Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sunday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2

The GOP Fears Its Future in the West

In states all across America, demographic change is changing the face of the voter base, yet the Republican Party continues to focus almost solely on pandering to right wing white Christians - many, if not most of whom are racists - and white supremacy supporters.  Now, with the rise of Donald trump, this is creating an existential danger for the GOP in the west (other than the Pacific coast states).  The problem for the GOP, of course, is that now that the party base is controlled by the Christofascist/white supremacist factions, changing the course of the party's agenda and platform is near impossible.  There's a reason that the 2016 GOP platform is the most anti-LGBT in history.  A piece in the New York Times looks at the GOP's western challenge.  Here are excerpts:
Republicans in Western states fear that Donald J. Trump could imperil their party for years to come in the country’s fastest-growing region as he repels a generation of Hispanics, Asians and younger voters who have been altering the electoral map.
Mr. Trump, with his insult-laden, culturally insensitive style of campaigning, is providing fuel for the demographic trends that are already reshaping the political composition of this once-heavily Republican territory. And now many Republicans are contemplating the possibility that states like Colorado or Nevada could soon become the next California: once competitive but now unwinnable in presidential contests.
In few places are the party’s woes over their nominee more immediate than here in Arizona, a state that has voted for the Democratic presidential candidate only once in the last 68 years.
Recent polls show Hillary Clinton is close to tying Mr. Trump here. And her campaign has responded by teaming up with local Democrats on a statewide get-out-the-vote operation, which has grown to 160 staff members across 20 offices.
While flipping Arizona has been a Democratic fantasy for years — and one that Clinton supporters acknowledge remains quite difficult — their efforts to register and recruit voters are part of a longer-term plan to capitalize on the Republican Party’s vulnerabilities with younger and minority voters.
Nonwhites are growing as a share of the electorate faster in the West than they are elsewhere. For the first time, minorities in 2012 accounted for at least 30 percent of the eligible voting population in Arizona, Nevada and Alaska — all states where Republicans currently hold top statewide offices.
The demographics were already daunting. But many Republicans now say Mr. Trump is only accelerating the flight of minority voters to the Democratic Party, like dry underbrush feeds an Arizona wildfire.
Asked how fellow Republicans could win election to statewide office in the West, Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona offered some blunt advice: “Distance yourself from Donald Trump.” . . . . Otherwise, Mr. Flake said, “this will last decades.”
Most demographers did not believe Arizona could be truly competitive for Democrats in a presidential election until 2020 at the earliest. But Mr. Trump’s unpopularity has spawned a demographic double threat that has implications in Arizona and beyond: He is not just weak among Hispanics, but also with with educated white professionals who have moved to places like Denver, Salt Lake City and Phoenix in search of better jobs and a lower cost of living.
The entire West Coast is already a wasteland for Republicans. The last time one of the coastal states — with the exception of Alaska — went to a Republican nominee was California in 1988. Moreover, losses in Arizona and possibly Utah would leave Republicans safe in just Wyoming, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. The peril for Republicans is evident looking at the Electoral College: Those states only have a combined 13 of the total 538 electoral votes. And even in the likely event that Republicans continue to carry Utah, a win in November would yield only six more electoral votes.
[E]ven his [Trump's] supporters acknowledge what they are up against in Arizona and across the West. “I am concerned about my party going forward,” said Sean D. Reyes, Utah’s attorney general. Mr. Reyes is a Republican and backs Mr. Trump. He is also part Hispanic, Japanese and Filipino, and a Mormon.
So he was naturally taken aback when he heard Mr. Trump insult Filipinos this month. Mr. Trump told a crowd in Maine that the United States had to stop letting in “animals” from “terrorist nations,” among them the Philippines. Mr. Reyes said he called the campaign to register his displeasure.

A Doctor's Case for Marijuana Decriminalization

The City of Norfolk, Virginia recently discussed seeking legislation from the Virginia General Assembly to decriminalized marijuana or at least amend Virginia's draconian marijuana laws. Norfolk has the distinction of the highest number of marijuana arrests which disproportionately impact black male.  It's as if the pattern is part of a Republican plan to arrest, convict and criminalize blacks to keep them off of the voter rolls.  The reality is that the Virginia GOP increasingly survives due solely to gerrymandered districts and all out efforts to disenfranchise minority voters and younger voters. A piece in Salon authored by a doctor looks at the idiocy of the federal government's refusal to change marijuana as a Schedule I drug.  Here are article excerpts:
On August 11th, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced its decision to keep marijuana classified as a Schedule I drug. The federal government has historically referred to this category as the “most dangerous” group of substances, including drugs like heroin and bath salts.
As a resident physician specializing in mental health, I can’t make much sense of this.
Every day, I talk to patients about substance abuse. Whether evaluating patients in clinic, in the emergency department or on inpatient units, my colleagues and I screen patients for substance use. It’s a vital component of any clinical interview, particularly in mental health care, and helps us understand patients’ habits and their risks for medical complications.
During my medical training, I’ve learned which substances to worry about and which ones matter less.
Alcohol is usually the first substance I ask about. Many people have seen drinking go wrong, be it a friend making a bad decision or a family member struggling with alcoholism. But clinicians see the worst of this on the front lines.
Intoxicated patients stream into emergency departments after crashing their cars, inhaling their own vomit or falling into a coma. According to the National Institutes of Health, alcohol-related conditions contributed to more than 1.2 million emergency department visits in 2010. The Centers for Disease Control reports excess alcohol consumption causes roughly 88,000 deaths in the United States each year.
It’s not only alcohol that clinicians worry about. Cocaine can cause heart attacks, kidney failure and complications during pregnancy like placental abruption. Methamphetamine can trigger an assortment of responses, from hyperthermia to violent agitation to cardiogenic shock. Opioids like morphine can plunge patients into respiratory failure and kill them. Intravenous drug use puts patients at risk for hepatitis, endocarditis or even brain abscesses.
But, for most health care providers, marijuana is an afterthought.
We don’t see cannabis overdoses. We don’t order scans for cannabis-related brain abscesses. We don’t treat cannabis-induced heart attacks. In medicine, marijuana use is often seen on par with tobacco or caffeine consumption — something we counsel patients about stopping or limiting, but nothing urgent to treat or immediately life-threatening.
The federal government’s scheduling of marijuana bears little relationship to actual patient care. The notion that marijuana is more dangerous or prone to abuse than alcohol (not scheduled), cocaine (Schedule II), methamphetamine (Schedule II) or prescription opioids (Schedules II, III, and IV) doesn’t reflect what we see in clinical medicine.
Chuck Rosenberg, acting head of the DEA, explained the decision to keep marijuana as a Schedule I drug was based more “on whether marijuana, as determined by the FDA, is a safe and effective medicine.”
Regulations have prevented U.S. researchers from answering this question over the last several decades. As written in a recent editorial in The New York Times, “the government itself has made it impossible to do the kinds of trials and studies that could produce the evidence that would justify changing the drug’s classification.”
Yet, according to a 2015 systematic reviewstudies from around the world suggest cannabis and cannabinoid therapies may help patients in a number of ways. These include treating chronic pain, muscle spasms, debilitating side effects of chemotherapy like nausea and weight loss from HIV infection. Dozens of U.S. states have listened to such findings in recent years and passed legislation approving the use of medical marijuana.
[O]ur nation’s substance policies should be grounded in the realities of clinical practice.
In hospitals across the country, patients writhe in agony from alcohol withdrawal, turn violent from crystal meth and struggle to breathe after overdosing on prescription opioids. These are the cases that keep health care providers on edge. These are the patients we follow closely. When our pagers go off, we hurry to the bedside, give medications, alert security or even begin resuscitation.
With marijuana? Not so much.

Sunday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 1

The Growing Insanity and Paranoia of the Right

The "Redoubt" 

Perhaps there have always been insane people among the far right elements of society and it is only because of today's 24/7 media cycle that they seem much more prevalent.  Or, instead, they are more numerous because of the constant bellowing of Christofascists and the GOP's years of using dog whistle racism and talk of conspiracies to deprive 2nd Amendment nuts of their weapons.   Whatever the cause, I find it difficult to even comprehend the mindset of these folks, especially the "patriots" and survivalists.   The Washington Post has a lengthy piece on these folks who are moving to parts of the Pacific Northwest - eastern Washington, eastern Oregon, Idaho and Montana - to  arm themselves and prepare themselves an expected Armageddon.  While the article doesn't outright say it, I suspect that racism and white supremacy is a strong driving motivation given that the "Redoubt" as they call it, is mostly lily white and they talk about their "strong Christian beliefs."  The latter, in my view, increasingly meaning that they are right wing Christian racists.  Here are some article highlights:
Don and Jonna Bradway recently cashed out of the stock market and invested in gold and silver. They have stockpiled food and ammunition in the event of a total economic collapse or some other calamity commonly known around here as “The End of the World As We Know It” or “SHTF” — the day something hits the fan.
The Bradways fled California, a state they said is run by “leftists and non-Constitutionalists and anti-freedom people,” and settled on several wooded acres of north Idaho five years ago. They live among like-minded conservative neighbors, host Monday night Bible study around their fire pit, hike in the mountains and fish from their boat. They melt lead to make their own bullets for sport shooting and hunting — or to defend themselves against marauders in a world-ending cataclysm.
The Bradways are among the vanguard moving to an area of the Pacific Northwest known as the American Redoubt, a term coined in 2011 by survivalist author and blogger James Wesley, Rawles (the comma is deliberate) to describe a settlement of the God-fearing in a lightly populated territory that includes Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and the eastern parts of Washington and Oregon.
They are anxious about recent terrorist attacks from Paris to San Bernardino, Calif., to Orlando; pandemics such as Ebola in West Africa; potential nuclear attacks from increasingly provocative countries such as North Korea or Iran; and the growing political, economic and racial polarization in the United States that has deepened during the 2016 presidential election.
The locals regard the newest transplants as benign if odd, several said in interviews.  “The mainstream folks kind of roll their eyes,” said state Sen. Shawn Keough, a 20-year veteran Republican legislator who represents north Idaho.
Much of the Redoubt migration is motivated by fears that President Obama — and his potential successor, Hillary Clinton — want to scrap the Second Amendment, as part of what transplants see as a dangerous and anti-constitutionalist movement toward government that is too intrusive and hostile to personal liberties.
“The bottom line is that our clients are tired of living around folks that have no moral values,” Savage said. “They choose to flee tyranny and leave behind all the attributes of the big city that have turned them away.”
Savage spoke as he drove his Chevrolet Suburban with an AR-15 rifle tucked next to the driver’s seat, a handgun between the front seats, and body armor and more than 200 rounds of extra ammunition in the back — along with a chain saw to move fallen trees and two medical kits, just in case.
Treller, a sommelier at a local resort, said Obama was a key factor in his decision. He said the president has inflamed racial tensions in America, presided over a dangerous expansion of the national debt, been “hostile” to Second Amendment rights and failed to curtail the nuclear ambitions of North Korea and Iran.
Treller said he settled on Coeur d’Alene after scouring, a website where he looked for his ideal mix: conservative election results, low crime rates, solid incomes, low population density, affordable house prices — and few illegal immigrants, because he said they erode “American culture.”
Idaho is about 83 percent white, and its three northernmost counties are more than 90 percent white, according to Census Bureau data. Those interviewed in the American Redoubt insisted they are not trying to segregate themselves by race. And while the Aryan Nations white supremacist group was headquartered near Hayden Lake in the 1980s and 1990s, Rawles has described the Redoubt movement as “anti-racist” and said like-minded folks of all races are welcome.
Several locals did express unease about their new ammo-stockpiling neighbors.  “I don’t have a problem with preppers, but it’s the extremists people don’t want around — the fringe, the radicals. That’s the concern I hear from people,” said Mike Peterson, a real estate agent in Bonners Ferry and retired Los Angeles firefighter and EMT.
Keough, the state senator, recently fought off a tough GOP primary challenge in which she was labeled a “progressive traitor” by Alex Barron, a blogger who calls himself the Bard of the American Redoubt.  
 Reach your own conclusions, but I think these people are nuts!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Saturday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 3

The Fruits of Right Wing Demagoguery

One hears ad nausea about how Christofascists "hate the sin, and love the sinner" as they spew vile anti-LGBT vitriol, never giving a care about the possible violence they are inciting. Indeed, after the Pulse massacre, some "godly Christian" pastors stated that the victims got what they deserved and/or that they wished more had been killed.  Fast forward and such talk appears to have been the motivation of a would be "Christian warrior" in Las Vegas who was fortunately caught before he could put his murderous plans into action.  Every time you hear a Southern Baptist bellowing anti-LGBT statements or parasites like Tony Perkins deliberately disseminating lies and untruths, know that somewhere a would be mass killer is listening and coming to believe that murdering others is righteous.  Here are highlights from KTNV TV 13:
A 24-year-old Las Vegas man has been charged for making terrorist threats in a video that was posted on YouTube.
Las Vegas police say they were notified on July 2 by Interpol via Google about a suspicious/threatening YouTube video.
Although Google had removed the video, they were able to provide a link for a detective to watch the video.
In the video, a man named Bryce Cuellar reportedly showed off two rifles and was wearing a military flak vest and night vision goggles.
Cuellar reportedly said in the video that he is tired of the government trying to take away his First and Second Amendment rights and says that he cannot wait to use his rifle in the manner in which the founding fathers intended.
He also said that he wanted to kill "gays, faggots, lesbians and satanists" and claimed to be a Christian warrior. Cuellar also said that he is tired of America and would begin killing soon.
Police also checked his Facebook page and found posts about the Orlando shooting and posts that outlines his anti-government, sovereign citizen and militia ideologies. Police say that Cuellar has become increasingly more radical and aggressive in his videos over the past 3 years. Based on the video and statements, Cuellar was charged with terrorist threats. He was also placed on a mental health hold at the time by Clark County Detention Center staff. 13 Action News was able to find a YouTube page that appears to be connected with Cueller. The YouTube channel has almost 161,000 subscribers and the channel's videos have been viewed more than 73 million times.
Cueller is being held at CCDC on $100,000 bail. He is scheduled to be in court on Sept. 1.
161,000 subscribers - that is frightening.  Yet, GOP and Chrisofascist extremist continue to stoke the flames that can ignite someone like Cueller - usually so that they can gain votes or line their own pockets with money.

Trump’s Repellent Inner Circle

While Donald Trump has shaken up the management of his campaign, overall, the leadership remains driven by bigotry and misogyny.  Indeed, Trump's new campaign chair, Stephen Bannon, as reported by the Washington Post, is now being plagued by stories of (i) being registered to vote at an address where he does not live, (ii) past domestic violence, and (iii) anti-Semitism.  The Donald certainly knows how to pick winners, especially since Bannon was supposed to be an improvement over Russia linked Paul Manafort.  A column in the Washington Post (bu a conservative columnist) looks mare and Trump's  ugly inner circle.  Here are excerpts:
Donald Trump is undergoing his own “extreme vetting.” And we are learning a great deal about the quality of his public pledges. . . . Trump is undergoing a rapid, convulsive transition from Mr. Hyde into Dr. Jekyll. In the movies, this role would require hours in the chair of a highly skilled makeup artist. Trump has Sean Hannity.
For much of Trump’s fan base, these details couldn’t matter less. The Trump revolution is mainly a matter of personnel, not policy. Put the right man in charge who will hire the “best people” and fire all the corrupt, stupid failures. Trump’s primary appeal — and his main source of self-regard — is his skill as a negotiator, manager and talent scout.
Here we are also getting a good feel for the candidate. Trump’s campaign has been a roiling, noxious, dysfunctional mess from the start, characterized by public feuds, subject to sudden leadership changes and unable to fulfill key functions (like actually having a campaign apparatus in key states). And Trump’s personnel selections have been both instructive and disastrous.
Consider this list of Trump’s chosen: Former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski had a brutal and demeaning style that resulted in a staff revolt, and his manhandling of a female reporter overshadowed the Trump campaign for weeks. Former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was paid lucrative consulting fees by foreign interests and resigned after reports that Ukraine anti-corruption investigators were scrutinizing millions in alleged payments there.
Longtime adviser Roger Stone is a crackpot conspiracy theorist who asserts that Bill and Hillary Clinton are “plausibly responsible” for the deaths of roughly 40 people and that Hillary Clinton should be “executed for murder.” Confidant Roger Ailes recently stepped down from his job at Fox News under a cloud of sexual harassment claims. And Steve Bannon, Trump’s new campaign chief executive, is known for his bullying tactics and for running a website (Breitbart News) that flirts with white nationalism.
There are a few exceptions to this pattern — Kellyanne Conway and Mike Pencecome to mind — but Trump has hired and elevated some of the very worst people in American politics, known for their cruelty, radicalism, prejudice and corruption.
What does all this say about Trump as a prospective president?
First, it means that the ideal of leadership Trump displayed as a reality television star is his actual view of leadership. It is not an act. In Trump’s view, leaders elevate themselves by belittling others. They yell and abuse and bully. And their most important quality is absolute loyalty to the great leader, the star of the show. This is a view of leadership that would make H.R. Haldeman cringe.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty - Pt 2

LGBT Business Leaders Endorse Hillary Clinton

In 2007 I was a founder of Hampton Roads Business OutReach ("HRBOR"), the local affiliate chamber of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce ("NGLCC").  Since HRBOR's founding, its membership has grown and much has been done to educate the larger business community and to give the Hampton Roads region a more LGBT-friendly atmosphere.  Working with Hampton Roads Pride, this past HR Pride event saw Newport News Shipbuilding, Virginia's largest employer outside of the military, participate as a presenting sponsor.  Democrats have been welcoming to HRBOR and its mission.  Republicans in sharp contrast, with a few exceptions, have not.  Now, at the national level, the  NGLCC has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.  I can think of few things more threatening to the LGBT community than the unholy alliances Donald Trump has made with leading Christofascists to win their backing.  NBC News looks at the endorsement: 
A national chamber of commerce representing LGBT business owners and leaders has put its support behind Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. This endorsement, a first by the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), was made at its summer convening in Palm Springs, California.
In a statement shared with NBC OUT, NGLCC co-founder and CEO Chance Mitchell shared that "the stakes have never been so high for the future of the LGBT business community. Hillary Clinton is the progressive champion our businesses and our families need to thrive."
NGLCC "looked at Hillary Clinton's record of both supporting the LGBT community and policy positions on cutting red tape and creating opportunities for small business," shared NGLCC spokesman Jonathan Lovitz "the choice for President was very clear. She has the record and the stated position that will ensure our communities continue to thrive."
"I am honored to have earned the first-ever endorsement of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce" the former Secretary of State said in a statement in response to the endorsement.
She agreed with Mitchell regarding the stakes of the LGBTQ's community future. "The stakes in this election could not be higher for LGBT Americans," said Clinton. "When Donald Trump says 'he'll make America great again,' that's code for 'take American backwards'."
"We don't want to see that foundation eroded by a President Trump who would absolutely ensure that LGBT businesses lose the ground they have made for economic opportunity," Lovitz shared.