Monday, August 29, 2016

Monday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2

Trump Opens Up More Opportunities for Democrats

One of the things amazing about this year's presidential election is that in some ways the GOP base has gotten the nominee it wanted as opposed to a more moderate candidate that would be more palatable with moderates and independent voters. The ugly elements of the GOP base, including the Christofascist and white supremacist elements,  have blamed past GOP presidential loses on the fact that the so-called GOP establishment ultimately prevailed in putting forward moderate candidates.  Now that the base got what it wanted, as the New York Times reports, even traditionally Republican areas may be lost to Democrats.  Should Trump lose disastrously, the question will be whether or not the base will learn anything from it.  I suspect not since so much of the GOP base is utterly detached from objective reality.  Here are article highlights:
LEESBURG, Va. — Emboldened by Donald J. Trump’s struggles in the presidential race, Democrats in Congress are laying the groundwork to expand the list of House Republicans they will target for defeat as part of an effort to slash the Republicans’ 30-seat majority and even reclaim control if Mr. Trump falls further.
Mr. Trump’s unpopularity, which has already undermined the party’s grip on the Senate, now threatens to imperil Republican lawmakers even in traditionally conservative districts, according to strategists and officials in both parties involved in the fight for control of the House.
Democrats are particularly enticed by Mr. Trump’s dwindling support in affluent suburban areas — including those near Kansas City, Kan.; San Diego; Orlando, Fla.; and Minneapolis — where Republicans ordinarily win with ease. Mr. Trump is so disliked among college-educated voters, especially white women, that he is at risk of losing by double digits in several districts that the 2012 Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, carried comfortably.
Representative Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, whose district includes both suburbs and small cities [said] “Because of the nature of the nominee, it’s going to be a lot more competitive than it ought to be.”
Republicans are also bracing to take more forceful steps if Mr. Trump continues to drag down their candidates. Multiple strategists involved in the campaign for control of Congress said Republican outside groups were prepared to run ads treating Mr. Trump as a certain-to-lose candidate and urging voters to elect Republicans as a check on Hillary Clinton.
The stakes are high: Should Mr. Trump lose the presidential race and take the Republicans’ Senate majority with him, handing Democrats the power to break the deadlock over appointees to the Supreme Court, the House could become the party’s last line of defense in Washington.
Republicans fear that Mr. Trump has tainted the party’s brand for any prospective successor in areas without a well-known lawmaker already in place. . . . . At their own donor retreat last week in Jackson Hole, Wyo., House Republicans were frank about the difficulties Mr. Trump had created for their candidates.
Still, strategists for the National Republican Congressional Committee told donors that private polling showed voters were not yet equating vulnerable Republican lawmakers with Mr. Trump directly
What worries Republican strategists is not that suburban voters turned off by Mr. Trump would migrate en masse to Democrats, but that many might not show up on Election Day at all.
Mr. Trump has long faced resistance in suburban areas; during the Republican primaries, he often lost upscale suburbs even in states he carried, like Virginia and Georgia.

The Devolution of the GOP

Former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough recently was the target of Donald Trump's wrath simply because he was speaking the truth about Trump and the ugly direction in which he has taken the Republican Party. Just because Trump cares nothing about the truth - especially when directed at him, of course, doesn't make it any less the truth.  Scarborough has an op-ed in the Washington Post that looks at the episode and the larger descent on the GOP into something truly vile.  The party he remembers in the persons of George and Barbara Bush despite their faults and failures, was a far better party and is what I remember growing up.  The GOP today is unrecognizable and the Bushes will not be voting for Trump.  Here are excerpts:
These days, a rudely out-of-bounds Trump attack surprises Mika and me about as much as a puppy relieving himself on a living room rug. We’ve figured out by now that it does no good to lose your cool with the puppy or Donald Trump, since neither have and control over their bladder or mouth. As Aristotle famously said, “It is what it is.”
Fortunately, things became a bit more interesting by the time we rolled into Kennebunkport for a speech on the 2016 campaign and made our way to Walker’s Point to visit President Bush and Barbara. . . . .
George and Barbara Bush were the same gracious and welcoming hosts Friday night that they had been when my family last visited Kennebunkport five years earlier. Mrs. Bush even asked about my youngest children, who she remembered remarkably well considering the countless guests that have streamed through their world since that summer’s day in 2011. But her human touch is the kind of thing the family always seems to manage with ease. They make others around them feel special despite the fact that they have lived the most remarkable of lives
But good luck getting George or Barbara Bush talking about themselves. They just don’t do it and they never will. First of all, their parents didn’t allow it. And besides, that kind of thing wasn’t done in the world from which they came. It is just one small way that the ethos of Walker’s Point is so radically different from the mindset that infects Donald Trump’s garish corner office high above 5th Avenue in Trump Towers.
As Meacham and I walked down the driveway after saying goodbye to the Bushes, Jon lamented the fact that the same Republican Party that nominated a man like Bush, who rarely spoke about himself, would a quarter century later select a reality TV showman who obsessively talked about little else. Meacham paraphrased Henry Adams in saying that the historical devolvement from Bush to Trump proves that Darwin’s theory of evolution was less compelling when applied to American politics.
We soon drove away from Walker’s Point and into the night knowing that the world we had just departed would soon be fading as fast as the dying sunset over that rocky Maine coast.

Monday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 1

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sunday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2

The GOP Fears Its Future in the West

In states all across America, demographic change is changing the face of the voter base, yet the Republican Party continues to focus almost solely on pandering to right wing white Christians - many, if not most of whom are racists - and white supremacy supporters.  Now, with the rise of Donald trump, this is creating an existential danger for the GOP in the west (other than the Pacific coast states).  The problem for the GOP, of course, is that now that the party base is controlled by the Christofascist/white supremacist factions, changing the course of the party's agenda and platform is near impossible.  There's a reason that the 2016 GOP platform is the most anti-LGBT in history.  A piece in the New York Times looks at the GOP's western challenge.  Here are excerpts:
Republicans in Western states fear that Donald J. Trump could imperil their party for years to come in the country’s fastest-growing region as he repels a generation of Hispanics, Asians and younger voters who have been altering the electoral map.
Mr. Trump, with his insult-laden, culturally insensitive style of campaigning, is providing fuel for the demographic trends that are already reshaping the political composition of this once-heavily Republican territory. And now many Republicans are contemplating the possibility that states like Colorado or Nevada could soon become the next California: once competitive but now unwinnable in presidential contests.
In few places are the party’s woes over their nominee more immediate than here in Arizona, a state that has voted for the Democratic presidential candidate only once in the last 68 years.
Recent polls show Hillary Clinton is close to tying Mr. Trump here. And her campaign has responded by teaming up with local Democrats on a statewide get-out-the-vote operation, which has grown to 160 staff members across 20 offices.
While flipping Arizona has been a Democratic fantasy for years — and one that Clinton supporters acknowledge remains quite difficult — their efforts to register and recruit voters are part of a longer-term plan to capitalize on the Republican Party’s vulnerabilities with younger and minority voters.
Nonwhites are growing as a share of the electorate faster in the West than they are elsewhere. For the first time, minorities in 2012 accounted for at least 30 percent of the eligible voting population in Arizona, Nevada and Alaska — all states where Republicans currently hold top statewide offices.
The demographics were already daunting. But many Republicans now say Mr. Trump is only accelerating the flight of minority voters to the Democratic Party, like dry underbrush feeds an Arizona wildfire.
Asked how fellow Republicans could win election to statewide office in the West, Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona offered some blunt advice: “Distance yourself from Donald Trump.” . . . . Otherwise, Mr. Flake said, “this will last decades.”
Most demographers did not believe Arizona could be truly competitive for Democrats in a presidential election until 2020 at the earliest. But Mr. Trump’s unpopularity has spawned a demographic double threat that has implications in Arizona and beyond: He is not just weak among Hispanics, but also with with educated white professionals who have moved to places like Denver, Salt Lake City and Phoenix in search of better jobs and a lower cost of living.
The entire West Coast is already a wasteland for Republicans. The last time one of the coastal states — with the exception of Alaska — went to a Republican nominee was California in 1988. Moreover, losses in Arizona and possibly Utah would leave Republicans safe in just Wyoming, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. The peril for Republicans is evident looking at the Electoral College: Those states only have a combined 13 of the total 538 electoral votes. And even in the likely event that Republicans continue to carry Utah, a win in November would yield only six more electoral votes.
[E]ven his [Trump's] supporters acknowledge what they are up against in Arizona and across the West. “I am concerned about my party going forward,” said Sean D. Reyes, Utah’s attorney general. Mr. Reyes is a Republican and backs Mr. Trump. He is also part Hispanic, Japanese and Filipino, and a Mormon.
So he was naturally taken aback when he heard Mr. Trump insult Filipinos this month. Mr. Trump told a crowd in Maine that the United States had to stop letting in “animals” from “terrorist nations,” among them the Philippines. Mr. Reyes said he called the campaign to register his displeasure.

A Doctor's Case for Marijuana Decriminalization

The City of Norfolk, Virginia recently discussed seeking legislation from the Virginia General Assembly to decriminalized marijuana or at least amend Virginia's draconian marijuana laws. Norfolk has the distinction of the highest number of marijuana arrests which disproportionately impact black male.  It's as if the pattern is part of a Republican plan to arrest, convict and criminalize blacks to keep them off of the voter rolls.  The reality is that the Virginia GOP increasingly survives due solely to gerrymandered districts and all out efforts to disenfranchise minority voters and younger voters. A piece in Salon authored by a doctor looks at the idiocy of the federal government's refusal to change marijuana as a Schedule I drug.  Here are article excerpts:
On August 11th, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced its decision to keep marijuana classified as a Schedule I drug. The federal government has historically referred to this category as the “most dangerous” group of substances, including drugs like heroin and bath salts.
As a resident physician specializing in mental health, I can’t make much sense of this.
Every day, I talk to patients about substance abuse. Whether evaluating patients in clinic, in the emergency department or on inpatient units, my colleagues and I screen patients for substance use. It’s a vital component of any clinical interview, particularly in mental health care, and helps us understand patients’ habits and their risks for medical complications.
During my medical training, I’ve learned which substances to worry about and which ones matter less.
Alcohol is usually the first substance I ask about. Many people have seen drinking go wrong, be it a friend making a bad decision or a family member struggling with alcoholism. But clinicians see the worst of this on the front lines.
Intoxicated patients stream into emergency departments after crashing their cars, inhaling their own vomit or falling into a coma. According to the National Institutes of Health, alcohol-related conditions contributed to more than 1.2 million emergency department visits in 2010. The Centers for Disease Control reports excess alcohol consumption causes roughly 88,000 deaths in the United States each year.
It’s not only alcohol that clinicians worry about. Cocaine can cause heart attacks, kidney failure and complications during pregnancy like placental abruption. Methamphetamine can trigger an assortment of responses, from hyperthermia to violent agitation to cardiogenic shock. Opioids like morphine can plunge patients into respiratory failure and kill them. Intravenous drug use puts patients at risk for hepatitis, endocarditis or even brain abscesses.
But, for most health care providers, marijuana is an afterthought.
We don’t see cannabis overdoses. We don’t order scans for cannabis-related brain abscesses. We don’t treat cannabis-induced heart attacks. In medicine, marijuana use is often seen on par with tobacco or caffeine consumption — something we counsel patients about stopping or limiting, but nothing urgent to treat or immediately life-threatening.
The federal government’s scheduling of marijuana bears little relationship to actual patient care. The notion that marijuana is more dangerous or prone to abuse than alcohol (not scheduled), cocaine (Schedule II), methamphetamine (Schedule II) or prescription opioids (Schedules II, III, and IV) doesn’t reflect what we see in clinical medicine.
Chuck Rosenberg, acting head of the DEA, explained the decision to keep marijuana as a Schedule I drug was based more “on whether marijuana, as determined by the FDA, is a safe and effective medicine.”
Regulations have prevented U.S. researchers from answering this question over the last several decades. As written in a recent editorial in The New York Times, “the government itself has made it impossible to do the kinds of trials and studies that could produce the evidence that would justify changing the drug’s classification.”
Yet, according to a 2015 systematic reviewstudies from around the world suggest cannabis and cannabinoid therapies may help patients in a number of ways. These include treating chronic pain, muscle spasms, debilitating side effects of chemotherapy like nausea and weight loss from HIV infection. Dozens of U.S. states have listened to such findings in recent years and passed legislation approving the use of medical marijuana.
[O]ur nation’s substance policies should be grounded in the realities of clinical practice.
In hospitals across the country, patients writhe in agony from alcohol withdrawal, turn violent from crystal meth and struggle to breathe after overdosing on prescription opioids. These are the cases that keep health care providers on edge. These are the patients we follow closely. When our pagers go off, we hurry to the bedside, give medications, alert security or even begin resuscitation.
With marijuana? Not so much.

Sunday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 1

The Growing Insanity and Paranoia of the Right

The "Redoubt" 

Perhaps there have always been insane people among the far right elements of society and it is only because of today's 24/7 media cycle that they seem much more prevalent.  Or, instead, they are more numerous because of the constant bellowing of Christofascists and the GOP's years of using dog whistle racism and talk of conspiracies to deprive 2nd Amendment nuts of their weapons.   Whatever the cause, I find it difficult to even comprehend the mindset of these folks, especially the "patriots" and survivalists.   The Washington Post has a lengthy piece on these folks who are moving to parts of the Pacific Northwest - eastern Washington, eastern Oregon, Idaho and Montana - to  arm themselves and prepare themselves an expected Armageddon.  While the article doesn't outright say it, I suspect that racism and white supremacy is a strong driving motivation given that the "Redoubt" as they call it, is mostly lily white and they talk about their "strong Christian beliefs."  The latter, in my view, increasingly meaning that they are right wing Christian racists.  Here are some article highlights:
Don and Jonna Bradway recently cashed out of the stock market and invested in gold and silver. They have stockpiled food and ammunition in the event of a total economic collapse or some other calamity commonly known around here as “The End of the World As We Know It” or “SHTF” — the day something hits the fan.
The Bradways fled California, a state they said is run by “leftists and non-Constitutionalists and anti-freedom people,” and settled on several wooded acres of north Idaho five years ago. They live among like-minded conservative neighbors, host Monday night Bible study around their fire pit, hike in the mountains and fish from their boat. They melt lead to make their own bullets for sport shooting and hunting — or to defend themselves against marauders in a world-ending cataclysm.
The Bradways are among the vanguard moving to an area of the Pacific Northwest known as the American Redoubt, a term coined in 2011 by survivalist author and blogger James Wesley, Rawles (the comma is deliberate) to describe a settlement of the God-fearing in a lightly populated territory that includes Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and the eastern parts of Washington and Oregon.
They are anxious about recent terrorist attacks from Paris to San Bernardino, Calif., to Orlando; pandemics such as Ebola in West Africa; potential nuclear attacks from increasingly provocative countries such as North Korea or Iran; and the growing political, economic and racial polarization in the United States that has deepened during the 2016 presidential election.
The locals regard the newest transplants as benign if odd, several said in interviews.  “The mainstream folks kind of roll their eyes,” said state Sen. Shawn Keough, a 20-year veteran Republican legislator who represents north Idaho.
Much of the Redoubt migration is motivated by fears that President Obama — and his potential successor, Hillary Clinton — want to scrap the Second Amendment, as part of what transplants see as a dangerous and anti-constitutionalist movement toward government that is too intrusive and hostile to personal liberties.
“The bottom line is that our clients are tired of living around folks that have no moral values,” Savage said. “They choose to flee tyranny and leave behind all the attributes of the big city that have turned them away.”
Savage spoke as he drove his Chevrolet Suburban with an AR-15 rifle tucked next to the driver’s seat, a handgun between the front seats, and body armor and more than 200 rounds of extra ammunition in the back — along with a chain saw to move fallen trees and two medical kits, just in case.
Treller, a sommelier at a local resort, said Obama was a key factor in his decision. He said the president has inflamed racial tensions in America, presided over a dangerous expansion of the national debt, been “hostile” to Second Amendment rights and failed to curtail the nuclear ambitions of North Korea and Iran.
Treller said he settled on Coeur d’Alene after scouring, a website where he looked for his ideal mix: conservative election results, low crime rates, solid incomes, low population density, affordable house prices — and few illegal immigrants, because he said they erode “American culture.”
Idaho is about 83 percent white, and its three northernmost counties are more than 90 percent white, according to Census Bureau data. Those interviewed in the American Redoubt insisted they are not trying to segregate themselves by race. And while the Aryan Nations white supremacist group was headquartered near Hayden Lake in the 1980s and 1990s, Rawles has described the Redoubt movement as “anti-racist” and said like-minded folks of all races are welcome.
Several locals did express unease about their new ammo-stockpiling neighbors.  “I don’t have a problem with preppers, but it’s the extremists people don’t want around — the fringe, the radicals. That’s the concern I hear from people,” said Mike Peterson, a real estate agent in Bonners Ferry and retired Los Angeles firefighter and EMT.
Keough, the state senator, recently fought off a tough GOP primary challenge in which she was labeled a “progressive traitor” by Alex Barron, a blogger who calls himself the Bard of the American Redoubt.  
 Reach your own conclusions, but I think these people are nuts!