Saturday, August 27, 2016

Saturday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 3

The Fruits of Right Wing Demagoguery

One hears ad nausea about how Christofascists "hate the sin, and love the sinner" as they spew vile anti-LGBT vitriol, never giving a care about the possible violence they are inciting. Indeed, after the Pulse massacre, some "godly Christian" pastors stated that the victims got what they deserved and/or that they wished more had been killed.  Fast forward and such talk appears to have been the motivation of a would be "Christian warrior" in Las Vegas who was fortunately caught before he could put his murderous plans into action.  Every time you hear a Southern Baptist bellowing anti-LGBT statements or parasites like Tony Perkins deliberately disseminating lies and untruths, know that somewhere a would be mass killer is listening and coming to believe that murdering others is righteous.  Here are highlights from KTNV TV 13:
A 24-year-old Las Vegas man has been charged for making terrorist threats in a video that was posted on YouTube.
Las Vegas police say they were notified on July 2 by Interpol via Google about a suspicious/threatening YouTube video.
Although Google had removed the video, they were able to provide a link for a detective to watch the video.
In the video, a man named Bryce Cuellar reportedly showed off two rifles and was wearing a military flak vest and night vision goggles.
Cuellar reportedly said in the video that he is tired of the government trying to take away his First and Second Amendment rights and says that he cannot wait to use his rifle in the manner in which the founding fathers intended.
He also said that he wanted to kill "gays, faggots, lesbians and satanists" and claimed to be a Christian warrior. Cuellar also said that he is tired of America and would begin killing soon.
Police also checked his Facebook page and found posts about the Orlando shooting and posts that outlines his anti-government, sovereign citizen and militia ideologies. Police say that Cuellar has become increasingly more radical and aggressive in his videos over the past 3 years. Based on the video and statements, Cuellar was charged with terrorist threats. He was also placed on a mental health hold at the time by Clark County Detention Center staff. 13 Action News was able to find a YouTube page that appears to be connected with Cueller. The YouTube channel has almost 161,000 subscribers and the channel's videos have been viewed more than 73 million times.
Cueller is being held at CCDC on $100,000 bail. He is scheduled to be in court on Sept. 1.
161,000 subscribers - that is frightening.  Yet, GOP and Chrisofascist extremist continue to stoke the flames that can ignite someone like Cueller - usually so that they can gain votes or line their own pockets with money.

Trump’s Repellent Inner Circle

While Donald Trump has shaken up the management of his campaign, overall, the leadership remains driven by bigotry and misogyny.  Indeed, Trump's new campaign chair, Stephen Bannon, as reported by the Washington Post, is now being plagued by stories of (i) being registered to vote at an address where he does not live, (ii) past domestic violence, and (iii) anti-Semitism.  The Donald certainly knows how to pick winners, especially since Bannon was supposed to be an improvement over Russia linked Paul Manafort.  A column in the Washington Post (bu a conservative columnist) looks mare and Trump's  ugly inner circle.  Here are excerpts:
Donald Trump is undergoing his own “extreme vetting.” And we are learning a great deal about the quality of his public pledges. . . . Trump is undergoing a rapid, convulsive transition from Mr. Hyde into Dr. Jekyll. In the movies, this role would require hours in the chair of a highly skilled makeup artist. Trump has Sean Hannity.
For much of Trump’s fan base, these details couldn’t matter less. The Trump revolution is mainly a matter of personnel, not policy. Put the right man in charge who will hire the “best people” and fire all the corrupt, stupid failures. Trump’s primary appeal — and his main source of self-regard — is his skill as a negotiator, manager and talent scout.
Here we are also getting a good feel for the candidate. Trump’s campaign has been a roiling, noxious, dysfunctional mess from the start, characterized by public feuds, subject to sudden leadership changes and unable to fulfill key functions (like actually having a campaign apparatus in key states). And Trump’s personnel selections have been both instructive and disastrous.
Consider this list of Trump’s chosen: Former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski had a brutal and demeaning style that resulted in a staff revolt, and his manhandling of a female reporter overshadowed the Trump campaign for weeks. Former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was paid lucrative consulting fees by foreign interests and resigned after reports that Ukraine anti-corruption investigators were scrutinizing millions in alleged payments there.
Longtime adviser Roger Stone is a crackpot conspiracy theorist who asserts that Bill and Hillary Clinton are “plausibly responsible” for the deaths of roughly 40 people and that Hillary Clinton should be “executed for murder.” Confidant Roger Ailes recently stepped down from his job at Fox News under a cloud of sexual harassment claims. And Steve Bannon, Trump’s new campaign chief executive, is known for his bullying tactics and for running a website (Breitbart News) that flirts with white nationalism.
There are a few exceptions to this pattern — Kellyanne Conway and Mike Pencecome to mind — but Trump has hired and elevated some of the very worst people in American politics, known for their cruelty, radicalism, prejudice and corruption.
What does all this say about Trump as a prospective president?
First, it means that the ideal of leadership Trump displayed as a reality television star is his actual view of leadership. It is not an act. In Trump’s view, leaders elevate themselves by belittling others. They yell and abuse and bully. And their most important quality is absolute loyalty to the great leader, the star of the show. This is a view of leadership that would make H.R. Haldeman cringe.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2

LGBT Business Leaders Endorse Hillary Clinton

In 2007 I was a founder of Hampton Roads Business OutReach ("HRBOR"), the local affiliate chamber of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce ("NGLCC").  Since HRBOR's founding, its membership has grown and much has been done to educate the larger business community and to give the Hampton Roads region a more LGBT-friendly atmosphere.  Working with Hampton Roads Pride, this past HR Pride event saw Newport News Shipbuilding, Virginia's largest employer outside of the military, participate as a presenting sponsor.  Democrats have been welcoming to HRBOR and its mission.  Republicans in sharp contrast, with a few exceptions, have not.  Now, at the national level, the  NGLCC has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.  I can think of few things more threatening to the LGBT community than the unholy alliances Donald Trump has made with leading Christofascists to win their backing.  NBC News looks at the endorsement: 
A national chamber of commerce representing LGBT business owners and leaders has put its support behind Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. This endorsement, a first by the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), was made at its summer convening in Palm Springs, California.
In a statement shared with NBC OUT, NGLCC co-founder and CEO Chance Mitchell shared that "the stakes have never been so high for the future of the LGBT business community. Hillary Clinton is the progressive champion our businesses and our families need to thrive."
NGLCC "looked at Hillary Clinton's record of both supporting the LGBT community and policy positions on cutting red tape and creating opportunities for small business," shared NGLCC spokesman Jonathan Lovitz "the choice for President was very clear. She has the record and the stated position that will ensure our communities continue to thrive."
"I am honored to have earned the first-ever endorsement of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce" the former Secretary of State said in a statement in response to the endorsement.
She agreed with Mitchell regarding the stakes of the LGBTQ's community future. "The stakes in this election could not be higher for LGBT Americans," said Clinton. "When Donald Trump says 'he'll make America great again,' that's code for 'take American backwards'."
"We don't want to see that foundation eroded by a President Trump who would absolutely ensure that LGBT businesses lose the ground they have made for economic opportunity," Lovitz shared.

The (Intentional?) Silence of the Republicans

As noted previously, Hillary Clinton has launched a devastating attack on Donald Trump's history of racism and accommodation of white supremacists.  While many in the GOP continue to bloviate about the non-story of Benghazi, Hillary's self-inflicted e-mail problem, and the non-story of the contributions received by the Clinton Foundation, other than Trump himself who ridiculously called Clinton a racist and few Trump surrogates, Republicans have been largely silent when it comes to defending Trump racism.  As a short piece in The Atlantic suggests, the silence is intentional because far too many know that Clinton's allegations against Trump are true (and also true about many in the GOP, in my view):  Here are highlights:
Last night, in Time Capsule #88, I noted the deafening silence of Republican officialdom, after Hillary Clinton delivered her calmly devastating indictment of Donald Trump’s racist themes.
After this frontal attack on their own party’s chosen nominee, the rest of the GOP leadership said ... nothing. The cable-news Trump advocates were out in force, but senators? Governors? Previous candidates? Wise men and women of the party? Crickets.
A reader who is not a Trump supporter says there’s a logic to the plan:
I think you might be missing the GOP strategy here regarding Sec. Clinton’s bigotry speech, and the fact that no Republican came forward to defend Donald Trump. Republicans know that she spoke the truth—the indefensible truth about Donald Trump—and they want to squelch any discussion about it. That’s what they are doing.
Because they don’t want this speech on the airwaves, debated on panels, over several news cycles, with more and more of the dirty laundry getting debated in the mainstream news cycles, leading the Nightly News with dramatic music. Screaming headlines. Any any—ANY—statement by a Republican will trigger that discussion that no GOPer wants.
The mainstream news guys are sitting there at their email boxes, waiting, waiting, for statements, so they can write a piece on it. Benjy Sarlin mentioned it on Twitter, which you probably saw. [JF: I have now] And a couple of other journos, agreed.
But without some outraged statement from Ryan, Cruz, anybody, the mainstream journos have nothing to write about, there is no news cycle, no panels, no screaming headlines, no multi-news cycle. Just a Wow! Clinton gave a rough speech!” End of story. And that’s the strategy. Bury this story. And it’s working.
That’s how the GOP handles this kind of story. And it works just fine, every time. The mainstream journos can't find a both-sides hook, and they are nervous about this alt-right stuff anyway, so the story dies. Journos fear the brutality of GOP pushback. So it goes. Every. Time.
Contrast that with the non-story about the Clinton Foundation. Every GOPer was sending out a truckload of statements to keep that story going. Chuck Todd has stated in the past that he—they—have no choice but to write about whatever the GOP is upset about because they all put their shoulder to the wheel. And the GOP always has something for journos to write about. Controversy! And no fear of brutality from the Democrats. That’s how that goes.
That’s why we hate the media. Still. Even more than ever.

I have to agree with the reader's analysis.  The mainstream media is lazy and largely worthless.  The cowardice and laziness has done much to lead the country's decline in civility and the increasing dishonesty of politicians, especially those on the right. Had the media done its job, the Iraq War could have been avoided.  If the media had done its job and consistently exposed the ugliness of the Christofascists and racists in the GOP, perhaps the GOP would have become the hideous party that it is today.  

Saturday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 1

Friday, August 26, 2016

Pastor Who Said Pulse Victims "Got What They Deserved" Arrested For Child Molestation

I swear that it has come to the point that when you hear a ranting homophobe, the only question seems to be one of how long until they are (i) caught in a gay sex scandal, (ii) arrested for molesting children, or (iii) in far less instances, having an adulterous affair.  The instances of liberals/progressives landing in such situations appears far, far less common.  Yep, it is almost always the "godly folk" who end up proving that they are complete hypocrites if not child molesters.  A case in point is "Bishop" Ken Adkins of St. Simons Island, Georgia who stated that the Pulse nightclub victims "got what they deserved" who has been arrested on charges of child molestation and aggravated child molestation with a child under age 14.  You can read the arrest warrant here.  Jacksonville Fox 30 has details.  Here are highlights:
Ken Adkins, 56, of St. Simons Island turned himself into police at about 9 a.m., according to officials with Georgia Bureau of Investigation. 
Adkins is currently in the Glynn County Jail. The investigation is ongoing. “I know nothing more about the allegations than what has been reported in the news, but it sickens me. If he is found to have done what he stands accused of, he deserves the fullest punishment the law allows," said Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry. 
Adkins has one church with locations in Brunswick, Jacksonville and Atlanta, according to his website. 
His wife, Charlotte "Stormy" Adkins, defended her husband in a statement Friday, calling the arrest "A rush to judgment by law enforcement." She added that the charges "Are false and that he will ultimately be cleared of any wrongdoing."
Charlotte Adkins said her husband "has asked to be placed on unpaid leave" from the Greater Dimensions Christian Fellowship, and that she had assumed position of acting pastor.  
Adkins recently came under fire when he tweeted "homosexuals got what they deserved" after the deadly mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub. His Twitter account has been set to private. 
Adkins' controversial campaign against the expansion of Jacksonville's Human Rights Ordinance to protect the LGBT community was waged mostly on social media. Jacksonville City Councilman Tommy Hazouri, who led efforts to expand the HRO, said he nearly sued Adkins when the pastor created pornographic images using Hazouri's image and posted them online.

Ann Coulter Goes to War with Trump

Not only is Donald Trump facing attacks from Hillary Clinton, but now anorexic drag queen look alike, Ann Coulter has declared war on Trump for his seeming flip-flop on immigration just in time for the launch of Coulter's new book, "In Trump We Trust."  It truly doesn't get anymore delicious in terms of irony!   I have always found Coulter to be a foul hate merchant who happily makes a living sowing hate and discord.  That Trump seemingly pulled the rug out from under her at her book launch is sweet beyond measure.  Talking Points Memo looks at the war fare  (read the entire piece to savor Coulter's twitter rants):  
Liberals may die tonight because there are limited supplies of those injections they give you for acute schadenfreude toxicity. Ann Coulter has been Donald Trump's biggest New York City white nationalist supporter. She's transformed toadying into a militant act. Just today her new book In Trump We Trust was released, a genuflecting, tour de force of leader principle obsequiousness. As many have noted, in the book itself she writes that Trump can do anything, change his position on anything - none of it matters. She and they are that devoted. Everything except shift on immigration.
So today, the very day her book comes out he shambles his way to embracing the Rubio/Bush 'Amnesty' agenda he spent the last year railing against and using as a cudgel to destroy the Republican establishment's favored ones. She even had an opening book party hosted by Breitbart.
Already at the book party, photos snapped by Twitters journos showed a sad visage and perhaps a growing thunder ...
I've been waiting all evening to see whether she's muscle through at least the first day of the book tour without acknowledging Trump had dumped her whole agenda. It seems not.
It seems Coulter will be the Dylan Thomas of Trump Dignity Wraiths. She won't go gently in that good night.

Friday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 1

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Thursday Male Beauty - Pt 3

Hillary Clinton Launches "Alt-Right" Attack on Trump

While the self-prostitution of the Republican Party to right wing extremist groups has been going on for years, much of the activity went on under the radar to those who are not political junkies.  The GOP establishment always tried to at least put a little bit of limp stick on its dog whistle racism and empowerment of Christian Dominionist.  With the rise of Donald Trump, all pretense of civility and decency was thrown out the window and ugly elements of right wing society were openly welcomed or at least not spurned as Trump sought to win the vote of every angry white voter, every white supremacist, and every Christofascist extremest.  Now, Hillary Clinton has released an ad that ties Donald Trump to all of these horrible, scary people that can be found here.   A piece in New York Magazine looks at Clinton's move and why it is a calculated risk, but likely a smart idea.  Here are highlights:
From the very beginning of the 2016 general election, it has been obvious that Hillary Clinton’s campaign would go after Donald Trump with a claw hammer. He presented too ripe a target to ignore even momentarily, and given Republican misgivings about him it made obvious sense to exploit Trump’s weaknesses in order to both detach potential supporters and to frighten the Democratic base into showing up to vote. Beyond that, it seemed logical in a contest between two relatively unpopular pols to do everything possible to ensure that media coverage revolved around the other candidate.
But while a negative (or if you wish, “comparative”) campaign was a no-brainer, HRC’s campaign still had to decide on its scope and focus. They could simply underline Trump’s out-there rhetoric and unpopular issue positions again and again. They could instead make him out as a conventional Republican with a conventional Republican’s weaknesses — as a sort of rough-hewn and profane version of Mitt Romney. They could execute a combo platter of the above strategies.
Or they could Go Big and attack Donald Trump the way shocked elites in both parties tend to think of him: as the representative of a new and scary departure in conservative politics that replaced the usual litany of limited-government priorities with ethno-nationalism and a violent reaction to cultural change. 
With the new ad Clinton unveiled yesterday and her speech in Reno, Nevada, today, it’s clear that for the moment at least her campaign is indeed Going Big.
The ad does not begin with much subtlety, as noted on Politico:
“The reason a lot of Klan members like Donald Trump is because a lot of what he believes, we believe in,” a robed man identified as the Imperial Wizard of the Rebel Brigade Knights of the Ku Klux Klan says at the top of the video, followed by images of a Confederate flag fluttering in the wind, Trump waving after a speech, and a man performing a Hitler salute at what appears to be a Trump rally.
But then the ad seeks to do two fairly complicated things very briefly: explain the ethno-nationalist background of Trump campaign chairman and Breitbart News exec Stephen Bannon; and introduce the concept of “alt-right” as the broader movement backing Trump.
Clinton’s subsequent speech in Reno followed the same tack with significantly more detail. She spent considerable time presenting what you might call Trump’s racist prehistory, before his presidential candidacy, concluding with his support for the “racist conspiracy theory” of birtherism.
Her key argument was that Trump had, time and time again, resisted opportunities to repudiate racism and racists, and was only now ineffectively trying to change his tune. Her best sound-bite was suggesting that Trump’s slogan could well be: “Make America Hate Again.” And she concluded with a very direct challenge to Republicans to reject the “takeover,” citing Bob Dole’s call for racists to leave the GOP and George W. Bush’s defense of American Muslims.
All in all, it was a pretty compelling pitch that aggregated a lot of negative material on Trump’s unsavory comments and associations; the ad made more sense once you listened to her explanations. But this tack is not without risks.
For one thing Clinton and her campaign will need to devote far more resources to the kind of explanations she gave in Reno before it will begin to “stick” with voters who aren’t already hip to the ins and outs of white nationalism and Trump’s association with it. There are opportunity costs associated with that investment as well: It won’t leave as much time as she once had to focus on his dubious personal business record, his irresponsible tax plan, his climate-change denialism, and his incoherent foreign policy views.
[T]he great virtue of what Clinton is doing now is that it brings the widespread elite horror at Trump in both major parties down to earth and into the mainstream of the campaign. In the chattering classes it’s been an open and incessantly discussed question as to whether Trump represents the sudden advent of of an alien strain of crypto-fascism, or merely a crude version of old-school American right-wing populism.
For Republican elites, it hasn’t just been a matter of deciding whether to support or not support Trump as their leader; some conservative thinkers and opinion leaders view the mogul as an existential threat to everything they believe in. Bringing this mostly negative furor about Trump to actual voters instead of shouting about it over their heads isn’t the easiest choice, but could be the best choice.
What will be most interesting is whether these tactics shake the (mostly) stubborn loyalty of Republican voters to their nominee, and even turn a significant number of them to a one-time vote for a Democrat.
But either way, Clinton certainly knows that going after Trump in so visceral a manner will be wildly popular with Democratic activists starved for a presidential candidate willing to give as good as she gets in partisan warfare. And when it comes to “energizing the base” and perhaps deterring progressives from a vote for Jill Stein, you cannot get much more galvanizing than a warning that indifference or apostasy could elect a racist monster to the cheers of Nazis, Klansmen, and Vladimir Putin. From that perspective, Clinton’s new tack may well be a carefully calculated risk.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2

Saudi "Allies" Continue to Fund Islamic Extremism

For me, one of the most maddening things in America's foreign policy is the continued alliance with Saudi Arabia even as that nation and its wealthy citizens remain the number one financiers of Islamic extremism world-wide.  The right fumes about Iran, but in terms of helping to finance extremists in nations around the world, Saudi Arabia leaves Iran in the dust.  A very lengthy piece in the New York Times looks at Saudi Arabia's disturbing track record of funding extremism in Europe and elsewhere.  There need to be severe consequences to Saudi Arabia and soon.  Here are article highlights (please read the entire piece):
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump don’t agree on much, but Saudi Arabia may be an exception. She has deplored Saudi Arabia’s support for “radical schools and mosques around the world that have set too many young people on a path towards extremism.” He has called the Saudis “the world’s biggest funders of terrorism.”
The first American diplomat to serve as envoy to Muslim communities around the world visited 80 countries and concluded that the Saudi influence was destroying tolerant Islamic traditions. “If the Saudis do not cease what they are doing,” the official, Farah Pandith, wrote last year, “there must be diplomatic, cultural and economic consequences.”
And hardly a week passes without a television pundit or a newspaper columnist blaming Saudi Arabia for jihadist violence. On HBO, Bill Maher calls Saudi teachings “medieval,” adding an epithet. In The Washington Post, Fareed Zakaria writes that the Saudis have “created a monster in the world of Islam.”
The idea has become a commonplace: that Saudi Arabia’s export of the rigid, bigoted, patriarchal, fundamentalist strain of Islam known as Wahhabism has fueled global extremism and contributed to terrorism. As the Islamic State projects its menacing calls for violence into the West, directing or inspiring terrorist attacks in country after country, an old debate over Saudi influence on Islam has taken on new relevance.
In the realm of extremist Islam, the Saudis are “both the arsonists and the firefighters,” said William McCants, a Brookings Institution scholar. “They promote a very toxic form of Islam that draws sharp lines between a small number of true believers and everyone else, Muslim and non-Muslim,” he said, providing ideological fodder for violent jihadists.
Yet at the same time, “they’re our partners in counterterrorism,” said Mr. McCants, one of three dozen academics, government officials and experts on Islam from multiple countries interviewed for this article.
Saudi leaders seek good relations with the West and see jihadist violence as a menace that could endanger their rule, especially now that the Islamic State is staging attacks in the kingdom — 25 in the last eight months, by the government’s count. But they are also driven by their rivalry with Iran, and they depend for legitimacy on a clerical establishment dedicated to a reactionary set of beliefs. Those conflicting goals can play out in a bafflingly inconsistent manner.
[T]he most important effect of Saudi proselytizing might have been to slow the evolution of Islam, blocking its natural accommodation to a diverse and globalized world. “If there was going to be an Islamic reformation in the 20th century, the Saudis probably prevented it by pumping out literalism,” he said.
The reach of the Saudis has been stunning, touching nearly every country with a Muslim population, from the Gothenburg Mosque in Sweden to the King Faisal Mosque in Chad, from the King Fahad Mosque in Los Angeles to the Seoul Central Mosque in South Korea. Support has come from the Saudi government; the royal family; Saudi charities; and Saudi-sponsored organizations including the World Muslim League, the World Assembly of Muslim Youth and the International Islamic Relief Organization, providing the hardware of impressive edifices and the software of preaching and teaching.
There is a broad consensus that the Saudi ideological juggernaut has disrupted local Islamic traditions in dozens of countries — the result of lavish spending on religious outreach for half a century, estimated in the tens of billions of dollars.
In many countries, Wahhabist preaching has encouraged a harshly judgmental religion, contributing to majority support in some polls in Egypt, Pakistan and other countries for stoning for adultery and execution for anyone trying to leave Islam. . . . . Among Muslim immigrant communities in Europe, the Saudi influence seems to be just one factor driving radicalization, and not the most significant. In divided countries like Pakistan and Nigeria, the flood of Saudi money, and the ideology it promotes, have exacerbated divisions over religion that regularly prove lethal.
And for a small minority in many countries, the exclusionary Saudi version of Sunni Islam, with its denigration of Jews and Christians, as well as of Muslims of Shiite, Sufi and other traditions, may have made some people vulnerable to the lure of Al Qaeda, the Islamic State and other violent jihadist groups. “There’s only so much dehumanizing of the other that you can be exposed to — and exposed to as the word of God — without becoming susceptible to recruitment,” said David Andrew Weinberg, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington who tracks Saudi influence.
Exhibit A may be Saudi Arabia itself, which produced not only Osama bin Laden, but also 15 of the 19 hijackers of Sept. 11, 2001; sent more suicide bombers than any other country to Iraq after the 2003 invasion; and has supplied more foreign fighters to the Islamic State, 2,500, than any country other than Tunisia.
One American former official who has begun to speak out is Ms. Pandith, the State Department’s first special representative to Muslim communities worldwide. From 2009 to 2014, she visited Muslims in 80 countries and concluded that Saudi influence was pernicious and universal.
“In each place I visited, the Wahhabi influence was an insidious presence,” she wrote in The New York Times last year. She said the United States should “disrupt the training of extremist imams,” “reject free Saudi textbooks and translations that are filled with hate,” and “prevent the Saudis from demolishing local Muslim religious and cultural sites that are evidence of the diversity of Islam.” She plans to address the subject in a book scheduled for publication next year.
When will America recognize Saudi Arabia for what it truly is: an enemy of America and American principles.  It needs to be treated as an enemy starting immediately.

Hillary Attacks Trump's "New Normal" of Hate

For much of the Republican Party base open racism and contempt for other citizens and Donald Trump's uttering a new liar roughly every minute is now the new normal.  Outside the fetid swamp of Fox News and alt-right websites, most Americans (even some Republicans) live in a much more rational world and Hillary Clinton is on a new outreach effort to woe them.  One of the worse effects of Trump's campaign is that, win or lose, he has lowered what passes as acceptable political discourse - at least among far too many Republican - to the level of a cesspool.  A piece in Politico looks at Clinton's efforts to court the sane Republicans who still shockingly cling to a party that has morphed into something truly hideous.  Here are excerpts:
For months, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have aimed their pitches at distinct sets of voters, each candidate operating under the belief that a November win will be determined singularly by base turnout. That changes Thursday.
Clinton lands in Reno with a message targeted squarely on center-right Republican voters: Trump’s attempted pivot toward moderation, she will suggest, is a head-fake and the GOP nominee remains too extreme for you.
 Clinton may not cast her move to zero in on Republicans so explicitly when she takes the stage here to rail against Trump’s position within the “alt-right” — a movement her team has branded as “disturbing” and supportive of a “dystopian” worldview. But coming after a two-week stretch in which Trump has made overtures to minority voters while suggesting he may alter his campaign-defining immigration plan, Clinton’s intended audience includes the Republican-leaning women and educated white populations with whom her opponent is polling poorly.
Her goal is to make sure they don’t buy into his new rhetoric and begin drifting toward Trump as the 2016 campaign enters the home stretch.
“Trump’s newly installed brain trust of Steve Bannon, Roger Ailes and Roger Stone completes Donald Trump’s disturbing takeover of the Republican party. We intend to call out this ‘alt-right’ shift and the divisive and dystopian vision of America they put forth because it tells voters everything they need to know about Donald Trump himself,” said Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta. “Republicans up and down the ticket are going to have to choose whether they want to be complicit in this lurch toward extremism or stand with the voters who can’t stomach it."
It’s been a rough week for Clinton. The FBI found 15,000 more previously undisclosed Clinton emails, Trump called for a special prosecutor to look into the Clinton Foundation, and Republicans have increasingly accused the Democrat of hiding from the press as she chooses to raise tens of millions of dollars on a fundraising spree that has taken her from Massachusetts and California before returning for more cash collecting gatherings in New York this weekend.
 So on Thursday, her campaign will try to reclaim the week. “They want to pin Trump to the Right and not allow him to pivot," said David Axelrod, the architect of Barack Obama’s campaign, noting that it’s a message pitched to the Republican and independent voters Trump is also trying to secure. “And, given her exposure this week, I am sure they are eager to go back on offense."
The case Clinton is expected to prosecute will center around Trump’s close ties to a movement that’s out of step with rank-and-file Republicans due to its divisiveness and reliance on white nationalism. Fully expecting scads of moderate Republicans to fall in line behind him before Election Day, Clinton’s team is looking to poison his attempt at normalcy. . . . "Anything you can say about Donald Trump, the majority of the country that doesn’t like him is willing to believe."
[W]orking with Bannon and new campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, [Trump] has appeared to try and soften his image for the middle class white voters and Republican women that most GOP nominees can rely on. 
To Democrats, this kind of shift is disingenuous at best, and Clinton’s speech is expected to highlight the kind of controversial nationalism Bannon — now officially Trump’s campaign CEO — is known for.
That will go one step further than even Clinton’s usual anti-Trump diatribe: a stinging recitation of his questioning of Obama’s birthplace, his insults about Mexicans, his questioning of whether an American judge of Mexican heritage could be impartial, and his hesitant disavowal of former KKK leader David Duke. "Putting politics aside, I think it’s a very important point to make in the moral dialogue of the campaign. You can’t let this stuff be normalized, I wish more Republicans would speak out. I think it’s incredibly detrimental to civic society and it’s an attempt, under the guise of not being politically correct, to normalize hate speech,” said Stevens, one Republican who’s remained vigilant in his opposition to Trump no matter how many campaign shake-ups the nominee attempts. Most GOP voters, he insisted roughly 24 hours before Clinton was set to make a similar case, should recognize that the “alt-right” does not represent them.  “They’re a bunch of racists. It’s a rebranding of something as old as time."

Thursday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 1

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wednesday Evening Male Beauty

Click image to enlarge

I'm Sorry, But Supporting a Bigot Makes You a Bigot

Some time ago I did a post about how we could expect the mainstream news media to continue to depict the 2016 presidential election as a "horse race" in order to (i) maintain a level of excitement, d (ii) maximize revenues through subscriptions or page views, and (iii) avoid a time consuming and perhaps tedious job of evaluating the contrasting proposals of candidates.   In short, much of the mainstream media is lazy.   

While many things could happen, the polls overwhelmingly show Donald Trump in the toilet, yet we continue to hear breathless reports about Trump's possible come back or media harping on the latest Clinton "e-mail scandal" as if they want to sabotage Clinton to keep the race closer.  And god forbid that the networks call things as they are: if you are supporting a bigot, it's pretty likely that you are a bigot as well regardless of whether you try to hide behind the smoke screens of religious belief or "fiscal responsibility."  The latter of course is farcical since the deficit always balloons when the GOP controls the White House. A piece in Salon gets down to the reality  of things.  Here are excerpts:
 Donald Trump’s ascendance to power over the Republican Party was made possible by how he outmaneuvered the American corporate news media. As I explained in anearlier Salon piece, Donald Trump, with his background in reality TV and professional wrestling, created a spectacle that rewarded him with at least $3 billion in free media coverage. Trump’s sophisticated meta game also allowed him to exploit a risk-averse news-media establishment that operates according to a clear and predictable set of rules and conventions governing “the boundaries of the approved public discourse.”
These rules and conventions consist of maintaining the appearance of “objectivity” and “fairness,” perpetuating a “both sides do it” framework when discussing Republicans and Democrats, and an obsessive need to present “all sides of an issue.” Clear statements of fact and truth are treated as mere opinions though as Paul Krugman once said, “if one party declared that the earth was flat, the headlines would read ‘Views Differ on Shape of Planet.’”
The American corporate news media also prefers to feature generalists who understand these rules as opposed to real experts who will not obey said script. Ultimately, in covering political campaigns and elections, the American corporate news media is more interested in reporting about the “horse race” — because it is an easy story to communicate — than in critically evaluating the specific policy proposals and qualifications of a given candidate.
When confronted by the Donald Trump phenomenon, the American corporate news media was flummoxed by his disregard for facts, inconsistency and willingness to rapidly change his positions on a given issue, overt racism and bigotry of his followers and movement, fascism-fueled hostility and contempt for journalists, and utter disregard for the rules of normal politics. 
On Monday’s edition of “CNN Tonight with Don Lemon,” New York Times columnist and author Charles Blow refused to comply with Donald Trump’s political con job and an American corporate news media that has acted irresponsibly in aiding and abetting his presidential campaign. In an exchange with Donald Trump’s minion Bruce Levell, Charles Blow did not allow Trump’s clear pattern, habit and strategy of racism and bigotry to be obfuscated or repackaged.
As detailed by a transcript from CNN:
 BLOW: And I know a bigot when I see a bigot. And you are supporting a bigot and that makes you part of the bigotry that’s Donald Trump.
LEVELL: I know someone who doesn’t tell the truth on national TV when I see it, sir.
BLOW: Right. And I know this. A bigot is a bigot. You’re supporting a bigot. That makes you part of the bigotry. And you are part of the problem that black America faces. That what black people don’t need is not somebody to solve our problems like we are some sort of algebraic equation. What black people need is dismantling . . .
LEVELL: . . . you can’t sit on national TV and call someone a racist, sir.
BLOW: I called him a bigot and I called you a supporter of that bigotry, and therefore part of that bigotry. And you are part of what the problem with African-Americans.
LEMON: Let him get in. Let him get in. Go ahead, Bruce.
BLOW: Yes, I said that to you.
Charles Blow conducted a master class in how best to derail Donald Trump’s news-media con job. Blow was direct, unapologetic, did not concede any territory of agreement or compromise and clearly communicated how Trump’s behavior and policies are racist and that by implication his supporters are as well.
Charles Blow also used the racial optics of his segment on CNN to great effect. Donald Trump, like other Republicans, deploys black conservatives as human mascots to deliver some of his most toxic, offensive and racist policies. . . . Because Don Lemon, Bruce Levell and Charles Blow are all black men, Levell was not allowed an easy out or pivot.
On Monday’s edition of “CNN Tonight with Don Lemon,” Charles Blow established a new rule for how journalists and other commentators should interact with Donald Trump’s agents and rabble. Blow is one of the few prominent voices who have consistently refused to legitimize or excuse-make for Donald Trump’s political campaign of bigotry, racism, nativism and lies. The question now becomes, Will other members of the Fourth Estate follow Charles Blow’s lead and the new rule that he has tried to establish or will they continue to be supplicants for Donald Trump?

Why Hillary Clinton’s "Trustwortiness" Won’t be Fatal

One new national poll shows Hillary Clinton leading Donald trump by 12% nationally.   That said, I cannot relax for fear that some shoe will drop or that douche bag Julian Assange will try to engineer some "October surprise" to push the election to Russia loving Donald Trump.  Even some conservative reporters seem to think that nonetheless, Trump is toast and that Hillary Clinton's lack of "trustworthiness" will not be a fatal flaw that prevents her from being elected on November 8, 2016.   Likewise, the latest scandal that Republicans are trying to inflate over the Clinton Foundation is a case of smoke but no fire.   Indeed, I suspect many will simply shrug their shoulders and say to themselves that the Republicans are "at it again" in terms of maligning Hillary Clinton. An op-ed in the Washington Post looks at these issue.  Here are highlights:
The Associated Press reported yesterday:
More than half the people outside the government who met with Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state gave money — either personally or through companies or groups — to the Clinton Foundation. It’s an extraordinary proportion indicating her possible ethics challenges if elected president. At least 85 of 154 people from private interests who met or had phone conversations scheduled with Clinton while she led the State Department donated to her family charity or pledged commitments to its international programs, according to a review of State Department calendars released so far to The Associated Press. Combined, the 85 donors contributed as much as $156 million. At least 40 donated more than $100,000 each, and 20 gave more than $1 million.
Let’s get one thing out of the way up front: This is almost certainly not illegal. For that, Clinton should send bushels of roses to former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell, his lawyers and their legal defense fund donors, who won a ruling from the Supreme Court that setting up a meeting is not an official act under federal bribery statutes. 
Would she have had these meetings anyway? In some cases, yes. Many of the donors were longtime Clinton friends and donors, international philanthropists and prominent public figures. She also did not see every big donor. But the jumble of public and private interests and the appearance of conflicts of interest were why the whole enterprise was dodgy from the start.
This foundation scandal is in the realm in between “perfectly ethical and legal” behavior and illegal behavior. Call it sleaze or the appearance of corruption. Chalk it up to the Clinton’s habitual blindness to impropriety. 
In a sense, there is nothing new here. We already knew the foundation served two purposes — one altruistic and one entirely selfish. It was a sort of super PAC, a big pot of money to which friends, favor- and publicity-seekers, do-gooders and celebrities all could donate. It, in turn, would generate lucrative speaking engagements for Bill Clinton and later Hillary Clinton, employ cronies like Sid Blumenthal and pay for lavish travel.
Mostly, it would keep Hillary Clinton connected to the rich and famous for what everyone knew would be one last opportunity to win the White House. The latest revelation won’t change many voters’ minds, with the exception of one category of voters. Some Republicans who planned to vote for her may either stay home or vote for third or fourth candidates, especially in states that are not all that competitive. If the disgusted Republican voters stay home, it will actually harm down-ticket Republicans, one more irony in the Clinton wars.
Yes, Clinton will “get away with it,” in the sense that the foundation antics in all likelihood won’t land her in jail or cost her the presidency. But it does further diminish her. It makes the public more cynical and therefore governance that much harder. That means voters are once again the losers.
Finally, it cannot be said enough: Republicans would be winning easily against this deeply flawed opponent with virtually any other candidate but Trump. The sheer stupidity of the Republican primary electorate’s decision and of the reaction of party leadership, which could have blocked or dumped him, is more maddening than even Hillary Clinton’s shadiness.

I definitely agree with the author's lament about the stupidity of Republican primary voters.  That said, it must be underscored that it was the so-called GOP establishment who invited these knuckle draggers into the party and haughtily approved dog whistle messaging that played to their racism, homophobia and general misogyny.  Trump is the natural result of the GOP establishment's self-prostitution to the  swamp fever ridden masses of Christofascists and white supremacists. 


Life After Downton Abbey

"Lady Mary" who bears an great resemblance to my late sister

Enough of politics for the moment!  The husband and I are huge fans of Downton Abbey, the Masterpiece Theater series that ended earlier this year.  In fact, one of the items being debated is whether we do another trip to Paris (one of our wealthy widow travel mates from the 2015 trip wants to go back) or, instead go to Great Britain and see London and, of course, make a pilgrimage to Highclere Castle, where much of Downton Abbey was filmed.  The verdict is still out, but my vote s for Great Britain since the husband has never been.  Both our widowed friend and I have been - I traveled to London in my in-house counsel days and stayed at hotels where we'd never think to stay. But I digress from the subject of this post, a piece in Vanity Fair where Downton creator, Julian Fellowes has kindly looked into his Downton Abbey crystal ball and offered fans a glimpse into several characters’ futures.  Here are highlights:
This past March, Downton Abbey ended its television run with the Love Actually of series finales—a joyously light-hearted affair for most characters involved, especially the long-tortured Lady Edith, who closed out the show by finally locking down a man, a better title than her sister, and a cushy career. (Respect.) Since the finale aired, there have been rumors that the ensemble cast might re-unite for a big-screen spin-off. (God knows at least one butler would welcome the work.) But in the event that a spin-off film never happens, series creator Julian Fellowes has kindly looked into his Downton Abbey crystal ball and offered fans a glimpse into several characters’ futures.
Charitably, Fellowes shares the fate of Lady Mary, the snooty protagonist who closed out the series with a shock twist: she has a heart. The character demonstrated as much by re-uniting Lady Edith with Bertie, and then actually refraining from plundering their wedding day with news that she is expecting a second child. Well, in an interview with Deadline, Fellowes forecasts that Mary’s business acumen will help keep the Crawley estate afloat, now that she’s taken over the business reins from her bumbling father.
“My own belief is that Mary, whether you like her or dislike her, is a hard worker, and she’s practical,” Fellowes explains. “I think she will employ the kind of advice that she needs [to manage the estate]. She would probably have opened the house to the public in the 1960s, as so many of them did, and she’d have retreated to a wing, and maybe only occupied the whole house during the winters.” (Coincidentally, this is the same strategy Nicholas Ashley-Cooper, the son of the Earl of Shaftesbury, used to save his family’s estate—a story chronicled in a recent issue of Vanity Fair.)
As for the rest of the family and staff—Fellowes does not think they strayed far, and that future generations would still be inhabiting the same Yorkshire pile.
“My own belief is the Crawleys would still be there [in Downton Abbey], just as the Carnarvons are today [in the real Highclere Castle, where Downton was filmed],” says Fellowes. “George [Mary’s son] would have gone to the Second World War, and of course the fear is that he would be killed. We know that Mary is pregnant, so there’s going to be another child. As for the title, I don’t know where it would go beyond George, but let’s hope he gets through the war and has children of his own.”
Although Fellowes does not offer the fates of the other characters, he does offer up another great trivia note by revealing the inspiration behind Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess.
“One thing I very much enjoyed about Violet was that I had, in creating her, touched on an iconic figure of British families,” explains Fellowes. “There was a whole generation of women like Violet. My theory is that, when the men went off to war, the women had to keep the show on the road back home, and they did. As a result, during the 50s, 60s and 70s, there were these incredibly frightening matriarchs in all sorts of family situations, that everyone was half terrified of and half loved.”
“I modeled her on my grandfather’s older sister,” Fellowes continues. “And the thing about those women is that they were as tough on themselves as they were on everyone else, which is why you forgave them. They weren’t selfish in that way; they just had these incredibly high standards that everyone had to meet.”
Fellowes has previously said that he is keeping his fingers crossed for a film spin-off, so that audiences can re-unite with their beloved characters.
“I hope there will be a film,” Fellowes told IndieWire several months back. “I’d structure a narrative with lots of things happening, but we would need a kind of unity to make a feature, which is a challenge for me. 
There was much to like about the series and, as a British and Russian history major, I loved the historical detail that showed the societal transition from 1912 to 1926.  World War I set in motion so much more than just the crumbling of empires- i.e., Russian, Austro-Hungary, Ottoman - and monarchies.  Society went through its own revolution and made a stark change from the 19th century Edwardian society.