Sunday, September 30, 2018

Despicable Me, Me, Me

     What no one else is talking about is Brett Kavanaugh's toxic partisanship that was on full display during Thursday's hearings. He acknowledged his role as a right wing thug in the employ of Ken Starr and portrayed himself as a victim of backlash of unspecified "left wing groups" in supposed retribution for the Clintons. He also showed lots of pity for himself and none for Dr. Ford.
      These, plainly, are not traits that are enviable in a Supreme Court justice. Political partisanship, especially as vitriolic as Kavanaugh's obviously is, should be left outside the front door of the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh's entire demeanor was like a faithful reflection of Trump's, complete with the white Republican male obsession with self-victimhood, anger, bluster and quick to point the finger of blame at non-existent "others" and enemies are all pure Trump. It was screamingly obvious this partisan hack still has a political axe to grind. His 45 minute-long opening statement, if it was given at trial, would've lost the case if delivered before a truly objective, nonpartisan judge.
      Instead of acknowledging that sexual assault, especially on women and children is a national epidemic that should be seriously addressed, instead of acknowledging that something was taken from Blasey Ford that night in Bethesda, all he focused on were what "left wing groups" were trying to take away from him- A seat on the Supreme Court to which he, a right wing white male, believes he's entitled.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Kava-naw?! Kava-YES!

(By Cyril Blubberpuss, Conservative-American)
Thank God we didn't let the women win this one!" I said to my secretary as I flaunted my Harvey Weinstein tie in the face of a homeless woman, "With this Goddamned #Metoo movement, next thing you know pink pussy-capped women will expect the right to vote!"
     Brett Kavanaugh had just been painfully extruded out of the Judiciary Committee like a dry turd and I was in a mood to celebrate. After stuffing a few IOU's in the garter of a pissed off stripper on 42nd Street, I began to think of the bigger picture of what a Justice Kavanaugh would bring to the Supreme Court.
     For starters, he'd bring an unabashed manliness and masculinity to the Supreme Court that's been sorely lacking in government until my buddy Donald got elected President by a full 25% of the nation. And, sad to say, that masculinity that woman libbers like to smear as "toxic" is mostly missing in my own family. But I'll get to my kid brother Cecil in a minute.
     Brett Kavanaugh is a real man, like men were back in a bygone age when men were men and women were honored to copulate with them whether or not they consented. And not only is Judge Kavanaugh unashamed to be a man, he also is a humble one. I admit, I almost choked on a bite of chocolate brioche when I heard him say, despite all anecdotal evidence to the contrary, that he remained a virgin even when he finished law school.
     Even if that were true, it certainly wasn't from lack of trying. His problem was in trying to get his cherry popped when he was well on his illustrious goal of drinking 100 kegs of beer. The 15 year-old Christine Blasey Ford could've been more accommodating when the future judge was, with his wing man Mark Judge's helpful assistance, trying to introduce her to her womanhood.
     Imagine how easily a real man like Brett Kavanaugh would put the three women on the High Court in their place (Well, I'd recommend a thorough regimen at the gym before taking on that Ginsburg character). Roe vs Wade would fall like a house of cards in the wind once Kavanaugh weighs in on it. Who needs that liberal ideology when interpreting federal law? Stare decisis? What the fuck is that? Kavanaugh probably hasn't read Latin since he last pounded down a rack of Dos Equis.
     Anyway, since the suffragettes and Temperance Society biddies began booming their bass drums down 5th Avenue in the 19th century, American masculinity has been slowly, almost imperceptibly eroded down to a nub. Now you see Nancy boys screaming themselves hoarse during their damned Pride parades (while my kid brother Cecil, still under house arrest, looks down on them from his penthouse apartment with tears in his eyes).

     And Cecil knows our family history as well as any of us Blubberpusses. He knew he had a family tradition of manliness to live up to and that he wasn't quite up to the task. There was our own father Ambrose Blubberpuss, who wasn't just a corporate titan on Wall Street but even rose to become a one quarter term US Congressman during the Great Depression.
     Yes, sadly, Daddy only got to serve six months in his first term when some uppity secretaries and pages took umbrage at him massaging himself in front of them. To show how emasculated we'd become even back then, every Republican Congressman and Senator, men from his own party! voted to impeach him.
     And, as confused as I am as to why, it seems that after me, the most masculine presence in our 5th Avenue townhouse is my daughter Bertha.

     I really do wish she'd grow out of that tomboy phase, get a wax job on her upper lip and stop wearing clothes like wife beaters and cargo pants. As it is, she now spends her time pumping iron to Ruth Bader Ginsburg's workout video and sweating and breathing a little more heavily than should be allowed. On the plus side, it's a good thing that she's now suddenly taken an interest in the law and even mentions her life-long dream of spending a weekend with Elena Kagan in a remote cabin upstate, no doubt to pick her brain about the finer points of tort reform.
     However, this is about Brett Kavanaugh, a man whose masculinity is so communicable even that Nancy boy Lindsey Graham found his set for about 30 seconds and screamed about the liberal Democrats doing to Brett what his own party did to Merrick Garland and then some a couple of years ago. Soon this spread to Chairman Chuck Grassley and Orrin Hatch, even though they're older than Pompeii. Soon every male on the Judiciary was in an alpha male uproar over Brett Kavanaugh, one of their own, getting token resistance from Democrats.
     Hell, Kavanaugh's got testosterone and God only knows what other hormones squirting out of every orifice in his body. In fact, if I was an underaged girl naive about male motivations during keggers, I'd probably let him drunkenly paw at my clothes like a motor-challenged bear.
     The court's been full of effete intellectuals for too long. It's time we take a blunt force trauma approach to the law, especially when liberal precedents like Roe v Wade are up for grabs. And with a little luck, maybe we can bring back the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 and have some more Dred Scott decisions.
     Because what good is it being on the highest court in the land when one has to painstakingly explicate and quantify one's every single judicial ruling when a dull, blunt, impenetrable mind fueled by blind rage is called for?

Friday, September 28, 2018

Kavanaugh Gets Out of Committee

     So, less than a half hour ago, this happened: Every piece of shit Republican just voted to get Kavanaugh out of committee, the split, as usual, along party lines, 11-10. The eclair-spined Jeff Flake, after being waylaid this morning by angry women after issuing a statement he was going to vote for Kavanaugh, weakly suggested delaying the vote for a week so the FBI could do a limited investigation pertaining only to Dr. Blasey Ford's claims. Then he voted for Kavanaugh, anyway, to protect that cushy lobbying gig he has waiting for him when he leaves office this January.
     To paraphrase Apu, "Jeff Flake, the opportunity to prove yourself a hero is long gone."
     So, what does Clarence Thomas think about this?

Thursday, September 27, 2018

A Study in Contrasts

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
"If this is the new norm, you better watch out for your nominees."-  Lindsey Graham to Democrats
This first allegation was held in secret for weeks by a Democratic member of this committee and by staff. It would be needed only if you couldn’t take me out on the merits. When it was needed, this allegation was unleashed and publicly deployed over Dr. Ford’s wishes.” -Brett Kavanaugh as he poured gasoline on and set the match to his entire judicial career in real time on international television
It was indeed a study in contrasts.
     Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who has a fear of flying, nonetheless boarded a plane at an airport 3000 miles away from her family's home. She's been forced to move to an undisclosed location on account of the threats, angry taunts and attention she'd received when she finally decided to step from the shadows and put a face and a name to the growing number of middle-aged women who'd come out to accuse Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault.
     She was terrified, so she'd said early in her opening statement, when she went into intense detail about her ordeal at a house in Maryland one night in 1982. She was terrified of the attention, terrified at, she a sexual assault survivor, being interrogated by a partisan right wing prosecutor from Maricopa County, Rachel Mitchell.
     Yet despite her terror, Dr. Ford, a clinical psychologist, kept her calm and poise and answered every question with aplomb or as much as she could manage. Her stubborn yet fragile poise served as the perfect counterpoint to the fear we could all hear in her quavering voice even as Chuck Grassley interrupted time and again, thereby undercutting Ms. Mitchell's very reason for being there. And as one listened to Dr. Ford, it became painfully clear she was no longer a 50-something psychologist and professional woman testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee in our nation's capitol. She was once again a terrified 15 year-old girl in a small bedroom in Maryland, loud music being played to mask her cries for help and a hand clamped over her mouth as a drunken boy pulled at her clothes as she feared he would kill her by accident.
     The 11 male Republicans on the committee brought Mitchell to DC so as to not give the appearance of being 11 over the hill frat boys gang banging a defenseless woman. If they hoped for a dramatic Perry Mason moment, with Dr. Blasey Ford breaking down in tears and wailing, "It was a lie, I lied the whole time!", they were disappointed. That was why, when Dr. Ford's ordeal was over, they'd dismissed Mitchell without even an audible word of thanks.
     Dr. Blasey Ford exuded credibility and nothing else except for the pain and emotional toll it took on her to go on national TV and repeat on camera, the whole world watching, a nightmare of an evening with Brett Kavanaugh and Mark Judge that, until today, she'd only related from a safe distance in a letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein. She was simply, to use Sen. Kamala Harris' phrase, "a profile in courage."
     Indeed, Dr. Blasey Ford at times sounded like a victim of warfare. Like a real victim of war, she'd been displaced 3000 miles from her real home, was under siege and looked like an unlikely candidate for a full recovery from what happened to her in that bedroom in Bethesda. If you could not bring yourself to believe her or at the very least, respect her courage for coming forward just to do her civic duty, then perhaps you should slide back into the primordial ooze and give up the pretense of being human.
     And then, it was Brett Kavanaugh's turn to speak.

Do Not Feed Judge Kavanaugh After Midnight
Since early July, we'd been treated to a steady series of appearances by Judge Henry Jekyll.
     Today, we got nothing but Judge Edward Hyde.
     It was as if a switch had been thrown. It was as if Kavanaugh was a gremlin and someone had forgotten the famous rule of not getting him wet or to feed him after midnight. He yelled at Sen. Patrick Leahy when he simply asked him if he wished for Mark Judge to be in the hearing room. He got snippy with Sen. Dick Durbin when he asked him if he personally was in favor of an independent FBI probe of Dr. Ford's allegations. When asked point blank if he was a blackout drunk by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Kavanaugh turned the question back on her, twice. (It's a well-known fact Sen. Klobuchar's father was a violent drunk, making Kavanaugh's deflection tactic that much more despicable.)
     But before any of that, long after Professor Anita Hill's spirit had forced itself into the hearing room, Kavanaugh had already shown what he was made of when he launched into a screaming right wing Fox-inspired boilerplate tirade accusing everybody but Eugene Debs and Karl Marx for the vast left wing conspiracy against his "good name."
     As the theater reviewer once said, "he laughed, he cried." In other words, if during the Benghazi Witch Hunt Hillary Clinton had acted with half the unhinged emotionality that was allowed to Brett Kavanaugh, she would've been laughed out of the hearing room, the State Department and the presidential campaign trail while being confined to a fainting couch for the rest of her days.
     By hiding literally 96% of the documents pertaining to Kavanaugh and his judicial decisions, the Republican Party wanted to celebrate Halloween early and leave a flaming bag of dog shit on the nation's collective stoop then run away before the ruse was discovered. But we've been victimized by the GOP's old bait and switch game too many times and it doesn't work any more. Now Lindsey Graham's reduced to blustering about the Democrats, for a change standing united against the possibility of a Justice Kavanaugh, and threatening what could happen to their judicial nominees.

     You know. Guys like this. for instance.
     What Kavanaugh, and the Republicans who just can't quit him in their drawn-out Brokeback Mountain infatuation with him, forgot is that Kavanaugh wasn't on trial and that especially was true for Dr. Ford. It was a high stakes job interview. One could somewhat forgive them for that misapprehension considering it was the victim in this case who'd gotten grilled by a prosecutor and not the alleged perpetrator. And that alone shows how far south our moral compass had fallen since the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill debacle of 1991.

Closing Argument
At the very least, Brett Kavanaugh gave us more than a mere glimpse of what he looks and sounds like when he's drunk. By several accounts (including his roommate at Yale), he's belligerent, combative and not very pleasant to be around when he's drunk. But today, Judge Kavanaugh was sober, making us question what poor 15 year-old Christine Blasey was facing in that bedroom in Bethesda in 1982. At the very least, waving aside for a second the blackout drinking, the sexual assaults, and the nearly 100,000 documents that have been kept from the American public, Brett Kavanaugh doesn't have the constitution (pardon the pun) to be a Supreme Court Justice.
     He showed the world today how volcanic his rage can be, how emotional he gets when his so-called integrity is impugned in the slightest. It made us wonder if he still drinks and what his behavior is like at home if he does and who suffers the fallout from that volatile behavior.
     Instead, Brett Kavanaugh showed us what a Supreme Court Justice is not supposed to look and sound like as he made an endless series of emoji faces just begging for, courtesy of CSPAN, the theme music from Curb Your Enthusiasm. The Republican Party helpfully demonstrated, just in time for the midterms, what a political party made up of mature men is not supposed to act like.

     Lindsey Graham showed us what an unhinged political party looks like several decades past its shelf life, at what a 50-something frat boy looks like when seriously having his conduct policed for the first time ever. It showed a vengeful electorate what white privilege looks like at the highest levels of government (as if Trump and his stumblebum white nationalists haven't already) when it even threatens to deny that brass ring to one of its own.
     Just as Dr. Blasey Ford's quavering voice was the perfect counterpoint to her courage, Brett Kavanaugh made a stunning counterpoint to Dr. Ford herself. It was a stunning study in contrasts into what character looks like when confronted with someone who only pretends to have it. And do not get me wrong, Faithful Reader- I am not so naive in politics as to believe that the Democrats weren't cynically using Dr. Ford to further their agenda, which is to keep Kavanaugh off the Supreme Court and to deny Trump for once.
     But, listening to Dr. Blasey Ford give a plainly pained testimony to an incident in her life she'd rather not have revisited, even across television screens and videos on Youtube and Twitter, gave one the impression that the Democrats' cynicism had abated somewhat. That, urged by the spirit of Professor Hill, it veered dangerously close into a concern and compassion more genuine than usual.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Gotham City Digest, 9/22/18

     Where we promise to never menacingly flare our combovers at you.

     "Well, we've just barely begun investigating why the Democrats' truck was shot while she still in it in her driveway but we think it was random." This is what passes for police work in Colorado.

     The headline: "Father and son charged with killing man over fight about trash." Yes, they stood their ground over a mattress in a Dumpster. Now they're out on just $25,000 cash bond. Pretty soon, The Purge won't be a dramatic series. It'll be a reality TV show.

     You'd think right wingers would know better by now- You boycott a product over some perceived slight and social media picks up on it, all it's going to do is elevate that brand or product;s visibility and make it more appealing to progressive-minded people. Well, you'd be wrong. Since Nike announced they were making Colin Kaepernick the face of their product line on Labor Day, their share price has skyrocketed 36%, thereby adding $6 billion to their market value. But, please go on and keep burning your Nike products for which Nike already got paid.

     Besides comic relief, can anyone tell me why we're still listening to Alan Doucheowitz? Because "Democrats" like this guy we don't need on our side. And, uh, if "men and women forget", then how come Dr. Blasey Ford still vividly remembers her attempted rape at the hands of Brett Kavanaugh after 36 years?

     If any hairstyle should be illegal, it ought to be Trump's bizarre, comical comb over. How much you want to bet if dreads were more popular among white people, this company wouldn't've made it a violation of their grooming code?

     In the nearly 14 years since I began blogging, I've always liked Tom Hartmann and this highly erudite article is one of the reasons why.

     Shorter DeSantis campaign contributor: "Well, yes, I called Obama a nigger but I'm not racist." What is this, the 4th, 5th, 6th accusation of racism dogging DeSantis? I've lost count. 5th, I think.

     I have to laugh when I hear Republicans complaining about left wing partisanship. This is the sordid story of Mike Davis, who deleted a bunch of ill-timed tweets after admitting his boss Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. was "unfazed" by the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh. So don't you dare tell me there's no Republican War on Women.

     Sam Patten pleads guilty to diverting foreign funds to Trump's Tiny Inaugural fund. Damn, another witch got water thrown on him.

     Shorter Kavanaugh: "I wasn't at that party... wherever it was."

     For those of you who thought "Affluenza" was ridiculous, now there's "outercourse." Yes, that's the defense convicted rapist Brock Turner's shyster tried to use before a three judge appeals panel. One judge actually told him that he had no idea what he was talking about.

     I knew he couldn't shut the fuck up about this for long. He really doesn't give two shits about Kavanaugh, only the cover he can give him from the bench of the Supreme Court. And he's fighting tooth and nail not for Kavanaugh's credibility, but his own. As if that exists.

     I know I mentioned this some time last month but it absolutely bears repeating. $20,000,000 was moved around by one of Trump's Russian oligarch buddies just six days before the infamous Trump Tower meeting June of 2016. Now Mueller's investigating that, too.

     Remember Harriet Miers, the dimwit nominated by Bush to be on the Supreme Court, the one whose nomination crashed and burned when it was revealed she knew little to nothing about Constitutional law? Even she scored higher approval ratings than "Hold 'Er Down" Brett.

     I don't know what in Zeus' butthole the NY TIMES was thinking in writing much less running this piece. This just feeds into Trump's Deep State fever dreams and gives him the perfect ammunition with which to fire Rosenstein. Rosenstein's really the only bulwark in the DOJ protecting Mueller and his investigation. Now all Trump has to do is install one of his partisan hacks to replace Rosenstein and the first thing that asshole will do, secretly on Trump's orders, is fire Mueller. That would automatically trigger a Congressional investigation and, in a GOP-controlled Congress, you know how THAT's gonna play out.
      Seriously, there is in journalism some stories you wish they could unwrite and this is so incredibly one of them.

     You know you've gone 'round the bend and are one skeevy cocksucker when all six of your siblings actively campaign against you.

     "Did the defendant strangle the victim into unconsciousness after threatening her life then jerk off all over her?"
     "Guilty as charged, your honor."
     "Okee dokeyl You're free to go."

     There's a reason so many scumbag Republican males are endorsing and defending Kavanaugh- They see a like-minded spirit. This is a story about another Chuck Grassley aide who was recently forced to quit his post his own antics with women came to light. Maybe we should check into the histories of all these men to see if there's any skeletons in their closet (Well, except for Lindsey Graham. I don't think you'll find a single woman in his past, ifyouknowwhatImean.).

     The Cabinet is supposed to enact the President's agenda on a wide range of issues. But not one so narrow and heartless as this. ICE has already essentially stolen $10 million from FEMA, now they're trying to defund cancer research and Head Start to fund these Joe Arpaio tent prisons. Because imprisoning innocent children is much more important than educating them or treating their cancer.

     Brett Kavanaugh's turning into a lightning rod for federal hypocrisy of sexual accountability and that's a good thing. The GOP's rallying around Kavanaugh, an accused attempted rapist, and are ready to rake over the coals one of his victims. That alone tells you everything you need to know about how particularly vitriolic is the hypocrisy on the Republican side.

     Rock-ribbed conservative Republican family values, as only the Trump administration can deliver them! I've heard of skeeves slipping date rape drugs into women's drinks but abortion pills after they got them pregnant during an affair behind their wive's backs? Well, that's what former top Trump aide Jason Miller allegedly did according to court records filed by his estranged wife.

     OK, if the FBI won't investigate this creep, this guy will.

     It's perfectly normal and acceptable to look into a political opponent's history. That's called "opposition research." But when someone does this to a person who's accused another of rape, it just comes off as looking creepy. And this is exactly what Ed Whelan did when he began stalking Dr. Blasey Ford on her LinkedIn account.
     To give you a rough run down of the timeline, here's what happened: 
     9/16 - Whelan starts research after WaPo names Ford to WH pre-publication.
     9/17 - Kavanaugh suggests mistaken identity to Hatch, WSJ editorializes.
     9/18 - Whelan predicts Kavanaugh vindication.
     9/19 - Orrin Hatch flunky: “keep eye on Ed’s tweets.” 
     9/20 - Whelan names classmate. Get the picture now? And finally...

     You know what they say about right wingers who are obsessed with gay sex. I'd say the same applies to this right wing Christian evangelical who can't stop talking about oral sex, in which straight people don't indulge, donchaknow?

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Gotham City Digest, September 12, 2018

     In which every single day is Trump Day and is about nothing else. Ever.

     So, Trump was recently on a South Dakota radio station and was asked if he had any words of comfort for farmers hurt by his insane trade wars. And this is what the sociopath in chief said in response: "They were gonna lose them, anyway."
      Yes, he actually said that. But not to worry, because he's gonna save them like nobody else can. Yer gonna be sick o' bein' saved, lemme tell ya.

     "Do no harm", eh, Google? But really, does it surprise anyone that the censorious cunts at Youtube (aka Google) have resorted to terminating the accounts of entire governments, including Syria?

     It's #MSWL day on Twitter and you know what that means, fellow scribes...
     But that's not all. This is what happened when Jessica Faust at Bookends made the mistake of attempting empathy and what she got from me in response.

     This is some very interesting reportage from Buzzfeed about two flurries of banking activity, one right after the infamous Trump Tower meeting and the other right after the election.

     Professional educator, eh? This is what this (former) teacher out of Slidell, LA said about the Nike ads, which really brings out the white southern racists faster than a free BBQ with moonshine kegs:
Want not to be stereotyped, tell people of that color to quit acting like animals and perpetuating the stereotype. Many are average people; the few ruin it.
     So, she's not only a white racist redneck but also one that's a concern troll, to boot.

     President "Grab 'em by the pussy" is already comparing himself to Lincoln. 'Cuz, you know, he's got all the best words.

     After giving himself an A+ at the 911 Memorial for throwing paper towels at Puerto Ricans and bragging about his invisible F35s last year, he does this just as hurricane season begins: Trump diverted nearly $10,000,000 from FEMA's budget to give to ICE to keep imprisoning brown people in his racist agenda.

     I'm sure many if not all of you still remember the countless clusterfucks of the Bush administration after Hurricane Katrina just over 13 years ago. Walmart trucks filled with ice and water were diverted from where they needed to go and sent instead to places where it wasn't so much. And then came Trump, Maria and Puerto Rico.
    CBS then CNN reported yesterday and today that up to 20,000 pallets of water have been sitting on an airstrip in Ceiba, Puerto Rico for nearly a year. 20,000 pallets equals millions of bottles of water.
     This bird's eye view from a news chopper shows just a tiny fraction of them.
     This wide angle view courtesy of CBS shows just how much was left to literally rot on the tarmac and they still couldn't get them all into the shot. They finally got around to delivering 700 of the 20,000 pallets and stopped when people began complaining of the foul smell and taste. This story broke yesterday, the same day Trump gave himself an A+ (As Bush continually did over Katrina) for throwing paper towels at Puerto Ricans who may or may not have been among the 3000 who'd drowned.
     Heckuva job, Trumpie!

     Speaking of literary agents...
     I don't friend kiddie book authors and certainly don't know the agents who rep them (although earlier this year I sent a query package to Christopher Little and told him if he repped me, he could stop living off his brief association with JK Rowling. Odd that I never heard back from him).
      But my heart goes out to these poor suffering bastards. It could've happened in any genre. It happened to the clients of Harriet Wasserman when she Judge Cratered herself in 1996 after things blew up between her and her one night stand, Saul Bellow. Then there was the nightmare suffered around the same time by Jayne Hitchcock and the Woodside Literary Agency. Now there's Danielle Smith and her aptly-named Lupine Grove. Her victims number about five dozen, more than enough for an actual Facebook support group.
      Now I'm not saying all repped authors will get ripped off and lied to. Most agents aren't like Danielle Smith.
      That's because most literary agents wouldn't be smart enough to sustain a massive deception for so long.

     "The affidavit says Guyger mistook Jean’s apartment for hers and that his front door was ajar when she entered. She also told investigators that she shot Jean after he refused her verbal commands."
      What verbal commands? "Get out of your apartment"?
      By the way, the arrest affidavit seems to be almost completely based on her own account and contradictory to that of the neighbors. In fact, Amber Guyger's statement keeps changing. She thought she was walking into her own apartment, then she starts barking commands before firing. The door was locked, meaning her keycard shouldn't have worked then it was ajar. This woman was either stoned out of her mind or she had an agenda.

     I'd like to call Duncan Hunter what he really is but I'm afraid Massengill would sue me. Seriously, not only did he live like the Aga Khan on campaign donations, not only did he blame his wife but he used it to boink five other women. Yeah, party of family values, if we're talkng about the Manson family.

     I've got problems with Bob Woodward. A LOT of them. For instance, his sitting on revelations for upwards of a year or more and storing them up for his books. A lot of the things he discovers from high ranking officials are things we should know NOW, not years later after the chance to do something about them has long passed. But he hits the nail on the head here. With Watergate, we were driven by the truth. There was Republican obstruction, sure, especially from the WH. But in Congress, enough Republicans were onboard so that Nixon absolutely would've been impeached if he hadn't resigned. Nowadays, it's all about which consonant you have after your name and party primacy.

     Mustache Man really is completely insane. The International Criminal Court is "illegitimate? That's what tyrants and their enablers say about the courts about to have them executed for war crimes.

     I love irony. Don't you?

     Fredo trolled Nike's new Colin Kaepernick ad with a picture of Daddy Warbucks. So, naturally, we decided to troll back.

     Nobody does the right thing then hides the records of their time in public office. When a public official hides public records that the public has a right to review, that means they did the wrong thing and they know it.
      The Republican Party's pathetic attempts to keep Kavanaugh's records from the eyes of the Democrats and the American public mean they know exactly of the wrong, and quite possibly illegal, things he'd done. For instance, read about his work on the Pickering nomination from 2006.
      Nonetheless, they're persisting. And finally...

     Tucker Carlson really doesn't like living in an America that isn't all white.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Interview with Scottish mystery author CA Asbrey

September’s Author of the Month of Scottish mystery author CA Asbrey (the pen name for Christine Lyden). CA is becoming rapidly known throughout Facebook’s mystery-reading and -writing indie community with her new Innocents mystery series set in 1860’s Wyoming.

15) OK, you’re Scottish by birth and presently live in England. How on earth does a Scottish author come to write a western mystery series set in the American West of the 1860’s? What was your inspiration for doing so?
I first became interested in early women in law enforcement when I joined the police in Scotland. Going further and further back meant going to the place where the first professional female detectives actually worked – The Pinkertons between 1856 until 1884. When Allan Pinkerton died his son Robert got rid of them. It’s alleged that Robert got rid of them due to complaints from wives about their husbands working with women. It’s likely that this was a motivation, and that his own mother might have been one of them, as Allan Pinkerton’s relationship with the first female Pinkerton, Kate Warne, was so close that she was actually buried in the Pinkerton family grave. Mrs. Pinkerton’s view on that matter is not recorded. The answer is simple; in order to write about these women I had to go where they actually worked. The books are not all in the Old West. They go all over the country, coast to coast, just like the Pinkertons did. They even go to Europe and Canada later in the series. British Columbia was actually The Pinkerton’s biggest contract outside of the USA, but they had many of them

14) Even though Abigail is Scottish, how difficult was it for you to strain out all the Britishisms in your dialogue and narrative? Did you have to go back during the revision process and remove any stray ones?
I have worked in the USA and been a regular visitor for years. I have many American friends. Outside of the USA, American television is everywhere. I think that people in the USA have less experience of us than we do of them.
Getting into a ‘US’ headspace is as simple as tuning to a TV show and paying attention to the dialogue. I can imagine that doing it the other way around would be far more difficult. In fact I know it is. There are thousands of posts on the internet made by Scots insisting that we don’t say ‘verra’, despite it featuring in an international best seller.  
Even with all that I absolutely did have to go back and find the idioms which slipped through. Lots of people helped and I’m very grateful to them. It’s more than just spelling. Some words mean a completely different thing to us than they do in the USA. Don’t even get me started on ‘fanny’! Just don’t say it over here. That’s all I’m saying.

13) Abigail MacKay is portrayed as a tough, intrepid, scientific-minded Pinkerton detective. For those who haven’t had the pleasure to peruse your Lady Pinkertons page on your official site, what was your inspiration for her?
Real women who enforce the law. I know plenty of them. They are strong, clever, brave, and human. The real women who were ground-breakers and who were bold enough to step outside the box society built for them and forge through resistance to force change. I didn’t want her to be a damsel in distress, and I certainly didn’t want her to be a sidekick.
I was most particular in what I didn’t want her to be. When she faces discrimination, she isn’t a victim. She stands up and gives as good as she gets. She isn’t perfect or superhuman. She makes mistakes, and just like real life, some can be fortuitous and others can be disastrous. She doesn’t turn to men and say, “What are we going to do?” No women worth their salt ever does that yet it’s all over fiction and movies. I wanted her to be a fully-fledged, properly-skilled investigator because that’s what these women were. They were extremely good at their jobs and commanded great respect at a time when women couldn’t vote and they’d only had the right to own property since 1838.
I don’t think strength is a male or female quality, it’s a human quality. Strong men and women have always been around. People never change, only times change, so it’s really a case of placing the characters in the time and place in which the story unfolds and watching them react to the situations they are in.

12) Writing western mysteries from the UK can be daunting from a hands-on research standpoint. When you research for an Innocents novel, to what places do you usually go?
As I said, I used to work over there and have visited countless times. I’ve been coast to coast and north to south. I may mention a state in the book, but I invent the smaller towns and make them generic. The exception to that would be the large cities like San Francisco or Boston. Apart from knowing the places very well, I also use historic maps and research the internet and books to ensure that the places I mention are not just correct, they are accurate to the period in which they are placed.
There have been plenty of Western writers who never lived there. Owen Wister was born from Pennsylvania and Zane Grey grew up in Ohio, played baseball in Pennsylvania, and practiced dentistry in New York before reading The Virginian and deciding to write frontier-tales of his own.

11) Mystery readers demand authenticity and accuracy perhaps more than anything else. How difficult is it for you to research what forensic advances had been made no later than the 1860’s?
That’s actually one of the easiest parts for me as forensics have always fascinated me and I have a scientific bent. There are plenty of books and documents which detail the actual processes used back in the 19th century, not to mention court transcripts which can be a fund of little gems as to how doctors tested for poisons or noted wounds.
You do have to be careful about the dates of discovery and usage, as well as looking at when the processes were superseded by a new one.
I also have skilled friends I can ask when in doubt.

10) 1868 Wyoming was a surprisingly progressive place in at least one respect- That year it became the first state to give women the right to vote. Even though you never mentioned that in THE INNOCENTS, what was it about Wyoming that attracted you to the point of launching your series there?
That’s an easy one. There’s no statute of limitations in Wyoming and that is important to the plot.  

9) How would you like to see latter day mystery fiction evolve?
For me it’s all about the plot. People a whole lot cleverer than me are taking ideas and running with them – stretching us psychologically, mentally, and sometimes foxing us completely.
I don’t really have a view on how it should evolve. I think readers will always be ready for anything writers throw at them.

8) Imagine THE INNOCENTS greenlighted for a movie version and you had the final say on casting. Who would you tap to play Abigail and the other characters?
You’re going to hate this answer but I have no idea. I haven’t cast my characters from favorite actors. They exist organically in my head as their own thing. Abigail would have to be more than just attractive; she’d have to show strength and intelligence – so any actress would need to have those qualities herself.
Nat would need to have one of those faces with expressive eyes. He’d be good-looking, but not boyish or too pretty.
The actors would probably be not very well-known, or come out from left field.
Just as an aside I made Abigail so dark as it’s a very Celtic characteristic, but the stereotype in the USA tends to be red hair and blue eyes, which is actually a minority. Think Catherine Zeta Jones, Sean Connery, Aidan Turner, and Colin Farrell. They are very Celtic.
I gave Nat dimples purely because it’s another way to describe emotions and reactions and to make his stand out.   

7) Aside from mystery fiction, what other genres, if any, would you like to try or what others have you tried?
The Innocents is my first book and the first three are already written. I honestly haven’t tried any other genre. They say write what you know and I’ve always read mystery. I love the game of playing along and trying to guess whodunit. I hate it when it’s too easy.

6) We’re historical novelists, not historians writing novels. However, having said that, do you think those writing in our genre have the right to reinvent established history instead of merely reimagining it?
If we reinvent it, we must be honest with the reader. We have a duty not to spread falsehoods about important events. It can be very interesting to put a different point of view, or tell a story from a lesser-known perspective though. It can make us see events through new eyes.
I don’t think it matters too much if we stick in a train (for example) and don’t make it stop at every station, or describe the exact route across town with every turn identified. We are invoking a sense of place, not making a documentary. Sometimes research shows things which were invented far earlier than people think, or actual events don’t match the popular version of a tale. In those cases it’s great to confound expectations. I love doing those.
In a way my female Pinkerton does exactly that for many people who don’t realize that they existed or how skilled they were.

5) In TATTERDEMALION, I’d used real life people such as Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, Sitting Bull, Fred Abberline, Queen Victoria and so forth. Why don’t more historical figures pop up in your Innocents series and how do you resist the urge to use them?
They actually do pop up, but in dialogue about their scientific and forensic skills and their contributions to their fields. When I name chiefs of police in a specific place, governors, or the like, they are the correct ones for the date and their characters have been researched.
At the end of the day, how often do you meet a queen or famous person in out of the way places? My characters don’t really mix in glamorous circles.
If I need a famous person to drive forward a plot I’d have no hesitation in putting one in.

4) Plotter or pantser?
A bit of both. I start with a general idea of who did it and why. I then research all the ways to support the evidence and what was possible at the time. I then look at how to plant red herrings.
When a character starts to act up and make their part grow, I’ll go with it. Even the end can change if the story goes a different way. In that case the original story will be converted into a red herring. And, yes. I’ve done that.

3) Describe your drafting process. Do you use notebooks, your laptop or a combination of both? What time of the day or night do you most often write?
I’m a night owl and do my best writing at night or in the evening. I’ve never been a lark. I use a laptop and a nest of cushions on the couch despite having a desk. I’ll start with research, a series of notes and start at the beginning and write the book right through. Then I’ll re-write at least twice. I then give it to trusted people to read and comment on before a thorough editing.       

2) How difficult is it to juggle and balance the romantic angle with the serious crimes that take place, especially with a pair of bank robbers who are more lovable rogues than bad guys?
That’s actually well-researched. There were many criminals who were either humane or who saw it as a great way to ensure cooperation to treat ordinary people well. There is also a long history of people who had a special grudge against the rich and powerful – and that’s really who my criminals are. Their back story unfolds throughout the trilogy.
I wrote a whole blog post about men like them and you can find it here.
      I didn’t really want it to get as romantic as it got. It just sort of went that way.

1) What’s next for Abigail and when will the next installment of THE INNOCENTS series launch?
Part 2 is already out and more of the men’s back story unfolds and you understand more of their motivations. In it Nat’s uncle is concerned when Abi is working with a bounty hunter who never brings in anyone alive, and fears that she is trying to trap Nat. The book features irritable heart, the 19th century term for PTSD, and also shows discrimination and violence towards immigrants, the beginning of the early nativist parties who feared that Catholic immigrants where changing the face of the country, and the consequences of immigrant children ripped away from families. Abigail also gets to showcase her scientific skills in this one.
It might seem opportunistic timing, but this book was actually written about four years ago and has been doing the rounds being turned down by multiple publishers because ‘westerns aren’t selling’ (it’s not a  western. It’s 19th century Americana) or ‘it’s not western enough’ (it’s 19th century USA from the perspective of a female immigrant) or there’s not enough character development (code for it’s not romantic enough and they don’t get their rocks off by chapter three of the first book)
Part 3 is a howdunit. Abigail’s sister has run away to marry someone of whom her family disapproves. The biggest problem is that when Abigail investigates she finds he has multiple identities and that each of his wives died mysteriously. They know he is killing but don’t know how, but need to find out fast. We also find out a lot more of Abigail’s back story in this one.   
Part three will be released in November this year. 
Blog - C.A Asbrey - all things obscure and strange in the Victorian period
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