Saturday, March 05, 2016

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

I'm not usually one for facial hair, but I might just make an exception. :)

The Frightening GOP Base Is In Revolt

The GOP establishment is belatedly learning that there are very real and frightening consequences to inviting ignorance embracing Christian extremists, racists, nativists, and those fighting a rear guard action against modernity into one's political party in droves while driving rational, logic based members out.  Yes, turning out the Christofascists and white supremacists over the years helped win elections in the short term, Richard Nixon's "Southern Strategy" and George W. Bush's anti-gay agenda in 2004 are examples, but once the barbarians are through the gates, they can prove to be beyond control.  This is the lesson now playing out on the national stage much to the shock of sane Americans and nation's around the world.  Indeed, to many, America must look like an insane asylum where the patients have overwhelmed the orderlies and medical staff.  A piece in the New York Times looks at the unraveling of the GOP and the lunacy of Trump supporters rallying to a man who has offered ZERO policy plans and relies on sound bites and vulgarity.  Here are excerpts:

From Michigan to Louisiana to California on Friday, rank-and-file Republicans expressed mystification, dismissal and contempt regarding the instructions that their party’s most high-profile leaders were urgently handing down to them: Reject and defeat Donald J. Trump. 
Their angry reactions, in the 24 hours since Mitt Romney and John McCain urged millions of voters to cooperate in a grand strategy to undermine Mr. Trump’s candidacy, have captured the seemingly inexorable force of a movement that still puzzles the Republican elite and now threatens to unravel the party they hold dear.
In interviews, even lifelong Republicans who cast a ballot for Mr. Romney four years ago rebelled against his message and plan. “I personally am disgusted by it — I think it’s disgraceful,” said Lola Butler, 71, a retiree from Mandeville, La., who voted for Mr. Romney in 2012. “You’re telling me who to vote for and who not to vote for? Please.”
“There’s nothing short of Trump shooting my daughter in the street and my grandchildren — there is nothing and nobody that’s going to dissuade me from voting for Trump,” Ms. Butler said.
The furious campaign now underway to stop Mr. Trump and the equally forceful rebellion against it captured the essence of the party’s breakdown over the past several weeks: Its most prominent guardians, misunderstanding their own voters, antagonize them as they try to reason with them, driving them even more energetically to Mr. Trump’s side.
As Mr. Romney amplified his pleas on Friday, Mr. Trump snubbed a major meeting of Republican activists and leaders after rumblings that protesters were prepared to demonstrate against him there, in the latest sign of Mr. Trump’s break from the apparatus of the party whose nomination he is marching toward.
As polls showed Mr. Trump likely to capture the Louisiana primary on Saturday, the biggest prize among states holding contests this weekend, the party establishment in Washington seemed seized by anxiety and despair. At the Conservative Political Action Conference, a long-running gathering of traditional conservatives, attendees feared that they were witnessing an event that has not occurred in more than a century: the breaking apart of a major American political party.
Steve Forbes, the publisher and two-time Republican presidential candidate, summed up the mood at the event. “Parties,” he said, “don’t usually commit suicide,” suggesting the party was well on its way with Mr. Trump.
The problem, for figures like Mr. Forbes and Mr. Romney, is that Mr. Trump’s supporters seem profoundly uninterested at the moment with the image, expectations or traditions of the Republican Party, according to interviews with more than three dozen voters, elected officials and operatives. They are, in many cases, hostile to it.
Voters have not taken kindly to the recommendation, describing the request as a patronizing directive from an elite figure who thoroughly misunderstands their feelings of alienation from the political system. (Soon after, Mr. McCain endorsed his remarks.)
Conservative talk radio shows lit up Friday with incensed callers who said they were “livid,” “mad” and “on the verge of tears” as they listened to Mr. Romney scoldingly describe what he called Mr. Trump’s misogyny, vulgarity and dishonesty, and urged them to abandon him.
Frustrated Republicans seized on Mr. Romney’s status as a party insider who was insulated from the realities, indignities and rage of average Americans headed to the polls this year. “He’s an establishment figure,” said Faith Sheptoski-Forbush of Romulus, Mich. “So that’s what you get.”

For years I was a Cassandra of what would happen to the GOP.  My concerns were dismissed and, after I came out, I was dragged through the mud and ridiculed for my "life style choice."  The current GOP deserves every bit of its misfortune and self-inflicted suicide. 

Is The LGBT Movement in Chaos

While the Republican Party is clearly in crisis, so to is the LGBT movement in the view of some.  After success on the marriage equality front - spearheaded in large part by groups other than HRC, the Task Force and other self-proclaimed leaders of the community - now things appear to be in disarray as  Christofascist controlled Republicans pus anti-gay laws and the granting of special rights to Christian extremist.  Rather than focusing on this threat, HRC has insanely been calling for Barack Obama to nominate an out gay to the Supreme Court, as if any such nomination would have a snowball's chance in Hell of success.  Indeed, the fight of LGBT protections now seems to be resting on state level organizations (I have ceased all financial support to HRC and give instead to Equality Virginia) given the vacuum in serious leadership at the national level.  A piece in The Advocate looks at the disturbing situation.  Here are highlights:
Just as the sun was setting on the landmark year that delivered marriage equality — an achievement unthinkable just a decade earlier — an unsettling headline appeared from Time magazine: “2015 Made History for LGBT Rights. Why Few Are Optimistic About 2016.”
The piece was written by veteran reporter Philip Elliott from Las Vegas, where LGBT leaders had gathered to assess both the progress made and the road ahead. After interviewing some 25 movement leaders, Elliott noted, “a fractured picture emerges that suggests little agreement about what should — or even what can — come next.”
Of course, just as the LGBTQIs’ diversified agendas defy uniformity, no single answer to that question has emerged over the past year. But perhaps more disconcerting, nor has a single leader delivered anything that amounts to a compelling narrative on the way forward.
It is a muted chaos, to some extent. Most of the basic structures of our modern-day movement — such as the Human Rights Campaign and Lambda Legal and Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, to name a few — aren’t going anywhere in the near term. Yet we are also seeing signs of transition with Kevin Cathcart, who has led Lambda Legal for nearly 25 years, announcing his retirement effective April 2016. And some movement staples, such as Freedom to Marry and the Empire State Pride Agenda, are ceasing operations.
[S]ome new arrivals, like the progressive-conservative donor mind meld Freedom for All Americans (FFAA), have begun to lay out their visions for achieving nondiscrimination protections nationwide, starting at the state level and eventually moving to the federal level. This organization is interesting in two respects. First, it represents a significant point of differentiation between the LGBT movement and other progressive movements in that we are actually increasingly being resourced by both liberal and conservative donors. Even if many Republican politicians don’t yet reflect this reality in rhetoric, the LGBT movement has still managed to reach across the aisle for critical legislative wins in states such as New York (enacting marriage equality in 2011) and even federally (passing employment protections through the U.S. Senate in 2013). 
Second, FFAA embodies an organizational model that is more Freedom to Marry and less Human Rights Campaign — the organization is not intended to exist in perpetuity but rather to achieve its stated goal, and then fold. In many ways, this should help keep it focused on its goal rather than on continually growing a budget to meet multiple objectives that require the organization to become more territorial even as it becomes less accountable.
While this model will perhaps make the organization more nimble, it does not guarantee the type of visionary leadership that has thus far been missing to combat new obstacles to LGBT equality, such as 2015’s right-wing attack on the toilet.
Chad Griffin, president of HRC, suggested in several different interviews that if only the local [Houston] TV stations that ran the opposition’s deplorable “No men in women’s bathrooms” ads had rejected them instead, we somehow could have avoided disaster. If that’s one of the big takeaways of our lead organization on how to combat what’s emerging as the homophobes’ next line of attack, we are in real trouble.
Our large organizations know we’re in  trouble too. That’s why they have been advising against pushing a pro-LGBT nondiscrimination initiative in Michigan that, at the time of this writing, appears to have a shot at making the ballot in November. [Update: The Michigan initiative has now been pulled.]
I’m pleased to see Fair Michigan pushing the issue for several reasons. First of all, they have little to lose. LGBT Michiganders don’t currently have nondiscrimination protections, so if you start with nothing and you lose, you’ve still got what you had before — nothing. However, if you win, you’ve got something you never had before. 
Second, anyone who thinks the right-wing Michigan legislature is going to start cozying up to equality based on lobbying efforts anytime in the near future is living in an alternative universe. This is the same GOP-controlled body that watched Indiana take it on the chin last year following the passage of its anti-LGBT initiative and yet still moved forward with enacting a package of antigay “religious refusal” laws that allow publicly funded adoption agencies to deny adoptions to same-sex parents. Waiting on Michigan’s hyper-conservative government to enact equality measures is nothing but a prescription for justice delayed. Some of those lawmakers are going to have to lose their seats over an anti-LGBT vote before they start going the right way on our issues, and I don’t see anyone pouring the resources into Michigan to unseat anti-LGBT lawmakers.
Third, the past decade has shown our major organizations to be preternaturally risk averse. I say this even as I believe that our legal advocates at places like Lambda Legal and GLAD are doing incredibly good work. But grassroots efforts like those being pushed by Michigan attorney Dana Nessel and Fair Michigan are a necessary part of our movement’s process.
The fact that no one agrees on anything isn’t necessarily cause for despair. What’s most important is that we have an aggressive grassroots effort to push the establishment groups out of their comfort zone. That’s a tension that forces the innovation necessary to propel our movement forward.
Perhaps it's because of my background as a former political party activist and the fact that I believe in playing hard ball, I agree that lobby efforts will do little to changes the minds of Republicans only too happy to prostitute themselves to Christofascists. Even in Virginia a few Republicans are coming to see that long term, anti-gay bigotry and such self-prostitution will be the death of the party.  Most, however, or only to happy to ask "how high" when hate merchants like Victoria Cobb and The Family Foundation tell them to jump.  We need to ruthlessly go after some of these individuals who make tawdry whores look virtuous.  Meanwhile, don't hold your breath waiting for me to be invited to join the board of Equality Virginia or similar organizations. 

The Death of the GOP Would be a Blessing

As I note frequently, as a former Republican back in the days before the GOP went batshit crazy and embraced ignorance, religious extremism and open hostility to all non-whites, in my view, the only way to fix the GOP is for the party to die.  The cancer has simply metastasized to a point where the patient cannot be saved and for the good of the country, a speedy death is what one must pray for. Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker  seemingly is coming to a similar conclusion, although she caveats her view with "this GOP."   My problem with Parker's piece is that she assumes that such a thing as "Republicans of conscience" can still exist in such a putrefied and ugly political party.  Most former Republicans of conscience now see themselves as independents - now the largest percentage of voting age Americans - or reluctant Democrats.   To her credit, however, (i) she does lay blame for what the GOP has become at the feet of the short-sighted, cynical opportunists in the so-called GOP establishment that first welcomed the barbarians into the party, and (ii) she has denounced their actions in the past, albeit perhaps not forcefully enough.  Here are excerpts from Parker's latest column in the Washington Post on the demise of a once great party:

So it has come to this: a brokered convention or President Hillary Clinton.
These options seem to be what’s left to Republicans of conscience, who are, let’s face it, rather Romney-come-latelies to the pyre. They’re based on the following evidence: It is highly unlikely that Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio or John Kasich can wrest the nomination from Donald Trump, even though most polls show each of the three beating Clinton but Clinton beating Trump.
The most Republicans can hope for now is that Kasich and Rubio win the primaries in their home states of Ohio and Florida, respectively, as Cruz did in Texas, and enough other contests to deny Trump the necessary delegates, thus paving the way for a brokered convention.
The other option, offered in the service of saving the republic, is to vote for Clinton.
There, there, now. ’Tis bitter fruit, indeed, for any Republican to consider voting for Clinton for reasons well-known to all sentient beings, including, for the sake of clarity, her lack of appeal to the GOP’s dominant older-white-male demographic. This was the party, after all, that saw the future in former Alaska governor Sarah Palin — she of the red-heeled tundra, sparkler of fantasies and promisor of all that is ordinary. . . . Not surprisingly, she has endorsed Trump. Because? Because he’s an “outsider” (like any other Ivy-educated heir-billionaire) and “We are so desperate in Alaska for any semblance of glamour and culture.”
Even though few Republicans could ever vote Democratic, and certainly not for Clinton, it wouldn’t be the end of the world as we know it. But voting for Trump, whom other civilized nations find abhorrent, might be.
Any hope that Trump might not really mean what he says is either delusional or a gamble too far. Which would voters prefer: The man who promises a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” or one who’ll say anything to get elected? The lunatic or the liar?
It has finally dawned on Republicans that their die is cast and Trump is about to destroy the party he relatively recently rejoined. Like a bunch of Ebenezer Scrooges, GOP leaders have begun emerging from their sleep, blinking at the horror of past misdeeds, trying to prevent a future that their actions foretold.

Republicans . . . . don’t deserve much slack for allowing their party to devolve from an ideas-driven counterweight to liberalism to a ragtag consortium of discontents dissociated from anything like an intellectual trust.   From William F. Buckley to Donald J. Trump in the wink of a Palin eye, the reaper is grim, indeed. . . . Love of country requires that Trump be stopped.
[I]t may be time for some creative destruction. Should Trump become the nominee, more reasoned minds in the GOP might do well to abandon it altogether. The death of this party — of know-nothing ugliness and outright fascist rhetoric — might be a blessing, a cleansing of the palate before a resurrection of the party of limited government and individual liberty.

Friday, March 04, 2016

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Clash of Republican Con Artists

Watching the GOP "debate" last night was painful - almost a form of masochism.   The take away is that ALL of the GOP presidential candidates, including John Kasich who looks like the lone adult on the stage simply because of the crassness and juvenile behavior of the others, are all peddling snake oil to the ignorant and uninformed who increasingly make up the Republican Party base.  NONE of the budget proposals of these con-artist work when one adds up the numbers, a fact that Megan Kelly tried to demonstrate in questions posed to Donald Trump.  And on foreign policy, we again heard ridiculous claims of needing to rebuild America's military with no reference to the reality that America already spends as much as the next 10 largest military spenders combined.  Sadly, to be a Republican nowadays - and I say this as a former Republican - I believe that one must be either a religious extremist, racist, utterly uninformed and not looking beyond sound bites, have had a lobotomy, or some combination thereof. A column in the New York Times by Paul Krugman looks at the con artists at work.  Here are highlights: 
So Republicans are going to nominate a candidate who talks complete nonsense on domestic policy; who believes that foreign policy can be conducted via bullying and belligerence; who cynically exploits racial and ethnic hatred for political gain.
But that was always going to happen, however the primary season turned out. The only news is that the candidate in question is probably going to be Donald Trump. Establishment Republicans denounce Mr. Trump as a fraud, which he is. But is he more fraudulent than the establishment trying to stop him? Not really. 
Actually, when you look at the people making those denunciations, you have to wonder: Can they really be that lacking in self-awareness?
Donald Trump is a “con artist,” says Marco Rubio — who has promised to enact giant tax cuts, undertake a huge military buildup and balance the budget without any cuts in benefits to Americans over 55.
Mr. [Paul] Ryan also declares that the “party of Lincoln” must “reject any group or cause that is built on bigotry.” Has he ever heard of Nixon’s “Southern strategy”; of Ronald Reagan’s invocations of welfare queens and “strapping young bucks” using food stamps; of Willie Horton?
Put it this way: There’s a reason whites in the Deep South vote something like 90 percent Republican, and it’s not their philosophical attachment to libertarian principles.
Then there’s foreign policy, where Mr. Trump is, if anything, more reasonable — or more accurately, less unreasonable — than his rivals. He’s fine with torture, but who on that side of the aisle isn’t? He’s belligerent, but unlike Mr. Rubio, he isn’t the favorite of the neoconservatives, a.k.a. the people responsible for the Iraq debacle. He’s even said what everyone knows but nobody on the right is supposed to admit, that the Bush administration deliberately misled America into that disastrous war.
In fact, you have to wonder why, exactly, the Republican establishment is really so horrified by Mr. Trump. Yes, he’s a con man, but they all are. So why is this con job different from any other?
The answer, I’d suggest, is that the establishment’s problem with Mr. Trump isn’t the con he brings; it’s the cons he disrupts.
First, there’s the con Republicans usually manage to pull off in national elections — the one where they pose as a serious, grown-up party honestly trying to grapple with America’s problems. The truth is that that party died a long time ago, that these days it’s voodoo economics and neocon fantasies all the way down. But the establishment wants to preserve the facade, which will be hard if the nominee is someone who refuses to play his part.
Equally important, the Trump phenomenon threatens the con the G.O.P. establishment has been playing on its own base. I’m talking about the bait and switch in which white voters are induced to hate big government by dog whistles about Those People, but actual policies are all about rewarding the donor class.
What Donald Trump has done is tell the base that it doesn’t have to accept the whole package. He promises to make America white again — surely everyone knows that’s the real slogan, right? — while simultaneously promising to protect Social Security and Medicare, and hinting at (though not actually proposing) higher taxes on the rich. Outraged establishment Republicans splutter that he’s not a real conservative, but neither, it turns out, are many of their own voters.
 I find the prospect of a Trump administration terrifying, and so should you. But you should also be terrified by the prospect of a President Rubio, sitting in the White House with his circle of warmongers, or a President Cruz, whom one suspects would love to bring back the Spanish Inquisition.

Virginia GOP Continues to Push for Special Rights for Christian Extremists

Mistress of hate: Victoria Cobb of The Family Foundation 
With falsely named "religious freedom" bills being defeated or vetoed in a number of states and businesses threatening to leave states where they have been enacted, the Republicans in the Virginia General Assembly, especially the House of Delegates, continue to demonstrate that they are total shameless whores to anti-gay hate groups, especially The Family Foundation ("TFF").   While Governor McAuliffe has said that he will veto  any such bill that targets gays and grants special rights to Christofascists, the members of the GOP seem undeterred in striving to please their theocratic masters at TFF.  The Washington Post looks at  the continued GOP self-prostitution.  Here are excerpts:
Lawmakers in Virginia on Thursday reworked and advanced legislation that would prohibit the government from punishing religious organizations that discriminate against same-sex couples.
The bill is a more narrowly focused version of one that made waves last month after a gay delegate from Fairfax implored his colleagues in an emotional floor speech to consider the sweep of history and act with fairness. The measure passed the House anyway, but it hit a roadblock in the usually more moderate Senate.
Now lawmakers are back with a bill that the House sponsor, Del. C. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah), said is an effort to craft a compromise while protecting the religious freedom of people who feel under attack by shifting cultural attitudes.
Gay rights activists and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia said the bill still amounts to a license to discriminate and would not pass constitutional muster.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) has said he would veto bills that seek to erode gay rights.
Although lawmakers could not cite any examples of discrimination against those with religious objections to same-sex marriage, advocates for the bill said it’s a preemptive strike against the potential for that to happen in the future.
Claire Guthrie GastaƱaga, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia, said the free exercise of religious beliefs is already protected under the First Amendment, Virginia’s statute for religious freedom and the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
However, she said, the bill seeks to elevate one type of religious belief above all others.
“It’s unconstitutional on its face, in reference to only giving special privileges to people who have a certain belief which is a belief about marriage,” she said. “It’s unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination. The government can’t do that.”
Previously, the bill protected discrimination against not just gay married couples, but also transgender people and anyone straight or gay who has sex outside marriage.
In another change, the earlier version applied to a long list of entities with sincerely held religious beliefs, including individuals, private companies and trusts. Now it says only clergy, religious organizations and anyone affiliated with those organizations can discriminate without fear of penalty, such as losing tax benefits, grants, contracts, loans, scholarships, certification, accreditation or jobs.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Did Trump Really Suggest that Romney Would Have Offered to Give Him a Blow Job?

Just when you think the GOP death spiral can get any more bizarre or ugly, Donald Trump proves you wrong.  In response to Mitt Romney's take down of Trump today, The Donald lashed back and said "“He was begging for my endorsement,”  . . . “I could have said, ‘Mitt, drop to your knees.’ He would have dropped to his knees.”  Trump indeed make junior high play ground bullying look sophisticated and genteel.  The man is crude, vulgar and obnoxious.  Yet, evangelical Christians are flocking to him and, as a result, showing their own hypocrisy and idiocy.  Here are details from The Raw Story:

According to conservative radio host Andrew McKay, Republican evangelical voters should not choose Donald Trump because he suggested that former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney offered to give him oral sex.

“He was begging for my endorsement,” Trump said. “I could have said, ‘Mitt, drop to your knees.’ He would have dropped to his knees.”

Following the speech, MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts asked McKay, who hosts a radio show in Pensacola, for his reaction.

“We live in an area that styles itself as being very Christian, lots of churches, evangelical voters, Baptists, Catholics, this whole area is dominated by religion,” McKay explained. “And I think they have to all ask themselves the question, do they want someone who gets up there and says that a former presidential candidate for their party got down on his knees and offered to blow him?”

“That was the style of the candidate that you want to elect as your nominee?” he asked. “That’s what a lot of people are struggling with.”

More Thursday Male Beauty

Ted Cruz Appoints Anti-LGBT Activists to "Religious Liberty" Panel

Even as the GOP civil war rages, the efforts to pander to bigots and win votes by fanning hate by Republican presidential candidates also continues.  Not counting Donald Trump and his cozy relations ship with white supremacy groups and the KKK is Ted Cruz who has formed a ludicrously named "religious liberty" advisory panel filled with hate group leaders, anti-gay theocrats and Christian dominionists.  Obviously, Cruz's idea of religious liberty is a Christian theocracy.  Once again we see that Paul Ryan's claim that the GOP doesn't prey on people's prejudices is bullshit.  Oh, and by the way, Marco Rubio, a/k/a Marcobot has formed a similar Christofascist advisory board.  Here are details from The Advocate:
Republican presidential aspirant Ted Cruz has formed a “religious liberty” council for his campaign, filled with antigay activists including Tony Perkins, the Benham brothers, and Bishop Harry Jackson.
The council “seems intent on undermining LGBT rights,” the Washington Blade reports. Cruz announced the council’s formation Monday, the day before he won three of Super Tuesday’s 11 state Republican primaries and caucuses.
Cruz’s press release on the council didn’t mention LGBT issues, but it was clear that the council, which has the task of guiding his policies, would sympathize with government workers and business owners who don’t want to serve LGBT clients, especially same-sex couples seeking marriage-related goods and services.
“Increasingly, renegade government officials seek to coerce people of faith either to act in a manner that violates their faith or forfeit their career,” Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas, said in the release. “When I am elected president, that will change.”
Perkins’s group, by the way, has been designated an anti-LGBT hate group by the progressive Southern Poverty Law Center, because of the damaging misinformation it spreads.
The Benham brothers, David and Jason, are real estate entrepreneurs who in 2014 saw their planned reality show scrapped by HGTV after outcry against their antigay views. Among other things, they have claimed that “homosexuality and its agenda” are “attacking the nation” and thatSatan is behind marriage equality. Their father, Flip Benham, is head of Operation Save America, an antigay and antichoice group that split off from Operation Rescue.
Jackson, a minister in the Washington, D.C., metro area, was a leading opponent of marriage equality in D.C. After the district adopted a marriage equality law in 2009, he sued — unsuccessfully — in an attempt to force a popular vote on the issue. He also has made antigay remarks such as “Folks who cannot reproduce want to recruit your kids.” Find the full list of the advisory council’s members here.
Another Republican presidential hopeful, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, has formed a similar advisory group, with members including megachurch minister Rick Warren and lawyers with the Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal group that often fights LGBT rights. 

I find Ted Cruz to be very, very scary.

Marco Rubio: He Just Lost the Support of Fox News

The right wing melt down and civil war seems to be intensifying and I candidly find it difficult to summon any sympathy for any of the combatants be they the GOP establishment elite or Trump and his knuckle dragging supporters.  While I shudder at the upheaval that the GOP implosion may wreak on the nation, at the same time I hope that it may make it possible for a reemergence of politics of decency and a goal of providing solutions to pressing needs and issues rather than being consumed by the hate, bigotry and selfishness that are the hallmarks of today's GOP.  Meanwhile, in the GOP civil war, Fox News is seemingly throwing Marco Rubio overboard.  A piece in New York Magazine looks at this new right wing backstabbing.  Here are are excerpts:
In his role as the donor class's darling, Marco Rubio has enjoyed support from the Republicans' media arm, Fox News.   . . . . But this alliance now seems to be over. According to three Fox sources, Fox chief Roger Ailes has told people he's lost confidence in Rubio's ability to win. "We're finished with Rubio," Ailes recently told a Fox host. "We can't do the Rubio thing anymore." 
Ailes was already concerned about Rubio's lackluster performance in GOP primaries and caucuses, winning only one contest among the 15 that have been held. But the more proximate cause for the flip was an embarrassing New York Times article revealing that Rubio and Ailes had a secret dinner meeting in 2013 during which the Florida senator successfully lobbied the Fox News chief to throw his support behind the "Gang of 8" comprehensive immigration-reform bill.
Fox's corporate support of Rubio has also been a growing source of tension with the network's more conservative talent. Sean Hannity was furious that the Times article reported how he went along with Rubio's immigration proposal. During an interview with Trump on Monday, Hannity barely defended Fox while Trump trashed Rubio backers like Hayes. "He shouldn't be on the air," Trump said. The best Hannity could muster was to change the subject. "Have you ever watched MSNBC?" he said. "They suck."
Ailes is now back to searching for a candidate the channel can rally behind. "He's thinking, What do we do about the whole damn thing?" one of the news executive's friends said.

Trump and How Great Republics Meet Their End

I often find that foreign publications - often those from the UK - provide better political coverage and commentary  than what one finds in American publications.  A case in point is the Financial Times, which has an on point column on Donald Trump and the demise of once great republics.  The piece focuses on the decline of the Republican Party and notes its "wild obstructionism,” its demonization of political institutions, its flirtation with bigotry and its “racially tinged derangement syndrome” over President Barack Obama.  It also notes that Trump supporters are angry about all the things Republicans have told them to be angry about these past seven-and-a-half years.”  

However, the piece also takes a broader scale view and looks at the decline in the American citizenry, or at least the element of it that is gravitating to Trump and his fascist agenda.   With plenty of justification, citizens of the UK, the rest of Europe and, indeed, the world are shocked, aghast and concerned that a "narcissistic bully" like Trump could be the leading contender for the GOP nomination.  The piece notes that while Trump might be compared to to Italy's former leader, Silvio Berlusconi, but concludes that Trump lacks Berlusconi's charm and, unlike Mr Trump, Berlusconi's never threatened to round up and deport millions of individuals and their families. 

My two favorite quotes?  One looks at the fall of the Roman Republic.  The other looks at the fall of Germany to Hitler.  Here they are:

[T] the wealth of empire destabilized the Roman republic. In the end, Augustus, heir of the popular party, terminated the republic and installed himself as emperor. He did so by preserving all the forms of the republic, while he dispensed with their meaning.
It was the ultra-conservative president Paul von Hindenburg who made Hitler chancellor of Germany in 1933. What made the new ruler so destructive was not only that he was a paranoid lunatic, but that he ruled a great power. Trump may be no Hitler. But the US is also no Weimar Germany. It is a vastly more important country even than that.
Great republics die when (i) the populace are are exhausted from excessive foreign adventurism and seek a strong man to impose perceived stability, and (ii) citizens put nativism and bigotry ahead of logical thinking.   The piece ends hoping that a majority of Americans will come to their senses and stop the de facto effort to over throw the American republic. 

Read the whole column here.

Researchers: Racism Helps the GOP Win

As noted in a prior post, GOP Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan has disingenuously stated that there is no place for bigotry and preying on people's prejudices in the Republican Party.   Either Ryan is delusional or a bald faced liar.  For years since Richard Nixon launched his "Southern Strategy" to win white votes in the South to today and the racist remarks that Donald Trump is throwing out to his supporters, the GOP long pandered to people's prejudices.  The LGBT community, like blacks knows first hand the lengths that Republicans will go to fan hate, division and ingrain prejudices against those many whites deem as "other.".  A new study tracts the correlation between whites who vote Republican and those with negative views of blacks which is no coincidence notwithstanding Paul Ryan's protestations.  Here are highlights from the Washington Post: 

In the South, it seems, old prejudices have persisted. Southern counties that had more slaves on the eve of the Civil War are distinct from their neighbors: White residents in those areas are more hostile toward African Americans and they are more likely to vote Republican today, new research shows. Drawing on archival Census figures and recent polls, the study adds to an expanding body of evidence on the importance of racial anxiety to the predominantly white Republican coalition.   "The underlying racial hostility goes on in the culture, passed on from generation to generation," said David Sears, a psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles. "Local culture doesn't change very quickly."
About 4 million people, or 32 percent of the population, were enslaved in the South in 1860. . . .
Following emancipation, not only did white Southerners lose the source of their economic power in this region. Given their numbers, the former slaves also threatened to end white political dominance at the polls.

In response, white Southerners in those counties with large black populations found ways of preserving their power over the freed slaves. Soon after the war, for example, former planters developed the system of sharecropping, which allowed them to maintain their control over black labor. It was an improvement over slavery, but it was still a form of peonage.

The end of Reconstruction allowed white, Democratic governments to disenfranchise black voters and to segregate public spaces. These governments also acquiesced in thousands of lynchings.

Today, most of the old plantations have been sold off. Where slaves once picked cotton, there are subdivisions and stadiums. The prejudice, however, remains. "There are still a lot of people who think blacks are simply inferior to whites," said Roger Ransom, an economic historian at the University of California, Riverside. "It is definitely there, and I don’t think it ever went away."

Acharya, Blackwell and Sen examined data on racial attitudes from national polls conducted in 2010 and 2011, using the responses of white participants in the states of the former Confederacy, including West Virginia, as well as Missouri and Kentucky, slave states that did not secede. Those in counties where more slaves lived in 1860 were more likely to hold negative views of African Americans.

 Recent research by economists Ilyana Kuziemko and Ebonya Washington suggests that white Southerners who defected from the Democratic party after the civil-rights movement were those with the most conservative views on race. Democrats who held moderate and conservative views on other issues and who lived in other parts of the country largely remained loyal.

Polls consistently show that Republicans are more likely to hold racial prejudices, and not just in the South. Nationally, almost one in five Republicans opposes interracial dating, compared to just one in 20 Democrats, according to the Pew Research Center. While 79 percent of Republicans agree with negative statements about blacks such as the one about slavery and discrimination, just 32 percent of Democrats do, the Associated Press has found.

"This party does not prey on people’s prejudices. We appeal to their highest ideals," Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the speaker of the House, told reporters Tuesday. "This is the party of Lincoln." . . . research, however, suggests that the party does benefit from racial antipathy.

Sears of the University of California has found that even among white voters with equally conservative views on issues unrelated to race, those with more negative views about African Americans are more likely to vote Republican. 

[S]lavery's enduring legacy is evident not only in statistics on black poverty and education. The institution continues to influence how white Southerners think and feel about race -- and how they vote. Slavery still divides the American people.

"When we study public opinion, we tend to focus on the now," Sen said. "These political attitudes really can persist over generations, and last an incredibly long time."

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

The GOP's Growing Desperation

As noted in a post yesterday, Donald Trump represents the end result of the Republican Party's years of fear mongering against blacks, gays, non-Christians, Muslims and anyone else the largely lily white GOP base deems to be "other."   Now, these authoritarian loving sheeple are looking for a dictatorial strong man to protect them from the many menaces that the GOP has fabricated and preached against for years.  Now, having created the atmosphere for the rise of someone like Trump - or Hitler in 1930's Germany - the GOP is desperate to find someone who can defeat the Frankenstein monster that has been created.   As a column in the Washington Post notes, there seems to be no one up to that challenge.  Here are column highlights:
The Republican Party is on the verge of being taken over by an egomaniac who appeals to the nation’s darkest impulses. Yet Donald Trump’s foes are splintered, tactically but also philosophically.
It doesn’t help that each of his three serious challengers is a flawed alternative. None is sufficiently dominant to force the others aside.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) has the most legitimate claim as a Trump-slayer. He’s now beaten him in four contests. Yet Cruz is so disliked by so many party leaders that they have refused to rally behind him. Indeed, many in the GOP view Cruz as being nearly as vulnerable to Hillary Clinton as Trump is. 
The Republican establishment plainly prefers Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), but voters have not gone along. Rubio did manage to win the Minnesota caucuses. But he ran third in eight of the other 10 states that voted Tuesday and has lost 14 times since the nomination battle began.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich may well be the party’s strongest potential general-election candidate. But his relative moderation has marginalized him in an increasingly right-wing party.
But the difficulty Republicans have in identifying a single candidate to take Trump down speaks to a deeper problem. Its leaders have yet to decide whether Trump’s greatest sin is that he exploits bigotry or that he fails to bow to conservative ideological orthodoxy.
While conservatives such as Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) have brought the two strands together, there is ambivalence about how to go after Trump because the party itself has often played at backlash politics around race and immigration — and because, throughout President Obama’s tenure, it has embraced Trump as an ally in stirring resentment on the far right. 
Moreover, some of Trump’s most extreme positions have won wide approval from the Republican rank-and-file. For example, exit polls reported by CNN and The Post found broad backing for his temporary ban on Muslims from entering the United States: It was favored by 78 percent of Republican primary voters in Alabama, 67 percent in Texas and 63 percent in Virginia.
It’s true that anti-Trump Republicans found common ground in excoriating Trump for his equivocation in condemning the Ku Klux Klan and the racist leader David Duke. “This party does not prey on people’s prejudices,” insisted House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) . In fact, the party has subtly and not so subtly played on racial resentment — birtherism, the claim that Obama is a Muslim, Ronald Reagan’s famous “welfare queen” reference — for decades. Trump is just cruder about it.
And blocking Trump now would enrage his army of followers and prove to them that the party is every bit as distant from their concerns as their hero has been saying.

Pro-Christofascist "Religious Freedom" Bills Die in South Dakota and West Virginia

The hate merchants who disingenuously claim that Christians are being persecuted by being subjected to non-discrimination laws and barred from mistreating LGBT individuals suffered two defeats - one in South Dakota where  Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard vetoed a bill that would have restricted transgender students’ use of restrooms, locker rooms, and other gender-specific facilities in public schools.  The other defeat was in West Virginia where the state Senate overwhelmingly voted down a toxic license to discriminate bill.  The New Civil Rights Movement has details on this positive development.  Here are excerpts:
The West Virginia Senate has just killed an anti-gay "religious freedom" bill that, like many RFRAs across the nation's legislatures, would have made discriminating against LGBT people – especially same-sex couples – legal, by letting anyone or any company, corporation, or organization claim to have a "sincerely held religious or moral belief" against same-sex marriage or even LGBT people in general.
Senators defeated HB 4012, the newly-renamed “Religious Freedom Protection Act,” by a vote of 27-7.
HB 4012 had been amended from the House version to add some protections for LGBT people, but even then, at that point, it had become toxic.
“The WV Senate’s rejection of House Bill 4012 is a resounding victory for Fairness West Virginia, our allies, our supporters, and Mountaineers everywhere,” Andrew Schneider, Executive Director of the Fairness West Virginia, said in a statement.
“With similar discriminatory legislation being considered in states across the nation, West Virginia sent a clear message to the world that Mountaineers do not tolerate discrimination. This action proves once again that bipartisan support for nondiscrimination principles is a guiding force in our state.”
The bill had passed the House in a 72-26 vote. 
During debate, Democratic Delegate Mike Pushkin delivered a memorable and impactful speech, reminding his fellow delegates that "baking a cake is not persecution."

These Christofascists are truly foul, bigoted people.  They are selfish hypocrites who are a threat to religious freedom for all Americans.  They are a clear and present danger to the U.S. Constitution and the rights of all Americans. They need to become social and political outcasts. 

Grand Jury: Altoona Diocese Concealed Sex Abuse of Hundreds of Children

A grand jury in Pennsylvania has found that the Diocese of Altoona covered up the sexual abuse of hundreds of children by priests of the diocese.  The story seemingly never changes, only the location. Sex abuse of children and youths was - and likely still is - systemic in the Roman Catholic Church. And as noted before on this blog, no senior member of the Church hierarchy has been thrown out and stripped of their retirement and luxurious perks.  Pope Francis is all talk and crocodile tears, but no action.  The Pittsburgh Post- Gazette has a copy of the grand jury report and details on this latest revelation of the moral bankruptcy and criminal conspiracy that permeates the Church hierarchy.  Here are excerpts:
ALTOONA — After the tolling of the noon hour Tuesday at the magnificent domed Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, whose towering perch above this historic railroad town reflects the Catholic Church’s long powerful presence in central Pennsylvania, the Rev. Dennis Kurdziel left little doubt for whom the bell tolled.
“Pray for the victims,” said Father Kurdziel in a somber noontime Mass, held less than two hours after the release of a state grand jury report finding that hundreds of children were abused by at least 50 priests and others associated with the church in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown across nearly half a century.
Across town at the Blair County Convention Center, authorities were releasing a catalog of horrors in a 147-page report by the 37th Statewide Investigating Grand jury, which spent nearly two years delving into the case.
Hundreds of children were molested, raped and destined to lasting psychological trauma by clerics whose abuses were covered up by their bishops, other superiors and even compliant law-enforcement officials in Blair and Cambria counties, the report said.
The conspiracy amounted to “soul murder,” the report said, with abuse happening everywhere from camps and homes to the historic cathedral itself. That description echoes that of similar grand jury probes into the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 2005 and 2011 that found cardinals and other clerics shifted numerous known abusers from one unsuspecting parish to another. 
These findings are both staggering and sobering,” said the grand jury report. “Over many years hundreds of children have fallen victim to child predators wrapped in the authority and integrity of an honorable faith. As wolves disguised as the shepherds themselves — these men stole the innocence of children by sexually preying upon the most innocent and vulnerable .... ”
The two previous bishops leading the diocese — James Hogan, who served from 1966 to 1986 and died in 2005, and Joseph Adamec, who served from 1987 to 2011 and is now retired — “took actions that further endangered children as they placed their desire to avoid public scandal over the well-being of innocent children,” the report said. “Priests were returned to ministry with full knowledge they were child predators.”
The grand jury said there was an apparent reason for this deference — that the diocese had political boss-like powers in central Pennsylvania. Monsignor Saylor said a mayor of Johnstown sent candidates for police and fire chief to him for interviews, and he would tell the mayor whom to pick. “That happened in Johnstown and Altoona,” he said.
The grand jury report quoted former Altoona police Chief Peter Starr as crediting his own appointment to such arrangements and saying that the “politicians of Blair County were afraid of Monsignor Saylor,” who was editor of the diocesan newspaper.
With such influence, “Hogan saw no obligation of faith or law to the children of his parishioners,” the grand jury report said.
The report added that even a diocesan review board, impaneled amid growing public outrage over sexual abuse by priests, often turned into a travesty, with investigations focusing not on the accused but on those reporting abuse by priests. In one case, the review board sought gynecological records of a survivor, the report said. . . . . the grand jury report noted that as late as 2005, the Altoona-Johnstown diocese was hiring private investigators to look for ways to undercut the credibility of an alleged accuser.
Again I ask, how can decent, moral people continue to belong to and financially support such a morally bankrupt institution.  Is thinking for one's self that frightening of a prospect?  As for the social aspects of church membership, why not join a club of fraternal organization that doesn't condone and cover up the raping of children?   

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Today's GOP: The Rise of American Authoritarianism

As the GOP establishment wrings its hands, Marco Rubio tries to put a positive face on a disastrous showing yesterday in the Super Tuesday primaries, and Ben Carson finally suspends his insane candidacy, one thing appears clear: today's GOP is enamored with authoritarian strong men and extremists who pledge to "make America great again" and protect "religious freedom" as they ride rough shod over the rights of many Americans.  A very lengthy piece in Vox looks at the trend  - which in my view parallel's what happened in Germany in the early 1930's - and the threat it poses to democracy.  GOP authoritarianism is a danger to  the rule of law and the rights of minorities.  For the LGBT community, the trend is particularly frightening: one third of Trump's supporters want to ban LGBT individuals from America.  Here are some extensive article excerpts:  
Perhaps strangest of all, it wasn't just Trump but his supporters who seemed to have come out of nowhere, suddenly expressing, in large numbers, ideas far more extreme than anything that has risen to such popularity in recent memory. In South Carolina, a CBS News exit poll found that 75 percent of Republican voters supported banning Muslims from the United States. A PPP poll found that a third of Trump voters support banning gays and lesbians from the country. Twenty percent said Lincoln shouldn't have freed the slaves.
Last September, a PhD student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst named Matthew MacWilliams realized that his dissertation research might hold the answer to not just one but all three of these mysteries.
MacWilliams studies authoritarianism — not actual dictators, but rather a psychological profile of individual voters that is characterized by a desire for order and a fear of outsiders. People who score high in authoritarianism, when they feel threatened, look for strong leaders who promise to take whatever action necessary to protect them from outsiders and prevent the changes they fear.
So MacWilliams naturally wondered if authoritarianism might correlate with support for Trump.
He polled a large sample of likely voters, looking for correlations between support for Trump and views that align with authoritarianism. What he found was astonishing: Not only did authoritarianism correlate, but it seemed to predict support for Trump more reliably than virtually any other indicator. He later repeated the same poll in South Carolina, shortly before the primary there, and found the same results . . . .

[A]t Vanderbilt University, a professor named Marc Hetherington was having his own aha moment. He realized that he and a fellow political scientist, the University of North Carolina's Jonathan Weiler, had essentially predicted Trump's rise back in 2009, when they discovered something that would turn out to be far more significant than they then realized.
That year, Hetherington and Weiler published a book about the effects of authoritarianism on American politics. Through a series of experiments and careful data analysis, they had come to a surprising conclusion: Much of the polarization dividing American politics was fueled not just by gerrymandering or money in politics or the other oft-cited variables, but by an unnoticed but surprisingly large electoral group — authoritarians.
This trend had been accelerated in recent years by demographic and economic changes such as immigration, which "activated" authoritarian tendencies, leading many Americans to seek out a strongman leader who would preserve a status quo they feel is under threat and impose order on a world they perceive as increasingly alien.
These Americans with authoritarian views, they found, were sorting into the GOP, driving polarization. But they were also creating a divide within the party, at first latent, between traditional Republican voters and this group whose views were simultaneously less orthodox and, often, more extreme. . . . . And so it was all but inevitable that, eventually, authoritarians would gain enough power within the GOP to make themselves heard.
Authoritarians are thought to express much deeper fears than the rest of the electorate, to seek the imposition of order where they perceive dangerous change, and to desire a strong leader who will defeat those fears with force. They would thus seek a candidate who promised these things. And the extreme nature of authoritarians' fears, and of their desire to challenge threats with force, would lead them toward a candidate whose temperament was totally unlike anything we usually see in American politics — and whose policies went far beyond the acceptable norms.
A candidate like Donald Trump. . . . Trump, it turns out, is just the symptom. The rise of American authoritarianism is transforming the Republican Party and the dynamics of national politics, with profound consequences likely to extend well beyond this election.
Authoritarians prioritize social order and hierarchies, which bring a sense of control to a chaotic world. Challenges to that order — diversity, influx of outsiders, breakdown of the old order — are experienced as personally threatening because they risk upending the status quo order they equate with basic security.
This is, after all, a time of social change in America. The country is becoming more diverse, which means that many white Americans are confronting race in a way they have never had to before. Those changes have been happening for a long time, but in recent years they have become more visible and harder to ignore. And they are coinciding with economic trends that have squeezed working-class white people.
[A]uthoritarians skew heavily Republican. More than 65 percent of people who scored highest on the authoritarianism questions were GOP voters. More than 55 percent of surveyed Republicans scored as "high" or "very high" authoritarians.
And at the other end of the scale, that pattern reversed. People whose scores were most non-authoritarian — meaning they always chose the non-authoritarian parenting answer — were almost 75 percent Democrats.
But the research on authoritarianism suggests it's not just physical threats driving all this. There should be another kind of threat — larger, slower, less obvious, but potentially even more powerful — pushing authoritarians to these extremes: the threat of social change.
This could come in the form of evolving social norms, such as the erosion of traditional gender roles or evolving standards in how to discuss sexual orientation. It could come in the form of rising diversity, whether that means demographic changes from immigration or merely changes in the colors of the faces on TV. Or it could be any changes, political or economic, that disrupt social hierarchies.
What these changes have in common is that, to authoritarians, they threaten to take away the status quo as they know it — familiar, orderly, secure — and replace it with something that feels scary because it is different and destabilizing, but also sometimes because it upends their own place in society. According to the literature, authoritarians will seek, in response, a strong leader who promises to suppress the scary changes, if necessary by force, and to preserve the status quo.
[A]n astonishing 44 percent of authoritarians believe same-sex marriage is harmful to the country. Twenty-eight percent rated same-sex marriage as "very bad" for America, and another 16 percent said that it’s "bad." Only about 35 percent of high-scoring authoritarians said same-sex marriage was "good" or "very good" for the country.
[W]hite people are also facing the loss of the privileged position that they previously were able to take for granted. Whites are now projected to become a minority group over the next few decades, owing to migration and other factors. The president is a black man, and nonwhite faces are growing more common in popular culture. Nonwhite groups are raising increasingly prominent political demands, and often those demands coincide with issues such as policing that also speak to authoritarian concerns.
If Trump loses the election, that will not remove the threats and social changes that trigger the "action side" of authoritarianism. The authoritarians will still be there. They will still look for candidates who will give them the strong, punitive leadership they desire. . . .
It would also mean more problems for the GOP. . . . The authoritarian base will drag the party further to the right on social issues, and will simultaneously erode support for traditionally conservative economic policies. . . . And in the meantime, the forces activating American authoritarians seem likely to only grow stronger. Norms around gender, sexuality, and race will continue evolving.
For decades, the Republican Party has been winning over authoritarians by implicitly promising to stand firm against the tide of social change, and to be the party of force and power rather than the party of negotiation and compromise. But now it may be discovering that its strategy has worked too well — and threatens to tear the party apart.

In my view, these authoritarians are in need of a mental health intervention.  Their fears are irrationals and down right psychotic.