Saturday, November 12, 2016

Saturday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2

Pro-Trump Nazi Site Launches Campaign To Harass Gays, Women, And Minorities

It's another morning where I find myself waking up and realizing that the last three days have not been a bad dream or nightmare, but are in fact a frightening reality.  American democracy seemingly has committed suicide although death will be a while in coming as the poison unleashed by Donald Trump and his more extreme supporters slowly spreads through society and our political structure.  The KKK is having celebratory marches and Neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups are jubilant and announcing plans to target and harass gays and minorities and one hears not one word from their anointed fuhrer in condemnation.  It's as if we are reliving the early minutes of the 1971 movie The Garden of the Finzi-Continis or the 1978 mini series, Holocaust. As in those works, where initially normalcy seemed to continue until creeping changes began to unleash a nightmare, the media and even Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama want to convince themselves that something horrible and dangerous is not really happening.  But it is happening.  Denial does not make it untrue.   A piece in Newsweek looks at the plans of a Trump supporting Nazi organization to embark on a campaign of harassing gays, women, minorities - and, I'm sure, Jews - to the point where they will commit suicide. This is the new America.    It MUST be stopped.  Here are article highlights:
The Daily Stormer, a Neo-Nazi website, published a list of dozens of Twitter users who expressed sadness over the election outcome on Wednesday, urging its readers to target and harass them to the point of suicide.
The frontpage of the white supremacist website shows a large photo of President-elect Trump and his wife, Melania Trump, meeting with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Vice President-elect Mike Pence. “You should probably go ahead and be afraid now,” writes Andrew Anglin, the website’s publisher. The post suggests it’s readers “can troll these people and definitely get some of them to kill themselves.”
Several of the tweets embedded in the Daily Stormer post show fear over the fate of women, people of color and LGBT individuals in the U.S. under a Trump presidency. One person says they're worried about possible nuclear war.
Reports of hate-based violence against Hispanic people, Muslims and women continue to be documented around the country in the wake of  Trump’s victory in the polls on Tuesday.
Shaun King, writer for the New York Daily News, has been collecting and publishing on Twitter alleged incidents of intimidation and violence since Trump’s win. They include a group of middle school students in Royal Oak, Michigan chanting “Build that wall,” a reference to a wall Trump said he hopes will be built along the U.S.-Mexico border. King has also tweeted photos of pickup trucks in Brooksville, Florida covered in the words: "All Muslims are Terrorists," "Deport them All" and "I Hate Muslims."
A website, Why We Are Afraid, is similarly chronicling such incidents. One of the first images shows two water fountains at a high school in Jacksonville, Florida, with “Colored” and “Whites only” signs over each one.

People have good reason to be fearful.  As regular readers know, I am a strong advocate of gun control and have heretofore been very anti gun.  Now, I and others are looking to form a Pink Pistols chapter in Hampton Roads (chapters exist in Richmond and Northern Virginia) which assist members of the LGBT community to learn how to own and use handguns for self protection.  I have received death threats before in comments left on this blog - one reason I moderate comments - and heretofore never took them too seriously.  Now, things may be different and a new vigilance needed.  I have always been proud to be "out" and visible.  Now, one has to wonder if that makes you a potential target.  81% of evangelical Christians supported Trump.  Every death threat I have received in the past has come from someone professing to be a conservative, Bible believing Christian.  All of it, too me, underscores the toxicity of religion.

I am not alone in my fears.  Mother Jones reports that calls to LGBT suicide prevention hotlines have soared in number since Trumps victory.  Here are excerpts:
Two LGBT suicide prevention hotlines told Mother Jones that calls to their services have spiked since Donald Trump was elected president.
Trans Hotline, a nonprofit that focuses on suicide prevention for transgender people, has received at least five times the call volume it normally gets. And the Trevor Project, the nation's only LGBT youth-focused suicide prevention hotline, received more calls, texts, and online chats on Wednesday than it's gotten on a single day in four years, more than double its normal daily volume.
"We started getting increased call volume at about 10 p.m. on election night, and it hasn't slowed down at all," said Gretta Martela, director of Trans Hotline, on Thursday afternoon. "In fact, it's on the rise still." The hotline receives about 100 calls a day normally. In the 24 hours prior to speaking with Mother Jones, Martela said it had received 523 calls.
Callers expressed fear that many of the gains in LGBT rights made under the Obama administration—like access to trans-related health care—will be lost under Trump, Martela said. Medical experts have said that access to appropriate hormones and other treatments for gender dysphoria can be essential to a transgender person's physical and mental health. "The Republicans are looking to repeal Obamacare," Martela said. "So a lot of people are looking at losing their health care coverage."
Callers were also concerned about a potential Supreme Court ruling that could deny them access to bathrooms that match their gender identity, and a rise in anti-trans hate crimes. This year was the most violent on record for trans women of color, Martela noted.
 Welcome to Donald Trump's Amerika.

Trump and the Rage of White, Christian America

I have said over and over again that the Republican Party's descent into lunacy and unbridled hatred of others tracks directly to the rise of the Christofascists within the party.  The more the near fanatical Christofascist influence increased, the more sane and rational individuals fled the GOP.  If nothing else, Donald Trump recognized the desperation of the Christofascists - who love authoritarianism - for a leader in their rear guard fight against a changing nation and modernity itself. Trump quickly courted the white supremacist crowd into the mix (although there is a huge overlap between Christofascists and white supremacists) and the two groups, combined with lazy Republicans who failed to educated themselves as to Trump's full agenda, gave Trump his winning results in states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.  A column in the New York Times looks at the rage of the Christofascists which Trump so skillfully and cynically co-opted.  Here are highlights:
Between Barack Obama’s 2008 election and 2016, America has transformed from being a majority white Christian nation (54 percent) to a minority white Christian nation (43 percent).
But on Election Day, paradoxically, this anxious minority swarmed to the polls to elect as president the candidate who promised to “make America great again” and warned that he was its “last chance” to turn back the tide of cultural and economic change.
One clue to the power of this racial and religious identity can be seen in the striking similarity of a map of white Christian population density by state to the red and blue election night map. While the similarity of those maps in Kentucky and West Virginia might not be a surprise, the same similarity in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania goes a long way to explaining why Hillary Clinton’s Midwestern firewall did not hold on election night.
The choice before the country was starkly clear. Donald J. Trump’s Republican Party looked back wistfully to a monochromatic vision of 1950s America, while the major party fronting the first female presidential candidate celebrated the pluralistic future of 2050, when the Census Bureau first projected the United States would become a majority nonwhite nation.
No other group believes things have changed for the worse since the 1950s more than white evangelical Protestants (74 percent), who turned out strongly and gave Mr. Trump 81 percent of their votes, according to the early exit polls. And here’s a finding that signals why Mrs. Clinton came up short: a majority (55 percent) of independents also agreed that American culture and way of life have changed for the worse since the 1950s.
Hillary Clinton’s final campaign ad featured Katy Perry’s song “Roar,” but the loudest voices of this election turned out to be not the “new America” demographic groups of Latinos, African-Americans and millennials, but Mr. Trump’s aging and raging white Christian supporters.
The waning numbers of white Christians in the country today may not have time on their side, but as the sun is slowly setting on the cultural world of white Christian America, they’ve managed, at least in this election, to rage against the dying of the light.
I have consistently said that evangelical Christians pose a clear and present danger to America's constitutional government.  In their election of Donald Trump, who I suspect does intend to destroy our constitutional republic in his quest to satiate his sick ego, the Christofascists will end up fulfilling my prediction.  The irony is that these same people love to cite homosexuality as the root cause of the downfall of the Roman Empire, when in fact Christianity was a major force that undermined that Empire.  If America falls thanks to their ignorance  embracing, fairy tale beliefs, it will be the second time that the top world power was done in by religious based ignorance and selfishness.  

Saturday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 1

Dedicated to Trump's anti-gay, racist supporters who likely secretly yearn for gay sex like so many in the Bible Belt..

Friday, November 11, 2016

Autocracy: Rules for Survival

We are hearing much from the lamestream mainstream media about the "peaceful transition of power" and other mealy mouthed platitudes in the wake of Tuesday election that are trying to normalize something that is anything but normal.  A totally unqualified, probably mentally unstable individual with delusions that he will be a Vladimir Putin-like supreme autocrat of America was elected president.  It is the height of irresponsibility to try to make the abnormal and dangerous seem normal.  Even Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama got into the act of nice sounding platitudes rather than stating outright that America is truly f*cked if something is not done to block Trump from office or at a minimum rein him in.  Sticking one's head in the sand and ignoring reality is NOT the answer.  Rather clear headed thinking and recognizing the nature of the danger is what is required.  As is resistance in every way feasible.  A piece in the New York Review of Books focuses on what must now be done.  Here are highlights:
“Thank you, my friends. Thank you. Thank you. We have lost. We have lost, and this is the last day of my political career, so I will say what must be said. We are standing at the edge of the abyss. Our political system, our society, our country itself are in greater danger than at any time in the last century and a half. The president-elect has made his intentions clear, and it would be immoral to pretend otherwise. We must band together right now to defend the laws, the institutions, and the ideals on which our country is based.”
That, or something like that, is what Hillary Clinton should have said on Wednesday. Instead, she said, resignedly,
We must accept this result and then look to the future. Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead. Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power. . . . 
Similar refrains were heard from various members of the liberal commentariat, with Tom Friedman vowing, “I am not going to try to make my president fail,” to Nick Kristof calling on “the approximately 52 percent majority of voters who supported someone other than Donald Trump” to “give president Trump a chance.”
However well-intentioned, this talk assumes that Trump is prepared to find common ground with his many opponents, respect the institutions of government, and repudiate almost everything he has stood for during the campaign. In short, it is treating him as a “normal” politician. There has until now been little evidence that he can be one.
More dangerously, Clinton’s and Obama’s very civil passages, which ended in applause lines, seemed to close off alternative responses to his minority victory. (It was hard not to be reminded of Neville Chamberlain’s statement, that “We should seek by all means in our power to avoid war, by analyzing possible causes, by trying to remove them, by discussion in a spirit of collaboration and good will.”) Both Clinton’s and Obama’s phrases about the peaceful transfer of power concealed the omission of a call to action. The protesters who took to the streets of New York, Los Angeles, and other American cities on Wednesday night did so not because of Clinton’s speech but in spite of it. One of the falsehoods in the Clinton speech was the implied equivalency between civil resistance and insurgency. This is an autocrat’s favorite con, the explanation for the violent suppression of peaceful protests the world over.
It was as though Donald Trump had not, in the course of his campaign, promised to deport US citizens, promised to create a system of surveillance targeted specifically at Muslim Americans, promised to build a wall on the border with Mexico, advocated war crimes, endorsed torture, and repeatedly threatened to jail Hillary Clinton herself. It was as though those statements and many more could be written off as so much campaign hyperbole and now that the campaign was over, Trump would be eager to become a regular, rule-abiding politician of the pre-Trump era.
But Trump is anything but a regular politician and this has been anything but a regular election. Trump will be only the fourth candidate in history and the second in more than a century to win the presidency after losing the popular vote. He is also probably the first candidate in history to win the presidency despite having been shown repeatedly by the national media to be a chronic liar, sexual predator, serial tax-avoider, and race-baiter who has attracted the likes of the Ku Klux Klan. Most important, Trump is the first candidate in memory who ran not for president but for autocrat—and won.
I have lived in autocracies most of my life, and have spent much of my career writing about Vladimir Putin’s Russia. I have learned a few rules for surviving in an autocracy and salvaging your sanity and self-respect. It might be worth considering them now:
Rule #1: Believe the autocrat. He means what he says. Whenever you find yourself thinking, or hear others claiming, that he is exaggerating, that is our innate tendency to reach for a rationalization. This will happen often: humans seem to have evolved to practice denial when confronted publicly with the unacceptable. Back in the 1930s, The New York Times assured its readers that Hitler’s anti-Semitism was all posture. . . . . 
Trump has made his plans clear, and he has made a compact with his voters to carry them out. These plans include not only dismantling legislation such as Obamacare but also doing away with judicial restraint—and, yes, punishing opponents.
To begin jailing his political opponents, or just one opponent, Trump will begin by trying to capture of the judicial system. Observers and even activists functioning in the normal-election mode are fixated on the Supreme Court as the site of the highest-risk impending Trump appointment. There is little doubt that Trump will appoint someone who will cause the Court to veer to the right; there is also the risk that it might be someone who will wreak havoc with the very culture of the high court. And since Trump plans to use the judicial system to carry out his political vendettas, his pick for attorney general will be no less important.
Rule #2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality. Consider the financial markets this week, which, having tanked overnight, rebounded following the Clinton and Obama speeches. Confronted with political volatility, the markets become suckers for calming rhetoric from authority figures. So do people. Panic can be neutralized by falsely reassuring words about how the world as we know it has not ended. It is a fact that the world did not end on November 8 nor at any previous time in history. Yet history has seen many catastrophes, and most of them unfolded over time. That time included periods of relative calm. One of my favorite thinkers, the Jewish historian Simon Dubnow, breathed a sigh of relief in early October 1939: he had moved from Berlin to Latvia, and he wrote to his friends that he was certain that the tiny country wedged between two tyrannies would retain its sovereignty and Dubnow himself would be safe. Shortly after that, Latvia was occupied by the Soviets, then by the Germans, then by the Soviets again—but by that time Dubnow had been killed.
Rule #3: Institutions will not save you. It took Putin a year to take over the Russian media and four years to dismantle its electoral system; the judiciary collapsed unnoticed. The capture of institutions in Turkey has been carried out even faster, by a man once celebrated as the democrat to lead Turkey into the EU. Poland has in less than a year undone half of a quarter century’s accomplishments in building a constitutional democracy.
The national press is likely to be among the first institutional victims of Trumpism. There is no law that requires the presidential administration to hold daily briefings, none that guarantees media access to the White House. Many journalists may soon face a dilemma long familiar to those of us who have worked under autocracies: fall in line or forfeit access. There is no good solution (even if there is a right answer), for journalism is difficult and sometimes impossible without access to information.
The power of the investigative press—whose adherence to fact has already been severely challenged by the conspiracy-minded, lie-spinning Trump campaign—will grow weaker. The world will grow murkier. Even in the unlikely event that some mainstream media outlets decide to declare themselves in opposition to the current government, or even simply to report its abuses and failings, the president will get to frame many issues. Coverage, and thinking, will drift in a Trumpian direction, just as it did during the campaign
Rule #4: Be outraged. If you follow Rule #1 and believe what the autocrat-elect is saying, you will not be surprised. But in the face of the impulse to normalize, it is essential to maintain one’s capacity for shock. This will lead people to call you unreasonable and hysterical, and to accuse you of overreacting. It is no fun to be the only hysterical person in the room. Prepare yourself.
Despite losing the popular vote, Trump has secured as much power as any American leader in recent history. The Republican Party controls both houses of Congress. There is a vacancy on the Supreme Court. The country is at war abroad and has been in a state of mobilization for fifteen years. This means not only that Trump will be able to move fast but also that he will become accustomed to an unusually high level of political support. He will want to maintain and increase it—his ideal is the totalitarian-level popularity numbers of Vladimir Putin—and the way to achieve that is through mobilization. There will be more wars, abroad and at home.
Rule #5: Don’t make compromises. Like Ted Cruz, who made the journey from calling Trump “utterly amoral” and a “pathological liar” to endorsing him in late September to praising his win as an “amazing victory for the American worker,” Republican politicians have fallen into line. . . . Those who argue for cooperation will make the case, much as President Obama did in his speech, that cooperation is essential for the future. They will be willfully ignoring the corrupting touch of autocracy, from which the future must be protected.
Rule #6: Remember the future. Nothing lasts forever. Donald Trump certainly will not, and Trumpism, to the extent that it is centered on Trump’s persona, will not either. Failure to imagine the future may have lost the Democrats this election. They offered no vision of the future to counterbalance Trump’s all-too-familiar white-populist vision of an imaginary past. They had also long ignored the strange and outdated institutions of American democracy that call out for reform—like the electoral college, which has now cost the Democratic Party two elections in which Republicans won with the minority of the popular vote. That should not be normal. But resistance—stubborn, uncompromising, outraged—should be.

Friday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2

Farewell, America - The Day the Republic Died

I continue to fell as if someone has died in the wake of Tuesday's election results.  I feel for the first time in a long time the depths of depression reaching out and taking hold of me.   Something did die on Tuesday: the American republic and any continuing ability to pretend that overall America still had some latent goodness.  Hate and bigotry and extremism prevailed and now, those of us who have not drunk the Trump Kool-Aid will finding ourselves waking each day with a sense of dread and impending doom. For gays and many other minorities the fear will be that each day will carry the question "is this the day our rights are curtailed and/or discrimination against us legalized?"  More frightening, there will be the daily fear that our new fuhrer may rashly bring on some nuclear holocaust in his quest to satiate his unquenchable ego?  A piece at Moyers & Company describes my feelings and fears.  Here are lengthy excerpts:

America died on Nov. 8, 2016, not with a bang or a whimper, but at its own hand via electoral suicide. We the people chose a man who has shredded our values, our morals, our compassion, our tolerance, our decency, our sense of common purpose, our very identity — all the things that, however tenuously, made a nation out of a country.

Whatever place we now live in is not the same place it was on Nov. 7. No matter how the rest of the world looked at us on Nov. 7, they will now look at us differently. We are likely to be a pariah country. And we are lost for it.

This generally has been called the “hate election” because everyone professed to hate both candidates. It turned out to be the hate election because, and let’s not mince words, of the hatefulness of the electorate. In the years to come, we will brace for the violence, the anger, the racism, the misogyny, the xenophobia, the nativism, the white sense of grievance that will undoubtedly be unleashed now that we have destroyed the values that have bound us.

We all knew these hatreds lurked under the thinnest veneer of civility. That civility finally is gone. In its absence, we may realize just how imperative that politesse was. It is the way we managed to coexist.

If there is a single sentence that characterizes the election, it is this: “He says the things I’m thinking.” That may be what is so terrifying. Who knew that so many tens of millions of white Americans were thinking unconscionable things about their fellow Americans? Who knew that tens of millions of white men felt so emasculated by women and challenged by minorities? Who knew that after years of seeming progress on race and gender, tens of millions of white Americans lived in seething resentment, waiting for a demagogue to arrive who would legitimize their worst selves and channel them into political power? Perhaps we had been living in a fool’s paradise. Now we aren’t.

This country has survived a civil war, two world wars, and a great depression. There are many who say we will survive this, too. Maybe we will, but we won’t survive unscathed. We know too much about each other to heal. No more can we pretend that we are exceptional or good or progressive or united. We are none of those things. Nor can we pretend that democracy works and that elections have more or less happy endings. Democracy only functions when its participants abide by certain conventions, certain codes of conduct and a respect for the process.

The virus that kills democracy is extremism because extremism disables those codes. Republicans have disrespected the process for decades. . . . They have worked tirelessly to make sure that the government cannot govern and to redefine the purpose of government as prevention rather than effectuation. In short, they haven’t believed in democracy for a long time, and the media never called them out on it.

Democracy can’t cope with extremism. Only violence and time can defeat it. The first is unacceptable, the second takes too long.

Trump was absolutely correct when he bragged that he could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and his supporters wouldn’t care. It was a dictator’s ugly vaunt, but one that recognized this election never was about policy or economics or the “right path/wrong path,” or even values. It was about venting. So long as Trump vented their grievances, his all-white supporters didn’t care about anything else. He is smart enough to know that won’t change in the presidency. In fact, it is only likely to intensify. White America, Trump’s America, just wants to hear its anger bellowed. This is one time when the Bully Pulpit will be literal.

The media can’t be let off the hook for enabling an authoritarian to get to the White House. . . . Just as Trump has shredded our values, our nation and our democracy, he has shredded the media. In this, as in his politics, he is only the latest avatar of a process that began long before his candidacy. Just as the sainted Ronald Reagan created an unbridgeable chasm between rich and poor that the Republicans would later exploit against Democrats, conservatives delegitimized mainstream journalism so that they could fill the vacuum.

With the mainstream media so delegitimized — a delegitimization for which they bear a good deal of blame, not having had the courage to take on lies and expose false equivalencies — they have very little role to play going forward in our politics. I suspect most of them will surrender to Trumpism — if they were able to normalize Trump as a candidate, they will no doubt normalize him as president. Cable news may even welcome him as a continuous entertainment and ratings booster. And in any case, like Reagan, he is bulletproof. The media cannot touch him, even if they wanted to. Presumably, there will be some courageous guerillas in the mainstream press, a kind of Resistance, who will try to fact-check him. But there will be few of them, and they will be whistling in the wind. Trump, like all dictators, is his own truth.

What’s more, Trump already has promised to take his war on the press into courtrooms and the halls of Congress. 

[T]he disempowered media may have one more role to fill: They must bear witness. Many years from now, future generations will need to know what happened to us and how it happened. They will need to know how disgruntled white Americans, full of self-righteous indignation, found a way to take back a country they felt they were entitled to and which they believed had been lost. They will need to know about the ugliness and evil that destroyed us as a nation after great men like Lincoln and Roosevelt guided us through previous crises and kept our values intact. They will need to know, and they will need a vigorous, engaged, moral media to tell them. They will also need us.

We are not living for ourselves anymore in this country. Now we are living for history.

Terrifyingly, much of the mainstream media is already normalizing Trump through its bloviating about the peaceful transition of power while utterly ignoring the nightmare to come, the incompetence and extremism of  Transition team or the goal of utterly destroying the social safety net.    I am truly in mourning.  America has died.

How the Electoral College Could Still Stop Trump

Only two days after the election and Donald Trump is already showing his unfitness for office going off on a twitter rant that protesters in various cities are being paid to protest against him.  Meanwhile, one of his thugs transition team members is threatening that the protests will be "quelled." Never mind the right to freedom of peaceful assembly.   Trump is a mentally unbalanced narcissist who seemingly thought that by winning the election, suddenly all Americans would like and respect him. I respect the office  of the presidency but I have zero respect for Trump who is not yet sworn in. I never will and will hold to the #NotMyPresident mantra for the next four years.  The irony is that Trump - and the party he now leads - spent the last eight years trashing Barack Obama.  Does he not realize that he will get equal treatment?  Does he not realize that the protests may swell once more of his dangerous appointments and coming policies become widely known?  The man is unfit for the presidency.  The Founding Fathers knew of the dangers of a man like Trump, hence the Electoral College that had the ability to override the election of someone who is a danger to the nation.  While seemingly, the system backfired, it could still work if electors have the balls to do what the Founders expected them to do.  A piece in the Huffington Post looks at what could save the republic if there are enough with the spine to do their intended job.  The worry is that no such responsible electors will act as required. Here are highlights:  
Trump can still be stopped. The Founding Fathers foresaw just this catastrophe, and built a fail-safe into the Constitution. It’s called the Electoral College. Alexander Hamilton was explicit: this mechanism was designed to ensure that “the office of president will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.” In short, it was designed to prevent just this situation: the rise of an unqualified demagogue like Donald Trump.
You can make it do what it was meant to do.
The requirement here is modest: ten Republican electors appalled at the prospect of a Trump presidency, and sufficiently courageous to vote accordingly, must be persuaded to do so. It doesn’t matter who they choose — in most red states, they would likely not be thwarting the will of the the majority, as long as they chose a Republican. This would give Trump only 269 votes in the Electoral College.
If neither party ends up with 270 votes, then the decision passes to the House of Representatives, and a vote in that chamber determines the winner. The House is permitted to choose from among the three candidates who receive the most votes in the Electoral College. Hence, dissenting electors can rest assured that they — and the voters they represent — will end up with a Republican president.
Although 24 states seek to prohibit faithless electors by a variety of methods, including pledges and the threat of fines or criminal action, most constitutional scholars believe that once electors have been chosen, they remain constitutionally free agents, able to vote for any candidate who meets the requirements for President and Vice President.
These so-called “faithless electors” are vanishingly rare, which is as it should be — this is a unique circumstance, which requires emergency measures. Ignore the epithet: these electors would not be remotely faithless; this act would be faithful to the letter and intent of the Constitution. It would be patriotic.
A crucial fact here is that votes in the Electoral College are cast anonymously. An elector need not reveal that he or she is the one who chose to support another candidate. This shields an individual from retribution.

Why should Democrats fight for this? Because any conceivable choice on the part of the Electoral College and the House, however extreme, would be preferable to Trump.
This would not be an abuse of the Constitution. Quite the opposite, as I say: it would be the proper use of the Constitution to prevent the abuse of a general election. The Founding Fathers would have approved. More: they would have been distressed to see this not happen, given the circumstances. They chose to found a republic that was not a direct democracy, and this is why: a simple binding majority vote provides no check upon the election of a tyrant. (This election was an exception, ironically: Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, and direct democracy would have spared the world the terrifying promise of a Trump presidency.)
If you honor the Founding Fathers — and the Constitution — then you will insist upon employing the emergency measures coded into the very definition of the republic.
So, how do you accomplish this? The process is simple: write to Republican electors in states that went red, and beg them to vote their conscience. You can download a template for a short petition — a joint letter from you and your colleagues — on this site. The complete list of relevant electors can be found here, with contact information: United States presidential electors, 2016.
I’m urging everyone to do this: not simply Democrats, but responsible Republicans. Modern history has witnessed few events more admirable than bipartisan efforts to thwart racist demagoguery: most recently in France, when decent people on the left and the right combined — despite their mutual loathing — to prevent the election of Marine Le Pen.
So, embrace decency. It’s not just a civic duty; it’s a moral duty. It is a categorical imperative.
Once you have written letters, the next step is to agitate loudly for just this solution. The nation must see rallies, marches, blogs and editorials. Let these electors know that you’re on their side, that you will support them in what would be unquestionably a courageous act. An act of heroism. Even though votes are cast anonymously, electors will likely be threatened and slandered as a group. But patriots have withstood worse.
Trump supporters will scream; there will likely be violence, and perhaps riots. But these people did not write the Constitution; they do not get to rewrite it; and they are bound by it. It will not be civil war. Genuine Trump supporters are a minority within a minority; they will be opposed by genuine Republicans, as well as Libertarians, Democrats, and Greens. They will lose.
Occupy the Constitution. The alternative is unthinkable.
America must be saved from the coming nightmare.

Friday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Death of the Myth of Americans' Goodness

I have never been a fan of the myth of American exceptionalism.  Yes, preachers and politicians like to use the phrase, but if one looks at the details of America's history, it is filled with ugliness and hatred.  Most of us like to conveniently forget these past sins and overlook the still rampant racism, homophobia and other forms of bigotry and hate.  Looking the other way doesn't make the reality go away or magically become untrue.    For good or for bad, the results of the 2016 presidential election and the victory of Donald Trump's gathering of deplorables has torn the artificial veneer off the face of America and shown to the world that far too many Americans are not nice, decent or equality supporting people. Hopefully, this will be a wake up call and motivate the non-engaged to get involved and take back America from the 25,1% of the eligible voters who voted for trump.  Over 46% of voters stayed home and, bu their laziness and irresponsible behavior put Trump in the White House.  A piece in the Washington Post looks at this harsh reality hitting home.  Here are excerpts:

So this is America, after all. It’s not the one many of us hoped we lived in right now, but it’s the one verified by the electoral map, and it’s the one that others of us have feared we lived in for a very long time.
All through the election, Hillary Clinton’s surrogates tried to repudiate the possibility of a Donald Trump presidency and all of its strident, fear-laden rhetoric. America is better than that, they said. Those values aren’t American; those values don’t represent us.
All through Tuesday night, Wolf Blitzer and John King bickered in front of their CNN Magic Wall about the “surprise” and “upset” of Trump’s victory. No one saw it coming, they said. Nobody could explain it. It wasn’t until the wee, exhausted hours of Wednesday morning that Van Jones, an African American political commenter, broke in with a shaking, emotional voice and offered his explanation: “This was a white-lash,” he said. “This was a white-lash against a changing country. It was a white-lash against a black president, in part. And that’s the part where the pain comes.”
What if America isn’t better than that? What if this was America all along?
Not the America that welcomed immigrant “huddled masses,” but the America that kidnapped African slaves and made them build a country, brick by brick and cotton field by cotton field. Not the America that lets women work and dress and worship as they please, but the America in which a man who sexually assaults one of them can be imprisoned for only three months. Not the America pulled along by hope but the America pushed along by aggression.
The people who were truly shocked by the outcome are those who have never experienced certain behaviors of the citizenry. . . . Good white people don’t fully understand why people of color fear encounters with the police, because the police have been mostly kind to them.
“I’m seeing so many posts, from mostly white friends, saying, ‘America, I don’t even know you,’ ” says Wendy Tien, a Milwaukee attorney and second-generation Taiwanese American. “And I’m thinking, ‘Where have you been? What do you mean you don’t know this America? Why haven’t you seen it?’ I’ve seen it. I see it all the time.”
This is America, the America that we built, the America that we all live in. But if this election taught us anything, it’s that we haven’t all been living in it in the same way.
“Now do you believe us?” tweeted Xeni Jardin, an editor in California, early Wednesday morning. “Us girls and women? Now do you believe Americans who are not white when they say white supremacy prevails?”
Jardin, who is white, grew up in a Southern city across from a prison, where she remembers that mostly white spectators would gather with coolers to celebrate the executions of mostly black inmates. But, she says, polite people didn’t discuss such things, just like they didn’t discuss sexual violence or other mistreatment of women.
It just existed, quietly, part of the rotten underbelly of that America.  Now it exists, loudly, part of the blaring horn of this one. 
 I grew up as a white male from a relatively affluent family with many of the perks that all of that entails.  It was really until I came out as gay, was fired from my job for being gay, was brutalized by a homophobic judge during my divorce and had anti-gay taunts and death threats aimed at me that I got the first real, honest to goodness look at the real America.  It is not pretty.  I like to believe that a majority of us are not like Trump's racist, homophobic, xenophobic and misogynistic base.  But for too long we the majority have been complacent and let organizations ranging from the GOP, to the KKK to falsely monikered "family values" organizations fan the flames of hatred.  If any good comes from this travesty election, I hope it will be that the majority who did not support Trump will mobilize and organize to take back our country.

Trump’s Administration and A Glaring Lack of Expertise

There are many things to be fearful about a Trump presidency (I feel the urge to  be ill just typing the phrase), especially if one is LGBT and has followed the appointment of leading anti-gay extremists to Trump's transition tea.  But one thing that ought to terrify most Americans and which much of the lame main stream media is ignoring as they bloviate about the "smooth transition of power" is the frightening lack of experience and/or lunacy of  likely Trump appointees, particularly in the realm of foreign policy (although in other ways the thought of Ben Carson as Secretary of Education is equally terrifying).  

Driving home I heard part of a discussion on Steele & Ungar on satellite radio with Noah Rothman, editor of Commentary Magazine, that sent a cold chill down my spine.  Trump has been reportedly been maintaining an "enemies list' that notes the name of everyone in the GOP who did not support him.  The list includes the vast majority of GOP foreign policy experts.  The frightening result? Trump appointees will be lacking in experience and expertise and/or will be nut cases picked from groups to which Trump made campaign promises. Here are excerpts from Rothman's piece that I located:
“Everybody who has signed a never-Trump letter or indicated an anti-Trump attitude is not going to get a job. And that’s most of the Republican foreign policy, national security, intelligence, homeland security, and Department of Justice experience.”
This was the assessment of Paul Rosenzweig, a former senior official in George W. Bush’s Department of Homeland Security. He speculated that President-elect Donald Trump would not lack for top-tier GOP talent to fill high-profile Cabinet slots, but that thousands of positions at lower levels of the administration within the nation’s national security apparatus would be harder to staff.  Without the GOP expert class, the lower ranks of the Trump administration’s will be staffed with novices and political sycophants.
Trump ran explicitly on a message of resentment toward the expert class, whose members, he contended, were responsible for the increasingly dangerous international security environment. They returned the favor: Nearly 200 of Republican foreign policy and national security experts came out publicly against Trump as a candidate who could not be trusted to lead this nation’s armed forces.
Their denunciations of Donald Trump as fundamentally ill-suited to serve as commander-in-chief of the armed forces were thorough and compelling. But on Tuesday, they lost the argument. Now that the public has decided, the question is: Can Trump do without them? Doubtless, he and his people think they can. But there are literally thousands of jobs to fill here. Can the administration’s foreign and defense policy be managed without their institutional knowledge and expertise?
Trump has some dubious views when it comes to the conduct of American national affairs abroad. Foremost among them is his conspicuous deference to the geopolitical objectives of Russian President Vladimir Putin—objectives that often conflict with those of the United States. Trump has explicitly flirted with the notion of refusing to come to the aid of America’s NATO allies in the Baltic if they were attacked by Russia (a real and terrifying prospect). Trump has also indicated that he could outsource the job of fighting ISIS in Syria to Moscow, despite the clear evidence that Russia’s chief interest is in preserving the integrity of the Assad regime and the threats it faces from CIA-backed assets. 
Even if he is resistant to their advice, it would be better for him, the country, and the world, if Trump surrounded himself with advisers independent enough to argue that Vladimir Putin’s interests are antithetical to those of the nation he will soon swear to defend.
A sense of morality may prevent these and other skilled professionals in the public policy sector from seeking positions in the next administration. Certainly, Trump and his people are beginning their staffing plans by drawing up a do-not-hire list on which most of these names will appear. 
Trump and the movement he led is one that rejects expertise, as do almost all revolutionary/reactionary movements. But every revolutionary society that does away with its expert class soon finds that the mechanisms they had taken for granted soon cease to function.
There is no such thing as a competent administration without expertise, and the conduct of American military affairs is one area in which the president has almost sole discretion. 
Positions staffed by sycophants and/or those wit no experience or expertise.  Combined this with Russia confirmation that Trump's campaign was communication with Putin's regime throughout the campaign cycle and, to me at least, it is very disturbing.  The irony is, of course, that Trump's supporters back a campaign to "make America great again," but it may well be Russia and China, both of which remember their years of glory, who end up being the beneficiaries of Trump's policies.  Assuming he doesn't quickly get us into a nuclear war.

Could There Be a "Calexit" From the USA?

Con man and demagogue Donald Trump liked to refer to the UK's Brexit vote during the campaign as a blue print for what he was attempting.  Now, besides anti-Trump protests in a number of major cities, including one outside of Trump Tower in New York City, California is seeing a movement for a "Calexit."    That's right, the movement seeks to have California leave the United States and become its own independent nation comprising the world's 7th largest economy.  Yahoo Finance looks at this development.  Here are excerpts: 
"Calexit" is swiftly taking over social media.
After Donald Trump won the race to the White House, people across California took to social media Tuesday night to call for "Calexit" — California exit — recalling Brexit, Britain's push to leave the European Union.
As the topic continues to trend on Twitter, Californians in favor of seceding from the US will gather today on the steps of the capitol in Sacramento.
The group leading the charge, Yes California Independence Campaign, assembled long before Trump's surprising victory. Its aim is to hold a referendum in 2019 that, if passed, would make California an independent country.
The movement has racked up an impressive backer already. Shervin Pishevar, an early investor in Uber and well-known angel investor, said on Twitter that he would bankroll a campaign to make California its own nation if Trump won.
In an interview with CNBC on Wednesday, he confirmed his mission.  "It's the most patriotic thing I can do," he told CNBC. "The country is at serious crossroads. ... Calling it New California."
He expressed a desire that California, the sixth-largest economy in the world in terms of GDP, might become a catalyst for a "national dialogue" as the country reaches a "tipping point."
More Silicon Valley innovators are hopping on the bandwagon. Dave Morin, an investor and founder of the private social networking tool Path, and Marc Hemeon, a former Google employee and founder of Design Inc., also showed their support on Twitter, CNN Money reports.

"What's going on in the US politically and culturally is so different from what's happening here," Marinelli told The Los Angeles Times in 2015. "I want California to be all it can, and our group feels the political and cultural connection to the US is holding us back from our potential."

The fringe political movement gathered steam in June, when the UK broke from the EU.

"This is the first Western secessionist movement that worked, and I think that is going to be very profound," Marinelli told Newsweek shortly after Brexit. "Are you going to say to people in the freest country in the world [you] don't have the right to self-determination?"
The husband's comment?  If this looks like it might really happen, we are moving to California.  I suspect at least some of my children would join us.

From a far different perspective, Vladimir Putin is no doubt celebrating.  He played Trump - and his supporters - like the village idiots and now America is already seeing protests and the largest state has a movement seeking to break fro America completely.  

Thursday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 1

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Are We Seeing the End of The American Republic

Ironically, when the Founding Fathers created the structure of America's government, the Electoral College was envisioned as a safeguard against a demagogic strongman coming to power.  Yesterday, we saw the Electoral College deliver the presidency to precisely the type of man that the Founding Fathers feared.   Throughout this just ended campaign, I noted numerous times that I believed we were experiencing something frighteningly akin to the fall of the German Weimar Republic.  Now columnist Andrew Sullivan picks up on that train of  comparison in a piece in New York Magazine.  Here are excerpts:
We are witnessing the power of a massive populist movement that has now upended the two most stable democracies in the world — and thrown both countries into a completely unknown future. In Britain, where the polls did not pick up the latent support for withdrawal from the European Union, a new prime minister is now navigating a new social contract with the indigenous middle and working classes forged by fear of immigration and globalization. In the U.S., the movement — built on anti-political politics, economic disruption, and anti-immigration fears — had something else, far more lethal, in its bag of tricks: a supremely talented demagogue who created an authoritarian cult with unapologetically neo-fascist rhetoric. Britain is reeling toward a slow economic slide. America has now jumped off a constitutional cliff. It will never be the same country again. Like Brexit, this changes the core nature of this country permanently.
This is now Trump’s America. He controls everything from here on forward. He has won this campaign in such a decisive fashion that he owes no one anything. He has destroyed the GOP and remade it in his image. He has humiliated the elites and the elite media. He has embarrassed every pollster and naysayer. He has avenged Obama. And in the coming weeks, Trump will not likely be content to bask in vindication. He will seek unforgiving revenge on those who dared to oppose him. The party apparatus will be remade in his image. The House and Senate will fail to resist anything he proposes — and those who speak up will be primaried into oblivion. The Supreme Court may well be shifted to the far right for more than a generation to come. . . .  He will have a docile, fawning Congress for at least four years. We will not have an administration so much as a court.
They will likely build a propaganda machine more powerful than Fox and Breitbart — and generate pseudo-stories and big lies that, absent any authoritative or trusted media, will dominate the new centers of information, Facebook or its successors. We will be in a new political and media universe in which an authoritarian cult will thrive. This is how fascists tend to govern.
The only sliver of hope is that his promises cannot be kept. He cannot bring millions of jobs back if he triggers a trade war. He cannot build a massive new wall across the entire southern border and get Mexico to pay for it. He cannot deport millions of illegal immigrants, without massive new funding from Congress and major civil unrest. He cannot “destroy ISIS”; his very election will empower it in ways its leaders could not possibly have hoped for. He cannot both cut taxes on the rich, fund a massive new infrastructure program, boost military spending, protect entitlements, and not tip the U.S. into levels of debt even Paul Krugman might blanch at.
His support is not like that of a democratic leader but of a cult leader fused with the idea of the nation. If he fails, as he will, he will blame others, as he always does. And his cult followers will take their cue from him and no one else. “In Trump We Trust,” as his acolyte Ann Coulter titled her new book. And so there will have to be scapegoats — media institutions, the Fed, the “global conspiracy” of bankers and Davos muckety-mucks he previewed in his rankly anti-Semitic closing ad, rival politicians whom he will demolish by new names of abuse, foreign countries and leaders who do not cooperate, and doubtless civilians who will be targeted by his ranks of followers and demonized from the bully pulpit itself. The man has no impulse control and massive reserves of vengeance and hatred. In time, as his failures mount, the campaigns of vilification will therefore intensify. They will have to.
And then there will be a terror attack — or several, as he defines the global battle against terror as one against an entire religion and breathes new life into Al Qaeda and ISIS. What he does after such an attack is utterly predictable, given his past statements, and will likely decimate what civil liberties we have left. 
Every single thing we have come to know about this man all but predicts each of these things will come about. All of them portend the end of the America that the world has long known and now must fear.
I see no way to stop this at first, but some of us will have to try. And what we must seek to preserve are the core institutions that he may threaten — the courts, first of all, even if he shifts the Supreme Court to an unprecedentedly authoritarian-friendly one. Then the laws governing the rules of war, so that war crimes do not define America as their disavowal once did. Then the free press, which he will do all he can to intimidate and, if possible, bankrupt. Then the institutions he will have to destroy to achieve what he wants — an independent Department of Justice as one critical bulwark, what’s left of the FBI that will not be an instrument of his reign of revenge, our scientific institutions, and what’s left of free thought in our colleges and universities.
I will leave you with these words about what has now happened to America. Someone saw it coming a long time ago:
The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.
That was George Washington’s Farewell Address.
A country designed to resist tyranny has now embraced it. A constitution designed to prevent democracy taking over everything has now succumbed to it. A country once defined by self-government has openly, clearly, enthusiastically delivered its fate into the hands of one man to do as he sees fit. After 240 years, an idea that once inspired the world has finally repealed itself. We the people did it.