Sunday, October 23, 2016

New Poll: Hillary Clinton Holds 12 Point Lead

A new ABC poll has more bad news for Donald "Grab them by the pussy" Trump and the Christofascist leaders and white supremacists who are supporting him.  The poll shows Hillary Clinton with a 12 point lead nationally.  Much of Trump's decline stems from self-inflicted wounds, including his attacks on women and statement that he might not accept the election results if he loses. Damage has been especially pronounced, but even a majority of men find Trump's attitude toward women unacceptable.  Here are some of the poll findings:
Hillary Clinton has vaulted to a double-digit advantage in the inaugural ABC News 2016 election tracking poll, boosted by broad disapproval of Donald Trump on two controversial issues: His treatment of women and his reluctance to endorse the election’s legitimacy.
 Likely voters by a vast 69-24 percent disapprove of Trump’s response to questions about his treatment of women. After a series of allegations of past sexual misconduct, the poll finds that some women who’d initially given him the benefit of the doubt have since moved away.
Fifty-nine percent of likely voters, moreover, reject Trump’s suggestion that the election is rigged in Clinton’s favor, and more, 65 percent, disapprove of his refusal to say whether he’d accept a Clinton victory as legitimate. Most strongly disapprove, a relatively rare result.
All told, Clinton leads Trump by 12 percentage points among likely voters, 50 to 38 percent, in the national survey, her highest support and his lowest to date in ABC News and ABC News/Washington Post polls. 
The results mark a dramatic shift from Clinton’s +4 points in the last ABC/Post poll Oct. 13. That survey was conducted after disclosure of an 11-year-old videotape in which Trump crudely described his sexual advances toward women, but before the events that have followed: A series of women saying he sexually assaulted them, which Trump has denied; his continued refusal to say whether he’d accept the election’s legitimacy; and the final debate, which likely voters by 52-29 percent say Clinton won.
The previous ABC/Post poll found a sharp 12-point decline in enthusiasm for Trump among his supporters, almost exclusively among those who’d preferred a different GOP nominee. Intended participation now has followed: The share of registered Republicans who are likely to vote is down 7 points since mid-October.
Vote preference results among some groups also are striking. Among them:
• Clinton leads Trump by 20 percentage points among women, 55-35 percent. She's gained 12 points (and Trump's lost 16) from mid-October among non-college-educated white women, some of whom initially seemed to rally to Trump after disclosure of the videotape.
• Clinton has doubled her lead to 32 points, 62-30 percent, among college-educated white women, a group that’s particularly critical of his response to questions about his sexual conduct. (Seventy-six percent disapprove, 67 percent strongly.)
• That said, Clinton's also ahead numerically (albeit not significantly) among men, 44-41 percent, a first in ABC News and ABC/Post polling.
[T]he results show damage to Trump across groups on the issue of his sexual conduct. While 71 percent of women disapprove of his handling of questions about his treatment of women, so do 67 percent of men. And 57 percent overall disapprove “strongly” – 60 percent of women, but also 52 percent of men. 
[O]ne in three Republicans – 34 percent – disapprove of Trump’s refusal to say whether he’d accept the election’s outcome if Clinton won. That jumps to 65 percent of independents and, again, 91 percent of Democrats. Not only do 65 percent overall disapprove, but 53 percent feel strongly about it.

Sunday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 1

Will Trump Make "Good Christians" Finally Get Off Their Asses?

For far too many years the main face of Christianity is that presented by the "Christian Right" and other hate-filled, prosperity gospel modern day Pharisees.  Part of the problem rests with the media which gives a platform to parasitic hate merchants like Tony Perkins of Family Research Counsel, a certified hate group.  Condemnations of the misogyny of the "godly folk" by liberal Christians gets little coverage.  That said, however, too many of the non-haters refuse to loudly speak out and show that there is a less vile and toxic form of Christianity.  This near silence helps fuel the exodus of the under 30 generations which increasingly see Christianity as more harmful than helpful to society - a view I believe is overall very accurate.  A column in the New York Times asks whether Trump may finally be the catalyst to get the "good Christians" off their asses and reclaim Christianity from those who sow hatred and bigotry.  Here are excerpts:
Some conservative evangelicals malign God by suggesting that Christians should scorn adoring same-sex couples yet vote for a sexual predator. They seem to slip seamlessly from “love thy neighbor” to acquiescing in the Gospel of Donald: Thou shalt “grab them” by the genitals.
Yet there’s far more to the story, and liberals haven’t given enough credit to the many conservative Christians who have made the wrenching decision to condemn Donald Trump as the antithesis of the values they honor.
Much of the public focus has been on prominent evangelicals, including Jerry Falwell Jr., Ralph Reed and James Dobson, who are backing Trump. Yet it’s striking how many others denounce him as utterly unacceptable.
The main reason many evangelicals still support Trump, holding their noses, is abortion. But Deborah Fikes, a prominent Texas evangelical, is among those wondering if Christians should broaden their agenda. “Evangelicals are not living out the good news of the gospel as Jesus modeled and commanded when we prioritize criminalizing abortion as our single most important issue politically while neglecting issues of poverty or refugees,” she told me.
More than 20,000 evangelicals have signed a petition on calling this election “a significant teachable moment for our churches,” adding, “Trump’s racial and religious bigotry and treatment of women is morally unacceptable to us as evangelical Christians.”
It’s easy for secular Americans to dismiss all of this as too little too late — but that would be exactly the wrong approach.
Yes, it has been infuriating to see blowhards who proclaimed themselves “pro-life” when their compassion for human beings seemed to end at birth.
Many young evangelicals seem tired of the culture wars, wearied by politics, and less interested in hounding gay couples than in helping the homeless, the addicted, the incarcerated. Evangelicals have done sterling work fighting prison rape and combating sex trafficking, and if secular bleeding hearts and religious bleeding hearts can just work together, so much more will be accomplished to improve the human condition.
I hope that the crisis among evangelicals this election year creates an opportunity to build bridges across America’s “God Gulf.” As many prominent evangelicals renounce Trump, the secular response should be to applaud that courage in hopes that this is a turning point, and that people of good will, regardless of where they stand on the faith spectrum, can begin to move from fighting one another to tackling the common enemies of humanity that plague us all.

Republicans Prepare for A Civil War

Back in 2000, George W. Bush and the so-called GOP establishment made a concerted effort to court the Christofascists and, less overtly through dog whistle racist slogans, white supremacists.  Locally, that translated into seeing a member of the Christian Coalition elected to a vice-chairman of the Republican Party of the City of Virginia Beach.  At the same time, I and others found that the party that we had known was slipping away.  Religious extremism, especially anti-gay hysteria, and growing overt racism became a near litmus test for party membership.  I left the party and in the years that followed, most of my family did so as well.  Over the years since, the extremism of the party platform has increased with this year seeing the most anti-gay platform ever adopted.  Add in Donald Trump's poisonous racist rhetoric and the situation is now totally toxic.  With Trump hopefully headed to a resounding defeat and the GOP position in Congress threatened, Paul Ryan and other faux moderates are seeing the fruits of years of peddling misogyny.  Some predict a civil war. A piece in the Washington Post looks at the GOP's self-created disaster and the shrinking, and increasingly poorly educated, party base.  Here are highlights:
Anne O’Reilly, a lifelong Republican activist, was in the audience here waiting for Donald Trump to arrive Saturday morning. She remains hopeful that Trump can win the presidency but has no doubt what will happen if he doesn’t.
“I think it’s going to be an eggbeater in the Republican Party,” she said. “I think you’re going to see pieces going all over the place.”
The speech was a laundry list of familiar promises on the economy, national security, immigration and other issues, though the candidate’s message was muddled by his assertions of coming lawsuits against the women accusing him of sexual misconduct and his pledges to break up media companies that he said are trying to deny him the presidency.
It was ironic that Trump chose Gettysburg, the site of one of the most decisive battles of the Civil War, for his speech. Win or lose, Republicans are probably headed toward a civil war of their own, a period of conflict and turmoil and a reckoning of potentially historic significance. . . . . It will only intensify after Nov. 8.
[T]he Republicans face defeat — a potentially sizable one — in the presidential race, along with the possible loss of control of the Senate and the prospect of a smaller majority in the House. Trump’s future is in his hands. Saving the Senate and protecting the House are the priority of GOP leaders.
[A] major problem: The Republican coalition now represents growing shares of the declining parts of the electorate — the inverse of what an aspiring majority party should want.
The major demographic changes are well known. The United States is becoming more diverse racially and ethnically, better educated overall and with a population that is aging. Pew’s analysis found the following: “The Democratic Party is becoming less white, less religious and better-educated at a faster rate than the country as a whole, while aging at a slower rate. Within the GOP, the pattern is the reverse.”
By putting together the demographic shifts with changes in party allegiance, the Pew study underscored two big changes — one talked about for some years, the other an ongoing issue for Republicans that Trump’s candidacy has highlighted. Both bode poorly for the Republicans if they cannot adjust their appeal rapidly.
In 1992, whites accounted for 76 percent of Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents. Today, whites make up 57 percent. Meanwhile, whites made up 93 percent of Republicans a quarter-century ago. Today, they’re still 86 percent. In other words, there’s been a 19-point shift inside the Democratic Party and only a seven-point shift in the GOP coalition.
In 1992, the Republican Party had a slightly younger cohort than the Democrats. Today, the GOP is significantly older in its makeup than the Democrats — and older by two years than the median age.
The other big shift is the education levels of the two party’s followers. When Bill Clinton was elected president, Republican voters were in general much better educated than Democratic voters. Today’s Democratic Party followers have somewhat higher education levels than Republicans.
Trump’s loyalists want a future Republican Party in which the Paul Ryans and others in the current establishment play a reduced role. Those in the party who have openly opposed or resisted Trump want just the opposite.
As I have noted so often, I believe that the GOP is past reform.  The party needs to die and be replaced by a new party that doesn't embrace ignorance and hate and bigotry.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Warren Beatty Is Still Seducing Hollywood

As a teen, I thought Warren Beatty was hot.  It's one of the weird aspects of being in denial about one's sexual orientation: you struggle to convince yourself that you are straight even as you have attraction to gorgeous males. The mental gymnastics are insane.  Now, Vanity Fair has a lengthy article on Richmond, Virginia born Beatty - who has a transgender son.  On a dreary Saturday morning, the article is an interesting read.  Here are brief highlights:

He is one of the most famous actors of the second half of the 20th century, was the most talked-about wooer of women in his day (his former paramours are legion, and all are beauties), and is one of Hollywood’s more successful filmmakers, known for equal amounts of shrewdness and seductive charm. He has been called “the Prince of Hollywood,” “the Pro,” and “Boss.” He was a famous movie star before any of them—before Clint, before Redford, before Dustin, before Pacino, even before his good friend Jack Nicholson. Throughout his nearly 60-year career as an actor, director, screenwriter, and producer, Warren Beatty has been nominated for 14 Academy Awards (including best actor, best picture, best director, best original screenplay, and best adapted screenplay), winning the best-director Oscar for Reds in 1981. He pops up in the diaries of Andy Warhol, the journals of J.F.K. historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., a biography of James Baldwin, and countless celebrity memoirs. Although a decade can pass between the release of his movies, when they arrive on the scene they are cultural events. And he’s coming squarely back into the public gaze again this year, with Rules Don’t Apply, the rumored re-release of Bulworth, and the upcoming 50th anniversary of Bonnie and Clyde, in which he starred as Clyde Barrow.
Due to be released next month, Rules Don’t Apply has been described as a biographical film about eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes, but it’s actually about two would-be lovers finding themselves in the labyrinth of Hollywood against a backdrop of 1950s sexual repression. Beatty plays Howard Hughes in a supporting role.
“There’s this misapprehension that it’s a biopic,” Beatty explains, “which it’s not, although Howard is an important character in it. I wanted to do a story about a girl who comes from being the Apple Blossom Queen of Winchester, Virginia [Marla Mabrey, played by Lily Collins], and a boy who is a Methodist from Fresno [Frank Forbes, played by Alden Ehrenreich], who is under the same religious influences that I was raised in. I wanted to do a story about that young man and that young woman that also deals with money and misogyny in late-1950s Hollywood.”
One doesn’t immediately associate Beatty with puritanical guilt and repression, but that is the world he grew up in, in conservative Virginia in the 1940s and 50s, and the one he has rebelled against his entire life. “I’m afraid it still remains a big subject in America,” he says, “which often makes us the laughingstock of France and other European countries. So I thought this would be fun to deal with—a young man and a young woman involved with an unpredictable billionaire, who had no rules he had to follow because of his inheritance and his way of life. So it’s also about the effect of Hollywood on those rules, and the effect of money.”
The story of a young man coming to Hollywood from a conservative background is one he knows all too well. He and his sister, the actress Shirley MacLaine, were raised by Southern Baptist parents. Still, the family was somewhat bohemian. Their mother was an acting teacher, their father a high-school principal who was also something of a raconteur and bon vivant. Beatty recalled the first time he came downstairs dressed in a suit for church, astonishing his parents. He also admitted being convinced that if he had sex with a girl, he would have to marry her, one of the many autobiographical touches he brings to Rules Don’t Apply. 
Just as Beatty was something of a sexual revolutionary in the years emerging from the strict mores of the 1950s, so his firstborn child is also a revolutionary. Stephen, who is challenging cultural norms of sexuality, is an activist for the transgender community. Identifying as transitioned at the age of 14, he changed his name from Kathlyn Elizabeth to Stephen Ira. A poet and writer, he posted an “Answer to Seven Questions” about his gender identity on the “WeHappyTrans” Web site. One is struck by Stephen’s insouciant intelligence—he manages to be playful, erudite, and eloquent all at once.
“He’s a revolutionary, a genius, and my hero, as are all my children,” Beatty says when asked about Stephen.
Beatty with sister, Shirley MacLaine

Saturday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2

A Reassessment of Hillary Clinton

Historically, I have not been a fan of Hillary Clinton and, as the 2016 presidential campaign I decided to back her because (i) I thought she was more electable than Bernie Sanders in the general election, and (ii) she was the lesser of the two evils given those running for the GOP nomination.  Once Trump won the GOP nomination, the latter factor became all the stronger for me. Now, a funny thing has happened.  As the campaign circus has progressed, I have come to sort of like Hillary.  She doesn't leave one warm and fuzzy, but candidly, that is not a factor that should matter in deciding who is competent to lead the country and face the complexities of the world today.  The idea of wanting a president one could" have a beer with" is, in my opinion, the height of idiocy.  Do you want a surgeon who is competent or one that you can go drinking with?  It is the same concept.  A column in the New York Times looks at why Hillary is winning so far and why she id the competent answer as to who should be elected on November 8, 2016.  Here are highlights:
Hillary Clinton is a terrible candidate. Hey, that’s what pundits have been saying ever since this endless campaign began. You have to go back to Al Gore in 2000 to find a politician who faced as much jeering from the news media, over everything from claims of dishonesty (which usually turn out to be based on nothing) to matters of personal style.
Strange to say, however, Mrs. Clinton won the Democratic nomination . . . . How is that possible?
The usual suspects are already coalescing around an answer — namely, that she just got lucky. If only the Republicans hadn’t nominated Donald Trump, the story goes, she’d be losing badly.
But here’s a contrarian thought: Maybe Mrs. Clinton is winning because she possesses some fundamental political strengths — strengths that fall into many pundits’ blind spots.
First of all, who was this other, stronger candidate that the G.O.P. might have chosen? Remember, Mr. Trump won the nomination because he gave his party’s base what it wanted, channeling the racial antagonism that has been the driving force for Republican electoral success for decades. All he did was say out loud what his rivals were trying to convey with dog whistles, which explains why they were so ineffective in opposing him.
And those establishment candidates were much more Trumpian than those fantasizing about a different history — say, one in which the G.O.P. nominated Marco Rubio — acknowledge.
How many of them [GOP candidates] really believe that tax cuts have magical powers, that climate change is a giant hoax, that saying the words “Islamic terrorism” will somehow defeat ISIS? Yet pretending to believe these things is the price of admission to the club — and the falsity of that pretense shines through.
When political commentators praise political talent, what they seem to have in mind is the ability of a candidate to match one of a very limited set of archetypes: the heroic leader, the back-slapping regular guy you’d like to have a beer with, the soaring orator. Mrs. Clinton is none of these things: too wonky, not to mention too female, to be a regular guy, a fairly mediocre speechifier; her prepared zingers tend to fall flat.
Yet the person tens of millions of viewers saw in this fall’s debates was hugely impressive all the same: self-possessed, almost preternaturally calm under pressure, deeply prepared, clearly in command of policy issues. And she was also working to a strategic plan: Each debate victory looked much bigger after a couple of days, once the implications had time to sink in, than it may have seemed on the night.
Oh, and the strengths she showed in the debates are also strengths that would serve her well as president.
Furthermore, there’s one thing Mrs. Clinton brought to this campaign that no establishment Republican could have matched: She truly cares about her signature issues, and believes in the solutions she’s pushing.
I know, we’re supposed to see her as coldly ambitious and calculating, and on some issues — like macroeconomics — she does sound a bit bloodless, even when she clearly understands the subject and is talking good sense. But when she’s talking about women’s rights, or racial injustice, or support for families, her commitment, even passion, are obvious. She’s genuine, in a way nobody in the other party can be.
So let’s dispel with this fiction that Hillary Clinton is only where she is through a random stroke of good luck. She’s a formidable figure, and has been all along.

Economists: A Trump Win Would Tank the Financial Markets

As some - who in my opinion are delusional - continue to claim that Donald Trump is a good businessman, there's one test that they utterly ignore: Trump's numerous bankruptcies and the fact that no American bank will make a loan to him and/or his entities. Trump has gamed the system, screwed over lenders and bond holders and other investors with abandon, always making sure that he flees the sinking ship, saving himself as others perish financially.  It's as if he were Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon leaving the Titanic in a lifeboat with only 12 people in it, he and his wife's luggage included, leaving dozens to die who might have lived had the lifeboat been even remotely filled to capacity. The financial markets and bankers know Trump well, and economists predict that should he somehow win, the world's financial markets will tank, wiping out Americans' savings, IRA's and retirement funds.  A piece in Politico looks at the likely wreckage.   Here are highlights:  
NEW YORK — Wall Street is set up for a major crash if Donald Trump shocks the world on Election Day and wins the White House.
New research out on Friday suggests that financial markets strongly prefer a Hillary Clinton presidency and could react with panicked selling should Trump defy the polls and deliver a shocking upset on Nov. 8.
“Wall Street clearly prefers a Clinton win certainly from the prospective of equity prices,” said Dartmouth College’s Eric Zitzewitz, one of the authors of the new study along with the University of Michigan’s Justin Wolfers. “You saw Clinton win the first debate and her odds jumped and stocks moved right along with it. Should Trump somehow manage to win you could see major Brexit-style selling.”
Stock prices around the world tanked over the summer when British voters surprised pundits and voted in favor of pulling the country out of the European Union. Trump himself now talks about his own upset prospects as “another Brexit.”
The report also shows where investors around the world are making big money on the 2016 campaign. Traders betting on the Mexican peso to take a beating under a President Trump, who has promised a trade crackdown, have lost big following debates in which Clinton did well.
The Trump effect also shows up for traders betting on market volatility. Futures contracts for the VIX index, which tracks market volatility, fell sharply during the first debate, suggesting investors expect much less volatility under a Clinton White House than a Trump White House.
Oil prices rose during the first debate and gold fell. Gold tends to be a safe haven when investors are worried about possible economic and financial instability. And oil tends to go up when investors expect stronger economic growth and more demand for energy.
Michael Obuchowski of Merlin Asset Management has watched every move in the campaign closely— including all the WikiLeaks email dumps on Clinton — and made two calls based on it: that Clinton will win and that she won’t go as far left as some investors initially feared.
“I always assumed Trump would eventually collapse so that meant staying in equities and going away from certain high-dividend stocks assuming Clinton is going to win and try and tax those dividends at a higher rate,” he said.
The new report suggests that the stock market is worth 11 percent more under a Clinton presidency than a Trump presidency. This is a highly unusual circumstance because markets historically prefer Republican policies on taxes, regulation and trade to those of Democrats. . . . . Current market action is the direct reverse of what happened in 2012 when President Barack Obama was running for reelection against former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. 
Investors now clearly back a Clinton presidency and by a large margin.
The Trump effect is also global.  Britain’s FTSE 100 traced U.S. stock prices higher following the first debate. Currencies in Canada, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand — all major U.S. trading partners — tend to rise when it appears Clinton is doing well and headed to victory.
“All told, these movements suggest that financial markets expect a generally healthier domestic and international economy under a President Clinton than under a President Trump,” Wolfers and Zitzewitz write in their new paper.
This also suggests that a shock Trump victory next month could crush stock prices, perhaps by as much as 10 percent, and send the peso and other currencies sharply lower while ushering in a period of intense market volatility as investors try and discern how Trump would govern and whether he would make good on his pledge to start trade wars with Mexico and China and deport 11 million current undocumented immigrants.
“You would see incredible pressure on stock prices if Trump wins and everyone flooding into rare metals like gold and into bonds” in the U.S., Germany and the United Kingdom, said Erik Jones, professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.
Overall, the authors of the new paper envision a massive global market shock should Trump win. “Given the magnitude of the price movements, we estimate that market participants believe that a Trump victory would reduce the value of the S&P 500, the UK, and Asian stock markets by 10-15%,” they write and “would reduce the oil price by $4, would lead to a 25% decline in the Mexican Peso, and would significantly increase expected future stock market volatility.”
Bottom line?  By supporting Trump, many of his followers will be voting against their own financial best interest, falling once again to the GOP ploy of suckering them in by calls to their racism and xenophobia.  

Saturday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 1