Donald Trump Poised to Slide Down the Polls


Trump’s implanted wig in open rebellion again its cruel master.

Donald Trump is staring down a perfect storm of falling poll numbers this week. Several competing political scandals are poised to merge into a maelstrom that will, belatedly, finally, start to chew into his core group of supporters in a meaningful way for the first time since he stole the Presidency.

But before we innumerate those scandals, it’s important to define exactly who Trump still counts among his dwindling base. At this point, there are basically two kinds of Trump supporters left (outside of the Kremlin), and they are both about to be very disappointed.

Type A Trump voters are just anti-establishment libertarian jackasses. You know the sort. They’re the fedora clan who only stopped rereading their copies of Atlas Shrugged because all the pages were stuck together. These are the straight white guys who wear cargo shorts and socks with their sandals who don’t mind the naked racism and misogyny Trump constantly spews as long as the government is destroyed and their taxes go down. They chanted “DRAIN THE SWAMP!”

Type B Trump voters are literally fucking Nazis. Unapologetic white supremacist fascists who absolutely loved every racist thing Trump has ever said or done, from denying housing to colored applicants in the 70’s, to calling for the death penalty for the Central Park 5 in a state that didn’t even have that option, to his callous disregard for the thousands of immigrant children his administration kidnapped from their parents. They chanted “BUILD THE WALL.”

There is no Option C.

Type A Trump voters are doing their taxes and, unless they’re VERY wealthy, are discovering the tax return they were expecting has shrunk, or disappeared entirely as a direct result of Trump’s tax scam. They were never genuinely fiscally conservative, which is why they didn’t make a sound when the tax bill exploded the national debt by more than a trillion dollars and failed to trigger a private sector job creation boom as promised, because they were only ever concerned with their personal bottom line. But this year, many will actually owe money to the IRS for the first time in their working lives. This is a PR disaster that will cost Sippy Cup Caligula at least a few points in the polls.

Type B Trump voters are already mad the last government shutdown ended in Piss Play Pol Pot genuflecting to Nancy Pelosi without funding for the Wall, like a cuck, but they held out hope their faith would be rewarded three weeks later. That delusion will end Friday, when Trump will neither shut down the government again, nor declare a National Emergency in order to steal money from existing pots of government cash to fund his Racist Mt. Rushmore.
The rest of the GOP has exactly no appetite for a repeat of that disaster, especially now that the TSA and air traffic controller unions know they can shutdown a shutdown in less than a day. They’ll pass a veto-proof CR to fund the Gov in a second.

Nor does Trump’s threat to use emergency powers have any legs. Because again, the GOP isn’t onboard out of fear of the precedent it would set. The last thing they want to do is give President Kamala Harris an excuse to declare a national emergency in 2021 to combat global warming, or gun violence, or the healthcare crisis.

So the Nazi wing of Trump’s base is poised to be dealt a second embarrassment in less than a month. It will finally sink in that they’re never getting their fucking wall, because their master negotiator couldn’t deliver on literally the only campaign promise they cared about.

I think we’ll be seeing Trump’s approval rating in the low 30’s, or maybe even high 20’s in the near future. And THAT will change the political calculation for an awful lot of vulnerable GOP Senators facing reelection next year. Get him below 30% and keep him there, and impeachment and outright conviction in the Senate on the strength of the Mueller investigation’s final report is no longer out of the question. And then… well, no one can protect him from the SDNY investigations into the Trump Organization, Trump Foundation, or the Trump Inaugural Committee.

Buckle up, buttercup. It’s only going to get worse for you from here.

 

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Mitch McConnell, Not Trump, is America’s Greatest Traitor


 

It was one hell of a weekend in America. Thirty months after the Republican National Convention, when it became an inescapable truth among serious, informed people that Donald Trump was acting on behalf of the Russian Federation in exchange for assistance in a criminal and treasonous conspiracy to steal the Presidency, a pair of stories in the New York Times and Washington Post have belatedly, finally, shifted the national zeitgeist.

In the wake of the revelation that the FBI opened a historically unprecedented counterintelligence investigation into Trump following his firing of James Comey and bragging about it to Russian Ambassador Kislyak in the Oval Office of all places, and the reporting that he destroyed notes and swore his interpreter to secrecy about the contents of several private meetings with Vladimir Putin, the press and our pundit class has finally caught on and started referring to Trump as what he is; a Russian agent.

This is, to put it mildly, earth-shattering. It is a political, national security, and criminal scandal without equal in our nation’s history. Perhaps world history. Indeed, I struggle to come up with a traitor to their nation and its principles of greater magnitude than Donald Trump anywhere in recorded history.

Oh wait, I just thought of one. More on that in a minute.

In one sense, it’s impossible for Donald Trump to be a traitor to the US, because to betray something you first must hold a loyalty to it. Trump has never held loyalty to anything or anyone but himself. He has been a self-aggrandizing thief for his entire life, stealing from his investors, tenants, lenders, contractors, and even his own father. Trump cares about America the same way a pirate cares about a Spanish galleon riding low in the water, laden with silver and gold. His run for President was just the ultimate expression of his blind greed, egomania, and psychological pathology. He literally couldn’t help himself.

So Trump can’t really be a traitor, because he has no loyalties to betray. Nor does he poses any adult concept of morality that would allow him to separate right from wrong. He doesn’t know any better. But there are many men (yes, almost exclusively men) who had professed loyalty to the United States, had taken public oaths of office or military service to defend her, who saw this diseased, broken man as their ticket to power.

It’s those men who can be rightfully called traitors. Men like Michael Flynn and John Kelly. But even among them, there’s one who, ultimately, will be held accountable by historians for Donald Trump’s theft of the most powerful office in the world.

His name is Addison Mitchell McConnell Jr.

It was the Kentucky Terrapin McConnell who, against all precedent and his Constitutional duty, denied Merrick Garland a hearing and floor vote to become a Supreme Court Justice for nearly a year, simply to deny duly-elected President Barrack Obama another seat on the court. But that pales in comparison to what was on the horizon.

In the early fall of 2016, it was apparent that Russian intel was using active measures on social media and emails stolen from the DNC to influence our election in favor of Trump and against Hillary Clinton. When this conclusion became inescapable, President Obama approached McConnell and asked him to join in a bipartisan statement rejecting Russia’s interference.

Not only did McConnell refuse to participate, but he actively threatened Obama against making any sort of public disclosures about what our intel community had learned of Russia’s attack on our election weeks before the earliest votes were to be cast.

Then, after that horrible day in November when Putin exercised his will on our democracy, there was still one more chance for our nation to right its course and turn back from the brink. Two weeks before then, the seventeen agencies which make up our intelligence community had all signed off on a memo that Russia was actively thumbing the scales in our election. Russia’s involvement was known. Trump’s complacency was obvious. There was a push in Congress and nationally to give members of the Electoral College a classified briefing on what was known at that time so they could make an informed decision when casting the only votes that actually mattered in the election.

Mitch McConnell blocked that briefing.

Whereas Donald Trump has always been nothing more than a howling, narcissistic vacuum desperate for anything to fill the existential void where his soul should be, McConnell has sworn multiple oaths to his country over the course of many decades, starting with his short stint as a Private in the Army Reserve during the Vietnam War before being honorably discharged for being blind af, and under pressure from his father, but whatever. Since then, he’s been sworn in as an assistant attorney general, a judge, a Senator, Senate Majority Whip, Senate Minority leader, and now Senate Majority Leader.

Unlike Asset-Come-Lately Donald Trump, McConnell has taken an oath of service or office to the people of the United States more than half a dozen times. His entire adult life has been, supposedly, spent in public service to the American people. He understands the gravity of his responsibilities to his country in a way Trump’s limited mental faculties are simply incapable of. And yet he chose to fast-track and validate Russia’s attack on our democracy, ensuring the success of Putin’s operation in a way no other supposed American was in a position to.

And even after last weekend’s revelations, Mitch continues to support and extend Trump’s government shutdown, now entering its fourth week, the longest in the history of our nation. Exactly the chaos and division Putin wants among our electorate heading into the 2020 election cycle.

Trump is a clown. Mitch McConnell is the real traitor.

 

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Novels vs Screenplays: What I’ve Learned (So Far)

 

So I’ve been doing this professional writer thing for three years now (which I can hardly believe myself, incidentally). In that time, I’ve published four books and written two more. In addition to books, I’ve also authored several dozen op-eds for a variety of publications, including The Hill, US News, and the New York Times. All this in addition to my blog posts and the twitter addiction I was only recently, forcibly cured of. But it’s the latest endeavor that has me the most excited about my professional future, and what I’d like to share about today.

Over the last fifteen months, I’ve taken up writing screenplays as a sort of palate cleanser between novel projects. It began just about as randomly as my novel writing career when a comedian friend who’d come up through the Milwaukee scene with me but had since move out to LA frantically PMed me looking for a sci-fi script for an upcoming project he’d gotten a tip-off about.

“But I don’t write screenplays,” I’d said.

“You write sci-fi books. Close enough,” was the reply.

Friends, I’m here to tell you after a bruising four months of cramming an adaptation of my 98,000 word debut, THE ARK, into a 25,000 word screenplay, it was not “Close enough.”

Let’s get one thing out of the way up front. Screenplay writing is its own discipline, in every sense of the word. It only vaguely resembles writing a novel in the most essential storytelling aspects of plotting, characterization, and world-building. But the tools you have available, and the confines under which you operate, are entirely different.

First of all, screenplay formatting is archaic, arbitrary, and almost completely impenetrable to someone without education or experience in the medium. I foolishly tried to write my first in MS Word, thinking I’d just adapt, an endeavor that lasted all of one and a half pages before I said “Fuck this” and switched to online screenwriting software. Currently, I use Celtx, a free service with premium subscription upgrades. It saves projects in the cloud and allows multiple people to remotely collaborate, which was enormously helpful because no software can perfectly format a script. Even after cowriting three of these things, my writing partner still has to sweep up after me. Celtx, it should be noted, is considered an entry-level program. The industry standard is a service called Final Draft. It’s a premium service, which has kept me away from it up to this point, but I’ll probably bite the bullet and subscribe soon.

The next eye-opening difference between screenplays and novels is the length. As a rule of thumb, one page of a script equals one minute of film. Now math that out and realize that means an average film script for a two-hour movie is going to be no more than 120 pages long. There’s real reasons for this limitation, too. Unlike books which can be of nearly any length without much impact on their production costs, every minute of length added to a movie adds hundred of thousands or millions of dollars to the budget. Cameramen, grips, sound people, set-builders, they all get paid by the hour. Further, the longer a movie is, the fewer showings theaters can pack into a day and the fewer opportunities for ticket sales. Any one who doesn’t already have a billion dollars in box office receipts turning in a three hour run time script is very likely to get laughed out of the pitch meeting. But it gets worse for writers used to having unlimited space. Instead of averaging 300-400 words per printed page, a screenplay page averages around 250. So, far fewer pages, and far fewer words per page.

But it’s not all bad news. The nature of screenplays lend themselves to brevity. However, this comes at the expense of how your story gets told. There are very seldom internal character monologues in film scripts, or omniscient narration to fill in the blanks of a character’s thoughts and motivations, or to flesh out the world with all the little historical details that give a setting flavor. Instead, the only brushes you have to paint with are character dialogue and visuals. That’s it. For me who’d growing into writing through novels, it was very challenging to lose all the rest of the avenues I was used to taking readers down, especially when trying, in this case, to tell the same story.

These restrictions inherent to the screenwriting process meant some of my favorite scenes, subplots, and even entire characters from THE ARK ended up on the cutting room floor, and I’m the author! It was a very difficult process adapting the story to such a short length. So much so that I’m hesitant to repeat it with a full-length novel in the future. After this experience, I’m going to be very understanding of the necessary differences and sacrifices between my favorite books and the movies based on them. I’d much rather do adaptations of shorter works, such as Arrival, which was originally a wonderful novella called Stories of Your Life by Ted Chiang that fit very well into movie length.

Still, I’m proud of the screenplay version of THE ARK we finally hammered into place, and believe it or not, we actually optioned the damned thing. It’s being kicked around one of the major studios right now, and while it’s still a long shot for getting funded, it’s a near miracle to have gotten this far in the first place.

Nor is any of the above meant to scare other novelists off from trying your hands at a screenplay. Quiet the opposite, I would actively encourage you to do so. As a writing exercise, it was incredibly instructive. Being limited to telling a story with only dialogue and visuals made me focus on squeezing the maximum possible return on investment out of every word. It’s teaching me how to say more with less, a skill that was of immense value when I returned to the next novel project. It’s sped up my pacing and made scenes more dense and vivid. My character dialogue has improved, becoming more natural. The conservation of words I’ve been forced to practice while writing screenplays has made my books since flow better and the characters sizzle. You’ll see when the first of them, STARSHIP REPO, hits in May.

And repetition has made the process far less arduous. Since that first script, we’ve written two more, each of them original concepts unconnected to any existing IP. Now that I’m not being forced to kill my darlings, it’s a much more enjoyable experience, even freeing. Our second script got written in just seventeen days, and also found an option. Not bad for two and a half weeks of work, especially if it gets funded.

All things considered, I’d tell every author I know to try their hand at writing a screenplay, if only once. It will make you a better writer across all the other mediums you might work in. But beware this final observation about the difference between the two. It’s a subjective, emotional thing. When you finish writing a book, even if it never gets published, it’s still a book. Even if it never leaves your hard drive, it’s a book, complete and whole, and you can carry forward with that accomplishment. But with a screenplay, once you’ve finished, you’re left with an outline of a movie. It exists in potentia only. The way you react to that will vary with the writer, and may even vary within a writer. Sometimes, it feels unfinished, and less emotionally fulfilling. Other times, it feel exciting, like a lotto ticket that’s already hit the first three numbers. How you choose to look at it is up to you.

I choose to be excited about the first three, and to start writing number four.

 

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WI: Emergency Call to Action

WI peeps. Emergency Call to Action.

As most of you who follow politics probably knows, Wisconsin joined in the Blue Wave last month, sending Tammy Baldwin back to DC, replacing two-term mistake Scott Walker with incoming Governor Tony Evers, and flipping our State Attorney General from red to blue.

This shot of good news got a sour chaser last Friday when the lame duck GOP in the state legislature dropped a stack of bills meant to put a straight jacket on incoming Gov Tony Evers and our new State Attorney General. It is a naked power grab from people who just lost the statewide popular vote.

They’re planning to send bills for Scott Walker to sign in a final Fuck You to the people of Wisconsin for rejecting their divisive and racist agenda. Among the proposed bills are efforts to block Evers from overturning Walker’s unnecessary Voted ID law which estimates say disenfranchised as many as 300,000 primarily people of color in Milwaukee and Dane counties in 2016, in a state Trump “won” by only 20,000 votes. They also aim to slash early voting from six weeks in many place down to only two, a repeat of an effort that was rebuked by the courts the last time they attempted it.

But it doesn’t end there. The WI GOP is also intent on stripping the incoming democratic Attorney General of the authority to pull out of a GOP-lead, multi-state lawsuit designed to overturn the Affordable Care Act in the newly-stacked US Supreme Court. Which might be the first time I’ve heard a republican trying to stop anyone from pulling out.

Further, the WI GOP has an eye on preserving their thin 4-3 majority in the WI Supreme Court. You see, one of their most extreme right justices is up for reelection in 2020. Normally, this election would happen along with the Presidential primary on Super Tuesday. However, primary day ahead of a general election means high voter turnout, which is always and unequivocally bad for GOP candidates, which is why they universally attempt every dirty trick in the book to drive down turnout. In this case, the trick is to move just the judicial election to a month prior to Super Tuesday, doubling the number of spring elections simply to make it more difficult for working class people to get time off to vote in both.

All of these measures are being voted on TOMORROW. This only remains possible because Wisconsin is one of the most flagrantly gerrymandered states in the nation. In the upcoming legislative session, Democratic candidates won the previously mentioned 54% of the vote statewide, but will hold only 37% of the seats in the State Legislature.

Which tells you one thing. Voting alone won’t get Wisconsin’s GOP to represent our interests. Democracy in Wisconsin is a full-contact sport. As in, contact your state representatives directly and let them know you oppose this blatant attack on the expressed wishes of Wisconsin residents. Call (800) 362-9472 for the WI State Legislative switchboard, find your rep’s office, and give them an earful.

And do it fast.

 

As always, if you like what I’m doing here, subscribe to my newsletter in the blue bar at the top of the page. And if you really like what I’m doing, preorder my next book STARSHIP REPO. It’s exactly what it sounds like and twice as ridiculous.

WI: Emergency Call to Action

 

WI peeps. Emergency Call to Action.
As most of you who follow politics probably knows, Wisconsin joined in the Blue Wave last month, sending Tammy Baldwin back to DC, replacing two-term mistake Scott Walker with incoming Governor Tony Evers, and flipping our State Attorney General from red to blue.
This shot of good news got a sour chaser last Friday when the lame duck GOP in the state legislature dropped a stack of bills meant to put a straight jacket on incoming Gov Tony Evers and our new State Attorney General. It is a naked power grab from people who just lost the statewide popular vote.
They’re planning to send bills for Scott Walker to sign in a final Fuck You to the people of Wisconsin for rejecting their divisive and racist agenda. Among the proposed bills are efforts to block Evers from overturning Walker’s unnecessary Voted ID law which estimates say disenfranchised as many as 300,000 primarily people of color in Milwaukee and Dane counties in 2016, in a state Trump “won” by only 20,000 votes. They also aim to slash early voting from six weeks in many place down to only two, a repeat of an effort that was rebuked by the courts the last time they attempted it.
But it doesn’t end there. The WI GOP is also intent on stripping the incoming democratic Attorney General of the authority to pull out of a GOP-lead, multi-state lawsuit designed to overturn the Affordable Care Act in the newly-stacked US Supreme Court. Which might be the first time I’ve heard a republican trying to stop anyone from pulling out.
Further, the WI GOP has an eye on preserving their thin 4-3 majority in the WI Supreme Court. You see, one of their most extreme right justices is up for reelection in 2020. Normally, this election would happen along with the Presidential primary on Super Tuesday. However, primary day ahead of a general election means high voter turnout, which is always and unequivocally bad for GOP candidates, which is why they universally attempt every dirty trick in the book to drive down turnout. In this case, the trick is to move just the judicial election to a month prior to Super Tuesday, doubling the number of spring elections simply to make it more difficult for working class people to get time off to vote in both.
All of these measures are being voted on TOMORROW. This only remains possible because Wisconsin is one of the most flagrantly gerrymandered states in the nation. In the upcoming legislative session, Democratic candidates won the previously mentioned 54% of the vote statewide, but will hold only 37% of the seats in the State Legislature.
Which tells you one thing. Voting alone won’t get Wisconsin’s GOP to represent our interests. Democracy in Wisconsin is a full-contact sport. As in, contact your state representatives directly and let them know you oppose this blatant attack on the expressed wishes of Wisconsin residents. Call (800) 362-9472 for the WI State Legislative switchboard, find your rep’s office, and give them an earful.
And do it fast.
As always, if you like what I’m doing here, subscribe to my newsletter in the blue bar at the top of the page. And if you really like what I’m doing, preorder my next book STARSHIP REPO. It’s exactly what it sounds like and twice as ridiculous.

Paul Manafort and the End of Donald Trump


 

It’s been a particularly bad 24 hours in the life of one Paul Manafort. Yesterday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller submitted a report to the VA court overseeing Manafort’s case that the defendant had broken his cooperative plea agreement by lying to prosecutors on a variety of topics of interest to the investigation. This opens Manafort, 69, up to the very real possibility that he will spend the rest of his life in federal prison.

Then this morning, The Guardian dropped a bombshell report that Manafort had traveled to London to meet in secret with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on no less than three different occasions, the most recent of which occurred in March, 2016, just weeks before Manafort would join the Trump campaign, and only months before Wikileaks would publish hacked DNC emails given to them by the Russian GRU, whom had stolen them in the first place. It was accidentally revealed in court filings two weeks ago that Assange has himself been indicted in secret, awaiting his release into UK custody and extradition to the US.

Ever since Manafort’s indictment and arrest late last year, it’s been popular among the rightwing blogosphere, media mouthpieces, and online trolls to claim that his multitude of charges have nothing to do with the Trump campaign or Russian collusion.

The events of the last couple days lay this deliberate bit of misinformation bare as the lie and propaganda it always was. But to see the thread connecting Manafort, to Russia, and ultimately to Trump personally, we need to back up a bit.

The charges Manafort has already either been found guilty of, or outright confessed to as part of his now defunct plea agreement, are related to tax-evasion, money-laundering, and failure to register as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. It’s true that the specific instances of these crimes predate Manafort’s addition to Trump’s campaign, the earliest of them date back to 2005 or so, but it’s what he was doing, and who he was doing it for that leads inarguably to Trump’s door.

A decade ago, Manafort was hired as an outside lobbyist by the pro-Russia Ukrainian party, the Party of Regions and their candidate, Viktor Yanukovych, whom had been turned back from power by the Orange Revolution the year before. One of the leaders of that uprising, Viktor Yushchenko (yes, they’re all named Viktor) was poisoned and nearly killed with dioxin, an assassination attempt universally attributed to Vladimir Putin but we’re getting off into the weeds a little bit…

Anyway, back to Manafort. Paul worked to rehabilitate the ex-con Yanukovych’s public image in the aftermath of the Orange Revolution and propel the eastern Ukraine based Party or Regions and their pro-Kremlin platform to electoral victory in 2010. A victory they celebrated by jailing their political rivals and sparking yet another revolution in 2014 which saw Yanukovych deposed yet again because some children just keep putting their hand on the stove.

But before being overthrown, again, the Party of Regions rewarded Manafort for his efforts to the tune of $12.7 million in off-the-books payments, income Manafort neglected to report to the IRS because he A) didn’t feel like paying taxes, and B) didn’t feel like registering with FARA. So he hid the money in offshore bank accounts.

Now it’s post 2014. Manafort has nearly a decade of experience working for Putin’s allies, assassins, and fascist politicians. He’s swimming in Russian oligarch cash and heavily leveraged, opening him up to blackmail. And the Kremlin knows he has a knack for rebranding criminals for successful runs for office.

So where does Manafort go next?

If you said “Cozy up to his decades-long pal Donald Trump’s presidential campaign,” congratulations, you’ve been following along at home. But not before first traveling to London to meet for a third time with Assange in March, 2016. Not long after, Manafort is brought onto Trump’s campaign as Chairman. Then in July 2016, he, Don Jr., and Jared Kushner all sit down with a known Russian intelligence asset promising damaging information on Hillary Clinton in the now infamous Trump Tower meeting.

What happens next? Why Manafort is promoted to Campaign Manager of course. But it doesn’t end there. Not long after that meeting, Assange and Wikileaks dumped their stolen DNC emails, only the first of such dumps that would happen in 2016, the other coming not thirty minutes after Trump’s infamous Access Hollywood tape was released.

Then, at the Republican National Convention, Trump’s foreign policy team, pushed hard from above by Manafort, gets the GOP to make a 180 degree turn on their platform’s position on Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Not only that, but the GOP completely walked back their previous support for arming and training the Ukraine military to fight “pro-Russian rebels” in the east (in reality, Russian special forces troops).

These were among the strategic goals Manafort’s clients in the now-defunct Party of Regions and their patrons in the Kremlin had been working towards for years. Their $12 million man delivered at the Republican National Convention.

That, friends and followers, is the straight-line between the charges Mueller convicted Manafort on, and the Trump campaign’s culpability in conspiracy with Russia. Mueller knows everything, and has for quite a long time now. Several lawyers and former prosecutors have guessed that Mueller waited to file his accusations against Manafort for lying because he knew Manafort and Trump’s legal teams were coordinating their stories. Now that Mueller has Trump’s answers in writing, he’s got them both nailed for perjury and obstruction for telling the same lies.

And the icing on the cake is it looks like Mueller is going to entirely bypass his illegitimate boss Acting AG Whitaker’s attempts to bury his report to the public by bringing the receipts into the same VA courthouse and lay them out as his evidence Manafort broke his plea deal, thus revealing his evidence against Trump at the same time.

The end is near. Everything is coming together, and the pace is quickening.

Oh, btw, Manafort picked Pence to be VP.

Update, 11/28: Welp, turns out the assumption that Manafort and Trump’s legal teams were coordination is no longer an assumption. The NYT reported late yesterday that Manafort’s lawyers were indeed briefing Team Trump on everything Manafort was discussing with Mueller’s prosecutors. Which is deeply unethical, and quite possibly illegal. More witness tampering and obstruction, please!

 

As always, if you like what I’m doing here, make sure to subscribe to my email newsletter in the blue box at the top of the page. And if you really like what I’m doing, preorder my next book, STARSHIP REPO.

Cyber Monday Deals and the Obligatory Award Eligibility Post


Gate Crashers

 

Happy Wasting Time at Work Buying Shit Online Day, everyone! Yes, it’s that greatest of consumer holidays, Cyber Monday, the day we can stuff our virtual shopping carts without all the sweaty bodies and fights breaking out over the last $20 footbath.

I’m getting in on the fun. Today, you can get a copy of GATE CRASHERS for only $12.22, more than six bucks off the cover price for a savings of… um… [runs numbers] thirty-six percent! Buy one, hell, buy ten and stuff all the stockings. Buy twenty and own the office Secret Santa party. Consume!

And once you’re done reading it, don’t forget that GATE CRASHERS is eligible for all the major 2018 awards, including but not limited to the Nebulas, Dragons, and Hugos. If you really love it, throw it a nomination. Hey, an author can dream, right?

Then, if your ravenous consumerism still isn’t sated, why not preorder the next book set in the Breach universe, STARSHIP REPO? Dropping in May, it’s a teen girl’s coming of age story set to the backdrop of stealing back space yachts from their deadbeat owners. As ya do.

Finally, don’t forget to subscribe to my email list for new updates and special promotions like this one. Just stick your email address in the blue bar at the top of the page. No penis pill emails, I swear.

Election 2018 Postmortum: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly


Well, that was exciting, huh? It’s been two days since the most consequential midterm elections of the new millennium, but we’ve hardly been given a moment’s rest since. Still, with time comes perspective, and enough has passed now that we can start to see the size of the impact crater voters just left in the American political landscape. There’s good news and bad, so let’s start with the good.

The Good

The most obvious good news is the Democrats retook the House. With votes still being counted and a dozen contests still undecided, Dems have already picked up 35 seats, and could still pick up as many as 40, far exceeding the 23 seat swing they needed to retake the lower chamber. This in spite of widespread GOP gerrymandering, voter suppression, and multiple suspicious election day failures in places like Georgia where someone conveniently forgot to bring power cords for the electronic voting machines in a predominantly black precinct leading to wait times of three hours or more, or Texas where voting machines were conveniently switching voters’ ballots for Senate from Beto to Cruz.

Regaining the House with a comfortable margin is strategically important to the Dems for a number of reasons. First, it means Trump and the GOP’s legislative agenda, already stalled since passing last year’s Felate the Rich and Explode the Deficit Act (FREDA), is effectively dead for the remainder of Trump’s term in office, however long that lasts. Speaking of how much longer Trump lasts, it also means control of critically important House committees changes hands. And if you don’t think the idea of Maxine Waters heading the Finance committee, or Adam Schiff leading the House Intelligence committee isn’t giving Trump heartburn and sleepless nights, you haven’t been paying attention. But and overlooked benefit of the larger than needed margin is now more than a dozen vulnerable red state Dems can afford to tactically vote against the rest of their party on important legislation to avoid angering their constituents, without giving up the majority needed for it to pass. This kind of flexibility will be incredibly useful in two years during the Presidential when all of those newly-won seats will need to be defended to maintain or expand their grip on the House.

Other less-celebrated good news for the Dems came out of Tuesday night’s elections, too. Democratic candidates nabbed seven governorships, more than three hundred seats in state legislatures, six “trifectas” where they now hold all three branches of state government, and most interestingly, a majority of state Attorney Generals. In one fell swoop, the Democrats took back more than a third of the state-level seats and offices lost to the GOP during Obama’s two terms in office. Ahead of the census and congressional redistricting coming in 2020, this newfound power will go a long way towards combating the voter suppression and gerrymandering plaguing states across the country and breaking up the illegitimate, anti-democracy tricks the GOP has been using to remain a relevant political party for twenty years. It also gives the Democrats a much deeper bench of young talent they can draw candidates from in future national elections. People who have won elections, have established bases of local support, and gained experience in office. This has been an overlooked advantage the GOP has exploited masterfully for a decade. Now it the Dems’ turn.

But for my money, the most important overlooked news to come out of Tuesday, night came from my second home of Florida. While it’s true that Dems appear to have lost the Governorship and Senate races in nail-biters that both threaten to trigger recounts, it was the passage of Amendment 4 that should be sending shockwaves through the GOP. In one fell-swoop, 1.4 million Floridians who had previously been disenfranchised due to felony convictions had their voting rights restored. These men and women, being disproportionately people of color, are also disproportionately predisposed to vote for Democrats. It is no exaggeration to say if this block of people had been allowed to vote in 2000, we would have had President Gore. If they’d been able to vote in 2016, it would have swung the state for Clinton and almost entirely erased Trump’s advantage in the Electoral College. And if they’d been able to vote on Tuesday, the state would have a new Democratic Governor and Senator, not even a contest. What Amendment 4 did, along with the influx of a quarter million or more Puerto Rican refugees of Maria who’ve moved to the Sunshine State, was to take a perennial swing state that factored into many unlikely GOP victories over recent history, and moved it solidly into the Blue column. It is highly unlikely any GOP candidate for President will be getting Florida’s 29 electoral votes for at least a generation, and that makes retaining or retaking the White House nearly impossible.

This all happened because, bucking the long-term trends of democrats and the youth vote skipping midterms, voter turnout was simply massive. Early voting shattered records, millennials and 18-24 year-olds showed up en masse for once. First time voters exploded expectations. This kind of engagement and enthusiasm in a midterm bodes well for 2020, when democratic turnout is expected to be higher still.

All things considered, Tuesday night was a simply crushing victory for the Democratic party and the future of the progressive movement in America.

The Bad

Okay, that’s the good news, and there was a lot of it. Now, deep breath, let’s dive into the bad. Dems not only failed to retake the Senate, but actually lost three seats, widening the gap even after narrowing it in 2016 and in special elections since. This was not entirely unexpected. Winning the Senate was always a longshot, as Dems simply had far more seats to defend this time around, many of which were in states that went for Trump. The map this cycle was brutal.

With a larger majority in the Senate for the next six years, the GOP has bought itself three important advantages. First, there is basically no chance of blocking any of Trump’s appointments, not for Attorney General (more on that later) or for Supreme Court. One or two Republican Senators won’t have the opportunity to grow spines and stop this madman from appointing whomever he wants to insulate himself from the consequences of his crimes. Although in the wake of the Kavanaugh spectacle, it’s unclear if there was ever any circumstances that would convince even a single Republican to do the right thing and vote against the party line. This question took on even greater significance today as 85 yr-old Justice Ginsburg was hospitalized after falling in her office, fracturing three ribs.

Secondly, they’ve made the hill Democrats have to climb to retake the Senate just that much steeper. While the 2020 Senate map is more favorable to Dems than this year, most of the GOP incumbents who will be up for reelection are in solidly red states and will be very difficult if not impossible to shake loose. And if they do hold the Senate in 2020, that means…

Thirdly, the GOP will be positioned to thwart the legislative agenda of any potential Democratic presidential candidate who wins in two years for their entire first term.

That. Sucks.

The Ugly

Listen, we all know who the ugly is here. Donald Trump is not taking losing the House well. Yesterday saw a rapid-fire bonus round of crazy from Sippy Cup Caligula. In a combative and histrionically unhinged press conference, he went even further off the rails than the train at the end of Back to the Future III.

In 90 minutes, Trump forgot who Lil Jon was (He was on The Apprentice), said the “Obama Regime” annexed Crimea (It was Putin, who also still holds parts of Georgia taken during Bush II’s term), spoke in a whisper about how no one could’ve done what he did in North Korea (Trump ended joint exercises with South Korea while North Korea expanded their nuclear enrichment program), and sent a female intern to physically assault Jim Acosta, only so ol’ Smokey Eyes Huckabee Sanders could air doctored footage from a conspiracy website banned from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and iTunes as an excuse for revoking Acosta’s White House hard pass press access in a blatant escalation of Trump’s war on the media and the 1st Amendment.

This is banana republic shit, folks, but it only got worse later in the day when Trump fired his hand-picked Attorney General, the KKKebbler Elf himself, Jeff Sessions, for not being enough of a spineless supplicant willing to subvert the rule of law to protect Piss Play Pol Pot from the legal reckoning bearing down on him like the train at the end of Back to the Future III (we comedians refer to that as a callback).

In the aftermath, Trump appointed Session’s Chief of Staff, Matthew Whitaker, as acting Attorney General. Whittaker, a lawyer whose only national exposure came from an op-ed last year demanding Special Counsel Mueller’s Trump/Russia investigation be curtailed and defunded, is widely regarded as a Trump sycophant whose only qualification for the office is his willingness to deflect any attempts to hold Trump accountable. Brett Kavanaugh, anyone?

Here’s the trouble with that cunning plan. Whitaker is not, in reality, the acting Attorney General. Department of Justice statutes defining the order of succession preclude him from the office, even temporarily. He can pretend to be the acting AG all he likes, but by law, he cannot serve as Jeff Session’s interim replacement. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is the acting Attorney General, again, by law. Trump’s appointment is illegal.

What this means is, whether he chooses to recuse or not, the second Whitaker gives Special Counsel Mueller an order Mueller doesn’t like, he’s exposed himself to charges of Obstruction of Justice. Mueller knows Whitaker’s appointment is illegal, and so does Rosenstein. They both know Whitaker has no authority to interfere in the Russia investigation, and any attempt to do so will expose him to the risk of becoming the next target of the investigation.

The question is, does Whitaker know this? It’s hard to say. Whitaker is an idiot. He was already a board member of an invention patent company that was shut down for being a fraudulent scam (Trump University, anyone?) so despite being a lawyer, his history of being able to recognize when he’s exposed to legal jeopardy is already suspect. But regardless, if Whitaker tries to muzzle Mueller’s investigations, it will backfire spectacularly. Indeed, it may have already, as Rod Rosenstein’s lawyer was spotted heading into court today for reasons we can only speculate on at this point, but which I believe was the opening salvo in the legal challenge to Whitaker’s appointment.

At best, Whitaker can only delay the inevitable while the question of the illegality of his appointment goes through the courts. If he has any sense at all, Matthew will kneel before Mueller and give him whatever the fuck he wants and hope it’s enough to just stay the hell out of the way.

All that was just yesterday, kids. That’s like, all of the Constitutional crises we’ve faced in the last hundred years packed into a two-minute movie trailer. Nixon and Watergate had nothing on these treasonous troglodytes. But, we’re still standing, and real congressional investigations and oversight are coming right after the New Year.

That’s something every true American can be grateful for this holiday season.

 

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Votes for Half Off Books!

 

The Ark by Sci-Fi Author Patrick S. Tomlinson

Hey gang! Have you voted yet today? I hope so, because it’s kinda the fate of the republic and perhaps all of western civilization hanging in the balance. But if you still need to be persuaded, I’ve got a deal for you.

Angry Robot Books is running an election day special on their entire catalogue of eBooks. Today only, you can get any ARB title for half off the cover price. Go to their website, place your order, and apply the promo code VOTESUCCESS50 at checkout. Couldn’t be easier. If you’re one of the lucky folks who got THE ARK for free a couple weeks ago, now you can get TRIDENT’S FORGE and CHILDRENOF THE DIVIDE at two for the price of one to finish out the trilogy. Or branch out and explore dozens of other titles from ARB’s amazing bullpen of authors. Not a bad little perk for doing your civic duty.

And don’t forget to preorder STARSHIP REPO. It’s delightfully weird. You’re going to love it. Coming in May from Tor Books.

Yes, Virginia, Trump Really is Hitler.


 

In the last week, we’ve seen an almost comically unbelievable series of events, the sum total of which confirms once and for all that, yes, Donald J. Trump really is a fascist supervillain.

Let’s start with Monday. At a campaign rally in Houston for Tex Cruz’s fading Senate bid, Trump proudly and publicly outed himself as a Nationalist, which, everyone had already figured out long ago, but it’s still not something you come out and say. Even Trump himself acknowledged the toxicity when he said “We’re not supposed to use that word.” Yeah, no shit, Sippy Cup Caligula. Because it’s closely tied to leaders and political movements responsible for the most egregious atrocities of the 20th century. It was the nationalism of the Nazis, Mussolini, the Imperial Japanese, Stalinists, and Mao that killed upwards of a hundred million people. The word kinda has a funk around it for a reason.

But naturally, the capacity crowd of his fawning sycophants ate it up, then took it one step further, returning to the 2016 campaign trail chant of “Lock Her Up!” demanding the extrajudicial arrest and imprisonment of Secretary Clinton, a woman who has been investigated countless times by both her congressional colleagues and the FBI without a single charge ever being brought against her. For his part, Trump egged them on, just the latest example in his long history of normalizing violence against his political opponents.

The very next day, his hard work paid off. A package arrived at the home of Democratic mega-donor and frequent target of Trump’s attacks, George Soros. Inside the plain manila envelope was a crudely-made, yet potentially lethal homemade IED. It proved to be only the first of many. Over the next three days, bombs sent C/O Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz either showed up at, or were intercepted en route to the homes and offices of a dozen prominent Democrats, media institutions, and Trump critics, including the Clintons and Obamas, Vice President Biden, former Attorney General Eric Holder, former head of the CIA John Brennan, Representative Maxine Waters, NY Gov Anthony Cuomo, Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, former National Intelligence Director James Clapper, actor Robert Di Nero, and CNN’s studio in NYC.

Every single one of these people or organizations have, at one time or many, been singled out by Trump either on Twitter or in public addresses for attack. Trump’s rhetoric has been pushing people towards violent action from the moment he launched his fraudulent bid for the White House, threatening to punch people, rough them up, and even pay the legal fees of anyone who beat up protestors. And increasingly, his supporters have been taking him at his word. The Charlottesville rally that columnated in the death of Heather Heyer was only the first incident to capture national attention. The brownshirt gang known as the Proud Boys has been caught physically assaulting counter-protestors in recent weeks as their leader Gavin McGuiness calls for more violence. An affiliated group went so far as to place armed snipers on rooftops during protests in Portland.

The attempted serial bombings of basically the entire Democratic leadership, therefore, cannot be viewed in isolation. It is a continuation and escalation of a trend that has been ongoing for over a year now. It also just happens to represent the largest political mass assassination attempt in our nation’s history, no matter how ineptly implemented.

In the midst of the crisis, as bombs were still being discovered and targets identified, while the identity of the bomber remained unknown, Trump took to Twitter to deliver a bomb of his own.

Let’s not beat around the bush here. This tweet isn’t just Trump’s usual gaslighting and victim-blaming. That’s almost passé at this point. This tweet is something far more sinister. First, it again repeats Trump’s Fake News canard, which is just a dumbed-down version of Hitler’s frequently uttered “lugenpresse” (lying press) slur, a connection not lost on his far right and neo-Nazi followers, who brought lugenpresse back into the popular lexicon during the 2016 campaign.

Secondly, and more importantly, this can only be read as a threat. It is Trump saying, explicitly and unequivocally, that if the press doesn’t stop publishing negative (ie true) stories about him, his followers will continue their attempts to kill them. It is an attempt to use a national crisis to silence his critics through intimidation.

Today, the suspected bomber was arrested, and surprising absolutely no one with more than six braincells to rub together, it turns out he’s an enormous Trump supporter. His van is festooned with so many pro-Trump and anti-Dem stickers that it looks like a racist ice cream truck.

Many people in the media and government have taken to calling these attempted bombings domestic terrorism, but that’s not quite right. Terrorism is a form of asymmetrical warfare the weak use against a superior force. That’s not what we’re seeing here. When supporters of the political party in power use violence to silence or intimidate the minority, that’s not terrorism. It’s fascism.

A point Trump was only too happy to confirm today when speaking to a group of young Republicans in the White House.  Days after declaring himself a Nationalist, Trump came out swinging against ‘Globalists,’ which as anyone who’s been following along with the alt-right for the last few years knows is simply a stand-in for Jewish. Trump knows this, and so did his audience, which immediately started chanting “Soros!” the Jewish philanthropist and Dem donor who had been targeted for death by one of Trump’s own supporters only three days prior. We’re long past dog-whistles, here. No one on team Trump is even trying to hide their fascist tendencies anymore.

Yes, Virginia, Trump really is Hitler, circa 1935. Nov 6th may be our last chance to stop him from going full “45.”

 

Update, 10/27/18: Gods, I hate being right all the time, but literally one day after Trump’s transparent attack on Jews, seven people were shot dead by a gunman at their synagogue in Pittsburg. Yes, Trump knows what he’s saying, and yes, so do his brownshirts. They are receiving and carrying out orders.

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