Saturday, November 04, 2017

More Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Las Vegas Gunman Was a Trump Supporter

As yet no motive for the mass shooting in Las Vegas has been determined by police and other authorities.  One fun fact is that apparently the shooter, Stephen Paddock, was a Donald Trump fan and shared similar personality traits with Der Trumpenführer: he was a narcissist and obsessed with his status as wealthy high roller.  In my view, he shared one other trait exhibited by Trump and his supporters: a contempt for others and a willingness to harm others to inflate his own ego/sense of worth or satisfy his own prejudices.  The lives of others obviously meant nothing to Paddock, a mindset that now thrives in the White House.  Newsweek has detail on Paddock's enthusiasm for Der Trumpenführer.  Here are highlights:
Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock was quite the fan of President Donald Trump before he killed 58 people and left another 500 injured—the worst mass shooting in recent U.S. history. 
Paddock, a millionaire who reportedly would gamble up to $1 million a night in casinos, was attracted to the president's politics because of the boost the stock market has enjoyed since Trump took office, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo told KLAS, a local CBS affiliate in Las Vegas, during a two-hour interview. 
Paddock said "he was happy with Trump because the stock market was doing well," Lombardo said.
Lombardo said he didn't know offhand who Paddock was talking to when he was talking about Trump, adding that it's the "only thing that we have seen that references politics." Authorities do not believe it correlates to a motive in the shooting. 
Many have questioned Paddock's political affiliations since no clear motive was evident in the attack, and also because the shooting happened about four months after members of Congress were targeted in a Virginia attack during a baseball practice. 
He said Paddock had no affiliation or communication with terrorist or extremist organizations, and is there no proof that he went overseas or met with any extremist groups. 
Investigators have been able to compile a pretty thorough psychological profile on Paddock, Lombardo said, gleaning from interviews that he was narcissistic and obsessed with his status as one of Las Vegas's elite. 
However, Paddock had lost a "significant amount of his wealth" since September 2015, which caused him to become depressed, Lombardo said, adding that the sudden changes could have been a "determining factor" in Paddock's plan. 
Lombardo added, authorities still haven't been able to figure out the trigger point that led to Paddock choosing October 1 as the date for his rampage, or why he chose the Route 91 Harvest festival as his target. Lombardo said the police and the public may never know Paddock's reasoning behind the shooting.  

The Sleazy Republican Case Against Mueller’s Probe

With more and more circumstances indicating that many in the Trump presidential campaign knew of efforts to coordinate with Russian operative - collude with the, in you will - Trump and his whore like apologists are becoming increasingly desperate to find means to distract evangelical Christians and other low information Trump voters from realizing they voted for likely traitors.  Hence the throwing of  everything but the kitchen sink out this past week in the disingenuous hope that something would stick and generate a counter scandal story line for the feckless mainstream media that has the attention span of a parrot my parents once had.  Throw out something shiny and the bird would forget what it had been focused on moments ago.  All of these actions are part and parcel with Der Trumpenführer daily Twitter shit-storms that ultimately are only meant to distract (in my view, the responsible media needs to start ignoring and not reporting such lie based outbursts).  One of the sleaziest of these efforts is the one seeking to sully Robert Mueller and have him removed from his current special counsel position for one reason alone: he is getting closer to taking down Trump and, if the nation is lucky, Mike Pence as well.  A column in the New York Times looks at this sleazy effort which is all too typical of today's Republicans.  Here are column excerpts:  
In the matter of Robert Mueller’s investigation of the Trump-Russia connection, administration apologists make three significant claims in an effort to discredit the former F.B.I. director’s work. Let’s have a look at them:
First, they insist that the intelligence dossier compiled by British ex-spook Christopher Steele that’s one basis for the F.B.I.’s own investigation has been discredited or is at best uncorroborated. In the same vein, they claim that Fusion GPS, the research firm that helped pay Steele for the dossier, is little more than a “sleazy operator.”
The truth about Fusion is that it is paid to dig up dirt by whoever is willing to pay for the dirt. Its business model relies on the Beatles’ timeless insight that “everybody’s got something to hide except me and my monkey.”
But questions about Fusion’s credibility, client list or aggressive tactics are irrelevant. Fusion brokered the dossier but Steele produced it. What’s relevant is his credibility, the reliability of his sources and the truthfulness of their claims.
These check out.
. . . . At least one of Steele’s possible Russian sources was found dead and three others were charged with treason, suggesting, as one Wall Street Journal news account noted, that the Kremlin was cleaning out the moles who had betrayed its hand in last year’s election meddling.
As for the allegations themselves, former C.I.A. station chief John Sipher laid out the decisive case for their broad truthfulness in a lengthy article in September in Just Security.
“Well before any public knowledge of these events,” Sipher notes, Steele’s report “identified multiple elements of the Russian operation including a cyber campaign, leaked documents related to Hillary Clinton, and meetings with Paul Manafort and other Trump affiliates to discuss the receipt of stolen documents. Mr. Steele could not have known that the Russians stole information on Hillary Clinton, or that they were considering means to weaponize them in the U.S. election, all of which turned out to be stunningly accurate.”
(After this column went to print, The Times reported that Trump foreign-policy adviser Carter Page met with Russian government officials in a July 2016 trip to Moscow, something he has long denied. This further confirms another claim made in the Steele dossier.)
This brings us to the second anti-Mueller contention, which is that his indictment of former campaign chairman Paul Manafort for tax fraud connected to his political work in Ukraine, along with news of the guilty plea entered by Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos for lying to the F.B.I., is merely evidence of the slimness of the special counsel’s case.
The nonchalance about Manafort’s illicit ties to pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine is almost funny, coming from the same people who went berserk over China’s alleged meddling on behalf of Democrats in the 1996 presidential campaign.
But if nothing else, the Manafort indictment underscores the Trump campaign’s astonishing vulnerability to Russian blackmail.
Did that vulnerability explain the campaign’s bizarre intervention (denied by Manafort) to soften the Republican Party platform’s language on providing help to Ukraine?
Why did the campaign pursue a course of semi-secret outreach to Russia through George Papadopoulos, giving him just enough visibility to let the Russians know he was a player but not so much visibility as to attract much media attention?
These questions require answers, which is what makes calls to remove Mueller from his job or have Trump pardon Manafort, Papadopoulos and even himself both strange and repugnant. Since when did conservatives suddenly become conveniently bored with getting to the bottom of Russian conspiracies?
Thus the third Trumpian claim: That the real scandal is that the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee paid for the Steele dossier. Somehow that’s supposed to add up to “collusion” between Clinton and the Russians, on the remarkable theory that Steele was merely retailing Kremlin-invented fables about Trump.
If Clinton was the beneficiary of the Kremlin’s designs, why did it leak her emails? And why would Putin favor the candidate most hostile to him in last year’s election but undermine the one who kept offering improved relations?
You already know the answers. The deeper mystery is why certain conservatives who were once Trump’s fiercest critics have become his most sophistical apologists. The answer to that one requires a mode of analysis more psychological than political.
The answers?  The vast majority of Republicans now place loyalty to their political party above loyalty to the nation and the U.S. Constitution.  Indeed, it is as if the Republican Party has become the party of treason.  Never in my lifetime, especially during my days as a GOP activist did I ever think we would come to this point.  

Saturday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 1

Friday, November 03, 2017

More Friday Male Beauty

Russia and Egypt Refuse to Sign the Olympic Charter with LGBT Protections

One of the ways that Vladimir Putin has endeavored to retain support is by pandering to the most extreme elements of the hysterically anti-gay Russian Orthodox Church.  Here in America, Der Trumpenführer has mimicked Putin's tactic and has been dismantling LGBT non-discrimination protections to the near orgasmic delight of Christofascists.  In Egypt, increasing anti-LGBT efforts - including the arrest and imprisonment of gays - is aimed at pandering to Islamic extremists.  All three situations are examples of how tyrants - or a would be tyrant - use the toxicity of religion to bolster their own power.  Now, in advance of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, Russia and Egypt are refusing to sign the Olympic charter for the 2018 games if it includes provisions banning discrimination and abuse of LGBT athletes.  Putin's aim is to thrill the homophobes in his Russian Orthodox Church base.  In Egypt, the goal is to mollify Islamic extremists.  A piece in Newnownext looks at this disturbing development:
Russia and Egypt are fighting a resolution by the International Olympic Committee that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation at the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Since 2015, Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter has condemned anti-LGBT bias, but representatives from the two countries have issued an ultimatum at the U.N, where member nations are negotiating the Olympic Truce Resolution: Either LGBT protections are stripped from Principle 6 or they won’t sign the treaty.
“Egypt and Russia are not simply fighting over symbolic language but over the levels of violence governments are allowed to use against LGBT people,” saidOutRight International’s Jessica Stern.
The ultimatum comes as attacks on LGBT citizens are escalating in both nations.
“After systematic attacks on LGBT people in their own countries, they are now setting their sights on promoting violence and discrimination in every country of the world,” says Stern. “The Olympics Games are supposed to be a time for sport, technique, pride and community, not for politicking, hatred and violence.”
After a rainbow flag was spotted at a concert in Cairo in September, Egyptian authorities launched a crackdown that has seen dozens of suspected homosexuals arrested and detained. Last week a bill was introduced to criminalize homosexuality and support for LGBT people.
In Russia, senior officials have called for jail time for violators of the country’s infamous anti-gay propaganda ban. The Russian government has also been criticized for turning a blind eye to the anti-gay purge in Chechnya.
Protections for LGBT people were originally added to the Olympic Charter in advance of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, after the country first instituted its ban.
Said Stern, “We cannot allow this type of bullying to target LGBT people or undermine the principle of global community.”

A Timeline of Trump Campaign's Contacts with Russia

As numerous actual news outlets - this, of course, excludes Fox News, a/k/a Faux News, which increasingly mimics Pravda from  the old days of the Soviet Union, and Breitbart - are reporting, it is becoming increasingly difficult to conclude anything other than that Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions, et al, are  lying trough their teeth about dealings between the Trump campaign and Vladimir Putin's operatives. Yesterday, Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe used the word that too many, especially Congressional Republicans who place their party over the country, are afraid to use: treason.  McAuliffe rightly said that, if Americans cooperated with Russia in interfering with the 2016 presidential election, they were nothing less than traitors.  The irony to me is that by appealing to racism and religious extremism, Trump suckered those who see themselves as "real Americans" into electing the stooge of a hostile foreign government.  Putin must still be laughing his ass off.  With the indictments earlier this week revelation that a guilty plea had been copped by a Trump foreign policy adviser, former GOP Congressman Joe Scarborough suggests in a Washington Post column that we may be close to learning why Trump has gushed over Putin even as he destroys democratic norms in America,   He also lays out a useful time line of Trump/Russia dealings.  Here are highlights:
I don’t get it, and I never have. Why has President Trump kowtowed to Russian President Vladimir Putin since the beginning of his presidential campaign? I’ve asked this question on the air, and off, to those close to the president and to the president himself. No one has a good answer. The man has insulted everyone from war heroes to the pope, and yet his admiration of the Russian dictator remains intact.
To this day, Trump has been steadfast in his defense of an autocrat who views the Soviet Union’s collapse as a tragedy and the United States as an enemy. Why? Soon I may not have to speculate. This week’s news out of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s office suggests that what has long been opaque will soon become clear.
Here’s some of what we know so far. It seems to be enough to make any self-aware president panic.
• June 16, 2015: Trump announces he’s running for president.
• October 2015 to January 2016: Trump lawyer Michael Cohen tries to make a deal with Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
 Dec. 10, 2015: Top Trump ally Michael Flynn is seated beside Putin to celebrate the Kremlin propaganda outlet Russia Today.
• March 21, 2016: Trump tells The Post that Carter Page and George Papadopoulos are key members of his foreign policy team.
• April 26, 2016: Kremlin-connected professor Joseph Mifsud tells Papadopoulos that Moscow has “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, including “thousands of emails.”
April 27, 2016: Despite insisting throughout the campaign that they had never met with Russian officials, Trump and Jeff Sessions greet Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at an event at the Mayflower Hotel.
• June 9, 2016: Donald Trump Jr., campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner meet with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and Kremlin insider Rinat Akhmetshin to gain information that would allegedly incriminate Clinton and her dealings with Russia. In an email setting up the meeting, Trump Jr. expresses excitement about receiving Russian intelligence about the Democratic nominee.
• July 7, 2016: Manafort offers to provide briefings to a Kremlin-linked Russian billionaire.
 July 18, 2016: Trump campaign members succeed in pressuring Republicans to remove a platform plank in support of providing arms to help Ukraine resist Russian aggression.
• July 27, 2016: Trump makes a direct appeal to the Kremlin during a news conference. “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
 Sept. 16, 2016: After admitting that he had been in contactwith WikiLeaks — and later revealing that he had contact with a hacker connected to Russia — Trump associate Roger Stone tells Boston Herald Radio that WikiLeaks will soon “drop a payload of new documents on Hillary on a weekly basis” that will damage the Clinton campaign.
 Oct. 7, 2016: The “Access Hollywood” tape is released. About a half-hour later, WikiLeaks begins to publish Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails.
• Dec. 1: Kushner meets with Kislyak in an attempt to create a “channel” for sensitive communications between the transition team and the Russian government, according to U.S. officials briefed on intelligence reports.
● Dec. 29, 2016: Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn calls Kislyak to discuss sanctions placed on Russia by President Barack Obama.
• Jan. 11: At his first news conference as president-elect, Trump said, “If Putin likes Donald Trump, guess what, folks? That’s called an asset, not a liability. Now, I don’t know that I’m gonna get along with Vladimir Putin. I hope I do.” He also tweets, “I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!”
 Feb. 13: Flynn resigns after he reportedly lied to Vice President Pence about his contacts with Kislyak.
• May 9: Trump fires FBI Director James B. Comey.
• May 10: Trump meets in the Oval Office with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Kislyak, bragging that the firing of “nut job” Comey will ease pressure from the investigation. Trump barred U.S. reporters from the meeting and revealed classified information to the Russian officials.
• May 11: In an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, Trump reveals that he had asked Comey whether he was under investigation for alleged ties to Russia.
• June 7: Comey releases a memo recalling his interactions with Trump, who he said asked for an oath of loyalty from him.
• July 7: Trump meets with Putin at the Group of 20 summit in Germany. A second dinner meeting was undisclosed.
• Oct. 5: Papadopoulos pleads guilty to lying to the FBI as part of a cooperation agreement with Mueller.
• Oct. 30: Mueller’s office indicts Manafort and associate Rick Gates on charges of conspiracy against the United States, being an unregistered foreign agent, money laundering, and seven counts of failing to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.
I’m starting to think that the answers to our burning questions about Trump’s strange obsession with Russia are revealing themselves in a slow and painful way for the president and all of his men and women. Will the next big reveal in this reality show spectacle come when one of his closest confidants surprises him in the final episode, not with a rose, but with a wire? The ratings would be yuge. Believe me. Yuge.
And this list of events are only the ones that we know about - I suspect there is much, much more.  I'm sorry, but the "real Americans" are those who want Trump/Pence out of office ASAP.  Those who support this foul regime and seemingly too stupid to grasp that they are being played for fools or so blinded by their racial hatreds that they simply refuse to see what is before their eyes. Neither basis for their support of Der Trumpenführer bodes well for America.

Mueller Reveals New Manafort Link to Russian Organized Crime

Numerous previous posts on this blog have looked at the questionable ties between Donald Trump and his business ventures with underworld figures and how Russian money has propped up various real estate developments - and perhaps serve as a means to launder dirty Russian money.  New information in documents released by Robert Mueller show that former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort kept similar underworld company, with Russian connections, of course.  And, of course, Manafort enriched himself in the process. Combine this new revelation with Carter Page's announcement today that he told Jeff Sessions about his trip to Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign and the picture that emerges is one of lies and lots of Russia derived money.   A piece in The Daily Beast looks at the latest on Manafort's Russian mob ties.  Here are excerpts:
Buried deep in Robert Mueller’s indictment of Paul Manafort is a new link between Donald Trump’s former campaign and Russian organized crime.
The indictment (PDF), unsealed on Monday, includes an extensive look into Paul Manafort’s byzantine financial dealings. In particular, it details how he used a company called Lucicle Consultants Limited to wire millions of dollars into the United States.
The Cyprus-based Lucicle Consultants Limited, in turn, reportedly received millions of dollars from a businessman and Ukrainian parliamentarian named Ivan Fursin, who is closely linked to one of Russia’s most notorious criminals: Semion Mogilevich.
Mogilevich is frequently described as “the most dangerous mobster in the world.” Currently believed to be safe in Moscow, he is, according to the FBI, responsible for weapons trafficking, contract killings, and international prostitution. In 2009, he made the bureau’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list.
“Ivan Fursin was a senior figure in the Mogilevich criminal organization,” Taras Kuzio, a non-resident fellow at Johns Hopkins-SAIS’ Center for Transatlantic Relations and a specialist on the region told The Daily Beast.
That isn’t Fursin’s only connection to Manafort. He is also a lawmaker for the Party of Regions, which paid at least $17 million to Manafort’s firm.
In addition, Fursin’s longtime business associate, Ukrainian billionaire Dmitry Firtash, has an off-again, on-again partnership with Manafort. Together, they tried to buy the Drake Hotel in Manhattan for a cool $850 million. Firtash also bankrolled Ukraine’s Party of Regions.
Firtash has his own legal complications. He is currently under indictment in U.S. federal court for allegedly orchestrating an international titanium mining racket. The acting U.S. attorney in Chicago recently dubbed him an “organized-crime member” and an “upper-echelon associat[e] of Russian organized crime.” His attorneys say those charges are mere “innuendo,” according to the Chicago Tribune

Friday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 1

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Amicus Brief Arguments Pile On Against Anti-Gay Baker in SCOTUS Case

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and a who's who of anti-gay extremists have filed briefs in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission,  now before the United States Supreme Court,  arguing that discrimination against same sex couples - and LGBT individuals in general - is perfectly legal.   Countering these right wing Christian based arguments are amicus briefs filed by an array of progressives and those who believe that equal protection laws apply to everyone.  As Think Progress reports, among those joining in anti-discrimination briefs are more than 200 members of Congress, over 150 mayors, 19 states, more than 35 major national businesses (including Apple, Amazon, Citi, Lyft, and Levi), hundreds of celebrity chefs and restaurateurs (including José Andrés, Anthony Bourdain, Padma Lakshmi, and Carla Hall), and nearly 1,300 faith leaders.  Besides supporting the concept of equal protection and public accommodations laws in general, some of these briefs have laid out the harm that will arise from granting Christofascists special rights and exemptions from the laws that bind the rest of us.  Here are more highlights from Think Progress:
Many of the briefs reinforce arguments made by the ACLU and Colorado Civil Rights Commission that this is a straightforward discrimination case, and that no matter how artistic cakes are, they don’t justify an exemption to equal protection. Others, however, expand on the arguments by emphasizing just how many consequences there would be if the Court decides to allow Phillips’ discrimination.
ThinkProgress reviewed all 44 of the briefs and found that many people’s fates are tied to the rights of the same-sex couple in this case.
Consequences for religious libertyConservatives argue that Masterpiece Cakeshop is a case about the freedoms of speech and religion. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, defending Phillips’ right to discriminate, recently explained that he “has a religious view and he feels that he is not being able to freely exercise his religion by being required to participate in a ceremony in some fashion that he does not believe in. So we think that right is a fundamental right and ought to be respected as we work through this process.”
But as many of the amicus briefs argue, a ruling in favor of Phillips would decimate religious freedom. That’s because opening the door to discriminating against LGBTQ people would likewise opening the door to discriminating against religious minorities and atheists, groups already quite vulnerable to discrimination.  . . . . other religious minorities like them, are legally protected from discrimination on the basis of religion across the country, but if the Supreme Court sides with Phillips, it would gut those protections.
Consequences for the militaryAmong the justifications for Phillips’ discrimination is the fact that other bakers were available to provide Craig and Mullins with a cake. Besides the fact that this argument disregards the harms of discrimination, it also ignores the fact that not every community has as many bakeries as the Denver metro area. As a result, allowing for this kind of discrimination will actually have a disparate impact on members of the military.
Moreover, “many military installations are located in areas within the United States in which local attitudes towards LGBT identities and relationships are less accepting.” . . . .  And that’s only taking into consideration the anti-LGBTQ discrimination such a decision might allow for, let alone the servicemembers with other kinds of identities that would also face unavoidable discrimination in such isolated areas.
Consequences for childrenA group of child and family law scholars explain that discrimination against adults has consequences for their kids. In fact, there is already a litany of examples of how children have suffered as a result of anti-LGBT discrimination against their parents:
In Michigan, a pediatrician refused to treat an infant based solely on the fact that the child had lesbian mothers. In Kentucky, a judge refused to hear adoption cases of children involving LGBT adoptive-parents-to-be. In Tennessee, a nondenominational private school rejected enrollment for a pre-kindergartener and his 8-month-old sister after discovering that the children had two dads.
Overlapping with the military concerns, the negative impact on these children would be far more severe in small or rural communities where services are limited. “These services include access to health and dental care, childcare, educational facilities, grocery stores, and a myriad of day-to-day activities that most people ‘take for granted.’
Again, these arguments only speak to the children of same-sex couples, but given how a ruling for Phillips could open up other forms of discrimination, plenty of other families could be impacted, such as interfaith or interracial couples and their children.
Consequences for people with disabilitiesMany different groups are concerned that a religious justification for discrimination will upend their current protections, including a massive coalition of disability rights organizations. Together with Former Congressman Tony Coelho (D-CA), author of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), they warn the Supreme Court that people with disabilities are prime targets for discrimination.
“Many faiths have at least some citable, scriptural basis for shunning people with disabilities,” they note, adding, “In practice, disability discrimination is often motivated by sincere religious belief.”
Consequences for businesses and communitiesThough conservatives might argue that Phillips’ case is about a business’ right to run itself, a victory for Phillips would actually be very bad for businesses of all sizes — as well as the communities in which they reside.
A brief from groups like Main Street Alliance and the American Independent Business Alliance points out that allowing for discrimination “would lead to an impractical and unmanageable patchwork that would inhibit economic growth. When consumers have reason to worry that some businesses lining Main Street may refuse to serve them, the entire business community suffers.’
Big businesses are similarly concerned about the economic implications. If some businesses can discrimination, “This confusion regarding which companies can opt out of generally applicable laws will disrupt business by creating unpredictability in the marketplace.” If businesses can refuse service to customers, they can also refuse service to other businesses.
Consequences for women
Though many groups stand to lose out if religiously-motivated discrimination becomes legal, women would likely be one of the most immediately vulnerable groups. That’s the case that a massive coalition of women’s groups make in their brief.
“For much of this nation’s history, women were treated as inferior citizens under law,” the belief explains. “Women’s secondary status often was rooted in genuinely held religious beliefs about sex-based hierarchy and women’s role within the family.” Those gender roles have not faded in many conservative religious traditions, and they often inform those traditions’ opposition to LGBTQ equality.
If Sessions and the right wing religious extremists prevail, the rest of us will suffer harm, either directly or indirectly.  The only ones who would benefit would be Christofascist who would be granted a license to discriminate against anyone they claim offended their religious beliefs.

Trump Is Apoplectic, Blames Kushner as Allies Fear Impeachment

As regular readers know full well, I have always deemed Donald Trump unfit for the White House, not to mention morally bankrupt and a toxic narcissist.  The fact that many view Trump's three  generals as all that separates the nation from chaos  speaks volumes about his unfitness for office.  Now, with special counsel Mueller's first indictments and the news of the guilty plea of George Papadopoulos - a plea that may be the beginning of the road map to proof of collusion with Russia - Trump is reportedly close to out of control and even lashing out at Jared Kusher, a/k/a Prince Jared, as the one to blame for Trump's increasingly precarious position and dwindling options.  A piece in Vanity Fair that cites Trump friends and staffers paints a disturbing image.  How long John Kelly, et al, can restrain Trump will remain to be seen. .Here are article highlights:
Until now, Robert Mueller has haunted Donald Trump’s White House as a hovering, mostly unseen menace. But by securing indictments of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, and a surprise guilty plea from foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, Mueller announced loudly that the Russia investigation poses an existential threat to the president. “Here’s what Manafort’s indictment tells me: Mueller is going to go over every financial dealing of Jared Kushner and the Trump Organization,” said former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg. “Trump is at 33 percent in Gallup. You can’t go any lower. He’s fucked.”
The first charges in the Mueller probe have kindled talk of what the endgame for Trump looks like, according to conversations with a half-dozen advisers and friends of the president. For the first time since the investigation began, the prospect of impeachment is being considered as a realistic outcome and not just a liberal fever dream. According to a source, advisers in the West Wing are on edge and doing whatever they can not to be ensnared. One person close to Dina Powell and Gary Cohn said they’re making sure to leave rooms if the subject of Russia comes up.
The consensus among the advisers I spoke to is that Trump faces few good options to thwart Mueller. For one, firing Mueller would cross a red line, analogous to Nixon’s firing of Archibald Cox during Watergate, pushing establishment Republicans to entertain the possibility of impeachment. “His options are limited, and his instinct is to come out swinging, which won’t help things,” said a prominent Republican close to the White House.
Trump, meanwhile, has reacted to the deteriorating situation by lashing out on Twitter and venting in private to friends. He’s frustrated that the investigation seems to have no end in sight.
Speaking to Steve Bannon on Tuesday, Trump blamed Jared Kushner for his role in decisions, specifically the firings of Mike Flynn and James Comey, that led to Mueller’s appointment, according to a source briefed on the call. When Roger Stone recently told Trump that Kushner was giving him bad political advice, Trump agreed, according to someone familiar with the conversation. “Jared is the worst political adviser in the White House in modern history,” Nunberg said. “I’m only saying publicly what everyone says behind the scenes at Fox News, in conservative media, and the Senate and Congress.”
As Mueller moves to interview West Wing aides in the coming days, advisers are lobbying for Trump to consider a range of stratagems to neutralize Mueller, from conciliation to a declaration of all-out war.
But these soft-power approaches are being criticized by Trump allies including Steve Bannon and Roger Stone, who both believe establishment Republicans are waiting for a chance to impeach Trump. “The establishment has proven time and time again they will fuck Trump over,” a Bannon ally told me. . . Bannon has also discussed ways to pressure Congress to defund Mueller’s investigation or limit its scope. “Mueller shouldn’t be allowed to be a clean shot on goal,” a Bannon confidant told me. “He must be contested and checked. Right now he has unchecked power.”
Bannon’s sense of urgency is being fueled by his belief that Trump’s hold on power is slipping. The collapse of Obamacare repeal, and the dimming chances that tax reform will pass soon—many Trump allies are deeply pessimistic about its prospects—have created the political climate for establishment Republicans to turn on Trump. Two weeks ago, according to a source, Bannon did a spitball analysis of the Cabinet to see which members would remain loyal to Trump in the event the 25th Amendment were invoked, thereby triggering a vote to remove the president from office. Bannon recently told people he’s not sure if Trump would survive such a vote. 

I fear for what damage Trump may do to the nation and/or world as he becomes more out of control. That said, the man deserves to be miserable given the horrid policies he and his cabinet have been pushing.  If and when Trump goes down, I sincerely hope that Jeff Sessions and Mike Pence are dragged down with him.  Both are, in my view, just as foul and morally bankrupt as Trump.  

Thursday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 1

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Kevin Spacey Defamed All Gay/Bisexual Men By Coming Out

Most members of the LGBT community are hard working, honorable individuals who never engage in predatory behavior.  That said, it is no secret that the enemies of LGBT equality, especially self-styled Christian "family values" organizations, go to great lengths in depicting gays and bisexual men as deviants, would be child molesters,  pedophiles - the slurs and nasty names is lengthy.  Therefore, all of us owe it to ourselves and the larger LGBT community not to play into the hands of our enemies.  Kevin Spacey apparently never learned this truth as he officially "came out" seemingly only as a means to distract from those rightly condemning his improper behavior in the past.  Instead he played right into the hands of enemies of the LGBT community who will thrill at holding up Spacey as a prime example of why gays are a danger to children and youths and larger society.  A column in Huffington Post by Michelangelo Signorile expands on this concept and justifiably slams Spacey.  Here are excerpts:
Let’s count the ways Kevin Spacey defamed all gay and bisexual men by coming out of the closet in a tweet last night. 
And then, we’ll look at how the closet and power corrupts, turning an individual’s self-loathing into a weapon against an entire community. In the case of Kevin Spacey, that now has the potential to do terrible damage. 
Defamation no. 1:  Gays = predators and sexual abusers: After years of rumors and refusing to answer the question about his sexual orientation, Spacey only came out after being accused of sexually abusing a then-14-year-old actor, Anthony Rapp, who came forward on Sunday to Buzzfeed News about a 1986 incident which Spacey didn’t even deny. Spacey used coming out, bizarrely, as a cover. It was a selfish attempt to distract and seek sympathy. By doing so he conflates being gay with sexually abusing children, the hideous homophobic lie perpetrated by anti-LGBTQ extremists.
Defamation no. 2: Gays’ sex-crazed impulses are fueled further by drugs and alcohol:  Spacey offers the excuse of being drunk for what he says may or may not have happened ― what he calls “deeply inappropriate drunken behavior” ― as if being drunk and gay leads to sexual predation. 
Defamation no. 3: Bisexuality, as an identity, doesn’t exist: Spacey negates bisexuality by saying he has had relationships with men and women ― we have no idea whether this is true or not, and we have no reason to believe anything this man says ― but then goes on to identify as gay. Except...
Defamation no. 4: Homosexuality is a choice: ...he didn’t actually identify as gay but rather said, “I choose now to live as a gay man.” Again, this is the language of the enemies of LGBTQ equality, who claim homosexuality is a choice. By putting that idea forth as a public figure Spacey gives ammunition to the Christian right at a time when Donald Trump and Mike Pence have declared war on LGBTQ rights on behalf of their extremist evangelical supporters.
Defamation no. 5: Gays are liars and manipulators who will do anything to cover up their ugly behavior:  Spacey makes all gay men not only appear to be sexual predators ― again, the ugly lie perpetrated by hate groups like the Family Research Council ― but he makes all gay men out to be manipulators and con artists who will do whatever possible to cover up horrendous behavior. In what appears to be a preemptive strike against any further accusations surfacing, Spacey alludes to other “stories out there about me that have been fueled by the fact that I have been so protective of my privacy.” Here, Spacey is attempting to negate any future stories, and framed them as made up by those who are supposedly so hellbent on taking away his “privacy” that they will fabricate stories. This is laughable, and it’s transparent to the enemies of LGBTQ equality, as well.
Kevin Spacey is motivated by internalized homophobia, which has kept him in the closet all these years, blowing up in his mind the ramifications for him if he came out.
He has angrily attacked anyone who has raised the question, even in this day and age when so many of us who are queer see nothing wrong with asking about it.
Spacey and many other influential and powerful individuals who are closeted have often done damage because they send a message that being gay is shameful. And, for some, the combustible combination of the closet and power can be dangerous.
The closet itself warps their thinking and their judgement, as they become consumed by their secret and doing whatever it takes to keep it. Though it’s not always the case ― and we’ve seen powerful public figures come out proudly when the time is right for them, and then do enormously positive things ― the closet, if kept closed for so long, can corrupt their lives and the lives of many around them who look the other way of their corruptive behavior.
[L]ooking at the late multi-millionaire Malcolm Forbes, the late Hollywood producer Merv Griffin and an unnamed Washington DC politician, closeted, powerful gay and bisexual men can often engage in sexual harassment and predatory behavior, and often in the workplace. They’re trapped by their self-imposed closet, not able to go out publicly to meet gay people. And yet they’re able use their power to prey upon those ― sometimes closeted gay men themselves ― who work for them.
Someone like Spacey, so gripped with self-hate, has little concern about the larger LGBTQ community and clearly doesn’t possess an awareness for how his response to Rapp would defame it. . . . he must be challenged loudly and forcefully.
Very well said, Michelangelo.

More Wednesday Male Beauty

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Is Papadopoulous Merely the First Domino to Fall?

As noted in the previous post, Der Trumpenführer is fully engaged in a lying campaign to distance himself from his campaign's foreign policy adviser who sought to collude with Russian operatives during the 2016 presidential election cycle.  As Talking Points Memo ("TPM") notes, the Washington Post and others have begun filling in the names of those who were linked via emails to George Papadopoulous' efforts to collude with Russia.  Indeed, TPM has a version of the Papadopoulous guilty plea documents with the redacted names filled in.  Here are article excerpts:
Former Trump adviser George Papadopolous’ newly-released plea agreement is littered with the redacted names of other campaign officials he allegedly informed about his efforts to hook them up with Russian nationals, making prosecutors’ claims rather hard to follow.
TPM’s design team has gone through the document and plugged in the missing names of those senior campaign staffers, as identified by the Washington Post, to make it easier to parse.
Per the Post’s reporting, the “high-ranking campaign official” was former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski; “another high-ranking campaign official” was campaign chairman Paul Manafort; “another campaign official” was chairman Manafort’s deputy Rick Gates. The “campaign supervisor” was campaign co-chair and policy adviser Sam Clovis, as his attorney confirmed to the newspaper. And one “senior policy advisor” referenced in the document has yet to be identified.
So where may all of this lead?  Another TPM piece looks at this question.  Here are excerpts:
It shows a Trump foreign policy advisor in active communication with what appear to be Russian government officials or spies trying to get dirt on Hillary Clinton, arrange meetings with Russian government officials (even Vladimir Putin, rather ludicrously) and solicit Russian support. That an active foreign policy advisor was taking these actions while in active communication with the campaign about those actions is quite damning. An unnamed campaign official sent back word that a meeting with Trump himself was not happening.
Papadopoulos was arrested in July and has apparently been cooperating since. I see no purely legal reason why the news of his arrest in July and guilty plea in early October had to be revealed today, other than keeping the news from Manafort. One other potential reason is that one of the ‘campaign officials’ referenced in the Papadopoulos plea appears to be Manafort. It sends two clear messages. First, we’re not at all done with collusion and we’re making progress. Second, we arrested Papadopoulos in July and he pled out in October and no one knew. So don’t think you have any idea what we have.
[I]n revealing the Manafort news early, giving time for the White House to respond as you’d expect (nothing to do with us or Russia or the campaign) and then following up by revealing this Papadopoulos indictment certainly has the feel of sucker punching the White House.
If Trump were as smart as he claims, he would keep his mouth shut and keep his tiny fingers off of Twitter.  Neither will likely happen and by running his mouth, Trump is setting the stage for perjury charges when he ultimately gets hauled in before Mueller's team and is confronted with inconsistent statements and/or documents.   If Bill Clinton came close to impeachment for lying about an affair with an intern, does Trump really think his lying about efforts to collude with a hostile foreign government won't be taken more seriously even by many in today's morally bankrupt GOP?  My one hope is that as the evidence is gathered by Mueller's team they find proof that Mike Pence is involved as well.   Falsely pious and sanctimonious "Christians" like Pence in my experience are often the biggest liars of all. Both he and Trump need to go.. 

Trump's Dishonest Efforts to Distance Himself from Papadopoulos

Papadopoulous is center left with Trump, et al
In the wake of the guilty plea taken by former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, Donald Trump has resorted to his usual tactic when the truth becomes inconvenient: he lies.  Thus, in Trump world Papadopoulos has become a nobody and has been labeled as a liar since what he seemingly has to say cuts against the biggest Trump lie, namely that no collusion or efforts to collude with Russia ever occurred. A piece in the Washington Post looks at some of Papadopoulos' activities and who knew about them, especially efforts to collude with Russia so as to harm Hillary Clinton's chances of being elected.  Already, as Politico is reporting, Sam Clovis, a former co-chair and policy adviser to Trump’s campaign, knew that another campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, was talking to Russians, according to documents released Monday as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe and campaign and administration officials. Clovis is reported to be cooperating with the Senate Intelligence Committee and one can imagine that he will be talking to Robert Mueller and his staff.  Others besides Clovis were "in the loop" on Papadopoulous' efforts to collude.  Here are highlights from the Post piece:
President Trump on Tuesday belittled former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty this week to lying to federal agents investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, tweeting that “few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar.”
But interviews and documents show that Papadopoulos was in regular contact with the Trump campaign’s most senior officials and held himself out as a Trump surrogate as he traveled the world to meet with foreign officials and reporters.
Papadopoulos sat at the elbow of one of Trump’s top campaign advisers, then-Sen. Jeff Sessions, during a dinner for campaign advisers weeks before the Republican National Convention, according to an individual who attended the meeting.
While some top campaign aides appeared to rebuff Papadopoulos’s persistent offers to broker a meeting with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, there is no sign they told him directly to cease his activities or sought to end his affiliation with the campaign.
Emails included in court documents released Monday show that Papadopoulos repeatedly told Trump campaign officials about his contacts with people he believed were representing the Russian government.
At 29, Papadopoulos had scant experience that qualified him to advise a presidential candidate. He had entered the Trump campaign after a six-week stint working for the campaign of Trump’s rival for the Republican nomination, neurosurgeon Ben Carson.
By March 2016, Trump’s campaign, like Carson’s before it, was eagerly searching for foreign policy expertise. As Trump rose in the polls and won Republican primaries, the former reality TV host was under pressure to announce a group of advisers with whom he was consulting on foreign policy issues.
The scrutiny intensified early that month after 70 conservative national security experts signed an open letter opposing Trump’s candidacy. 
To come up with names, the campaign turned to Sam Clovis, a former Iowa radio host who served as national campaign co-chairman, an attorney for Clovis confirmed Tuesday in a statement.
On March 21, Trump included Papadopoulos among five men he announced were advising him on matters of national security in a meeting with The Washington Post editorial board. “An energy and oil consultant. Excellent guy,” Trump said.
Though Papadopoulos’s exaggerated résumé issues quickly became public, he remained a part of the Trump advisory panel and soon began urging campaign aides to let him set up a meeting between Trump and Russian officials.
Court documents show he raised the idea at a March 31 meeting of the group attended by both Trump and Sessions, who had endorsed Trump’s campaign, telling the group that “he had connections that could help arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump and President [Vladimir] Putin.”
Papadopoulos continued to be invited to campaign events. In late June or early July, he attended a dinner at the Capitol Hill Club along with several other national security advisers for the Trump campaign.  Another person who was at the meeting said Sessions also attended; Papadopoulos was seated to Sessions’s left.  A spokeswoman for Sessions declined to comment.