Saturday, November 28, 2020

More Saturday Male Beauty


The Real Reason Trump Won't Concede: Money

If nothing else, Donald Trump is consistent: it's always about him and it's always about money - money he's scammed from the gullible.  A case in point is his "Election Defense Fund" from which not a single penny of an typical donation goes to finance the campaign's ongoing litigation,  Rather, 60% of every dollar donated goes to Trump's new political action committee and 40% goes to the Republican National Committee, not that one would know this given his non-stop appeals to his sheep like supporters for money to supposedly finance the campaign's ongoing litigation. Like all things Trump, it's a big lie and one can readily see his PAC migrating to Trump's own pockets. Once a con artist, always a con artist.  It's amazing how easily Trump's supporters allow themselves to be fleeced.  A piece in Salon looks at Trump's latest self-enrichment and self-empowerment scheme.  Here are excerpts:

Joe Biden has decisively won the presidency. There is no way for Trump to overturn the results of the election, and his campaign's post-election lawsuits have gotten dismissed left and right. 

That hasn't stopped him from launching an "Official Election Defense Fund" and bombarding his supporters with fundraising appeals to supposedly finance the campaign's ongoing litigation.

60 percent of a donation to Trump's "Official Election Defense Fund" goes to Save America, Trump's new leadership Political Action Committee that he set up less than a week after the election. The other 40 percent goes to the Republican National Committee. 

So if someone donates $500, Trump's PAC gets $300, the RNC gets the other $200, and not a cent actually goes to the election defense fund.

Donations only start going to that fund once Trump's PAC reaches the legal contribution limit of $5,000 – and the RNC gets $3,000. 

This means a supporter would have to donate over $8,000 before any money goes to the fund they think they're supporting.

Apparently enriching himself on the taxpayer dime for the past four years wasn't enough for Trump. Now he's lining his pockets by attacking our elections and undermining our democracy — and swindling his supporters every step of the way.

Is this just a final grift before Trump leaves office? Or is there more at stake?

Trump certainly wants to keep the money flowing, and a leadership PAC is an easy way to do it. Trump's PAC can be used to fund a lavish post-presidency lifestyle, as leadership PACs can use donors' funds for personal expenses, like personal travel and events at Trump properties, while campaign committees cannot.

But there's more at stake than just Trump's personal greed. Creating a PAC solidifies Trump's grip on the GOP, as he can distribute the funds to GOP candidates . . . . In the grand scheme of things, Trump's PAC also fuels the GOP's cynical strategy to maintain power. The GOP has a permanent stake in stoking a cold civil war. 

A deeply divided nation serves the party's biggest patrons, giving them unfettered access to the economy's gains while the bottom 90% of Americans fight each other for crumbs. That division will persist even with Trump out of the White House, thanks to his bonkers claim of a stolen election, and a base more riled up from racist appeals than ever.

We may have defeated Trump, but we haven't defeated Trumpism.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty


George Washington Warned Us About Individuals Like Trump

Donald Trump is the embodiment of what the Founding Fathers feared: a populist demagogue who might win the nation's highest office and place self-interest and divisiveness ahead of the common good and the unity of the nation. The supposed safeguard against such an event was the Electoral College in which electors could refuse to certify the election of such an unworthy and dangerous individual to the office of president. This safeguard utterly failed in 2016 and the last four years have been a nightmare where deliberate attempts to divide the nation have been non-stop and morality has been thrown out the window not only by Trump but also far too many Republicans, especially at the congressional level.  In his farewell address as he left the presidency, George Washington warned the nation against such individuals and spoke of the need to maintain national unity:  

The unity of government which constitutes you one people is also now dear to you. It is justly so, for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.

All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests.

However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion. 

I doubt much of Trump's base has ever read Washington's farewell address and, of the few who have, they certainly have ignored Washington's warning.  Washington also warned against political parties and individuals who would subvert the best interests of the nation to power of the party or an individual as noted in a column in the Washington Post.  The contrasts between Washington and Trump could not be more stark:

Two-hundred twenty-four years ago, the first president retired with a passionate warning against political parties becoming “potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people.”

Now, as a defeated president mobilizes his party in an open (if bumbling) attempt to overturn a free and fair election, and as Republican congressional leaders shamefully legitimize his behavior, George Washington’s Farewell Address takes on renewed importance.

“The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge … is itself a frightful despotism,” Washington warned. And, “sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.”

President Trump, who has no purpose other than his own elevation, will never pen such a speech. But in the weeks that have passed since the election, he has already given us his farewell address of sorts. Here it is, assembled entirely from his own words and tweets:

This election was a fraud. A total fraud. It was a fraudulent election. This was a massive fraud. This fraud has taken place. You have a fraudulent system. Fraudulent voting and fraudulent votes. There’s tremendous fraud here. There’s fraud all over the place. Massive fraud has been found.

We’re like a Third World country. We will find tens of thousands of fraudulent and illegal votes. You’re gonna find fraud of hundreds of thousands of votes per state. They used covid in order to defraud the people of this country

RIGGED ELECTION! This Election was RIGGED. This, it was a rigged election. Very sad to say it, this election was rigged. This was a 100% RIGGED ELECTION They know it was a rigged election. At the highest level it was a rigged election. This election was a rigged election.

This was an election that we won easily. We won it by a lot. I won Pennsylvania by a lot. In Georgia, I won by a lot. I won that by hundreds of thousands of votes. There’s no way Trump didn’t win Pennsylvania because the energy industry was all for him. No, we won by a lot. We were robbed.

Fake ballots. Fake votes. Fake recounts. Fake results. Fake pollsters. Fake polls. FAKE NEWS.

I concede NOTHING! It’s going to be a very hard thing to concede because we know there was massive fraud. Should President Trump concede to Biden? Poll Results: No: 190,593 (98.9%). This election has to be turned around. They have to turn over the results.

Have a great life General Flynn! Rudy, you were the greatest mayor. Thanksgiving is a special day for turkeys. Don’t talk to me that way. I’m the president of the United States. I concede NOTHING!!!!!

Sadly, Trump is a cancer whose damage to the nation will not be quickly erased.  

Friday, November 27, 2020

More Friday Male Beauty


Blame Game Erupts Over GOP’s Decline in Youth Vote

Even if one puts aside the toxicity of Donald Trump, the Republican Party has little to offer younger voters who are much more racial diverse that the far right elderly and who are concerned about issues that the GOP continues to pretend are not problems: climate change, racial inequality, homophobia, religious based intolerance and bigotry and, of course wealthy inequality which the GOP has only made worse. Thus, it is little surprise that the 2020 election showed the GOP and Trump losing ground with younger voters, including in key swing states that Trump lost. Within the GOP the blame game is raging even as no one within the party wants to look at the ultimate source of the decline in younger voters opting to support the GOP: younger voters simply don't want what the GOP is peddling.  A piece in Politico looks at the finger pointing game which will do nothing to fix the true underlying problem.  Here are article highlights:

Nobody involved in Donald Trump’s reelection thought the president would win the youth vote in 2020. But they didn’t think it would be this bad.  Now the finger pointing has begun.

In nearly every Midwestern battleground state that mattered to Trump’s reelection, the president performed worse among young voters than in 2016, according to a POLITICO review of state exit polls. Trump ceded ground in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, two states he lost. He also regressed in Arizona, another critical state that slipped away.

In Pennsylvania, President-elect Joe Biden won young voters by a 20-point margin, compared to Hillary Clinton’s 9-point advantage in 2016. In Wisconsin, Biden won the state’s youngest voters by a 16-point margin, a dramatic rise from Clinton’s razor-thin edge in 2016 — and a significant swing in a state Trump only lost by 20,000 votes. Michigan saw a four-point shift from 2016 to 2020.

To Trump’s critics, Biden gained ground with young voters because of who his opponent was: a divisive politician with a culture wars playbook that failed to energize audiences outside of his base. But among the president’s campaign aides and allies, the consensus is far less clear. Interviews with more than a dozen people involved in Trump’s 2020 operation revealed rifts, acrimony and a system in which no one would take the blame but everyone had a scapegoat — from the president himself, to the campaign to outside groups like Turning Point USA, Charlie Kirk’s conservative campus organizing group.

The fallout has left the GOP with a dearth of insight into what went wrong with millennial and Gen Z voters — particularly in a cycle where Trump saw gains with other demographics — and no clear strategy to prevent another surge of youth support for Democrats in the 2022 midterm elections. And the Republican Party is desperately in need of a strategy to reverse the trend, having struggled for decades to connect with younger voters.

“The Republican party has no future if it doesn’t improve its performance among younger voters,” said Michael Steel, a GOP strategist and former top aide to House Speaker John Boehner.

“I’m not a fan of top-down autopsy processes,” Steel added, “but I do hope the end of the Trump presidency is a natural inflection point and a time to reboot to some extent.”

Some Republican operatives involved in the 2020 cycle said the way young voters, who skew heavily Democratic, currently perceive the GOP will automatically improve once Trump is no longer in office.

They said the president’s inflammatory approach to issues like race relations, which became a major cultural flashpoint this summer, likely cost the party the support of young conservatives who may have been on the fence about supporting Trump and are less ideologically rigid than their older counterparts on such topics.

[T]wo Trump campaign aides who have worked closely with Kirk said the campaign had its own youth outreach efforts that went beyond voters who are still in college. These aides described Turning Point’s messaging as too sycophantic to bring in young voters who might align more closely with conservatism but remain apprehensive about Trump himself.

In the end, Trump saw a decline in his youth support from four years ago in Arizona, Florida, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and several other states. Only Georgia and Michigan saw a slight increase in Trump voters under the age of 29 — from 33 percent in 2016 to 39 percent this cycle in Georgia, and 34 percent to 35 percent in Michigan, according to exit poll data. But the gains were not enough to put either state in the president’s column.

Friday Morning Male Beauty


Trump And GOP Lies May Tank Georgia Senate Races

Former Republican and one time Republican apologist David Brooks has a column in the New York Times entitled "The Rotting of the Republican Mind" which looks at the GOP's detachment from reality and the willingness of much of the GOP base - especially Trump cultists - to believe the most insane conspiracy theories, many of which are fanned by Der Trumpenfuhrer himself.  The biggest lie, of course is that the election was "stolen" from Trump and in Georgia that there was an elaborate conspiracy where by the Dominion Voting System equipment changed votes from Republican to Democrat.  Never mind that a hand count of the votes found zero evidence of any vote changing. Now, thankfully, the insanity and intra-party war in the Georgia GOP may help hand the runoff elections to Democrats if Trump cultists boycott the election. A piece in the Washington Post looks at the rampant insanity sweeping the Georgia GOP.  Here are article highlights:

Sen. David Perdue was encouraging a crowd at a gun club south of Atlanta to support him and fellow Republican Kelly Loeffler in their bids for Georgia's Senate seats, which he called the only thing standing between America and "a radical socialist agenda."

But five minutes into the senator's speech, a man interrupted. “What are you doing to help Donald Trump and this fraud case?” the man screamed, as one woman said “Amen” and the crowd applauded. “What are you doing to stop what’s been going on here and this election fraud?”

The Republican candidates in Georgia’s dual Senate runoff campaign are navigating a highly unusual political labyrinth — caught in the middle of an intraparty war that has erupted since President Trump narrowly lost the state to President-elect Joe Biden and has turned his fire on the Republican leadership there.

The infighting now threatens to turn off the very Republican voters Perdue and Loeffler need to stave off challenges from their Democratic rivals, Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock.

Trump and his allies have repeatedly, and falsely, accused Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, both Republicans, of presiding over a fraudulent election. Trump has pushed the baseless claim that the Dominion Voting Systems machines used in Georgia were rigged as part of a global conspiracy, and Perdue and Loeffler have called for Raffensperger’s resignation.

But therein lies the conundrum: Perdue and Loeffler are traveling the state pleading with Republican voters to turn out on Jan. 5 — effectively asking Trump supporters to put their faith in the same voting system their president claims was manipulated to engineer his defeat.

“There are folks that didn’t come out to vote necessarily Republican, they came out to vote for Donald Trump. I think it’s imperative that [Perdue and Loeffler] do get the Trump voters back. I think it remains to be seen whether they actually come back.”

Complicating the senators’ pitch is the call by some Trump advocates for voters to protest the balloting system in ways that some GOP strategists fear will effectively result in support for the Democrats.

One prominent Trump ally, Atlanta attorney Lin Wood, who unsuccessfully sued Georgia election officials to stop the certification of the vote, has urged Republican voters not to vote in elections with Dominion machines.

Wood has attacked Perdue and Loeffler for not doing enough to help, and he told his 631,000 Twitter followers last weekend that if the senators don’t step up their support, he would take a pass on Jan. 5.

Raffensperger, among the most outspoken who have said such talk will hurt Loeffler’s and Perdue’s chances, expressed exasperation at Wood’s comments. After all, a statewide audit of the presidential result, in which every ballot was recounted by hand, disproved the claims about the voting machines. . . . People need to get a grip on reality.”

Nonetheless, support for the claims being spread by Trump and his supporters is clearly strong in the state’s GOP base.  Hundreds of people attended “Stop the Steal” protests outside the Georgia Capitol and governor’s mansion Saturday.

And the state Republican chairman, David Shafer, has echoed questions about the state’s voting system. He signed a letter along with the state party executive committee demanding fresh scrutiny of signature verification on mail-in ballots.  No evidence has surfaced that ballots with nonmatching signatures were counted.

The Perdue and Loeffler campaigns did not respond to requests for comment. Perdue has privately pointed to the challenges of campaigning in the Trump era and the potential benefit of running now without the president on the ticket. . . . . the runoff is about getting “enough conservative Republicans out to vote” who might have opposed the president’s reelection. Details of the call were shared with The Post by a person who provided a precise account of the discussion.

“I’m talking about people that may have voted for Biden but now may come back and vote for us because there was an anti-Trump vote in Georgia,” Perdue said. “And we think some of those people, particularly in the suburbs, may come back to us. And I’m hopeful of that.”

[M]any Republicans remain concerned that the public hostility within the party — as well as efforts to foment distrust of voting — pose serious threats to Loeffler and Perdue.

And those tensions do not appear to be going away. Trump, for his part, has continued to push as recently as Wednesday the unfounded claims about Georgia’s voting machines.

Raffensperger hasn’t shied away from the divisions, either. His tenor hardened after Loeffler and Perdue called for his resignation — and after death threats began filtering in through social media to him and his wife.

“If Republicans don’t start condemning this stuff, then I think they’re really complicit in it,” Raffensperger said in the interview. “It’s time to stand up and be counted. Are you going to stand for righteousness? Are you going to stand for integrity? Or are you going to stand for the wild mob? You wanted to condemn the wild mob when it was on the left side. What are you going to do when it’s on our side?”

Let's hope the infighting and lunacy continue to the detriment of Perdue and Loeffler.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Thursday Morning Male Beauty


The Ugly Future of the GOP

As a prior post noted, some state level Republicans have sought to stand by the rule of law and not bought into the lies and misogyny of the Trump GOP.  Those running for national and congressional offices, however, seem imprinted with the Trump/Stephen Miller mold which suggests that the end of the Trump/Pence regime may not usher in a return to so-called normalcy and basic decency in the Republican Party.  Many of the rising young Republicans seemingly have bought the white nationalism and pandering to Christofascists hook line and sinker.  A piece in New York Magazine looks at one such rising star - Madison Cawthorn - who despite male model looks seems to have a black heart and reminds us that like serial killer Ted Bundy one can have a pretty face but be a monster beneath the surface. Like Trump, Cawthorn has a history of racism, predatory behavior towards women and a desire to make Christofascist a privileged class.  Here are article highlights:

When Madison Cawthorn was elected to represent North Carolina in the House of Representatives last week, he made history. The 25-year-old Republican, a motivational speaker who campaigned on a message about overcoming adversity, became the youngest person elected to Congress in nearly 200 years. He marked the momentous occasion with a simple tweet, encapsulating both his congressional run and this moment in national politics: “Cry more, lib.”

Despite his youth, inexperience, and a campaign plagued by scandal after scandal, Cawthorn trounced his Democratic opponent by 12 points. He’s part of a young, insurgent generation of GOP politicos forged in the heat of MAGA and the slimy crucible of its culture wars. Like any number of college Young Republicans roiling their campuses nationwide with increasingly radicalized rhetoric, Cawthorn is a young man who’s demonstrated racist views and been accused of misogynist behavior — and hasn’t let either stop him in his quest for power. Add in a photogenic set of cheekbones and a marked tendency to pose with girth-y rifles, and you arrive at the message the GOP has imprinted on its rising stars: one of instinctual cruelty and little else. It’s hard not to arrive at the conclusion that this is the future of the Republican Party, and the main of what it has to offer.

Cawthorn became a Republican Party star overnight. He made sycophantic comments emphasizing his love for Trump and was invited to give a rousing speech at the RNC. He was also beset by a series of scandals that might have sunk a congressional campaign in pre-MAGA times. In August, Jezebel turned up social-media posts from 2017 in which Cawthorn had enthused about a visit to the Eagle’s Nest — an estate used for Nazi meetings — referring to it as “the vacation home of the Fuhrer,” adding that the destination had been on his “bucket list for awhile.” Cawthorn . . . . denied supporting Hitler.

Soon after, he was accused of sexual misconduct by three women who claimed he forcibly kissed or touched them, and alumni of a private Christian college he briefly attended alleged in an open letter that he had “established a pattern of predatory behavior” toward women during his time there, driving female students to secluded places and making unwanted advances. (Cawthorn denied the allegations).

And then, to top it all off, a website paid for by his campaign made a racist attack against a journalist, Tom Fiedler, who had covered the campaign of Cawthorn’s opponent, Moe Davis. . . . “He quit his academia job in Boston to work for non-white males, like Cory Booker, who aims to ruin white males running for office.”

Even without Trump’s prefab reality-TV persona or public profile, Cawthorn weathered allegations of overt racism and sexual predation seemingly without electoral damage, handily carrying the election. It was emblematic of a Republican Party whose base is engaged in total culture war, in which character accusations — particularly those related to racism and misogyny — roll off a slick front of perceived victimization. Enshrined, berobed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh retains his victim status, despite the credibility of the allegations against him; President Trump himself is running down the clock of his presidency with a keening wail and a bellow for violence over election results. The well of white grievance seems boundlessly deep, a font to draw from for years to come.

This sense of victimhood emerges in just about every interview Cawthorn does. . . . . “There’s just been so much, you know, blatant lies about me, specifically when it comes to questions of Nazism and racism,” he said. In the very same interview, he revealed a desire for total Christian dominance over the United States and insisted that it was impossible for him to separate church and state when it came to his governance.

Cawthorn’s ascension puts an end to the optimistic but fundamentally untrue notion that the GOP’s racism is a generational phenomenon, bound to die off as its elderly supporters do. He’s part of a new, radicalized, far-right youth movement whose views veer toward white nationalism. While the majority of young voters skew left, those who remain in the GOP are by default more Trumpian, helped along by a political coming-of-age in the era of MAGA’s crudity, violence, and overheated disputes on social media.

Young people active in the GOP have actively sought out a party bathed in the most naked expressions of racism on offer. Over the past five years, College Republican chapters have driven scandal after scandal after scandal over overt racism, from Washington State to North Carolina and all points in between. Racist and anti-Semitic chats proliferated, white-nationalist speakers were invited to campuses, and College Republicans marched at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville.

The up-and-coming figures in the GOP have been battle-tested in the clammy arms of Pepe the Frog and shaped by a half-decade of barbarity from the white nationalist in the White House. Young conservatives have grown up in an age saturated in Trump’s worst traits, and absorbed them with glee. The appeal is one pinpointed for cruel and rageful young men, engorged with id; it is a racist message of loathing and bile, girded by a desire to generate pain. In sum, the idea is this: Cry more, lib. And yes, it’s enough to make you weep.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Final Wednesday Male Beauty


The State Level Republicans Who Put the Rule of Law Above Party

With very few exceptions Congressional Republicans have shown far less scruples and morality than the tawdriest of whores ( Mitch McConnell and Lindsey "Lady G" Graham have been among the worse) as they have prostituted themselves to Donald Trump and trample on all of the values that once were supposed to be the essence of the GOP: honesty, truthfulness, morality, decency, and character.  Fortunately, this moral bankruptcy and contempt for the rule of law and even the U.S. Constitution itself.  Thankfully, this moral rot and willingness to betray voters and the rule of law has not leached down to many in the state level GOP in some critical states such as Georgia and Michigan where the state secretary of state and a GOP member of the board of canvassers (shown in the photo above), respectively, refused to do Trump's bidding or to fuel his lies and efforts to discredit the 2020 presidential election results. Whether these honest and moral individuals will be able to remain within the GOP remains to be seen if Trump continues his toxic hold over the Party.  Would that they remained and the whores, enablers and sycophants like McConnell and Graham were eliminated from the GOP.  A very lengthy piece in Politico looks at the courage of a Republican in Michigan who helped sink Trump's effort to steal the election.  Here are article excepts:

After five years spent bullying the Republican Party into submission, President Donald Trump finally met his match in Aaron Van Langevelde. Who?

In the end, it wasn’t a senator or a judge or a general who stood up to the leader of the free world. There was no dramatic, made-for-Hollywood collision of cosmic egos. Rather, the death knell of Trump’s presidency was sounded by a baby-faced lawyer, looking over his glasses on a grainy Zoom feed on a gloomy Monday afternoon, reading from a statement that reflected a courage and moral clarity that has gone AWOL from his party, pleading with the tens of thousands of people watching online to understand that some lines can never be uncrossed.

“We must not attempt to exercise power we simply don’t have,” declared Van Langevelde, a member of Michigan’s board of state canvassers, the ministerial body with sole authority to make official Joe Biden’s victory over Trump. “As John Adams once said, 'We are a government of laws, not men.' This board needs to adhere to that principle here today. This board must do its part to uphold the rule of law and comply with our legal duty to certify this election.”

Van Langevelde is a Republican. He works for Republicans in the Statehouse. He gives legal guidance to advance Republican causes and win Republican campaigns. As a Republican, his mandate for Monday’s hearing—handed down from the state party chair, the national party chair and the president himself—was straightforward. They wanted Michigan’s board of canvassers to delay certification of Biden’s victory. Never mind that Trump lost by more than 154,000 votes, or that results were already certified in all 83 counties.

The plan was to drag things out, to further muddy the election waters and delegitimize the process, to force the courts to take unprecedented actions that would forever taint Michigan’s process of certifying elections. Not because it was going to help Trump win but because it was going to help Trump cope with a loss. [Trump] The president was not accepting defeat. That meant no Republican with career ambitions could accept it, either.

Which made Van Langevelde’s vote for certification all the more remarkable. With the other Republican on the four-person board, Norman Shinkle, abstaining on the final vote—a cowardly abdication of duty—the 40-year-old Van Langevelde delivered the verdict on his own. . . . . It proved to be the nail in Trump’s coffin: Shortly after Michigan’s vote to certify, the General Services Administration finally commenced the official transition of power and Trump tweeted out a statement affirming the move “in the best interest of our Country.”

Why were Republicans who privately admitted Trump’s legitimate defeat publicly alleging massive fraud? Why did it fall to a little-known figure like Van Langevelde to buffer the country from an unprecedented layer of turmoil? Why did the battleground state that dealt Trump his most decisive defeat—by a wide margin—become the epicenter of America’s electoral crisis?

Michigan is home to Detroit, an overwhelmingly majority Black city, that has always been a favorite punching bag of white Republicans. The state had viral episodes of conflict and human error that were easily manipulated and deliberately misconstrued. It drew special attention from the highest levels of the party, and for the president, it had the potential to settle an important score with his adversary, Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Perhaps most important, Trump’s allies in Michigan proved to be more career-obsessed, and therefore more servile to his whims, than GOP officials in any other state he has cultivated during his presidency, willing to indulge his conspiratorial fantasies in ways other Republicans weren’t.

The 45th president’s time in office is drawing to a close. No amount of @realdonaldtrump tweets or wild-eyed allegations from his lawyers or unhinged segments on One America News can change that.

But what they can change—where he can ultimately succeed—is in convincing unprecedented numbers of Americans that their votes didn’t count. Last month, Gallup reported that the public’s confidence in our elections being accurate dropped 11 points since the 2018 midterms, which included a 34-point decrease among Republicans. That was before a daily deluge of dishonest allegations and out-of-context insinuations; before the conservative media’s wall-to-wall coverage of exotic conspiracy theories; before the GOP’s most influential figures winked and nodded at the president of the United States alleging the greatest fraud in U.S. history.

The irony of Michigan’s electoral meltdown is that Election Day, in the eyes of veteran clerks and poll workers across the state, was the smoothest it had ever been. Like clockwork, one can always depend on controversies—sometimes mini-scandals—to spring up by noontime on any given Election Day. But not in 2020.

The Republicans—House Speaker Lee Chatfield and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey—were not interested. . . . . Not only did they want to avoid the perception of aiding a system the president was attacking as illegitimate and not only were they skeptical of the Democrats’ concerns of a drawn-out count. But many Republicans didn’t believe the election would be terribly close to begin with. A summer’s worth of polling, conducted for them privately at the local and statewide level, indicated that Trump stood little chance of carrying Michigan a second time.

“Detroit has been the boogeyman for Republicans since before I was born. It’s always been the white suburbs vs. Detroit, the white west side of the state vs. Detroit. There’s always this rallying cry from Republicans—‘We win everywhere else, but lose Wayne County’—that creates paranoia. I still remember hearing, back on my first campaign in 2002, that Wayne County always releases its votes last so that Detroit can see how many votes Democrats need to win the state. That’s what a lot of Republicans here believe.”

By five o’clock on Wednesday morning, it was apparent Trump’s lead would not hold.

His cushion over Biden had been whittled down to 70,000 votes. There remained hundreds of thousands of absentee ballots to be counted in the large, Democratic strongholds of Detroit, Lansing and Flint. The math was simply not workable for the president. Just before 9:30 a.m., Biden overtook Trump in the tally of Michigan’s votes—and suddenly, a switch flipped on the right.

When Trump addressed the nation from the White House on Thursday night, insisting the election had been “stolen” from him, he returned time and again to alleged misconduct in Michigan’s biggest city. . . . . . All of this was a lie. Republicans here—from Ronna Romney McDaniel to Laura Cox to federal and local lawmakers—knew it was a lie. But they didn’t lift a finger in protest as the president disparaged Michigan and subverted America’s democratic norms. Why?

In the days following Trump’s shameful address to the nation, two realities became inescapable to Michigan’s GOP elite. First, there was zero evidence to substantiate widespread voter fraud. Second, they could not afford to admit it publicly.

McDaniel was a case in point. Born into Michigan royalty—granddaughter of the beloved former governor, George Romney, and niece of former presidential nominee Mitt Romney—she knows the state’s politics as well as anyone.

Tapped by the president-elect to take over the Republican National Committee—on the not-so-subtle condition that she remove “Romney” from her professional name—McDaniel morphed into an archetype of the Trump-era GOP sycophant. There was no lie too outlandish to parrot, no behavior too unbecoming to justify, no abuse of power too flagrant to enable. Longtime friends worried that McDaniel wasn’t merely humiliating herself publicly; she seemed to be changing in private. She was no longer coolly detached from the passions of politics. If anything, she was turning into a true MAGA believer.

McDaniel’s thinking is actually quite linear. The RNC will vote in January on the position of chair. She is anxious to keep her job. It’s bad enough that despite an enormous investment of time and resources in Michigan, McDaniel was unable to deliver her home state for the president. If that might prove survivable, what would end McDaniel’s bid instantaneously is abandoning the flailing president in the final, desperate moments of his reelection campaign. No matter how obvious the outcome—to McDaniel, to the 168 members of the RNC, maybe even to Trump himself—any indication of surrender would be unforgivable.

This is why McDaniel has sanctioned her employees, beginning with top spokesperson Liz Harrington, to spread countless demonstrable falsehoods in the weeks since Election Day.. . . . Honesty and decency have not been hallmarks of Republicanism during Trump’s presidency. They certainly are not priorities now. With Trump entering the anguished twilight of his presidency, all that appears to matter for someone like McDaniel—or Cox, the state party chair, who faces an upcoming election of her own—is unconditional fidelity to the president.

“The unfortunate reality within the party today is that Trump retains a hold that is forcing party leaders to continue down the path of executing his fantasy of overturning the outcome—at their own expense,” said Jason Cabel Roe, a Michigan-based GOP strategist . . . .

Principled conservatives who respect the rule of law and speak out suddenly find themselves outcasts in a party that is no longer about conservativism but Trumpism. Just ask once-conservative heroes like Jeff Flake, Justin Amash and Mark Sanford.”

[T]he notion that legislators would under any circumstance be free to send their own partisans to the Electoral College had no basis in fact. Under Michigan statute, the only electors eligible to represent Michigan are those who will vote for the winner of the popular vote. There is no discretion for anyone—the governor, leaders of the legislature, canvassers at the county or state level—to do anything but follow the law.

Some Republicans didn’t want to believe it. But for others, reality began to set in. They had grown so accustomed to Republicans falling in line, bending a knee to Trumpism, that the notion of someone acting on his own personal ethic had become foreign. But the more they learned about Van Langevelde, the more he sounded like just that type of independent thinker. Some viewed his relative youth as an asset, believing he wouldn’t risk throwing away his future in the party. What they had failed to appreciate was that young conservatives were oftentimes the most disillusioned with the party’s drift from any intellectual or philosophical mooring.

By the time the meeting commenced, just after 1 p.m., the smart money had shifted dramatically—away from any resignation or delay and toward prompt certification. Van Langevelde did little to disappoint. “The board’s duty today is very clear,” he declared just minutes into the meeting. “We have a duty to certify this election.”

Like a good attorney, Van Langevelde meticulously questioned a number of expert guest speakers to ascertain if they had dissenting views of the board’s authority under state law. Time and again, they affirmed his position.

If this young canvasser’s rebellion against the entire Republican Party apparatus was surprising, what came next was all too predictable. Within minutes of Van Langevelde’s vote for certification—and of Shinkle’s abstention, which guaranteed his colleague would bear the brunt of the party’s fury alone—the fires of retaliation raged. In GOP circles, there were immediate calls for Van Langevelde to lose his seat on the board; to lose his job in the House of Representatives; to be censured on the floor of the Legislature and exiled from the party forever. Actionable threats against him and his family began to be reported. The Michigan State Police worked with local law enforcement to arrange a security detail.

All for doing his job. All for upholding the rule of law. All for following his conscience and defying the wishes of Donald Trump.

“It took a lot of courage for him to do what he thought was right and appropriate, given the amount of pressure he was under,” said Brian Calley, the GOP former lieutenant governor, who told me days earlier that he had never heard the name Aaron Van Langevelde. “He carried himself as well as anybody I’ve seen in that type of setting, including people with decades and decades of experience. He showed an awful lot of poise.”

Kudos to Van Langevelde who seemingly represents what once defined the GOP but which has gone extinct in the era of Trump.

More Wednesday Male Beauty


Will White Women in Georgia Put Family or Culture War First?

For decades now, the Republican Party has managed to convince white working class and middle class voters to vote against their own best economic interests by playing on racial fears and/or right wing religious issues (think 2004 when the bogeyman of gay marriage was used by the Bush campaign to scare voters).  In exchange for such votes the GOP has pushed a reverse Robin Hood agenda and in 2017 gave trillions in tax cuts to the extremely wealthy and large corporations while working and middle class voters received piddling tax cuts that will phase out unlike those for the very wealthy,  With the crucial U.S. Senate runoff elections in Georgia on January 5, 2021, the question at hand is whether white voters, especially women, will yet again be duped into voting against their own best interests.  A piece in the New York Times looks at the issue.  Here are excerpts:

In the run-up to Election Day, there was a lot of talk about the gender gap and the importance of the women’s vote for Joe Biden’s chances. In some polls, Mr. Biden was leading President Trump by as much as 23 points among likely female voters. The actual gap, according to an early CNN exit poll, may be closer to a far smaller 15 points.

Most of the help that female voters provided to Mr. Biden came from women of color, and especially from Black women. Despite all the talk of suburban women moving toward Mr. Biden, with the clear implication that these suburbanites were white, it was women of color in and around cities like Atlanta and Philadelphia who were most responsible for his victory. A majority of white women voted for Mr. Trump, by an 11-point margin.

[G]iven Mr. Trump’s well-known tendencies to denigrate women and his administration’s failure to structurally improve their communities, this depth of support for him may come as surprising.

Mr. Trump has tried to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, made court appointments that threaten Roe v. Wade, and reduced access to contraception. And he has vacillated on further relief to deal with a pandemic that has had a disproportionate impact on women’s employment and economic well-being.

In 2004, Thomas Frank published his best-selling book “What’s the Matter With Kansas?,” which argued that his fellow Kansans were voting against their economic self-interest because of hot-button cultural issues. Perhaps now we should be asking, “What’s the Matter With White Women?” Are they voting on cultural rather than economic issues? Are many simply following their husbands’ lead? For some, it would seem so.

In contrast to Mr. Trump, the president-elect has a comprehensive agenda to materially improve women’s lives, including paid leave and child care, equal pay, reproductive choice, higher wages and benefits for teachers and care workers, as well as support for the Equal Rights Amendment.

Mr. Biden’s ability to carry out his agenda now depends on what happens in two Senate runoff elections in Georgia in January; the results will determine which party controls the Senate. Black women, once again, may hold the key but they will need white women to join forces with them if the two Democratic candidates, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, are to win.

Why should we care about Georgia? Because Mr. Biden’s ability to address issues that significantly affect women — such as child care, paid leave and reproductive health care — depends on it.

While the rise in women’s work and wages has enabled middle-class families to inch ahead, it has worsened what we call “the time squeeze.” That is the enormous pressure that is felt among two-earner families with children and among single parents to balance work and family life. This squeeze has tightened in the pandemic. Women, especially women of color, suffered the biggest economic damage.

In interviews and focus groups with middle-class families in 2019 and 2020, we heard about these problems over and over again.

The sad news is that — unless Southern women save the day — Republicans will remain in control of the Senate and nothing much is likely to get done in Congress. There will be too little affordable child care; birth control and abortions will be harder to obtain; and we will remain the only advanced country without a paid leave policy to cover illness, caregiving or the birth of a child.

White women in Georgia, as the crucial swing voting bloc in these runoff races, have a clear choice between upholding a sclerotic status quo and enabling a corrosive culture war or giving their state, and the country, a chance at removing major burdens that are crushing families’ budgets, and taking away their quality time.

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty


Democrats Must Forge Ahead, Ignoring What the Trumpers Say

In 2016 due to an Electoral College failure, Donald Trump gained the White House despite the fact that he won roughly 3 million fewer votes than Hillary Clinton.  Despite this reality Trump and is enablers, sycophants, grifters and Fox News talking heads claimed he had a mandate. Worse yet, Trump pursued an agenda that harmed the majority of Americans, his coronavirus failure being the most spectacular failure.  Fast forward to 2020 and Joe Biden won around 6 million more votes than Trump (the equivalent of six states with the population the size of Wyoming) yet some fear that Biden and the Democrats will show too much concern for what Trump cultists think and say. The problem with this is that you are worrying about the views of those for whom facts and morality do not matter. Logic, reason and fact based arguments and policies mean nothing to those who are either willfully ignorant or totally so blinded by racism and hatred.  Given this reality, a piece in Salon argues Democrats need to forge onward with policies that will improve the lot of the vast majority of Americans and do what must be done regardless of the shrieks and lies of the MAGA red hat crowd.  Here are excerpts: 

Even after the landslide defeat of Donald Trump, Republicans across the board continue to be terrified by Trump's disciples. Fear of the Red Hats has always been one of the primary reasons why the rest of Trump's party has refused to speak out against his ongoing horror show. It's not the only reason, but it's one of the more potent ones.

It's fascinating to observe how thoroughly they've painted themselves into a corner. While leading Republicans are in love with Trump's policies, not to mention the cover the Red Hats gave them to pass their agenda, they're privately disgusted by the president's total lack of personal restraint and constant self-sabotage. 

In fact, Carl Bernstein wrote this week that 21 Senate Republicans have "privately expressed their disdain for Trump." Underscore "privately." Bernstein name-dropped Sens. Rob Portman, Lamar Alexander, Ben Sasse, Roy Blunt, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, John Cornyn, John Thune, Mitt Romney, Mike Braun, Todd Young, Tim Scott, Rick Scott, Marco Rubio, Chuck Grassley, Richard Burr, Pat Toomey, Martha McSally, Jerry Moran, Pat Roberts and Richard Shelby. Most of them have voted with Trump across the board . . . . Cowardice before the fury of the Red Hats.

The dispiriting enormity of Trump's following (73.8 million in this election) means the rest of the GOP can't win without the Trumpers. So Republicans routinely clam up whenever Trump crosses another Rubicon — thousands and thousands of Rubicons at this point. By clamming up, they empower Trump to curb-stomp more and more of our democratic values, while they quiver in the corner afraid of Trump deploying his Red Hats against them in another late-night tweetstorm. . . . . After four years of irreparable damage to the country, they're impotent and powerless to stop this weirdo tyrant as he annihilates the integrity of our elections — tweet by tweet, and frivolous lawsuit after hilariously frivolous lawsuit. 

While it's pathetic, infuriating and completely unpatriotic, I at least understand why they're doing it. What I don't understand is why the Normals are afraid of Trump's Red Hats, too.

Even before the 2020 election, Democratic leaders, as well as select cable news pundits, have too often repeated a variation on: "Don't do [x] because it'll make Trump's supporters angry." It's been trotted out as an excuse for not impeaching Trump and for pardoning Trump, and as a reason to argue against prosecuting Trump and his henchmen after the new administration is sworn in.

Simply put: The truth and integrity of the press is being subverted by an irrational fear of screeching Twitter trolls who don't know the difference between "they're," "there" and "their.

Elsewhere, George Washington University Law School professor Randall Eliason published an opinion piece for the Washington Post in which he argued that prosecuting Trump would be a catastrophic error, noting, "Trump and his supporters would inevitably characterize any investigations as a corrupt attempt by the Biden administration to 'take out' a potential 2024 rival." The only response to this is: So what? They're doing that today with the 2020 election. What's another knee-jerk grievance on top of all the others?

There will be many more with similarly serious warnings. And the emerging conventional wisdom on this front is entirely based on a fear of the Red Hats and their incoherent rage. 

The tragic reality of the Biden years will be this: The Red Hats are going to scream about literally everything anyway. They already are. History has taught us that appeasement only makes the aggressor more aggressive, and trying to unilaterally play nice will only end in unilateral pantsing. In their deluded, brainwashed minds, Biden stole the election from Trump, while professional stooges like Charlie Kirk and Breitbart are already hyping up their fanboys about inevitable "persecutions" that will follow.

If they don't have actual Biden scandals to latch onto, they'll make 'em up. And since they'll indiscriminately lose their shpadoinkle anyway, why not uphold the rule of law and proceed forward with accountability — whether in the form of bipartisan commissions, congressional reports or actual grand jury indictments? In other words, rather than refusing to investigate anyone and being accused of investigating everyone, why not damn the torpedoes and proceed, full steam ahead? Again, stop fearing what they'll say and just do the damn thing.

We've never had a president so flagrantly violate the law on countless occasions, from a dozen instances of obstruction of justice enumerated in the Mueller report to Trump's extortion plot in the Ukraine debacle that led to his impeachment. His negligence in the face of the pandemic alone should warrant extensive investigation, and there are myriad other crimes likely waiting to be discovered. Should there be civil or criminal accountability for deliberately deceiving the public on the threat of the pandemic, as revealed by Bob Woodward? What happens if evidence is uncovered that Trump sold national security secrets to an enemy? 

Unprecedented times deserve unprecedented accountability. Walking away and burying the past in the past is an excellent way to guarantee another Trump in the future — likely one who's worse than the first Trump. 

[I]f the evidence leads to indictments, Democrats should just own it and ignore the shrieking. The Lincoln Project's Rick Wilson once said, "[Mitch McConnell] doesn't care about screaming." The Democrats on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue would do well to employ the same strategy. Hold fast, power through and stop caring about the screaming.

After all, while there are nearly 74 million Trumpers, there are 80 million Biden voters. 

Since 2015, Trump supporters have shown us who they really are. We've learned that they'll go along with whatever the world's most notorious con man says, no matter how ignorant, no matter how destructive, no matter how contradictory. They will continue to gratuitously worsen the spread of the pandemic, and they will absolutely continue to repeat counterfactual gibberish fed to them by the conservative entertainment complex, including dozens of made-up reasons to impeach Biden. They'll never see the light.

Given all this, we need to stop fearing these people. If the evidence points to prosecutions, then we need to encourage the investigators to prosecute. When the next election rolls around, we need to give our leaders, including Joe Biden, the electoral cover they need by prioritizing winning at all costs. That, and a series of post-Trump reforms, is the only way to course-correct the trajectory of the republic. Cowardice will only make matters worse.

Thoughts on this?

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

More Tuesday Male Beauty


Ivanka Trump Desperately (and Belatedly) Tries to Rehab Her Image

None of us should be blamed for the family into which we are born or the faith tradition or skin color which we had no power to control or change.  However, once one is beginning to enter adulthood, we do have choices that if properly made will allow us to make up to one extent or another for the factors over which we had no control.  Among these choices are not being an opportunist at the expense of others, not supporting morally bankrupt - and likely criminal - individuals and opting to be on the side of morality, decency and seeing others are fully human.  Sadly, over the last four years (or many more) Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner failed to make proper decisions and now face the prospect of being largely pariahs in the New York City society from which they - and Der Trumpenfuhrer - long sought acceptance. Now, realizing her father is going to be shown the door on January 20, 2021, per Vanity Fair Ivanka is belatedly trying to rehabilitate her image.  Odds are, the effort will fail, especially given how loathed the Trumps are in New York City. Ivanka is no Evita and best get used to living in New Jersey.  Here are excerpts from Vanity Fair: 

When Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner first took jobs in the White House in 2017, they presumably assumed that eight years later, they‘d return to New York and be crowned the king and queen not just of an exclusive social set but the city—nay, the entire globe. Vogue would put them on the cover of the September issue. Billionaires would beg them to sit on the boards of their companies to lend an air of credibility. People would scream, “I love you Javanka!” as they walked down the street. Politicos would constantly beg them to run for president. Penguin Random House would get into a bidding war for their memoirs, telling The New York Times, “That $65 million we dropped on the Obamas? Peanuts compared to what we’re shelling out for these two.” 

Instead, they’re being unceremoniously booted out of the place after just four years, with significantly worse reputations than when they started. To be clear, no one was falling all over themselves to get an audience with the couple before Donald Trump was inaugurated but they weren’t reviled among the people whose opinions they presumably once and probably do still care about, with just a narrow portion of Manhattan reportedly looking forward to their return, and an open invitation from Staten Island to take the ferry out and put down roots. “Everyone with self-respect, a career, morals, respect for democracy, or who doesn’t want their friends to shame them both in private and public will steer clear,” a former friend of the couple told my colleague. . . . .

Not surprisingly, the outgoing first daughter appears to be in extremely frantic damage control mode, attempting to prove, via tweets that should come with fact-checks, that the Trump administration isn’t the worst collection of people in modern presidential history.

Of course, had Ivanka’s father won a second term, which he definitely didn’t no matter what he says, he’d continue with a quest to bury the planet in a shallow grave, which he‘s actively trying to do in the time he has left in Washington.

Also on Tuesday, Princess Purses, like Daddy Trump, seemingly tried to suggest the Trump administration was to thank for the Dow Jones Industrial Average hitting a new high . . . . . Strangely, Ivanka did not mention the fact that her father had claimed the stock market would crash were Biden elected . . . . nor did she mention that the reason the Dow is up is that investors appear to be relieved Biden is going to be president.

Anyway, despite Ivanka’s efforts at image-rehab, it seems the couple has read the writing on the wall, and seemingly plans to spend less time in their old city than they did prior to 2017. Per The New York Times

Town officials in Bedminster, N.J., have the plans for a possible Trump family future, or at least the blueprints: a major addition to Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s “cottage” on the grounds of the Trump National Golf Club, four new pickleball courts, a relocated heliport, and a spa, and yoga complex. As Manhattan awaits word of the Trump family’s return, the first daughter and her husband appear to be making preparations elsewhere: a Garden State refuge behind guarded gates, perhaps, or Florida, where President Trump is renovating his Mar-a-Lago estate.

“In an odd way, they will even have a harder time than Trump himself” in New York, Donny Deutsch told reporter Elizabeth Williamson. “He’s despicable but larger than life. Those two are the hapless minions who went along.”

 Sorry, but I cannot feel the least bit sorry for her.  Indeed, she best hope that her father's likely tax fraud schemes don't land her in state prison.  Poor little rich girl not.