Saturday, October 16, 2021

More Saturday Male Beauty


Youngkin's Big Lie About McAuliffe and Parental Involvement in Schools

One of the most dishonest ads Glenn Youngkin's campaign is running - and there are a number of dishonest ads in Youngkin's repertoire - is that Terry McAuliffe opposes parents being involved in their children's schools.  The ad takes a snippet of McAuliffe speaking out of context and utterly ignores what is happening in schools and school board meetings in Virginia and elsewhere in the country where "conservative" parents - think homophobes, Christofascists, creationism proponents and white supremacists - are opposing mask and vaccine mandates, seeking to purge gays from any mention, and want a white washed version of American history that eliminates non-whites and ignores some of the ugly truths of the country's history.  Indeed, the unruliness and threats exhibited by these "conservative" parents has caused the national association of school boards to ask the U.S. Justice department for protection for school boards and the prosecution of parents engaging in violence and intimidation. It is this dangerous and censoring behavior of parents that McAuliffe was rightly condemning. What's more disgusting is that Republicans such as Youngkin are using the situation to further enrage the deplorables and haters among the GOP base in the hopes of driving them to the polls. Missing from Youngkin's ads are the fact that he wants to take public school funding and give it to private schools, including "Christian" schools masquerading as charter schools.  A piece in the Washington Post looks at the movement of "conservative" parents and the threat it poses to quality public education.  Like so much with today's "conservatives" it is an example of an extreme minority trying to force its views and beliefs on the majority. A vote for Youngkin will literally put your children and grandchildren at risk and threaten the quality of their education. Here are highlights: 

The three-dozen women who showed up at the Brevard County school board meeting last week wore identical "Moms for Liberty" T-shirts, declaring they don't "CO-PARENT with the GOVERNMENT."

They snickered and jeered their way through a board member’s defense of the district’s classroom mask mandate, eventually getting kicked out of the room.

Afterward, a gaggle huddled under an oak tree nearby, listening to the proceedings via cellphone. When the board voted to keep the mask ordinance in place, Jody Hand, a 52-year-old mother of three, jumped to her feet. “I am going to be spending every minute making sure parents know they don’t have control over their children anymore,” she shouted.

Hand’s anger offers a window into Moms for Liberty, a controversial organization looking to play a major role in next year’s elections. Launched initially in Brevard County to support “parental rights” in public schools, Moms for Liberty chapters have spread nationwide. Its leaders hope to convert brawlish pandemic-era cultural divisions into lasting political power.

And their targets are sprawling — not only mask mandates but also curriculums that touch on LGTBQ rights, race and discrimination, and even the way schools define a scientific fact.

A Moms for Liberty chapter in Tennessee questioned whether a textbook that included a photograph of two sea horses mating was too risque for elementary schools. Members in Suffolk County, N.Y., have begun describing school mask policies as “segregation,” urging their children to rip off their masks in classrooms in protest.

And in Indian River County, Fla., a chapter recently objected to fourth-graders being taught how to spell “spinal tap,” “isolation” and “quarantine” because they were too “scary of words” to teach at that grade level, said Jennifer Pippin, head of the Indian River chapter.

But the group’s critics warn that Moms for Liberty has sowed divisions among parents and made it harder for school officials to educate students while keeping them safe.

Gary Shiffrin, head of the Brevard Association of School Administrators, who has been involved in public education since 1971, blames Moms for Liberty for the most disruptive educational environment he has seen, besides the lingering opposition to desegregation early in his career.

“They have decided they are going to be the spokespeople for conservatism, and this won’t end when covid ends,” said Shiffrin, a former teacher and high school principal.

The first two Moms for Liberty chapters in Brevard and Indian River counties launched in January, merging with two organizations that were campaigning against local coronavirus restrictions.

They quickly became known for their outspoken tactics, with the Brevard group often directing their ire at Jenkins.

Within days of its formation, Jenkins said some members of Moms for Liberty began targeting her. Jenkins said members picketed in front of her house, followed her to her car shouting epithets after school board meetings and sent threatening mail to her home and office.

She said someone has even filed a report with the county department of Child and Family Services falsely accusing her of abusing her daughter and using drugs.

Anthony Colucci, president of the Brevard Federation of Teachers, said Moms for Liberty has helped disintegrate the comity of local government, including turning school board meetings into “The Jerry Springer Show.” It has made it nearly impossible, he said, to discuss how to best serve students.

“I can be sitting in a meeting minding my own business, and they turn around and scream at me that I am a commie and teachers want to see all kids fail,” Colucci said. “This group brings out the worst in people.”

Tamsin Wright, a mother of two, said she’s been showing up to board meetings to support the mask mandate. But she often feels bullied, even though she thinks Moms for Liberty represents a minority of Brevard parents.

“Hate and conspiracy is so exciting. It gets people to come out in droves, so it works,” Wright said.

Florida Republican leaders say they are already benefiting from the group’s work. Christian Ziegler, vice chairman of the Florida Republican Party and a Sarasota County commissioner, credits Moms for Liberty and the broader issue of “parental rights” for bringing new voters to the GOP.

Ziegler also expects the group’s members will become foot soldiers for Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R) reelection campaign next year. DeSantis has aligned himself with the “parent’s rights” agenda, including in his attempts to restrict school districts from instituting mandatory masks policies.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll released in early September found that two-thirds of Americans support mask mandates in schools.

But Descovich and Justice believe their approach appeals to parents wanting to decide for themselves how best to raise their children. They plan to use the phrase “parental choice” to galvanize conservative parents to vote in both school board races and broader statewide elections, including DeSantis’s reelection bid.

In Nassau County, N.Y., Moms for Liberty member Barbara Abboud . . . said she got involved with the organization after a school social worker put up a blog post that seemed to embrace critical race theory, an academic framework for examining systemic racism.

Democrats have questioned how Moms for Liberty is being funded, noting that its rapid expansion comes as DeSantis gears up for his reelection campaign ahead of a possible presidential bid.

Pamela Castellana, chairwoman of the Brevard County Democratic Party, said she is skeptical that Moms for Liberty is truly a grass-roots group. She noted that the group’s leaders are closely allied with several of DeSantis’s longtime political allies.

This month, The Washington Post reported that GOP megadonors have been quietly funding local groups that oppose school mask mandates.

[S]ome “Moms for Liberty” members booed when they heard that elementary school students are being taught about climate change and “environmental racism,” with references to President Barack Obama, John F. Kerry and Oprah Winfrey.

This is the parental involvement McAuliffe was condemning.  Kudos to him for doing so. 

Saturday Morning Male Beauty


Friday, October 15, 2021

More Friday Male Beauty


A Hedge Fund Is Gutting Newsrooms, Including Those in Hampton Roads

In the years since my family moved to Virginia Beach years ago - the city population back then was not quite 170,000 - there has been a steady decline in the local newspapers.  On the southside, we once had the Ledger Star in the morning and the Virginian Pilot in the evening (the Ledger Star is no more) and a very different version of the Daily Press from what exists nowadays.  Both the Pilot and Daily Press are now owned by the Chicago Tribune, something I will get to in a moment.  Part of the decline is due to competition with Internet based news outlets, but a significant part of the decline is due to investors focusing on the "bottom line" with no regard to reporting the news or quality journalism. Local newspapers - which are critical in keeping local government in line and informing the local community on news and a sense of unity - have become skeletal platforms for selling advertising.  A very long piece in The Atlantic focuses on this vulture capitalism  What makes the story even more relevant to Hampton Roads is that the Chicago Tribue - and its subsidiaries - is one of the papers being gutted by a ruthless hedge fund (the type of business Glenn Youngkin once lead).  Here are article excerpts (the same things have happened to our local papers as has happened to their parent company):

The Tribune Tower rises above the streets of downtown Chicago in a majestic snarl of Gothic spires and flying buttresses that were designed to exude power and prestige. When plans for the building were announced in 1922, Colonel Robert R. McCormick, the longtime owner of the Chicago Tribune, said he wanted to erect “the world’s most beautiful office building” for his beloved newspaper. The best architects of the era were invited to submit designs; lofty quotes about the Fourth Estate were selected to adorn the lobby. Prior to the building’s completion, McCormick directed his foreign correspondents to collect “fragments” of various historical sites—a brick from the Great Wall of China, an emblem from St. Peter’s Basilica—and send them back to be embedded in the tower’s facade. The final product, completed in 1925, was an architectural spectacle unlike anything the city had seen before—“romance in stone and steel,” as one writer described it. A century later, the Tribune Tower has retained its grandeur. It has not, however, retained the Chicago Tribune.

To find the paper’s current headquarters one afternoon in late June, I took a cab across town to an industrial block west of the river. After a long walk down a windowless hallway lined with cinder-block walls, I got in an elevator, which deposited me near a modest bank of desks near the printing press. The scene was somehow even grimmer than I’d imagined. Here was one of America’s most storied newspapers—a publication that had endorsed Abraham Lincoln and scooped the Treaty of Versailles, that had toppled political bosses and tangled with crooked mayors and collected dozens of Pulitzer Prizes—reduced to a newsroom the size of a Chipotle.

Spend some time around the shell-shocked journalists at the Tribune these days, and you’ll hear the same question over and over: How did it come to this? On the surface, the answer might seem obvious. Craigslist killed the Classified section, Google and Facebook swallowed up the ad market, and a procession of hapless newspaper owners failed to adapt to the digital-media age, making obsolescence inevitable. This is the story we’ve been telling for decades about the dying local-news industry, and it’s not without truth. But what’s happening in Chicago is different.

In May, the Tribune was acquired by Alden Global Capital, a secretive hedge fund that has quickly, and with remarkable ease, become one of the largest newspaper operators in the country. The new owners did not fly to Chicago to address the staff, nor did they bother with paeans to the vital civic role of journalism. Instead, they gutted the place.

Two days after the deal was finalized, Alden announced an aggressive round of buyouts. In the ensuing exodus, the paper lost the Metro columnist who had championed the occupants of a troubled public-housing complex, and the editor who maintained a homicide database that the police couldn’t manipulate, and the photographer who had produced beautiful portraits of the state’s undocumented immigrants, and the investigative reporter who’d helped expose the governor’s offshore shell companies. When it was over, a quarter of the newsroom was gone.

Meanwhile, the Tribune’s remaining staff, which had been spread thin even before Alden came along, struggled to perform the newspaper’s most basic functions. After a powerful Illinois state legislator resigned amid bribery allegations, the paper didn’t have a reporter in Springfield to follow the resulting scandal. And when Chicago suffered a brutal summer crime wave, the paper had no one on the night shift to listen to the police scanner.

As the months passed, things kept getting worse. Morale tanked; reporters burned out. The editor in chief mysteriously resigned, and managers scrambled to deal with the cuts. Some in the city started to wonder if the paper was even worth saving. . . . Through it all, the owners maintained their ruthless silence—spurning interview requests and declining to articulate their plans for the paper. Longtime Tribune staffers had seen their share of bad corporate overlords, but this felt more calculated, more sinister.

The Tribune had been profitable when Alden took over. The paper had weathered a decade and a half of mismanagement and declining revenues and layoffs, and had finally achieved a kind of stability. Now it might be facing extinction. . . . “They call Alden a vulture hedge fund, and I think that’s honestly a misnomer,” Johnson said. “A vulture doesn’t hold a wounded animal’s head underwater. This is predatory.”

When Alden first started buying newspapers, at the tail end of the Great Recession, the industry responded with cautious optimism. . . . Reading these stories now has a certain horror-movie quality: You want to somehow warn the unwitting victims of what’s about to happen.

Of course, it’s easy to romanticize past eras of journalism. The families that used to own the bulk of America’s local newspapers—the Bonfilses of Denver, the Chandlers of Los Angeles—were never perfect stewards. . . . But most of them also had a stake in the communities their papers served, which meant that, if nothing else, their egos were wrapped up in putting out a respectable product.

In the past 15 years, more than a quarter of American newspapers have gone out of business. Those that have survived are smaller, weaker, and more vulnerable to acquisition. Today, half of all daily newspapers in the U.S. are controlled by financial firms, according to an analysis by the Financial Times, and the number is almost certain to grow.

What threatens local newspapers now is not just digital disruption or abstract market forces. They’re being targeted by investors who have figured out how to get rich by strip-mining local-news outfits. The model is simple: Gut the staff, sell the real estate, jack up subscription prices, and wring as much cash as possible out of the enterprise until eventually enough readers cancel their subscriptions that the paper folds, or is reduced to a desiccated husk of its former self.

The men who devised this model are Randall Smith and Heath Freeman, the co-founders of Alden Global Capital. Since they bought their first newspapers a decade ago, no one has been more mercenary or less interested in pretending to care about their publications’ long-term health. Researchers at the University of North Carolina found that Alden-owned newspapers have cut their staff at twice the rate of their competitors; not coincidentally, circulation has fallen faster too, according to Ken Doctor, a news-industry analyst who reviewed data from some of the papers. That might sound like a losing formula, but these papers don’t have to become sustainable businesses for Smith and Freeman to make money.

This investment strategy does not come without social consequences. When a local newspaper vanishes, research shows, it tends to correspond with lower voter turnout, increased polarization, and a general erosion of civic engagement. Misinformation proliferates. City budgets balloon, along with corruption and dysfunction. The consequences can influence national politics as well; an analysis by Politico found that Donald Trump performed best during the 2016 election in places with limited access to local news.

With its acquisition of Tribune Publishing earlier this year, Alden now controls more than 200 newspapers, including some of the country’s most famous and influential: the Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, the New York Daily News. It is the nation’s second-largest newspaper owner by circulation.

Alden’s website contains no information beyond the firm’s name, and its list of investors is kept strictly confidential. When lawmakers pressed for details last year on who funds Alden, the company replied that “there may be certain legal entities and organizational structures formed outside of the United States.”

If you want to know what it’s like when Alden Capital buys your local newspaper, you could look to Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, where coverage of local elections in more than a dozen communities falls to a single reporter working out of his attic and emailing questionnaires to candidates. You could look to Oakland, California, where the East Bay Times laid off 20 people one week after the paper won a Pulitzer. Or to nearby Monterey, where the former Herald reporter Julie Reynolds says staffers were pushed to stop writing investigative features so they could produce multiple stories a day. Or to Denver, where the Post’s staff was cut by two-thirds, . . . .

Crucially, the profits generated by Alden’s newspapers did not go toward rebuilding newsrooms. Instead, the money was used to finance the hedge fund’s other ventures. In legal filings, Alden has acknowledged diverting hundreds of millions of dollars from its newspapers into risky bets on commercial real estate, a bankrupt pharmacy chain, and Greek debt bonds. To industry observers, Alden’s brazen model set it apart even from chains like Gannett, known for its aggressive cost-cutting. Alden “is not a newspaper company,” says Ann Marie Lipinski, a former editor in chief of the Chicago Tribune. “It’s a hedge that went and bought up some titles that it milks for cash.”

There’s little evidence that Alden cares about the “sustainability” of its newspapers. A more honest argument might have claimed, as some economists have, that vulture funds like Alden play a useful role in “creative destruction,” dismantling outmoded businesses to make room for more innovative insurgents. But in the case of local news, nothing comparable is ready to replace these papers when they die.

Our local newspapers are being gutted and stripped for cash - the sale of the buildings that housed the Virginian Pilot and Daily Press are all part of the stripmining of assets. 

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Friday Morning Male Beauty


More Thursday Male Beauty


Trump Calls in to Rally for Youngkin and GOP Candidates

Try as he might to pretend he's not Donald Trump's acolyte, Glenn Youngkin is finding the task more difficult thanks to Der Trumpenfuhrer's desire to always be in the limelight.  All of which is a good thing because it  undermines Youngkin's disingenuous campaign that seeks to depict him as a moderate - something he's not when he is endorsed by Family Research Council - a certified hate group - and the darling of the Christofascists and white supremacists at The Family Foundation.  Trump helped expose Youngkin by calling in to a rally orchestrated by Steve Bannon - a man facing criminal contempt of Congress chares - and even musing about campaigning with Youngkin in person.  Equally telling about Youngkin's true extremism is his campaigning along side Virginia GOP legislator Amanda Chase, a certifiable nut case in my view, who is so extreme that even Republicans in the General Assembly voted to censure.  You are known by the company you keep and in Trump and Chase, Youngkin's charade of being a moderate is shown to be a total lie.  The Washington Post looks at the rally and Youngkin's ties to Chase:

“Glenn Youngkin is a great gentleman,” Trump said, predicting the Republican will beat Democrat Terry McAuliffe while reiterating his false claim of victory in last year’s presidential election. “We won in 2016. We won in 2020 — the most corrupt election in the history of our country, probably one of the most corrupt anywhere. But we’re gonna win it again.”

Trump created a stir hours earlier with a written statement that some Republicans feared could depress turnout in the Nov. 2 gubernatorial election: “If we don’t solve the Presidential Election Fraud of 2020 (which we have thoroughly and conclusively documented), Republicans will not be voting in ’22 or ’24.”

Youngkin’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment about Trump’s statement and whether it impacts the party’s effort to get Republicans to the polls in November.

Although Youngkin skipped the event, held at a suburban Richmond restaurant, Fredericks said Youngkin had thanked him “profusely” for arranging it and supplied him with campaign signs to hand out; Youngkin’s campaign spokesman declined to comment on the rally or Fredericks’s assertion.

One of Youngkin’s running mates, lieutenant governor candidate Winsome E. Sears, had been billed as a speaker and left before the program for reasons that were [un]clear. Her spokesman did not immediately responded to a request for comment.

The event kicked off with the Pledge of Allegiance — to a flag that was present “at the peaceful rally with Donald J. Trump on Jan. 6,” according to Martha Boneta, the Republican emcee of the event. Bannon whipped up the crowd of several hundred by repeating Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election and predicting Trump’s return — in 2024, if not before.

In a tweet after the rally, McAuliffe denounced the event.

“Glenn Youngkin was endorsed again tonight by Donald Trump at a rally where attendees pledged allegiance to a flag flown at the deadly January 6th insurrection. Beyond disturbing, this is sick. And Glenn is honored to have Trump’s endorsement,” McAuliffe wrote.

Youngkin reached out to swing voters after securing the GOP nomination in May, briefly putting aside inflammatory Trumpian themes in favor of kitchen-table issues such as schools. But he never fully pivoted from Trump, who remains popular with Virginia’s GOP base even after losing the state as a whole last year by 10 points.

Youngkin’s schools agenda, for instance, zeroed in on culture-war fare such as his opposition to critical race theory, and mask and coronavirus vaccine mandates. And this month, Youngkin renewed his call to audit voting machines — something the state already performs — even though he has admitted there was no significant fraud in past Virginia elections and that he doesn’t expect Democrats to cheat this fall.

Now in the homestretch of the Nov. 2 race against McAuliffe, the political newcomer and former private equity executive seems to be making even more overt appeals to Trump fans . . .

Trump mused about campaigning in person with Youngkin. “We’ll have to do one together, where we’re all live together,” he said during the call-in. “I sort of like that idea.”

Youngkin made peace in recent days with former Trump aide Sebastian Gorka, who in late August had called Youngkin a “RINO,” meaning “Republican In Name Only,” for refusing to appear on his podcast. Youngkin came on the show last weekend and echoed Trump’s rhetoric, pledging to “save Virginia” (Trump’s political action committee is the Save America PAC) and pursue a “Virginia first” agenda.

“What they want to hear from you is that you support the “America First” agenda, you support making America great again and that you won’t be just a . . . Mitt Romney for Virginia,” Gorka said . . . Youngkin replied: “The president [Trump] knows I am a Virginia first governor’s candidate . . . I’m so angry with what’s going on in Virginia. And we are going to save Virginia.”

Youngkin also has begun campaigning alongside Virginia’s most prominent 2020 election conspiracy theorist, state Sen. Amanda F. Chase (R-Chesterfield) — a pariah among fellow Senate Republicans, who joined Democrats in censuring her this year after she called the insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 “patriots.” . . . last week, he campaigned with Chase at his side in Martinsville and Chesterfield.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty


Wednesday, October 13, 2021

More Wednesday Male Beauty


Congressional Democrats Dither Away Their Chances in Virginia and 2022

The idiocy - I'm sure they'd claim it's principle - of Congressional Democrats is increasingly maddening.  Rather than pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill that would aid many Americans, the so-called progressives in the House are holding that bill hostage until they get what the want on the "Build Back Better" bill.  The possible outcome is they get NOTHING and confirm the image Republicans are selling that Democrats are incompetent socialist.  Meanwhile, Joe Manchin and Sinema have their heads so far up their asses its a wonder they haven't suffocated.  It's as if they all have entered into a bizarre murder-suicide pact that is dragging down Democrats in Virginia and tanking Joe Biden's popularity.  It's enough to make one start screaming.   A column in the Washington Post looks at the idiocy of Congressional Democrats and the harm they are doing to themselves and the majority of Americans.  Here are excerpts:

It’s beginning to feel like 2010 all over again. Back then, congressional Democrats unanimously supported a sweeping overhaul of the health-care system. But while Democrats haggled over differences (Public option? Single payer? Universal or near-universal coverage?) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) waited in vain for GOP cooperation, Republicans made wild claims about death panels, health-care rationing and granny killing. Democrats got clobbered in the year’s midterms.

Now, congressional Democrats agree — unanimously! — that they should pass a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure bill to improve roads and bridges and extend high-speed Internet coast to coast. Democrats agree — also unanimously! — that they should enact the substantial portion of President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda to improve education, health and the planet. But while Democrats squabble over relatively minor differences in how much to spend over how long a time, Republicans have again gone demagogic, raising phony threats about socialism, trillions of dollars of additional debt and a Gestapo-like IRS.

Democrats can’t counter the slander or sell the (broadly popular) plan, because they haven’t finalized the details. And as Democrats dither, Biden is bleeding out; his support has dropped into the low 40s.

Nobody is better at herding cats than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but even she is exasperated. On Monday night, she sent a “Dear Colleague” letter to the House Democratic caucus arguing that “difficult decisions must be made very soon” to reduce the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better bill — to a cost that Sens. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) can accept. “Overwhelmingly, the guidance I am receiving from Members is to do fewer things well,” Pelosi wrote, suggesting that some programs would be struck entirely.

In fairness to Pelosi, it’s not either/or: Democrats, I’m hearing, will eliminate some plans and phase others out early in hopes that they will prove popular and future Congresses will renew them. Far more important than the mechanics is the timing. Democrats don’t have a moment to spare.

As they waver, the voters are turning against them, and the authoritarians are waiting in the wings. On “Fox News Sunday,” Louisiana’s Steve Scalise, the No. 2 Republican in the House, refused repeatedly to acknowledge that the presidential election hadn’t been stolen by Biden. If Biden’s approval numbers stay where they are, Congress will end up back in Republicans’ hands, positioning them to be able to overturn the will of the people in 2024.

House progressives have publicly acknowledged they’ll reduce their demands for the Build Back Better package to a range between $1.9 trillion and $2.2 trillion; Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, has said as much privately, I’m told. That’s a huge concession. Now it’s time for Biden to hammer out a final agreement with Manchin.

The ultimate details are less important than passing both bills. Democrats could then answer the GOP’s fearmongering with specifics: what size tax breaks families will get, who can go to community college tuition-free, and all without adding to the debt.

Democrats can at that point turn the focus to the Republicans’ anti-vaccine histrionics, the cruel abortion ban in Texas and the perpetuation of the “big lie” about the 2020 election. Combined, these three issues have angered suburban voters nearly to 2018 levels — potentially lifting Democrats in 2022.

But until Biden can pin down Manchin, the bleeding will continue.

Pelosi, arguing that “whatever we do, it will be transformative,” told Killion that “whether [Americans] know it or not, they overwhelmingly support it” — a phrase uncomfortably close to her 2010 remark about the Affordable Care Act: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”

It didn’t work then, and it won’t work now. But history doesn’t have to repeat itself. If Biden can pin down Manchin — now — the impact of the new programs will be felt before next year’s midterms. Democrats would be able to parry the Republicans’ demagoguery with results.

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty


Tuesday, October 12, 2021

More Tuesday Male Beauty


The Trump Nightmare Looms Again

Here in Virginia, many are inceasingly concerned that this years statewide races are being undermined by increasing frustration over Congressional Democrats' inability to govern - or more precisely, stop playing games and pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill and some version of Biden's buils it back better reconciliation bill.  Equally, disturbing is the failure of these same Democrats to grasps that the house is on fire so to speak and that action is needed now and a new mindset is needed to avert a possible return to power of Donald Trump and control of Congress by anti-democracy Republicans.  Both Joe Manchin and leftist progressives need to get their heads out of their asses and see that an emergency exists and that old styles of playing the political game must cease. Nothing less than saving democracy is on the line.  Terrifyingly, few seem to have their eyes open to reality although many former Republicans and never Trumpers do and are loudly sounding the alarm.  A case in point is s apiece in the Washington Post by a former member of the George W. Bush administration.  Here are column highlights:

It is increasingly evident that the nightmare prospect of American politics — unified Republican control of the federal government in the hands of a reelected, empowered Donald Trump in 2025 — is also the likely outcome.

Why this is a nightmare should be clear enough. Every new tranche of information released about Trump’s behavior following the 2020 election — most recently an interim report from the Senate Judiciary Committee — reveals a serious and concerted attempt to overthrow America’s legitimate incoming government.

At roughly the same time that Trump was gathering and unleashing his goons to intimidate members of Congress on Jan. 6, he was pressuring Justice Department leaders to provide legal cover for his effort to prevent certification of the election. When they refused, Trump conspired with a lower-level loyalist to take over the department and run it according to the president’s dictates. Under the threat of mass resignations, Trump eventually backed off.

The thing that matters most is this: The current front-runner for the 2024 Republican nomination would have broken the constitutional order if he could have broken the constitutional order.

Meanwhile, it is clear that this same lawless, reckless man has a perfectly realistic path back to power. The GOP is a garbage scow of the corrupt, the seditious and their enablers, yet the short- and medium-term political currents are in its favor.

This is not simply a problem of the Biden administration’s messaging. It reflects deeper political challenges, recently and vividly described by Ezra Klein and David Shor. In my woefully condensed version of Klein’s column based on his interviews with the data analyst: American voters are increasingly polarized by education (which is really a proxy for complex issues of class and race). Whites with a college education have lurched Democratic. Whites without a college education have lurched Republican.

This presents Democrats with disadvantages. Significantly more voters lack a college education than have one. And voters with a college education tend to be located in urban areas, which centralizes and thus diminishes their influence. Both the electoral college and the constitutional method of Senate representation reward those who control wide open spaces.

What does this mean in practice? It means Democrats need to significantly outperform Republicans in national matchups to obtain even mediocre results in presidential and Senate races. It means that Democrats, to remain competitive, need to win in places they don’t currently win, draw from groups they don’t currently draw and speak in cultural dialects they don’t currently speak.

This analysis has sparked a predictable intramural debate. . . . . Klein’s main complaint, however, is that few Democratic lawmakers at the national level — who mostly live among like-minded, college-educated, liberal peers — are paying attention to the urgency of the task. This type of shift in electoral focus would likely involve major ideological and strategic adjustments. But who in the national debate among Democrats over budget priorities has demonstrated the slightest interest in these matters?

This is a national, not just a Democratic, emergency. Trump has strengthened his identification with the seditious forces he unleashed on Jan. 6. He has embraced ever more absurd and malicious conspiracy theories. He has shown even less stability, humanity, responsibility and restraint. And his support among Republicans has grown. Trump and his strongest supporters are in a feedback loop of radicalization.

If Trump returns to the presidency, many of the past constraints on his power would be purposely loosed. Many of the professionals and patriots who opposed him in his final days would have been weeded out long before. There is no reason Trump would not try to solidify personal power over military and federal law enforcement units to employ as a bully’s club in times of civil disorder. There is no reason he would refrain from using federal resources to harass political opponents, undermine freedom of the press and change the outcome of elections. These are previously stated goals.

What attitudes and actions does this require of us? Any reaction must begin with a sober recognition. Catastrophe is in the front room. The weather forecast includes the apocalypse.

Be very, very afraid.  The danger will continue as long as Trump is on this side of the grave.

Tuesday Morning Male Beauty


Monday, October 11, 2021

More Monday Male Beauty


Republicans With a Plea: Elect Democrats

In an op-ed in the New York Times life long Republicans - sane Republicans, admittedly a dying speciec - make the case that I have long been making: to perhaps reform the GOP and most certainly in order to protect Democracy, anti-Trump, anti-ignorance embracing Republicans most vote for Democrats in2022.  I'd go further and argue one most vote Democrat in every contest as the onlt way to save the country.  Country must be placed above long political habits and the cancer raging in the Republican Party must be stopped.  Some Republicans may feel uncomfortable voting for Democrats but it is now the only way to save constitutional government and stop the slide towards authoritarianism that the GOP of today is propeling.  One can only hope Virginia voters take the message to heart in the November elections where GOP gubernatorial Glenn Youngkin - who some describe as a smarter version of Trump - is running a dishonest stealth campaign and striving to hide his true extremism.  His ties to The Family Foundation and endorsements by Trump and Family Research Council should be a warning that Youngkin is a threat to Virginia.  Here are column excerpts:

After Donald Trump’s defeat, there was a measure of hope among Republicans who opposed him that control of the G.O.P. would be up for grabs, and that conservative pragmatists could take back the party. But it’s become obvious that political extremists maintain a viselike grip on the national G.O.P., the state parties and the process for fielding and championing House and Senate candidates in next year’s elections.

Rational Republicans are losing the G.O.P. civil war. And the only near-term way to battle pro-Trump extremists is for all of us to team up on key races and overarching political goals with our longtime political opponents: the Democratic Party.

Rather than return to founding ideals, G.O.P. leaders in the House and in many states have now turned belief in conspiracy theories and lies about stolen elections into a litmus test for membership and running for office.

Breaking away from the G.O.P. and starting a new center-right party may prove in time to be the last resort if Trump-backed candidates continue to win Republican primaries. We and our allies have debated the option of starting a new party for months and will continue to explore its viability in the long run. Unfortunately, history is littered with examples of failed attempts at breaking the two-party system, and in most states today the laws do not lend themselves easily to the creation and success of third parties.

So for now, the best hope for the rational remnants of the G.O.P. is for us to form an alliance with Democrats to defend American institutions, defeat far-right candidates, and elect honorable representatives next year — including a strong contingent of moderate Democrats.

[W]e don’t take this position lightly. Many of us have spent years battling the left over government’s role in society, and we will continue to have disagreements on fundamental issues like infrastructure spending, taxes and national security. Similarly, some Democrats will be wary of any pact with the political right.

But we agree on something more foundational — democracy. We cannot tolerate the continued hijacking of a major U.S. political party by those who seek to tear down our Republic’s guardrails or who are willing to put one man’s interests ahead of the country. We cannot tolerate the leaders of the G.O.P. — in 2022 or in the presidential election in 2024 — refusing to accept the results of elections or undermining the certification of those results should they lose.

To that end, concerned conservatives must join forces with Democrats on the most essential near-term imperative: blocking Republican leaders from regaining control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

[W]we will endorse and support bipartisan-oriented moderate Democrats in difficult races, like Representative Abigail Spanberger of Virginia and Elissa Slotkin of Michigan and Senator Mark Kelly of Arizona, where they will undoubtedly be challenged by Trump-backed candidates. And we will defend a small nucleus of courageous Republicans, such as Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, Peter Meijer and others who are unafraid to speak the truth.

In addition to these leaders, this week we are coming together around a political idea — the Renew America Movement — and will release a slate of nearly two dozen Democratic, independent and Republican candidates we will support in 2022.

These “renewers” must be protected and elected if we want to restore a common-sense coalition in Washington. But merely holding the line will be insufficient. To defeat the extremist insurgency in our political system and pressure the Republican Party to reform, voters and candidates must be willing to form nontraditional alliances.

For disaffected Republicans, this means an openness to backing centrist Democrats. It will be difficult for lifelong G.O.P. members to do this — akin to rooting for the other team out of fear that your own is ruining the sport entirely — but democracy is not a game, which is why when push comes to shove, patriotic conservatives should put country over party.

One of those races is in Pennsylvania, where a bevy of pro-Trump candidates are vying to replace the outgoing Republican senator, Pat Toomey. The only prominent moderate in the G.O.P. primary, Craig Snyder, recently bowed out, and if no one takes his place, it will increase the urgency for Republican voters to stand behind a Democrat, such as centrist Representative Conor Lamb, who is running for the seat.

For Democrats, this similarly means being open to conceding that there are certain races where progressives simply cannot win and acknowledging that it makes more sense to throw their lot in with a center-right candidate who can take out a more radical conservative.

Utah is a prime example, where the best hope of defeating Senator Mike Lee, a Republican who defended Mr. Trump’s refusal to concede the election, is not a Democrat but an independent and former Republican, Evan McMullin, a member of our group, who announced last week that he was entering the race.

We need more candidates like him prepared to challenge politicians who have sought to subvert our Constitution from the comfort of their “safe seats” in Congress, and we are encouraged to note that additional independent-minded leaders are considering entering the fray in places like Texas, Arizona, and North Carolina, targeting seats that Trumpist Republicans think are secure.

A compact between the center-right and the left may seem like an unnatural fit, but in the battle for the soul of America’s political system, we cannot retreat to our ideological corners.

A great deal depends on our willingness to consider new paths of political reform. From the halls of Congress to our own communities, the fate of our Republic might well rest on forming alliances with those we least expected.

Monday Morning Male Beauty