Saturday, September 17, 2016

Saturday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2

Family Wedding - Beach Style

Posting has been reduced and will remain so for much of the weekend as the husband and I enjoy a beach wedding weekend out of state.  The ceremony (pictured above) was yesterday afternoon followed by a reception at a lovely B&B. Thankfully, the weather continues to be beautiful today and we will enjoy some R&R without the pets who are at home with a house sitter!  We love our dogs, but traveling is definitely easier and more relaxing without them. 

Clinton, Kaine Pro-LGBTQ Because of Faith

One hears constant religious based justification for anti-LGBT hate and bigotry, especially from right wing pastors, Catholic Church child molester enablers, and, of course, parasitic professional Christians seeking to line their pockets with money skimmed from the ignorant and gullible. As a result, I and many others view religion with disgust and have largely walked away from organized religion entirely.   Almost never does one hear religion used to justify LGBT equality and non-discrimination.  Yet that is precisely being done by Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine, who I have the privilege of talking with in the past.  A piece at NBC News looks at this turn about on religion and LGBT individuals.  Here are highlights:
There has never been a more pro-LGBT presidential campaign than Clinton and Kaine ticket. The Democratic Presidential and Vice Presidential nominees have the most comprehensive LGBT platform America has ever seen. A Clinton administration promises to pass the Equality Act, protect transgender rights, and end the pseudo-scientific practice of conversion therapy. It's the most progressive LGBT platform the United States has ever seen, and it's being spearheaded by two people of faith.
Clinton, a Methodist, and Kaine, a Catholic, are vocal both about their devout faith and to their commitment to the LGBT community. At the Human Rights Campaign National Dinner, Kaine shared his progression from opposing LGBT equality to becoming a supporter of it.
"As a devout Catholic, while I was battling for LGBTQ equality, I believed that marriage was something different," Kaine said. "I knew gay couples as friends in my neighborhood. I knew them to be great neighbors. I knew them to be great parents to beautiful kids. And I saw them struggle with antiquated and even hostile adoption laws. But I had a difficult time reconciling that reality, what I knew to be true from the evidence of my own life, with the teachings of the faith that I have been raised in for my entire life."
[Pope] Francis still holds anti-LGBT beliefs that he isn't afraid of sharing. The Pope has likened transgender individuals to nuclear weapons and believes that same-sex relationships are sinful. Similarly, the United Methodist Church holds anti-LGBT beliefs.
While Clinton and Kaine's support for the LGBT community is clearly at odds with their denominations, it is in perfect harmony with their faith. For Kaine, it is his belief in a Creator that names all of creation "very good" and who believes in celebrating "God's beautiful diverse family" that led him to call for LGBT equality. In his speech at the Human Rights Campaign National Dinner, Kaine even went as far to say during his that the Catholic Church would one day change the position on marriage to include same-sex couples.
Clinton's religious beliefs called her to care for others. In speaking to a group of Baptists, Religion News Service reported, Clinton described her faith as an "activist, social justice faith, a roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-your-hands-dirty faith."
Throughout her talk, Clinton emphasized scripture and religious teachings that demanded us to love one another and work toward justice. "Do all the good you can for all the people you can in all the ways you can as long as ever you can," Clinton said repeating a popular Methodist saying.
This progressive faith rooted in social justice creates a stark contrast to the Republican ticket. Donald Trump has used Christianity as a way to court the Evangelical vote, while promoting beliefs that are inherently anti-gospel, and is seen visibly uncomfortable in houses of worship.
Clinton and Kaine aren't alone. Progressive Christians point to their beliefs as the reason to proudly claim Black Lives Matter, welcome refugees, aide the poor and sick, and in advocating for full spiritual and legal equality of LGBT people. Still Clinton and Kaine's support of LGBT equality disrupts a mainstreamed idea that Christianity is inherently anti-LGBT. Mostly because there haven't been such visible people of faith who are also this vocal about being LGBT allies in a major election.
It is the norm for anti-LGBT politicians to cite their religious beliefs, and then claim religious freedom, to be able to pass legislation that oppresses the LGBT community. For too long conservative Christians have hijacked religious language and have used it to vilify the LGBT community. Clinton and Kaine's staunch support for LGBT rights, while concurrently centered in their faith, presents a new idea to Americans: Christians can be pro LGBT -- not in spite of their faith but because of it. 
 It is refreshing to see religion being used in a positive manner instead of as a vehicle for furthering hatred and division.  That said, it will take much more for me to view religion as anything but a net negative for humankind. 

Kathleen Parker: Trump, A Con Man Among Heroes

I continue to find it telling that conservatives and Republicans who all too often turned a willing blind eye to the ugliness that motivated much of the party base and the self-prostitution that GOP elected officials regularly engaged in are now shocked that the selling of the GOP's soul has finally culminated in Donald Trump as the party standard bearer.  While Kathleen Parker has strayed from the GOP reservation ,more than other conservative pundits shocked by Trump's rise, had she and others criticized Democrats less and addressed the hideousness in their own party, perhaps the Trump nightmare could have been avoided.  Her latest piece  in the Washington Post looks at Trump's unqualified nature for the presidency.  Here are highlights:
At long last, Donald Trump has set himself free.
At a highly choreographed event Friday, the Republican nominee for president of the United States finally issued his verdict on the birthright of our two-term president, who, it turns out, is a real American!
“Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period,” Trump intoned to the great relief of no one.
Well, howdy-do. Welcome to planet Earth, son.
But Trump’s announcement was merely a curtain call on a theatrical production otherwise known as Free Publicity for Trump.
For the preceding 24 hours, Trump gleefully baited and dragged the media through Con Man’s Swamp, first refusing to answer the question posed by The Post’s Robert Costaabout whether Trump still thought Obama wasn’t born in the United States, then building suspense Friday morning that he would make a “big announcement.”
Awaiting him on the dais was a gathering of war heroes, who spent 20 minutes extolling Trump’s virtues, many of which one has never before associated with the nominee — his intellectual curiosity, his great temperament and his raw intelligence.
Only Trump could believe such things about himself — and he obviously did. Nearly glistening from the mist of blown kisses, he beamed like a boy with a brand new toy.
Now, I don’t doubt that those on the stage sincerely support the Republican nominee. And nothing I say about Trump is intended to reflect on these extraordinary Americans, especially not on Michael Thornton, a retired Navy SEAL, whom I single out because he happens to be a friend. I commend his remarkable story to anyone seeking perspective and inspiration.
My heart sank just a little when I saw Thornton standing behind Trump, even though I’m aware that it’s difficult for many battlefield veterans, especially those from the Vietnam era, to find a Clinton acceptable as commander in chief.
Seeing Trump wedged among men who had served heroically, several of whom risked their own lives to save others, had an effect more minimizing than elevating. Trump avoided the draft, too, with a doctor’s excuse, often available to sons of the rich, and otherwise isn’t qualified to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Medal of Honor recipients.
“Selfish men, bullies, and braggarts don’t perform well in battle. And those believing in their own extraordinariness rarely if ever accomplish feats worthy of the MoH.”
Trump has finally owned up, if way too late to make any difference. But one should keep in mind that the birther movement was racist to its core. And the man who would be president led the charge. 
In case readers have not figured it out, Trump sickens me.  What sickens me even more is the number of Americans who are supporting a racist con man.  That speaks volumes about America and none of it good.  It certainly shows that claims of America's exceptionalism are untrue, especially in the day of Donald Trump.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 1

Friday, September 16, 2016

Friday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2

Trump Continues His Validation of Racists

Perhaps I am a "commie, nigger loving faggot" to use the type of terminology so favored at Donald Trump rallies, but I find the normalization and often outright validation of racists and white supremacist by Trump and the larger Republican Party both disgusting and frightening.  The hatred expressed and on open display, of course, is not reserved to blacks or Hispanics.  It ultimately extends to every American who doesn't view those who believe differently or look different to be subhuman and a threat to white conservative Christian privilege.  Just ask the 15 year old white girl in Wisconsin who was assaulted and pepper sprayed by Trump supporters. In my years in the Republican Party I am confident that racists were present in the party, but they in general remained hidden in the fringes and tended to be avoided by respectable Republicans (they would never have been invited to a Republican Women's luncheon).  Now, Donald Trump has made these self-centered, hate-filled elements of the GOP mainstream.  Indeed, if one isn't a racists, white supremacist or right wing Christian extremists, one truly no longer has a place in Trump's GOP.  Conservative Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson bemoan this reality.  Here are excerpts:
Once upon a time, I thought the repudiation of white supremacists was the easiest layup in U.S. politics. Not for the Trump campaign.
Asked recently whether he considered former KKK leader David Duke deplorable, Republican vice-presidential nominee Mike Pence said he was “not in the name-calling business.” Earlier this year, Donald Trump was posed a similar question and claimed, incredibly and repeatedly, “I don’t know anything about David Duke.” In a particularly revealing campaign moment, Trump was asked to repudiate the anti-Semitic death threats made by some of his followers against a reporter. “I don’t have a message to the fans,” Trump said.
The fans, no doubt, regard this as the gotcha game of a politically correct press. Even if this is true, an initial reluctance to condemn some of the very worst people in U.S. politics conveys a message. Several years ago, researchers developed an Implicit Association Test — a sort of computerized “blink test” measuring how subjects associate positive and negative words with people of different races. The immediate reaction of a politician to the KKK is a kind of political blink test. The right response is revulsion. And there has generally been a Grand Wizard exception to the prohibition on name-calling.
For some of us, this raises the hardest moral and emotional issue of the current campaign. The Republican nominee came to prominence feeding fears of Mexicans, migrants and Muslims. He refuses to engage in the normal moral and political hygiene of repudiating extremism. . . . . [Trump supporters] are willing to tolerate a level of prejudice that should be morally unacceptable in a presidential candidate.
Why is this such a problem? Because racial prejudice is not one problem among many in American history. It is the sin that nearly destroyed us. It is a special category of wrong. It is not sufficient to say: I agree with Trump on 90 percent of the issues . . . . [The] systematic religious discrimination, forced expulsion, war crimes, the demonization of refugees and the general dehumanization of the other. These matters are foundational.
History has little sympathy for those who supported Stephen Douglas for his views on tariff policy or internal improvements while playing down his belief that the rights of minorities should be determined by the majority.
A refusal to aggressively confront a racially tinged extremism has been taken as a source of validation by white nationalists. They feel emboldened. Duke reports being “overjoyed” that Trump has embraced “most of the issues that I’ve championed for years.” No presidential candidate is responsible for the views of all their supporters. But at least since the 1960s, conservative leaders have felt a responsibility to actively oppose and discredit those elements of the right that identify Americanism with ethnic purity and spin conspiracy theories of Semitic control. . . . . The current vacuum of such leadership at the top of the Republican ticket is taken as a cultural signal by both the perpetrators and objects of prejudice.

Missouri - A Case Study in Republican Insanity

With gun deaths now exceeding deaths caused by auto accidents, one would think that even those only loosely connected with sanity and objective reality would agree that some sort of focus on increased gun safety is sensible.  Especially among supposedly "pro-life" Republicans.  Sadly, however, such is not the case and the only times Republicans worry about protecting life is before a child is born or when it comes to banning doctor assisted suicide for the terminally ill.  New levels of GOP are now on display in Missouri where the Missouri Republicans have wiped out sane and rational gun safety laws.  Frankly, the GOP has become akin to a pack of rabid dogs, lead by lunatic and scam artist in chief, Donald Trump.  An editorial in the New York Times looks at this latest form of GOP distemper.  Here are highlights:
In an alarming victory for the gun lobby, Missouri’s Republican-controlled Legislature voted Wednesday to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto and enact a wholesale retreat from gun safety in the state.
The law will let citizens carry concealed weapons in public without a state gun permit, criminal background check or firearms training. It strips local law enforcement of its current authority to deny firearms to those guilty of domestic violence and to other high-risk individuals. And it establishes a dangerous “stand your ground” standard that will allow gun owners to shoot and claim self-defense based on their own sense of feeling threatened.
The measure has drawn no great national attention, but it certainly provides further evidence that gun safety cannot be left to state lawmakers beholden to the gun lobby. Democrats opposed to the Missouri bill called it a “perfect storm” of lowered standards for the use of deadly force and an invitation for people to be armed without responsible controls. The measure was enacted by the Republicans, despite strong public opposition and warnings about the threat to public safety from the state Police Chiefs Association. Everytown for Gun Safety, one of the groups fighting the gun lobby, noted that stand-your-ground laws result in disproportionate harm to communities of color.
Mr. Nixon, a Democrat, vetoed the measure in June, saying it would allow individuals with a criminal record to legally carry a concealed firearm even though they had been, or would have been, denied a permit under the old law’s background check. Mayors Sly James of Kansas City and Francis Slay of St. Louis warned against restricting the power of the local police to deny guns to those who commit domestic violence. They cited sharp spikes in domestic violence homicides in their cities, and they noted that the police would be left at greater risk by this bill.
Missouri is joining 10 other states that loosened gun laws to allow concealed firearms in public without the need for a permit. Federal gun controls still require background checks on buyers, but only at federally licensed dealers. Unfortunately, there is a separate and busy uncontrolled market where buyers at gun shows and on the internet do not have to undergo background checks.
In the presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton has called for extensive gun safety measures, including a ban on the assault weapons favored by mass shooters, closing background-check loopholes, ending the gun industry’s outrageous protection from civil damage suits and denying guns to risky suspects on the government’s no-fly lists.
Yep, America is exceptional alright - exceptional in its stupidity and careless disregard for the lives of law abiding citizens.

Friday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 1

Thursday, September 15, 2016

How Trump Made the Hateful Fringe Mainstream

Over the years as I have traveled overseas it has often been interesting to get a foreign perspective on American politics and politicians.   The comments have run from admiration for Barack Obama more recently to comments that "America deserves better" while in Canada back in the 2008 prior that year's presidential election.  Back in the Reagan years when I traveled extensively as in-house counsel for an oil company, it was a mixed bag.   When not traveling, foreign publications are the next best window into foreign thinking on the madness that is American politics, especially in 2016. A piece in The Economist, a well respected British publication, shows the dismay that many of America's allies and members of the international business community feel towards Donald Trump and his frightening supporters.  Here are article highlights:
FIRST, an apology, or rather a regret: The Economist would prefer not to advertise the rantings of racists and cranks. Unfortunately, and somewhat astonishingly, the Alt-Right—the misleading name for a ragtag but consistently repulsive movement that hitherto has flourished only on the internet—has insinuated itself, unignorably, into American politics. That grim achievement points to the reverse sway now held by the margins, of both ideology and the media, over the mainstream. It also reflects the indiscriminate cynicism of Donald Trump’s campaign.
Much of the Alt-Right’s output will seem indecipherably weird to those unfamiliar with the darker penumbras of popular culture. It has its own iconography and vernacular, derived from message boards, video games and pornography. Its signature insult is “cuckservative”, directed at Republicans supposedly emasculated by liberalism and money.
One of the Alt-Right’s pastimes is to intimidate adversaries with photoshopped pictures of concentration camps; a popular Alt-Right podcast is called “The Daily Shoah”. To their defenders, such outrages are either justified by their shock value or valiantly transgressive pranks. Jokes about ovens, lampshades and gas chambers: what larks! 
Jared Taylor of American Renaissance, an extremist website, dismisses these antics as “youthful rebellion”. (Mr Taylor is also involved with the Council of Conservative Citizens, which Dylann Roof cited as an inspiration for his racist massacre in Charleston last year.) But the substance behind the sulphur can seem difficult to pin down. The term Alt-Right, reputedly coined in 2008 by Richard Spencer of the National Policy Institute, a bogus think-tank, encompasses views from libertarianism to paleoconservatism . . .
Yet from the quack ideologues to the out-and-proud neo-Nazis, some Alt-Right tenets are clear and constant. It repudiates feminism with misogynistic gusto. It embraces isolationism and protectionism. Above all, it champions white nationalism, or a neo-segregationist “race realism”, giving apocalyptic warning of an impending “white genocide”. Which, of course, is really just old-fashioned white supremacism in skimpy camouflage.
That is why the term Alt (short for “alternative”) Right is misleading. Mr Taylor—whom Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Centre, a watchdog, describes as the movement’s “intellectual leader”—says it represents an alternative to “egalitarian orthodoxy and to neutered ‘conservatives’.”
[I]t is the latest iteration in an old, poisonous strain of American thought, albeit with new enemies, such as Muslims, enlisted alongside the old ones. “Fifty years ago these people were burning crosses,” says Jonathan Greenblatt of the Anti-Defamation League. . . . Online, they have achieved sufficient density to warrant wider attention. There, too, they and Mr Trump found each other.
The association precedes Mr Trump’s hiring as his campaign manager of Stephen Bannon, former boss of Breitbart News, a reactionary news website that Mr Bannon reportedly described as “the platform for the Alt-Right”, and which has covered the movement favourably. Already Mr Trump had echoed the Alt-Right’s views on Muslims, immigration, trade and, indeed, Vladimir Putin, whom Alt-Righters ludicrously admire for his supposed pursuit of Russia’s national interest. Pressed about these shared prejudices (and tweets), Mr Trump has denied knowing what the Alt-Right is, even that it exists—unable, as usual, to disavow any support, however cretinous, or to apply a moral filter to his alliances or tactics.
Mr Trump’s rise and the Alt-Right were both cultivated by the kamikaze anti-elitism of the Tea Party, rampant conspiracy theories and demographic shifts that disconcert some white Americans.
Unquestionably, however, Mr Trump has bestowed on this excrescence a scarcely dreamed-of prominence. As Hillary Clinton recently lamented, no previous major-party nominee has given America’s paranoid fringe a “national megaphone”. Many on the Alt-Right loved that speech: “it was great,” says Mr Griffin. “She positioned us as the real opposition.” Because of Mr Trump, the Alt-Right thinks it is on the verge of entering American politics as an equal-terms participant. “He is a bulldozer who is destroying our traditional enemy,” says Mr Griffin. Mr Trump may not be Alt-Right himself, but “he doesn’t have to be to advance our cause.”

Suffice it to say than many in America's longest ally other than France, are appalled by Mr. Trump, as should sane, decent Americans.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2

When a Liar and Crackpot Runs for President

I have complained about media responsibility in normalizing the ugliness, patent dishonesty, and general vileness of Donald Trump.  Unquestioningly repeating outright lies stated by a candidate is not journalism.  Nor is harping on the small to moderate problems of one candidate while daily ignoring gigantic problems with their opponent, yet that is what we are seeing in the Trump-Clinton contest.  Donald Trump is a narcissistic, pathological liar, yet thanks to a feckless media - and not just Fox News - many see him as more truthful than Clinton.  Something is seriously wrong with this situation.  A thoughtful column in the New York Times looks at the media's culpability.  Here are highlights:
A CNN/ORC poll this month found that by a margin of 15 percentage points, voters thought Donald Trump was “more honest and trustworthy” than Hillary Clinton. Let’s be frank: This public perception is completely at odds with all evidence.
On the PolitiFact website, 13 percent of Clinton’s statements that were checked were rated “false” or “pants on fire,” compared with 53 percent of Trump’s. Conversely, half of Clinton’s are rated “true” or “mostly true” compared to 15 percent of Trump statements.
Clearly, Clinton shades the truth — yet there’s no comparison with Trump.
I’m not sure that journalism bears responsibility, but this does raise the thorny issue of false equivalence, which has been hotly debated among journalists this campaign. Here’s the question: Is it journalistic malpractice to quote each side and leave it to readers to reach their own conclusions, even if one side seems to fabricate facts or make ludicrous comments?
President Obama weighed in this week, saying that “we can’t afford to act as if there’s some equivalence here.”
I think we can do better at signaling that one side is a clown.
There are crackpots who believe that the earth is flat, and they don’t deserve to be quoted without explaining that this is an, er, outlying view, and the same goes for a crackpot who has argued that climate change is a Chinese-made hoax, who has called for barring Muslims and who has said that he will build a border wall and that Mexico will pay for it.
We owe it to our readers to signal when we’re writing about a crackpot. Even if he’s a presidential candidate. No, especially when he’s a presidential candidate.
Yes, Clinton has been disingenuous and legalistic in her explanations of emails. Meanwhile, Trump is a mythomaniac who appears to have systematically cheated customers of Trump University.
Then there’s the question of foundations. Yes, Clinton created conflicts of interest with the family foundation and didn’t fully disclose donors as promised. But the Trump Foundation flat out broke the law by making a political contribution.  It’s also worth avoiding moral equivalence about the work of the two foundations: The Clinton Foundation saves lives around the world from AIDS and malnutrition, while the Trump Foundation used its resources to buy — yes! — a large painting of Trump, as a gift for Trump (that may violate I.R.S. rules as well).
I wonder if journalistic efforts at fairness don’t risk normalizing Trump, without fully acknowledging what an abnormal candidate he is. Historically we in the news media have sometimes fallen into the traps of glib narratives or false equivalencies, and we should try hard to ensure that doesn’t happen again.
We should be guard dogs, not lap dogs, and when the public sees Trump as more honest than Clinton, something has gone wrong.
For my part, I’ve never met a national politician as ill informed, as deceptive, as evasive and as vacuous as Trump. He’s not normal. And somehow that is what our barks need to convey.

Trump Supporters Pepper Spray, Yell "N****r Lover” to 15-Year-Old Girl

Nearly daily now, we are seeing incidents that underscore why I left the Republican Party quite a few years ago.   Things that would never have been accepted are being normalized by the GOP and its toxic standard bearer, Donald Trump.  A piece in Salon ask the question, what's wrong with Janesville, Wisconsin?  No, not because the place has repeatedly elected Paul Ryan to Congress, the same Paul Ryan who wears his Catholicism on his sleeve while pushing policies that are the antithesis of Catholic social justice teachings, but because a 15 year old girl was pepper sprayed and called a "nigger lover" by white male Donald Trump supporters at a Trump rally. Navel contemplating pundits and GOP demagogues continue to whine about Hillary Clinton's statement about half of Trump's supporters being a "basket of deplorables,"yet every day we see examples to confirm that Clinton was correct.  The situation looked at in Salon was all caught on video, so try as they might, the Trump apologists cannot try to claim it never happened.  Here are article highlights:
Police in Janesville, Wisconsin, are searching for two Donald Trump rally attendees who pepper sprayed and sexually assaulted a 15-year-old anti-Trump protester outside the Republican presidential frontrunner’s rally on Tuesday. Video of the incident shows other apparent Trump supporters shouting “bitch” and “nigger lover” to the teenager as she attempts to walk away with pepper spray in her eyes.
“Damn, Donald, back at it again with the white supremacy,” read 15-year-old Alex Drake’s topical protest sign, according to video that captured the incident. As another protester raised a sign that read, “Black Lives Matter,” the crowd of mostly older white Trump supporters began chanting “All lives matter,” attempting to drown out the Janesville teenager.
Law enforcement in Janesville, home of Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, said that “a male in the crowd groped the 15 year girl, when she pushed him away; another person in the crowd sprayed her.” . . . . Another video shows one Trump supporter yelling to “get that bitch out of here,” after the teenage girl stumbles from being pepper sprayed. . . . “Goddamn communist, nigger lover! Get out of here,” another Trump supporter can be heard shouting.
Inside, the Trump rally was hardly more civil. Speaker Ryan’s hometown booed him when Trump merely mentioned his name — and continued to boo him to the surprise of even Trump. Ryan, of course, has been out publicly bemoaning the “ugliness” that has befallen the Republican primary, a not-so-thinly veiled jab at Trump. Janesville Police additionally reported that they had to turn away two people last night who had concealed weapons, and two others who were openly carrying firearms.

Physical violence against minority protesters, the yelling of homophobic remarks, punching elderly women on oxygen, pepper spraying girls, and yelling racist remarks - all normal among Trump supporters.  When will these folks start killing opponents?  Be very, very afraid.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 1

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Wednesday Evening Male Beauty

ACC Conference Pulls All Championship Games from North Carolina

Following the actions of the NCAA, the ACC has announced via press release that it has pulled all championship games from North Carolina for the 2016-2017 academic year.   This move will no doubt further fuel the fury being directed at North Carolina Republican Governor Pat McCrory in particular and the North Carolina GOP in general, but more on this shortly.  The ACC press release reads in part as follows:
Statement from the ACC Council of Presidents:“As members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, the ACC Council of Presidents reaffirmed our collective commitment to uphold the values of equality, diversity, inclusion and non-discrimination. Every one of our 15 universities is strongly committed to these values and therefore, we will continue to host ACC Championships at campus sites. We believe North Carolina House Bill 2 is inconsistent with these values, and as a result, we will relocate all neutral site championships for the 2016-17 academic year. All locations will be announced in the future from the conference office.” Statement from Clemson University President James P. Clements, chair of the ACC Council of Presidents: “The ACC presidents engaged in a constructive, wide-ranging and vigorous discussion of this complex issue over the past two days. The decision to move the neutral site championships out of North Carolina while HB 2 remains the law was not an easy one but it is consistent with the shared values of inclusion and non-discrimination at all of our institutions.”

Now for the fun part - or at least in my view.  GOP political whore, Pat McCrory is getting excoriated and being blamed for the damage being done to North Carolina, both in terms of lost business and now the stain put on collegiate sports and the adverse impact on North Carolina athletes.  Above is the image of  the front page of the sports section in today’s Greensboro News & Record.   Here are some excerpts from the editorial:
Above is just one article on the front page of the sports section in today’s Greensboro News & Record. See the full thing below. Here’s what two college athletes are saying in an op-ed for the Raleigh News & Observer We hoped it wouldn’t get this far. We hoped cooler heads would prevail as the two sides rolled toward the cliff.  But now it’s happened. We’ve lost the NCAA basketball tournament for March. We’ve lost the NCAA soccer tournaments for December.
 Thanks, Governor Pat.
 In a shocking announcement this evening, the NCAA announced it was pulling all postseason events from the state of North Carolina for 2016-17 in response to the state’s refusal to reconsider the controversial House Bill 2 law that discriminates against the LGBT community and limits civil rights protections.
 This is an embarrassment to North Carolina. Aside from it being a logistical and economic problem for cities such as Greensboro and Cary, which will lose four events scheduled for the upcoming year, this is a slap in the face of a state that has a long tradition of hosting NCAA postseason events. [I]t’s also an indication of how tone-deaf our governor is. Having the embarrassment of seeing the NBA All-Star Game taken from the city where he was once mayor wasn’t enough for McCrory, who seemed to delight in the attention the snub brought. Did he really think the NCAA was powerless to further inflict pain on the cities of his state?
 McCrory has now hurt North Carolina. His senseless crowing about bathrooms and birth certificates has made him look like fool in front of the entire country. And now he’s dragged us into it and forced us to pay.

 This didn’t have to come to this. Cooler heads could've worked this out. People with sense don’t do this. Governors with compassion for the people they represent don’t allow this to happen.  This is a blow to our way of life. This is a slap in the face of a state that has long been a model of progressive ideas.
 McCrory has made a fool of himself and made us all pay for his foolish ignorance. The best thing we can do now is hope for the best when the new sites are awarded and hope our governor has already rolled off the cliff by himself.

Ouch!!  But there's more fun to be witnessed.  Here’s what two college athletes are saying in an op-ed for the Raleigh News & Observer:
Sports are the anti-discrimination.  All sports, no matter what kind, reward one thing and one thing only: the better performance.

And yet we continue to witness intrusions into our respective epicenters of fairness that turn our stomachs. . . . this time the intrusion comes from Gov. Pat McCrory’s office. In reaction to HB2, the NCAA’s Board of Governors will relocate all seven collegiate championship events from North Carolina in the upcoming year. The University of Vermont and the University of Albany have already canceled games against our university and others within North Carolina. Every single one of those events was an opportunity for the staff, administration and student-body communities of colleges throughout the state to demonstrate what they work so hard for. They were opportunities for students to compete for championships in their home state. They were opportunities to celebrate universal values of discipline, perseverance, the pursuit of excellence.
Instead, McCrory has associated us with states that fly discriminatory symbols on state grounds and schools that use “abusive Native American imagery” – other violations for which the NCAA bans championships.
Our jerseys are stained with hate, exclusion and injustice. For better or worse, fair or unfair, we are associated with HB2. Not hard work, blood, sweat or tears. Not sportsmanship.

As I have noted a number of times, I hope that members of the Virginia GOP are watching and perhaps realizing that prostituting themselves to Victoria Cobb and her fellow hate merchants at The Family Foundation during the 2017 session of the General Assembly could inflict a huge cost on Virginia and irs citizens.  Bigotry and hate carry a cost - just ask North Carolina.  

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2

Trump Supporter Punches 69 Year Old Woman Protester

As many in the GOP continue to deride Hillary Clinton for speaking the truth about many of Donald Trump's supporters and journalist continue to fabricate a false equivalency between Trump's foul behavior and statements to that of Clinton, a Trump supporter brought into clear focus the ugliness of the Trump base at a rally in North Carolina.  How?  Trump supporter Richard Campbell of Edisto Island, South Carolina,  cold cocked 69 year old Shirley Teeter, a woman who wears an oxygen mask to assist her breathing, and knocked her to the ground.  Seemingly, among today's GOP party based such conduct doesn't rise to the level of deplorable.    Once upon a time Republicans prided themselves of civility and some modicum of decorum.  No longer in the age of Trump where his rallies look like something out of early 1930's Germany or Putin's Russia.  Now, not only are minorities targets of violence, but so are  "uppity" women. A piece in Talking Points Memo looks at the telling circumstance.  Here are highlights:
I've gotten depressingly familiar with protester beatings at Trump rallies. In the 21st century perhaps the iconic trappings of politics will be the flag, motherhood, apple pie and revenge beatings. Let's hope not. In any case, here's a new case that ups the ante and still has the capacity to shock. 69 year old Shirley Teeter, who wears an oxygen mask and lugs around a tank to support it, was protesting outside a Trump rally in North Carolina when a feral Trump turned on her and punched her right in the face. Cold-cocked her, as Shirley put it.
Just to jump to a critical point: she seems bruised and a bit cut up but basically fine. Police now plan to arrest Richard Campbell of Edisto Island, South Carolina.
Shirley is apparently a lifelong protester. She told local reporters she participated in Civil Rights and anti-war protests in the 1960s. And now Donald Trump is among her list of people she's protested against. As she describes it, the early part of the protest was relatively good natured: Trumpers shouting, Trump, Trump, Trump; her crew would respond Dump, Dump, Dump.
Then this happened. I quote from Western NC's WLOS 13 ...
After the rally, Teeter experienced something she had never seen in all of her protests. Peace teetered over into something else.
"I said you better learn to speak Russian, and I said the first two words are going to be, ha ha. He stopped in his tracks, and he turned around and just cold-cocked me," Teter said.
She was punched in the face.
She says she fell on her oxygen tank and has sore ribs, a sore jaw, and cut her elbow. She later went to the hospital and is thankful she did not break any bones.
In case you're keeping score at home, this is the same rally where a Trumper inside the arena assaulted three other protesters. Police have so far made five arrests during and after the rally, not including the man they plan to arrest for assaulting Teeter. [S]eriously, why is there so much violence around Trump rallies? It's almost as if there's some violence somehow embedded in the message itself.

Sadly, there is violence embedded in Trump's message - and Pence is going right along with it - where minorities, gays and others are on notice that they are not "patriots" or "real Americans" and are targets for open physical attacks.  My Republican ancestors must be rolling in their graves over the foul stench that now envelops the GOP.  Trump and the GOP are normalizing the deplorable. 

New York AG Opens "Inquiry" into Trump Foundation

In the wake of a growing number of improper political donations by the Trump Foundation and stories of Donald Trump using foundation funds for his own uses, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has opened an inquiry into the Trump Foundation, investigating possible wrongdoing and/or violation of restrictions applicable to charitable foundations.  Schneiderman is already involved in litigation involving Trump's alleged scam operation, "Trump University."The inquiry further spotlights Trump's history of questionable activities that skirt the letter of law and violate ethical business practices.  A piece in Politico looks at this new boil on Trump's wide ass.  Here are highlights:
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has opened an investigation into the Donald J. Trump Foundation “to make sure it’s complying with the laws governing charities in New York," he said Tuesday.
A source familiar with the matter confirmed Schneiderman’s remark and said the New York Attorney General’s office “has opened an inquiry into the Trump Foundation based on troubling transactions that have recently come to light.”

Schneiderman — who for months has tangled with Trump over a fraud lawsuit his office filed against Trump University, the Manhattan billionaire’s real estate seminar program — told CNN’s “The Lead” that the GOP nominee’s charitable foundation is also under scrutiny.
“My interest in this issue really is in my capacity as regulator of nonprofits in New York state. And we have been concerned that the Trump Foundation may have engaged in some impropriety from that point of view,” Schneiderman told host Jake Tapper. “And we’ve inquired into it, and we’ve had correspondence with them.
Trump’s charity has faced growing questions in the wake of a damaging series of stories by The Washington Post and The Associated Press. A Post story published over the weekend cited tax records showing that Trump had not donated to his own foundation since 2008, and had, among other allegations, "spent $20,000 of money earmarked for charitable purposes to buy a six-foot-tall painting of himself."
The foundation also made an illegal donation of $25,000 to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi in 2013 as she was considering joining Schneiderman in pursuing a fraud case against Trump University. Bondi and Trump have denied any connection between the money and her office's decision not to pursue an investigation, though Trump paid a $2,500 penalty to the IRS for making a political donation through his charitable foundation. Although Schneiderman, a Democrat who supports Hillary Clinton, has said that his suit against Trump University is not politically motivated, the New York attorney general has not shied away from publicly discussing the case.
Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee, meanwhile, are calling on Attorney General Loretta Lynch to investigate the Trump Foundation's donation to Bondi.
In a letter signed by all Democratic members on the committee and sent to Lynch, they cited the reports by the AP and Post, which they said "indicates that these payments may have influenced Mrs. Bondi’s official decision not to participate in litigation against Mr. Trump."
"A number of criminal statutes would appear to be implicated by this course of conduct," the Democrats wrote, pointing to bribery and tax laws governing nonprofit organizations.
They also noted comments Trump made at a rally last January in Iowa, in which he boasted of his donations to politicians: “I’ve given to everybody. Because that was my job. I gotta give to them. ... Because when I want something, I get it. When I call, they kiss my ass.”

Donald Trump gives sleazy a whole new meaning.

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 1

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Tuesday Evening Male Beauty

President Obama to Media: Stop the False Equivalence

Today President Obama took on a topic that has been driving me to distraction, namely the lameness of the mainstream media and the false equivalence afforded to Donald Trump and his ugly, retrograde campaign.  A video of Obama's remarks is set out above.  A piece in Salon looks at Obama's remarks and the manner in which the irresponsible media is endangering the nation.  Here are excerpts:
With less than four weeks to go until voting registration closes in Pennsylvania, President Obama hit the campaign trail in Philadelphia for his first solo rally on behalf of Hillary Clinton on Tuesday.
In front of the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum made famous in the film “Rocky,” the president came out swinging strongly against Clinton’s Republican rival Donald Trump, explicitly naming the Birther turned White House aspirant for the first time while chiding the media for giving him a pass for his inflammatory rhetoric.
“You want to debate who’s more fit to be our president? One candidate who’s traveled to more countries than any secretary of state ever has, has more qualifications than pretty much anyone who’s ever run for this job and the other who isn’t fit in any way, shape, or form to represent this country abroad and be its commander-in-chief,” Obama said. “So somehow as things go on because we’ve become so partisan, our standards for what’s normal have changed. And Donald Trump says stuff everyday that used to be considered as disqualifying for being president. And yet because he says it over and over and over again the press just gives up and they just say, well, yeah, OK.”
“You can’t grade the presidency on a curve,” the president proclaimed, critiquing the coverage Trump has received in comparison to Clinton. “This is serious business. And when we see folks talking about transparency — you want to debate transparency? You’ve got one candidate in this debate who’s released decades worth of her tax returns. The other candidate is the first in decades who refuses to release any at all,”
“You want to debate foundations and charities? One candidate’s family foundation has saved countless lives around the world. The other candidate’s foundation took money other people gave to his charity and then bought a six-foot-tall painting of himself.”
“America’s got a lot of businessmen and women who have succeeded without hiding their taxes returns, or leaving a trail of lawsuits, workers who didn’t get paid, people feeling like they got cheated,” Obama said.
Pointing to Trump’s repeated assertion that he was opposed to the war in Iraq despite having supported an invasion in 2002 in an interview with Howard Stern, Obama provided the fact-check that had often been missing from prominent media figures: “Well, actually, he wasn’t.”
“But they just accept it,” the president said of the media. “So the bottom line is, is that we can not afford suddenly to treat this like a reality show. We can’t afford to act as if there’s some equivalence here.
Amen to what Obama said.  Will journalists get their heads out of their asses and be responsible and do their jobs?  I am not holding my breath. 

Do We Face a Threat of Armed Sedition?

As noted in prior posts, Donald trump and his surrogates have been planting seeds for a claim that the election was stolen or "rigged" if Trump goes down to defeat.  Combine this with the manner in which Trumps supporters seem to buy into every possible conspiracy theory - e.g., Benghazi - and it could make for a dangerous and toxic mix.  Adding to the toxic brew is Matt Bevin, the Republican Governor of Kentucky (pictured above),  who has suggested that "Patriots" might have to shed blood if Hillary Clinton is elected in November.  Bevin made his remarks - which were vague on whose blood would be shed but certainly suggested that "tyrants" would die - at a closed session at the hate fest known as the Value Voters Summit, a gathering sponsored by a group of certified hate groups.  Right Wing Watch captured Bevin's inflammatory batshirty.  Here are excerpts:
Numerous speakers at last weekend’s Values Voter Summit suggested that the American republic might not survive a Hillary Clinton presidency. During the Obama administration it has become almost routine to hear far-right leaders talk about the possibility of armed revolution against the federal government. But it was still jarring to hear a sitting governor suggest that America might only survive the election of Hillary Clinton through bloodshed.  Speaking on Saturday, he told VVS attendees that the country is facing a fork in the road: “We don’t have multiple options; we’re going one way or we’re going the other way, politically, spiritually, morally, economically, from a liberty standpoint. We’re going one way or we’re going the other way.” American freedom, Bevin said, was “purchased at an extraordinary price,” saying that one and a half million Americans have given their lives in uniform. “America is worth fighting for. America is worth fighting for, ideologically.”
“I want us to be able to fight ideologically, mentally, spiritually, economically, so that we don’t have to do it physically,” said Bevin. “But that may in fact be the case.” He explained that it might take the shedding of the blood of tyrants and patriots for America to survive a Hillary Clinton presidency:
 “Somebody asked me yesterday, I did an interview and they said, ‘Do you think it’s possible, if Hillary Clinton were to win the election, do you think it’s possible that we’ll be able to survive? That we would ever be able to recover as a nation?’ And while there are people who have stood on this stage and said we would not, I would beg to differ. But I will tell you this: I do think it would be possible, but at what price? At what price? The roots of the tree of liberty are watered by what? The blood, of who? The tyrants to be sure, but who else? The patriots. Whose blood will be shed? It may be that of those in this room. It might be that of our children and grandchildren. I have nine children. It breaks my heart to think that it might be their blood that is needed to redeem something, to reclaim something, that we through our apathy and our indifference have given away.” – Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, addressing the closing session of the Values Voter Summit yesterday.

A sitting governor urging violence against elected officials and others.  It is both frightening and disgusting, but that is what the Christofascist and white supremacist dominated Republican Party has fallen to.  These people are downright dangerous.