Thursday, August 30, 2018

Upon a trumpish Thief

(Update 9/6/18: Gaah, I never get the memo when Batocchio shares this to Crooks And Liars through Mike's Blog Round Up. Sigh. I'll go look for some punch and pie...)

With various articles now cropping up about how trump's misrule will end - I am stealing Eliot A Cohen's quote of The Scottish Play for this blog title - the question simply boils down to:

"How will the Shitgibbon survive?"

Thing is, I don't agree with Cohen's belief that at some point trump's base will abandon him, at least not willingly. The Far Right voter base - curdled in thought by decades of fearmongering and disinformation from Fox Not-News and the rest of the Far Right Noise Machine - is happily propping up trump's polling numbers and siding with him on nearly every single issue that trump mismanages. Whenever you see polling numbers that show 65 percent Americans disagreeing with trump and 35 percent siding with trump on an issue trump is clearly in the wrong, that 35 percent is the inflated 88-90 percent of Republicans ignoring the facts and inflaming the rage. Those pro-trump numbers will NEVER go down (which is why the cowards of the GOP leadership will never turn on trump: some of them are actively giving him handjobs even as the legal investigations are proving trump is doomed).

What is happening in the Real World outside of the Far Right Narrative is that trump is running out of actual support. That is, he may have the GOP in his pocket but that prize is shrinking by the day. The support trump had in 2016 among Independent voters - about 46 percent to Hillary's 42, which is one of the reasons why the Electoral College screwed Hillary in battleground states - is dropping. This doesn't affect the Presidency in a midterm... but it does affect the Congressional races where the polling pundits are seeing a Blue Wave form for November (which explains the desperation Republicans have to suppress the turnout even more).

The thing protecting trump right now - while the Executive agencies are ironically doing all the serious work digging into trump&Co. misdeeds - is that the Republican-led Congress refuses to investigate trump's criminal and unethical misdeeds in the White House. All it would take is one wing of Congress - likely the House - to go majority Democratic and trump will suddenly get hammered by series of legislative committee hearings. And given how incompetent trump and his cronies are failing to hide even a smidgen of their corruption, those committee investigations are going to find a lot of criminal nastiness within days not months, and ALL of it based on the Facts.

There's even a list floating out there now, composed by the Republicans themselves as a talking point, of what exactly the Democrats will investigate if they get even one-half control of Congress. As that Vox article summarizes: IT'S NOT A SHORT LIST. And even one of them would be enough to carve trump's crumbling empire even further into dust.

While trump is capable - and has tried earlier - of shutting down the FBI and Special Counsel investigations - the thing stopping him is that such a move would kill Republicans' midterms chances altogether, and nearly everybody around him that's sane are begging him not to cross that line - he cannot shut down Congress without breaking every laws and norms in our Constitution. Without that cover, he can't keep bullshitting his way out of his mess.

The problem is outside of trump's own Cabinet turning against him and invoking the 25th Amendment there's little a Democratic-controlled Congress could do. They could arguably keep the Special Counsel going, and arguably that office could continue to add indictments to every guilty SOB on trump's payroll, but direct removal of trump is still not a sure bet.

The only thing to be sure of that Mueller - or any follow-up Counsel - can do is whittle trump's support to tiny little pieces. I'm talking about the power circle trump's had around him for years if not decades keeping all his dirty con games running.

Right now, nearly every person who worked on trump's 2016 campaign is either fired, fled, indicted, plead guilty, or found guilty. I think Kellyanne Conway is one of the few left.

Right now, trump's personal handlers and hangers-on who surrounded him in the White House are gone, either betrayed by trump or caught betraying trump in some fashion.

Right now, trump's personal lawyers - especially the ones who handled all the dirt - are gone, pleading guilty and likely turning over every nasty secret they have regarding trump's decades-long misdeeds.

This all begs one serious question: WHO IS LEFT TO HANDLE trump?

There is an ongoing problem of the West Wing finding people to replace the ones leaving: staffing and morale are both at all-time lows.

Few people want to take a job serving trump: Having him on your resume seems to be a career killer because nobody wants to work with someone potentially untrustworthy (or facing jail time). To anyone looking past the upcoming 2020 campaign, who wants to cope with the potential chaos of that along with the reality that by 2021 you'll never get calls from law firms, think tanks or Far Right colleges again?

And if Mueller does indeed survive any wrathful attempt by trump to shut his Russia investigation down, a lot of evidence points to trump's closest allies - his own family especially junior and Jared - getting indicted on illegal interactions with a foreign power getting aid for the 2016 campaign. There may be a standing rule (but NOT a law, there is a likelihood the Justice Department might break precedent because Congress is too cowardly to act) that sitting Presidents aren't (not can't) indicted, but there's nothing in the rulebook that extends that courtesy to family and employees.

Mueller may have trump dead to rights on Obstruction, but may not touch him on it because of the "rule". However it will sit there until he's out, and the second that happens he'll get dragged away in handcuffs. Nobody will want to work for a Boss facing that fate even if it's two years away. And in the meantime trump will have NO ONE he can fully trust - not his kids, not his lawyers, not his corrupt business partners - anywhere near him. That lack of comfort will drive any man insane: what will it do for one already showing signs of dementia...?

This is the thing I believe is hurting trump and will continue to hurt him, even if he tries anything stupid like going Full Dictator. his justified reputation as a Bad Boss is going to scare away "the best people" meaning he is going to continue being a mess of a leader failing to get anything positive accomplished. The only ones he'll get to work for him are the grifters - not even the true believers, because they'll get disillusioned real quick - who know they can use their time in trump's White House to serve their own greed. Those are not the type of people who can be relied on to do good work. Those are the type of people who'll break more laws and make things worse.

Even if the Democrats take part or all of Congress, these problems will not go away. Not until 2020 at the least. And two more years of this nightmare is not worth enduring when families and lives are at stake.

This is all on the Republicans failing as a party to recognize the threat a corrupt trump would be, and on a Far Right news machine that lives for the drama but has no way of coping with the reality of the damage happening now and to come.

This train wreck is happening, will keep happening, until the entire momentum of trumpism comes to a halt.

That's usually when everything crashes into the jagged rocks below the cliffs we just derailed.

Gods help us.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Not Even One Day Before the Republicans Turn Into A-Holes: The DeSantis Story

Well that escalated quickly.

Florida’s Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis said that voters shouldn’t “monkey this up” by voting for Andrew Gillum, his Democratic opponent, who is black.
As the Miami Herald notes: Using “monkey” language to demean a black man is the oldest trick in the bigot’s bible, and DeSantis is no stranger to such things.

(deep breath)



Less than a day. NOT EVEN ONE FUCKING DAY, and already the Republican Party is dropping the dog whistle of racism for the BULL HORN of in-your-face bullshit.

And unless enough Florida voters rise up to stand against this bullshit, DeSantis is going to be the next in a long line of bad Republicans doing a bad job running this state.

Support Andrew Gillum here.

Get these goddamn racists out of OUR government.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Florida Primary Night Liveblog August 28 2018 (w/ Updates)

Just to note I VOTED TODAY AND YOU SHOULD TOO if you're in Florida, and for tonight I will be posting updates to this blog entry about how the votes are going for some of the key offices.

There is a serious race for Governor in the party primaries, with the Republicans choosing between two great evils (Putnam the NRA sell-out and DeSantis the trump Stooge) and the Democrats choosing between SAINTS THANK GOD (okay, so I am a bit partisan in this regard). I'm also hoping that Rick "Medicare Fraud" gets upset in the Senate Primary race, especially because that hypocritical SOB is running ads on YouTube about threats to Medicare and that bastard should never utter the goddamn word that fraud /RAGE

Anyway, tune in later, about 9 PM or so, to see how things are lining up on the results.

Go Gators.

P.S. do not bring gators to the precincts. They are not covered by the Constitution when it comes to voting rights, sorry.

UPDATE 8:38 PM EDT: Well crap. I just got home from work and already the Tampa Bay Times is declaring DeSantis the winner in the Republican primary for Governor. This is the guy trump backs. With 78 percent of the results in, DeSantis has 56 percent of the vote over Putnam's 36 percent. FFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUU---

UPDATE 8:42 PM EDT: The Democratic race for Governor is still close, between Gillum leading at 33 percent to Graham's 31 percent. I had a personal preference for Graham, but I will back Gillum whole-heartedly for the General election.

UPDATE 8:52 PM EDT: For Polk County, all of the precincts are in and the results are pretty much it, so we get an idea of how the parties are going to look for November.

Of the local elections I placed a vote towards, I got one of the two judges - I'm a bit vexed that Gravitt, facing local scandal, eked out a win - and one of the three School Board candidates. Mutter grumble grumble I'm in Polk mutter mutter.

UPDATE 9:02 PM EDT: One of the races I'm not even seeing results for is the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat. What I've seen for the Polk results - Rick "Medicare Fraud" Scott making it a laugher over Rocky - I'm guessing is the same across the state. I had to find the one-line sentence on Scott's primary win as part of DeSantis' victory report.

That Scott - having presided over two turbulent terms of inaction as Governor regarding our schools and our environment - is one step away from a Senate seat - and taking that seat from a good Senator like Bill Nelson - remains a horrifying prospect. Goddamn but I live in a crazed, trump-driven state.

Just have to work harder to get the goddamn vote out, Florida. Gotta stop Scott. Gotta stop the Republicans from their decades-long misrule of the Sunshine State.

UPDATE 9:48 PM EDT: The papers are calling it for Andrew Gillum, mayor of Tallahassee, as the Democratic nominee for the Governor's seat. It's a slight upset over Gwen Graham, who had family ties to Florida politics through her father Bob (a former Governor), and Miami mayor Philip Levine. The deal with Gillum is that he's the most openly progressive candidate for the Dems at the state level in years, so this will be seen as a rebuke of the more Centrist Democratic party leadership that has tried to appeal to both liberals and moderates.

If there's any sense of necessity here, I hope the Democratic voters AND the Independent voters remember the Republican candidate is trump-approved. PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD UNITE AGAINST DeSANTIS/trump and turn this state Blue.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Respectful: The Passing of John McCain

He was a man, take him for all in all,
I shall not look upon his like again.
-- William Shakespeare, Hamlet (Act I)

So the news came tonight that Sen. John McCain, former Presidential candidate in 2008, primary challenger in 2000, passed away from the brain cancer that plagued him his final year.

Much of McCain's biography - the reckless youth of being a Navy family brat, the wartime pilot shot down over Vietnam and tortured as a POW, the years of Arizona politics from Congressman to Senator to Presidential hopeful - will get rehashed elsewhere, here I need to speak to the personal feelings I have for the man and for the Republican Party he tried to lead for the last twenty or so years.

Back in those days, before I turned Apostate, I tried being a Republican along the moderate lines of an Eisenhower or Teddy Roosevelt. By 2000 that meant following McCain, who presented himself as a Reformer with regards to elections/campaigning and other issues (although on key GOP issues like abortion and tax cuts he remained devout). I followed McCain because the alternative was George W. Bush (aka Bush the Lesser), and by 2000 I had no love for the Bush family at all. Jeb in particular - pandering SOB who fell assbackwards into the Florida governorship in 1998 - had earned my personal hatred for a hundred lifetimes.

But I truly believed McCain was genuine, a possible chance at getting a Republican candidate who had the charm and political will to make effective changes. I was angry at the party sabotage of his South Carolina primary, and I regretted the fact that by the time I was in the streets of Ft. Lauderdale waving McCain signs that March that McCain had to suspend his efforts.

I will still argue - for all that I know today about McCain and all the other possibilities between then and now - that if McCain had been the GOP nominee in 2000, our nation would have been better off than the disaster that ended up being the Dubya years.

I lost a lot of admiration for him during the 2008 campaigning, when he kept pandering to the GOP deep-pockets and kept making grandiose promises that ended up being staged phoniness. I still can't believe he stood up David Letterman on the excuse of responding to the Economic Meltdown of 2007-08, only to end up getting caught on-camera preening for yet another Beltway talking head show. Why did you sink that low, boss?

But there will be moments that stick out for me, the moments when he tried to speak to our better angels during a bitter 2008 campaign, when the Far Right media was going out of its way to fearmonger about Obama. In a place and in front of people who could have turned against him, McCain spoke well of his Democratic opponent, tried to speak to a "respectful" position that tried to make it clear that while Republican and Democrat may be on opposite sides of an argument we were all still Americans:

"No, ma'am. No, ma'am. He's a decent, family man, citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that's what this campaign is all about. He's not (an Arab). Thank you."

He respected others. At the end of the day, despite political pandering at times, despite sticking to agendas that were oft-times partisan, McCain kept the Faith. He kept the Faith about America and about fellow Americans and did what he could to keep his party base from going off the rails into the pit of race hatred and worse.

That and the fact McCain had a level of self-deprecating humor that made him a decent Saturday Night Live host.

It's a damn shame McCain died knowing full well the current bastard in the White House took the dark and easy path of racial pandering, the path McCain refused to take. In the end, McCain was willing to risk the loss of 2008 to retain his own integrity, an integrity the cheater in 2016 never had.

There was little love lost between McCain and trump: McCain the military man who suffered as a Prisoner of War in Vietnam, trump the goddamned draft dodger who had the discourtesy to insult McCain for being a "loser" who got caught and tortured. This is how our nation is right now: the worst possible man with political power, likely mocking the more honorable soul whose passing will be better remembered. If anything, McCain will have the last laugh: Obama was invited to speak at McCain's funeral, not trump.

I shook McCain's hand once. It might have been 2005 (maybe 2004), and it was before he broke my heart in 2008. While working at the University of Florida, I came across a setup in the Reitz Union grass plaza for a graduation ceremony and found out that he would be the honored speaker. I took a seat along one aisle, not realizing it would be the aisle where the parade would head to the stage. So there I was completely surprised and shaking his hand and telling him I voted for him in 2000 and he smiled and nodded and that was about it.

McCain will likely be the last Republican I will ever respect, even just a bit, even through all the disagreements I eventually had when he surrendered enough of his identity as a "reformer" for party power in 2008 and afterward.

I grew to regret what had happened, partly despairing that a lot of it was because his Republican Party kept sinking into that racist fearmongering morass, and that rather than reform it or abandon it to retain his honor he sank with it. But in some respects a Great Man has passed, possibly the last one who tried to save something that didn't want to be saved.

I am looking up in the sky tonight for comets. The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

An Honest Question to the Modern Republican Party

I am not trying to be snarky or subversive or partisan. I understand this question may be perceived that way, but it's not. I want an honest answer out of it.

This is coming from the observations that:

With all that I've pointed out as publicly documented scandals involving Republican party figures - some of them key leaders among the ranks - this is the question I am posing to the entire Republican Party.

With all your obsessions with attacking Democrats - not even specific individuals like Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama (who never faced serious criminal investigation before or during his tenure), I am talking about the whole party -  as corrupt or crooked or deviant, why the hell are you worried about them when your own house is a goddamn mess?

You do understand how hypocritical the Republican Party seems to any rational outside observer, when you are bashing Hillary for all the sins she's been accused of ("But her emails") while your own party leadership are violating legal, ethical and moral standards across the board?

Any sane and responsible party leader would be at the least gathering everyone in a backroom somewhere behind closed doors and yelling at the rank and file "GODDAMMIT WILL YOU KEEP YOUR OWN DAMN NOSES CLEAN!"

But you're not. None of you, not the vacating and fleeing Paul Ryan, not the obstructive and offensive Mitch McConnell, not your party spokesfigures Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity, not even the "adults" in the room like John McCain or Lindsey Graham or Mitt Romney (yeah, that's how bad it is that the Plastic One with all his corporate greed is now the moral leader of the GOP).

Answer that question, Republicans. Why berate anyone else for criminal misdeeds when your party is getting caught nearly every other day breaking federal and state laws?

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

Sunday, August 05, 2018

The Fredo-In-Chief Wants You To Know He's Smaht Not Dumb Like Everybody Says

I know a guy...walks into a bank with a bottle, tells everybody it's nitroglycerin. He scores some cash off of the teller. On his way out, he drops the bottle. It cracks on the floor. He slips in it. He smacks up his head. They get him. The nitroglycerin was canola oil. I know more fucked-up bank robbers than ones that know what they're doing. I doubt one in ten could tell you where the dye pack is. Most bank robbers are fucking morons. 

-- Jack Foley, from Out of Sight

(And yes, that's not a typo in the headline: it's common practice to spell out the accent used when quoting a movie, and that's how the late great John Cazale said it)

We never accused donald j. trump of being intelligent, or smart. Clever, probably, you don't get to figure out how to con people out millions of dollars if you didn't have some skill set. Devious always, and bullying and short-sighted that's pretty fucking obvious.

But as you look more and more at this criminal organization known as the trump Empire, the more you see a mafia-esque group of wannabes who all play at being Michael Corleone but all turn out to be an army of Fredos. It becomes less "How did these morans trick so many people into voting for them?" and more "No wonder they got help from Russia to cheat their way into the White House."

Because that's where the Fredo-in-Chief trump is going with his ongoing ragefest on Twitter to cover up his crimes. Just this morning, in fact, link provided to Digby's Hullabaloo site:

Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower. This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics - and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!
8:35 AM - Aug 5, 2018

Where trump gets a few things wrong:

1) he'd already tried to cover for that June 2016 meeting between donald junior and Russians, meaning that he's either lied then or lying now. Given this is trump, it's likely both.
2) trump's claim that the meeting was "totally legal" and "done all the time in politics" conflict with what's already been revealed about that meeting.
3) The "totally legal" argument goes against the US Code 52 s.30121: It shall be unlawful for
(1) a foreign national, directly or indirectly, to make
(A) a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value, or to make an express or implied promise to make a contribution or donation, in connection with a Federal, State, or local election;
(B) a contribution or donation to a committee of a political party; or
(C) an expenditure, independent expenditure, or disbursement for an electioneering communication (within the meaning of section 30104(f)(3) of this title); or
(2) a person to solicit, accept, or receive a contribution or donation described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of paragraph (1) from a foreign national...

4) Where the "Other thing of value" applies to Russia claiming they have "dirt" on Hillary Clinton that trump and the Republicans could use to disrupt the 2016 elections in their favor. The "Solicit, Accept, or Receive" comes into play from the fact that donald trump junior was so very eager to get that dirt and arranged that meeting.

This should be a very simple rule: DO NOT WORK WITH FOREIGN NATIONS OR TAKE ANY FOREIGN MONEY WHEN RUNNING AN ELECTION CAMPAIGN. Yet there trump is, arguing that it's all legal and that his ignorance of the law is a defense.

One of the first things they taught me in High School Latin was this phrase: Ignorantia juris non excusat. Ignorance of the Law is No Excuse. But then again I doubt trump studied Latin, or even remembered what he failed to learn in High School.

This is trump, trying to get ahead of the scandal where Mueller is getting ever closer to tying trump's campaign - especially his own son - to the Russians already charged by Mueller of interfering/hacking the elections. But this is also trump, throwing his own son under the bus by making it so very clear that what junior did violated the US Code I quoted above.

It takes a certain level of stupidity to think that confessing to shit you've done can somehow be accepted or ignored, that your own argument of "it wasn't illegal!" would somehow sway the prosecutors about to put the hammer down on you. The smart move is to separate yourself from the evidence as much as possible and keep your own damn mouth shut.

Here's proof number 9718 that trump got help from Russia to steal the election. He doesn't have enough brain cells to even realize the smart play is to shut up.

Break out the Popcorn GIFs, this coming week is gonna be a doozy. 

Friday, August 03, 2018

What If: The Timeline Where Hillary Won

I admit, I wake up nearly every morning wondering about this.

Would we - America, the world, Humanity as a whole -  be in such a dire place we are right now where trump causes chaos and criminality on an hourly basis?

What would it be like in a 2018 where voters in key states - Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and especially Florida - decided in 2016 not to be a dick and avoided voting for Jill Stein or trump himself?

What would it look like to wake up in a world where Hillary was President?

Okay, for the Hillary haters out there who'd be screaming OH SHE'D BE TAKING R GUNZ AND GAY MARRYING OUR KIDZ AND SHOVING US INTO CAMPS will you KNOCK THAT SHIT OFF. In the eight years of Bill Clinton and eight years of Barack Obama, your worst fears NEVER HAPPENED and the odds are it wouldn't have happened under Hillary either. Christ. You PARANOID FUCKWITS.

But that's the world we'd wake up to. Every morning, Fox Not-News and Drudge and Rush Limbaugh and the whole fearmonger wingnut army would be up and angry, yelling about whatever slight they think Hillary dropped on them the day before, screaming for her impeachment and letting the worst of them drop the "Lock Her Up" chant for shits and giggles. Just think of all the anger and outrage that happened under 8 years of Obama, only this time with the special vitriol that Republicans have for Hillary.

We'd wake up to a world where the Congress likely remained in Republican control. There's little evidence that a shift in Hillary's favor would have meant the same shift for House and Senate Democratic candidates. So that would mean several things:

  • House Republicans would be blocking every attempt by the Clinton White House to firm up Obamacare and other health care reforms Hillary argued for. The sputtering self-inflicted damage Republicans did trying to destroy Obamacare would still be at full throttle, as they'd know Hillary would block their attempts meaning they could repeat themselves and never fear the chance of getting blamed for wrecking it. We may even have gone into another Republican-forced Shutdown by now, because Gods help us every time the Republicans pulled that shit they still won the damn midterms afterwards.
  • Senate Republicans would be blocking Hillary's attempts to fill the Supreme Court and other Judiciary seats. Knowing McConnell's desire to screw Obama out of a SCOTUS legacy, he'd carry that hatred over against Hillary. And the excuse this time would be "Well, we dare not appoint any judges while the President is under criminal investigation." (Yes, that IS the argument Democrats are trying right now to block trump's attempt to fill Anthony Kennedy's vacating seat, but it's a hard one to make legally: Dems are better off arguing that Kavanaugh will offer unethical Quid Pro Quos with trump should trump ever find himself under arrest and making Supreme Court appeals to avoid trials) As a result we'd like be seeing an 8-seat Supreme Court with Kennedy holding off his retirement, and Merrick Garland sitting there on the sidelines wondering if he should sue McConnell for emotional damages.
  • Speaking of "criminal investigation," we'd likely be in the 18th month of MORE congressional hearings into BEHGHAZI, and HER EMAILS, and the fervent hope that the DNC were hiding things in their servers rather than the fact that Russians were illegally hacking us. Where trump whines about legitimate criminal investigations into Russia's interference - and trump's acts of obstruction / possible conspiracy - Hillary will most likely be weathering each faux accusation by Fox & Friends every morning and wondering when her breakfast toast arrives.

So that's some of the bad stuff we'd be seeing.

In terms of international woes, there's every likelihood the mess in the Middle East would remain a mess. Syria's Civil War would still be a pit of bloodshed and heartache. Half our allies in the region - Turkey and Egypt in particular - would be nightmarish dictatorial hell-holes. The situation with Russia invading Ukraine would still be a pressing matter for NATO. North Korea would still be an annoyance in Asia.

It's just in those situations, we wouldn't be overwhelmed by the internal chaos of a trump regime. We wouldn't worry about a State Department ravaged by incompetent leadership - Bye, Rex! - that gutted needed foreign policy experts and sabotaged our nation's abilities to retain strong connections to our allies. There'd at least be some sense of stability.

The United States would not be an isolated, hated nation the way we are now under trump. NATO would not feel bullied. Our Asian allies would not feel abandoned. Canada, for God's sake, wouldn't be in a trade war with us.

That's the other thing: No tariff war. Hillary would never have pulled the stunts trump has raising tariffs on steel and other products. We wouldn't be caught in the crosshairs between an angry China, angrier EU, royally miffed Mexico, and a super-pissed Canada.

We would not have the scandals of Cabinet Secretaries like Scott Pruitt ripping off taxpayers and breaking environmental standards that keep Americans healthy. That depends of course if McConnell's Senate decided to let Hillary HAVE a hand-picked Cabinet in the first place.

The nuclear arrangement with Iran - backed by NATO - that trump is trying to derail would instead be in full force, and nobody except the warmongers would be angry about that.

Putin would still be scheming and getting his Russian hackers to try and wreck the 2018 midterms in ways to get the U.S. to drop the sanctions against himself and his cronies, but our intel agencies would be operating with the belief that their President has their back.

Our immigration policy would not be the nightmare it is now. While the Far Right Republicans in Congress would never approve any Hillary-backed reforms, we won't at least be coping with trump's hideous travel bans and we won't be arguing over the deluded "need" for a border wall with Mexico. The current trump practice of separating children from their families as they seek asylum? THAT particular nightmare shouldn't even be dreamt of in Hillary's timeline.

We wouldn't have a madman causing ulcers every morning when he tweets his insanity. Half of social media wouldn't be yelling and screaming at the other half. Well, not as much as it would normally be yelling.

In this world, trump would be busy wasting other people's money on his failing TrumpTV channel, struggling to find enough advertisers to keep it floating while most wingnuts remain watching Fox Not-News for their anger fix. His rage-filled tweets wouldn't cause stock market drops. Hillary's tweets won't do a damn thing, because she rarely showed the habit during her campaign and most likely as President would stick to messaging through her Communications Office like every other President before her.

In a HillaryWorld, it'd have been a world much like Obama's after 2011: Republicans yelling and fantasizing over their latest conspiracy theories and blocking any Democratic agenda, while the Democrats chug along trying to make sure government works and the planet doesn't blow up.

Would it have really been as horrifying a reality as the one we have now???

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Damage Control For the Next Ten Generations... If We Survive This

(Update: Thanks again as always to Batocchio at Crooks And Liars for the link to Mike's Blog Round-Up! Please stay and peruse the other articles...)

We're facing once again the Republican Party obsession with massive tax cuts for the super-rich - trump is proposing an Executive Order to recalculate Capital Gains to the tune of $100 BILLION - and we are reminded once again that these greedy sons of bitches are not listening to the American people.

There's a beautiful article on by Osita Nwanevu that needs to be read in its entirety:

Recent polling tells us too that support for increasing taxes on the wealthy is high, as it has been for many years now. Sixty-two percent of Americans believe that the rich pay less than their fair share in taxes, according to Gallup. Last year, the Public Religion Research Institute found that 72 percent of Americans—including 74 percent of white working-class Americans and 58 percent of Republicans—support hiking taxes on those making $250,000 or more a year.
Yet, according to the New York Times, the Trump administration is not only considering cutting capital gains taxes by $100 billion over the next 10 years. It’s openly floating doing so via an administrative mechanism that the George H.W. Bush administration deemed illegal. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the administration was mulling a change that would allow taxpayers to account for inflation in calculating capital gains, reducing the amount of tax that would be paid when the asset is sold. It is estimated that around two-thirds of the benefit from this change would go to the top 0.1 percent of income earners.
In a well-functioning democracy, doing such a thing, given the state of public opinion on taxes and the wealthy, would likely be politically fatal. Fortunately for the Republican Party, we live not in a well-functioning democracy but in the United States, and the Trump administration and conservatives backing this have surmised, correctly, that they can probably afford to publicly consider (this tax plan of evil) on the basis of a few assumptions.
The first is that most Americans aren’t paying terribly close attention to policy reporting at the New York Times or anywhere else. This is a safe bet at all times. The second is that the Republican base is willing to swallow just about any policy this administration pursues out of sheer antagonism toward the Democratic Party and the people it represents, who they believe might unravel the fabric of our country or upend the nation’s demographic balance, which is about the same as America’s fabric to them anyhow. The third is that the structural advantages the Republican Party currently enjoys—namely the composition of the Senate, gerrymandered House districts, the Electoral College—will help insulate them from the political consequences of proposing and implementing unpopular policy, as will their efforts to augment those advantages with policies that disenfranchise black voters...

Nwanevu is mostly pointing out the arguments I made earlier about the sins of Minority Party Rule: the Republicans do not really represent the will of the Majority but they've successfully figured out how to rig the electoral game. For awhile there they pretended to be a Majority Party, but lately they've been so reckless they don't even care that they're passing laws that benefit the elite few at the expense of everyone else.

Worse, these moves are destined to blow up on the country a few years down the road, likely at the moment the Democratic Party is able to work their way back into some part of federal government control, at which point the needs of fixing the damage - increasing taxes on upper incomes, cutting back on certain spending, borrowing more money to fill the deficit gap - will give Republicans the excuse of railing against Tax-And-Spend Democrats and fake their outrage back into power. We've seen this movie before, and enough voters and Beltway idiots buy into that lie.

Still, the only sane response to this is voter turnout: Turnout on such a massive scale, and favoring Democrats at such a scale, that the Republicans lose control of both parts of Congress with veto-proof majorities. Granted, that's impossible this election cycle because the Senate is only voting on a third of its seats and the best Democrats can do is 57 (three short of 60 to avoid Cloture and well short of 67 for two-thirds override) seats. But they gain enough seats this 2018 they can build on that towards 2020 and gain even more seats (and hopefully vote trump out of office and into a jail cell at the Colorado Supermax).

It's got to be turnout that can overpower Republican gerrymanders. It's got to be turnout in Red States that can rattle the hold the Republicans have on those places since the Reagan Era. It's got to be overwhelming enough for the US House that if the Republicans can rebound in 2020 they still won't earn enough seats to retake that part of the legislature.

And if the Democrats DO regain control of Congress, for God's Sake DO SOMETHING to break Republican rigging of the elections. Pass any and all laws to stop gerrymandering (even if Dems benefit from it in Blue States: IT IS NOT WORTH PROTECTING). You need to increase the number of House districts, something that hasn't been done since 1929 and is something that makes gerrymandering too easy to pull off. You need to give the Elections Commission more teeth in enforcing rules against foreign money and illegal (often negative) campaign ads. You need to pass laws creating universal voter registration, increased spending on balloting systems and protection from hackers. TAKE VOTING MORE SERIOUSLY, DEMS.

In the meanwhile, the Democrats need every bit of support to regain control for the American majority. They need your votes, they need your love. America, we can be better than the greed and viciousness of the Republican Party. We can put into office those who WILL respond to the wishes of the people.

Your voice isn't just for polls, or Twitter posts, or Facebook rants. Your vote is your voice and your power, and you need to use that more than social media now and always.

For the LOVE OF GOD, STOP VOTING REPUBLICAN. And get the damn vote out!