Friday, November 17, 2017

The Blue Memory Hole of the Massachusetts State Police

Massachusetts State Police Col. Richard McKeon, left, and Deputy Superintendent Francis Hughes WBZ-TV, Massachusetts State Police

     The infamous memory hole of American law enforcement is as much a marvel to behold as what they hallucinate. From a self-perceived war on the police to nonexistent firearms, the mnemonic abilities of law enforcement is so susceptible to error, it's a wonder more cops aren't fired for unfitness for duty.
     Then there's the other law enforcement memory hole, which are deliberate omissions and using coercement to achieve an artificial memory hole to shield some powerful people and their own. One story reluctantly making the rounds of the shitty Massachusetts media is a reaffirmation that the original crime is never nearly as bad as the subsequent coverup. Watergate taught us that, as will Robert Mueller's Trump-Russia investigation.
     Our story into the lesions of law enforcement memories starts on October 16th with a simple crack-up on I-190 (the Mass Pike) in Worcester. The responding officer, one Trooper Ryan Sceviour, found a barely coherent 30 year-old woman under the influence of something powerful. She'd reeked of alcohol, failed several field sobriety tests and was yelling that her father was "a fucking judge and he's gonna kill me!" Then, after confessing to the Trooper that she'd performed oral sex on several men to feed her heroin addiction, she then offered him sex for leniency. The first of two BAC tests revealed a blood alcohol content of .224, three times over the legal limit. Syringes were spilling out of her totaled car.
     After her booking, Trooper Sceviour filled out what was supposed to be a routine arrest report stating the facts. He didn't believe her at first when she said her father was a judge until it came to light that she was Alli Bibaud, who's the daughter of Dudley District Judge Timothy Bibaud, who. ironically, presides over the drug court in Worcester.
     He learned that two days later when a superior from the Massachusetts State Police showed up at Sceviour's home and ordered him to drive 90 miles to he could falsify the arrest report and expunge from it any mention of sex. drugs or her father being a judge. He was told, furthermore, that the order came straight from the top: State Police Colonel Richard McKeon, then the head of the Massachusetts State Police. That's odd enough as it is, that the head of a state police force would personally get involved in a routine arrest report. He later found two voicemails, from a Lt. James Fogarty, bringing the total of high-ranking State Troopers involved in this conspiracy to at least three. And who's #3?
     When Sceviour arrived in Holden, he voiced his complaints and reservations aloud to his commander, Major Susan Anderson, head of the Holden barracks. So, while Col. McKeon may have ordered the falsification, it was Major Anderson who'd orchestrated it at the barracks level. He told his superior, "If this was some random person and not a judge's kid, none of this would be happening," with which she'd readily agreed before saying. "We all have bosses." Reluctantly, Sceviour rewrote the report under the proviso that he write "revised" on it. And that's when things started to spin out of control. It ought to be mentioned here that the sergeant who'd approved the original report was reprimanded for doing his job.      

     The story managed to fly under the radar for a while until it was picked up by some second-rate bomb thrower blogger named Turtle Boy here in central Massachusetts. But that was enough to get the ball rolling and the story was soon carried by WBZ, WBUR, CBS national and local, the Globe (albeit belatedly), and local right wing icon Howie Carr in the tabloid Boston Herald. By last Tuesday, Col. McKeon abruptly announced his retirement, prompting his Deputy, Lt. Col. Francis Hughes, to also turn in his credentials. It was the first time this had happened since 2004 during the virtually underreported Antone Wilson fiasco.
     A week and a half ago, Troopers Sceviour and Rei (a drug detection expert) sued the Massachusetts State Police in federal court (which means all the details will be made public). By the 14th, McKeon was out and his deputy a half a step behind him.
     There's an old saying in law enforcement: "If it's not in the report, it didn't happen." Until it does. Before his abrupt retirement, McKeon actually defended his ordering the arrest report to be rewritten, "citing his compassion for addicts and a desire to treat everyone with 'courtesy and respect'.” I guess his heart is especially tender toward the white, coddled, spoiled, drug-addicted spawn of city judges.
     There's no hard evidence that Judge Bibaud ordered his daughter's arrest report to be rewritten or even mentioned it to state police or justice officials. But it's difficult if not outright impossible to see why McKeon, a 31 year veteran, would put his career on the line by taking the initiative to do this on behalf of a judge and get other high-ranking State Troopers involved with the coverup.
     But, as is usual with federal cases, I've got a feeling this is just the tip of the iceberg and you can bet your ass I'm going to stay on top of this story.

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Good Cop, Bad Cops, Part 6

(By American Zen’s Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
(Disclaimer: The proprietor of this blog and Mr. Wilson have an ongoing years-long friendship, in which the former has benefited on several occasions by the generosity of the latter. However, that in no way, shape or form has influenced the blog owner’s decision to post a series of articles about his case nor the content of what is written below.)
Part Five

(Editor's note: During the course of this series about Trooper Antone Wilson's ordeal, I've relied heavily on his summarization of events, supplementing my narrative with not just my own twist but also some independent research. However, in wrapping up this series, I've decided to let Mr. Wilson have the final say on his own case, with some light editing and the placing of linkage by me.)

How did it come to this? When this twisted narrative began nearly 17 years ago, I had no idea it would consume my middle-age. I innately understood there might be reverberations. Any conflict between police agencies has the potential to metastasize but I couldn't fathom this result. I knew that I couldn't forward an initial complaint because my statement would bring about a point-by-point rebuttal that would shift all responsibility to me. More importantly I knew my "brothers" on the Massachusetts State Police would then use the counter-complaint as a basis for a disciplinary action. No, I had to suck it up and drive on. It really wasn't that big a deal.
     When the complaint against me was forwarded, I was surprised but, I suspected, that the Franklin Police would feel a need to get a preemptive counter-narrative on the record in anticipation of my complaint. What I didn't expect was three reports so poorly-written, disjointed and contradictory. No report agreed with an other report on any point of contention. When the state police internal affairs officers tried to imply, insultingly, that these fabricated narratives would be used to support disciplinary charges my response was outrage and disbelief. The reports and the officers' subsequent statements, if anything, implied that I was the victim. What troubled me the most as that my initial instincts were correct. I could not trust "my guys" to support me; and I thought knew why.  
     What I subsequently endured is referred to officially as a "malicious prosecution" though "railroaded" is a term more commonly used and understood. As the legal process progressed over the next few years,-that's right, years- I felt as if I was a passenger on a runaway train and I had no ability to stop, slow or get off the damned thing. The process is very formal and seemingly official but also very contrived. The Massachusetts State Police disciplinary procedure has been called a kangaroo court but to me it was more like Kabuki Theater. Of course, it didn't help that my appointed attorneys were working against me because of an egregious conflict of interest. I later reported that the hearing felt like a Harlem Globetrotters game. The fix was in and I was the Washington Generals.
     Being called to active duty almost immediately thereafter slowed my ability to get recourse. I  understood the implications of the case, a sloppy, ill-conceived conspiracy and cover-up that threatened to take down scores of affiliated police officials, attorneys and investigators. When I returned from active duty, approximately six years later, I made it clear that I intended to follow-up where I left off. The state police response was a refusal to reinstate me. I had enough time on the books to "retire", involuntarily, assuring a pension and medical benefits. Not satisfied to ride off into the sunset, I got a lawyer and readied for phase three. See you in court.
    Knowing what I knew and fully understanding the brotherhood of legal professionals, I suspected my attorney would try to spike this case as the others did. I tried to stay on top of things, when he'd take my calls, and assumed that, as long as I got no notice of case dismissal from the court, I was in good standing. If you, patient reader, have been following this case, you know how that phase ultimately turned out.
     When I contacted our intrepid blogger a few years back, I asked for his assistance in publicizing this twisted story. I had contacted the local press, spoon-feeding them case particulars and providing elaborate supporting documentation, and was twice rebuffed. I was confused. Despite my own training as a journalist (I subsequently changed my major to Criminal Justice), did I have a disjointed understanding of newsworthiness because I was personally involved in the tale? Flannigan quickly grasped the particulars of the narrative and determined that the case wasn't just newsworthy, it was "radioactive", so hot that the mainstream media in the interconnected world of Bay State "elites" would not touch it.
     He did not immediately get involved because he was wary of crossing the line from social commentary to investigative reporting. When he did finally decide to publish he insisted that he preface all posts with the caveat that I had provided him with financial contributions in the past. Indeed I had. From the time I first read his blog posts I couldn't understand how such a talented writer could produce such quality in relative obscurity. I believed, and I've told him so, that his talent is, at a minimum, equal to Lee "Rude Pundit" Papa and Esquire's Charlie Pierce. What I found fascinating, however, was that citizen bloggers hold themselves to an implied standard with an ethical bearing greater than every police official and attorney I've encountered in conjunction with this case. 
     One other thing; we have not examined a critical part of the case, the why- Because of blogger's ethic. Significantly it is the most fascinating, twisted and titillating part of the case. At the outset, Flannigan told me that "...a good looking woman is behind or in front of every scandal". My case is no exception. The glaring question that any reader should ask is, "...why did they go so hard after this guy?".
     I believe it was my support for a colleague, a female Trooper, who brought a sexual harassment complaint to court against a respected state police supervisor. That case was filed before my run-in with the Franklin Police. The facts surrounding that side story won't be examined and they don't really affect the overall narrative. But tellingly, Flannigan would not go with any part of the story that he could not verify from the source. I tried to contact her (she has since retired), but I suspect she does not want to relive a such a painful period. We didn't press her for a response and the decision was made to work around it. It is also the juiciest part of a very juicy story. Hopefully it will eventually be disclosed.(Editor's note: Sexual harassment and discrimination within the clannish Massachusetts State Police is a more endemic and systemic problem than most realize.)
     Since my "retirement", I've worked as a private security contractor, an Emergency Medical Technician and served several tours on active military (Army) duty. In 2016 I did a year-long deployment to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba as a Military Policeman. I recently completed an extended tour as a Drill Sergeant, at Fort Benning, Georgia. Thank heavens for the Army. It has helped keep me grounded. I've argued that I have no debilitating psychological effect from this case but I there is residual. I find it intolerable that I have been dishonored by so many dishonorable men. Nevertheless, I understand that most of the affiliated elements are merely forced into cover-up mode after compromising themselves so thoroughly. Tell one lie and you are forced to pile deception upon deception to maintain it. Right? Mama wasn't wrong.
     As this goes to cyberspace the Massachusetts State Police are again involved in a major scandal that involves police officials, attorneys and judges. As in my case, the Colonel-Superintendent and his deputy were forced to resign. A sitting judge figures prominently in this case, as in mine, and I suspect  more "retirements" are on the way. As I no longer reside in Massachusetts, Flannigan is my eyes and ears back home. He reports that the case, despite its gravity, did  not initially get the spotlight that one might expect for a major scandal. As I suspected, the local media is wary of digging too deeply when the criminal justice system is being scrutinized. Still, they are reporting something and I think I know why.
     Most stories don't get any traction until a dedicated attorney introduces it into the legal system. At that point the complainant has a credible spokesperson and case particulars have an "air of legitimacy". Additionally, it is now a public record. The Troopers exposing the current scandal are strongly supported by the union. The union worked against me at every juncture. My case is predicated on gross legal misconduct so I've had difficulty getting a dedicated attorney who will take on and expose an inbred legal community. No lawyer, no press! Since the media wouldn't bite Flannigan took it upon himself to make the story go viral; "...if the fourth estate won't push it, we'll try the fifth estate". 
     As the news media becomes increasingly co-opted and irrelevant, the blogosphere is, thankfully, stepping up to fill the gap. The goal then is a reversal of the typical procedure. Get the story out and with publication and circulation we can get an attorney or legal assistance organization to represent us. What we need is an aggressive muckraker to get off their ass and knock on some doors and an attorney with the persistence of an ambulance chaser. What they'll find is a story that is very atypical. It is not merely about sexual harassment or even gender and racial discrimination. Members of the Minority Trooper's association were instrumental in maintaining this cover-up. No, this case is much more complex and nuanced. But, for all its phases and plot twists it is, at heart, a wrongful termination of an Army Reservist whose mobilization was used against him in furtherance of a conspiracy and cover-up. Thank you for your service, indeed. Our goal, then, is to get the story out and then let a case develop from there and, hopefully, legal resolution. 
     Sunshine is, indeed, the best disinfectant.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Good Cop, Bad Cops Pt 5

(By American Zen’s Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
(Disclaimer: The proprietor of this blog and Mr. Wilson have an ongoing years-long friendship, in which the former has benefited on several occasions by the generosity of the latter. However, that in no way, shape or form has influenced the blog owner’s decision to post a series of articles about his case nor the content of what is written below.)

When we left off at part four, our long-suffering hero, former Massachusetts State Trooper Antone Wilson, was saddled with his fourth consecutive incompetent and/or duplicitous attorney. To get you back up to speed without making you tread over old ground, Manoff had agreed to be Wilson's attorney for a $10,000 retainer, announced he was to try the case in federal court before subsequently announcing it would be tried in state court, after all. Then Manoff got suspended by the MA Board of Bar Overseers for, ostensibly, accounting irregularities but continued begging Wilson to retain him despite being unable to legally represent him as an attorney.
     Now that you've had your faith in those in the legal profession restored, let's continue.
     After Wilson had agreed to communicate with Manoff by email out of deference to his convenience, Manoff then became more slippery than a Trump son's hair. When he was able to reach him during the times Manoff wasn't screening his calls, he was told the case still hadn't moved and to call back in a month. Now, at this point in time, Wilson was submitting to a periodic background check from the DoD in order to maintain his Top Secret Security Clearance. Per Army regulations, he was compelled to report all pending legal action by or against him to the Department of Defense. Still trusting his attorney, Wilson gave the Army investigator Manoff's contact information in the belief he would make a good character witness who'd deny any wrongdoing on Wilson's part.
      He then left a voice mail with Manoff to give him a heads-up that he'd be contacted by the Army to vouch for his character. Then, in the reverse of the myth of the Christmas Miracle, Wilson contacted Manoff again on December 24th 2013 only to be informed the case had been dismissed. Why? Well, these legal thingies often come with deadlines, you see, and Manoff told him he'd failed to submit the interrogatories the MA State Police had requested... in 2011.
     As you can expect, Constant Reader, the conversation kind of went downhill from that point on. Manoff's answers were vague and deceptive, wouldn't give his client the dismissal date and then essentially hung up on him. It's also worth noting that, as Manoff had failed to do, the Suffolk Superior Court never notified Wilson that his case had been dismissed two years earlier. Merry Christmas, sucker. Nice doing business with you.

The Fat Cat with 90 Lives
In case you think that's hyperbole, let's recount what Manoff had gotten away with during this time in his life and career- Instead of erring on the side of caution for the sake of his misguided clients, Manoff had taken Antone Wilson's case while he was still being investigated by the MA Board of Bar Overseers. After having personally spoken with Mr. Wilson, I know for a fact that Manoff had never told him about his prior suspension from the California Board of Bar Overseers (It came as a surprise to him last month). In the subsequent investigation by the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers, Manoff should have been suspended, according to the Board's investigators, and, in Wilson’ words, over "the strenuous objection of the case prosecutors," was permitted to continue practicing law and get $8,000 from Wilson to essentially spike what should have been a federal case that never even got tried in state superior court.
     Keep in mind that in the course of this necessarily telescoped overview and summary of Wilson's trials-that-were-not-to-be and tribulations, going on 14 years had passed since the initial incident in Franklin, MA that had started the ball rolling. When one looks at Manoff's actions (or inactions) with the aid of some 20-10 hindsight, it becomes all but obvious that he'd spiked the case and had determined to do so almost from the gitgo despite accepting eight large from him, perceivably with the assistance of the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers.
     With Manoff now thankfully out of his beleaguered life, Wilson then attempted to have his case re-litigated in 2014.You would think that getting an ambulance chaser such as Manoff out of his life would earn him a reprieve from the legal Twilight Zone to which he'd been consigned all these years but there you'd be wrong.
     When Antone Wilson began reaching out to various attorneys and offered a retainer, every single one had refused to touch the case or even to give him advice as to how to proceed. Yes, lawyers said his money was no good and his case was even worse. Now, Massachusetts law states that a case that had been dismissed for lack of requested documentation may be reinstated for up to a year after dismissal, yet Manoff never made the slightest attempt to do so. As if Wilson needed further proof that this clown got his law degree out of a Walmart vending machine, this proof of his duplicity was it.
     By now, word had spread throughout the Bay State like a sewer gas leak that Wilson and his case were radioactive. Let's keep one fact in mind: War criminals get attorneys. Serial killers get attorneys. Terrorists get attorneys. Mob bosses get attorneys. Antone Wilson? Couldn't get a shyster to even give him free advice even when he waved money under their snouts. Let that sink for a moment.

The "C" Word
Get your minds out of the gutter. I meant the other "C" word- Conspiracy. I don't use it lightly, if at all. It smells of Alex Jones' permanently sweaty armpits and soggy mimeographed broadsides printed in a basement with purple ink. The very word "conspiracy", as with "liberal", "self-published books" and "pit bulls" has been given a bad rap, smeared with a wide brush by people who have a vested interest in appending negative connotations to certain things, which in itself is akin to a conspiracy.
     However, it had become obvious to Wilson that there was active collusion carried out between the MA State Police, certain law firms and individual attorneys and several other important factions stretching all the way to the highest levels of Beacon Hill to keep Antone Wilson's case from going to trial. By 2014, it'd had over 13 years to percolate into a toxic brew to which anyone with a pension and/or a career to protect had grown intensely averse. This collusion also included, if you'll remember, the law firm of Timothy Burke, Finneran, Byrne and Drechsler and even the MA Board of Bar Overseers that had given Burke one pass after another.
     It should be posited, while it cannot be absolutely proven beyond any legal standard of doubt, that the Board of Bar Overseers stands to lose the most on account of this complicity with the initial complaint against Burke and Drechsler,  Wilson's former attorneys. In case you've forgotten, Wilson's appointed-without his prior permission-law firm counted among its partners Thomas Finneran. Finneran, again, was Beacon Hill's Speaker of the House and, on the recommendation of that same BBO, was disbarred by the Massachusetts State Supreme Court for federal obstruction of justice charges.
     And as much as the Board provides a necessary check and balance to attorneys within the Commonwealth and compelling them to act in an ethical manner, they also have the potential to be a force for less than noble motivations. That includes exerting pressure on otherwise ethical attorneys to shy away from cases as radioactive as Wilson's. Again, in spite of being ethically challenged, Manoff had begun to aggressively pursue the case, even aiming for federal court until suddenly running out of gas and doing nothing. Having pressure put to bear on him by the same BBO who were even then investigating him at the time he accepted the case would certainly explain his abrupt about face on the matter. And Wilson, it ought to be remembered, never told Manoff about his past attorney troubles or the BBO.
     And when one applies a bird's eye mentality as I have done with this case, there appear so many dots that they no longer beg to be connected. There are so many, in fact, that, like the pixels on a TV screen or monitor, they begin to form a picture. And several powerful entities within the legal and law enforcement community, while not necessarily working in direct concert with one another, nonetheless were working toward a common goal- To keep Trooper Antone Wilson's case from being heard in state and federal court.
     In the next and final installment of this special series, I'll summarize this collusion and current activity of this case.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Jeff Bezos' Latest Swindle

     I admit, I'm a little late to the Halloween Party. I say Halloween because this Night of Long Knives against indie authors quietly took place on Halloween night. Here's what happened.
     Apparently, some avaricious executive douchebags sitting in an office in Amazon's HQ in Seattle got a bright idea- They didn't feel like being cut out of a significant source of revenue through the Createspace estore. Now, as anyone who knows anything about today's publishing, Createspace is a wholly owned subsidiary of Amazon, which means they can pretty much change whatever the fuck they want with Createspace. So here's what they did on Halloween night:
     With very little if any fanfare, Amazon decided to do away with Createspace's estore. That means you cannot buy CS paperbacks through their site, anymore. Createspace will still publish the books, they just won't sell them, anymore. Sounds like an idiotic business plan, I know. But, as is always the case with the cocksucker sons and daughters of Jeff fucking Bezos, there's a method to their madness.
     By phasing out the Createspace estore, they're essentially forcing indie authors to sell their paperbacks on the domain so they can take out their bloated 40% distribution fee (for a book with which Amazon had no direct involvement whatsoever), plus a bloated shipping and handling fee that everyone knows doesn't all go toward shipping.
     This essentially removes any control over how and where we market our paperbacks, including those of us (like me) who'd pulled our paperbacks off Amazon's site and sold them exclusively through the estore. So what's the difference to us? About 50% less in royalties. Let me explain:
     A couple of years ago, I sold a copy of my novel, AMERICAN ZEN, when someone bought it off Amazion's site rather than through the CS estore. It has and still has a list price of $7.99. When I got my royalty statement that month, I found out I had been paid a thin dollar for that sale. I called up Createspace and asked why my royalty was so low. The guy told me it was because Amazon excises a 40% distribution fee on paperbacks bought through their own site (it's buried, of course, in the fine print of the contract they count on no one reading.).
     Within days, I pulled all my paperbacks off Amazon's site and that's when I began diverting readers to the Createspace estore where my royalties, while not princely, were at least 100% higher. In other words, if I sold AZ through Amazon, I'd get a measly buck. If I sold it through Createspace, my royalty would be two bucks because the only primary cost that had to be met, the overhead charges, were already absorbed into the price point.
     Now, Createspace and Amazon are diverting our paperbacks to the latter's site one at a time, effectively removing any little control we may've had as regards where we sell and how much we can charge for our work. In other words, Jeff Bezos found another way to steal money from authors. As if paying Kindle authors by the page wasn't bad enough.
     I've sent out feelers all through the writers' community on Facebook and plan to do the same thing soon on Twitter and even though this happened nearly two weeks ago, other authors are finding out about this through me. I've been especially keeping in close touch with one of my FB author friends who feels the same way about this as I and many other writers do. In fact, I'd diverted him to Barry Eisler, who's been pissing off the publishing establishment for years as both a bestselling author and as an intellectual property rights attorney.
     Now, I know Eisler's part of that establishment but the only reason he broke his own vow to hire a literary agent was when he married one, Laura Rennart. Barry and I even talked about this last winter. But while he may part of this establishment, it also ought to be remembered that about four and a half years ago Barry pissed off just about every literary agent in the universe for simply saying the only worthwhile thing Big Publishing can offer the indie author is expanded distribution and advertising and that was about it.
     You'd think those facts even back when he'd said them at Pike's Peak in 2013 would've been self-evident. We're seriously thinking of launching a class action lawsuit against this rapacious, self-dealing monopoly known as Amazon. because I can absolutely guran-fucking-tee you not a single author who's ever published a book through Createspace signed up for this shit. They've found a new way to steal our royalties and hijack our books and stick them on their site at a price they get to decide and pay us the dogshit leftovers. Either that, or forcing us to raise our price points so they're no longer competitive.
     So if by any chance you've published a book through Createspace and are now finding your old product pages gone, this is why. Contact me either through this blog or through the email address in my Blogger profile if you want a piece of this class action lawsuit against Jeff fucking Bezos and his undeclared monopoly Amazon.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Empty Podium

"Sooner or later the whole damn world's going to know, anyway. The NatLamp's washed up. That's right. We're finished. Fresh out of ideas. Empty. Barren. Bumed out. And there's nothing left. Zip. Zilch. Zero. The square root of sweet fuck all." - National Lampoon, 1974
(By American Zen’s Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari)
The Republican Party's in deep shit.
     That should come as no surprise to anyone who's followed the slime trail of the assclowns who'd given us Watergate, one deficit after another culminating with the Wall Street crash of '08, a major multi-pronged terror attack, the revocation of our civil liberties, multi trillion dollar wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan and a massive raft of other scandals that would've sunk much smaller nations.
     The problem is that the Republican Party can't even steal elections, any more, one of the very few things at which the GOP's excelled since 2000. And last Tuesday's pre-midterm elections in several states proved that. Virginia and New Jersey have new Democratic Governors-elect. The state Congresses in New Jersey and Washington State are now firmly in the hands of Democrats. And, most promisingly, perhaps 17 delegate seats changed hands from red to blue in Virginia. One of them was Danica Roem, the first transgender candidate to win statewide office by beating a 26 year Republican incumbent. (Roem, by the way, was just one of three transgender candidates to win seats last Tuesday).
     Even the reliably right wing Wall Street Journal had to face the music and then dance to it when their own analysis was entitled, "The Anti-Trump Wave." And that's a key phrase to remember because there were so many Democrats winning so many seats in so many states, it can't be considered a fluke. This is the first wave in a sea change that's making Republicans protectively grip the armrests of their once-secure seats. It remains to be seen if Democrats can continue riding the wave or falling off and getting lost in the foam as establishment Democrats are wont to do.
     Earlier this year, things weren't looking so rosy. Democrats went a disparaging 0-4 in special elections, most notably in Montana when a right wing psychopath who'd body-slammed a reporter the day before election day still won (thanks largely to Montana's generous early voting laws). And, the most crushing defeat was the loss of Jon Ossoff in Georgia's 6th district to Karen Handel (thanks largely to some disappeared data in Georgia and stolen voting machines, but that's grist for another mill). Trump still had that new president smell and the districts up for grabs were reliably red ones.
     But then there was a rumble. Accused child molester Roy Moore, the disgraced party hack who pulled a gun at a campaign rally and was fired not once but twice from his position as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, beat Luther Strange in the GOP runoff. The problem with that is that Strange was Trump's boy and got thumped by a guy who had no business holding elected office. No problem, Trump said, I"ll support Moore but it was Strange's fault that he lost.
     And then Tuesday came.

Virginia is For Lovers of Democracy
It's the end of the noxious adversarial Christie era in New Jersey. His political career now resembling the smoldering remains of the Hindenburg, Christie hasn't enough political capital to shut down a taco truck let alone the George Washington Bridge. His legacy was so toxic, his Lt. Governor, Kim Guadagno, was crushed by Phil Murphy, a multimillionaire Goldman Sachs executive just because of her proximity to Christie in Trenton.
     By far, the most interesting results were in Virginia, once a Republican stronghold and now rapidly turning into a blue state that doesn't even qualify for its own battleground status. Another Lt. Governor, Ralph Northam, had a considerably better night than his counterpart in NJ. He beat former RNC chair and lobbyist Ed Gillespie by 9 points. The problem with that is that Gillespie was also Trump's boy. But, hey, no problem. Trump said on Twitter, “Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for. Don’t forget, Republicans won 4 out of 4 House seats, and with the economy doing record numbers, we will continue to win, even bigger than before!”
     In other words, "I blame Gillespie like I blamed Strange." Trump crowing about winning four out of four House seats in the aforementioned runoff elections happened months ago, which is a century in political terms. The Big Brother-style boilerplate from Trump in that tweet smells of flop sweat and even a fucking moron like him is barely smart enough to read the tea leaves when they're slowly spread out for him by others who actually know how to read them. "Continue to win, even bigger than before"? It's likelier that Thomas Jefferson will make a political comeback.
     Since then, those who'd voted for Trump have had time to take stock of what's happened in the first nine and a half months of this administration- We're perilously close to war with North Korea, confidence abroad in American leadership has plummeted from 64% to 22%, Trump's own approval numbers are in the 20's no matter who you ask, not one major piece of legislation had been passed, no health care replacement, no budget, key spots in the State Dept and elsewhere remain unfilled on purpose and Trump and his family have long since bankrupted the Secret Service because of his endless vacations and offspring's business deals.
     Oh yeah, and that Russia thingie that so far had produced two criminal indictments and a criminal guilty plea.
     Gillespie lost not because he didn't embrace Trump and his policies but because he did. With Charlottesville still a fresh, raw, bleeding memory, Gillespie thought he could appeal to the red meat base that'd voted for Trump last year without invoking his name. The former RNC chair led a virulently racist campaign that, while never once mentioning Trump, carried on his shoulder the largest planks of Trump's platform- Race and immigration. And the voters of Virginia recoiled, especially in the urban, white collar, college-educated sections of northern Virginia.

But Before You Break Out the Boone's Farm Wine...
Please consider this:
     While the delegate races won by Democrats involved some fresh faces such as Danica Roem and Chris Hurst, whose girlfriend, TV journalist Alison Parker, was shot to death on the air along with her cameraman two years ago, beat Republican incumbent Joe Yost. Roem defeated a 26 year incumbent who refused to even debate her and refer to her as "she." These are but two of the young delegates occupying Virginia's state government to whom Bernie Sanders had appealed last year to get involved in politics.
     And, yes, Maine became the first state to expand Medicaid expansion and Manchester, NH elected a Democratic mayor.
     But, aside from the obvious nod to Bernie Sanders in those bright-eyed, bushy-tailed young delegates winning seats, Ralph Northam still voted for George W. Bush twice and is considered, at best, a moderate. In other words, he's a centrist in the mold of Hillary and Obama. His victory over a perennial loser such as Gillespie was hardly surprising considering this is the same state that recently saw the loss of Eric Cantor's primary loss against a political Tea Bagger amateur named Dave Brat (essentially, the Buster Douglas of politics). 
     The NYT, predictably, calls this "pragmatism wins over purity," as if calling for a $15 an hour minimum wage is as untenable and radioactive as Uranium 235. Those same people who'd answered Sanders' call to arms also saw one of their own go down earlier this year at the hands of Northam, another dull, dreary candidate who's about as exciting as an unconscious Tim Kaine.
     And then there's the case of Phil Murphy, a guy with a resume that ordinarily would be toxic to any blue state voter base: A multimillionaire alumnus of Goldman Sachs, the very same Wall Street criminal enterprise that more than any other inspired the Occupy movement, handily beat a candidate who was dead in the water.
     And when you read those liberal tea leaves, it doesn't add up to much good news for true progressives who'd repudiated Clinton's rancid neoliberal, Republican-lite policies. Save for a handful of bright eager young faces in Virginia, many of the people who won spots in several states last Tuesday were just party hacks from the Democratic mainstream that still had not learned its lessons from Election night one year ago yesterday.
     So, it's basically, What do you want first? The bad news or the not so bad news? I just gave you the bad news: Tammany Hall 2.0 and its diehard voters have not gotten a bit smarter since election day last year. And the not so bad news is that a bunch of right wing hacks lost their seats and that that should absolutely be seen as a bellwether for the GOP in the midterms a year from now.
      Fortunately, Republicans are as cowardly and furtive as ever. Bob Marshall refused to debate Danica Roem. Roy Moore refuses to debate his opponent Doug Jones. So, with Trump expanding his clown show to Asia and tweeting from 35,000 feet in, even for him, an unusually delusional manner, means the empty podium is more than just a metaphor.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

They Took a Thumpin'

     Many of you may remember the 2006 midterms. Republicans took such a bitch beat-down that Donald Rumsfeld lost his job as SecDef the very next day and, realizing the neocon party was over, a somber Bush said, "We took a thumpin'."
     I give you last night's local election results.
     I honestly don't think it's a stretch to give Bernie Sanders credit for what happened last night. After all, his campaign opened a lot of eyes and ears. He encouraged political neophytes to get involved in politics. And some of them won in VA, among other places. Not Tammany Hall 2.0 machine Democrats, young, wide-eyed people with fresh ideas. Democrats now control state legislatures in New Jersey and Washington State and we won key Governorships. You largely have Bernie to thank for that. Not Hillary. Bernie. Say thank you to Bernie.
     Last night was absolutely a referendum on Trump and his rancid policies. If last night doesn't energize the progressive base, nothing will. Later tonight, I'll give a comprehensive overview of last night's election results. Until then, bask in the glory.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Oh, That Explains it

     Just since the Charleston AME shooting in 2015, more people have died in church at the hands of white Christian terrorists than those at the hands of Muslim terrorists in airports, sports stadiums, courthouses, high schools and where ever else we've bunched up our security apparatus. In fact, it could be plausibly argued toddlers had killed more people in 2015 than Muslim terrorists. It seems we have our priorities ass backwards. Since the Port Arthur mass shooting in Australia in 1996 that killed 35, their ultra conservative government led by John Howard imposed a ban on all semi automatic rifles and pump action shotguns. 
     Since then, Australia has not had one mass shooting. Not. One. Meanwhile, the United States is a nation that's grown disturbingly comfortable with or at least resigned to a mass shooting involving three or more people literally every day and then some this year (In 2013 alone, 33,636 American lives were lost due to gun violence- That's at least 11 or 12 9/11s.). Let me put it in even more merciless perspective-
     Since Las Vegas, the deadliest mass shooting in US history (which was just over a month ago), the United States has seen 40 mass shootings involving at least four casualties, according to the Mass Shooting Tracker. 40 in the last month. And very few of them made the national news. Yesterday's slaughter in Sutherland Springs, Texas that caused 26 deaths and 20 injuries was already the 378th such mass shooting. You would think by now we'd know who the Usual Suspects are.
     So who do we go after, instead? Muslim refugees fleeing a war zone in Syria. Sanctuary cities. The only reason anyone went after that white terrorist Devin Kelley was because right wing conspiracy theorists tried to tie him to Antifa. Which is a new low even by right wing standards.
     The NRA, the terrorist organization masquerading as a gun owner's lobby when, in fact, they're a gun manufacturer's lobby, shelled out just last year alone $2,059,129 to the top 20 lawmaking recipients (an average of $102,956.45 to each scumbag) who just all happen to be Republican. And look who's at the top of the list- Ted Cruz, a creepy scumbag only a spittle-flecked, gold-digging twat out of Tiberias, Israel could love, the junior senator of the state that just became the latest pin on a map already coated with little red pushpins delineating all the mass shootings we've had so far in 2017.
     To judge by those that have so many ears and eyes, including our Congress (the GOP is eyeing a health "care" bill slashing $1 trillion in Medicare and Medicaid funding, some of it for mental health. Plus, don't forget, late last February Trump and the NRA's temp employees in Congress very quietly  lifted restrictions on the mentally ill getting firearms, meaning his insistence on blaming the Texas massacre on mental illness is brazen even by his standards), we are indisputably the stupidest fucking nation on the planet earth.
     Think I'm being too harsh or abstract?

      Look again who we elected a year ago as the most powerful man in the free world, a degenerate rube who audaciously blamed mental health as the cause for the #TexasChurchMassacre, So can we please stop pretending "thoughts and prayers" are going to make this national epidemic go away? I think there was enough praying going on at that Baptist church in South Texas yesterday and look where that got them.

KindleindaWind, my writing blog.

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