Saturday, October 22, 2016

Warren Beatty Is Still Seducing Hollywood

As a teen, I thought Warren Beatty was hot.  It's one of the weird aspects of being in denial about one's sexual orientation: you struggle to convince yourself that you are straight even as you have attraction to gorgeous males. The mental gymnastics are insane.  Now, Vanity Fair has a lengthy article on Richmond, Virginia born Beatty - who has a transgender son.  On a dreary Saturday morning, the article is an interesting read.  Here are brief highlights:

He is one of the most famous actors of the second half of the 20th century, was the most talked-about wooer of women in his day (his former paramours are legion, and all are beauties), and is one of Hollywood’s more successful filmmakers, known for equal amounts of shrewdness and seductive charm. He has been called “the Prince of Hollywood,” “the Pro,” and “Boss.” He was a famous movie star before any of them—before Clint, before Redford, before Dustin, before Pacino, even before his good friend Jack Nicholson. Throughout his nearly 60-year career as an actor, director, screenwriter, and producer, Warren Beatty has been nominated for 14 Academy Awards (including best actor, best picture, best director, best original screenplay, and best adapted screenplay), winning the best-director Oscar for Reds in 1981. He pops up in the diaries of Andy Warhol, the journals of J.F.K. historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., a biography of James Baldwin, and countless celebrity memoirs. Although a decade can pass between the release of his movies, when they arrive on the scene they are cultural events. And he’s coming squarely back into the public gaze again this year, with Rules Don’t Apply, the rumored re-release of Bulworth, and the upcoming 50th anniversary of Bonnie and Clyde, in which he starred as Clyde Barrow.
Due to be released next month, Rules Don’t Apply has been described as a biographical film about eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes, but it’s actually about two would-be lovers finding themselves in the labyrinth of Hollywood against a backdrop of 1950s sexual repression. Beatty plays Howard Hughes in a supporting role.
“There’s this misapprehension that it’s a biopic,” Beatty explains, “which it’s not, although Howard is an important character in it. I wanted to do a story about a girl who comes from being the Apple Blossom Queen of Winchester, Virginia [Marla Mabrey, played by Lily Collins], and a boy who is a Methodist from Fresno [Frank Forbes, played by Alden Ehrenreich], who is under the same religious influences that I was raised in. I wanted to do a story about that young man and that young woman that also deals with money and misogyny in late-1950s Hollywood.”
One doesn’t immediately associate Beatty with puritanical guilt and repression, but that is the world he grew up in, in conservative Virginia in the 1940s and 50s, and the one he has rebelled against his entire life. “I’m afraid it still remains a big subject in America,” he says, “which often makes us the laughingstock of France and other European countries. So I thought this would be fun to deal with—a young man and a young woman involved with an unpredictable billionaire, who had no rules he had to follow because of his inheritance and his way of life. So it’s also about the effect of Hollywood on those rules, and the effect of money.”
The story of a young man coming to Hollywood from a conservative background is one he knows all too well. He and his sister, the actress Shirley MacLaine, were raised by Southern Baptist parents. Still, the family was somewhat bohemian. Their mother was an acting teacher, their father a high-school principal who was also something of a raconteur and bon vivant. Beatty recalled the first time he came downstairs dressed in a suit for church, astonishing his parents. He also admitted being convinced that if he had sex with a girl, he would have to marry her, one of the many autobiographical touches he brings to Rules Don’t Apply. 
Just as Beatty was something of a sexual revolutionary in the years emerging from the strict mores of the 1950s, so his firstborn child is also a revolutionary. Stephen, who is challenging cultural norms of sexuality, is an activist for the transgender community. Identifying as transitioned at the age of 14, he changed his name from Kathlyn Elizabeth to Stephen Ira. A poet and writer, he posted an “Answer to Seven Questions” about his gender identity on the “WeHappyTrans” Web site. One is struck by Stephen’s insouciant intelligence—he manages to be playful, erudite, and eloquent all at once.
“He’s a revolutionary, a genius, and my hero, as are all my children,” Beatty says when asked about Stephen.
Beatty with sister, Shirley MacLaine

Saturday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2

A Reassessment of Hillary Clinton

Historically, I have not been a fan of Hillary Clinton and, as the 2016 presidential campaign I decided to back her because (i) I thought she was more electable than Bernie Sanders in the general election, and (ii) she was the lesser of the two evils given those running for the GOP nomination.  Once Trump won the GOP nomination, the latter factor became all the stronger for me. Now, a funny thing has happened.  As the campaign circus has progressed, I have come to sort of like Hillary.  She doesn't leave one warm and fuzzy, but candidly, that is not a factor that should matter in deciding who is competent to lead the country and face the complexities of the world today.  The idea of wanting a president one could" have a beer with" is, in my opinion, the height of idiocy.  Do you want a surgeon who is competent or one that you can go drinking with?  It is the same concept.  A column in the New York Times looks at why Hillary is winning so far and why she id the competent answer as to who should be elected on November 8, 2016.  Here are highlights:
Hillary Clinton is a terrible candidate. Hey, that’s what pundits have been saying ever since this endless campaign began. You have to go back to Al Gore in 2000 to find a politician who faced as much jeering from the news media, over everything from claims of dishonesty (which usually turn out to be based on nothing) to matters of personal style.
Strange to say, however, Mrs. Clinton won the Democratic nomination . . . . How is that possible?
The usual suspects are already coalescing around an answer — namely, that she just got lucky. If only the Republicans hadn’t nominated Donald Trump, the story goes, she’d be losing badly.
But here’s a contrarian thought: Maybe Mrs. Clinton is winning because she possesses some fundamental political strengths — strengths that fall into many pundits’ blind spots.
First of all, who was this other, stronger candidate that the G.O.P. might have chosen? Remember, Mr. Trump won the nomination because he gave his party’s base what it wanted, channeling the racial antagonism that has been the driving force for Republican electoral success for decades. All he did was say out loud what his rivals were trying to convey with dog whistles, which explains why they were so ineffective in opposing him.
And those establishment candidates were much more Trumpian than those fantasizing about a different history — say, one in which the G.O.P. nominated Marco Rubio — acknowledge.
How many of them [GOP candidates] really believe that tax cuts have magical powers, that climate change is a giant hoax, that saying the words “Islamic terrorism” will somehow defeat ISIS? Yet pretending to believe these things is the price of admission to the club — and the falsity of that pretense shines through.
When political commentators praise political talent, what they seem to have in mind is the ability of a candidate to match one of a very limited set of archetypes: the heroic leader, the back-slapping regular guy you’d like to have a beer with, the soaring orator. Mrs. Clinton is none of these things: too wonky, not to mention too female, to be a regular guy, a fairly mediocre speechifier; her prepared zingers tend to fall flat.
Yet the person tens of millions of viewers saw in this fall’s debates was hugely impressive all the same: self-possessed, almost preternaturally calm under pressure, deeply prepared, clearly in command of policy issues. And she was also working to a strategic plan: Each debate victory looked much bigger after a couple of days, once the implications had time to sink in, than it may have seemed on the night.
Oh, and the strengths she showed in the debates are also strengths that would serve her well as president.
Furthermore, there’s one thing Mrs. Clinton brought to this campaign that no establishment Republican could have matched: She truly cares about her signature issues, and believes in the solutions she’s pushing.
I know, we’re supposed to see her as coldly ambitious and calculating, and on some issues — like macroeconomics — she does sound a bit bloodless, even when she clearly understands the subject and is talking good sense. But when she’s talking about women’s rights, or racial injustice, or support for families, her commitment, even passion, are obvious. She’s genuine, in a way nobody in the other party can be.
So let’s dispel with this fiction that Hillary Clinton is only where she is through a random stroke of good luck. She’s a formidable figure, and has been all along.

Economists: A Trump Win Would Tank the Financial Markets

As some - who in my opinion are delusional - continue to claim that Donald Trump is a good businessman, there's one test that they utterly ignore: Trump's numerous bankruptcies and the fact that no American bank will make a loan to him and/or his entities. Trump has gamed the system, screwed over lenders and bond holders and other investors with abandon, always making sure that he flees the sinking ship, saving himself as others perish financially.  It's as if he were Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon leaving the Titanic in a lifeboat with only 12 people in it, he and his wife's luggage included, leaving dozens to die who might have lived had the lifeboat been even remotely filled to capacity. The financial markets and bankers know Trump well, and economists predict that should he somehow win, the world's financial markets will tank, wiping out Americans' savings, IRA's and retirement funds.  A piece in Politico looks at the likely wreckage.   Here are highlights:  
NEW YORK — Wall Street is set up for a major crash if Donald Trump shocks the world on Election Day and wins the White House.
New research out on Friday suggests that financial markets strongly prefer a Hillary Clinton presidency and could react with panicked selling should Trump defy the polls and deliver a shocking upset on Nov. 8.
“Wall Street clearly prefers a Clinton win certainly from the prospective of equity prices,” said Dartmouth College’s Eric Zitzewitz, one of the authors of the new study along with the University of Michigan’s Justin Wolfers. “You saw Clinton win the first debate and her odds jumped and stocks moved right along with it. Should Trump somehow manage to win you could see major Brexit-style selling.”
Stock prices around the world tanked over the summer when British voters surprised pundits and voted in favor of pulling the country out of the European Union. Trump himself now talks about his own upset prospects as “another Brexit.”
The report also shows where investors around the world are making big money on the 2016 campaign. Traders betting on the Mexican peso to take a beating under a President Trump, who has promised a trade crackdown, have lost big following debates in which Clinton did well.
The Trump effect also shows up for traders betting on market volatility. Futures contracts for the VIX index, which tracks market volatility, fell sharply during the first debate, suggesting investors expect much less volatility under a Clinton White House than a Trump White House.
Oil prices rose during the first debate and gold fell. Gold tends to be a safe haven when investors are worried about possible economic and financial instability. And oil tends to go up when investors expect stronger economic growth and more demand for energy.
Michael Obuchowski of Merlin Asset Management has watched every move in the campaign closely— including all the WikiLeaks email dumps on Clinton — and made two calls based on it: that Clinton will win and that she won’t go as far left as some investors initially feared.
“I always assumed Trump would eventually collapse so that meant staying in equities and going away from certain high-dividend stocks assuming Clinton is going to win and try and tax those dividends at a higher rate,” he said.
The new report suggests that the stock market is worth 11 percent more under a Clinton presidency than a Trump presidency. This is a highly unusual circumstance because markets historically prefer Republican policies on taxes, regulation and trade to those of Democrats. . . . . Current market action is the direct reverse of what happened in 2012 when President Barack Obama was running for reelection against former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. 
Investors now clearly back a Clinton presidency and by a large margin.
The Trump effect is also global.  Britain’s FTSE 100 traced U.S. stock prices higher following the first debate. Currencies in Canada, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand — all major U.S. trading partners — tend to rise when it appears Clinton is doing well and headed to victory.
“All told, these movements suggest that financial markets expect a generally healthier domestic and international economy under a President Clinton than under a President Trump,” Wolfers and Zitzewitz write in their new paper.
This also suggests that a shock Trump victory next month could crush stock prices, perhaps by as much as 10 percent, and send the peso and other currencies sharply lower while ushering in a period of intense market volatility as investors try and discern how Trump would govern and whether he would make good on his pledge to start trade wars with Mexico and China and deport 11 million current undocumented immigrants.
“You would see incredible pressure on stock prices if Trump wins and everyone flooding into rare metals like gold and into bonds” in the U.S., Germany and the United Kingdom, said Erik Jones, professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.
Overall, the authors of the new paper envision a massive global market shock should Trump win. “Given the magnitude of the price movements, we estimate that market participants believe that a Trump victory would reduce the value of the S&P 500, the UK, and Asian stock markets by 10-15%,” they write and “would reduce the oil price by $4, would lead to a 25% decline in the Mexican Peso, and would significantly increase expected future stock market volatility.”
Bottom line?  By supporting Trump, many of his followers will be voting against their own financial best interest, falling once again to the GOP ploy of suckering them in by calls to their racism and xenophobia.  

Saturday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 1

Friday, October 21, 2016

More Friday Male Beauty

Republicans Abandon Fox News

One of the problems with American society today is the fact free bubble in which much of the far right exists.  Many of the right have literally no knowledge of what is really happening in the world and the causation behind events.  One of the main purveyors of this embrace of ignorance and deliberate refusal to objective reality has heretofore been been Fox News - or Faux News on this blog.  Now, Republicans appear to be abandoning Fox News, because the network is not sufficiently un-tethered to reality.  What is frightening is that many of those walking away from Fox News will likely gravitate to even more ignorance based "news" outlet.  Perhaps these people fleeing from Fox News will opt to make Storm Front or perhaps The Crusader, the KKK's official newspaper as their preferred source of "news."  Salon looks at the phenomenon.  Here are excerpts:
Since January, Fox News has seen a precipitous drop in its reputation amongst its mostly conservative viewership — falling to 50th place on a list of brands most trusted by Republicans over the past two years.
In 2014, the most dominant cable news channel was the 10th best-perceived brand by Republicans, according to AdAge. But in a YouGov Brand Index survey released at the end of February 2016, the perception of Fox News among Republicans had “declined by approximately 50 percent since January of this year” — to a three-year low.
And in a just-released 2016 YouGov BrandIndex ranking, Fox News’ position plummeted to outside of the top-20 for the first time.  
Trump’s feud with Kelly tarnished the networks’ perception amongst viewers who suspected an anti-Trump bias. And while Trump still found safe refuge at “Fox & Friends” and even had Fox News host Sean Hannity appear in a campaign ad on his behalf, the blatant boosting alienated supporters of other Republican candidates.
Then one of the network’s most veteran female anchors accused former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes of sexual harassment.
After Gretchen Carlson filed a blockbuster lawsuit against the Fox News boss, the network saw its biggest shake-up with the retirement of longtime host Greta Van Susteren and the ousting of Ailes — who went on to join the Trump campaign as an adviser.
Enter Trump.TV. As Salon’s Matthew Sheffield’s explained, Trump will be ideally situated to benefit from the demise of the Fox News brand among Republicans. Reports since Ailes’ ousting indicate that Rupert Murdoch and sons Lachlan and James, who help run parent company 21st Century Fox, plan to begin shedding the network’s image as a right-wing media outfit in favor of a more serious journalistic effort.
Host Shepard Smith recently told the Huffington Post that Murdoch indicated after the Ailes scandal that he planned to make Fox News “the best news organization in the America.”
But a more mainstream news source is not what Republican viewers want. While Fox News’ reputational ranking went down, Republicans still despise both CNN and MSNBC much more. CNN and MSNBC were ranked 1,470 and 1,471, respectively.
“If you’re tired of biased, mainstream media reporting (otherwise known as Crooked Hillary’s super PAC), tune into my Facebook Live broadcast,” Trump told his supporters ahead of the third presidential debate Wednesday. According to the Financial Times, the nearly four hours of coverage had 8.9 million views by Thursday afternoon.

Trump In 2007: Hot Women Are "My Alcoholism"

Despite Donald Trump's lie claim that he respects women, his past statements and behavior tell a different tale.  With a total of 10 women so far coming forward to describe how Trump engaged in sexual harassment or near sexual assault of precisely the type Trump boasted about in the 2005 Entertainment Tonight tape, it is pretty clear that Trump is a predatory and sexist pig.   The New York Post reports that a new poll found that 63% of Americans surveyed (including a third of Republicans) believe Trump committed sexual assault in the past.  What I find most ironic is that his hometown media is the most vehement in its rejection of Trump and effort to expose him for what he really is.  Perhaps all Trump's years of bullying people, screwing over contractors and investors and riding rough shod over people in the greater New York City area is at last coming home to roost. The New York Daily News is now publicizing Trumps "alcoholism" - Trump's own word - for "hot" teenage girls and "women."  I'd say the best description of the many, in my opinion, falls into the category of "pervert" and "lecher."  Here are highlights from the Daily News:
Donald Trump claims to only hire the “best people,” but also boasted once of hiring a teenager with no experience just because she was beautiful.
In video taken of Trump giving a paid Learning Annex speech in 2007, the Republican presidential candidate — currently accused of groping as many as 11 women against their will — said he insisted on hiring “a beautiful girl, 17 or 18, so beautiful” as a waitress even though she had no work history.
He also told the crowd that hot women are his “alcoholism” and that having one near him was like setting a glass of Scotch in front of a drunk.
The macho-man exchange occurred at a San Francisco Learning Annex talk that Trump was reportedly paid $1.5 million to give.
The cringe-worthy moment began when a woman in the audience asked Trump how many jets he owned and how she could apply to be a flight attendant.
Trump, leaning over the podium, demanded she come up onstage — as wolf whistles and loud cheers erupted from the men in the crowd.
Video of the 2007 event shows the woman, who introduced herself as Juliet, crossing the stage as Trump leers at her low cut blouse and ample cleavage.
After giving her a blatant once over when she arrives at the podium, the married Trump wraps an arm around her squeezes and says, “You’re hired.”
As Juliet pivots and walks away, Trump keeps his eyes trained on her derriere.
“Now if she worked on my plane that’s like a death wish for me,” Trump says, before going into his riff that beautiful women are his biggest addiction and weakness.
Trump, who is trailing Democrat Hillary Clinton in the latest polls by 7 percentage points in the latest polls, saw his 11th accuser emerge Thursday — the day after the third and final presidential debate.
Wellness expert Karena Virginia recounted the humiliating hands-on experience with The Donald during the 1998 edition of the tennis championships.
I was in shock,” she said at a Manhattan news conference about their encounter. “I felt intimidated and powerless.”
The GOP nominee — as he has with the 10 previous women who made similar charges — dismissed Virginia’s tale as bogus.
Virginia, like several other Trump accusers, said she was moved to come forward after a long-buried videotape emerged in which the businessman bragged about his crude treatment of women.
Trump campaign deputy communications director Jessica Ditto ripped the woman’s attorney Gloria Allred, who last week appeared with another of The Donald’s accusers — Summer Zervos, once a contestant on “The Apprentice.” Allred also represents several women accusing Bill Cosby of sexually assaulting them.
Having raised a son and now with two grandsons, Trump epitomizes what I would never want these males to be like or think like.  Meanwhile, my two Mellennial generation daughters have jumped on the "nasty woman" meme that mocks Trump and his boorish, low class sexism. 

Friday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2

In Debates, Clinton Showed Why She Should Be President

Many early on recognized Donald Trump as being spectacularly unfit for the office of President of the United States.  Despite all his boasting, his business record is a mess and the fact that American banks will not make loans to him and his organization - hence his need for Russian money - ought to underscore his unfitness.  And that doesn't even get to the issue of his frightening temperament and uncontrolled narcissism.  The man is a train wreck and only a Republican Party too far gone in the process of hijacking by racists and Christofascists (see the prior post) could have nominated a man so lacking in so many ways.  Had a decent candidate been nominated, Hillary Clinton would face a harder task to win the election.  That said, an editorial in the Washington Post argues why Hillary has proven herself worthy of the presidency.  Here are highlights:
IF PRESENT trends continue — and we emphasize “if” — Hillary Clinton will be elected president on Nov. 8, in an ironic conclusion to a political year that supposedly belonged to outsiders and populists such as Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
Why has Ms. Clinton, the “establishment” alternative facing the voters, wound up in the lead at this late date? According to much conventional wisdom, she is the beneficiary of structural factors, such as voter demographics, and of good fortune — in the form of the Republican Party’s spectacularly irresponsible choice of an incompetent nominee. 
Nevertheless, it is time to point out another reason Ms. Clinton is winning: She is earning it. She and her campaign have remained disciplined and even-keeled through tempests large and small — and through the tests of political communication and argument known as the presidential debates, both against Mr. Sanders and against Mr. Trump. It is not easy to stand on a stage for 90 minutes and parry words with an opponent, moderators and town-hall invitees; still less is it easy to do so while keeping one’s cool amid sleazy provocations and unpredictable insults from Mr. Trump. Through it all, Ms. Clinton has stayed focused on issues, laying out a program for the country that we don’t accept in every particular but that is well within the broad mainstream of plausible policy alternatives.
[S]he has kept her rhetoric civil and inclusive, in the face of an opponent bent on trashing the norms of democratic discourse. This is no mere style point. It is in a way substantive too, because this election has taken on importance beyond the already-high stakes for national policy; it has turned into a trial of our democratic culture. Certainly, Ms. Clinton has found ways to needle her opponent. But by preparing for the debates, using them to advance rational arguments and refraining from responding in kind to Mr. Trump’s lowest blows, Ms. Clinton has exemplified what’s still good about that culture. In fact, you might say she has reminded people of what’s good about “establishment” politicians . . . .
[W]e question the common assumption that any conventional Republican would be trouncing Ms. Clinton — especially because most of the Republicans usually cited were themselves trounced by the man now trailing the Democratic nominee. Ms. Clinton’s performance has apparently won her more appreciation from the electorate — a precious measure of political capital she will badly need if it does indeed fall to her to unite the country next year.

The GOP is Past the Point of No Return

As noted in numerous posts, I believe that the Republican Party is beyond the point of no return.  The cancer of Christofascists, white nativists, and outright open racists within the party - and its local city/county committee base - has metastasized to a point where there is no realistic possibility of reform.   The GOP faces either a slow and agonizing death or perhaps a massive flame out in the wake of what will be a historic defeat for Donald Trump and, with luck, many down ticket Republicans.  A piece in Slate looks at the spectacle of the death of a major political party.  Here are highlights:
For most of the now almost-forgotten vice presidential debate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence kept his cool, ignoring, deflecting, or outright denying any effort by Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine to tie him to his running mate, Donald Trump. But it’s hard to keep your composure for the length of a debate. It takes work. And toward the end of the 90-minute showdown, Pence began to falter, and then with a single infelicitous phrase he evoked the only wall Trump will ever build: the one between the Republican Party and Latino voters. It happened after Kaine returned to Trump’s rhetoric, pressing Pence to answer for his running mate’s insults and bigotry. “When Donald Trump says women or Mexicans are rapists and criminals … or John McCain is not a hero, he is showing you who he is,” said the Virginia senator, to which Pence had a reply. “Senator,” he said, “you’ve whipped out that Mexican thing again.” Adding, “There are criminal aliens in this country, Tim, who have come into this country illegally who are perpetrating violence and taking American lives.” That Mexican thing. That Mexican thing, to be precise, is Trump’s anti-Hispanic demagoguery, which stretches back to the beginning of the campaign. . . . They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” Hispanic voters, who see Trump as an unacceptable risk. This is no small thing. Political parties can make inroads with groups that disagree with them—that’s just persuasion. But it’s difficult, if not impossible, to make gains with groups that see you as a danger to their futures. By placing Donald Trump at the top of the ticket and indulging his nativism and xenophobia, the Republican Party has said with its actions that it doesn’t want Latinos in its tent. Republicans may thus end up estranged from another group of nonwhite voters. . . . . the GOP has shown itself hostile to the idea of a pluralistic, multiracial America with room and opportunity for Americans of all origins.
 For Trump, Latino immigrants join Muslims and Syrian refugees as potential threats, fundamentally incompatible with American life. If they’re here, they have to be removed, and if they’re not here, they need to be kept out. In turn, for Latino Americans and their families, this makes Trump an existential threat to their lives and livelihoods. Only 21 percent of Latinos say the GOP cares about their community, and 70 percent say that Trump has made the Republican Party more hostile to them. . . . . Eighty-two percent of respondents agreed with the first statement, that Trump makes them fear for their families and their country. The repudiation of Goldwater [in 1964] would be the last step in a realignment of black Americans that had begun in the days of Franklin Roosevelt. From then on, the national Republican Party would struggle to crack double digits with black voters, despite the strength of traditional beliefs and practices among black communities, from religious practice to traditions of self-help and self-reliance. The reason was straightforward: Goldwater wasn’t just offensive; he articulated a vision of national life that would inevitably leave black Americans on the margins as second-class citizens, subject to the whims of segregationists and their allies. And if Goldwater didn’t see it, his explicitly anti-black allies did. Republican politics—is a white ideology. Unresponsive to the particular concerns of nonwhites—around issues of discrimination and racial inequality—it is a drive to preserve a status quo built around the political and economic dominance of white Americans. This is more explicit in the age of Donald Trump, but it’s always been true, from Goldwater to the present.  The Great Recession supercharged anti-immigration—and anti-immigrant—sentiment among GOP voters, and Republican lawmakers followed along, passing restrictive new laws after the party swept statehouses in the 2010 midterm elections. Indeed, we saw an inkling of rising anti-Latino sentiment in 2009, when Obama’s nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court was met with a wave of racist criticism.  [V]oting and party affiliation are habits. Once set, they tend not to change. And looking forward from the present, there’s a real chance that Latino voting takes the same path as black voting, with routine and overwhelming support going to Democratic presidential candidates. Again, California gives us a glimpse of what this looks like. Following Republican Gov. Pete Wilson’s anti-immigrant crusades in the 1990s, Latino Californians moved decisively into the Democratic column. By the end of the last decade, the state was a Democratic stronghold, . . .
 And for those Republicans who don’t want Trump or Trumpism? It may be too late. The thing about a lily-white Republican Party is that it doesn’t have the diversity it needs to resist white resentment and white rage. Republicans crossed a point of no return. Raw ethnonationalism is their future, even if they don’t want it.

Friday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 1

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Will Arizona Go Blue for Clinton?

Michelle Obama in Arizona
Some of us - including the GOP's own post 2012 loss post mortem - have long said that the GOP was headed toward either oblivion or permanent minority party status if it did not reform itself, drop its racism and homophobia, and end its war on women.  All such warnings have fallen on deaf ears.  Now, as a piece in Politico notes, there is a chance that Arizona, a state that has voted Republican for 15 out of the last 16 election cycles, may go for Hillary Clinton. While Trump has exacerbated the GOP's problems with all but white Christofascists, the party's own policies and bigotry have not only created the problem but gave Trump a platform to use as a launch pad for his message of white nationalism, racism, and religious discrimination.  Here are article highlights:
PHOENIX — First lady Michelle Obama didn’t even need to say the word “Arizona” for the first 20 minutes of her rally here on Thursday to send shock waves across the state.
The very presence of the Democrats’ most coveted surrogate in the traditionally deep-red state was enough to send the message that Hillary Clinton is taking it seriously, and Obama’s appeal to local Democrats just hours after the final debate was designed to make the stakes clear.
The question in Arizona now isn’t whether a state that’s gone Republican in 15 of the past 16 elections is suddenly in play thanks to Trumpmany veteran Republicans concede that it is. The real question is whether Democrats, led by Clinton, are justified in believing that the country has just met its newest swing state.
 “I wouldn’t call it blue or even purple quite yet,” said a longtime Republican strategist with extensive experience in Arizona, who nevertheless expects Clinton to win the state because of Trump’s weaknesses. “I think it’s a perfect storm of factors that have really put it very much in play just this time around." Trump allies reject the idea that Democrats have anything close to a shot here, but even the state’s most skeptical operatives — who acknowledge that Democratic candidates still need to sway large numbers of independents to win state-wide — see Arizona’s battleground status as a fast-approaching reality.
That’s partly due to Trump’s unique unpopularity with Arizona’s large Native American and Mormon populations, Gary Johnson’s appeal to Libertarian-leaning voters in the western part of Arizona, and the conservative business community’s skepticism about Trump's tough talk on Mexico given the state’s trade relationship with the country.
It's why Democrats, led by Clinton’s campaign, are flooding the state with headline-grabbing surrogates — Obama, Bernie Sanders, and Chelsea Clinton — and homestretch advertising and get-out-the-vote resources to the tune of $2 million. And it’s why Democrats are eyeing a chance to lay the groundwork for 2018 and 2020.
One of Trump’s highest-profile long-standing Republican critics is Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, and now his colleague McCain has backed away from his own tepid Trump support, making for an uncomfortable dynamic within the state GOP leadership that recently skewered Washington pols who abandoned the nominee. 
Arizona’s Democrat-leaning Latino population is growing, which has helped shift Phoenix’s Maricopa County away from its Republican tradition, said veteran state Democratic operative Andrew Gordon. If that population were to vote more reliably — as it’s expected to in a year that features anti-illegal immigration crusader Arpaio on the ballot, and trailing — then the state would follow New Mexico and Nevada into the purple-tinted category, he said.

As I have said before, the GOP is focused on the past and caters to a demographic that is literally dying off.  I hope the Democrats put on a major push.  I want to see Trump suffer one of the worse losses in recent memory. The, just maybe, the GOP will get its head out of its ass and throw the Christofascists and white supremacists out of the party.  

Trump Makes an Ass of Himself at Annual Al Smith Fundraiser

UPDATED:  An other article in the Times sums up Trump at the event:

It seemed clear to everyone else. Mr. Trump was being booed at a charity dinner.

As regular readers know, I do not hold the Roman Catholic Church in very high esteem even - or perhaps because - I am a former Catholic.   I hold New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan (a/k/a Porky Pig) in even lower esteem given his past actions prior to coming to New York to screw over victims of priestly sex abuse in his prior diocese.   That said, in New York City there is a long tradition of politicians attending the Al Smith Fundraiser to raise funds to benefit disadvantaged youth through Catholic outreach programs. Driving home from dinner with the husband and friends I happened to catch a portion of Donald Trump's and Hillary Clinton's remarks at the event.  Trump apparently failed to read the memo about being self- deprecation and being funny.  His comments for the most part brought no laughs and many boos, especially as he launched into Hillary Clinton.  In comparison, as has been the case in the presidential debates, Clinton showed herself to be a class act. The New York Times looks at the evening and Trump's leaden performance.  Here are highlights:
Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump appeared together Thursday night for a ritzy gathering, delivering remarks at the white-tie Al Smith charity dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan.
In most presidential campaigns, the dinner, which benefits Roman Catholic charities, functions as a welcome respite, a forum for levity and self-deprecation in the throes of a heated election.
This year, it just so happens that two New Yorkers can also be found at the top of the ballot.
Here are the highlights:
• And so they came, in tails and fuchsia. The introduction of Melania Trump (sans pussybow), then Mrs. Clinton (to cheers and applause), then Mr. Trump (to slightly less effusive cheers, and scattered boos).
• Just like in the last two debates, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump did not shake hands. Instead they beamed and ignored one another, until the evening’s M.C., Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, the archbishop of New York, performed a veritable act of God — inserting himself between the two rivals, with no physical altercation.
Alfred E. Smith IV, the chairman of the dinner, seemed to offer a preview of what may await Mr. Trump as he tries to return to New York society life should he not win the White House in November.
“Before the dinner started, Trump went to Hillary and asked how are you,” Mr. Smith said, setting up the punch line. “She said, ‘I’m fine — now get out of the ladies’ dressing room.’”
Finally, he turned the podium over to Mr. Trump. “No matter how the coin toss ended, our next speaker was going to say it was rigged,” Mr. Smith said, to laughter. “Donald, the microphone is yours and it’s working.”
• Mr. Trump seemed to miss the self-deprecation memo . . . .
“Last night I called Hillary ‘a nasty woman’” Mr. Trump said, reprising a line from Wednesday’s debate that many found sexist and offensive. “But this stuff is all relative. After listening to Hillary rattle on and on and on, I don’t think so badly of Rosie O’Donnell anymore. In fact, I’m actually starting to like Rosie a lot.”
• Mrs. Clinton began with the traditional self-deprecating joke: “I took a break from my rigorous nap schedule to be here.” The audience, she added, should be grateful: “Usually I charge a lot for speeches like this.”
• Mrs. Clinton later turned cutting, with a biting edge of hard truth.
“It’s amazing I’m up here after Donald,” she said. “I didn’t think he’d be O.K. with a peaceful transition of power.”
Then, she spoke of the Statue of Liberty, recounting how for most Americans, the green lady of freedom represents a shining beacon and welcome for immigrants arriving on the nation’s shores. But Mr. Trump, she added with a glint of steel, “sees the Statue of Liberty and sees a four.”
• The person who seemed to enjoy the evening least was Mr. Trump. He sat with his arms tightly folded as Mrs. Clinton spoke, a similarly taut smile across his face. But when Mrs. Clinton returned to one of his favorite themes — her health — he seemed momentarily buoyed.
Mr. Trump, the Democratic nominee said, had chivalrously sent a car to ferry her to the dinner. “Actually, it was a hearse,” Mrs. Clinton said.  And finally, Mr. Trump laughed with real joy.
I think I despise Trump more with every passing day.  As for his supporters, I am aghast at how they allow their racism and misogyny to cause them to support a vile individual like Trump.  I am beginning to believe that the belong in the same category as Christofascists: they should not be welcomed in sane and polite company. 

Thursday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2

Did Trump Just Sink the GOP?

Making it clear that he holds American democracy and wants to "crown himself king" to quote one headline at Politico, many are saying that Donald Trump has increased the chances for an electoral catastrophe up and down the GOP ticket.  Frankly, I hope the prediction proves accurate and that the GOP suffers horrific defeats.  For decades now, the Republican Party has been a festering swamp of insanity and rejection of objective reality and facts.  Lead by the Christofascists who live in a fantasy world, science has been rejected as has all respect for science and knowledge.  Donald Trump is but one example of where the embrace of ignorance and bigotry has taken the GOP.  A piece in Politico looks at the initial reactions to Trump's devastating performance during last night's debate.  Here are excerpts:
Donald Trump’s rocky performance on the final debate stage did little to allay his party’s concerns that the GOP is headed for an electoral catastrophe up and down the ticket.
In interviews with over a dozen senior Republican strategists, not one said Trump did anything to change the trajectory of a contest that is growing further out of reach. And many said they were deeply distressed by Trump’s refusal to accept the results of the Nov. 8 election, an eyebrow-raising moment already dominating headlines.
With Trump’s prospects for securing 270 electoral votes growing dimmer by the day, many Republicans have turned their focus to the gritty, unpleasant task of protecting the party’s congressional majorities. Trump, they said, did little to buttress the GOP ticket — and may have worsened its position by repeating his claim that the election is rigged, something congressional Republicans are sure to be pressed on in the days to come.
Immediately after Trump’s remark, several party higher-ups, including South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, took to Twitter to distance themselves from it.
“The biggest loser tonight was not Trump, the presidential race is over,” said Robert Blizzard, a GOP pollster who is working on a number of congressional races. “Instead, down-ticket Republicans lost tonight — they needed some help and got absolutely none.”
While many candidates have taken a hit since the release of the bombshell “Access Hollywood” tape, party operatives maintain that the bottom hasn’t completely fallen out and that a down-ballot landslide isn’t necessarily in the cards.
Yet many Republicans were eager to see Trump deliver a steady performance, something that would stabilize his poll numbers at a time when surveys show him losing ground in traditionally conservative states like Arizona, Georgia, and Utah.
Steve Schmidt, who guided John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, said that Trump’s refusal to commit to accepting election results would overshadow any other strong moments he had.
“It’s the one and only headline that matters coming out of the debate,” said Schmidt. “It’s absolutely unprecedented for any presidential candidate in the history of the country.”
To some, the performance represented what’s gone awry with the Trump campaign. After exhibiting moments of discipline early on, he squandered it later — with his remarks on the election, with his refusal to criticize Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, and with his comment that Hillary Clinton is a “nasty woman.”  That Trump would go so far as to criticize Ronald Reagan . . . on trade policy, left some Republicans aghast.
[T]he debate could have longer-term repercussions, potentially increasing the urgency with which down-ballot Republicans begin presenting themselves as a “check and balance” to a Clinton presidency. In doing so, they would all but concede that Trump is destined to fall short.
“Trump was already behind,” said Bill Kristol, a Trump critic and the editor-in-chief of the conservative publication The Weekly Standard. “He didn't help himself tonight, indeed he hurt himself. He's very likely to lose, and to lose badly. He'll drag the Senate and House down with him unless Senate and House candidates can make the case they're needed to check and balance Hillary.”

The moral?  Never nominate someone who is mentally ill to be your party's standard bearing.  The GOP deserves whatever catastrophes that may be the result of such irresponsible behavior and actions. 

Trump's Repudiation of American Democracy

I have always viewed Trump as a clear and present danger to America ever since he launched his narcissism driven campaign.  Last night he confirmed it for all to see when he refused to confirm that he would aide by the election results, win or lose.  His refusal should come as no surprise give the narcissistic personality disorder he seemingly suffers from.  A disorder exhibited by many of history's worse tyrants, including Hitler, Stalin - and perhaps Vladimir Putin.  Everything is ALWAYS about them, they are never wrong, and they cannot handle that people might reject them and/or their dangerous agenda.  The main editorial in the Washington Post sums up Trump's self-centered, ego driven existence and the threat that he (and some of his insane supporters) poses to the country.  Here are highlights:
DONALD TRUMP showed a bit more self-control in the third and final presidential debate Wednesday night than he had in the previous two. His back and forth with Hillary Clinton was more substantive, thanks in part to firm guidance from moderator Chris Wallace. But all of that was overshadowed by Mr. Trump’s breathtaking refusal to say that he will accept the results of the election.
“I will look at it at the time,” he said. “The media is so dishonest and so corrupt . . . they poison the minds of the voters . . . She should never have been allowed to run for the presidency.”
Ms. Clinton rightly called his stance a “horrifying” repudiation of U.S. democracy. Respecting the will of the voters has since the end of the Civil War allowed for a peaceful transition of power that has made this country the envy of the world.
Next to that, policy issues seem small. Yet the policy discussion was clarifying also, exposing as it did Mr. Trump’s ignorance of — or is it distaste for? — facts and policy. He again insisted that the North American Free Trade Agreement has sucked jobs from the country, when economists have found otherwise. He indicated the debt would take care of itself under his economic plan because “we will have created a tremendous economic machine,” which is pure snake oil. 
In another striking moment, Mr. Trump denied that the Russian government has been meddling in this election, refusing to accept the judgment of the country’s intelligence community. Ms. Clinton said “the most important question” was whether Mr. Trump would acknowledge Moscow’s interference. Mr. Trump at first declined to do so, saying he doubted the reports by U.S. intelligence agencies. He avoided any criticism of Russia’s Vladi­mir Putin, repeatedly insisting it would be “good” to get along with Russia, with no mention of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and other actions that have made getting along difficult.
When Mr. Wallace turned to the scandals that have dominated the past month, Mr. Trump incorrectly insisted that the women who have come forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct have been “debunked.”
These are gaps that would have been probed and tested in a normal campaign. They fade to the status of trivia in the face of an opponent who will not accept the basic rules of American democracy.

The man is very, very dangerous and the spineless leadership of what's left of the GOP must act decisively to rein this Frankenstein monster in under control.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 1

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2

Trump and the Rot at the Core of the "Religious Right"

If nothing else, Donald Trump's presidential campaign has starkly revealed the moral bankruptcy of the falsely labeled "Religious Right."  Many of the movement's leaders have shown a total disregard for morality and the Gospel message has they have sworn fealty to Donald Trump in exchange for what they see as promises of power for themselves. As one who has followed disingenuously named "family values" organizations - many of which have now garnered a hate group designation from the Southern Poverty Law Center that monitors extremist groups - for close to two decades, none of this should come as a surprise.  Anti-abortion extremism and then anti-LGBT extremism (after abortion ceased to be a cash cow) has lined the pockets of organization leaders and allowed them to demand a seat at the table in Republican power maneuvers.  As for the so-called "good Christians," most have been as typically is the case far too quiet in condemning thier hate-filled and power hungry coreligionists.  A piece in the New York Times looks at how Trump has revealed such groups for the horrible entities that they are in fact.  Here are highlights:
Donald J. Trump had already roiled the religious right, casting the Republican Party’s most reliable voting bloc into an abyss of despair, recriminations and uncertainty about the future. Then the 2005 video surfaced of him boasting about his sexual predations and women began coming forward to accuse him of sexual assault.
“The world is getting a glimpse into the dark and rotting core of evangelicalism,” an evangelical with deep roots in the movement told me recently.
The divide — or, more aptly, the crater — between pro-Trump and anti-Trump evangelicals is a window into the future of the Republican Party. White evangelical voters are the heart of the party’s base, the loyal foot soldiers who turn out for the party’s presidential nominee every time. A poll by the Public Religion Research Institute taken in part after the video’s release shows 65 percent of white evangelicals intending to vote for Mr. Trump.
Most telling, though, is the significant gender gap: while 72 percent of white evangelical men said they intend to vote for Mr. Trump, only 58 percent of white evangelical women did.
A defection by even 15 percent or 20 percent of Republican evangelicals from lock-step support for the party could be a major contributing factor to a collapse of the its national electoral viability. But that is just one measure of the splintering of this devoted voting bloc. The movement is also being subjected to a very public display of division between the pro- and anti-Trump camps and open talk among evangelicals about pro-Trump leaders’ plummeting credibility.
The Monday after America heard Mr. Trump’s vulgar boasting, Ralph Reed, the political strategist thought to have a genius for turning out evangelical voters, delivered a full-throated defense of why Christians should vote for the nominee to students at Liberty University. That same day, Mark DeMoss, a highly regarded Christian public relations professional who, in the 1980s, was the chief of staff to Liberty’s founder, Jerry Falwell Sr., told me, “The evangelical movement has, in my view, forfeited any future moral authority in American public life.” Mr. DeMoss, himself a Liberty alumnus, was asked to resign from the university board’s executive committee in February after he was publicly critical of the endorsement of Mr. Trump by Liberty’s president, Jerry Falwell Jr.
Yet the reaction of a group of Liberty students provided another data point in the unfolding evangelical power collapse. The students released a letter declaring that Mr. Trump “is absolutely opposed to what we believe, and does not have our support.”
Although its leaders may not admit it, the political apparatus of the religious right that has persisted in supporting Mr. Trump’s candidacy is driven by a quest to retain a seat at a potential Republican White House table.
But capitulating to Mr. Trump has stripped those leaders of their leverage. In previous elections, they vetted the candidates, dangling the indispensable evangelical vote in exchange for promises about Supreme Court justices and dedication to “Christian values.” Mr. Trump reversed that dynamic. . . . . His most Trumpian promise is his pledge to repeal the Johnson Amendment, a rarely enforced law that bars houses of worship and other nonprofit groups from using tax-exempt resources to endorse political candidates.
“It will take a long time,” Jerushah Armfield, an evangelical writer and the granddaughter of the iconic evangelist Billy Graham, told me, “for evangelicals to redeem their moral credibility — if they even can.”
There remains one thing that could still unite conservative evangelicals: a Hillary Clinton presidency. It’s still entirely foreseeable that the religious right, along with other pro-Trump partisans, would fight Mrs. Clinton’s legislative agenda, her Supreme Court nominees and even the legitimacy of her election.
By hitching their wagon to Mr. Trump, religious-right leaders are also tying their fortunes to the alt-right, the predominant movement supportive of, and bolstered by, the Trump campaign. As a largely secular movement, though, the alt-right not only is uninterested in the religious right’s concerns, it also threatens to eclipse the religious right within the Republican Party. And it’s a movement simmering with racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism.

The moral authority of evangelical Christians was always misplaced and stemmed, in my view, from undeserved deference on the part of most of the media.  The ugly truth has been there for decades if one bothered to look for it.  Here in Virginia, The Family Foundation continues to be the puppeteer of the Virginia GOP as it pushes its agenda of hate, bigotry, and false piety.