Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Russia House

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari.)
"No evidence has emerged publicly that Mr. Trump was secretly in contact with or took direction from Russian government officials." (emphasis mine), The New York Times,  January 11, 2019

There are several scenarios that are so outlandish and horrifying to the American mind that they belong solely in the realm of spy fiction or "Truther" websites: Among them, the US government pulling off 9/11; JFK's assassination was carried out by the CIA and the Bushes; That Vince Foster was murdered by the Clintons.
     Many of these and others are pure rubbish, to put it charitably, and belong in the gauzy, semi-plausible world of fiction and conspiracy theory websites. But now we're faced with another, one that has absolutely no currency with the birther/QAnon/Deplorable crowd- That Donald Trump is a real-life Manchurian Candidate who'd conspired and colluded with Russia to win the presidency. Or that he was an unwitting dupe or a "useful idiot" as the Soviets famously put it.
     To be fair to the red hat NASCAR/WWE crowd, neither are appetizing scenarios.
     There's just one problem with this particular "conspiracy theory": Robert Mueller.
     Looking at the infamously hermetic Mueller investigation from the outside is like looking at a tapestry from the back: All we see are the loose threads and muddy colors and are left almost entirely to our imagination and amateur deductive reasoning as to what really happened between Trump Tower and the Kremlin. What we don't have is the unbroken thread through this particular Minotaur's lair and the film noir smoking gun (or smocking gun, if you're Donald Trump).
     Yet the promise of a judicial guillotining was strengthened over the weekend with one bombshell after another that only began with the NY Times revealing the Justice Department had begun a counterintelligence investigation on "President" Donald Trump right after FBI Director's James Comey's firing on May 9, 2017, an act of which Trump was bragging to high level Russian officials in the Oval Office the very next day (After kicking out all western media and leaving just the Russian state-run TASS to take pictures of Trump's bowing and scraping to then Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak and Foreign Minister Lavrov.).
     It continued into Saturday with the WaPo breaking the news that Trump had confiscated his own interpreter's notes after meeting with Putin in Hamburg and kept the details from his own aides and advisors. It continued into Sunday with Max Boot, again of the WaPo, methodically laying out a case for Trump being that fabled Manchurian Candidate for the Russians. Then on Tuesday, the NY Times took center stage again by revealing a bizarre phone call between Trump and Putin aboard Air Force One in which Trump privately assured Putin that he dismissed his own intelligence agencies and "that the Russians were falsely accused of election interference."
     After digesting all that, the news that once professional "fixer" Michael Cohen was acting on the direction of Trump during the campaign to bribe the CIO of Liberty University with $50k to skew polling data to favor Trump was almost met with a yawn and a shrug. If this steady drip drip drip of limited leaks qualifies as exquisite torture, then the ancient Chinese couldn't have done it any better. And, after this nearly two year-long edging, tens of millions of us are looking forward to a blissfully huge, sheet-soaking ejaculation of jurisprudence.

The House of Putin
With a congenital liar like Donald Trump squatting in the Oval Office, everything he says and does can be very readily applied to a moral allegory. Witness the MSG and polyunsaturated fat orgy he'd prepared for the undefeated Clemson Tigers after they'd won the national college football championship. It could easily be said that the gaudy repast that he'd recycled as a White House dinner was a flawless symbol or synecdoche of Trump's every statement being junk food for the undiscriminating mind. In the end, Trump couldn't even be honest about the number of "hamberders" that were offered. 300 instantly ballooned to 1000 and just as instantly deflated back down to 300 by the White House staff. It was such an embarrassing publicity stunt that Alinea's, a Michelin-rated three star restaurant, had to step in and offer the players real food that was denied them by Trump's White House.
     And the high fat, low nutrition contents of Trump's mind has kept an already fat, flabby and complacent American Deplorable mind fat, flabby and complacent with endless denunciations of "No collusion!" and wearisomely calling the Mueller investigation "a witch hunt". But, just with the diversionary tactic of shutting down a quarter of the government over a wall that most Americans don't want, when it comes to the Mueller investigation, Trump has no wiggle room. Because even looking at that shaggy and drab backside of that tapestry, we're increasingly led to one of two conclusions- That Trump either colluded with the Russians or was an oblivious dupe.
     Even with what relatively little we know, it seems there's absolutely no possibility for innocence except if being a clueless boob in service to the Russians can be considered "innocence."
     Which is not a trait one would expect or honestly hold in high esteem in a presidential candidate.
     One of the greatest public misconceptions of the Mueller probe is that Trump campaign aides were approached by Russian bad actors. In fact, the FBI, despite Trump's one man propaganda campaign against them, initially sought to shield him and his campaign from those bad actors. That's what counterintelligence operatives do- Counter the efforts of foreign entities that have unsavory designs on our democracy.
     But then on May 9, 2017, Donald Trump made perhaps what will be ultimately the costliest mistake of his purloined presidency and that was firing James Comey. Then bragging about it to the Russians, calling Comey "a nut job" to the Russian Foreign Minister just before giving them top secret Israeli intelligence. And just like that, Trump went from being a target of the Russians to a target of the FBI. Suddenly, in their whip-lashed minds, Trump went from being a democratically-elected American president to a possible stooge of the Russian government.
     They already had the stage set for such an investigation: Two Russian mobsters were already doing their nefarious business as residents of Trump Tower with Bayrock's convicted mobster, Felix Sater, a more regular feature at the Kremlin-on-the-Hudson than fake Time covers at Trump's country clubs.
     And when one ties up all the loose ends of the back of that tapestry, one sees a slowly rendering picture of a man so obsessed with power that he allowed himself to be leveraged by an enemy government by taking a $100,000,000 loan from them, allowing his campaign to be practically staffed by Russian agents, hosting meetings between Russian agents and his own namesake, son in law and campaign chair and all the other troubling and disturbing revelations, one has to ask a Trump dead-ender:
     Since there's no longer any possibility of plausible innocence, which would you prefer: A president who'd colluded with a foreign power to overturn our very electoral system, the bedrock of our democracy, or one who was too stupid and oblivious to know he was being exploited by said power?

Tuesday, January 15, 2019


     As tomorrow's my birthday, it would sure do my heart some good if some of you could pick up a Kindle copy. It's just $4.99, £3.33 in the UK. Both links are provided below.

      Scott Carson has spent much of his first 21 years in his parents’ basement in midtown Manhattan. Then the young engineer takes a call from Buffalo Bill himself and from that moment, Scott’s life is never the same. Colonel Cody has an offer for his official cinematographer: Go to London to hunt down the Whitechapel Murderer soon to be christened Jack the Ripper. But the grand adventure proves to be anything but as Jack is cleverer than Bill, Carson, Annie Oakley, Sitting Bull or Arthur Conan-Doyle expect. The stakes get mortal and personal as the ad hoc team, there at the invitation of Queen Victoria, discover Jack has Special Branch on his side.  
UK edition
US edition

Monday, January 14, 2019

Gotham City Digest, 1/14/19

("Hey, babushka, you sure have purty mouth, da?")

     A story making the rounds is that of a furloughed federal worker who now has to ration her insulin and hope she wakes up in the morning. Needless to say, there is absolutely no excuse for this. Border crisis? We don't need protection from migrants, we need protection from the Republican Party.

     What the hell was Trump saying here? We lose 300 Americans a week who escape into Mexico? Because his mind slides from one image to another, he's so incapable of concentrating on anything longer than a goldfish. He seems to be saying Americans wander off into the desert like lost old men. Like this and this and this and this and this...

     And speaking of stupid wall tweets, here's one by an Aryan celebrity hasbeen on the need for a wall with unassailable argument resurrecting nephew who was killed three times.
     Btw, Patton Oswalt's response to this was priceless.

     Tom Nichols of USA TODAY makes some good points re the revelation of the FBI's counterintel probe into Trump and his dealings with and servile behavior toward Russia. And he's right when he states that Il Douche's deferential attitude toward Putin couldn't possibly be for innocent reasons. Trump has the appearance of a kept man when he's anywhere near Putin or even his aides.

     The GOP (Gang of Perverts) just gave a chairmanship to an accused child molester. "(O)ne must question the motive of these three former students," the TN House Speaker said of the accusers.

     Mizz Lindsey got the vapors again.

     House Democrats are now seriously considering subpoenaing Trump's Helsinki interpreter. This would be unprecedented if they did this. But then again, having an actual Manchurian Candidate in the WH is also unprecedented.

     Not only do Russian gangsters own the Republican Party, I'm sure the GOP even gave them the home town discount.

     Starving white tiger has to eat dirt in Chinese zoo. This is no way to treat an animal, especially a beautiful, rare white Bengal tiger.

     Apparently, last September the White House asked the Pentagon to draw up plans to attack Iran. John Bolton is Dick Cheney 2.0. Maybe 1.1.

     Why are we in 53 out of 54 African countries? Especially when we're not at war with any of them?

     There were five proposed deals for a Trump Tower, all failed. And now Congress is eyeing them.

     Yes, people, we are now officially at the point when we can trust the word of drug cartel members more than our own "president's."

     Apparently, CBS couldn't find one black journalist or producer who was qualified to cover the elections.

     I'm amazed this obscene exchange between Trump and Putin didn't get more coverage than it had.

     Naturally, 68% of right wing nut jobs blame Democrats for the shutdown despite the House passing FOUR BILLS to reopen the goddamned government. It really is breathtaking how stupid Republicans are.

     Trump actually told Jeanine Pirro, "I haven't left the White House in months." Really? Was that a body double in Texas last Friday?

     Pirro also asked Trump if he is or had ever worked for Russia and he snapped it was the most insulting thing he'd ever been asked.
      Wait'll he talks to Mueller and his team. Then they can ask him why he'd kept the details of his talks with Putin even from his own White House aides and advisors even to the point of confiscating his interpreter's notes.

     He'll be popular every night, especially in Leavenworth's showers.

     Of course Veselnitskaya won't come here to fight the charges, just as I predicted.

     Ben Cardin, Chuck Schumer and all the Senate Democrats desperately tried to keep the government open last month. Mitch McConnell blocked all such motions, claiming keeping the government open was a political stunt and that Israel was more important than keeping our own government open. Trump may own this shutdown but McConnell holds the mortgage.
      By the way, where is Mitch? Someone should file a missing person's report on Mitch McConnell. On second thought...

     Trump says he'd been tougher on Russia than any other president.
     Is that so, Manchurian Candidate? Let's take stock:
     Obama placed sanctions on Russia. You lifted them.
     Obama opposed Putin in Syria. You warned him ahead of airstrikes.
     Obama expelled Russian diplomats. You let them in the Oval Office and kicked out US media.
     Obama signed the Magnitsky Act and froze assets of mobsters. You let them elect you.
     In short, fuck you, you disingenuous Velveeta Hitler. The only time you've been tough with Putin is maybe during the backstroke.

     By January 2013, Trump had two Russian mobsters living at and running their criminal empires out of Trump Tower and a third, Felix "Mr. Stabby Face" Sater, was a regular there. And Trump thought we were stupid enough to believe him when he said he had nothing to do with Russia, "no deals, nothing." Then Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance was about to charge him and Ivanka on felony larceny and fraud charges.
      The charges were mysteriously dropped when Trump also dropped $25,000 into his campaign war chest.

     I don't think Tulsi Gabbard has a chance in hell of getting elected president (can anyone remember the last time a congressman got elected to that office? It wasn't during our lifetime). But she nails Trump on this.

     Even right wing nut bag Sam Nunberg thinks Trump's going down in flames.

     If Mueller's team demanded, and got, classified information on this, it can't possibly be good for Trump. Yes, the FBI back in May 2017 began a counterintel investigation into our so-called president.

     How can the cash-strapped NRA keep finding the money to do media blitzes for Republican scumbags? One word- Rubles.

     So now, Rudy wants to "correct" Mueller's final report. Why stop at that? Fucking A, let's "correct" the judge's or grand jury's conviction, while we're at it. I swear, the older Giuliani gets, the more he reminds me of a rat with alopecia.

     Why are authors making less money than ever? Executives and shareholders of $25,000,000,000 a year business shrug their shoulders.

     So 57% of Americans are "criminals" because we don't want the stupid wall. Trump wants you to think about one big wall and not the four small ones that'll be his new home soon.

     Electoral fraud? Shocking, I know, especially since this is North Carolina, that last bastion of voter enfranchisement. And finally...

     After that nine minute-long Oval Office debacle last week, you'd think those morons at CBS would've learned not to give this rolling dumpster fire more oxygen. But noooooo.

Friday, January 11, 2019

The Alleged Rehabilitation of Conservatives

 “Any economic system that weakens and destroys families is not worth having. A system like that is the enemy of a healthy society.” - Tucker Carlson, January 2, 2019
(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari.)
Don't be fooled by it. And by "it", I don't mean a Clintonian "it" but the new right wing populism.
     On the face of it, we're seeing something extraordinary- Right wing talking heads actually making sense from time to time. It had started long before January 2nd but the debate among conservatives kicked into high gear that night when Tucker Carlson said in his irritating white man voice that capitalism is a mere tool, not a religion. He also said, among many other incendiary things, “All I’m saying is don’t act like the way things are is somehow ordained by God.”
     Of course, Carlson wasn't talking about religious matters (although it's long past the time when we should've had a substantive debate on religion's place in American politics) but capitalism in its present self-dealing, hideously top-heavy incarnation. What Carlson essentially said in his usual snide way was that the center (meaning the center of American finance- Wall Street) cannot hold.
     Yet it was just years ago that Carlson was saying equally snide (and untrue) things about Occupy protesters, such as this gem from November 2nd of that year in which he linked to an article from his own Daily Caller. But for now, the corrosive inequality very much in evidence on Wall Street, especially during the Age of Trump, is starting to take some hits from conservatives who seem to have suddenly woke up on New Year's day and remembered that not only does a middle class exist but that it's hurting. Just to hedge more bets, Carlson also fired a shot simultaneously across the bow of the MIC and the GOP by saying, “Republicans have considered it their duty to make the world safe for banking, while simultaneously prosecuting ever more foreign wars.”
     And Carlson is hardly an outlier, a lonely voice distorted by the howling, lonely winds of the wilderness. Ann Coulter had also taken aim at Trump, recently saying last month, "In the end, we'll probably find out 'wall' was Trump's 'safe word' with Stormy Daniels. It's just something he blurts out whenever he's in trouble." Anticipating the shutdown, she even predicted, "In a few weeks, he'll start blaming the Democratic House."
     Keep in mind, however, that the only reason Coulter unloaded on Trump was because of her rage at him for not building the wall that he promised on Day One. After all, she said in her opening paragraph, "If you were elected president after decades of politicians doing nothing about the millions of illegals pouring into our country every year, committing crimes, dealing drugs, driving drunk, molesting children and killing Americans like Kate Steinle, and your central campaign promise -- repeated every day -- was to build a wall, wouldn't you have spent the entirety of your transition period working on getting it done?"
     In my book, that doesn't even qualify as populism. That's just xenophobia dressed up as outrage and patriotism. (To her credit, though, that screed got her unfollowed on Twitter by Trump.)
     Let's keep in mind that Carlson, Coulter and other grifters in the right wing media initially supported Trump because they honestly believed that he would make America great again even if only by keeping Hillary Clinton out of the White House. Now, after two years, the sticker shock is setting in and they're starting to call in the note or even ask for a refund.

A Weak Standard
The apostasy really all began with Bill Kristol, who'd recently said that we need to keep Trump off the 2020 ticket or at least keep him from getting re-elected. And just under a year ago, Kristol called out the aforementioned Tucker Carlson and Fox for veering "close to racism." (Some would say it and Carlson are closer than close.)
     Indeed, the guy who couldn't shoot straight and even predicted Romney would beat Obama in 2012 suddenly turned around his accuracy rate and zinging Trump almost daily from his own Twitter account with the precision of an Olympic-class fencer.
     Steve Schmidt, who'd worked on the presidential campaigns of George W. Bush, Senator John McCain and the gubernatorial campaign of Arnold Schwarzenegger, is also taking pot shots at Trump and the Republicans who almost to a man fell in goosestep behind him. Nearly seven months ago, Schmidt famously dropped out of the Republican party and began backing more centrist Democratic candidates.
     The Bushes became practically folk heroes when George HW Bush privately let it be known he didn't want Trump anywhere near Barbara Bush's funeral when she passed away last year. John McCain said the same and Trump was effectively muzzled by the Bush family when he was invited to attend but not speak at HW's own memorial service at the National Cathedral last month.
     But Ann Coulter agreeing with Ocasio-Cortez and Tucker Carlson calling out capitalism for its rampant greed isn't populism any more than neoliberalism has anything to do with real liberalism. It doesn't mean the earth has shifted off its axis and that Bill Kristol will be seen on Reddit dancing naked in a Copenhagen drug commune.
     All it means is that they long for the good days when Bush was the so-called president, when posts got filled (however ineptly) and the middle class wasn't completely savaged out of existence through one deregulation or another. They are just showing that they have indeed reached the spongey and reeking bottom of that proverbial barrel and that Donald Trump is the line they've drawn in the sand.
     But keep in mind most of these pundits I've mentioned initially thought Trump wasn't the bottom of the barrel and that we could still get much worse than him. And, considering the Republican devolution since Eisenhower, while that may indeed prove to be true, it's not easy to see how it can be. They want to climb out of the bunker and breathe fresh air again, even if it means staying out of the withering, disinfecting sun.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

The Loneliest Job in the World

     Trump has been digging his own political grave since he first descended that escalator in June 2015. His collusion with the Russians goes back at the very least to 2013 when he held the Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow (when he put out feelers to see how feasible it would be to put up a tower there.).
     But when all is said and done, long after Trump falls (and he will. Even the Old Testament God wouldn't be so cruel as to have this nearly two year-long Mueller probe end with a boring series of plea deals), this is what will be said about him: Donald Trump served as an object lesson in hubris. That. like Icarus, he flew too close to the sun (in this case, the incipient withering effect of daylight as provided only by a federal probe). That the worst decision he ever made was to run for president. Because, as the old adage says, "The bigger they are, the harder they fall."
     And a fall from grace after years in the White House offers a lot of empty air and acceleration between that and the cold, pitiless earth below.
     And it could be said Trump deserves the lion's share of the blame for his administration's countless failures. After all, Trump has isolated himself from other world leaders of free, democratic countries, our allies, the UN, his own Congress, the American people, all living former presidents and the truth itself. Harry Truman was right when he said the presidency is the loneliest job in the world.
      He commenced his campaign by promising a wall. He still hasn't provided that for his racist, white supremacist base. He promised Mexico would pay for it until they refused. Then he doubled down and said, and is still saying, they'll pay for it through the new NAFTA trade agreement (it doesn't work that way).
     At the same time he's saying Mexico will pay for it through tariffs (which are paid for not by nations but companies, hence the People), he's blaming Democrats for not opening the purse strings. He keeps going from Mexico to the Democrats and back to Mexico like a desperate junkie looking for money for his next fix. He's the world's worst panhandler, the world's worst deal-maker and the world's worst crisis actor. No one but a few racist hillbillies wants the wall.

     And now he's threatening to call a national state of emergency to get his wall built (that won't work, either) in response to a nonexistent crisis that's making southern border residents look between the border and Washington in bafflement.
     The suspicions of who will get the fat contract to build Trump's fabled wall of Babylon and who will provide the steel aside, the plain fact is Trump never really wanted the wall. It all started as a mnemonic device concocted by Trump's aides to keep Trump's attention on immigration from the time he drifted down his Ivory Tower like a bored husband in The Mall of America. Like Reagan's risible Star Wars scheme that fooled the Soviets, it was a hare-brained scheme that just took a life of its own. (This time around, however, the Russians aren't as easily fooled as they were in Brezhnev's and Gorbachev's day).
     While meeting with Pelosi and Schumer earlier today, Trump "stormed out" after 30 minutes when he didn't get his way and probably ate 20 Big Macs in the West Wing to punish them. And then there was the eight plus minutes of magnificent bullshit that co-opted prime time last night in which Trump compressed the greatest amount of lies ever packed into such a brief period of time. It was an unprecedented prime time address that, amazingly, all the major networks decided to air. In other words, they gave one last chance to the Boy Who'd Cried Wolf 7,600 times since his Russia-enabled ersatz "presidency" began.

     This forced glorified daycare workers Nancy Pelosi and Charles Schumer to do their best Disappointed Parent routine immediately after to set the record straight. Meanwhile, the nation prepares for the fourth week of this shutdown. It's getting so bad, TSA workers aren't just calling in sick, they're walking off the job and entering the private sector.
     Plainly, the crisis isn't at the Rio Grande but the Potomac.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Gotham City Digest: Not Ready For Prime Time edition

(Where we promise to never interrupt your regularly-scheduled programming.)

     So, tonight Trumpie the Klown wants to interrupt our entertainment escapism after dominating the news cycle 24/7. A CNN analyst said we should review his speeches in advance then decide whether or not to air it. At first it seemed as if the MSM was finally getting before they all decided to air his speech about his vanity wall. Fuck this fictitious "president" and his fictitious crises.

     So, Facebook's a cult. Gee, what a shock to my system.

     Actual quote from a Trumpanzee: ""He's not hurting the people he needs to be hurting." So, they voted for this sociopath so he could hurt people they don't like (namely brown people)? Okaaaay...

     Pence more or less said Trump got his instructions to build the wall by looking at past presidents on TV whom he thought were speaking privately with him. Remember back in the good old days when we used to actually commit people like Trump?

     Veselnitskaya was just charged with obstruction of justice (good luck getting her into a US courtroom). To paraphrase the old adage, "He who sleeps with Russians wakes up with federal prosecutors."

     I said just a couple of days ago that the shutdown would keep the rich fuck One Percenters from getting their fat tax refunds. I guess Trump got some phone calls from a few well-placed individuals.

     Trump: "Why does everybody want to impeach me?"
     Pelosi: "Nobody wants to impeach you."
     Pelosi should speak for herself. She's already said she doesn't want him impeached (as she said with Bush), which is just one reason why she should not have been made House Speaker again. This was why Trump was so outraged by Tlaib's "motherfucker" comment. He's not used to seeing backbone among Democratic women because Pelosi doesn't have it. This is the meaning of the word "Resistance."

     Fox airhead: Electing Beto president would be dangerous because he doesn't have experience. You mean like electing the reality TV star in the White House?

     Twitter and Thailand found themselves on the right side of the issue of this girl who surely would've otherwise been forced to go back to Saudi Arabia and killed by her father with impunity for apostasy (she renounced Islam).

     Maybe Trumpie the Klown thought a shutdown involved just locking a few doors and turning an "Open/Closed" sign around in a window or two. But his huge tax break for the 1% won't arrive for his well-heeled fat cat buddies. And, oh, poor people will go hungry and get evicted when they don't get their food and rent subsidies. But who cares about them, right?

     Wikileaks to press: "Here are 140 things not to say about Assange."
      Fuuuuuck you.

     Does it really surprise you to know that Trump's pick to lead NASA is an incurious redneck Luddite who doesn't care about expanding human knowledge but does care what goes on in other peoples' bedrooms?

     Trump last month: "We have won against ISIS."
     Trump this month: “ISIS is largely defeated.”

     Trump, last month: "I would be proud to shut down this government."
     "I will shut down the government."
     Trump this month: "It's not a shutdown, it's a strike."
     No, stupid. Many federal workers are working for free. Which is kinda like the opposite of a strike.

     Former Australian PM calls Trump a motherfucker. It IS a catchier name than Individual One, isn't it?

     Trump keeps vacillating between demanding that Congress pay for the wall and that Mexico will pay for it. When will these Deplorable morons catch on to the fact that Trump is just the world's most disingenuous and belligerent beggar? Any street corner panhandler acting like him would have been arrested within an hour.

     This is good news. I'm glad someone finally saw the truth about this Cyntoia Brown case. She was fast becoming the poster child for discriminatory sentencing.

     "I'm shocked, SHOCKED to find out hiring illegals is going on here."
     "Sir, here are your fake green cards."
     "Oh, thank you."

     Christian Bale thanked Satan at the Golden Globes for helping him portray Dick Cheney.

     Does no one consult maps, anymore before spending billions of dollars?

     Ocasio-Cortez's 70% proposal is still a conservative proposal considering the 1% paid 91% toward taxes under Eisenhower.

     So, Ellen DeGeneres is the head of the secret "shadow government", according to Eric Trump. Don't I wish. But this latest conspiracy theory of the Trumps shows how insanely paranoid they are.

     I don't know how I missed this for three days but this is when Mike Pence had to swear in Kyrsten Sinema not on a Bible but a law book. His discomfort was palpable and like ambrosia.

     Only I can disarm the world. Sound familiar? This was Trump in 1987, a guy who can't even get a rump Communist state like North Korea to disarm much less Russia.

     No shit.

     It seems Trump's entire strategy in getting his way is to rely on federal employees' Stockholm Syndrome. Good luck to him, if that's the case.

     So the Trump Train Twitter account attempted a partisan poll. Let's just say it backfired spectacularly.

     Trump claims he loves the military but the love ain't reciprocal as his Pentagon Chief of Staff just tipped out the door.

     Breaking: Billionaire sociopath who just got a $13,000 raise says he can relate to federal workers not drawing a paycheck.

     That damned lib'rul media, always harping on facts.

     Kevin, Steve, what's the difference? In Trump's defense, Republicans really DO all look alike.

     "Judge not the mote in thy neighbor's eye cuz you got a whole forest in yours, you hypocritical fucks." Jurassicpork 12:16

     During the anti-DAPL protests in 2016-7, there was a shadow war going on between activists and corporate private security. This is the story of one of the paid infiltrators, a slimeball named Joel McCollough.

     Mueller saw his shadow and got six more months. Oh, shit, what fresh hell has Mueller dug up now?

     Trump's day on January 5th:
     He attacked the NY Times, calls it "the enemy of the people" and "the Opposition party."
     He attacked President Obama.
     He attacked CNN, calling them (ho hum), "fake news" and "the Opposition party."
     He attacked the media in general for not supporting his wall.
     All by one o'clock. Let's hear it for "Executive time."

      Meanwhile here's Ed Rollins, head of a Trump Super PAC, giving us the last gasp of the Viagra Club by wheezing that Ocasio-Cortez is "the little girl."

     Yeah, we've got a problem and, if no one else, Cyntoia Brown showed us the unfairness in sentencing. White rapists get three months but a person of color gets life without parole for stealing a $159 jacket. Some quick stats: 65% are African American and 16% are Hispanic. Just 18% are white.

     Shorter Trump: "You need to succeed where me and my party failed over the last two years."

     Now Trump's threatening the security of our airports. Hundreds of TSA employees expected to work without pay are calling in sick.

     I've heard about the impending demise of NRA TV. Can someone please tell me what's taking so long?

     Have you ever wondered why Republicans happily drive up the debt and deficit with massive tax cuts when they're in power but suddenly start screaming about Republican-created debts and deficits while Democrats are in power and demand cuts to social safety nets? Thank a right wing scumbag named Jude Wanniski.

     So the guy who fucked a porno actress and a Playboy Playmate then paid them off to keep them quiet while his wife took care of their newborn child is calling a Congresswoman who cursed a "dishonor to herself and her family"?
      Republican hypocrisy 101.

     I'll bet you didn't know Trump's shutdown had a body count. The death toll from it now stands at three, including a 14 year-old girl who fell down a 700 foot canyon.

     Next time you hear your right wing friends try to parrot Trump's talking point that Democrats are to blame for the shutdown, show them this article. It reveals that the day before yesterday, Pence collected six House Republicans and instructed them to vote against any budget measure that would reopen the government without money for the wall.

     Trump doesn't give a shit about furloughed federal workers because "most of them are Democrats.". He's really getting cranky that he's missed playing golf three weekends in a row. His withdrawals are palpable. And finally...

     Republican hypocrisy 102.

Interview with Anita Rodgers

     2019’s first Author of the Month is mystery writer Anita Rodgers. Anita lives in SoCal with a dog and cat and is juggling two mystery series.

15) Anita, I just bought and am enjoying Coffee & Crime, the first entry in the Scotti Fitzgerald mystery series. What made you name your female lead after F. Scott Fitzgerald and give her a sidekick named Zelda?

Just my little homage to Scott Fitzgerald. He’s always been a favorite of mine. While it’s true that Fitzgerald’s wife’s name was Zelda, I just happen to like that name and it’s one I use when I blog about adventures I’ve had with one of my besties – from whom I gleaned some of Zelda’s characteristics.

14) There’s an old chestnut in creative writing classes: “Write what you know.” While I don’t necessarily agree with that, there’s something to be said for authenticity. You’d worked in diners before and in the restaurant industry in general. What is it about that line of work that lends itself to a cozy mystery series?

I don’t know if there is anything particularly about the food industry that lends itself to cozies, but there is a lot of cut-throated-ness there. I knew waitresses that would practically kill for the best station in a house, or manipulate you so they could take your best tipping customers away from you. Also, waitresses are pretty sharp (contrary to what some may believe) and are very good at reading people – they have to be to make a living. Plus they are great multi-taskers and can handle many things at once. Good qualities I think, for a sleuth.

13) As for the other series, the Dead Dog trilogy, tell us a bit about your protagonist Lottie Stark. In an interview, you’d described her as being ”broken” and “flawed,” as all mystery protagonists should be. How is she broken and flawed and how does this challenge her?

Lottie is a bit of a tough character. She lost her mother when she was young and was raised by her cop father, who wasn’t exactly the touchy feely sensitive type. He, naturally, became her hero and so she did a lot to emulate him and followed him into law enforcement. At the pinnacle of her career in the FBI she was dismissed for ethical reasons and since then has felt somewhat branded. The best thing about Lottie is also the worst thing about her – she is passionate and so when she is on something, she is all in, even when she’s wrong. Her heart is in the right place but her foot is often in her mouth too. She can be a hardass but if she is on your side she’d rather die than desert you. Plus, she loves dogs and will hunt you down if you hurt one.

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

Person on a journey. I think the best stories really are about people and the trials and tribulations they have to overcome to learn the lessons of their life. While some readers don’t like to know the personal business of the characters and just want to get on with the story – personally, I believe that their personal business is a large part of the story and what informs their choices as the story goes along. I want my readers to feel like they know my characters and can relate to them – as they would with a friend or colleague.

11) Scotti’s more of a cozy character and Lottie more hard-boiled. What, if anything, do these two characters have in common?

They’re both strong women but in different ways. They share some commonalities, such as the loss of their mothers at an early age. So each of them grew up in challenging situations which required them to toughen up and learn a bit of wiliness. And in their own separate ways each has a big heart and a soft spot for people and animals who have been victimized and hurt. While Scotti finds comfort in cooking and the joy of feeding people, Lottie finds comfort in her dogs and finding new families for them. But my main goal in developing each character was to make them real women, not men with breasts, as so many female main characters can seem like. Neither of them is bullet proof or infallible and neither stands up when she pees. They don’t want to be regarded as men but they do want respect for their work and to be treated fairly.

10) There are strict rules regarding cozies: No on-page violence, no sex, etc. But in hard-boiled crime fiction, it seems anything goes. By what rules, if any, do you abide? Is there anything you won’t write about?

I try not to hem myself in and never say never. If a situation contributes to the story and moves the story forward then I will use it. By the same token I generally don’t write graphic sex scenes or over the top violent scenes. To me, they take away the imagination of the reader by spelling everything out. A book, in my opinion, is a cooperative effort – what they writer writes and how the reader’s imagination is enticed and activated by the words. Most readers are experts at reading between the lines, I don’t feel as a writer I have to hit them over the head with things – or be Bugs Bunny holding up the big sign with the arrow that says, “Look here.” I do have a little bit of swearing and sex in the Scotti novels but it’s pretty light and nothing I’d call graphic that would make the reader blush or have to turn away from.

9) Describe your average writing day. Do you write exclusively on notebooks, laptops or both? On average, what’s your daily word output and do you set daily goals for yourself?

Not sure I have an average writing day. I write when and as I can. Some days that is all days, some days it’s for 15 minutes and some days I need a break and to just think about the story. Generally, in terms of output, I do around 1,500 words per hour – more if I’m on a roll. Though there have been many days when I get stuck on one scene and thank God if I manage to finish three paragraphs. I would love to write in notebooks but my handwriting is atrocious so stick with the computer.

8) What made you choose to write primarily crime fiction and what are for you the easiest and most difficult aspects of it?

I’ve always loved crime stories and I used to snag my dad’s Mickey Spillane novels so I could read them under the covers at night. Puzzles, mysteries, figuring things out is just something that naturally attracts me. I also have a strong sense of justice and hate to see people victimized.

The easiest aspect is the details – it’s just something I’ve never had trouble with, for some reason. I used to say my head is filled with useless information, but it never runs out of room.

The hardest aspect is not going cliché and tropey with the story. It’s very tempting sometimes to just go with the flow and write the expected scene in the expected way, but it is so boring to write and to read as well. Yes, there are definitely conventions and obligatory scenes in any genre, but I work hard to make them fresh and maybe not so predictable.

Also, just getting things right, the terms, the technical stuff – the research, which can send you down a rabbit hole for days if you aren’t careful. Sometimes I have to test things out myself too, which can be hilarious. Once I had my roommate duct tape my hands behind my back, while sitting on the floor, to see if I could get to a standing position that way. It took time, but I could. So, yeah, research…

7) Plotter or pantser?

Neither. A bit of a hybrid. Maybe I’m a plantster? I don’t do scene by scene outlines but I do keep copious notes, work a lot on character profiles and never start writing until I know how the story ends.

For me, the story always starts with a character. Often they just sort of pop into my head. If they keep popping into my head, I start thinking about them, who they are, what they do, their quirks and so on. From there I start to think about what kind of problems they have and what they’d have to do to solve them or at least accept them. I’ll write sample scenes. Mess around with them until something gels. Then maybe I’ll do a loose outline – inciting incident – middle complication – climax – maybe more like crib notes. Then I’m off to the races. Although the first draft is always terrible because all I’m trying to do is get the major movements down. The details come later, with the subsequent revisions and edits and beta readings.

6) While researching for the Dead Dog trilogy, did you get input from experts in law enforcement and forensic science or was it all done via documents and websites?

Most of my research is done via documents, text, websites. I belong to a few groups with legal, medical, and law enforcement experts that are very helpful and also in my past have worked for lawyers and doctors both – so have been around those worlds.

I also have read a fair amount of true crime, and crime, forensics textbooks. One I highly recommend is Lofland’s Police Procedure & Investigations.

5) What would you like to see change in the book business in general?

I’d just like to see writers, whether indie or traditionally published, get better treatment, higher royalties, better contracts, etc.

The book or writing business reminds me a lot of the entertainment business. There are lots of egos and temper flairs, lots of ‘scams to play the system’, and jockeying for position. Lots of people hawking ways to get to the top in 5 easy lessons and so on – but the truth is that writing is a career and if you hope to have a writing career then you have to be prepared for the long haul and to do the work. Sure, you could become an overnight success but the chances are you won’t.

I would like to see some of my fellow indies concentrate more on honing their craft than chasing ways of selling a lot of books. Promotion and marketing is necessary and it’s a challenge to find the method that works best for you but if you don’t love writing, then something’s wrong. I mean, how can a reader love what you write if you don’t love it? Just my opinion…

4) You’d also mentioned to me you had an agent when you wrote teleplays back in the day. Did you ever seek a literary agent when you made the transition to novels or are you happy being an unrepresented indie?

I wrote screenplays, yes, back in the day. I did have an agent, yes, for a while, but without any satisfaction. The experience wasn’t a good one, so I have to admit I wasn’t that crazy about trying again. Even though I did. I’m happy being an indie on my own. Not sure I’d ever seek an agent again – there are plenty of entertainment attorneys out there who can help you out though and I’d be more inclined toward that.

Though there might be a time in the future I could change my mind about it, anything is possible.

3) Before you became a novelist, what authors did you read most often and who among them were your biggest influences?

My reading tastes vary widely. I often will find a writer I like and read everything they have written and then move on to another writer. When I was very young I loved the family sagas like those written by Taylor Caldwell, also had a sci-fi phase and loved the pulps by the likes of Asimov and Heinlien. I went steady with Stephen King for quite a while and so on. Dean Koontz, Michael Connelly, Lee Childs, Patricia Cornwell are all favorites as well. In terms of influences…not sure, I’d probably say Sue Grafton. I still miss her.

2) What advice would you most readily impart to any novice embarking on a first crime novel?

I’d suggest they read a lot of true crime, if they don’t already. And real case files of the types of crimes they want to write about. Then read a lot of classic and current crime fiction to see what’s out there and what readers are liking and reading. And to do your homework. Research. There is no shortage of information thanks to the Internet and practically anything you want to know you can find and it all helps to make the story authentic.

1) What’s next for Anita Rodgers?

I’m currently working on a new Lottie Stark novel and a new Scotti Fitzgerald novel, as well as a couple of standalone mysteries. And probably some short stories as well. And somewhere in there, I’d like to move to Texas.

You can find out more about Anita and her work through these links:

KindleindaWind, my writing blog.

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