Saturday, January 07, 2017

Why white Christian America Voted for Trump

In contrast to the New York Times apology piece/op-ed yesterday I noted in a prior post today, the Washington Post has a piece that looks at what really drove white Christians to vote for Trump, especially in rural America.  The answer is not pretty and largely boils down to exactly what the Times op-ed tried to argue was not the case.  Hate, bigotry, a sense of rage at lost white privilege and extremist religious beliefs were the main motivators and it is clear that to these folks "Make America Great Again" translated to "Make America White and Christian Again."  And be assured that LGBT individuals have no place in their white Christian America.  The only good new is that towns like the one in the article are dying precisely because of the white "godly: Christians who have made such locales toxic to progressive and forward looking businesses that have not desire to turn back time to the 1950's. Here are some article highlights:
  From a perch on Main Street, the home town of actor Andy Griffith looks this day like it was plucked right out of the television show that bears his name. And it was.
And yet even as this city of about 10,000 nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains fills its coffers by selling nostalgia, many of its residents would agree with the now-popular saying “We’re not in Mayberry anymore.”
If only the real Mount Airy, which has experienced decades of economic and social decline, were like the Mayberry facade, muses Mayor David Rowe. If only his city and the rest of America could return to the 1950s again.
“Now it’s about secular progressivism, not the values you get out of this book,” such as honesty and hard work, said Rowe, 72, jabbing his finger at the leather Bible on his office desk.
But as Donald Trump prepares to move into the White House, Rowe and many of his constituents are hoping for a return to the past.
Visitors to Surry County spent $116.62 million in 2015, compared with $66 million 12 years ago, according to Jessica Icenhour Roberts, who heads tourism partnerships for the county, whose largest city is Mount Airy.  But Mount Airy cannot live on tourism alone, the mayor said.
“We try to live the good old days, but it’s hard,” Rowe said. Just down the street from a bronze statue of Griffith and a museum dedicated to his memory, out of sight of the boutiques selling Norman Rockwell and Thomas Kinkade artwork, sit many dilapidated textile mills that have closed in the past decade. From early 2000 to about 2010, about 9,000 private-sector jobs were lost when factories that made clothes went overseas.
Despite the steady stream of tourists, business owners are still struggling to create new jobs that will attract a younger generation, said Lizzie Morrison, 30, who runs an art studio and is the Main Street coordinator with Mount Airy Downtown.
Morrison said the city’s younger residents tend to be socially liberal, while most in the older generations look to the past. That tension makes it harder for someone like her to push for new ideas, she said.
A group of developers has been working on a project to redevelop an old mill, Morrison said, but the proposal has moved slowly because of resistance from residents. 
Many Mount Airy residents applauded the president-elect’s promise to revoke the Johnson Amendment, which effectively bars pastors from endorsing a candidate from the pulpit, Rowe said. They were heartened by his suggestion that Christians will be able to once again see “Merry Christmas” signs in department stores.
But the mayor acknowledges that the 1950s and ’60s were not idyllic for all Americans. He wouldn’t, for example, want to go back to the days when there were separate water fountains at the local Sears for whites and blacks. At the same time, he said, African Americans often bring hardship on themselves. . . . He noted that the Hispanics he has hired to work at his construction company are hard workers. He doesn’t encounter people who aren’t white in social settings much because folks tend to self-segregate, he said. Mount Airy is 84 percent white, 8.2 percent black and 6.7 percent Hispanic, according to 2010 census data.
Not everyone is nostalgic for the 1950s.  Ron Jessup, 68, who grew up in Mount Airy during that era, found the place generally friendly then, he said — as long as he and other blacks obeyed the racist laws and social mores of the time.
If African Americans went to the theater, they sat upstairs, he said. If they went to the restaurants, they avoided the counter. “We understood what was considered our place,” said Jessup, who is retired from his job as a high school principal in nearby Winston-Salem. Even now, all five Surry County commissioners are white.
As for Trump, Jessup believes his “Make America Great Again” slogan was code for “take America back again,” and a reaction to President Obama’s election.
“Sometimes we use Christianity when it’s convenient for what we want,” Jessup said. “You can’t allow someone to have racist remarks and then go to church and talk about Jesus as the center of your life.”
When she travels with her pastor husband, Thresa Tucker hands out an evangelistic tract that uses “The Andy Griffith Show” as an entry point for talking about Jesus. . . . . Tucker and her husband, David, said they voted for Trump because they want a more limited federal government. They mentioned social issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage and school prayer.
The Tuckers were also dismayed when their health insurance bill skyrocketed. Before Obamacare, they had no health insurance and paid out of pocket. Their monthly bill will rise from $115 a month now to $435 next year, Thresa Tucker said.
Many of those who have lost jobs seek help at White Plains Baptist Church, where her husband is preacher. But not all who seek help are worthy of it, she said. The church has to be a good steward of its money, so there are criteria for assistance, and she asks whether people attend church regularly. African Americans who have voiced concerns over what Trump will do for the poor would have a different perspective if they tried harder to help themselves, she said.
People just aren’t committed to church, anymore, he said. The church he attends used to attract up to 600 people on a Sunday in the 1960s, but is lucky to get a third of that now. Young people leave for college and come back with more progressive, secular values, he said.
If Trump does manage to “make America great again,” Rowe said it will involve preventing the government from encroaching on religion.  Christianity has come under attack in America, he said. “It’s subtle, not in your face, but that’s the way Satan works,” he said.
 I suspect that Mount Airy will continue on the road to further economic decline and obscurity. Sadly, its residents will not look in the mirror and realize that they, not modernity or secularism is the root of their problems.   

Is Donald Trump a Traitor?

Being of an age where I clearly recall the Watergate scandal that ultimately led to Richard Nixon's resignation from the presidency rather than face impeachment.  Throughout the national drama the two incessant questions about Nixon were "what did he know, and when did he know it."  Sadly, it seems that the nation is again in a situation where these questions are critical in terms of Donald Trump's complicity/collaboration with Russian intelligence services to throw the presidential election to Trump.  A new declassified report says Russian President Vladimir Putin "ordered" an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election.  Trump's response?  To question the validity of the report and to blame the Democratic National Committee for allowing the Russian hacking to happen.  Given that Trump is a pathological liar and is such a narcissist that he could never admit that his narrow Electoral College win might be due to Russian efforts, Trump's response isn't surprising. But the more frightening possibility is that Trump and his campaign knew of the Russian hacking, encouraged it and collaborated with a hostile foreign regime.  A piece in New York Magazine looks at what we know so far.  Here are highlights:
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Friday afternoon put out a new report titled “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections,” straightforwardly recapping a lot of what independent research has already determined. If you’ve only been vaguely paying attention to the story of Russian interference, this is a good opportunity to catch up.
Here are some of the main claims asserted in the report.
• Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign aimed at the presidential election. The campaign was meant to hurt Clinton’s chances and help Trump. The CIA and FBI have high confidence in these findings, the NSA has moderate confidence. (Why different confidence levels between three agencies? Who knows.)
 • As Clinton’s chances of winning crept upward, Russia changed tactics to undermine her predicted presidency.
• Among the participants were covert intelligence operatives as well as “Russian Government agencies, state-funded media, third-party intermediaries, and paid social media users or ‘trolls.’”
• And last but not least, Russian operatives did not mess with the vote tally, though they did obtain access to other parts of certain state and local electoral boards.
While it’s nice to see it all laid out like that in a government report, those claims are consistent with what the government and security experts have already been saying — and since the report doesn’t add any new, specific evidence to support those claims, it’s unfortunately not going to convince any skeptics. What is important is that the popular understanding of “hack” and its meaning in this specific case are divergent. Russia did not mess with the vote — it obtained access to damaging documents and waged a battle of publicity.
The rest of the report focuses heavily on the news network Russia Today, which is funded by the Russian government, a fact that’s never been hidden from the public — but, because it’s a public broadcast outfit, the evidence of Russian affiliation can be included in the report without compromising U.S. intelligence findings.
Did Russia’s actions cause Trump’s win? The way you answer that is likely going to be determined by your politics. But they certainly didn’t hurt, and the report does note that Russia now has an effective playbook for interfering in the democratic process for years to come.
The real question remains, what did Trump know of the Russian effort and when did he know it? Likewise, did his campaign collaborate with the Russian effort?  My gut feeling is that the answer to the last question is, yes.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2

Rural Elitists? Why Rural America Voted for Trump

An op-ed in the New York Times entitled "Why Rural America Voted for Trump," offered yet another attempt to argue that those rural Americans who voted for Trump were not motivated by "ignorance, racism, sexism, nationalism, Islamophobia," or other such things. The piece tries to argue that voting for a vile, pathological liar who campaigned on hate and bigotry was merely based on rural Americans having a different philosophy.  Sorry, but my read of the article, indicates that Trump voters' motivation boils down to basically two things: (i) the rural embrace of religious inspired ignorance (and racism) and the rejection of knowledge and new ideas, and (ii) rural citizens' resentment of others who live different life styles and having, unlike themselves, refused to engage in the equivalent a self-administered lobotomy.  And FYI, I am not some "urban elitist" since, truth be told I grew up in the country through my high school years and attended a very small rural high school.  I am not anti-rural living. I'm just opposed closed mindedness, bigotry, religious extremism and sanctimonious hatred towards others.  One aspect of the piece struck me as well:
To make matters worse, jobs are continuing to move to metropolitan areas. Small-town chamber of commerce directors and mayors still have big dreams, and use their perkiest grins and tax abatements to try to lure new businesses, only to see their hopes dashed, time and again. Many towns with a rich history and strong community pride are already dead; their citizens just don’t know it yet.

Ironically, at least in the case of many towns and very small cities in Southwest Virginia, the reason no one wants to relocate their business to the region is the residents' closed mindedness, bigotry, religious extremism and sanctimonious hatred towards others, especially LGBT individuals and racial minorities.  

A heated piece in Rude Pundit takes apart the pomposity of the Times op-ed and the rural Trump voters.  Here are excerpts:
And all I could think when I read it was "Fuck you, you elitist fucking assholes. Why is your judgmental ass more valid than mine?" We're all supposed to nod our heads and respect these shitheels while they mock liberals and are ennobled by the rank nonsense of those who desperately want to justify the racism, etc. because otherwise they have to admit that they are surrounded by horrible, hateful fucks. But I won't do that precisely because I have more respect for these dumbass motherfuckers than any of the wannabe Jane Goodalls observing the ways of the chimps. How do I have more respect? Because I don't treat them like fucking children or a hidden Amazon tribe whose language is clicks and trills. We're talking about fucking grown-ups who make fucking grown-up decisions, and I'm gonna treat them like grown-ups. And their attitudes towards urban Americans are no less elitist than the dumbass motherfuckers on the coasts who lump everyone else into flyover country. Here's the deal. There are a whole bunch of us city liberals who came from rural or southern or whatever areas. I've told this story a hundred goddamn times, but this pinheaded, Ivory Tower-humping leftist lived in a trailer park in Florida with a trucker father and a working mom. At 13, I started working unloading semis at warehouses after school. My family was on welfare, including food stamps, and when my father died, we were on Social Security to survive in the south, and we worked our asses off to get out of that hole. I know a shit-ton of other people who have a similar M.O. and now live in New York or L.A.  and a shit-ton who continue to live in rural areas. So don't fucking preach to me about the goodness and grace of conservative rural people or the white working class.
And as for those good hard-workin' young men who love God and country? More than a few of 'em were hanging out in the gay bars of south Louisiana, far from New Orleans, trying to get their dicks sucked in the men's room. I guarantee you that Leonard's liberal-hating boys or ones like them are hoping for a little sinful time with another man.
It's all bullshit. . . . . the reason why liberals are called "elitist." We actually know that most of our taxes go to the Republican-run states. We aren't fucking hypocrites who condemn government, elect people who want to shrink government, and then are pissed off when the government doesn't offer enough services. We don't get our news from conspiracy theorists and liars. Are there excesses on the left? Of course. We're fuckin' human. But when one group is inclusive of all races and religions and genders and sexual orientations and more, while the other pines for a time when white Christians ran everything, it's pretty damn clear who the real elitists are.
What you're calling "elitism" is just simply not being ignorant. We don't have our heads shoved up Jesus's ass. And when the left gets angry because of how fucking dumb some of the shit coming out of rural and red mouths is, we're told we need to understand what they believe. No, we're just gonna say that stupid is stupid.
[D]espite every fucking word to the contrary, the real problem is that those who voted for Trump are racist. They are sexist. They are Islamophobic. They are ignorant. 
The whole thrust of these "let's learn about the yokels" articles is to imply that there are real Americans and there are coastal elites. Sorry, motherfuckers. We're all Americans. And if I have to suffer under your stupid, you have to hear about our smarts.

Well said, albeit "colorfully."

Resistance to Trump/Pence Is Patriotic — and Christian

Many Facebook "friends" will not like this post if I decided to cross post it on Facebook, but given the danger I feel now grips the nation, hurt feelings are not enough to make true patriots silent.  In keeping with this mindset, I must once again state that I generally hold most Christians, especially judgmental, self-congratulatory evangelical Christians in extremely low regard.  The same holds true for "scamvangelists" enriching themselves by shaking down the ignorant and/or gullible and, of course, the Catholic Church hierarchy that feigns piety while still covering up the molestation and rape of children and youths. Contempt might even be an apt description of my view of such "Christians," all of whom share one attribute: they claim the Christian name, but when it comes to living the Gospel message they are anything but true Christians.  Indeed, they make the Pharisees of the Bible look like rather upstanding individuals in comparison.  Disgustingly, politicians and far too many in the media  continue to give deference to these false Christians and act as if there is something righteous and noble about them when in fact they are foul and sully the Christian name. Author Anne Rice once said that if these people are what it is to be a Christian, then she wanted nothing to do with being a Christian.  I concur with Rice 100%.  Sadly, I believe that if you were to put a group of whites, blacks, Asian, Hispanics and Middle Easterners in a row, these "godly" people would only see the whites as human.  The rest would be something "other" and "lesser."  

With a majority of Catholics and 81% of evangelicals having voted for Donald Trump, the moral rot of these people has placed, in my view, a dangerous, narcissistic, pathological liar in line to occupy the White House.   And now these same people want to the rest of us to normalize the sickness and danger that they have unleashed on the nation and the world.  A piece in Sojourner makes the case that resisting the Trump/Pence/Republican agenda is not only truly patriotic, but also truly Christian.   Here are excerpts: 
A conservative evangelical national leader called me during the election campaign. He reminded me how much he cared about abortion, religious liberty, and the Supreme Court. Then said, “But in Christian conscience, I cannot help put a man in the White House who is intellectually incompetent, has lived an amoral personal and public life, is dangerously immature, and is a racial bigot. I just can’t do that.” This evangelical leader’s refusal to support Donald Trump was genuinely prophetic, unlike the 81 percent of white evangelicals for whom Trump’s incompetence, immorality, immaturity, and racial bigotry was not a deal breaker.
[B]ecause the majority of white Americans, and white Christians, decided Trump’s great defects and dangers were not disqualifiers, he will soon be inaugurated president of the United States.
Power always produces accommodation, and already Trump is being normalized by the media and political world — with the elites adjusting to the new situation of power as they always do. Celebrity has replaced leadership, chest pumping has replaced unifying, tweeting has replaced press conferences and international policymaking, and profiteering looks to become a presidential business. The president-elect’s denials of facts — like intelligence community reports of Russian intervention in an American election — are breathtaking.
Many of us in the faith community have real moral concerns as we enter into this new administration, so how do we relate to it? Accommodation and compromise are not the only responses to power. And we cannot just sit with hope that the president-elect’s words and promises are not to be taken seriously — or that he doesn’t really mean all of his attacks on people for their race or ethnicity, their faith, their gender, their physical abilities, or their identity as Americans. A better response is resistance to all those things, in defense of vulnerable people in particular, in the hope that such resistance might deter, or obstruct, or defeat such behaviors and policies.
Our resistance to the political language and proposals that concern us must go beyond prophetic utterances and symbolic actions. Resistance must include a strategy to block dangerous and destructive public practices and policies and turn public opinion against them.
Here are six points for a resistance strategy. 
1. Engage Legislative and Legal Decision Making
This past Tuesday proved in just over 12 hours how righteous outrage can be channeled to change the minds of members of Congress. House Republicans were ready on Monday night to gut the independent office in charge of investigating ethics complaints against members of Congress. By Tuesday at noon, they had been flooded with so many calls from outraged constituents that they reversed course . . . 
Just next week, the Senate plans to vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act without, at the same time, replacing it with a comprehensive alternative. Repeal without replacement would endanger the health care of up to 22 million people who were uninsured before the passage of the ACA, and jeopardize many others with pre-existing conditions or other vulnerabilities. We need to mobilize all of our constituencies and allies to flood Congress with calls next week, calling on them not to repeal without simultaneously replacing the ACA.
Republican plans already afoot for the spring will require us to mobilize a fierce fight for the existence of the safety net itself, and the most basic nutrition and health care protections for our most vulnerable citizens. Legal battles against expected efforts to disenfranchise minority votes will also become imperative, and will need support from the faith community in particular.
2. Mobilize Your Church
It is high time for white churches and pastors to understand and confront why they failed in this election season to teach and preach about racism, and to be faithful to Christian principles about loving our neighbors and welcoming the stranger. Our original sin of racism in America — how it still lingers in all of our institutions and how it was effectively used in this election — was not faithfully addressed in the pulpits of white American churches. 
3. Use Media and Social Media for Moral Purposes
Engage the media, especially in your own communities. Letters to the editor, op-ed opinion pieces, radio show call-ins, and regular feedback to your local newspapers, television, and radio shows are more important than ever. . . . .  it is also time to engage your friends and relatives and fellow congregants who disagree with you on the issues now at stake in this country in thoughtful, useful, civil, and constructive ways.
4. Stand Up to Hateful Words and Acts
Verbal attacks and physical threats against people of color, including their children, are dramatically on the rise since the election. I continue to hear reports from black church leaders who find themselves under attack, and from African-American, Hispanic, and Asian-American young people being assaulted with words and actions, and from believers of other religions being singled out for abuse. That means that we, white people, and white Christians in particular, need to step up and stand up to such attacks.
5. Prepare for Civil Disobedience
The day after the election, my youngest son asked me, “Dad, how many days before you are in jail?” My 13-year-old understood that such issues were at stake. We don’t begin with civil disobedience; we start by taking personal, public, and legal actions to engage our deepest concerns. But we need to prepare and train for civil disobedience for whenever the times and circumstances call for such moral confrontations. We should enter this administration with the expectation that those who resist the Trump agenda may likely spend time in jail. 
6. Take Action
Resistance means putting faith into action. . . . . in standing up and speaking out for moral politics and for the people God has called us to protect.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 1

Friday, January 06, 2017

"Blizzard" Warning for Hampton Roads

Readers up North and in snowy climates no doubt laugh when they see this region go crazy when we only get an inch of snow.  If the current forecast - see the image above - proves true and we receive a foot of snow, things will beyond a circus and all roads other than perhaps portions of the Interstate system will be impassible.  Last year the husband bought a snow blower for the salon parking lot - thank god for Amazon Prime - and it sat all winter without being used even once.  Maybe the purchase won't seem so crazy now.  I'm really glad that we have a whole house generator and two fireplaces with gas logs if the power goes out.  I will be keeping you updated.

Friday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2

AMA Warns Republicans on Obamacare Repeal

Sadly, Congressional Republicans find themselves near orgasm over their closeness to repealing the Affordable Health Care Act in their effort to diminish the legacy of the nation's first black president and pander to the GOP's white supremacist base.  The problem is that Republicans have ZERO plan as to what will replace Obamacare.  Mere repeal without a replacement plan will throw somewhere between 20 and 30 million Americans off of healthcare coverage.  Even cretins in red states that voted for Der Fuhrer and Republican candidates seem to be waking up to the reality that they have royally f*cked themselves over.  Sadly, they were too stupid or too lazy to look beyond Trump/GOP appeals to racism, bigotry and religious extremism to see that they were being played by a group of con artists.  Others are alarmed to at the pending healthcare catastrophe, including the American Medical Association ("AMA") which has issued a letter to Congress warning Republicans to refrain from a repeal of Obamacare until a viable replacement plan is set to be rolled out.  Think Progress looks at the AMA's cautionary warning.  Here are excerpts:
The largest group of doctors in the country is cautioning Republican leaders to come up with a real plan to replace Obamacare before forging ahead with repeal.
On Tuesday, Republicans took the first step toward rolling back the law, introducing a budget resolution that will allow Congress to sidestep a Democratic filibuster and dismantle key parts of Obamacare. Republican leaders have signaled they plan to use this budget process to produce legislation by January 27 that includes repealing portions of health reform.
But repealing Obamacare is the easy part. What to do next is much harder — and GOP lawmakers don’t have that part figured out.
Although Republicans have been railing against Obamacare for the better part of six years, they haven’t come up with any concrete policy ideas to reshape our nation’s complicated insurance industry and prevent 20 million Americans from losing the health coverage they gained under Obamacare. GOP leaders have never been able to coalesce around a meaningful plan.
Instead, Republicans have suggested they’ll throw the insurance industry into chaos by repealing Obamacare now and figuring out how to replace it later. This strategy, dubbed “repeal and delay,” threatens to create widespread uncertainty in the industry as major insurers will be unclear where the country might be headed with its national health care policy.
That’s pretty concerning to the American Medical Association — one of the most powerful lobbying groups in the United States — which sent a letter to Republican leaders on Tuesday urging a different approach.
Before rushing to repeal Obamacare, Republican leaders in Congress need to come up with a real plan that has enough details to prove it will be better than the existing realities under the health care law, the AMA wrote.
“Policymakers should lay out for the American people, in reasonable detail, what will replace current policies,” the letter reads. “Patients and other stakeholders should be able to clearly compare current policy to new proposals so they can make informed decisions about whether it represents a step forward in the ongoing process of health reform.”
That’s a tall order for the GOP — particularly considering that every Republican alternative to Obamacare put forward over the past several years has been projected to result in fewer Americans having access to insurance.
The AMA, hardly known for its progressive policy positions, isn’t the only major conservative-leaning group cautioning against the GOP’s “repeal and delay” approach.
Scholars from the American Enterprise Institute, a prominent libertarian think tank, published a piece in Health Affairs on Tuesday arguing that “repeal and delay” is the wrong path forward because it “carries too much risk” and “is unlikely to produce a coherent reform of health care in the United States.”
“If Congress fails to vote on a replacement at the same time as repeal, the repealers risk assuming the blame for the continued unraveling of Obamacare,” GOP Sen. Rand Paul wrote in an op-ed published Tuesday.
Nonetheless, GOP leaders appear to be barreling forward. 
Donald Trump and Paul Ryan, both raised as children of wealth and privilege do not give a damn about Americans now at risk of losing healthcare coverage.  Indeed, Ryan is hell bent on transforming American back to a scene out of a Dickens novel.  These men and their fellow repealers are morally bankrupt and disgusting.  

Trouble for Trump: Strong Bipartisan Affirmation of Findings on Russian Hacking

Like another former Republican blogger that I know and follow, my suspicion is that the reason that Donald Trump is striving to blow of the intelligence community's finds on Russian hacking efforts to swing the 2016 election is because he and/or his campaign not only knew about the hacking efforts by collaborated with them.  How else to explain Trump's embrace of Julian Assange - a man in hiding in a foreign embassy in London rather than face rape charges in his own country - and rejection of the combined findings of the CIA, FBI, NSA and other agencies? Oh, and as for Trump's claim these agencies were wrong about WMD's in Iraq, the error was not on the part of the agencies in question but rather the lies initiated by Dick Cheney, a liar and authoritarian after Trump's own heart.  Trump's real fear I suspect is that there will yet be information that links his campaign to the Russian actions.  Can we then say the word treason?  A piece in the New York Times looks at yesterday's U.S. Senate hearings.  Here are highlights:
A united front of top intelligence officials and senators from both parties on Thursday forcefully reaffirmed the conclusion that the Russian government used hacking and leaks to try to influence the presidential election, directly rebuffing President-elect Donald J. Trump’s repeated questioning of Russia’s role.
They suggested that the doubts Mr. Trump has expressed on Twitter about the agencies’ competence and impartiality were undermining their morale.
“There’s a difference between skepticism and disparagement,” James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, said at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on the Russian hacks. He added that “our assessment now is even more resolute” that the Russians carried out the attack on the election.
The Senate hearing was the prelude to an extraordinary meeting scheduled for Friday, when Mr. Clapper and other intelligence chiefs will repeat for Mr. Trump the same detailed, highly classified briefing on the Russian attack that President Obama received on Thursday. In effect, they will be telling the president-elect that the spy agencies believe he won with an assist from President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.
Then Mr. Trump will have to say whether he accepts the agencies’ basic findings on Russia’s role or holds to his previous contention that inept, politicized American spies have gotten the perpetrator of the hacking wrong. That would throw the intelligence agencies into a crisis of credibility and status with few, if any, precedents.
Early next week, the public will get its fullest information to date on the evidence the agencies have to support their contention that Mr. Putin’s government used the hacked emails to hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign and help Mr. Trump’s. Mr. Clapper said he would “push the envelope” to include as much detail as possible in the unclassified version of the intelligence agencies’ report on the Russian operation.
The hacking, he added, was only one part of that operation, which also included the dissemination of “classical propaganda, disinformation, fake news.”
The Senate hearing on Thursday, devoted to foreign cyberthreats, was unusual as much for its context as its content — a public, bipartisan display of support for the intelligence community that seemed aimed, at times, at an audience of one.
Though Mr. Clapper and most Republican senators were careful to avoid antagonizing the president-elect directly, the hearing spoke to the rift Mr. Trump has threatened to create between the incoming administration and the intelligence officials assigned to inform it.
Mr. McCain and his colleagues seemed to undercut Mr. Trump’s past messages of support for Russia, and for Mr. Assange of WikiLeaks.  “Do you think there’s any credibility we should attach to this individual?” Mr. McCain asked.  “Not in my view,” Mr. Clapper said. Another witness at the hearing, Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the head of the National Security Agency and United States Cyber Command, said he agreed.
Senator Joe Donnelly, Democrat of Indiana, told Mr. Clapper that in the conflict between the intelligence agencies and Mr. Assange over Russian responsibility for the attack, “We’re on your side every time.” He asked Mr. Clapper to convey his level of confidence in attributing the election attack to Russia, rather than “someone in his basement.”  It’s, uh, very high,” the laconic intelligence director replied.
At one point, Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, wondered aloud “who benefits from a president-elect trashing the intelligence community.”
No Republican lawmakers embraced Mr. Trump’s remarks casting doubt on the intelligence conclusions, though some were more conspicuous than others in their efforts to distance themselves.
[Lindsey] Graham issued a warning for fellow Republicans who might be inclined to brush off any attack on an opposing party. “Could it be Republicans next election?” he asked. “It’s not like we’re so much better at cybersecurity than Democrats.”
The thing to remember about Donald Trump is that he cares nothing about anyone but himself and his inflated view of himself.  He doesn't give a rat's ass about average Americans and those who voted for him thinking that he does were played as utter fools. The man is a clear and present danger to America and the world and needs to be exposed and driven or removed from office as soon as possible.  

Friday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 1

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Thursday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2

Trump’s Strategy to Damage the Supreme Court

Despite my fears for the coming four years of the reign of Donald Trump, a/k/a Der Fuhrer, the nation may nevertheless manage to weather four years of corruption and authoritarianism at levels never before seen in America. What is more frightening is the likelihood that Trump may so damage the United States Supreme Court that the harm to the nation may last for a generation or more. If Trump keeps his promise to appoint justices that meet the standards of the Christofascists, expect gay rights, women's rights and minority right's (including voting rights) to be pushed backward in time towards an ugly past.  A piece in Politico looks at Trump's so-called strategy to turn the Court into a bastion of right wing ideology that would rubber stamp the worse excesses of Trump/Pence and the GOP's war on a majority of Americans.  Here are excerpts:
Donald Trump has narrowed his short list for his first Supreme Court pick down to roughly a half-dozen finalists but the president-elect and his top advisers are already thinking about a second selection, as they seek to quickly remodel the high court with a reliably conservative bent.
Trump’s team wants to make filling the seat held by the late Justice Antonin Scalia one of the earliest acts of his presidency, according to multiple transition officials, in hopes of scoring an energizing and unifying victory for the conservative movement.
And as Trump weighs perhaps the most enduring personnel decision he’ll make as president-elect — filing one of only nine lifetime seats on the high court — he has sought input from an array of friends, former rivals, and legal and TV personalities.
“He clearly understands he may have a chance to define the court for a generation or more and he is taking it very seriously,” said former Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Trump confidante.
While Scalia’s seat is the only current opening, Trump’s advisers are plotting how to fill that vacancy in tandem with the next one — a slot if vacated by a liberal justice like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 83, or swing-vote Justice Anthony Kennedy, 80, could far more dramatically move the court’s political center of gravity to the right.
The thinking inside the transition, according to multiple people involved in the internal deliberations, is that Scalia’s replacement offers Trump and the conservative movement the best chance for an unabashedly rock-ribbed replacement because it would not fundamentally shift the court’s balance of power.
“You’re basically dealing with a situation where no matter what conservative you put on the court you’re establishing the same parity that existed,” said a transition official involved in the selection process. “That is first and foremost in everybody’s minds.”
But in the current search process, Trump’s team is also hoping to identify a conservative candidate — possibly a woman — who could be more politically palatable, or at least harder for Senate Democrats to oppose, if Kennedy or Ginsburg leave the court.
Trump, besides promising to appoint justices in the mold of Scalia, is looking for some distinctly Trumpian qualities. He has repeatedly told his advisers, for instance, “I want someone who is not weak.”
That is especially appealing to legal conservative hardliners who are still scarred by former Justices David Souter and Sandra Day O’Connor, two Republican appointees who often sided with the court’s liberal bloc, and to a lesser extent Chief Justice John Roberts, an appointee of President George W. Bush, who upheld the constitutionality of President Obama’s health care law.
“With each passing disappointment, people want to make sure this is not just someone who looks conservative, but is virtually guaranteed to be conservative on the bench,” said one veteran of past GOP Supreme Court confirmation fights, Curt Levey of Freedomworks and the Committee for Justice.
Leo said on “Fox News Sunday” that Trump’s team wants the Scalia vacancy filled in time for the new justice to be seated for the final sitting of this term in late April. That could allow the new justice to weigh in on important pending cases, including the detention of immigrants and transgender rights.
“Ideally, you would have someone who could be seated on the court at least by then to hear those final round of cases, perhaps even have some of the 4-4 decisions, if there are any, reheard by the court,” Leo said.
Whatever happens with the high court, Trump has a chance to quickly reshape the judiciary with more than 100 openings to fill in federal district and appeals courts. Some of those vacancies were the product of stalemate between the Obama White House and Republican senators who have an effective veto over judicial picks in their state.
For now, Trump’s team is girding for the higher-profile Supreme Court nomination to be one of the bigger battles of his early presidency.
“The court is 4 to 4,” noted another senior Trump adviser, “And whoever he puts there it’s 5 to 4.”
Be very afraid.  We are likely to see yet another nightmare become reality.  Identifying emigration destinations might not be amiss.  

Has Ego Thrown Uncertainty Into Virginia's Gubernatorial Race?

Lt. Gov. Northam

Seemingly out of nowhere a possible wrench has been thrown into Virginia Democrats' plan for an orderly, uncontested race for the party's 2017 gubernatorial nomination.  One term Congressman Tom Perriello, who only served from 2009 to 2011 before losing to a right wing ideologue due to his ultra-liberal voting record and less than effective campaign, is posed to jump into the race for the Democrat nomination.  It is difficult to adequately stress just how critical it is for a Democrat to succeed Terry McAuliffe as Virginia's next governor so that there is at least somewhat of the firewall against the most egregious initiatives of the Republican Party of Virginia  such as Del. Bob Marshall's horrific HB 1612 that seeks to out do North Carolina's infamous HB2.  None of this seemingly matters to Perriello who is basically unknown outside of his former district and certain liberal organization circles and could throw the Governor's mansion to the Republicans if he creates a contentious and money wasting contested primary.  The husband and I - and most LGBT activists we know - are firmly behind Lt. Governor Ralph Northam's candidacy as are leading Democrats in Virginia.  The New York Times looks at Perriello's apparently ego driven move to harm Democrats in 2017.  Here are highlights:
Tom Perriello, the former congressman from Virginia, is making a surprise entry into his state’s governor’s race, disrupting Democrats’ well-laid plans in what promises to be the most-watched election in the country this year.
Mr. Perriello on Wednesday telephoned Lt. Gov. Ralph S. Northam, who had been widely presumed to be the party’s nominee, to tell him he was entering the race, according to three Democrats directly familiar with the conversation.
Mr. Perriello, a State Department official who is close to President Obama, is expected to announce his intention on Thursday to compete in the June 13 Democratic primary. He did not respond to a voice mail and text message. Mr. Northam could not be reached, either.
By entering the race to succeed Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat who is limited to a single term, Mr. Perriello will hinder Mr. McAuliffe’s effort to avert a contentious primary. Leading Democrats have sought to clear the field for Mr. Northam, hoping to give him a head start in fund-raising and organization, while at least three Republicans vie for the nomination.
A run by Mr. Perriello will expose the tensions between the moderate and progressive wings of the Democratic Party in Virginia, which is increasingly dominant in a once-conservative state. Much of the state’s Democratic leadership is already lined up for Mr. Northam, and Mr. Perriello’s unexpected move made them to scramble to respond.
A senior Virginia Democrat, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said Wednesday evening that Mr. McAuliffe would emphatically reaffirm his support for the lieutenant governor. Aides to Virginia’s two United States senators, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, said they would not reconsider their support for Mr. Northam.
For decades, Virginia Democrats have taken care to distinguish themselves from their more liberal national party and present themselves as prudent centrists. But having carried Virginia in the last three presidential elections and controlling every statewide office, some Democrats are hungry to elevate progressives.
“Tom is a very capable and popular person who served in Congress very well,” said former Representative L. F. Payne Jr., who once represented the same district as Mr. Perriello and now backs Mr. Northam. “I think that Ralph, though, is well-prepared for the job, and Democrats feel good about him as our candidate. It’s awfully late for anybody else to think about getting in.”
Neither Mr. Perriello nor Mr. Northam is well known to Virginia voters. Mr. Northam would enjoy a substantial financial advantage and the support of Mr. McAuliffe, who is popular with Democrats. The governor, in fact, is hosting a fund-raiser at his Northern Virginia home this weekend for Mr. Northam.
But Mr. Perriello is well liked among some liberal activists and could gain support with the sort of highly engaged voters who show up in low-turnout summer primaries. To do so, though, he will have to fend off questions from the left about some of his stances on cultural issues. He was endorsed by the National Rifle Association in his 2010 campaign and cast some votes against abortion.
Republicans, meanwhile, have their own primary battle. Ed Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman; President-elect Donald J. Trump’s onetime state campaign chairman, Corey Stewart; and State Senator Frank Wagner, from the Tidewater region.
Perriello needs to withdraw from the contest.  Meanwhile, our home is available to Ralph Northam any time he needs it for a fundraiser. 

Thursday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 1

Love the shirt!

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2

The Women’s March: the Largest Inauguration Demonstration?

Other than evangelical Christian women whose "faith" seemingly tells them they are to be subordinate to and ruled by men and perhaps very wealthy women seeking tax cuts, one of the most baffling aspects of the 2016 presidential election is the number of women who voted against their own best interest and supported a sexual predator who bragged about assaulting women.  We may never know if it was Trump's appeals to racism and anti-immigrant bigotry that won the day with these women, but thankfully, many women are shocked by and opposed to Der Fuhrer.  A piece in the Washington Post looks at the growing effort to have a Women's March on Washington the day after inauguration day. Over the next four years, we will need much more of such wide scale activism and opposition to Herr Trump.  Here are story highlights:
Teresa Shook never considered herself much of an activist, or someone particularly versed in feminist theory. But when the results of the presidential election became clear, the retired attorney in Hawaii turned to Facebook and asked: What if women marched on Washington around Inauguration Day en masse?
She asked her online friends how to create an event page, and then started one for the march she was hoping would happen. . . . Now, more than 100,000 people have registered their plans to attend the Women’s March on Washington in what is expected to be the largest demonstration linked to Donald Trump’s inauguration and a focal point for activists on the left who have been energized in opposing his agenda.
Organizers say plans are on track, after securing a permit from D.C. police to gather 200,000 people near the Capitol at Independence Avenue and Third Street SW on the morning after Inauguration Day. Exactly how big the march will be has yet to be determined, with organizers scrambling to pull together the rest of the necessary permits and raise the $1 million to $2 million necessary to pull off a march triggered by Shook’s Facebook venting.
The march has become a catch-all for a host of liberal causes, from immigrant rights to police killings of African Americans. But at its heart is the demand for equal rights for women after an election that saw the defeat of Democrat Hillary Clinton, the first female presidential nominee of a major party.
“We plan to make a bold and clear statement to this country on the national and local level that we will not be silent and we will not let anyone roll back the rights we have fought and struggled to get,” said Tamika Mallory, a veteran organizer and gun-control advocate who is one of the march’s main organizers.
More than 150,000 women and men have responded on the march’s Facebook page that they plan on attending. At least 1,000 buses are headed to Washington for the march through Rally, a website that organizes buses to protests. Dozens of groups, including Planned Parenthood and the antiwar CodePink, have signed on as partners.
Organizers insist the march is not anti-Trump, even as many of the groups that have latched on to it fiercely oppose his agenda.
Shook said her aim was not to co-opt any other movement. It was just an idea that took hold after the victory of a president-elect caught on tape boasting of grabbing women’s private parts and the defeat of a woman who seemed to her much more qualified for the job.
People traveling to attend the march seem less concerned with behind-the-scenes politics than the chance to call for more family-friendly government policies, equal pay for women or reproductive rights. Some say they simply want to stand against the crass way Trump has spoken about women.
Feminist scholars say the march reflects an emerging view of feminism: one that is less defined by reproductive issues, such as birth control and abortion, and more by how the challenges faced by women intersect with those encountered by African Americans, the LGBT community and immigrants.