Saturday, November 03, 2018

Quote of the Day: Andrew Sullivan and Why He Will Vote Democrat

Andrew Sullivan, a gay former Republican, and I have not always seen eye to eye  on a number of things ranging from his delay in fleeing the GOP and his unwillingness to walk away for Catholicism.  But with the midterm elections on Tuesday, we are in agreement on the crucial need for people to vote a straight Democrat ticket even if it requires them to hold their nose while doing so.  What is happening to America must be stopped and the most practical tool available is to vote to cripple the Republican Party and put Democrats in a position to retrain the misogyny being spewed by Donald Trump.  As indicated in a prior post, I am not engaging in hyperbole when I state that there really is no other option for decent and moral people.  Here are excerpts from Sullivan's latest piece in New York Magazine:
Whatever else it will be, Tuesday will be a relief. We will finally find out where we are in the surreal dystopia of the last two years. We will see, in a tangible way, what America now is.
These years have been overwhelmed and saturated by a single figure with no political experience, who won almost 3 million fewer votes than his opponent, has had consistently lower approval numbers than any of his recent predecessors, and speaks and acts in ways no previous president ever has. He has cast a staggering spell over a hefty segment of the population, and he has earned the intense loathing of the rest. And for these very reasons, it has been tortuously hard to see what is in front of our noses.
Is this the new normal? Or has this been a detour into the freak zone, with a president accidentally elected, a major party temporarily hypnotized, but with a population still aware of something called reality?
There are few historical guides. It is hard to think of a precedent for a president who endorses violence against political foes, sees the Justice Department as his own personal prosecutor, calls the press “the enemy of the people,” tears children from parents, brags of multiple sexual assaults, threatens to lock up his opponents, enthuses about war crimes, “falls in love” with the foulest dictator on the planet, refuses to divest of personal holdings in office, lambastes allies, treats the Treasury as a casino, actively endorses the poisoning of the environment, destabilizes NATO, baits minorities, lies incessantly, and oversees a resurgence of the white nationalist right.
My instincts tell me that every single person whom this president has dismissed, insulted, or demonized will show up to vote. If they do, they will pierce the Trump bubble. They were a majority two years ago, after all, before this nightmare of governance began. They could be a bigger majority next Tuesday.
The Republican Party . . . . has turned itself into a cult behind a figure hostile to liberal democratic norms, responsible government, and any notion of moderation. It is less a political party than a mass movement sustained by shame-free, mendacious propaganda around a man whose articulated values place him more in the company of Putin and Duterte than Merkel and Macron.
The GOP cannot be talked out of their surrender to this strongman. With each rhetorical or policy atrocity, they have attached themselves more firmly to him.
That’s why I will vote Democrat next Tuesday. I have many issues with the Democrats, as regular readers well know. None of that matters compared with this emergency. I don’t care, in this instance, what their policies are. I am going to vote for them. I can’t stand most of their leaders and fear their radical fringe. I am going to vote for them anyway. Because it is the only responsible thing there is to do.
This president is quite clearly unfit for his office. If he is checked by the Congress, he will still be a danger — to the rule of law, the Constitution, and civil peace. But if he remains unchecked — and even vindicated by a midterm Republican success? After the themes he has involved and exploited — especially in this final week? After the massive lies he has told, in greater frequency these past few weeks than ever before? What he will learn from all that beggars belief.
It is time — way past time — for the opposition to be other than the press. It is time for it to be the Congress where it rightly belongs. . . . . Capturing the House is the only way the republic can strike back.
It may be a critical path to preventing civil unrest. As this past tragic week has again shown, this president has enabled bigots and cranks. The flourishing of white nationalism, the rebirth of hideous anti-Semitism, the dehumanization of the brown and the black, the deployment of cruelty against children, the celebration of violence — we have had politicians like this before, but we have never had a president like this. . . . . If we survive another two years of this man we will all be lucky. If he remains utterly unchecked, we may very well not be.

More Saturday Male Beauty

There Are No Excuses for Moral People Supporting Trump/the Vichy GOP

Many Republican "friends" have argued that we should not allow our "political differences" to separate us despite their support for the foul individual in the White House and a Republican Party that continues to enable him and push an agenda that is harmful to the majority of Americans and downright dangerous for minorities, including members of the LGBT community.  The husband is more tolerant of them than I am and argues that dialogue must continue.  For me, however, things are no longer a matter of political differences.  It has come to a matter of morality versus immorality.  Perhaps it's a hold over from my Catholic upbringing where things were black and white, right and wrong.    There are clear moral choices on November 6, 2018: (i) a vote against hate, bigotry and immorality if one votes for Democrats or (ii) a vote to support hate, bigotry and immorality if one votes Republican.  One can be complicit in evil or oppose it.  Each of us has the choice and history will judge us just as 1930's Germans are rightly judged.  It is really that simple as a column in the Washington Post lays out.  Here are excerpts:

This time, our eyes are wide open.  Exactly two years ago, many Americans held their noses and voted for Donald Trump. Some were conservatives willing to tolerate his vulgar excesses in hopes of getting tax cuts, a repeal of Obamacare and a friendlier judiciary. Others had Clinton fatigue. Sure, they were concerned about Trump’s words about Mexican “rapists” and what he liked to do to women — but maybe those were just words. Maybe Trump could build a coalition across traditional party lines to get things done.
Now, all Americans have seen the results with their own eyes:
Trump defended neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville.
He oversaw a policy separating young children from their parents and warehoused the kids at the border, including some who have yet to be reunited.
He took Vladi­mir Putin’s word over that of the U.S. intelligence community, accepting Russia’s denial that it interfered in our election.
He had hired Paul Manafort and three other senior campaign advisers who eventually pleaded guilty or were convicted in a sprawling and ongoing criminal probe of Russia, Trump and the 2016 election.
He attacked the news media as the “enemy of the people.”
He befriended some of the world’s most loathed autocrats, including Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, whose extralegal death squads have killed thousands; and he refused to take serious action after the Saudi regime murdered and dismembered a Post contributing columnist in Turkey.
He opened personal rifts with the leaders of Britain, Germany, Canada and other countries that had been stalwart allies.
He has released an unending stream of invective on Twitter and in speeches, often in vulgar and misogynistic terms.
He insulted John McCain after the Arizona senator’s death, initially not ordering flags to be flown at half-staff.
He has established a whole new level of mendacity, averaging 30 false or misleading statements a day now, and totaling 6,420 such bogus claims during his presidency.
And he has exploited and worsened divisions among Americans, coarsened public discourse and used racial hatred, resentment of women’s gains and fear of immigrants and minorities as political weapons.
Now, we are seeing Trump close the midterm campaign with openly racist appeals.
He offered more conspiracy theories even after a crazed Trump supporter sent pipe bombs to CNN and a dozen of the president’s oft-cited enemies, and when a lunatic apparently motivated by the Trump-inspired paranoia about the caravan murdered 11 Jews worshiping at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.
And he closed the campaign with a vile ad showing a Mexican man who killed two police officers, accompanied by the message: “Democrats let him into our country. Democrats let him stay” — though the killer came to the United States during the presidency of George W. Bush.
On Tuesday, voters will make a decision in what is the purest midterm referendum on a sitting president in modern times:
Will we take a step, even a small one, back from the ugliness and the race-baiting that has engulfed our country?
Or will we affirm that we are really the intolerant and frightened people Donald Trump has made us out to be?
If we choose the latter, 2018 will in some ways be more difficult to take than 2016. This time, we don’t have the luxury of saying we didn’t really know what Trump would do.  Our eyes are wide open.

Notorious "Ex-Gay" Therapist Outed as a Fraud

One of my first ventures into LGBT activism was back in 2003, when I helped Wayne Besen expose "ex-gay" poster boy Michael Johnston who was originally from the Hampton Roads area..  Johnston had been featured in numerous national ads campaigns by right wing Christian organizations peddling the myth that gays can "change"  if they only accept Jesus.  In reality, Johnston was anything but changed and was sleeping with men around the area using a false name.  Johnston's ex-gay career ended after the Southern Voice did an expose.  Just as disturbing as Johnston's lies was the fact that some of the leading "Christian" homophobes knew that  Johnston was a fraud but continued to use him since it aided their agenda that claimed gays needed no non-discrimination protections since sexual orientation was a "choice."  Now Wayne has exposed another total fraud.  This time it's Norman Goldwasser, an Orthodox Jewish therapist at who compares homosexuality to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and misleads clients by claiming that their sexual orientation can be changed.  Goldwasser has been leading a double life like Johnston and has been seeking male sexual partners on Manhunt, a gay dating App.  Despite the fraudulent nature of so-called "ex-gay" or "conversion" therapy and its condemnation by every legitimate medical and mental health association in America, the Republican Party in many states supports it as a party platform item.  Here are highlights from Wayne's expose of Goldwasser:  
Norman Goldwasser, by day, is an Orthodox Jewish therapist at Horizon Psychological Services who compares homosexuality to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and misleads clients by claiming that their sexual orientation can be changed with his special brand of quack therapy, which is rejected by every respected medical and mental health association. By night, an undercover investigation by Truth Wins Out has found, he solicits sexual partners on Manhunt, a gay dating App, using the profile “Hotnhairy72.” During our operation, Goldwasser, going by the pseudonym “Dave”, offered to meet for sex with our operative, “Brandon,” at a Fort Lauderdale motel room. Goldwasser also had a profile on Bear Nation by the same name.
This latest scandal comes as the new movie Boy Erased (Starring Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, and Russell Crowe) has brought a renewed spotlight to the issue of the harm caused by “ex-gay” programs.
“Norman Goldwasser’s double life of unconscionable lies highlights the rank hypocrisy and predatory nature of the fraudulent ‘ex-gay’ industry,” said Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen. “We urge every state to ban the scourge of conversion therapy that attacks the mental health of LGBT youth and puts them in harms way.” Besen is the author of Anything Bust Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth.
Truth Wins Out does not engage in the outing of people participating in ex-gay programs unless there is overwhelming hypocrisy, exchange of commerce, and the threat of harm to LGBT youth. The Goldwasser outing passes all three tests.
“Goldwasser can’t claim his personal life is none of our business when trying to ‘cure’ LGBT people is his business,” said Besen. “Here is a case where a charlatan is committing consumer fraud by misleading clients and adversely affecting their mental health. We are particularly concerned when Goldwassser’s scam preys on young people susceptible to his charade.”
Despite the harm that Goldwasser knowingly does to members of the LGBT community, as blogger friend Joe Jervis notes, Goldwasser begged Wayne not to expose him and to allow him to continue his fraudulent practices.  Jervis posted a text from Goldwasser to Besen:

Sorry, but I have ZERO sympathy for this lying dirt bag. 

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Friday, November 02, 2018

More Friday Male Beauty

Will Trump's Racist Nativism Backfire?

Donald Trump's rallies in the run up to the midterm elections on Tuesday increasingly sound like Klan rallies or something out of a Hitler rally attacking Jews.  The racial animus - and lies - is off the charts and, hopefully, will be found repulsive by decent people (which sadly excludes most evangelicals).  Some Republicans who basically hold the same views as Trump but who are concerned first and foremost with re-election are concerned that Der Trumpenf├╝hrer's anti-Hispanic immigrant/refugee obsession will drive voters to Democrats, particularly in affluent suburban districts with college educated white voters.  Indeed, one would hope Trump's spewing of hatred will galvanize Hispanic and Millennial voters to go to the polls and punish Republicans. A piece in Politico looks at the controversy.  Here are excerpts:

Donald Trump hammered his hard line on immigration again on Thursday, but some Republicans wish he would shift focus to the economy, lest he drive away suburban voters and mobilize Latino communities against the GOP.
Several Republican operatives and officials described a growing sense of fear within the party over Trump’s hard-line rhetoric on border security, which he has repeated nearly every day for the past three weeks.
“You’re playing at the margins with Republicans on the issue of immigration, but there are very many more Democrats that might be mobilized by his rhetoric,” said conservative radio host and The Resurgent editor Erick Erickson, who called Trump’s immigration-heavy closing pitch “not smart politically” in a tweet earlier Thursday.
Operating under the assumption that talking tough on immigration can energize enough Republicans to stymie a “blue wave” of Democratic midterm voters, Trump has spent the past week unveiling restrictive immigration policies at a dizzying pace and making erroneous declarations about a caravan of Central American migrants.
Restating his vow to deploy thousands more troops to the southwest border, Trump fumed over border-crossers and said he had instructed U.S. military personnel to “consider it a rifle” if incoming migrants hurl stones at them: “Anybody throwing stones, rocks … we will consider that a firearm because there’s not much difference when you get hit in the face with a rock.”
The speech came on a day when he tweeted a dramatic campaign ad featuring an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who murdered two California sheriff’s deputies in 2014 and laughed about it in a courtroom. “Democrats let him into our country,” the ad declares [even though the man entered America during the George W. Bush regime].
Democrats slammed the ad as exploiting stereotypes about immigrants, and even some Republicans condemned it.
“The kind of voters Trump is talking to right now, there aren’t enough of them in these areas to get us over the finish line,” said one GOP campaign official.  . . . the official told POLITICO, adding that Trump “is solidifying swing voters who were already leaning Democratic and are now definitely going vote for Democratic candidates.”
Top Republican leaders have long urged Trump to make better use his rallies by highlighting the strong economy and reminding voters of the extra cash in their pockets from last year’s GOP tax cuts. As opposed to stoking fear over an “immigration crisis”, they want him to boast about the unemployment rate slipping below 4 percent, middle-class incomes returning to pre-recession levels, and surging consumer confidence.
“There’s just not enough base voters in a place like Miami to hand Carlos Curbelo a win,” said one Republican operative, pointing to a recent New York Times poll showing Curbelo, the GOP incumbent, trailing his Democratic opponent by a single percentage point in Florida’s 26th congressional district, which is nearly 70 percent Latino.
Some Republicans retiring from districts won by Hillary Clinton have also expressed dismay at the president’s decidedly anti-illegal immigrant closing argument. . . . . POTUS, out of nowhere, brings birthright citizenship up. Besides being basic tenet of America, it’s political malpractice,” said retiring GOP Rep. Ryan Costello, whose suburban Philadelphia district is ranked “solid D” by FiveThirtyEight.
Meanwhile, Democrats are claiming that Trump’s immigration obsession is only throwing momentum to their side.
“Two or three weeks ago, the No. 1 thing people were quietly worried about was apathy or low turnout with Latino voters and you’re not hearing that anymore,” said Todd Schulte, president of, a bipartisan immigration advocacy group.
An MPR News/Star Tribune poll taken last month in Minnesota, where both Senate seats are up for grabs and Republicans are competing for the governor’s mansion, found that 52 percent of likely voters disapprove of the president’s direction on immigration, versus 42 percent who approve.

Major Companies Warn Trump/Pence To Leave Transgender Rights Alone

One of the few areas where the Trump/Pence regime has kept its campaign promises is in (i) appointing anti-gay judges (and Supreme Court justices) to the federal courts and (ii) working to role back LGBT non-discrimination protections.  These actions have kept promises made to a who's who of Christofascist leaders in June, 2016.  Nowhere has Trump/Pence been more relentless than in attacks against transgender citizen, with a recent proposal to define them out of existence under federal law.   Thankfully, numerous corporations are not remaining silent and have warned the toxic regime to stop attacking transgender rights. As LGBTQ Nation reports 56 corporations have warned Trump/Pence to cease its attacks.  Here are article highlights:

Dozens of major companies have warned the Trump administration to stop attacking transgender people. 56 corporations joined the statement to “oppose any administrative and legislative efforts to erase transgender protections.”
“Treating all people fairly, equally and with respect is the very core of IBM’s values. We believe no one should be discriminated against for being who they are,” Tia Silas, Global Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer for IBM said in an emailed statement.
Collectively, the companies employ nearly 4.8 million people and generate more than $2.4 trillion in annual revenue.
Read the open letter below.
We, the undersigned businesses, stand with the millions of people in America who identify as transgender, gender non-binary, or intersex, and call for all such people to be treated with the respect and dignity everyone deserves.
We oppose any administrative and legislative efforts to erase transgender protections through reinterpretation of existing laws and regulations. We also fundamentally oppose any policy or regulation that violates the privacy rights of those that identify as transgender, gender non-binary, or intersex.
In the last two decades, dozens of federal courts have affirmed the rights and identities of transgender people. Cognizant of growing medical and scientific consensus, courts have recognized that policies that force people into a binary gender definition determined by birth anatomy fail to reflect the complex realities of gender identity and human biology.
Recognizing that diversity and inclusion are good for business, and that discrimination imposes enormous productivity costs (and exerts undue burdens), hundreds of companies, including the undersigned, have continued to expand inclusion for transgender people across corporate America. Currently more than 80 percent of the Fortune 500 have clear gender identity protections; two-thirds have transgender-inclusive healthcare coverage; hundreds have LGBTQ+ and Allies business resource groups and internal training efforts.
Transgender people are our beloved family members and friends, and our valued team members. What harms transgender people harms our companies.
We call for respect and transparency in policy-making, and for equality under the law for transgender people.
Adobe Systems Inc.
Altria Group
Amalgamated Bank
American Airlines
Automatic Data Processing Inc. (ADP)
Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Ben & Jerry’s Homemade
BNY Mellon
Cisco Systems Inc.
Clifford Chance
Corning Incorporated
Corteva Agriscience™, the Agriculture Division of DowDuPont
Deutsche Bank
E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company
Fastly, Inc.
Hogan Lovells International LLP
IBM Corporation
Intel Corporation
Intuit Inc.
Iron Mountain
JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Levi Strauss & Co.
Lush Handmade Cosmetics
Marriott International
MGM Resorts International
Microsoft Corp.
Nike Inc.
Replacements, Ltd.
Ropes & Gray
Royal Bank of Canada
S&P Global
Sheppard Mullin
Sodexo Inc.
State Street Corporation
The Coca-Cola Company
The Dow Chemical Company
TiVo Corporation
Trillium Asset Management
Twitter Inc.
Warby Parker

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Today's GOP: A Party Defined by Its Lies

A column in the New York Times basically makes a point that I have pretty much come to believe: good people can’t be good Republicans.  And I say this as a former Republican who comes from a family with generations of Republicans.  Now, none are Republicans.  And, if they were still living, I suspect my parents and grand parents would not be Republicans any longer.  All of them had a strong sense of right versus wrong and believed that basic honesty and morality mattered. Thus, by definition, they could not be Republicans nowadays.  But back to the column which lays out the truth that the entire GOP agenda is based on lies and deception.  Here are column excerpts:
During my first year as an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times, I wasn’t allowed to use the word “lie.”
That first year coincided with the 2000 election, and George W. Bush was, in fact, being systematically dishonest about his economic proposals — saying false things about who would benefit from his tax cut and the implications of Social Security privatization. But the notion that a major party’s presidential candidate would go beyond spin to outright lies still seemed outrageous, and saying it was considered beyond the pale.
Obviously that prohibition no longer holds on this opinion page, and major media organizations have become increasingly willing to point out raw falsehoods. But they’ve been chasing a moving target, because the lies just keep getting bigger and more pervasive. In fact, at this point the G.O.P.’s campaign message consists of nothing but lies; it’s hard to think of a single true thing Republicans are running on.
And yes, it’s a Republican problem (and it’s not just Donald Trump). Democrats aren’t saints, but they campaign mostly on real issues, and generally do, in fact, stand for more or less what they claim to stand for. Republicans don’t. And the total dishonesty of Republican electioneering should itself be a decisive political issue, because at this point it defines the  party’s character.
[T]here are two big themes. They lie about their agenda, pretending that their policies would help the middle and working classes when they would, in fact, do the opposite. And they lie about the problems America faces, hyping an imaginary threat from scary dark-skinned people and, increasingly, attributing that threat to Jewish conspirators.
Both classes of lie are rooted in the real G.O.P. agenda. What Republicans truly stand for, and have for decades, is cutting taxes on the rich and slashing social programs.
The G.O.P.’s problem is that this agenda is deeply unpopular. Large majorities of Americans oppose cuts in major social programs, while most voters want to raise, not reduce, taxes on corporations and high-income individuals.
But instead of changing their agenda to meet voters’ concerns, Republicans have resorted to a strategy of deception and distraction. On one side, they have gone full black-is-white, up-is-down on policy substance. Most spectacularly, they are posing as defenders of protection for people with pre-existing conditions — protection that their failed health bill would have stripped away, and which they are now trying to take away through the courts. And they’re claiming that Democrats are the ones threatening Medicare.
On the other side, they’re resorting to their old standby: race-based fear.
The lies have come nonstop since Trump’s inauguration address, which conveyed a false vision of “American carnage.” But they have gotten ever more extreme, culminating in the portrayal of a small caravan of refugees still 1,000 miles from the border as an imminent, menacing invasion — somehow full of diseased Middle Eastern terrorists.
The crucial thing to realize is that these aren’t just ugly, destructive lies. Beyond that, they shape the G.O.P.’s nature. It is now impossible to have intellectual integrity and a conscience while remaining a Republican in good standing. Some conservatives have these qualities; almost all of them have left the party, or are on the edge of excommunication.
Those who remain are either fanatics willing to do anything in pursuit of power, or cynics willing to go along with anything for a share of the spoils. And it’s foolish to imagine that there are any limits on how far a party of fanatics and cynics will be willing to go. Anyone who might have had a sticking point, some uncrossable red line of bad behavior, has already taken the off ramp.
That’s why a Republican campaign built entirely on lies should itself be a political issue — a reason to vote Democratic even if you want tax cuts. For we’re not just talking about a party selling bad ideas on false pretenses. The addiction to lies has also — let’s be blunt — turned it into a party of bad people. . . . If they pull this midterm election out, expect the worst.

Why the 2018 Midterm Elections Matter

In response to my earlier post today, some of my Republican" friends posted laughing emojis on the cross posting on Facebook.   Not surprisingly, these individuals tended to be white, heterosexual males and all from privilege.  I can only assume they lack much, if any, empathy for others and are only concerned with tax cuts and/or protecting their "white privilege."  Protecting the rule of law and maintaining some semblance of morality and decency seems to matter not so much.  It's very disheartening.  Confirming that I am not alone in lamenting what is occurring under the Trump?Pence?GOP misrule, The Economist, a staid British publication not known for hysteria, makes the case of why the 2018 midterm elections are so important and why, at a minimum, Democrats must retake control of the House of Representatives.  Here are article highlights:

Toxic federal politics is America’s great weakness. It prevents action on pressing real issues, from immigration to welfare; it erodes Americans’ faith in their government and its institutions; and it dims the beacon of American democracy abroad. The mid-term elections are a chance to begin stopping the rot—and even to start the arduous task of putting it right.
Mr Trump did not begin this abasement. But he has embraced it as enthusiastically as anyone and carried it to new depths of his own devising. All politicians stretch the truth. Mr Trump lies with abandon—over 5,000 times since he was inaugurated, according to the Washington Post. His deceit is so brazen and effective that many of his supporters take his word above any of his critics’, especially those in the media, and seemingly in the face of all the evidence. That suits Mr Trump because, once nobody is believed, he cannot be held to account. But it is disastrous for America. Once reasoned debate loses its power to win arguments, democracy cannot function.
Mr Trump is also wilfully divisive. All politicians attack their opponents, but presidents see it as their duty to unite the country after a tragedy. Only Mr Trump would think the Tree of Life synagogue shooting a chance to hit back at the media and the Democrats for criticising him (see article). Only he would suggest that, rather than tone down his explosive rhetoric, he might just “tone it up”. Such divisiveness matters because, when your opponents are simply bad people, the compromise that is the foundation of all healthy politics becomes hard within parties and almost impossible between them.
America’s democracy is robust—it was designed to be. However, one by one, its institutions are being infected with toxic polarisation. Congress caught the bug in the 1990s, when Newt Gingrich was Speaker. The media have also fallen victim to partisan scepticism—certainly among audiences, if not also among contributors. Just 11% of strong Trump supporters believe the mainstream media, whereas 91% of them trust Mr Trump, a CBS News poll found in the summer. Among Democrats those beliefs tend to be reversed. Now the Supreme Court is perceived to be partisan, too. Democrats see the recent confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the court as the ramming through of a partisan who has lied, possibly about a sexual assault, and who will be incapable of putting the law above his party. 
A dishonest executive, conniving with a fawning legislature and empowered by a partisan judiciary: were it to come to that, America truly would be in grave trouble.
What is to be done? Just as American politics did not sour overnight, so the route forward is by many small steps, beginning with next week’s elections. And the first of those steps is for the House, at a minimum, to switch to Democratic control.
This matters because Mr Trump should be subject to congressional oversight. He shows contempt for the norms that, to varying degrees, constrained past presidents—whether by refusing to release his tax returns, mixing official and private business, or bullying officials working in, say, the justice department who should be independent. Congress should hold hearings to investigate such behaviour. . . . a continued Republican majority in the House would eventually imperil the rule of law.
For Democrats to win control of the House would, in the long run, benefit both parties. Defeat would encourage some Republicans to start putting forward a conservative alternative to Trumpism. Defeat in the Senate, too, would turbo-charge that effort, though it looks unlikely. The status quo, by contrast, would cement Mr Trump’s takeover of the party.
America will not mend its politics in a single election. At a minimum, progress will take more votes, a renewal of the Republican Party and a different president with a different moral compass. But the right result next week could point the way.
Well said.  A second necessary step is to drive animus motivated, ignorance embracing evangelical Christians back into the political wilderness, hopefully, forever. 

More Thursday Male Beauty

Vote Against all Republicans. Every Single One.

A column in the Washington Post takes the position I subscribe to as a former Republican: vote against every single Republican that you can next Tuesday.  It is the only way to save the Republican Party and perhaps the country as well.  A message must be sent that the current hatred of others and general toxicity of the GOP is unacceptable and must end.  The column is written by a former Republican.  Much of the lament involves the daily parade of lies and horrible behavior flowing from the White House, but ultimately it focuses on all of the Republicans (I call them Vichy Republicans) who have thrown principle and decency - what little many had - to enable, aid and abet the most malignant individual to ever occupy the White House.  What we are witnessing is NOT normal.  Indeed, the unhinged behavior coming from the White House is more reminiscent of that of Ivan the Terrible (for Fox News viewers, that a 16th century Russian tsar), Adolph Hitler or Idi Amin.  There is only one way to stop or at least lessen it.  Vote out every member of the party that is complicit in such misogyny.  Every one possible.  The future of America literally depends on it.  Here are column highlights:

I’m sick and tired of a president who pretends that a caravan of impoverished refugees is an “invasion by “unknown Middle Easterners” and “bad thugs” — and whose followers on Fox News pretend the refugees are bringing leprosy and smallpox to the United States. (Smallpox was eliminated about 40 years ago.)
I’m sick and tired of a president who misuses his office to demagogue on immigration — by unnecessarily sending 5,200 troops to the border and by threatening to rescind by executive order the 14th Amendment guarantee of citizenship to anyone born in the United States.
I’m sick and tired of a president who is so self-absorbed that he thinks he is the real victim of mail-bomb attacks on his political opponents — and who, after visiting Pittsburgh despite being asked by local leaders to stay away, tweeted about how he was treated, not about the victims of the synagogue massacre.
I’m sick and tired of a president who cheers a congressman for his physical assault of a reporter, calls the press the “enemy of the people ” and won’t stop or apologize even after bombs were sent to CNN in the mail.
I’m sick and tired of a president who employs the language of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about Jewish financier George Soros and “globalists,” and won’t apologize or retract even after what is believed to be the worst attack on Jews in U.S. history.

I’m sick and tired of a president who presides over one of the most unethical administrations in U.S. history — with three Cabinet members resigning for reported ethical infractions and the secretary of the interior the subject of at least 18 federal investigations.
I’m sick and tired of a president who flouts norms of accountability by refusing to release his tax returns or place his business holdings in a blind trust.
I’m sick and tired of a president who cares so little about right-wing terrorism that, on the very day of the synagogue shooting, he proceeded with a campaign rally, telling his supporters, “Let’s have a good time.”
I’m sick and tired of a president who lies outrageously and incessantly an average of eight times a day — claiming recently that there are riots in California and that a bill that passed the Senate 98 to 1 had “very little Democrat support.”
And I’m sick and tired of Republicans who go along with Trump — defending, abetting and imitating his egregious excesses.
I’m sick and tired of Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) acting like a caddie for the man he once denounced as a “kook — just this week, Graham endorsed Trump’s call for rescinding “birthright citizenship,” a kooky idea if ever there was one.
I’m sick and tired of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), who got his start in politics as a protege of the “bleeding-heart conservative” Jack Kemp, refusing to call out Trump’s race-baiting.
I’m sick and tired of Republicans who not only refuse to investigate Trump’s alleged ethical violations but who also help him to obstruct justice by maligning the FBI, the special counsel and the Justice Department.
Most of all, I’m sick and tired of Republicans who feel that Trump’s blatant bigotry gives them license to do the same — with Rep. Pete Olson (R-Tex.) denouncing his opponent as an “Indo-American carpetbagger,” Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis warning voters not to “monkey this up” by electing his African American opponent, Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-Calif.) labeling his “Palestinian Mexican” opponent a “security risk” who is “working to infiltrate Congress,” and Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) accusing his opponent, who is of Indian Tibetan heritage, of “selling out Americans” because he once worked at a law firm that settled terrorism-related cases against Libya.
If you’re sick and tired, too, here is what you can do. Vote for Democrats on Tuesday. For every office. Regardless of who they are. And I say that as a former Republican. Some Republicans in suburban districts may claim they aren’t for Trump. Don’t believe them. Whatever their private qualms, no Republicans have consistently held Trump to account. They are too scared that doing so will hurt their chances of reelection. If you’re as sick and tired as I am of being sick and tired about what’s going on, vote against all Republicans. Every single one. That’s the only message they will understand.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Veterans Slam Trump for Border "Stunt"

Trump seeks to use the military  against refugees.
In an effort to energize his racist, white supremacist base, Donald Trump wants to send 5,000 U.S. military troops to the US/Mexico border - a move that is likely illegal since federal troops are banned from being used within the country.  Like everything else he does, Trump seemingly sees himself as above the law and above the Constitution.  The reaction from military veterans has not been positive with many no doubt fearful of the optics both at home and abroad of soldiers confronting women and children (especially if they fire on unarmed families) and also concerned about the illegality and cost of the move.  Sadly, evangelical Christians - who as noted have confirmed their racial animosity towards non-whites in a recent poll - are likely cheering and further perverting what being "Christian" is supposed to mean. If allowed, the move could create a dangerous precedent for using the military domestically against those Trump labels as "a threat to national security.).  Here are highlights from CNN:
With his decision to deploy more than 5,000 troops to the US-Mexico border, President Donald Trump has ordered more military personnel to the US southwest than he has serving in some of the world's most contentious combat zones.
[T]he mission -- dubbed Operation Faithful Patriot -- raises a slew of questions, with many veterans condemning it as a political stunt by a President eager to fire up his political base just days away from the midterm elections. "Donald Trump thinks unarmed people who are fleeing horrors and are still 1,000 miles away are a national security threat a week before election day?" said Will Fischer, a former Marine who now works for the VoteVets, a progressive veteran's organization.
"I don't think so," Fischer said. "It's a political ploy to blow upon the embers of racism and nativism, and he is using the military again as a political prop to advance his own agenda" 
Fischer and other veterans point to the unknown cost to taxpayers, given that much smaller deployments of National Guard to the border have cost hundreds of millions of dollars. They also question the cost the military will bear, as the operation pulls troops away from training, other missions and their families. And then, they say, there's the murky legality of the mission, its scope and its purpose.
US troops will join over 2,000 National Guardsmen who are already at the border, meaning upwards of 7,000 American forces will be mobilized to stop Central American migrants that are still some 900 miles away from the border and weeks away from arriving in the US.
Despite Trump's unsubstantiated claim that the group of Central Americans includes "gang members and some very bad people," most of the migrants have reportedly indicated that they plan to apply for asylum once they arrive in the US.
 This is not a national security issue. ... We're seeing women, children and the elderly within this caravan fighting for their lives. We don't need more military there," according to Bishop Garrison, the interim executive director of the Truman National Security Project . . . "We don't need to make a sensitive issue and situation all the more dramatic," said Garrison, a former Homeland Security and Pentagon official.
 Both Fischer and a former military official, interviewed separately, raised the question of the rules of engagement for the troops. . . . "what if something does happen and lethal force is deployed and you have the US military firing at unarmed civilians?" Anger about the deployment and the perception that Mattis is allowing the military to be used for political purposes led one former Pentagon official to call for him to step down.
"This is a craven political stunt by President Trump ahead of the US midterms, and a cynical capitulation by a secretary of defense who has prided himself on improving the readiness, focus and lethality of the US armed forces," Kelly Magsamen, a National Security Council official under both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama, wrote in Defense One. The former military officer, who logged two decades of experience as an army officer before moving on to become a strategist, said the troops were being sent to "do a mission that could ... be done by another entity" such as the National Guard.  Dave McGinnis, a former Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense, agreed. [A] former official pointed out that US laws prohibit the military from detaining people, "so it's not like we're sending down an operational force, it's just people in a largely supportive role. That's why I say it's a stunt, so [Trump] can say, yeah, we're sending the military down to the border." McGinnis said Trump's move also sets a precedent. "If Congress allows him to do this, you're pushing the envelope on using the military for things this country has never, ever permitted," he said. "The visual on this for the world is really bad from a military perspective," McGinnis said. "It's using regular military troops for things that democracies really don't do."
 Cost also remains a major concern. Congressional sources with the House and Senate Armed Services Committees told CNN that they have not received cost data from the Pentagon.

Vote Democrat on November 6, 2018 - Trump and his lawlessness must be stopped. #NotMyPresident.

Millennials Have the Most to Lose If They Don't Vote

I grew up in a politically engaged family - family gatherings often ended up in running political discussions and debates - and, as a result I and my siblings (and my children) have always voted and often become involved in campaigns. Thus, I find it maddening that Millennials - the group that will suffer the most from reverse Robin Hood policies of the GOP and the racist agenda of the Trump/Pence regime - are among those least likely to vote. Yes, America's political system is seriously f*cked up, but not voting only makes the situation worse.  Indeed, if Millennials, blacks and Hispanics would vote in force, the GOP would likely be forced into a permanent minority position.  A piece in New York Magazine makes the case as to why Millennials need to bestir themselves and get out in vote.  Here are article highlights (share the piece with Millennial friends and family members):
The American political system has given young people plenty of cause for deleting its number from our phones, unfriending it on Facebook, and cutting it out of our lives completely in a fit of self-care.
Electoral politics promised us a democracy, then let the Supreme Court pick our president; vowed to protect us from terror, then sent our friends to die for the cause of birthing ISIS; seduced us with sweet nothings about upward mobility and “the knowledge economy,” then buried us in our parents’ basements under a pile of student debt; gave us hope that an audacious young president would make change we could believe in — then bailed out the banks, foreclosed on our families, and delivered us into a nightmare parody of all that he was supposed to save us from. And now this sorry excuse for a republic has the temerity to ask us to study its byzantine voting rules, slip out of a job we can’t afford to lose in the middle of a Tuesday, and wait in line for hours to choose between a feckless donkey and a psychopathic elephant.
But unfollowing electoral politics won’t make it disappear. And our political system will only grow more dangerous without your voice in its ear. So if you’re among the 65 percent of those ages 18 to 29 who plan to sit out the midterms, please consider the following five reasons to go to the polls.
1. Playing hard to get will get you nothing.   If you don’t like how a company does business, boycotting its products can (sometimes) be an effective means of forcing change, because corporations need your money to survive. But if you don’t like how politicians govern, boycotting elections will change nothing because the government doesn’t need your ballot to stay afloat. When left-wing millennials sit out elections, they don’t force Democrats to pay more attention to their interests; they make it easier for the entire political system to ignore their wishes by ensuring that no one in power will be worried about losing their support.
 2. The size of your voting bloc matters.   There are few things the GOP isn’t willing to do to please its donor class, but cutting boomers’ beloved benefits is one. AARP members owe this immense clout not to the militancy of their street protests or the wit of their Twitter owns, but to their singular propensity for showing up at the polls. If we followed their example, we’d have the numbers to make student-debt relief, public day-care, and any of our generation’s other policy priorities into a source of bipartisan consensus.
3. Voting for the lesser of two evils is great — that way you get less evil.   The Democratic Party is a deeply flawed institution, complicit in economic inequality in the U.S. and in unjust wars overseas. But if millennials had voted at the same rate as our parents in 2016, in all probability hundreds of thousands of longtime legal U.S. residents wouldn’t be in danger of losing the right to live here, thousands of child migrants wouldn’t have suffered the trauma of “family separation,” the Supreme Court wouldn’t have approved Republican efforts to disenfranchise nonwhite voters in Ohio and Texas or undermined reproductive rights in California, the Education Department would not be restricting access to federal-student-loan forgiveness while relaxing oversight of predatory for-profit colleges, the EPA would not be comporting itself as a lobbying arm of the fossil-fuel industry, the Treasury would not have forfeited hundreds of billions of dollars to America’s wealthiest taxpayers, and everyone the world over would have been able to continue ignoring the existence of the American president’s Twitter account.
4. You’re (probably) better informed about politics than the average American voter.   Many young people say they don’t “know enough about the issues” to vote. But we’re still far more in touch with reality than our elders. Millennials are more likely to accept that climate change is man-made, less likely to endorse prejudicial views of racial minorities and Islam, and far more liable to recognize Donald Trump’s unfitness for high office than any other generation of Americans. . . . . if more millennials voted, it would likely increase the salience of renters’ interests in U.S. politics. Similarly, the existing electorate is much less likely to comprehend the broader material challenges younger Americans face: Despite the U.S. doing far less for its young people (in subsidizing education, job training, housing, and child care) than just about any other advanced democracy, a majority of boomers say the government “does enough for young people” (but still needs to do more for older folks).
5. If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal — and they are.  In 2008, young voters helped deliver North Carolina to Barack Obama. Shortly thereafter, Republicans in the Tar Heel State’s government revised voter-ID law to exclude student-ID cards. Eight other states have adopted similar restrictions. Just this year, New Hampshire passed a law that effectively imposes a poll tax on college students who wish to vote in the state, Florida’s Republican governor (and Senate candidate) Rick Scott tried to block early voting on university campuses, and state legislators in North Dakota have disenfranchised just about everyone who lives on a Native American reservation. Millennials may doubt their ability to effect change at the ballot box, but the powers that be sure don’t.
Please!  Encourage all of your Millennials friends and family members to go to the polls and vote DEMOCRAT. 

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Poll: Majority of White Evangelicals Admit to Being Racists

I have long argued that there is a very large overlap between white supremacists and white evangelical Christians.  In the case of Southern Baptists, one need only look at the denomination's history - i.e., it was formed because of its member churches' support for the continuation of slavery - to grasp that this is a racist denomination.  As for the pretend "family values" organizations like Family Research Council, Traditional Values Coalition, Focus on the Family, Concerned Women for America and The Family Foundation here in Virginia - they are mostly lily white organizations that support anti-minority Republican policies. Now, we have a Public Religion Research Institute survey - the 9th annual American Values Survey - that confirms that white evangelical Christians are anti-immigrant, support horrible family separations for immigrants and are anti-racial diversity.  They have turned Christ into a "White Jesus" and pretty much have a "fuck everyone else" attitude towards anyone who is different be they poor, elderly, refugees or children.  Indeed, they are exhibit 1 as to why one would not want to be considered a "Christian."  Here are highlights from Christian Post:

White evangelical protestants are the only religious demographic in the United States in which the majority views immigrants as a "threat" to American values and sees the country's increasing racial diversity as a bad thing, a new survey has found.
A little over a week before the 2018 midterm elections, the Public Religion Research Institute on Monday released its 9th annual American Values Survey.
The research shows that white evangelical Protestants are at odds with all other identified religious groups on many questions relating to immigration, race, the #MeToo movement and President Donald Trump.
The survey featured responses from 2,509 adults (338 self-identified white evangelical Protestants) across 50 states and contained a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points.
While a majority of all other religious demographics have unfavorable views of President Donald Trump, 68 percent of white evangelicals hold a favorable view of the Republican president. Meanwhile, 80 percent of black Protestants, 75 percent of religiously unaffiliated, 74 percent of Hispanic Catholics, 73 percent of non-Christian religious Americans, 52 percent of white mainline Protestants and white Catholics hold a negative opinion of Trump.
As data shows that the U.S. will become a minority white nation by the year 2045, the survey asked respondents whether or not the nation's ethnic and racial "realignment" is positive or a negative thing.
The majority of all major religious demographics surveyed said they see the realignment as positive thing except for white evangelicals. Fifty-four percent of white evangelicals surveyed said they see the U.S. becoming majority non-white as a mostly negative trend.
By comparison, 81 percent of Hispanic Catholics, 80 percent of black Protestants, 51 percent of white Catholics and white mainline Protestants see the trend as mostly positive.
When asked about the growing number of "newcomers" to the United States, white evangelicals (57 percent) were the only major religious group to have a majority say that immigrants "threaten traditional American customs and values." PRRI also found that although most Americans oppose a hypothetical law to ban refugees around the world from being able to come to the United States, about half of white evangelicals (51 percent) would support such a law. The data also finds that white evangelicals were the group least likely to oppose a policy of separating immigrant children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border. "When you look at the [PRRI] report, [marriage and abortion] are a very low priority for Republicans and for white evangelicals. The real key to understanding white evangelicals is through their anti-immigrant attitudes and fear of demographic change," Wong explained. "They are the group that is most conservative on the travel ban. They are also the most conservative of family separation, which to many people is a moral issue."
"They are also the only religious group to contend that immigrants threaten American values," she added. "It is really this potent mix of nativism and racial anxiety and white Christian nationalism that underlines many of the other policy attitudes that you see presented in this report."
While 69 percent of Americans feel that Trump has "damaged the dignity of the presidency," White evangelicals are the only religious group to have a majority (53 percent) that says that Trump has not "damaged the dignity of the presidency."
"Why do they stick with Trump?" Wong asked during the panel. "Because Trump's immigration agenda is the white evangelical immigration agenda. I think that has become very clear."

I have long viewed evangelical Christians as total hypocrites and this survey adds basis for view these modern day Pharisees negatively.  They simply are NOT nice or decent people. They are as morally bankrupt as Trump himself.