Saturday, December 31, 2016

Good Times at Pottersville, 12/31/16

An Insult to Self-Published Authors

     Longtime and long-suffering reader CC sent me this link last night knowing it would infuriate me. Sometimes I think he does this just to help keep me informed. Other times, I suspect he regards me as his trained monkey and delights in seeing me blow my top. Either way, any indie author reading this post needs to read, even if only out of morbid curiosity or self masochistic need, this incredibly arrogant, ignorant, nasty and mean-spirited screed by Laurie Gough, who's written three memoirs (meaning she likes to write about just herself). The following paragraphs are a somewhat altered version of the long letter I'd dashed off to CC, which did little if anything to alleviate my fury over this PuffHo piece, which I'm amazed got past the editorial board.
     I may have mentioned in previous posts (I know I have on Twitter) about this despicable prejudice against all self published authors in the publishing and book selling business. From top to bottom, side to side and inside and out, the zeitgeist is that all indie authors are sloppy, badly-informed hacks whose Kindle books aren't worth the paper they're written on.
     Literary agents generally won't touch self-published  books no matter how good they are (They Google every person and title they get in their slush pile like lonely spinsters investigating the guy they just met in a bar); Editors skeeve them, especially if the author decides to cut the middle man agent out of their protection racket that ought to be enforceable by the RICO statutes; Book critics and reviewers, especially in high and mighty publications such as USA Today and the New York Times, strenuously ignore the existence of self-published books. What few brick and mortar book stores that are left refuse to carry self published books (although Barnes & Noble is experimenting with carrying titles published by them, provided they meet a threshold of at least 5000 sales).
     Essentially, indie authors are beaten in the press like the proverbial red-headed stepchild. And Laurie Gough's "Self-Publishing: An Insult To The Written Word" is in my experience the most ignorant and vicious jeremiad against us that I have ever read (and I've read quite a few).
     Early in her scurrilous screed, she writes,
To get a book published in the traditional way, and for people to actually respect it and want to read it — you have to go through the gatekeepers of agents, publishers, editors, national and international reviewers. These gatekeepers are assessing whether or not your work is any good. Readers expect books to have passed through all the gates, to be vetted by professionals. This system doesn’t always work out perfectly, but it’s the best system we have.
     There's so much wrong with this paragraph, I literally don't even know where to begin. So I'll dive in willy nilly and start with some statistics that Gough unhelpfully fails to provide to back up her assertions:
     At least 80% of the tripe extruded through the publishing industry each year is bought through literary agents. As I've stated many times here and elsewhere, these morons fail at their jobs 90-95% of the time. Approximately 90% of all books fail to turn a profit and, like the last statistic, is an annual standard. The publishing business, like the film business, is basically propped up by a few bestsellers written by an anointed handful of writers regardless of their talent or execution or originality.
     This means, as with their literary agent buddies with whom they do lunch at the Four Seasons, publishers and acquisitions editors fail at their jobs 90% of the time. Yet, like the other parasites who have been used as primary gatekeepers, they usually get to keep their jobs despite a track record that, in the rest of the corporate sector, would result in heads rolling in the cubicle farms. So much for the unimpeachable wisdom and pragmatism of the gatekeepers of American literacy.
     Saying present-day publishing is "the best system we have" is like saying, "Our leper colony may not be the perfect health care system but it's the best system we have." Saying that the present system of book publishing being somewhat imperfect is the understatement of the year. What Gough is essentially saying is a very right wing sentiment (and to prove it, she even quotes right wing nut job Brad Thor, who actually floated to Glenn Beck recently the idea of assassinating the President): That publishing should not be democratized and should be restricted to elites anointed by other elites. In short, she's treating publishing the written word as a privilege, not a right, which flies in the face of the First Amendment itself.
     And if the notoriously slothful and unagile publishing industry wasn't so perennially dysfunctional on a multiplicity of levels, then evolution wouldn't have gotten its foot in the door. Part of that evolution is the technology of software that democratizes the publishing process. Kindle, Kobo, Lulu, Createspace, Smashwords, Nook and a whole host of other established and startup publishing companies have made it possible for John Q. Public to speak his piece while getting to keep most of the royalties, streamline the turnaround time and exert full creative control over everything from cover art to content to length (things that are denied even the most elite authors).
     In other words, there was a demand and several people stepped in to fill it. That's called Capitalism, to which I would think an elitist bitch like Gough would at least give a grudging nod.
     Indie authors, especially those who have been making the rounds of the shrinking pool of literary agencies who don't exclusively handle properties submitted through invitations and referrals (Good luck getting one of those from an elite author) can and will tell you it's the very delineation of Einstein's definition of insanity. These self-interested morons (keep in mind their perennial 90-95% failure rate), as with editors, sales people, booksellers, writers and even other readers have no better idea than anyone else what'll catch fire. And this pedestrian, layman's grasp of what's saleable or not is largely what accounts for the 90% mortality rate among all legacy-published books.
     In summation regarding this line of thought, indie authors got tired of being treated like shit by getting form letters from flunkies and doors slammed in our faces by both literary agencies and publishing houses.
     Elsewhere, Gough makes a shockingly clueless analogy:
Did you ever hear what Margaret Atwood said at a party to a brain surgeon? When the brain surgeon found out what she did for a living, he said, “Oh, you’re a writer! When I retire I’m going to write a book.” Margaret Atwood said, “Great! When I retire I’m going to be a brain surgeon!”
The irony is that now that brain surgeon really could dash off a “book” in a of couple months, click “publish” on amazon, and he’s off signing books at the bookstore. Just like Margaret Atwood, he’s a “published” author. Who cares if his book is something that his grade nine teacher might have wanted to crumple into the trash? It’s a “published” book.
     Uh, NO (And please learn to proofread, All Your Base Are Belong to Us).
     First off, that brain surgeon would literally be likelier to get a Trump Cabinet post than a book signing if he's self published a book (especially if he published on Nook or Kindle). Secondly, medical school requires six years of rigorous study and dedication, plus a residency afterward. We're talking about a highly-trained skill set in medicine versus creative writing, which doesn't require such stringent standards, checks and balances. It's comparing apples to surgical sponges. (Plus, other doctors have successfully made a foray in the written word such as the late Michael Crichton [Who, by the way, self published his first book], Robin Cook and, going further back in time, William Carlos Williams and John Keats).
     And as if that horrid analogy didn't teach her a lesson, she then makes this stunning one:
I’m a horrible singer. But I like singing so let’s say I decide to take some singing lessons. A month later I go to my neighbor’s basement because he has recording equipment. I screech into his microphone and he cuts me a CD. I hire a designer to make a stylish CD cover. Voilà. I have a CD and am now just like all the other musicians with CDs.
Except I’m not. Everyone knows I’m a tuneless clod but something about that CD validates me as a musician. It’s the same with writers who self-publish.
     Uh, again, NO.
     Singing and musical ability are not universal skill sets such as literacy. Literacy can be both artistic and utilitarian. Music is strictly artistic. While everyone in America can be reasonably expected to be literate, not everyone can be expected to sing or play the piano well. As one person wrote in the comment section, "I saw someone performing music on the street. How dare they call themselves a musician without having a recording contact?"
      And, to go back to Gough's third paragraph, where she said writers have to earn their way to the trust of readers by going through gatekeepers (who, again, plainly don't know their asses from their elbows), she obviously didn't read this report from February this year: Self-published electronic books now sell better than legacy-published ones, which is a huge inversion. One estimate stated overall that indie authors accounted for a full 23% of all book sales in the US. That's right. Nearly a quarter of all books sold were written by slipshod hacks like us.
     No wonder the Powers That Be are scared shitless we're stealing their thunder. We're being treated the same way political bloggers were 10-12 years ago by the media and political elite. Then what happened when we wouldn't go away? Have you ever heard of the adage, "If you can't lick 'em, join 'em"?
     And if the publishing business was so up front and above board, then explain the growing number of hybrid authors. Those are self published authors whose book sales had been impressive enough to entice predatory publishers and literary agents into signing them to print deals but who had decided not to sell the electronic rights. A quick look at the numbers explains why:
     An indie author can earn a royalty rate between 35-70% on Kindle. A legacy publisher that purchases your erights gets to keep 52.5% of your money. With Amazon taking a hefty 30% distribution fee for performing a service involving zero overhead, that means the author gets a measly 17.5% royalty rate, or literally half what they would get with just a 35% rate. To any indie or hybrid author with a kickass marketing platform, that's a no brainer.
     Finally, there's this old trope that authors aren't interested in learning the rudiments of grammar, effective storytelling or even doing their research:
I have nothing against people who want to self-publish, especially if they’re elderly. Perhaps they want to write their life story and have no time to learn how to write well enough to be published traditionally. It makes a great gift for their grandchildren. But self-publishing needs to be labelled as such. The only similarity between published and self-published books is they each have words on pages inside a cover. The similarities end there. And every single self-published book I’ve tried to read has shown me exactly why the person had to resort to self-publishing. These people haven’t taken the decade, or in many cases even six months, to learn the very basics of writing, such as ‘show, don’t tell,’ or how to create a scene, or that clichés not only kill writing but bludgeon it with a sledgehammer. Sometimes they don’t even know grammar.
      Oh really, "could dash off a “book” in a of couple months"?
     Yeah, sure she has nothing against people who want to self publish. That's why she wrote this spittle-flecked literary version of road rage. Her overarching assumption is not only are self published authors ignorant and lazy but that some of us even in our old age never learned the basics of literary composition, that we'd never committed words to paper before our nefarious "insult of the written word."
     Well, let me tell you something, you stupid bitch: I've been writing novels for going on 23 years. That's a lot of trial and error, a lot of honing of my craft. For 17 years before that, I wrote, and published, poetry and satire. That's 40 years I've dedicated to the written word. That goes back to 1977 when I was 18 years old. In other words, for the last four decades of my life, writing has been my sole constant.
     Your assumption that we don't care about craft is simply bigoted, irrational and prejudicial. We don't do our research, you say? Well, let me tell you (assuming you've read every single self published book and vetted every single historical and technical reference):
      When I was writing and researching my novel Tatterdemalion, I had to bone up on
1) The Ripper murders, including much political and social context of the 1888 East End of London.
2) The earliest days of photography, especially moving picture photography, which began that same year.
3) The life of Buffalo Bill Cody and his Wild West Show.
4) The life of Annie Oakley.
5) The life of Sitting Bull.
6) The life of Arthur Conan Doyle.
7) The life of Jacob Riis.
8) Nitroglyercine.
9) The various carriages that were used in that era.
10) Antique firearms that were used in that era.
11) Law enforcement and the Ripper investigation's principles, including Fred Abberline.
12) The geography of the East and West Ends of 1888 London, including the Strand in central London, which involved consulting period maps.
13) Nomenclature that would've been in existence in 1888.
14) Research into Kent/Gravesend.
15) The basics of Freud's theory of the tripartite mind.
     Then I began other historical novels and short stories that also required research and as much as I take pride in my literary abilities, I also pride myself on my historical scholarship.
     What this smarmy bitch is saying is,"Write a good book and you'll get a publishing contract." Seriously?!
     Yeah, tell that to John Kennedy Toole, who committed suicide in 1969 because the publishing poobahs back in the 60's treated A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES like they have every single one of my books.
     Yes, a lot of self published novelists are slipshod no talent bums. However, I again refer you to the 90% mortality rate of the productions of those in legacy publishing to whose wisdom Gough shamelessly, and ignorantly, genuflects.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Plantations... of the Future!

     Yesterday, during a routine media investigation into its patents, an enterprising journalist discovered that last April Amazon had bought through bribes been given a patent, by the United States Patent Office in our nation's Capitol, for a flying warehouse.
     Yes, you read that correctly. Jeff Bezos's latest brainchild is to launch an Arial Fulfillment Center in the form of a blimp, eventually reaching an altitude of 45,000 feet (or about 15,000 feet above the cloud deck). Then, once the orders come in via satellite signal, UAVs (Unmanned Arial Vehicles or drones) will then float down and deliver the package to your house.
     Ars Technica called it a "demented" idea and at least one aviation expert wasn't too far behind, calling it "loony." But wait, it gets better.
     So who's going to pick these orders and load the drones? You guessed it, minimum wage-earning temp workers like the ones here on terra firma. You see, Jazzy Jeff's idea is to import temp workers from Planet Earth in a shuttle sorta like what you see in science fiction movies. Then, considering the shuttle pilot knows what s/he is doing and actually docks and forms a pressurized seal, the flesh and blood drones will then cross a short threshold nearly nine miles above the planet and begin their frenzied days vainly trying to satisfy impossible quotas set by bottomlessly avaricious corporate management.
     But, worry not. I'm sure Amazon will take total responsibility in the event this drone crashes or the fulfillment center becomes unmoored from the blimp, because Amazon has an impeccable record of doing so when one of their low-paid temps dies on the job.
     The graphic is an actual one obtained from the Patent Office that shows how this Rube Goldberg contraption is supposed to work. Apparently, the fulfillment center carrying tens of millions of dollars of merchandise is to be suspended by a blimp by as little as 2000 feet above commercial air traffic, which typically flies just above the cloud deck at 35,000 to 43,000 feet. Then, after the living drones load the inanimate drones, they then float down to earth and will have your package sent to your house in as little 17 minutes, if we're to believe the results of a test run in the UK a couple of weeks ago.
     (Not shown: The Flying Spaghetti Monster giving His Beneficence.)

     The logistical problems pretty much guarantee this will be the worst idea in human history, sort of Crystal Pepsi, the Edsel and Ford Pinto rolled into one times 10,000. The primary problem the geniuses who'd dreamed this up don't seem to have hashed out in their Flying Spaghetti Monster schematics are the drones interfering with FAA commercial air traffic (not to mention military jets). And this neatly dovetails, pardon the pun, into the other logistical issue of the FAA's prohibition of drone pilots not having a clear sight line.
     This is Jazzy Jeff's idea of combating the criticisms with which his original drone idea had met years ago, which was people shooting down the drones with bows and arrows and what have you and absconding with the merchandise. But this would only protect the warehouse, not the drones that still have to come back down to earth.
     And heaven forbid Uncle Sam would ever approach a massive multinational corporation and ask them to do their patriotic duty and snoop on their own customers for the sake of national security and a few million bucks for their troubles. Or that said companies would ever be on board with such a scheme. Oh no, no potential for abuse there, comrades.
     And let us not forget the stellar record private industry has in taking its first toddler steps into space.
     This HG Wells/Rube Goldberg scheme has got failure written all over it in 45,000 bold fecal matter.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Future's So Breitbart, He's Gotta Wear Shades

     I don't know what it is with the publishing business.
     Ever since a generation ago, when they began refusing to do their jobs and relying on literary agencies to go through the "slush pile", as they derisively refer to half-forgotten authors' work, they've troweled out one turkey after another (largely due to their rigid insistence on buying at least 80% of their properties from said brain-dead literary agents who fail to place 90-95% of the adult properties they rep). The publishing poobahs also seem especially ingratiating toward right wing nut jobs, even to the point of establishing imprints that deal exclusively with right wing trash.
     News Corps' Harper Collins, which is almost entirely right wing, owns Zondervan, a Christian imprint. Adam Bellow, shameful son of Nobel laureate Saul Bellow, makes his home there.You'd be more than hard-pressed to find a single imprint in the Big Five publishing houses that's similarly founded a left wing imprint. Go ahead, look for one. I'll wait here.
     We've come to expect the usual litany of assclowns on an annual basis- The Ann Coulters, the Sean Hannitys, the Bill O'Reillys, the Glenn Becks and so forth. Not to rationalize the dreadful judgment of publishers but at least those assholes have national visibility, TV gigs. And, yeah, up to a point we could even understand, in a contorted sort of way, the disastrous book deals given to Christine O'Donnell and Joe the Plumber.
     But what are we to make of internet troll Milo Yia Yanni (fuck it) getting a quarter of a million dollar book deal with Simon & Schuster today?
     Yes, boys and girls, that Milo.
     That would be the same self-loathing, racist, bigoted asshole who pounded Trump's campaign trail like Filipino twink ass on Two-For-One night, the same Breitbart "writer" who made headlines by claiming the Orlando night club shooting wasn't based on homophobia but Muslim culture (despite the shooter saying the exact opposite). The same Milo who got banned for life on Twitter and was consequently turned into some right wing martyr, the same Milo who went on a national "Dangerous Faggot" tour. The same Milo who humiliated a trans student by posting her image on a screen for hundreds to see. The same Milo who was banned from speaking at his former grade school by the UK's Anti Extremism Unit.
     Yes, that one. $250,000 for a piece of shit that got fast-tracked for a March 14, 2017 release (the usual turnaround time in the publishing business is a year and a half to two years, with Bantam having the shortest one at eight months). Apparently, with or without a literary agent (a prerequisite for the rest of us), this douchebag was probably carried into Simon and Schuster's executive offices on a litter and feted despite this:
I met with top execs at Simon & Schuster earlier in the year and spent half an hour trying to shock them with lewd jokes and outrageous opinions. I thought they were going to have me escorted from the building – but instead they offered me a wheelbarrow full of money.
     Yes, Milo tried to, pardon the unintentional pun, queer a deal with Simon & Schuster executives after being invited to speak with them and they dumped "a wheelbarrow full of money" at his feet.
     2016 was a shitty year to be a singer or actor but a great one for Breitbart bigots who just happen to be white men. Look where racist, misogynist, anti-Semite Steve Bannon is now.
     Granted, Milo got inked by Simon & Schuster's right wing Threshold Editions, the same assholes who'd published Dick Cheney's book. But by signing this guy to a quarter of a million dollar deal, Simon & Schuster confirms once again that executives, especially those in the publishing business, are just cynical shitheels who care less about doing the right thing and more about making lots of money in the short term no matter whose name is on the cover or how many people that person had hurt along the way.

(Addendum: Chances are, you've surfed in from Crooks and Liars thanks to Tengrain frontpaging me there for the second time in a few days. If you can spare some extra cash, Mrs. JP and I would greatly appreciate a donation as the holidays are looking a bit bleak these days.)

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas

     From our home to yours. Happy Holidays.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Kicking It

     It's fitting that the first moments of the Trump administration will involve not only the subversion of a union but also forcing women to do something with their bodies they don't want to do. The AGVA, the union that represents the Rockettes, said in a letter that any dancer that doesn't wish to perform at Trump's inaugural will be immediately fired, a strange position for a union to take.
     It seems Trump is having a hell of a time getting A list celebrities to perform at his inaugural. In fact, the problem is so bad that Agent Orange is now going all Aesop and publicly proclaiming (on Twitter, of course) that he's disinterested in A list performers. Sour grapes and all that. What an immature asshole.
     But fret not, comrades: If Trump can't get the Rockettes to perform, he's got a backup plan.

     So go ahead and fire the Rockettes. Without them, Radio City Music Hall is just a big, empty building.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Your President-elect

     Because it wouldn't quite be the holidays without Donald Trump ogling a 10 year-old child.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Good Times at Pottersville, 12/22/16

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Home For the Holidays

     ...but after that?
     In his wonderful dramatic monologue. "The Death of the Hired Man," Robert Frost famously defined home as, "...the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in."
     It's a wonderful sentiment, provided you have that option. Of course, Frost never mentioned rent, sociopathic landlords who are impatient about that rent, not to mention debt collection agencies, utility companies, insurance brokerages, internet and phone companies or the constant burden of topping up cell phone minutes. He also never mentioned in his dramatic monologue annual expenses such as excise taxes, inspection stickers and the things not payable through an EBT card that have to come out of pocket.
     Some of you may have already heard from me and about five of you chipped in with some welcome donations. If you're among that tiny number you can clock out now or continue reading with no sense of further obligation (not that anyone should feel that).
     But if you're among the much, much greater number to which I'd sent out a mass email (and I apologize for the impersonal mass email- There are so many of you who have contributed to Pottersville in the past. And Yahoo, in its very finite wisdom, automatically designates any email beyond an unspoken threshold of the number of recipients as spam and won't send off the email, which is why I have to send them through my Gmail address).
     At any rate, if my email got caught in your bozo filter, that may be why you had not responded or perhaps you've gotten sick of my fund raising drives. If that's the case, who the hell can blame you? I know what that feels like- If I send a small check to one charity or another (and I've sent off plenty in the last seven or so years), I find my junk mail exponentially increases. Pretty soon, every damned animal rights or environmental group is begging me for money because these charities make more money off you by selling your contact information to the highest bidder, especially if you contribute to their cause.
     So, yeah, I get it.
     However, if you never got my email, this is to renew my plea from earlier this month in case it fell on deaf ears. This is my first appeal for assistance since late summer and I held out for as long as I could. What very few people have been making regular disbursements to us are a godsend but they can only do so much. The fact is most months we take in about $300-500 less than we need just to keep all my creditors paid.
     Even though I take out next month's $650 rent at the beginning of each month, I wind up having to put as much as $400 of it back in the bank just to keep the bills paid. I'm essentially rolling a deficit from month to month and, without a shot in the arm from time to time, it'll get to the point where I won't be able to take out next month's rent at the start of the month.  Ergo if there's any time to kick in to keep the home fires burning here at Casa del Pottersville, what better time than Christmas, the season of giving?
     Now, in my email, I'd made an offer and here it is again:
     As well as trying to keep this blog updated with actual political content (and the Fifth Column known as the Trump administration is giving me a ton to write about, believe you me), I've also been feverishly working on a pair of short stories featuring Scott Carson, the hero of Tatterdemalion and a new series character I'd created even before him, Joe Roman. Both are Christmas tales that take place in New York City (in fact, one thing they have in common is that important plot elements are revealed on the Brooklyn Bridge, though separated by 129 years in time).
     To anyone contributing $25 or more, you will receive on request a free copy of these Christmas stories that I'm publishing, hopefully, by Xmas Eve under the same cover.  I'll pay for the envelope, the postage, the cost of the book, the whole nine yards, just to show my appreciation for your help.
     So, as always, anything you could do to alleviate our situation would be greatly appreciated. And whether or not you can or will, please have a safe and happy holiday season from our home to yours.

(Addendum: As much as I hate to sully this post with any mention of my Honorary Zionist stalker, Google's comment section has arbitrarily decided on a limit of 4096 characters, thereby necessitating I post this as an addendum:

     Oh, you got me there, Jailbird Joe. Boy, one really has to get up before the chickens to get one past you, eh? Because your stubborn pride would never allow you to ask your poor, deluded readership for a penny…
     …except for here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here.
     And I’m only going back to last spring, or just before you signed that six figure deal at Masada in Tel Aviv that you never told your readers about. You know, the one giving you free housing near Tiberias and Galilee and couriers to do your bidding while you get paid tons of money to work on your own pet projects and enjoying a far lighter workload than the rest of the graphic design department.
     Aside from that, no, you’re not a moocher
     Perish the thought.

Good Times at Pottersville, 12/21/16

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Hitler Finds Out The Electoral College Sided With Trump

     (Courtesy of the folks at Downfall. I have a feeling I'll be using this site a lot during Trump's presidency.)

Monday, December 19, 2016


 (By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
Today is the day when the 538 electors across the country cast in their respective states what used to be a largely ceremonial vote. They represent all 435 congressional districts plus the 100 seats in the Senate plus three more for Washington DC. It usually flies under the radar because our 538 electors, largely party activists, remain faithful to the balloting on Election Day. It generally attracts as much attention as American soccer league drafts because it's largely a formality. In fact, the last time more than one elector defied the Electoral College balloting was when three broke ranks and voted for a dead man, progressive newspaper owner Horace Greeley, who died weeks after the 1872 election.
     But this year, we Americans, and those abroad who care about the direction this nation takes, are paying very, very close attention to today's votes. And the very fact that we're paying so much attention to this formerly symbolic vote shows something is rotten in more than just the state of Denmark. The United States, after perhaps the most corrupt and manipulated presidential election in recent times, if not for all time, is smelling pretty ripe itself these days.
     For just the fifth time in American history going back to John Adams, the Electoral College victor in a presidential election lost the popular vote. When all those that are likely going to be counted were counted, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by approximately 2,800,000. Even in a nation of about 320,000,000, that's a substantial difference. It's giving rise to an uneasy feeling that on November 8th, we didn't have just one winner but two.
     But this isn't the WBC and WBA we're talking about here. And the ship of state can have but one captain. What's been shaping and firming up in this country since Election Day is the sort of thing one sees in banana republics, the kind that we've been monitoring through exit polls for decades.
     Adding to the historic consequences of today's voting are protests being planned in all 50 states and perhaps even in US territories such as Guam and Puerto Rico. Then there are the persistent rumors, fueled by a joint finding by the FBI, CIA and our other 16 intelligence agencies that Russia had somehow manipulated the elections. These are so-called findings that have been amplified by an unusually whiny President Obama who just days ago actually threatened Russian President Vladimir Putin, warning him not to manipulate the results (too little, too late, if the investigations are to be believed) or "we can do stuff to you, too").
     Anyone who saw the dog and pony show at the Oval Office last month could see there's no love lost between Trump and President Obama. But the transition of power needs to smoothly happen to ensure the stability of our nation in more ways than most of us can count. And when the outgoing President of the United States, in defiance of history and protocol, says the election was tainted, then many tens of millions of Americans are going to sit up and take notice, as well as billions more overseas.
     So what's more important? A smooth transition of power even if the new guy illegally usurped the presidency or the vindication and enforcement of the American electoral process? Is civil war and an open rebellion against the new president, as those seen in banana republics, necessary to save what's left of our democracy?

     Donald Trump supposedly won the presidency with 306 electoral votes. That means at least 37 electors will have to break ranks and leave Trump short of the 270 he needs to win the presidency. This would be unprecedented. Remember what I said about the last time more than one elector did so- It simply hasn't been done in 144 years. Although the general perception is that the electors, who are voted in by state legislatures, are autonomous, they really aren't. In 30 states, penalties can theoretically be levied against those "faithless" voters who defy the results of the electoral college balloting.
     However, none of these state laws have ever been put to the test in courts of law so no one, really, knows what would happen if more than three dozen change their votes to Hillary Clinton or some other candidate. And at first, it would seem unthinkable that many electors would do an about face and defy the results. ABC News was able to find just one Trump elector in Texas who has publicly announced he will not vote for Trump on the basis of the possibility of Russian tampering. 80 electors petitioned DNI James Clapper to give them classified briefings so they could decide for themselves if the CIA and FBI investigations actually yielded facts of Russian tampering.
     What's been put on the back burner is the massive amounts of evidence of voter fraud on the part of the GOP- Gerrymandering (a huge part of the Electoral College map, as most of the electors represent heavily populated districts such as urban areas); Crosscheck, which was used in 28 states (.pdf file) to specifically target voters of color (or those who faithfully vote democratic) and throw them off the rolls; dysfunctional voting machines in heavily African American districts that resulted in paper ballots in Detroit, Michigan, to cite just one instance, not getting counted. Greg Palast has been all over it for months. Go read his findings, if you don't believe me.
     Crosscheck, of course, was masterminded by the infamously partisan Republican Kansas Secretary of State, Chris Kobach, who just happened by some happy coincidence to be heavily embedded in the Trump campaign, which alone ought to make all 538 electors reconsider casting a vote for the multi billionaire.
     But for the time being, the specter, however real or false it is, of Putin's Russia manipulating the presidential election in an attempt to put a real-life Manchurian Candidate in the Oval Office ought to be enough to at least get them to consider changing their votes in defiance of the Electoral College results. And if by some unthinkable miracle this does happen, what then?
     When Congress reconvenes on January 6th, one of the first things they will do is count and certify the Electoral College's votes. And, should 37 or more break ranks and cast "faithless" votes for someone other than Trump and neither candidate gets the necessary 270? The House of Representatives, which is solidly dominated by the Republican Party, will vote for the next President while the Senate helplessly stands by and watches from the sidelines.
     Meaning, one way or the other, it won't be Vlad Putin who will have subverted our democracy but his cheerleaders among the GOP. And whichever way today's votes swing, this election will have a higher stench attached to it than even the infamously corrupt and manipulated 2000 and 2004 general elections, one that will never get the seal of approval from either the American people or President Obama.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Pimpin' Ain't Easy

     On the Trump Douchebag Index, it could be said the fruit of Donald Trump's loins are perhaps a quarter of a cut above that of America's most infamous pimp, Jailbird James O'Keefe. But Eric Trump's latest stunt requires a special, rarified level of the Douchebag Index.
     Because on, in which you can bid money to spend time with certain high profile people such as Fergie, the Duchess of York, Eric Trump actually tried to pawn 45 minutes of his sister's time supposedly for St. Jude's Hospital. Basically, he tried to pimp out his own sister.
     Now, realizing what a skeevy sleaze Eric Trump is (he's the one standing in the background like the world's creepiest photobomber), this makes sense at first. After all, who but those who've had all their shots updated would pay up to $78,000 to the Eric Trump Foundation to be alone in a room with Eric Trump? Perhaps, assuming rightly, that his own time wouldn't have raised much more than a plug nickel and half a roll of Peppermint Life Savers, Trump decided to pimp out Ivanka, ethically tarnished as she already is.
     Well, the O'Keefe-class pimpin' suddenly got a whole lot harder when several people raised ethical concerns about selling access to someone who's about to become part of the First Family. That no-good do-gooder liberals' badgering then made Eric Trump pull the campaign from Charitybuzz, also leading him to huff and puff to the NY Times, which raised the ethical concerns, that, "Now they may not get a chance to "Enjoy Coffee with Ivanka Trump in NYC or DC." When he did finally pull the lot from the website, he then issued another huffing and puffing press release that puled, "Today, the only people that lost are the children of St. Jude."
     Because, you know, it was all about the poor, sick little kiddies. Uh...
"Mr. Ozkural is one of several high-profile bidders in a feverish competition to win time with one of Mr. Trump's children. Other bidders include the owner of a Tex-Mex restaurant chain from Houston who wants to press Mr. Trump, through his daughter, about immigration policy, and a real estate executive and fringe presidential candidate from Florida who wants to send a message to Mr. Trump about election fraud.
     No, no, no, it was all about the poor, sick little... Oh fuck...
The Times spoke with one of the bidders in the auction, investment manager Ozan Ozkural. He told the newspaper he wanted coffee with Ivanka in order to learn about what the president-elect might do in the future — especially in countries where Ozkural invests.
     I think we have it on good faith that this rich asshole was the one who put up the final bid of $77,888 (By contrast, Fergie only commanded $3500, without her children's books being boycotted).
     Betty Cracker over at Balloon Juice has the final word on this when she writes,
Then write a check to St. Jude yourself, cheap-ass Little Lord Fauntleroy. Oh, right — Trumps never open their own wallets, preferring instead to funnel other people’s money into charities that double as private slush funds.
     Ouch. Get the little American Psycho boy a bag of ice for that nose!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Good Times at Pottersville, 12/16/16

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Good Times at Pottersville, 12/15/16

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A Rose Garden Dies in Brooklyn

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
“They believed they were more experienced, which they were. They believed they were smarter, which they weren’t.” -Donnie Fowler, DNC consultant
“I think it’s true, they executed well. I think it’s true that the plan was accomplished. But the plan was not the right plan.” - a former Michigan labor leader

Perhaps five weeks after Election Day is a bit late for political autopsies of the Clinton campaign. But, as is inevitable with campaigns and defunct presidential administrations, the truth inevitably comes out like rusty water from a leaky pipe. And Edward Isaac Devore's piece in Politico today adds a new dimension to the staggering and, frankly, unbelievable dysfunction, stupidity and arrogance of the Clinton campaign. As a synecdoche for it, Devore focuses on the countless bad decisions and non-decisions concerning the battleground state of Michigan.
     It's a state that Hillary lost to Trump by just over 10,000 votes. In a state, again, a battleground state with 7,495,216 registered voters for this election, with 40,000 added to the rolls since 2012, that's an onion skin paper-thin margin. By contrast, Trump walked away with 30,000 fewer votes than George W. Bush did in 2004 when he lost Michigan. Michigan. it should be remembered, also enjoyed a record voter turnout.
     So how come Trump did so poorly compared to the 2004 Bush campaign and how did Hillary lose by such a thin margin? And does it matter now that a federal judge halted the Michigan recount a week ago and that its 16 electoral votes wouldn't make a difference since Jill Stein's campaign fell asleep at the switch and let the recount deadline lapse in PA? Well, in light of the new revelations coming out, it matters very much indeed.
     Let's just put aside for a minute the James Comey/FBI investigation into the emails, then the second one, just put aside the ultimately ruinous Podesta email leaks brought out by Julian Assange and that knocked last minute waverers off the fence and onto Trump's or Jill Stein's side. There's a lot to be said for a major presidential campaign that ignores data on its biggest opponent, spills coffee on other data and ignores that from people on the ground who have a better idea of the shifts and trends on Election Day.
     The Clintons have plainly lost their edge. Once the most glamorous First Couple since the Kennedys, one is dumbfounded that the wife of the guy who ran the slickest presidential campaigns in modern times could be responsible for so many bad decisions that came streaming out of Brooklyn like a tide of toxic sludge from a ruptured waste tank.
     Among them were party operatives in Michigan, sensing something was off, appealing to the DNC for help. Of course, knowing the score, they were forbidden from doing this, even though ironically the DNC had just lost their leader for shameless and transparent collusion with that same Clinton campaign. Such appeals were met with furious phone calls from Clinton's campaign headquarters in Brooklyn telling these operatives to avoid the DNC like the plague. But there were also stunning lapses in judgment when legitimate appeals were made to Camp Clinton for help.
     And what were they? Let us count the ways...

Calling Doctor Detroit
     What the Clinton campaign needed was a campaign doctor. Not Robby Mook, not John Podesta, not Charlie Baker (not the Massachusetts Governor but the CAO) and not Huma Abedin. It needed a campaign doctor. Indeed, if the election were a patient and the Clinton campaign its doctor, it would've been sued into oblivion for malpractice and perhaps even negligent homicide.
     Let's start with Michigan campaign offices telling walk in volunteers they had no literature to hand out. Or that there were no yard signs to give out because they weren't "scientifically feasible." Let's continue with money and human resources not being allocated to the state until the 11th hour GOTV or extremely faulty data still being used by the Clinton analytics team even though going back to the caucuses and primaries it had shown Clinton winning in Iowa over Sanders by 6 points (she won by 0.2%) and that she'd beat Sanders in, you guessed it, Michigan (Bernie won by 1.5%).
     Let's continue with Clinton, arrogant and puffed up with bogus numbers, who showed such disrespect to the labor unions that had supported her and was so supremely confident she'd win Michigan, that she failed to show up for a UAW event to be held in her dubious honor. Or Camp Clinton telling the SEIU union not to go to Michigan to bail out her sinking campaign in the 11th hour. Or, to use Devore's simple but elegant sentences, "Michigan organizers were shocked. It was the latest case of Brooklyn ignoring on-the-ground intel and pleas for help in a race that they felt slipping away at the end."
     Clinton wasn't the only one making decisions, obviously. But those subordinates who were making them were following her example of hubris and arrogance and honestly felt they were making these horrible decisions and non-decisions for the common good of the campaign and the one-size-fits-all Democratic Party.
    Here's another quote from Virgie Rollins, a longtime Michigan-based DNC member: “When you don’t reach out to community folk and reach out to precinct campaigns and district organizations that know where the votes are, then you’re going to have problems.” Rollins is stupefied at the unique stupidity of the Clinton campaign and hits the nail on the head. Camp Clinton thought their numbers were superior to anyone else's and that they could ignore intel coming from state campaign operatives who had their ears on the tracks and knew better than anyone else what the real numbers said.
     Yes, Bill Clinton's semen-flecked presidency was one of the most ruinous in American history. It fooled us into thinking their right wing neoliberalism was the new liberalism (it isn't, as we all found out to our rue). But both his presidential campaigns were so well-run, it earned him the nickname Slick Willie.
     Fast forward nearly a quarter century later. Keep in mind how they rolled their eyes and snarled at their critics no matter how justified they were. They've gotten old and sloppy. Powerful as they remain in the corporate sector, they're like a couple of good guy wrestlers gone to seed and seeking to revive their careers by turning into the bad guy. And the effect is not only pathetic, they handed the White House to a pedophile, a racist, a misogynist, a crook, a draft dodger, a tax cheat and a sociopath.
     And years and decades hence, political scientists will be scratching their heads and trying to explain how Hillary Clinton won the battle (against Sanders) yet lost the war against the stupidest, most inept and ignorant major party nominee in American history.

KindleindaWind, my writing blog.

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