Saturday, September 22, 2018

Gotham City Digest, 9/22/18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Gotham City Digest, September 12, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     I love irony. Don't you?

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Interview with Scottish mystery author CA Asbrey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, September 8, 2018

A War of Shadows

     With all due respect to the unflappable Mike Flannigan who has capably and often brilliantly toiled here without pay for over a decade, his three part post on the 6th didn't do justice to the full ramifications of the incendiary NY Times op-ed that set the nation, and the Trump White House, in flames on the 5th. He made some pretty good points, to be sure, but not all of them were addressed.
     Not even close.
     It was a typical Flannigan three parter, this one structured to represent the rebellion against Trump in all three branches of the government. Space being at a premium, only a few paragraphs could be given to the op-ed.
     The gif atop the op-ed shows shadow figures of four tiny people, three men and a woman. They are straining mightily, constantly losing and gaining the same ground as the nation threatens to teeter over a cliff, sort of half Atlas, half Sisyphus, never winning nor losing in their anonymous but heroic efforts to pull the nation back from the precipice.
     And that is misleading. Because if the NY Times op-ed editors thought penning an anonymous op-ed then presenting it to the American public that there's less than open rebellion against the very nerve center of our government, and to do so anonymously, was "heroic", then they need to have the word redefined to them.
     This is not heroism. This is cowardice, albeit not for the reasons the White House and its army of fluffers would have us believe. It is craven recklessness.
     It is craven because the author hides his identity from the American public and his Commander in Chief whom he professes to undermine. It is reckless because, however necessary the author thinks of his subversion whether it be individual or collective, he had essentially told us that the Trump White House cannot be trusted with the stewardship of the nation, that the captain is too ill to command the ship of state. That the 62,000,000 poor, racist, greedy, misguided souls got more, and less, than they signed up for.
     However warped their reasons for voting for Trump on election day 2016, it's safe to say they did not vote for a shadow government. The Executive Branch, until now, had been run by 44 presidents, not a small, shadowy cabal of insiders who think they're doing the right thing regardless of having no mandate from the American people. There is no word for this other than: treason. However honorable their intentions, however much Trump may resemble Captain Queeg from The Caine Mutiny, as in the Pulitzer Prize winning book, there is no honor in undermining a president.
     In fact, all the op-ed did was lend credence to the upcoming book by Robert Woodward. Fear is just what its title says: Fear, and a good deal of loathing, in the Donald Trump White House. The author of the op-ed says using Article 4 of the 25th Amendment was briefly discussed then abandoned as it would invite a constitutional crisis.
     How is admitting to the American people in a scurrilous anonymous op-ed that the President, and his charges, must be saved from "his worst inclinations" going to prevent a constitutional crisis?
     And let's not forget the NY Times' complicity in all this.
     What people conveniently forget is that the freedom of the press in the 1st amendment is more about transparency than anything else. A democratic society cannot function as it should unless the government is itself transparent. That transparency is, or should be, guaranteed and enforced through the existence of a free press.
     How the New York Times thinks publishing an anonymous op-ed achieves that aim is anyone's guess. Which is why, collective op-eds by the NY Times and other papers, aside, there is virtually no such thing as anonymous opinion-editorial pieces. That especially goes for a shadowy entity that announces its part of a small government within the government. And in being the only newspaper in the country that knows the identity of this author, the Times is solely complicit in its, and the government's, own corruption.
     Protecting a source is one thing. Protective anonymity for sources is the very bedrock upon which the fourth estate rests in said democratic society. Without it, the media would  have no credibility. But the author of this anonymous piece has no credibility, to begin with, because of their very demand for anonymity.
     This isn't Woodward, Bernstein and Deep Throat, folks. Mark Felt did not write anonymous op-eds for the Washington Post nor would they have published them if he had. The author of "I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration" is responsible for an entire opinion piece. He is someone too craven to step from the shadows in the interests of job security, perhaps even someone who's fooled himself into thinking he's fulfilling a heroic function by sabotaging the very Office of the Presidency.
     One more time for clarity's sake- There is nothing "heroic" about running a shadow government out of the West Wing because this sets the stage for future administrations to do the same thing. And the New York Times' equally craven insistence on giving such an operative the protection of anonymity tells future whistleblowers and saboteurs that they, too, will be protected during an equally turbulent administration in exchange for a little sensationalism and no real news.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

The New Third World, Fourth Estate and Fifth Columns

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
"The bigger concern is not what Mr. Trump has done to the presidency but rather what we as a nation have allowed him to do to us. We have sunk low with him and allowed our discourse to be stripped of civility." NY Times op-ed, September 5, 2018

The sky is falling. And those with feet of clay will find it very difficult to run for cover.
     There's a quiet revolution going on involving all three branches of our government (or three out of four, if you count the Lobbyist branch). But first, let's take a look at the always flailing and paranoid

Executive Branch
     This time, King Lear's got a reason to be paranoid. Yesterday, the "failing" NY Times took the extraordinary step of publishing an anonymous opinion piece by someone who took the initiative of revealing they were a "senior administration official." For several very good reasons I'll go into later, I'm almost convinced it's Chief of Staff John Kelly. But early in the op-ed, this craven, quasi-whistleblower writes,
To be clear, ours is not the popular “resistance” of the left. We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous.
     This automatically reveals several things about this miscreant. First, he gives props to Trump for two things that are patently and palpably false. Trump has not "made America safer" unless you consider ordinary Central American and Mexican families separated at the border to be greater threats than the radical right wing or ISIS.
     Secondly, it's hard to see how America was made "more prosperous" because of Trump considering his completely insane trade wars with our very allies have already resulted in thousands of US jobs being lost or outsourced overseas and the destruction of several small companies who can't keep up with the retaliatory tariffs being imposed on them. Unless this clown's talking about Wall Street's bullish market and that part of the economy, then, yes, the economy is booming. But that's largely due to unprecedented stock buybacks made possible by Trump's utterly ruinous tax scam bill. How Wall Street's fortunes translate to Main Street forever remains to be seen.
     So the scumbag who'd written this cowardly op-ed is still a True Believer of Trump's agenda. His only saving grace, or what passes for it. is he's digging in his heels and refusing to go over the cliff. He also thinks it's repugnant to be confused with the real Resistance of the left, which he dismisses and never mentions again. Because the author seems think there should be more than one resistance, one that hides behind anonymous op-eds and whispers in the halls about invoking the 25th amendment (which seemed to be an idea early in the administration but not since).
     That's a cowardly resistance if ever I saw one. This doesn't even rise to the level of a 5th Column. Not even close.
     Trump, as usual, is foaming at the mouth over this, claiming out of one side of his vagina-shaped mouth that the "failing" New York Times published another fake piece while saying minutes later the op-ed was "treason" and his various flacks like Sarah Huckabee Sanders calling out the author as "a gutless loser". Which he is. But I say it for different reasons. As usual, Trump, with his typical tenuous grasp on reality, is trying to have it both ways. It's both a "fake" op-ed yet it's treasonous.
     And the reason why I'm convinced it's John Kelly is because of something he'd said that'd been repeated in Bob Woodward's upcoming book, Fear. At one point, the author writes, "Meetings with him veer off topic and off the rails..." "Off the rails" is a quote attributed to Kelly in Woodward's upcoming book, who added that we're "in Crazytown." Furthermore, Kelly had defended the border family separations in the most callous of terms, the terms of someone who's convinced these people just looking for jobs and a new life are the greatest threat to our national security. And a guy who would defend Ben Carson's $31,000 dining set would also be even happier about the tax scam bill.
     Plus, in the lengthening list of quivering administration lickspittles denying they'd written the op-ed, one name is conspicuously missing: John Kelly's.

The Legislative
Let's get one thing straight: Blue Dog Democrat Cory Booker is no Spartacus. His heroism peaked when he used to shovel snow for residents when he was still mayor of Newark. Today, Booker did a mini document dump, more like a drip, of 12 "committee confidential" documents pertaining to Brett Kavanaugh. But what Booker didn't tell people as he was putting on his hair shirt and preparing to hoist himself on a nonexistent petard was that he'd gotten shyster Bill Burck's permission to reveal these documents which were about racial profiling on Kavanaugh's part.
     Now, all Booker did was reveal a few documents that shouldn't be "committee confidential" since those documents, ostensibly, belong to the American people. And the release of those documents shouldn't be at the whims of a random lawyer who just happens to represent three of Trump stooges: Don McGahn, Reince Priebus, and Steve Bannon. Burck's also worked for George W. Bush and is well-known in Republican legal circles. In other words, he's Federalist Society material.
     But the fact that Booker would do such a document dump as long as the perception remains that he could be expelled from the US Senate (and John Cornyn today read him the Riot Act if he made good on his threats) is extraordinary. In the three days since Kavanaugh's dog and pony show began, Senate Democrats have done some pretty persuasive political kabuki in opposing Kavanaugh's nomination. Say what you want about them- But Senate Democrats (especially in an election year) know how to link their arms and do the can-can.
     And with Kavanaugh's nomination, Trump's showing the American people once again that he's quite willing to make permanent changes to our government and its offices with the short-sighted intention of giving himself short-term gain. He'd appointed Jeff Sessions as Attorney General back when the Mueller probe was still Comey's probe and was visibly outraged, and still is, that Sessions had recused himself from any Russia investigation.
     Trump had Mitch McConnell shoehorn Neil Gorsuch onto the High Court to, again, give himself legal cover and to change the rules in the Senate to that short-sighted end. And Brett Kavanaugh's past opinions that the president (provided he's not black) should be shielded from indictment or any legal comeuppance whatsoever should also set off warning bells in the minds of anyone who cares about our nation's

It may be surprising to remember that the federal judiciary was actually the very first branch of our government to oppose Trump. In fact, it began in 2016. The first federal judge, Gonzalo Curiel, ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in a case involving the fraudulent Trump University. Later, after Trump was inaugurated, Curiel, oddly enough would remove a block toward the wall (environmental regulations), the very reason Trump said Curiel couldn't be impartial because of his Mexican heritage.
     But when federal judges stand in Trump's way, it's usually connected to his Caucasian-centric immigration policies, starting with his Muslim ban.  By October last year, three judges had placed at least partial blocks on it due to its blatant unconstitutionality. By May this year, another federal judge said Trump blocking critics on Twitter was in violation of the First Amendment right to Freedom of Speech. The list goes on.
     July this year, another federal judge, John Mendez, largely blocked Trump's attempt to bypass California sanctuary laws (so much for "states' rights"). Early this year, William Alsup, yet another federal judge, stood in Trump's way when he sought to end protections for 800,000 DACA beneficiaries.
     The only reason why it may seem premature to pronounce our nation and its government as being in free fall is our government's, whoever is in charge, freakishly infallible ability to still project a mirage of calm waters even as the waves crash over port and starboard. Donald Trump is a fat, festering splinter in the body politic and it is slowly but surely pushing him out for the infectious foreign entity he is.
     Once the Democrats take control of the House (and they will), they will launch no less than 100 investigations into this administration while the Republican minority that's shielded Trump from countless inquiries will scream about the "tyranny of the majority." Here's a brief but hardly exhaustive investigative laundry list for Democrats once the GOP loses control of it.
     Trump's days pretending to be the president are numbered. With any luck, once Robert Mueller finally wraps up his Waiting for Godot Russia probe and the rest of the indictments come tumbling down like a blue avalanche, Trump's election will be ruled null and void and everything done since January 20th last year, including the principals in the Rules of Succession, will similarly be swept forever out of sight.

KindleindaWind, my writing blog.

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