha Christie’s day. One reason for the change is that there is a lot more information available on television and on the internet. Twenty-first century cozy readers are not as tolerant of errors and have expectations that books, while still fiction, must adhere to basic rules of believability. Writers can’t invent poisons or take creative license with dates/times or historic details. Readers have Google and will post to social media when they find inconsistencies, regardless of how engaging or well-written a book is. Twenty-first century readers also expect cozies to be more quickly-paced than in Agatha Christie’s time. Long pages of flowery prose aren’t as accepted today as in the past. I often reread my favorite authors (especially Agatha Christie) and find myself glazing over at pages of descriptions about bogs, fields or other scenery. However, it isn’t long before she draws me back into the story and I marvel at the creativity and genius to devise such cunning plots.

7.    Who are some of your other favorite mystery authors, past or present?

     I have a lot of favorites. I still love Agatha Christie and Rex Stout. However, I’ve added Victoria Thompson, Emily Brightwell, Martha Grimes, Jill Churchill, Laurien Berenson, Dorothy Gilman, Kay Charles and Susan Elia Macneal to my list of favorites.

8.    You’re the author of two other mystery series: The Mystery Bookshop Mystery series and the RJ Franklin series (Which, last I heard, will debut on July 1, 2018). The different protagonists and locales aside, how are they different from the Dog Club series?

     The Mystery bookshop mystery series features a story-within-a-story. The protagonist, Samantha Washington owns a mystery bookstore and is also writing a British historic cozy. So, the reader will have two mysteries to solve in every book. There is the mystery the protagonist is working through and the historic British mystery she is writing about. The RJ Franklin Mystery series features an African American male protagonist. All of the titles in this series are based on Negro Spirituals and includes soul food recipes. This series immerses the reader into the culture of the African American community. The Dog Club Mystery Series focuses more on my love of dogs. There will be a different breed of dog in each book and will introduce readers to various dog sports. This series includes information about dog breeds, training, and competitions.

9.    A British editor once passed on a novel I’d submitted entitled GODS OF OUR FATHERS because, while assuming I was white, she charged me with writing the protagonist’s narrative “in black dialect.” I did not. He sounds like any other well-educated man in mid-19th century Boston and was biracial, to boot. What are your thoughts on authors writing in dialect?

     I believe authors should write their characters in the voice appropriate for that character. If the setting/story calls for a particular dialect, then the author should use it. Uncle Tom’s Cabin is hard to read (at least for me), but the dialect was necessary for the story/time period. However, I don’t believe it’s necessary to stereotype characters by giving a “black dialect” to every black character. I think it’s possible to give a character a unique voice in other ways. Not all African Americans speak in ebonics. In fact, I think it is often more interesting to take a character who someone would expect to act a certain way and turn it upside down. In the example you listed, I think it would be more interesting to have that character speak with a British or Scandinavian accent. It would be unexpected and something that could be used as an educational tool as well as a story device as the other characters comment about how unexpected his accent was. Ultimately, I think the important thing is that the author is true to their own beliefs. So, hats off to you for maintaining your integrity and vision for your character.

10. Old school mystery novelists such as Earl Stanley Gardner and Dashiell Hammett didn’t spare a lot of ink and paper on character delineation. How, if at all, do you think getting involved in multiple murder investigations changes the protagonists’ characters or should they evolve?  

     I think characters should evolve over time, although I don’t know that the timing for character arcs that is common in many other genres is as short in mysteries, especially when writing a series. In science fiction and urban fantasy, the protagonist typically undergoes a change from the beginning of the book to the end. Mystery detectives in a series may not go through a full cycle of the Hero’s Journey in each and every book of the series. However, I do believe that characters in a series should change/evolve from one book to the next, even though the transformation can be slower. In the first book of a cozy, the amateur sleuth may not know much about investigating a murder. Readers would expect him/her to make mistakes and stumble along the way. Usually, they are flying by the seat of their pants. However, after a few more murders, the expectations would be that the protagonist is more skilled at finding clues and investigating. Hopefully, the sleuth has learned a few things. So, the character arc in a sleuth in a mystery series will span the series rather than one or two books.

11. Plotter or pantser?

     I’m a pantser who wants to be a plotter. Friend and mystery author, Kay Charles (Ghost in Glass Houses) once said, “Outlining (plotting) a mystery is like reading a book when you already know the ending.” I have to say, I agree. I’ve tried many times to turn myself into a plotter, but it hasn’t worked. I spend a lot of time developing my characters and once I know who they are, then I allow them to take me where they want to go. I think my editor would prefer if I were a plotter, but unfortunately, I haven’t been able to make that change. I write a rough sketch of the plot and fill in the details as the story evolves.

12. You’ve based all your novels in fictionalized places you’ve lived because as you’d written on your blog, location, location, location is essential. Why is it important to you to have your characters seamlessly integrate with their environment as opposed to a fish out of water story?

     I believe the location or setting is critical to the character development, the character dialogue and personality come from their location. The Dog Club Mystery series starts in Indiana but will move to the south. As the character moves, then she will be a bit of a fish out of water, but it is a lot easier to write about places you know. Plus, it makes the dialogue more authentic. I believe the author’s familiarity with a location will ring true to the readers. In THE PLOT IS MURDER, the fictional town of North Harbor, Michigan is based on Benton Harbor, Michigan. I’ve received several emails asking if North Harbor is in southwestern Michigan because readers recognized different landmarks based on my descriptions or the character’s dialogue. That makes me happy. It means, I’ve done my job and the reader identifies with the area.

13. They say there are two kinds of stories- A stranger arriving in a strange town or a person going on a journey. Which is it for you?

     A person going on a journey is a great concept. I absolutely love the idea of taking the reader on a mysterious journey to a fictional world where bad things happen, but there are good people who are willing to get involved to find the truth. Sometimes there is so much negative on the news and on social media that I enjoy getting lost in a cozy world with kind, concerned citizens who care about justice. Cozies provide an escape and a puzzle to challenge the mind. That’s how I feel when I read my favorite authors. I get immersed in the world the author creates. I think that’s why when I read British cozies I find myself drinking much more tea and looking for recipes for scones and clotted cream.

14. You’ve said on your blog that you try to set a goal of 1000-1500 words a day. Reconstruct your daily writing routine. Do you write exclusively on a laptop or do you draft in a notebook or is it a combination of both?

     I have a full-time job, so I don’t get to write much during the weekday. So, my routine involves going to work from 8-5 and then coming home, grabbing something to eat and sitting down at my laptop to write, usually 6-9 on week nights. My goal is to write between 7,500 – 10,000 words per week which translates into 1,000 – 1,500 per night. Looking at my writing goal as a weekly goal rather than a nightly goal prevents me from stressing out if I miss a night of writing or fail to hit the 1,000 word target. I can usually make up the word count on the weekend when I have more time. I don’t edit or make adjustments during this phase. My goal is to get the words on the page; it can always be edited or revised later. However, you can’t edit a blank page. Most of my writing is done on a laptop, but I often travel with a journal or notebook and will write longhand whenever I find myself waiting for long periods of time (beauty shop, auto repair, doctor’s office). I’ve even been known to write when I’m stuck in traffic. If I don’t have my notebook or journal, I scribble notes on the back of envelopes, napkins, or gas receipts, pretty much whatever I find in the bottom of my purse or on the floor of my car.

15. What changes would you like to see in mystery fiction in general? What would you like to keep?

     I think the biggest change I’d like to see would be to include more diverse voices which I think will help the genre to grow and expand as it attracts more readers. I understand publishing is a business and publishers need to make money to stay in business. To achieve this it’s really tempting to buy more of the tried and true and not take chances on new writers. I wish more publishers were willing to take chances on new writers. One of the things I like about my publishers is that both Camel Press and Kensington accept unsolicited manuscripts. This gives unagented writers an opportunity to submit their manuscripts so they have a fighting chance of at least getting read. If more publishers were willing to do this, I think it will be a boost and expand their odds of finding the diamond in the rough. As far as what I would like to keep, I honestly feel the mystery community is extremely friendly and embraces authors and mystery fans. That is something you don’t see in some other genres. Before I started writing mysteries, I tried my hand at screenwriting. It is extremely hard to break into screenwriting. Well, so is publishing in general. However, I felt that the screenwriting community was much more negative. Each workshop or book I read emphasized how hard it was to break into screenwriting. The mystery fiction community was much more positive. Yes, it’s not easy to find an agent or publisher. However, there are tons of people around who will answer questions, tell you about books or blogs, allow you to blog hop or are willing to interview you for their website (thanks Robert). I hope the Mystery Fiction genre stays as open and welcoming so that other writers have the same experience I’ve had.

Valerie Burns' books can be found here on her author page at Amazon.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Malice in Wonderland

     Look at the Easter Bunny's face. It seems as if he's asking himself, "Where's Lewis Carrol when you need some common sense?" Donnie Dumbo becomes Donnie Darko, Sr.

     This was Donald Trump at the annual White House Easter Egg Roll last Sunday. There were thousands of children on the South Lawn with their parents waiting to have fun. Then Trump, typically, wings it with just the right wing and starts blathering on about the economy, Melania redecorating the White House, $700 billion we'll be spending on the military (industrial complex) and, oh yeah, later slamming Democrats while surrounded by kids.
     That's because Trump honestly cannot tell the difference between adults and children. And, like the other pedophile mentioned above, this is perhaps the reason why Trump's been ogling underage girls his entire adult life. From the 12 year-old Paris Hilton, to remarking on how big the infant Tiffany's tits will be to comparing his paramours to Ivanka and telling a CBS correspondent at Trump Tower in the early 90's after seeing a preteen girl get on the escalator, "I'm gonna be dating her in 10 years. Can you believe it?"
     And let's not forget the time last year he was alluding to sex parties on the yacht of one of his billionaire buddies at the Boy Scout Jamboree.
     Either Trump can't distinguish between grownups and children or he has the perception inverted. He often talks to his top aides as if they're children and speaks to children as if they're adults and really give a shit how much military spending will be in the next defense spending bill.
     Seriously, folks, if Obama spoke to children as if he was giving a Cabinet meeting or addressing the US Chamber of Commerce during his eight Easter Egg Rolls, right wingers would've been reaching for the rope.

     By the way, out of camera range, there was this security detail watching every move the kids were making, especially the dark ones. Not really, but if by some miracle Trump lasts another year, this won't be a joke, anymore.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Gotham City News

     When the news breaks, we're the ones holding the hammer.

     Remember all those blonde jokes you've been hearing for years? They were all inspired by Fox "News'" Tomi Lahren. Now granted, Tomi Girl has come out with some whoppers over the years, going back to before she was fired by Glenn Beck on the Blaze. Then, in the very personification of the Peter Principle, Lahren just kept stumble bumbling her way to the top, eventually getting summoned to Rupert Murdoch's mother ship on Fox "News." But then today on Fox and Frauds, Tomi said that Trump can't be impeached because "he won the election."
     Which I'm sure will come as a huge relief to Slick Willie.
     You know who actually can't be impeached, Tomi? Dictators for life, such as the one Trump wants to be.

     Donald Trump has a lawyer problem. John Dowd quit, Ty Cobb's not too far behind, Cohen's mired in the center of the Stormy Daniels scandal, Jay Sekulow isn't even remotely qualified for this kind of litigation and he's nominally leading the Trump defense team that's essentially made up of himself. Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing wanted no part of the chaos at the Trump WH. All that and word has it even WH Chief Counsel Don McGahn's got one foot out the door. Essentially, Trump has no legal defense against Mueller.
     But that's not to say ordinary Americans aren't pitching in to help Dear Leader, as this Craigslist ad shows.

     If you're in the UK and voted for Brexit, then you might want to read this. You've been had, thanks to the octopus tentacles of Cambridge Analytica.

     America: A nation in which white kids who kill 17 people in a school shooting are merely crying out for help according to a white sheriff but black men such as Alton Sterling are shot on sight when someone yells the word "gun." And then get away with it.

     Facebook's got its hand full dealing with the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal in which the sensitive information of at least 50,000,000 user accounts. It, predictably, at the same time that was blowing up, this other scandal involving Facebook easily flew under the radar. Apparently, Facebook had long ago gave up on its social media agenda and have since gotten heavily involved in opinion-shaping and even using censorship of Palestinian journalists to that end because Israel pressured them to.

     Finally, I guess the only thing left to do now is pick out Jeff Sessions' pimp name.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Enough is Not Enough

(By American Zen’s Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
Emma Gonzalez stood on the stage before almost a million after having read the names of her 17 slain classmates, her head bowed for six minutes and 20 seconds, the time it took for Nikolas Cruz to murder them at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. Over a million, according to the MarchforourLives crowd estimate, joined her. Her place in history is as secure as an AR15 in the cradling arms of a red state ammosexual, as is the name of her high school. Because Marjory Stoneman Douglas has now ossified into lasting posterity as much as Columbine High. But there's a difference.
     Nothing meaningful in the way of actual gun control happened after Columbine. In fact, all Columbine and other schools did was ban trench coats such as the ones worn by Harris and Klebold. That's where Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has them all beat. Columbine, Virginia Tech, even Sandy Hook Elementary. Because this was the mass school shooting that finally woke up a somnolent, gun-obsessed nation in which many, especially in the deep South, clutch and cradle their guns while terrified parents clutch and cradle their kids after a school shooting. Marjory Stoneman Douglas was the straw that broke the camel's back and we began saying, Enough is enough.
     But enough has proven to be not enough, Enough is what comes to my mind when I think of  the middling measures taken by the last administration led by a man who on the campaign trail ridiculed people in the deep South who clutched their Bibles and guns and they reviled him for telling the truth about them. The Obama administration had taken some half measures, just enough to mollify the gun control crowd while not inciting the 2nd amendment ammosexuals from open insurrection.
     And it can't be said Donald Trump didn't play a part in bringing about the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High on Valentine's Day. The winter before last, Trump had signed an executive order rescinding an Obama-era Executive Order that would have required the Social Security Administration to report to the FBI anyone who was judged to be mentally ill trying to purchase a firearm.
     Nikolas Cruz legally obtained the AR15 that he'd used to murder 17 of Emma Gonzalez's classmates. Because in Trump's America, there is no longer any such thing as needing to be sane enough to buy a semi-automatic rifle or even a full auto variety. Whatever Obama's half-hearted centrist measures, his enough wasn't enough. Don't forget, Sandy Hook happened on his watch, too, and dozens of other school shootings.
      If it wasn't for Emma Gonzalez and her fellow students, one of the most meaningful "gun control" measures would be a Pennsylvania superintendent's brilliant idea to arm students with a bucket of rocks in case of a school shooting incident. Yes, rather than install metal detectors and implementing real gun control measures, we're arming our children with stone age and Biblical technology with which to confront a gunman with an automatic rifle and extended clips.

The Children Take us to School
The #MarchforourLives protest is global. The one in Chicago alone has choked Cook County into utter paralysis. There are protests in Copenhagen Denmark and in virtually every civilized nation on earth, nations that don't suffer nearly the rate of gun violence that we do. Granted, most of these protesters are adults from every walk of life but the very nucleus is a small handful of children from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High who had just made the cover of the latest Time Magazine.
     If Emma Gonzalez wanted to achieve world domination, she has it. Meanwhile, establishment right winger cranks such as Tucker Carlson are sneering that articulate teens such as David Hogg is "an extremist." An obscure Maine political candidate dismissed Emma Gonzalez as a "skinhead lesbian." (Gonzalez is bisexual, as if that matters.) An aide to a Florida lawmaker claimed the Parkland students were paid crisis actors and was immediately fired.
     How soon they choose to forget, to strenuously avoid knowing that, were it not for a momentary whim of a crazed gunman, Emma Gonzalez or David Hogg would not now be in our nation's capital holding hundreds of thousands in thrall but would be in a grave in Florida along with nearly a dozen and a half of their classmates. These people who are jeering and sneering at these students look so small in comparison their names hardly deserve to be mentioned next to those of these kids.
     I've seen people on social media, grown adults who list themselves as liberals, progressives and centrists, who publicly gripe about these kids "hijacking" the national discourse about guns, that they shouldn't be telling us mature adults what to do, that we shouldn't be allowing them to write policy.
     They are doing no such thing. In the infancy of their future fame, David Hogg had a microphone stuck in his face and he said, "We're just kids. You're the adults. Act like it." And that, and Emma's emotional eloquence at the Florida State Capital in Tallahassee that proved to be a mere dress rehearsal for today, set this whole movement in motion.
     And the children are taking the adults to school because they know what's going on. Not bought and sold Republicans, not NRA mouthpieces and lobbyists, not right wing pundits. As with Vietnam and the younger generation derided as hippies and potheads who were right about Vietnam. so the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High students have the right ideas and know what's going on. They've dodged the bullets that those right wing pundits in climate-controlled sound stages and NRA talking heads at CPAC never had to.
     And if we adults acted like adults and prized the lives of these children and gave them a safe environment in which to learn, we wouldn't have to take our moral cues from those who aren't even old enough to vote. But we do have to.
     Emma Gonzalez is not merely the face and name of the new gun control movement. She is our national conscience, reminding us all what we should do and should have done generations ago. She is the new Joan of Arc, listening not to voices in her head but her own conscience and inviting us to listen in on that conscience. We baby boomers have failed her generation because if our ideas, policies and implementations were worth a shit, we wouldn't need these kids to detour from their path to higher education.
     Enough is not enough. And we're barely beginning to realize that.

KindleindaWind, my writing blog.

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