Saturday, December 21, 2019

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

The Tyranny of the Republican Minority

The sad reality is that Donald Trump is a racist misogynist who, as Christianity Today noted in an editorial Thursday, is morally unfit and who needs to be removed from office. Yet his base, especially evangelicals, who comprise a minority of voters,  continue to support him with an almost cult-like fervor.  Despite all the denials and excuses by members of his base, the take away is that members of his base are as depraved as Trump himself and/or outright racists who cannot countenance the demographic changes occur in the country or the reality that the 63 million voters Republicans whine about did NOT and do NOT represent a majority of voters.  Thus, the 2016 vote in no way granted Trump and/or Republicans a mandate.  Indeed, but for the highly flawed and outdated Electoral College, Trump would not and should not have been elected. A column in the New York Times looks at the disingenuous effort by Republicans to depict Trump's impeachment as an effort to overturn majority rule. Here are highlights:

[T]his constant trumpeting of a vote total that is more than two million less than the total received by Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton. Trump didn’t just lose the popular vote — he lost it by a greater margin than any successful presidential candidate in American history. The right’s bombastic repetition of Trump’s 63 million could be just a propaganda trick meant to bully America’s anti-Trump majority into seeing itself as marginal, despite the more than 65 million votes Clinton received. But as I watched impeachment unfold, it seemed like something more than that — an assertion of whom Republicans think this country belongs to.
Over the last three years, a political narrative has developed that Republicans in Congress secretly dislike Trump but overlook his personal degeneracy in the interest of enacting their agenda. Wednesday should explode that fiction forever.
The Republican identification with Trump is total. Again and again, histrionic Republican congressmen equated hatred of the president with hatred of themselves and hatred of the sacred 63 million. They spoke of Trump with an awe and a maudlin devotion bordering on religious; Barry Loudermilk, a Georgia Republican, declared that Trump had been given less due process than Jesus Christ himself.
All day, Republican speeches delivered by old white men alternated with Democratic speeches from women, people of color and young people. White men make up 90 percent of the Republican caucus and 38 percent of the Democratic one, and the day dramatized the representational gulf in the starkest visual terms.
We face the horror of Trump because the structure of American democracy gives disproportionate power to a declining demographic group passionately convinced of its right to rule. Trump, with his braying entitlement, his boastful ignorance, his sneering contempt for pluralism, is an avatar of a Republican Party desperate to return to the 1980s, or the 1950s, or maybe the 1910s. He can’t betray America if, to those who fetishize the 63 million, he embodies it.
At the start of this administration, many who are horrified by Trump, me included, thought that at some point the Republican fever might break, leading conservatives in Congress to check a dictator-worshiping buffoon for the sake of the Constitution they claim to revere. I’ve become ashamed of my naïveté in imagining any overlap between my ideas about what is valuable in this country, and theirs.
“There’s been a lot of talk about the 63 million people who voted for Mr. Trump,” the House majority leader, Steny Hoyer, said in his surprisingly moving speech on Wednesday. “Little talk about the 65 million people who voted for Hillary Clinton.” With the House’s impeachment vote, the America outside of Trump’s ruling faction finally mattered.
Democrats didn’t want to impeach, but once they decided to, Trump’s insistence that his Electoral College victory grants him impunity didn’t work. For one night, democracy asserted itself.
In the end, Trump’s impeachment passed with more House votes than Bill Clinton’s. All but one of the Democrats first elected in last year’s blue wave voted for impeachment, some at real political risk, given the conservative lean of their districts.
“Today, especially today, I reflect on the founding documents that have set us apart in the world, leading people across generations and across the world to risk everything because of their belief in our great nation,” said the Virginia Democrat Abigail Spanberger, a Constitution scarf around her neck, her voice charged with emotion.
Women and people of color, of course, were originally outside the protection of those founding documents. But on Wednesday, the most diverse Congress in history declared that even the most powerful white man in the world should be bound by them. When Republicans act as if that’s a sacrilege, they show us what they worship.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Christianity Today: Trump Must Be Removed from Office

Christianity Today is a magazine founded by the late Rev. Billy Graham, that has broad readership among evangelical Christians.  It is not the in the same league as the crazed publications of hate groups such as Family Research Council or American Family Association.  In fact, as noted, it was founded by Billy Graham and has not fallen under the influence of Graham's grifter children who use their family name and religion for self-enrichment and self-promotion. Thus, it is notable that in a main editorial, the editor-in-chief of Christianity Today has laid out the case of why Donald Trump must be removed from office, both for the good of the country and for the term legitimacy of evangelical Christianity, Axios notes why this editorial is ground shaking: 

An editorial published Thursday by Christianity Today, a magazine founded by the late Rev. Billy Graham, called for President Trump's removal from office in the wake of his impeachment, deeming him "grossly immoral." . . . Why it matters: Christianity Today is an influential mainstream magazine for evangelicals, with 4.3 million monthly visitors on its site and hundreds of thousands of print subscribers. President Trump won 81% of the evangelical vote in 2016, a group that makes up about 25% of the electorate, according to the Pew Research Center. . . . . Go deeper... Josh Harris: Evangelical support for Trump "incredibly damaging to the Gospel"

I and many others, including the under age 30 generations, now view evangelical Christians and even Christianity as something morally bankrupt  that decent people should seek to avoid. Support of Trump and right wing Republican policies that are the antithesis to the true gospel message are the principal reason younger generations are engaged in a massive exodus from religion entirely. It would seem that Christianity Today has come to the realization that continued evangelical support of Trump will deprive evangelicals of what little moral credibility that still possess.  Will evangelicals listen?  Sadly, probably not.  Here are editorial highlights:
In our founding documents, Billy Graham explains that Christianity Today will help evangelical Christians interpret the news in a manner that reflects their faith. The impeachment of Donald Trump is a significant event in the story of our republic. It requires comment.
The typical CT approach is to stay above the fray and allow Christians with different political convictions to make their arguments in the public square, to encourage all to pursue justice according to their convictions and treat their political opposition as charitably as possible. We want CT to be a place that welcomes Christians from across the political spectrum, and reminds everyone that politics is not the end and purpose of our being. We take pride in the fact, for instance, that politics does not dominate our homepage.
That said, we do feel it necessary from time to time to make our own opinions on political matters clear—always, as Graham encouraged us, doing so with both conviction and love.

[T]he facts in this instance are unambiguous: The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents. That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.
The reason many are not shocked about this is that this president has dumbed down the idea of morality in his administration. He has hired and fired a number of people who are now convicted criminals. He himself has admitted to immoral actions in business and his relationship with women, about which he remains proud. His Twitter feed alone—with its habitual string of mischaracterizations, lies, and slanders—is a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.
Trump’s evangelical supporters have pointed to his Supreme Court nominees, his defense of religious liberty, and his stewardship of the economy, among other things, as achievements that justify their support of the president. We believe the impeachment hearings have made it absolutely clear, in a way the Mueller investigation did not, that President Trump has abused his authority for personal gain and betrayed his constitutional oath. The impeachment hearings have illuminated the president’s moral deficiencies for all to see. This damages the institution of the presidency, damages the reputation of our country, and damages both the spirit and the future of our people. None of the president’s positives can balance the moral and political danger we face under a leader of such grossly immoral character.
This concern for the character of our national leader is not new in CT.
[T]he words that we applied to Mr. Clinton 20 years ago apply almost perfectly to our current president. Whether Mr. Trump should be removed from office by the Senate or by popular vote next election—that is a matter of prudential judgment. That he should be removed, we believe, is not a matter of partisan loyalties but loyalty to the Creator of the Ten Commandments.
To the many evangelicals who continue to support Mr. Trump in spite of his blackened moral record, we might say this: Remember who you are and whom you serve. Consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to your Lord and Savior. Consider what an unbelieving world will say if you continue to brush off Mr. Trump’s immoral words and behavior in the cause of political expediency. If we don’t reverse course now, will anyone take anything we say about justice and righteousness with any seriousness for decades to come?
[W]e have done our best to give evangelical Trump supporters their due, to try to understand their point of view, to see the prudential nature of so many political decisions they have made regarding Mr. Trump. To use an old cliché, it’s time to call a spade a spade, to say that no matter how many hands we win in this political poker game, we are playing with a stacked deck of gross immorality and ethical incompetence.
It will crash down on the reputation of evangelical religion and on the world’s understanding of the gospel. And it will come crashing down on a nation of men and women whose welfare is also our concern.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Did Trump Appoint a Raging Homophobe to an Advisory Council?

The Trump/Pence regime has had an open door policy toward some of the most extreme homophobes and Christofascists, some of whom claim to be on a "Faith Advisory Council."  Some of these individuals include Tony Perkins of Family Research Council who has documented white supremacist ties (and who boasts of his access to Trump), and noted "Christian" grifters Franklin Graham and Jerry Fallwell, Jr., each of whom routinely use religion and preying on the gullible to enrich themselves. Now, Tim Wildmon of American Family Association ("AFA"), perhaps one of the most rabid anti-gay organizations of them all which routinely disseminates off the charts outright lies and falsehoods (hence a perfect fit with Trump) claims to have been appointed to this Council.  Perhaps embarrassed by Wildmon's off the charts lunacy, the White House is denying that Wildmon received any such appointment and the that the Council exists. A piece in The Advocate looks at the competing claims.  Here are excerpts: 
Tim Wildmon, president of the virulently anti-LGBTQ American Family Association, announced Monday that he had been named to Donald Trump’s Faith Advisory Council — but on Wednesday, a White House spokesman said there had been no such appointment, nor is there any such council.
“I have no idea what he’s talking about,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere told the Washington Blade. “There is no such thing as a White House Faith Council or Advisory Board. There is a Faith & Opportunity Initiative led by an adviser, Pastor Paula White, but it does not include a council or advisory board.”
But the AFA had sent out a press release Monday saying Wildmon had joined the body, which it said is “made up of key leaders who support and help guide the president’s faith-based initiatives, give insight on policy important to evangelicals and, most importantly, pray for the president.” It said other members of the council include White and such well-known Christian right figures as Tony Perkins, Robert Jeffress, and Jerry Falwell Jr., all of whom have worked with Trump on various projects. . . . The press release is still posted on the AFA’s website.
The AFA, based in Tupelo, Miss., is classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a progressive watchdog organization, as a hate group because of the dangerous misinformation it spreads about LGBTQ people. It considers homosexuality a sin, as many religions do, but it seeks to infuse public policy with that belief. It is also deeply transphobic, having often portrayed transgender people as predatory, and antichoice, with a recent blog post saying billionaire philanthropist Warren Buffett is going to hell because of his support for reproductive rights.
Bryan Fischer, who hosts a radio show for the AFA and blogs on its website, is one of the most hateful commentators in the nation, demonizing LGBTQ people, feminists, Mormons, Muslims, and many other groups. He recently wrote that when the Hallmark Channel agreed to re-air a wedding planner’s ads featuring a lesbian couple, it was caving to the “gay gestapo.” One Million Moms, an AFA offshoot, was one of the groups that had campaigned against the ads.
The Blade sought comment from the AFA on the conflicting reports about Wildmon’s appointment but has so far not received anything. The Advocate has put in its own request for comment with the AFA’s public relations representative, Hamilton Strategies, but also has not received a response.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Trump's Insane Letter to Pelosi Shows Why He’s Unfit For Office

Any number of mental health experts - including Virginia's governor who is a surgical neurologist by profession - have opined that Donald Trump is mentally ill.  More specifically, he is a malignant narcissist which by definition meas this
. . . . a psychological syndrome comprising an extreme mix of narcissism, antisocial behavior, aggression, and sadism. Grandiose, and always ready to raise hostility levels, the malignant narcissist undermines families and organizations in which they are involved, and dehumanizes the people with whom they associate.

Given this diagnosis, it is little surprise that Trump's actions lead him to be impeached since, in true narcissist fashion, he views himself above the law and the rules that bind the rest of us.  As evidenced by Trump's raving letter he sent  Nancy Pelosi one of the laws that Trump views as inapplicable to him is the U.S. Constitution. A piece in New York Magazine looks at what Trump's letter tells us.  Here are excerpts:

Trump’sletter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is obviously written, or at least dictated, in large part or in whole by the president himself. Its most notable quality is its lack of any coherent structure. It does not build an argument, or even group like points together. It careens wildly from point to point.
Trump’s letter strengthens the case for impeachment in two important ways. First, he portrays impeachment as constitutionally illegitimate. By this, Trump doesn’t mean simply that his actions do not rise to an impeachable offense, or even that the accusations are completely meritless. He repeatedly denies that the House has any constitutional right to undertake impeachment at all.
Of course the Constitution gives the House of Representatives the power to determine what presidential acts constitute impeachable offenses. Trump seems to believe that he as president has the power to determine whether a president’s actions are impeachable. Trump argues that if Congress can impeach him, which is a clearly delineated power, then he can prosecute Congress for crimes of Trump’s choosing, a power that exists nowhere in the Constitution.
The most telling passage comes at the end, where, having unloaded various grievances, Trump lingers on the psychic pain that the Russia investigation and now impeachment have inflicted: . . . Trump identifies first his family, and then the Republic, as the parties enduring this mental anguish, no doubt in an effort to feign stoicism. But the letter makes it perfectly clear that Trump himself is in agony, to the extent where his mental health is very much in question.
If a juror in Trump’s coming impeachment trial had no other evidence except this letter, it would provide ample grounds for impeachment. Trump openly denies the Congress’s constitutional prerogative, and makes plain his mental unfitness for the job.
Trump sees himself as a monarch and answerable to no one.  Never does Trump look at his own actions as the basis of why he has now been impeached. Should the Senate acquit him, there may be no limits to what he may do.  Be  very, very afraid.

Hilton Gives Free Wedding to Gay Couple Refused by Sheraton

Gay vlogger turned away by Sheraton.
LGBT Americans are targets of the Trump/Pence regime in its quest to grant special rights to Christofascists and to legalize anti-gay discrimination.  In this atmosphere, it makes it all the more important that LGBT individuals know who their allies are both in society and in terms of the corporate world.  A situation arising in Mexico concerning a gay wedding has made it clear that some businesses are LGBT allies and some are not. In the situation involved, Hilton Hotels are allies and Sheraton Hotels arguably are not.  A piece in LGBTQ Nation looks at Sheraton's rejection of a same sex couple and Hilton's coming to the rescue, if you will. Here are highlights:
The Hilton hotel in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico will host the destination wedding and reception of Josh Rimer, the gay travel blogger and winner of Mr. Gay Canada 2019, for free after the rival Sheraton Buganvilias Resort & Convention Center turned Rimer away because it doesn’t “specialize” in same-sex marriages. Rimer has accepted the Hilton’s offer to host his April 2020 wedding and has also accepted the offer of a free honeymoon cruise to Lisbon, Portugal from the travel company VACAYA.
Two days after Rimer published a video about the Sheraton resort’s initial refusal to host his same-sex wedding, the Hilton tagged Rimer in an Instagram post, stating, “We’ll gladly host your wedding ceremony and feast for FREE for you and your 45 guests at Hilton Puerto Vallarta!”
In response, Rimer wrote, “Amazing, what a kind offer!”

The take away?  When traveling, stay at Hilton hotels rather than Sheraton properties - at least until Sheraton fires the management that trashed this gay couple. The pink dollar has power and we need to use it.  Another LGBTQ Nation piece looks further at Rimer's reaction with which I agree:
He thought that a hotel chain might welcome a gay travel vlogger like him who has 34,200 YouTube subscribers that could be influenced to stay at their resort. He’s also disappointed that the resort didn’t at least say that they had plans to accommodate same-sex weddings in the future.
Rimer said until he received answers about what happened, he’ll never to stay at another Sheraton resort again.

More Wednesday Male Beauty

The GOP’s Closing Argument: Denying Basic Facts

As I type this post, the House of Representatives has voted to impeach Donald Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors - only the third time in the nation's history.  Throughout the day Republicans have resorted to histrionics - one Republican insanely equated the day's proceedings to the biblical trial of Christ - and most importantly denied the existence of proven facts. Seeing the moral degradation of today's GOP - something that in my view directly correlates to the rise of the Christofascist within the party - I am ashamed to have ever have been a Republican.  Like their Christofascist and white supremacist masters, today's congressional Republicans are morally bankrupt. A piece in the Washington Post looks at the GOP's denial of facts - some even admitted by Trump.   Here are article highlights:
It’s often been said that the two sides in the current impeachment debate can’t even agree on basic facts. But increasingly for the GOP, that’s also true of well-established and indisputable facts.
Some Republicans have said President Trump’s actions were bad but not impeachable. But a few of them have set out to argue for an alternate reality: One in which it’s not conceivable that Trump did something wrong, because the things that happened didn’t actually happen.
Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) led the way last week by arguing that Trump hadn’t even asked Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate his political rival in their July 25 phone call. . . .
Trump not only specifically requested an investigation of Joe Biden in that July 25 call with Zelensky — he said, “Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution, so if you can look into it ... It sounds horrible to me” — but he also asked China and Russia to take similar actions at other junctures. Trump said publicly, “And by the way, likewise, China should start an investigation into the Bidens.”
He also, in 2016, asked Russia to find and turn over Hillary Clinton’s missing emails, saying, “Russia, if you’re listening: I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.” Trump said the last one was a joke; the events since then sure seem to call that into question. Trump has now asked three countries to look into his political rivals.
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) then echoed the argument on the House floor. “Joe Biden was not the opponent of Donald Trump," King said. "He’s in a 21-way primary.”
It is true that Biden hasn’t won the Democratic nomination. But he is indisputably Trump’s campaign rival, as are all of the Democrats running. Trump himself has made clear he views Biden as a rival, devoting lengthy portions of his speeches to attacking Biden. Meadows’s implication is that Trump didn’t have a personal motivation to push for investigating Biden, which is patently ridiculous.
Even the White House has admitted the aid was withheld. On the House floor Wednesday, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) maintained not just that military aid to Ukraine wasn’t used as part of a quid pro quo but also that the aid wasn’t withheld.
Added Rep. Jim Baird (R-Ind.): “The president did not commit any crimes. He did not break any laws. And there was no quid pro quo.”
Except that there rather clearly were quid pro quos, as multiple witnesses have attested and as Mulvaney himself momentarily confirmed. It has been extensively shown — including in text messages we can see with our own eyes — that a White House meeting for Zelensky, in particular, was understood by the Ukrainians to be tied to announcing the investigations. . . . . there were quid pro quos, and according to multiple witnesses in both cases, they were communicated to Ukraine.

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

We Are Republicans, and We Want Trump Defeated

Sadly, today's Republican Party resembles the Vichy French regime with Mitch McConnell playing the role of Marshal Philippe Pétain (McConnell might do well to recall Pétain's fate) and Lindsey Graham vying for some similar ignoble equivalent from the foul regime.  Yet, as in France during WWII, some French refused to yield to the fascist boot and formed the French Resistance and fought for the restoration of democracy and the defeat of Nazism.  In an editorial in the New York Times, a group of former Republicans have announced the Lincoln Project  aimed at protecting American democracy and specifically seeing that Donald Trump is defeated in 2020.  Like many, they see Trump and today's GOP as a clear and present danger that must be stopped.  Personally, I view the GOP as being past being saved since I see no way of breaking the grip the Christofascists and white supremacists now have on the party base.   Whatever, the future, the first step is defeating Trump.  Here are highlights from the Times editorial: 
Patriotism and the survival of our nation in the face of the crimes, corruption and corrosive nature of Donald Trump are a higher calling than mere politics. As Americans, we must stem the damage he and his followers are doing to the rule of law, the Constitution and the American character.
That’s why we are announcing the Lincoln Project, an effort to highlight our country’s story and values, and its people’s sacrifices and obligations. This effort transcends partisanship and is dedicated to nothing less than preservation of the principles that so many have fought for, on battlefields far from home and within their own communities.
Over these next 11 months, our efforts will be dedicated to defeating President Trump and Trumpism at the ballot box and to elect those patriots who will hold the line. We do not undertake this task lightly, nor from ideological preference. We have been, and remain, broadly conservative (or classically liberal) in our politics and outlooks. Our many policy differences with national Democrats remain, but our shared fidelity to the Constitution dictates a common effort. The 2020 general election, by every indication, will be about persuasion, with turnout expected to be at record highs. Our efforts are aimed at persuading enough disaffected conservatives, Republicans and Republican-leaning independents in swing states and districts to help ensure a victory in the Electoral College, and congressional majorities that don’t enable or abet Mr. Trump’s violations of the Constitution, even if that means Democratic control of the Senate and an expanded Democratic majority in the House.
The American presidency transcends the individuals who occupy the Oval Office. . . . Their commitment to order, civility and decency are reflected in American society.
Mr. Trump fails to meet the bar for this commitment. He has neither the moral compass nor the temperament to serve. . . . . But [Trump's] this president’s actions are possible only with the craven acquiescence of congressional Republicans. They have done no less than abdicate their Article I responsibilities.
Indeed, national Republicans have done far worse than simply march along to Mr. Trump’s beat. Their defense of him is imbued with an ugliness, a meanness and a willingness to attack and slander those who have shed blood for our country, who have dedicated their lives and careers to its defense and its security, and whose job is to preserve the nation’s status as a beacon of hope.
Congressional Republicans have embraced and copied Mr. Trump’s cruelty and defended and even adopted his corruption. Mr. Trump and his enablers have abandoned conservatism and longstanding Republican principles and replaced it with Trumpism, an empty faith led by a bogus prophet.
Mr. Trump and his fellow travelers daily undermine the proposition we as a people have a responsibility and an obligation to continually bend the arc of history toward justice. They mock our belief in America as something more meaningful than lines on a map.
Our peril far outstrips any past differences: It has arrived at our collective doorstep, and we believe there is no other choice. We sincerely hope, but are not optimistic, that some of those Republicans charged with sitting as jurors in a likely Senate impeachment trial will do likewise.
American men and women stand ready around the globe to defend us and our way of life. We must do right by them and ensure that the country for which they daily don their uniform deserves their protection and their sacrifice.
We look to Lincoln as our guide and inspiration. He understood the necessity of not just saving the Union, but also of knitting the nation back together spiritually as well as politically. But those wounds can be bound up only once the threat has been defeated. So, too, will our country have to knit itself back together after the scourge of Trumpism has been overcome.
I wish these individuals luck in their mission to save the country.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Tuesday Morning Male Beauty

The Insane Fury of the Democrat Online Left Toward Buttigieg (and Moderate Democrats)

Back in early 2017 Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders thrust themselves into Virginia's Democrat gubernatorial contest pushing a far left candidate and trashing Ralph Northam who ultimately went on to win the primary and the general election.  Had Warren and Sanders and their far left followers prevailed, in my view, Virginia likely would now have a Republican governor and who knows where control of the General Assembly would now lie.   All that mattered was that Northam did not meet their standard of ideological purity and wasn't radical enough.  Never mind that Northam ran on perhaps the most progressive agenda of any gubernatorial candidate in Virginia history.  It was a near repeat of how the far left was similarly disenchanted with Hillary Clinton in 2016 and seemingly stayed home or voted for third party candidates - think Jill Stein - to throw the election to Donald Trump.  History is repeating itself at the national level again as the left of the Democrat coalition attacks moderates and pushes an agenda that likely would help re-elect Donald Trump.  A prime target of the left's wrath is Pete Buttigieg whose sin is not being radical (and un-electable) enough to meet the left's purity tests.  Absurdly, some of the far right in the gay community whine that Buttigieg is not "gay enough."  From my experience, one is either gay or not, which underscores the idiocy of these folks. A piece in CNN looks at the lefts targeting of Buttigieg and moderates and, in my view, secure a Trump victory in 2020.  Here are excerpts: 
Increasingly, their opposition to Buttigieg is turning to fury, fueled by a boisterous online ecosystem of progressives who are driving anti-Buttigieg commentary and memes. They view him as beholden to corporate interests, unable to win over the diverse Democratic base that these activists take pride in, and disinterested in the systemic change they believe the country desperately needs on issues like the influence of big money on politics and climate change and systemic racism.
These narratives have persisted in spite of what his campaign points to as evidence to the contrary, including that Buttigieg has proposed plans to address those very issues such as a climate change plan to cut emissions to zero by 2050 and a proposal to address systemic racism that he calls the Douglass Plan.
Buttigieg supporters say the criticism has become unhinged, with some progressives eager to latch on to virtually any negative narrative about Buttigieg whether it is true or not.  There is no question: The youngest candidate in the 2020 presidential race, at age 37, isn't doing well with young Democratic voters. Since he jumped into the race, Buttigieg has gone from a little-known, small-town mayor, to representative of the Democratic Party vision has of itself as an inclusive party to, now, the arch-nemesis of certain progressive advocates.
The intense heat on Buttigieg from some corners of his party comes as he rises in both early state and national polls and vies with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren for a slice of the college-educated electorate. Both candidates have upped their contrasts with each other in recent weeks as the Iowa caucuses near.
"The nature of presidential politics is the better you do, the more you are tested," said David Axelrod, a former senior adviser to President Barack Obama and chief strategist of his campaigns. "Buttigieg has made a pretty remarkable progress in 2019. Now he is being tested as a legitimate top tier candidate and we'll see how he handles it." "It is an inevitable part of this process," he added. Buttigieg's critics cite a dramatic turn in his approach to his candidacy and are particularly incensed by his criticism of Warren on "Medicare For All." (Buttigieg, for his part, has pushed for a proposal called "Medicare for all who want it," an option that would keep private health care plans.) They consider his low standing with black and Hispanic voters to be disqualifying, and pejoratively refer to him as "Mayo Pete" for his overwhelmingly white supporters. As a result, his candidacy, in their view, is akin to the vanity project of an overly ambitious, privileged white man [as if Sanders' isn't exactly that]. "He's phony," said Adam Jentleson, when asked why he opposes Buttigieg's candidacy so strongly. 
For Washington insiders, Jentleson is a well-known figure, a former senior aide to former Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, a far cry from the kind of left-wing progressive candidate Jentleson now would prefer. But now, Jentleson is known online as a progressive flame thrower, leading the anti-Buttigieg charge and slamming him for his attacks on more progressive candidates like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Warren.
 Buttigieg's campaign largely dismisses the intense criticism they have experienced from people like Jentleson. "We're not focused on the small echo chamber of Washington insiders talking to each other on Twitter," said Chris Meagher, a Buttigieg spokesman, "we're focused on talking to voters about the issues that matter most to voters." He continued: "This election is about defeating Donald Trump and uniting the country the day after this president leaves office. Pete is the best candidate to do just that." The kind of attacks that have been directed at Buttigieg have puzzled the candidate as well as his aides. And as they have gone from the internet to real life, including a wave of new protests outside of his high dollar fundraisers. "It is a little strange, because I think that I broadly share a lot of the same values and goals," Buttigieg told The Washington Post's Bob Costa in an interview when asked if the protests bother him. "It's a little hard to have a conversation with them, so I don't know for sure." It has been perplexing to Buttigieg supporters that a particularly vitriolic brand of anger has been reserved for Buttigieg rather than other moderate candidates like Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and former Vice President Joe Biden, both of whom share Buttigieg's positions broadly on issues like Medicare for All and college affordability. Many of the progressive voices fanning the anti-Buttigieg flames explain the disproportionate attention by pointing to Buttigieg's standing in the polls and a feeling of inevitability that Biden's candidacy is not as strong as it currently seems. The distaste among some gay Democrats to Buttigieg has been the subject of a fair amount of analysis -- even raising the interest of Tim Miller, a moderate gay Republican and former Romney aide who has quizzically observed what he believes is a disproportionate amount of vitriol directed toward Buttigieg.
"They're the meanest," Miller said. "Within the gay community, unfortunately, I think it's a lot of resentment that Pete does not represent the gay ideal -- the pre-conceived notions about what a gay President would act like."
"The idea that he's a closet Republican is absurd, but I think because of his nature as a mild-mannered, traditional-acting religious man, that it's easier to demean him as being Republican lite," he added. But for others, the part of Buttigieg's identity that is the most salient is not that he is gay, but that he is white, which they believe has insulated him from the kind of scrutiny that other candidates have been subjected to. Throughout the Trump presidency Democrats have insisted that removing him from office is a top priority, but the #neverPete sentiment is testing that.

Donald Trump and his campaign must be smiling broadly.  If Trump wins re-election, as in 2016, the far left of the Democrats will bear a significant guilt for that result which will be the antithesis to all they allegedly support. 

Monday, December 16, 2019

Monday Morning Male Beauty

Are Trump Supporters Over Confident About 2020?

In what I hope my turn out to be a prophecy, a piece in New York Magazine posits the question of whether Donald Trump supporters are too over confident about Trump's re-election prospects in 2020 and, as a result might not turn out in force to vote.  The piece considers the non-stop pro-Trump propaganda by the right wing media which could result in his cult like followers finding themselves in a bubble detached from mainstream America where - much as the far left of the Democrat base - and posed to receive a severe shock if the con-man of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is not re-elected. The piece also notes the over confidence of the Clinton campaign in 2016 that allowed Trump to eke by in three states by the slimmest of margins and win the Electoral College.   Democrats are nowhere as confident and, hopefully, this will cause them to strive harder and to go to the polls to stop the human cancer that currently inhabits the White House.  Here are highlights:

If you forced yourself to watch significant portions of the House Judiciary Committee’s markup of articles of impeachment, you undoubtedly heard the Republican hypothesis that the entire exercise is an effort to head off a certain Trump reelection next year. This assumption was often hurled at Democrats as a taunt . . . .
 Impeachment aside, any casual perusal of pro-Trump conservative news and opinion outlets shows an impressive consensus that the president is cruising to a 2020 victory, with impeachment viewed as a base-mobilizer rather than a development that will repel swing voters, . . .
 This take on impeachment rather notably collides with the claim that it is intended to head off Trump’s reelection, since Democrats infallibly know the Republican-controlled Senate will acquit him. But the fact remains that Trump fans are feeling more, not less, confident about 2020, and they were pretty confident earlier, as National Review observed over a month ago: . . . . The survey shows that 56 percent of voters believe the president will be reelected. Eighty-five percent of Republicans and 51 percent of independents were confident in Trump’s reelection effort, compared to 35 percent of Democrats.
Eighty-five percent is a lot of confidence in a president who lost the popular vote the first time around and has never been anything other than underwater in his job-approval ratings.
You don’t need a poll to grasp that Democrats aren’t remotely as confident about 2020. The simple fact that Democratic voters are obsessed with the electability of prospective nominees tells you all you need to know about that. And this anxiety — if not pessimism — is constantly reinforced by analysis suggesting Trump can again win while losing the popular vote by an even greater margin than before.
This contrast in moods is, to put it mildly, a reversal of the situation going into the 2016 general election. Of all the reasons Trump won, you have to figure overconfidence in the HRC camp — leading to strategic missteps by the campaign, and indifferent turnout and protest voting among the rank-and-file — was a significant factor.
There is no polling lead by the Democratic nominee or mistake by Trump this time around that will convince Democratic voters this election is in the bag. But it’s possible that a solid year of triumphalist braying from Trump, his campaign, his party, and his media allies, will persuade some of his own voters that he’s already won, so it’s safe to spend Election Day in other pursuits, or at the grocery and liquor stores stocking up for the big victory celebration. It could be a fatal mistake.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

More Sunday Male Beauty

Is Pete Buttigieg Too Young to Be President?

America currently finds itself with an occupant of the White House who is a malignant narcissist, who doesn't read, disregards the wisdom of experts, and acts on impulse and Twitter rants. It would seem almost anyone would be more fit to occupy the White House rather than Trump. Of the leading Democrat candidates for the presidential nomination, three - Biden, Sanders and Warren - are at an age where many people begin to fail physically in terms of stamina and cognition.  The fourth, Pete Buttigieg, is at the other end of the spectrum age wise and the persistent question of his critics is whether he is too young, despite his high education (Trump will not even allow his academic grades to be released) and poise. Buttigieg points out - as Virginians who know history - the Founders were very young, Jefferson being a mere 33 when he authored the Declaration of Independence.  A column in the New York Times looks at this question of age.  It doesn't answer the question, but give much to think about, including the crucial need to remove Donald Trump from the White House.  Here are excerpts:

Finland just elected the world’s youngest prime minister, Sanna Marin, who’s 34. Time magazine named Greta Thunberg, 16, its youngest-ever “Person of the Year.”
Even before I could mention their names to Pete Buttigieg, who’s vying to become the youngest American president, he brought them up. He also brought up Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand, who was 37 when she took office, and Emmanuel Macron, who became the president of France at 39.
That’s how old Buttigieg, now 37, would be at his inauguration.
“This country was founded by 20-somethings,” he added, referring to the fact that Aaron Burr, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, for example, were in their 20s on July 4, 1776. Thomas Jefferson was 33. John Hancock was 39.
Donald Trump is 73, meaning that he has more than a half-century of life lessons on some of them. How does that show? Well, an hour before I connected with Buttigieg, the president saw fit to tweet that Time’s choice of Thunberg, a Swedish climate-change activist, was “so ridiculous” and that she should “work on her Anger Management problem.” Facing imminent impeachment, he started a Twitter spat with a teenage girl.
Trump is the “most extreme example of the fact that while wisdom and age may be related, they’re very much not the same thing,” Buttigieg said.
Still. Age isn’t irrelevant. America is much, much bigger than Finland and much, much more complicated than it was during the Revolutionary War. In a country so powerful, at such a perilous time, is Buttigieg simply too young and too green to lead the way?
It’s the question that hovers over a presidential campaign whose success has stunned the political world.
And even now, after first-place finishes in some recent polls of Democrats in Iowa and New Hampshire, he’s pressed about whether someone with his short résumé, capped by two terms as the mayor of a city of just 100,000 people, could possibly be up to the presidency and pass muster with enough Americans to get elected. So we spent most of a nearly hourlong car ride between campaign stops in the New York City area talking about it. He conceded that the longer you’re alive, “the more you learn,” and that there are lessons and life passages still in the offing for him. He’d like to be a parent, but if he succeeds on his current quest, he’d become the leader of the free world first.
“A lot of things in my life have been out of sequence,” he said. “I was a mayor before I got married. I was a war veteran before I had dated.” He was referring to his seven months in Afghanistan and recognizing that while he has been precociously ahead of the game in many regards, he was behind in others. It was only four years ago, at 33, that he finally had a serious romantic relationship — with the man, Chasten, who is now his husband.
Age has played out in surprising ways in the Democratic primary. While Buttigieg is unusually young, the other three candidates grouped with him at the head of the pack — Joe Biden, 77; Elizabeth Warren, 70; and Bernie Sanders, 78 — are unusually old. The oldest candidate, Sanders, is by far the most popular among the youngest Democratic voters, getting the support of 52 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 34 in a national Quinnipiac poll released on Tuesday. Buttigieg got just 2 percent of that group, in contrast with 12 percent of Democratic voters between 35 and 49, 12 percent of those between 50 and 64 and 11 percent of those 65 and older. He attributed that to younger voters’ attraction to Sanders’s less pragmatic, more ideologically pure vision. It’s certainly not because Buttigieg hasn’t courted them. In this “O.K. Boomer” moment of younger Americans’ disgust with the income inequality, social injustices and climate change that older Americans have bequeathed them, he has claimed a generational perspective that separates him from his rivals for the Democratic nomination. He also makes the case that people of Biden’s, Warren’s and Sanders’s age have had their chance to fix things. Shouldn’t someone with an arguably fresher outlook — someone from outside Washington — take a turn? With that reasoning he frames political vulnerabilities as political virtues. . . . “It means that one generation has been in charge for a very long time.”
Buttigieg has to muster extra poise, extra confidence, lest any deficit be interpreted as immaturity. But then that poise and confidence, in the context of his age, are interpreted as arrogance. His detractors constantly tell me that he’s cocky — or robotic.
“One of the things I get is, ‘Why aren’t you more passionate?’” he said. “I’m very passionate. But I’m also very disciplined. If I weren’t, it would be harder to be taken seriously.”
The Constitution decrees that a House member must be at least 25, a senator at least 30, a president at least 35. No American president has been under 40, and only two took office before the age of 45: Teddy Roosevelt, who was 42, and John F. Kennedy, who was 43.
Shouldn’t and doesn’t that give Buttigieg pause?
“Of course you have those moments,” he acknowledged. “We’re talking about a role of unbelievable importance and complexity and challenge. And yet every person who’s done it has been a mortal, a human being — and of course so much depends not just on the individual but on how you build a team.”
He repeated something that he has said scores if not hundreds of times on the campaign trail: As mayor of South Bend, Ind., for the past eight years, he has had a kind of executive experience that someone who has served in Congress for that long or longer hasn’t. Besides, he said, experience isn’t the only font of wisdom. Education matters. Intuition, too.
He comes armed with historical examples beyond the founders of people who made remarkable contributions early on. “I’m not going to compare myself to Martin Luther King,” he said, “but he’s certainly an example of somebody who had a huge impact, mainly in his 30s.” King died at 39.
Maybe he’d match up well against Trump. I’m not sure, and how I wish I were, because the likeliest Trump slayer is the Democratic nominee I want and America needs. Both substantively and in terms of electability, Buttigieg would be better off if he were older, with higher positions under his belt, but then all of the leading Democrats have worrying shortcomings. His youth is a concern. It shouldn’t be a deal-breaker.

Sunday Morning Male Beauty

German Catholic Bishops Declare Homosexuality to be "Normal"

The Reformation began in Germany in reaction to the corruption and lunacy of the Roman Catholic Church.  It ultimately forced the Church to change its ways in a number of ways. One thing that did not change was the Church's dogma on human sexuality which remained firmly back in the 12th century - where it has remained to the current day despite advances in medical and mental healthy knowledge.  As a result, gays have been persecuted and sex has remained for procreation only and should never be enjoyed. Now, a synod of German bishops is committed to “newly assessing” the universal Church’s teaching on homosexuality, sexual morality in general, and seemingly at long last bring the Church out of the 12th century. As one might expect, the shrieks and screams from right wing Catholic extremists who live to condemn others and preach a message of division is off the charts. A piece in the Catholic News Agency looks at the ongoing development.  Here are excerpts:
Munich, Germany, Dec 12, 2019 / 02:10 pm (CNA).- The German bishops’ conference has committed to “newly assessing” the universal Church’s teaching on homosexuality, sexual morality in general, as well as the sacraments of ordination and marriage. The commitment comes at the beginning of a controversial two-year “Synodal Process” by the German hierarchy.
Following consultations in Berlin last week, the chairman of the Marriage and Family Commission of the German bishops’ conference declared that the bishops agreed that homosexuality is a “normal form” of human sexual identity.
“Both belong to the normal forms of sexual predisposition, which cannot or should be be changed with the help of a specific socialization”.
Koch went on to say that “developments” made possible by Amoris laetitia, Pope Francis’ exhortation of marriage and the family, the Church must consider the latest scientific and theological insights on human sexuality.
Archbishop Koch, together with diocesan bishops Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabrück, Bishop Wolfgang Ipolt of Görlitz, Bishop Peter Kohlgraf of Mainz, as well as several auxiliary bishops from the Faith and Family Commission of the bishops' conference consulted with a number of invited medical specialists, theologians and canon lawyers during the event.
Calling for a "solid discussion supported by human sciences and theology" Koch and Bode said that Amoris Laetitia already provides for noticeable "developments" of both Church doctrine and practice, adding that a sexual relationship for divorced and remarried couples after Amoris laetitia "was no longer always to be qualified as grave sin," and that wholesale “exclusion from the reception of the Eucharist" of such couples could no longer be justified.
Koch said that the "Synodal Process" should must begin from an "unbiased" position on the Church’s teaching and without fixed points of view, but rather an openness to taking into account “latest scientific insights”.
According to a press release issued by the bishops, there was also discussion on whether the prohibition of homosexual acts by the Church’s magisterium was "still up-to-date" – and whether artificial contraception should still be condemend by the Chuch for “both married and unmarried” couples.
The results of the “expert consultation” in Berlin will be fed in to the “Synodal Process” through the synodal forum on "Life in Successful Relationships - Living Love in Sexuality and Partnership", will begin its work in February 2020.
Coinciding with the opening of the Synodal Process, several diocesan and national Catholic associations funded by the German Church tax, or Kirchensteuer, have made public demands for changes to the Church’s teaching and practice on similar issues.
Calls for “reform” range from the blessing of homosexual unions to the priestly ordination of women, . . .