Friday, February 23, 2018

More Friday Male Beauty

The GOP Now Mirror's Europe's Fascist Far Right

My Republican grandparents and even my Republican parents would not recognize today's GOP  on display at the CPAC gathering in Washington, D.C.  Indeed even during my own time as a GOP activist likely a majority of the attendees would have been viewed with outright horror given that the party base now consists of those that would not have been deemed politically, much less socially acceptable.  Sadly, as a piece in the Washington Post notes, the GOP looks more like one of European ethno-nationalist .  Ironically, one speaker attacked "European socialism" and ignored the reality that Europe now has more upward mobility than the United States, European citizens have better access to health care, and the social safety net does not view millions of individuals as disposable garbage.  Indeed, it was no accident that the niece of French far-right extremist Marine Le Pen (who has received funding from Putin's Russia) was in attendance and addressed the gathering yesterday.  Sane and moral people need to be afraid.  Here are column excerpts:
The Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual conclave of the American right, is underway just outside Washington. President Trump will deliver a speech there on Friday, while Vice President Pence opened proceedings Thursday with a paean to his boss's first year in office, a recitation of his Christian bona fides and a Republican rallying cry ahead of pivotal midterm elections this year. But it has not gone off without controversy. Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, the youthful niece of French far-right heavyweight Marine Le Pen, also addressed the gathering Thursday. Her appearance dismayed some establishment Republicans, who were not eager to associate with a political faction linked to the dark remnants of European fascism.
 The acceptance of people such as Maréchal-Le Pen and British anti-immigrant campaigner Nigel Farage, who is speaking Friday, seemed to underscore the hard-rightward drift of the Republican Party. These are not conservatives; these are members of an international ethno-nationalist populist movement," Matt Lewis, a moderate Republican commentator, said to NBC News. But he added that this was in keeping with Trump's ultra-nationalism. CPAC has “featured speakers who raged against gays, Muslims and immigrants and, for years, it banned panel discussions about gay rights,” noted right-wing Washington Post blogger (albeit indefatigable Trump critic) Jennifer Rubin. “However, it was also a place where mainstream conservatives came to speak, and where policy gurus from think tanks had calm discussions. . . . Now CPAC encapsulates the GOP. Adherents of President Trump’s brand of Republican politics do not bother to disguise their extremism,  conspiracy theories, paranoia or xenophobia.” Maréchal-Le Pen displayed much of that paranoia and xenophobia during her 10-minute speech. “France is no longer free today,” the 28-year-old said. "After 1500 years of existence, we now must fight for our independence." She went on to bash the European Union, earning cheers from the CPAC crowd. Her remarks echoed Trump's own blood-and-soil rhetoric [first used by Hitler and the Nazi Party] over the past year. She decried what she called the scourge of immigration, bashed globalization, signaled a desire to quit NATO and cozy up to Russia, gestured at her opposition to same-sex marriage, and championed the “historical continuity” of her nation. . . . . It’s still hard to see what she gains at home by addressing this audience abroad: Public opinion polling regarding Trump in France finds widespread disapproval of the American president, even among National Front voters. . . . . She is also closer to her grandfather, Jean-Marie Le Pen, the National Front's founder who has a long record of Holocaust denial and other bigotry. More mainstream politicians on the center-right are aping Le Pen’s brand of identity politics. That is a phenomenon all too familiar to those watching Trump's America and the events unfolding in Washington this week.

Right Wing Lunacy Reigns at CPAC

Wayne LaPierre, NRA propagandist ,at CPAC

If one wants a front row seat observing what's wrong with America, a good place to start is at CPAC - the Conservative Political Action Conference - which might better stand for Crazy People Acting Crazy.  The confab is featuring a who's who of hate merchants and, of course, gave a prominent speaking platform to Wayne LaPierre of the NRA who wants every school in America turned into a "hardened site" with heavily armed teachers (the NRA is a "presenting sponsor of the event). Anything rather than adopt common sense gun control measures and a ban of assault weapons. LaPierre clearly puts gun manufacturers' profits ahead of America's school children.  As NPR noted, LaPierre ended his speech, to a standing ovation, by reprising comments he made just over five years ago after the mass-shooting tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut : "To stop a bad guy with a gun, it takes a good guy with a gun."

Also featured as a speaker is French Fascist Marion Maréchal-Le Pen who compared Brexit and the French anti-gay hate group La Manif Pour Tous with the election of Trump, citing all three as examples of the global rise of the right.

In attendance too is the falsely named "Constitution Party" which wants to turn America into a theocracy based on that unhinged group's reading of the Bible.  As might be expected, gays are high on the target list of the Constitution Party:

The goal of the Constitution Party is to restore American jurisprudence  . . .  We reject the notion that homosexuals, transgenders or those who are sexually deviant are deserving of legal favor or special protection, and affirm the rights of states and localities to proscribe offensive sexual behavior. We oppose all efforts to impose a new sexual legal order through any courts or legislatures.  Finally, we oppose any legal recognition of homosexual or civil unions. 

Among other "key issues" for the Constitution Party  - and CPAC attendees generally are the following:

  • end federal funding of public education
  • no infringement on gun ownership
  • end binding precedent of court rulings on non-parties to the litigation
  • the privatization of Healthcare and Social Security, with Social Security being phased out
  • American withdrawal from the United Nations
  • anti-immigrant policies

These people are NOT mainstream and are downright frightening.  Oh, and did I mention that the majority of CPAC attendees are Trump supporters?

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Thursday, February 22, 2018

More Thursday Male Beauty

Why Does the Far Right Demand Respect It Doesn't Give to Others?

Whether the issue be gun control or the right's false flag of "religious liberty," conservatives demand that their beliefs and sensibilities be afforded respect even when they are directly controverted by empirical and objective fact, yet  they afford no respect to the beliefs of others.  Being gay, one sees the double standard all the time, especially from ignorance embracing Christofascists who want respect for their "deeply held beliefs" yet who attack anyone who rejects such antiquated and  scientifically impossible beliefs.  Then, of course, there are working class whites who voted for Trump and Republicans even though they advance policies that directly harm such voters.  Personally, I am over respecting the beliefs of  those who are bigots or simply dumb as bricks when facts do not support their claimed beliefs.  Deciding to embrace ignorance and bigotry is a choice and deserves no deference or respect. This is especially true of "conservatives" who slime those (i) who refute their beliefs, or (ii) with whom they disagree.  A prime example is what is being done to the Parkland high school students now being dragged through the mud by right wing sites and conspiracy theory formenters.  A column in the Washington Post looks at the hypocrisy of gun fanatics who want respect from others while giving none in return.  Here are excerpts:
Supporters of even modest restrictions on firearms are regularly instructed that their ardent advocacy turns off Americans in rural areas and small towns. Those in favor of reforming our firearms laws are scolded as horrific elitists who disrespect a valued way of life.
And as the mass killings continue, we are urged to be patient and to spend our time listening earnestly to the views of those who see even a smidgen of action to limit access to guns as the first step toward confiscation. Our task is not to fight for laws to protect innocents, but to demonstrate that we really, honestly, truly, cross-our-hearts, positively love gun owners and wouldn’t for an instant think anything ill of them.
What is odd is that those with extreme pro-gun views — those pushing for new laws to allow people to carry just about anytime, anywhere — are never called upon to model similar empathy toward children killed, the mourning parents left behind, people in urban neighborhoods suffering from violence, or the majority of Americans who don’t own guns.
Depending on the survey, somewhere between 58 percent and 68 percent of us live in households without guns. But no one who belongs to the National Rifle Association is ever told to prove their respect for our way of life. Rarely is it pointed out that the logic of the gun lobby’s position is to create a world in which everyone will need a gun, whether we want one or not. 
The students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, an institution that suffered the worst effects of our inaction on guns, have not gotten the memo that they are supposed to shut up, and may they be blessed for this. You can tell their angry outspokenness is having an impact, and not only because President Trump has taken modest steps to suggest he hears the message. More telling is that some of the same right-wingers who demand deep respect for gun culture have shown no scruples about trashing the kids.
Bill O’Reilly was so upset at the attention their protests are drawing that he accused the media of “promoting opinions by teenagers who are in an emotional state and facing extreme peer pressure in some cases.” The condescension is revolting, and never mind that without emotionalism and peer pressure to conform, O’Reilly’s former employer, Fox News, would go out of business.
Former representative Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) doubted the capacity of these students to think or act for themselves. “Their sorrow can very easily be hijacked by left-wing groups who have an agenda,” he said on CNN. Young people who disagree with him can’t possibly have minds of their own.
No wonder the foes of gun sanity are worried. On Wednesday, the students and supporters gathered at the state Capitol in Florida shouting “vote them out!” — a day after the state’s Republican-led legislature voted down a ban on many semiautomatic guns and large-capacity magazines.
How come only one side of the supposed culture war on guns is required to exude respect for the other? Because the culture-war argument is largely a gimmick pushed by the gun lobby as a way of demonizing its opponents. None of us who endorse stronger gun laws wants to disrupt anybody else’s way of life. And none of the measures we are proposing would do that.
What truly alarms the gun lobby is that many steps to curb the scourge of gun violence enjoy broad support, from those who own guns as well as those who don’t. A Quinnipiac pollreleased on Tuesday, for example, found that 97 percent of Americans favor background checks for all gun buyers. 
I am all for Americans reaching out across our cultural divides. But if we wait to act until our cross-cultural understanding is complete, many more who might have been saved will die.

Inconvenient and Ugly Truths about Billy Graham

Some say that it is bad form to speak ill of the dead.  I view it as even worse form, however, to rewrite history and avoid the truth about public figures, especially when the truth involves bigotry and self-enrichment.  While much of the mainstream media is engaged something akin to self-felatio in mourning over the death of Billy Graham - I omit the designation "Reverend" since I hold bible colleges and the Southern Baptist Convention in very low esteem - very little is being said about the ugly side of Graham who was a homophobe, a make chauvinist, and an anti-Semite.  Yes, unlike most Southern Baptists of his era, Graham disavowed outright segregation, but that hardly merits forgiving his other transgressions  against decency.    It also bears remembering that Graham set the model for today's self-enriching scamvangelists - i.e., so called pastors and evangelists who laugh all the way to the bank - and played a role in evangelical Christians' toxic role in American politics.   A piece in The Raw Story looks at the ugly underbelly of Graham's "career."   Here are excerpts:
Graham is getting tributes from all corners right now. And he deserves praise for supporting the civil rights movement, supporting Nelson Mandela during his imprisonment and embracing Muhammad Ali during the fall-out of his conversion to Islam. All those good deeds will be covered in great detail today.
But while Graham certainly did many great things, he also said and did some awful things. And because he was so respected, his deeds were very influential.
Graham helped normalize ultra-rich pastors. Graham’s wealth, and focus on more wealth, was modest compared to the televangelists preaching the prosperity gospel today. His net worth was estimated at $25 million.
Graham once preached that AIDS was the judgement of God. “Is AIDS a judgment of God? . . . Graham quickly backtracked on this one, saying that he didn’t believe that and didn’t know why he said it. Nevertheless, this dog-whistle was heard by too many.
Graham wrote a memo to President Nixon urging him to commit a war crime in Vietnam. Unlike many Christian leaders, Graham supported a very specific military strategy in the Vietnam war. He wanted Nixon to use nuclear weapons to destroy the dikes that manage flooding in North Vietnam. This plan was something Henry Kissinger dismissed as “just too much.”
Graham was anti-Semitic. . . . . For example, after taped conversations revealed that Graham made anti-Semitic statements to President Nixon. Specifically, he told the president that Jews control the media, and that this was dangerous: “This stranglehold has got to be broken or this country’s going down the drain.” Nixon agreed with this, and Graham suggested that if he got elected to a second term “we might be able to do something.” Graham would later point out that he had Jewish friends.
 Graham had backward views on women. He criticized feminism, and is the namesake of that weird rule that Mike Pence lives by, never spending any time alone with any woman besides his wife.
 Graham raised his boy wrong. In his 1997 autobiography, Graham was regretful of his involvement in politics, writing that, “If I had to do it all over again, I would also avoid any semblance of involvement in partisan politics… And yet, Graham failed to impart this wisdom on his son Franklin Graham, who took over the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and who has taken the lead in defending and legitimizing Donald Trump to evangelicals.
The comment in the piece about Graham's son is an understatement as to the lengths Franklin Graham has thrown aside supposed "Christian" values in supporting Trump, Roy Moore and other morally bankrupt Republicans.  His sister Ann Graham Lotz is no better and fully fits the scamvangelist model established by her father who made being a "professional Christian" a route to personal financial wealth.  Graham and his children excelled at claiming the Bible inerrant yet ignored any passages not supportive of their personal and political agendas. 

One of Billy Graham's last public acts was in 2012 - possible under his son's coercion - when he was trotted out to endorse North Carolina's Amendment 1 that banned marriage equality.  As a piece in Huffington Post by an activist friend notes, Graham's statement appeared in full page ads in 14 newspapers across North Carolina.  Graham was no friend to the LGBT community and he was no supporter of equality under the law. 

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

More Wednesday Male Beauty

It's Time to Get in the NRA's Face in a Major Way

Having been a political activist for 25 years, one thing that drives me to distraction is the difference - perhaps laziness is the better word - of so many Americans when it comes to paying attention to politics and getting off one's butt to support responsible candidates and to oppose toxic elements in political life.  Few organizations are more toxic in American politics than the NRA which basically trades in death and puts gun manufacturers' profits above all else, including the lives of school students as demonstrated by the NRA's opposition to any type of sane gun control legislation after every mass shooting.  Only in America does such carnage go on and on while NRA puppets in elected office do nothing by offer utterly worthless "thoughts and prayers."  A column in the New York Times exhorts Americans to get off their asses and do more than dwell in social media.  The rubber hits the road by confronting and getting in the faces of NRA bought politicians and voting them out of office.  Here are column excerpts: 
Cameron Kasky, a 17-year-old at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who survived last week’s mass shooting, wrote a beautiful essay for that declared: “At the end of the day, the students at my school felt one shared experience — our politicians abandoned us by failing to keep guns out of schools. But this time, my classmates and I are going to hold them to account. This time we are going to pressure them to take action. This time we are going to force them to spend more energy protecting human lives than unborn fetuses.”
Cameron, God bless you for that sentiment. But just one piece of respectful advice: If your generation and mine want to get serious about a gun control crusade, we all need to get out of Facebook and into someone’s face: the N.R.A.’s.
This fight can’t be won on Twitter or Instagram. . . . . The N.R.A. is not just in the chat rooms. It’s in the cloakrooms of Congress and state legislatures. And it’s there with bags of money and votes it uses to reward lawmakers who do its bidding and hurt those who don’t.
I loved seeing the 100 students from your high school taking buses Tuesday to Florida’s capital to directly press lawmakers. That’s a great start. I hope every high school follows.
But, ultimately, nothing will change unless young and old who oppose the N.R.A. run for office, vote, help someone vote, register someone to vote or help fund someone’s campaign — so we can threaten the same electoral pain as the National Rifle Association, which, according to PolitiFact, spent $203.2 million between 1998 and 2017 funding its candidates, defeating gun control advocates and lobbying. This is not about persuading people with better ideas. We tried that. It’s about generating raw electoral power and pain.
Because most of the G.O.P. members of Congress who do the N.R.A.’s bidding care about only one thing: their jobs. The pay of a typical congressman is $174,000 — and free parking at Reagan National Airport — and they will sell themselves to whoever can generate the votes to enable them to keep both. . . . . This is primarily a G.O.P. problem today.
How do we know that? Read the paper or the web. The G.O.P., which claimed to stand for conservative family values, has prostrated itself before the most indecent person to ever occupy the White House — a man who lies as he breathes, smears poor, nonwhite nations and reportedly had sex with a porn star shortly after his wife delivered their son. But G.O.P. lawmakers are mute on this because President Trump energizes their base and ensures their $174,000-a-year jobs and free parking at Reagan National Airport.
Republicans won’t back common-sense gun laws that would protect fully developed human beings — because the N.R.A. energizes their base and funds their campaigns and ensures their $174,000-a-year jobs and free parking at Reagan National Airport.
This is a party whose “Freedom Caucus” was so obsessed with our rising national debt that it tried to prevent Barack Obama from spending a dime to stimulate our economy after it went deep into recession — but just voted to add $1 trillion to the debt for a corporate tax cut without regard for the burden put on our kids.
Trying to embarrass them to act on principle is wasted breath. . . . . They know full well that a common-sense banning of all military assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and bump stocks, or mandating universal background checks for gun buyers or to prevent terrorists and the mentally ill from buying guns, would not curb the constitutional right to bear arms.
They know full well that they’re in the grip of an N.R.A. cult, whose heart is so frozen, it’s content to watch innocent children and adults get gunned down weekly — rather than impose common-sense gun limits. They know all of this — but they suppress it, because they also know if they vote for common-sense gun laws, the N.R.A. will fund their next opponent.
Like I said, this is just about raw naked power, and that is what sensible gun control advocates have to generate more of now — in the form of votes and campaign funding. Otherwise nothing changes.
Keep speaking out, Cameron — but never underestimate what some people will do for a $174,000 job and free parking at Reagan National Airport.
 Many ask why the husband and I are so politically active and give money, provide housing to candidates' staff members, and use whatever influence we can muster to get voters out on election day to support good candidates.  The answers are easy.  First, it is a duty of Second, and more importantly, bad things happen when good people fail to act.  In 2016, far too many good people were lazy and failed to vote.  The result is the nightmare that occupies the White House.  Another is a GOP totally beholden to the NRA.  This can change, but people must get off their asses and and get to work NOW.  The 2018 midterms are a perfect opportunity to send the GOP and NRA a message.  And remember that silence equals complicity.