Saturday, September 24, 2016

Most Americans See Trump As a Racist Madman

I suspect that core Donald trump supporters who are poorly educated white males would call me an elitist.  Then, of course, I'm a "faggot" in their eyes as well, so I am not doubt doubly suspect in their eyes.  That said, I find myself feeling like some decent, moral Germans did watching Hitler's rise in the early 1930's and wondering what was wrong with their countrymen.  How could they be rallying to a demagogue of questionable sanity?  Inexplicably, in my view, other than through an admission that many Americans are not nice and decent people despite their self-congratulations to the contrary, there seems to be little to explain Donald Trump's continued polling that puts him close to Hillary Clinton, but at least for now still behind.  Making the situation more bizarre are polls that show a majority of Americans see Trump as a racist madman.  A piece in New York Magazine looks at the disturbing phenomenon.  Here are excerpts:
As of this writing, Donald Trump trails Hillary Clinton by three points in the RealClearPolitics average of national polls, while FiveThirtyEight’s election forecast gives the Republican nominee a 40 percent chance of winning the White House this November.
The fact that an emotionally volatile, authoritarian demagogue — who has campaigned on his contempt for minority groups and the norms of liberal democracy — could prove so competitive in a presidential race has led many pundits to accuse the news media of abject failure: Clearly, the fourth estate has not given the American people an accurate assessment of the choices before them.
There’s some sound evidence for this view. The media’s fixation on Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server has left much of the public ignorant of virtually everything else the Democratic nominee brings to the 2016 race.
Meanwhile, Trump is the most mendacious candidate in modern American history — and yet voters see him as “more honest and straightforward” than his opponent. What’s more, even though his economic program consists of supply-side tax cuts and deregulatory schemes that most Americans oppose — and his career in business has been marked by corruption and incompetence many polls show a majority of voters saying Trump would be better at handling the economy.
Still, it’s hard to pin full blame for these latter misapprehensions on the media: Trump has been fact-checked with unprecedented aggression — by newspapers, cable news anchors, even chyron writers. 
But the Republican nominee boasts many deficiencies that are easy to convey. It’s not hard to show the public that Trump is bigoted, ill-tempered, and unpredictable in his behavior — you just need to broadcast his rallies. And, at that task, cable news has excelled. A pair of new polls show that the message of those rallies has gotten through to the electorate.
An Associated Press–GfK survey released Friday finds that a majority of Americans think Trump is at least somewhat racist, while 60 percent say he does not respect ordinary people, and nearly three-quarters say he is neither civil nor compassionate — a sentiment endorsed by 40 percent of Trump’s own supporters.
A new SurveyMonkey poll shows Americans taking an even darker view of the Republican nominee, with a majority of voters saying Trump would abuse the power of the presidency to punish his political opponents, allow the U.S. to default on its debt, inspire “race riots” in major cities, create a database to track Muslim Americans, and order air strikes against the families of terrorists.
A full 46 percent of the electorate says Trump will detonate a nuclear weapon during his time in office, while 44 percent say he will establish internment camps for illegal immigrants.
The upshot of both of these surveys, when taken together, is that Donald Trump has not been “normalized.Most Americans see him as a racist would-be authoritarian who is highly likely to start a nuclear war. The trouble is, some voters apparently like that in a president.
According to SurveyMonkey, 48 percent of Trump supporters believe he will create a database for monitoring Muslims; 33 percent think he’ll let the government default on its debt; 32 percent say he’ll use the Executive branch’s authority to persecute political opponents and establish internment camps for the undocumented; and 22 percent — nearly a quarter — say he’ll probably start a nuclear war.
Due to a combination of party polarization, Hillary Clinton’s high unfavorable numbers, unusually popular third-party candidates — and an openness to extremism far more widespread in the electorate than most political observers had realized — it now seems possible that Trump could win the presidency this November, even as more than half the country sees him as a bigoted madman.
Be very, very afraid.

Virginia Makes A Push for LGBT Tourism Dollars

With Virginia being hammered by reduced federal government spending, one of the pushes of Gov. Terry McAuliffe has been to pursue the LGBT tourism dollar.  Indeed, McAuliffe has set up and LGBT Tourism Commission (on which some of our friends currently serve) and, unlike members of the Virginia GOP who continue to prostitute themselves to Christian hate groups and extremists, he realizes that being welcoming to all makes good business sense.  A piece in the Daily Press looks at this common sense effort that more parts of Virginia need to embrace (after years of lagging, Norfolk has realized the attractiveness of welcoming the pink dollar).  Of course, the current anti-LGBT toxicity reigning in North Carolina makes Virginia destinations look even more attractive to many living in the mid-Atlantic region.  Here are highlights:
RICHMOND – You can now buy "Virginia is for Lovers" trucker hats with a gay pride flag incorporated into the state's iconic tourism pitch.
The hat, and other state swag, is part of a new branding effort targeting LGBT tourists. There's a new web page highlighting events and destinations that have self-identified as LGBT friendly and a new resource guide for businesses looking to cash in.
The Virginia Tourism Corporation rolled out the campaign heading into this weekend, just ahead of the Virginia Pridefest in Richmond. But this is no limited-time event.
"This is going to be fully integrated in all our marketing, from top to bottom," tourism corporation spokeswoman Caroline Logan said. "This will be going on forever as far as we're concerned."
Eight other states have done something similar, but Virginia is the first one in the South, unless you count Florida. The campaign has been two years in the making, started by a push from Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who made clear from before he took office that he wants everyone to visit Virginia, and to leave lots money.
LGBT tourists – and that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender – make up 10 percent of the U.S. tourism market, Logan said. They spend somewhere around $57 billion a year on travel and tourism, she said.
"They travel more and they stay longer and they spend more money," she said.
Logan said campaign feedback has been positive, but the effort is bound to be controversial for some.
Businesses and events have to opt into this particular marketing campaign, just as they do for other targeted state campaigns. The database of places to stay included 120 locations on rollout. Among other things, the website features a picture of McAuliffe marrying a lesbian couple.
In addition to the web page and database, the tourism corporation has created an LGBT Tourism Resource Guide for state businesses in the tourism industry, which generated an estimated $23 billion in spending last year in the state.

As noted, here's why courting the LGBT tourism dollar makes sense: "they travel more, stay longer and spend more money."  Only a fool - or religious extremist of GOP political whore - would not welcome that kind of traveler. 

Saturday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2

Catholic Church Aquits Priest Who Admitted Raping 30 Young Girls

According to some websites, the cesspool of corruption and moral bankruptcy that is the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy was again on display, this time in Mexico where an admitted child rapist has been acquitted by Church authorities.  The priest, who is reportedly HIV+ admitted raping 30 young girls between the ages of five and ten years of age in a remote area heavily populated by indigenous people.  Other sites such as Patheos report that they Church officials say the named priest doesn't exist or never served on Church rosters.  The mere fact that such stories are readily believable speaks volumes about the indifference of a Church hierarchy perhaps motivated by a number of causes, including the fact that the victims and the region lack significant political power and/or relief that the priest was raping girls instead of boys. The truth is that the Church has engaged in lies and cover ups before all across the globe, so that now the expectation exists that the Church is once again lying,  My personal take away is that Pope Francis' apologies for the sex abuse scandal are merely a case of crocodile teas and that if one wants moral leadership, the last place to look for morality is the Vatican.  Here are highlights on the report on the situation from the Daily Mail
The Catholic Church has acquitted an HIV-infected priest who has admitted to raping close to 30 young girls between the ages of five and 10 years old. According to a bombshell report, which appeared in the Spanish-language news site, the priest, Jose Garcia Ataulfo, was absolved of any wrongdoing by the Archdiocese of Mexico. Ataulfo has admitted to sexually assaulting indigenous young girls from Oaxaca, a state in southern Mexico known for its large indigenous population. The priest has yet to face any criminal charges, most likely due to the significant influence that the Catholic Church wields in Mexico, particularly in areas populated by indigenous ethnic groups.
According to, only two of the over two dozen rape victims have come forward to denounce the acquittal.
The website Anonymous Mexico reported that the mother of one of the victims asked to meet with Pope Francis in Rome, but she was rebuffed by the Vatican which wrote a letter stating that it considered the matter closed.

Sexual abuse of minors by priests – and the subsequent cover-ups by bishops and other Church officials - have been widespread in many countries, including the United States.
The [Boston] Globe exposé, which detailed abuse cases that numbered in the thousands over a span of several decades, inspired other victims to come forward, leading to an avalanche of lawsuits and criminal prosecutions.
Not only did the floodgates open in the US, but the Catholic Church was also forced to confront cases in other countries, including Mexico.

Trump Foreign Policy Advisor Probed for Ties to Russia

I am of an age where can recall drills in elementary school in particular where students participated in safety drills to prepare for the possibility of a nuclear attack on America and how the basement level of the high school building was a fallout shelter.  The foe that would such an attack, of course was Russia.   Later, I would learn more about Russia and Russian history - an interest sparked in part by having Anna Anderson, perhaps the leading claimant to be Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia,  as a neighbor for two years while in college in Charlottesville (I still do not fully believe supposed DNA proof that she was a fake given the British royal family's history of screwing over Russian relatives).  For the last 99 years, Russia has been ruled by murderous despots.  That trend continues under Vladimir Putin.  And sadly, Russia remains a principal foe of America as has been the case since the fall of the Romanov dynasty other than during the interlude of World War II when the common foe of Hitler and Nazi Germany caused a temporary alliance. 

Now, Russia seems to want a perhaps unholy alliance with America through the vehicle of Donald Trump, a man who likely would like to emulate Putin's dictatorial rule in this country (in Trump's world, I suspect the rest of us exist merely to increase his own perceived magnificence), More frighteningly, for the first time in my memory Russia intelligence and spy services seem poised to try to influence an American presidential election to insure that Trump is elected.  The irony, of course is that Trump supporters view themselves as "real Americans" even as they support a man who likely would sell out American interest to a foreign enemy. A piece at Yahoo News looks at how one of Trump's advisors is under investigation for Russian ties.  Here are highlights:
U.S. intelligence officials are seeking to determine whether an American businessman identified by Donald Trump as one of his foreign policy advisers has opened up private communications with senior Russian officials — including talks about the possible lifting of economic sanctions if the Republican nominee becomes president, according to multiple sources who have been briefed on the issue.
The activities of Trump adviser Carter Page, who has extensive business interests in Russia, have been discussed with senior members of Congress during recent briefings about suspected efforts by Moscow to influence the presidential election, the sources said. After one of those briefings, Senate minority leader Harry Reid wrote FBI Director James Comey, citing reports of meetings between a Trump adviser (a reference to Page) and “high ranking sanctioned individuals” in Moscow over the summer as evidence of “significant and disturbing ties” between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin that needed to be investigated by the bureau.
Some of those briefed were “taken aback” when they learned about Page’s contacts in Moscow, viewing them as a possible back channel to the Russians that could undercut U.S. foreign policy, said a congressional source familiar with the briefings but who asked for anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject. The source added that U.S. officials in the briefings indicated that intelligence reports about the adviser’s talks with senior Russian officials close to President Vladimir Putin were being “actively monitored and investigated.”
A senior U.S. law enforcement official did not dispute that characterization when asked for comment by Yahoo News. “It’s on our radar screen,” said the official about Page’s contacts with Russian officials. “It’s being looked at.”
Trump first mentioned Page’s name when asked to identify his “foreign policy team” during an interview with the Washington Post editorial team last March. Describing him then only as a “PhD,” Trump named Page as among five advisers “that we are dealing with.” But his precise role in the campaign remains unclear; Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks last month called him an “informal foreign adviser” who “does not speak for Mr. Trump or the campaign.”
The questions about Page come amid mounting concerns within the U.S. intelligence community about Russian cyberattacks on the Democratic National Committee and state election databases in Arizona and Illinois. In a rare public talk this week, former undersecretary of defense for intelligence Mike Vickers said that the Russian cyberattacks constituted meddling in the U.S. election and were “beyond the pale.”
Page came to the attention of officials at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow several years ago when he showed up in the Russian capital during several business trips and made provocative public comments critical of U.S. policy and sympathetic to Putin. “He was pretty much a brazen apologist for anything Moscow did,” said one U.S. official who served in Russia at the time.
Page showed up again in Moscow in early July, just two weeks before the Republican National Convention formally nominated Trump for president, and once again criticized U.S. policy. Speaking at a commencement address for the New Economic School, an institution funded in part by major Russian oligarchs close to Putin, Page asserted that “Washington and other West capitals” had impeded progress in Russia “through their often hypocritical focus on ideas such as democratization, inequality, corruption and regime change.”
U.S. officials have since received intelligence reports that during that same three-day trip, Page met with Igor Sechin, a longtime Putin associate and former Russian deputy prime minister who is now the executive chairman of Rosneft, Russian’s leading oil company, a well-placed Western intelligence source tells Yahoo News. That meeting, if confirmed, is viewed as especially problematic by U.S. officials because the Treasury Department in August 2014 named Sechin to a list of Russian officials and businessmen sanctioned over Russia’s “illegitimate and unlawful actions in the Ukraine.”

Trump and Putin must think Americans are fools and idiots.  In the case of Trump's supporters, they are sadly correct in that view.   The "real Americans" are being duped into supporting a man ready to sell out American interests to inflate his own ego and perhaps enrich himself as Putin has done.  Be afraid.

Saturday Morning Male Beau- Pt 1

Friday, September 23, 2016

Friday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2

Trump's Terrifying Climate Policy

The Hampton Roads region is finally coming out of a period of widespread flooding on the par with what one would normally expect during a hurricane direct hit or close encounter.  Yet, there was no hurricane.  Just steady rain for numerous days in a row combined with high tides - combined with rising sea levels - that block storm drainage systems from doing their jobs.  And it was just Norfolk that suffered major flooding.  Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Chesapeake and other cities were stricken. Indeed, schools were closed because of the impassable nature of many roads.  All is proof positive of the reality of climate change.  Despite such objective proof, Republicans and Donald Trump in particular continue to push policies that will lead to climate disaster.  A piece in Think Progress looks at the terrifying policies favored by liar and vulgarian in chief, Donald Trump.  Here are excerpts:
On Thursday, Donald Trump spoke before an audience full of natural gas and energy industry leaders — and the message was exactly the same as his economic policy proposal from last week: fewer environmental regulations and more land available to fossil fuel companies.
“We need an America-First energy plan,” Trump said. “This means opening federal lands for oil and gas production; opening offshore areas; and revoking policies that are imposing unnecessary restrictions on innovative new exploration technologies.”
If elected president, Trump has pledged to revoke both the Clean Power Planand President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the cornerstones of Obama’s domestic climate agenda, and important signals to the international community of the United States’ commitment to climate action.
Trump has also promised to roll back the Waters of the United States Rule, which would extend drinking water protections for millions of Americans. Instead, he said that he would redirect the EPA to “refocus…on its core mission of ensuring clean air, and clean, safe drinking water for all Americans.”
Trump does not seem to understand that regulations he so deeply wants to cut are crucial to preserving clean air, and clean, safe drinking water for all Americans.
A recent Harvard study found that the public health benefits of the Clean Power Plan are so robust that they outweigh the costs of the carbon standard in 13 out of 14 power sectors within five years of implementation. The same study estimated that the plan could save some 3,500 lives every year. Similarly, the Waters of the United States rule would protect the drinking water for a third of Americans that currently get their water from unprotected sources.
Beyond rolling back crucial protections, Trump’s speech on Thursday showed that he does not intend to back down on his policy proposal that would open up vast regions of the United States to fossil fuel production. 
After Trump’s speech, Sierra Club Political Director Khalid Pitts criticized the Republican presidential candidate’s policies, calling them polluter “talking points.”
Trump’s dirty-fuels-first plan is pretty simple: drill enough off our coasts to threaten beaches from Maine to Florida, frack enough to spoil groundwater across the nation, and burn enough coal to cook the planet and make our kids sick,” Pitts said in a statement. “In stark contrast, Hillary Clinton is the only candidate in this race who is committed to grow the booming clean energy economy to create jobs and help tackle the climate crisis.”

Debate Prediction - Donald Trump's Lying Game

One of the most maddening thing about the 2016 election cycle is the failure of the news media to accurately report on the magnitude of the lies Donald Trump engages in daily.  The danger for the nation is that by not accurately reporting on the fact that Trump lies many times more than Clinton and that in the quest of appearing unbiased, the media has given Trump a free pass over and over again.   True, most of Trump's hard core base care nothing about the man's dishonesty so long as his statements and demagoguery play to their racial and social prejudices.  But after allowing - indeed assisting - America to go to war in Iraq based on lies that failed to be exposed and challenged, one would think that the mainstream media would have learned a lesson.  Monday night's first presidential debate will be a test of whether the media puts reporting the truth and exposing lies still matters or whether much of the media will prove to be Trump sycophants.  A column in the New York Times looks at this dangerous issue.  Here are highlights:
Here’s what we can be fairly sure will happen in Monday’s presidential debate: Donald Trump will lie repeatedly and grotesquely, on a variety of subjects. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton might say a couple of untrue things. Or she might not.
Here’s what we don’t know: Will the moderators step in when Mr. Trump delivers one of his well-known, often reiterated falsehoods? If he claims, yet again, to have opposed the Iraq war from the beginning — which he didn’t — will he be called on it? If he claims to have renounced birtherism years ago, will the moderators note that he was still at it just a few months ago?  . . . . .  If he says one more time that America is the world’s most highly taxed country — which it isn’t — will anyone other than Mrs. Clinton say that it isn’t? And will media coverage after the debate convey the asymmetry of what went down?
[A]t this point we have long track records for both Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton; thanks to nonpartisan fact-checking operations like PolitiFact, we can even quantify the difference.
PolitiFact has examined 258 Trump statements and 255 Clinton statements and classified them on a scale ranging from “True” to “Pants on Fire.” One might quibble with some of the judgments, but they’re overwhelmingly in the ballpark. And they show two candidates living in different moral universes when it comes to truth-telling. Mr. Trump had 48 Pants on Fire ratings, Mrs. Clinton just six; the G.O.P. nominee had 89 False ratings, the Democrat 27.
Unless one candidate has a nervous breakdown or a religious conversion in the next few days, the debate will follow similar lines. So how should it be reported? . . . What I suggest is that reporters and news organizations treat time and attention span as a sort of capital budget that must be allocated across coverage.
And if the debate looks anything like the campaign so far, we know what that will mean: a news analysis that devotes at least five times as much space to Mr. Trump’s falsehoods as to Mrs. Clinton’s.
If your reaction is, “Oh, they can’t do that — it would look like partisan bias,” you have just demonstrated the huge problem with news coverage during this election. For I am not calling on the news media to take a side; I’m just calling on it to report what is actually happening, without regard for party. In fact, any reporting that doesn’t accurately reflect the huge honesty gap between the candidates amounts to misleading readers, giving them a distorted picture that favors the biggest liar.
Yet there are, of course, intense pressures on the news media to engage in that distortion. Point out a Trump lie and you will get some pretty amazing mail — and if we set aside the attacks on your race or ethnic group, accusations that you are a traitor, etc., most of it will declare that you are being a bad journalist because you don’t criticize both candidates equally.
One all-too-common response to such attacks involves abdicating responsibility for fact-checking entirely, and replacing it with theater criticism. . . . . news reporting should tell the public what really happened, not be devoted to speculation about how other people might react to what happened.
Now, what will I say if Mr. Trump lies less than I predict and Mrs. Clinton more? That’s easy: Tell it like it is. But don’t grade on a curve. If Mr. Trump lies only three times as much as Mrs. Clinton, the main story should still be that he lied a lot more than she did, not that he wasn’t quite as bad as expected.
Again, I’m not calling on the news media to take sides; journalists should simply do their job, which is to report the facts. It may not be easy — but doing the right thing rarely is.

Friday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 1

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Thursday Evening Male Beauty

Wall Street Begins to Freak Out About Donald Trump

With some polls showing a tightening in the presidential race, Wall Street, which seems to have never believed Trump could be actually elected, is beginning to freak out at the thought of a Trump presidency and the disaster that it would unleash on the financial markets, international trade and a host of other issues.  The irony is that Trump claims incessantly that he is such an amazing businessman, yet by many reports he is being propped up by Russian monies from questionable sources and Wall Street sees him as not being up to the task of the presidency.  A scripted reality TV and running a super power are vastly different, not that the narcissistic Trump seem able to grasp the difference.  A piece in New York Magazine looks at the growing angst and fear on Wall Street.  Here are highlights:
The U.S. stock market, seven years into an almost nonstop bull run, went on a wild ride last week: The Dow Jones Industrial Average swung between 100 and 200 points — up one day, down the next — on four separate days. There hasn’t been such a bout of volatility since late June, when the U.K.’s surprise vote to exit the European Union sent markets on a roller-coaster ride. Volatility is not just apparent in the stock market either. Wall Street strategists say it’s also cropping up in the bond and foreign-exchange markets.
Global markets are jittery about many things right now, but one fear seems to override all others: The polls in the presidential race have suddenly tightened, and Donald Trump might actually become president of the United States of America — with unknown, but possibly very negative, implications for everything from trade policy to foreign relations to monetary policy.
In short, a Trump presidency is the very definition of what markets hate: uncertainty. “Trump is widely considered to be reckless and Clinton is widely considered to be a friend to Wall Street,” explains Chris Irons, an analyst with the equity research firm GeoInvesting.
Société Générale analysts call it the “Trump factor.” They argue that the tightening of the polls between Trump and Clinton is a big reason for a sell-off in global bonds in September, which has led to the unease in equity markets, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday. Rates on both long-term Treasury and Japanese bonds have been rising since the polls started tightening, SocGen says.
A tightening of the race is normal, and might seem inevitable after the huge lead Clinton took following the Democratic National Convention and the Khizr Khan affair. But investors seemed to start selling when Trump took the lead in the crucial swing states of Ohio and Florida. 
In general, markets prefer a Clinton victory. In a new CNBC survey of economists, fund managers, and strategists, 53 percent think Clinton is better for the stock market than Trump — because she’s a known quantity, and a person whose ability to relate to foreign leaders is comforting. Only 26 percent of those surveyed think Trump is better for stocks, down from 32 percent the prior month. Some market prognosticators have suggested a win by Trump could send the stock market down at least 10 percent.
“I don’t know what the U.S. dollar is worth with a Trump victory. I don’t know what it does to foreign flows into the U.S.,” says Josh Brown, CEO of financial adviser Ritzholtz Wealth Management. “Are foreign corporations as desirous of owning US dollars with someone so erratic in the White House?”
[T]he concern on Wall Street is whether or not Trump knows what he is talking about — or even cares. In recent weeks, for example, he has been bashing Fed Chair Janet Yellen, blaming the Fed for creating a “false economy” and an “artificial stock market” in an interview with Reuters, saying the Fed needs to raise rates. But Trump also says the economy is a disaster. “Which is it?” asks Brown, noting that if the economy is truly a disaster, rates would need to stay low. (Trump also changes his mind a lot, which Wall Street doesn’t like. This spring, he said raising rates would be “scary.”)
Wall Street economists have long warned that a Trump presidency could increase the chances for a recession. In an August 25 research note, Citigroup chief economist Willem Buiter wrote that “a Trump victory could prolong and perhaps exacerbate policy uncertainty and deliver a shock (though perhaps short-lived) to financial markets. Tightening financial conditions and further rises in uncertainty could trigger a significant slowdown in U.S., but also global growth.” 
“When you lay out the possibilities of what can happen with Clinton, it’s far more predictable. When you lay out what could happen with Trump, we could be at war with Canada.”

Despite such fears, the ignorance embracing Christofascists, white supremacist and economically challenged white males are putting their hopes in a vulgar carnival barker.   

The Advocate: Hillary Clinton for President

There are some members of the gays community - delusional ones, in my opinion - who try to argue that Donald Trump is the most "pro-gay" of the presidential candidates.  Similarly, I have had Republican friends (perhaps brainwashed by Fox News) try to argue that Hillary Clinton is not really a friend of the LGBT community and that some of my posts have been unduly harsh toward Trump. Having been authoring this blog and following political issues from an LGBT perspective for over nine (9) years and having been a political activist for over two decades, I beg to differ with such criticisms of Clinton and, in my opinion, unsupportable claims favoring Trump.    I do not see myself as a single issue voter - health care reform (I favor a single payer national system), addressing climate change, immigration reform, fixing a dysfunctional economic model are but some of the issues that hold my attention.  But as a member of the LGBT community who has first hand experienced being fired for being gay, harassed by homophobic police, and threatened with physical harm by homophobes, I cannot ignore how important the 2016 presidential election is for LGBT Americans.  The main editorial in the October print issue of The Advocate makes the case for Hillary Clinton wonderfully well.  Here are excerpts:
Elections matter, and this election dramatizes that notion like no other. This is only the second presidential endorsement by The Advocate; the first was for President Obama’s second term. Prior to 2012, there had never been an Oval Office candidate — or incumbent — who fully embraced marriage equality, an essential position to earn this publication’s endorsement.
Now The Advocate endorses Hillary Clinton with enthusiasm.
Clinton has made LGBT inclusion a pillar of her campaign, from the first video announcing her candidacy. She has produced the most complete and impressive LGBT platform of any presidential candidate ever. In it, she has vowed to champion the Equality Act, the legislation that would enact federal nondiscrimination protections with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity. Clinton’s policy platform called for an end to the ban on transgender military service — now officially gone — an end to quack “conversion therapy” for minors, an end to discrimination against LGBT families in adoptions, improved school conditions for LGBT students, expanded shelters for homeless LGBT youth, affordable treatment for people with HIV, expanded access to PrEP, expanded data collection and other measures to stem the disproportionate violence against trans people, and improved access to correct identification for trans people, along with many other positions that directly affect the rights, health, and welfare of our communities. 
Clinton has raised these issues with consistency during the primary season, and they have become a hallmark of her campaign heading into the general election.
Clinton’s opponent, real estate investor and reality-show host Donald Trump, has no voting record and an arm’s-length relationship with the truth, making his policy positions hard to pin down. But the Republican nominee has indicated his eagerness to abandon civil rights in pursuit of an electoral win. His selection of Indiana governor Mike Pence (a sop to the conservative base), who rose to national prominence by signing a disastrously discriminatory anti-LGBT bill into law, underscores Trump’s abject refutation of LGBT rights as a principle he considers with any seriousness.
While in Congress, Pence voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act. He opposes marriage equality and supports traumatic “conversion therapy.”
Trump’s own statements make him an unsuitable choice for the presidency. The stakes are far too high for LGBT Americans, when so much progress for our rights has been advanced under Obama’s leadership. . . . . He has vowed that if elected president, he would rescind Obama’s executive orders that protect trans people from discrimination in health care coverage and in public schools, and the executive order that bans discrimination against LGBT employees of federal contractors (which comprise an estimated 20 percent of the American workforce). He has endorsed the unconstitutional First Amendment Defense Act, a nationalized version of a RFRA, and has said he’s interested in appointing Supreme Court justices who would overturn the Obergefell marriage equality ruling. He’d leave marriage equality, access to insurance, employment nondiscrimination, and the option to deny people the use of school and public bathrooms to the states.
Clinton is a calm, deliberative leader with decades of public service experience and an impressive command of policy, detail, and the concerns of overlapping minority communities. Whereas Trump alienates women, Muslims, immigrants, and LGBT people, Clinton’s record as a U.S. senator is marked by bipartisanship, and her campaign is marked by inclusivity.
To imagine that the election result is a foregone conclusion — that Clinton will handily and easily defeat Trump in November without serious effort on the part of an engaged electorate — is a mistake. The U.K.’s Brexit vote is an example of left-leaning activists and voters wrongly assuming that voters will exercise “common sense.”
There is no foregone conclusion. There is no obvious outcome. But there is only one capable candidate in this election, and only one candidate who is a champion of LGBT causes. That clear and necessary choice is Hillary Clinton. 

False Ally, Saudi Arabia Facing Scrutiny from Congress

Despite the statements of President Obama and others that Saudi Arabia is an important ally, I, as noted in many prior posts, see Saudi Arabia as a leading, if not number one, financial supporter of  Islamic extremism and the terror that seems to go hand in hand with Islamic fundamentalism and Wahhabi strain of Islam in particular. Add to this Saudi Arabia' horrific human rights violations and the nation should be anathema to America and its founding principles.  Thankfully, members of Congress form both parties seem to be waking up to the reality that with a "friend" like Saudi Arabia, one doesn't need enemies.  The Washington Post looks at the much deserved Congressional scrutiny now facing America's false ally.  Here are excerpts:
A series of bills before Congress this month is the surest sign yet that Saudi Arabia can no longer claim the privileged status it has held largely unchallenged for decades in Washington.
As the fight over terrorism escalates, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are taking aim at the longtime U.S. ally with a double-header of legislative rebukes to the Kingdom over its alleged ties to extremists and military campaigns in Yemen. The first came Wednesday, when the Senate voted on a resolution to restrict arms sales to Saudi Arabia until it stops targeting civilians in Yemen. Congress is also preparing to override an expected presidential veto this week of a bill to let the families of Sept. 11 victims sue Saudi Arabia over alleged ties to the terrorists who carried out the attack.
While the two measures will not both get through Congress – there is wide support for the Sept. 11 bill, but senators voted down Wednesday’s attempt to stop the arms sale – experts say the current scrutiny of the U.S.-Saudi relationship is unprecedented.
“We haven’t seen this much anti-Saudi activity on the Hill in a quarter of a century,” said Bruce Riedel, director of the Brookings Institution’s Intelligence Project and an expert on Saudi Arabia. “Criticism of Saudi Arabia has come out of the closet, and I don’t think it’s going to go back in.”
Though the Kingdom remains a critical ally in the global fight against terror, Western leaders have publicly criticized it for financially and politically promoting an Islamic fundamentalist worldview espoused by many extremist groups. International human rights groups, meanwhile, have openly condemned Saudi Arabia for violating the laws of war in Yemen with “logistical, tactical, and intelligence support” from the United States.
Saudi Arabia has a serious image problem it must confront. . . . Nowhere is that trend clearer than in the Sept. 11 victims’ bill, which would give courts the right to waive claims to foreign sovereign immunity in cases involving terrorist acts on U.S. soil.
Riyadh launched a formidable campaign to kill the bill with Saudi Arabia spending in excess of $3 million this year on lobbying contracts, according to Foreign Agents Registration Act documents. . . . s Congress prepares to soon override an expected veto of the bill, Saudi Arabia has launched a last-minute lobbying blitz.
Representatives of the government and its allies have been frequenting lawmakers’ offices to plead for help.
According to a recent study published in the Guardian, one in three Saudi-led raids in Yemen hit civilians. . . . . Recently, images and videos from Yemen have suggested that Saudi Arabia is using U.S.-produced white phosphorus in Yemen as well.
Yet the measure’s authors say the arms sales are part of a greater, problematic trend that the United States is allowing Saudi Arabia to get away, literally, with murder.
“We have largely turned the other way and allowed for the Saudis to create a version of Islam which has become the building blocks for the very groups that we are fighting today. And we have plead with them, we have asked them to stop, and the evidence suggests they have not,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said during an event at the Center for the National Interest this week. 
[E]xperts said criticizing Saudi Arabia has become “almost fashionable” and congressional scrutiny of the alliance is only likely to grow more intense.
“I think the era in which you could get $110 billion worth of arms through the Congress with virtually no debate on the Hill is over,” he said. “And if there’s an ugly settlement over 9/11, and the Yemen war continues, that debate will get tougher and tougher for the Saudis to win.”
As noted before, a top American national security goal should be to expand alternate energy sources and a sharp decline in dependence on oil.  If America and Europe can reach self-sufficiency, then Saudi Arabia's ability to engage in economic blackmail will be gone as will its ability to fund terrorism.  Americans need to wake up to the reality that the Saudis and the toxic religion they support are our enemy.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2

How a Russian Fascist Is Meddling in America’s Election

In any number of post now, I have addressed the disturbing apparent efforts of Russian hackers to harm Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party, Donald trump's dependence on Russian money to keep many of his project afloat, the bizarre bromance between Trump and Vladimir Putin, and the use by both Putin and Trump to employ techniques used by Hitler to come to power.  An op-ed in the New York Times looks at how Putin and Russian Fascist ideas are meddling in America's 2016 election cycle.  Some laugh off the idea, but a closer look should give one pause.  Here are op-ed highlights:
The president of Russia, Vladimir V. Putin, once described the collapse of the Soviet Union as a “geopolitical catastrophe.” But the political thinker who today has the most influence on Mr. Putin’s Russia is not Vladimir Lenin, the founder of the Communist system, but rather Ivan Ilyin, a prophet of Russian fascism.
The brilliant political philosopher has been dead for more than 60 years, but his ideas have found new life in post-Soviet Russia. After 1991, his books were republished with long print runs. President Putin began to cite him in his annual speech to the Federal Assembly, the Russian equivalent of the State of the Union address.
To complete the rehabilitation, Mr. Putin saw to it that Ilyin’s corpse was repatriated from Switzerland, and that his archive was returned from Michigan. The Russian president has been seen laying flowers on Ilyin’s Moscow grave.
Ilyin believed that individuality was evil. For him, the “variety of human beings” demonstrated the failure of God to complete the labor of creation and was therefore essentially satanic. By extension, the middle classes, political parties and civil society were also evil, because they encouraged the development of personalities beyond the single identity of the national community.
According to Ilyin, the purpose of politics is to overcome individuality, and establish a “living totality” of the nation. . . . . he provided the outlines for a constitution of a fascist Holy Russia governed by a “national dictator” who would be “inspired by the spirit of totality.”
This leader would be responsible for all functions of government in a completely centralized state. Elections would be held, with open voting and signed ballots, purely as a ritual of support of the leader. The reckoning of votes was irrelevant: “We must reject blind faith in the number of votes and its political significance.”
In the light of Ilyin’s rehabilitation as Russia’s leading ideologue, Moscow’s manipulations of elections should be seen not so much as a failure to implement democracy but as a subversion of the very concept of democracy.  Neither the parliamentary elections of December 2011 nor the presidential elections of March 2012 produced a majority for Mr. Putin’s party or for Mr. Putin personally. Votes were therefore added to produce a decisive result.
Russians who protested the fixed elections were branded as national enemies. Nongovernmental organizations were forced to register as “foreign agents.”
While Russian leaders consciously work to hollow out the idea of democracy in their own country, they also seek to discredit democracy abroad including, this year, in the United States. Russia’s interventions in our presidential elections are not only the opportunistic support of a preferred candidate, Donald J. Trump, who backs Russian foreign policy. They are also the logical projection of the new ideology: Democracy is not a means of changing leadership at home, but a means of weakening enemies abroad.
If democracy is merely an invitation to foreign influence, then hacking a foreign political party’s email is the most natural thing in the world. If civil society is nothing but the decadent opening of a rotting society to foreign influence, then constant trolling of media is obviously appropriate. If, as Ilyin wrote, the “arithmetical understanding of politics” is harmful, then digital meddling in foreign elections would be just the thing.
For a decade, Russia has been sponsoring right-wing extremists as “election observers” — most recently, in the farcical referendums in the Crimea and in the Donbas region of Ukraine — in order to discredit both elections and their observation.
Since democracy is a sham, as Ilyin believed, then it is right and good to imitate its language and procedures in order to discredit it. It is noteworthy that the Trump campaign has now imitated this very practice, supplying both its own private “observers” and the advance conclusion about the fraud they will find.
The technique of undermining democracy abroad is to generate doubt where there had been certainty. If democratic procedures start to seem shambolic, then democratic ideas will seem questionable as well. And so America would become more like Russia, which is the general idea. If Mr. Trump wins, Russia wins. But if Mr. Trump loses and people doubt the outcome, Russia also wins.
From Moscow’s point of view, it is easier to bring down democracy everywhere than it is to hold free, fair elections at home. Russia will seem stronger if other states follow its course of development toward a cynicism about democracy that allows authoritarianism to thrive.

What frightens me is that Trump very likely seems himself as the "national dictator" Ilyn envisioned. And then there is his use of Hitler's tactics and demagoguery and scapegoating of minorities.