Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Gotham City Digest 10/30/18

Where we promise not to vaporize you with death ray eyes.

     These are actual cover photos of MAGA accounts on Twitter. There seems to be some disconnect between the oil tanker-shaped Trump and their perception of him as well as a disturbing need to be cruelly dominated and threatened.


     I guess being undefeated while black and making white teams look bad in the process is also an infraction.

      Meanwhile, In Pence Country, this angry old white lady left a note for her new "n----r" neighbors to move out because they made her feel "uncomfortable." I hope she continues to "feel better" while she's sitting in jail.

     Trump criticizes black manager Dave Roberts right after synagogue shooting in which he blamed the victims for not arming themselves.

      Why, I'm shocked, SHOCKED that racketeering is going on in this family.
      Sir, here are your payoffs.
      Oh, thank you.

     Man born in US through a foreign mother and sired four children in US through two other foreign mothers plans to revoke 14th Amendment through royal decree.

     A better headline would have been, FINALLY, A REAL WITCH HUNT FOR TRUMP TO FEAR. Seriously, we now have to turn to witches in fucking Brooklyn because our elected officials failed us. And now the right wing has to counter with an exorcist.
      And, in an age of witch doctors, regressive right wingers and snake oil salesmen who've infested the upper echelons of our government, this news seems almost... normal.
      Who's rooting for the witches?

     Poor Shep Smith must feel like the Marilyn Munster of Fox "News." He has to explain to us time and again that up is not down, that water is wet and that there is no "invasion" from the caravan.

     Can someone please arm the animals and have them take out this fat fuck?

     Someone once asked, "What was Khashoggi working on?" That's always the first thing someone should ask every time a journalist is killed. Now it's come out that not only was Khashoggi working on an article that would've exposed Saudi Arabia's use of chemical weapons on Yemen, Great Britain even knew about the killing in advance and weakly begged the Saudis not to go through with it.

     Could Fox "News" be bringing unknown mental diseases? If the caravan's bringing unknown diseases, how could we know? And besides, it's not as if they couldnn't've vacci... Oh, wait...

     “If they were in America pushing the platform that they push, they would be Republicans.” Steve King, on Austrian neo Nazis. So there you have it. But what did you expect from a white supremacist who used a Holocaust group's money so he could jawbone with Nazis?

     Every second we stand for this fascist bullshit from this Velveeta Mussolini instead of standing up to it, we make our democracy weaker.

     President Carter wrote a letter to Brian Kemp. He asked him to step aside as Secretary of State of Georgia. Here's the full text of the letter.

     I told you Megyn Kelly would be out before the end of the year. You heard it here first, folks. And finally...

     Bubble-headed bleach blonde says something idiotic on Fox, nation yawns.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

The "Gift" of GAB

 (By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
"HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) likes to bring invaders in that they kill our people. I can't sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I'm going in." - Robert Bowers, alleged Tree of Life synagogue shooter and prominent GAB member
"Eat shit, Ed." Microsoft to Jewish reporter Ed Krassenstein from The Hill when asked last August for comment about Microsoft-owned GAB

Microsoft is anti Semitic and quite possibly racist. That is an ineluctable fact. At the very least, Microsoft is soft on fascism and racism.
     GAB, the anti-social media sited owned by Microsoft Azure, is the place where Aryan and angry masculinity goes for its last gasp after getting kicked off legitimate social media. Azure is a cloud site whereby people can set up entire social media domains and, since fascists can't seem to shut the fuck up about their hateful views that are shared and sheltered by one Donald J. Trump, aka Orange Julius Caesar, they'd taken refuge at Gab after getting kicked off Twitter, Facebook and after sites such as Stormfront, at least temporarily, were shut down.
     To be fair for a minute, Microsoft had warned GAB to remove its hateful content and gave them 48 hours to comply... early last August. And then Robert Bowers, a visible and major member of GAB, decided to take matters into his own hands. This morning, Bowers walked into the Tree of Life synagogue in the Squirrel Hill area of Pittsburgh and shot 11 parishioners to death during a typically peaceful shabbat service.
     The comments used as an epigraph above were made minutes before he left for Tree of Life. During the mass murder, he screamed anti Semitic comments such as, "All you Jews must die!" or words to that effect. This was less than a month after Trump publicly rejected globalism (some would interpret that as "Jews") at the UN.
     And, to get back to Krassenstein for a moment, when The Hill reporter had asked for a comment from Microsoft regarding their timid and toothless warning to Gab to tone down the fascist and racist rhetoric, whoever is in charge of Microsoft's Twitter account told him, "Dear Ed, Eat shit" before it was hastily taken down.
     To summarize: Massive corporations treat fascist web sites, that they own, with kid gloves but when a Jewish reporter asks that same corporation for some clarification, they tell him to "eat shit." Hence the opening line, "Microsoft is anti Semitic and quite possibly racist." With such priorities and targeted animus on full display, there is no other conclusion to infer.

The Caravan's Already Here
Then there was yesterday's arrest of the alleged MAGA bomber, Cesar Sayoc, a 56 year-old pizza delivery driver. Sayoc who, like the Chris Farley character Matt Foley, "lived in a van" and, while he didn't live down by a river, nonetheless worked for New River Pizza and Fresh Kitchen, was also quite active on right wing media. He gleefully shared the more hateful stories and videos from Fox "News" as well as Steve Bannon's Breitbart. He's also a registered Republican and had been photographed several times at Trump rallies wearing a MAGA hat and holding up pro-Trump signs.

     Naturally, the spin cycle has long since begun in the right wing whitewash brigade. Jeff Sessions would only say, "it appears as if he's a partisan" before adding we'd have to wait until the evidence comes out. No we don't. Sayoc's van is a rolling Trump Twitter feed, with cross hairs over the faces of the so-called president's most bitter enemies and opponents, those who were the most frequent targets of that same Twitter account. And the 13 pipe bombs that we know of that were sent out were to those same people, Trump's favorite targets, including former presidents Obama and Clinton, Maxine Waters (off of whose pipe bomb the FBI had lifted one of Sayoc's fingerprints), Joe Biden, CNN's New York offices, etc.
     So, no, you malignant racist leprechaun, there's nothing to wait for.
     At the same time Sayoc was being arrested at an Auto Zone in Plantation, FL, this was what Trunp was most concerned with:

     As you can probably expect, when asked about the MAGA Bomber's capture, all Trump could come up with was that the bomber "was a person who preferred me over others", as if he was tacitly accepting this mentally ill man's endorsement. Then true to form, he denied any responsibility for his rhetoric inflaming this idiot's hatred despite going to his hate rallies and having his fat, orange jiggling puss plastered all over the windows of his van, thereby in the process making it some polluting shrine to the Cult of Trump. 

     Sayoc, I'd like to repeat, is, as it was immediately discovered, also a registered Republican. He's not a "Bernie bro", a liberal, a liberal plant or a patsy. His Republican roots go back deeply.
     And not only is the government and Fox "News" in on the fix, so are those selfsame corporate media entities such as Twitter. Just 16 days ago, when he'd begun sending out his idiotic pipe bombs that, thankfully, had harmed no one, Sayoc had threatened Democratic strategist Rochelle Ritchie. Ritchie, seeing the threat, reported it to Twitter. This was Twitter's response:
      Then, when they finally got around to suspending Sayoc's Twitter account after his highly-publicized arrest yesterday, they sent Ritchie this:
     "In error", my ass. This is another of countless examples of Twitter alone tolerating fascist hate speech and eliminationist rhetoric, with the supreme example of this Trump's own Twitter account that had threatened nuclear war on several occasions. For the record, this reporter's various accounts have been suspended and shadowbanned, even though he had never, ever threatened anyone.
     But the fact remains that Trump had been bad-mouthing Rep. Maxine Waters, Hillary Clinton, CNN, Joe Biden, George Soros, Barack Obama and many others and those are precisely the people to whom Sayoc had attempted to send his barely functional bombs. He'd been to Trump's hate rallies. He'd covered virtually all the windows of his van with images of Trump and Pence. There is not one degree of separation. Trump might as well had adopted the crazy bastard into his own family or appointed him to his Cabinet.
     Yet, if you're to talk to people like Arizona US Senate candidate Martha McSally, "the things that matter" aren't health care but the Honduran caravan that was created by the Reagan-era-financed Honduran death squads, creeping its way to our southern border.

The Corporations and Government Are Not Your Friends
Unless you're a fascist who happens to be well-funded and well-connected.
     A career Veteran's Affair's bureaucrat, David Thomas, is so fond of Nathan Bedford Forrest, the Confederate general and first Grand Wizard of the KKK, that he hung his portrait on a wall in his office until his staff pressured him to remove it through a petition. Donald Trump has or has had people working in his administration with provable ties to white nationalist movements such as Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, who before Miller's promotion as senior policy adviser to Il Douche, was very chummy with Alt-Right founder, Richard Spencer.
     Trump himself gave just August last year some infamous cover by referring to the white nationalists, neo Nazis and KKK members at Charlottesbille as "very fine people." Yes, 62,000,000 idiots put in the White House a Supreme Idiot who treats motorcycle gangs, racists and Nazis with kid gloves while savagely calling the media "the enemy of the people" and vilifying African American congresswomen such as Maxine Waters and Frederica S. Wilson.
     Microsoft hosts a racist and antisemitic website and reacts in an unmistakably hostile manner when asked for comments by Jewish reporters. Twitter had to be shamed into shutting down accounts like Cesar Sayoc's even when presented with palpable evidence of threats he's made to a woman. Facebook happily took rubles from Russian spies that greatly helped get white nationalist and racist Donald Trump elected yet terminate the accounts of people critical of Israel and even admitted last year it did so at the direction of the US and Israeli governments.
     We're living in very chilling times and the people who seem to be the most victimized by right wing extremism through either corporate action or, in Rochelle Ritchie's case, inaction are those calling for justice. The people who expect more than that, that selfsame radical right wing, are the ones most protected by our government and technology corporations.
     The latter-day United States is a nation with such skewed priorities that just looking at the headlines that blare at us every day is to look at an ideological funhouse mirror in which sense and sensibility have been turned on its ear. Then we all collectively gasp just before pointing the fingers of blame at one party or another as the CSI people come to process the bleeding corpses. And you have your government and technology corporations who are held in thrall by the radical right represented by Robert Bowers, Cesar Sayoc and their hate-filled pied piper Donald Trump to thank for this.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Gotham City Digest. 10/25/18

Where you can't spell Gotham City Digest without Dictate Smoggy Hit.

     I have two things to say to this.
     #1, let's call this for what it is. Her show didn't merely "get canceled." Megyn Kelly got fired, alright? She no longer works for NBC. Nobody in their right mind pays some bleach-blonde right wing bimbo without a show $23,000,000 a year unless she spends at least 40 hours a week on her knees in the penthouse suite in Hollywood Hills, OK?
     #2, let this be a lesson to you, NBC: This is what happens when you hire right wing nut jobs, OK? You should've known what you were getting when you hired this right wing jackal when she'd said on Fox that Jesus and Santa Claus were both white. Did you honestly think Megyn Kelly would turn normal and start espousing safe, mainstream talking points just because she signed a contract with you?
     Again, one more time, for clarity's sake: This is what happens when you hire quasi-fascist, white nationalist right wing racists. But now I'm being tautological. GIVEN FUCK POINTS- Zero.
     SCHADENFREUDE POINTS: Through the roof.
     Scorpion and the Frog, motherfuckers. Learn it.

     The bad news is that the Russians and Chinese are monitoring Trump's cell phone calls. The good news is the government confirmed Trump learns little to nothing, therefore can't give anything valuable away.

     Want to know how to make a binary bomb? Introduce a dose of truth to a Fox "News" panel. Juan Williams said Trump's volatile words have repercussions. Right wing hilarity ensued.

     If health care wasn't that big an issue, then why did the US Senate vote 70 times to defund or abolish Obamacare? Instead, all this lying right wing twit wants to talk about is hood ornament issues like the Honduran caravan.

     Ron DeSantis completely lost it during his debate with Mayor Gillum last night when confronted with his racism.

     Yeah, Meghan, because getting an explosive device in the mail is exactly like being made slightly uncomfortable while eating sushi in a restaurant.

     This is why I love paper ballots. You can fold, spindle, mutilate and cut paper. But you can't hack it.

     So, if these ultra right wing nutters make up such a small percentage of our population, why do we give them so much press? Why do the media hold them in thrall as if they have workable viewpoints and solutions?
     One of the most damning indictments of the American mindset is that historically, we've always been much more tolerant of fascism and its progenitors than we ever have been, or likely ever will be, toward socialism or even its latter day watered down incarnation.
     That's because part of the American mindset not only expects but even craves an authoritarian leader who will pacify our fears while stripping us of our civil liberties and Constitutional protections. And even while we wave Old Glory twice a year and wax pious about standing for the national anthem and blather on about freedom, behind all that lurks the spectre of the authoritarian fascist who will make us feel good about ourselves as long as we obey that authoritarian leader.
     Yet, despite what a horrible example Hitler and his fascists were, Americans, with all our pretensions to democracy and hard-won freedom, can never completely wean themselves from the allure of flashy tyrannies and tyrants like Trump.

     We're back in the 1950s, folks, pre Brown vs Board of Education. While I'm horrified by this and this Idaho Potato Head, I hope this assclown racist keeps making these robocalls on behalf of the GOP. Because, this is where the GOP, especially in the south, stands. This is where Ron DeSantis stands, why DeSantis is endorsed by Trump. So, please, keep those robocalls streaming in from Idaho, asswipe.

     Beto O'Rourke's a "stone cold fraud". Says the right wing asshole with the spray tan and elaborate double weave whose real family name is Drumpf.

     Welp, there goes Kemp's entire campaign strategy of keeping black people from voting.

     Shorter Mitch McConnell: "Fiscawl responsibility, I say fiscawl responsibility is fo' th' poh-awss."

     Trump is MacBeth, without the command of English. Oh, and MacBeth was an actual warrior.

     Wake the fuck up. We're a pacified nation within a right wing dictatorship only playing at democracy.

     So, of course, the right wing nut jobs accuse liberals of sending bombs to Soros, Obama, Clinton and CNN, four of Trump's alltime favorite targets because, you know, conservatives NEVER pull shit like this. (Una-cough-bomber).
      Yes, Obama, Clinton and CNN all had bombs mailed to them. And Joe Biden. And Eric Holder. And Robert DeNiro. All of them are favorite targets of Trump.
      He owns this. Completely.

     Of course the redneck from Georgia would blame the black people.

     All together now- Happy days are here again.

     Right wingers love Honduran death squads but are afraid of Honduran caravans of families looking for a better life.

     Hitler and Mussolini also identified as nationalists. This asshole's gotta go, like now.

     This is sheer, satirical genius by one of my friends on my Scott Carson Twitter account. This ought to go viral.

     When all else fails, stick with the classics, like threats of lynching, for instance. BTW, this was masterminded by a black Republican who plainly doesn't know a blessed thing about his own nation's political history.

     Seeing Van Jones interviewing Jared Kushner on CNN made me wish Jones was the first victim in THE FIRST PURGE.

     Speaking of professional sellout Van fucking Jones: From the No Shit, Sherlock news network...

     As Stalin said, it doesn't matter how many votes you get. All that matters is who's counting the votes.

     Fuck the civility police, fuck McConnell's right wing press secretary and fuck Mitch McConnell.

     This is big because it's coming from a Republican right after Trump said he found the Saudi whitewash "credible." And finally...

     There is absolutely no way a thinking person using even just cursory powers of observation can look at this guy and not see a real-life Manchurian Candidate.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Gotham City Digest, Emperor Penguin edition

What we flush, the right wing elects president.

     So, Trump likes to fuck women with "horse faces". Ann Coulter, there's hope for you, yet.

     And America breathlessly waits to see if the Trumps can keep the magic alive.

     No doubt, Orange Julius Caesar will give himself an A+ for rescuing Florida after Hurricane Michael, too.

     ICE just gave a nearly $200 million contract to a bunch of con men who'd lost several other contracts and is currently under investigation for locking up immigrant kids in an abandoned office building. There's something skeevy going on between ICE and MVM. Perhaps someone should start investigating senior ICE officials and their connections with MVM.

     Murderous twat. "I shot a whole family of baboons," boasts a human baboon who also happens to be the Fish & Game Commissioner of Idaho. Or rather, he was before he was forced to resign.

     I will say I will give Trump $1 million to his favorite charity (which is the Trump Foundation), paid for by Crawford, if he takes the test and it shows he's a human.

     Of course more Republicans would be against interracial marriage even more than a half a century after Loving vs Virginia. It would've been interesting to see the regional breakdown, although I wouldn't've been surprised to see the overwhelming majority opposed were south of Mason Dixon. To paraphrase John Stuart Mill, I'm not saying all Republicans are racist but it seems that all racists are Republican.

     In reality, none of those Republicans would want anything to do with him and the Bushes have already skeeved him. Teddy Roosevelt and maybe Lincoln would've literally taken him to the woodshed.

     American history has shown time and again we tolerate right wing violence and disruption much more readily than that on the left. Civility is for wimps in times such as these. When right wingers demand civility from the left, they're really demanding our servility. They want to be able to bring guns and knives to a street fight while demanding we bring nerf bats and pillows.
      Someone should take Bernie aside and remind him of the violence his Socialist forebears endured and waged in their fight for economic parity. No revolution was ever won by the timid and meek. (Tip o' the tinfoil hat to Constant Reader CC.)

     This is like something out of a Coen Brothers movie. First come the cleaners, then the real cleaners just before the detectives. The Saudi Consulate's dumpster must be a horror show.

     Come on, you didn't think Trump would so easily give up on separating families at the border, did you?

     Shorter Romney in irritating stereotypical white man voice: "What is this Never Trump of which you speak, stranger?"

     This is the start of the Purge. Thank y'all for participating and helping to make a stronger, whiter America.

     Just as I'd predicted, Trump's already welching on the bet he made with Elizabeth Warren, claiming he never made it. But there's video tape proving he did on July 5th, in Montana.

     You wanted a sociopath, Florida. You got one. Take heart, though. Maybe in a couple of weeks, he'll show up with a phalanx of reporters and throw paper towels at you.

     With this asshole, it's all about winning. Nominating and confirming a Supreme Court justice shouldn't be about winning. It should be about putting the best legal minds on the High Court. Yet this is what he told Leslie Stahl on 60 Minutes.

     God damn, Republicans are such nasty, arrogant twats, aren't they? Meet GA Senator David Perdue, who likes to steal cell phones. That's something a stupid dog does when it doesn't have enough to occupy him.

     You know what's a headline I'd love to see but never will? MEN WARNED NOT TO RAPE WOMEN.

     Puts a new spin on the phrase, "Your ass is grass and I'm the lawn mower," huh?

     “Chain migration is bad,” says the racist asshole whose wife and in laws have benefited greatly from chain migration.

     I think it's abundantly obvious why this Mormon douchebag asked only women to stay off the internet and their cell phones just before the midterms.

     "Are Republicans Protecting Election Integrity?"?! I can't believe we're seriously asking this question out loud. Since when have Republicans ever given a shit about election integrity? Republicans have closed 1081 polling places just since 2012, including 403 in Texas alone. Republicans hate paper ballots and had lobbied hard in the 90's for electronic voting machines with lousy to nonexistent firewalls for the simple reason that they can be hacked. So let's stop these ridiculous attempts at fairness and nonpartisanship and stop giving Republicans the benefit of the doubt. They're crooks who know they can't win elections unless they cheat and one can call them out on their chicanery without being liberals or Democrats.

     I don't know what's this "new Democratic Party" Holder's talking about but historically, when Republicans go low, establishment Democrats go lower and suck them off. But I'm all in for kicking Republicans both literally and figuratively and the Bush-loving Michelle Obama can go fuck herself. I think we've heard enough out of that family for a decade, thank you.

     Gee, look at that. They're all red states deep in the South. What're the odds? With the southern GOP, about 100%.

     So, let me get this straight- The Headquarters of the New York City Republican Party invites a middle aged, homophobic frat boy thug who surrounds himself with much younger male thugs who was involved in Charlottesville last year and uses initiation hazing rituals very much like the MS-13 with which Trump is obsessed, 30 of them beat up three Antifa protesters like the cowardly wimps they are, right outside NYC GOP HQ, and none of them get arrested even though police were present?
      I'd love to meet some of these Proud Boys in person. They won't be so proud after I meet them. And finally...

     Sigh. Our young Republicans grow up so fast, don't they?

Saturday, October 13, 2018

President Trump Praises Traitors at Ohio Rally

Lebanon, Ohio ---
     Last night at a rally in Lebanon, Ohio, President Donald Trump lavished praise on Confederate General Robert E. Lee and other examples of the greatest traitors in world history.
     “So Robert E. Lee was a great general and Abraham Lincoln developed a phobia. He couldn’t beat Robert E. Lee. He (Lincoln) had all of these generals. They looked great. They were the top of their class at West Point. They were the greatest people,” the president said to inhabitants of a state that wasn't part of the Confederacy and had abolished slavery by 1802. “There was only one problem: They didn’t know how the hell to win."
      Then, emboldened, the president drifted further from the script and began praising the most notorious traitors in human history. After treating the enthusiastic crowd to an impromptu history lesson on the Civil War, he then went back to the Revolutionary War.
     "Ya know who else was an underappreciated general? Benedict Arnold. I almost hate to say it, folks, but he was a great general. Washington loved him until dat West Point witch hunt cooked up by da fake and crooked media. And ya know, Arnold wouldn't'a done what he did if da liberal Democrats in Congress did da right thing an' just paid da man. Seriously. Sad. Very sad. But ya know sumpthin'? At least he wasn't captured," he concluded with emphasis in an apparent jab at John McCain's dead body.
     The Commander in Chief then abruptly moved forward in time and began talking about Quisling and the Vichy French.
     "I once took a lotta heat for usin' da phrase 'shithole countries' an' why we couldn't bring over more people from Norway. Ya know who I was thinkin' about when I said dat? Quisling, dat's who. Think about it. All Quisling wanted to do was make everybody get along like I am now. Think about how much of an easier time Norway would'a had if they'd just worked in cooperation wit' Hitler's people.
     "It's just like da Vichy French. All dey tried to do was work wit' some very fine people in Hitler's government and what did dey do to 'em after da war?" The President then made a chopping motion across his wattled neck and making a whooshing sound. "Off weeth zere heads," he said in a bad French accent, "Dat's gratitude, huh? Macron hates it when I bring dat up every time I see him."
     Sean Hannity of Fox News, hearing of the praise for Nazi era war criminals, immediately broke into Fox's regular programming to comment, "The crowd eerily grew more and more silent, obviously because they were in awe of the president's unique grasp of history." Hannity then appeared to try to say, "Heil Goebbels" before he was cut off.
     During the entire rally, which lasted an hour and 15 minutes and was not otherwise covered by Fox, Trump lavished praise on the unlikeliest of recipients including Confederate president Jefferson Davis.
     "Now, dere's a guy I could'a dealt wit', although he was a skinny-ass feller. I would'a told him, 'Hey, Jeff, eat a steak or sumpthin'. You want a steak, I got steaks!'"
     Then the president mysteriously concluded with words about Nathan Hale, the patriot spy who was hung by the British.
     "But don't even get me started on Hale. You know I don't like guys who were captured," said the five time draft dodger. "And some may say George da Third was a tyrant an' like me, dey say he was botz in da head. He was a strong man an' I respect dat. Hale? Dat's no way to treat authority. Me? I would'a rooted him out in a New York minute, lemme tell youse. I know rats, folks, believe you me. My administration's fulla dem." And the president gave an unspecified spot ahead of him the middle finger before lumbering off the stage.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Did it Happen Here?

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
The very fact that we have to nervously make comparisons between 2018 America and 1930's Nazi Germany is alone an indictment of an administration that, to paraphrase President Lincoln, has not come close to fooling all of the people all of the time.
     Yet, history being relentlessly, sometimes cruelly, cyclical, we have to take stock of the similarities between us and post Weimar Republic Germany, especially after its 1932 election. To not do so could retroactively, and horribly, turn out to be irresponsible. For, as I'd stated years ago, Germany was not remade overnight any more than Rome was made, or unmade, in a day.
     Let's take stock of the similarities in the first few months of the Nazi Party's rise to power:
     Much of what is our own First Amendment was suspended under Hitler: With the Enabling Act signed into law after the fire at the Reichstag, freedom of the press, free speech and the right to peacefully assemble were all indefinitely suspended. The German judiciary was purged and immediately restocked with ideologues who were politically aligned with Hitler. The legislative powers of the Reichstag itself were suspended, thereby ensuring one party, one man rule in Nazi Germany.
     To be fair to the buffoons currently running our nation, not one of those things has come true here even nearly 24 months after Trump "won" the election with a minority of voters. We were not in the midst of a depression as the end of the Weimar Republic was. We're still in the comet tail of the Obama recovery that included in its impressive list of accomplishments a national unemployment rate of under 4%.
     Yet blue collar angst was a large reason why Trump was able to get enough votes to make his theft of the presidency somewhat plausible to uncritical eyes and minds. Trump was able to stoke enough fear, anger and anxiety over Big Government, unions and immigrants taking their jobs so that he won over the blue collar vote that left Hillary baffled and furious. Trump at least pretended to understand with and sympathized with their disaffection (although how a coddled New York billionaire was able to win over the Rust Belt is now anyone's guess).
     Most alarmingly, Trump was able to tap into that blue collar disaffection by using tried-and-true tactics already long ago perfected by Adolph Hitler: Nationalism stoked by national shame (15 years ago, Trump famously decried the war in Iraq that ended, under Obama, not with a bang but a whimper), virulent xenophobia and an unhealthy dose of "Otherism."

The League of Extraordinary Nations
While he was never the president of our country, Mitch McConnell can be likened to President Paul Hindenburg. The aging Hindenburg represented the Old Republican Guard much in the same way McConnell does. Hindenburg originated the idea of creating a series of Chancellors in a losing effort to hold onto the old conservative way of doing things. Hitler and his National Socialist Party represented, to Hindenburg and the Old Guard, the only way to shore up enough conservative support to hang onto power and unite against the always-encroaching threat of Communism and Socialism.
     At first, things went according to plan. At first, Hindenburg was still seen as the President and the head of Germany. Then as Hitler's ascendancy was obvious, his role in running the government became more and more nominal until by spring of 1933, he was seen as a mere figurehead because he was.  And Hindenburg initially willing and eventually unwilling compliance was the biggest reason why Hitler was able to consolidate power so quickly.
     By September 1933, Germany had left the League of Nations, seeing in the forerunner to the UN an obstacle to plans he'd already had in place. Compare this to the typical Republican hostility we've seen to the United Nations, of soon-to-be former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley flying in the face of reason and planetary consensus and our withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Commission this past summer. The man who'd once infamously said to the Federalist Society that we could get rid of the top ten floors of the UN building (where the human rights commissions are headquartered) and it wouldn't make "a bit of difference" is now working for the current administration.
      Right wingers such as Hitler and the Republicans who secretly (and not so secretly) venerate him and his policies always hold human rights concerns in the lowest disdain. And McConnell's shameful conduct, to put it mildly, during the Merrick Garland then the Brett Kavanaugh fiascos unmistakably showed all of us that he is as perfectly willing to be Trump's stooge as Hindenburg was to Hitler. McConnell, the second-best sycophant on the Beltway next to Mike Pence, had gleefully subverted the very democracy that, in its totality, is supposed to act as a check and a balance on things such as strongmen like Trump rashly putting on the highest judiciary a reckless ideologue such as Brett Kavanaugh.
     And just as Hitler had cozied up to strongmen he'd admired (Including a secret pact with Stalin involving the carving up of the Balkans) such as Mussolini, so Trump shows open admiration and even love to what passes for today's strongmen such as Kim Jong-un, Putin, Duterte and Ergogan while showing disdain for our staunchest allies and, again, the United Nations.
     But it's a different world and National Socialism cannot thrive or thrive long in the 21st century. The League of Nations never had the chance to openly laugh in Hitler's face as the United Nations had with Trump late last month. Plus, Hitler never had to worry about an independent special counsel investigating him for high crimes and misdemeanors such as colluding with the Russians.
     And at least it could be said Hitler never had to suck up to a more powerful man in a foreign nation to get elected Chancellor.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Interview with Laurel Heidtman

     This month I interview Kentucky author Laurel Heidtman. Laurel writes cozy mystery and romance novels from her home in the Daniel Boone National Forest.

15) Believe it or not, purely by coincidence, you’re the second consecutive female ex police officer I’ve made my Author of the Month (the last was Christine Lyden, aka CA Asbrey, who was a UK cop). Between your law enforcement experience, stint as a bartender, nursing training and two English degrees, you’re very admirably and enviably weighted for a crime writing career. How much does your experience as a cop inform your fiction?

Quite a bit. Since most of my books are mysteries in which some of the characters are police officers, it helps to have knowledge of how the police work and think, as well as what’s believable in the description of the crime. I often yell “you gotta be kidding!” at some of the things I see on TV crime shows. My third Eden mystery, A Convenient Death, is even loosely based on an unsolved double murder that occurred in a convenience store in the city where I was a police officer. Of course, my fictitious cops solved it. Hah!

14) I’d like to first talk to you about your Eden series. First off, it’s not a series in the traditional sense. Each of the three Eden books features an interesting new protagonist (except for insurance investigator Cal Becker) and only the locale is retained, almost as if it’s a character in its own right. In a way, it resembles the Mundy’s Landing series by bestselling novelist Wendy Corsi Staub. What made you choose to write your series like that?

Actually most of the characters are retained throughout the series, but different ones step forward to share center stage. Cal Becker is introduced in the first one, takes center stage in the second, and has a supporting role in the third. Eden police detective Jo Valentine is a major character in all three, and Eden University police officer (and later chief) Lou Pelfrey has a supporting role in all three. Edna and Ann Hill are in all three, and Ann has a bigger role in the third. Many of the other characters have minor roles in all three.

As far as why I did it that way? Honestly, I’m not sure I thought it out. It just seemed right because it’s the way it would be in real life. The police officers in a given town remain more or less the same for years, but the crimes happen to and are committed by different people. But many of those people live in the town for years.

13) So, looking at your thriller canon, strictly speaking, all four of your books are standalones. Any plans to bring back any of your MCs to make them series characters?

I think I might have answered some of this in the previous question. I do plan on continuing the Eden series, but I’ll do it the same way I’ve been doing it—continuing with most of the same characters but bringing a different one forward to share center stage with Jo Valentine.

As for Whiteout, it will always remain a true standalone. However, I am toying with the idea of doing other thrillers set against the backdrop of a natural threat. I can honestly say I’ve never been truly afraid of another person—wary of them, certainly, but not afraid. I always figure I’ve got a chance of either reasoning with them or beating them. But Mother Nature? She can throw some serious shit at you, and there’s no reasoning with or beating her. Earthquakes, fire, flood, blizzards, tornados—I’d rather face a serial killer any day! :-)

12) Is the fictional town of Eden based on any place you know of either within or outside your home in the Daniel Boone National Forest?

I live a little less than an hour away from Morehead, Kentucky, which is a small college town. But it being a small town with a university and close to Daniel Boone are the only things that resemble Eden. There are no gorgeous bed and breakfasts like Holly House, no steel mill, and no river. And I didn’t base any of my characters on people who live there. I don’t even know any of the police officers and only one or two people who live there.

11) Have any real life anecdotes from your stints as a cop, bartender or a nurse made their way into your fiction?

As I mentioned, the idea for the double murder in A Convenient Death can be attributed to the unsolved crime that occurred while I was on the police department. But nothing matches that crime other than it occurring in a convenience store at night with both the clerk and a customer the victims. It’s more that I try to use my experience in various professional environments to add a realistic feel to the stories and the characters.

10) It’s been said that writers are not made they’re born, while others say the exact opposite. You seem to be the former. On your website, you relay an anecdote handed down from your mother who said you wrote stories based on the pictures in books when you were too young to read. Has the stimulation of your visual sense continued to inspire your fiction?

Gee, I dunno. Probably. And I didn’t “write” the stories based on the pictures when I was a kid. I was too young to read and too young to write, so I made up stories and told them to her. Kept up the oral tradition, I guess, like my distant ancestors would have done around the campfire. In truth, I think most people are probably born storytellers. Most young children are, but somewhere along the way, their imagination gets crushed.

9) You also write romantic suspense as Lolli Powell. Who are your favorite authors in that subgenre?

I really enjoy J.D. Robb’s books featuring Eve Dallas. Those are a wonderful mix of romance and crime set in a future world.

8) As you may know, all my Authors of the Month are indie novelists. Are you happy being an indie or do you yearn for a Big Five publishing contract obtained through a literary agent?

I’m happy being indie. If I were younger, I might be knocking at the doors of agents/publishers, but at my age, I’d probably be on my deathbed by the time I landed a contract. Back in the early nineties when I was working twelve-hour nursing shifts, I submitted a couple of romantic suspense books to Silhouette. They were rejected, but I got long, personalized letters telling me what they liked and didn’t like rather than form rejections. From what I read at the time, that was encouraging. There was no option of self-publishing at the time, of course. Then I took a technical writing job and stopped writing fiction. After spending all day writing online help and manuals, I couldn’t face sitting at the computer any longer.

A couple of years ago I attended the Killer Nashville mystery writers conference. They have roundtables with a couple of agents and eight or ten writers. Each participant prints ten pages of a novel. They are read out loud, then the agents make comments and fill out a short form they give to the writer. If they like it, they tell the writer they’d like to see more and how many pages more. I decided to participate in one just to see how I would do. I took the first ten pages of A Convenient Death, and both agents said they wanted to see more. I didn’t pursue it with them and never intended to, but I think I needed that positive feedback that told me I was doing okay.

Besides, indies can do quite well. I recently purchased a K-Lytics report on cozy mysteries. Out of the top ten bestselling cozy mystery authors, six were indies—as were numbers eleven and twelve. I edit for a couple of indie authors who now make a very good living at it. I’m nowhere close to that yet, but I turn a small profit every month.

I’m also a bit of a control freak when it comes to my own life. I like being in charge of what I write, when I write, the cover, the advertising—all of it. And even if the money isn’t much, I only have to share a little with Amazon.

7) Describe your typical writing day. Do you use a spiral loose leaf notebook for drafts, strictly a laptop or both? How many hours a day do you devote to writing? And despite the breadth of your experience, do you still need to do intensive research into your mysteries?

I’m strictly computer—laptop or desktop. As for how many hours a day I devote to writing—not enough. It would be more accurate to say I average 2,000 words a day on a writing day. Some days those 2,000 take several hours; other days I get them done quickly. I know I’m not producing books as fast as I’d like, and I want to work on that.

As far as research, I wouldn’t say I do intensive research, but I usually do some. For example, even though I was a police officer, I was one from 1977 to 1988. A lot has changed since then, especially in terms of how the police use technology. And police departments in a small town are different from departments in mid-size cities and they’re both different from big city departments. Federal law enforcement is different from city, county, or state. New weapons and new problems have appeared on the scene. So it is necessary for me to do some research.

6) Plotter or pantser?

Pantser for the most part. I know the start of a story and I generally know the end, but the part in between comes to me as I write. I always compare it to driving from New York to California. You know where you’re starting and where you want to end up, but there are a lot of ways to get there.

Sometimes I think I know what I’m going to write, but it changes as I go along. I often say I feel like I’m channeling the characters. They tell me what to write, and they do things I’m not expecting. It’s a little creepy. A lot of writers I talk to have the same experience.

5) You and your husband have a sizable menagerie consisting of three dogs and two cats. Have any of them made their way into your fiction or at least have given you ideas?

The Top Shelf mysteries are the only books I’ve written that have an animal in them (Jasper, Ricki’s cat). I do plan on doing another cozy mystery series that will have more animal characters. I love animals of all kinds—and like them a lot more than I like most people.

Living in the woods like we do, we also have a lot of wild visitors. Our latest and most surprising was about a month ago. A black bear decided the can of bird seed and corn on our front porch was just too tempting to pass up. We heard the noise about eleven one night, opened the front door expecting to see a raccoon—boy, were we surprised! It’s not something we see every day in our part of Kentucky, but it’s getting more common. Who knows? Maybe a bear will show up in one of my books one day.

4) Assuming you’re still an omnivorous reader (you once told me you have over 300 titles on your Kindle), what are the trends you welcome in indie fiction and which ones don’t you welcome?

I don’t know if you’d call it a trend, but I really hate that so many indie authors put out work that has not been copyedited. Often the story is really good and the author does a great job of telling it and creates characters that are believable, but the sheer number of grammar and punctuation errors, missing words, etc. distract a reader from what would be a good book. Because the eye sees what it expects to see, anyone can have one or two mistakes—I find them even in books that come from the big publishers—but too many indie books are filled with them. That hurts all of us. I know many writers can’t afford to pay an editor, but I think most people know someone who aced their English classes. If nothing else, ask them to look it over. They might not catch everything, but they’ll catch a lot.

A trend I like is the growing popularity and acceptance of indie books. When I see things like the K-Lytic report that shows six of the ten top-selling authors in cozy mysteries are indie, it’s encouraging. What one considers a good book is subjective. Readers, not the gatekeepers of traditional publishing, should be allowed to decide what they want to read.

3) WHITEOUT is the only thriller you’ve written and published that isn’t part of the Eden series. I have to admit, I’m irresistibly drawn to domestic thrillers that devolve on a cabin during a blizzard. What inspired you to write WHITEOUT?

In March of 1993 I was in my last year of nursing school in Ohio. We’d already bought the Kentucky house, but we only came on weekends and vacations since my husband was still working and I was still in school. During spring break, we headed down for a week in our house in the woods, and a freak snowstorm struck while we were here.

Some areas of Kentucky got thirty inches of snow. We got twenty-two where we are, and the blizzard-force winds resulted in hip-high drifts—very rare for our area. Our house is a third of a mile back a gravel lane that leads to a paved forest service road. That, in turn, goes for ten miles in one direction until it intersects with a county road and two miles in the other direction to the end of the peninsula we’re on. We lost power, and that was before we had a Generac. We couldn’t get out our lane, but even if we had been able to, we couldn’t have driven on the road. The county snow plows would probably have gotten to the road eventually, but as you can imagine, three inhabited houses (that’s all there were at the time) were not high on their list of priorities. About three days into it, one of our neighbors got his backhoe out and plowed us out himself. Whiteout grew out of that experience, but at least we didn’t have any escaped killers show up at our door.

2) When you retired and began writing fiction full time, who were and are your biggest influences?

I don’t think anyone influenced me in the beginning, but now the global community of other indie authors are a big support. As an undergraduate English major with a creative writing emphasis, I’d known other students who aspired to be writers, but I’d lost touch with them by the time I started writing Catch A Falling Star. My husband mentioned that I was writing to a man at a restaurant where he often goes for coffee, and that man said his nephew had also written a book. The man went on to tell the local librarian about both of us, and she set up a book event with us and two more local authors. One of the people who came to see us turned out to have written a book that she hadn’t even told her mother about. She’s now outpaced me in the number of books she’s written, and she’s one of my editing clients.

Besides the local community of indie authors that I didn’t know existed, there’s the global community. I regularly edit for a British author who now lives in Spain and a Kosovo author who writes in English and sets her stories in the U.S. I occasionally edit for a writer who lives in Washington state. I “talk” with others around the world on Facebook and Goodreads and sometimes in emails. There are a lot of us out there, and for the most part, we’re all supportive of one another.

1)   What’s next for Laurel Heidtman?

I’m working on the third Top Shelf mystery now. It’s been slow going this summer (that seems to hit me every summer), but now that fall is here, I hope to devote more time to it. My cozy mysteries seem to be the most popular of my books, so for a while, I plan on focusing on them.

Most of all, I want to become more disciplined as far as treating my writing more like a “real” job, i.e., putting in regular hours on a specified number of days. Eight full-length books and one novella in five years isn’t bad, but that’s still slightly less than an average of two a year. I can and should do much better than that.

     This is where you can find Laurel's Facebook page and this is where you can find her Lolli Powell website.

KindleindaWind, my writing blog.

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