Saturday, August 13, 2016

Trump and the Exploitation of White Male Rage

The husband and I are in Somerset, Pennsylvania for the weekend for family reunions on my husband's side.  As in the past, the area makes the Hampton Roads area of Virginia seem like the cosmopolitan, liberal center of the universe in comparison.  Indeed, in driving around town and the countryside, we have yet to see a single Hillary yard sign.  In contrast we have seen a number of Trump signs.  The Somerset area is in some ways a perfect setting for Trump and the white male rage that he is exploiting to fuel is frightening campaign if one listens to the regular media narrative: mostly white, many non-college educated, and a region where the demise of coal mining and other industries has hit the economy hard.  However, a new Gallup survey suggests that the narrative is at least partially incorrect.  The real root of the rage: the poison of Fox News and right-wing talk radio, plus a heavy dose of sense of lost white male privilege.  A piece in Salon looks at the issue.  Here are highlights:
We’ve all seen the videos replayed over and over again on social media and cable news. The past couple of weeks, however, featured two videos illustrating what I’d consider to be typical Trump supporters. Indeed, by now many of us can easily profile a Trump voter before they even have a chance to shout “Traitor!” into our not-surprised faces.
Generally speaking, Trump supporters are non-college-educated white men, ranging from younger “bros” to, more typically, white male baby-boomer retirees with plenty of spare time to be relentlessly irradiated by Fox News and AM talk radio.
While the lack of a college diploma binds most Trump supporters together, there are more obvious tells — ones that we can plainly see but that can’t be fully measured by pollsters. Specifically, it’s not easy to quantify the growing resentment of white males who believe they’re slowly losing their millennia-long grip on societal power. Likewise, it’s difficult to measure the brainwashing of Trump’s loyalists by the Fox News and talk radio echo-chamber. Yet we see it on display every day.
[A] similar incident occurred with an older white man who was filing out of a Trump rally in Kissimmee, Florida, but who stopped for a minute or two to completely humiliate himself by shouting incoherent bromides at the press. “You are traitors! I am an American patriot!” .... the man yelled, his eyes cartoonishly bulging out of his head. “I am a patriot! And your name is ‘Traitor!'” he continued to the delight of his fellow Trumpeteers.
The disconnect between how we expect older men like him to behave and how they’re comportingthemselves today is, in a word, disturbing.
Context is, of course, vitally important here. The Kissimmee fracas occurred seconds after Trump finished another of his rambling blurt sessions, and the man was obviously wound up and affected by what he heard. But we don’t expect older people to be this impressionable. . . . .  fully revealed his vulnerability to the suggestions of a charismatic would-be dictator, and didn’t mind his unspooled rantings being recorded and aired by the press. He didn’t seem to be at all concerned, nor did it even occur to him how, to the rest of the thinking world, he came off as a crazy person. A laughingstock. Except to so many others just like him.
When discussing Trump’s base, sympathetic words are often tossed into the mix due to the common wisdom indicating how they’re frustrated with the allegedly awful economy, struggling to make ends meet. . . . [however]  a new study by Gallup shows that economic issues aren’t necessarily driving Trump’s base.
According to this new analysis, those who view Trump favorably have not been disproportionately affected by foreign trade or immigration, compared with people with unfavorable views of the Republican presidential nominee. The results suggest that his supporters, on average, do not have lower incomes than other Americans, nor are they more likely to be unemployed. 
Gallup went on to suggest that other factors could be contributing to the discontent among white working-class Americans, but the economy and immigration don’t appear to be fully animating the mania that’s so prevalent among Trump’s people.
Trump isn’t necessarily responsible for the behavior of his most activated loyalists, but he’s certainly tapped into an existing cache of psychosis and he’s exploiting it for political gain. Trump’s base has been pre-tenderized by what David Frum calls the “conservative entertainment complex.” Since at least the Clinton administration, white men have been slowly indoctrinated and, in too many cases, brainwashed by conservative media and its rather loose grip on reality. 
A recently released documentary by Jen Senko, titled “The Brainwashing of My Dad,” covered this particular phenomenon: . . . . The film follows the life of Senko’s father, who was once a Kennedy Democrat and, through daily assaults by right-wing radio and television, transformed into a racist conservative zealot. Similarly, it’s not difficult to diagnose the Kissimmee man and his cohorts as having been similarly brainwashed by the extremist rhetoric of both conservative entertainment and the Republican Party itself . . . 
If you convince enough men that alleged outsiders (women, minorities, immigrants) are stripping them of their long-held power, as Fox News and others have done, there’s going to eventually be a fight, especially when one of those so-called outsiders is a black president with the middle name “Hussein.” Older white men don’t intend to hand over power quietly . . . . based on recent video footage, I wonder if they’re even aware of how ridiculously deranged they appear, alone or most often in large groups.

Trump Camp: Khan Doesn't Deserve Title Of Gold Star Parent

Despite the polls that indicate that one of Donald Trump's biggest self-inflicted wounds has been his on going attacks on the Khan family, Trump's New York co-chair has launched a new attack claiming that Khizr Khan does not deserve the title of "Gold Star" parent.  The foulness, indecency and plain insanity of Trump and Carl Paladino, his New York co-chair is breathtaking. The simple facts are that Humanyun Khan was a U.S. Army Captain who died saving his men and civilians.  His parents lost their beloved son.  Anyone who questions the parents' right to be called "Gold Star" parents is not only morally bankrupt but also mentally unbalanced.  Talking Points Memo looks at this disgusting attack.  Here are excerpts:
The co-chair for Donald Trump’s campaign in New York is defending the Republican nominee's attacks against the Khan family, saying that Trump does not have to respect or refer to Khizr Khan as a "Gold Star parent" because he is "a member of the Muslim Brotherhood."
In an interview with "Imus in the Morning" interviewer Connell McShane, surfaced by BuzzFeed News, Carl Paladino said that focus in the election has unnecessarily shifted negatively to Trump, despite having an "un-indicted felon," presumably Hillary Clinton, in the race and a supporter of hers, Khan, being undeserving of the title of "Gold Star parent."
“We’ve got an un-indicted felon as his opponent and you’re talking about Khan, about him making a remark about this man,” he said.
“All right, I don’t care if he’s a Gold Star parent," he continued. "He certainly doesn’t deserve that title, OK, if he’s as anti-American as he’s illustrated in his speeches and in his discussion. I mean, if he’s a member of the Muslim Brotherhood or supporting, you know, the ISIS-type of attitude against America, there’s no reason for Donald Trump to have to honor this man.”
Paladino, who made a failed bid for governor of New York in 2010, went on to say that he does not feel that Trump should change his rhetoric in any way and that no one can be sure that President Obama is not a Muslim. 
I'm sorry, but Donald Trump is human sewage!!

Saturday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2

The Varying Stripes of Republican Party Defectors

The easiest explanation for the actions of prominent Republicans who are defecting from the GOP or announcing their opposition to Donald Trump is that they have belatedly rediscovered the honor and integrity that they had tossed down the toilet as they stuck with the party even as it doubled down on racism, homophobia, and reverse Robin Hood policies that have decimated the middle class.  Of course in politics, the pundit class can never accept such a simple and straight forward explanation.  A case in point is a piece in New York Magazine that tries to ascribe other motives to the growing number of GOP defectors.  Personally, I believe more is involved and that despite other possible motivations, one predominates: Donald Trump is unfit for office.  Moreover, he and his ignorance embracing followers are a treat to the nation.  Here are column highlights:
The political news this week is being dominated by reports of elephants breaking away from the herd: Republicans who are not supporting Donald Trump for president. They are most often being differentiated by exactly what they are saying or not saying: Some are simply refraining from opportunities to endorse their nominee; some are publicly refusing to endorse their nominee; a few are going to vote for the Libertarian or a last-minute conservative independent or write-in candidate; and a steadily increasing number are going over the brink to support Hillary Clinton, as one might expect with Election Day fast approaching. There’s no telling when the exodus will end; the latest Trump outrage, about “Second Amendment people” having some plans for HRC, is creating a fresh bout of heartburn for exasperated Republicans, and could send a new batch toward the exit ramp.
But in understanding this phenomenon and weighing its importance (or the lack thereof), it’s helpful to look at the non-endorsees and their backgrounds and motives. To that end, here’s a classification system of the five different kinds of Republicans who have broken ranks over Trump:
1. Nominal Republicans who are out of synch with their party:While they are not as plentiful as they were in the days when liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats walked the Earth, there are always some nominal partisans available, often long in the tooth, who object to the general direction of “their” party and can be rounded up to show their displeasure with a statement of dissent or a cross-endorsement. 
2. Lame ducks. As James Hohmann notes in the Washington Post, the willingness of current Republican elected officials to stray from party discipline is more or less in inverse relationship to their vulnerability to punishment by Republican leaders and/or angry “base” voters. So, unsurprisingly, the two most prominent defectors in the House Republican Conference — Richard Hanna, a New Yorker who has endorsed Clinton, and Scott Rigell, a Virginian who will vote Libertarian — had already announced their retirements.
3. Political realists. There are also Republican defectors who seem to be motivated by cold political calculation. Most obviously, Illinois senator Mark Kirk’s slim odds of reelection almost certainly depend on winning a lot of votes from people who loathe Trump. But even his Senate colleague Susan Collins, who is being treated today as a brave woman of principle for refusing to get on the Trump Train, could be thinking about her political future in Maine, where according to Hohmann she could be contemplating a gubernatorial run as an independent.
More famously, Ted Cruz is clearly calculating his “vote your conscience” statement at the Republican convention will look infinitely better if and when Trump goes down to a catastrophic defeat, leaving his own self as the front-runner for 2020. John Kasich and Ben Sasse could be making similar calculations about their political futures.
4. Redundants. In many respects the most sympathetic group of Republican defectors are former environmental, immigration, and trade-policy officials who obviously have no place in a party led by Donald Trump. I mean, really: Let’s say you are Robert Zoellick, once George W. Bush’s United States Trade Representative. Trump is accusing you and people just like you of deliberately selling American workers down the river and destroying the country in close concert with the godless Clinton administration globalists in the other party (on top of that, Zoellick ran the World Bank and worked for Goldman Sachs!). Are you going to blandly endorse him or fight to win “your” party back? It’s a pretty easy call. The same is true of Republicans closely identified with comprehensive immigration reform and strong environmental regulation (e.g., former EPAdirector Christine Todd Whitman, who has indicated she will vote forClinton).
5. Assorted elites. For most of the rest of the elite defectors, the emphasis should be on the word “elite.” They are mostly former appointed officials in Republican administrations who have since moved on to life in that floating stratosphere of policy mavens, think tankers, lobbyists, and Cabinets-in-waiting. They are heavily found on that list of 50 Republican foreign-policy experts calling for Trump’s defeat.

Rubio to Christian Conservatives: There are Costs to Gay Intolerance

Marco Rubio likely majorly pissed off some of the Christofascists attending a confab on the two month anniversary of the Pulse massacre, when he chastised them for their intolerance and cruelty towards the LGBT community.  Perhaps he was reacting to the sharp condemnation he has received for attending an anti-gay zealot gathering in the first place or perhaps he is realizing that in order to save his sorry - and rumored to be gay - ass in his upcoming primary challenge and then the general election, he needs more that just the votes of raging homophobes.  While some of what Rubio said was a vast improvement over what most Republicans say about LGBT individuals, he nonetheless repeated opposition to LGBT non-discrimination protections that would lessen special rights for Christofascists.   Here are excerpts from the New York Times:
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who has faced widespread condemnation for agreeing to speak at a conference alongside Christian conservatives who have denounced homosexuality and gay rights, used his speech to the group on Friday to warn of the costs of intolerance.
His remarks in Orlando, Fla., not far from the site of the massacre at a gay nightclub in June, were his most extensive yet in public on the subject of prejudice against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. And he struck a notably softer tone than during his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, during which he repeatedly reaffirmed his opposition to same-sex marriage.
Using the shorthand “L.G.B.T.” several times, Mr. Rubio told the group that the perception that many Christians are anti-gay is harming their faith. He urged them to resist passing judgment on gays.
“Do not judge, or you will be judged,” he said, echoing a verse from the Bible.
"To love our neighbors we must recognize that many have experienced sometimes severe condemnation and judgment from some Christians,” he said. “They have heard some say that the reason God will bring condemnation on America is because of them — as if somehow God was willing to put up with adultery and gluttony and greed and pride, but now this is the last straw.”
While he repeated his belief that marriage should not be redefined to include same-sex couples, his speech touched on the history of discrimination against gays, which he asked his audience to consider.
“When it comes to our brothers and our sisters, our fellow Americans, our neighbors in the L.G.B.T. community, we should recognize,” he said, that American history “has been marred by discrimination against and rejection of gays and lesbians.”
He then walked through a list of examples that included discriminatory hiring practices by the federal government, raids of gay establishments by the police and the proliferation of anti-gay slurs.
Mr. Rubio drew especially harsh criticism from gay rights activists for agreeing to speak to the group, the Florida Renewal Project, because he has said the killings at the Pulse nightclub caused him to reconsider his decision not to run again for the Senate. As he runs for re-election, social conservatives are an important constituency.
According to People for the American Way, which tracks anti-gay activists, several of the speakers listed on the invitation with Mr. Rubio have said many of the things the senator spoke out against on Friday. One of them, David Barton, a longtime Republican Party activist from Texas, has said that AIDS is a punishment for homosexuality. 
Do I trust Rubio or think he is really sincere?  Not at all, but perhaps he - and hopefully others in the GOP - is realizing that anti-LGBT extremism is becoming a negative with the majority of the American public.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 1

Friday, August 12, 2016

Friday Evening Male Beauty

Pieces of Silver - How Senior Republicans Have Sold Their Souls

Politics is often dirty and can make for strange bedfellows, if you will.  But in general, most senior members of both major political parties have overall tried to retain some level of decency and eschewed aligning themselves with vulgar and reprehensible people. That pattern has not proved true in the current presidential election cycle where most senior Republicans continue to embrace Trump no matter what he says or does.  Honor, integrity, and decency have been thrown out the window.   Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman has a piece in the New York Times that lays bare the moral bankruptcy of the top levels of the GOP.  Here are highlights:
By now, it’s obvious to everyone with open eyes that Donald Trump is an ignorant, wildly dishonest, erratic, immature, bullying egomaniac. On the other hand, he’s a terrible person. But despite some high-profile defections, most senior figures in the Republican Party — very much including Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, and Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader — are still supporting him, threats of violence and all. Why?
One answer is that these were never men and women of principle. I know that many in the news media are still determined to portray Mr. Ryan, in particular, as an honest man serious about policy, but his actual policy proposals have always been transparent con jobs.
Another answer is that in an era of intense partisanship, the greatest risk facing many Republican politicians isn’t that of losing in the general election, it’s that of losing to an extremist primary challenger. This makes them afraid to cross Mr. Trump, whose ugliness channels the true feelings of the party’s base.
But there’s a third answer, which can be summarized in one number: 34.
What’s that? It’s the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of the average federal tax rate for the top 1 percent in 2013, the latest year available. And it’s up from just 28.2 in 2008, because President Obama allowed the high-end Bush tax cuts to expire and imposed new taxes to pay for a dramatic expansion of health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Taxes on the really, really rich have gone up even more.
If Hillary Clinton wins, taxes on the elite will at minimum stay at this level, and may even go up significantly if Democrats do well enough in congressional races to enable her to pass new legislation. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates that her tax plan would raise the average tax rate for the top 1 percent by another 3.4 percentage points, and the rate for the top 0.1 percent by five points.
But if “populist” Donald Trump wins, taxes on the wealthy will go way down. . . . So if you’re wealthy, or you’re someone who has built a career by reliably serving the interests of the wealthy, the choice is clear — as long as you don’t care too much about stuff like shunning racism, preserving democracy and freedom of religion, or for that matter avoiding nuclear war, Mr. Trump is your guy.
And that’s pretty much how the Republican establishment still sees it. Getting rid of the estate tax is “the linchpin of the conservative movement,” one major donor told Bloomberg’s Sahil Kapur. Gotta get those priorities straight.
Should we be shocked at the willingness of leading Republicans to make this bargain? Well, we should be shocked — we should never, ever start accepting this sort of thing as normal politics. But we shouldn’t be surprised, because it’s just an extension of the devil’s bargain the economic right has been making for decades, going all the way back to Nixon’s “Southern strategy.”
I’m not saying that top Republicans were or are personally bigoted — but that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that they were willing to curry favor with bigots in the service of tax cuts for the rich and financial deregulation.
All that has happened this year is a move of those white nationalists from part of the supporting cast to a starring role. So when Republicans who went along with the earlier strategy draw the line at Mr. Trump, they’re not really taking a stand on principle; they’re just complaining about the price. And the party’s top leadership isn’t even willing to do that.
[W]hatever doubts they may be feeling don’t excuse their actions, and in fact make them even less forgivable. For the fact is that right now, when it matters, they have decided that lower tax rates on the rich are sufficient payment for betraying American ideals and putting the republic as we know it in danger.

GOP Insiders: Trump Can't Win

I know that one should not get cocky until after the election results are in, but as a former Republican who is disgusted with what the GOP has become, I can't help but take some glee in the panic and despair raking GOP insiders over what Donald Trump.    My favorite comment comes from an Iowa Republican: "'Trump is under performing so would take video evidence of a smiling Hillary drowning a litter of puppies while terrorists surrounded her with chants of ‘Death to America’'"  Trump is the culmination of the GOP's selling of its soul to Christofascists, white supremacists, and other misogynists for the last several decades while seeking short term gain with no thought of the cancer they were injecting into the party long term.  Politico looks at the desperation that seems to be growing.  Here are excerpts:
Republican insiders are more convinced than Democrats that Donald Trump is so far behind Hillary Clinton that he can't win in November.
 Roughly half of Republican members of The POLITICO Caucus — activists, strategists and operatives in 11 swing states — believe that Trump’s path to 270 electoral votes is basically shut off after another week in which the GOP nominee appears to have ceded ground in national and most battleground state polls.
Democrats, however, aren’t breaking out the champagne just yet. Seventy-two percent of Democratic insiders said despite Clinton’s clear advantage at this stage of the race, the presidential election isn’t effectively over. . . “We are in a great place,” added a Florida Democrat, “but nothing is over 89 days out, particularly with Clinton's trust issues.”
GOP insiders were virtually split, however: 49 percent said the race was already effectively over, while 51 percent said that it wasn’t.
“While it's true that previous candidates have come back from greater deficits to win, it won't happen in 2016. The electorate is far more base-driven, with fewer persuadables,” said an Iowa Republican. “Trump is under performing so comprehensively across states and demographics it would take video evidence of a smiling Hillary drowning a litter of puppies while terrorists surrounded her with chants of ‘Death to America!’
“Trump has failed to demonstrate he has a plan and path to 270” electoral votes, added a Wisconsin Republican. “Considering the disadvantage a GOP candidate starts with, the work in key targeted states like Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania has to be error-free. There is no evidence that Trump has done that or that he has much of a ground game to begin with.”
Slightly fewer than half of Republican Caucus panelists, 47 percent, said Trump is right to suggest his participation could hinge on the dates, times, identities of the moderators and other details — while 53 percent said Trump is making a mistake by not committing to the debates without conditions.
“The old adage is you cannot win an election through debates, but you can lose them. Donald Trump, as with anything, is the exception to this rule,” said an Iowa Republican. “He has GOT to win the debates or he will lose. Forfeiture is not an option. Last time he skipped a debate, he lost the Iowa caucuses.”
Other Republicans agreed with the overwhelming majority of Democrats, 85 percent, who said threatening to hold out of the debates was a mistake. One Michigan Republican said Trump “looks petty and scared.” Two Florida insiders — one from each party — called the GOP nominee “chickens---t.”
Added an Iowa Republican: “Someone has failed to teach Trump the basics of candidate school. He doesn't understand that he's no longer negotiating with [RNC chair] Reince [Priebus] and a single cable network. This is an entirely different thing. And leaving an empty chair against Hillary would be a complete disaster. He would look weak and scared and like a loser, which he would never allow around his brand. It would literally put a wooden stake in the heart of his entire campaign.”

More Friday Male Beauty

Illinois Christofascists Are Challenging Ban of "Conversion Therapy"

Conservative Christianity condones a great deal of child abuse, both physical and psychological, especially in the case of LGBT youth.  While it is bad enough to be raised in "Christian" household that sends the daily message that one is no good - inherently disordered if one is unfortunate enough to be raised Catholic as I was - things get even worse when you are sent to charlatans and the equivalent of modern day witch doctors who will try to "change" you even though every legitimate, science based medical and mental health association in America says so-called conversion therapy (i) doesn't work, and (ii) is dangerous.  From personal experience, I know "praying away the gay" is bullshit, doesn't work, and leads to constant self-hatred.  But for the knuckle draggers of the Christian right, science, facts and reality simply do not matter.  Now, some of these self-enriching charlatans are challenging Illinois' ban on conversion therapy for minors.  The Washington Post looks at this travesty.  Here are highlights:
A group of Illinois pastors filed suit against the state Thursday alleging clergy — because it violates their constitutional right to free speech and exercise of religion — should be exempt from a law banning counselors from trying to change a minor’s sexual orientation.
The law, which went into effect in January, bans licensed counselors and mental health professionals from practicing “conversion therapy” — counseling designed to make gay, lesbian, bisexual or queer people become straight — on minors. While religious leaders don’t fall under this category, the suit says pastors could be held liable for consumer fraud under a section of the law that says “no person or entity” may advertise or practice conversion therapy that “represents homosexuality as a mental disease, disorder or illness.”
And that’s exactly what the five Christian pastors think, according to their lawsuit filed in federal court.
“These pastors teach that homosexual conduct is contrary to God’s purpose for humanity and a disorder of God’s creation which can be resisted or overcome by those who seek to be faithful to God and His Word. This is what they say to those who seek their counsel—including minors,” according to the lawsuit,posted online by the law firm representing the pastors.
The pastors don’t want to dismantle the entire law — they just want an exemption for religious counselors. . . . . This law undermines the dignity and integrity of those who choose a different path for their lives than politicians and activists prefer,” the pastors’ attorney, John Mauck, said in a news release. “Each person should be free to receive Biblical and spiritual counseling from the pastor of their choice to help them orient their sexuality.”
Equality Illinois, an organization that lobbies for LGBT rights, condemned the lawsuit Thursday and said it is an attempt to set back the movement for inclusion for LGBT people.  “The law protects patients from harmful, coercive, and fraudulent treatments that attempt to change the unchangeable,” the organization’s CEO, Brian Johnson, said in a news release. 
“The idea that homosexuality is a mental disorder or that the emergence of same-sex attraction and orientation among some adolescents is in any way abnormal or mentally unhealthy has no support among any mainstream health and mental health professional organizations,” according to the American Psychological Association.
The text of the Illinois law echoes that idea. It reads,”Being lesbian, gay, or bisexual is not a disease, disorder, illness, deficiency, or shortcoming.”
Pastor Steven Stultz of Nu-Church Apostolic Ministries in Chicago . . . On his church’s website, homosexuality is listed as part of Satan’s strategy to “spoil” younger generations so that “their lives are tainted and they are of no use to the Lord.”

If there is anything that undermines personal dignity and integrity, it is Christianity and it's dogma that mankind is inherently damaged and that we are all "fallen" - even though the human genome project has proven that Adam and Eve never existed and that there was no "Fall"  and hence no need for a Messiah.  LGBT lives are ruined all because of myths and fairy tales.

Hillary’s Economic Plan: Recommitting to Progressive Policies

If one looks at the history of America in the 20th Century, some of the things that built the middle class were progressive policies, Social Security being a major one, combined with strong unions as well as employers who truly saw their employees as capital and not a class of people to be financially raped and deemed expendable.  Today's Republican Party is at war with all of these essential elements.  In outlining her economic plan, Hillary Clinton has pledged to recommit to the progressive policies that (i) built the middle class and (ii) helped end the gross excesses of the Gilded Age (which the GOP want to restore).  A piece in Salon looks at Clinton's plan.  Here are excerpts:
Heading into Hillary Clintons’ big economic speech on Thursday, there was some concern among progressive groups that the Democratic presidential nominee was going to use the opportunity to nudge her policy agenda towards the center. She’d secured the nomination and no longer had to worry about Bernie Sanders’ challenge from the left, and her campaign was in the middle of a high-profile push to recruit Republican defectors away from GOP nominee Donald Trump, which left open the possibility that she might start moderating for the general election.
Well, Hillary’s speech seems to have put those concerns to rest. At least for the moment. She also put together an effective line of attack against Trump’s economic agenda, separating his populist rhetoric from the reality of his policy proposals.
Clinton hit a number of progressive themes and issues during her remarks in Warren, Michigan: she called for a large boost in infrastructure spending and the creation of an infrastructure bank, she committed to connecting every household in the country to broadband internet by the end of her first term, she offered a strong defense of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and she backed tuition-free college for everyone except the wealthy.
This is the stuff that activists want to hear, and the progressive groups that were slightly wary of Clinton heading into the speech were pretty ebullient over Hillary’s TPP remarks. “These were Hillary Clinton’s strongest words yet against the TPP,” Progressive Change Campaign Committee co-founder Adam Green said in a statement. “For the first time, Clinton signaled she will personally work to kill the corporate-written TPP if it comes up after the election in an unaccountable lame-duck Congress.” The Roosevelt Institute also lauded Clinton’s speech in a statement released in conjunction with Democracy Corps: “With this economic speech, Secretary Clinton has made this election a choice about whether our economy works for all, not just the few, and that allows progressive economics to win a mandate in November.”
The flip side to Clinton’s renewed embrace of progressive economic policies was her dismantling of Donald Trump’s economic platform. She seized on the Trump plan’s reduction of taxes on so-called “pass-through” entities (calling it “the Trump loophole”) which would allow high-income households to pay far less in taxes on their income than they would under normal circumstances. The pass-through loophole is a massive tax break for the rich, one that would benefit Trump himself, as pass-through entities are “a cornerstone of the Trump Organization.”
Clinton also took a bite out of Trump for proposing a full repeal of the estate tax. As I wrote following Trump’s big economic speech this week, nixing what remains of the estate tax will benefit the super-rich almost exclusively. Hillary made this same point, tying estate-tax repeal to Trump personally and weaving in elements of greed. “If you believe that he’s as wealthy as he says, that alone would save the Trump family $4 billion. It would do nothing for 99.8 percent of Americans. So they’d get a $4 billion tax cut, and 99.8 percent of Americans would get nothing.”
On child care policy, her anti-Trump message was very much the same, given that Trump’s child care plan is a pro-wealthy heap of flaming trash that no one thinks is a good idea. “His plan was panned from the left, from the right, the center, because it transparently is designed for rich people like him,” Clinton said. “He would give wealthy families 30 or 40 cents on the dollar for their nannies, and little or nothing for millions of hardworking families trying to afford child care.”
These are sharp attacks because they strip away the absurd patina of populism that Trump likes to coat himself in with his protectionist ranting and broadsides against foreigners who steal our jobs. Those rhetorical flourishes have little to undergird them, and whenever Trump actually wades into policy details, he invariably ends up churning out proposals that explicitly reserve the lion’s share of benefits for people who do not need them.  
 I continue to be amazed how many Americans fall for the ruse that cuts in the estate tax would help them.  In reality, unless one's estate has a net value of well over $5 million, there is ZERO federal estate liability.  And with proper estate planning, married couples can lessen that impact.  On child care, with two working daughters, I know full well how crushing these costs are and how, unless has a truly well paying job, it can be cheaper to simply not work at all and be a stay at home mother - or father. 

Friday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2

Friday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 1

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Thursday Evening Male Beauty

Sleazy Daily Beast Article "Outs" and Endangers Olympic Athletes

Douche Bag (my view) Nico Hines
Up until now, I regularly check out The Daily Beast and often have referenced their articles - I did the same with Rolling Stone until it published its fiction based story slandering the University of Virginia.  Now, The Daily Beast is going to join Rolling Stone as an outlet to be avoided.  Why? Beacuse of an utterly sleazy pieces by a scumbag (at least in my view) named Nico Hines who went around the Olympic Village with Grindr and other hookup apps and then "outed" various athletes, many from anti-gay countries where their lives might be endangered on their return home.  While the editors of The Daily Beast have done a disingenuous "We're Sorry!" piece, it is nowhere near enough and does nothing to undo thee damage done to some athletes.  Both Hines and whoever approved his piece need to be fired immediately.  Slate has a piece ripping The Daily Beast a new one and rightly so.  Here are highlights from Slate
On Thursday morning, the Daily Beast published an exceedingly gross and bizarre article by a straight, married male writer who lured in gay Olympians through hookup apps for no particular purpose. The entire piece is an astoundingly creepy exercise in Grindr-baiting, which involves a journalist accessing Grindr in an unlikely setting and … seeing what happens. But the Daily Beast piece, penned by Nico Hines, is a uniquely disgusting and irresponsible entry into the tired genre. Hines entices his (often closeted) subjects under false pretenses; effectively outs several closeted athletes who live in repressive countries; then writes about the whole thing in a tone of mocking yet lurid condescension. By 10:30 a.m. ET, the Daily Beast had, in response to criticism, edited out the most identifying details about closeted athletes—but that’s too little, too late. (Update, 9:15 p.m.: On Thursday evening, the Daily Beast took down the piece entirely.)
Hines begins by explaining that his entire assignment consisted of walking around the Olympic Village while using several hookup apps, hoping to learn whether “an Average Joe” can “join the bacchanalia.” He quickly abandons apps like Tinder, which are mostly used by straight people, for Grindr, which is for gay men: “No prizes for guessing that Grindr proved more of an instant hookup success than Bumble or Tinder,” he writes. Presumably, Hines awards “no prizes” because he believes gays are more promiscuous than straight people—a theme to which Hines often returns throughout his vile piece.
Because Hines is not gay, you might find his use of Grindr a bit dishonest. But not to worry: “For the record,” Hines writes, “I didn’t lie to anyone or pretend to be someone I wasn’t—unless you count being on Grindr in the first place—since I’m straight, with a wife and child.” This sentence reflects a stunning amount of ignorance, because, in Hines’ situation, of course being on Grindr in the first place is a lie. Grindr is an app for men who wish to hook up with other men. That is its purpose! To be on Grindr when you do not have that goal, and when you could not possibly have that goal because you are straight, is itself a mendacious deception.
With his dubious premise established, Hines proceeds to out athlete after athlete, providing enough information about each Olympian he encounters for anyone with basic Google skills to uncover their identities. (After several minutes of Googling, I surmised the identities of five of the gay athletes Hines described.) I’m not going to repeat his descriptions, because—as Hines himself acknowledges!—some of them live in “notoriously homophobic” countries and remain closeted at home.
Shortly after Hines’ article published, openly gay Olympian Gus Kenworthy tweeted that the author “basically just outed a bunch of athletes in his quest to write a shitty [Daily Beast] article where he admitted to entrapment.” That is correct, but it’s worth exploring why Hines embarked upon this weird, sleazy quest in the first place. I count two reasons. The first is that Hines simply enjoys tittering with condescension at all the gay athletes who take the bait and engage with hima straight dude, as Hines emphatically reminds us. Why else zero in on Grindr? The second reason is more repulsive: Hines appears to take pleasure in luring in these Olympians then outing them to all the world.
But the offensive purpose of Hines’ article is really the least of its problems. Far worse is the actual damage it will likely cause to real, live human beings—inevitable onsequences that Hines blithely ignored. Several athletes who are closeted at home (and possibly to their own teammates) will wake up on Thursday morning to the news that the Daily Beast has outed them. Their teammates could ostracize and alienate them; their families could disown them; their countries could imprison them. And for what? A homophobic article about how a straight guy conned gay Olympians from anti-gay countries into hitting on him through Grindr? Hines’ article is a dangerous disaster, a wildly unethical train wreck that should be taken down immediately for the sake of its duped subjects. Hines may view his Grindr-baiting as all fun and games. For the victims of his unprincipled journalism, however, his nasty little piece has the power to ruin lives. 
As I said, I am saying good bye to The Daily Beast.  As for Hines, he needs to be fired and  boycotted by legitimate news outlets.  Perhaps he can get a job with FRC or AFA where lying and seeking to harm gays is an everyday mission. 

RNC to Have "Come to Jesus" Meeting with Trump Campaign

The Donald Trump shit storm campaign continues to lurch along with Trump continuing to shoot off his mouth and creating firestorms.  At this point, the GOP apologists trying to walk back Trump's dangerous and detached from reality statements make the tawdriest whore look like the height of truth and veracity.  Adding to the circus, mMore than 70 Republicans have signed and released an open letter to Republican National Committee ("RNC") Chairman Reince Priebus urging him to stop spending any RNC money to help Donald Trump win in November.  Viewing Trump as likely to win in November as the Titanic was to make New York harbor after hitting the iceberg that buckled hundreds of feet of her hull, these Republicans argue that the funds be shifted to Senate and House races. Here's a sampling from the letter via Politico:
“We believe that Donald Trump’s divisiveness, recklessness, incompetence, and record-breaking unpopularity risk turning this election into a Democratic landslide, and only the immediate shift of all available RNC resources to vulnerable Senate and House races will prevent the GOP from drowning with a Trump-emblazoned anchor around its neck,” states a draft of the letter obtained by POLITICO. “This should not be a difficult decision, as Donald Trump’s chances of being elected president are evaporating by the day.”
Now, another Politico piece is reporting that Trump campaign officials and representatives of the RNC will have a "come to Jesus" meeting tomorrow to try to save Trump's struggling campaign. Frankly, I think the RNC folks are delusional.  Trump is beyond control and, given the narcissistic personality disorder (among other things) he suffers from, Trump will continue to have diarrhea of the mouth and alienate even more voters and drive more Republicans to defect from the party.  Here are story excerpts:
Donald Trump’s campaign and top Republican Party officials plan what one person called a “come to Jesus” meeting on Friday in Orlando to discuss the Republican nominee’s struggling campaign, according to multiple sources familiar with the scheduled sit-down.
Though a campaign source dismissed it as a "typical" gathering, others described it as a more serious meeting, with one calling it an "emergency meeting." It comes at a time of mounting tension between the campaign and the Republican National Committee, which is facing pressure to pull the plug on Trump’s campaign and redirect party funds down ballot to protect congressional majorities endangered by Trump’s candidacy.

[The meeting] is being viewed by RNC officials as a sign that the campaign has come to grips with the difficulty it is having in maintaining a message and running a ground game.
“They want to patch up a rift that just keeps unfolding,” one source said. “They finally realize they need the RNC for their campaign because, let’s face it, there is no campaign.”
Another person familiar with the meeting, a Republican operative who works with the campaign, said the planned gathering was “a come-to-Jesus meeting.” That source said that many Trump campaign staffers share the party officials’ frustrations with Trump’s penchant for self-sabotaging rhetoric. “What’s bothering people on the campaign is that they feel like they’re doing all the right things, but they’re losing every news cycle to Hillary and there’s nothing they can do about it.”
The campaign official said Trump, who is scheduled to travel to Pennsylvania on Friday, was not slated to attend the meeting, but that Karen Giorno, a senior adviser to the campaign, was.

An RNC member said discontent with the Trump campaign has hit new heights in recent days, describing “major tumult in the building and staff problems and disagreements and RNC staff on the edge of mutiny.”
That’s particularly evident in must-win Florida, the nation’s biggest battleground state, where Trump’s campaign has only one field office and no visible footprint otherwise. It plans to open 25 offices by early September, but rank-and-file Republican Party members and candidates are worried that Hillary Clinton’s team is building a robust campaign across the state.
Republicans started growing more-jittery this week as a Quinnipiac University poll indicated Trump was losing his advantage in Florida over Hillary Clinton and might be dragging down Sen. Marco Rubio’s reelection efforts.

My question is this: why is anyone in the RNC surprised.  Trump has always been a  train wreck about to go off the rails and nothing and no one is going to successfully rein the man in.  My hope is that he not only loses badly in November but that he also poisons the Trump brand and destroys his chance to ever stary again in reality TV unless it is a new format of a show called "The Biggest Loser." 

Thursday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2

Encouraging Political Violence is No Joke

William Kennedy Smith and Jean Kennedy Smith, the nephew and sister of President John. F. Kennedy and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, have a joint op-ed in the Washington Post which should be required reading for all Americans, even though I sadly suspect that doing so would have little effect on the Christofascist/white supremacist core of the base of today's Republican Party.  Encouraging political violence even through a "joke" as Donald Trump's disgusting apologists are now trying to defend Trump's possible encouragement of the lunatic gun rights crowd to assassinate Hillary Clinton and/or federal judges.  Here are op-ed highlights:
On April 4, 1968, the day the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed, Robert Kennedy was campaigning for the presidency in Indianapolis. Bobby conveyed the news of King’s death to a shattered, mostly black audience. He took pains to remind those whose first instinct may have been toward violence that President John F. Kennedy had also been shot and killed. Bobby went on, “What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.”
That speech has crystallized into the single most enduring portrait of Bobby’s candidacy. Because it was extemporaneous, it conveyed directly, and with raw emotion, his own vulnerability, his aspirations for his country and a deep compassion for the suffering of others. Bobby concluded his remarks that night by urging those listening to return home and say a prayer for our country and for our people. Those words mattered. While there were riots in cities across the nation that night, Indianapolis did not burn.
Today, almost 50 years later, words still matter. They shape who we are as a people and who we wish to be as a nation. In the white-hot cauldron of a presidential campaign, it is still the words delivered extemporaneously, off the cuff, in the raw pressure of the moment that matter most. They say most directly what is in a candidate’s heart. So it was with a real sense of sadness and revulsion that we listened to Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, as he referred to the options available to “Second Amendment people,” a remark widely, and we believe correctly, interpreted as a thinly veiled reference or “joke” about the possibility of political assassination.
Political violence is a terrible inherent risk to any free society. Dictators and strongmen like Vladimir Putin have an answer. They are surrounded and shielded by force at all times. They do not brook dissent. In democracies, we expect our leaders to be accessible and, by and large, they want to be. Inevitably, that makes them vulnerable and the loss of a leader at a crucial time impacts family, country and even the world, for generations. Anyone who loves politics, the open competition of ideas and public participation in a free society, knows that political violence is the greatest of all civic sins. It is not to be encouraged. It is not funny. It is not a joke.
By now, we have heard enough dark and offensive rhetoric from Trump to know that it reflects something fundamentally troubled, and troubling, about his candidacy. Trump’s remarks frequently, if not inevitably, spark outrage, which is followed by a clarification that, in lieu of an apology, seeks to attribute the dark undertones of his words to the listener’s twisted psyche. This fools no one. 
But what to make of a candidate who directly appeals to violence, smears his opponents and publicly bullies a Gold Star family, a decorated prisoner of war and a reporter with a disability, among others? 
The truth remains that words do matter, especially when it comes to presidential candidates. On that basis alone, Donald Trump is not qualified to be president of the United States.