Saturday, October 27, 2018

Trump's Psychology Of Hate Has Unleashed Violence

In the wake of the arrest of the MAGA Bomber a Neo-Nazi interrupted services at a synagogue in Pittsburgh and killed 11 worshipers.  Reportedly the shooter - yet another angry white male - shouted all Jews must die.  The trigger for the slaughter?  Anti-Semitic hatred, of course, but per the shooters online rants, also anger at Jewish charities aiding refugees who the shooter deemed as invaders of "his country."  One doesn't have to ponder long before realizing the shooter was perhaps emboldened by the worse immigrant/refugee hater of them all, the occupant of the White House.  Specifically, the Pittsburgh shooter blamed Jews for aiding the immigrant caravan about which Trump has been lying for days.Attempted political assassinations of individuals demonized by Trump and a mass shooting of a members of a religious minority targeted seemingly for aiding refugees - a favored target of Der Trumpenführer -all in one week.  Try as Trump and his bigotry filled supporters might to shirk any responsibility, only the delusional do not to see any correlation between violent rhetoric from the White House and the actions of those who feel their actions have been legitimized.   A piece in Forbes by a clinical psychologist lays out why Trump cannot disclaim responsibility.  Here are excerpts:  
Make no mistake, President Trump is responsible for the MAGABomber. Not directly like he told him to do it. But still fully responsible. I write that knowing that doing so increases the chances that the next Trumpian stirred-up by [Trump’s] the president’s unprecedented incendiary rhetoric who happens upon my writing might try to hurt me. And I know that because that’s just how the psychology of hate works.
Trump has, intentionally or not, hit a trifecta of hate that foments terrorism, in this case domestic terrorism. At rallies and speeches his incendiary eloquence identifies opponents as enemies then motivates hatred and sanctions violence against them. Facts no longer matter. Nor do values shared with those he sees as horrible, terrible people. What matters is that it’s us versus them. And we can’t let them win. Never apologize, never back down.
The trifecta is important, central in fact. . . . when right wing apologists start defending President Trump, as they will, by pointing to sharply critical things people like Maxine Waters or Bernie Sanders may have said they will be missing the point. And if they’ve read this piece they will be willfully trying to deceive. The psychology of hate shows you need Trump’s trifecta to be responsible. So let’s look closer. 
For a leader to be responsible for the terrorism he incites they first have to identify opponents and critics as an enemy, an other. They are not just reasonable adversaries, a loyal opposition. They are a hostile enemy. And President Trump amply checks this box. Whether it’s the fact-based press, oppressed people of color, “globalists” (usually an anti-semitic code word), Hilary or Democrats in general, Trump brands critics and opponents as an enemy other, not “one of us.” 
Second is taking these outsiders and making them objects of hatred, people against whom rage should be directed. It’s not enough to scorn, ridicule or shame them. They deserve your rage. And first as a candidate and now as president, Trump has shown a remarkable talent for making people feel good about hating others. . . . . If you need evidence look no further than things like the naked fury directed towards the press at his rallies or the gleeful foot-stomping chants to imprison a political opponent. 
Third is where most enlightened leaders stop:  sanctioning violence. After creating a sense of belonging to a special group by emotionally positioning himself as an object of identification—be like me if you also want to be a rich pussy-grabber who only wins and never loses—Trump then takes the next step to license violence. In one infamous example he fully supported a rageful supporter sucker-punching a protester. An early version as president was his tepid response to Heather Heyer’s murder by a supporter in Charlottesville in 2017. Just a few days ago was a rally where he endorsed a congressman who had attacked a reporter saying “Any guy who can do a body slam … he’s my guy.”
Like in the myth of Pandora who released evil out in the world, the fires of hate are hard to extinguish. . . . . By leading with this trifecta of hate, President Trump is responsible for the pipe bombs sent by a supporter. Yes, early reports clearly show the MAGABomber was vulnerable to these messages of hate. But if someone throws a lit match into a vat of gasoline, they should not be surprised at the resulting fire. And they should be held responsible

More Saturday Male Beauty

A President Who Condones Political Violence

In a piece in The Atlantic, former Republican David Frum looks at the irresponsible and dangerous behavior of Der Trumpenführer who has openly encouraged violence at campaign rallies and through his constant demonizing of the .mainstream news media - which has mere reported the truth about Trump, his cronies and the cesspool elements of his party  - and numerous Democrats and Trump critics who not surprisingly were targeted by Cesar Sayoc, a/k/a the "MAGA Bomber."  When asked if he would tone down his inflammatory rhetoric, Trump - always the malignant narcissist - shockingly said he might "tone it up."  Trump's rhetoric and the behavior of his supporters continues to careen towards political violence and one can only assume that Trump condones what is happening.  Decent, responsible Americans should be appalled.  Hopefully they get out and vote on November 6, 2018, and give Democrats control of at least the House of Representatives, if not the Senate as well.  Trump must be contained.  Here are column excerpts:
Bombs are sent through the mail to CNN, George Soros, James Clapper, former President Barack Obama, and other persons targeted by President Donald Trump for vilification and abuse. A theory begins to circulate on the far edges of the right that the bombs are a “false flag” intended to discredit the president and his party. The theory rapidly moves from the edge to the center.  There the theory lingers, even as police apprehend a suspect and tow away a van festooned with pro-Trump stickers.
On the afternoon of October 25, the false-flag theory gained a respectful hearing from The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway, a Fox News contributor and one of the president’s most outspoken defenders on TV and social media, who in a tweet compared the current incident to the anthrax attacks in the fall of 2001
That same afternoon, a tweet from an anonymous account that alleged “FAKE BOMBS MADE TO SCARE AND PICK UP BLUE SYMPATHY VOTE” gained a “like” from Donald Trump Jr.
And at 10:37 a.m. on October 26, the false-flag theory was winkingly endorsed on Twitter by [Trump] the president himself: Republicans are doing so well in early voting, and at the polls, and now this “Bomb” stuff happens and the momentum greatly slows - news not talking politics. Very unfortunate, what is going on. Republicans, go out and vote!
It’s striking that [Trump] the president has not offered a word of sympathy for any of the targets of the bombs. After all, even if the “false flag” theory were true to any degree, the people targeted were indeed targeted.
[Trump] The President did offer a generalized, perfunctory condemnation of political violence at a rally in Wisconsin on October 24, calling the bombs “an attack on democracy itself” and urging “all sides to come together in peace and harmony.” Yet even within those apparently scripted remarks, he could not refrain from an attack on the media institutions that had been targeted by the bomber: The media also has a responsibility to set a civil tone and to stop the endless hostility and constant negative and oftentimes false attacks and stories.
Later in the rally, in apparently unscripted remarks, he added an extra gibe all his own: The media, he said, “can’t take a joke.”
When people talk about Trump condoning and inviting political violence, his behavior over the past 48 hours—and that of his followers—is exactly what they have in mind: the utter lack of sympathy for those attacked or threatened; the readiness to blame victims of terrorism for being terrorized; the determination to exonerate the president of any consequences for his own wild behavior; the indulgence of wild conspiracy theories as a means to achieve that exoneration, piped directly into the Oval Office from the furthest extremes of American life.
Only eight days ago, Trump praised a Republican member of Congress who physically attacked a reporter without provocation and then lied to the police about the attack. Today, Trump claims that there’s a conspiracy to blame him for bombs mailed to CNN and other people he has abused. And this claim is not Trump’s alone; it is echoed by many of the apologists and defenders of his government. Democracy has a rule, an absolute prohibition on the use or threat of violence to coerce political ends. Trump is walking the road away from democracy, and he is not walking alone.

Read histories of Hitler's rise to power in Germany - the parallels are terrifying.

"MAGA Bomber" - A Portrait of a Growing Segment of the GOP

When the first pipe bombs sent to CNN and prominent Democrats who are constantly targeted by Donald Trump, a/k/a Der Trumpenführer, began to be discovered, many on the right - think Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, et. al. -  claimed they were a "false flag operation" backed by liberals. Indeed, Der  Trumpenführer twisted reality into claiming that he was the victim, not the addressees on the bomb-containing packages.  They had no evidence, of course, but nowadays, evidence and facts are devoid for what passes for news and discourse on the right.  Deliciously, when Fox News tried to secure the rights to use a photo of Cesar Sayoc's van covered with pro- Trump and anti-CNN and liberal stickers, the couple who had taken the picture replied they "won't allow you guys to use it [the photo] because you aren't a reliable source of what's going on in our country today. Sorry!"  Now, as facts about Sayoc have emerged, as disturbed as he is, he is a portrait of the core base of the GOP: inspired by hatred and extremism and blindly eating up Trump's lies.  A piece in New York Magazine looks at the right's crumbling and dishonest effort to disavow Sayoc and the causation of Trump rhetoric that he subscribed to whole-heartedly.  Here are article highlights:
Rush Limbaugh, the most influential conservative talk show host in the country, and a man whom Republicans made an honorary member of the 1995 freshman class in recognition of his role in helping them win the House majority, explained recently that the still-anonymous bomber could not be on the political right. “Republicans just don’t do this kind of thing,” he explained. “From the Haymarket riot to the Unabomber, bombs are a liberal tactic,” added Ann Coulter.
The discovery that the person suspected of mailing bombs to various figures Donald Trump has described as enemy threats is in fact a Trump-supporting Republican has necessitated a change in emphasis. Whereas before conservatives insisted the bomber’s method told us everything we needed to know about his ideology, now they insist it tells us nothing at all about his ideology. “Crazy person attacks Republican Congresspeople: blame the crazy. Crazy person sends bombs to Democrats: blame the Republicans,” tweets right-wing commentator Ben Shapiro, whose analysis was recirculated by Donald Trump Jr.
It is of course true that the overwhelming majority of Republicans are not violent. . . . . Nonetheless, the relationship between the two parties and violence is not symmetrical, and the fact that alleged bomber Cesar Sayoc had a strong identification with Trump and his partisan message is not a coincidence. The Republican Party encompasses an extremist fringe that nurtures violence in a way the Democratic Party does not.
Political violence — when it is attached to political ideology at all, as opposed to simple mental illness — is associated with Manichean, paranoid, illiberal thought. That is a description of a large and steadily growing wing of conservative politics. . . . . Sensible conservatives roll their eyes at this sort of nuttery, but by this point in history, such modes of delusional thought have gained such deep inroads in the party that purging them is a hopeless task.
Even figures as deranged as Limbaugh have long since found themselves outflanked by even more deranged minds like Alex Jones, who has received respectful attention from President Trump, himself an avid conspiracy theorist. Trump has praised a member of Congress for assaulting a reporter; pardoned ranchers who inspired a right-wing militia attack, the right-wing conspiracist Dinesh D’Souza, and lawless authoritarian racist Joe Arpaio; literally today, at an event in which he was attempting to project some measure of dignity and decorum, Trump invoked a far-right conspiracy theory by attacking George Soros as a “globalist” and chuckling appreciatively at an audience member shouting “Lock him up!”
The left certainly has illiberal, paranoid modes of thought. The difference is that the left-wing version resides outside the boundaries of two-party politics, because the Democratic Party is fundamentally liberal not radical. . . . . The street-fighting cult antifa lies outside of, and is primarily hostile to, Democratic politics. Left-wing violence from the 1960s likewise came out of radical groups who viewed the Democratic Party with contempt.
The Republican Party, on the other hand, has followed a course that has made its rhetoric amenable to extremism. Republican radicalism enabled the rise of a conspiratorial authoritarian president, and that president has expanded the bounds of the party’s following farther out to the fringe. It is getting harder and harder to distinguish the “normal” elements of conservatism from the “kook” parts. That some of those kooks would resort to violence is not an accident but a statistical likelihood. Trump’s party is a petri dish for diseased minds.
Decent, moral people ought to be embarrassed to admit they are Republicans.   The fact that people don't speaks volumes about them and none of it good.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Seeing Through Republican Deceptions

One of the most disturbing aspects of politics over most of the last two decades is the manner in which working class whites have voted against their own economic interest and supported the Republican Party which offers them noting other than pandering to their prejudices and bigotry.  In short, these voters are played for fools as the GOP pushes policies and tax cuts that favor the wealthy and allow big corporations to cut corners on safety regulations.  With the 2018 midterms upon us, we are seeing past GOP deceptions taken to a whole new level of dishonesty and open racism.  The days of dog whistle messaging are gone and open white supremacists and Christian extremists (the two tend to overlap significantly, in my view) are embraced.  A column in the New York Times by a Nobel Prize winning economist looks at this latest round of GOP lies and deceit.  Here are column excerpts:
Until recently, it looked as if the midterm elections might be defined largely by an argument about health care. Over the past few days, however, the headlines have been dominated instead by hatred — hysteria over a caravan of migrants a thousand miles from the U.S. border, and now the attempted assassination of multiple prominent Democrats.
But whoever sent the bombs and why, the caravan hysteria is no accident: creating a climate of hatred is how Republicans avoid talking about health care. What we’re seeing in this election is a kind of culmination of the strategy the right has been using for decades: distract working-class voters from policies that hurt them by promoting culture war and, above all, racial antagonism.
When it comes to substance, the modern conservative policy agenda, which centers on cutting taxes and tearing up the social safety net, is consistently unpopular. By large margins, voters want to raise, not lower, taxes on corporations and the wealthy. They overwhelmingly oppose cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
So how do Republicans manage to win elections? Partly the answer is that gerrymandering, the Electoral College and other factors have rigged the system in their favor; Republicans have held the White House after three of the past six presidential elections, despite winning the popular vote only once. And they will probably hold the House unless Democrats win by at least 6 percent.One way they have traditionally gotten there is with red-baiting, portraying any and all progressive policies as the next thing to Communism. More than half a century ago, Ronald Reagan warned that Medicare would destroy American freedom. (It didn’t.) A few days ago, the Trump White House issued a report equating Medicare for All with Maoism.
Another key tactic involves lying about both their own positions and those of their opponents. During the administration of George W. Bush, the lies were relatively subtle by current standards, involving things like pretending that tax cuts favoring the rich were actually aimed at the middle class. These days, the lies are utterly shameless.
But lies about policy, while they may confuse some voters, aren’t enough. Hate has always been part of the package.  Let’s not romanticize the past. When Reagan talked about welfare queens driving Cadillacs, or a “strapping young buck” using food stamps to buy steaks, he knew exactly what he was doing.
Under Trump, however, the strategy of hatred has gone to a whole new level.  For one thing, after decades of cloaking its strategy in euphemisms, the G.O.P. is back to letting racists be racists.
At the same time, the mainstream G.O.P. has gone all in on the kind of conspiracy theorizing — tinged with anti-Semitism — that used to be restricted to the fringe.  And it’s hard to see calling the news media “enemies of the people” as anything other than an incitement to violence.
So will this ramped-up strategy of hate work? It might, in part because those same news media still dance to the haters’ tune. Take the story of the migrant caravan. The right’s hysteria is obviously insincere; it’s clear that it is hyping the story to take attention away from health care and other substantive issues: Never mind pre-existing conditions! Look at those scary brown people!
[I]f this strategy of hate works in the midterms, the right will pursue it even more avidly. Don’t expect anyone involved to experience any pangs of conscience. Indeed, after CNN and several prominent critics received bombs in the mail, Trump blamed … the media.
I have seen the future, and it’s full of menace.

Friday, October 26, 2018

More Friday Male Beauty

Trumpism: Cruelty and White Identity Politics

Hopefully, the pundits who claimed that Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election due to his "strong economic message" - one which had few if any details - have belatedly pulled their heads out of their asses and faced the reality that Trump's entire campaign and agenda since moving into the White House has been about white identity politics laced with a large dose of homophobia to thrill the Christofascists in the GOP base. Now, in the wake of the pipe bomb threat against CNN and numerous Democrats constantly attacked by Trump, one hears calls - disingenuous on the GOP side of the aisle - that people should not be labeled as bad or immoral because they hold differing "political beliefs."  The problem is, in my view, that when one supports racist policies, the brutal separation of immigrant families and efforts to strip LGBT citizens of legal protections - all things that cause very real harm - you are supporting immoral policies.  One cannot support immoral policies and then in the next breath whine that it is unfair to call you immoral or question your decency.  Trump supporters have a choice: they must either accept or reject the Trump/Pence regime's immoral policies.  If they accept them, then all the negative reflections on their lack of decency and morality are fully deserved. A piece in The Atlantic looks at Trumpism in all its ugliness.  Here are excerpts:

After Democrats lost the 2016 presidential election, a certain conventional wisdom congealed within the pundit class: . . . By failing to emphasize a strong economic message, the thinking went, the [Democrat] party had ceded the election to Trump.
That explanation ignored the uncomfortable fact that Trump’s economic vision was centered on a politics of white identity, charging that immigrants and unqualified minorities were obtaining advantages the average white American could not claim. That left his opponents with a choice: Contest that vision, or let him attack those groups uncontested. In the meantime, Trump’s administration has seen that economic message almost entirely subsumed by the focus of congressional Republicans on tax cuts for the wealthy and plans to shrink the social safety net. . . . The economics were never the point. The cruelty was the point.
Nevertheless, among those who claim to oppose identity politics, the term is applied exclusively to efforts by historically marginalized constituencies to claim rights others already possess. Trump’s campaign, with its emphasis on state violence against religious and ethnic minorities . . . . does not count under this definition, but left-wing opposition to discriminatory state violence does.
[T]he entire closing argument of the Republican Party in the 2018 midterm elections is a naked appeal to identity politics—a politics based in appeals to the loathing of, or membership in, a particular group. The GOP’s plan to slash the welfare state in order to make room for more high-income tax cuts is unpopular among the public at large. In order to preserve their congressional majority, Republicans have taken to misleading voters by insisting that they oppose cuts or changes to popular social insurance programs, while stoking fears about Latino immigrants, Muslim terrorists, and black criminality. In truth, without that deception, identity politics is all the Trump-era Republican Party has.
Trump considers the media “the enemy of the people” only when it successfully undermines his falsehoods; at all other times, it is a force multiplier, obeying his attempts to shift topics of conversation from substantive policy matters to racial scaremongering. The tenets of objectivity by which American journalists largely abide hold that reporters may not pass judgment on the morality of certain political tactics, only on their effectiveness. It’s a principle that unintentionally rewards immorality by turning questions of right and wrong into debates over whether a particular tactic will help win an election.
In the closing weeks of the campaign,[Trump] the president has promised a nonexistent tax cut to the middle class after two years in which unified Republican control of government produced only a windfall for the rich; he has spread falsehoods about a caravan of refugees traveling through Central America; he has invented wholesale a fiction about anti-immigrant riots in California to justify his policies; and his administration is considering revoking federal recognition of the existence of trans people. This is of a piece with the Trump administration’s general policy agenda, which has involved austerity for the working class and the poor and generosity to the wealthy or connected.
2016 campaign pledged both generous social-insurance benefits for working-class white Republicans and cruelty for undeserving nonwhites. The Trump White House delivered on the latter, but not on the former, and so Republicans are scrambling to insist that they will cut taxes on the middle class, offer robust health-care protections, and protect Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, even as GOP leaders in Congress plot to slash all three to cut the deficit created by their upper-income tax cuts.
In upstate New York, an embattled Republican incumbent attacks his black, Harvard-educated Democratic challenger as a “big-city rapper”; in California, an anti-immigrant Republican under federal indictment smears his Arab American rival as a terrorist; in Georgia, a state far from the Southern border, the Republican candidate for governor brags that he’ll drive around in his pickup truck and “round up criminal illegals and take ’em home myself.”
America is not, strictly speaking, a center-right or center-left nation. Rather, it remains the nation of the Dixiecrats, in which the majority’s desire for equal opportunity and a robust welfare state is mediated by the addiction of a large chunk of the polity to racial hierarchy. It is no coincidence that the Democratic Party’s dominant period in American history coincided with its representation of both warring impulses and ended when it chose one over the other. The midterms offer a similar choice for the American voter, in rather stark terms.
If you are one of my "friends" yet support the Trump/GOP agenda of lies, cruelty and inflicting harm on others, don't be surprised it I question your morality and decency.  Some things are more than "political differences" - they come down to basic morality.  If you support immoral policies, then it likely that you are not the moral, decent person you pretend to be.  You do not get to have it both ways. 

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Caitlyn Jenner: I Was Wrong About Trump [and the GOP]

Most of the gay Republicans I know are white males with above average education and incomes who worry more about tax cuts and loss of white privilege than what happens to the fellow LGBT citizens.  They think that their skin color, education, and social connections will protect them no matter what adverse consequences befall others in the LGBT community.  Ironically, many wealthy European Jews thought the same thing as Nazism was sweeping across Europe.  Many of them ended up losing their lives in death camps or, if they were lucky, managed to flee with the clothes on their backs.  Caitlyn Jenner fits the stereotype that I describe and in 2016 she foolishly supported Trump and other Republican candidates insanely - in my view -  believing that Trump/Republicans would help transgender people and the LGBT community.  Anyone with a few years of experience in the gay activism arena could have told Jenner she was delusional.  Trump sold his soul (assuming he has one) to the Christofascists in June of 2016 and waging war on gays and transgender individuals in particular was a key part of the bargain.  As for Republicans in general, in state after state and in Congress they have blocked meaningful non-discrimination protections.  Now, in a Washington Post op-ed, Jenner admits that she was horribly wrong in believing Trump/Republicans.  Sadly, a number of local gay Republicans that I know are still drinking the Kool-Aid and refuse to see the GOP as the enemy.  Here are op-ed highlights: 
These past two years under President Trump have given me the opportunity to reflect on a lot of topics that have come up in the LGBTQ community and in our nation.
[M]y outlook has changed significantly from what it was during my highly publicized and glamorized early Caitlyn days, when my life as an out trans woman was just beginning.
Since then, I have learned and continue to learn about the obstacles our community faces, the politics that surround us and the places my voice can help. I have reflected on what my unique position of privilege means and how I can best use it to make a positive difference.
Following Trump’s election as president, I saw fertile ground for change within the Republican Party on LGBTQ issues. Trump was the first Republican presidential candidate to claim to support this valuable, vulnerable community, and I was encouraged by the applause he received when he said at the Republican National Convention in July 2016 that he would stand up for the LGBTQ community. Poll after poll showed that Americans’ views on LGBTQ issues were changing for the better . . . . I was optimistic that this was how I could leverage my privilege for change.
Despite the criticism I received from segments of the LGBTQ community for engaging with this administration, I remained hopeful for positive change.
Sadly, I was wrong. The reality is that the trans community is being relentlessly attacked by [Trump] this president. The leader of our nation has shown no regard for an already marginalized and struggling community. He has ignored our humanity. He has insulted our dignity. He has made trans people into political pawns as he whips up animus against us in an attempt to energize the most right-wing segment of his party, claiming his anti-transgender policies are meant to “protect the country.” This is politics at its worst.
Believing that I could work with Trump and his administration to support our community was a mistake. The recently leaked Department of Health and Human Services memo that suggests — preposterously and unscientifically — that the government ought to link gender to one’s genitalia at birth is just one more example in a pattern of political attacks.
It’s clear these policies have come directly from Trump, and they have been sanctioned, passively or actively, by the Republicans by whose continued support he governs. My hope in him — in them — was misplaced, and I cannot support anyone who is working against our community. I do not support Trump. I must learn from my mistakes and move forward.
I am more determined than ever to find the best way to bring trans issues to the fore of our social and political conversation, domestically and abroad. I need to listen more to the members of the LGBTQ community and to learn more. I need to better use my voice, my privilege and my foundation to advocate and support our community.
I must continue to educate political and corporate leaders about the issues of homelessness, job discrimination, violence, access to health care, prejudice in housing, depression, suicide and so many other issues that disproportionately affect our long-ignored community. . . . We will not be erased.

Despite her failings as an activist, Jenner has at least admitted that she was wrong - very wrong, in fact. Would that the local gay Republicans I know would come to their senses and (i) admit they were wrong, and (ii) work to defeat Republicans on November 6, 2018. 

More Thursday Male Beauty

Trump DOJ: Businesses Can Discriminate Against LGBT Workers

The Trump/Pence regime's war against LGBT Americans continues and the Trump Department of Justice filed a brief in a case pending before the Supreme Court  arguing that businesses can freely discriminate against LGBT workers without violating federal laws.  The move comes just days after the regime announced that it wants to define gender as one's physical attributes at birth - a total rejection of medical and mental health knowledge on transgender individuals who would technically cease to exist. Most amazing is the fact that despite all this anti-LGBT animus, "friends" remain surprised that I vigorously oppose the Trump/Pence regime and, by extension, its homophobic supporters.  A piece Bloomberg looks at this latest effort to make LGBT individuals the targets of animus and bigotry.  Here are excerpts:
The Justice Department today told the U.S. Supreme Court that businesses can discriminate against workers based on their gender identity without violating federal law.
Solicitor General Noel Francisco told the high court that a civil rights law banning sex discrimination on the job doesn’t cover transgender bias. That approach already has created a rift within the Trump administration, contradicting the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s view of the law it’s tasked with enforcing.
A Michigan funeral home wants the high court to overturn a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit decision finding that the company violated federal workplace discrimination law when it fired Aimee Stephens, a transgender worker. The EEOC successfully sued on behalf of Stephens in that case, but the Justice Department has the sole authority to represent the government before the Supreme Court. The DOJ told the high court that the Sixth Circuit got the case wrong.
“The court of appeals misread the statute and this Court’s decisions in concluding that Title VII encompasses discrimination on the basis of gender identity,” Francisco said in a brief filed with the court.
The Supreme Court is expected to decide in the coming months whether to take up the case. It’s also been asked to consider two other cases testing whether sexual orientation bias is a form of sex discrimination banned under the existing law.
The DOJ’s brief follows a New York Times report that the Department of Health and Human Services is considering limiting its definition of gender to sex assigned at birth.
“This administration is not a friend of the LGBT community,” Greg Nevins, an attorney for Lambda Legal, told Bloomberg Law. “They can say what they’re going to say, but the courts will have the final word.”  The American Civil Liberties Union has intervened in the case and will represent Stephens if the high court decides to grant the funeral home’s request for review.
With its ruling in the funeral home case, the Sixth Circuit last year became the first federal appeals court in the country to conclude that transgender bias is sex discrimination under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. It previously recognized transgender discrimination as a form of prohibited sex stereotyping. . . . “It is analytically impossible to fire an employee based on that employee’s status as a transgender person without being motivated, at least in part, by the employee’s sex,” Judge Karen Nelson Moore wrote for the Sixth Circuit.
Laws in 20 states and Washington, D.C., directly ban employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

In Virginia, thanks to Republicans in the General Assembly, there are ZERO non-discrimination protections for LGBT Virginians as I know first hand after being forced from a law firm a number of years ago for being gay.

FBI Arrests White Nationalist Leader

Hate crimes committed by far right groups and white supremacists are on the rise yet Trump and Republicans are depicting Democrats as a "dangerous mob."  It is part and parcel with the campaign of fanning racial fears that put Trump in the White House.  Sadly, his supporters can nothing about the truth and seem only too happy to disseminate outlandish posts that have the look of deriving from Russian bots (I just "unfriended" two people on Facebook because I could not stand seeing the utterly batshit crazy and racist stuff they were parroting).   Demonstrating were the true threat to civil order is really coming from, the FBI has arrested a number of white nationalists who have engaged in the behavior Trump pretends to condemn notwithstanding the incendiary rants at his "campaign rallies" which look like smaller versions of Hitler's infamous Nuremberg rally.  A piece in the New York Times looks at some of these arrests.  Here are excerpts:

The F.B.I. arrested the leader of a violent California neo-Nazi gang on a federal conspiracy charge after he fled the country earlier this month.
Robert Rundo, 28, of Huntington Beach, Calif., is being held at the federal jail in downtown Los Angeles. He was charged in a criminal complaint that was unsealed Tuesday.
He is the founder of the Rise Above Movement, a neo-Nazi gang based in Southern California whose members were involved in violent activity at protests throughout California in 2017. He and three other Californians associated with the group — Robert Boman, 25, Tyler Laube, 22, and Aaron Eason, 38 — were charged with inciting riots, according to court documents. Mr. Boman and Mr. Laube were arrested on Tuesday morning in Southern California. The F.B.I. said it was still searching for Mr. Eason.
Earlier this month, another four members of the Rise Above Movement — Benjamin Daley, Michael Miselis, Thomas Gillen and Cole White — were indicted on conspiracy to riot charges for attacking counterprotesters during last year’s Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville, Va. Mr. Rundo left the country shortly after the four were arrested at the beginning of the month.
The F.B.I. said that Mr. Rundo and other members of the group attacked protesters in 2017 in several places, including Huntington Beach, Calif.; the University of California, Berkeley campus; San Bernardino, Calif.; and Charlottesville, Va. The criminal complaint outlined the group’s hateful ideology and its embrace of violence.
At a rally on March 25, 2017, in Huntington Beach, Mr. Laube grabbed a journalist and punched him in the face three times, according to videos of the incident that the F.B.I. referenced in the complaint. During the same rally, the F.B.I. said videos showed that Mr. Rundo punched one protester in the back of the head, and then assaulted a second protester.
Later that same day, Mr. Daley, who was at the rally, sent a text message to another member of the group bragging about the incident: “Front page of the stormer we did it fam.” The stormer is a reference to “The Daily Stormer,” the neo-Nazi website.
In April 2017, Mr. Rundo and others traveled to Berkeley, Calif. Video referenced in the complaint showed the men taping their hands in preparation for fighting and wearing skeleton masks. Mr. Boman is also seen punching at least two people. Mr. Rundo later attacked another protester and then punched a Berkeley police officer twice in the head before he was subdued and arrested.
The F.B.I. said that Mr. Rundo and other gang members used the internet “to prepare to incite and participate in violence” at various political events and committed violent assaults while at those events. The F.B.I. added that the men applauded each other for the attacks and “publicly documented their assaults in order to recruit more members” to carry out violence.
Before founding the Rise Above Movement, Mr. Rundo served 20 months in a New York State prison for stabbing a rival gang member from MS-13 in a 2009 attack in Flushing, Queens. At the time, he was part of a small, multiracial neighborhood gang called the Original Flushing Crew, which was in a feud with a subset of MS-13, known as the Guanacos Little Cycos Salvatruchas, according to a 2012 federal indictment.
Since creating his movement sometime around 2017, Mr. Rundo has established ties between the group and the West Coast chapter of the Hammerskins, an international network of neo-Nazi skinheads whose members have been involved in at least nine murders in four states.
Earlier this year, Mr. Rundo traveled to Europe with members of his group in order to participate in mixed-martial arts tournaments hosted by neo-Nazi organizations in Germany and Ukraine. While in Europe, the F.B.I. said that Mr. Rundo and others celebrated Adolf Hitler’s birthday and met with European white supremacists.
Frightening to say the least.  And these dangerous individuals are part of the Trump/Pence regime's base.

Virginia AG Launches Investigation of Sexual Abuse by Catholic Clergy

As long time readers know, I was raised Roman Catholic and once was a member of the Knights of Columbus and achieved the 4th Degree.  After the Boston Globe blew open the systemic, worldwide sex abuse scandal in 2002, I decided that I could be longer in good conscience be a part of such a corrupt and morally bankrupt institution.  In February 2002 I did a guest editorial in the Virginian Pilot in response a letter to the editor by then Bishop Richmond, Walter Sullivan's January 30, 2002, decrying a January 21 2002, editorial cartoon and claiming that the stories about the Church were "pure bigotry against the Catholic Church.''  The cartoon in question focused on the Catholic Church's track record in respect to pedophile clergy. 

Subsequently, I was attacked in letters to the editor, including a letter from a subordinate of Bishop Sullivan.  Time has proven the accuracy of the Globe story and sex abuse cover ups have been exposed virtually worldwide as numerous blog posts have reported.  Moreover, the cynical and dishonest hypocrisy of Bishop Sullivan was made clear when  Sullivan himself was implicated in the cover up of sexual abuse by a diocesan priest in the Diocese of Richmond that was among Sullivan's favorites.   The tenaciousness of a personal friend of mine and other victims of the priest in question finally resulted in a criminal prosecution against the priest and a plea deal.  

It would be nice to believe that this one priest was an anomaly, but given what has been seen in dioceses literally across the globe, such is likely wishful thinking.  Thus, in the wake of the Pennsylvania grand jury report and the launching of investigations of the Catholic Church by the U.S. Attorney in Philadelphia and the Attorney General of the District of Columbia, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has launched an investigation of the Catholic dioceses in Virginia.  The Virginian Pilot looks at this development.  Here are article highlights:
Attorney General Mark Herring announced Wednesday he is launching a hotline dedicated to "rooting out" possible clergy abuse in the commonwealth.
It's "part of an ongoing investigation into whether criminal sexual abuse of children may have occurred in Virginia’s Catholic dioceses, and whether leadership in the dioceses may have covered up or abetted any such crimes," according to a news release
The announcement comes a day after the District of Columbia's attorney general said his office will open an investigation into sexual abuse by Catholic clergy in the local archdiocese. 
Virginia is now one of at least 13 states that launched investigations after a shocking grand jury report out of Pennsylvania this summer. That report identified thousands of victims and their abusers following a two-year investigation of Catholic dioceses in that state. It also revealed that leaders of the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania helped cover up the child sexual abuse going back several decades.
Herring said at a press conference Wednesday that his office started the probe a few days after the Pennsylvania report came out.
"Like so many Americans, I read the grand jury report on clergy abuse in the Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania, and I felt sick," Herring said in a statement. "It made me sick to see the extent of the damage done, the efforts to cover it up, and the complicity and enabling that went on by powerful people who should have known better and should have done more to protect vulnerable children."
"It's certainly an unusual step (in law enforcement) to announce an ongoing investigation," he said, "but in this instance ... we need the public's help to get to the truth."
People can report incidents of clergy or faith leader abuse anonymously through the new Virginia Clergy Abuse Hotline at 1-833-454-9064 and at any hour of the day. It will be staffed by Virginia State Police investigators during business hours, according to the release.
Virginia is home to two Catholic dioceses: Richmond, which includes 153 parishes statewide, and Arlington, which includes 69 in Northern Virginia. Hampton Roads is part of the Richmond diocese.
Herring said the dioceses have been "cooperative at this point" and the investigation will "take as long as it needs to ... no matter how long it takes."

I will not be surprised to learn that Virginia's dioceses were no different that others around the world where crimes against children and youths were routinely covered up and predator priests protected.  We know for certain that Sullivan protected at least one predator priest.  I suspect many more may be revealed.  Kudos to Herring.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

The Ugliness and Hatred That Trump Has Wrought

Being gay, I am used to receiving threats and harsh language.  I was forced from a former law firm for being gay and I've received death threats (all of which came from "conservative Christians"), especially for writing my personal blog.  I've also suffered harassment by the Norfolk police before the Norfolk Police Department adopted an LGBT friendly stance.  While the personal threats have lessened of late, the advent of the Trump/Pence regime has made anti-LGBT animus acceptable again.  Indeed, the rise of Trump/Pence has made hatred in general, especially against those who are "different" or "other," once more acceptable.  Fast forward to today's attempted pipe bomb terrorism effort (with five similar bombs) against prominent Democrats and such rhetoric normalizing violence certainly points to right wing extremist efforts be they the work of a single lone wolf or, worse yet, some extremist group.  The right wing media - think Rush Limbaugh, et al - is alleging that liberals sent the bombs, but I doubt that such is the case.   I may be proven wrong, but statistically, right wing elements are the most frequent to resort to violence.  Either way, Trump has created a dangerous and toxic atmosphere where such efforts have been granted permission by the White House.  A column in the Washington Post looks at the normalizing of hate and violence.  Here are highlights:

What hath Trump wrought?  Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) last year pleaded guilty to assaulting a journalist. President Trump last week celebrated the assault.  “Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my kind of — he’s my guy,” Trump said to cheers.  CNN’s Jim Acosta said one man at the rally then looked at him “and ran his thumb across his throat.”
Wednesday morning, a pipe bomb arrived at CNN’s offices in New York, addressed to former CIA director and current Trump critic John Brennan. Other bombs went to at least five others frequently villainized by Trump: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, former attorney general Eric Holder, Rep. Maxine Waters and, earlier this week, Democratic financier George Soros.
Trump appropriately denounced “acts or threats of political violence of any kind.” But it’s fair to ask: If a person who assaults a journalist is Trump’s “guy,” might not some unstable person think that, by sending a pipe bomb to a news organization, he, too, is being Trump’s guy?
Nobody but the perpetrator is responsible for this attack. . . . . But one man has done the most to create this climate, whipping supporters to fear and desperation with often violent rhetoric. And only one man can take us back from the brink. Stop the mob, Mr. President.
In the closing days of the 2018 campaign, Trump has revived what worked in 2016, encouraging his mostly white and mostly male supporters to feel besieged by dark-skinned people, immigrants, women, religious minorities and, of course, the media.
Trump recently maligned all the targets of Wednesday’s attack. Thirty-six hours earlier, Trump fired up yet more “Lock her up!” and “CNN sucks!” chants. He roiled the crowd to boo “low IQ” Waters. Trump spread false conspiracy theories that Soros funded the migrant caravan and anti-Brett M. Kavanaugh protesters. 
This moment is particularly dangerous because Trump has turned partisan divisions into a proxy war over race and gender, stoking backlash to the first black president and the first woman to be a major party’s presidential nominee. Those receiving the pipe bombs include three African Americans, two women and a Jew frequently targeted by anti-Semites. These demographics figure prominently among Trump’s favorite targets at rallies, mostly women (Nancy Pelosi, Elizabeth Warren, Clinton), African Americans (Cory Booker, Waters, Obama) and Jews (Soros, Charles E. Schumer, Richard Blumenthal, Dianne Feinstein).
Trump’s latest stump speech portrays these Democrats as violent, lawless and inhuman, responsible for “an assault” on the country, an “angry left-wing mob” on a “ruthless mission to . . . demolish and destroy,” “corrupt power-hungry globalists” who are “not caring about our country” and “want to replace freedom with socialism” and invite people into the country who “carve you up with a knife.” Democrats are “openly encouraging millions of illegal aliens to . . . overwhelm our nation” and have “launched an assault on the sovereignty of our country . . . and the safety of every single American.”
Is it any wonder people might feel desperate?
[O]ne public figure’s [i.e., Trump’s] rhetoric has been more violent than all others, and he has the biggest megaphone. He encouraged supporters to “knock the crap out of” protesters and offered to pay attackers’ legal bills. He expressed his wish to punch a heckler in the face. He urged police not to “be too nice” to suspects. He shared a doctored video of himself attacking CNN in a wrestling match. He suggested supporters could use guns to stop Clinton judicial nominees and fantasized about Clinton’s security detail being taken away. Most recently, Trump hesitated to criticize Saudi Arabia for Saudi operatives’ killing of Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi as the president keeps up his attacks on journalists as enemies of the people.
This has an effect. A man was arrested for threatening to shoot Boston Globe employees this summer, calling the paper the “enemy of the people.”
After the bombs were discovered Wednesday, Trump offered a soothing message: “We have to unify. We have to come together.”  Amen. But at Monday’s rally, Trump ridiculed almost those exact words, mocking Clinton’s campaign for having “some stupid slogan like ‘stay together.’ ”
I truly worry about the future and America's democracy.  History can and does repeat itself when the populace fails to pay attention and ignores the warnings from the events of the past.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Republican Strategy? Fear and Lies

"Lugen Presse" means lying press.

The frightening parallels between Trump/GOP lies and the rise of the Nazis in Germany more than three quarters of a century ago continue.  Outright lies about political opponents are the norm and at Trump's Rallies, the dog whistle calls to violence continue.  Indeed, today pipe bombs were delivered to the Obamas, the Clintons, CNN and other prominent Democrats.  While no links to right wing extremists have been established as yet, it is disturbing that Trump has continuously called the main stream media - sometimes CNN specifically - the "enemy of the people" and demonized Democrats.  Coincidence?  I suspect not.   With the 2018 midterms election less than two weeks away, the Trump and GOP lies are increasingly over the top.  A column in the New York Times looks at the fear mongering and lies.  Here are column highlights:

To prevent a blue wave on Nov. 6, [Trump] the president and his puppets are traveling audaciously far from the truth and shockingly deep into the gutter. I’ve seen bad before, but not this. The midterms aren’t just a referendum on which direction the country will go. They’re also a test of where the limits of decency and shamelessness are drawn.
Republicans especially . . .  have outdone themselves. I’ll get to Trump shortly, but the saddest and scariest part is that I really needn’t get to him at all.
In the Arizona battle for an open Senate seat, Representative Martha McSally, the Republican nominee, used a 15-year-old quip about the Taliban by Representative Kyrsten Sinema, the Democratic nominee, to say that Sinema is guilty of treason.
In Ohio, Representative Jim Renacci, the Republican who is trying to unseat Senator Sherrod Brown, told the editorial board of The Cincinnati Enquirer that “multiple women” had contacted him to say that they had been assaulted by Brown between 1987 and 2004. Renacci offered no names, no details, no way for anyone to look into the matter. He just dropped the bomb and moved on.
In at least four House districts around the country, Republicans twisted aspects of Democrats’ pasts for inflammatory television commercials that alleged a tolerance for terrorism or an indulgence of it.
And in one House district in Arkansas, a renegade Republican super PAC even produced a radio ad that suggested that white Democrats would be "lynching black folk again" if their party won.
Representative Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican, blithely lofted the unfounded speculation that the liberal philanthropist George Soros had funded the caravan. On Monday, an undetonated explosive device was found outside Soros’s home in the New York City suburbs.
And Corey Stewart, the Republican challenging Senator Tim Kaine in Virginia, went out of his way to opine that Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post contributor murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, “was not a good guy himself.” I’d dismiss that as the ranting of one practiced provocateur, but as Robert Costa and Karoun Demirjian wrote recently in The Post, it belonged to a “whispering campaign” by some Republicans to “protect President Trump from criticism of his handling” of the Saudis. Anything, no matter how grotesque, for leader and party.
Maybe it’s desperation. The Republicans’ one huge legislative accomplishment over the past two years — the tax overhaul — is much less popular with voters than they had hoped it would be.
Kyle Kondik, the managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, which also analyzes races, said that in some politicians’ eyes, Trump “has paid no penalty for his whoppers over the years.”
“You focus on your own campaign,” he added, “and maybe you think, ‘I can say whatever I want, too.’ In that sense, he’s a role model.”
The role model’s whoppers are quadruple-patty in these final, furious weeks. He has again conjured the hallucinatory specter of rampant voter fraud, the kind he once cited to explain away Hillary Clinton’s winning of the popular vote by nearly three million ballots. He has claimed nonexistent riots in California by people upset about living in sanctuary cities.
He has insisted without proof that there are “unknown Middle Easterners” (his proxy for “terrorists”) in the caravan of migrants. He has insinuated that deep-pocketed Democrats paid the migrants — which makes zero sense, because images of them are more likely to help anti-immigration Republicans than their Democratic adversaries.
But it’s not all darkness from Republicans. Sometimes it’s phony light. At several recent rallies, Trump boasted that he and Republican leaders were sprinting to devise and potentially enact an additional “10 percent tax cut for middle-income families” before Nov. 6. That would require more than just budgetary magic. It would call for some epic scheduling sorcery. Congress is in recess until after then.
Meanwhile, many Republican candidates who fought proudly and persistently to junk Obamacare without any suitable alternative are brazenly denying that past and fashioning themselves as the planet’s greatest champions of guaranteed health insurance for Americans with pre-existing conditions. That’s less an artful flip-flop than an extravagant fiction, and it’s of a piece with Republicans’ sudden complacency about deficits now that they’re ballooning under the party’s governance.
Besmirch first, worry about the fact checkers later. Or don’t worry about them at all. That’s Trump’s ethos, and nothing would make him happier than the devolution of American politics from a contest of ideas to a contest of inventions.

Trump is a clear and present danger to the nation and is displaying the same type of most frightening lies of history's tyrants and mass murderers of the past.  My "friends" who continue to support Trump and the liars in the GOP have forfeited any pretense that they are decent, moral people.