Saturday, October 29, 2016
This country would be such a different and better place if we had a responsible news media. Yesterday, the FBI announced what appears to be a dubiously based re-opening of the Clinton e-mail investigation. The problem is, that from what information that is available, the e-mails at the root of the "new" story are not even those of Clinton herself. One very politically involved friend summarized the situation as follows:
So, here are a few things to keep in mind from news reports right now about FBI Director Comey and the "emails": 1) The e-mails Comey announced today were NOT originally withheld by Clinton or campaign (source: NBC) 2) Newly discovered emails related to Clinton investigation did not come from her private server (source: AP) 3) The e-mails mentioned in Comey's letter were discovered "on another device" tied to an unrelated case (source: NBC) 4) The emails were discovered during the FBI's inquiry into Anthony Weiner's sexting (source: New York Times)To me, it all seems like an overtly political move today.And none of it suggests it has anything to do with Hillary Clinton directly!!!
A piece in Salon further supports this reasoning. Here are highlights:
The emails that the FBI are looking into did not come from Hillary Clinton’s private server.The emails in question, according to the New York Times, came from seized electronic devices belonging to Anthony Weiner and his recently estranged wife, Huma Abedin.
NBC’s Pete Williams reported late Friday that the newly discovered emails the FBI teased in a letter came from a “device” involved in a separate investigation.
Williams appeared on MSNBC to give an update on what his sources were telling him.
“What they say is that in the course of a separate investigation, they came across a device — they won’t say whether it is a computer or cell phone, but that it’s some device — and that in looking at that, that led them to some other emails,” Williams said. “But they are not emails from Hillary Clinton.”
“It doesn’t appear that the campaign, or the Clintons, or the State Department, had emails that they didn’t give to the FBI,” William said.
When FBI director James Comey announced the investigation in a letter, political commentators were already speculating how much damage this would cause the Clinton campaign. And because Comey’s letter was light on details, conjecture and guesswork dominated the cable news networks.
But as new details come forward, it appears this newest development is much to do about nothing. The AP recently corroborated Williams’ reporting, writing in a tweet that the emails “did not come from [Clinton’s] private server.”Clinton campaign chair John Podesta released a statement in response to the FBI letter, requesting Comey to provide any and all information he has related to the latest inquiry. “The Director owes it to the American people to immediately provide the full details of what he is now examining,” the statement read. “We are confident this will not produce any conclusions different form the once the FBI reached in July.”
Comey seems more worried about covering his ass than getting to the truth or avoiding the misleading of Americans. Regardless of who wins on November 8, 2016, Comey needs to go.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory who prostituted himself to Right wing Christian by signing HB2 continues to get pummeled for the damage he has done to North Carolina's economy. Now, the Charlotte Observer reports on how the Roanoke Times of Roanoke, Virginia, endorsed McCrory for all the economic good he has done for Virginia and the Roanoke area in particular. As I have said many times, bigotry does have its price as does social backwardness - think Gloucester County, Virginia - when communities are vying to attract good paying jobs. Progressive businesses do not want to locate in areas defined by discrimination. Here are highlights from the Observer:
From an editorial published Friday in the Roanoke (Va.) Times:
Which candidate would do the most to help our local economy? That’s easy. It’s Pat McCrory, the Republican governor of North Carolina, who’s seeking his second four-year term in the November election. We can point to specific and multiple ways he has helped the economy – our economy. North Carolina panicked and made a spectacle of itself by passing HB2, its so-called “bathroom bill.” In response, various companies and even sports leagues pulled events from the state. Three of those have wound up in Salem — the NCAA Division III men’s and women’s soccer championships, as well as the Division II Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association football championship. That’s money in the bank for us.
McCrory has given Virginia a competitive advantage in economic development, as well. When the University Economic Development Association recently held its national conference in Roanoke, the keynote speaker highlighted a North Carolina program to encourage partnerships between colleges and companies, as a way help recruit technology companies interested in research and development. The speaker hailed it as a model for other states to follow as they try to build a “knowledge economy.” Then the speaker noted that McCrory had cancelled it. The pro-business audience groaned.
On Monday, a data company picked Richmond as the site for a new office, with 730 jobs. Industry officials said it beat out Charlotte specifically because of HB2.
Feel free to argue all you want which presidential candidate would be best, but it’s clear that Virginia would be best served if North Carolina re-elected McCrory.
An understaffed U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to take the appeal of the spineless and bigoted Gloucester County School Board from the ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth that struck down the school board ruling denying gender identity appropriate bathroom use to high school student, Gavin Grimm. With the evenly split court, the ruling when it comes could be a tie and leave the lower court ruling as the binding law for the states within the 4th Circuit (which include North Carolina) while leaving the law unsettled across the rest of the nation. One can only hope that a majority of the justices will rule in favor of Grimm and transgender individuals across the nation. It should also be noted that notwithstanding lies disseminated by Christofascist organizations (including the disingenuously named and stridently anti-LGBT Alliance Defending Freedom), there are ZERO instances of inappropriate behavior by transgender individuals in restrooms. The same cannot be said for Republican elected officials. Here are highlights from the Washington Post.
The Supreme Court said Friday that it will decide whether the Obama administration may require public school systems to let transgender students use bathrooms that align with their gender identity, putting the court once again at the center of a divisive social issue.
School districts across the country are split on how to accommodate transgender students amid conflicting guidance from courts, the federal government and, in some cases, state legislatures that have passed laws requiring people to use public restrooms that match the sex on their birth certificates.
The justices accepted a petition from the School Board of Gloucester County, Va., seeking to overturn a lower court’s order that 17-year-old Gavin Grimm, who was born female but identifies as male, be allowed to use the boys’ restroom during his senior year of high school.
It is the most high-profile case the eight-member court has accepted since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February. The case will not be heard until next year, and it is unclear whether Scalia’s seat will be filled by then.
In an interview Friday, Grimm said it was unfair that he will continue to be barred from the boys’ bathroom at Gloucester High until the case is decided. He said he tries to avoid going to the bathroom altogether at school but uses the nurse’s bathroom when necessary.
Grimm, referred to as G.G. in court papers, came out as a transgender boy in his freshman year of high school and, as a result of hormone therapy, has a deep voice and facial hair, his lawyers told the court.
“We’re prepared to make our case to the court and to make sure the Supreme Court and people in general see Gavin as who he is and see trans kids across the country for who they are,” said Grimm’s attorney, Joshua Block of the American Civil Liberties Union. Grimm “is not trying to dismantle sex-segregated restrooms. He’s just trying to use them.”
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit sided with him in April, ruling that his case could move forward. It deferred to the Obama administration’s position that Title IX, the federal law banning sex discrimination in public schools, protects the rights of transgender students to use school bathrooms that align with their gender identity.
A month after the 4th Circuit decision, the U.S. Education Department issued that same guidance to the rest of the nation’s public schools.
The petition said the case provides the court an opportunity to reexamine a 1997 precedent, Auer v. Robbins, that affords deference to an agency’s interpretation of its regulations. It has been criticized by several conservative justices, but the court earlier this year turned down a chance to revisit it and did the same in accepting the Gloucester case.
“This is one of the most important days in the history of the transgender movement,” Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said in a statement. “Whatever the court rules . . . may ensure that transgender people are accepted and included as equal members of our society, or it may relegate them to outsiders for decades to come.”
Remember that the entire issue arose in Gloucester County because of the insistence of a group of rabble rousing Christofascists who seek to inflict their belief system on all citizens. It their view, only they have rights and everyone else must defer to their beliefs. They represent, in my view, a toxic cancer on society.
Friday, October 28, 2016
For a political party that once prided itself as being thoughtful, respectful of knowledge and science, and tethered to objective reality, today's Republican Party has descended into something akin to a lunatic asylum or a crowd of zombies from the walking dead. Leading the way in this celebration of ignorance and bigotry are hypocrites like Paul Ryan, Jason Chaffetz, and a host of others. At the top of the party, is the narcissistic egomaniac named Donald Trump who would make P.T. Barnum blush when it comes to peddling the outlandish and untrue. Most frightening of all is that I see no way for the GOP to throw off the insanity and bigotry that now define it. At least not until the Christofascists, know nothings, and white supremacist are driven from the fold, and that simply is not going to happen. A column in Salon looks at this state of affairs. Here are excerpts:
Let’s congratulate Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT). He made news twice on the same day. First there was his Wednesday announcement that, as Chairman of the House Government Oversight Committee, he or someone on his staff has pulled enough bullshit links about Hillary Clinton from right-wing websites to keep them busy for at least two years and more likely for the length of however many terms she serves as president.Later Wednesday, Chaffetz tweeted that even though just three weeks ago he pulled his endorsement of Donald Trump over the latter’s infamous “grab ‘em by the pussy” comments, he is still going to . And so Chaffetz becomes the latest member of the GOP’s “Vote for Him but Don’t Support or Endorse Him” caucus, made up of Republican lawmakers who that their party nominated for president a racist, misogynistic demagogue but will nonetheless on November 8 because Hillary Clinton is somehow worse.
It has become fashionable to or at least in a deep coma with little hope of recovery. The civil war now between Trumpism, as represented by the behind Trump’s campaign, and the #NeverTrump crowd that includes the and the “intellectual” wing of the GOP, is at its roots a battle between two packs of hyenas over which one gets to pick the corpse’s bones clean.
Chaffetz’s actions this week, though, brought to mind another metaphor. The GOP is a zombie party, shambling across the countryside, spreading terror and devouring any living creature it comes across. There is no hope of reversing the condition. But unlike in, say, “The Walking Dead” or a George Romero movie, you can’t kill it forever by planting an ax in its head.
And unfortunately, because the GOP zombie cannot be killed, we are going to be stuck working our lives around it for the indefinite future.
Normally a major American political party functions as a coalition of disparate interests, all united under one banner for the purpose of achieving power and advancing interests. This has been true even in the Republican Party despite its growing ever more conservative over the years and driving its last liberal members out.
[T]he party has broken apart into warring factions. The Trumpist wing has access to and control over much of the party’s . Some of the true believers in conservatism as a political philosophy are talking about with independent candidate and forming a new, true conservative party. Neo-conservatives like Bill Kristol have not yet figured out what to do.
The problem, as Chaffetz’s announcements this week show, is that despite all the divisions in the GOP, despite it being at this point not much more than a bunch of mailing lists and a scream reflex every time it hears the name “Clinton,” the party is still going to hold a significant amount of power in American politics.
And what is it telling the voters it will use all that power for? Non-stop investigations of the Clinton administration. Refusing to vote on a new Supreme Court justice to replace Antonin Scalia. Probably some Obamacare repeal votes and new efforts at suppressing the vote for minorities that overwhelmingly support Democrats.
What the GOP will not be doing is anything resembling governing. Like the zombie herds that are forever chasing humans across the landscape of “The Walking Dead,” it will amble along in a brainless rage, mindlessly attacking and attempting to devour any living creature that crosses its path. It will have no purpose beyond that. Any member of the party who has not become fully zombified will find himself chased down, bitten, and reborn as a sentient corpse, wandering the land looking for a member of the Clinton administration to subpoena.
As noted before, the husband and I are lucky enough to know Gavin Grimm and have hosted him in our home. It is difficult to describe this articulate and thoughtful young man as anything short of amazing. The same holds for his parents, especially his mother Deirdra, who have stood by their child unlike so many "godly Christians" who have thrown out their LGBT children as if they are inferior and akin to garbage. It is also telling that Gavin's entire saga and the legal battle that now may be heard before the United States Supreme Court, in my opinion, stems solely from the desire of Christofascists in Gloucester County who seek to punish Gavin - indeed, anyone who is LGBT - for failing to adhere to their poisonous religious beliefs and ignorant views on gender. Gavin has a column in the Washington Post that explains his saga, but also notes the thing missed and/or ignored by the self-congratulatory "godly folk" - we are all just people, created by god, nature or whatever deity one believes in, who did not choose who we are. The self-satisfied and falsely pious crowd forget that they had NO role in deciding if they would be born white or black, Christian or Muslim, gay or straight or, like Gavin, transgender. Here are to me the telling excerpts from Gavin's op-ed:
If you told me two years ago that the Supreme Court was going to have to approve whether I could use the school restroom, I would have thought you were joking.I was using men’s restrooms in restaurants and shopping malls, so I told the principal I would like to use the boys’ restrooms at school, too. I thought then, perhaps naively, that this common-sense “issue” would be resolved quietly and privately, as it should have been.
If only. Even though I used the restrooms for almost two months without any disturbance, a group of parents and community members heard that “a girl” was using the boys’ restroom and began complaining. Instead of supporting me and the decision of the school administrators, the school board convened two public meetings, inviting the community to discuss my genitals and restroom usage in front of reporters and television cameras.
What keeps me going is the knowledge that I am not the only transgender student out there, and I have the chance to make things better so other transgender kids do not have to go through what I am going through. With each step, my potential for positive impact has increased. First within my school district. Then within the federal courts, where a U.S. District Court ruling in my favor was stayed by the Supreme Court while it considers whether to take my case. And now potentially across the nation, depending on what the Supreme Court justices decide to do.
I did not choose to announce to the news media that I am transgender. My school board made that decision for me. But now that I am visible, I want to use my position to help the country see transgender people like me as real people just living our lives. We are not perverse. We are not broken. We are not sick. We are not freaks. We cannot change who we are. Our gender identities are as innate as anyone else’s.
If the Supreme Court does take up my case, I hope the justices can see me and the rest of the transgender community for who we are — just people — and rule accordingly.
In prior posts, I have identified the two-bit pastor who I believe put the entire issue into motion. Like many of his ilk, he has no respect for the religious freedom rights of others and seeks to punish anyone who rejects his ignorance and bigotry based beliefs. What I find so disturbing is that gutless and spineless elected officials continue to give deference to such people and their beliefs. And as a side note, remember that if one scratches the surface of most of the leading :"family values" groups, you find a white supremacist lurking beneath the surface. These are not nice and decent people. The sooner society as a whole recognizes this reality, the better off we will be as a nation.
Thursday, October 27, 2016
For years now I have argued that no self-respecting gay individual could be a Republican unless they were (i) greed driven and obsessed with not paying taxes, (ii) openly racist, or (iii) suffering from deep seated internalized homophobia. Now, a similar argument can be made about women who remain in and/or support GOP notwithstanding all of the anti-woman Republicans starting with Donald Trump and ranging to all of his male apologists. To Trump and his male defenders, women are merely an object to be possessed and used by men. They are second class citizens who some in the far right would like to even see disenfranchised, a sentiment that will increase if women overwhelmingly support Hillary Clinton on November 8, 2016. It is one thing to admire a woman's beauty - or a man's beauty as in this blog's male beauty posts - and something far different and uglier to see them merely as victims to be grabbed and assaulted at will to gratify a male's pathetic ego. A piece in the New York Times looks at how many women in the GOP may be about to finally say "enough!" Here are highlights:
Donald J. Trump has polarized men and women, with the sexes parting ways to such a degree that Election Day could produce the biggest gender gap in decades.And now that division is being amplified by a gender war in the Republican Party itself. Men and women are taking sides over accusations of Mr. Trump’s mistreatment of women, with the latest controversy a blistering exchange between Newt Gingrich and Megyn Kelly of Fox News.
Increasing numbers of Republican women have turned on their party’s male leaders for defending Mr. Trump against accusations that he groped or forcibly kissed more than 10 women. Many are complaining publicly that for years, they stood up for the party against Democrats who accused it of pursuing a “war on women.” They are unable to do so any longer, they say, and they see hypocrisy in Republican men rallying behind Mr. Trump after the same leaders for years accused former President Bill Clinton of predatory behavior.
“These are spineless men,” said Brittany Pounders, a Republican activist and political blogger from Houston.
The latest CBS News poll, released last week, found that Hillary Clinton held a 19-percentage-point lead over Mr. Trump among women likely to vote. Among Republican women, 79 percent supported Mr. Trump. That was far below the 93 percent of Republican women who voted for Mitt Romney in 2012.
Republican strategists with an expertise in reaching women are anxious that Mr. Trump’s candidacy will damage the party’s ability to appeal to them for years to come.
“I think we’ll see a lot of women walk away from the party over this,” said Katie Packer, who was Mr. Romney’s deputy campaign manager. “What you’re seeing is 20 years, 30 years of frustration coming together and really, really compounded in the last couple of weeks.”
“Men on our team don’t get how serious this is,” she said. “I think we’re all kind of disgusted that they don’t get that.”
In regions of battleground states with many college-educated Republican women, such as Northern Virginia and the Philadelphia suburbs, Mr. Trump is in peril with these voters long loyal to the party.
Some Republican women are now openly organizing to support Mrs. Clinton. “Being a Republican woman is very different from being a Democratic woman,” said Jennifer Pierotti Lim, who leads a group called Republican Women for Hillary. “This sentiment that Newt Gingrich was speaking to — if you’re a woman, you shouldn’t be offended by these things, you just should think about the issues — that’s pervasive.”
One of them is Wendy Lynn Day, who was pushed out of a leadership role at the Michigan Republican Party last week after refusing to endorse Mr. Trump. She criticized her party’s male leaders, saying that in past years, they had proclaimed that morality and character mattered in a president, but that they were ignoring that principle when it came to Mr. Trump.
“When we stood up and voiced our concerns about Bill Clinton taking advantage of a young intern and allegedly abusing all of those women, we were standing on the moral high ground,” Ms. Day said. “We gave away some of that moral high ground by the way we treated the women who’ve come forward with allegations about Donald Trump.”
“When your leaders come out and make excuses and use biblical analogies to defend and promote Donald Trump,” she added, “that to me crosses a line I’m not comfortable with.”
As many news outlets have reported, including The Guardian, the Vatican has sought to ban Catholics who choose to be cremated from having their ashes scattered or kept in family homes in urns, etc. A blogger friend, Tony Adams who is a former Catholic priest who once served at the Vatican gets to the heart of what truly motivates this move, and its not points of theology:
Want to know why the Catholic Church is mandating that cremated remains be placed in a consecrated cemetery? When I was a brand new assistant pastor of a Connecticut parish, my pastor advised me to choose a parish that owned a cemetery when it came time for me to become the pastor of my own parish. He said cemeteries are huge money-makers. Current increase in cremation and private disposition of ashes cuts off a revenue stream that the Catholic Church has enjoyed for ages. It's always about the money.
Money - and the power to control the lives of others - have always been the true twin gods of the Vatican and the Catholic Church hierarchy. One of the many reasons I left Catholicism.
|GOP's Barbara Comstock - political whore to Donald Trump|
In less than two weeks, Democrats and decent minded people have an opportunity to send a loud and clear message of what America is really about and what our values consist of. Yes, Donald Trump needs to be sent to an ignominious defeat, but so too must many Republican office holders who have been complicit in his misogyny through either their endorsements of the man or by their refusal to condemn both Trump and his policies of hate and division, not to mention his crude mindset that celebrates the sexual assault of women by disgusting men like himself. This is election is an opportunity to stand up for morality and decency, something utterly lacking in Donald Trump and in those who have put their political party ahead of the nation and the morality that Republicans falsely claim to uphold. Those without the moral courage to condemn Trump and/or who continue to endorse him need to be sent into political retirement. A column in the Washington Post makes this case:
It is a message Democrats will be sending in suburban precincts all over the United States during the 2016 campaign’s final days: Defeating Donald Trump isn’t enough. Fully rejecting Trumpism also means routing Republican House and Senate candidates who showed any ambivalence in pushing back against a nominee that so many upscale voters regard with horror.
Rudra Kapila, a Democratic organizer, explained the mission . . . . “is to get folks to vote Democrat down the ballot.”
It’s an objective that really matters in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District, where Republican incumbent Barbara Comstock faces Democrat LuAnn Bennett in one of the most closely contested House races in the country. If Democrats are to have any chance of gaining the 30 seats they need to take over the House — a long shot still — they have to win in places like this, where Hillary Clinton is expected to enjoy large margins.
Comstock, a staunch conservative and longtime Clinton critic, is well aware that Trump is poison for many of her constituents. . . . . it took Comstock far too long to get to that point [of denouncing Trump]. “My question to her is: Where have you been? Why now and not before?” Bennett said in an interview after she greeted the volunteers. “She has been one of the many, many enablers of Donald Trump. She spent most of this presidential campaign dancing on the head of a pin.”
Many vulnerable suburban Republican candidates have waltzed around Trump because they need votes both from his supporters and also from independents and Republicans who loathe him.
Many of the more rural and working-class districts that were friendly to Democrats when the party took back the House in 2006 are now reliably Republican. Democrats have moved their hopes up the class scale and further into the suburbs.
By making even more highly educated, metropolitan and ethnically heterogeneous seats competitive, Trump is speeding up a political transition that was already underway. It will be a problem for Republicans in the longer run, even if they hang on to the House this year, as a more diverse electorate and a new generation that is primarily moderate or progressive comes to predominate in more districts.
The Trump effect has already improved the Democrats’ chances of taking the Senate. In the House, they are now on track to add about a dozen seats, and pickups in the high teens or low 20s are quite possible.
Virginia’s Bennett sees Trump creating a “lose-lose” situation for her opponent. That’s why she and scores of other Democrats will not let voters forget the name that sits, like a very heavy weight, at the top of the Republican ticket.
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
On Friday afternoon the husband and I and several friends are setting sail on the Carnival Sunshine (pictured above) on a cruise out of Norfolk to Nassau, the Dominican Republic and Grand Turk before returning to Norfolk eight days later. As seems to be the norm when we travel, we are engaged in frenzied preparations, both at work and on the home front to be ready for what we hope will be a relaxing trip. At work, as seems always to be the case, I am working to complete work and put out fires. Naturally, I will have my laptop with me and be checking office e-mail regularly.
At home, we had to find a new house sitter to stay at our home and babysit the two dogs. Unlike in 2013, we will not be holding a political fundraiser at our home the day before we sail (we held an event for Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring in 2013).
As I have done in the past, I will be posting about our trip and my views on news events and all things gay. Posting frequency may well be reduced.
I write often about the ugly elements of the political and religious right here in America who seek to overthrow constitutional government in favor of either a strong man dictatorship or a Christian theocracy. Sadly, they have historical precedents from the past in other countries. One that springs immediately to mind is Germany. Germany in the late 1920's and early 1930's when far too many Germans put a restoration of perceived past national glory and bygone era ahead of democracy and true morality. The consequences for Germany and the world were horrific. Yet, as The New Republic reports, more and more Republicans and others on the right are seemingly longing to throw away democracy and/or strip others of voting rights. Some even hold up Vladimir Putin as an exemplary leader. It is frightening phenomenon and underscores the growing desperation and radicalism of today's American right wing. Here are highlights:
The single most ominous thing that Donald Trump said in all three presidential debates was a misguided attempt at a quip: “I’ll keep you in suspense, okay?” Moderator Chris Wallace, of course, had posed what would normally be the ultimate softball question for any presidential candidate: Would he accept the results of the election? And even after all his rhetoric about the “rigged” election, even with his increasingly urgent warnings about voter fraud, Trump’s answer came as a jolt. Because it happened in a debate, not during one of his rabble-rousing rallies, it felt like an official declaration that the GOP presidential nominee was prepared to incite a legitimacy crisis rather than accept that he’s lost to a woman.
As always with Trump, the temptation is to interpret this apostasy through the lens of individual psychology. . . . Yet such a personalized account of Trump’s behavior has the effect of letting his political party and his supporters off the hook. Not just for supporting him, but for sharing his grim view of American democracy.
Public-opinion polling shows that Trump’s low opinion of American elections has practically become Republican Party orthodoxy. According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Friday, Republicans have an “unprecedented” level of “concern and mistrust in the system.” Roughly 70 percent of Republican voters believe that if Hillary Clinton wins the election, it’ll be due to fraud.
This suspicious Republican electorate is joined by growing ranks of conservative politicians, pundits, and intellectuals. They’re all increasingly willing to say that the existing American political system is hopelessly flawed and needs to be rolled back to the days before blacks and women could vote. On the most obvious level, this can be seen in moves by Republican governors all over America to make voting more difficult, through stringent voting ID laws, new hurdles to registration, and the curtailment of early-voting options. Equally significant has been the gutting of key provisions of the Voting Rights Act by conservative Supreme Court justices in the 2013 Shelby Country v. Holder ruling.
But these overt forms of voting suppression are merely the most visible manifestations of a larger questioning of democracy on the political right. Trump’s anti-democratic rhetoric—and the eagerness of so many good, white patriotic Americans to cheer it and believe it—is a symptom of the larger trend on the political right toward doubting the legitimacy of the American system.
Suspicion of the democratic system is so pervasive on the right because it’s driven by the fear that white Christian America is facing demographic doom. The evidence is right there in the election results: Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections, and if current polling trends hold, the GOP will be batting one for seven when the results come in on November 8. Thanks to gerrymandering, Republicans may hold on to a U.S. House majority for a while, and they’ll remain competitive in state capitols in the near future. But a whites-only party can’t win national elections. And over time, the GOP’s congressional and state fortresses will crumble if the party doesn’t change dramatically. Or if the democratic system doesn’t change dramatically.
[S]ome leading religious conservatives have a different worry: the loss of Christian cultural hegemony. Back in 1999, First Things, a journal of the religious right, hosted a symposium called “The End of Democracy?” that was a precursor of things to come. Prominent Christians and Jews thrashed out the argument that American courts were so relentlessly secular that the entire political system might have to be overthrown. This was radical stuff. As editor Richard John Neuhaus wrote, “The question here explored, in full awareness of its far-reaching consequences, is whether we have reached or are reaching the point where conscientious citizens can no longer give moral assent to the existing regime.”
Over the last few years, it’s become evident that the First Things symposium was no outlier, but rather an early symptom of the religious right starting to think outside the American political system for solutions. More recently, a virtual Vladimir Putin cult has arisen among religious conservatives longing for a return to cultural purity. Putin’s macho bearing, his hostility to LGBT rights, and his fusion of nationalism with support for the Russian Orthodoxy all make him an attractive figure to right-wing Christians disenchanted with Obama’s socially liberal America.
Franklin Graham, heir to the most influential American evangelist, says Putin should be celebrated for taking “a stand to protect his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda,” even as “America’s own morality has fallen so far on this issue.” Rush Limbaugh cheers Putin for opposing “a full-frontal assault on what has always been considered normalcy.” Religious Right stalward Bryan Fischer, host of the radio program Focal Point, has hailed Putin as a “lion of Christianity.” Sam Rohrer, president of the America Pastors Network, calls the Russian president “the moral leader of the world.”
Beyond this election, beyond even the fate of the Republican Party, there is a significant minority of Americans who are giving up on democracy because it doesn’t serve their purpose of upholding a white Christian patriarchy. Trump is merely a symptom of this problem, and even if he fades as a political force after the election, the underlying disease will remain, and indeed will likely spread. The threat to the American system is not an armed revolt after November 8, but the growing number of Americans who are convinced that only “regime change” can save capitalism, Christianity, and America itself.
On a somewhat related note, the Boston Globe has a good piece on the Christofascists' backing of Trump and the moral bankruptcy and hypocrisy that has been exposed. The piece is here and deserves a full read.
I have often argued that the goal of today's GOP has been to somehow turn the clock back to the 1950's when, according to the party base's view, everything was golden and perfection. Unless, of course one is black, Hispanic, a woman, LGBT and/or non-religious. Indeed, everything that has made America a more equal society is viewed as bad by Trumpkins who long for unchallenged white privilege and a time when open bigotry was more acceptable. A piece in Salon looks new poll findings and at the troubling world view of Trump's base of support. It is an indictment of what the GOP has become and the ugliness that it has long cultivated. Now, it has spun out of control. Here are article excerpts:
If you ever had the sneaking suspicion that “Make America Great Again” was code for “Turn America’s clock back to the 1950s,” a new poll suggests you were absolutely right.
According to a survey published by the Public Religion Research Institute, 72 percent of likely voters supporting Donald Trump say America has changed for the worst since the 1950s. By contrast, 70 percent of likely voters supporting Hillary Clinton say that America has changed for the better since that decade.
Not surprisingly, these findings are also sharply divided based on racial lines. While 56 percent of white Americans say America has changed for the worse since the 1950s, 62 percent of African-Americans and 57 percent of Hispanic Americans say that it has changed for the better.
That said, 56 percent of college-educated white Americans also believe that America has changed for the better since the 1950s; 65 percent of white Americans without college degrees say that it has not.
The group that most yearns for the 1950s? White evangelical Protestants, 74 percent of whom think things have gotten worse.
Across the board, the study found that Democrats were more likely to care about social justice issues than Republicans. . . . 61 percent of Democrats said race relations mattered to them personally compared to only 31 percent of Republicans.
Sixty-three percent of Democrats believe that immigrants strengthen American society, whereas 73 percent of Republicans say that immigrants threaten American customs and values.
Finally, 77 percent of Democrats say that America would benefit from more women serving in political leadership roles, a sentiment 62 percent of Republicans disagree with.
The 1950s is a decade closely associated with the Cold War, McCarthy era witch hunts, and violent backlash to the civil rights movement. Although not explicitly incorporated in the themes of Trump’s campaign, the Republican nominee’s critics have long noted that “Make America Great Again” could be viewed as a dog whistle for a return to an era before our society’s major strides in racial and gender equality.
[The] message where ‘I’ll give you America great again’ is if you’re a white Southerner, you know exactly what it means, don’t you?”
Note how southern evangelical Christians lead the way in longing for the bad old days of the 1950's. The remain among the most selfish and self-centered people (and racist) and display a contempt for the Gospel message they claim to support by their opposition to equality and social justice. They should not be welcome in polite and decent society.
Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker is off the GOP reservation again, this time writing a column that places the blame for Donald Trump's rise and the metastasizing cancer within the Republican Party at the feet of the Republican National Committee ("RNC") which sold out to Trump or allowed themselves to be suckered and played for fools. The indictment, while certainly true, also applies far down the GOP's party structure and began years ago when those who should never have been elected to local party committees or allowed to win nominations were welcomed instead of being firmly rejected if not openly condemned. Trump is merely the logical extension of a failure of leadership that applies up and down the party hierarchy. Short turn opportunism and a refusal to reject extremists of all stripes - and a refusal to face objective reality - are what set the GOP on its march to insanity. Here are column highlights:
Perhaps the strongest indicator that Trump will lose is his own premature distribution of blame. As far as he is concerned, defeat couldn’t be his fault.The obvious truth is that Trump never should have been the Republican nominee, as even Trump probably would admit. When he descended the escalator to announce his candidacy, he was at just 1 percent — a barely perceptible speck on the continuum of Republican candidates.
He was ignored — or at least not taken seriously — by nearly everyone for good reason. And when he started spouting hot rhetoric, few in the GOP leadership worried much since he’d surely be moving along any day. This was not to be, in part because, as Trump commented laughing to a friend, who told me: “I had no idea it would be so easy.”
Translation: Once he realized he was dealing with a bunch of suckers, he continued to play them. What fun — and, voila.
The suckers of whom he was speaking are the party leadership, specifically: Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and RNC communications director Sean Spicer. If these names don’t ring a bell, congratulations, you don’t watch TV. Because Priebus, when not jetting around with Trump on his gold-plated private plane, and Spicer are on one talk show or another nearly every time you look at a cable news screen. They’ve worn more makeup the past year than most women do in a lifetime.
They’re the elephants in the green room, in other words. Everyone sees them clearly but manages to avoid speaking openly of the obvious — that Priebus has presided over the ruin of the Republican Party. Why isn’t he being held accountable? Why isn’t he being called to the mat for allowing Trump’s rise, which might not have been possible had the party chair done his job?
Why was everyone willing to stand by and watch this reality-TV character take charge?“Because [Priebus] is their boy,” a disgruntled top Republican told me. “He’s given them what they wanted. He’s kept the money flowing.”
The RNC gang sold out. When Trump launched his campaign by ranting about undocumented Mexicans as murderers and rapists, the party leadership should have shouted him down. Priebus should have summoned Trump to Washington and explained how things were going to go. He might have handed Trump the GOP’s autopsy report from the 2012 election and referred him to the “Hispanics” section of the chapter on cultivating “Demographic Partners,” saying: This is what you’re going to do from now on.
Would Trump have agreed? Probably not. But then Priebus should have said: Well, then, I’ll have to break you down during the primaries. At every opportunity, Priebus should have made the case that Trump, who eventually alienated not just Hispanics but also African Americans and women, doesn’t represent the Republican Party. Instead, Priebus and others feared a base that hadn’t formed around Trump yet and, by their inaction, contributed to Trump’s success.
By letting Trump rise to the top, as oil slicks tend to, Priebus has left the party in such a gelatinous mess Republicans will need a hazmat team to clean it up. And for this, he’d like to serve a third term?
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
One of the much noted aspects of Donald trump's candidacy is the manner in which it has helped mainstream white nationalists and other elements seeking to restore a white conservative Christian America and bring them out from the fringes of the Republican Party. Sadly, much of the GOP base seemingly has wildly embraced Trump and his message of racial division and hatred. Republican apologists try to claim that Trump has not openly courted the support of these elements, but as a long piece in Politico lays out, Trump has consistently sent dog whistle and coded messages to those with white nationalist and KKK ties and ideology. The messaging - which white nationalists see as being denied with a wink and a nod - has been too consistent to have been inadvertent or by mistake on the part of Trump, his surrogates and his campaign. As for Republicans who aren't racists (or who claim not to be), it would seem to be time for them to evacuate from the GOP's sinking ship. Here are highlights from Politico:
The embrace of Donald Trump by America’s white nationalists has been one of the most surprising and unsettling threads in the 2016 campaign. The celebrity New York developer has been endorsed by the nation’s most prominent neo-Nazis, as well as both current and former Klansmen. He is supported online by a legion of racist and anti-Semitic trolls, who push his campaign’s message and viciously attack journalists and politicians they see as hostile to Trump.
Whether deliberately or not, the candidate, his son Donald Jr. and his surrogates have circulated white nationalist messages and imagery online. The Republican National Committee even displayed a white nationalist’s tweet during the GOP convention.
How did the scattered legions of American white supremacists coalesce around a showboating New York mogul? I tracked this two-year evolution through thousands of posts and comments on scores of blogs and forums used by the most ideological racists. What these posts show is the story of a U.S. presidential candidate who slowly but relentlessly overcame widespread distrust and contempt, as white nationalists came to believe he was their candidate—or at least the best candidate they could realistically expect.
Perhaps surprisingly, it wasn’t Trump’s initial campaign announcement about Mexican “rapists” that cemented his support: It was his steady, consistent push for an anti-immigration platform, one of the central policy pillars of the nationalist right. And as white-nationalists began to rally around Trump as its closest political ally in a generation, they began to detect what members called “wink-wink-wink” communications from the candidate. There was his retweet of bogus murder statistics that exaggerated black crime; two separate retweets of a racist Twitter feed called @WhiteGenocideTM; and the interview that sealed the deal: the moment on CNN when—just days before the Louisiana primary—Trump dodged the question of whether to repudiate the endorsement of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, which one commenter on the white nationalist site Stormfront called “the best political thing I have seen in my life.”
Whether the white nationalist community’s embrace of Trump was the result of a conscious strategy on the campaign’s part, some sort of accident or something in between, it led to a show of unified support unprecedented for a modern major-party nominee. Even as Trump supporters argue that the candidate isn’t a racist, when it comes to the white-power movement itself, there’s no question how they see it: More than in any other modern presidential campaign, they believe they’re receiving clear and frequent signals of support.
[T]heir attitudes toward Republican candidates largely have been ambivalent, with many opting out of politics altogether. Now, with Trump, that has changed, raising the prospect that the nominee of a major political party is tapping a deep well of anti-Semitism and racial hate—intentionally or unintentionally—and is mainstreaming such views in the process.
If Trump wins the election, subscribers to those views believe, they will be able to claim increased legitimacy and seek a bigger role in mainstream politics. And even if he loses, as looks more likely, they may be in a better position than ever to claim a stake in future presidential elections—perhaps even to field a candidate of their own four years from now.
Announcing his candidacy at Trump Tower in June 2015, Trump memorably said illegal Mexican immigrants were “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” With that line, he threw red meat to the white nationalist crowd from the very start of his presidential campaign, but it would take some time for that crowd to believe that Trump was sincere in his rhetoric.
The first white nationalist leader to formally endorse Trump appears to have been Andrew Anglin, an avid online activist who came up through the racist depths of the alt-right, via the 4chan forum, to found a popular neo-Nazi website, the Daily Stormer. In late June 2015, Anglin wrote that he didn’t think Trump could ever beat Hillary Clinton in the general election. But he saw reason for hope in Trump’s rising poll numbers. “I urge all readers of this site to do whatever they can to make Donald Trump President,” Anglin wrote in June.
Trump refused to back down from his controversial remarks about Hispanics, winning plaudits from white nationalists for his defiance of “political correctness” in the face of criticism from business partners and fellow Republicans.
Trump was surging in the polls “because he is not on his knees before Mexico and Mexican immigrants,” said Jared Taylor of the influential white nationalist website American Renaissance, which under the guise of “race realism” attempts to put an intellectual face on white nationalism.
At first, there were only tenuous reasons to think Trump was even aware of the white nationalist debate over his suitability for their cause. In July 2015, Trump had tweeted an image showing a stock photo of Nazi S.S. soldiers where American soldiers should have been. The Trump campaign blamed an intern for the mistake, and the incident faded quickly from the mainstream press. But white nationalist observers saw something different.
“Obviously, most people will be like ‘obvious accident, no harm done,’” Anglin wrote on the Daily Stormer. “Meanwhile, we here at the Daily Stormer will be all like ‘wink wink wink wink wink.’”
[H]is would soon become a pattern: Trump would promulgate messages with racist cues (some more subtle, some less so), then deny or disavow them, while the white nationalist community dutifully perked up and saw those messages as a call to arms.
In November, for example, the candidate retweeted a graphic showing false statistics vastly exaggerating black crime. White nationalists responded enthusiastically, even as they themselves acknowledged the statistics were false. The graphic was later traced back to a white nationalist on Twitter.
Some white nationalists went so far as to goad the candidate into sending racist signals. In late 2015, a social media campaign called The White Genocide Project began directing tweets to the candidate over Twitter. . . . . In late January, Trump took the bait, retweeting a message that had been directed to him from a user with the handle “@WhiteGenocideTM.” While the content of the tweet was relatively innocuous (a light jab at Jeb Bush), the user’s account was filled with anti-Semitic content and linked to a revisionist biography of Adolf Hitler.
Within a few days, Trump retweeted @WhiteGenocideTM a second time, and two more “white genocide”-oriented users soon after that. (The campaign did not respond to media requests for comment on the tweets at the time.)
“Whereas the odd White genocide tweet could be a random occurrence, it isn’t statistically possible that two of them back to back could be a random occurrence,” wrote Daily Stormer’s Anglin. “It could only be deliberate. There is no way that this could be anything other than both a wink-wink-wink and a call for more publicity on his campaign.”
In February, the hammer finally fell. On his online radio program, recorded the day of Trump’s victory in the Nevada caucuses, Duke credited Trump with energizing white nationalists, and effectively endorsed him, imploring voters in that state to turn out. “You have an absolute obligation to vote for Donald Trump, and to vote against Cruz and Rubio,” Duke said. “If you vote for Ted Cruz, you are acting in a traitorous way to our people. You are betraying our people. Period.” He cautioned that he didn’t agree with everything Trump said, but argued, “Trump is the only chance we really have right now to make a dent, plus Trump is waking up our people and energizing our people across America.”
After Duke’s endorsement, most other white nationalist leaders fell in line.
With a long and persistent series of racial cues, Trump had won the benefit of the doubt from the white nationalist community. In the wake of the CNN interview, a new consensus emerged in that community: Trump was secretly sympathetic to white nationalism, to a greater or lesser degree, and anything he said that contradicted the goals of the movement could be dismissed as an expediency, necessary to get elected. Many white nationalists commenting online thought he actually needed to be more careful about concealing his supposed beliefs in order to advance through the election.
When Trump suggested in August 2016 that Second Amendment supporters might have to redress his potential electoral loss to Clinton, Ryan said it was a “joke gone bad,” while Stormfronters cheered and mocked the “pearl-clutching media.” By the time Trump hired the founder of the alt-right news site Breitbart as his campaign CEO and Donald Trump Jr. tweeted racist memes featuring Skittles and Pepe the Frog in the fall, party leaders could hardly be bothered to keep up. The steady stream of provocations kept white nationalists supportive and stimulated.
Some white nationalists were upset by the recent release of the 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape capturing Trump bragging about sexual assault. But many attributed the leak and subsequent accusations of sexual misconduct to a Jewish conspiracy.
So they were primed when, in a speech in Florida last week, Trump blasted “those who control the levers of power in Washington, and … the global special interests.” He accused Clinton of conspiring with “international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers.”
For many Americans, these references might seem merely paranoid. But the hard-won, faithful white nationalist converts to Trumpism had heard and used these terms for decades. And they had a clear idea what their candidate’s words meant.