Monday, September 25, 2017

More Monday Male Beauty


Today's GOP: Caught in Its Own Lies


For many years now, the basic agenda of the GOP has been based on lies.  This traces all the way back to Reagan era promises that tax cuts and trickle down economics would work.  It didn't and it hasn't, yet 37 years latter the same lie is being repeated over and over by GOP candidates and elected officials.  Here in Virginia, GOP gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie is promising tax cuts that would leave a $1.4 billion gap in the budget just as was done in Kansas to disastrous effect.  Like Kansas, Gillespie has not solid plan for where replacement funds would come from.  More recently, of course, we had the Bush/Cheney lies that took the nation to war in Iraq, again with disastrous results.  This debacle has been followed by 8 years of Republican lies aimed at Barack Obama and his policies to the delight of racists within the GOP base.  Now, with the GOP controlling Washington until January, 2019 when things will hopefully change, the party is faced with trying to implement policies based on falsehoods that are becoming glaringly obvious to except the most deranged of the Kool-Aid drinking GOP base. The policies cannot work because they were false from the start.  A column in the New York Times looks at this growing problem of the GOP's own creation.  Here are excerpts:
On Saturday pretty much the entire medical sector — groups representing doctors, hospitals, and insurers — released an extraordinary open letter condemning the Graham-Cassidy health bill. The letter was written in the style of Emile Zola’s “J’accuse”: a series of paragraphs, each beginning with the bolded words “We agree,” pointing out the bill’s many awful features, from the harm it would do to people with pre-existing conditions to the chaos it would cause in insurance markets.
It takes a truly terrible proposal to elicit such eloquent unanimity from organizations that are usually cautious to the point of stodginess. So how did Republicans come up with something that bad, and how did that bad thing get so close to becoming law? Indeed, it still has a chance of being enacted despite John McCain’s “no.”
The answer is that Republicans have spent years routinely lying for the sake of political advantage. And now — not just on health care, but across the board — they are trapped by their own lies, forced into trying to enact policies they know won’t work.
Carl Hulse of The New York Times adds more detail: one big factor behind the push for Graham-Cassidy was anger among big donors, who wanted to know why Republicans had broken their vows to kill Obamacare. . . . . But repealing the Affordable Care Act wasn’t the only thing Republicans promised; they also promised to replace it with something better and cheaper, doing away with all the things people don’t like about Obamacare without creating any new problems. Yet Republicans never had any idea how to fulfill that promise . . . . the base, both the grass roots and the big money, believed the lies. Hence the trap in which Republicans find themselves.
The thing is, health care isn’t the only issue on which lies are coming back to bite the liars. The same story is playing out on other issues — in fact, on almost every substantive policy issue the U.S. faces.
The next big item on the G.O.P. agenda is taxes. Now, cutting taxes on corporations and the wealthy may be an easier political lift than taking health insurance away from 30 million Americans. But Republicans still have a problem, because they’ve spent years posing as the party of fiscal responsibility, and they have no idea how to cut taxes without blowing up the deficit. . . . as with health care, these lies will be revealed once actual legislation is unveiled. It’s telling that Republicans are already invoking voodoo economics to justify their as-yet-unspecified tax plans, insisting that tax cuts will pay for themselves by leading to higher economic growth.
At this point, however, few people believe them. The Bush tax cuts didn’t create a boom; neither did the Kansas tax-cut “experiment.”
Foreign policy isn’t usually a central concern for voters. Still, past lies have put the Trump administration in a box over things like the Iran nuclear deal: Canceling the deal would create huge problems, yet not canceling it would amount to an admission that the criticisms were dishonest. And soon the G.O.P. may even start to pay a price for lying about climate change. As hurricanes get ever more severe — just as climate scientists predicted — climate denial is looking increasingly out of touch. Yet donors and the base would react with fury to any admission that the threat is real, after all. [T]he bill for cynicism seems to be coming due. For years, flat-out lies about policy served Republicans well, helping them win back control of Congress and, eventually, the White House. But those same lies now leave them unable to govern.

Trump Judicial Nominee Calls Transgender Individuals "Satan's Plan"

Trump's anti-gay extremist judicial nominee
The canons of judicial conduct which apply to federal court judges require that judges avoid the appearance of impropriety and that they recuse themselves from any case where their personal beliefs prevent them from being unbiased.  This is the case also under most state canons of judicial conduct. Even Virginia's canons of judicial conduct (not that they are always properly enforced) provide that a judge cannot allow his views on homosexuality and gender identity to influence his ability to render an unbiased ruling in a case or to allow opposing counsel the be disrespectful or biased against an LGBT party to a case before the court.  Despite these established rules and norms, two of Donald Trump's recent judicial nominees would seemingly willing flout these restrictions on judicial conduct. Perhaps the worst is Jeff Mateer, Donald Trump’s nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, who has voiced extremely anti-LGBT animus.  Metro Weekly looks at this frightening nominee who is yet another cog in Trump's promises to Christofascists to roll back LGBT rights and to make our lives a living hell.  Here are excerpts:
Jeff Mateer, Donald Trump’s nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, once described transgender children as part of “Satan’s plan.”
In a pair of 2015 speeches, Mateer, the first assistant attorney general of Texas, bemoaned the trend of states banning conversion therapy for LGBTQ minors, denounced transgender rights, and alleged that allowing same-sex marriage would lead to efforts to legitimize polygamy and bestiality, reports CNN.
In a May 2015 speech titled “The Church and Homosexuality,” Mateer discussed a lawsuit in Colorado where parents of a transgender first-grader sued her school to allow their daughter to use the girls’ bathroom.
“Now I submit to you, a parent of three children who are now young adults, a first grader really knows what their sexual identity?” Mateer said. “I mean it just really shows you how Satan’s plan is working and the destruction that’s going on.”
Mateer previously served as general counsel of the First Liberty Institute, a conservative advocacy group that has been involved in pushing anti-LGBTQ initiatives or opposing expansions of LGBTQ rights, such as passage of a nondiscrimination ordinance in Plano, Texas.
In November 2015, Mateer was speaking at a conference hosted by controversial anti-LGBTQ pastor Kevin Swanson [who has advocated for the execution of gays], during which he took issue with attempts to ban conversion therapy in New Jersey and California.
Unsurprisingly, Mateer, who must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, is facing criticism for his anti-gay statements.
“President Trump has once again demonstrated his complete disregard for the LGBT community by nominating a person to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas who opposes LGBT rights and dignity,” David Dinielli, deputy legal director at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said in a statement. “The nominee’s past statements prove that he cannot and will not rule fairly on issues affecting the LGBT community.
“Jeff Mateer has demonized the most vulnerable members of our community and expressed support for conversion therapy — the dangerous, fraudulent, discredited and inhumane practice that purports to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.There is no place on our federal bench for people who harbor this sort of extreme and dangerous bias.”
“It’s concerning that the Trump Administration is trying to infuse its anti-transgender ideology into our judicial system,” Jennifer Levi, transgender rights project director at GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, said in a statement. “Our courts must serve as a backstop to President Trump’s divisive and exclusionary policies, not promote discriminationCourts must treat all Americans fairly and promote equal rights.”

Another of Trump's disturbing judicial nominees is AmyConey Barrett, a right wing Catholic law professor who once suggested that one’s religious beliefs ought to take precedence over the U.S. Constitution. As Huffington Post noted, the Alliance for Justice (a progressive judicial advocacy group) called on the Trump regime to withdraw Barrett’s nomination because of her past writings on the role of faith in the courtroom. The organization also objected to her views on the matter of stare decisis, or the doctrine of legal precedent.  Stated another way, Barrett would seemingly ignore standing case law precidents that do no conform to her religious views. 

Monday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 1


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Jared Kushner Used Private Email Account for White House Business


In addition to lies and insanity, another hallmark of the Trump White House is hypocrisy. Der  Trumpenführer ranted throughout the 2016 presidential campaign about "crooked Hillary" and called for her prosecution.  Now, in a story that broke a around 3:330 this evening by Politico, it turns out that Jared Kushner, a/k/a "Prince Jared," has been using a private email account to conduct official White House business on a regular basis:
Presidential son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has corresponded with other administration officials about White House matters through a private email account set up during the transition last December, part of a larger pattern of Trump administration aides using personal email accounts for government business.
POLITICO has seen and verified about two dozen emails.  “Mr. Kushner uses his White House email address to conduct White House business,” Abbe Lowell, a lawyer for Kushner, said in a statement Sunday. 
Note that per the article, Kushner is apparently note the only individual using a private personal account to conduct official business.  Like Clinton, Kushner said he did so as a "matter of convenience," although given some of Kushner's questionable - and initially unreported - meetings with Russian operatives and BFF's of Vladimir Putin, one has to wonder what other business might have been conducted using the account.  If we use Trump's standard for Clinton on his son-in-law, then Kushner should be looking at prison time.  The deliciousness of Trump's hypocrisy is off the charts.  Here are highlights from the Washington Post's story on the breaking story:
President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has used a private email account to conduct and discuss official White House business dozens of times, his lawyer confirmed Sunday.
Kushner used the private account through his first nine months in government service, even as the president continued to criticize his opponent in the 2016 presidential election, Democrat Hillary Clinton, for her use of a private email account for government business. Kushner several times used his account to exchange news stories and minor reactions or updates with other administration officials.
Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, set up the private account before Donald Trump moved into the White House and Kushner was named a senior adviser to the president in January. Once in the White House, Kushner used his private account for convenience from time to time — especially when he was traveling or using a personal laptop, according to two people familiar with his practice. A person who has reviewed the emails said many were quickly forwarded to his government account and none appear to contain classified information.
Clinton offered a similar explanation in 2015 when it was revealed that she set up a private email account as her exclusive means of email communication when she was secretary of state. Clinton also said she opted for private email “as a matter of convenience.” She insisted that she never shared classified information on her private account or tried to sidestep the federal law that requires that official government communications are preserved. Kushner’s use of a private account was first reported Sunday by Politico.
Trump repeatedly blasted Clinton during the 2016 campaign for her email practices — and has continued to do so for many months after defeating her in the race to the White House.
“What the prosecutors should be looking at are Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 deleted emails,” Trump said in West Virginia in early August. 
The president had a similar refrain in mid-July, when his son Donald Trump Jr. faced questions about a meeting he had with a Russian lawyer during the campaign after he was offered incriminating information about Clinton.
Lowell declined to answer questions about how it was determined that none of the emails contained classified information. Clinton also claimed none of her emails contained classified information, but later reviews founds hundreds contained secret information and a small handful contained top secret material.
People familiar with his communications said former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and former senior adviser Stephen K. Bannon also used private email accounts from time to time, including in their exchanges with Kushner. It’s unclear if these officials forwarded emails to their White House accounts, said one White House official.
It would appear that special prosecutor Robert Mueller and Congressional committees investigating Russiagate have more things to subpoena and review.  Again, Trump's hypocrisy is stunning.

More Sunday Morning Male Beauty


The Racial Demagoguery of Donald Trump


Unfortunately, some in the media are still stating that economic conditions drove whites to vote for Donald Trump - even though post election studies have shown that latent racism was the true motivator for voting for an unfit and foul individual.  Since occupying the White House, Trump has continued to appeal to the racists in his base - as well as Christofascists, although most of those are racists from my years of following "family values" organizations that are always lily white - and shows no signs of letting up anytime soon as evidenced by his attacks this weekend on minority athletes.   A piece in the New Yorker - have you noticed how NYC based publications hate Trump with a passion - looks at the latest racist batshitery flowing from Trump.  Here are excerpts:
Every day, and in countless and unexpected ways, Donald Trump, . . . .  finds new ways to divide and demoralize his country and undermine the national interest. On Tuesday, he ranted from the lectern of the U.N. General Assembly about “Rocket Man” and the possibility of levelling North Korea. Now he has followed with an equally unhinged domestic performance at a rally, on Friday evening, in Huntsville, Alabama, where he set out to make African-American athletes the focus of national contempt.
In the midst of an eighty-minute speech intended to heighten the reëlection prospects of Senator Luther Johnson Strange III, Trump turned his attention to N.F.L. players, including the former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and asked a mainly white crowd if “people like yourselves” agreed with his anger at “those people,” players who take a knee during the national anthem to protest racism.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these N.F.L. owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired!’ ” Trump continued.
“People like yourselves.” “Those people.” “Son of a bitch.” This was the same sort of racial signalling that followed the Fascist and white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. It is no longer a matter of “dog whistling.” This is a form of racial demagoguery broadcast at the volume of a klaxon. There is no need for Steve Bannon’s behind-the-scenes scriptwriting. Trump, who is desperate to distract his base from his myriad failures of policy, from health care to immigration, is perfectly capable of devising his racist rhetoric all on his own.
Trump is making clear his moral priorities. He is infinitely more offended by the sight of a black ballplayer quietly, peacefully protesting racism in the United States than he is by racism itself. Which, at this point, should come as no surprise to any but the willfully obtuse. Trump, who began his real-estate career with a series of discriminatory housing deals in New York City, and his political career with a racist calumny against Barack Obama, has repeatedly defined his Presidency with a rhetoric that signals solidarity to resentful souls who see the Other as the singular cause of their troubles. Trump stokes a bilious disdain for every African-American who dares raise a voice to protest the injustices of this country.
In addition to urging the N.F.L.’s owners to fire any politically impertinent players, Trump also disinvited the N.B.A. champions, the Golden State Warriors, from visiting the White House after one of the team’s stars, Stephen Curry, voiced hesitation about meeting with the President.
“Going to the White House was a great honor until you showed up!” LeBron James said. Many professional athletes tweeted in the same spirit as James, and even the N.F.L. commissioner, Roger Goodell, who has hardly been stalwart in the interests of his players, issued a statement calling Trump’s comments “divisive” and showing an “unfortunate lack of respect” for the league and its players. Compared to the N.B.A. commissioner, Adam Silver, who has been consistently anti-racist and supportive of the players’ right to protest, Goodell is a distinctly corporate figure, whose instinct is nearly always to side with the owners. (At least six N.F.L. owners each contributed a million dollars, or more, to Trump’s Inauguration fund, including Woody Johnson, of the Jets, Robert Kraft, of the Patriots, and Daniel Snyder, of the Redskins.)
What Trump is up to with this assault on athletes, particularly prominent black ones, is obvious; it is part of his larger culture war. Divide. Inflame. Confuse. Divert. And rule. He doesn’t care to grapple with complexity of any kind, whether it’s about the environment, or foreign affairs, or race, or the fact that a great American sport may, by its very nature, be irredeemable. Rather than embody any degree of dignity, knowledge, or unifying embrace, Trump is a man of ugliness, and the damage he does, speech after speech, tweet after tweet, deepens like a coastal shelf. Every day, his Presidency takes a toll on our national fabric. How is it possible to argue with the sentiment behind LeBron James’s concise tweet at Trump: “U Bum”? It isn’t.
Never in my life time did I think we'd see a mainstreaming of hatred flowing nonstop from the White House.

Is Trump mentally ill? Or is America?


I suspect that future historians will long ponder what level of insanity prompted Americans - thanks to an Electoral College that lacked the courage to fulfill the Founder's design to protect the country - to put Donald Trump in the White House (I refuse to utter his title before his name because dishonors the office). At the same times, those future historians will likely ponder the precise form of Trump's serious mental disorders that put the both America and the world at risk).  The Washington Post reviews some new books by mental health experts that collectively conclude that Trump is dangerous and either mentally ill or at best a very horrible person.   As for Trump's supporters, sadly in my view, they fall into that latter category, if not the first.  Here are highlights from the review:
Gone are the days when euphemisms about President Trump’s mental health insulated the man like so many padded walls. 
ErraticUnpredictableUnstableUnmooredTemperamentally unfit. This was what politicians and commentators said when they wished to question Trump’s state of mind but feared the consequences of a more colloquial assessment. Yet the deeper we plunge into this presidency, the more willing people become to call it like they see and hear it.
Now, some psychiatrists and other mental-health professionals are shedding long-held norms to argue that Trump’s condition presents risks to the nation and the world. “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” features more than two dozen essays breaking down the president’s perceived traits, which the contributors find consistent with symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder, sociopathy and other maladies. “Collectively with our coauthors, we warn that anyone as mentally unstable as Mr. Trump simply should not be entrusted with the life-and-death powers of the presidency,” Judith Lewis Herman of Harvard Medical School and Bandy X. Lee of the Yale School of Medicine write in the book’s prologue.
If so, what should we make of the nation that entrusted him with precisely such powers? In his new book, “Twilight of American Sanity,” psychiatrist Allen Frances asserts that Trump is not mentally ill — we are. “Calling Trump crazy allows us to avoid confronting the craziness in our society,” he writes. “We can’t expect to change Trump, but we must work to undo the societal delusions that created him.”
[D]epending on which of these books you trust — and their persuasive powers vary considerably — you might conclude that Trump is of unsound mind, or that we’re the deranged ones for electing him, or that America has always been disturbed, with Trump’s presidency just the latest manifestation.  And here’s the really crazy thing: These options are not mutually exclusive.
[C]ontributors argue that Trump’s behavior — his political statements and actions as well as his interviews, books and social-media activity — suggest more ominous possibilities.
Trump displays signs of “extreme present hedonism,” the tendency to live in the moment without considering consequences, seeking to bolster one’s self-esteem no matter the risk. Or he exhibits “narcissistic personality disorder,” which includes believing you’re better than others, exaggerating your achievements and expecting constant praise. Combine hedonism, narcissism and bullying, and you get “an impulsive, immature, incompetent person who, when in the position of ultimate power, easily slides into the role of the tyrant,” Philip Zimbardo (of the famous Stanford prison experiment) and Rosemary Sword write. Others suggest that Trump shows indications of sociopathy, including lack of empathy, absence of guilt and intentional ma­nipu­la­tion. Put it all together and you have “malignant narcissism,” which includes antisocial behavior, paranoid traits, even sadism.
Over time these characteristics will only become worse, either because Mr. Trump will succeed in gaining more power and more grandiosity with less grasp on reality, or because he will engender more criticism producing more paranoia, more lies, and more enraged destruction.” And when the president stands before the U.N. General Assembly and threatens to “totally destroy” an enemy country of 25 million people, enraged destruction seems on point.
The volume’s contributors take solace in Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California, a 1976 casein which the California Supreme Court held that mental-health experts have a responsibility to speak out when they determine that someone poses a physical danger to others. 
In the final chapter, psychiatrists Nanette Gartrell and Dee Mosbacher call for an independent panel to evaluate Trump’s fitness for office, and they urge Congress to pass legislation ensuring that future presidential and vice-presidential candidates undergo evaluations. I would not want Tansey, for one, serving on that body. Wouldn’t dream of it.
We are living in very frightening times to say the least.  We can only hope that Mueller does his work quickly and can not only take down Trump but Pence as well.

Sunday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 1