Thursday, February 23, 2017

Hypocrisy Filled Republicans Accuse Protesters of "Organizing"


Back when the Tea Party was organizing, Republicans thought it was great since the target of the venom was Democrats and progressive policies. Once the aim was shifted to incumbent Republicans, the GOP love affair for the Tea Party became something different.  Indeed, much of the GOP is now controlled by the very same Christofascists and white supremacists who used the Tea Party moniker to hide their real agenda.  Now that these same pitch fork carrying reactionaries control the Republican Party and have Der Trumpenführer as their anointed leader, suddenly organizing for political change is something abhorrent - at least if the organizers and protesters are liberals and progressives rather than right wing Christian extremists and would be KKK members and white nationalists.  A piece in New York Magazine looks at the hypocrisy filled Republicans now decrying what they applauded when the insurgents were "conservatives."  Here are excerpts:Last night, congressional Republicans came home to rooms full of angry people. At town halls across the country, conservative lawmakers were protested, heckled, and shouted at. A few unfortunate souls were even asked to explain — in detail — the GOP plan for replacing the Affordable Care Act.
But Republicans aren’t worried. They’re onto liberals’ cute little game. They’ve realized that these so-called “protests” are, in truth, tactical demonstrations — planned, in advance — by people who want to bring about political change.
“The so-called March on Washington was actually, in numerous cases, planned out by civil-rights activists.”
And yet, this seems to be a genuine Republican talking point. Two days before Trump’s tweet, Texas senator John Cornyn shared a New York Post article that also tries to discredit the protests by claiming that they are strategically organized.
To be fair, “the protests are planned” is a considerably more honest line of attack than the “paid protesters” claim that preceded it. 
So, liberal activists are conscious of optics and, when possible, try to engineer an impression of widespread opposition via such nefarious tactics as “not all sitting together.”
It’s legitimate for conservative commentators and politicians to highlight these tactics. And, for many Republican House members, it’s probably true that town hall protests give a false impression of the scale of dissent in their red districts.
But there’s still a certain comedy to these complaints. The “training manual” Sperry stumbled upon has been proudly shared by Democrats and liberal activists over social media for months. The central charge of Sperry’s op-ed is that Organizing for Action is, in truth, an Obama-aligned front-group whose true purpose is … organizing for action.
Of course, the audiences at these town halls aren’t perfect representations of district-wide public opinion. And of course, professional political organizers are trying to channel liberal outrage in productive directions. This is how politics is practiced on both sides of the aisle. Earlier this month, the tea-party-aligned outside group FreedomWorks announced that it will be organizing rallies and town hall counter-protests in support of Obamacare repeal.
OFA’s “training manual” isn’t what’s unusual here. What’s unusual is the number of people eager to study it.  Activists do try to create an exaggerated impression of public support for their goals. But the more people they organize, the less hyperbolic that impression becomes.
The anti-Trump and anti-GOP protests need to continue to grow and make sure that Trump's approval numbers tank further and to insure the Congressional Republicans start worrying more about their own re-election prospects supporting the delusional, if not insane, standard bearer of their party.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 1


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2

click image to enlarge

The Much Deserved Implosion of Milo Yiannopoulos


As noted on prior occasions, I have no use for Milo Yiannopoulos and other gay "conservatives" who, in my view, are most motivated by either greed, racism or internalized homophobia.  Indeed, some personal acquaintances who will remain unnamed could use some intense therapy sessions to deal with their unvoiced self-loathing and masochism.  A column in Slate looks at the rise and even more rapid implosion of Yiannopoulos who has learned a harsh lesson in the willingness of the right to use supposed gay conservatives only so long as it fits the agenda.  Then one is discarded like worthless trash.  Yiannopoulos should be a lesson to other gays who allow themselves to be cynically used by their actual enemies.  Here are column excerpts:
You can thank Steve Bannon, now a central figure in Donald Trump’s administration, for making the clownish hustler Milo Yiannopoulos a star. As the editor of Breitbart, Bannon recruited Yiannopoulos to the site, where he published columns like “No, J.C. Penney, Fat People Should Absolutely Hate Themselves” and “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy.” If Trump is a poor person’s idea of a rich person, Yiannopoulos is a Trump voter’s fantasy of a decadent gay sophisticate. His shtick is to wrap various shades of reaction—anti-feminism, racism, anti-Semitism, hatred of Muslims—in camp, to sell bigotry as cheeky provocation. He and co-author Allum Bokhari put it this way, in a Breitbart ode to the alt-right: “Just as the kids of the 60s shocked their parents with promiscuity, long hair and rock’n’roll, so too do the alt-right’s young meme brigades shock older generations with outrageous caricatures, from the Jewish ‘Shlomo Shekelburg’ to ‘Remove Kebab,’ an internet in-joke about the Bosnian genocide.”
Yiannopoulos uses his gayness to grant absolution to his mostly straight right-wing audiences, telling them that by reveling in prejudice, they are bravely flouting taboos. During the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, an at event billed as an America First Unity Rally, Yiannopoulos told a crowd full of bikers and Alex Jones acolytes: “I might be a dick-sucking faggot, but I fucking hate the left … the left in this country is a cancer that you need to eradicate.” As a gay man, he added, he aims to be “transgressive, to be naughty, to be mischievous. And today in America that means being right-wing.”
It turns out the right isn’t quite as enamored of transgression as Yiannopoulos thought. In the past few days, his career has imploded, thanks to old but previously little-noticed recordings in which he celebrates sex between teenage boys and adult men. In quick succession, Yiannopoulos’ invitation to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference was withdrawn, his $250,000 Simon and Schuster book contract was canceled, and on Tuesday afternoon, he resigned from Breitbart. Even Richard Spencer, the white nationalist who coined the term alt-right, now dismisses him.
Yiannopoulos, a sworn enemy of victim culture, reacted to his sudden fall by playing the victim card. “I’m a gay man and a child-abuse victim,” he said, at a Tuesday afternoon press conference in SoHo. . . . Over the next 30 minutes, Yiannopoulos apologized, deflected, complained about a political witch hunt, and tried to cast himself as a performer being held to an unfairly literal journalistic standard.
Yiannopoulos’ act was all about baiting liberals over free speech; he’d say something repulsive, the left would react, and conservatives could play the defenders of edgy self-expression. In the end, however, the right shut him down the second he made conservatives uncomfortable. Going forward, even if any right-wingers are willing to be associated with him, it will be hard for him to continue the fiction that conservatives are uniquely open-minded. That means he’s no use to them, or to anyone, really. Poor snowflake.

The GOP's Suicide Pact with Trump Isn't Playing Well in Iowa?


All around the country Congressional Republicans are facing outright hostile crowds of their constituents who are none too happy with Der Trumpenführer,'s regime and/or the GOP agenda (locally, GOP Congressman Scott Taylor got an earful).  Yes, the GOP has a slim control of Congress, but the party's toxic and, in my view, mentally unbalanced, leader received votes from less than 30% of all registered voters and lost the popular vote by almost 3 million votes.  That does NOT equate to a mandate no matter how badly self-serving Republicans may try to pretend otherwise.  From Obamacare repeal to the packing of the Cabinet with religious extremists and racists the majority of Americans are appalled and fearful for the nation's future.  Throw in possible collusion with Russian intelligence to swing the election to Trump and it makes for an explosive mix.  A piece in Daily Kos by Facebook friend Kerry Eleveld looks at the growing dissatisfaction and fury.  Here are excerpts:
Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, who helped stoke a wave of paranoia over so-called "death panels" back in 2010, got a sense at his town hall Monday of just how well Donald Trump's month-old administration is playing in the Midwest.
"It's like taking a shower in bad news every day," one woman told New York Times video reporter Thomas Kaplan, "it's exhausting."
The woman—who had never before felt compelled to attend a town hall—not only expressed terrible disappointment in how inaccessible Grassley had been, she was also frustrated with Republican lawmakers' total disregard for providing checks on Trump's power. Asked if she thought Sen. Grassley had "stood up" to the administration, she responded:
I don't think he's stood up to the administration at all. It feels to me like he used to be a moderate Republican, but that seems to be over now. He's definitely toeing the party line, which is disturbing.
In fact, the main reason she made the 100-mile trek to the Iowa Falls town hall was to hold Grassley, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to account on investigating Trump's ties to Russia—an action the GOP has been stonewalling.
But she also sounded a cautionary note about how Trump's policies are playing in the state’s agricultural and manufacturing communities.
A lot of people who originally thought that they were going to help get better jobs and all that are starting to realize that it's not working out that way at all. That actually, it's driving business away, and they're very concerned about what's going to go on in Mexico if there's a trade war. We have pork, we have corn—it's a big deal around here.
Iowa exports through the Trans-Pacific Partnership—the deal Trump swiftly pulled out of via executive order—totaled $7.8 billion in 2015.
But beyond the TPP, a trade war could disrupt the state's entire export market, which is one of the foundations of Iowa's economy. The interview suggests that it’s not just Iowa’s industry representatives who are fretting about job losses.
So far, Republican congressional leaders like Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan are sticking to Trump like glue. The more they ignore their constituents (as McConnell did Monday and GOP members sitting in Clinton districts have been doing all along), the higher the price Republicans will pay in 2018.
 A trade war with Mexico could be devastating for Midwest agricultural states. Mexico has already made it clear that it may look to shift purchases of grain and beef from America to Brazil and Argentina.  If that happens, states like Iowa will be hit hard.  Grassley and others in the GOP may want to claim that the large hostile crowds are "paid protesters" but the reality is that they are not - at least not once one leaves the Fox News/Breitbart bubble..  

Bubble Dwelling Trump Supporters Frustrated By Backlash


A piece in the Washington Post looks at the angst enveloping many Trump voters - excluding those who have benefited under Obamacare and suddenly realized their voted to cut their own throats - as Trump is pummeled for his corruption, possible treason, and chaotic regime.  Somehow these folks are baffled by the fact that they voted for a vile, lying, narcissistic sexual predator and are now facing a backlash by the majority that did not support an unfit, morally bankrupt candidate. Indeed, if they thought they and their retrograde, bigoted views were under attack during the Obama years, they now find themselves facing even more ridicule if not out right hostility.  Do I feel any sympathy for these folks?  Not one bit.  In fact, I hope Der Trumpenführer's time in office proves very short - impeachment and/or a treason trial followed by life in prison is a delicious thought - and that the majority of the nation rallies to crush the agenda of these selfish and misogynistic individuals.  Here are highlights from the Post piece:
 Many of President Trump’s most dedicated supporters — the sort who waited for hours in the Florida sun this weekend for his first post-inauguration campaign rally — say their lives changed on election night. Suddenly they felt like their views were actually respected and in the majority.
But less than one month into Trump’s term, many of his supporters say they once again feel under attack — perhaps even more so than before.
Those who journeyed to Trump’s Saturday evening event on Florida’s Space Coast said that since the election, they have unfriended some of their liberal relatives or friends on Facebook. They don’t understand why major media outlets don’t see the same successful administration they have been cheering on. And they’re increasingly frustrated that Democrats — and some Republicans — are too slow to approve some of the president’s nominees and too quick to protest his every utterance.
“There’s such hatred for the man,” she said. “I just don’t get it.” . . . It was a common sentiment at the rally in an airplane hangar here, flanked by Air Force One and attended by about 9,000 people. There were chants of “CNN sucks!” and “Tell the truth!”
Rally attendees panned coverage of the chaos within his administration, the cost of security for his family and the president’s now-halted executive order that briefly banned refugees and residents of seven Muslim-majority countries. Many acknowledged that the president’s first month could have been smoother, especially with the rollout of the travel ban, but they said the media has overblown those hiccups . . .
Several people said they would have liked to see more coverage of a measure that Trump signed Thursday that rolled back a last-minute Obama regulation that would have restricted coal mines from dumping debris in nearby streams. At the signing, Trump was joined by coal miners in hard hats.
“If he hadn’t gotten into office, 70,000 miners would have been put out of work,” Patricia Nana, a 42-year-old naturalized citizen from Cameroon. “I saw the ceremony where he signed that bill, giving them their jobs back, and he had miners with their hard hats and everything — you could see how happy they were.”
The regulation actually would have cost relatively few mining jobs and would have created nearly as many new jobs on the regulatory side, according to a government report — an example of the frequent distance between Trump’s rhetoric, which many of his supporters wholeheartedly believe, and verifiable facts.
[She] gets most of her news from talk radio — “I listen to Herman Cain on my way into work, I have Sean [Hannity] on my way home,” she said — and Fox News. . . . But they didn’t know much about the resignation of Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn on Monday amid accusations that he improperly discussed U.S. sanctions with the Russian ambassador — and then withheld that information from Vice President Pence and other top officials.
The division that has consumed the country was on display outside Trump’s rally.
On one side of the street: Thousands of his supporters wearing campaign gear and vendors selling anti-Hillary Clinton merchandise and T-shirts showing a map of the 2016 election by county, with most of the country colored Trump-red and the legend: “We the Deplorable.”
On the other side of the street: Hundreds of protesters gathered in a “free speech zone” behind orange mesh fencing. Several wore pink knit hats, and some carried signs that focused on Trump’s alleged connections to Russia: “Impeach that puppet” and “I can see Russia.”

Note the cited news sources of Trump supporters.  Embracing ignorance is a conscious choice.  By limiting the "news" they receive to unreliable sources that in some cases are unhinged and/or little more than propaganda outlets.  Open your eyes and get off your ass and educate yourself.  The, and only then, will these folks understand why they are held in contempt or revulsion by so many. 

Is Trump Preparing for Mass Deportations?


Yesterday the shoe dropped on transgender students as Der Trumpenführer's regime withdrew support for the Obama administration' expansive reading of Title IX as his press secretary said that transgender rights were a state's right issue - just as was done with the Jim Crow laws for decades. For the rest of the LGBT community, we continue to wait for the GOP controlled Congress' passage of the First Amendment Defense Act that will legalize open anti-LGBT discrimination.  For Hispanics and immigrants, the shoe also dropped yesterday as Der Trumpenführer's regime seeming took first steps towards greatly ramped up deportations.  A piece in Politico looks at today's developments.  Here are are article highlights:
President Donald Trump pledged during his campaign to create a deportation force. Now, he’s equipped federal immigration agents with the tools to potentially remove millions of immigrants from the country.
The Department of Homeland Security issued a pair of guidance memos Tuesday that gives federal immigration agents wide latitude to arrest, detain and deport undocumented immigrants and legal immigrants with criminal records.
The memos create a blueprint for how to enact two Trump executive orders, one that deals with interior enforcement and another that deals with border security.
Serious criminals will still be a top target for federal immigration officers. But the priorities will be greatly expanded to include undocumented immigrants charged with crimes or those who have committed acts that could constitute a chargeable offense.
The Trump administration’s deportation push will not be limited to undocumented immigrants. The memo stresses that all “removable aliens” could be subject to immigration enforcement under the new guidelines.
The Migration Policy Institute, which bills itself as a non-partisan think tank, found that more than half of an estimated 1.9 million deportable immigrants with criminal records were in the country lawfully, either using green cards or some other type of visa.
The guidance issued Tuesday prioritizes the arrest of deportable immigrants who have "abused" public benefits, misrepresented themselves, or "in the judgment of an immigration officer, otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security." The memo gives few specifics on how each of these criteria will be determined.
The guidance also makes clear that driving without a license, a frequent offense for undocumented immigrants, could make an individual "subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States."
[T]he guidance presents undocumented immigrants as a dire threat. "The surge of illegal immigration at the southern border has overwhelmed federal agencies and resources and has created a significant national security vulnerability to the United States," the administration said, explaining its rationale.
The memos also say DHS will hire 10,000 new immigration officers and reverse a number of Obama administration policies. Specifics on how the agency will hire so many officers remain scarce, with the administration saying they are working on a "hiring plan."
The memos also say the administration will limit parole into the United States, to only be used "sparingly and only in cases where, after careful consideration of the circumstances, parole is needed because of demonstrated urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit."  
Breaking up families, unleashing hate and discrimination - this is what evangelical "Christians" voted for when they voted for Der Trumpenführer.

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 1


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Second Amendment Doesn’t Protect Right to Assault Weapons


While the husband and I are planning to get hand guns and concealed carry permits in light of the growing anti-LGBT agenda flowing from Der Trumpenführer's regime, we are strong gun control supporters, especially when it comes to assault weapons, the weapon of choice of terrorists and other mass murderers.  Thus, I was thrilled to see that the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled en banc to uphold a Maryland ban on the sale of assault rifles.  The full opinion can be viewed here.  The Court's common sense ruling hinged on several concepts: (i) that military weapons need not be in the hands of individual civilians, (ii) communities and states should have the right to regulate weapons that pose a dangerous threat of mass death, and (iii) gun manufacturers should not be able to use the courts to circumvent legislatures.  Slate has details on the ruling.  Here are highlights:
On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled that the Second Amendment doesn’t protect assault weaponsan extraordinary decision keenly attuned to the brutal havoc these firearms can wreak. Issued by the court sitting en banc, Tuesday’s decision reversed a previous ruling in which a panel of judges had struck down Maryland’s ban on assault weapons and detachable large capacity magazines. Today’s ruling is a remarkable victory for gun safety advocates and a serious setback for gun proponents who believe the Second Amendment exempts weapons of war from regulation.
In 2013, Maryland passed a law barring the sale, possession, transfer, or purchase of what it dubbed “assault weapons,” including AR-15s, AK-47s, and semiautomatic rifles. It also banned copies of these firearms and large capacity magazines. Gun advocates sued, alleging that the law violated their right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment. A district court rejected their claims, but a panel of judges from the 4th Circuit reversed that rejection, holding that the Maryland law infringed on gun owners’ Second Amendment rights—and that gun regulations must be subject to the extremely demanding “strict scrutiny” standard. The full court voted to vacate that decision and rehear the case, and Tuesday’s decision marks a vigorous rejection of that extreme stance.
The majority opinion opens with a disturbing account of several recent mass shootings enabled by the kind of assault weapons that Maryland seeks to ban. In Newtown, Aurora, San Bernardino, Orlando, Binghamton, Tucson, Virginia Tech, and Fort Hood, mass shooters used either military-style rifles or high-capacity magazines, significantly increasing the ultimate death tolls. Newtown, in particular, compelled Maryland to ban these weapons. The state recognized that the Supreme Court’s decision in D.C. v. Heller protects citizens’ right to keep handguns in the home. But it argued that the firearms it had proscribed constituted “dangerous and unusual weapons,” which the Heller court said could be outlawed.
A majority of the 4th Circuit agreed with Maryland, holding that the weapons it forbade were sufficiently similar to M-16 rifles to fall outside the ambit of the Second Amendment.
“Whatever their other potential,” the court wrote, these weapons “are unquestionably most useful in military service. That is, the banned assault weapons are designed to kill or disable the enemy on the battlefield.” 
“The next effect of these military combat features,” the majority concluded, “is a capability for lethality—more wounds, more serious, in more victims—far beyond that of other firearms in general, including other semiautomatic guns.” . . . .  It is a weapon of war, not the tool of self-defense envisioned by the Heller court.
Although the majority held that these weapons fell outside the scope of the Second Amendment altogether, it also noted, as an “alternative basis,” that even if the amendment applied, the Maryland law would still be constitutional. Since the law does not “effectively disarm individuals or substantially affect their ability to defend themselves,” it would only be subject to intermediate scrutiny if the Second Amendment applied. And the law meets that level of scrutiny because it is “reasonably adapted to a substantial governmental interest.”
The most striking part of Tuesday’s decision is a concurrence written by Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III, a Reagan appointee. Wilkinson joined the majority opinion, but he wrote separately to express his discomfort with the gun lobby’s strategy of using the courts to increase access to dangerous firearms:
As Heller recognized, there is a balance to be struck here. While courts exist to protect individual rights, we are not the instruments of anyone’s political agenda, we are not empowered to court mass consequences we cannot predict, and we are not impaneled to add indefinitely to the growing list of subjects on which the states of our Union and the citizens of our country no longer have any meaningful say.
Wilkinson also criticized the dissenting judges, as well as the plaintiffs in this case, for attempting to take gun regulation out of democratic sphere almost  entirely. 
His panegyric to judicial restraint with regard to Second Amendment interpretation is quite moving:
Disenfranchising the American people on this life and death subject would be the gravest and most serious of steps. It is their community, not ours. It is their safety, not ours. It is their lives, not ours. To say in the wake of so many mass shootings in so many localities across this country that the people themselves are now to be rendered newly powerless, that all they can do is stand by and watch as federal courts design their destiny—this would deliver a body blow to democracy as we have known it since the very founding of this nation.
In urging us to strike this legislation, appellants would impair the ability of government to act prophylactically. More and more under appellants’ view, preventive statutory action is to be judicially forbidden and we must bide our time until another tragedy is inflicted or irretrievable human damage has once more been done.

I may be dating myself, but Wilkinson was a young professor at the University of Virginia School of Law when I was a law student. 

Tuesday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2