Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

The Media Needs to Stop Normalizing Trump

Some had predicted that the feckless mainstream media ("MSM") would seek to boost Donald Trump and deflate Hillary Clinton because of a desire that the presidential race be a "horse race" with more suspense and increased viewing and support for media coverage.  Stated another way, the MSM is all about money and is only too happy to help foist a disaster on the country if it lines its pockets with cash in the process.  A piece in Salon looks at the problem of the MSM's normalization of Trump and willingness to over look his endless stream of lies and policy free bloviating.  Here are article excerpts:
It’s only May, which means we have about five months before the presidential election. There are conventions to be had, running mates to be selected, debates to be overhyped, and an obscene amount of money to be spent on an equally obscene quantity of advertising. The general election campaign hasn’t even really begun yet, on account of it being so damn early in the cycle still. Hell, we don’t even have official nominees yet for either major party.
And yet, we find ourselves in a peculiar situation. Specifically, the presumptive nominee for one of the major parties has already given a soft endorsement to a long-since discredited theory that his likely opponent is complicit in the covered-up murder of a political associate. When you strip all the names from this situation and view it through the lens of established political norms, that looks crazy and desperate.

[W]e’re talking about one candidate backhandedly making the allegation that his opponent was an accessory to murder, and the press reaction is “boy, that Trump sure can drive headlines – better watch out, Hillary!”
This is precisely what I was talking about I wrote earlier this month about the danger in normalizing Trump. He wants all the craziness to be taken in stride, and he’s succeeding. He’s being abetted in this by a Republican Party establishment that is happy to bite its tongue so long as they get their tax cuts and conservative judicial nominations. But that’s no reason for the press to buy into Trump’s game and treat his crazy mudslinging as a mere campaign tactic rather than a disqualifying character flaw.
And it’s only going to get worse as the election cycle wears on. Trump met a few weeks ago with Ed Klein, an infamous source of salacious and discredited Hillary Clinton bullshit. Just this week, Trump promoted Klein’s latest book, which is full of insane nonsense. None of this is normal, so stop treating it like it is.
This is no longer Trump on reality TV.  We are talking about the future of the country.  Yet the MSM is again proving itself as useless as it did during the Iraq War buildup that was all based on lies that the MSM could have exposed had it been responsible and not acting as a platform for liars.

Elizabeth Warren Escalates Her Attacks on "Small, Insecure" Trump

While Bernie Sanders continues his ego driven campaign that cannot be won, the other darling of liberal Democrats, Elizabeth Warren, recognized the battle that needs to be won is the one in November against Donald Trump.  Thus, while Sanders continues his tantrums, Warren is in attack mode stressing all of the negatives and false statements and positions of Trump.  And the woman definitely knows how to pull out the barbs.  Politico looks at Warrens's justified attacks on Trump leaving one to wonder if an when Sanders will get his head out of his ass and focus fire at Trump rather than Clinton.  Here are article highlights:
Elizabeth Warren is taking her war with Donald Trump to a new level, and it goes well beyond her usual 140-character Twitter attacks on the likely GOP presidential nominee.
The Massachusetts senator on Tuesday night dedicated a speech to rallying opposition against Trump — calling him a "small, insecure moneygrubber" who she said is "kissing the fannies of poor, misunderstood Wall Street bankers."
"He inherited a fortune from his father, and kept it going by scamming people, declaring bankruptcy and skipping out on what he owed," Warren said in prepared remarks, calling into question Trump's bona fides as a populist champion.
The assaults on Trump are becoming Warren's signature contribution to the Democratic Party's attempt to retake the White House. The speech was the second time Tuesday that she stepped into the national political fray, a sign that she's becoming increasingly vocal in the presidential race, positioning herself as a power player for the progressive left. Warren is expected to play a big role in uniting the party after the presidential primary.
The speech marked an escalation in the fight that Warren and Trump have been waging over social media since it became clear that the real estate developer and reality TV star had a clear path to the Republican nomination. Trump has called her "goofy" and has tried to revive controversy from her 2012 Senate campaign related to what she has said is her Native American heritage.
Warren called into question whether Trump is looking out for the best interests of economically downtrodden voters that he has claimed to champion. She tried to link him with the powerful corporate interest she has spent so much time vilifying: Wall Street.
Warren cited Trump's comments that he is planning to dismantle the 2010 Dodd-Frank law that overhauled the regulation of banks and markets in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. She questioned whether he can "even name three things" the law accomplished.
"Now that he's sewn up the Republican nomination, Donald Trump is dropping the pretense" of being tough on Wall Street, Warren said. "Now he's kissing the fannies of poor, misunderstood Wall Street bankers. But the American people are not looking for a bait and switch."
Warren suggested Trump is not releasing his tax returns because he is a "lousy businessman who doesn't want you to find out that he's worth a lot less money than he claims." She cited Trump's 2007 comment that he was "excited" about the prospect of making money during the real estate market crash.
"What kind of a man does that?" she said. "I’ll tell you exactly what kind — a man who cares about no one but himself. A small, insecure moneygrubber who doesn’t care who gets hurt, so long as he makes some money off it. What kind of man does that? A man who will never be president of the United States." 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

More Tuesday Male Beauty

Is Rush Limbaugh in Trouble?

One of the most partisan and hypocrisy filled mouth pieces of today's hate and bigotry filled Republican Party is Rush Limbaugh.  Together with Christofascist professional Christians, Limbaugh has exerted undue influence over the GOP and has  provided legitimacy to some of the ugliest elements and most insane conspiracy therapists of the lunatic far right.  Now, thankfully, it appears that Limbaugh may be in trouble in terms of radio stations broadcasting his nut job propaganda  and that his oce successful business model if you will is crumbling.  A piece in Politico looks at Limbaugh's potential fall.  Here are highlights:
Earlier this year, as that unmistakable bass line of the Pretenders’ My City Was Gone faded into the background, Rush Limbaugh opened his daily three-hour broadcast with characteristic bombast. “[According to the] latest research data,” he intoned, “the audience is expanding at near geometric proportions, as people seek guidance, answers, explanations, information, and an answer to the basic question, ‘What the hell is happening out there?’"
Whether “what the hell is happening out there”—in particular, the remarkable political rise of Donald Trump—has been good or bad for the Republican Party, or the country at large, there’s no denying one thing: It’s been great for talk radio. Ratings are finally ticking up, after a moribund four years. And conservative radio gabbers are driving the political conversation in a way that they didn’t when allegedly mushy moderates like John McCain and Mitt Romney were the standard-bearers of the country’s conservative party.
This has been particularly true for Limbaugh . . . . And yet, there are signs that all is not well in the Limbaugh radio empire. Because even as his influence is sky high and his dominance at the top of talk radio remains unchallenged, as a business proposition, Limbaugh’s show is on shaky ground. In recent years, Limbaugh has been dropped by several of his long-time affiliates, including some very powerful ones: He’s gone from WABC in New York, WRKO in Boston and KFI in Los Angeles, for example, and has in many cases been moved onto smaller stations with much weaker signals that cover smaller areas.
Why? Because four years after Limbaugh called Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” on air, spurring a major boycott movement, reams of advertisers still won’t touch him. He suffers from what talk radio consultant Holland Cooke calls a “scarlet letter among national brand advertisers.” And for someone who has said that “confiscatory ad rates” are a key pillar of his business, that spells trouble. (Limbaugh ignored multiple interview requests.)
Limbaugh’s extremely lucrative eight-year contract—estimated to be worth roughly $38 million a year—is up this summer. What will happen to “America’s Anchorman,” as Limbaugh quasi-ironically refers to himself, once the contract is up, is anybody’s guess. Because as he is learning, political power does not necessarily a stellar business make.
But for all his business acumen, Limbaugh’s show has been a harder sell since 2012—even if he does still impishly refer to commercial time-outs as “obscene profit timeouts.” If you had to pinpoint a moment when Limbaugh’s business model began to turn, you’d have to look to the Sandra Fluke incident, when he referred to the Georgetown law student who spoke in front of Congress in favor of the Obamacare contraception mandate as a “slut” and a “prostitute.” It was a self-inflicted error that Limbaugh has never recovered from.
[B]y attacking Fluke in such grotesque terms, Limbaugh broke a cardinal rule of radio—not to mention polite society, says Darryl Parks, a radio industry veteran and former Clear Channel news-talk format chief based in Cincinnati: “Don’t beat up on a woman, and don’t beat up on a [young person].” 
In one fell swoop, he had done both. The backlash was swift and unforgiving—including from Fluke herself, who rejected Limbaugh’s multiple on-air apologies. (It didn’t help matters that Limbaugh said he was sorry for “acting like … leftists” by attacking her in such personal terms.) Politicians, including not a few Republicans, scorched Limbaugh.
The anti-Limbaugh faction came up with the social media-friendly slogan “Flush Rush.” The group’s efforts met considerable success in the months that followed. Dozens of companies, including Netflix, JCPenney and Sears, announced they would boycott Limbaugh’s show. Most have yet to return. And the increasing popularity of platforms like Twitter, which can be used to stoke outrage and promote boycotts, makes it highly unlikely they ever will.
 The Sandra Fluke incident “did a lot of harm to talk radio,” Darryl Parks says. “Thirty-eight percent of revenue disappeared overnight.” . . . . after the Fluke incident, entire stations—or indeed, the entire format of talk radio—were deemed no-go zones by blue chip brands.
JCPenney PR executive Kate Coultas explains this via email. “We [now] have a general ‘no run’ policy in place to not advertise on any kind of political program,”
In the end, the collateral damage was significant. The Wall Street Journal Radio Network, for example, which broadcast news updates on stations across the country, could not withstand the loss of ad revenue from brands like Penney. It shuttered completely in 2014—a decision directly attributable to the Fluke fallout, says one talk radio consultant. . . . . Even when they could sell ads, radio stations found that they had to move them at fire-sale prices. The Wall Street Journal reported in 2015 that talk radio ad revenue was falling and that “advertising on talk stations now costs about half what it does on music stations, given comparable audience metrics.”

[T]he biggest brands still stay away from Limbaugh. In 2015, the top five national radio advertisers were T-Mobile, Comcast, Home Depot, GEICO and Sprint. But you won’t hear ads from those giants on the 
Rush Limbaugh Show. Instead, most of Limbaugh’s spots are so-called “direct-response ads” (“enter the promo code Rush”) from the likes of home security companies, gold and silver purveyors and flower delivery outfits.
The move to smaller stations in big markets has apparently hammered Limbaugh’s syndicator. In the old days, Premiere Networks “could make a lot of money through fees—a million [dollars] a year or more from single stations,” says John Mainelli, a long-time radio executive who was WABC’s program director when Limbaugh made the move from Sacramento to New York. 
Now, because Limbaugh has been moved to so many smaller stations that pay much smaller fees, Premiere is “not collecting anywhere near what they used to collect in fees,” says Mainelli. And Mainelli points out that with the decline in ad revenue since 2012, the fees have become even more important: Their reduction has only added insult to Premere’s injury. . . . On top of that, it stands to reason that if Limbaugh is moved to enough lower-watt stations, his ratings will eventually suffer. None of his show’s woes have hurt Limbaugh personally, of course. He has a guaranteed contract dating back to 2008 that runs into July. But with his deal coming to an end in a few months, it’s an open question what the future will hold for the “Doctor of Democracy.”
 Most of the people I spoke with for this story speculate that Limbaugh will probably stay with Premiere. . . . . the big question is what that “right price” will be. It almost certainly won’t be as nice as his current arrangement, a contract so lucrative it allowed Limbaugh to buy a Gulfstream G550 he dubbed “EIB 1.” . . . A big question is whether Limbaugh would be willing to countenance a significant pay cut, particularly were it to become public. Like Donald Trump, a big part of Limbaugh’s brand is “winning,” after all. 
Limbaugh has been a toxic influence on America's politics and political discourse.  Candidly, the collapse of his "empire" and the demise of his toxic influence would be an extremely welcome development. 

Tuesday Morning Male Beauty

Trump's "Christian Liaison" Ought to Frighten LGBT Citizens

As he has worked to shore up his support among the Republican Party base, Donald Trump has embraced some pretty ugly personalities ranging from white supremacists to now religious extremists.  Naturally, the latter category of Trump allies ought to send shivers down the backs of LGBT voters.  One such example is Trump's :Christian liaison," Frank Amedia, who underscore the lie of claims that Trump would be an LGBT friendly president.  The Advocate has a profile that is scary.  Here are excerpts:
Donald Trump has appointed a “liaison for Christian policy” — a minister who has said AIDS is caused by “unnatural sex” and threatened to withhold relief from Haitian earthquake surviviors if they continued to practice voodoo.
Frank Amedia, pastor of Touch Heaven Ministries, arranged a meeting earlier this month between Trump and several other ministers, Time reports. They discussed the “erosion of religious liberty,” the magazine notes, along with Israel and immigration — the latter being a focus of Trump’s presidential campaign, with his call to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and his plan to deport all undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
Catering to the religious right, on the other hand, has not been a priority for the presumptive Republican nominee, and he has made some missteps in his references to the Bible. But now with Amedia, he’s joined up with a representative of the conservative Christian fringe.
“Amedia, who was once implicated in a bribery scandal in which he attempted to help a car-dealer friend avoid prosecution, is now a self-proclaimed ‘apostle’ who says that he once single-handedly stopped a tsunami from hitting an island in Hawaii,” reports Right Wing Watch, which has made a thorough investigation of the minister.
Amedia, a former Jew who now calls himself an apostle for Jesus Christ, has broadcast many sermons online and on television. In an undated one (below) that was posted to YouTube last year, he discussed how to avoid AIDS: “We know that many of the diseases today are avoidable if only we practiced a wholesome life. AIDS is a disease that comes because of unnatural sex. We understand that many of the diseases that we receive is because of exposure that we have to things that we should not be exposed to, lifestyles that are unhealthy or things in our spirit that cause us to become bitter.”
Some other ministers who met with Trump have similarly extremist views. Rick Joyner of Morning Star Ministries has blamed gay people for Hurricane Katrina and likened Trump to Christ. Sid Roth has said homosexuality will cause a nation to “vomit out” its people. Mario Bramnick, pastor of New Wine Ministries Church in Florida and a representative of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, last year hosted a meeting that called for the “mobilization” of Christians in response to the “demonic shift” brought to the nation by the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling. 

Why Bernie Sanders Is Losing Fair and Square

While an ego obsessed Bernie Sanders continues to sow resentment against the Democrat Party among his followers with claims of a "rigged system" that echo Donald Trump with the GOP, the real truth is that he is losing the Democrat nomination because the majority of Democrats do not want him as the party nominee.  It is really that simple.  In fact, Sanders' support has begun to decline (see above image).  A piece in Daily Kos lays out why Sanders is losing fair and square.  Here are article highlights:

Bernie Sanders exceeded all primary season expectations and was en route to building something of a real movement. But rather than locking in those gains and settling in for a long-haul effort, he’s opted for a legacy-busting temper tantrum instead, heading out the (primary) door in a cloud of whining, conspiracy mongering, and blame casting. It’s a bizarre finale to what was undoubtedly an incredible run. So here are some observations, not because it matters—he’s lost—but because his claims of victimhood are absolute bullshit and need to be corrected. 

1. If you plan for a coup, you’ve already lost
Let’s just take a moment to appreciate what Sanders is trying to accomplish here—he knows he’s lost the election. He’s all but acknowledged it. Which is why he’s now focused so heavily on getting the establishment superdelegates to overturn the election in his favor. 
Like a despotic dictator, he is so sure of his supremacy that he sneers at the choices of his electorate and seeks to callously toss them aside. He dishonestly tells his supporters that there’s a conspiracy standing between him and victory. 

Not only is this undemocratic, it’s outright delusional. These are the same superdelegates representing the same establishment he’s repeatedly bashed and even sued. These are the superdelegates he spent the first year of his campaign blasting as an affront to the democratic process and illegitimate. NOW, things are different. Having lost the election, he expects these supers to overturn the will of the electorate, including the heavy preferences of key growth party demographics like Latinos and African Americans, in order to hand the nomination to the loser of the contest. 

2. He may want to disenfranchise them, but communities of color voted against Sanders
Take another moment to savor what that would mean—a party establishment ignoring the choice of the communities of color, who have heavily chosen a woman, to undemocratically hand the nomination to yet another white guy. That, my friends, is the essence of white privilege. It’s EXHIBIT A, and in case you are wondering, yes it fucking pisses me off. 

I get that it’s really hard for the old guard to surrender power, but this is a new party, and one that gives voice to more people than ever before. You want someone with Bernie’s politics to get the nomination, perhaps find someone who isn’t from the whitest state in the union, unable or unwilling to deal with the communities that drive our modern party. 
Fact is, Clinton won people of color by massive margins. Sanders won white people. Sanders thinks the election results should be tossed aside in his favor. Whose votes would be disenfranchised in that scenario? This is simple extrapolation, and don’t think us people of color aren’t noticing. 

3. No, Sanders won’t do better than Clinton against Trump.
Current polling has Clinton’s negatives baked in. They are her floor. Current polling doesn’t have Sanders’ negatives baked in. They are his ceiling. And dear god, there is plenty in Sanders’ background to feed the Republican Noise Machine for the general election. And by the end of the cycle, his negatives would match those of Clinton’s.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned this primary cycle, it's that demographics are destiny. And it's the same case for the general election. The biggest predictor of how people will vote this year is to look at how they voted last presidential election, and those choices are heavily correlated to race, sex, and marital status. 

In alternate universes—one in which Sanders wins the nomination, the other in which Clinton does—they both would end up roughly the same in November. Democrats won’t cross over to vote for Trump, and Republicans won’t cross over to vote for Sanders (and certainly not for Clinton). In the end, the final outcome will be determined by turnout, and given our opponent, turnout will hopefully be high. We’d have to fight for that equally hard, regardless of who was our nominee.

4.  No, the system wasn’t rigged against him
The system was rigged, for sure, but in his favor. The first two states? Two of the most unrepresentative states in the union, states that glossed over his failures in reaching communities of color. It’s a calendar that benefits white candidates and silences the issues that matter to the communities that drive the modern Democratic Party. 

And how about them caucuses? Sanders won nine of 11, getting a significant percentage of his delegate haul from these undemocratic, exclusionary contests. In fact, those nine states are exactly half of his victory total. Take caucuses out, and Sanders is barely in the frame. 

Now, there’s nothing wrong with winning caucuses as long as they exist! In fact, Barack Obama owes his presidency to them. But designing a system that prevents people from participating and eliminates the secret ballot is exactly what rigging the system looks like, and it wasn’t Clinton that benefited from that. . . . . 

7. The system was rigged because of closed primaries!
All primaries should be closed. If you want to choose the Democratic nominee, become a Democrat. If you are too pure and awesome and independent and iconoclastic, that’s awesome too! Just don’t ask to pick someone else’s leaders. I don’t waltz in to the local Shriners Club, tell them their little hats are stupid, then demand to pick their leadership. If I cared that much about who led them (and what they wore), I’d join the organization. 

It costs nothing to be a Democrat. It’s free! Just check a box! And then you don’t have to worry about primary deadlines or whatnot. And if that’s too much of a lift for you, then too bad—you shouldn’t have a say until the general election rolls around. (And yes, I think parties should take over from the states and handle the nomination stuff themselves.)

That said, there have been 23 open contests, and Clinton has won 13 of them. That’s a majority. So even this stupid talking point is stupid. And you know what makes it even more stupid? Take away caucuses, so that we’re just talking about open primaries, then Clinton has won open primaries 13-6.  So can this stupid talking point die already? 

8. The system wasn’t rigged because red states voted
Democrats all over the country get to choose the nominee, and that includes African Americans in southern states, and Latinos in places like Arizona and Texas. And if you have a problem with that, fuck you. Seriously, I can’t believe that in this day and age, people are trying to argue that the votes of these critical communities of color don’t matter. 

You know what would rig the system? Disenfranchising those voters. Maybe just let the whitest states vote? Would that make Sanders happy? Apparently, since that’s exactly what he is arguing. 

9. If the system is rigged, why does Sanders have more delegates than his vote share?
Sanders has won 43 percent of the popular vote, yet he’s won 46 percent of the delegates. How rigged! FTS.

10. The system is rigged because more voters are voting for my opponent!
Bottom line, Clinton is winning significantly more voters—millions and millions of them—than Sanders. Now, there is a new strain of argument running around claiming that the raw vote deficit is smaller than claimed because caucus states aren’t properly accounted for. You can see some of that nonsense argument being made here. The reality?

This has been floating around so long, in fact, The Post's fact-checkers looked at this issue at the beginning of April. Did Clinton at that point actually lead by 2.5 million votes, as she claimed? No, she didn't. She led by 2.4 million votes. As of today, that raw vote advantage is at 2.9 million, including caucuses. . . . . 

Quite simply, for a campaign that argues that the elections should be overturned in his favor, the Democratic electorate is increasingly in disagreement. Last week’s antics won’t help reverse those trends. Heck, they may accelerate them. 

The system can be beat. Barack Obama just did it eight years ago. Donald Trump did it on the Republican side this year. Technology now gives insurgents a huge advantage over more stodgy establishment candidates. The smart ones with a winning message can take advantage of that, and the ones with an insufficiently winning message can’t. 

Being a sore loser won’t change those facts, that reality, or the fact that we have bigger issues to deal with than Sanders’ insane temper tantrum. 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Monday Morning Male Beauty

Why Religious Fundamentalists Are Sex Obsessed

There's a reason that religious fundamentalists of both the Christian and Islamic variety share a common obsession with sex.  It is all about control.  Control of people's lives and, at least in the minds of the theocrats, control of people's thoughts.  Thoughts that might lead the populous to over throw the theocrats' influence and control, especially political control.   In Iran, the religious extremist government is waging a war against women who fail to wear head covers.  While utterly different on the surface from the American Christofascists' war on LGBT citizens, the root motivation is the same: power and control - and thought control so that the masses don't begin to release that they are being sold a bunch of fairy tales that help keep their religious elite in power.  A piece in The Daily Beast looks at both the sex obsession of Iran's rulers and how it translates to American Christofascists.  Here are excerpts:
Welcome to Operation Spider 2. Yes, Iran’s War Against Hair even has a code name. In a sting led by no less significant a unit than Iran’s cybercrimes division, eight other models were arrested and charged with “promoting western promiscuity.” State prosecutor for cybercrimes Javad Babaei confirmed that his unit was focused on Instagram and is concerned with “sterilizing popular cyberspaces.” Many of the country’s leading models have reportedly suffered this clampdown. They are accused of promoting "immoral and un-Islamic culture and promiscuity.”
As moderate political forces continue to gain ground in Iran’s educated city centers, establishment clampdowns against “Western promiscuity” are becoming more visible, and more desperate. 
A desire to restrict any of these voices is a desire to control. When enforced on others, religion becomes nothing but a tool of power and control. Sexuality, in particular, obsesses male theocrats more so than any other topic. 
Whether in Iran and Saudi Arabia, where women’s dress is government enforced, or in Syria and Afghanistan, where Islamist terrorists seek to enforce it, or across Muslim-majority nations more generally, sexual expression has fast become a dividing line for fundamentalists harboring presumptuous assumptions about a “pure” East and a “promiscuous” West. 
Oddly, hundreds of years ago it was the opposite. A Europe in the Dark Ages, plagued by the Inquisition and conflicts caused by religious intolerance, placed a similar premium on sexuality. Back then, it was the East that European Orientalists fetishized as overly “promiscuous,” while the West valued its prudishness. The one common factor is a correlation between the rise of theocratic demands anywhere, and restrictions on sexuality.
In this way, sexuality has become the axis upon which enlightened values and progress have pivoted between nations. Sexual freedoms have become a litmus test between open societies and closed ones. The drug that dogmatic ideologues are usually addicted to is control, and the thirst for control almost always manifests itself in sexual control. This is why the subject of sex among women, gays and “unmarried” youth fascinates extremists of all bents. And it is why—regardless of our gender or sexual orientation—the struggle against controlling sexuality should preoccupy us all.