GOP Leaders In Key States Decline To Intervene In Selection Of Electoral College

Donald Trump (image via Flickr/WhiteHouse – public domain)

One of the Trump campaign’s big ‘hail Mary’ moves is to try and flip the results of the presidential election by encouraging Republican-controlled state legislatures to disenfranchise voters in their states by picking members of the Electoral College that would vote for Trump instead of the Joe Biden for their state.

But GOP leaders in key states flipped by Joe Biden in this election cycle have told the Associated Press they have no plans to subvert state laws.

State GOP lawmakers in Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have all said they would not intervene in the selection of electors, who ultimately cast the votes that secure a candidate’s victory. Such a move would violate state law and a vote of the people, several noted.

“I do not see, short of finding some type of fraud — which I haven’t heard of anything — I don’t see us in any serious way addressing a change in electors,” said Rusty Bowers, Arizona’s Republican House speaker, who says he’s been inundated with emails pleading for the legislature to intervene. “They are mandated by statute to choose according to the vote of the people.”

The idea loosely involves GOP-controlled legislatures dismissing Biden’s popular vote wins in their states and opting to select Trump electors.

Team Trump was probably hoping that such ploys would become entangled in legal rabble-rousing that would end up at the Supreme Court where the Donald’s handpicked conservative justices might hand him a win.

In related news, the Washington Post reports “two prominent law firms have sought to withdraw from representing the Trump legal effort in Arizona and Pennsylvania.”

Biden Gaining Strength In Michigan & Wisconsin

Former Vice President Joe Biden (photo via campaign)

New data from the latest New York Times/Siena College poll shows former Vice President Joe Biden leading Donald Trump in the vital battleground states of Michigan and Wisconsin.

Trump won the two northeastern states in 2016 with less than one percent each.

Overall, Mr. Biden led Mr. Trump by eight percentage points in Michigan, 48 percent to 40 percent, among likely voters. His lead in Wisconsin was slightly larger, 51 percent to 41 percent.

The new results, along with recent Times/Siena surveys from elsewhere in the Northern battlegrounds, suggest that the president has not yet managed to reassemble his winning coalition across the region. He faces modest but significant defections among white and independent voters, while facing a groundswell of opposition from those who voted for a minor-party candidate or didn’t vote at all in 2016.

The president’s path to re-election is narrow if he doesn’t win either Wisconsin or Michigan. If Mr. Biden puts those two states in his column, along with the states carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016, he will hold 258 electoral votes, putting him on the doorstep of the 270 needed to win.

(image via NY Times)

Click here for a breakdown of where Trump is losing support among voters in the battleground states.

Note – This report is not meant to condone complacency or think it’s safe to not participate in the 2020 presidential election. I share this information in an attempt to encourage citizens to VOTE.

The State Of Battleground State Polls: October 1, 2020

The New York Times updates its average of polls (national and battleground states) every day.

The latest data shows Joe Biden leading nationally by 7 points, but national polls can be vague. The important thing to watch are the polls in battleground states.

Knowing Donald Trump won the presidency by flipping usually true-blue states Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on that trio.

As of today, the NYTimes average of polls in those states puts Biden ahead by 7 points in all three. If Biden flips all three back to his column, he wins.

The other state I’m keeping my eye on is Arizona which Trump won in 2016 by 3.5 points. Today’s polling average shows Biden leading by 4 points. Also worth noting that Democratic Senate candidate Mark Kelly is leading the incumbent Sen. Martha McSally in the Real Clear Politics average of polls by 5.2 points, which also bodes well for Biden.

The Times also explores various outcomes based on the state of today’s polling.

For instance, if you were to assign electoral votes based on the states where a candidate is currently leading by 3 points or more, Biden would be projected to win with 291 electoral votes.

If you translated the polls directly into electoral votes (won’t happen) Biden would win with 359 electoral votes.

And IF we assumed the polls are as wrong as they were in 2016, Biden would still squeak by with 280 electoral votes.

It’s all hypothetical until the votes are counted, but it’s interesting to keep up.

(graphic via NY Times)

Lesbian Baker Calls Hater’s Bluff After He Ordered Anti-LGBTQ Cake

April Anderson of Good Cakes and Bakes (images via Instagram)

Last month, the LGBTQ-owned bakery Good Cakes and Bakes, located in Detroit, Michigan, received an online order for a special Pride cake.

Seeing the word ‘PRIDE’ in capital letters in the order’s message, co-owner April Anderson (who’s baked cakes for Oprah Winfrey and appeared on The Today Show) initially thought it was for a six-layer, red velvet rainbow-themed cake which had been offered in June.

 

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But then Anderson read the full message the anonymous customer wanted to be written on the top of the cake: “I am ordering this cake to celebrate and have PRIDE in true Christian marriage. I’d like you to write on the cake, in icing, ‘Homosexual acts are gravely evil. (Catholic Catechism 2357)'”

The cake was paid for in advance ($40) and included a $10 tip.

Anderson, who is openly lesbian and married, showed the order to her wife, Michelle, who was just as stunned.

“Why would somebody order this from us?,” Anderson said to the Detroit Free Press. “They know our bakery. It’s not like it’s a secret. It says it on our about page and social media pages and very clear that this bakery is owned by two lesbian women.”

Anderson shared the story of the hateful order with a friend who utilized reverse phone lookup services on the internet. Within an hour, the customer was identified as David Gordon, according to Pridesource.

Gordon apparently works for a nearby alt-right religious organization named the Church Militant. But don’t be fooled by the name – the group isn’t a ‘church’ but an extreme-right 501(c)(3) owned by St. Michael’s Media.

Gordon’s Twitter profile lists him as “a copyeditor @Church Militant, Lawyer, theology MA, author, sportsman, family man.”

David Gordon (via Twitter)

Sensing a set-up regarding some kind of reverse discrimination, religious freedoms, and free speech, Anderson decided to call Gordon’s bluff and prepare the cake, but without the icing message. The bakery’s website clearly states custom cakes have to be ordered either in person or over the phone.

Pridesource spoke to attorney Jay Kaplan, of the ACLU of Michigan’s LGBT Project, who said under Michigan’s public accommodation laws “the bakery had to provide” the cake that was requested. However, under the doctrine of ‘compelled speech,’ the business couldn’t be forced to create a message that goes against their moral compass or religious beliefs.

While this sounds vaguely familiar in comparison to the case of homophobic baker Jack Phillips of Colorado, who fought all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to not have to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple, there’s an important difference here.

RELATED: SCOTUS RULES 7-2 IN FAVOR OF ANTI-GAY BAKER

Phillips didn’t argue over messaging on a cake – he refused to make a cake for the gay couple because it was intended for a same-sex wedding celebration. The couple never asked for a specific message to be inscribed on the requested cake.

Phillips eventually prevailed at the Supreme Court but not on the issue of anti-LGBTQ discrimination. Instead, the high court found the Colorado Civil Rights Commission appeared to have lacked “the religious neutrality that the Constitution requires” when considering the case against Phillip’s Masterpiece Cakeshop and sent the case back for review.

In the end, Anderson did bake the cake with the requested rainbow theme on schedule – but sans icing message. She also included a note for Gordon explaining “what our bakery stands for, and who we are.”

“We feel the only ‘grave evil’ is the judgment that good Christians, like yourself, impose on folks that don’t meet their vision of what God wants them to be,” the letter said.

“We stand against hate; we will always fight for peace, justice, and inclusion,” she added.

She closed her note with, “We wish you PRIDE, rainbows, fairy dust and a good GAY!”

Gordon reportedly called the bakery the day before the scheduled pickup to confirm the order and was told, “Oh, yeah, we’re making the cake.”

Word got out on pro-LGBTQ social media about the cake order and a group decided to organize a peaceful rally in front of Good Cakes and Bakes at the time Gordon was to pick up his special cake.

Of course, Gordon was a no-show. Cowards always are.

“I think he was trolling us and he wanted me not to make the cake so that he would have an argument about us being discriminatory against him for not making a cake,” Anderson told Pridesource.

Five days later, Gordon phoned the bakery regarding the cake and was told it had been discarded. Anderson told him she would be happy to make another cake but he would need to order the replacement in person or over the phone for any special message to be

Contacted for comment by the Detroit Free Press, Gordon said in a Twitter message the bakery “never had any intention of serving me and making me the custom red velvet cake that I duly requested and paid for.”

Wrong – the bakery made your cake, dude. You didn’t show up even after confirming the order.

He also claims he was “denied the services I requested at a place of public accommodation on the basis of the content of my beliefs.”

Michael Voris, founder and president of St. Michael’s Media / Church Militant, said in a statement emailed to the Free Press: “The incident was an action taken independently of the apostolate by an individual employee; Church Militant had no prior knowledge of it. The employee has been spoken to and has apologized for unnecessarily involving his fellow workers in a private endeavor.”

But wait – there’s more!

The postscript to this little tale is a local resident, Oscar Renautt, who launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for signs to be legally posted near the Church Militant offices.

“I figured we need to do something to spread the awareness because our community should know one of our own was attacked this way,” Renautt told Pridesource. “But we are not ‘militant’ like these guys are. We are not militant as Church Militant. Our message is peaceful.”

The campaign quickly surpassed its goal and plans to order lawn signs that read “We are not Militant!” in order to deliver a peaceful message of equality. The balance of donations will be given to Corktown Health Center, the LGBTQ health center where Anderson’s wife works.

(source: Detroit Free Press, Pridesource)

Poll: Biden Leads Trump By 16 In Battleground State Michigan

L-R President Donald Trump, former Vice President Joe Biden

The Detroit Free Press reports the latest polling in the vital swing state of Michigan has some bad news for Donald Trump.

Two weeks ago, EPIC-MRA of Lansing, a polling firm that does work for the Free Press, released a survey showing former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, leading Trump 53%-41% in Michigan, a 12-point edge.

But a second poll, started on May 31, a day after the first poll began, and concluded a day later than the first poll, on June 4, showed Biden leading Trump 55%-39% in Michigan, a 16-point margin.

The survey had a margin of error of plus/minus 4 points.

The new poll also showed:

•  70% of those surveyed believe the country is headed in the wrong direction. The percentage who believe the U.S. is headed in the right direction fell from 30% to 22%.

• 61% of those surveyed hold a negative view of Trump. The percentage of those with a positive view fell from 42% to 38%.

• 51% said they would vote to replace Trump in November, while those who said they plan to vote to reelect him fell from 38% to 33%.

Michigan: Sex Club Shut Down For Operating During COVID-19 Threat

(image via Facebook)

A retail ‘sex complex’ in South Lansing, Michigan, has been shut down for operating a backroom sex club during the state’s coronavirus restrictions.

Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail told the local news outlet City Pulse that, while the retail store Fantasies in the front of the building hasn’t been allowed to operate during the current shutdown, the “men’s lounge and maze” located in the back has been open for business violating Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s statewide orders.

“There’s a lot of close contact,” said Vail. “No way they are 6 feet apart.”

Carol Siemon, the Ingham County Prosecutor, ordered police to serve a cease-and-desist letter last week but the owners of the sex club continued. Police returned on Friday to shut down the business.

A website for the club referred to the space as Club Tabu and describes itself as a maze of “paths and hedges,” designed to be “very dark and made with walls that have a few holes in them.”

“This is an alternative club, with an emphasis on gay/bi/ts/tg. No one will ever be turned away, however, this is by no means a ‘swingers lounge.’ Although we would love to cater to every specific need and fantasy, this club is primarily focused on “male/trans fantasies” If there is a great enough need, we will designate a day for couples with bi to meet.”

To be clear, I have no moral judgments about what people do sexually in private, whether at home or a private club.

But during a pandemic that’s killed nearly 100,000 Americans, and racked up over 340,000 deaths around the world so far, it’s ridiculous to imagine that people would put not only their health but the health of others at risk for some anonymous encounter.

There, I said it.

Michigan: Biden Leads Sanders By 15 Points In Final Poll

In the final statewide poll before Michigan voters head to the Democratic primary polls tomorrow, Joe Biden holds a lead over Bernie Sanders in the crucial primary contest according to the Monmouth University Poll.

Among Michigan voters who are likely to participate in the Democratic primary tomorrow, support currently stands at 51% for Biden and 36% for Sanders.

Another 1% back Tulsi Gabbard, 6% say they will vote for a slate of uncommitted delegates, and 2% are undecided.

Biden leads Sanders among both white voters (50% to 36%) and voters of other races (53% to 36%). Biden is winning voters age 50 and over (62% to 24% for Sanders) by a larger margin than Sanders is winning those under 50 years old (49% to 38% for Biden). Women prefer Biden to Sanders (53% to 33%), while men prefer Sanders (49% to 39% for Biden).

There are 147 delegates up for grabs in Tuesday’s Michigan primary.

The survey also shows both Democratic White House hopefuls would best Trump today in head-to-head hypothetical match-ups.

Biden has a 48% to 41% lead over Trump, while Sanders has a slightly smaller 46% to 41% margin.

It’s worth remembering that Trump won Michigan by a scant 10,704 votes four years ago.

Priest Sentenced To 60 Days In Jail For Tying Teen In Bubble Wrap

Brian Stanley (mugshot via Allegan County Sheriff’s office)

A Catholic priest in Michigan will spend 60 days in jail for wrapping a 17-year-old male in bubble wrap in 2013.

Brian Stanley, 57, will also spend 5 years on probation and 15 years as a registered sex offender because the accuser alleged Stanley masturbated while he was imprisoned for “approximately 30 minutes” including having his eyes and mouth taped shut.

MLive.com reports Stanley’s 60-day sentence was the result of a plea agreement. Originally arrested and charged on one count of unlawful imprisonment which could have resulted in a 15-year prison sentence, that charge was reduced to one count of attempted unlawful imprisonment.

During his pretrial hearing, Stanley admitted to tying the teen up in the janitor’s room of St. Margaret’s Church in Otsego in September 2013. But he denied there was a sexual component to the crime.

Over the course of the investigation, three other alleged victims – one who said he was 13-years-old at the time of the crime – came forward.

Michigan State Assistant Attorney General Alison Furtaw told the court, “Although (Stanley) reports there was no sexual reason for doing this to the victims, they thought he was masturbating but it was hard for them to tell because their eyes were taped shut.”

Furtaw also noted that in the pre-sentencing report, Stanley admitted engaging in similar episodes over two decades.

“This was going on for a long time,” added Furtaw. “These victims were not able to receive justice because this was outside of the statute of limitations.”

According to Furtaw, Stanley was living with the victim at the time of the incident. The victim’s parents had apparently encouraged the arrangement so Stanley could act as the teen’s “spiritual adviser” in regard to personal issues including addiction.

The local Fox News affiliate reports the Kalamazoo Diocese issued a statement saying they were “aware of allegations against Stanley in 2013, and further allegation in 2017, and forward those allegations to local police both times.”

In 2013, the police determined the “complaint wasn’t criminal,” and so no charges were filed. In 2017, charges were dropped because no witness would come forward.

Stanley declined to make a statement or apologize at his sentencing when offered the opportunity, according to MLive.com

Watch Allegan County Circuit Judge Margaret Bakker sentence Stanley in the video clip below.

News Round-Up: January 8, 2020

Australia’s Human Nature (image via Instagram/Denise Truscello)

Some news items you might have missed:

Las Vegas: Australia’s biggest pop group, Human Nature, will be donating 100% of the ticket sales from their January 25 concert at The Venetian on the Las Vegas Strip to support victims of the Australian bushfires.

The Advocate: Preparing an end-run around Michigan’s Republican-controlled legislature, activists are getting ready to gather signatures for a ballot initiative that could codify employment and housing protections for LGBTQ residents.

NBC News: Prince Harry & Meghan Markle have announced they “intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent.” The couple says they plan to split their time between the U.K. and North America.

KIT212: Kenneth’s ‘Wrestle Wednesdays’ post might pose a challenge to ‘hockey butt.’

USA Today: The head of ABC Entertainment confirmed today there will (again) be no formal ‘host’ at this year’s Academy Awards telecast.

Billboard: Check out this month’s edition of Queer Necessities, a monthly LGBTQ-driven playlist (via Spotify) from Billboard Pride catching you up on the latest and greatest bops by queer musicians and fierce allies.

Grindr Hookup Gone Wrong Ends In Murder & Mutilation Charges

Kevin Bacon (image via Facebook)

Mark Latunski, 50, has been charged with one count of murder and one count of mutilation of the body of his alleged victim in a Grindr hookup gone terribly wrong.

MLive.com reports that Kevin Bacon (not the actor), 25, of Swartz Creek, Michigan, told his housemate, Michelle Myers, he was meeting a man he’d met on the dating app around 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

Bacon then texted Myers at 6:12 p.m. saying he would be out for a while and wasn’t sure when he’d be home. According to Myers, he indicated he was “having fun.”

But when the 25-year-old hairstylist was a no-show at his family’s Christmas breakfast, they became concerned.

Police eventually found Bacon’s car in a parking lot where a bag containing his phone, clothes, and wallet was discovered. Missing from the scene were his car keys.

According to MLive.com, the young man’s body was found on December 28 at Latunski’s home in Shiawassee County’s Bennington Township, 25 miles west of Flint.

Police were led to the suspect’s home after some Facebook posts about the home in question were relayed to the Clayton Township Police Department, according to Kevin Bacon’s dad, Karl Bacon.

The medical examiner determined Bacon died sometime between late Christmas Eve and early Christmas Day.

If found guilty, Latunski faces life in prison.

Mark Latunski (mug shot)

Bacon’s parents, Karl and Pamela Bacon, said at a press conference they didn’t know if their son had any previous contact with Latunski.

But the father took issue with the folks at Grindr telling the press “They didn’t give us any info during the initial investigation.”

Calling the people in charge at the dating app “rather uncooperative,” the father said,  “There’s no regulation of law on how they operate and how accountable they are to people’s activities on their apps.”

“That was our biggest obstacle in this investigation,” said Karl Bacon. “We did not know where he was going and who he was meeting with. If he had relayed that information early on, it may not have been avoided, but it could have been accelerated a lot quicker if we knew who and where.”

For its part,  a spokesperson for Grindr issued a statement which read:

“We at Grindr are heartbroken to hear about this terrible tragedy, and share our condolences with Mr. Bacon’s family and friends. While for privacy reasons we do not offer public comment on individual user accounts, we remain fully committed to working with law enforcement in the event of any investigation.”

The victim’s namesake – Kevin Bacon, the actor – expressed his own condolences on social media writing, “For obvious reasons I’m thinking this morning about the friends and Family of this young person Kevin Bacon. His life was taken from him much too soon. His love was hair dressing. I bet he would have done a great job on this mess on my head. RIP KB.”

This tragic incident, in the wake of previous reports of dating apps being used to lure gay men into dangerous situations, brings to bear the important topic of safety when meeting strangers on such apps.

Grindr recently announced new features to protect users’ safety, but are they enough?

Some years ago,  a friend told me he always left the web page of a dating website he used open on his laptop when he’d meet up with someone new. His intention was if he went missing people would find the info on his computer.

Readers – do you take any specific measures when using dating apps? Tell friends where or who you are meeting?

Does anyone have advice on how to help in these situations? Tell us in the comments section.

(source: MLive.com)