Thursday, December 31, 2020

More New Year's Eve Male Beauty


Right Wing Extremist Groups Are Plotting DC Violence On Jan. 6th

The malignant narcissist-in-chief, Der Trumpenfuhrer is calling on the nastiest elements of the basket of deplorables who comprise the hard core of his base - particularly the wrongly named "Proud Boys" - to descend on Washington, D.C., on January 6, 2021, hold "demonstrations" to call for the overthrow of November, 2020's legitimate election.  Frighteningly, these thugs are reminiscent of Hitler's brown shirts (also confirmed racists) and their sole agenda will likely be mayhem and violence.  Stated another way, Trump appears to be seeking to incite a riot which is likely a criminal offense under the laws of the District of Columbia.  I hope my Republican "friends" will take a look at the photo above and realize these are the racists and human refuse with whom they have aligned themselves by supporting Trump. If they would not invite these scary individuals into their homes and/or country clubs, perhaps they need to reconsider their allegiance to Trump.  A piece in the Washington Post looks at what will be a riot and violence waiting to happen.  Here are excepts: 

Protests planned in support of President Trump on Jan. 6 are multiplying by the week.

Four seemingly competing rallies to demand that Congress overturn the results of the presidential election, which their participants falsely view as illegitimate, are scheduled on the day Congress is set to convene to certify electoral college votes, declaring President-elect Joe Biden the winner.

The events will be headlined by Trump’s most ardent supporters, including recently pardoned George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during its Russia investigation, and longtime ally Roger Stone, whose sentence for seeking to impede a congressional probe into Russian election interference was commuted by Trump in July before being upgraded to a full pardon.
Formal rallies are planned most of the day and will draw pro-Trump demonstrators to the Washington Monument, Freedom Plaza and the Capitol. But online forums and encrypted chat messages among far-right groups indicate a number of demonstrators might be planning more than chanting and waving signs.

Threats of violence, ploys to smuggle guns into the District and calls to set up an “armed encampment” on the Mall have proliferated in online chats about the Jan. 6 day of protest. The Proud Boys, members of armed right-wing groups, conspiracy theorists and white supremacists have pledged to attend.

Incoming D.C. police chief Robert J. Contee III, who will take over the department Saturday, said police are prepared to facilitate peaceful protests but that “violence will not be tolerated.”

Earlier this month, a day of largely peaceful demonstrations descended into violent chaos as night fell and small bands of Proud Boys dressed in the group’s signature black and gold garb roamed downtown looking for a fight. Several people, including passersby who said they did not know about planned protests that day, were injured.

Four people, who according to Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio are members of the group, were stabbed in a chaotic melee outside Harry’s Bar, a favorite downtown hangout of the group. Prosecutors declined to pursue charges against the man accused in the stabbing, who in a video of the incident is seen drawing a knife after he was pushed and punched and had his face mask grabbed by members of a churning crowd.

Anti-Trump and anti-fascist protesters for weeks have called on D.C. officials and businesses to do more to crack down on Trump supporters who largely flout coronavirus restrictions, such as mask mandates. A campaign to urge downtown hotels to shut their doors during next week’s events is ongoing, although largely unsuccessful.

Several hotels, including the Holiday Inn Alexandria at Carlisle, Holiday Inn Capitol and the Hyatt Place White House on K Street, said they are sold out on the nights around Jan. 6, although managers noted it is not atypical for area hotels to be full this time of year.

The Hotel Harrington — where Proud Boys and other far-right groups have gathered over the past two months, unnerving some guests and workers — announced after a Washington Post report on its growing reputation as the Proud Boys’ go-to hotel that it would close on Jan. 4, 5 and 6. . . . The hotel said it would offer refunds for prepaid reservations.

In the past three months, the hotel’s in-house bar, Harry’s, has been cited three times for violating social distancing and mask regulations. The violations occurred on weekends when large numbers of Proud Boys and other pro-Trump supporters, in town for demonstrations, were in the bar.

No counterdemonstrations have been announced for Jan. 6, although D.C. activists have issued repeated warnings this week about the likelihood of violence.

Earlier this month, city leaders expressed concerns about the continued presence of Proud Boys at D.C. demonstrations.

“These Proud Boys are avowed white nationalists and have been called to stand up against a fair and legal election,” D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) said. D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) added that a beautiful weekend “was ruined by white supremacists who came to our city seeking violence.”

It's time to stop the pretense that Trump's base is made up of disaffected working Americans.  They are racists, Christian right extremists and the dredges of society.  Be very afraid of these people and their would be dictator leader.

New Year's Eve Morning Male Beauty


Republicans' Feigned Populism is a Fraud

Today's Republican Party stands for few things other than tax cuts for the very wealthy and large corporations, right wing judges who will rule against the wishes of a majority of Americans, slashing safety regulations that protect the public from corporate greed and irresponsibility, and empowering far right Christian extremists who comprise a small minority of the nation's population. Nothing in this mix comprises populism or even a modicum of care for working class and average Americans - other than Trump base deplorables - despite Republican pretense to the contrary.  The fight over the latest round of pandemic relief has underscored this reality in stark terms as the GOP feigns populism in the hope of winning the Georgia runoff elections even though until now the two Republican candidates strongly and publicly embraced the GOP's reverse Robin Hood agenda.  Georgians and the rest of the nation need to recognize the GOP's dishonesty.  A column in the Washington Post looks at the  GOP's false claim of populism.  Here are highlights:

It’s fitting that President Trump’s final days in office are offering a full display of the contradictions, follies, deceptions and plain uselessness of Trumpian Republicanism.

And to make sure that even the ending of the Trump Era is turned into a circus, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who hopes to inherit Trump’s constituency for a 2024 presidential run, announced on Wednesday he’ll object to the counting of the electoral college votes next week. Hawley won’t stop President-elect Joe Biden from winning; he seeks only to give Trump’s lies about election rigging one more run.

We are seeing the many layers of Republican hypocrisy. The GOP was unwilling to buck the most scandalous aspects of his presidency as long as he delivered on the core conservative agenda of tax cuts and right-wing judges.

But when the normally fake-populist president became, momentarily, a semi-real one and endorsed upping Americans’ pandemic relief checks from $600 to $2,000, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) got the vapors.

Wanting more, Trump threatened to veto the $900 billion relief and stimulus bill,. . . . But Trump’s threat turned out to be one of those attention-grabbing but ultimately empty gestures that have been his stock in trade. In effect he said, “Never mind,” and signed the bill on Sunday.

To maintain their Senate majority, Republicans need to hold the two seats at stake in next Tuesday’s Georgia runoff. Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler were no friends of a big economic relief package, and Perdue said he opposed stimulus checks on at least three different occasions.

Conversions are a wonderful thing to behold, especially when they are motivated by pure political panic. On the stimulus issue, Perdue and Loeffler were being hammered by their Democratic opponents, Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock. Ossoff saw no need for subtlety. “You send me and Reverend Warnock to the Senate,” he declared, “and we will put money in your pocket.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) swiftly moved a bill for $2,000 checks through the House (in a win for acronyms, it’s called the Cash Act, as in “Caring for Americans with Supplemental Help”) and picked up 44 Republican votes in the process.

Thus McConnell’s bind: He doesn’t want to approve the checks. But he doesn’t want Perdue and Loeffler to lose. And, to that end, he doesn’t want a big fight with Trump before next Tuesday.

McConnell’s solution: Write a bill that makes it look as though you’re giving $2,000 a chance while killing the idea by making it impossible for Democrats to vote for it. McConnell thus proposed rolling the checks in with two other Trumpian ideas.

He’d repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which provides immunity for website publishers from liability for third-party material, while also setting up a commission to investigate allegations of voter fraud.

There’s a case that some of the money spent on checks could be more carefully targeted to the unemployed and the poor. But that option is not on the table. Because the compromise stimulus bill was kept far smaller than it should have been by McConnell and his conservative allies (including Perdue and Loeffler), . . . .

What can we learn from this episode? For starters: If Georgia’s voters want serious legislating next year about the crisis we face, they need to elect Ossoff and Warnock. Biden’s decision to make another campaign visit on their behalf shows that, however much he hopes he can work with Republicans, he knows he’ll be far better off with a Senate not in the hands of the Grim Reaper, as McConnell has proudly called himself.

That’s because Republicans were only willing to embrace Trump’s “populism” as long as it was fake — or of a right-wing sort that elevated the politics of race and immigration. The moment Trump started talking about real money for non-elites, the GOP leadership threw its hands up in horror.

McConnell’s maneuvers this week are the last gasp of his party’s hypocrisy, rooted in a burning desire for working-class votes unmatched by a will to do anything to earn them.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

More Wednesday Male Beauty


What Sen. Josh Hawley's Planned Electoral College Objection Really Means

Every court which has considered Donald Trump's claims of election fraud and similar Trump lies at the state and federal level, including the U.S. Supreme Court, has found the claims to be without merit. Indeed, in some of the lawsuits when Trump attorneys were faced with harsh questioning from the court, fearing potential disbarment, they conceded they had no proof to support the wild claims of the lawsuits.  Thus, Stanford University and Yale Law School educated Senator Josh Hawley knows full well that the only real fraud is Trump's false claims and those of his self-prostituting sycophants. Why then is Hawley saying he will challenge the Electoral College certification on January 6, 2020?  There are two reasons that interrelate. The first is that Hawley is ambitious on a dangerous level and wants to run for the Republican 2024 nomination.  The second is that he wants to win the allegiance of the deplorables and conspiracy theory nutcases who comprise Trump's base of support. Simply put, to Hawley, the truth and the rule of law don't matter if they interfere with his ambitions, thus indicating he's as morally bankrupt as Trump but without Trump's mental illness. Pieces at CNN and the Washington Post look at Hawley's shameless and false statements.  Here are highlights from the Post piece: 

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) — Yale Law School, Supreme Court clerk, Missouri attorney general and, according to the first line of his Twitter bio, “constitutional lawyer” — surely knows better.

His plan to challenge the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral college victory when Congress convenes for that purpose on Jan. 6 has no basis in the facts or the law. That is putting it too charitably, actually. It is, if anything, anti-constitutional — inconsistent with the Constitution’s vision of the ceremonial role of Congress in ratifying the election results.

It is doomed to fail — except, perhaps, at its scarcely disguised purpose of winning Hawley favor in the eyes of the Trumpian base. Think of it as the first act of Hawley’s all-but-inevitable 2024 presidential campaign. Think of it as what it is: a stunt.

It forces a vote that will have the salutary effect of requiring his Republican colleagues to decide — and to put on the record —whether their loyalty is to President Trump or to the Constitution. Better to know than to guess. Better to inflict some accountability rather than to enable dodging.

Put another way: Any vote that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) fervently wishes to avoid is one I’m for. Put every member of the House and Senate on the record, and let them reap the consequences, for good and for ill, in the short term of political fallout and in the long view of history. Those who vote against certifying Biden’s victory can explain it to their grandchildren.

To back up, here’s what’s supposed to happen on Jan. 6, as set out in the 12th Amendment and the 1887 Electoral Count Act. Congress convenes in a joint session, presided over by Vice President Pence, in his role as Senate president. According to the Constitution, states submit their electoral votes to Congress. On Jan. 6, the date specified by the Electoral Count Act, “The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted.”

“I cannot vote to certify the electoral college results on January 6 without raising the fact that some states, particularly Pennsylvania, failed to follow their own state election laws,” Hawley harrumphed. “And I cannot vote to certify without pointing out the unprecedented effort of mega corporations, including Facebook and Twitter, to interfere in this election, in support of Joe Biden.” Um, Senator, there is no vote requiring you to certify. A vote only happens if someone like you insists on a challenge.

The place to decide whether Pennsylvania complied with Pennsylvania’s election laws is in the courts of Pennsylvania — which, guess what, did just that, at Trump’s behest. He lost. Pennsylvania certified in timely fashion that its electors cast the state’s votes for Biden. Case closed. Hawley’s objection on the ground of alleged corporate interference is even dumber. Hold a hearing, Senator. Draft a bill. In the joint session, your role is to accept the votes of the electors. Period.

As Hawley well knows, it is over for Trump this time. All his intervention will do is to gum up the works, temporarily. If he persists, the House and Senate will debate separately for two hours — and even if Republicans retain their majority, there appear to be well enough Republicans willing to join in rejecting the challenge. This is literally political theater.

Put Republicans to the uncomfortable test. During the four years of Trump’s presidency, they have too often been able to evade accountability. If Hawley wants to put them to the test, let us watch and see if they choose to fail.

If Hawley goes through with his objection based on falsehoods, he will demonstrate two things: (i) a tawdry whore has more integrity than he does, and (ii) he is morally unfit to ever hold the office of the presidency.

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty


The Final, Desperate Days of the Psychopath in Chief

I suspect a majority of Americans are counting down the days until Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president and the the psychopath currently occupying that office is sent on his way. The count down is tempered by fear of what the increasingly deranged Donald Trump may attempt in order to prevent his much desired exit from power.  The situation raises the larger issue that Trump should never have been elected but for the failure of the media and mental health professionals to expose Trump's unfitness for office.  Between the media's ridiculous false equivalency posture and the so-called "Goldwater rule" that muzzled mental health experts, an unfit psychopath might never have been elected to the great harm of the nation.  A piece in Salon looks at these failures and reminds us just how unfit Trump is for any elected office.  Here are article excerpts:

We must face the alarming truth. Our irrational and reckless president will spend his last 23 days in office harboring the hope that a military coup in our country will allow him to remain in power. Or that Congress will overthrow the Electoral College vote on Jan. 6. Donald Trump is totally preoccupied with his existential survival as the walls of reality are closing in on him. He has been repudiated in the election. His psyche cannot comprehend how he could have lost to such an ordinary, mortal man. He is beside himself with embarrassment and humiliation. He is driven by revenge. He wants to settle scores. His thin veneer of greatness and superiority is crumbling away. He is desperate and flailing.

Trump is a psychopath. He has all the defining characteristics in spades: narcissistic, sadistic, antisocial, paranoid. This is malignant psychopathology in the embodiment of our president. He has the kind of personality pathology that should be unacceptable in our top public servant. Trump should have been rooted out in 2016. A psychopath should never have been elected to the highest office in the land. We have been suffering for it ever since: division, tribalism, hostility, racism, xenophobia, terrorism and more.

Some mental health professionals voiced concern about Trump's mental health after his election in 2016. In late 2017, 37 mental health professionals described Trump's dangerousness and unfitness in a bestselling book, "The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump." But the publication of that book did not open the floodgates for mental health experts to voice their opinions in the media. In fact, there was considerable pushback from concerned colleagues. Plus, the mainstream media showed a rather strong allegiance to the antiquated "Goldwater rule" advanced by the American Psychiatric Association. Mental health experts were largely rebuffed by the media. As a result, the public was ill-informed and Donald Trump was elected.

Four years later, Trump was defeated by Vice President Joe Biden in November 2020, but not with the help of the mainstream media. Once again, the media buckled under the smothering influence of the Goldwater rule. Journalists' descriptions of Trump's pathology were published in the media, but experts themselves were muzzled.

So here we are. Twenty-three days to go, and we are all sitting on the edge of our seats waiting for the next dreadful and unimaginable act from this disordered man. Our Constitution states that we are to have a peaceful and orderly transition of power to the next president. But we should not be surprised by Trump's desperate attempts to save himself by throwing democracy under the bus. Once and for all, we should be convinced that our psychopath in chief does not give a damn about the preciousness of our democratic way of life.

Trump is now totally consumed with his survival, his self-preservation. He cares about nothing else. He has totally abdicated his role as president. He is preoccupied with his anger, his grievances, his conspiracy theories and his conniving plans. He is a man on a mission to save his power and his pride simultaneously. It is a mission borne out of utter contempt for the will of the people.

He does not understand why the guardrails of democracy are deterring him. He cannot fathom why the U.S. Supreme Court has not come to his rescue, especially after he has appointed three "Trump" associate justices. He does not treasure democracy. If anything, he sees it as an annoying obstacle to his goal of establishing a family dynasty. He wants to be a dictator or, better yet, a king.

He has turned his back on the thousands of Americans who are dying each week from the coronavirus. He has not mentioned the pandemic in weeks. He has not listened to a public health expert in months. . . . He is pretending that the coronavirus is gone, much as he pretends that he is smart and great and strong. He seems to derive a kind of sadistic pleasure from watching Americans die under his direction.

His paranoia is raging as his desperation mounts. Trump is lashing out against even his most ardent apologists. He is accusing others of disloyalty and abandonment. He asked for Joe Biden to be arrested weeks before the election. He always sees himself as the victim when he is exposed or challenged or cornered. To be sure, his victimhood is both inaccurate and disingenuous. He is never the victim. He is always the one who is aggressive, cruel and reckless. His victimhood is a cynical psychological ploy to garner sympathy from his supporters and to try to wriggle out of a jam. But this jam is too much for him: He has lost the election fair and square, he has been abysmal in his handling of the pandemic and the economy is in dire shape. This trifecta cannot be overcome.

Trump has always been aligned with criminal friends and associates. Psychopaths are attracted to other psychopaths. They have a shared lack of conscience and an obvious absence of shame. This is the president who put young children in cages at the border and now has pardoned murderers — a glimpse inside the hollow heart and soul of Donald Trump.

Trump still finds time to play golf on weekends and holidays. Nothing will stop that — not even a car bombing in downtown Nashville on Christmas Day. He would never let responsibility or care for others interfere with his pleasure at taxpayer expense ($151 million and counting). He has no understanding of how pathetic he looks on the golf course while thousands of Americans are struggling to take their last breaths or standing in food bank lines because they have been unemployed since March. A chance to cheat at golf while the country is not looking is way too much fun for him to pass up.

Trump is on a collision course with self-destruction. He is the Titanic and everyone around him is beginning to jump ship. Former Attorney General Bill Barr has jumped ship. Evangelist Pat Robertson has jumped ship. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has jumped ship. Even Vice President Mike Pence has one foot in the water. It is just a matter of time before Trump wakes up in an empty room of silence and gold toilets.

Historians will be extremely unkind to Trump. He will be seared by presidential scholars. He will deserve all their harshness and condemnation. He will likely be remembered as the worst president in U.S. history. His legacy will be one of incompetence, cruelty and corruption. If he thinks he is humiliated now, wait until his supporters wake up and finally reject him for being such a failed, miserable and treasonous leader.

Hopefully, Donald Trump will be our one and only psychopath as president. We must not put ourselves through this national anguish and darkness again. Above all else, we must make sure the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans teach us an unforgettable lesson.

Lesson learned. Never again.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

More Tuesday Male Beauty


WSJ Board: Trump Is Sabotaging GA Senate Runoffs

Donald Trump is yet again proving that there is no true upside for the Republican Party's self-prostitution to Trump.  It's all about Trump 24/7 and now the Wall Street Editorial board has called Trump out for sabotaging the Georgia Senate runoff elections by splitting the party in the Senate or forcing the embattled GOP incumbents to vote for paltry relief for financially suffering constituents. My personal view is that it is wonderful that these spineless Republicans are now caught in the bonfire of Trump's petulant self-absorbed rants and fantasy world where he did not decisively lose the 2020 election. These Republicans jettisoned morality and what few principles the GOP had left when the jumped on the Trump clown car. A piece in Axios looks at the Wall Street Journal's summation of the situation:

The Wall Street Journal published an editorial on Monday effectively accusing President Trump of sabotaging Republicans' chances of winning the Georgia Senate runoffs with his push for $2,000 stimulus checks, calling it an "in-kind contribution to Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden."

Why it matters: It's another sharp criticism from a newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch — co-chair of Fox Corp. and executive chair of News Corp — that comes one day after the New York Post said Trump is "cheering for an undemocratic coup" with his efforts to overturn the election he lost.

What they're saying: "Senate Republicans oppose the $2,000 for these sound reasons, but Mr. Trump has put them in a political spot. Democrats immediately joined Mr. Trump’s call for the $2,000, and on Monday they passed the larger amount through the House, 275-134," the WSJ editorial board wrote.

    • "That leaves Mr. McConnell with a tough call of barring a vote as Democrats bang away in TV ads in Georgia against GOP incumbents David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. Or he can hold a vote, which would split the GOP caucus and upset fiscally conservative voters."
    • "By all accounts Mr. Trump is angry about his election defeat, and he is lashing out at anyone who won’t indulge his hopeless campaign to overturn it. ... Mr. Trump’s narcissism isn’t news. But if Republicans lose the two Georgia seats and their majority, Republicans across the country should know to thank Mr. Trump for their 2021 tax increase."

The big picture: The Journal has not endorsed a presidential candidate since 1928, but the newspaper's editorial board — along with other Murdoch-owned media outlets such as Fox News and the New York Post — has traditionally been favorable to Trump.

Tuesday Morning Male Beauty


The Worsening Plight of Homeless LGBT Youths

Most charities and non-profits are suffering from funding shortfalls as fundraising events get cancelled due to the continuing pandemic even as demands for their services increase due to job losses across the employment spectrum, especially in lower paying and the restaurant and hospitality industries.  LGBT youth already make up a disproportionate part of homeless youths thanks to "Christian" and other "religious" parents who disown them and throw them on the streets.  Now, the agencies and non-profits that serve them are caught in a financial crunch - many because localities are suffering from plummeting revenues - which leaves these vulnerable members of society at even higher risk and at higher levels of desperation.  Perhaps most sad is the fact that but for religious based bigotry and parents' willing embrace of ignorance and the words of charlatans and scamvangelists, many would not be homeless.  Religion too often is the source of evil. A piece in the Washington Post looks at this sad and tragic situation.  (If this sickens you, Goggle some of the organizations named in the article and see if they take online donations)  Here are article highlights:

At the Wanda Alston Foundation, a transitional housing program for LGBTQ young adults in D.C., every single resident lost a job at the start of the pandemic.

The 20 people in the program, all ages 18 to 24, have been applying for jobs daily, but none of them have been able to return to work, said June Crenshaw, the organization’s executive director. With the youths staying in the facilities at all hours of the day, the shelter’s food expenses have skyrocketed.

Even as the pandemic has dealt a major blow to the organization’s usual fundraising, the staff has seen an uptick in calls for help from homeless LGBTQ youths in the community — young queer and transgender people sleeping in cars or train stations. “People are desperate,” Crenshaw said. “They are compromised and vulnerable, and they will make tough choices.”

[F]or some organizations serving LGBTQ youths, the cuts could be painful.  SMYAL, which provides housing for 26 young LGBTQ adults in D.C., the funding reductions could amount to as much as $50,000. The organization is already experiencing a significant decline in revenue in part because a major fundraiser of the year, a fall brunch, was forced to go virtual because of the pandemic, said Sultan Shakir, SMYAL’s executive director. Meanwhile, they’ve had to take on greater expenses to provide youths with devices for telehealth and Zoom calls. Almost all of the youths that previously had jobs are now unemployed.

For Casa Ruby, which provides shelter, food and emergency services to about 200 young LGBTQ people every day, the cuts could amount to more than $170,000, said founder and executive director Ruby Corado. The organization has seen a 60 percent increase in people coming to its drop-in center, but it has also seen its financial support from restaurants and other local businesses plummet.

The looming budget cuts are coming at the worst possible time for the communities they serve, advocates say. Crenshaw worries about the mental health of the youths in her program, as many of them have struggled to adapt to the shift to telehealth for counseling services. She worries about the residents who have lost the jobs they depended on to “stabilize their circumstances.” The majority of the youths in her program had used underground economies to support themselves in the past, Crenshaw says, including sex work.

Crenshaw and other advocates fear the high rates of unemployment, coupled with a mental health crisis, might force homeless LGBTQ youths — particularly transgender women of color — to turn to sex work at a particularly dangerous time.

“When LGBTQ youth experience homelessness, then they more often than not turn to sex work," said Cyndee Clay, executive director of HIPS, a D.C. organization that supports and advocates for sex workers. “When people are feeling more at risk and people are worried about money, they take greater risks.”

While HIPS has not yet heard about any cuts to its grants from the District, “we expect them to be coming,” Clay said. She also worries that if other organizations supporting the LGBTQ homeless population have to cut back on programs, HIPS will see an even greater demand for its services. Budget cuts to LGBTQ housing, Clay said, “is literally the worst thing that we could be doing.”

Sex workers had already struggled to find clients online before the pandemic, after federal measures shuttered websites like Backpage and Craigslist’s personals. The regulations made it harder for sex workers to control what clients they accepted, and instead forced many of them to walk the streets to find work. . . . . But clients are fewer and are not willing to spend as much, meaning sex workers are willing to accept lower rates. “It’s become very competitive, and that in and of itself can create a violent atmosphere,” Spellman said. . . . . Many of those who previously relied on sex work for income were also not eligible for federal covid-relief funds or unemployment insurance.

Others in the community are turning to sex work for the first time to pay the bills, Moten said.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Final Monday Male Beauty


Trump's Favorite Newspaper Has Turned Against Him

A piece at CNN is reporting that the New York Post, long a Donald Trump ally/apologist is finally kicking Trump to the curb and calling on him "STOP THE INSANITY,"  . . . . "You lost the election -- here's how to save your legacy."   In doing so, the New York Post joins Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, other Rupert Murdock controlled outlets that have recognized Trump's loss.   The CNN piece reads in part as follows: 

President Donald Trump's favorite newspaper has turned against him.

The New York Post, in an editorial that got the front-page, giant-font treatment on Monday, told Trump he needs to give up his baseless fight to overturn the presidential election result.

"Mr. President ... STOP THE INSANITY," read the front page of the tabloid, famous for outlandish headlines. "You lost the election -- here's how to save your legacy."  

[T]he top of the editorial got right to the point: "Mr. President, it's time to end this dark charade," the Post's editorial board wrote. "You're cheering for an undemocratic coup." 

The editorial from the Post, owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. (NWS), is hardly the first time a Murdoch-owned news outlet has distanced itself from Trump and his refusal to concede the election. The Wall Street Journal's editorial board on November 6 urged Trump to concede once he was declared the loser (most other media organizations called the election the next day, and the electoral college voted for President-elect Joe Biden on December 14). The Journal argued Trump's legacy would be greatly diminished if his final act were "a bitter refusal to accept a legitimate defeat." 

Fox News, owned by Murdoch's Fox Corp., has acknowledged Biden is the president-elect despite its prime-time hosts' defense of Trump's refusal to concede. 

And at the Post itself, top Murdoch lieutenant Col Allan confirmed he will retire from the paper in 2021. Allan was instrumental in pushing the Post in a pro-Trump direction. Last summer, for example, CNN reported that Allan ordered the removal of a story on a Trump sexual assault allegation. 

But the new editorial was notable for its sharp-worded dismissal of Trump's misinformation campaign about the election result and multi-pronged, flailing effort to remain in power.

Here are highlights from the editorial itself which calls Trump Sidney Powell crazy and states that Michael Flynn is involved in treason:

Mr. President, it’s time to end this dark charade. We’re one week away from an enormously important moment for the next four years of our country.

On Jan. 5, two runoff races in Georgia will determine which party will control the Senate — whether Joe Biden will have a rubber stamp or a much-needed check on his agenda.

Unfortunately, you’re obsessed with the next day, Jan. 6, when Congress will, in a pro forma action, certify the Electoral College vote. You have tweeted that, as long as Republicans have “courage,” they can overturn the results and give you four more years in office.

In other words, you’re cheering for an undemocratic coup.

Sidney Powell is a crazy person. Michael Flynn suggesting martial law is tantamount to treason. It is shameful.

We understand, Mr. President, that you’re angry that you lost. But to continue down this road is ruinous. We offer this as a newspaper that endorsed you, that supported you: If you want to cement your influence, even set the stage for a future return, you must channel your fury into something more productive.

Now imagine a government controlled by your nemeses — Nancy Pelosi in the House, Chuck Schumer in the Senate, Biden in the White House. How high will taxes go? How many of your initiatives will be strangled? And, on a personal note, do you think they won’t spend the next four years torturing you with baseless hearings and investigations?

If Georgia falls, all that is threatened. You will leave your party out of power, less likely to listen to what you have to say or to capitalize on your successes, such as expanding the Hispanic voting bloc for the GOP.

Democrats will try to write you off as a one-term aberration and, frankly, you’re helping them do it. The King Lear of Mar-a-Lago, ranting about the corruption of the world.

You should use your considerable charm and influence to support the Georgia candidates, mobilizing your voters for them. Focus on their success, not your own grievances, as we head into the final week.

If you insist on spending your final days in office threatening to burn it all down, that will be how you are remembered. Not as a revolutionary, but as the anarchist holding the match.

Expect a Trump tweet shitstorm.

More Monday Male Beauty


Biden's Task of Restoring the U.S. Department of Justice

Donald Trump, a/k/a Der Trumpenfuhrer, viewed the Department of Justice as a part of the executive branch that was to be totally beholden to Trump, prosecute and investigate Trump's political rivals and enemies with no hint of impartiality or a first allegiance to the rule of law.  Outgoing AG William Barr is a prime example of those willing to kiss Trump's ring and throw integrity and the rule of law out the window, As a consequence, many competent career officials either were forced out or chose to resign rather than become a part of Trump's corrupt Department of Justice.  When he takes office, Joe Biden will have the task of not only of appointing competent and moral individuals to the department, but select individuals who can undo the damage done during Trump's four years of misrule.  A piece in the Washington Post looks at the issues ahead for Biden.  Here are highlights:

Watching President Trump dole out pardons and commutations to a parade of former campaign officials snared in the Russia investigation, corrupt ex-congressmen, cronies who lied to Congress and/or the FBI, and even war criminals should remind us of the extent to which he has damaged the rule of law, the norms of democracy and the reputation of the Justice Department, which once upon a time played a critical role in granting pardons and commutations.

The variety and seriousness of the issues facing the next attorney general are daunting and include depoliticizing enforcement and sentencing decisions, diversifying the department’s workforce, enforcing of civil rights and police reform, and making the pardon system more transparent. President-elect Joe Biden is taking his time, wisely in my view, to find the person whom he can trust to undertake all that while maintaining an appropriate separation between political aides at the White House and the Justice Department.

Each of the leading candidates has deficits. Former acting attorney general Sally Yates may not get confirmed. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) may not have the experience to navigate and shake-up the department. Judge Merrick Garland, too moderate for some activists, would open up a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. With no standout pick, Biden may wait until the Georgia Senate races are held on Jan. 5 to assess Yates’s chances in the Senate.

The passage of time also raises new challenges that might require someone with a different background. The stunning cyber-attack we recently learned about underscores the national-security aspect of the job. That would point to someone like Lisa Monaco, who helped vet Biden’s vice presidential candidates. She has decades of experience in the national security realm, both at the White House and at the Justice Department.

The Post also reports that “it is possible that when he reveals his decision, he also will announce picks for deputy attorney general, associate attorney general and solicitor general.” Waiting to announcing a senior team to lead the Justice Department certainly could minimize any gaps or shortcomings Biden’s attorney general pick might have. Garland may seem too moderate to satisfy some progressive civil rights groups, but announcing his name along with, for example, former head of the civil rights division Vanita Gupta as the deputy or associate attorney general would provide reassurance he will move aggressively on civil rights enforcement and police reform.

Including his solicitor general pick could bolster Biden’s selection as well. Deepak Gupta, an all-star progressive Supreme Court litigator and one of now-Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s first hires at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, would confirm that Biden’s Justice Department will aggressively defend his administration in the highest court.

It is not surprising that Biden is patiently exploring his options. The attorney general in an administration following the nightmarish Trump years might be Biden’s most critical personnel choice after vice president. Better to wait, consider a broad range of options and relevant issues, and roll out his choice with an impressive senior team.

Monday Male Beauty


Sunday, December 27, 2020

More Sunday Male Beauty


With Luck Trump Will Destroy the GOP As He Goes Out the Door

As of now, Donald Trump has failed to sign the Covid-19 relief bill passed by Congress and millions of Americans face the loss of benefits and the moratorium on evictions.  Trump may yet allow the federal government go into shutdown as he fumes over the reality that a majority of Americans despise him and voted to elect Joe Biden. But it is not just working Americans who are being hit with the consequences of Trump's petulant and self-absorbed  hissy fit.  Deliciously, the Republican Party is being buffeted in a much deserved manner after years of self-prostitution to Trump and the jettisoning of  any claim of moral decency.  With luck, Trump will sabotage the GOP candidates in the Georgia runoff elections on January 5, 2021, and hand Senate control to the Democrats.  It would be a fitting result for a party which embraced depravity and utterly foul individual.  A piece at CNN looks at what hopefully will befall the GOP.  Here are highlights:

This holiday season, President Donald Trump has wreaked havoc on Congress, our democracy and our judicial system by pardoning political associates and convicted murderers. But Trump has saved a special kind of Grinch-like behavior for the two Republican Senate candidates in Georgia who are headed for runoff elections in January and for Senator Mitch McConnell, whose fate as majority leader depends on the GOP winning at least one of those races.

These three are only the latest to realize that the return on investment for loyalty to Donald Trump is exactly zero. McConnell, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler all stood on the Senate floor in February and acquitted Trump on charges he abused his power in office and obstructed Congress. But now that it's time for Trump to return the favor, our self-absorbed [Trump] President seems to be doing everything he can to make it harder for all three -- and perhaps giving the Democrats the gift of control of the Senate as he leaves office. 

Trump's political messages started hurting the Republican senators in Georgia long before this Christmas season. Trump railed against early voting throughout the campaign to sow doubt about the election results and set the predicate for the outrageous claims of voter fraud and attempts to nullify the November election. 

Early voting, traditionally a strong suit for Republicans, provided Biden with the margins he needed around the country.  . . . The combination of massive early voting by Democrats and lower numbers on the GOP side made the January 5 runoffs possible. 

Trump's reaction to the election results has also hit Perdue and Loeffler hard. His bitter criticism of Georgia's Republican governor and secretary of state for not helping him overturn the results has split the Republican Party in the state. Setting off a circular firing squad within the Republican Party was an unexpected gift for the Democrats. 

Making it worse for the state Republican Party, lawyers who are supportive of Trump, led by Lin Wood, have cast doubt on Georgia being able to conduct a fair election. They've told Trump supporters to stay home and not vote in the January runoff. Clearly, in such a close race, neither side can afford any significant boycott on voting. 

After McConnell finally acknowledged that Joe Biden was President-elect following the Electoral College vote, Trump had an aide send a memo to Republicans in Congress trashing the majority leader. It suggested that the reason McConnell won his re-election contest by nearly 20 points was because of the President's endorsement and that the majority leader wasn't sufficiently grateful. 

Trump may have saved his biggest gift to the Democrats with his Christmas week torpedo launched at Congress. House and Senate leaders spent months painfully negotiating a Covid-19 relief bill providing desperately needed aid to millions of Americans suffering through the pandemic. 

Perdue and Loeffler now have to defend why they voted for the small payment, which [Trump] the President now opposes. Voters are not likely to focus on the President being completely absent from the relief negotiations and only speaking out after the votes were cast. 

Time and again we have learned with [Trump] the President that it is only about Trump. And the parting gift of Trumpism, as Joe Biden is sworn in, may well be a Senate controlled by the Democrats.

Sunday Morning Male Beauty


Trump Continues to Pose a Clear and Present Danger

Until Congress certifies Joe Biden's election on January 6, 2021, and Trump exits the presidency (actually, I'd argue until he ceases to breathe), America faces the clear and present danger of Trump trying some desperate last ditch attempt to overthrow the election through violence and/or the launching of some disastrous military adventure.  Sadly, nothing and no one, certainly not the lies of military service members, means anything to Trump, so there is no limit to what misdeeds he might do.  Unfortunately, most Republicans - especially at the Congressional level - lack the courage or basic morality to confront and tell him the game is over and/or use the 25th Amendment to remove him from office (something that would add a wonderful footnote to the horrors of the Trump/Pence regime).  A column in the Washington Post looks at the danger America faces in the waning days of the the malignant narcissist-in-chief.  Here are excerpts:

Not to be alarmist, but we should recognize that the United States will be in the danger zone until the formal certification of Joe Biden’s election victory on Jan. 6, because potential domestic and foreign turmoil could give President Trump an excuse to cling to power.

This threat, while unlikely to materialize, is concerning senior officials, including Republicans who have supported Trump in the past but believe he is now threatening to overstep the constitutional limits on his power. They described a multifaceted campaign by die-hard Trump supporters to use disruptions at home and perhaps threats abroad to advance his interests.

The big showdown is the Jan. 6 gathering of both houses of Congress to formally count the electoral college vote taken on Dec. 14, which Biden won 306 to 232. The certification should be a pro forma event, but a desperate Trump is demanding that House and Senate Republicans challenge the count and block this final, binding affirmation of Biden’s victory before Inauguration Day.

Trump’s last-ditch campaign will almost certainly fail in Congress. The greater danger is on the streets, where pro-Trump forces are already threatening chaos. A pro-Trump group called “Women for America First” has requested a permit for a Jan. 6 rally in Washington, and Trump is already beating the drum: “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”

Government officials fear that if violence spreads, Trump could invoke the Insurrection Act to mobilize the military. Then Trump might use “military capabilities” to rerun the Nov. 3 election in swing states

The Pentagon would be the locus of any such action, and some unusual recent moves suggest pro-Trump officials might be mobilizing to secure levers of power. Kash Patel, chief of staff to acting defense secretary Christopher C. Miller, returned home “abruptly” from an Asia trip in early December, according to Fox News correspondent Jennifer Griffin. Patel didn’t explain, but in mid-December Trump discussed with colleagues the possibility that Patel might replace Christopher A. Wray as FBI director, one official said. Wray remains in his job.

Another strange Pentagon machination was the proposal Miller floated in mid-December to separate the code-breaking National Security Agency from U.S. Cyber Command, which are both currently headed by Gen. Paul Nakasone. That proposal collapsed because of bipartisan congressional opposition.

But why did Trump loyalists suggest the NSA-Cyber Command split in the first place? Some officials speculate that the White House may have planned to install a new NSA chief, perhaps Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the young conservative recently installed to oversee Pentagon intelligence activities.

With firm control of the NSA and the FBI, the Trump team might then disclose highly sensitive information about the origins of the 2016 Trump Russia investigation. Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe tried to release this sensitive intelligence before the election . . . Trump retreated under pressure from then-Attorney General William P. Barr, among others.

Trump’s final weeks in office will also be a tinder box because of the danger of turmoil abroad. Iranian-backed militias fired more than 20 rockets last Sunday at the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad, with around nine hitting the compound but inflicting no American casualties. . . . State Department and Pentagon officials say Trump’s retaliatory threat is real.

Another potential flash point is just a week away. Jan. 3 marks the first anniversary of the U.S. targeted killing of Quds Force commander Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani and Iraq militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. Any new violence could ignite a quick cycle of escalation that could bring direct conflict between the United States and Iran during Trump’s final weeks in office.

The heroes in preserving the United States’ hopes of a stable democratic transition, perhaps ironically, have been some courageous, principled Republicans: judges in state and federal courts, including Supreme Court justices nominated by Trump; secretaries of state and other election monitors; a disappointingly small handful of GOP senators and members of Congress

Trump won’t succeed in subverting the Constitution, but he can do enormous damage over the next weeks. Before Jan. 6, a delegation of senior Republicans should visit him at the White House and insist, emphatically: Biden has won. This must stop.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Saturday Morning Male Beauty


Cold War: The Catholic Church and LGBT Catholics

I left Catholicism two decades ago as I reached a point where I could no longer participate in a church than demeaned me, labeled me "inherently disordered" and offered me nothing but more years of condemnation and self-hatred ("praying away the gay" had proven to be a cynical lie). Throw in the global sex abuse scandal and the Church hierarchy's lies, cover ups, and rank hypocrisy and leaving the Catholic became a moral requirement. I have no regrets about leaving the Catholic Church and found solace in the Episcopal Church and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, two LGBT accepting denominations.  Sadly, two decades later, the Catholic Church continues to cling to a 12th century understanding of sexuality and ignores all modern medical and mental health knowledge.  A piece in The Advocate by a former Jesuit looks at the Church's continued cold war against LGBT individuals. Here are article highlights:

The last 12 months has been another year of the Catholic Church continuing its don’t ask, don’t tell policy of love the sinner not the sin. Another year when the Vatican missed opportunities to affirm the positive contributions of LGBTQ+ people. This year will be remembered as the year the Vatican told lesbians and gays that they were no longer interested in their salvation, or marriage, punting that issue to state rights. . . . Just a few countries away {e.g., Poland], anti-LGBTQ+ zones are rejecting LGBTQ+ people, growing increasingly intolerant towards sexual minorities.   

In America, Catholics are inspired to laud Amy Coney Barrett whose Supreme Court confirmation has pitted her style of Catholicism against President-elect Joe Biden. The United States Bishops tell us Barrett can receive communion, but Biden cannot.

In October 2020, Gay History Month, Pope Francis informed parents of LGBTQ+ children that “the church loves your children as they are because they are children of God.” Was this even in doubt? And if it were a true Vatican conviction, why couldn’t I, an ex-Jesuit and gay son eulogize my mother at her funeral at St. Isadore’s Church in Riverhead, N.Y.? (That was so 2019.)

In October, Pope Francis told his flock that heterosexual, married sex can be pleasurable. Isn’t all lovemaking pleasurable, part of an all-good and all-loving God’s plan for his beloved children?

In June, during Pride Month, the Vatican issued its most recent antigay argument: only biological males and females are complementary. . . .Of course the theology of the document does not deviate from century-old Vatican norms or Church dogma, for example, the primal purpose of adult opposite-sex relationships is to procreate. Thus, the Vatican exalts child-making couples, and shames all others; gay, lesbian, non-child bearing, and gender-fluid couples.

Of course, by exalting child-making couples, the Vatican is affirming its stance that sacramental marriage is between one man and one woman. Still, nothing new. But the damage done by this document is likely irreparable.

[T]he Vatican can never use “real-life experience” to shape its theology or dogma. If it did, divorced Catholics could remarry and receive the Eucharist. This is why calling for dialogue and listening to people talk on gender is dubious, if not manipulation by a few progressives to keep the pews filled with a portion of the faithful so easily termed uncomplimentary.  

When the Church, through documents like “Male and Female He Created Them” articulates an antigay theology, then through Pope Francis I says, “We must be attentive, not saying all are the same” that “people must be accompanied” it causes confusion, and provides a safe space for discrimination, bullying and violence against the LBGTQ+ community.

Just as the Vatican argues against gender existing along a spectrum so is it becoming increasingly clear, if you do not practice the Catholic faith in the most conservative of ways you are not fully a member of the Church. Whether you hope for a dialogue or listening, the only cudgel against the LGBTQ+ community is leading them to hope in something greater to come. And for LGBTQ+ people, that something greater might just be a change in faith; finding a new home in a house of worship that fully embraces them now and in the eternal life to come. Why settle for less? Jesus did not.