Saturday, November 19, 2022

More Saturday Male Beauty - Pt 2


The Catholic Church Sex Abuse Scandal Continues

Twenty ears ago this past February the Boston Globe began its series that revealed the scope of the sexual abuse of children and youths by Catolic clergy in the Archdiocese of Boston.   Ever since then stories of similar abuse and deliberate cover ups by the Church hierarchy have literally covered the globe.  The Boston archdiocese was not an abberation but rather the norm world wide.  Since then the Church has paid out billions of dollars in settlements and countless diocese have filed for bankruptcy trying to keep victims still alive from receiving due compensation.  Sadly, many victims took their own lives and others have suffered from feelings of guilt even though they were victims.   Many Catholics including myself (and pretty much my entire family) have left the Church and "new policies" have been supposedly adopted by the Church to prevent future abuse.  But the underlying causes for the abuse have not changed.  The Church continues to cling to a 12th century understanding of sex and human sexuality, gays and sex and women (evil temptresses from the mythical Eve forward) are demonized and /or obsessed over resulting in continued emotional and psychological harm to millions of youth and LGBT individuals across the globe - it took two years of therapy for me to shed the psychological poisoning I had experienced growing up in the Church.  The latest revelations of the Church's lack of moral standing to lecture anyone on morality or sexuality comes out of the Archdiocese of Baltimore where the same familiar patterns of abuse and coverup have been detailed in a report filed by the Maryland Attorney General.   A piece in the Washington Post looks at the moral cesspool that is the Church hierarchy and its apologists.  Here are highlights:

A nearly four-year investigation of the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore tallied more than 600 young victims of clergy sexual abuse over 80 years, a court filing by the Maryland attorney general said Thursday. The probe, the second in the country by a state prosecutor, after Pennsylvania’s, seeks to bring accountability and detail to cases long covered up or shrouded by statutes of limitation.

The filing by Attorney General Brian Frosh (D) comes in the 20th anniversary year of an investigative series by the Boston Globe that dug into the Catholic sexual abuse scandal in the United States. Major reforms and multibillion-dollar legal settlements have reduced the number of accusations over the decades, but advocates in and out of the church say that full restitution has never come and such chronicles are important.

“Now is the time for reckoning,” said the 35-page filing in Baltimore City Circuit Court that asks a judge to approve the release of the full 456-page report. Because the report includes information from grand jury testimony, a judge’s approval is required. “Publicly airing the transgressions of the Church is critical to holding people and institutions accountable and improving the way sexual abuse allegations are handled going forward,” the attorney general argued in the filing.

The filing says the report identifies 115 priests who have already been prosecuted or identified by the church as “credibly accused,” and that it includes an additional 43 priests “accused of sexual abuse but not identified publicly by the Archdiocese.” That is 158 priests.

“The investigation also revealed that the Archdiocese failed to report many allegations of sexual abuse, conduct adequate investigations of alleged abuse, remove the abusers from the ministry or restrict their access to children. Instead, it went to great lengths to keep the abuse secret,” the filing says. One parish had 11 abusers over 40 years.

Earlier Thursday, a spokesman for the archdiocese said it has “fully cooperated” since Frosh began the investigation in January 2019, including providing more than 100,000 papers.

David Lorenz, Maryland leader of SNAP, an organization that advocates for church abuse victims, said he was struggling to digest the scope of abuse and called the report “disturbing.”

“This is the tip of the iceberg,” he said, “and I just wish I could reach out to each of [the victims] and say: ‘It’s okay, it’s not your fault. Please seek help. There are people out there helping, who want to help, who will believe you, who won’t ridicule you, who won’t deny what happened to you. No matter how bad you think it is, it was never your fault.’ ”

Terry McKiernan, president of the watchdog and research group, said that because the investigation is based on hundreds of thousands of pages of subpoenaed documents, the attorney general’s report has the potential to reopen a nationwide push for new laws and public accountability on how the church handled problem priests.

“It becomes a lot harder to ignore these issues when you have a 500-page report on how bad things are on your desk,” McKiernan said. “They’re going to have knowledge about failures in the archdiocese and management that we don’t know anything about yet,” he said of investigators. “The fact that they have uncovered … 11 accused priests over the years that worked in a single parish, that is shocking, and it’s the sort of thing we see when we approach full accountability at an archdiocese.”

A Pennsylvania grand jury made worldwide news in 2018 when it issued an 800-page report — a first of its kind — that led to arrests of priests in Michigan, protests in Maryland, an early retirement for a Washington archbishop and new policies from New York to the Vatican.

More Saturday Male Beauty


House Republicans Are Out to Prove They're Unfit to Govern

If there should be any message from the 2022 mid-term election results it is that the majority of Americans want stability, elected officials who will work to fix problems, an end to lunatic fringe conspiracy theories so popular with the craziest elements of the GOP base, and a focus on governing the country.   Even Republicans like Senator Josh Hawley for whom I have much contempt is at least insincerely pretending to have received the message as he clains the GOP must begin focusing on the needs of working people.  Yet, by all indications, this message is totally lost on House Republicans who now have a slim majority and control the House of Representatives and face the task of governing.  Instead, as a column in the Washington Post lays out the crazies are at the wheel and the House GOP is posed to do little of substance and instead pursue every insane fixation of the most insane elements of the every more ugly party base.  Here's a sampling from the column:

Wednesday evening, Republicans formally won control of the House. Thursday morning, in the first public act of the new majority, senior House Republicans revealed their most urgent priority: They would investigate Hunter Biden.

The incoming chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the incoming chairman of the Oversight Committee, James Comer (R-Ky.), and about 10 other members of the brand-new majority walked into the House TV studio first thing Thursday to announce multiple probes into the president’s son. . . . They mentioned Hunter two dozen times in their opening statements alone.

Reporters tried to ask questions about other topics. Comer cut them off. “If we could keep it about Hunter Biden, that would be great,” he said, explaining that “this is kind of a big deal, we think.”

Comer assured her that other pressing issues would also be addressed: “Kevin [McCarthy] said the first legislation we’re going to vote on is to repeal the 87,000 IRS agents.”

Great idea! After a GOP campaign focused on crime, their first legislative act will be to protect criminals. They’ll try to block the hiring of IRS enforcement personnel (the true number is much less than 87,000) assigned to crack down on the wealthiest tax cheats. Voters who elected Republicans to fight inflation and gas prices might be feeling puzzled, if not swindled.

But, in fairness, the noisiest voices in the GOP have other plans, too: They also want to cut off military aid to Ukraine as it fights off Russia’s invasion.

A few hours after the Comer and Jordan show, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) took the same stage to announce plans to force a vote on ending funds for Ukraine.

Not too long ago, the Republican Party stood against Russian aggression. But with the GOP’s single-digit majority in the new House, the oddballs hold all the power.

It's not just more progressive elements of the mainstream media who are calling out this GOP insanity.  Right wing pundit and activist Erick Erickson with whom I rarely agree unleashed a scathing column (which is an entertaing must read) and outright calls House Republicans "dumbasses" and "poo flinging monkeys" and then went on a tear.  Here are excerpts:

It is official. Republicans have taken back the House of Representatives. They gathered yesterday to announce their first official act: an investigation into Hunter Biden.

Dumbasses.  What a bunch of idiots. The American people just rejected the GOP “own the libs” strategy. They signaled they’d love to have responsible adult Republicans in charge. In fact, from NEW YORK STATE !!!! to Arizona, voters elected Republicans who ran on local issues tied to the economy and crime.

So the first big act of the GOP is to investigate a guy who is already being investigated by the feds and headed towards a prosecution. Sure, they say it is about Joe Biden. But here’s a dirty little secret.

There’s not a single damn independent voter in America who is going to look at this and think, “Oh my gosh, I so regret voting Democrat in November.” In fact, most independent voters think both parties are already corrupt and play the system to their advantage. In 2016, Donald Trump pointed it all out and voters loved him for it. This is just more of that and won’t accomplish anything.

The GOP lost 13% of its own voters in the general election and a majority of independent voters. It is the first election in five where the independents sided with the incumbent president’s party. The areas of the country where the independents sided with the GOP were areas where the GOP did not run poo flinging monkeys intent on making spectacles of themselves while screaming about 2020.

What a stupid, stupid thing to do. This is basically a big middle finger to the independents who just rejected the GOP because these voters were afraid they’d be handing the GOP over to “own the lib” poo flingers instead of responsible adults who actually want to govern.

“But it’s a divided Congress so all we can do is investigate,” they say.

It is utterly predictable and exactly why 13% of the GOP and a majority of independents voted Democrat because they’re exhausted by the “own the libs” b.s. by the GOP and the poo flinging monkeys who bang away at keyboards without accomplishing anything.

Republicans needed to send a signal on day one that they received the voters’ message and will focus on the economy, energy, crime, and the border. Instead, their very first big announcement is investigating the Biden family via Hunter Biden’s laptop.

That will play well in conservative media and conservative bro Twitter. But the GOP already has those voters. Many reading this will cheer on the investigation into Hunter Biden and claim I don’t get it. But I do get it. They decided to scratch an itch of the hardcore base — a base they already have and will not lose — instead of responding to the voters' message.

The House GOP decided to become poo flinging monkeys. They’ll just throw crap out there for the spectacle of it and remind Americans their judgment of the party on election night was right.

Seriously, they do this stuff because so many members of the base will seal clap, nod along, and feel like “finally somebody dun stuck it to Lyin’ Biden. Let’s go Brandon hunting, boys!” They’ll do nothing. Those of you who eat it up are called marks.

Meanwhile, the voters we need to grow our majority roll their eyes.


Saturday Morning Male Beauty


Friday, November 18, 2022

More Friday Male Beauty


SCOTUS' Insane and Absurd Gun Ruling

The University of Virginia is still reeling from the murder of three of its football players and reports are - which seems to be the norm - that the shooter had legally purchased guns.   Meanwile, on the morning local news not a day goes by where there are not reports of overnight shootings in Hampton Roads cities, typically with fatalities.  Guns are frighteningly everywhere and anyone with a shred of sanity can recognize that America has a gun problem and that the death toll we see daily is something unknown in other advanced western societies,  So what is the U.S. Supreme Court doing?  It is making the situation worse and gutting gun control laws and basing its insane decisions on "originalism" which means that unless restrictive gun laws and legal practices existed durning colonial times and at the birth of the nation, then there is no basis for upholding control laws or, as we saw in the Dobbs ruling, rights to abortion.  Everyting is locked in the late 1700's and the rights of the majority of citizens to safety from gun violence is sacrificed to the wants of an extreme minority.  A column in the Washington Post looks at the absurdities arising from the Court's ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen where the extremist majority held struck down  New York State’s concealed-carry licensing law. The extremists said that the gun regulations had to be based on, or similar to, those that existed historically to pass constitutional muster.  This insanity of the Court majority is and will continue to cost innocent lives.  Here are column highlights:

In May, Louisville police were called to deal with a domestic violence complaint against a man named Litsson Perez-Gallan. The alleged victim, the mother of Perez-Gallan’s child, “states she was sitting on the bed holding their child and perp struck her on the left side of her face,” an officer wrote. “Vic then sat the baby down on the bed and vic stated perp then drug her to the bathroom and struck her in the face again and then began hitting her in the rib area. Vic had red marks on the left side of her face, a small laceration on her lip and pain around her chin area.”

The criminal justice system — a system that has too often ignored or underplayed domestic violence — worked, up to a point. Perez-Gallan was subjected to a restraining order. It barred him from being within 500 feet of his alleged victim or communicating with her. In addition — and this is the subject of this column — the order prohibited Perez-Gallan from having a firearm.

The next month, Perez-Gallan was stopped while driving an 18-wheeler in Texas, near the border with Mexico. In his backpack, he had a stolen Sig Sauer pistol; in his wallet, a copy of the court order stating his conditions of release. He was charged with violating a federal law that prohibits gun possession by those under domestic violence restraining orders.

So far, so good? Not in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s ruling this year in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen. The six-justice conservative majority, rejecting New York’s concealed-carry licensing law, said that the gun regulations had to be based on, or similar to, those that existed historically to pass constitutional muster. Without a historical analogue, the gun law violates the Second Amendment.

You might be able to guess where this is heading. Turns out, in Colonial times and beyond, authorities didn’t take domestic violence seriously. So, Perez-Gallan’s lawyer did what lawyers do: He seized on Bruen to argue that the law violates Perez-Gallan’s Second Amendment rights.

“The American Revolution secured the rights of white men to be protected from interference by the government in their private affairs,” wrote the lawyer, Shane O’Neal. After the revolution, he argued, “the newly minted American States moved away from laws in England and the New England colonies that punished domestic violence. Instead, practices that protected women and children from maltreatment by male heads of house were discarded as incompatible with a newfound sanctity for the family — a private sphere outside of the reach of government.” He quoted a historian: “Courts became notably reluctant to impose constraints on men’s abusive treatment of their household dependents.”

And no surprise: With domestic violence not seen as a problem, there isn’t much evidence of founding-era rules that prohibited the possession of firearms by those accused of it. “Our founders would never have anticipated disarming people accused but not convicted of domestic violence,” O’Neal argued.

Defending his client zealously is O’Neal’s job. Interpreting the Constitution both faithfully and reasonably is the judge’s job, and here is where things really went off the rails. U.S. District Judge David Counts found this month that the federal law violates the Second Amendment and ordered Perez-Gallan’s indictment dismissed.

“Domestic abusers are not new,” noted Counts . . . . until the mid-1970s, government intervention — much less removing an individual’s firearms — because of domestic violence practically did not exist. … Glaringly absent from the historical record — from colonial times until 1994 — are consistent examples of the government removing firearms from someone accused (or even convicted) of domestic violence.”

This is what the Supreme Court has wrought, with its maniacal focus on originalism and its even more blinkered insistence that the hunt for “original public meaning” must be confined to a search for historical analogues. Never mind that the Founding Fathers didn’t conceive of ghost guns produced by 3D printers, or extended magazines — or rights for women, for that matter.

How absurd is this? Counts recites the historical punishments meted out for wife-beating: a 1672 case in which a man was sentenced to be “whipped with ten stripes” or a provision of the 1870s California penal code that subjected spouse abusers to “not less than twenty-one lashes on the bare back.”

The aftershocks of Bruen are just beginning to work their way through the lower courts; Counts’s ruling might not stand. Even under the high court’s grudging approach to gun regulation, it is possible to uphold this restriction. The court in Bruen emphasized that the Second Amendment protects the right of “ordinary, law-abiding, adult citizens” to carry guns outside the home. Someone arrested for assaulting an intimate partner and subjected to a protective order issued by a judge is neither ordinary — let’s hope — nor law-abiding.

But the evidence of fallout from Bruen is alarming. Last month, a federal judge in New York invalidated a state gun law passed in the aftermath of Bruen that restricted guns at summer camps, among other places; he reasoned that there weren’t such camps in Colonial times. In September, Counts struck down a federal law that prohibited those indicted on felony charges, but not yet convicted, from possessing guns.

I wrote after the summer camp ruling that this was “originalism as parody.” But that understated the situation. This is originalism as insanity.

Friday Morning Male Beauty


Thursday, November 17, 2022

More Thursday Male Beauty


How Much Longer Can the GOP Ignore the Majority

This blog has long argued that save for seeking to disenfranchise would be Democrat voters, the Republican Party has no longer term plan to attract support from moderate and increasingly racially diverse Americans.   The sole focus is on the views, bigotries and hatreds of a shrinking share of the American public.   As younger voters begin to vote in increasing numbers as happened in the 2022 mid-term elections, the plight of the GOP will only worsen.  Yet, as it is projected to win a slim majority in the House of Representatives odds are the GOP majority will launch investigations popular only with the party's shrinking base - think Benghazi - but of little interest if not abhorent to the majority of voters.  Legislative efforts will likewise do little to endear Republicans with the majority of Americans.  One exception was yesterday's U.S. Senate vote which passed the Respect for Marriage Act that requires that   same-sex and interracial marriages to be recognized across the United States. Twelve Republican senators voted for the act's passage, some of whom are retiring and hence not hostage to the party base.  A column in the Washington Post looks at the GOP's continued marginalizing of itself by embracing the Christofascists and Christian nationalist who along with white supremacists and increasingly uneducated segemts of society dominate the GOP base.  The question is how much longer can the GOP go on pushing a Christian nationalist agenda most Americans do not support.  Here are column highlights:

The Senate advanced a bill on Wednesday to codify protections for same-sex marriage, attracting enough Republican votes to overcome the filibuster. Take a moment to consider the breathtaking shift in American attitudes that this represents.

In 2008, President Barack Obama was not willing to embrace same-sex marriage. Now, even the Mormon Church has endorsed the bill. A critical mass of Republicans understand that same-sex marriage is here to stay. Whatever their personal views, they grasp that opposition to it signifies a level of bigotry even many GOP voters are unwilling to tolerate.

The simple political reality is this: Outside deep-red enclaves, Republicans cannot maintain their anti-same-sex marriage stance without marginalizing themselves. It’s part of a slow recognition that their adoption of Christian nationalist positions alienates a substantial portion of voters.

There might be some risk for Republicans embracing same-sex marriage. Right-wing gadflies such as Ben Shapiro have already called to excommunicate Republicans who support same-sex marriage. It’s possible that Wednesday’s vote sets up incumbent Republicans to face primary challengers from Christian nationalists.

And therein lies the problem for the GOP. Republicans face a number of quandaries these days that force them to choose between loyalty to the MAGA cult and general-election viability. Do they reject former president Donald Trump in the primaries and risk him dragging down the party if he runs as an independent in 2024? Do they recruit more non-election deniers for House, Senate and state offices, understanding that those who question the legitimacy of elections are proven losers?

But no question looms larger than how they intend to win office while maintaining the support of Christian nationalists whose views are antithetical to a supermajority of Americans — and this goes beyond same-sex marriage.

We saw what support for rigid abortion bans did to Republicans in the midterms. Michigan went entirely blue largely because independent women went overwhelmingly for Democrats to protect abortion rights. But if pro-forced-birth Republicans try to course-correct, dropping proposals for a national ban, they risk offending a large constituency.

[T]he midterms served as a reminder that “an overwhelming majority of Americans do not favor extreme policies like bans on abortion. Even in a red state like Kentucky, voters rejected an anti-abortion amendment.” He points out that polling has regularly revealed that “nearly seven in ten Americans and six in ten midterm voters say abortion should be legal in all or most cases. That is the mainstream view on abortion.”

But it’s far from the mainstream view among elected Republicans. Indeed, Jones writes, “the percentage saying abortion should be illegal in ALL cases has dropped from 23% in 2020 to 11% in late 2022.”

Republican officials find themselves held hostage by their most extreme primary voters. Virtually all GOP presidential primary candidates will feel compelled to adopt a strict antiabortion stance to have any hope of winning primaries. Meanwhile, if Republicans win the House majority, it might be impossible for them to resist the urge to put a nationwide abortion ban on the House floor. The next time Republicans are up for election (potentially with more abortion-related measures on the ballot), they might feel the wrath of voters again.

To some extent, rigid opposition to gun reform lands Republicans in a similar place. As voters (even Republicans) warm to reasonable limits on weapons of war, Republicans are caught between the demands of Second Amendment extremists and the desire to avoid being labeled as out of touch with the fears many parents have for their children’s safety.

Republicans are finding out there is a penalty to be paid for cultural extremism, but they have yet to show they are capable of preserving general-election viability. Over the next two years, as MAGA forces double down in the GOP House caucus and Trump fights with primary opponents for the support of the GOP base, Democrats will be delighted to watch Republicans marginalize themselves. During that time, Democrats will look for opportunities to put measures related to abortion and other cultural issues on the ballot in 2024. If that approach worked to drive Democrats to the polls in 2022, there is no reason to think it won’t work again in 2024.

This is what happens when a national political party becomes almost entirely dependent on a group whose views are far out of the American mainstream. One of the great revelations of the 2022 midterms was that Democrats can run on cultural issues and win outside of deep-blue districts and states. They’d be foolish not to try to re-create that success.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty


Wednesday, November 16, 2022

More Wednesday Male Beauty


WSJ: Will the GOP Nominate a Loser Named Trump?

Donald Trump has followed through on his threat and announced his candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024.  Trump's motivation is two fold: partly due to overweening ego and partly because he mistakenly believes it will protect him from criminal prosecution.  As isalways the case with Trump his announcement was filled with lies - the man is incapable of telling the truth - and baseless boasts.  Many in the Republican Party (at least among what sane elements are left) are less than thrilled and face the prospect of the Frankenstein monster they helped create again handing victory to Democrats in 2024 and likely adversely impacting down ticket races if Trump is the nominee.  No doubt the cultist MAGA base is thrilled and blind to the reality that no one gets Democrats and Independents to the polls to vote Democrat more than Trump.  A main editorial in the right wing Wall Street Journal slams Trump and urges the GOP to reject Trump who is described as a three (or four) time loser.  Democrats may be the only ones somewhat pleased as Trump reminds voters that Trumpism is a continuing threat and that massive turnout is needed in the Georgia Senate runoff election.   Here are column highlights:

The irony is that more Democrats than Republicans will be elated because they see him [Trump] as the easiest candidate to beat one more time.

Mr. Trump’s advisers urged him to hold off at least until the Dec. 6 Senate runoff in Georgia. But Mr. Trump is announcing now, long before he needs to, for two reasons. The first is to try to clear the Republican field of potential competitors, especially Govs. Ron DeSantis and Glenn Youngkin, who have shown they can win in competitive states.

Mr. Trump also wants to get ahead of a possible Justice Department indictment. If Mr. Trump is already announced as a candidate seeking President Biden’s job, he figures he can portray an indictment by Attorney General Merrick Garland as political and rally Republicans to his side. Herschel Walker’s fate is incidental to Mr. Trump’s ambition.

These columns believe in democracy, which means trusting the decisions of voters. Even when they make mistakes, our constitutional system allows for checks and corrections. We warned about Mr. Trump’s character in 2016, but once he was elected we covered him like any other President.

But his character flaws—narcissism, lack of self-control, abusive treatment of advisers, his puerile vendettas—interfered with that success. Before Covid he was headed for re-election. But the damage from his shutdown of the economy combined with his erratic behavior in that crisis gave Joe Biden the opening to campaign for normalcy. Mr. Trump lost a winnable election.

Had he accepted that defeat, he might now be poised for a comeback given Mr. Biden’s unpopularity. But Mr. Trump contested the outcome well past any reasonable limit and encouraged his supporters to march on the Capitol on Jan. 6. He badgered his loyal Vice President, Mike Pence, to stop the Electoral College vote count to the point where lives were in danger, including Mr. Pence’s. The deadly riot will forever stain his legacy.

Last week’s elections showed that clinging to 2020 election denial, as Mr. Trump has, is a loser’s game. Republicans who took this line to win his endorsement nearly all lost. The country showed it wants to move on, but Mr. Trump refuses—perhaps because he can’t admit to himself that he was a loser.

Mr. Trump will carry all of that baggage and more into a 2024 race. . . . Americans know that the Donald Trump they saw in office is the same one they’d get for another four years. They voted in 2018 and 2020 to stop the daily turmoil. It’s hard to believe they’d vote in 2024 to do it all again.

Many Republicans who see Mr. Trump as their champion will want to take that chance. . . . . But two years out of office, Mr. Trump remains more unpopular than Mr. Biden. He divides Republicans, while he is the most effective motivator of Democratic voter turnout in history.

Even if by some miracle Mr. Trump won, he would have a hard time filling an Administration with top-notch people. He could only serve one more term. Republicans would be nominating an immediate lame duck.

The problem for Republicans is that Mr. Trump’s base is so loyal that he might win the nomination in a splintered field. That’s what happened in 2016. And if Mr. Trump lost the nomination, would he even accept that result? Or would he sabotage the winner by urging his supporters to stay home, or by running as a third-party candidate? Recall that Mr. Trump refused to promise to support another GOP candidate in 2016.

The real restraint on Mr. Trump has been the voters who gave him his chance in 2016. Then they checked him by ousting a GOP House in 2018, defeated him for re-election, and last week trounced nearly all of his hand-picked candidates in swing races.

The GOP, and the country, would be best served if Mr. Trump ceded the field to the next generation of Republican leaders to compete for the nomination in 2024. If Mr. Trump insists on running, then Republican voters will have to decide if they want to nominate the man most likely to produce a GOP loss and total power for the progressive left.

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty


Tuesday, November 15, 2022

More Tuesday Male Beauty


Voters to GOP: We Dislike MAGA Candidates and Their Agenda

With the projected win of Democrat Katie Hobbs over the delusional Kari Lake in the contest for governor of Arizona all of the worse 2020 election deniers and most extreme Trump backed candidates have gone down to defeat.   A rational political party would be quickly taking stock and adjusting its agenda in the face of such strong voter repudiation as suggested by a former Republican in  a column in The Atlantic.  Unfortunately, the Republican Party - especially its base which is dominated by "Christian" extremists, white supremacists and the least educated Americans - is anything but rational.  Thus, rather than select a moderate and sane individual for Speaker of the House should Republicans gain control of that chamber, we will likely see a Kevin McCarthy or other individual who will push MAGA priorities that will only further alienate a majority of voters.  In the Senate you have people like Josh Hawley calling for more extremism rather than moderation.   A majority of Americans want normalcy and stability and an end to the culture wars so dear to Christofascists.  Personally, I doubt the GOP will grasp that message and with luck for the rest of us, further weaken itself.   Here are column highlights from The Atlantic:

Liberals reacted to the election of Donald Trump in 2016 with dismay, horror—and curiosity. Reporters ventured to Trump counties to ask questions. Political scientists studied the voting effect of international trade. Hollywood made a movie out of J. D. Vance’s memoir, Hillbilly Elegy.

Liberals didn’t like what had happened—but for exactly that reason, they wanted to understand it. . . . . Survival depends upon adaptation. Adaptation depends upon learning.

The question after the 2022 midterms is: Can conservatives learn?

Through the Trump years, the Republican Party has organized itself as an anti-learning entity. Unwelcome information has been ignored or denied.  Trump lost the popular vote in 2016, and by a worse margin than Mitt Romney had in 2012? Not interested: It was a historic landslide victory.

Trump never rose above 50 percent approval (in any credible poll) on any single day of his presidency? Not interested: All that matters is what his base thinks.

Republicans were crushed in 2018 in the highest midterm turnout of eligible voters since before the First World War? Not interested: The result showed only that voters wanted more Trump and more Trumpiness.

Trump got swamped by a margin of 8 million votes in 2020? . . . . No need to pay attention: After all, Rudy Giuliani and Dinesh D’Souza said the election was stolen! Besides, check out those Latino votes for Trump.

Democrats won two Senate seats in formerly bright-red Georgia after winning the state’s electoral votes in the presidential contest? Only a temporary setback; wait ’til next time. By then, Trump will have helped get elected a bunch of “America First” secretaries of state who will rewrite the rules so that a Democrat can never win again.

“Next time” is now. In every way you can measure, 2022 was a crushing repudiation—not only of Trump personally or of Trump’s allegations that the 2020 election was corrupted, but of the larger Republican Party. For the first time since 1934, the party of the president lost not a single state legislature in a midterm year—and actually made gains in the Midwest: Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin [and Arizona]. Every last one of the candidates running for offices to control elections who endorsed Trump’s Big Lie about the 2020 election went down in defeat . . .

A Democrat won a Trump district in Washington State from a MAGA Republican who, having primaried the moderate Republican Jaime Herrera Beutler out of the seat she won in 2020 by 13 points, drove away GOP voters by blaming the January 6 attack on the FBI and defending the attackers as “political prisoners.” Supporters of abortion rights won all six contests where the issue was on the ballot . . . .

So you’d think the time would be right for Fox News to organize some safaris of its own. Maybe the podcast hosts and newsletter writers who argued that “woke” politics was alienating former Democrats will ask why Republican authoritarianism and reactionary culture warring has even more offensively alienated their former voters.

Perhaps that soul-searching will happen—it’s early days. But if it does, it will be a break from past practice.

In their anti-learning culture, conservatives have come to view everything that happens, however unwelcome, as proof simply that the most extreme people were the most correct. . . . . Conservative pundits are gamely insisting that they did not really lose the 2022 elections but were once again cheated by a rigged system.

Should conservatives start noticing that they lag among unmarried women and the young? No, instead: Ridicule and insult unmarried women, especially the young. Having hooted and jeered Mitt Romney, John McCain, and George W. Bush, and pushed Liz Cheney and other principled Republicans out of Congress, the right now expresses bafflement and outrage that those rejected leaders did not rally to help candidates who condoned the January 6 insurrection and opposed aid to Ukraine.

This year was one in which all the indicators seemed negative for the party of the president: right-track/wrong-track numbers, presidential approval ratings, and optimism about the future. Yet Biden’s party won and won and won again despite the negative indicators. Yes, for sure there were affirmative reasons to vote Democratic in 2022, but it’s hard to miss the strong smell here of a thorough repudiation, up and down the ballot, of the post-Trump Republican Party, of the January 6 insurrectionists, and of a cultural agenda that seems to many Americans regressive and repressive.

Amid the initial shock of these 2022 defeats, Senator Josh Hawley tweeted, “The old party is dead. Time to bury it. Build something new.” He was right—but in exactly the opposite sense he intended. The Republican Party needs less of everything that authoritarian and reactionary Republicans such as Hawley champion, and more of the democracy and modernity that those Republicans have resisted.

The American electorate has been administering that lesson over and over. Republicans need at long last to open their ears to hear it, their mind to absorb it, and their heart to accept it.

Tuesday Morning Male Beauty


Monday, November 14, 2022

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Elections 2022: The Educational Divide

The base of the Reoublican Party of my youth and young adulthood valued education, tended to be more affluent than its Democrat alternative and there was a reason for the term "country club Republicans."  There were lots of them and in many cicles the uneducated and evangelical were looked at with some degree of horror.  Fast forward to 2022 and the make up of the two parties' bases have transformed and now Democrats are the favorites of the college educated while the GOP attracts the less educated and religious extremists who reject objective reality on a daily basis.  A piece in Politico looks at the phenomenon which will continue to make it more difficult for the GOP to win majorirs )the situation will only get worse as younger votrs begin to vote in larger numbers.  Here are article highlights:

Control of the House is still up for grabs several days after Election Day — defying historical trends and the pressure of high inflation and President Joe Biden’s unpopularity that threatened the Democratic majority with big losses.

Republicans’ difficulty flipping key swing districts across the country can be explained in part by American politics’ increasing polarization along educational lines, as well as the party’s failure to make inroads in districts populated by groups other than non-college-educated white voters.

The last few election cycles have been marked by an increasing divergence in outcomes based on education levels, with Democrats making serious gains with college-educated voters while Republicans win far greater shares of non-college educated white voters.

Already, the pattern is clear: Democrats continued to perform best in districts where more voters have a bachelor’s degree, while Republicans won more districts where fewer voters are college-educated.

And while not all votes have been counted, these figures largely continue a trend that was already strongly in force in 2020. After the last election, the 15 districts with the greatest share of adults with college degrees were all represented by Democrats — and they will be again in 2023.

The lack of dramatic swings among major voting blocs helps explain the GOP’s struggles in taking back the House, which remains uncalled as of Saturday.

The educational divide has been building for years but accelerated dramatically during the Trump era. As recently as the 2012 presidential election, for example, college-educated voters were narrowly split, with college-educated white voters favoring GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

But in the 2020 presidential election, Biden won 68 percent of congressional districts where at least 30 percent of adults have a bachelor’s degree. Donald Trump won 64 percent of districts where less than 30 percent are college-educated

To win back the House this year, Republicans needed to gain back some of those voters or make inroads with non-college educated voters of color. But they ultimately failed to make major improvements with either group. Democrats mostly held on in educated suburban districts where the party ran strong a decade ago, such as Kansas’s 3rd District, where Rep. Sharice Davis held on, as well as districts with a significant share of non-white college educated voters, such as Texas’s 28th Congressional District, where Rep. Henry Cuellar won reelection.

Republicans did flip a few toss-up seats in highly educated areas, including New York’s 3rd and 17th districts, both of which have more than 45 percent of voters with at least a bachelor’s degree. But they failed to win back many of the races they targeted with highly-educated voters.

Republicans also did not make significant gains in districts populated by non-college educated voters of color. They won only one of the three battleground seats in the Rio Grande Valley, while Democrats flipped New Mexico’s 2nd District, a majority-Hispanic district where just 20 percent of voters have a bachelor’s degree, and prevailed in Colorado’s 8th District, a seat newly created through redistricting where 25 percent of voters are college-educated.

Non-college educated white voters still make up a significant voting bloc, and success with these voters gives Republicans a high floor when it comes to winning House seats. But winning a majority will require them to win a few more districts with different demographic makeups.

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Sunday, November 13, 2022

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Evangelicals Are Killing Christianity, Is the GOP Next?

Over night the U.S. Senate race in Nevada was called for the Democrat incumbent thus locking in Democrat control of the Senate and the further obliteration of the GOP's fantasy of  "red wave" - one Facebook friend called what happened a "pink fart in a puddle."   The recriminations and backbitting among Republicans is fast underway with a growing chorus blaming Donald Trump and his backing of bad candidates and constant self-promotion that kept him in the eye of independent voters and less motivated Democrats and reminded them of the danger today's GOP poses to individual rights and democracy itself.   However, even if Trump were jettisoned tomorrow - somthing that would not be a quiet affair - the GOP remains faced with a problem: the extremism of its base, especially evangelicals who remain key GOP primary voters. As a post from yesterday noted, some believe the electoral disaster will do nothing to push the GOP base to face objective reality.  Evangelicals and other far right "Christians" almost by definition do not believe in objective reality and worse yet are increasingly desperate to push a culture war to inflict their beliefs on all of society.  The Dobbs ruling by the ayatollahs on the U.S. Supreme court is the most prominent  exanple.  The irony is that evangelicals are killing Christianity and driving away people in droves because of their hate and extremis, Now they are the main base of the GOP and may likewise be the GOP's downfall as the majority of Americans reject the party's extremism.  A piece in The New Yorker looks at the party's dilemma:

Savvy sportswriters know that the dramas are often richer in the losing team’s locker room, but, no matter how crushing the defeat, the shortstop does not usually try to assault the second baseman. One cannot say the same about the post-midterm atmosphere among Republicans. Within hours of the G.O.P.’s dismal failure to produce a “red wave,” the knives were out for the Party’s presumed leader. “Republicans have followed Donald Trump off the side of a cliff,” David Urban, one of the ex-President’s former advisers, told the Times.

The specific gripe that these Republicans have with Trump is not of a moral or a legal nature. The problem, in their eyes, is that Trump effectively handpicked the candidates who underperformed in some of the country’s most crucial races. Many of these duds had won Trump’s favor for only one reason: fealty to a lie. As Chris Christie put it, “The only animating factor [for Trump] in determining an endorsement is ‘Do you believe the 2020 election was stolen or don’t you?’ ” . . . . On the morning after the election, Trump reportedly lashed out at people in his circle who he says advised him to back the likes of Oz—including his wife, Melania. What a guy.

Republicans are forever stomping around, insisting that they’ve had enough of Trump’s excesses, only to get over it and once again line up behind him. Why should this time be any different? The best reason to think that it will—really, the only reason—is that now there is an alternative. “DeFuture” was the enormous headline on the front page of Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post on Wednesday. It ran, of course, with a photograph of a smiling Ron DeSantis, the resoundingly reĆ«lected governor of Florida. If that headline was too subtle, the Post followed it the next day with a front-page cartoon of Trump teetering on the top of a wall: “Trumpty Dumpty.”

The postmortems are still accumulating, but they already suggest a pattern. The Republicans had no trouble turning out their base. Their struggle was in winning over the independent voters who customarily reject the party in power. And this time around the G.O.P. had enormous advantages, from the high rate of inflation to the low popularity ratings of the sitting President. . . . . . The electoral problem was simple: the Republicans were too extreme, and not just on one issue.

DeSantis’s ascent on the national scene is a reflection of his political success in Florida . . . . But it’s hard to see what solution he would offer to the extremism problem. DeSantis, like the ex-President, is a steadfast culture warrior—and he shares Trump’s willingness to use cruelty as a political weapon.

The seeming shift in enthusiasm from the former President to DeSantis suggests that many Republicans intend to replace one cult of personality with another, to move away from Trump, and his particular fixations, without altering the nature of Trumpism.

That is a cynical kind of choice. But in one important way it might also signal some small progress. The glimmer of hope in this election lies in the scattered indications that the era of Stop the Steal, and the Republican Party’s overt challenges to democracy, may be receding. Quietly, even the most ostentatious election deniers who lost on Tuesday promptly conceded defeat.

You can trace the effects of the midterms on Presidential politics by observing who is acting relaxed and who is anxious. At a press conference on Wednesday, Joe Biden, who turns eighty this month, was positively ebullient. DeSantis merely basked in what he called “a win for the ages.” Trump, on the other hand, exhibited a frenzied urgency.

That DeSantis has become a Trump fixation makes sense. One political truism holds that, at any given time, only two people in politics really matter: the President, and whomever the President is arguing with. For more than half a decade, Trump has been one of those two people. Now he has a challenger.

Personally, I do not see the GOP base changing anytime soon.  Change will come as the older white evangelicals literally die off.   More electoral defeats will help, but likely will not be enough to end GOP extremism.

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