Saturday, March 07, 2020

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Gov. Northam Signs Three Pro-LGBT Bills Into Law

Hopefully, the LGBT community and its allies are learning the important lesson that voting - and not staying home if one's favorite candidate does not win the nomination - is crucial in creating change and defeating the Republican agenda of division and keeping full civil rights only for the few favored classes of the GOP base: whites, heterosexuals, right wing Christians.  Virginia's transformation into a blue state and a leader in change among Southern states would not have occurred but for people going to the polls and saying "no more" to the Virginia GOP's divisive, backward looking policies.  Thanks to Democrat control of the Virginia General Assembly three new pro-LGBT laws were signed into law by Governor Northam, the most LGBT friendly governor in Virginia history.  Outwire757 looks at the legislation.  Here are excerpts:
Governor Ralph Northam signed 49 new pieces of legislation into law Thursday, including measures to expand the definition of “hate crime” and increase protections for transgender students in public schools.  Additionally, Governor Northam signed legislation that gives localities more authority over their communities, including House Bill 696, enabling localities to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.  
School Policies for Transgender Students 
Governor Northam signed House Bill 145, sponsored by Delegate Marcus Simon and Senate Bill 161, sponsored by Senator Jennifer Boysko, which will require the Department of Education to develop model policies for elementary and secondary schools on how to address common issues involving transgender students, using evidence-based information and best practices. These model policies will address how schools can ensure they treat transgender students fairly and respectfully. School boards must adopt such policies for the 2021-2022 school year. 
Reporting Hate Crimes 
Governor Northam signed House Bill 276, sponsored by Delegate Rip Sullivan. Current law requires the reporting of hate crimes to the State Police and this bill expands the definition of a hate crime to include criminal acts based on ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identification, and disability. This bill incorporates House Bill 1058
“Attacking someone because of who they are, who they love, or where they’re from is wrong,” said Governor Northam. “Those actions are intended to send a chilling message that a person is not welcome, and that is exactly the opposite of what we stand for in Virginia. Hate has no place here. I am proud to sign this bill.”
Banning Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity
Governor Northam signed House Bill 696, sponsored by Delegate Danica Roem, allowing localities to ban discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations, credit, or education based on sexual orientation or gender identity. 
“I want Virginia to be a diverse and inclusive state, where everyone feels welcome,” said Governor Northam. “No one should fear being fired, evicted, or otherwise singled out because of who they are. This bill will help ensure all Virginians are treated fairly and equitably, and I am happy to sign it.” 
Imagine what America could look like if we had a Democrat in the White House and Democrat control of both houses of Congress.

Friday, March 06, 2020

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Bernie Sanders Gets a Rude Awakening

Elizabeth Warren has ended her presidential campaign and the question is whether she will endorse Biden or Sanders - or no one - and where her supporters will gravitate.  Some of the most liberal may go to Sanders, but many of the college educated suburbanites may be turned off by Sanders' class warfare agenda and move towards Biden.  Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders has claimed that the youth vote would power him to victory.  Based on analysis so far, the youth vote turned out in smaller percentages for Sanders on Super Tuesday than in 2016 and Sanders captured a small percentage of those who did go to the polls. The situation demonstrated (i) the unreliability of younger voters to actually go and vote, and (ii) the breadth of Sanders' coalition remains too limited to win the nomination.  A piece in The Atlantic looks at Tuesday's outcome and Sanders' need to attract those outside of his base - something I am not sure he is capable of doing given his demeanor and his my way or the highway mindset.  Tuesday, most Democrats chose the highway in the form of Joe Biden.  Here are article excerpts:
Bernie Sanders’s self-proclaimed “political revolution” crashed into a wall of resistance inside the Democratic Party last [Tuesday] night.
After a remarkable 72 hours that saw top party leaders consolidate behind Joe Biden, a panoramic array of key party voting groups coalesced around the former vice president—and against Sanders—in the coast-to-coast competition, according to exit polls conducted in almost all the states that voted. Biden captured at least nine of the 14 states voting, including some—such as Minnesota and Oklahoma—where Sanders won big in 2016.
The surprisingly decisive result left Sanders, a candidate who prides himself on his pile-driver-like consistency, facing a new challenge: finding a second act that can appeal to voters beyond the fervid base he has established. The evening’s clearest message was that while the senator from Vermont has inspired a passionate depth of support, the breadth of his coalition remains too limited to win the nomination. “Sanders has made no effort to reach out beyond his voters, his movement, his revolution,” Greenberg said. “It just has not grown. It is an utterly stable vote that is grounded in the very liberal portion of the Democratic Party, but he’s so disdainful of any outreach beyond that base. He seems content to just keep hitting that drum.”
Last night’s results could cull other candidates in the race sooner than later [Bloomberg has dropped out] . . . . . . Elizabeth Warren [now out as well] , who has pledged to fight on until the convention, lost her home state of Massachusetts and in the exit polls showed only trace levels of support among any group other than her core constituency of college-educated whites.
The results did not ensure a Biden nomination or a Sanders defeat. Sanders still won four states, including a solid-if-not-crushing victory in California, the largest prize on the board. He retained enthusiastic backing from his base: young voters, the most liberal voters, and Latinos, the key group that he has moved in his direction since his first bid in 2016.
But if Biden wins next week in Michigan, one of Sanders’s most significant victories four years ago, the rationale for the senator’s candidacy could quickly become murky.
Last night, Sanders failed on almost every front to enlarge his coalition. He faced a sharp recoil from groups that have long been the most skeptical of him, including African Americans and older voters.  . . . . Outside of Vermont, Sanders faced cavernous deficits among voters 45 and older, who composed a clear majority of the electorate in most states.
Across the country, Sanders also lost ground among white voters up and down the socioeconomic ladder. College-educated white voters, who on the whole had been skeptical of both men until Biden won them in South Carolina, broke decisively for the former vice president in most states. Simultaneously, in most states, Biden reversed Sanders’s previously consistent advantage among white voters without a college degree.
Perhaps the starkest symbol of Sanders’s limitations last night was the resurgence of a problem that severely damaged him in 2016: widespread resistance from primary voters who self-identify as Democrats (as opposed to independents).
The Super Tuesday exit polls showed Biden beating Sanders among self-identified Democrats by about 30 percentage points in both Virginia and North Carolina, about 25 points in Oklahoma, 20 points in Tennessee, and nearly 50 in Alabama. Sanders was more competitive among Democratic partisans in the New England states of Massachusetts and Maine. But the overall pattern was unmistakable.
His collapse among Democratic partisans came after recent full-throated attacks on “the Democratic establishment” in his rallies and media appearances. Sanders has often sounded more as if he believes he’s leading his movement in a hostile takeover of the party than a merger with it.
Biden, for instance, crushed Sanders in the white-collar suburbs of Northern Virginia. That suggests Sanders’s call for political revolution is ringing hollow in the largely prosperous communities outside major cities that helped deliver the House majority to Democrats in 2018, largely out of antipathy toward Trump.
[A]s the race reduces to a binary choice between Biden and Sanders, it’s the Vermont senator who emerged from the biggest night on the primary calendar with the greatest need to change the dynamic in the race.
Frankly, I do not see Sanders trying to enlarge the tent of his supporters.  He is singing the same song he has for decades and appears too old and to closed minded to change.  

Thursday, March 05, 2020

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Virginia Bans "Conversion Therapy" for Minors - A Lesson for Democrats

I know a number of individuals who were subjected to so-called gay conversion therapy.  Some recovered from the nightmare of the fraudulent therapy while others still have deep scars from the psychological and emotional harm done to them - typically in the name of religious belief based on Bible passages authored by ignorant, uneducated Bronze Age authors. Shortly after the 2019 Democrat sweep in Virginia, while speaking in a private setting with Governor Northam  - who wanted Democrats to be bold on LGBT issues during the 2020 legislative session - I stressed that banning conversion therapy needed to be on the list of measures to be enacted.  That has now come to pass and Virginia has banned this dangerous and unscrupulous practice on minors.  It is a reminder of why voting Democrat - even if not for one's preferred candidate matters and is needed to move both Virginia and the nation forward to benefit all citizens, not the few favored by the GOP.  A piece in the Washington Post looks at the accomplishment in Virginia.  Here are excerpts:
Gov. Ralph Northam on Monday signed a bill banning conversion therapy for minors, the first LGBT rights measure to reach the Democrat's desk this year.
Virginia will become the 20th state — and the first in the South — to outlaw the therapy, a widely discredited practice that purports to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Critics say it is traumatic for patients and has led to suicides.
The ban, which takes effect July 1, will not apply to adults who choose the therapy for themselves.
“This issue is personal for me, as a pediatric neurologist who has cared for thousands of children,” Northam said in a statement. “Conversion therapy is not only based in discriminatory junk-science, it is dangerous and causes lasting harm to our youth. No one should be made to feel wrong for who they are — especially not a child. I’m proud to sign this ban into law.”
Many other landmark LGBT rights bills have also passed the House and Senate and are on their way to the governor this year, during the first session in a generation with Democrats in control of both legislative chambers.
Among the other bills is one that would make Virginia the first Southern state to ban anti-LGBT discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. Conversion therapy for minors is already banned in the District and 19 states, including Maryland, according to the Movement Advancement Project, which tracks LGBT legislation.
North Carolina prohibits only the use of taxpayer dollars for the therapy.
The governor is likely to do a ceremonial signing of all LGBT rights bills sometime after the General Assembly gavels out of its 60-day session on Saturday.

Conversion therapy needs to be banned nationwide.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

More Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

Bernie Sanders' - and Democrats' - Conundrum

Bernie Sanders has promised a political revolution and claimed that he will bring out massive numbers of new and younger voters.  Yesterday, the majority of Democrats said while they want change, especially in terms of health care - and to see Trump defeated - they do not want Sanders' revolution.  Likewise, while voter turn out was seemingly up, Sanders did not have the major turn out of new/young voters that his campaign has promised.  To be honest, I have qualms about both Sanders and Joe Biden and wish there was a strong moderate/progressive to be the Democrat standard bearer.  At this point, that person doesn't exist and alas as is too often the case in politics, one has to choose the better of two lack luster candidates.  Not voting is not an option as the 2016 stay-at-home vote showed by in effect electing Donald Trump. I do not see Biden engendering high levels of enthusiasm - he can only hope hatred of Trump (which is very real) will be enough to supercharge turnout in November.  If things continue as seemingly now headed, Sanders voters will have to decide whether they want to stay home and reelect Trump - whose agenda is the antithesis of what they claim to support - or hold their nose and vote for Biden if that is what the choice comes down to.  A piece in the Washington Post looks at the situation.  A second in the New York Times looks at the failure of the new/youth vote to materialize at the level Sanders needed.  First, excerpts from the Post
On Super Tuesday, voters across 14 states collectively delivered an emphatic message on the single biggest day of the primary season. They don’t want a revolution. They just want to oust Donald Trump.
In all 12 states where exit polls were conducted, early results showed that majorities said finding a candidate who can beat Trump is more important than having one who agrees with them on major issues. And overwhelmingly they said that man is Biden — by 2 to 1 in some cases.
This hunger to beat Trump led to a remarkable night for Biden and for what Sanders derides as the Democratic “establishment” — and an unexpected reality check for the Sanders revolution.
Democrats on Tuesday rescued themselves from a repeat of what happened to Republicans in 2016, when a populist outsider vanquished a cluttered field and no “establishment” candidate had a clean shot at Trump.
But now they have a different predicament. Democrats find themselves in a bit of a rerun of the Sanders-Clinton race of 2016. Whatever happens in the rest of the primary season, Sanders will have substantial support — and a large number of delegates. If he loses to Biden and doesn’t embrace the Democratic ticket, his supporters might stay home in November, handing victory to Trump.
But while Sanders retains enough power to bring down the party, it’s a lot less clear after Tuesday that he has enough power to lead it. Far from bringing new blood into the Democratic primaries, it appeared that in some places turnout was particularly high in places where he did poorly. As usual, Sanders did well among the very liberal, Biden among moderates. The young voted by a lopsided margin for Sanders, while older voters turned out for Biden.
Those divisions won’t disappear anytime soon, which is all the more reason for Democrats to focus on the one thing they all agree on: beating Trump. The voters just made clear they believe Biden is the one to do that.
As for the younger vote surge that seemingly did not happen, here are highlights from a column in the Times:
[T]he demographics of people who actually vote are almost always different from the demographics of people who can vote. That’s where their analysis raises concerns about Sanders’s chances. According to Broockman and Kalla’s figures, Sanders loses a significant number of swing votes to Trump, but he makes up for them in support from young people who say they won’t vote, or will vote third party, unless Sanders is the nominee. On the surface, these Bernie-or-bust voters might seem like an argument for Sanders. After all, Sanders partisans sometimes insist that Democrats have no choice but to nominate their candidate because they’ll stay home otherwise, a sneering imitation of traditional centrist demands for progressive compromise. But if Broockman and Kalla are right, by nominating Sanders, Democrats would be trading some of the electorate’s most reliable voters for some of its least. To prevail, Democrats would need unheard-of rates of youth turnout. That doesn’t necessarily mean Sanders would be a worse candidate than Joe Biden, given all of Biden’s baggage. It does mean polls might be underestimating how hard it will be for Sanders to beat Trump. About 37 percent of Democrats and independents under 35 voted in 2016. According to Broockman and Kalla’s figures, Sanders would need to get that figure up to 48 percent. By comparison, Broockman told me, in 2008, Barack Obama raised black turnout by about five percentage points. Broockman said that if either Warren or Sanders is on the ballot, more Republicans will likely be motivated to go to the polls in response. “When parties nominate candidates further from the center, it actually inspires the other party to turn out,” he told me.
[T]he 2018 elections saw the highest midterm turnout in over a century, yet most of Democrats’ improved performance “came not from fresh turnout of left-of-center voters, who typically skip midterms, but rather from people who cast votes” in the last two national elections and “switched from Republican in 2016 to Democratic in 2018.”
The primaries have yet to demonstrate that Sanders can generate the hugely expanded turnout his campaign is promising.
Dave Wasserman, an editor at The Cook Political Report, tweeted that most of the Democrats’ turnout bump was attributable to moderate Republicans “crossing over from ’16 G.O.P. primary — not heightened progressive/Sanders base enthusiasm.” South Carolina saw record turnout, but it benefited Biden, not Sanders. College-educated white women, for example, helped flip the House in 2018. They favor Biden over Trump by double digits, but Sanders by only two points. Sanders, however, seems to see little need to reach out to them. Speaking to The Los Angeles Times editorial board in December, Sanders said he didn’t believe the way to win against Trump “is to just speak to Republican women in the suburbs.” Instead, he said, “The key to this election is, can we get millions of young people who have never voted before into the political process, many working people who understand that Trump is a fraud, can we get them voting?” Even if the answer is yes, it probably won’t be enough. If he’s going to be the nominee, the rest of us can only hope his campaign has a Plan B.

Younger voters have the most to gain or lose based on who is elected - Trump is a nightmare for improvement on the issues they care about most - yet the reality is that for reasons I do not comprehend, they continue to fail to vote in the strength needed if they want to further the policies they claim to support. So far, Sanders seems to not have found the magic needed to change their habit of voting in tepid numbers. 

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Biden Easily wins Virginia Democratic Primary

The exiting of Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar from the 2020 Democrat primary contest and their pledge of support to Joe Biden in an effort to blunt Bernie Sanders' campaign prospects seems to have worked in Virginia.  While Virginia is moving to solid blue state status, it remains a moderate Democrat state where socialism even when coupled with the term democratic does not hold strong appeal as evidenced by Biden's 20 point lead over Sanders with almost all precincts reporting. Sanders supporters claim that Sanders represents "the majority" yet his winning of only 23% of the vote argues otherwise. Only in Sanders world does 23% trump - no pun intended - the other 67% of the voters.  Sanders' inability to win even half of the Democrat vote in Virginia (even in Northern Virginia) does not bode well for his ability to win in the key Mid-West states that will likely determine who wins the Electoral College in November.  It is a reality that Sanders - who like Trump only sees what he wants to see - and his base refuse to face.  Disturbingly, Sanders will no doubt claim his drubbing in Virginia was due to a conspiracy - imagined in Sanders' mind - of billionaires, the Democrat "establishment" and CEO's.  Anybody but the 67% of voters who voted for someone else. A piece in the Washington Post looks at Biden's win in Virginia.  Here are highlights (note how some Trump supporters voted for Sanders):
RICHMOND — Former vice president Joe Biden easily won Virginia's Democratic primary Tuesday, according to unofficial early returns, with exit polling suggesting that voters mostly chose the candidate they thought had the best chance of defeating President Trump.
With most of the vote counted, Biden was far ahead of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Biden stands to gain many of the 99 delegates up for grabs in the increasingly blue state, according to unofficial returns.
In interviews with voters around Virginia, Biden emerged as a consensus pick only late in the game. Many said they settled on him after their preferred candidates dropped out. Others didn't decide until they stood in the voting booth.
But most shared one goal: "I want to get Trump out of office by all means necessary," said Josephine Stewart, 66, a cook for Richmond public schools who opted for Biden.
Virginia is still deciding its shade of blue. On Tuesday, that uncertainty followed voters to the polls, which closed at 7 p.m. with official returns expected soon after.
 In early exit polling by Edison Media Research, over half of Virginia Democratic primary voters said they would rather see the party nominate a candidate who can beat Trump, compared with about 4 in 10 who said they’d prefer a candidate who agrees with them on major issues.
About half gave Biden the best chance of winning in November, while roughly 2 in 10 said Sanders is best-positioned to beat Trump.
Across the state, polling places reported turnout slightly higher than usual. Absentee voting was up; Virginians cast nearly 54,700 votes in advance of Tuesday’s primary, up from just over 26,000 in 2016, according to the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project. At Yorkshire Elementary School in Manassas, Tim York cheerfully announced that he, too, chose Sanders in the open primary — in hopes of helping Trump get reelected in November.
“He’s the weakest candidate,” York, 39, said of Sanders, predicting that the senator’s calls for Medicare-for-all and free college tuition would turn off moderate voters. “I think the president has a good chance, regardless, but especially against Bernie.”
Concern that Sanders is vulnerable to Trump drove many voters to settle on Biden as the safer bet. In Henrico, Kate Giska, a 39-year-old small business owner and political independent, came to vote with her 7-year-old son. “My son’s name is Bernie, but we don’t think that Bernie is our candidate,” she said, describing Sanders as “just too extreme, just like Trump is a little too extreme. We’re kind of, like, in the middle, just, like, status quo, just get along.”
She voted for Biden, someone she thinks has appeal for “the middle voter, a candidate that can attract the masses.”
Virginia’s establishment Democrats have come out hard for Biden in the past few days. Former governor Terry McAuliffe led the charge, pumping up crowds and rallying other leaders, including Sen. Tim Kaine, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney and Del. Lamont Bagby (D-Henrico), head of the legislature’s Black Caucus. The question playing out Tuesday was whether that grass-roots enthusiasm is broad enough for Sanders to win.
Quentin Kidd, a political scientist at Christopher Newport University, said he saw a similar phenomenon in Virginia in 2017: In the gubernatorial primary, former congressman Tom Perriello made a hard push for the Democratic nomination over then-Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam. Perriello ran to the left, tapping into a Sanders-like populism that brought him fervent support at rallies throughout the state.
But Northam wound up beating Perriello by a wide margin, with voters seeming to reward the more middle-of-the road, establishment candidate. Northam then easily defeated Republican opponent Ed Gillespie.
“Bernie may have a ceiling in Virginia,” Kidd said, because establishment Democrats still outnumber the young liberals.

My fear is that Sanders has a low ceiling in every moderate state, including the crucial Mid-West states.

Tuesday Morning Male Beauty

Pete Buttigieg Lasting Impact for Kids Who Are Different

For many in the LGBT community Pete Buttigeg's decision to end his presidential campaign was bitter sweat.  While his reasoning to withdraw made sense, to see the first openly gay presidential candidate to achieve a high level of success to end his campaign still hurt.  That said, Buttigieg has done an amazing job in setting an example for LGBT youth and others deemed "different" by mainstream society. In fact, Buttigieg made some moving statements which can be found here.  One can only hope that across America LGBT youth be they in rural red states or in reactionary family clinging to religious based ignorance will take hope from "mayor Pete's" example.  I am from and older generation that faced job loss and endless quantities of self-hate, so I hope Pete Buttigieg's example will help many see a positive future despite short term travails.  The Advocate looks at Pete's amazing example.  Here are highlights:
History-making candidate Pete Buttigieg ended his presidential campaign Sunday afternoon. Shortly after, he delivered a speech in his hometown of South Bend, Ind. in which he spoke about the impact of becoming the first gay candidate to get as far as he did in a race for the presidency. 
"We sent a message to every kid out there wondering if whatever marks them out as different means they are somehow destined to be less than, someone who once felt that exact same way can become a leading American presidential candidate with his husband at his side," Buttigieg said to a cheering crowd in a speech that followed an embrace and a kiss with his husband Chasten Buttigieg. 
The move to drop out came after finishing fourth in the South Carolina primary, which overwhelmingly went to Joe Biden. 
"The truth is the path has narrowed to a close," Buttigieg told the crowd in South Bend. "Therefore, it's time for him to step aside." 
As one who was racked by self-hate for many years while in the closet and who had two serious suicide attempts along the path of my coming out journey, I hope that Pete Buttigieg's example will save many LGBT youth and others from experiencing the self loathing and at times hopelessness that I and others felt.  Pete will always be a hero to me. As long time LGBT activist Evan Wolfson said. “Americans responded to these urgently needed qualities, and to Pete’s demonstration that gay people can be just as talented, just as effective, and just as patriotic as anyone."

Monday, March 02, 2020

More Monday Male Beauty

Buttigieg, Klobuchar and O'Rourke Endorse Biden

I continue to worry whether Joe Biden has it in him to defeat Donald Trump if Biden is the Democrat nominee.  Those worries pale, however, compared to my worries of the 2020 presidential results if Bernie Sanders is the Democrat nominee.  While I might well hold my nose and vote for Sanders while gagging on the verge of vomiting, I suspect many voters will not do so - especially in the half dozen key states that will decide the Electoral College results.  From the outset, Pete Buttigieg said his goal was to see Trump defeated and now, he along with Amy Klobuchar and Beto O'Rourke  have all endorsed Joe Biden in the hope of stopping Sanders and a catastrophe in November. Indeed, I have already received emails from Buttigieg's impressive online campaign soliciting donations to the Biden campaign.  It will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow on Super Tuesday.  Personally, I hope Sanders gets a severe drubbing (I told the Sanders campaign which had been texting me to delete me from all of their lists).  A piece in the New York Times looks at these latest developments: 
In a last-minute bid to unite the moderate wing of the Democratic Party, Senator Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg on Monday threw their support behind a presidential campaign rival, Joseph R. Biden Jr., giving him an extraordinary boost ahead of the Super Tuesday primaries that promised to test his strength against the liberal front-runner, Senator Bernie Sanders.
Even by the standards of the tumultuous 2020 campaign, the endorsements from Ms. Klobuchar and Mr. Buttigieg — and their plan to join Mr. Biden at a rally in Dallas on Monday night — was remarkable. Rarely, if ever, have opponents joined forces so dramatically, as Ms. Klobuchar and Mr. Buttigieg went from campaigning at full tilt in the South Carolina primary on Saturday to teaming up on a political rescue mission for a former competitor, Mr. Biden, whom they had once regarded as a spent force.
Rather than delivering a traditional concession speech, Ms. Klobuchar told associates she wanted to leverage her exit to help Mr. Biden and headed directly for the joint rally. Mr. Buttigieg, for his part, endorsed Mr. Biden at a pre-rally stop on Monday evening; he said Mr. Biden would “restore the soul” of the nation as president. And Mr. Biden offered Mr. Buttigieg the highest compliment in his personal vocabulary, several times likening the young politician to his own son, Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015. [T]he crucial question hanging over the fast-moving events was whether any of it would make a difference in Tuesday’s primaries across 15 states and territories, including the critical battlegrounds of California and Texas. Mr. Sanders signaled on Monday that he was ready for a fight against Mr. Biden, and perhaps a long one, if neither man can achieve a decisive early advantage in a nomination fight that still includes Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Michael R. Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City. As news emerged of the shift of centrist support toward Mr. Biden, Mr. Sanders projected confidence and defiance, dismissing it as a phenomenon of “establishment politicians” supporting one another. That Ms. Klobuchar and Mr. Buttigieg decided to align against Mr. Sanders reflected their assessments of him as a general-election candidate: Both have warned he could lose to Mr. Trump, skeptical that his liberal policy agenda would win him broad support in battleground regions like their Midwestern base.
But the one-two punch also involved their own political interests, since leaving the race spared Mr. Buttigieg and Ms. Klobuchar the possibility of a wilting finish on Tuesday.
It is not uncommon for former presidential rivals to endorse each other later in an election season: The vanquished John Edwards helped Barack Obama conquer Hillary Clinton in 2008, for instance, and in the 2016 Republican primaries, Donald J. Trump earned a crucial seal of approval from an adversary he had handily trounced, Chris Christie.
In that 2016 race, some Republican leaders wanted other candidates to drop out early and unite behind one stop-Trump contender; that never happened . . . .

Monday Morning Male Beauty

The Coronavitus Will Cause a Political Pandemic

As a column in the Washington Post notes, so far Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus has been less than a study in building public confidence.   Indeed, Trump and his sycophants continue to suggest that the entire health care scare is a hoax and his regime is trying to censor statements by medical experts.  Trump's main concern is not public health and citizens dying but instead the stock market level.  Having a malignant narcissist in the White House during a potential pandemic is decidedly not a good thing. Here are column excerpts:
Political interference with that process will almost certainly backfire by corroding public confidence and abetting confusion. Some of Trump’s public comments have not been helpful because they suggest that the president is not entirely in agreement with some of his medical advisers.
No doubt [Trump] the president is unhappy with the dramatic decline in the stock market. He has clearly indicated that he expected to make the market’s spectacular gains a major theme in his bid for reelection.
This will be harder now, maybe impossible. But if Trump responds by searching for scapegoats or blaming his economic and health advisers, he will make a bad situation worse — for him, the country and (possibly) the world.
A piece in Vanity Fair looks at the potential political consequences of a spread of the virus in America may mean in the context of the presidential election.  Here are highlights: 
If trends hold, the coronavirus will soon upend daily life here in the United States. Schools in some cities will close for a while; supply chains will be disrupted; people will stay at home; and the economy will suffer a blow. Even now, stock prices have continued to fall, and surgical masks have been sold out for weeks. Yesterday, we could read about the first case of so-called community transmission, after a patient in northern California tested positive for coronavirus despite having no obvious link to anyone else with it. Despite assurances from Donald Trump this week that “we’ve had tremendous success” in containing the coronavirus outbreak, Americans are unconvinced.
Coronavirus is going to be everybody’s running mate in 2020, and the question is who will fare worst as a result. In what’s normally a zero-sum game, whatever hurts one candidate helps the other. But coronavirus won’t be so clear-cut. A lot depends on how bad things get and who is running against whom.
On the Republican side, we know we’re getting Trump, and early signs of his approach to the virus are unpromising. An engaged president would be on the phone daily with CDC officials, members of Congress, military leaders, cabinet officials, medical experts, and even companies like 3M, which produces the masks on which people will be relying. Trump instead sounded like someone who got a few scattered briefings. Asked about why the CDC—which, as feared, has been stumbling out of the gate—has tested only about 500 people, versus the thousands of tests being conducted in other countries, Trump couldn’t hide that he was winging it, . . . before going into a recitative about washing hands. Trump hasn’t been sounding much of an alarm, for fear of setting off panic and seeing stock prices fall further, so life has continued as normal. He has no evident master plan, and yesterday he was trafficking in the-flu-is-worse clich├ęs that were last in fashion weeks ago. He’d be better off as the border fanatic that people believe him to be.
If we get through the next couple of months without a big outbreak, then Trump will be in okay shape. While he might not get a lot of credit for preventing disaster (because people rarely do), he won’t suffer for it, and he’ll be able to boast of aggressive measures taken, regardless of what we did. If things get very bad, however, then Trump will have a tough time hanging onto office. We can see he knows this is a possibility, because he has appointed Mike Pence to oversee the federal response. This is a lot like China’s leader Xi Jinping assigning a similar task to Premier Li Keqiang. If things get bad, you can blame it on the bumbling lieutenant.
Meanwhile, among Democrats, coronavirus has a quite different effect. Trump’s loss is their gain, in the big picture, but they are also running against one another. In the most mundane realm, self-quarantining means that people don’t leave their homes. They don’t vote, don’t caucus, and don’t show up for rallies. This limits the ability of candidates to mobilize people, and it favors those who get a lot of attention even without campaigning on the ground. It’s okay for Mike Bloomberg, who has ads running all day on television, but it’s less ideal for the others. Bernie Sanders fires up his supporters with enormous rallies, as Donald Trump and Barack Obama did before him. Those would have to cease for a while.
Coronavirus will have people looking for plausible managers. Bloomberg, of course, has been mentioned in that regard, and it will help him. Elizabeth Warren, who claims to have plans for most things, might also get a lift. Blandness will become a virtue, as well, so Amy Klobuchar will look stronger. On the other hand, Joe Biden would not be likely to gain much ground. He has no real reputation for management, and he also lacks the vigor characteristic of effective leaders in crisis.
Bernie Sanders is less of a manager, but he would have a different and important advantage in the middle of an epidemic, which is commitment to “Medicare for all.” It sounds too drastic for many Americans when things are normal. It doesn’t sound so drastic during a pandemic, when infected people will be avoiding doctor’s appointments for fear of bankruptcy. As things stand, it’s all too plausible that, within a few weeks, people will be safer in Shanghai than in New York, because in China people are vigilant, and cases are finally on the wane, while here things are looser, and just getting started. The coronavirus will shuffle the political deck for everyone, the more so the longer it continues. But no matter who profits or loses politically with this epidemic, sane people can only hope that it comes and goes fast. The less effect it has on our politics, or anything else, the happier we’ll be. Even Mike Bloomberg would agree.

Sunday, March 01, 2020

Sunday Male Beauty

With Buttigieg Out, Who Will Virginia Moderates Back

I'd be lying if I said I was not disappointed that Pete Buttigieg has ended his presidential campaign.  I'd also be lying if I said I did not have any animosity towards black voters - who expect gays to support their rights and vote for black candidates but never see the situation as a two way street - who rejected Buttigieg, most likely because blacks remain the most homophobic of any demographic save white evangelicals. I'm sorry, but I am simply over this constant double standard.  Meanwhile, with Buttigieg's decision, the question becomes who will moderate Virginia suburbanites support if, like me, they find Sanders' far left socialism a non-starter.  I have not decided who I will vote for on Super Tuesday other than it will NOT Be Sanders. First, a piece in the Washington Post looks at Buttigieg's decision to end his campaign.  Here are excerpts:
Pete Buttigieg, the 38-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Ind., who saw a meteoric rise from virtual unknown to top-tier contender and became the first openly gay candidate to make a high-profile presidential run, is ending his campaign.
The development marks an abrupt end to what was briefly an ascendant candidacy, as Buttigieg won the Iowa caucuses and came in second in New Hampshire. But despite attracting enormous attention, significant support and often enthusiastic crowds, there was no clear path forward toward the nomination.
Buttigieg struggled to win support from black voters, a key pillar of the Democratic coalition — a vulnerability that took center stage Saturday in South Carolina, where he finished fourth.
Earlier that day, his campaign held a call with reporters in which senior adviser Michael Halle and deputy campaign manager Hari Sevugan made the case that while Buttigieg likely wouldn’t win any of the 14 states that vote Tuesday, Buttigieg could still accumulate enough delegates to keep Sanders’s lead to a minimum.
“Essentially the reason he is suspending his campaign is the reason he started the campaign: His goal is to defeat the [Trump] President and bring a new kind of politics to our country,” a Buttigieg aide said. “He thought his candidacy would be best vehicle to do that. And when it became clear his candidacy was not the most viable vehicle to do that, he stepped aside to make sure [Democrats] could still achieve those things.” “Pete Buttigieg’s campaign was historic and he showed the world that Americans are ready to accept and embrace qualified LGBTQ public leaders. His candidacy came after decades of LGBTQ Americans fighting to be heard, be visible, and have a place in the American experience,” said gay advocacy group GLAAD’s President Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement. “Pete’s success will no doubt lead to more LGBTQ candidates in political races large and small.”

As for who moderate Virginians will support,  a piece in the New York Times looks at Sanders unpopularity among suburban voters.  Here are excerpts:
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — In the Trump era, the suburbs have been Democrats’ surprising superpower.
A revolt by college-educated voters, largely women, in suburbs from Virginia Beach to Oklahoma City, from Houston to Southern California, delivered the House majority to Democrats in 2018. Driven by anxiety over guns, health care and the environment, and recoiling from President Trump’s caustic leadership, suburban voters are widely seen as a critical bloc for any Democratic victory in 2020.
But there are some early signs that the rise of Senator Bernie Sanders, by far the most liberal Democratic front-runner since George McGovern in 1972, is causing stress with the party’s suburban coalition and especially its core of college-educated white women and older voters, many of whom are politically moderate.
And after Saturday night’s big win Joseph R. Biden Jr. in South Carolina, Mr. Sanders will face an invigorated former vice president as well as other moderates, like former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, in Tuesday’s primaries in Virginia, Texas, and other states with swaths of suburban voters.
While some women, including many teachers, “are all about Sanders,” Ms. Simonds said, others recoil from his sweeping proposals such as a government takeover of health care. “There are a lot of women who are very protective over health care and the current status quo,” she said.
Suburban women are especially important in battleground states like Virginia, which is seen as essential to any Electoral College majority for the party in 2020. Virginia has turned sharply toward moderate Democratic candidates in recent years; the losses of Republican candidates up and down the ballot in suburbia have produced more political change than arguably any other state.
Mr. Biden’s victory in South Carolina may reset the field going into Super Tuesday on March 3, when 16 states and territories vote.  . . . . In his victory speech on Saturday night, Mr. Biden took aim at Mr. Sanders as a divisive figure.
In a sign of Mr. Sanders’s vulnerability, a plurality of Democrats polled disagreed with some of his key positions: 44 percent said the private insurance system should be kept as it is, and only one in five supported canceling all student debt.
“It’s clear that the path to the majority for us in Virginia in 2017, 2018 and 2019 was Democrats picking candidates in the primary who could talk to independents and bring them to our side in the general election,” said former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who on Saturday endorsed Mr. Biden after his commanding South Carolina win. “In order to beat Trump, we need a nominee who is inclusive and can build a broad coalition.”
In a head-to-head matchup between Mr. Trump and the top Democrats in a recent Washington Post/ABC News Poll, Mr. Sanders performed the worst with college-educated white women.
There were potential warning signs for Democrats in the poll should Mr. Sanders become the nominee: Nearly one in five suburban Democrats said they would not support him against Mr. Trump in November.
“I don’t think Bernie can win,” said Pat Barner, a retiree here in Virginia Beach, the southern point in a crescent of suburbs running through Richmond to Northern Virginia, which have politically transformed the state. . . . . she feared he could not carry the state. “We’re not that liberal in Virginia,” she said.
A Sanders candidacy might threaten the 2020 prospects of two vulnerable Democratic congresswomen in Virginia who won Republican-held seats in the 2018 midterms: Representative Abigail Spanberger, a former C.I.A. officer who won a suburban district outside Richmond; and Representative Elaine Luria, a retired Navy commander who won in Virginia Beach.
“Both Luria and Spanberger would not be eager to have to be running down-ballot with Bernie,” said Bob Holsworth, a longtime political analyst in the state. “They’re very concerned about the socialist label.”
Hopefully, Virginians will vote to end Sanders' campaign on Tuesday by backing moderate candidates.  I continue to believe that a Sanders nomination guarantees the re-election of Trump.