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!

 

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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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Khashoggi and the Assassination of American Moral Authority

(Photo by Johnny Green – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)

As most of you know by now, a bomb went off between US and Saudi relations in the last week over the death of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi.

Mr. Khashoggi was a voice for change in Saudi Arabia, having founded a progressive newspaper to push against the conservative religious orthodoxy. As a reporter for the Washington Post, he was a frequent and fierce critic of the House of Saud and the Kingdom’s abysmal record of human rights abuses.

Khashoggi is alleged to have been lured into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, where he was brutally tortured, murdered, and dismembered with a bone saw by a squad of at least fifteen Saudi nationals traveling on diplomatic passports, including Salah Muhammed al-Tubaigy, the Kingdom’s preeminent forensic autopsy expert. I’ll save you the more sensational details of the murder, but let’s just say it was some Saw franchise level stuff.

The House of Saud has issued any number of conflicting accounts of what actually happened to Khashoggi, from blankets denials, to asserting that his death was the result of an interrogation gone wrong. Although personally, I can’t imaging bringing a bone saw and autopsy expert to an “interrogation” I expected the subject to survive.

International pressure is mounting on Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman al Saud to provide an explanation for the disappearance and probable assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, from everyone except notably the regime currently controlling the United States.

In numerous public statements, *President Trump has defended his friends (read financial backers) in Riyadh with ever more paper-thin excuses and conspiracy theories, from repeating Prince MBS’s “strong denials,” to proposing “rogue killers” who just happened to have more than a dozen diplomatic passports and unrestricted access to a Saudi foreign consulate where the rest of the staff was told to go home early on the day of Khashoggi’s disappearance.

To say this strains credibility is to torture language itself. Especially since it’s been reported from multiple outlets that the NSA had intelligence saying Khashoggi was in danger from Saudi authorities prior to his disappearance. Intel trump would be aware of if he ever read his morning briefings. So why is Trump toeing the Saudi line?

Well, there’s a number of factors at play here. Trump has said that it’s not our concern because Khashoggi was not a US citizen. This is technically true, Khashoggi was Saudi Arabian, and despite his sparring with the royal family and agitation for basic human rights, he never renounced his citizenship and was viewed as a patriot by most everyone who knew him.

However, he was also a legal permanent resident of the United States. He worked for the Washington Post, one of America’s most prestigious newspapers. And his children are American citizens. To pretend that America has no stake in this man, or visa versa, is obscene.

But then, so is Trump. He has made a public spectacle of his loathing for reporters critical of his administration, and the Washington Post in particular, going so far as to repeatedly call for the United States Postal Service to increase shipping rates for Amazon.com, which just happens to have been founded by WaPo owner Jeff Bezos. Trump is openly fawning of brutal dictators with a history of murdering uppity journalists, such as Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin, and of others who have openly attacked freedom of the press in their countries, such as Philippine President Duterte.

It’s not hard to imagine, given his intense bromances with authoritarian strongmen, that Trump himself covets the power to silence his media critics, even if it means their murder. Remember, he could shoot someone on 5th Ave and not lose any voters. He frequently refers to the press as the “Enemy of the People” both online and at his propaganda, sorry, campaign rallies, and his base eats it up. He has been trying to normalize the idea of violence against the press almost since the moment he launched his 2016 election bid. Covering for Saudi Arabia’s violence against their own press is a natural expansion of that effort.

It doesn’t end there, though. Let’s circle back for a moment to Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman. Last year, he took bold action to consolidate his position by arresting more than five-hundred prominent Saudi royals, businessmen, and clerics in what was touted as an “anti-corruption” campaign, but which both domestic and international observers called a political purge. But the most interesting thing about the move from an American standpoint is where he got the names to move against from.

Enter Jared Kushner, husband of Ivanka Trump, son in law to Donald Trump, and Macy’s menswear department mannequin animated by a cursed amulet. See, ol’ Jughead, excuse me, Jared, cropped up in this story after Prince Mohammad Bin Salman bragged about Kushner providing him with a classified list of “disloyal” Saudis gleaned from CIA and NSA intel. The prince then used this information to go after his own domestic rivals, not all of whom survived. At least one person on the list died in a mysterious helicopter crash.

Remember, at the time, Kushner was operating on a temporary security clearance due in no small part to the fact he lied hundreds of times on his SF-86 disclosure forms. That amounts to hundreds of felonies, for the curious.

But wait, there’s more! Trump himself has taken to Twitter to proclaim that he has no financial ties to the Saudis, just as he did in response to accusations of his conspiracy with Russia to steal his office. And just like then, this claim is transparently, hilariously false. In reality, Trump’s finances are positively swimming in Saudi money. Don’t take my word for it, Trump has bragged before about how much money the Saudis have dumped into his properties, which, by the way, are almost certainly being used as money laundering fronts for international organized crime. Or you could look to the flurry of companies Trump registered in Saudi Arabia ahead of his installation, sorry, there I go again, inauguration.

So in review, not only is Trump ideologically aligned with journalist-slaughtering autocrats, he’s also deeply in bed with them financially, giving not only him reason to support their goals, but giving them leverage over his behavior, which is kinda why the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution is a thing in the first place. Jimmy Carter sold his peanut farm to avoid any appearance of impropriety, for God’s sake.

Oh, incidentally, freak helicopter crashes aren’t the only dangers of living in Saudi Arabia if you find yourself inconvenient for the Crown Prince, as one of the fifteen Saudis IDed by the Turkish government as being part of the hit squad to murder Khashoggi wound up dead in a car accident. Rotten luck, there.

“But Patrick!” you cry, “You write sci-fi. Why do you care? And why should we care that you care?” Excellent question. While most of you reading this know me as a novelist, fewer of you know me as a political pundit. I’ve had screeds like the above published by platforms such as The Hill, and even the New York Times. I’m not a journalist and have never claimed to be, but I’ve played in their sandboxes. Until recently, I was a strident and public voice against the Trump regime on Twitter, which only came to an end for reasons you can explore in detail here. And above all that, I’m a patriot. I’ve read the Constitution, the original, in person, in the National Archives in DC. There’s a reason unequivocal protections for the press were enshrined in the First Amendment, no matter how much I love the Second.

Which is why I feel compelled, in my own small way on this backwater blog followed by dozens of people, to sound the alarm. An attack on one US-based journalist is an attack on all of them, no matter where it happened or who was responsible. We cannot pretend to respect freedom of the press at home if we don’t also fight for it abroad, especially amongst nations we present as our allies. And any *President who doesn’t believe that, and won’t stand against assaults on the 1st at home or abroad, no matter the reason, deserves to be ripped from office as quickly as possible.

 

If you liked that word salad, subscribe to my email list in the box at the top. If you REALLY liked it, consider pre-ordering my next book, STARSHIP REPO, coming from Tor books in May. Or, you know, buy the other four I already have out. Check my homepage for the links.

Marvel Bows to Hydra, Again

 

It’s happening again.

Just a few hours ago, Star Wars author Chuck Wendig was fired by Marvel comics from their upcoming Shadows of Vader five issue series after he’d already written the first three. The reason given, according to Chuck’s twitter thread about it, was the “negativity and vulgarity” his social media presence brings out, particularly his twitter.

Notice what’s missing there. Not that anything Chuck has said was negative or vulgar, but that it brings out vulgarity. So now, it’s Marvel’s official position that if you’re on the receiving end of vulgar troll attacks, you’re unemployable.

This is, not to put too fine a point on it, abject cowardice on Marvel’s part.

For those of you who don’t know Chuck and his history, he’s been writing for Lucasfilm and Star Wars since 2016’s Star Wars: Aftermath, and has since gone on to complete that trilogy, as well as write the comic adaptations of The Last Jedi, and Hyperion for Marvel’s Star Wars line. In Aftermath, Chuck took the bold step of incorporating the fist canonical gay character in the Star Wars universe. This made a lot of rightwing homophobes very angry, and we were off to the races.

Literally minutes after the midnight release of Aftermath, Chuck became the target of exactly the sort of targeted online harassment organized by alt-right trolls who’ve been hounding me for the last month. They conspired to flood the book’s Amazon page with faked 1 Star reviews to tank its rating and sabotage its sales potential. They mobbed him on Twitter, Reddit, and YouTube with homophobic slurs, doxxing, death threats, everything out of the incel troll playbook that I’ve experienced, except in his case it’s gone on for years and at a much higher volume to match his larger public profile.

And like me, they’ve targeted Chuck for false mass reporting attacks trying to get his 150k follower verified Twitter account permanently suspended by lying about his tweets and their intentions. And they weren’t entirely without success there, either, as Chuck was suspended for five hours this week without Twitter even explaining why they were doing it.

I seriously don’t know how Chuck keeps on top of the amount of bullshit that’s shoveled onto him, but he’s been managing it for more than two and a half years now without sacrificing the quality or volume of his creative output. Which is why it’s so utterly depressing to see Marvel, yet again, caving to pressure from the rightwing manufactured-outrage machine, just as they did three months ago when they fired James Gunn from directing Guardians of the Galaxy III after jackboot-licking, Waffen SS washout Mike Cernovich lead a bad-faith campaign to dig up ten-year-old pedo jokes which Gunn had already apologized for long before he directed the first damned Guardians movie, not because he wanted to protect children, but just to troll and get a “win” against progressives in Hollywood. An egregious mistake they still have not corrected.

And yes, I know Marvel Studios is a separate entity from the Marvel comics imprint, but they’re all under the same umbrella and what one division does impacts the public image of the other. For many years now, Marvel both on screen and in print has been trying to position itself publicly as the place for inclusivity in comics, both in the characters shown, and in the people writing them. Beloved characters like Thor being taken over by Jane Foster, Falcon taking up Captain America’s shield, or Iceman coming out as gay have all told readers that diversity is the word of the day at Marvel.

But on multiple occasions now, when presented with real-world examples of heroes standing up to the forces of intolerance, bigotry, and fascism, Marvel has blinked and capitulated to the very people their storylines have been telling readers to oppose since the earliest days of the X-Men.

And what’s worse, especially in the case of Star Wars “fandom,” is now we know objectively that much if not most of the baying of the rightwing noise factory over the recent direction of Star Wars IS COMPLETELY FAKE. Yes, really, recent investigations into the negative backlash over The Last Jedi have concluded that half or more of the social media accounts posting and tweeting vitriol and hate for Episode VIII were in fact Russian bots or paid trolls working to further divide American society along right vs left fault-lines in their quest to sew discord and influence our elections. And if you think that sounds far-fetched, you haven’t been paying attention and really need to read this piece by Molly McKew about the straight line connection between GamerGate and the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation fight.

And believe me, that effort didn’t start with TLJ. It was there in the boycotts against The Force Awakens, and it was present in the 34% of 1 Star reviews against Chuck’s SW book, Aftermath, and all of the little jackholes who have been polluting his platform ever since, culminating in his firing today.

I should say, for full disclosure, I have no personal reasons to defend Chuck Wendig. He and I are not friends per se. I’ve met him briefly maybe three times at various conventions, and I think I said something boneheaded to him at San Antonio WorldCon because I was a newbie author trying to be too familiar with a bigshot. Politically, there are a lot of things Chuck and I disagree on, in some cases pretty strongly.

But we agree 100% on trolls and Nazis. And for not the first time, Marvel done him dirty to placate exactly the wrong kinds of people. People toxifying social media and working in secret with a nebulous and hostile foreign organization to poison our culture and usurp our democracy.

Sounds an awful lot like Hydra, right?

How to Find Me Now That Twitter’s Gone to the Dark Side


Hello friends, fans, and followers. As many of you know, a tenacious band of alt-right, shitmitten, cyberstalkers has been doing everything they can to crawl up my ass for the last month, because they’re pathetic nobodies with no purpose or direction in life. However, they have succeeded in tricking Twitter’s pig-ignorant reporting algorithms into banning first my original @stealthygeek account, and today my replacement @patrickstomlin1 account.

It’s annoying, I’ll admit, but it’s a temporary setback I’ve been anticipating for a while now and have taken steps to mitigate. You’re probably wondering where to get your fix of my peculiar blend of political commentary, snark, and brutal takedowns, and fear not, I have you covered.

First of all, and most importantly, you can subscribe to my email list in the box right above you. I’ll only be using this list to send out pertinent updates when a new blog post goes up, or when I have big news about a new book, promotion, con appearance, etc. No boner pills, I promise. So stick your email up in my box and I’ll fill up yours. Fair? Fair.

For a couple months now, I’ve been boosting my YouTube Channel with original content, including political commentary, stand-up sets, and random nerdy shit. Hit me up, watch a vid or two, and subscribe. I’ll try to be good about updating it at least weekly.

I also run an Author page on Facebook, where I cut out the politics and stick to just the skinny on my publishing career. Throw it a like, if you like.

I bit the bullet and got on Instagram a while back. I still don’t understand the ecosystem, but I’m doing my best. Follow me there @pstomlinson.

If you’re a particularly bookish type as I am, you probably already have a Goodreads account. Miraculously, so do I! You can friend or follow me at my Goodreads Author Profile to see what I have coming out, what I’m reading, and reviews of whatever I actually manage to finish.

Finally, and maybe most usefully, Amazon actually lets you follow your favorite authors and will email you updates whenever they have a new release coming out. Never get caught off guard and miss a surprise sequel again. My Amazon page is here. Follow me, and while you’re there, it wouldn’t kill you to preorder STARSHIP REPO, coming from Tor Books in May. Trust me, it’s going to kick ass.

Anyway, that’s enough shameless self-promo for one day. Tomorrow I promise to put up a blog post half as self-serving, at a minimum. Thanks for swinging by, and don’t forget to spread the word on the socials.