Saturday, December 03, 2016

Saturday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2

Will Trump Risk Conflict with China to Further His Business Empire in Taiwan?

Numerous posts on this blog and stories in the responsible segments of the media have focused on the coming problems of Donald Trump putting his business interest ahead of the national interest.  Given Trump's narcissism and egomania, like Louis IV once said - l'estat c'est moi - Trump views himself/his business' best interests as synonymous with America.  Not even yet in office Trump has triggered possible conflict with China through his telephone conversation with the president of Taiwan - most likely as part of Trump's plan to build luxury hotels in Taiwan.  Even the typically reactionary and GOP apologist Wall Street Journal is alarmed at this blunder.  There is a reason almost all of the experience personnel in the intelligence and foreign affairs circles of government opposed Trump during the just ended campaign.  Here are story highlights:
President-elect Donald Trump spoke with the president of Taiwan on Friday, a conversation that breaks with decades of U.S. policy and could well infuriate the Chinese government.
The conversation between Mr. Trump and President Tsai Ing-wen runs counter to the longstanding effort by Beijing to block any formal U.S. diplomatic relations with the island off China’s coast. Chinese leaders consider Taiwan a Chinese territory, not a sovereign nation.
The Trump transition team didn’t give many details of the discussion but said Mr. Trump spoke with the Taiwanese leader, “who offered her congratulations.”
The White House reacted quickly, moving to calm a potential diplomatic dilemma. Ned Price, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said “there is no change to our longstanding policy on cross-Strait issues” and that the U.S. remains “firmly committed to our ‘one China’ policy based on the three Joint Communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act.”
“As President Obama has said, we are committed to ensuring the smoothest possible transition for the incoming administration,” Mr. Price said in a statement. “Every president, regardless of party, has benefited from the expertise and counsel of State Department on matters like these.”
The White House didn’t learn of Mr. Trump’s phone call until after it had taken place, a senior administration official said.
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi referred to the call as “a petty trick on the part of the Taiwan side,” according to a notice published on multiple Chinese news portals and attributed to the ministry. The conversation between Mr. Trump and Ms. Tsai “can’t in any way change the ‘One China’ structure that has already taken form in international society,” he said.
Reaction could be so severe as to include sanctions against U.S. companies, said Victor Shih, associate professor in the school of global policy and strategy at the University of California at San Diego.
“China and the U.S. have both worked very, very hard to create a status quo where Taiwan has de facto autonomy without any international legal standing,” he said. “And with one phone call—I think—Trump did in fact undermine the status quo quite a bit.”
China claims Taiwan as its territory, though the island hasn’t been governed by the mainland since a civil war more than 60 years ago. The U.S. gave up formal relations with Taiwan in favor of Beijing.
President Barack Obama has walked a fine line on the issue. China has lobbied his administration against agreeing to arms sales to Taiwan, but Mr. Obama has done so anyway. The most recent was in 2015 when the administration approved a $1.83 billion deal.
On Taiwan, unlike trade, China isn’t prepared to bargain. No Chinese leader could be seen backing down on the one issue that could realistically draw the U.S. and China into war; there is no political room to maneuver.
Mr. Trump’s relationship with China already was complicated by his insistence that he would take a tougher line on Chinese trade practices. He threatened during the campaign to slap tariffs on goods imported from China and to formally declare China a manipulator of its currency, a step that would carry economic penalties.
At the same time, though, Mr. Trump faces international problems on which he will need China’s help, including restraining Iran’s nuclear ambitions but—more than anything else—restraining North Korea’s nuclear program.
Mr. Trump’s moves also have sparked concern that he believes he can engage with adversaries who have threatened allies in Europe and Asia, or with others even when the consequences may not be predictable.
Nicholas Burns, a longtime State Department official who worked for both the Bush and Obama administrations, criticized the call in a Twitter message. “Taking a call from Taiwan’s leader a significant mistake by Trump,” Mr. Burns said. “Is he listening to the State Department?”
 No, he is not listening to the State Department.  He is listening to his insatiable ego and greed.  America's best interests mean nothing to this man. #NotMyPresident.

David Gergen on Trump: "I Knew I Didn’t Like the Son of a Bitch.”

One of the ironies of Donald Trump's "victory" is that the narcissistic egomaniac believes that he has a "mandate" to force his racist, white supremacist, nativist, xenophobic agenda on all Americans. Never mind that he lost the popular vote by some 2,300,00 votes.  And never mind that he claims he will be a "unifier" even as he  selects racist and homophobes for most of his cabinet positions.  Oh, and did I mention his "victory rallies" that look like a scaled down versions of Hitler's Nuremberg Rallies that were used to incite Hitler's more extreme followers?  For those devoid of a knowledge of history, these rallies were held from 1923 to 1938 and were basically Nazi propaganda events. If you haven't ever watched it, you need to see  Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will. Watch it and see if you can't see Trump doing something similar.  But back to the caption of this post.  David Gergen has seen and worked with a number of presidents over the years.  His take on Trump is a milder version of my own.  Here are highlights from The Raw Story:
Political analyst David Gergen laid bare his feelings about Donald Trump Thursday after the president elect’s first “victory tour” speech in Cincinnati, Ohio wrapped up, telling a CNN panel, “I knew I didn’t like the son of a bitch.”
Trump beat his “populist” drum throughout tonight’s speech, calling back central pillars of a divisive campaign that netted 2.3 million fewer votes than its opposition. But despite the fractured electorate demonstrated by those numbers, Gergen said Trump made it clear he is going full-steam ahead with his vision of “Make America Great Again.”
“I think if there was any doubt that we’re putting an end to one chapter in American history and moving to a new one, he dispelled that tonight,” Gergen said. “This is goodbye to American leadership in the world. Goodbye to globalization. He’s bringing America home. He’s going to lead a nativist, nationalistic, populist movement and if you want to join up with him fine. If you don’t, forget it.”
Gergen argued Trump’s made it clear he’s going to push his nationalist agenda “and he’s going to do it in his pugilistic, narcissistic way.”
“He’s in charge,” Gergen noted. “And he has a lot of support in the Congress. That kind of speech will fire up his base, and it’s going to leave a lot of other people—”
I will finish the phrase: behind and/or targeted as not "real Americans." If we thought Sarah Palin was toxic, I suspect that we haven't seen anything yet. 

Every One of Donald Trump’s Cabinet Picks Is Anti-Gay

I hope all of my Republican "friends" who voted for Donald Trump and religious extremist, Mike Pence, are paying attention to who Der Fuhrer is selecting for his cabinet.  Without exception, every single one so far has a documented of being hostile to LGBT rights.  That's right, every single one of them..Yet these "friends" continually assure me "that there is nothing to worry about."   Easy for them to say since they are white, heterosexual Christians.  It is a kin to such a person telling black Americans that there is nothing to fear if they are pulled over by the police.  Until one has experienced living as a constant target for haters, they really have no idea of what they are talking about or why one feels so worried as Trump parades out his cavalcade of anti-gay forces.  Not all are anti-gay zealots, but many of them are.  A piece in New York Magazine looks at the reality facing the LGBT community.  Here are excerpts:
During his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, Donald Trump did something unusual: He acknowledged LGBT Americans. Referring to the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, Trump said, “This time, the terrorist targeted the LGBTQ community … and we’re going to stop it.” He then promised to “protect LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology.”
But Trump’s promise was to protect LGBT Americans from hateful ideology abroad — he didn’t mention the hatred many regularly experience at home, sometimes due to policies proposed by people with whom he surrounds himself. Because of all his cabinet and cabinet-level picks so far, not one has a history of standing up for LGBT rights.
Jeff Sessions, attorney general 
[Y]ou can pick almost any LGBT rights issue, and chances are Sessions has voted against it. He supported a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage; voted against adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the definition of hate crimes; and voted against repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
He also co-sponsored a bill that would allow Alabama’s definition of marriage to supersede the federal definition, basically ending same-sex marriage in the state. And he’s co-sponsoring the First Amendment Defense Act, which would let government-funded organizations ignore laws that conflict with their religious beliefs. His score with the Human Rights Campaign is a big, fat zero.
Mike Pompeo, Central Intelligence Agency director
Trump chose Kansas congressman Mike Pompeo to fill the post of CIA director around the same time he tapped Sessions. While serving in congress, Pompeo voted to protect anti-same-sex marriage opinions as free speech and also supported a bill saying a state’s definition of marriage should supersede the federal one. 
Betsy DeVos, Education secretary
Betsy DeVos, Trump’s pick for Education secretary, comes from a wealthy Michigan family with a long history of donating to anti-LGBT, pro-GOP causes. According to Politico, DeVos and her husband — Dick DeVos — have “given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian group whose founder called the battle against LGBT rights a ‘second civil war.’” DeVos’s late father and her husband’s family were also major donors to the Family Research Council (another conservative Christian group), and they reportedly donated thousands to efforts to block the legalization of same-sex marriage in states like Florida, Michigan, and California.
Tom Price, Health and Human Services secretary
As a state representative for Georgia, Tom Price — Trump’s pick for Health and Human Services secretary —- voted against prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation and in favor of defining marriage in the Constitution as between one man and one woman. He also has a zero rating from the Human Rights Campaign, and pro-LGBT advocates worry that, as secretary of Health, he could take away protections specifically for transgender Americans. Price is in favor of dismantling the Affordable Care Act, which bans sex discrimination — including discrimination against trans people — in health care.
Price has also criticized protections for transgender students in public schools, saying a “federal restroom policy” is “yet another abuse and overreach of power by the Obama administration, and a clear invasion of privacy.”
Elaine Chao, Transportation secretary
Yesterday, Trump named Elaine Chao to the post of secretary of Transportation. . . . . She has no voting record, so it’s tough to pin down where Chao stands on the issue of LGBT rights, but her family provides some clues. She’s married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who led opposition to LGBT rights in the upper house. Chao has campaigned heavily for her husband in the past, so it’s likely she shares at least some of his views on the issue.
Reince Priebus, chief of staff
True, Reince Priebus — Trump’s new chief of staff — doesn’t have a voting record either, but as chairman of the Republican Party, the guy spearheaded one of the most anti-LGBT platforms to date. Among other things, it calls for the repeal of same-sex marriage, gives states the right to choose which bathroom transgender people use, and defends businesses who deny service to LGBT Americans based on their religious beliefs. 
Mike Flynn, White House national security adviser
According to the Human Rights Campaign, retired Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn has a “history of animus toward LGBT people.” Most recently Flynn, whom Trump has named national security adviser, went on a tirade against “political correctness” in response to the Obama administration’s decision to allow transgender soldiers to serve openly in the military. 
Nikki Haley, ambassador to the United Nations
South Carolina governor Nikki Haley will serve as the ambassador to the United Nations, and although she drew fire from conservative pundits for referencing “modern families” in her response to Obama’s final State of the Union, she’s not exactly progressive when it comes to LGBT issues. In 2010 she said marriage is between “one man and one woman,” and three years later she backed her state’s ban on same-sex marriage. 
The reality is that ISIS and Islamic terrorists pose a minimal threat to LGBT Americans.  Over the course of American history, the main threat has come from right wing Christian religious extremists who seek to force their version of a Sharia Law equivalent on the nation.  These are the people Trump has named to his cabinet.  So I would ask my "friends" who voted for Trump to explain to me why I should be happy and unafraid of what we see unfolding?  Especially given Mike Pence's - Trump's COO, if you will - extensive history of anti-LGBT animus.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 1

Friday, December 02, 2016

Friday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2

Resisting Paul Ryan and the GOP's Plan to Kill Medicare

Like so many other Republicans, Paul Ryan likes to talk about his supposed Christian values even as his political agenda is diametrically opposed to Christian social gospel, especially that of the Roman Catholic Church to which Ryan falsely claims to have allegiance.   As frustrating as Ryan's hypocrisy is, the laziness and gullibility of much of the mainstream media is in some ways worse as Ryan is continually allowed to maintain his war on average Americans largely without challenge and much deserved criticism.  Hopefully, this will change as the public is dragged kicking and screaming to focus on Ryan and the GOP's plan to destroy Medicare as part of the overall effort to take from the poor and give to the wealthiest individuals.  A piece in Esquire looks at the need to oppose this plan and to expose the true ugliness of Ryan and his cohorts.  Here are article excerpts:
I also believe that the attempts by the Republican majority in the Congress to dismantle Medicare and replace it with a half-filled bowl of sour porridge is both the most important issue on which to stand against what's coming and the most politically potent one, as well.
You may recall that C-Plus Augustus [George W. Bush] —having been re-elected by a margin of 35 electoral votes in 2004, and I didn't remember that it had been that close—decided that he had accrued enough "political capital" to monkey around with Social Security. That attempt got body-slammed and its defeat started the downward spiral of his approval ratings from which he never recovered fully.
This same thing should happen as regards any attempt by Speaker Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin, to enact his golden dream of demolishing safety-net programs that he believes make old people with Medicare less "free" than old people who slowly waste away in darkened apartments. His idea is to set up a program with criminally inadequate vouchers, slap the name "Medicare" on it, and hope that people are as stupid as he thinks they are.

For progressives of any stripe, Medicare has to be a bright, hot line. One of the great triumphs of progressive government in the 20th century was its virtual elimination of hopeless poverty among the elderly. Because of Medicare, and Social Security before that, old people were freed up to have the opportunity to consider their quality of life, rather than living from one can of catfood to another. And there was no more shame in them than there was in young Paul Ryan when he was living off Social Security survivor benefits after the death of his father. (You're welcome, by the way.) There can be no backsliding on this one, no attempts to "work across the aisle," no appeals to "civility" or "bipartisanship." Loyalty to Medicare has to be a defining characteristic of a Democratic politician and any Democratic politician who doesn't like it deserves to be primaried out of office.
There was a ray of hope on Tuesday that seemed to indicate that the Democratic caucus is coming to this realization as well.  Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana, who's not anyone's idea of a progressive firebrand, came out and said he would not be voting for Price's confirmation specifically because of Price's record on Medicare.
"Tom Price has led the charge to privatize Medicare, and for this reason, I cannot support his nomination. I am ready to work with anyone who wants to improve access to quality health care for Hoosier families and seniors, but the nomination of Tom Price would put us on a direct path to end Medicare as we know it, which would raise health care costs and break a fundamental promise to seniors. I have fought to protect Medicare, and I will continue to oppose efforts to privatize Medicare or turn it into a voucher program." . . . . If my colleagues have pragmatic ideas that strengthen Medicare, reduce the costs of care, crack down on waste, fraud and abuse, count me in, but if they want to phase out Medicare, or privatize the system, count me out." Nobody has a mandate to bring about this kind of destructive change. Not a president-elect with two million fewer votes than the person he ran against, and certainly not some guy who represents 230,000 people in the First Congressional District in Wisconsin. This is the gurney on which to ride to glory.
There are times that I am surprised that Ryan doesn't just come out and propose euthanizing the non-wealthy elderly.  In Ryan's world, they offer nothing to the billionaire set, so why not just eliminate them.  Ryan would have thrived as a Nazi as he pushed programs to eliminate those who were inconvenient.  The man is a foul individual and the media MUST stop fawning over him. 

Court Ruling and Trump's Election Puts Overtime Pay Rules in Limbo

Obama effort for workers at risk

If one listens to the right's propaganda that white working class voters supported Donald Trump due to economic concerns rather than their allegiance to Trump's calls to racism, white supremacy, anti-immigrant bigotry, and general misogyny, then one would think that these voters would have applauded and supported the Obama administration's plan to change the Department of Labor's overtime rules.  These changes would have forced employers with "salaried" workers to pay overtime to staff making less than a designated annual salary.   Prior to the rule changes, many employers - it is a practice widely seen in the legal services realm for paralegals and real estate processors  - designated employees as salaried staff exempt from hourly wage overtime rules and then demanded that they work 60+ hours a week.  Between a conservative court ruling and Trump's election, the new rules are on hold and likely face repeal if Trump holds true to his pledge to undo Obama's legacy. Meanwhile, many working class and low level professional workers will find themselves making less money for longer hours once again. It's yet another example of Trump voters cutting their own economic throats. Here are highlights from a piece in the Washington Post looks at this potentially additional self-inflicted harm:
As an education specialist for a museum in Kansas City, Mo., Cherie Kelly says it can be tough to keep her work schedule to 40 hours a week.
On weeks with evening events or special programming, she might have to put in closer to 60 hours — something she says happens about once a month. She was looking forward to earning some extra money through overtime pay soon, thanks to a federal rule that was slated to kick in this week.
But she and many other workers are now in limbo after a federal judge in Texas ruled last week to halt an overtime rulethat was supposed to take effect Dec. 1.
The Labor Department rule, which would have made overtime pay available to more than 4 million additional workers, was challenged in court by a number of business groups and a collection of states. The judge ruled that the department exceeded its authority when it more than doubled the salary limit that determines which workers should be made eligible for overtime pay.
The rule would have made overtime pay an option for full-time salaried employees earning up to $47,476 a year — substantially more than the current threshold of $23,660 a year. The rule hadn’t been updated in 12 years.
But business groups, states and other employers expressed concerns that the higher income threshold would hurt their bottom lines, disrupt their business models, or limit opportunities for employees.
The Labor Department said it strongly disagreed with the court’s decision and is currently reviewing its legal options.
The timeline for when the court will reach a final decision depends on what the department does next, legal experts say. If the Labor Department challenges the injunction as expected, some consumer groups said they are worried that the rule advocated by President Obama may not survive under the next administration. One scenario is that the Labor Department under President-elect Donald Trump could decide to drop the case, putting an end to the rule, says Ross Eisenbrey, vice president for the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank.
As a result, Eisenbrey said, the institute is researching options for becoming a party in the lawsuit so that it could continue the case even if the Labor Department drops out.
Many employers said after the ruling that they would move ahead with changes even though the future of the rule is murky. TJX, the parent company for T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, said this week that it would “move forward as planned” in implementing the changes required by the rule, without elaborating on what those changes would be. Walmart in September raised the salaries of its entry-level managers to $48,500 from $45,000 to bring them above the threshold for overtime pay and said this week it has no plans to change course.

 If the Trump/GOP plan plays out, these working class Trump voters could see a loss of their health care coverage, a gutting of Medicare, and reduced pay.  They say they wanted change, and they will certainly get it if all of this comes to pass.  As noted before, I have ZERO sympathy for these morons who rallied to a message of hate and bigotry and were too lazy and/or stupid to educate themselves about what Trump and the GOP actually had planned. They deserve every misfortune imaginable.  I feel sorrow only for their children who will likely suffer significantly.

Friday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 1

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Where Are the "Good Trump Supporters" in Denouncing Bigotry?

Some apologists for Donald Trump voters - including some "friends" of mine who betrayed their LGBT friends and neighbors - have argued that many, if not a majority of Trump supporters do not believe in racism, homophobia and all the other forms of bigotry that candidate Trump elevated.  Likewise, some argue that the decent Trump supporters will block some of the most foul initiatives that candidate Trump claimed to champion. Unfortunately, as Trump is unveiling his racist and homophobic billionaires cabinet, little or nothing is being heard from these supposed "good" Trump supporters in opposition to all the misogyny and hatred on display.  Sadly, few in the media appear to be focusing on this deafening silence as many fall over themselves trying to pretend that we are seeing normal times or a normal administration transition.  A piece in The Daily Beast calls out this "good Trump supporters."  Here are excerpts:
Dear Good White Donald Trump Supporters:
I get it. Finally you are: “Free at last! Free at Last! Thank God almighty [you] are free at last!” Apparently it’s been a rough eight years for you being oppressed by that black president. But the days of keeping the “white man” down are over—at least that’s the vibe the rest of us seem to be getting from you.
 Not only did 58 percent of whites vote for Trump, but a record breaking 67 percent of whites without a college degree cast their ballot for the man in the red “Make America Great again” hat.
That is why I’m writing this letter to you—the white Trump supporter. Actually, I’m really trying to reach the white Trump supporter who truly isn’t bigoted or racist. 
But while not all Trump supporters are bigots, all bigots are Trump supporters. (or at least all who voted) It’s not like a person said: “I really hate those damn Muslims and Latinos, but I’m more concerned about green energy so I’m voting for Jill Stein.” Nah, the white supremacists were all in for Trump this year.
And therein lies the problem for the Trump supporter who is a good person, whom I’ll call the moderate Trumper. You are being defined by the extremists in your community. I’m talking about the followers of radical Trumpism or Trumpists, if you will.
These extremists have reportedly committed hundreds and hundreds of hate incidents since Election Day in Trump’s name. As the Southern Poverty Law Center noted in a report released on Tuesday, there were 867 hate incidents in the 10 days after the election directed at blacks, immigrants, Jews, Muslims, and women. (You know, the very groups Trump demonized this campaign.)
 [A]s the SPLC noted, out of the 867 documented hate incidents, only 23 were anti-Trump. You might think it’s higher because Trump surrogates appearing on cable news have claimed that it’s just as bad for Trump supporters. But that statement—like much of what Trump said during the campaign—is a lie.
Failing to denounce those hate crimes committed by the extremists in your community will cause you to be defined by them. Believe me, I know that firsthand, being Muslim. Imagine if Muslim Americans had committed more than 800 hate incidents in 10 days? Muslim Americans, including myself, would be in the media vocally denouncing them just as we try to do after any terror attack carried out by a Muslim.
Bottom line is if we don’t start seeing moderate Trump supporters denounce the extremists—fair or not—the followers of radical Trumpism will soon define all of you.
It’s your call. I’m simply just trying to help the millions of Trumpers who are good Americans and despise hate as much as the rest of us.
Expect the silence of these folks to remain deafening.  They are little better than the "Good Germans" who silently allowed Hitler and the Nazis to thrive and the "good Christians" who refuse to confront their hate-filled coreligionists who are killing the Christian brand.  Being a truly decent and moral person requires a spine and a willingness to openly confront and condemn hate and bigotry.  Sadly, most "good Trump supporters" lack both. They will continue to be enablers to the bigots and hate merchants. 

Thursday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2

Click image to enlarge

Barak Shamir 

Is the Media Putting Lipstick on the Pig, Donald Trump?

As noted previously, much of the main stream media, after normalizing Donald trump's toxic, bigotry filled campaign and constantly conveying false equivalency between trump and Hillary Clinton's "scandals", is now acting as if Trump's election and transition are normal and not an affront to decency.  I book marked a piece in The Daily Beast a while back that deserves note.  The bottom line message?  That the media and pundits alike need to stop putting lipstick on the foul demagogue known as Donald Trump.  Here are article excerpts:
What is happening in America right now is not normal.
It is not normal that a presidential candidate with no prior government or military experience, who unambiguously and repeatedly vowed to violate the Constitution should he be elected president, will soon become commander in chief of the nation’s armed forces.
It is not normal that an individual helming a vast family business empire with holdings domestic and international will soon be in a position to use the instruments of the world’s most powerful government to enrich himself and his kin.
It is not normal that the preferred candidate of conspiracy theoristslike radio host Alex Jones will soon have access to the nation’s top secrets. 
And yet here we are being told to act like all of this is normal. That the voters who willed this unmitigated disaster into being have legitimate grievances and that their collective decision must be respected. While the democratic expression of the American people should of course be respected, that does not make it respectable. To use an analogy to which our insult-strewing president-elect can relate: I refuse to put lipstick on this pig.
We’re hearing a lot these days about how this election result represents a “backlash” to left-wing political correctness gone berserk. There’s no question that many self-described liberals patronize ex-urban and rural Americans. But the call for empathy goes both ways. If it were African-Americans overwhelmingly voting for a black demagogue who bragged about “grabbin’ pussy” (imagine that!), called upon his followers to assassinate his opponent, and asked the Russians to hack her email, would we be treating this hypothetical phenomenon with even one-tenth the amount of sympathy and understanding we’re being asked to confer upon Trump voters?
To comprehend what the electorate has just done, consider that 63 percent of Americans believe Donald Trump lacks the temperament to be president, yet 20 percent of those people voted for him anyway. Figures such as this leave one asking: What sort of man would Trump have to be for his supporters—and those rationalizing their decision as deriving from anything other than ignorance, racism, and misogyny—to conclude that he is not fit to serve as president of the United States?
Would he have to be a sexual predator? A sociopath? A mountebank? What if he were the willing instrument of a subversion operation mounted by a hostile foreign power?  Because all of those things are true of the man who will be swearing the oath of office on Jan. 20.
 “Tuesday night’s outcome was not a logic-driven rejection of a deeply flawed candidate named Clinton; no, it was a primal scream against fairness, equality, and progress,” 
Rahn is right about the media’s piss-poor predictive capacities. But the normative assessment about what last week’s election result forebodes is another story entirely. Rahn and many others seem to think it justified that people who feel condescended to by liberal elites would respond to this condescension by putting a demagogic clown in the White House (whereas I’m inclined to believe such spiteful behavior confirms the condescension).
Here’s the thing: Hillary Clinton was without question a “deeply flawed candidate,” as Rahn writes. The economy is not working as well as it should be for a large number of Americans. Our society is becoming increasingly stratified in all sorts of discomfiting ways. All of these things are true. And yet none of them justifies a vote for Donald Trump.
The temptation to do so, to normalize the very disturbing things that Trump’s election portends about our democracy and the fate of the world as we know it, is entirely understandable. It’s comforting to tell ourselves that, Trump’s eccentricities aside, everything will turn out OK in the end; that American democracy is resilient and has endured far worse events.
The paradigmatic example of this reasoning’s erroneousness is Nazi Germany, where a movement that nearly destroyed Western civilization came to power democratically in one of the world’s most advanced societies. More recently, a large majority of Venezuelans voted into power Hugo Chavez, and now they’re rioting over toilet paper. Most people used to believe the Earth was flat. I have no doubt that within 40 years—if Trump doesn’t launch the Third World War he warned Clinton would plunge us into—we’ll look back on those who voted for him as the equivalent of flat-earthers.
[E]ven in the best-case scenario, where he abjures the behavior and ideas that have characterized him for 70 years and governs as some sort of latter-day Rockefeller Republican, Trump would still have irreparably poisoned our democratic culture by moving it into a post-modern realm where words and actions have no meaning. Under his reign, America risks become the sort of place where, to cite the title of Peter Pomerantsev’s brilliant book about contemporary Russia, “nothing is true and everything is possible.”

Well said.  Trump and those who voted for him are a toxic evil.  We all need to be honest about this reality and stop being apologists for the indefensible.

Anti-Trump Forces Launch Attack on Electoral College

As a number of posts have discussed, the Founding Fathers created the Electoral College as a safety value, if you will, to protect the nation from a would be president who embodied the worse aspects of a shameless demagogue who could sway the popular vote.  Never would the Founders have envisioned the Electoral College working exactly opposite to their envision role, in this case electing the utterly unqualified, morally bankrupt Donald Trump over the popular vote winner who also is uniquely qualified.   Given this reality and the clear and present danger that a Trump presidency poses for both America and the world, opponents of Donald Trump have begun a full blown attack on the Electoral College.  A piece in Politico looks at the phenomenon.  Here are article highlights:
Anti-Trump forces are preparing an unprecedented assault on the Electoral College, marked by a wave of lawsuits and an intensive lobbying effort aimed at persuading 37 Republican electors to vote for a candidate other than Donald Trump.
It’s a bracing stress-test for an institution that Alexander Hamilton envisioned as a safeguard against popular whims, and a direct challenge to the role that the Electoral College has evolved to play in picking the president: constitutional rubber stamp.
Behind the overt anti-Trump push is a covert agenda: If the courts establish that individual electors can switch allegiances, supporting candidates other than those who win their states, it would inject so much uncertainty into the process that states may be willing to junk the Electoral College in favor of a popular-vote winner.
“There might well be a clamor to get rid of the Electoral College altogether, a move that would have some disadvantages (like eliminating Hamilton’s safeguard) but many advantages as well,” wrote Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard University, in an email. “Anyhow, clamor and anger have become par for the course in this loony election year.”
Leaders of the effort, mainly Democrats, have plans to challenge laws in the 29 states that force electors to support their party’s candidate. Those laws have never been tested, leaving some constitutional experts to argue they’re in conflict with the founders’ intention to establish a body that can evaluate the fitness of candidates for office and vote accordingly.
Several sources involved with the legal planning also confirmed that they’re preparing to roll out a coalition of lawyers prepared to defend, pro bono, any electors who vote in opposition to their party’s candidate on Dec. 19, when the Electoral College meets to cast the official vote for president.
Those efforts are parallel to a drive by at least eight Democratic electors in Colorado and Washington state who are lobbying their GOP counterparts to reject their oaths — and in some cases, state law — to oppose Trump when it comes time to cast their votes.
[Trump's] detractors are seeking 37 Republican defections — just enough to keep Trump below the threshold, which would send the final decision to the House of Representatives.
The below-the-radar campaign to encourage and organize those so-called faithless electors has largely been ignored by Trump and his team. But if even a handful of Republican electors join their long-shot effort — they already claim to have one firm commitment and have made contact with a slew of others — it would raise alarms by disenfranchising millions of voters and invariably fuel a renewed look at the Electoral College’s place in the modern era.
The electors spearheading the effort, like Colorado’s Polly Baca and Washington state’s Bret Chiafalo, say they aren’t explicitly attempting to unravel the Electoral College. They argue that they’re merely returning it to its historic function as a safety valve in the event voters choose an unfit president. But they wouldn’t mind if radical reform is one of the byproducts of their work.
Already, Democrats frustrated that Clinton won the national popular vote — by more than 2.2 million as of Monday — only to lose the Electoral College, are offering legislation to amend the Constitution and abolish it altogether. But advocates for a more modest, bipartisan solution — a statewide compact to elect the president by popular vote — say the renewed attention to the drawbacks of the Electoral College could help their effort.

I hope and pray that something happens to block Trump/Pence.  Whatever happens, #NotMyPresident. 

Thursday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 1

The always beautiful Edilson Nascimento

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Catholic Church Prevents Gay Man from Singing at Grandmother’s Funeral

The gratuitous cruelty of the Roman Catholic Church continues and underscores the foul nature of this made made institution which has aided and abetted child rapist and encouraged it followers to support corrupt "pro-life" politicians - politicians like Donald Trump, a pathological liar, serial adulterer, not to mention thrice married.   The pettiness and simple mean spirited nature of these alleged "men of god" truly seems to know few limits and cares nothing for common decency.  Rather, all is focused on maintaining the cult and the priestly classes power over parishioners.  The latest example of the toxicity of the Church comes from  St. Mary’s of the Assumption Catholic Church in Decatur, Indiana (the backyard of gay hater extraordinaire, Mike Pence), where a man has been barred from singing at his grandmother's funeral due to his "gay life style."  Irish Central has details. Here are highlights:  
Indiana parishioner Connor Hakes, a music graduate, planned to honor his grandmother by singing at her funeral until he was told by his parish priest that because of his “gay lifestyle” he would no longer be permitted to. Father Bob J. Lengerich found a photo of Hakes and his friends taken at a Gay Pride festival some years back and told the stunned parishioner that he wouldn’t be able to sing at St. Mary’s of the Assumption Catholic Church because he had advocated for gay rights.
Hakes wrote on his Facebook page: “I can no longer sing at my Grandma’s funeral, because I attended a gay pride rally and a picture was posted publicly (years ago). The priest’s reasoning is by attending such event, I am opposing the Catholic Church’s fundamental marriage belief.
"Both my Grandma and Grandpa would be disgusted by their parish. Their compassion and empathy was abundant, no matter who you were. They saw beyond race, religion, sexuality, and social class. They loved everyone. That is what is means to be a Christian. That is what it means to be Catholic. Please SHARE!” 
The hard line letter from father Lengerich lists the main reasons why Hakes was banned from singing at his grandmother’s funeral mass, outlining that “the Catholic Church forbids those who openly defy tenants of our faith to serve in (any official church capacity). This included people who have been divorced or remarried (with the benefit of a declaration of annuity), have openly supported abortion rights and are openly participating in unchaste same-sex relationships.”

As for Fr. Lengerich, I cannot help but wonder how long it we be until we come across a news article reporting on how he (i) molested a child or youth, (ii) aided and abetted a sexual predator priest, (iii) embezzled church funds, or (iv) has a sexual affair with a female parishioner who may or may not have been a minor at the time.  I left Catholicism years ago because I did not want to fell dirty by my mere continued affiliation. None of my siblings remain in the Church.  How do decent, moral people remain in the Church?  Do they simply close their eyes and stick their heads in the sand or are they simply masochists?   In any event, here is Lengerich's letter:

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2

Trump Almost Made Jerry Falwell, Jr. Education Secretary - Let That Sink In.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it is impossible in my view to adequately sound the alarm of the dangers posed to LGBT Americans by the incoming Trump/Pence regime.  Many policies in favor of LGBT rights championed by the Obama administration will be rolled back and I am very fearful of what Trump's militantly anti-gay appointees may put forward.  Many - including my husband - say that too many people are in favor of LGBT equality for some of these frightening things to happen, but the reality is that with GOP control of both houses of Congress, there will be little to stop the passage of anti-LGBT legislation, the falsely named First Amendment Defense Act being only the beginning of the likely coming nightmare.  To these naysayers, I would also point out that many Germans believed that Hitler and the Nazis would take their anti-Semitism to the lengths that they did.  Relying on the good will of others for one's rights is both foolish and dangerous.  A column in Huffington Post looks at the danger Trump poses to LGBT Americans.  Here are highlights:
Donald Trump has settled on billionaire Besty DeVos as his choice for Secretary of Education, a woman with her own, long anti-LGBTQ record. I’ll get to her further down, but first it’s important, because it reflects on Trump’s first instincts, to focus on the man who appears to have been Trump’s initial choice for the job, and who says he passed on it: Loyal supporter and campaigner, Liberty University president Jerry Falwell, Jr. ― a man whose late father and mentor said the attacks of 9/11 were God’s wrath against the United States for its acceptance of homosexuality. 
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’d like to once again point to New York Times political reporter Maggie Haberman, . . . . set a false narrative for much of the media during the election campaign, headlined, “Donald Trump’s More Accepting Views on Gay Issues Set Him Apart in G.O.P.”  . . . .  Though Trump consistently opposed marriage equality (since 2000) and suggestedto evangelical leaders (and later confirmed) that he’d sign the anti-LGBTQ First Amendment Defense Act, . . . .
So, here we are now, during the transition of Trump’s presidency ― which includes anti-LGBTQ crusader Mike Pence as transition team chair and as a likely most powerful vice president ever ― and religious zealot and enemy of LGBTQ rights Jerry Falwell Jr. says that he was offered, and turned down, the job of Secretary of Education by Trump.
Now, I think I can safely say that neither Mitt Romney, nor John McCain, nor even George W. Bush, would have considered Jerry Falwell Jr. or any other hard-core religious leader . . . . to establish policy for, and administer federal assistance to, America’s public education system. I think I can also safely say that Ronald Reagan wouldn’t have made his ardent supporter, Jerry Falwell, Sr., founder of the Moral Majority as well as of Liberty University, head of the Education Department either.
But here is Trump, ready to hand the job to a religious zealot whose sole goal, certainly by his actions and statements, would likely be to infuse evangelical Christian doctrine into public schools while silencing and instilling fear in students of minority faiths entirely, such as Muslims.
Over the past eight years the Obama Education Department, through its Office of Civil Rights, has embraced LGBTQ rights. In 2010 it launched a campaign to fight anti-gay and anti-trans bullying in public schools. The Education Department collaborated with five other agencies to form, which includes resources for LGBTQ youth.
During those same years, according to Nico Lang in The Advocate, Falwell’s Liberty University hosted a two-day conference, “Understanding Same-sex Attractions and Their Consequences,” which included panelists from various anti-LGBTQ “conversion therapy” organizations. Kevin Roose, who went undercover for a semester at Liberty University in 2007, wrote in New York magazine that condemnation of homosexuality and praise for conversion therapy were also promoted on campus and taught in the classroom there . . . .
After Falwell passed on it, Trump offered the job to Amway billionaire Betsy DeVos, a Trump campaign backer whose family’s foundation is one of the largest contributors to the anti-equality National Organization for Marriage, giving $500,000 to the group. DeVos herself and her husband, fixtures of Michigan’s GOP,  donated $200,000 to Michigan’s successful ballot initiative to ban marriage equality.
DeVos and her husband have given hundreds of thousands of dollars to the virulently anti-LGBTQ Focus on the Family ― labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center ― which also promotes “conversion therapy.” 
National LGBT groups have been demanding answers from the Trump transition team and from DeVos herself about her agenda. But Eliza Byard, president of GLSEN, which advocates for LGBTQ students, notes that even if the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights initiatives are kept intact, DeVos’ promotion of vouchers and tuition tax credits also threatens students’ civil rights, including LGBTQ students . . .
No matter Trump’s actual beliefs on LGBTQ rights, it’s clearly not something he’s taking into account while offering cabinet posts to his most loyal supporters (and don’t forget, anti-LGBTQ Mike Pence is heading up the transition team.)
That’s true whether they be billionaires who supported anti-LGBTQ efforts but backed Trump’s campaign, or religious extremists like Falwell, who helped turn out white evangelical voters for Trump and who would be hellbent on ending the separation of church and state, in public education and beyond.

Be very, very afraid.