Saturday, December 07, 2019

Saturday Morning Male Beauty


LGBT Discrimination Keeps Close Company with Racism

Democrat presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has faced flake from some in the black community for making the statement that being gay allows him to empathize with the discrimination suffered by members of the black community. To some, sadly, they seemingly believe that they alone have a monopoly on being the victims of discrimination. I disagree with this mindset and, as a gay man who lost his job for being gay and who is still the victim of bigotry by the "godly" far right Christian crowd and the 12th century "natural law" of the Roman Catholic Church, I disagree that one who is a member of a minority group targeted for discrimination cannot feel special empathy for other groups and individuals who likewise face discrimination and bigotry.  Columnist Colbert King makes this argument in a column in the Washington Post that draws parallel's between homophobia and racism.  Here are column excerpts:

Mayor Pete Buttigieg has taken flak from some African Americans for suggesting that being gay helps him relate to the struggles of African Americans. Buttigieg, his critics say, is appropriating the black experience for his own selfish political agenda.
I’ll let them sort that out. But this I know: Being black causes me to feel empathy with the LGBTQ community and others who are victimized by bigotry.
Two situations cited in a column I wrote on discrimination nearly 30 years ago helped shape my feelings.
From the first: “Men on board ship live in particularly close association; in their messes, one man sits beside another; their hammocks or bunks are close together; in their common tasks they work side by side; and in particular tasks such as those of a gun’s crew, they form a closely knit highly coordinated team.
“How many white men would choose, of their own accord, that their closest associates in sleeping quarters, at mess, and in a gun’s crew should be of another race? How many would accept such conditions, if required to do so, without resentment and just as a matter of course?” 
These were not the musings of a member of the Ku Klux Klan, but the official statement of the chairman of the General Board of the Navy to the secretary of the Navy, Jan. 16, 1942. The subject: “Enlistment of men of colored race in other than messman branch.”
As to the question “how many white men would choose” associations with blacks, the General Board chairman said “the answer is ‘few, if any’ and . . . if the issue were forced, there would be a lowering of contentment, teamwork and discipline in the service.”
That view prevailed until July 26, 1948, when President Harry S. Truman issued an executive order that led to the end of racial segregation in the armed forces.
Then came this, 40 years after the Navy’s General Board spoke: “Homosexuality is incompatible with military service. . . . The presence of such members adversely affects the ability of the Military Services to maintain discipline, good order, and morale; to foster mutual trust and confidence among servicemembers . . . to facilitate assignment and worldwide deployment of servicemembers who frequently must live and work under close conditions affording minimal privacy.” — Defense Department Directive 1332.14, Jan. 28, 1982.
That pernicious Defense Department regulation against gays relied on the same stereotyping and myths that undergirded the military’s bias against African Americans.
The regulation was cited by U.S. District Judge Oliver Gasch in his Dec. 9, 1991, decision to uphold the Navy’s right to expel a gay midshipman from the U.S. Naval Academy.
The midshipman was within months of graduating in the top 10 percent of his class. He was on tap for a prestigious postgraduate assignment on a nuclear submarine. His talents as a singer enabled him to sing the national anthem before the Army-Navy game on nationwide TV during his senior year. He simply told a classmate he was gay. Once he said he was gay, he became unfit to associate with his classmates.
The Defense Department was judging men and women not on the basis of their ability to perform as sailors, soldiers or Marines or serve in the Air Force, but solely because of a distinction that should have been irrelevant: race in the first case, sexual orientation in the second.
Last year, President Trump imposed policies restricting Obama’s 2016 directive allowing transgender service members to serve openly.
Simply stated, LGBTQ discrimination keeps close company with racism.
So, yes, because I have been and am on the receiving end of racial prejudice, I can relate to others who fall victim to bigotry.
That may explain why I share, in a special way, the revulsion, pain and anger felt by many Jewish community members over the profane and viciously anti-Semitic seven-second Snapchat video recently recorded by two George Washington University students.
And why I recoil at the sight of torch-wielding white nationalists in Charlottesville marching and chanting “Jews will not replace us.” Change one word, and they are railing against me.
Yes, I can relate to the struggle of other groups. To feel otherwise is to be as callous as those who look the other way when blacks are in the bull’s eye.  Maybe that’s what Mayor Pete was trying to say.
Very well said.

Friday, December 06, 2019

Friday Morning Male Beauty


Can a Southwest Virginia Coal Town Reinvent Itself?

Grundy, Virginia.
Here in Virginia rural area politicians continue to run on an agenda of "god, guns and bashing fags" and a majority of residents support Donald Trump who promised to bail them out of their economic plight but instead has mere made a show of hating the same people they hate: non-whites, gays, non-right wing Christians and, of course, liberals. Meanwhile their economic fortunes continue in a death spiral and the younger generations leave for more urban areas and a better financial future.  A lengthy piece in the New York Times looks at the efforts of one Southwest Virginia town's efforts to reinvent itself.  Lots of state and federal monies have been poured in seemingly with little success. The reason, in my view that the article does not address? The area remains very unwelcoming to outsiders and those in the racial and social demographic groups the residents and Trump hate and far too many of the residents cling to form of right wing Christianity that is nothing short of scary to progressive forward thinking people and businesses. No amount of economic development funding is going to change this obstacle to economic rebirth.  Thus, the economic decline and depopulation continues.  Here are article highlights:

GRUNDY, Va. — Jay Rife surveys the landscape — hundreds of flat, grassy acres reclaimed from a spent mountaintop mine once operated by the Paramont Coal Company. A few handsome homes stand on one end of the project. An 80,000-square-foot shell, to house some future manufacturing operation, is being built on another. For the intrepid, there are trails for all-terrain vehicles. There’s an R.V. park. The whole site has been wired for broadband. Elk have been imported from Kentucky for tourists to look at.
Buchanan County, where Grundy sits, has spent $35 million to $40 million on the development, called Southern Gap, some seven miles from town along U.S. 460. Mr. Rife, the head of the county’s Industrial Development Authority, says the project “is going to be the salvation of Buchanan County.”
Few places have had as many shots at deliverance. None, so far, have succeeded in stemming Grundy’s inexorable decline.
This corner of southwestern Virginia has long sought alternatives to coal as a source of sustenance. The Appalachian School of Law, which opened in the 1990s in the shell of Grundy Junior High School, was heralded as a new economic engine, lubricated — of course — with taxpayer funds. So was the Appalachian College of Pharmacy, founded in 2003 some 20 minutes down the road in Oakwood. County officials considered a dental school, but figured it was too expensive. . . . Then there is downtown Grundy itself, much of which was moved up the hill to avoid periodic floodwaters from the Levisa Fork, a tributary of the Big Sandy River.
Virginia estimates that the relocation and flood-proofing projects, started almost 20 years ago, cost $170 million in federal and state funds, more than $170,000 for every woman, man and child living in town today. The Army Corps of Engineers shaved off the flank of a mountain across the river to create an elevated platform on which the new commercial district would sit. Virginia’s Department of Transportation bulldozed much of the old downtown and routed U.S. 460 through it, built on top of a levee protecting what was left of Grundy’s old center. Finally, in 2011, Walmart opened a superstore to anchor the new site, perched somewhat oddly above a two-story, publicly funded parking lot.
Still, the effort does not quite amount to a reinvention. The economic engine is still the one that carried this corner of Appalachia through the 20th century. “We are a one-industry community, and that’s coal,” Mr. Rife said. A few steps from Walmart, an office of Welmore Energy, a coal-producing subsidiary of the Ukrainian steel conglomerate Metinvest, serves as a reminder of that dominance.
And that, today, is a problem. At the peak of coal’s fortunes in the 1970s, more than 35,000 people lived in Buchanan. Over 5,000 worked in the mines. Mr. Rife remembers downtown sidewalks in Grundy, the county seat, packed with thousands of people on weekend shopping expeditions. Karen Brown, the principal of Grundy High School, recalls Porsches and Mercedes-Benzes parked in the high school lot when she went to school there.
Coal is still the most prominent business, employing one in six workers in the county and accounting for one-third of its total wages. But it can no longer support such living standards. . . . The county population has declined to under 22,000, of whom almost 3,500 people receive disability benefits. Over a quarter live in poverty. And it is getting old. The only age group that has grown in the last two decades is the population over 55.
Grundy is hardly unique. It is one of many victims of globalization, technology and other economic dislocations that have wreaked havoc with small-town America. For years, most economists argued that rather than spend millions in pursuit of a new economic engine for such places, it would make more sense to help residents seek opportunities elsewhere.
But the proliferation of towns like Grundy across what used to be the nation’s industrial heartland — stymied by joblessness, awash in opioids and frustration — has prompted a new sense of alarm. . . . Lawrence H. Summers, once a top economic adviser to President Barack Obama, put it this way: “There is probably no issue more important for the political economy of the next 15 years, not just in the United States but around the world, than what happens in the areas that feel rightly that they are falling behind and increasingly left apart.”
Migration, as economists would have predicted, has become an increasingly compelling option: Those lucky enough to find work somewhere else leave. They include Ms. Brown’s two daughters — Peyton, 23, and Bailee, 25 — who last summer followed their husbands from the coal industry to more stable jobs at the Toyota plant in Georgetown, Ky.
Overwhelmingly, they support President Trump, who promised to bring coal back. But it doesn’t look as if they have much faith in the promise. As Hoot Dellinger said, leaning over the edge of his booth, “This community will never prosper again.”
Without prosperity, who will stay? “Ninety percent of the girls become nurses and leave,” Mr. Ward said. “We’ve seen a lot of guys chasing gas up in the Marcellus Shale.” But even moving doesn’t always work out. As shale jobs there have waned, Mr. Ward added, “a lot of them are trying to come back, and there’s nothing to come back to.”
I do not know what the solution is since, far too many refuse to accept that their mind set and right wing religious and social views are perhaps among the biggest obstacles to positive change. 

Thursday, December 05, 2019

More Thursday Male Beauty


Biden 2020 as Romney 2012

A lengthy piece in Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball looks at the current Democrat presidential primary contest and draws parallels between Joe Biden's and Mitt Romney's 2012 primary victory.  The comparison is worrisome given that Romney went down to defeat in the general election - something I fear could well happen with Biden even as I and many others will vote for whoever is nominated rather than Trump (one friend has secured bumper stickers which say "The Democrat in 2020").  Yet some on the far left of the Democrat coalition may reprise 2016 and sulk at home or throw away their votes on 3rd party candidates and, by default, re-elect Trump who is the antithesis to all that they claim to support. Such behavior - one cannot call it reasoning - is mind numbing, but a true potential given the cult mentality of some on the far left. I truly do not believe the nation can survive another four years of Trump - at least not as a democracy - as the Republican Party displays more and more desire to push the country to a near autocracy.  Here are article highlights:

History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes. Joe Biden doesn’t rhyme with Mitt Romney, although one of the words emblazoned on the side of Biden’s bus (malarkey) sort of does.
More to the point, we are beginning to wonder if the endurance of Biden at the top of the Democratic heap is beginning to resemble Mitt Romney’s endurance two cycles ago.
Despite his troubles, Romney seemed like the best bet to win the nomination for almost the entire campaign (except perhaps for when Rick Perry entered the race to great acclaim in August 2011).
The same may be true of Biden, although the race remains volatile. But Biden’s position is arguably stronger than Romney’s was at this time eight years ago.
In that 2012 race, Republican voters appeared at times quite willing to go with a different option than Romney. From late August 2011 through February 2012, Romney was surpassed no less than five different times in the national RealClearPolitics polling average, first by Perry, then Herman Cain, then Newt Gingrich (for two different stretches), and then, finally, Rick Santorum. Yet Romney always ended up back in the lead after his setbacks and emerged by the end of the first month of primary contests as the clear favorite to win the nomination (that year’s race started in January, not February). Romney benefited from split opposition as the primary season went along, with Santorum, Gingrich, and Ron Paul all cannibalizing the non-Romney vote.
Biden, meanwhile, has consistently led national polling. For a brief time in early October, Elizabeth Warren effectively tied Biden in the RealClearPolitics average, but Biden has since regained a decent-sized lead — he’s in the high 20s, with no one else within 10 points of his lead: Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) along with South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg are all clustered within the low-to-mid teens.
In the first two contests, Biden trails in Iowa and New Hampshire. However, he leads in Nevada and South Carolina, which round out the February contests before March 3’s Super Tuesday kicks off a three-week barrage of primaries.
Democratic voters have been sampling their other options, but they have not coalesced around a clear alternative to Biden. Again, this is reminiscent of GOP voters’ inability to ever settle on a true Romney opponent.
Beyond the top four, the freest-spending candidates (by far) are two others: late-arriving Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York City mayor, and wealthy activist Tom Steyer. Neither have been able to crack the top tier anywhere, although they have surpassed many other candidates who have far more formidable political resumes but far less money to spend.
Bloomberg, who could spend a billion dollars on ads without making a dent in his personal fortune, is pursuing an unusual strategy, declining to seek the breadth of donor backing currently required to qualify for debates and focusing on building his support nationally as opposed to in the early states. It is an unusual strategy that we don’t think will work — ultimately, we’re skeptical that Democrats are all that interested in buying what Bloomberg is selling, and whoever does well in the early states will bask in the glow of free media more valuable than Bloomberg’s paid variety — but Bloomberg’s level of spending may end up being unprecedented for a primary.
The four polling leaders, and the two big spenders, are denying oxygen to the other candidates, of which there are many. That’s even after Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT), former Rep. Joe Sestak (D, PA-7), and, most notably, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) dropped out of the race earlier this week.
Her exit arguably helps Biden the most. Not because Biden necessarily stands to inherit the bulk of Harris’s meager support, but because her exit removed someone who even in her diminished state seemed like a potential threat to him.
Biden’s top challengers right now — Sanders, Warren, and Buttigieg, all of whom are whites elected from northern cities/states — do not appear to have any obvious appeal to black voters, particularly older black voters. Poll after poll shows Biden, who served dutifully and effectively as the first black president’s second-in-command, with an imposing lead with African Americans. Nationally, Quinnipiac University pegged his support at 43% with blacks and The Economist/YouGov at 48%, with the next-closest candidates struggling to break double figures.
Could black support shift? Sure. Again, let’s keep an open mind. But the possibility of dramatic change isn’t the same as the likelihood of dramatic change. Biden could do poorly in both lily white Iowa and New Hampshire and still retain significant black support, so long as his leading rivals remain Sanders, Warren, and Buttigieg. The real threat to Biden is if one of these three win both Iowa and New Hampshire — and maybe even more diverse Nevada too — thus establishing themselves as the clear alternative to Biden. . .
Why are we so fixated on black voters? Because they form the bedrock of the Democratic Party, dominate the voting in many Southern states, and strongly influence the voting in many more.
Biden remains the most acceptable candidate available for black voters, at least at the moment, and those voters also tend to be more moderate-leaning, too.
As Theodore Johnson noted in our recent book, The Blue Wave, the growth of liberal/progressive self-identification among Democrats has been driven by whites, not blacks. With Warren and Sanders positioned clearly to Biden’s left, with Buttigieg currently showing so little appeal to blacks, and with the black candidates either struggling or exiting, Biden’s position with black voters remains formidable.
This is not to say Biden has been a strong candidate or has run a great campaign. He continues to show his age in public appearances and debates, and he is lagging his rivals in fundraising. That’s different than Romney, who raised the most among the Republicans in 2012 and had a well-funded Super PAC that his allies deployed to great effect at critical moments of the campaign (one wonders if the nascent Biden Super PAC could do something similar — he very well may need it).
The Democrats who fear Biden may not be up to the task of this grueling campaign could well be proven right, and if Biden were to be nominated only to lose to Donald Trump, parts of the left will make the same argument that parts of the right did in 2012: the party establishment sacrificed ideological purity and received nothing in return.
For the general election, it isn’t just who is chosen as the Democratic nominee. It’s how he or she is chosen, how damaged the nominee is from the process, and how fractured the party is once it’s over. Democrats being Democrats, some will be off sulking for a while.
And some primary voters may disappear in the fall: It’s easy to imagine some supporters of the outsider candidates, most notably Sanders, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D, HI-2), and entrepreneur Andrew Yang, falling by the wayside, even if the candidates themselves dutifully get behind the eventual nominee.
Still, Trump is a great unifier for Democrats, and that effect will kick in come fall, maybe even summer. We still see the general election as basically a 50-50 proposition, which is reflected in our early Electoral College ratings.
I cannot help but be very afraid of where things might end up come November 2020. Emigrating might yet be a plausible option. 

Thursday Morning Male Beauty


Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Under New State Laws, Catholic Church Could See Tidal Wave of Abuse Suits


Following up on this morning's post about the removal of the bishop of Buffalo, New York, the Insurance Journal is reporting that the Roman Catholic Church is likely facing a tidal wave of new lawsuits as 15 states have amended their laws to extend the time within which victims of abuse can file lawsuits.  Financially, the bill for the Church as a whole within the USA alone could exceed 44 billion. As I noted to some commentators on the cross posting of the blog post on Facebook, I am not necessarily advocating for believers to give up their faith, I merely believe (i) the Catholic Church hierarchy needs to be held accountable for its misdeeds and cover ups of crimes against children and youths, and (ii) that a thorough house cleaning of the hierarchy is needed.  For good measure, the Church needs to throw away its 12th century dogma and update its positions on modern science based knowledge.  Sadly, given the Church's history of making money (and control over its members) its true god, punishing monetary judgments are likely the best way to force these needed reforms.   Here are excerpts from the Insurance Journal piece:

A wave of new laws in 15 states that allow people to make claims of sexual abuse going back decades could bring a deluge of lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Church that could surpass anything seen so far in its clergy abuse crisis.
Associated Press reporting found it could result in thousands of new cases against the church and more than $4 billion in payouts.
It’s a financial reckoning playing out in such populous Catholic strongholds as New York, California and New Jersey, among the eight states that go the furthest with “lookback windows” that allow sex abuse claims no matter how old.
That has lawyers fighting for clients with TV ads and billboards asking, “Were you abused by the church?” And Catholic dioceses are considering bankruptcy, victim compensation funds and even tapping valuable real estate to stay afloat.
“It’s like a whole new beginning for me,” said 71-year-old Nancy Holling-Lonnecker of San Diego, who plans to take advantage of an upcoming three-year window for such suits in California. Her claim dates back to the 1950s, when she says a priest repeatedly raped her in a confession booth beginning when she was 7 years old.
AP interviews with more than a dozen lawyers and clergy abuse watchdog groups offered a wide range of estimates but many said they expected at least 5,000 new cases against the church in New York, New Jersey and California alone, resulting in potential payouts that could surpass the $4 billion paid out since the clergy sex abuse first came to light in the 1980s.
https://ra.wellsmedia.com/www/delivery/lg.php?bannerid=0&campaignid=0&zoneid=162&loc=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.insurancejournal.com%2Fnews%2Fnational%2F2019%2F12%2F04%2F550208.htm&cb=2a2c65896dSome lawyers believe payouts could be heavily influenced by the recent reawakening over sexual abuse fueled by the (hash)MeToo movement, the public shaming of accused celebrities and the explosive Pennsylvania grand jury report last year that found 300 priests abused more than 1,000 children in that state over seven decades.
“The general public is more disgusted than ever with the clergy sex abuse and the cover-up, and that will be reflected in jury verdicts,” said Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston attorney who was at the center of numerous lawsuits against the church in that city and was portrayed in the movie “Spotlight.”
This summer, when New York state opened its one-year window allowing sexual abuse suits with no statute of limitations, more than 400 cases against the church and other institutions were filed on the first day alone. That number is now up to more than 1,000, with most against the church.
New Jersey’s two-year window opens this week and California’s three-year window begins in the new year, with a new provision that allows plaintiffs to collect triple damages if a demonstrable cover-up can be shown. Arizona, Montana and Vermont opened ones earlier this year.
The church’s response weighs heavily on compensation funds and bankruptcy.
New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan set up the first fund in 2016, pitching it as a way to compensate victims without walloping the church and forcing it to cut programs. It has since paid more than $67 million to 338 alleged victims, an average $200,000 each.
The idea has caught on in other states. All five dioceses in New Jersey and three in Colorado opened one, as did seven dioceses in Pennsylvania and six in California, including the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the largest in the U.S.
More drastic and increasingly more common is the bankruptcy option. Less than a month after New York’s one-year lookback window took effect, the upstate Diocese of Rochester filed for bankruptcy, the 20th diocese or religious order in the country to do so.
When a diocese files for bankruptcy, lawsuits by alleged abuse survivors are suspended and payments to them and others owed money are frozen while a federal judge decides how much to pay everyone and still leave enough for the diocese to continue to operate. It’s orderly and victims avoid costly and lengthy court cases, but they often get less than they would if they were successful in a trial.
Bankruptcy can also leave abuse survivors with a sense of justice denied because the church never has to face discovery by plaintiff lawyers and forced to hand over documents, possibly implicating higher-ups who hid the abuse. . . .  “It’s a different process in bankruptcy _ you don’t get discovery and you don’t get it in compensation programs. The truth never comes to light.”
Unfortunately, Pope Francis has been nowhere near aggressive enough in cleaning house and this failing, combined with insincere crocodile tears by bishops and cardinals has only increased victims' feeling of having been victimized twice.  One can only wonder if the Church's leadership will ever "get it" that they are the biggest obstacle. 

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty


Sex Abuse Scandal Claims Another U.S. Bishop

St. Joseph Cathedral in Buffalo, N.Y. (David Duprey).
It is almost 18 years since the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal was blown wide open by the Boston Globe in 2002, yet the leadership of the Church has still not come to grips with ending the causes that gave rise to the scandal in the first place: (i) the requirement that priests - at least in western rite churches - be celibate, (ii) a mindset where cover ups to supposedly protect the image of the Church outweigh protecting children and youths, and (iii) the Church's 12th century dogma concerning sexuality and a near obsession with all things sexual. Meanwhile, little has been done to weed out bishops and cardinals who were either sexual predators themselves or who willingly participated in cover ups of abuse and protected predator priests. In Buffalo, New York, public pressure and media exposure have seemingly forced the Vatican's hand in the removal of Buffalo bishop Richard J. Malone.  Too many bishops and cardinals like Malone remain in their bishoprics and the Church continues its anti-LGBT jihad and refusal to accept normal human sexuality. Locally, it was only this year that Virginia Beach's Catholic High School had the name of former Richmond bishop Walter Sullivan removed from its name due to Sullivan's protection of predatory priests. A piece in the Washington Post looks at the forces and ugly cover ups that led to Malone's removal.  Here are highlights:
The Vatican on Wednesday announced the resignation of Bishop Richard J. Malone, who stoked fury in his Buffalo diocese for the alleged mishandling of sexual abuse claims, and whose tenure became emblematic of the Catholic Church’s struggle to overcome its central crisis.
Under Malone’s watch, Buffalo had become perhaps the U.S. Church’s most scandal-tainted diocese. It faces an FBI probe and more than 200 lawsuits. Malone pledged to institute reforms, but he was instead battered by accusations of coverup and by embarrassing leaks. One whistleblower said she found a 300-page dossier on accused priests hidden away in a supply closet near a vacuum cleaner.
Malone, 73, is departing two years before the mandatory age at which bishops must offer their retirements to Pope Francis — though many prelates stay on the job beyond the 75-year mark. The Vatican did not explain the reasons for Malone’s resignation.
Malone’s case offers mixed signals about how the Vatican is dealing with bishops accused of negligence or coverup and whether changes drawn up by Francis will help the institution police its upper ranks.
The Vatican did not use a system, put in place by the pontiff earlier this year, that would have allowed the region’s top bishop — in this case, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York — to open an investigation. Instead, in something of an ad hoc measure, the Vatican dispatched a different prelate, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, on a “nonjudicial” fact-finding mission to Buffalo.
The Associated Press reported last month that DiMarzio himself is facing accusations of sexually abusing a child. DiMarzio denies the allegations.
In September, a Buffalo television station broadcast audio, secretly recorded by the bishop’s priest-secretary, in which the bishop worried about what might happen if the sexual harassment accusations that a seminarian had leveled against a priest became public.
“This could be the end for me as bishop,” Malone said in the leaked recording.
But the situation was even more convoluted. The seminarian, Matthew Bojanowski, accused Malone of failing to take actions against the parish priest. Meantime, news outlets obtained a letter from the bishop’s priest-secretary to Bojanowski that suggested the two had a romantic relationship.
The local congressman called on Malone to resign. So too did a council of prominent Catholics. A petition calling for Malone’s departure gathered more than 12,000 signatures, accusing him of deceit and for being a “silent accomplice” to the crimes of priests. A Buffalo News poll in September said that 86 percent of Catholics wanted him to resign. Picketers had followed the bishop to recent events, and the newspaper reported that the diocese had ceased publishing the bishop’s event calendar.
The problems for Malone escalated early in 2018 when an initial accuser came forward, describing molestation as a teenager at the hands of a priest. A wellspring of abuse complaints followed, and in March 2018, Malone released a list of 42 priests who had been credibly accused of abuse, mostly from earlier decades. But it was anything but full transparency: Malone’s former administrative assistant had seen an earlier draft of the list. It contained more than 100 names.
Going public to “60 Minutes” last year, the former administrative assistant, Siobhan O’Connor, accused Malone of wiping some of the most problematic names from the public record. One of the missing names was that of a priest who had been accused of inappropriately touching two boys. According to the “60 Minutes” report, Malone endorsed that priest for a job as a cruise ship chaplain.

To be clear, the Catholic Church does not have a monopoly on sex abuse by clergy.  The Southern Baptist Convention - another stridently anti-LGBT denomination - has a huge problem with abusive pastors which the denomination continually tries to sweep under the rug.  Meanwhile, Patheos reports this:

Popular Alabama televangelist Acton Bowen pleads guilty to 28 charges of raping and sexually assaulting multiple children between the ages of 12 and 16.  Before his arrest in 2018, Bowen was the host of xlroads TV, a global broadcast reaching millions every week.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Tuesday Morning Male Beauty

click image to enlarge

HIV Is Coming to An Unprepared Rural America

Williamson, West Virginia.
Rural America has many problems facing it ranging from economic decline to scarce access to medical facilities to a mindset that in some that embraces ignorance and bigotry.  Now, as a column in the New York Times makes clear, some parts of rural America, including much of neighboring West Virginia is about to face an HIV crisis that it is ill prepared to deal with largely due to closed mindedness, the stigma attached to being gay and/or HIV positive and lack of access to progressive testing and medical treatment. Much of the increase in HIV positive residents come from drug use and shared needles yet, rather adopting policies that might reverse the trend, many localities are shuttering programs that might stem increased infections. Here are highlights from a very troubling column:

While there are still about a million people living with H.I.V. in the United States, in some of America’s largest cities, the news about H.I.V. and AIDS is surprisingly positive.
“New H.I.V. Diagnoses Fall to Historic Lows,” the New York City Department of Health announced on Nov. 22, reporting that the largest city in the United States had fewer new diagnoses of H.I.V. in 2018 than during any year since statistics were first kept in 2001. This was just a few weeks after Philadelphia’s Department of Public Health reported a 14 percent drop in the number of newly diagnosed H.I.V. infections overall, and a drop of more than one-third among black men who have sex with men — an especially vulnerable population.
San Francisco and Chicago have also seen their rates of new H.I.V. infections falling.
[I]n much of rural America, an opposite trend is emerging. There have of course always been cases of H.I.V. in sparsely populated parts of the country, but in these places far from cities, the conditions that lead to H.I.V. transmission are now intensifying — and rural America is not ready for the coming crisis.
Indeed, in Appalachian West Virginia, the crisis has already arrived. A cluster of 80 new H.I.V. infections has been diagnosed since early last year in Cabell County.
Unlike large urban areas that have dealt with similar health and substance crises in the past, and that have networks of service providers and consumers in place, small rural health jurisdictions often lack the infrastructure to confront the crisis and have little history of dealing with comparable health issues, she explained.
[W]hen prescription highs can’t be sustained, people often turn to using — and sharing — needles to inject heroin and then fentanyl, leading to hepatitis C and H.I.V. This avoidable crisis has been exacerbated by unemployment, declining coal mining production and economic pressures on regional press to act as effectively as a watchdog.
At the same time, health care is relatively inaccessible. “It’s not so easy to get to the nearest town to see a doctor,” Dr. Judith Feinberg, professor of medicine at West Virginia University, explained, pointing to a lack of transportation and stigma as the biggest barriers to testing and care. People living with H.I.V. are stigmatized everywhere, but those who live in large cities can get tested while feeling relatively anonymous in a clinic in ways rural dwellers cannot.
[T]he C.D.C. released a list of 220 counties similarly vulnerable to such outbreaks among people who use intravenous drugs. The densest concentration of those counties is along the Appalachian Trail, with 28 of them in West Virginia — more than half of the state’s 55 counties.
“There is no way that doesn’t wind up as an H.I.V. outbreak in the state,” Ms. Young says. Yet unlike in places like New York — with its comprehensive sex education; efforts at queer- and trans-specific public health; embrace of public syringe exchanges; and what its health commissioner, Oxiris Barbot, describes as a “sex positive approach” — when it comes to confronting its H.I.V. epidemic, rural America is ill-prepared at best and antagonistic at worst.
[D]espite research showing that syringe programs are effective at limiting transmission of H.I.V. and encouraging people to enter drug treatment, two cities in West Virginia — Clarksburg and Charleston — have recently moved to close or limit their needle-exchange programs. Negative press, business worries and conservative approaches are among the reasons the programs have been reduced when they urgently need to be expanded (along with statewide testing and education about preventive H.I.V. medication).
While it’s true that people who are black, queer, transgender, homeless, incarcerated or poor, or who use injection drugs, are disproportionately affected by H.I.V. and AIDS, the misguided impression that members of these groups are the only ones affected has unfortunately contributed to the media’s choice to deprioritize coverage of H.I.V. and AIDS in recent years.
Meanwhile, the rural, heterosexual white Americans who have been the subject of countless national profiles because they’re imagined —  incorrectly — to represent all of President Trump’s supporters, are more at risk all the time. But while we’re bombarded by analyses of many aspects of their plight, we don’t hear about this crisis facing them.
[T]he new major terrain of the crisis right now is in rural America, and it can’t be ignored any longer.

Monday, December 02, 2019

More Monday Male Beauty

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Health Care Costs Are Killing the Middle Class

Any solution to the health care crisis in the United States must focus in part of slowing the soaring costs of health care and health insurance. Americans spend more on health insurance than in any other advance economy and the cost are rising faster than in any other advanced nation. The consequence is that the middle class is suffering an ever tightening financial squeeze as costs go up and more and more employers shift cost to employees. "Medicare for All" does nothing to lower much less slow soaring costs as a column in the Washington Post points out.  Rather, it merely shifts how skyrocketing costs are paid without addressing the underlying problem.  Obviously, one thing that needs to be done is to end the gouging of patients by the pharmaceutical industry.  Another is to end the empire building of hospital systems that focuses more on a monopoly game against other providers than on the delivery of medical services to patients.  Here are column excerpts:

The idea that most middle-class Americans have been treading water economically is conventional wisdom. It is already playing a role in the 2020 campaign, as the Democratic presidential candidates propose policies (Medicare-for-all, free college tuition at state schools, subsidies for child care, to mention a few) intended to relieve the financial stress on millions of middle-income families.
But the conventional wisdom is wrong — or at least misleading. Although the squeeze is not a myth, it’s highly localized: uncontrolled medical spending. This is crowding out other spending, from wages to defense budgets. If we don’t stabilize health costs (and there is little sign that we will), we should expect the squeeze to continue indefinitely. Income inequality would also probably worsen.
We now have a new study from economist Richard Burkhauser of Cornell University that illuminates health care’s peculiar role. . . . . In recent decades, the median income of U.S. households has grown slowly, stagnated or declined. In 2018, according to the Census Bureau, the median household income was $63,179; in 1999, it was $61,526.
But wait: The official figures don’t count health insurance, whether private or public (employer-paid insurance, Medicare and Medicaid — federal health coverage for the elderly and poor).
The simplest definition included labor income: wages, salaries, farm income and self-employment. Defined this way — and adjusted for inflation — median income has dropped 21 percent from 1970 to 2016. This explains why so many Americans feel squeezed.
However, that’s not the end of the story. A broader definition of income includes all labor income, interest and dividend payments, Social Security, other government transfers and — most important — the value of private and public health insurance. Under this definition, median income rose 68 percent from 1970 to 2016. By this definition — and reflecting the impact of health insurance — typical households have enjoyed a slow increase in living standards over nearly half a century. 
Which definition of income to believe? Why, both, of course.
We have the worst of both worlds. We don’t count health insurance as a form of earnings that would improve median income. . . . . because health spending is concentrated among a relatively small proportion of people. In 2016, the top 5 percent of patients accounted for half of all medical spending, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation. By contrast, the lowest 50 percent of spenders accounted for only 3 percent of total spending.
Sanders’s approach is self-defeating and ultimately undesirable. It makes us hostage to explosive health spending. We can’t control what we refuse to control. Almost any systematic effort to curb spending is subject to attack as cruel or immoral, despite the obvious reality that not all health spending is of the same value.
In the early 1960s, before Medicare and Medicaid, which were enacted in 1965, health spending was about 2 percent of federal outlays. Now it is nearly one-third, at $1.3 trillion.
Corporations compound the pressures on take-home pay as frustrated companies shift more health costs back on their employees through higher premiums and deductibles. This, too, intensifies the middle-class “squeeze.”
Total health spending is now about 18 percent of the economy (gross domestic product), about twice the level of many advanced societies.
The effects are felt keenly by middle-income Americans and the poor, because the high cost of modern medicine consumes more of their incomes. We have created a monster, inspired by good intentions, that is slowly and menacingly taking charge of our future.



Monday Morning Male Beauty


Sunday, December 01, 2019

"Christian Right" Resorts to Dangerous Rhetoric in Supporting Trump

As regular readers know, in my view, the "Christian Right" has sold its soul to Donald Trump in exchange for promises of special rights for Christofascists which would in essence exempt religious extremists from the laws that bind other citizens.  Now, these zealots, particularly those that I refer to as "professional Christians" who use religion as a guise for enriching themselves and seizing political power are engaging in dangerous rhetoric that could well prompt extremists and the mentally unstable to resort to violence against those being depicted as enemies in a religious war.   History is full of examples of the horrific consequences of fusing religion with a self-serving political agenda: the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in Paris when thousands of Protestants were murdered by Catholics, the wars of religion in Tudor England, the Thirty Years War in 17th century Europe that claimed 8 million lives, the persecution of "Old Believers" in 17th century Russia, the years of religious based violence in Northern Ireland, and, of course the violence and murder done by Islamic fundamentalists and ISIS. Just as disturbing is the statements of U.S. Attorney General William Barr - a strident opponent of LGBT rights - that appear aimed at inciting religious extremists.  A piece in LGBT Nation looks at this dangerous development:  
Religious right leaders, struggling to maintain power and influence – even in the chaotic White House – have been avowing lately that anyone who opposes Donald Trump is in league with the devil—literally.
In a conversation with fellow evangelical Eric Metaxas, Franklin Graham said that resistance to Trump was “almost demonic,” to which Metaxas replied, “It’s not almost demonic. You know and I know, at the heart, it’s a spiritual battle.”
Graham and Metaxas are hardly alone. Lesser known, but just as dangerous figures like Stephen Strang and Frank Amedia are making the same claim.
It’s easy to brush these claims off as the usual hysterical claims from the religious right. But in fact they represent a new—and dangerous—escalation in rhetoric. Saying you’re waging a culture war is one thing; but to say we’re locked in a battle between the forces of heaven and hell sets the stakes at the highest possible level. It makes sense that the same people who have unequivocally worshipped Trump, are doing whatever it takes to keep his affection – even if that means mimicking his incendiary words.
Moreover, it’s not only religious right leaders who are making this argument. No less a figure than Attorney General William Barr is echoing the sentiment . . . Barr went on a tear about “militant secularists” who are destroying society by removing religion from the public square.
Even worse was a speech that he subsequently gave to the Federalist Society . . . After claiming that Trump’s opponents — which Barr calls the “Left” —are “waging a scorched earth, no-holds-barred war of ‘Resistance’ against this Administration,” Barr accuses them of essentially worshipping a false god.
Barr then goes on to say that conservatives haven’t responded in kind, which puts them “at a disadvantage when facing progressive holy war.”
When the nation’s lead attorney says that the nation is engaged in a holy war and anyone opposed to the president is on the wrong side, we have entered into frightening territory – and just to be clear, Barr likens to cite LGBTQ progress as an example of secular assault.
Barr, Graham and the other would-be warriors are essentially using their increasing influential beliefs to suggest to conservatives that the political stakes are so high that only a nuclear, violent response will suffice.  
The logic of a holy war leads to the inevitable conclusion that any means are acceptable to stop the assault on God’s side. Trump’s violations of practical every political norm is not seen as a sin. It’s a virtue. He’s trying to save the Republic (or at least the Republicans) from the heathen barbarians who are fighting on Lucifer’s side.
This apocalyptic belief is going to be the main theme of the right’s leading into the 2020 election. Instead of trying to adjust to the Modern Age so that they can recruit new members, conservative evangelicals (and their Catholic counterparts, like Barr), prefer to circle the wagons and start shooting.
It’s a losing battle, because their numbers keep shrinking,which will only make them fight harder. After all, it’s a fight to the death.
As the exodus of younger generations - and even some older age groups - from religion accelerates, expect the vitriol of these modern day Pharisees and hate merchants to increase.  Sadly, sooner or later people will lose their lives or suffer serious harm because of  this rhetoric which is really about retaining political power and not furthering Christ's gospel message.

More Sunday Male Beauty


Memo to Trump Toadies: Watergate Says Everyone Goes Down

History often repeats itself, especially for those who fail or refuse to learn from past events.  Many of us who remember the Watergate era see many parallels between that era and the present day where Donald Trump's lies and corruption make Nixon's sins pale in comparison.  Then and now, far too many Republicans chose to ignore facts and remained in lock step with their lying and corrupt party leader.  Ultimately, many of those who sold their souls in support of or co-conspiracy with Nixon paid a high price, many going to prison and many more seeing their political careers ended. This reality is lost on those currently prostituting themselves to Donald Trump - think Lindsey Graham and AG William Barr - and setting the longer term stage of seeing their reputations destroyed and their place in the view of history something other than what honorable people would want.  A piece in Vanity Fair looks at the message that such individuals ought to remember for Watergate. Here are excerpts:
As the campaign to impeach and remove President Trump has intensified, so have the defenses from his most devoted underlings. Naturally, these have included individuals closest to him—his adult children, his attorneys, and White House officials.
More die-hard demagogues have taken fortified positions on Capitol Hill. As the impeachment inquiry kicks into gear, they are doing whatever they can to downplay the charges and delegitimize the process. In hearings, they demand evidence or dismiss it; in interviews, they dodge the problems and gum up the process. Throughout, they hope that the volume of their voices might overwhelm the volumes of evidence. These Trump loyalists have now lashed themselves to the presidential mast. And if Watergate is an American parable, most of them will go down too.
Richard Nixon avoided prison time thanks to a pardon, but all the president’s men weren’t so lucky. Four dozen were convicted of criminal charges, and about half did time—including Nixon’s chief of staff, White House counsel, top advisers, and attorney general. Some of Trump’s inner circle, including his lawyer and his campaign manager, are already locked up. Odds are, they won’t be the last.
Nixon’s congressional toadies avoided courts of law, but they couldn’t escape the court of public opinion. Republicans fared so badly in the 1974 elections that prominent conservatives pronounced the GOP DOA. The party’s name was “poisoned with negatives,” said strategist Richard Viguerie. It’d be easier to sell “Typhoid Mary, the Edsel, or tickets on the Titanic.” William Rusher, publisher of National Review, wanted to scrap it all and start fresh with a “Conservative Party,” led by Ronald Reagan or George Wallace.
Reagan’s fealty didn’t harm his long-term prospects, but only because his prospects were long-term. He didn’t face voters in 1974. When he challenged Gerald Ford for the nomination in 1976, the man who’d given excuses for Nixon looked fine compared with the man who’d given him a pardon. By 1980, his water-carrying over Watergate was a non-issue.
[T]wo columnists—liberal Marquis Childs and conservative James J. Kilpatrick—published excerpts from letters sent by “Nixon loyalists,” charging that the “rotten, slanted, and biased” media “brain-washed” voters against their “brilliant” president. They warned impeachment was a “political coup d’├ętat” that would spark “chaos.”
Initially, House Republicans—especially those on the judiciary committee—weren’t reluctant at all. Representative Edward Hutchinson, the ranking Republican, said Nixon shouldn’t be held accountable “for every little impeachable offense.” A millionaire from Michigan, Hutchinson complained in early 1974 that impeachment had been drummed up by “some eastern newspapers.” Despite the damning evidence, Hutchinson remained “unconvinced” by the “grab bag of allegations.”
Others agreed. . . . These Republicans formed a wall around Nixon, but cracks soon appeared. The committee had some liberal Republicans—a group not yet an oxymoron—but a staunch conservative, Maryland’s Lawrence Hogan, was the first from either party to announce his vote to impeach. In late July, the longtime Nixon loyalist announced that “my President has lied repeatedly” and said he had no choice.
When the time came to vote on five proposed articles of impeachment at the end of July, Hogan voted yes on three; six other Republicans voted for one or two articles. All had been warned that breaking with the party would end their political legacies, but the opposite happened. All the Republicans who approved articles of impeachment, except Hogan, stood for reelection. Five of them won. Indeed, they were repeatedly reelected . . . . Ten other Republicans voted against every article of impeachment. Most immediately regretted it. They had spent months demanding a “smoking gun” that proved the president’s role in Watergate. To their embarrassment, the recording showing just that became public only days after their vote. . . . Only one of the six was reelected that fall.
Republicans lost 48 seats in the House that fall, with many of the president’s most vocal defenders among them. Take Indiana representative Earl Landgrebe. “Don’t confuse me with the facts: I’ve got a closed mind,” he announced. “I’m going to stick with my President even if he and I have to be taken out of this building and shot.” He wasn’t shot, but voters killed his political career with a humiliating loss that fall.
I remain dumbfounded by the willingness of so many to throw away honor and even basic morality to cling to someone as morally despicable as Trump.  One can only hope they face a very hard fall and are viewed by history as moral monsters.

Sunday Morning Male Beauty


How America Ends

A very lengthy piece in The Atlantic looks at the crossroads at which America finds itself.  One of the two major political parties no longer support democracy and is fighting tooth and claw to maintain minority rule against the rapidly changing demographics sweeping the country and supporting an individual who not only denigrates the office of the presidency but who also holds the majority of the nation's citizens in contempt and heaps hate and vitriol on anyone who opposes his policies that benefit the few while harming the many.  Through it all, the Republican Party has refused to adopt policies that would broaden its appeal to others outside its base of aging, less educated whites, religious extremists and outright racists. Meanwhile Trump and his Republican enablers accuse their political opponents of the very hate and bigotry that they themselves embody. Where this will all end is anyone's guess as the 2020 presidential election approaches, but one thing is certain: America's democracy is facing its greatest threat since the eve of the Civil War when another white minority sought desperately to stave off a diminution of its power and ultimately resorted to armed rebellion.  Here are article highlights:
Democracy depends on the consent of the losers. For most of the 20th century, parties and candidates in the United States have competed in elections with the understanding that electoral defeats are neither permanent nor intolerable. The losers could accept the result, adjust their ideas and coalitions, and move on to fight in the next election. Ideas and policies would be contested, sometimes viciously, but however heated the rhetoric got, defeat was not generally equated with political annihilation. The stakes could feel high, but rarely existential. In recent years, however, beginning before the election of Donald Trump and accelerating since, that has changed.
 “Our radical Democrat opponents are driven by hatred, prejudice, and rage,” Trump told the crowd at his reelection kickoff event in Orlando in June. “They want to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it.” This is the core of [Trump's] the president’s pitch to his supporters: He is all that stands between them and the abyss. In October, with the specter of impeachment looming, he fumed on Twitter, “What is taking place is not an impeachment, it is a COUP, intended to take away the Power of the People, their VOTE, their Freedoms, their Second Amendment, Religion, Military, Border Wall, and their God-given rights as a Citizen of The United States of America!”Over the past 25 years, both red and blue areas have become more deeply hued, with Democrats clustering in cities and suburbs and Republicans filling in rural areas and exurbs. In Congress, where the two caucuses once overlapped ideologically, the dividing aisle has turned into a chasm.
As partisans have drifted apart geographically and ideologically, they’ve become more hostile toward each other. In 1960, less than 5 percent of Democrats and Republicans said they’d be unhappy if their children married someone from the other party; today, 35 percent of Republicans and 45 percent of Democrats would be, according to a recent Public Religion Research Institute/Atlantic poll—far higher than the percentages that object to marriages crossing the boundaries of race and religion.
Recent research by political scientists at Vanderbilt University and other institutions has found both Republicans and Democrats distressingly willing to dehumanize members of the opposite party. . . . [Trump] The president encourages and exploits such fears. This is a dangerous line to cross. As the researchers write, “Dehumanization may loosen the moral restraints that would normally prevent us from harming another human being.” 
[O]verheated rhetoric has helped radicalize some individuals. Cesar Sayoc, who was arrested for targeting multiple prominent Democrats with pipe bombs, was an avid Fox News watcher; in court filings, his lawyers said he took inspiration from Trump’s white-supremacist rhetoric. “It is impossible,” they wrote, “to separate the political climate and [Sayoc’s] mental illness.” . . . . political protests have turned violent, most notably in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a Unite the Right rally led to the murder of a young woman. But the biggest driver might be demographic change. The United States is undergoing a transition perhaps no rich and stable democracy has ever experienced: Its historically dominant group is on its way to becoming a political minority—and its minority groups are asserting their co-equal rights and interests.
If there are precedents for such a transition, they lie here in the United States, where white Englishmen initially predominated, and the boundaries of the dominant group have been under negotiation ever since. Within the living memory of most Americans, a majority of the country’s residents were white Christians. That is no longer the case, and voters are not insensate to the change—nearly a third of conservatives say they face “a lot” of discrimination for their beliefs, as do more than half of white evangelicals. But more epochal than the change that has already happened is the change that is yet to come: Sometime in the next quarter century or so, depending on immigration rates and the vagaries of ethnic and racial identification, nonwhites will become a majority in the U.S.
For some Americans, that change will be cause for celebration; for others, it may pass unnoticed. But the transition is already producing a sharp political backlash, exploited and exacerbated by [Trump] the president. In 2016, white working-class voters who said that discrimination against whites is a serious problem, or who said they felt like strangers in their own country, were almost twice as likely to vote for Trump as those who did not. Two-thirds of Trump voters agreed that “the 2016 election represented the last chance to stop America’s decline.” 
In 2002, the political scientist Ruy Teixeira and the journalist John Judis published a book, The Emerging Democratic Majority, which argued that demographic changes—the browning of America, along with the movement of more women, professionals, and young people into the Democratic fold—would soon usher in a “new progressive era” that would relegate Republicans to permanent minority political status.. . . . now many conservatives, surveying demographic trends, have concluded that Teixeira wasn’t wrong—merely premature. They can see the GOP’s sinking fortunes among younger voters, and feel the culture turning against them, condemning them today for views that were commonplace only yesterday. They are losing faith that they can win elections in the future. With this come dark possibilities. 
[T]he GOP has redoubled its efforts to narrow the electorate and raise the odds that it can win legislative majorities with a minority of votes. In the first five years after conservative justices on the Supreme Court gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, 39 percent of the counties that the law had previously restrained reduced their number of polling places. And while gerrymandering is a bipartisan sin, over the past decade Republicans have indulged in it more heavily. . . . All political parties maneuver for advantage, but only a party that has concluded it cannot win the votes of large swaths of the public will seek to deter them from casting those votes at all. Instead of reaching out and inviting new allies into its coalition, the political right hardens, turning against the democratic processes it fears will subsume it.
A conservatism defined by ideas can hold its own against progressivism, winning converts to its principles and evolving with each generation. A conservatism defined by identity reduces the complex calculus of politics to a simple arithmetic question—and at some point, the numbers no longer add up. Trump has led his party to this dead end, and it may well cost him his chance for reelection, presuming he is not removed through impeachment.
But [Trump's] the president’s defeat would likely only deepen the despair that fueled his rise, confirming his supporters’ fear that the demographic tide has turned against them. That fear is the single greatest threat facing American democracy, the force that is already battering down precedents, leveling norms, and demolishing guardrails. When a group that has traditionally exercised power comes to believe that its eclipse is inevitable, and that the destruction of all it holds dear will follow, it will fight to preserve what it has—whatever the cost. 
That conservatives—despite currently holding the White House, the Senate, and many state governments—are losing faith in their ability to win elections in the future bodes ill for the smooth functioning of American democracy. That they believe these electoral losses would lead to their destruction is even more worrying. [T]he most catastrophic collapse of a democracy in the 19th century took place right here in the United States, sparked by the anxieties of white voters who feared the decline of their own power within a diversifying nation.   The slaveholding South exercised disproportionate political power in the early republic. America’s first dozen presidents—excepting only those named Adams—were slaveholders. Twelve of the first 16 secretaries of state came from slave states. The South initially dominated Congress as well, buoyed by its ability to count three-fifths of the enslaved persons held as property for the purposes of apportionment. 
By the mid-19th century, demographics were clearly on the side of the free states, where the population was rapidly expanding. Immigrants surged across the Atlantic, finding jobs in Northern factories and settling on midwestern farms. By the outbreak of the Civil War, the foreign-born would form 19 percent of the population of the Northern states, but just 4 percent of the Southern population. 
As Southern politicians perceived that demographic trends were starting to favor the North, they began to regard popular democracy itself as a threat. . . . Today, a Republican Party that appeals primarily to white Christian voters is fighting a losing battle. The Electoral College, Supreme Court, and Senate may delay defeat for a time, but they cannot postpone it forever. The GOP’s efforts to cling to power by coercion instead of persuasion have illuminated the perils of defining a political party in a pluralistic democracy around a common heritage, rather than around values or ideals. Consider Trump’s push to slow the pace of immigration, which has backfired spectacularly, turning public opinion against his restrictionist stance.
The post-2012 {GOP defeat] report defined the GOP ideologically, urging its leaders to reach out to new groups, emphasize the values they had in common, and rebuild the party into an organization capable of winning a majority of the votes in a presidential race. Anton’s essay, by contrast, defined the party as the defender of “a people, a civilization” threatened by America’s growing diversity. The GOP’s efforts to broaden its coalition, he thundered, were an abject surrender. If it lost the next election, conservatives would be subjected to “vindictive persecution against resistance and dissent.”
Anton and some 63 million other Americans charged the cockpit. The standard-bearers of the Republican Party were vanquished by a candidate who had never spent a day in public office, and who oozed disdain for democratic processes. Instead of reaching out to a diversifying electorate, Donald Trump doubled down on core Republican constituencies, promising to protect them from a culture and a polity that, he said, were turning against them.
When Trump’s presidency comes to its end, the Republican Party will confront the same choice it faced before his rise, only even more urgently. In 2013, the party’s leaders saw the path that lay before them clearly, and urged Republicans to reach out to voters of diverse backgrounds whose own values matched the “ideals, philosophy and principles” of the GOP. Trumpism deprioritizes conservative ideas and principles in favor of ethno-nationalism.
The stakes in this battle on the right are much higher than the next election. If Republican voters can’t be convinced that democratic elections will continue to offer them a viable path to victory, that they can thrive within a diversifying nation, and that even in defeat their basic rights will be protected, then Trumpism will extend long after Trump leaves office—and our democracy will suffer for it.

Be very afraid for the future.