Monday, January 23, 2017

It Did Happen Here

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari Goldstein)
My one ambition is to get all Americans to realize that they are, and must continue to be, the greatest Race on the face of this old Earth, and second, to realize that whatever apparent differences there may be among us, in wealth, knowledge, skill, ancestry or strength–though, of course, all this does not apply to people who are racially different from us–we are all brothers, bound together in the great and wonderful bond of National Unity, for which we should all be very glad. -
Senator Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip, It Can't Happen Here

Literature can be deceptive in its efficacy, its occasional bent toward prophecy. At times, we're often unaware for decades at a time how truly clairvoyant its authors are. Then, before we know it, their nightmarish dystopian visions ossify into reality and we're caught with our pants down and bent over a barrel. We experienced much the same thing in the 80's under Reagan, although the alarmist comparisons to George Orwell's 1984 were just that- alarmist, not even rising to the level of the premature. While Ronald Reagan was a horrible president for anyone in the 99%, he was certainly no Big Brother.
     However, what are we to make of Donald Trump and the sudden comparisons he invites to Sinclair Lewis's work, It Can't Happen Here (Possibly the greatest book by a Nobel Literature Laureate)? First, in order to fully appreciate the eerie parallels between Lewis's nightmarish vision and what we're seeing today, we need historical context. And with Trump, we need to  re-examine the Nobel Laureate's 1935 novel and briefly study the political and social conditions of the 1930's.
     While I won't belabor the realities of the Great Depression, which everyone knows about, there was an undercurrent of resentment against the status quo that had been presided over by the Republican Party until FDR's election in 1932. Revolution and Communism were looking pretty good when the New York millionaire took the reins of power. In fact, Communism was looking so appealing that anything Russian in the 1930's grew in popularity. As one example of this- When an unknown, middle-aged English actor named William Henry Pratt starred in a horror movie named Frankenstein in 1931, Universal Studios cynically renamed him Boris Karloff and he never looked back.
     Of course, in Lewis's masterpiece of political prophecy, the American voter went to the other end of the political spectrum and voted for a cryptofascist Senator named Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip. For unknowable and inexplicable reasons, Lewis cast his protagonist as a Democrat. At the 1936 convention, he wins the nomination when President Roosevelt and Senator Walt Trowbridge split the reasonable vote, essentially dooming the fictional FDR to one term status.
     As with Trump, and many other factual presidential candidates, Windrip drove his campaign with a book entitled, "Zero Hour." And this appealed to a core of disaffected, disenfranchised white laborers, exactly the constituency Hitler mobilized in his own quest for power in 1932 that paralleled FDR's. Don't forget, by 1935, when Lewis had first published his book, FDR's New Deal hadn't been entirely implemented. In fact, the Supreme Court ruled much of the New Deal unconstitutional by 1937. Of course, this was at the start of FDR's second term. In Lewis's book, this hadn't happened yet and a series of challenges in federal court had rendered much of the New Deal null and void. The unemployment rate was easily in double digits and many people, understandably, were still antsy about their future prospects.
     "Buzz" Windrip, who promises prosperity, guarantees $5000 a year for every working man and national strength, assembles a paramilitary goon squad around him similar to the one Trump had cobbled together on the campaign trail last year. (In an eerie prescience of Trump's signature campaign promise to keep Mexicans out of the US, Windrip's own thugs are called "Minute Men.") In another presaging of Trump (as well as Obama, Bush and many presidents before them), they quickly outlaw dissent. Women's and minority rights are sharply curtailed. The government swiftly turns into a corporatocracy. The stage has been set and fascism comes to America. But has it happened here, for real, already?
The First Hundred Zero Hours
An honest propagandist for any Cause, that is, one who honestly studies and figures out the most effective way of putting over his Message, will learn fairly early that it is not fair to ordinary folks — it just confuses them — to try to make them swallow all the true facts that would be suitable to a higher class of people. And one seemingly small but almighty important point he learns, if he does much speechifying, is that you can win over folks to your point of view much better in the evening, when they are tired out from work and not so likely to resist you, than at any other time of day. -Zero Hour, Berzelius Windrip
In a shocking reversal of the lazy, self-indulgent, self-destructive Trump campaign and transition, the nanosecond Trump took the reins of power, as the heavens spat rain upon him, things began moving with dizzying speed. The day after the inauguration, Trump made an unusual trip to CIA Headquarters in Langley and almost immediately suspended his intent for being there to yell at the media for accurately reporting his inauguration crowd wasn't as big as Obama's in 2009 and 2013. And he had the nerve to do before the Memorial Wall for CIA officers who had lost their lives in the line of duty. Yes, he was doing the hand thing again.
     That same day, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer introduced himself to the press by literally yelling at them over this trivial and easily provable fact- That Trump had not drawn the same size crowds or TV ratings as the 44th President. The day after that, Kellyanne Conway sparred with Chuck Todd and claimed that what Spicer had provided were "alternative facts", a phrase that would make even Frank Luntz's head spin (as well as George Orwell's and Sinclair Lewis's.).
    As several dystopian antifascist works inform us, totalitarian regimes, especially far right movements, hold intellect and erudition in complete contempt for the very reason that such qualities are able to see through their confidence games and can alert the populace. The intelligentsia, after all, is a great breeding ground for political opposition movements. Realizing that would leave a suspicious dearth in the brain pool, such governments then supplant the real intelligentsia for one of their fabrication (usually after successfully marginalizing or liquidating the actual one). Such movements give us “intellects” such as George Will and William F. Buckley.
    The first order of business is to co-opt the truth and try to convince the populace that they own it and the facts (Remember Trump’s recent insistence that he knew things we didn’t regarding his campaign’s ties to the Russian government?). Essentially, this boils down to the famous Richard Pryor line, "Who ya gonna believe, baby? Me or your lyin' eyes?"

     This contempt for the intelligentsia, all the way down to the basic intelligence of the populace and even provable albeit embarrassing facts (such as the size of the inauguration crowd on Friday) can range from the ridiculous to the sublime (In Trump's case, always the ridiculous.). Right wing strong men like Trump blatantly lie so many times and about so many things even the most industrious journalist is hard-pressed to keep track of them. A prime example is when Trump said last July that he had no ties whatsoever to Russia, financial or otherwise. Yet a NY Times exposé proved "millions of transactions" between Trump and Russia in real estate deals. And if you don't want to believe the Gray Lady, then Donald Trump, Jr put the kibosh to his own father's lie nine years ago.
     We see this arrogant co-opting of the so-called facts (alternative or otherwise) in every presidential administration. But seldom if ever have we seen such breathtaking arrogance and easily provable chicanery with the new administration led by a man who can't tell the truth except accidentally.

The Corpo

They were the Idealists of Corpoism, and there were plenty of them, along with the bullies and swindlers; they were the men and women who, in 1935 and 1936, had turned to Windrip & Co., not as perfect, but as the most probable saviors of the country from, on one hand, domination by Moscow and... making America a land for sterner men to loot. - Sinclair Lewis, It Can't Happen Here
And in order to fool a gullible, scared and/or angry voting public into accepting and even supporting every measure designed to keep them in a state of indentured servitude, you need to co-opt the truth and the facts as you choose to see and present them. In Lewis's novel, the new 15 plank government under President Windrip is called the Corpo government. Either by accident or a deliberate co-opting of the word, the very word "corpo" appears to describe and define Donald Trump to a tee, at least according to the Urban Dictionary.
     As stated, this fictional fascist government wasted no time in severely cutting back women's and minority rights as surely as Trump put himself on the map with his jeremiads about Mexican rapists and criminals and his misogynistic worldview on women. But, in keeping with Hitler's own fascist government, Windrip's administration leaps into bed with corporations like the kind that had actually tried to mobilize a fascist corporate cabal under the stewardship of one Prescott Bush in the earliest days of FDR's administration.
     Proof of this is the very fact that Donald Trump's Cabinet picks are worth an estimated $14.5 billion, people whose lifelong agendas is to take away everything necessary to a free, Democratic industrialized nation from affordable health care, public schools, Social Security and a living wage. In other words, Trump's "most probable saviors" who will save us from ourselves and silly notions about liberal progress.
     Indeed, the very first thing the Trump administration did was to axe an FHA prohibition on increases in insurance rates enacted by the Obama administration. Later that day, he signed as his first executive order one that promised to "ease the burdens of Obamacare", although that's not its official name nor was the gesture more than a ceremonial one.  While Trump's ridiculous grandstanding will mean nothing in the short term, it can certainly be viewed as one that's the harbinger of things to come.
     And as with Trump and so many other Republicans, Windrip also appealed to evangelicals and the eternally scared with his boilerplate about the role of Christian religion and a strong military presence. Compare that to Trump's deceptively bland, listless inaugural speech in which he invoked the military and law enforcement to keep order over our "carnage" plagued nation.
     As Trump's administration isn't even 100 hours old, it bears continued study, this book that saw Trump coming 82 years ago. We're still a ways from Naomi Wolf's 10 steps of fascism made easy to spot from a decade ago (as far as I'm aware, Trump hasn't gotten around to making gulags yet, unless he'll outsource that in economic ways to his own Corpo Cabinet). And while the long night is still young, we must remember these things happen in stages and we must remain ever vigilant to these gradients as they begin to come true.

Good Times at Gotham City, 1/23/17

Saturday, January 21, 2017

"People of Gotham..."

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari Goldstein)
For those of you who were too busy bolstering the market share of the liquor industry yesterday, we have a new President. His name is Donald J. Trump but some would call him Bane. In fact, in case you hadn't noted the masthead, the proprietor of this blog had decided to change the name of it for reasons I'll delve into in a minute. In fact, in October last year, he'd tried to warn you of the rise of this Batman villain but, as usual, no one listened.
     I was forced to listen to the whole thing because that's my job but let me save you some time in case your hangovers won't allow you to listen to more than a few words without abruptly having to sing in your little porcelain amphitheater: Trump had just thrown the transcripts of his campaign speeches into a blender, set it on puree, then let a brain-damaged capuchin assemble the bits at random. The result was something that would've made Sarah Palin sound like Margarets Meade or Fuller on a good day.

     It was meant as a dog whistle to the law enforcement apparatus that was already in the process of arresting 217 protesters. Twitter had also suspended the account of the National Park Service that oversees the National Mall for simply retweeting the dramatic difference of the size of the crowds between 2009 and yesterday's. It was also intended for the benefit of the few goobers who'd decided to attend after faithfully voting against their own interests. And, lest you think the comparison between Mr. Obama's inauguration and Trump's is misleading or that the 2017 photo was taken before everyone showed up, let me offer up this telling image after the presidential limousine hit the parade route:

     Or this...
     Of course, all the networks save for NBC were keeping the shots tight while Trump and Pence lumbered through their mile-long victory lap on Pennsylvania Ave. I guess the camera, far from adding 20 pounds, subtracts hundreds of thousands from inaugurals.
     But, more important than the pathetic spectacle of hundreds of thousands of Beltway voters boycotting what is still a historic event was what the Oaf of Office said after taking the Oath of Office (emphasis mine):
“Today, we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another. But we are transferring power from Washington, DC, and giving it back to you, the people… The establishment protected itself but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs.”
     Let's compare that to Bane's speech as he takes over Gotham City:

“We take Gotham from the corrupt! The rich! The oppressors of generations who have kept you down with myths of opportunity, and we give it back to you … the people.”
     And the peasants rejoiced despite Trump filling his Cabinet with oligarchs who are worth a combined total of $14.5 billion.

We are all Barron Trump
     After land Baron Trump warmed the cloudy, cold skies with his hot air, Barron Trump was caught having this juvenile moment, as if he, too, couldn't believe what was happening to our country. Out of the mouths, and hands, of babes. Earlier, his mother Melania had to tell him to stop fidgeting with his cell phone. He also refused to hold her hand and was caught yawning during his father's oath of office.
     Meanwhile, George W. Bush did what George W. Bush does and fought a losing war against an inanimate object, to Dick Cheney's secret delight:

     I guess the rebel poncho was a Mexican plot and we'll be on the hook for another wall to back up the first wall that's already largely in place. Yes, children younger than 10 years of age- This walking brain stem led the Free World for eight years.
     At any rate, Bush's senior moment occurring at the same exact time former President Obama strained to project some dignity served as the perfect synecdoche of how absurd that day was. Not for decades, and perhaps never, had a new president delivered such an ominous yet lackluster speech at his inaugural.
     Even the heavens conspired, as it began raining in Washington DC at 12:00 noon, the exact moment Trump was taking the oath of office. And hours later, that rain presaged the fate of countless homeowners, the ones whose day it supposedly was, the ones whom Trump professed to empower, when Trump's first order of business was to raise rates on FHA homeowners then sign a ceremonial executive order "easing the burdens of Obamacare".
     People, the next four years won't be for wimps. Even as Trump is actively censoring the media by "quadrupling" the number in the press pool (The better with which to ignore you, my dears) and threatening to crack down on any dissent, these are only the first hours before Trump's nightmarish vision for America gathers steam, the first tentative bad dream we have right before entering the REM state.
     You want Trump to last less than four years, despite the specter of a President Pence balefully lurking in the wings? It all devolves on the 2018 midterms. Vote enough Republicans out, let them know we mean business that we do not want this man's slime all over the Resolute Desk given to us by Queen Victoria. And once the incumbency of the survivors is threatened, you'll be amazed how fast they'll write those articles of impeachment in the House and ratify them in the Senate when we make it abundantly clear there's no future in clinging to Donald Trump. It'll make Watergate look like gridlock.
     And mark my words, if Trump hasn't already given them grounds for impeachment (he has), eventually he will.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Happy Inauguration Sauron Day

     "CNN takes you live now to Jake Tapper in Washington DC and the Trump inauguration. Jake, what do you see?"
      "Well, Wolf, Dick Cheney and Donald Trump have just arrived and the landscape has suddenly changed somewhat..."

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Just to Put a Finer Point On It...

     What Chomsky said nearly four years ago is absolutely correct but I'd like to put a finer point on it- The reason why the cost of presidential elections and all down ballot races is skyrocketing is because of our diminishing attention, trust of politicians and perennially low voter turnout that struggles above 40% and, in some years, not even that. And that's how we cede power to the 1%. This is the cost of not being a politically engaged nation. For all the screaming we hear on both sides of the Great Ideological Divide, as I call it, in every election cycle, it accounts for less than 40% of the electorate. 60% or more stay home on Election Day. But our lack of engagement is what's costing whatever influence we have over who goes to Capitol Hill and the policies upon which they agree.

Monday, January 16, 2017

On Martin Luther King Day...

     ...let's remember the meaning of the word "humility", a characteristic that's conspicuously lacking in today's public officials, especially with the incoming Oaf of Office.
     Back in 1973-4, my father took my mother and me on summer vacations to Washington, DC. This was easy enough to do since my father was stationed on Ft. Meade, Maryland at the time. Among the many monuments, memorials, shrines and buildings we'd visited were the graves of Martin Luther King, Jr and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. Both men had been assassinated just five or six years previous, so the memories of their senseless and abrupt passing was still fresh in all three of our memories.
     Visiting Dr. King's grave site would be impossible for my father today as he wouldn't become a full-blown racist until a few years down the road. But what struck me about King's, and especially Sen. Kennedy's, grave, was the humility that was granted to them, humility upon which both men would've insisted had they any control over it.
     Dr. King's headstone is a good, solid one, larger than most, and it only doubled in size when he was finally joined by his widow, Coretta Scott King a little over a decade ago. Bobby Kennedy's grave is a simple white cross in Arlington Cemetery that could easily get lost if you didn't know exactly where to look. Having a vague sense of Senator Kennedy's importance in the ever-unfolding skein of American history, I was struck even at that young age at how simple his white cross was. It has not changed nor has been added to or embellished one bit since I'd visited it decades ago.
    This speaks volumes about the measure of both men. They couldn't have come from more dissimilar worlds- King coming from a poverty-stricken life marked by virulent racism while Kennedy was raised in wealth and privilege. Yet both men saw and recognized the threats facing our nation (back when it was still great) and did their damnedest to stem the tide of evil and injustice that had threatened it. If human history had but one epitaph when our end comes, it'll be this:
     It was ever the goal of man to keep at arm's length the ever-encroaching night. It was a losing battle but the brave distinguished themselves by fighting it nonetheless.
     Nowadays, it seems the night presses ever closer, that this Zoroastrian battle between good and evil, or chaos and order, is turning in favor of the dark side. Dr. King and Senator Kennedy were not heroes merely because they fought the good fight but because they took their respective missions more seriously than they took themselves.
     Nowadays, it seems Kennedy and King have been supplanted over the last two generations with so-called statesmen bloated with hubris and arrogance and we see no better exemplar of this than with the incoming President. Donald Trump is a man whose orange-tinted face could be reasonably placed in any dictionary next to the words "hubris", "egotism" and even "megalomania". He is a man who thinks he can take the reins of power of what is arguably the most trying, difficult and ego-bruising office and job on the planet without having the slightest capacity to brook even one insult from others. His latest shameful Twitter tirade against Congressman John Lewis is but one example of this man's inability to accept that some people aren't on board with his racist agenda or comfortable with the extremely discomfiting revelations regarding the legitimacy of his election or the integrity of his so-called morality.
     At no time in American history (and I include George W. Bush when I write this) had any man ascended to the presidency under such a cloud of disrepute. We who know our asses from our elbows know Bush stole the election as well as his re-election but that was due to Republican operatives. This time around, there's a very real perception (and the facts or the lack of them be damned) that outside operatives, actors from a certain foreign nation, influenced an election that had been, as always, narrowed down to two oligarchs who never gave a damn about the working class and the working poor, two people who were so deeply flawed it makes the sane doubt their sanity for even recognizing how unqualified they both are for the presidency.
     Dr. King would have been ashamed of Barack Obama and one has to wonder what an 88 year-old Martin Luther King would say now about a man who'd expanded a drone strike program to nearly cartoonish proportions and used his power as President to slaughter thousands of innocents in seven different countries and maintained two senseless wars begun by his predecessor. And however much of an embarrassment Obama would've been for an elderly Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, the civil rights icon would've been absolutely aghast to see his hard-won victories gutted by succeeding Republican-led Congresses and a right wing-leaning Supreme Court. And if that hadn't killed him. the incoming government would've finished him off.
     Donald Trump's pick to head the Justice Department is an openly racist Senator from Alabama who has used the N word several times in his political career, thinks separation of church and state is "unconstitutional" and had publicly opposed the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Act that had gotten Dr. King, and Congressman Lewis, physically battered and arrested literally dozens of times. Anyone paying close attention to Jefferson Beauregard Sessions' public statements and testimony during his confirmation hearing by his own Senate Judiciary Committee knows that one of his first acts as Attorney General will be to gut if not outright abolish the DOJ's Civil Rights Division and probably using the same rubric than had Chief Justice John Roberts while he helped to gut Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965: That we're post-racial and have no need to be a watchdog over civil rights.
     Jeff Sessions is no more a moderate than his predecessors Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond, who both filibustered the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts when they were still bills in Congress. Jeff Sessions is a withered little warrior for an America that never was: White and Christian to the core, a ridiculous puppet of racist factions still struggling to take up the White Man's Burden.
     And the scary thing about Jeff Sessions is he seems to fit in this latter day Congress. His nomination is merely a controversial one because our supine mainstream media refuses to recognize Sessions' public and voting record and his exact place in history. If Jeff Sessions, or Donald Trump, have any public worth, it's to remind us of the need for more men like The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and that the chaos and the darkness is far from being held at bay.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sleeping With the Enemy (Again)

     Some of you may recall that back in the hoary old days when we had to walk 10 miles through blizzards 365 days a year to get to school, uphill both ways, I was on Facebook. I think I dropped out by the summer of 2011 or 2012 when I kept getting suspended for weeks at a time, presumably, for things I wasn't even doing. And in all this time, I hadn't missed the Blue Nowhere, as I'd come to call it, for a nanosecond, even though Mrs. JP swears by it and looks at Zuckerberg's theft from Harvard as an invaluable tool for staying in touch with family and friends.
     Yet, although it hadn't proven as such for yours truly then and especially now, Facebook is theoretically also a valuable tool for marketing books by indie authors such as myself. I realized, after years of wasted time and effort, that Twitter is a shitty marketing tool in its own right. In fact, just a week ago my main book and writing account got shadowbanned, presumably, because I'd had the effrontery to use the #sundayreads hashtag in connection with my own titles.
     Which is something that countless writers use on all days of the week used in the -reads series of hashtags. I also slowly came to the realization that literary agents Google authors who submit properties to them to see if they have an internet footprint, some kind of a marketing platform. And, for years, my sole marketing platform has been a useless site called Twitter. So, to this end, I'd decided to set up Tumblr and Facebook accounts under an assumed name.
     Since my stats checker confirms for me that I'm still being visited by my stalker(s) on a daily basis, I won't divulge the names or URLs of those accounts. But if you write to me and if I recognize you, I'll email you with that information so I don't get followed and trolled by said stalker(s). And if you know me, then you'll already know my email address.
     I hate to do this in such a hugger mugger fashion but this is what stalkers and right wing trolls have reduced me to, including shutting down the comments section of this blog for the foreseeable future. So you have these people to thank for the subterfuge to which I've been reduced. But I insist on widening my marketing platform on at least a cosmetic basis so that agents won't get the wrong impression that I wouldn't take the marketing phase very seriously.
     On another note:
     My birthday's tomorrow. As I'm not looking forward to turning 58, it'd sure brighten my day if some of you bought my paperbacks.
     Or, if you insist on doing Kindle, here are the URLs:

Saturday, January 14, 2017

It's All About the Priorities

     What a piece of shit. Here's a guy who's about to assume the reins of power of the most prominent country of the Free World and he's still dickering with his critics on Twitter rather than attending classified intelligence briefings.
     Actually, no. Trump's not a piece of shit. Shit at least has some environmental uses, such as compost.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Sackcloth and Ash Heaps

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari Goldstein)
There are two types of mourners in the United States right now and they tend to be the same faction of the voting public: Those mourning the dwindling days of the Obama administration and those mourning the incoming (God help us every one for my having to say this in public) Trump administration.
     Even without social media, we heard much the same thing in 2001 when Slick Willie was frantically pardoning white collar crooks like his buddy Marc Rich and Hillary was looting the Executive Mansion of much of its furniture with the shameless industry of a crack head looking for the means to score her next fix. Back then, we were preparing to say farewell to a neoliberal two term administration that, despite countless scandals, was still able to fool the American public into believing was the greatest, most transformative liberal administration since FDR. And we dreaded the incoming Bush administration and the unseen evils it would bring.
     So yeah, I'm sure you'll forgive me for thinking of that infamous George Santayana/Winston Churchill quote these days.
     Among the many things that ought to be retrieved from the memory hole is this quote from then Sen. Barack Obama on the campaign trail in 2008 when he said, "I trust the American people to understand that it is not weakness, but wisdom to talk not just to our friends, but to our enemies, like Roosevelt did, and Kennedy did, and Truman did."
     One suspects Obama was talking about the GOP that has vilified and continues to vilify him (albeit for the wrong reasons) for a full decade. Yet the history we continually ignore teaches us these past Presidents did not talk or negotiate with our enemies as often as send troops and bombs to their countries. Hiroshima. Nagasaki. Korea. The Bay of Pigs. The Gulf of Tonkin. And, as determined to make good on at least that campaign promise, Obama was more prone to talk to our soft enemies in the GOP than to self-perceived enemies abroad to whose countries he'd also sent troops and bombs and drones. In fact, Obama had taken so many innocent lives in his Quixotic quest to crush terrorism (which is on the rise, especially in Europe) it makes his Nobel Peace Prize supercede irony and to border on the parodic.
     So this is what we're hearing on social media-  People who willingly suspend their basic humanity to defend Obama by asking of his critics absurd things such as, "Well, how many people did Bush kill in Iraq?" Yes, people have asked me that and trying to play the numbers game as if war crimes become real only after a threshold is reached. "Well, hundreds of thousands of deaths is absolutely a war crime but a measly several thousand through drone strikes? Meh."
     So, for all his supposed strength and opposition to terrorism aimed less these days on al Qaeda and more on the Daesh terror network and its various factions such as ISIS and ISIL, Barack Obama's squandering of human lives, including at least two American ones that had been extrajudicially taken, had been a miserable ongoing failure. And the miserable failure of his foreign policy was largely do to installing to head Foggy Bottom Slick Willie's own wife who turned out to be a bloodthirsty dictator-in-waiting in her own right.
     Which brings us to the new boss...

The Doomsday Clock to January 20th
     There's little truth to the rumor that the last week before the inauguration will be counted down by the Doomsday clock but the perception and suspicion is that it is still justified. There's a growing unease, if not a panic, that even as the GOP busts its collective nut to shoehorn the repeal of ObamaCare and to appoint every one of Trump's unconvicted criminals into his Cabinet, Trump is laying the groundwork for a style of governance that rightly recalls 1933-1945 Germany.
     And whatever his other failings, the relatively lawless George W. Bush had still divested himself of his stock holdings before taking office and, by general consensus, still honored the Emoluments Clause that forbids Presidents from accepting cash and other gifts from foreign nations as well as domestic entities. We're seeing none of this from Trump, who in his recent presser tried to fool the MSM, the American people and watchdog agencies into thinking he can just hand over all his business interests to American Psycho 1 & 2 in the form of a blind trust. Which would work only if he suddenly develops amnesia and loses any and all memories of what he's owned for decades, starting with the Trump Tower that has seamlessly supplanted Blair House.
     And, darkly waiting in the wings as a deterrent is a Savonarola wannabe in Mike Pence should the GOP get buyer's remorse and try to have Trump impeached.
     However lawless were the Nixon and Bush II administrations (and they largely were), the incoming Trump administration will redefine what's truly lawless. And this incoming Executive branch will just ramp up whatever neoliberal evils that had been pursued by the Obama administration: The gutting of Social Security; Turning a blind eye to Israel's own war crimes against the Palestinians and aid workers; The ongoing bloating of Wall Street banks and Big Business; Further war crimes against Arab and Muslim nations.
     All that and more because Donald Trump was just smart enough to fool the redneck goobers (Hell, he even fooled Michael fucking Moore) and using their rage against the plight of the middle class into a form of political jiu jitsu and using that force against them and their interests. One has to wonder how many of those Trumpers would've still voted for him if he'd promised on the campaign trail to appoint billionaires and multimillionaires instead of pretending to revile his 1% buddies by telling his red-hatted supporters that they've been "picking their pockets"?
     And, as with Bush II and Obama, his supporters will cheer on Trump as he leads us down a not so merry primrose path to Hell as he begins his administration as the least-liked incoming President in modern times, if not for all time. Obama never came close to getting us out of Iraq and especially oil- and mineral-rich Afghanistan. He never came close to reversing the economic slide left to him by his predecessor or ever revitalized the job market.
     It boggles the mind how a Trump supporter could possibly think their man will undo this. We should've listened to that eagle in the lead picture and realized way back on June 16th 2015 that Donald Trump will be the most anti American president of all time. It does not require a Greek chorus or being a political science savant to know Trump's administration is already doomed to the ash heap of history. And we who aren't in the 1% will be beneath it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

From Russia With Love

     Donald Trump's first presser in almost six months was everything as advertised: Lots of sound and fury, signifying nothing. All that was missing were for the table to his right to be conspicuously loaded with Trump water, Trump steaks and plastered on the flags behind him fake degrees from Trump University.
     And I'm just taking a stab in the dark here but I suspect more than one Trump voter is getting this uneasy feeling with which one would see a toddler next door picking up his father's loaded handgun. You know it'll wind up badly for someone but you're confident it won't be you.
     And Trump's press conference was a masterpiece of obfuscation, surpassing many of his previous lows: Here are just some of the highlights:
     He almost threw out a CNN reporter whom he wouldn't allow to ask a question.
     He referred to himself in the third person at least three times.
     He called a mainstream media outlet (Buzzfeed) "garbage" for publishing a report about him getting golden shower shows from Russian prostitutes. Oh, and he also denounced "fake news", despite one of his top aides, incoming National Security advisor Micheal Flynn and his son being ardent fans of it.
     He flatly denied having any involvement with Russia whatsoever despite him acting like Vladimir Putin's Manchurian Candidate.
     And it took the US intelligence community's abject failure in proving that Russia had influenced the election at all to give Trump today even a passing relationship with the truth. 
     That's right, folks. He said he had no involvement with Russia despite his having made millions through real estate deals in which millions of transactions had been made and the former head of his campaign, Paul Manafort and his slimy secret deals with pro-Russian factions. At this point, the only things that's left is for Trump to offer to make the United States a non-contiguous part of the Russian Federation.
     Then, when Trump wasn't pulling out his flaccid penis with his diminutive hands and seeing if he could cum all over his teleprompter, he admitted after his briefing with intelligence officials that Russia may have done the hacking. This was before when yesterday he bellowed on his Twitter account they were flat out wrong that Russia had dirt on him.
     Then he contradicted that by saying it could have been other actors who'd done the hacking.
     And by tonight or tomorrow he'll find a way to contradict both of those contradictory statements.
     In summation, it's only fitting that a professional fraud like Donald Trump would have to imitate art in the form of this 1958 western that seemed to predict Trump.

     (Bonus question: How the fuck is building a wall going to protect anyone from a falling meteorite?)

The New Golden Rule

     Whoever gets the golden showers from Russian prostitutes makes the rules. So saith the #PEEOTUS

Monday, January 9, 2017


Good Times at Pottersville, 1/9/17

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Good Times at Pottersville, 1/8/17

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Starving Trolls

     The hope of New Year's, especially in this convoluted day and age, tends to be like Charlie Brown in his existential quest to kick the football. Naturally, Lucy snatches it from him and Charlie winds up flat on his back, wondering for the umpteenth time why he'd fallen for Lucy's ever more complex assurances that she would not snatch the football away.
     Well, our hopes for a better year here at Casa del Pottersville lasted less than 24 hours when our new year started going to shit on January 1st. I won't tell you what that was but let's just say that, just over 100 hours into 2017 it seems the whole world is going to be gunning for us in one way or another.
     Of course, this will make at least two stalkers happy and that's the thrust of this post. For the foreseeable future, comments will be turned off except to yours truly. Either Chadwick's come back with a vengeance under a nom de plume or I've acquired another stalker who's too cowardly to make his real identity known. This isn't censorship. As John Aravosis of AmericaBlog once put it to me, this is "content management."
     And I've got better things to do with my life than to delete up to five comments a day from some malcontent who leads such a miserable life that he's only happy when he makes strangers as miserable as him. I really pity this loser who tries to trick me into reading his comments by changing his handle. And it's no big deal to delete them without reading them.
     But as I'd just said, I've got better things to do, like trying to keep the chaos and the darkness at bay for as long as I can. With money troubles, a failing, 19 year-old car that won't pass inspection this March but will soon need more work and a whole host of other problems, I don't need trollage piled on my plate. It's one thing not to feed trolls- But I've found over the years that starving them is much more efficacious.
     I know this is unfair to those of you who do leave legitimate, thoughtful comments and several of you have my phone number and email address if you wish to contact me directly. But it's time to start purging bullshit and bullshitters from our lives so Mrs. JP and I can live in whatever peace the world is still willing to grant us.

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Death of Clintonism is the Death of the Democratic Party

     The political autopsies are still streaming in. Incredulity will do that.
     Democratic apologists' reactions range from impotent head-scratching to impotent rage. Witness Peter Daou's ongoing meltdown and Kurt Eichenwald being tempted to punch one of his own readers. The Democratic Party has seemingly moved on by spinning their wheels in the same muck that had kept them out of a simultaneous majority in both chambers since 2008 by firing Harry Reid as Senate Minority Leader and replacing him with Chuck Schumer (D-Wall Street) and reinstalling the aging Nancy Pelosi as House Minority Leader.
     Other people, such as Todd Purdum, simply don't get it and resort to revisionist history with an agility one usually only finds in the Republican party.
     His piece, "The Death of Clintonism" ought to be entitled, "The Death of the Democratic Party" because the Democrats' across the board failure in the last general election can't be entirely blamed on Hillary Clinton. As much as the mainstream media would otherwise have you believe, the race was far larger than Hillary Clinton, as it should be for any one candidate.
     Purdum gets almost completely wrong everything the Democratic Party stood for during the Clinton years and what it stands for now and one must wonder how this man got a job as a senior political correspondent for Politico or any publication of note.
     In his third paragraph, he states,
By all accounts, Bill and Hillary Clinton never had any such qualms, and now their quarter-century project to build a mutual buy-one, get-one-free Clinton dynasty has ended in her defeat, and their joint departure from the center of the national political stage they had hoped to occupy for another eight years. Their exit amounts to a finale not just for themselves, but for Clintonism as a working political ideology and electoral strategy.
     OK, fair enough for the most part. But this one paragraph is a synecdoche of how his entire article went wrong- Politics, at least ideally, ought to be about more than just a winning formula for a political dynasty. Democracy ought to be about bettering the lives of those who put its politicians into power. While he later rejects the suggestion that Clinton didn't fall into the trap of identity politics, that's precisely what she did. The most articulate message Hillary could put across to voters was, "I'm not Trump" and, "You owe me, Goddamnit."
     Again, a presidential election that will determine the fate of the world should be larger than any one person and Hillary Clinton simply forgot that. To those who'd kept at least one good eye open, Clinton unmistakably put forth the aura that she should succeed to the Presidency by dint of some royal fiat, because she'd cynically held on to her husband's name for the brand recognition.
     Nowhere in his article does Purdum mention the staggeringly corrupt Clinton Foundation, the hacked emails of John Podesta and only tangentially mentioned the other emails in the context of Bernie Sanders saying he was tired of hearing about them. Nowhere does he mention the rotten Democratic culture of corporate corruption that turned the Democratic Party into just an updated Tammany Hall or, in contravention of its own rules, the collusion of DNC officials with the Clinton campaign, the disrespect shown to liberals, especially Sanders loyalists.
     Weren't these all factors in Clinton losing what should've been a cakewalk for her?
     Of course they were. And these factors, and several more, were determinative in swinging the election to a joke of a human being whose campaign, as in 2008, should have been relegated to the ash heap of history as yet another attention-seeking bit of performance art.
     Purdum's other problem seems to be in assigning the correct place of the Democratic Party on the political spectrum both then and now. For instance, there's this whopper:
By 2016, spurred by anger at Wall Street, and at Washington gridlock and business as usual, the Democratic Party had moved well to the left of the one Bill Clinton had inherited in 1992.
     Unless he's talking about the anemic and virtually powerless liberal wing of the Democratic Party represented by Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, who both obediently fell in line behind Queen Hillary when she'd stolen the nomination from the latter, it's hard if not impossible to see where is this shift "well to the left" that Purdum is talking about.
     The three committees that had written the rules for the Democratic convention in Philadelphia were packed with Clinton loyalists, Blue Dogs who were either in the tank for her since the beginning or, as with Barney Frank, another chairman, had already left Capitol Hill and went to work for Wall Street. The Rules Committees had adopted what would be immediately recognized as rigidly right wing: A $12 minimum wage instead of Bernie's $15; Pro-fracking. Pro TPP. The sordid list went on. Any Sanders loyalists who had insisted on leveling the playing field by being appointed to these committees were as far and few between as Sanders' actual policy positions that had been adopted.
     A quick look at Capitol Hill's Democratic elite shows not one actual liberal in any leadership role and don't think that isn't by design. As if holding a giant middle finger to low income and middle class Sanders supporters, right after the election the Democratic Party, as stated, installed the ultimate Wall Street stooge in Chuck Schumer and kept Nancy Pelosi in place, as if such coziness and collusion with Wall Street and well-monied lobbyists/bundlers was a conspiracy theory of Millennial basement dwellers.
     Then there's this:
(Hillary) embraced bold approaches on hot-button issues like immigration and gun control that would have been shocking for a Democrat in her husband’s day, and accepted what was arguably the most liberal Democratic Party platform in history...
     Again, he seems to forget that Bernie Sanders also ran on the Democratic ticket and, save for gun control, where he was notoriously weak, he was consistently to the left of Clinton on anything else (although, it can also be persuasively argued that back in JFK's day, the Socialist from Vermont would've been merely a mainstream Democrat). Plus, how can one trust a famously triangulating Blue Dog such as Hillary Clinton when she was caught saying to a Wall St firm in a paid speech that "one needs to have a public policy position and a private policy position"?
     The Democratic National Committee's top leadership didn't do her any favors in the long term either when its head honcho, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, shamelessly and without much if any plausible deniability colluded with the Clinton campaign to hamstring the Sanders campaign, which leaked emails reveal they quickly grew to loathe. Schultz's interim successor, Clinton backer Donna Brazile, was quickly revealed in the Podesta emails to have fed Clinton debate questions in advance courtesy of a friendly at CNN.
     The corruption and collusion of the super delegate system that left a bad taste in the mouth of many Sanders backers was also a factor never mentioned by Purdum. Nor did he even pay lip service to Clinton's scorn at Black Lives Matters protesters, liberal voters in general or the unions that had endorsed her.
     Instead, we're hearing from Purdum that Hillary Clinton was just a poor victim of circumstance, that she was someone who'd unsuccessfully tried to graft a 90's palimpsest of neoliberalism over a a 2010's political landscape. While that's true up to a point, the reason for Hillary losing the election by a landslide in the electoral college is more complex and nuanced than that.
     Elsewhere, he quotes someone:
“People thought she’d been conceived in Goldman Sachs’ trading desk,” says one veteran Clinton aide, noting the irony that this was millennial voters’ jaded view of a woman often seen in the 1990s as reflexively more liberal than her husband.
     Only by right wing nut jobs.
     It ought to be mentioned to those with bad memories or for those too young to remember the Clinton years that Hillary had practically midwifed the disastrous crime bill (the ruinous effect of which Purdum sweeps away) of 1994 not to mention the doomed health care bill that was essentially ObamaCare 1.0 and would've been co-opted by the six biggest HMOs in the nation. And it was only in 2013 that a 66 year-old Hillary Clinton finally saw the light and said gay marriage wasn't so bad, after all.
     It also ought to be remembered that yes, Hillary was not a product of Goldman Sach's trading desk because, before she leaped into their pockets, she'd worked for Sam Walton on Walmart's Board of Directors for years, long before becoming First Lady of Arkansas.
     Then there's this:
It has long been a commonplace that Hillary Clinton’s retail political skills are not the equal of her husband’s, and her senior advisers would chafe this year when Bill Clinton pressed to campaign more aggressively in white working-class areas of the Great American Middle, arguing that such voters had been lost for good by the Democrats—or at least for this year, during which disappointment over Obama’s inability to deliver for them had congealed into support for Trump. The truth is that Hillary Clinton did recognize the problem, even if she was unable to translate her awareness into an effective campaign message that would appeal to working-class whites.
     If she recognized the problem, they why didn't she show the same level of support for unions they'd showed for her (such as refusing to appear at a UAW function on Election Night)? How come she left it to a stuttering oaf like Donald Trump and his belligerent populism to better resonate with those working class white voters? And, finally, there's this quote from Leon Panetta:
“They had to deal with Bernie Sanders and the left. They had to make sure they retained that base, and they wanted to build on the Obama coalition that had gotten him elected and re-elected. And in that battle, they lost sight of the larger message she had to put across to the American people that she had her own version about where this country wanted to go, and that she, in her own way, represented change.”
     Completely ignored by Purdum is how, exactly, Hillary and her stooges in the DNC chose to "deal with Bernie Sanders and the left." This included fully availing itself of the resources of the DNC, paid trolls on the internet, hired actors to fill seats at the convention when Sanders delegates were evicted from them by the DNC the third night of the convention, propaganda campaigns, noise suppressors, cyber terrorism, a corrupt super delegate system made up almost entirely of Clinton loyalists and corporate lobbyists and more dirty tricks we still don't even know about.
     Sure, Clinton did herself no favors by calling Trump's voters a "basket of deplorables" but she also did herself at least as much harm in first stealing the nomination from a better qualified candidate who actually had a better than even shot of beating Trump then alienating them behind their backs by saying in a previously undisclosed speech that Sanders supporters were unrealistic dreamers who still lived in their parents' basements.
     In the end, it has to be admitted that Hillary Clinton's failure and historic humiliation wasn't so much due to her not resonating with the right people but her resonating with the wrong people. And her loss wasn't merely a repudiation of hers and her husband's ruinous neoliberal policies but of an entire corrupt party still clinging to those policies in a new century.

Good Times at Pottersville, 1/2/17

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Out With the Old, In With the Lewd

Donald Trump in his gilded War Room
(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari Goldstein)
So we now have an incoming Commander in Chief who's more interested in screaming from his Twitter perch at 3 AM about non-existent porno movies by a former Miss Universe and a Vanity Fair food review of his glorified TGI Fridays restaurant at Trump Tower than he is in setting up a new government (aside from installing 1% assholes in his 5th Column Cabinet).
     Five blocks from the White House is a converted post office that's flawlessly symbolic of the slow GOP takeover of that august organization partly founded by Benjamin Franklin that's been turned into yet another gaudy Trump Hotel, featuring in it everything that Trump professes to despise including Korans on request and Chinese-made merchandise. The Presidential Suite goes for $18,000 a night, a strange take on economics for a charlatan and a fraud who positioned himself as a man of the working class.
     2017 is now here and while I will not miss right wing war criminal Barack Obama one bit, I will miss what he represented beyond his blood-spattered legacy of extra-judicial assassination: Intelligence. Class. Urbanity and sophistication. The man wore the presidency very well and learned the finest points of world leadership from his hard-nosed opposition to Russian and Israeli policies to the sophistication of his body language and elocution. Best of all: No scandals (aside from the undeclared ones of his war crimes.).
     For eight years, he provided a refreshing counterpoint to the brain-dead, pretzel-choking Bush years that gave us more malapropisms than 100 Norm Crosbys. When the most ironic Nobel Peace laureate since Kissinger wasn't murdering innocent brown people by the thousands with his dramatically ramped up, double tapping drone strike program and violating every international law under the sun, he at least presented himself as the model of grace. Yes, the man has a bloated ego and had the audacity to compare himself to truly great, truly Democratic Presidents of the past such as FDR and JFK. But you couldn't deny the man's quick wit, the ability to sing Al Green well and his high intelligence. Children, starting with his own, adore him.
     We have none of that with Donald Trump. Every time I look at this lumbering oaf walking through the halls of power as he sets up his billionaire's insurrection against everything the working class cherishes, I keep thinking of that famous meme of George W. Bush smiling and waving over the caption, "Miss Me, Yet?"
     It was hardly relevant between 2009 and now but it will certainly be so after January 19th.
     Trump's administration, as with the resumption of Wall Street's excesses after gorging itself on bailout bucks from the gilded trough of the US Treasury, promises more of the same of what we've seen of Trump over the last four plus decades- Egotism on a galactic scale and endless rapacity disguised as ambition. Trump is exactly what his mouth-breathing sycophants imagines a rich person should act like: Crude, boorish, intolerant of anything with a whiff of liberalism or divergent of oneself and a disdain for intelligence and erudition. In other words, a richer version of themselves.
     There was an Onion piece many years ago in which George W. Bush promised to try to speak to people who weren't heads of state. But it's impossible to imagine Agent Orange doing that with his fellow One Percenters. He'll have at least two billionaires in his Cabinet and several multimillionaires. They're essentially the same people who've been "picking your pockets", to use Trump's own words from last April, and still his redneck goobers love him for installing into the highest levels of government people whose sworn duty it is to dismantle that government with the intention of turning it into merely another subsidiary of Trump International.
     If you think 2016 was a wild ride, we have yet to reach peak assclownery. What this bellowing reality TV baboon has in store for us will make the spate of celebrity deaths last year look like highlights by conspicuous relief.
     And the first to be kicked to the curb will be an already supine and belly up mainstream media that Trump had told had too many protections under the First Amendment. He's Putin's Manchurian Candidate with a bad double weave, a man with a libido as out of control as his greed, misogyny, racism and ego.
     And despite the President's strained pretense of a smooth transition, Obama will do as virtually every ex president has and will spend the first few months of the new administration criticizing it once the transition has been completed. And few will listen to him once Trump takes the podium and addresses the Woodstock of rednecks listening on the National Mall, crunching their pork rinds and fooling themselves into believing that everything this man will do to them, including gunning after their Social Security, Obamacare, Medicaid, welfare and food stamps, is in some way marvelous.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Good Times at Pottersville, 12/31/16

An Insult to Self-Published Authors

     Longtime and long-suffering reader CC sent me this link last night knowing it would infuriate me. Sometimes I think he does this just to help keep me informed. Other times, I suspect he regards me as his trained monkey and delights in seeing me blow my top. Either way, any indie author reading this post needs to read, even if only out of morbid curiosity or self masochistic need, this incredibly arrogant, ignorant, nasty and mean-spirited screed by Laurie Gough, who's written three memoirs (meaning she likes to write about just herself). The following paragraphs are a somewhat altered version of the long letter I'd dashed off to CC, which did little if anything to alleviate my fury over this PuffHo piece, which I'm amazed got past the editorial board.
     I may have mentioned in previous posts (I know I have on Twitter) about this despicable prejudice against all self published authors in the publishing and book selling business. From top to bottom, side to side and inside and out, the zeitgeist is that all indie authors are sloppy, badly-informed hacks whose Kindle books aren't worth the paper they're written on.
     Literary agents generally won't touch self-published  books no matter how good they are (They Google every person and title they get in their slush pile like lonely spinsters investigating the guy they just met in a bar); Editors skeeve them, especially if the author decides to cut the middle man agent out of their protection racket that ought to be enforceable by the RICO statutes; Book critics and reviewers, especially in high and mighty publications such as USA Today and the New York Times, strenuously ignore the existence of self-published books. What few brick and mortar book stores that are left refuse to carry self published books (although Barnes & Noble is experimenting with carrying titles published by them, provided they meet a threshold of at least 5000 sales).
     Essentially, indie authors are beaten in the press like the proverbial red-headed stepchild. And Laurie Gough's "Self-Publishing: An Insult To The Written Word" is in my experience the most ignorant and vicious jeremiad against us that I have ever read (and I've read quite a few).
     Early in her scurrilous screed, she writes,
To get a book published in the traditional way, and for people to actually respect it and want to read it — you have to go through the gatekeepers of agents, publishers, editors, national and international reviewers. These gatekeepers are assessing whether or not your work is any good. Readers expect books to have passed through all the gates, to be vetted by professionals. This system doesn’t always work out perfectly, but it’s the best system we have.
     There's so much wrong with this paragraph, I literally don't even know where to begin. So I'll dive in willy nilly and start with some statistics that Gough unhelpfully fails to provide to back up her assertions:
     At least 80% of the tripe extruded through the publishing industry each year is bought through literary agents. As I've stated many times here and elsewhere, these morons fail at their jobs 90-95% of the time. Approximately 90% of all books fail to turn a profit and, like the last statistic, is an annual standard. The publishing business, like the film business, is basically propped up by a few bestsellers written by an anointed handful of writers regardless of their talent or execution or originality.
     This means, as with their literary agent buddies with whom they do lunch at the Four Seasons, publishers and acquisitions editors fail at their jobs 90% of the time. Yet, like the other parasites who have been used as primary gatekeepers, they usually get to keep their jobs despite a track record that, in the rest of the corporate sector, would result in heads rolling in the cubicle farms. So much for the unimpeachable wisdom and pragmatism of the gatekeepers of American literacy.
     Saying present-day publishing is "the best system we have" is like saying, "Our leper colony may not be the perfect health care system but it's the best system we have." Saying that the present system of book publishing being somewhat imperfect is the understatement of the year. What Gough is essentially saying is a very right wing sentiment (and to prove it, she even quotes right wing nut job Brad Thor, who actually floated to Glenn Beck recently the idea of assassinating the President): That publishing should not be democratized and should be restricted to elites anointed by other elites. In short, she's treating publishing the written word as a privilege, not a right, which flies in the face of the First Amendment itself.
     And if the notoriously slothful and unagile publishing industry wasn't so perennially dysfunctional on a multiplicity of levels, then evolution wouldn't have gotten its foot in the door. Part of that evolution is the technology of software that democratizes the publishing process. Kindle, Kobo, Lulu, Createspace, Smashwords, Nook and a whole host of other established and startup publishing companies have made it possible for John Q. Public to speak his piece while getting to keep most of the royalties, streamline the turnaround time and exert full creative control over everything from cover art to content to length (things that are denied even the most elite authors).
     In other words, there was a demand and several people stepped in to fill it. That's called Capitalism, to which I would think an elitist bitch like Gough would at least give a grudging nod.
     Indie authors, especially those who have been making the rounds of the shrinking pool of literary agencies who don't exclusively handle properties submitted through invitations and referrals (Good luck getting one of those from an elite author) can and will tell you it's the very delineation of Einstein's definition of insanity. These self-interested morons (keep in mind their perennial 90-95% failure rate), as with editors, sales people, booksellers, writers and even other readers have no better idea than anyone else what'll catch fire. And this pedestrian, layman's grasp of what's saleable or not is largely what accounts for the 90% mortality rate among all legacy-published books.
     In summation regarding this line of thought, indie authors got tired of being treated like shit by getting form letters from flunkies and doors slammed in our faces by both literary agencies and publishing houses.
     Elsewhere, Gough makes a shockingly clueless analogy:
Did you ever hear what Margaret Atwood said at a party to a brain surgeon? When the brain surgeon found out what she did for a living, he said, “Oh, you’re a writer! When I retire I’m going to write a book.” Margaret Atwood said, “Great! When I retire I’m going to be a brain surgeon!”
The irony is that now that brain surgeon really could dash off a “book” in a of couple months, click “publish” on amazon, and he’s off signing books at the bookstore. Just like Margaret Atwood, he’s a “published” author. Who cares if his book is something that his grade nine teacher might have wanted to crumple into the trash? It’s a “published” book.
     Uh, NO (And please learn to proofread, All Your Base Are Belong to Us).
     First off, that brain surgeon would literally be likelier to get a Trump Cabinet post than a book signing if he's self published a book (especially if he published on Nook or Kindle). Secondly, medical school requires six years of rigorous study and dedication, plus a residency afterward. We're talking about a highly-trained skill set in medicine versus creative writing, which doesn't require such stringent standards, checks and balances. It's comparing apples to surgical sponges. (Plus, other doctors have successfully made a foray in the written word such as the late Michael Crichton [Who, by the way, self published his first book], Robin Cook and, going further back in time, William Carlos Williams and John Keats).
     And as if that horrid analogy didn't teach her a lesson, she then makes this stunning one:
I’m a horrible singer. But I like singing so let’s say I decide to take some singing lessons. A month later I go to my neighbor’s basement because he has recording equipment. I screech into his microphone and he cuts me a CD. I hire a designer to make a stylish CD cover. Voilà. I have a CD and am now just like all the other musicians with CDs.
Except I’m not. Everyone knows I’m a tuneless clod but something about that CD validates me as a musician. It’s the same with writers who self-publish.
     Uh, again, NO.
     Singing and musical ability are not universal skill sets such as literacy. Literacy can be both artistic and utilitarian. Music is strictly artistic. While everyone in America can be reasonably expected to be literate, not everyone can be expected to sing or play the piano well. As one person wrote in the comment section, "I saw someone performing music on the street. How dare they call themselves a musician without having a recording contact?"
      And, to go back to Gough's third paragraph, where she said writers have to earn their way to the trust of readers by going through gatekeepers (who, again, plainly don't know their asses from their elbows), she obviously didn't read this report from February this year: Self-published electronic books now sell better than legacy-published ones, which is a huge inversion. One estimate stated overall that indie authors accounted for a full 23% of all book sales in the US. That's right. Nearly a quarter of all books sold were written by slipshod hacks like us.
     No wonder the Powers That Be are scared shitless we're stealing their thunder. We're being treated the same way political bloggers were 10-12 years ago by the media and political elite. Then what happened when we wouldn't go away? Have you ever heard of the adage, "If you can't lick 'em, join 'em"?
     And if the publishing business was so up front and above board, then explain the growing number of hybrid authors. Those are self published authors whose book sales had been impressive enough to entice predatory publishers and literary agents into signing them to print deals but who had decided not to sell the electronic rights. A quick look at the numbers explains why:
     An indie author can earn a royalty rate between 35-70% on Kindle. A legacy publisher that purchases your erights gets to keep 52.5% of your money. With Amazon taking a hefty 30% distribution fee for performing a service involving zero overhead, that means the author gets a measly 17.5% royalty rate, or literally half what they would get with just a 35% rate. To any indie or hybrid author with a kickass marketing platform, that's a no brainer.
     Finally, there's this old trope that authors aren't interested in learning the rudiments of grammar, effective storytelling or even doing their research:
I have nothing against people who want to self-publish, especially if they’re elderly. Perhaps they want to write their life story and have no time to learn how to write well enough to be published traditionally. It makes a great gift for their grandchildren. But self-publishing needs to be labelled as such. The only similarity between published and self-published books is they each have words on pages inside a cover. The similarities end there. And every single self-published book I’ve tried to read has shown me exactly why the person had to resort to self-publishing. These people haven’t taken the decade, or in many cases even six months, to learn the very basics of writing, such as ‘show, don’t tell,’ or how to create a scene, or that clichés not only kill writing but bludgeon it with a sledgehammer. Sometimes they don’t even know grammar.
      Oh really, "could dash off a “book” in a of couple months"?
     Yeah, sure she has nothing against people who want to self publish. That's why she wrote this spittle-flecked literary version of road rage. Her overarching assumption is not only are self published authors ignorant and lazy but that some of us even in our old age never learned the basics of literary composition, that we'd never committed words to paper before our nefarious "insult of the written word."
     Well, let me tell you something, you stupid bitch: I've been writing novels for going on 23 years. That's a lot of trial and error, a lot of honing of my craft. For 17 years before that, I wrote, and published, poetry and satire. That's 40 years I've dedicated to the written word. That goes back to 1977 when I was 18 years old. In other words, for the last four decades of my life, writing has been my sole constant.
     Your assumption that we don't care about craft is simply bigoted, irrational and prejudicial. We don't do our research, you say? Well, let me tell you (assuming you've read every single self published book and vetted every single historical and technical reference):
      When I was writing and researching my novel Tatterdemalion, I had to bone up on
1) The Ripper murders, including much political and social context of the 1888 East End of London.
2) The earliest days of photography, especially moving picture photography, which began that same year.
3) The life of Buffalo Bill Cody and his Wild West Show.
4) The life of Annie Oakley.
5) The life of Sitting Bull.
6) The life of Arthur Conan Doyle.
7) The life of Jacob Riis.
8) Nitroglyercine.
9) The various carriages that were used in that era.
10) Antique firearms that were used in that era.
11) Law enforcement and the Ripper investigation's principles, including Fred Abberline.
12) The geography of the East and West Ends of 1888 London, including the Strand in central London, which involved consulting period maps.
13) Nomenclature that would've been in existence in 1888.
14) Research into Kent/Gravesend.
15) The basics of Freud's theory of the tripartite mind.
     Then I began other historical novels and short stories that also required research and as much as I take pride in my literary abilities, I also pride myself on my historical scholarship.
     What this smarmy bitch is saying is,"Write a good book and you'll get a publishing contract." Seriously?!
     Yeah, tell that to John Kennedy Toole, who committed suicide in 1969 because the publishing poobahs back in the 60's treated A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES like they have every single one of my books.
     Yes, a lot of self published novelists are slipshod no talent bums. However, I again refer you to the 90% mortality rate of the productions of those in legacy publishing to whose wisdom Gough shamelessly, and ignorantly, genuflects.

KindleindaWind, my writing blog.

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  • #101: Electoral College Dropouts edition
  • #100: Centennial of Silliness edition
  • #99: Dr. Strangehate edition
  • #98: Get Bentghazi edition
  • #97: SNAPping Your Fingers at the Poor edition
  • #96: Treat or Treat, Kiss My Ass edition
  • #95: Monumental Stupidity double-sized edition
  • #94: House of 'Tards edition
  • #93: You Da Bomb! edition.
  • #92: Akin to a Fool edition.
  • #91: Aurora Moronealis edition.
  • #90: Keep Your Gubmint Hands Off My High Pre'mums and Deductibles! edition.
  • #89: Occupy the Catbird Seat/Thanksgiving edition.
  • #88: Heil Hitler edition.
  • #87: Let Sleeping Elephants Lie edition.
  • #86: the Maniacs edition.
  • #85: The Top 50 Assclowns of 2010 edition.
  • #(19)84: Midterm Madness edition.
  • #83: Spill, Baby, Spill! edition.
  • #82: Leave Corporations Alone, They’re People! edition.
  • #81: Hatin' on Haiti edition.
  • #80: Don't Get Your Panties in a Twist edition.
  • #79: Top 50 Assclowns of 2009 edition.
  • #78: Nattering Nabobs of Negativism edition.
  • #77: ...And Justice For Once edition.
  • #76: Reading Tea Leaves/Labor Day edition.
  • #75: Diamond Jubilee/Inaugural Edition
  • #74: Dropping the Crystal Ball Edition
  • #73: The Twelve Assclowns of Christmas Edition
  • #72: Trick or Treat Election Day Edition
  • #71: Grand Theft Autocrats Edition
  • #70: Soulless Corporations and the Politicians Who Love Them Edition
  • Top 10 Things Donald Trump Said to President Obama
  • Paul Ryan's Top Ten Conditions on Running for the Speakership
  • Top 10 Reasons Why Mitt Romney Won't Run for President in 2016
  • Top 10 Results of the NYPD's Work Slowdown
  • Top 10 Secret Service Security Breaches
  • Top 10 LA Radio Shows That Are Rated Higher Than Rush Limbaugh's
  • Top 10 Reasons Operation American Spring Went Flat
  • Top Ten Facts of the MH370 Air Disaster
  • Top 10 Tips for GOP Congressmen Running Against Women
  • Top 10 Signs Walmart's Mistreating its Workers
  • Top 10 Diversions John McCain Found During Syria Hearing
  • Top 10 George Zimmerman Excuses for Speeding.
  • Top 10 Reasons Paula Deen Got Fired by the Food Network
  • Top Ten Ways Pope Francis is Deviating From Convention
  • Top 10 Reasons For the Pope's Resignation
  • Top 10 Emails Hacked From the Bush Family's Email Accounts
  • Top 10 Lies Told by Mitt Romney at the 2nd Debate.
  • Top 10 Examples of How Hard the Campaign Trail is on Ann D. Romney.
  • Top 10 Ways to Tell The Boston Red Sox Are Finished.
  • Top 10 Things Mitt May be Hiding in His Tax Returns.
  • Top 10 Events at the Romney Olympics.
  • Mitt Romney's Top 10 Wild & Crazy Moments.
  • Top Ten Reasons Why Dick Cheney Got a Heart Transplant.
  • Top 10 Facts About Tonight's New England/Denver Game.
  • My Top 10 Resolutions.
  • Top 10 Rejected Slogans of the Romney Campaign.
  • Top 10 Reasons Herman Cain Suspended His Campaign.
  • Top 10 Trending Topics on Twitter During #OWS Eviction.
  • Top 10 Herman Cain Pickup Lines.
  • Top 10 Changes Since Anthony Weiner Decided to Resign.
  • Top 10 Inaccuracies re bin Laden's Death.
  • Top 10 Ways to Prevent a TSA Patdown.
  • Top Ten Things Not to Say When You're Pulled Over.
  • Top 10 Reasons Why Donald Trump Bowed Out of the Presidential Race.
  • Top 10 Ways Evangelicals Will Prepare for the Rapture II.
  • Top 10 Revelations in Today's Parliament Inquiry into News Corp.
  • Top 10 Reasons Why There Was No Vote on the Debt Ceiling Last Night.
  • Top 10 Revelations in Dick Cheney's Upcoming Memoir.
  • Top Ten Ways Americans Will Observe the 10th Anniversary of 9/11.
  • Top Ten Advances in Women's Rights in Saudi Arabia.
  • Top Ten Inaccuracies in Bill O'Reilly's Book About Lincoln.
  • Top Ten Suggestions From the Cat Food Commission.
  • Top Ten Worst Moments in George W. Bush's Presidency.
  • Top Ten Facts in George W. Bush's Memoir.
  • Top Ten Reasons Terry Jones Postponed His Koran Burning
  • Top 10 Causes for Dick Cheney's Congestive Heart Failure
  • Top Ten Ways That Jan Brewer Will Celebrate Cinco de Mayo
  • Top Ten Demands in Sarah Palin's Contract
  • Top Ten Whoppers in Karl Rove's New Book
  • Top 10 Items Left Behind in Rush Limbaugh's Apartment
  • Top Ten Things Barack Obama said to Rush Limbaugh in the Hospital
  • Top Ten Bizarre Promos Offered by the New Jersey Nets
  • Top 10 Bush Executive Orders Labor Wants President Obama to Repeal
  • George W. Bush's Top Ten Lesser Achievements
  • Empire Of The Senseless.
  • Conservative Values for an Unsaved World.
  • Esquire's Charles Pierce.
  • Brilliant @ Breakfast.
  • The Burning Platform.
  • The Rant.
  • Mock, Paper, Scissors.
  • James Petras.
  • Towle Road.
  • Avedon's Sideshow (the new site).
  • At Largely, Larisa Alexandrovna's place.
  • The Daily Howler.
  • The DCist.
  • Greg Palast.
  • Jon Swift. RIP, Al.
  • God is For Suckers.
  • The Rude Pundit.
  • Driftglass.
  • Newshounds.
  • William Grigg, a great find.
  • Brad Blog.
  • Down With Tyranny!, Howie Klein's blog.
  • Wayne's World. Party time! Excellent!
  • Busted Knuckles, aka Ornery Bastard.
  • Mills River Progressive.
  • Right Wing Watch.
  • Earthbond Misfit.
  • Anosognosia.
  • Echidne of the Snakes.
  • They Gave Us a Republic.
  • The Gawker.
  • Outtake Online, Emmy-winner Charlotte Robinson's site.
  • Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo
  • No More Mr. Nice Blog.
  • Head On Radio Network, Bob Kincaid.
  • Spocko's Brain.
  • Pandagon.
  • Slackivist.
  • WTF Is It Now?
  • No Blood For Hubris.
  • Lydia Cornell, a very smart and accomplished lady.
  • Roger Ailes (the good one.)
  • BlondeSense.
  • The Smirking Chimp.
  • Hammer of the Blogs.
  • Vast Left Wing Conspiracy.
  • Argville.
  • Existentialist Cowboy.
  • The Progressive.
  • The Nation.
  • Mother Jones.
  • Vanity Fair.
  • Citizens For Legitimate Government.
  • News Finder.
  • Indy Media Center.
  • Lexis News.
  • Military Religious Freedom.
  • McClatchy Newspapers.
  • The New Yorker.
  • Bloggingheads TV, political vlogging.
  • Find, the next-best thing to Nexis.
  • Altweeklies, for the news you won't get just anywhere.
  • The Smirking Chimp
  • Don Emmerich's Peace Blog
  • Wikileaks.
  • The Peoples' Voice.
  • CIA World Fact Book.
  • IP address locator.
  • Tom Tomorrow's hilarious strip.
  • Babelfish, an instant, online translator. I love to translate Ann Coulter's site into German.
  • Newsmeat: Find out who's donating to whom.
  • Wikipedia.
  • Uncyclopedia.
  • Icasualties
  • Free Press
  • YouTube
  • The Bone Bridge.
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