Sunday, July 05, 2020

More Sunday Male Beauty

Vichy Republicans Fear the Consequences of Self-Prostitution to Trump

The Republican Party I grew up in and once supported is dead and gone.  In its place is a party that rejects science and education, embraces white supremacy and has completely prostituted itself to Donald Trump and the ugliest elements of his base of support, namely openly racist whites and white evangelicals (although at times it is difficult to differentiate the latter the former).  Now with Trump's support seemingly eroding and a majority of Americans tiring of Trump's non-stop racism,  congressional Republicans, especially those in the Senate fear that they may be in for a much deserved reckoning come November.  As a former Republican I have zero sympathy for today's Republicans who now disingenuously seek to pretend they find Trump's white nationalism distastefully.  They are little better than the Vichy French who collaborated with the Nazi's in occupied France. Like the Vichy French, these Republicans sold their souls for short term power and need to pay a high price.  A long piece in the Washington Post looks at this self-made crisis for Republicans.  Here are highlights:

President Trump’s unyielding push to preserve Confederate symbols and the legacy of white domination, crystallized by his harsh denunciation of the racial justice movement Friday night at Mount Rushmore, has unnerved Republicans who have long enabled him but now fear losing power and forever associating their party with his racial animus.
Although amplifying racism and stoking culture wars have been mainstays of Trump’s public identity for decades, they have been particularly pronounced this summer as [Trump] the president has reacted to the national reckoning over systemic discrimination by seeking to weaponize the anger and resentment of some white Americans for his own political gain.
Trump has left little doubt through his utterances the past few weeks that he sees himself not only as the Republican standard-bearer but as leader of a modern grievance movement animated by civic strife and marked by calls for “white power,” . . . . Trump put his strategy to resuscitate his troubled reelection campaign by galvanizing white supporters on display Friday night under the chiseled granite gaze of four past presidents memorialized in the Black Hills of South Dakota. He celebrated Independence Day with a dystopian speech in which he excoriated racial justice protesters as “evil” representatives of a “new far-left fascism” whose ultimate goal is “the end of America.”
Over the years, some Republicans have struggled to navigate Trump’s race baiting and, at times, outright racism, while others have rallied behind him. Bursts of indignation and frustration come and go but have never resulted in a complete GOP break with the president. Trump’s recent moves are again putting Republican officeholders onto risky political terrain.
On Friday night at Mount Rushmore, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a member of the party’s leadership, and other top Republicans were seen applauding as Trump spoke.
Trump’s repeated championing of monuments, memorials and military bases honoring Confederate leaders has run up against the tide of modernity and a weary electorate that polls show overwhelmingly support the Black Lives Matter movement — a slogan that Trump said would be “a symbol of hate” if painted on Fifth Avenue in New York.
On Capitol Hill, some Republicans fret — mostly privately, to avoid his [Trump's] wrath — that Trump’s fixation on racial and other cultural issues leaves their party running against the currents of change. Coupled with the coronavirus pandemic and related economic crisis, these Republicans fear he is not only seriously impairing his reelection chances but also jeopardizing the GOP Senate majority and its strength in the House. . . .  “The problem is this is no longer just Trump’s Twitter feed. It’s expanded to the podium, and that makes it more and more difficult for these campaigns.”
Racial animus and toxicity were woven throughout Trump’s 2016 campaign. Patrick Gaspard, a former Obama White House political director who is now president of the Open Society Foundations, credited Trump with understanding “that there is a constituency — a deep constituency, a solid constituency, a resolute constituency — in the electorate for these views.”
The difference now, four years later, Gaspard argued, is that the sentiments of many Americans about justice and disparity appear to have evolved.
Former Ohio governor John Kasich, a Republican who ran against Trump in 2016, said the GOP’s muted and scattered response to the president on race this week underscores how the party is “in decline” and has become a vessel for Trumpism — even as polls show Trump losing ground among seniors and white evangelicals and trailing Biden in every key battleground state. 
“They coddled this guy the whole time and now it’s like some rats are jumping off of the sinking ship. It’s just a little late,” Kasich said. “It’s left this nation with a crescendo of hate not only between politicians but between citizens. . . . It started with Charlottesville and people remained silent then, and we find ourselves in this position now.”
Kasich added, “I’m glad to see some of these Republicans moving the other way but it reminds me of Vichy France where they said, ‘Well, I never had anything to do with that,’ ” a reference to the French government that continued during Nazi occupation in the 1940s. 
“Trump is pretty predictable with his racism and his racialized take on things,” Wright Rigueur said. “Every once in a while the Trump administration and campaign have flashes of what look like sincere outreach efforts to various racial communities. . . . But that’s the part that’s insincere, and he always circles back to his core, and it renders all of this other stuff around the economy and criminal justice reform completely invalid because there’s no way of ignoring the central component of his campaign.”
Dianne Pinderhughes, a professor at the University of Notre Dame who focuses on race and politics, said Trump’s latest outbursts are the culmination of his nearly decade-long effort to remake the GOP in his own image, going back to his racist “birther” attacks on Obama’s credentials and love of country.
Trump’s racism, she said, “is not subtle at all. Every step he takes, every comment about human beings, murders or killings, he can’t hold back. Even as Mississippi and other parts of the country remove Confederate symbols, he goes in the opposite direction as hard as he can.”
Some senators and their advisers believe they must expand their vote share beyond Trump’s base to win reelection.
“[Trump's] The president’s base is locked in. They love him, they’re going to turn out and they’re going to vote for him,” GOP pollster Whit Ayres said. “The problem is that the base is not enough to win. You can make a case that protecting Confederate monuments is very popular among at least a portion of his base, but it does nothing to expand the coalition, and that’s the imperative at the moment and will be going forward if the party hopes to govern.”
Trump has not made it easy for embattled Republicans to duck him. He reaffirmed Tuesday that he would veto this year’s proposed $740 billion annual defense bill if an amendment is included that would require the Pentagon to change the names of bases named for Confederate military leaders — an amendment that has bipartisan support. 
Trump’s approach has deep roots in Republican politics. Beginning with the violent opposition among some white voters to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Richard Nixon and other Republican politicians appealed to white voters — especially in the South — with calls for “law and order” and vows to defend states’ rights as the federal government enforced the new laws.
Most congressional Republicans in challenging races this year have long been mute on Trump’s racist comments, or they have cast them as unhelpful or combative but not racist — a method that has largely helped them avoid Trump’s anger.
Cornell Belcher, a Democratic pollster who has done extensive research on racial divisions, argued that Trump is likely to continue to play to “white resentment politics” because it is the only strategy that could stave off further erosion of his support.
“Without white resentment, there is no rationale for Donald Trump,” Belcher said. “Without that, what reason do his supporters have to be with Donald Trump if he’s not going to be your tribal strong man? He started there and will end there.”

Sunday Morning Male Beauty

click image to enlarge

Trump Is Turning America Into the "Shithole Country"

Donald Trump's campaign slogan was "Make America Great Again" which actually translated to make America white again.  Three and a half years into the Trump/Pence regime, America is diminished on every front, be it tattered alliances, an economy in serious trouble, racial unrest, and an out of control pandemic that has seen Americans banned from traveling to Europe, Canada and even Mexico.  The nation cannot take much more of Trump's winning and is rapidly headed towards, to quote Trump, shit hole country status.  Meanwhile, Trump cares nothing for average Americans and focuses solely on rallies and boasting that support his narcissistic ego. A column in The Atlantic looks at America's diminished status under Trump.  Here are highlights:

There is a lot of learned material written about nationalism—scholarly books and papers, histories of it, theories of it—but most of us understand that nationalism, at its heart, at its very deepest roots, is about a feeling of superiority: We are better than you. Our country is better than your country. Or even—and apologies, but this is the precise language deployed by the president of the United States: Your country is a shithole country. Ours isn’t.
In this sense, nationalism is not patriotism, which is the desire to work on behalf of your fellow citizens, to defend common values, to build something positive. Nationalism is not community spirit either, which seeks to pull people together. Nationalism has nothing to do with democratic values: Authoritarians can be nationalists; indeed, most are. Nationalism has nothing to do with the rule of law, justice, or opportunity. At its core, nationalism is rather a competition, an ugly and negative competition.
There’s a reason nationalism has so often become violent in the past. For if we—our nation—are better, then what right do others have to live beside us? Or to occupy land that we covet? Or even, maybe, to live at all?
Sure, people pretend otherwise. We’re just defending our right to be unique! We just want everyone to stay in their own country! We just like our own culture! But that’s not really what nationalists think, and everyone knows it. They can nod and wink at equality among nations, but really they are motivated by, driven by, addicted to a feeling of superiority. Our county is better than your country. So stay out.
I hear this when Donald Trump uses the slogan “America First”: This is why he needs a physical wall at the Mexican border; this is the source of his dislike for immigrants, for people with unfamiliar surnames or different skin colors. He regards all of them as lesser, inferior people who somehow got inside our borders and made our country worse.
[W]hat will Trump do, what will his followers and admirers do, when their understanding of the world is flipped on its head? What will happen when they realize that other countries are building walls between them and the United States?
Here it’s worth pointing out a genuine oddity: The world in the age of the coronavirus should be a nationalist’s paradise. Borders have slammed shut. Countries have fallen back on their own resources. . . . . everyone can look at everyone else’s country, read its media and social media, see how its institutions are coping with the crisis. We can’t leave our houses, but we can meet in cyberspace, where we can keep talking.
While we are there, we can see how other countries are dealing with the pandemic. Some are doing well, especially those that have decent bureaucrats, respect for science, and high levels of trust: South Korea and Taiwan, Germany and Slovakia, much of Scandinavia, New Zealand. Some countries are not doing well, especially those run by divisive populists on both the left and the right: Russia, Brazil, Mexico, and, of course, the United States. But even within this latter group, we stand out.
[T]he U.S. has the largest number of cases and the highest death toll. The U.S. isn’t merely suffering; the U.S. is suffering more than anybody else. . . . The numbers of American sick and dead are a source of wonder and marvel all over the world. They also inspire fear and anxiety. The European Union has decided to allow some foreigners to cross its borders now, but not Americans. Uruguayans and Rwandans can go to Italy and Spain, but not Americans. Moroccans and Tunisians can go to Germany and Greece, but not Americans. For the first time in living memory, Canada has kept its border closed with the United States. On July 3, the governor of the Mexican state of Sonora delivered the coup de grace: She announced the temporary closure of the border with Arizona and banned Americans from Sonoran beaches.
How will American nationalists cope with this new situation? I’m guessing many will pretend, like the president, that this isn’t happening: Months into the crisis, he has once again expressed the belief that the virus will magically “disappear.” But for some, it will be difficult to prevent the intrusion of reality: The stupid and pointless competition among nations continues in their heads—and they are losing. A major reckoning is coming. It can’t arrive too soon.

Saturday, July 04, 2020

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Revulsion Towards Trump’s Racist Politics is Building

Donald Trump is the antithesis to decency and morality and, as previous posts have focused upon, his sole reelection plan is to double down on racism and hatred in the hope of turning out more of the GOP's shrinking base to the polls come November.   Almost everything the GOP once stood for - fiscal responsibility, support for science and education, and true basic morality (as opposed to Christofascist false piety and hypocrisy) - has been jettisoned as the Party has sold its soul to Trump and the white supremacists and religious extremist who now make up the core party base.  Meanwhile, younger voters who see both Trump and Christofascists as repulsive and educated suburban voters are fleeing the GOP.  As a column in the Washington Post notes, support for the GOP now boils down to racism more than any other factor. The party once identified with so-called country club Republicans now finds its image tied to red neck racists. Some surveys suggest that a wave is building against Trump and the soulless GOP.  Here are column highlights:
Four years ago, Christopher Parker, an African American political scientist at the University of Washington, made the provocative argument that Donald Trump’s candidacy could “do more to advance racial understanding than the election of Barack Obama.”
“Trump’s clear bigotry,” Parker wrote in the American Prospect, a liberal journal, “makes it impossible for whites to deny the existence of racism in America. . . . His success clashes with many white Americans’ vision of the United States as a fair and just place.”
Those words seem prescient today, after four years of President Trump’s racism, from the “very fine people” marching with neo-Nazis in Charlottesville to, in just the past week, a “white power” retweet and a threat to veto defense spending to protect the names of Confederate generals; after a pandemic disproportionately ravaged African American communities while an indifferent president tried to move on; after Trump-allied demonstrators, some carrying firearms and Confederate flags, tried to “liberate” themselves from public health restrictions; after the video of George Floyd’s killing showed the world blatant police brutality; after Trump used federal firepower against peaceful civil rights demonstrators of all colors.
The reckoning Parker foresaw is now upon us. White women, disgusted by Trump’s cruelty, are abandoning him in large number. White liberals, stunned by the brazen racism, have taken to the streets. And signs point to African American turnout in November that will rival the record level of 2012, when Obama was on the ballot. This, by itself, would flip Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to Democrats, an analysis by the liberal Center for American Progress shows.
Surprisingly high Democratic turnout in recent contests in Wisconsin, Georgia, Kentucky and Colorado points to the possibility of a building wave. The various measures of Democratic enthusiasm suggest “turnout beyond anything we’ve seen since 1960,” University of North Carolina political scientist Marc Hetherington predicts. If so, that would mean a historic repudiation of Trump, who knows his hope of reelection depends on low turnout. He has warned that mail-in ballots and other attempts to encourage more voting would mean “you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”
That may not be wrong. Trump has accelerated a decades-old trend toward parties redefining themselves by race and racial attitudes. Racial resentment is now the single most important factor driving Republicans and Republican-leaning movers, according to extensive research, most recently by Nicholas Valentino and Kirill Zhirkov at the University of Michigan — more than religion, culture, class or ideology. An ongoing study by University of North Carolina researchers finds that racial resentment even drives hostility toward mask-wearing and social distancing. Conversely, racial liberalism now drives Democrats of all colors more than any other factor.
Consider just one yardstick, a standard question of racial attitudes in which people are asked to agree or disagree with this statement: “It’s really a matter of some people not trying hard enough; if blacks would only try harder they could be just as well off as whites.”
In 2012, 56 percent of white Republicans agreed with that statement, according to the American National Election Studies. The number grew in 2016 with Trump’s rise, to 59 percent. Last month, an astonishing 71 percent of white Republicans agreed, according to a YouGov poll written by Parker and conducted by GQR (where my wife is a partner).
The opposite movement among white Democrats is even more striking. In 2012, 38 percent agreed that African Americans didn’t try hard enough. In 2016, that dropped to 27 percent. And now? Just 13 percent.
To the extent Trump’s racist provocation is a strategy (rather than simply an instinct), it is a miscalculation. The electorate was more than 90 percent white when Richard Nixon deployed his Southern strategy; the proportion is now 70 percent white and shrinking. But more than that, Trump’s racism has alienated a large number of white people.
“For many white Americans, the things Trump is saying and getting away with, they just didn’t think they lived in a world where that could happen,” says Vincent Hutchings, a political scientist specializing in public opinion at the University of Michigan. Racist appeals in particular alienate white, college-educated women, and even some women without college degrees, he has found: “One of the best ways to exacerbate the gender gap isn’t to talk about gender but to talk about race.”
This is what Parker had in mind when he wrote in 2016 that Trump could be “good for the United States.” The backlash Trump provoked among whites and nonwhites alike “could kick off a second Reconstruction,” Parker now thinks. “I know it sounds crazy, especially coming from a black man,” he says, but “I think Trump actually is one of the best things that’s happened in this country.”

Friday, July 03, 2020

More Friday Male Beauty

Trump’s Re-election Message: Inflame White Racism

A column in the New York Times lays out what appears to be Donald Trump's reelection strategy  and in the process explains, in my view, white evangelical support for Trump: white racism.  Of course, evangelicals are not the only ones onboard Trump's racism train although evangelicals are perhaps the ones who are still the most angry over desegregation and an end of the Jim Crow laws. Given the economy's collapse and the seemingly out of control Covid-19 pandemic (especially in GOP led states that followed Trump's demands for "reopening"), Trump has little else to run on and has re-embraced what got him elected in 2016: white grievance and white racial animosity toward non-whites. Congressional Republicans and my Republican "friends" who refuse to admit that they fully realize what Trump's all about are lying to themselves and to others.  One can only hope that this renewed shameless pandering to white supremacists and evangelicals (the two go hand in hand) fails in 2020, especially among suburban voters.  Here are column highlights:

A lot of Republicans are acting puzzled about Donald Trump’s re-election pitch. “He has no message,” one Republican source told Reuters. “He needs to articulate why he wants a second term,” said another. Some have expressed hope that Trump would find a way to become less polarizing, as if polarization were not the raison d’être of his presidency.
It’s hard to know if Republicans like this are truly naïve or if they’re just pretending so they don’t have to admit what a foul enterprise they’re part of. Because Trump does indeed have a re-election message, a stark and obvious one. It is “white power.”
[Trump] The president started this week by tweeting out a video that encapsulates the soul of his movement. In it, a man in The Villages, an affluent Florida retirement community, shouts, “White power!” at protesters from a golf cart bedecked with Trump signs. “Thank you to the great people of The Villages,” wrote Trump. Only after several hours and a panic among White House staffers did the president delete the tweet.
Republicans might act as if they don’t know why Trump’s fans are so unfailingly loyal. Some commentators spent the first year or two of his presidency dancing around the reason he was elected, spending so much time probing the “economic anxiety” of his base that the phrase came to stand for a type of willful political blindness.
But Trump understands that he became a significant political figure by spreading the racist lie that Barack Obama was really born in Kenya. He launched his history-making presidential bid with a speech calling Mexican immigrants rapists and adopted a slogan, “America First,” previously associated with the raging anti-Semite Charles Lindbergh. Throughout the 2016 campaign, he won the invaluable prize of earned media with escalating racist provocations, which his supporters relished and which captivated cable news.
Trump, however, seems to grasp that racism is what put him over the top. It’s what made his campaign seem wild and transgressive and hard to look away from.
Now Trump’s poll numbers are cratering, we have double-digit unemployment and our pandemic-ravaged nation has been rendered an international pariah. America is faring exactly as well under Trump’s leadership as his casinos, airline and scam university did. It’s not surprising that he’s returning to what he knows, and what seemed to work for him before.
In fact, Trump appears to think his problem is that he hasn’t been racist enough. . . . . “He truly believes there is a silent majority out there that’s going to come out in droves in November,” a source told Swan.
And so last week, as if to prod that silent majority, Trump tweeted out videos of Black people assaulting white people. . . . . He said he’d veto a $741 billion defense bill over a provision, written by Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, requiring that military bases honoring Confederates be renamed. Apoplectic over New York City’s plans to paint the words “Black Lives Matter” on Fifth Avenue in front of Trump Tower, he called the slogan “a symbol of hate.”
On Tuesday, Trump tweeted that he was considering scrapping an Obama-era housing regulation that required localities to address illegal patterns of residential segregation. . . . . The message to his white supporters seemed clear enough: Trump is going to fight to stop people of color from coming to your neighborhood.
The Times reported on the president’s rationale: “Mr. Trump and his campaign team, already concerned about his weakness in battleground states, have become increasingly alarmed by internal polling showing a softening of support among suburban voters.” Trump sees clearly — more clearly than most of his party — that racism is the main thing he has to offer.
There’s good reason to think that he’s misjudging these suburban voters. Polls show that a growing number of them, particularly women, are repelled by Trump’s race-baiting and divisiveness. But Republicans who complain that the president is undisciplined, that he can’t adhere to a strategy, miss the point: Bigotry has always been the strategy.
The Republicans who support him are yoked to that strategy. Their real frustration isn’t that it’s ugly but that it’s no longer working.

Friday Morning Male Beauty

82% of Evangelicals Continue to Embrace Immorality

The results of a new Pew Research Center survey has been released and they again confirm that white evangelicals are the worse hypocrites and modern day Pharisees of any religious group as they continue to support the most immoral individual to ever occupy the White House.  Eighty two percent say they will vote for Trump in November.  The survey take away is that decent, moral people should not be fooled by the false piety and claims of religiosity from evangelicals given that Trump is the antithesis of Christian conduct and Christ's social gospel message. White evangelicals are not the only ones whose claims of being "Christian" should be questioned.  Majorities of white "Christians' also support Trump although not at the levels of evangelicals who, in my view, lead the nation in moral bankruptcy and hypocrisy.   One cannot be a moral person if they support a man who is the embodiment of immorality.   Here are highlights from the survey:
Amid rising coronavirus cases and widespread protests over racial injustice, President Donald Trump’s approval rating has dropped among a wide range of religious groups, including white evangelical Protestants – though they remain strongly supportive.
The same survey finds that if the 2020 presidential election were held today, 82% of white evangelical Protestant registered voters would vote for Trump or lean toward voting for him, while 17% say they would back the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee, Joe Biden. By comparison, a Pew Research Center survey that was conducted just after the 2016 presidential election among those who were identified as having voted found that 77% of white evangelical Protestant voters backed Trump, while 16% voted for Hillary Clinton.
The June survey was conducted after Trump’s controversial visit to St. John’s Episcopal Church on June 1, and in the immediate wake of the Supreme Court’s landmark LGBTQ ruling on June 15.
Trump’s continued support among white evangelical Protestants – a group that is highly religious and overwhelmingly Republican – is matched by their dislike of Biden.
While no other religious group is as supportive of Trump as white evangelical Protestants – and his rating has slipped among most Christian groups in this analysis in recent months – [Trump] the president continues to garner support from half or more of other white Christians. More than half of white Protestants who do not identify as evangelical (56%) say they approve of the job Trump is doing, as do 54% of white Catholics – and roughly six-in-ten voters in these groups say they would vote for him if the election were held today.
On the other hand, large majorities of Black Protestants (83%), Hispanic Catholics (74%) and religiously unaffiliated Americans (74%) say they disapprove of Trump. Among Black Protestants, levels of disapproval have increased to 83% from 74% in April, but are roughly similar to where they stood in January, when 10% approved of Trump and 87% disapproved. And among Black Protestant voters, just 8% say they would vote for Trump if the election were held today, while 88% would vote for Biden.
Black Protestants, who overwhelmingly identify as Democrats or as Democratic-leaning independents, are the religious group with by far the most positive views toward Biden.
Among religiously unaffiliated Americans, another strongly Democratic constituency, opinions on a possible Biden presidency are more tepid. (The religiously unaffiliated, also known as “nones,” are those who describe their religion as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular.”) Fewer than a third of “nones” (27%) say Biden would be a good or great president, while 39% say he would be average and 33% say he would do a poor or terrible job. Nevertheless, this group’s views toward Biden are much more positive than toward Trump: Seven-in-ten “nones” say Trump has been a poor (13%) or terrible (56%) president, and a similar share of unaffiliated voters (72%) say they would vote for Biden if the election was today.
It's telling that the so-called "Nones" are more moral than evangelicals as evidenced by their stron rejection of Trump.