Saturday, November 30, 2019

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Utah Becomes 19th State to Ban Gay "Conversion Therapy"

Utah with its heavy Mormon population once again shows that a red state can embrace modern medical and mental health knowledge and act to protect LGBT youth from what is nothing short of psychological abuse and even physical torture and abuse on far too many occasions. What am I talking about?  "Conversion therapy" a discredited and fraudulent "therapy" prized by Christofascists and other religious fundamentalist often for political purposes to oppose LGBT non-discrimination protections.  Utah has a high LGBT youth homeless problem and a high youth suicide rate that are often tied to anti-gay animus in the Mormon church.  Hopefully, this ban will speed acceptance of LGBT individuals despite the Mormon church leadership's continued anti-gay stance.  One can only hope that a similar ban will be enacted in Virginia in 2020 since Republicans prostituting themselves to the vicious extremists at The Family Foundation  will no longer be able to kill pro-LGBT legislation in committees. The Washington Blade looks at this welcome development in Utah:
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert announced Tuesday his state would implement regulations prohibiting mental health experts from engaging in “ex-gay” conversion therapy on LGBTQ youth, making Utah the 19th state to prohibit the widely discredited practice.
The announcement from a Herbert, a Republican, comes after a tumultuous debate over conversion therapy in the heavily Mormon state, where family rejection of LGBTQ youth is known to contribute to Utah’s homeless population.
“I have learned much through this process,” Herbert said. “The stories of youth who have endured these so-called therapies are heart rendering, and I’m grateful that we have found a way that will ban conversion therapy forever in our state. I’m grateful to the many stakeholders who came to the table in good faith, with never-ending patience.”
After legislation seeking to prohibit conversion therapy failed in the state legislature, Herbert in June announced the Utah Division of Occupational & Professional Licensing would seek to establish rules to regulate conversion therapy. At the time, the results of that undertaking weren’t known.
“Utah is once again leading the way in protecting LGBTQ youth and their families,” Minter said. “We salute Governor Herbert for taking action on this important issue and for this historic accomplishment.”
Therapy aimed at changing an individual’s sexual orientation or transgender status is considered ineffectual at best and harmful at worst. Major medical and psychological institutions — including the American Psychological Association, the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics — widely reject the practice.
The regulation is expected to have the same language as H.B. 399, legislation introduced by Rep. Craig Hall that failed in the state legislature, and will apply to all licensed therapists in Utah. (However, that won’t apply to practitioners of conversion therapy who aren’t therapists, such as clergy, and for LGBTQ adults seeking to participate in the practice with a licensed therapists.)

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Are Some Blacks Seeking to Alienate Gay Voters?

One thing about today's Republicans for good or for bad is that they are unified and focused on defeating those they deem "other." Sadly, Democrats seem more concerned about infighting amongst themselves and alienating those who, in my view, should be their natural allies. A case in point is the rift between some blacks and their apparent quest to dish Pete Buttigieg.  The irony is that both blacks and gays have been subject to centuries of discrimination, much of it based on selected Bible passages, yet what ought to be a unifying experience of being denigrated and diminished by white heterosexual society has some arguing that only they are true victims of discrimination.  Never mind that gays, unlike blacks, continue to lack statutory employment, housing and health care non-discrimination protections in the majority of the states. What prompts me to say this is the attacks Buttigieg is under for saying that as a gay man, he knows about living with discrimination and, therefore, can empathize with the discrimination that blacks face.  True, white gays can often "pass" in society in a way that blacks cannot, but we do know the harm of discrimination.  I was fired for being gay and my whiteness did nothing to protect me. I've been screamed at and call "faggot' - ironically, mostly by blacks - and find myself hated by some simply for who I am.  Both gays and blacks need to remember that we have a common enemy: Donald Trump and today's GOP.  Thus, the concept of the enemy of my enemy is my friend should apply. The Washington Post looks at what I see as Buttigieg's good faith remarks that have been grasp by some as a basis for attacking him.  Here are highlights:
Mayor Pete Buttigieg has delivered a provocative response in recent days to those who challenge his empathy with black Americans: His experience as a gay man helps him relate to the struggles of African Americans.
That has angered some African Americans, who view it as an attempt by a privileged white man to claim a type of victimhood that is distinct from the black experience in America, even while others take the comments more favorably.
Oliver Davis, a black council member in South Bend, Ind., where Buttigieg is mayor, said that African Americans, unlike gay people, don’t have the option of “coming out” at their chosen moment — as did Buttigieg, who disclosed his sexual orientation after he had been elected mayor.
LGBT activists see something different in Buttigieg — a barrier-breaker from a group that has long faced bigotry and violence, a face of the latest struggle for inclusion. And while some successfully conceal their difference, say leaders of the movement for gay equality, that decision can come with its own steep costs.
Evan Wolfson, founder of Freedom to Marry, which helped lead the fight for same-sex marriage, said Buttigieg’s message is not “an attempt to appropriate someone else’s experience.” Rather, he said, the mayor is saying that “because he, too, has had to deal with his own struggles, that has made him more aware of the need to connect with the struggles of others.”
That question — how to square Buttigieg’s privileges with the adversity that comes with anti-gay prejudice — is becoming sharper as the 37-year-old Afghan war veteran rises in the polls and scrambles for ways to connect with black voters. And it renews the issue of how Americans, of any background, will respond to the candidacy of an openly gay man, one who holds hands with his husband and publicly discusses his decision to come out.
Buttigieg has shot to the top of the polls in Iowa and is gaining strength in New Hampshire, two largely white states — but he trails badly in South Carolina, the first primary state with a sizable African American population. A recent poll gave him less than 1 percent support among black Democrats there.
The mayor’s current efforts to find common ground are prompting raw feelings, including his comments at the last Democratic debate when the question of race arose.
“While I do not have the experience of ever having been discriminated against because of the color of my skin, I do have the experience of sometimes feeling like a stranger in my own country, turning on the news and seeing my own rights come up for debate, and seeing my rights expanded by a coalition of people like me and people not at all like me,” Buttigieg said.
That drew a sharp response, including from Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), a presidential hopeful and the only black woman in the U.S. Senate.
“I think Kamala had a point, and I understood what she was saying,” the Rev. Al Sharpton, the civil rights activist, said in an interview, though he added that Buttigieg had been misunderstood.
He said Buttigieg is doing his best to reach out. “He’s evolving,” Sharpton said. “Do I think he’s where he needs to be? No.”
The prospect of tension between the black and gay communities worries some people in both groups. “Can’t y’all stop this mess?” Alvin McEwen, a black LGBT activist from South Carolina, recalled thinking to himself amid the furor following Buttigieg’s comments.
“No group wants to have the autonomy of their narrative taken by another group,” McEwen said. “But it also typifies how both communities want to grab on to power and don’t want to listen to each other.”
Asked about the comments during his recent campaign swing in western Iowa, Buttigieg said he was not trying to compare the black and gay experiences, only to say that he is driven to fight for African Americans the way others have fought for him.
“Having seen that, having seen how that alliance can make an impact, makes me reflect on how I can turn around and make myself useful, not only to the LGBT community but to people whose life experiences are very different,” he added.
“Let’s not get caught up in who understands discrimination the most,” Barber said. “Let’s deal with the real issue, which is that the same entities that are against gay folks are the same entities who are against black folks, and that we ought to be united in fighting discrimination in any form it arises.”
Buttigieg from the outset of his campaign sought guidance in how to frame his gay identity when talking with black voters. Two weeks after announcing his run for president, he lunched with Sharpton at Sylvia’s, a famous restaurant in Harlem.
“He wanted to genuinely know how I felt the African American community would relate to an LGBT candidate,” Sharpton said. The activist told Buttigieg something other black leaders have also said — that the level of homophobia in the black community has been greatly overstated.

In Virginia's 2017 elections, Justin Fairfax, the black Lt. Governor, eked out victory by the narrowest margin of the three statewide candidates and was arguably put over the top by the LGBT vote. Had Virginia gays employed the mindset of Buttigieg's critics, perhaps Fairfax would have been defeated.   The focus needs to be on unity and fighting our common enemies.  

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

What's Wrong in America: Declining Life Expectancy

Map of those overweight and obese by state. 
Life expectancy is continuing to rise in other advanced, wealthy nations, including the liberal European nations so derided by American conservatives. Such is not the case in the United States where life expectancy is falling, with sharp decreases in age brackets often considered the prime time of one's life.  A report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association looks at the unwanted reality and where the death rate has risen the most: mostly in mid-western "swing states" and the South, regions where Republican political rule predominates. While no one cause explains the phenomenon, there are a number of factors noted in the report, particularly, America's obesity problem.  Go to Europe and walk around almost any city and you will NOT see the large numbers of overweight people and those you do see will most often be American tourists. My own thoughts on this particular problem of obesity focuses on (i) Americans' poor diet and addiction to high calorie fast food and (ii) vastly over-sized portions at American restaurants (things you do not see in Europe).  Then, of course, most other advanced nations have some version of universal health care, something lacking in the USA.  The Washington Post looks at the report and the dire outlook for the future.  Here are article highlights:

Death rates from suicide, drug overdoses, liver disease and dozens of other causes have been rising over the past decade for young and middle-aged adults, driving down overall life expectancy in the United States for three consecutive years, according to a strikingly bleak study published Tuesday that looked at the past six decades of mortality data.
The report, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, was immediately hailed by outside researchers for its comprehensive treatment of a still-enigmatic trend: the reversal of historical patterns in longevity.
Despite spending more on health care than any other country, the United States has seen increasing mortality and falling life expectancy for people age 25 to 64, who should be in the prime of their lives. In contrast, other wealthy nations have generally experienced continued progress in extending longevity.
[T]he broad trend detailed in this study cuts across gender, racial and ethnic lines. By age group, the highest relative jump in death rates from 2010 to 2017 — 29 percent — has been among people age 25 to 34.
The findings are sure to fuel political debate about causes and potential solutions because the geography of rising death rates overlaps to a significant extent with states and regions that are hotly contested in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election.
About a third of the estimated 33,000 “excess deaths” that the study says occurred since 2010 were in just four states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Indiana — the first two of which are critical swing states in presidential elections. The state with the biggest percentage rise in death rates among working-age people in this decade — 23.3 percent — is New Hampshire, the first primary state.
“It’s supposed to be going down, as it is in other countries,” said the lead author of the report, Steven H. Woolf, director emeritus of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University. “The fact that that number is climbing, there’s something terribly wrong.”
He said many factors are at play. The opioid epidemic is a major driver of the worrisome numbers but far from the sole cause. The study found that improvements in life expectancy, largely because of lower rates of infant mortality, began to slow in the 1980s, long before the opioid epidemic became a national tragedy.
“Some of it may be due to obesity, some of it may be due to drug addiction, some of it may be due to distracted driving from cellphones,” Woolf said. Given the breadth and pervasiveness of the trend, “it suggests that the cause has to be systemic, that there’s some root cause that’s causing adverse health across many different dimensions for working-age adults.”
The average life expectancy in the United States fell behind that of other wealthy countries in 1998, and since then the gap has grown steadily. Experts refer to this gap as the United States’ “health disadvantage.”
Princeton professors Anne Case and Angus Deaton, whose much-publicized report in 2015 highlighted the death rates in middle-aged whites, published a paper in 2017 pointing to a widening gap in health associated with levels of education, a trend dating to the 1970s. Case told reporters their research showed a “sea of despair” in the United States among people with only a high school diploma or less.
Obesity is a significant part of the story. The average woman in the United States today weighs as much as the average man half a century ago, and men now weigh about 30 pounds more. Most people in the United States are overweight — an estimated 71.6 percent of the population age 20 and older, according to the CDC. That figure includes the 39.8 percent who are obese, defined as having a body mass index of 30 or higher in adults (18.5 to 25 is the normal range). Obesity is also rising in children; nearly 19 percent of the population age 2 to 19 is obese.
“These kids are acquiring obesity in their early teen years, sometimes under the age of 10,” said S. Jay Olshansky, a professor of public health at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “When they get up into their 20s, 30s and 40s, they’re carrying the risk factors of obesity that were acquired when they were children. We didn’t see that in previous generations.”

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Medicare for All: Political Kryptonite

Giving away my age, I will admit that I like Medicare.  The coverage is far better than when I had private health care insurance and the premiums are considerably lower even when paying extra for supplemental and prescription drug coverage.  It also demonstrates how a public option for those who want it - something Pete Buttigieg is pushing in his campaign - could at last force serious competition on private health insurance companies which typically give would be subscribers arrays of plans that are near impossible to compare side by side but all of which are expensive and leave individuals choosing their preferred form of poison.  Medicare for those who want it also avoids potential political suicide for Democrats - something seemingly totally lost on Bernie Sanders and largely lost on Elizabeth Warren - why potentially paving the way toward a more expansive form of public option down the road.  Sometimes consistent evolution is far better than an overnight revolution.   Now, more Democrats seem to be waking to the reality that Sanders' and Warren's Medicare for all mantra could be pushing Democrats toward defeat in 2020 - something that I view as nothing less than a national catastrophe and the possible end of America's political system as we have known it.  A piece in the New York Times looks at this potential and why moderation is perhaps the best way to win in 2020.  Here are highlights:

Prominent Democratic leaders are sounding increasingly vocal alarms to try to halt political momentum for “Medicare for all,” opting to risk alienating liberals and deepening the divide in the party rather than enter an election year with a sweeping health care proposal that many see as a liability for candidates up and down the ballot.
From Michigan to Georgia, North Dakota to Texas, Democratic elected officials, strategists and pollsters are warning that the party’s commitment to the Obama-era Affordable Care Act — widely seen as critical to electoral gains in 2018 and 2019 — could slip away as a political advantage in 2020 if Republicans seize on Medicare for all and try to paint Democrats as socialists on health care.
“When you say Medicare for all, it’s a risk. It makes people feel afraid,” said Gov. Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island, . . . “We won in Kentucky and Louisiana, barely, in part, because we won on health care. I don’t think we can afford to lose on health care.”
While Democrats won the House in 2018 by decrying Republican efforts to undercut popular provisions in the Affordable Care Act, the Democratic presidential primary race has turned in large part on whether to replace that law with a more expansive, single-payer system, financed by higher taxes and linked to an end to private health insurance.
[M]oderate leaders in the [presidential nomination] race, like Joseph R. Biden Jr., the former vice president, and Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., support adding a public health care option to the current law. While the primary race is fluid and unpredictable, Medicare for all has steadily driven much of the Democratic discussion of health care.
A determination to shift those conversations is now spurring top Democratic officials to speak out more forcefully against Medicare for all, playing to the anxieties of Democrats who fear their party could once more lose crucial Electoral College battlegrounds like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin to Mr. Trump if they push for a nationwide overhaul of health care coverage and benefits.
Warnings are being issued at all levels of the Democratic Party, from union members who fear losing hard-won benefits, to candidates running in swing districts, all the way up to former President Barack Obama, who offered a pointed warning about the risks of overreach at a gathering of donors in Washington, D.C., this month.
Many are gravely concerned about the impact that having a presidential nominee who backs Medicare for all at the top of the ticket would have on the most vulnerable Democratic candidates.
[A]s the race moves closer and closer to the start of primary voting, other polling indicates that voters in key battleground states have grown more skeptical of implementing Medicare for all. A survey released this month by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Cook Political Report found that nearly two-thirds of swing voters in Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin rated a Medicare for all plan that would eliminate private insurance as a “bad idea.”
Internal polling conducted by the Democratic Governors Association in October found that Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana tested 15 points higher on health care than his Republican challenger. Their polling found similar results in Kentucky, where Andy Beshear, the Democratic candidate and now governor-elect, polled 12 points higher than Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican.
Even if Ms. Warren or Mr. Sanders fail to win the nomination, some Democrats from battleground and conservative states worry that the party has already damaged its brand heading into the general election.
“The politics are horrible for the Democratic Party, that’s my judgment,” said Ms. Heitkamp, who lost her seat representing North Dakota last year and is now heading up an effort to win rural voters. “We’re making the issue about our plan rather than what the president has or has not done.”
“Democrats need to start talking about the contrast with Trump on this,” said Mr. Brown, who has not endorsed a candidate in the primary race. “The conversation should not be Democrats fighting over the path to universal coverage.”
Congressional candidates are frequently asked whether they agree with the policy; candidates in all 10 of the most competitive Senate races have said they do not support it, preferring to keep their health care message focused on expanding Medicaid, protecting the Affordable Care Act and slamming repeal efforts by Republicans.
Other allies of Mr. Biden have begun speaking in increasingly apocalyptic terms about how a presidential nominee perceived as too far to the left — thanks to positions on issues like health care — would impact other candidates in competitive races.
“We’ve got to find ways that we can build on the success of the Affordable Care Act and ensure that everyone has coverage that works for them,” said Representative Chris Pappas, a New Hampshire Democrat elected last year. “Most of us who were recently elected to Congress, those who helped flip the majority in the House, really have a practical point of view of what’s actually going to deliver relief to families in our districts.”

Sadly, Sanders' and Warren's cult like followers appear blind to the reality that their candidates are pushing a plan too radical for a majority of voters at this point in time.  Winning in 2020 has to be the priority.  Without winning, no improvements can be made to the current system and, if Republicans retain control, continued efforts to destroy what has already been accomplished will increase. 

Tuesday Morning Male Beauty

Monday, November 25, 2019

More Monday Male Beauty

Biden Campaign is Struggling in Iowa

While national polls continue to show Joe Biden leading among 2020 Democrat nominee contenders, I and many others continue to worry about his ability to take on Trump in the general election.  His history of gaffes and past failed presidential campaigns does not instill confidence and now, in Iowa, his floundering campaign gives a frightening prelude to what could happen in the general election. His campaign is described as lacking in excitement, there are worries about too few visits to the state, and some question his ground game operation all as Biden has been steadily losing ground in polls in Iowa. The situation suggests a nightmare scenario were Biden to win the nomination and have to go toe to toe with Trump in the half dozen states that may determine who scores an Electoral College victory.  Indeed, Biden reminds me of Bob Dole's failed presidential campaign.  A piece in the New York Times looks at Biden's struggle in Iowa.  Here are highlights:
WINTERSET, Iowa — Nancy Courtney displays a Joe Biden sign in her yard, makes phone calls for his campaign and supports the former vice president “100 percent,” she said. But the sluggish state of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s organization in her city of Burlington, Iowa, had her fuming one recent evening.
“In Burlington, they are duds,” said Ms. Courtney, an activist who is married to the Democratic chairman in Des Moines County. “I will help, but there’s no excitement there. There’s nothing. I will do whatever it takes to get him elected, but I can’t go down there when there’s nothing going on.”
Bob Kling, a city councilman in Indianola, just south of Des Moines, was promoted by the Biden campaign as a prominent local endorser. But asked about Mr. Biden’s standing in his state, Mr. Kling was blunt: “Not as great as he was. Buttigieg is kind of taking the lead in the polls,”
Since late summer, Mr. Biden, the early front-runner in the Democratic primary, has faced an increasingly difficult path in Iowa — dropping in the polls and struggling with an enthusiasm gap and an inclination among undecided caucusgoers to consider all options. Now, 10 weeks before the Iowa caucuses, even his own supporters in the state are growing more worried about his prospects.
[V]oters at Mr. Biden’s events, along with county chairs and party strategists, characterize his on-the-ground organization as scattershot, visibly present in some counties but barely detectable in others. His events are often relatively small and sometimes subdued affairs, and in a state where enthusiasm can make or break a candidate on caucus night — a big part of caucusing centers on persuading friends and neighbors — Mr. Biden’s operation has found it difficult to build contagious excitement, these Democrats say.
There is also the sense among many Iowa Democrats that Mr. Biden, who entered the race later than many of his rivals, has been less engaged in the state than his top rivals.
Mr. Biden’s team argues that the former vice president, who is stronger in later-voting and more diverse states, has been trying hard to prevail in Iowa but also sees multiple paths to the nomination. Still, some advisers and allies are aware that a poor showing in Iowa could be crushing to a campaign that is premised on the notion that Mr. Biden is the most electable candidate against President Trump. Because New Hampshire, which follows Iowa in the primary calendar, historically favors candidates from neighboring states, the pressure is on here.
Mr. Buttigieg presents an immediate threat to Mr. Biden. While polls show him struggling with voters of color in later-voting states, in Iowa he draws supporters among moderates who like Mr. Biden but worry about his age, his tendency to misspeak and his uneven debate performances. And because of a cash crunch this fall, Mr. Biden was off the Iowa airwaves for weeks while Mr. Buttigieg, flush with cash, blanketed them with ads.
Mr. Biden’s diminished standing here was highlighted in a recent Des Moines Register/CNN poll, which showed Mr. Biden with 15 percent support — far behind Mr. Buttigieg and effectively tied with Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
Dan Callahan, the Democratic chair in Buchanan County, said he expected Mr. Biden to finish in the top three in the state but suggested that his support had stagnated, in part because he can appear “unfocused and less energetic” when he goes off script at events.
“Part of Biden’s problem is that we have so many options to choose from,” Mr. Callahan said. “His followers are dedicated but he isn’t attracting new voters like some of the other candidates.”  

Monday Morning Male Beauty

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Christofascist Furious With Chick-fil-A for Maybe Ending Anti-Gay Funding

Chick-fil-A has a long history of funding through its foundation a who's who of anti-LGBT organizations, some of of which would be better classified as hate groups rather than supposed charities.  Indeed, one prominent friend refers to the company as "hateful chicken."  Last week Chick-fil-A announced that it was going to cease funding such organizations - something it has done before in the past but then failed to actually implement. I and many people I know have avoided Chick-fil-A for many years and increasingly the company's funding of anti-LGBT organizations has come home to roost as the company has been refused franchises at some airports and universities and saw its first outlet in the United Kingdom closed shortly after opening. As The Advocate reports, Chick-fil-A's announcement has caused an outcry among Christian extremist hate groups and the scamvangelist/professional Christian set to react with near hysteria.  Meanwhile, perhaps the majority of members of the LGBT community will continue to avoid Chick-fil-A.  Here are story excerpts:
Right-wingers are saying Chick-fil-A has chickened out by announcing its foundation will (maybe) not be donating to anti-LGBTQ charities.
The fast-food chain is getting roasted by the American Family Association, the Family Research Council, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and more.
Company officials said Monday that they had fulfilled multiyear commitments to the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, both of which have anti-LGBTQ views or histories, and would concentrate on organizations addressing hunger, homelessness, and education. It has already ceased giving to the Paul Anderson Youth Home, which teaches that homosexuality is a sin. President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow that none of the groups now under consideration for grants have anti-LGBTQ policies.
The decision appeared to have economic motivations. The company has been denied franchises in various municipal airports and on some college campuses due to objections to its grants to homophobic and transphobic organizations, and uproar over its first U.K. location caused the business to lose its lease. LGBTQ activists and allies have also been outraged by statements that executive Dan Cathy made against marriage equality several years ago.
Tassopoulos then appeared to backtrack a bit in a statement given to Vice, saying, “No organization will be excluded from future consideration — faith-based or non-faith-based,” without addressing if an organization’s stance on LGBTQ rights would be a concern. The Advocate has requested clarification from Chick-fil-A but has yet to receive a response.
But as far as the far right is concerned, the damage is done. The notoriously anti-LGBTQ AFA has started a petition to the company, stating, “It looks like you are abandoning Christian values and agreeing with homosexual activists who say believing the Bible makes you a hater. Please clarify that you still hold to biblical teachings regarding human sexuality, marriage, and family, and reinstate these Christian ministries.” 
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council [and documented white supremacist sympathizer], took Chick-fil-A to task in a column published Wednesday. “Some of you might argue that walking away from the Salvation Army or Fellowship of Christian Athletes isn’t an endorsement of an LGBT agenda,” he said. “But it is exactly that. And here’s why. Chick-fil-A didn’t just switch their giving practices, they broadcasted it. They made a conscious choice to draw attention to this very public divorce from two Bible-believing charities. And then, in a calculated move, announced their support was going to an organization that, on its website, openly and proudly supports everything about the LGBT community.” That group is Covenant House, which serves homeless youth and has an LGBTQ-affirming policy.
Huckabee, who once sought the Republican presidential nomination and now hosts a show on the Christian TV network TBN, tweeted that Chick-fil-A had caved to hate groups.
Meanwhile, LGBTQ groups such as GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign urged consumers to be cautious, as Chick-fil-A has made promises before about backing away from donating to anti-LGBTQ groups but kept doing so. And the company does not have an inclusive antidiscrimination policy either.

More Sunday Male Beauty

Trump Loving Rural America: Its Own Worse Enemy

Continuing the theme of the last post on a broader scale a piece in The Independent authored by one who grew up in a small town rural area looks at why Donald Trump - and GOP policies in general - are supported by rural voters even though they do nothing to help them economically.  It also looks at the predominating closed mindedness and racism (even as residents would swear they aren't racist) that are primary force behind their war against modernity itself in many ways. It is seemingly impossible to bridge the political and economic gap between rural and urban areas as the divergence in levels of education and acceptance of those who are different continues to grow. Most maddening is the refusal of so many - but not all - rural/small town residents to that their economies will not improve as long as they are so hostile to change and those who are different from themselves.  Here are article highlights: 
I grew up in a small town in California, with a population of just over 2,000. When I was in the third grade, my classroom had exactly one black student. It was an election year: George H W Bush versus Michael Dukakis. When the traditional student poll was held, she was the only student who said she preferred Dukakis. Other students pressured her until she changed her vote to Bush.
It’s hard to overstate the small-town social pressure to conform. . . . For many in rural America, it’s downright logical to deny objective reality on any particular issue. Supporting a Democrat might mean a better standard of living in some ways. But, it will also come at a personal cost.
People especially value the opinions of those who model success in their daily lives. Donald Trump spent years playing a successful businessman in a game show that many of these people watched regularly. To them, he’s practically a hometown success story. Of these, there are too few. Between 2008 and 2017, 99 per cent of America’s job and population growth was in metropolitan areas. Rural Americans are being left behind.
So, when those rural Americans not coming up with ways to make their own problems worse, they’re looking for out-groups to blame. Like the minorities who live in those thriving urban centers, and have an increasingly equitable share of power in Washington, DC. Rural voters are far more likely to believe that black and Latinx people are abusing government assistance programs, for example. The racist resentment is vast, and a growing body of research has found that support for Trump is fueled almost entirely by hatred of out-groups: In 2016, the strongest predictors of Trump support were bigotry and lack of education.
All of this is coded in political language, of course — which is why simply being female, or a person of color, is enough for voters to view a candidate as more left-of-center than their actual policy positions. To far too many, the word “liberal” has become a slur for anyone who doesn’t look like them.
[T]o them, racism is a Klansman in a movie. It isn’t a contemporary power structure, or an implicit bias that gets black teenagers killed. They don’t see that. They can, on the other hand, see themselves struggling. They just very earnestly do not get it. The minorities they do know are — like that little girl in my third grade class — pressured to fit in, to stay quiet.
All of this is exacerbated by the fact that rural teens are stubbornly less likely to pursue higher education than their urban counterparts, even as the low- and middle-skill jobs in their areas disappear.
So, Trump’s attitudes really aren’t any different from the actual feelings of many rural Americans. How can they condemn him for it? Even if they don’t agree, they can identify him with people they love, in spite of those attitudes. He is their father, their uncle, their boss — and his re-election slogan may just as well be, “I don’t see what’s so racist about that.”
It will surprise no one who has lived in rural America, or pays attention to Trump’s tweets, that Trump voters are more likely to believe conspiracy theories. Institutions like science, education and government are run, after all, by liberals. Many Americans will see a story in the newspaper as less trustworthy than the meme or obvious hoax site shared by someone they know.
Add to the equation a steady diet of fringe media with no accountability itself and you have a rural population that largely believes Trump is no more guilty of corruption than the Clintons, the Obamas, the Bushes, or anyone else. The perception is that he is just being given a hard time because he happens to be one of them.
Rural America supports Trump because they believe that urban elites hate him — and they believe that urban elites hate them, too. And I don’t think they’ll turn on him in significant numbers until they stop seeing him as one of their own.
Meanwhile, of course, rural residents continue to want taxes derived from urban residents to bail them out economically. 

Rural Virginia Demonstrates Why It is Dying Economically

Both Governor Ralph Northam and his predecessor Terry McAuliffe have pushed for a Virginia that is "open for business and welcoming to all" as part of their successful effort to attract new businesses and investment to Virginia. It's an approach that recognizes that businesses are only going to relocate to areas that will be welcoming to and where transferred employees will want to live.  This simple concept has not sunk into the minds of much of the population of rural Virginia - especially Southwest Virginia - who demand that the state government (and the rest of the taxpayers in the state finance) do something to turn around the continued economic decline of their region.  Yet perhaps the biggest deterrent to an economic turn around is the residents themselves many of whom continue to be racist, elect racist and homophobic representatives to the General Assembly who seek to disenfranchise minority voters, and who are hostile to those they deem "other" - which translates to any non-white and non-right wing Christian. 

Now, with Democrats in control of state government and poised to pass legislation long backed by a majority of Virginians, including sensible gun control laws, the rural areas are vowing to refuse to enforce any new gun control laws and showing themselves to be precisely the types of areas new progressive businesses would want to avoid. And the avoidance is not limited to businesses.  One couple I know moved to a rural county thinking they'd like living in the country.  Now their plan is to move to the Richmond area since they do not want their children to grow up in such a racist and bigoted environment. The Washington Post looks at the rural insanity that will only help these areas to die even more economically.  Here are highlights:
AMELIA COURTHOUSE, Va. — Families, church groups, hunt clubs and neighbors began arriving two hours early, with hundreds spilling out of the little courthouse and down the hill to the street in the chilly night air.
They were here to demand that the Board of Supervisors declare Amelia County [population 13,020] a “Second Amendment sanctuary” where officials will refuse to enforce any new restrictions on gun ownership.
A resistance movement is boiling up in Virginia, where Democrats rode a platform on gun control to historic victories in state elections earlier this month. The uprising is fueled by a deep cultural gulf between rural red areas that had long wielded power in Virginia and the urban and suburban communities that now dominate. Guns are the focus. Behind that, there is a sense that a way of life is being cast aside.
In the past two weeks, county governments from the central Piedmont to the Appalachian Southwest — Charlotte, Campbell, Carroll, Appomattox, Patrick, Dinwiddie, Pittsylvania, Lee and Giles — have approved resolutions that defy Richmond to come take their guns.
Some of the unrest is fanned by gun rights groups, such as the National Rifle Association and the Virginia Citizens Defense League, which have used social media and old-fashioned networking to offer boilerplate language for resolutions. But the movement is speaking to the anxieties of many who are unsettled by a state that has shifted from red to blue with shocking speed.
 All of the top leaders in the new Democratic-controlled legislature hail from urban or suburban districts in Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads and Richmond. The liberal suburbs outside Washington have the largest delegation in the legislature. And the status of lawmakers from rural red parts of the state has never been lower. “We need to send a signal to Richmond about Northern Virginia. We don’t want their influence to affect us down here. We’re very different people,” said Clay Scott, a 25-year-old construction project manager whose family has lived in Amelia for generations. When the General Assembly convenes in January, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) has promised to move quickly with Democratic leaders to pass measures such as universal background checks, limits on the types and numbers of firearms that can be purchased and a “red flag” law allowing authorities to seize weapons from someone deemed a threat.
The proposals “were essentially on the ballot in November,” said Brian Moran, Northam’s secretary of public safety. “And the people have spoken through their votes.”
Refusing to carry out a judge’s order to seize weapons from someone would be breaking the law. That could mean jail time. Local agencies receive funding from the state, so even adopting the stance is provocative.
“The notion that law enforcement would not follow the law is appalling,” said Lori Haas, a longtime activist with the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. “I suspect that many of these counties and their elected officials are posturing in front of certain voters.”
As the sanctuary movement has spread around the country, Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence found that it generally has not led to active resistance. “As a practical matter, these are largely symbolic,” said Adam Skaggs, chief counsel and policy director at Giffords. “We haven’t seen cases where there are folks that are outright defying the law.”
Only one person out of the dozens who spoke expressed a different point of view. Allison Crews, 44, . . . The main thing that impressed her about the public hearing, she said, was the number of people who showed up — far beyond anything she had seen in years of attending county meetings.
“I wish we’d see those crowds for things like water quality in the town, or the school system,” she said.

So many of these rural residents are their own worse enemies yet are too blind to grasp that reality.  The Amelia County website describes the county as an "undiscovered treasure" yet with residents like those attending the meeting described in the article, most tourists - who will come from urban areas the residents despise - will likely avoid it like the plague.

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