Tuesday, August 21, 2018

August 21 2018: A Day of Great Schadenfruede

In the immortal words of the Hungarian Tourist, MY NIPPLES EXPLODE WITH DELIGHT

Oh, you need context for my schadenfreude. It goes like this:

Right around noontime today word started trickling to Twitter that big things were afoot in New York City regarding trump's "In DEEEEEEEP SH-T" lawyer buddy Michael Cohen. In Virginia, the jurors for the Paul Manafort Bank Fraud trial - not to be confused with the Manafort Campaign Fraud trial scheduled for DC this September! - were sending letters to the judge about their forms for "Guilty/Not Guilty" to see if there was a third option for "We're Stuck". It was less a sign that it was a Hung Jury on all 18 COUNTS Manafort was facing, and more a sign they had decided on some of them and needed confirmation on the ones they could not resolve.

By 3:00 PM EDT, word had gotten out that Cohen was going to plead guilty by 4:00 PM to some of the charges he was facing involving illicit payoffs to women trump had affairs with and was trying to bribe to keep them silent during the 2016 campaign. Referring to Adam L Silverman at Balloon Juice:

According to the reporting, which is changing and updating as new details emerge, Cohen will plead guilty this afternoon to bank fraud, tax fraud, and campaign finance violations. The New York Times is reporting that this will be a straight guilty plea – there is no cooperation agreement at this time...

Granted, it looked like Cohen was going to play the role of a loyal capo and take his prison time for the don. There was/is still wriggle room for him to plead out down the road.

Still, just as that was getting Twitter aflutter, the jurors in the Manafort trial sent another note to the judge around 4:09 PM, let me link to Southpaw's tweet here for this bit:

It looked like the jury - which was not sequestered - saw the Cohen thing happening and they decided "Fuck it, let's make this a double-header and get ourselves home in time for Wheel of Fortune."


So while trump's personal lawyer who may literally know where all the bodies are buried was begging for jail time in New York, trump's associate and campaign manager during much of 2016 was found Guilty on eight of eighteen charges relating to Bank Fraud, Tax Fraud, and Ostrich Suits Failing to File Appropriate Paperwork. As someone else on Twitter noted, if they ever make a documentary movie about this day, the filmmakers would have to use a split screen to show both courtrooms at the same time. Like my fave Woodstock, but with more happy people dancing in the background.


Of the two moments, Cohen's is the bigger worry for trump. Manafort's convictions are related to things that barely had anything to do with trump or his campaign: Again, that's in the September trial coming up. All this jury did was establish Manafort is a criminal who could have financial reasons to commit the other crimes the later trial is focusing on.

Cohen, meanwhile, not only has direct dealings with trump for years, he also is confessing that his deals he made to these women happened with trump's knowledge. Yes, trump is not directly named, but the implications are there:

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former personal attorney, pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court Tuesday to eight criminal counts, admitting that "in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office" he acted to keep information that would have been harmful to the candidate and the campaign from becoming public during the 2016 election cycle...
Appearing in court on Tuesday, Cohen said of the charge linked to (Playmate Karen) McDougal that it was done "for the principal purpose of influencing the election." Regarding the charge linked to (porn actress Stormy Daniels), Cohen said the money "was later repaid to me by the candidate."
Assistant US Attorney Andrea Griswold said prosecutors would have been prepared to present evidence during a trial that these were so-called hush payments.
"The proof on these counts at trial would establish that these payments were made in order to ensure that each recipient of the payments did not publicize their stories of alleged affairs with the candidate," she said...

The "candidate" is not named, but trump is essentially an unindicted co-conspirator at this point.


For all of trump's bluster about all of these investigations - Mueller's investigation into trump's ties to Russia and likely Obstruction of Justice trying to protect ally Michael Flynn (already pled Guilty), the federal investigations in Cohen, the state investigations into the corrupt trump Foundation - being JUST A WITCH HUNT, every investigation has proven results in uncovering trump's entire criminal empire (and the interconnected corruption of fellow travelers in the White Collar Crime Industry).

trump can well try to pretend his innocence in all of this, but his ties to each and every guilty person found out brings to light his own twisted, greedy, corrupt ways.

It would be a complete delight to watch all of this unravel, but I still dread this one truth: A wounded and cornered animal can be one of the most dangerous creatures in the world.

trump is getting cornered right now, finding fewer places to hide. he's wounded, losing key allies - seriously, WHO is left that can handle trump's expected attempt for reelection in 2020? - and exposing himself to a world he can't keep lying to every day. The odds of him lashing out have gone UP not down.

trump is getting to the point - maybe already has - where he has nothing to lose by blowing up the whole damn thing.

Hence the schadenfreude. Part of me wants to party forever now, part of me dreads trump's response.

Stay vigilant, peeps. We're not to a safe place yet.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Like The Father That Begets Them

These lies are like the father that begets them:
Gross as a mountain, open, palpable.

-- William Shakespeare, Henry IV Part I

Under Republican rule, lies have become the coin of the realm.

It's just... it keeps getting worse. The brazenness of lying defended to the public, as trump's media legal spokesmoron Rudy Giuliani just went on television today to claim "Truth isn't truth" (via Emily Stewart at Vox):

The former New York City mayor claimed that truth isn’t truth in an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press with Chuck Todd on Sunday. Todd played for Giuliani a string of clips of him discussing whether or not Trump would sit for an interview with Mueller, showing how his story has changed over time...
“I am not going to be rushed into having [Trump] testify so that he gets trapped into perjury,” Giuliani said when asked by Todd about why Trump’s legal team’s negotiations with Mueller have dragged on. “And when you tell me that, you know, he should testify because he’s going to tell the truth and he shouldn’t worry, well that’s so silly because it’s somebody’s version of the truth. Not the truth.”
“Truth is truth,” Todd interjected.
“No, it isn’t truth. Truth isn’t truth,” Giuliani replied...

This isn't some half-assed philosophical debate over the nature of Reality. This is supposed to be about matters of Law.

Yet Giuliani is taking a stated position that truth is not truth, that in some way the truth is meaningless in this investigation into Russian interference of our elections and into trump's possible Obstruction of that investigation...

That Trump and the people around him aren’t exactly married to truth and fact is no secret. The president’s lawyers have reportedly worried about Trump speaking with Mueller precisely because they think he might get caught in a lie...

There are normal concerns of any lawyer that a client can fall apart, make misstatements, get caught lying. There are few guilty who can speak to truth without begging for a plea deal. There are many innocent who can lie out of fear or misunderstanding. But in trump's case, the lawyers' problem is that he is a constant bullshitter, switching stories even in mid-telling because he wants to tell the version that makes him look best. trump is likely to lie no matter what, and more likely to lie even when he doesn't need to. And in this investigation into trump's Obstruction, all it takes is one to nail him in a court of law.

So here comes Giuliani, trying to set up the argument that lies are not a problem, that evidence can be ignored, that the legal requirement for truthful testimony is meaningless. He wants juries to think acts of Perjury are no big deal.

Giuliani wants to create a world where truth has no merit, no value, no purpose save what trump and his buddies want it to be.

This isn't just insane. This violates every ethical and MORAL standard in the books. Giuliani is not only approving of Perjury and false testimony, he's encouraging it to happen and for everyone else to applaud it.

This is not how law should be practiced.

Can someone in a position to do so file an ethics complaint to the appropriate legal Bar association?

This horrifying display of unethical behavior should not be allowed.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Woodstock Anniversary 2018: Musicians Mulling Magic

It is, once again, time to remember a powerful moment in American History.

Time to break out a clip of one of the most powerful performances at Woodstock:

Santana's set is regarded as one of the highlights of that weekend. His drummer Michael Shrieve had been singled out as giving one of the best instrumental performances, period.

Well, they had 500,000 people to impress. They had to step it up and give a show of a lifetime.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

August 12: Emperor Norton Day!

On this day in 1869, Norton I Emperor of the United States and at times Protector of Mexico issued this decree:

Being desirous of allaying the dissensions of party strife now existing within our realm, I do hereby dissolve and abolish the Democratic and Republican parties, and also do hereby decree the disfranchisement and imprisonment, for not more than 10, nor less than five, years, to all persons leading to any violation of this our imperial decree.
-- published in San Francisco Herald 13 August 1869

If there was a choice between two failed businessmen in donald trump or Joshua Norton, I'll take the one who's NOT a sociopathic bastard. Long Live Emperor Norton!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Florida Primaries 2018 Midterms: Get Ready to Vote

As noted, this 2018 is a Midterms cycle, where Congressional seats are always up for A) vote if you're a Democrat or B) bid if you're Republican or C) patience if you're No Party Affiliate because here in Florida the primaries are closed. There's also key state elections like Governor and legislative offices, although most of those aren't competitive until the General election in November. Here's a handy guide to Florida's elections if you need it.

However, with the Primary vote coming up this August 28 - with Early Voting the week or so before, please use when/if you can - it's necessary to get the word out that HEY YOU MUTHAS GET THE GODDAMN VOTE OUT THIS YEAR.

Ahem. Yeah. Primary voter turnout is terrible in this nation and very much so here in Florida. WE NEED BETTER INVOLVEMENT, AMERICANS.

As a Polk resident, I shall present links to you for our county's Primary ballots. To the other counties in Florida, this page has a navigation tool to get to your Elections' office website for your ballot info. CHECK IT OUT, PEEPS.

Anyway, here's the Polk County Ballot if you're Democrat.

Here's the Polk Ballot if you're Republican.

Here's the Polk Ballot if you're Independent/Third Party. Yes, there are local issues to vote for. PLEASE SHOW UP FOR THESE VOTES.

For any recommendations I can make for you here, as a NPA I have no vote for either Democrat or Republican. My personal preferences over the past decade or more of me blogging here, however, has made it clear I AM NOT IN THE MOOD TO SEE REPUBLICANS WIN, GODDAMMIT. They have been terrible for the state of Florida and they are a disaster for the United States. It's been pretty much one-party rule in the Sunshine State since 1998 and the Republicans have repeatedly failed to respond to residents' needs on Education, Environment, Development, Healthcare, Medical Marijuana, and Infrastructure matters. If you're a registered Republican and you're voting in this year's Primary, do us all a favor and add a NONE OF THE ABOVE option to your ballot. Since you probably can't, whatever you do PLEASE DO NOT VOTE FOR RICK "NO ETHICS" SCOTT for the Senate race (this means balloting for "Rocky" De La Fuente? sure let's go with that) and PLEASE DO NOT VOTE FOR ANYBODY BACKED BY trump... which means please do NOT vote for Ron DeSantis (P.S. I am not a huge fan of Adam Putnam either, since that SOB is owned by the NRA, so if you can vote for whichever of the other GOP candidates for Governor is not a raging misogynistic racist).

For those voting Democratic, you have options for Federal and State offices. The big one is the choice for Governor, where there's a lot of potential names to choose from. I've been leaning toward Gwen Graham from what I've read about her policy stances, plus I am earnestly voting for every woman candidate possible because FUCK our current culture of toxic masculinity needs a goddamn kick in the literal and metaphorical balls.

As for the local elections, I need to read more on the School Board and County Commission candidates to find out which ones will actually SERVE the public trust and make our communities better.

That said, Early Voting starts August 18 and runs until August 25. USE THAT if you know you will be busy on Tuesday August 28.


Thursday, August 09, 2018

Personal Note: Royal Palm Literary Awards

As a member of the Florida Writers Association, I submitted an unpublished short story "A Face In the Light" to this year's Royal Palm awards to see how it would do.

I am one step away from being a Finalist/winner for the Short Fiction category this year!

The finalists will be announced this October.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

I Survived Tampa Bay Comic Con 2018: Surprising Amount of Walking Within Such a Small Space

I dunno if I ever mention in my previous discussions of attending comic cons, but there is a massive difference in floorspace between the Orlando (Orange County) Convention Center and Tampa Convention Center. I mean, Orlando's West Hall alone is arguably double the length and equal the height of Tampa's. On the bright side, it's a vast improvement over previous Tampa Bay comic cons when they were held in standalone hotels' meeting rooms out near the airport. With the convention center, you at least get enough places to host discussions and guest star speakers.

Still, it's an adventure just to even get inside Tampa's center for the annual Tampa Bay Comic Con, which I shall document here for the amused and amazed to enjoy.

Parking was a nightmare this year because the nearest parking garage - next to Amelie Arena - was blocked off for some reason (there is ongoing construction next to it which may be an expansion). After that, they had rearranged the entry point from the south side (facing the Channel) to the north side (facing the River). This *did* create a nicer pathway in as this video attests:

Yes, I filmed this portrait instead of landscape. Sue me.

Meanwhile, here's further documentation of the long long day I spent hanging out with fellow gamers, readers, writers, geeks, nerds, spazzes, goofballs, motorheads, sportos, waistoids, dweebies, dickheads, and other religious denominations.

A selfie for the day. And yes, I went solo again to a comic-con.
Things just kinda are that way.

It's around 11 AM and there's already a healthy lineup for fans seeking autographs.

This was a packed con this year. Last year's had a smaller turnout due to Miami's Supercon
conflicting with celebrity schedules drawing away the fandom.
I had attended a writer's panel on writing Villains, and this is their Bard's Tower pavilion.

One of the things that's happened the past few years is that the cons
have been widening the walkways. There's still a few alleys that are narrow
but now there's a few wide areas to help with foot traffic.


Hey, I found writer/fellow Gainesville survivor William Hatfield's booth... but he's vanished!
Prolly at another writer's panel...

Well I *did* find comic book author/guy-who-brought-a-llama-to-my-nephew's-birthday-party-ages-ago person John Crowther, who's busy promoting his latest series of biographies of famous wrestlers such as Lenny "The Genius" Poffo (who was off to the side discussing quantum mechanics with a n00b, I believe).

Oh, there's Hatfield, ready to discuss writing about strong female characters in fantasy/science fiction!

There were a couple of interesting panels this year, and a couple of writing ones that had newer topics than earlier, so the day was fun for the writer-wannabe that I am.

And back again to the Guest Star area. The vendor hall is on the top floor, while the meeting rooms
are on the bottom floor. It gets hectic going up and down, but where else you gonna go...?

Now this was something I had just noticed at the MegaCon convention earlier this year, but had little idea was the deal was. There's a thing about "Mystery Boxes" where you buy this themed box that's filled with collectibles of some kind, and people were circling the pavilion waiting in line to buy a box. Thing is, you have no idea what you're getting until you get it. If anything, you're getting a fancy carry box. The TARDIS box was tempting but Gods Old and New it was expensive. At the price they were offering, it needed to contain an actual Doctor in it to make it worthwhile.

The Mystery Box pavilion was at the north end, with the Guest Stars at the south end, and between it all were the walkways.

At this end of the vendors' universe sat the Signing Booths for our celebrities who dared survive the trip to Tampa. Save for one:

Camren "Selina Kyle" Bicondova wasn't able to get a flight out in time for Saturday.

Bummer. I was going to try to ask her "just what the hell kind of drugs are the Gotham writers on? That is some crazy-ass storytelling going on with that show."

Anyway. There were other celebrities to see. Although I was really only keen on two others for the day.

One was this guy who's become a cult favorite for his performance in Game of Thrones uh Hot Fuzz: YARP.

It's kind of hard to see Rory McCann under that hat, but he was a hoot and a half talking about how
he went from lumberjack to the Anti-Hero of millions. However, he *did* lose his harmonica some point
during this Q&A, and he threatened to eat every f00king chicken in the room.

McCann did mention that for him the Game of Thrones series had ended - filming the live-action parts already done - and so he knows how it all ends... which is more than can be said for a certain author who won't freaking finish the novels!!! I don't care what Neil says, GRRM is our bitch. GET TO WORK.

And then, it was time, to say hello to...

AND IT'S NEGASONIC TEENAGE WARHEAD. To whomever is buying up the Fox movie studio in order to get all Marvel movies under one umbrella: STANDALONE MOVIE! With fewer dick jokes and more biting sarcasm.

I have no idea who the person walking in late to take a seat is. I didn't think to ask for an autograph or anything...

Seeing Brianna Hildebrand was kinda the last thing on the day I wanted to do, so after that it was straight home to feed the cats and regain my strength for the battles ahead.

How fares the comic cons in your corners of the world?

P.S. I plan on being at Clermont Comic Con in November. JOIN ME AND DIE. Um, Cake Or Death! There that's better.

P.S.S. I only realize just now writing this that I did NOT SEE any of the organized cosplayers like the 501st this comic con. Unless they were in a part of the vendor floor I didn't walk by... and I did not see any R2 units like always. I didn't find the droids I was looking for! /cries