Friday, July 28, 2017

News Round-Up: July 28, 2017


Some news items you may have missed:

• Fitness trainer Ben Zerbst (above) is concerned about his "t-shirt tan," which gives you just one more reason to keep staring, as if you need one :)

• Kathryn Knott, convicted Philadelphia gay-basher, is now claiming self-defense in a civil lawsuit from the couple she helped attack. One of her victims had his jaw wired shut for 8 months due to injuries.

• Stephen Colbert slammed Donald Trump's tweets announcing a new ban on transgender military service members: “I began my day today as I often begin my days, by checking Donald Trump’s Twitter feed. Just to see how far the crazy has spread. And today, I really think he’s off his meds, as he’s gone from crazy to cruel."



• The GOP-controlled House has approved $1.6 billion for President Donald Trump’s long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump promised at nearly every rally and campaign event that Mexico would pay for the wall.

• 19 Attorneys General have sent a letter to Congress opposing Trump's transgender military ban.

• Woofy Instahunk Roberto Caccamo sends regards from Italy...

Has Any White House Seen This Much Turmoil In First Six Months?


The average White House Chief of Staff lasts 1.5-2 years.

Reince Priebus lasted 189 days - the shortest in history.

Here's a short list of folks who've already departed the Trump administration:

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer

White House Communications Director Mike Dubke

National Security Director Michael Flynn

FBI Director James Comey

and many more...

In only six months.

WH Comm Dir Anthony Scaramucci's Wife Files For Divorce Citing His "Naked Ambition"

Anthony Scaramucci
According to the PageSix.com, the wife of newly-installed White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci has filed for divorce citing his "naked ambition" and desire to get close to Donald Trump.

Deidre Ball, who worked as a vice president in investor relations for SkyBridge Capital, the firm he founded in 2005 and sold to ascend to the White House, has filed for divorce from “The Mooch” after three years of marriage after getting fed up with his ruthless quest to get close to President Trump, whom she despises.

One source told Page Six, “Deidre has left him and has filed for divorce. She liked the nice Wall Street life and their home on Long Island, not the insane world of D.C. She is tired of his naked ambition, which is so enormous that it left her at her wits’ end. She has left him even though they have two children together.”

Scaramucci and Ball, 38, began dating in 2011 and are believed to have married in 2014.

Scaramucci appeared to be confirming the rumor tweeting this in the last hour:



He has since removed this tweet from his feed:

Open Letter: 45 Senators Ask Secretary Of Defense To Reconsider Trump Trans Military Ban

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of NY

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Armed Services Committee, has penned an open letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis asking him to reconsider Donald Trump's surprise ban on transgender service members in the U.S. military.

The letter, signed by 44 other senators, urges the Pentagon to at least let the Department of Defense finish a review on the issue before bringing in the new policy.

Gillibrand is joined by 42 Democratic senators as well as Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.

“We strongly oppose this policy change and urge you to advise the President against it,” Gillibrand and the senators wrote.

A new Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released today shows 58% of Americans agree transgender military members should be allowed to serve.

Only 27% said definitively "no."

Here's the full text of the letter and signees:

Dear Secretary Mattis,

We are writing regarding the President’s announcement via Twitter yesterday that transgender Americans can no longer serve in the military. We strongly oppose this policy change, and urge you to advise the President against it. This announcement contradicts existing Defense Department policies, undermines our military readiness, and puts our transgender service members as well as their commanders in an impossible situation. We appreciate General Dunford’s message that no policy changes should be made until implementation guidelines have been issued. We further write to request that, at a minimum, you do not separate any service member due to the person’s gender identity until you have completed the assessment that you announced on June 30, have reported back to Congress about any challenges that you foresee in the accession and retention of transgender troops, and determined the Department is unable to mitigate these challenges.

Transgender Americans who serve in our military put their lives on the line to protect America. They make up a small percentage of the military population, but are reportedly twice as likely to serve in the military as other Americans. Transgender service members have been serving openly since the policy was changed in June 2016 and in that time no service has reported any issues associated with their service.

Forcing these brave Americans out of our military would be cruel and discriminatory. It would harm our readiness by denying the military of these service members’ capabilities and requiring the military to replace them at a time when the recruiting pool for the services continues to shrink. It will harm morale in the military as service members see their brothers and sisters in arms — some of whom are currently forward deployed — thrown out simply because of their identity. And the uncertainty associated with making policy this way is already harming our military readiness and morale, as transgender service members and their superiors struggle to make sense of the policy and what it means for them today and tomorrow.

Any American who wants to serve and meets the standards should be allowed to serve our country. Transgender service members are serving with honor and distinction today and we ask that you, as our Secretary of Defense, assure them that their service will not be ended simply because of who they are.

Sincerely,

Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D- Conn.), Cory A. Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-Pa.), Susan M. Collins (R-Maine), Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D- Calif.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Martin T. Heinrich (D-N.M.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeffrey A. Merkley (D-Ore.), Christopher S. Murphy (D-Conn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Gary C. Peters (D-Mich.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Bernard Sanders (I- Vt.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Jeanne Shaheen (D- N.H.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

White House Shake-Up: Chief Of Staff Reince Priebus Resigns


From this point on, you should take stock in the rumors you hear coming out of the White House.

We heard two months ago that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was close to being fired.

Gone.

Just a week later, following the rumors we've all seen, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus has resigned.

The new Chief of Staff will be current Homeland Security Secretary, General John F. Kelly.

"I am pleased to inform you that I have just named General/Secretary John F Kelly as White House Chief of Staff. He is a Great American...and a Great Leader. John has also done a spectacular job at Homeland Security. He has been a true star of my Administration."





Note the use of the words "true star." Trump just got off Air Force One where he referred to Reince as a "good man;" that was followed by his called Kelly "a great, great man."

Priebus had developed a relationship with Trump during the presidential campaign having served as the Chairman of the Republican National Committee.

When Trump won, which I honestly believe surprised Trump, even he was aware he knew nothing of Washington protocol and procedures.

I think Trump turned to the most "inside" political person he knew: Priebus.

But over time, we've seen Trump only admires folks who utilize the same approach as Trump. And that's not Priebus.

As we saw in Anthony Scaramucci's expletive-laden rant to New Yorker reporter Ryan Lizza yesterday, Scaramucci's "street approach" is much more to Trump's liking.

One more thing - Back in 2012, Donald Trump criticized President Obama for having 3 Chiefs of Staff over 3 years. Trump is on his second in only six months:

Mario Cantone Channels New WH Comm Director Anthony Scaramucci


While SNL may have lost Melissa McCarthy's "Sean Spicer" character, Comedy Central’s The President Show has introduced its version of rambunctious White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci in the form of actor, Mario Cantone.

TV viewers will remember Cantone from his role of "Anthony Marentino" on the HBO hit, Sex and the City.

Introduced by Anthony Atamanuik’s "President Trump" last night, Cantone got straight to work calling out beleaguered White House Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus.

“I’m going to fire so many people,” said Cantone’s Scaramucci. “I don’t know who it’s going to be, Reince, but I’m going to get to the bottom of the leaks in the White House. Do you hear me, Reince?”




Cantone showed up on CNN's "New Day" to chat on the new gig, although morning TV doesn't seem to be Mario's thing.

Trump To Police: "Please Don't Be Too Nice"


Speaking to an audience of police officers in Long Island, New York, Donald Trump encouraged the officers not be "too nice" to folks they arrest.

“When you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just see them thrown in. Rough. I said, ‘Please don’t be too nice.’

"Like when you guys put somebody in the car, and you’re protecting their head, you know, you put your hand up like, ‘Don’t hit their head?’ And, they’ve just killed somebody? I said, ‘You can take the hand away.'”



Note the one guy in a cowboy hat on the right not applaud.

Remember when folks were considered innocent until proven guilty?











(h/t JoeMyGod)

New Music: Michael Blume "I Am Not A Trend (No Rules)"

Photo: Cha’ves Williams

Out singer/songwriter Michael Blume dropped his latest single, "I Am Not A Trend (No Rules)," yesterday.

The track, celebrating individuality and self-love, is imminently listenable, layered with self-empowering lyrics, neo-soul melodies, punchy horns, and electronic bouncy beats.

“No one is a trend,” Blume shared with Nylon.com. “Each and every one of us lives a uniquely dynamic and complex life full of distinct needs, dreams, and fears. Too often we are taught to diminish this truth; we are told to mold ourselves to fit some external idea, concept, [and] way of being. Whether it be political, race-related, gender-based, how we look/dress/pray, too often our culture encourages us to do/act/be like some idealized, foreign version of who we actually are."

"‘I Am Not A Trend (No Rules)’ speaks to the celebration of the self, "the New Jersey-native added.

After selling out two headlining shows at Bowery Ballroom with his 11-piece band and touring both the east and west coasts, he is spending his summer playing at major music festivals across the country including the New York City's Governor's Ball and two sets at the Firefly Music Festival in Dover, DE. His tour schedule continues at Chicago's Lollapalooza and Musikfest in Bethlehem, PA.

For more info, head over to www.mblumemusic.com.

I previously wrote about Blume here.

Listen below. I dare you not to bop.

Defense Secretary Mattis Was "Appalled" By Trump's Transgender Ban Tweets


In announcing his ban on transgender service members in the U.S. military, Donald Trump made a point to say the decision was made "after consultation with my Generals and military experts," but apparently Trump blind-sided just about every on his military team.

And what he didn't make abundantly clear was the ban was actually was a snap maneuver to save money for his Mexican wall.

You know, the wall Mexico was going to pay for?

From the New York Times:

Mr. Trump made the declaration on Twitter, saying that American forces could not afford the “tremendous medical costs and disruption” of transgender service members. He said he had consulted generals and military experts, but Jim Mattis, the defense secretary, was given only a day’s notice about the decision.

Mr. Trump elected to announce the ban in order to resolve a quietly brewing fight on Capitol Hill over whether taxpayer money should pay for gender transition and hormone therapy for transgender service members. The dispute had threatened to kill a $790 billion defense and security spending package scheduled for a vote this week.

But rather than addressing that narrow issue, Mr. Trump opted to upend the entire policy on transgender service members.

His decision was announced with such haste that the White House could not answer basic inquiries about how it would be carried out, including what would happen to openly transgender people on active duty. Of eight defense officials interviewed, none could say.

Mr. Mattis, who was on vacation, was silent on the new policy. People close to the defense secretary said he was appalled that Mr. Trump chose to unveil his decision in tweets, in part because of the message they sent to transgender active-duty service members, including those deployed overseas, that they were suddenly no longer welcome.

Repeat: "The defense secretary said he was appalled..."

WH Comm Director Covers New York Daily News: "Mooch Madness"


Unsurprisingly, new White House Communications Director, Anthony Scaramucci, lands on the cover of the New York Daily News this morning as folks are still talking about his expletive-laden rant to a reporter about White House Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus.

The Mooch is on the loose — and President Trump’s new attack dog is one angry, angry pooch.

“Reince is a f---ing paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac,” Scaramucci said in a Wednesday night phone call to Ryan Lizza, a writer for The New Yorker.

Anthony Scaramucci takes shot at financial disclosure leakers
Scaramucci accused Priebus of, among other things, leaking to the press a dinner President Trump held earlier that night with the First Lady, Fox News host Sean Hannity and former Fox News executive Bill Shine.

Scaramucci channeled Priebus as he railed on the phone: “‘Oh, Bill Shine is coming in. Let me leak the f---ing thing and see if I can c--k-block these people the way I c--k-blocked Scaramucci for six months.’”

Later in the call, after he promised to fire three to four people “by tomorrow,” the former Wall Street hedge fund titan unleashed his below-the-belt venom on White House strategist Stephen Bannon.

“I’m not Steve Bannon,” Scaramucci said after insisting he had no interest in media attention.

“I’m not trying to suck my own c--k. I’m not trying to build my own brand off the f---ing strength of the President. I’m here to serve the country.”

Gay Republican Withdraws From Homeland Security Position Over White House Trans Ban

John Fluharty
Former executive director of the Delaware Republican Party, John Fluharty, has withdrawn his name from consideration for a position at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security over President Trump’s decision to ban transgender people from the military.

Fluharty is openly gay.

Speaking to the Washington Blade, Fluharty said recent actions by the White House run "counter to my deeply held beliefs:"

“The president has squandered an opportunity to strengthen not only our nation’s example to the rest of the world, but he has also squandered his party’s ability to have creditable messengers in the LGBTQ community on issues where there can be agreement such as reform of our public education system, lower taxes, and growing our economy,” he said. “Issues that are important to all families.”

“The ban on allowing transgender heroes to continue to serve in the military, and the actions by the Justice Department the following day, have effectively alienated the Republican Party from our community for a generation,” added Fluharty.

Senate GOP "Skinny Repeal" Bill Goes Down In 49-51 As John McCain Casts Deciding Vote

Sen. John McCain
It was a late night vote that finally put the nail in the Senate Republicans seven year plans to "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act.

A vote that saw Arizona Sen. John McCain remind folks why he likes to be called a "maverick."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's "skinny repeal" went down in the vote of 49-51.

From the New York Times:

Senator John McCain of Arizona, who just this week returned to the Senate after receiving a diagnosis of brain cancer, cast the decisive vote to defeat the proposal, joining two other Republicans, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, in opposing it.

The truncated Republican plan that ultimately fell was far less than what Republicans once envisioned. Republican leaders, unable to overcome complaints from both moderate and conservative members of their caucus, said the skeletal plan was just a vehicle to permit negotiations with the House, which passed a much more ambitious repeal bill in early May.

The “skinny repeal” bill, as it became known at the Capitol this week, would still have had broad effects on health care. The bill would have increased the number of people who are uninsured by 15 million next year compared with current law, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Premiums for people buying insurance on their own would have increased roughly 20 percent, the budget office said.

Earlier in the day, Sens. McCain, Graham, and Johnson looked for assurances that, if passage of the "skinny repeal" would keep the process open, they might vote for it IF Speaker of the House Paul Rayn would promise to to swift vote the legislation and send it to the president "as-is" just for a win. Ryan issued a weak assurance but it seems not wholly convincing.

While the attention is focused on McCain, it's important to note that Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska had been stalwart "no's" all week long.

The Twitterverse responded to the last night vote:





















Thursday, July 27, 2017

NY Post: "Survivor - White House Edition"

WH Comm Director Goes On Unhinged Rant: "Reince Priebus Is A F*cking Paranoid Schizophrenic"


Wow.

Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker got a phone call last night from newly-installed White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci who was all worked up that Lizza had tweeted about a dinner between Scaramucci, Donald Trump, and Fox News personality Sean Hannity.

Scaramucci demanded Lizza tell him who leaked the info.

Lizza reported the conversation today, and whoo-boy...

Here's an excerpt. Clearly, Scaramucci doesn't know the phrase "off the record."

I asked him why it was so important for the dinner to be kept a secret. Surely, I said, it would become public at some point. “I’ve asked people not to leak things for a period of time and give me a honeymoon period,” he said. “They won’t do it.” He was getting more and more worked up, and he eventually convinced himself that Priebus was my source.

“They’ll all be fired by me,” he said. “I fired one guy the other day. I have three to four people I’ll fire tomorrow. I’ll get to the person who leaked that to you. Reince Priebus—if you want to leak something—he’ll be asked to resign very shortly.” The issue, he said, was that he believed Priebus had been worried about the dinner because he hadn’t been invited.

“Reince is a fucking paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac,” Scaramucci said. He channeled Priebus as he spoke: “ ‘Oh, Bill Shine is coming in. Let me leak the fucking thing and see if I can cock-block these people the way I cock-blocked Scaramucci for six months.’ ” (Priebus did not respond to a request for comment.)

Scaramucci also told me that, unlike other senior officials, he had no interest in media attention. “I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock,” he said, speaking of Trump’s chief strategist. “I’m not trying to build my own brand off the fucking strength of the President. I’m here to serve the country.” (Bannon declined to comment.)

First of all, a "communications director" talks like that to the press?

Second, I'm guessing Lizza won't be getting many more phone calls from the "Mooch."

And finally, this is all kinda funny when you know how mild-mannered Ryan Lizza is. Picturing him on the end of this phone call makes me laugh.















And, one last tweet from the "Mooch" himself:



Boy Scouts Of America Apologize For Trump's Political Rhetoric "Inserted Into The Jamboree"


The Boy Scouts of America have apologized for President Trump's unexpectedly political rhetoric during his speech at last week's National Jamboree.

From BSA Chief Scout Executive Michael Surgaugh:

I want to extend my sincere apologies to those in our Scouting family who were offended by the political rhetoric that was inserted into the jamboree. That was never our intent.

The invitation for the sitting U.S. President to visit the National Jamboree is a long-standing tradition that has been extended to the leader of our nation that has had a Jamboree during his term since 1937.

It is in no way an endorsement of any person, party or policies. For years, people have called upon us to take a position on political issues, and we have steadfastly remained non-partisan and refused to comment on political matters. We sincerely regret that politics were inserted into the Scouting program.

As you may know, the BSA received thousands of complaints from scouts and parents alike for the political nature of Trump's address to the scouts.

Train Conductor Schools Two Anti-Transgender "Dolts"


My dear friend Tom Viola shared this fantastic story of a patriotic train conductor schooling two idiots on a train bound for NYC via Broadway actress Kerry O'Malley:

On an Amtrak train headed to NYC. Mildly buzzed doltish business men two seats ahead of me are complaining about "the damn trannies who cost the army so much money switching themselves around on the taxpayers' dime."

While I contemplate if/what to say to these offensive a$$h0les, the conductor walks by and asks for their tickets.

"Tickets, please. Going to New York? Let me ask you, gentlemen, something. Have you ever gone to war?" The dolts don't understand.

"Have either of you men served your country?" They look at each other, puzzled and shake their heads NO. "Because I have. And if I don't care about the privates of my comrade in arms, why the hell do you?"

Dumbfounded and wounded silence.

First dolt:"Excuse me, sir..."

Conductor:"I will not excuse you. If my buddy loses a leg saving my ass, they sure as hell deserve the support of the Army to be a whole person, whatever makes them whole."

Dolt #2:"We didn't mean anything by it..."

Conductor:"Exactly. Might be a better use of your conversation to make yourself mean something."

Dolt #2:"I'm sorry."

The conductor looks them both in the eye for an uncomfortably long time.

"Wilmington next!" The conductor moves to the next car.

The dolts look at each other. "Shit."

Log Cabin Republicans Aren't So Sweet On Trump After Transgender Military Ban


After calling Donald Trump a "do no harm guy" in the past, the Log Cabin Republicans President Gregory T. Angelo via press release in response to President Trump's newly-announced ban on transgender service members in the U.S. military:

This smacks of politics, pure and simple. The United States military already includes transgender individuals who protect our freedom day in and day out. Excommunicating transgender soldiers only weakens our readiness; it doesn’t strengthen it.

The president’s statement this morning does a disservice to transgender military personnel and reintroduces the same hurtful stereotypes conjured when openly gay men and women were barred from service during the military’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ era.

As an organization that led the charge against that hateful policy, Log Cabin Republicans remains equally committed to standing up for transgender military personnel who put their lives on the line to keep us free.

Justice Department: Anti-LGBT Discrimination Is Legal Under Federal Law


On the same day that Donald Trump unexpectedly announced a ban on transgender soldiers in the U.S. military, his Justice Department filed a friend-of-the-court brief declaring anti-LGBT discrimination is lawful in a current employment discrimination case

From Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade:
In a 23-page brief, the Justice Department under U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rejects the notion that sexual-orientation discrimination is a form of sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“The essential element of sex discrimination under Title VII is that employees of one sex must be treated worse than similarly situated employees of the other sex, and sexual orientation discrimination simply does not have that effect,” the brief says. “Moreover, whatever this Court would say about the question were it writing on a blank slate, Congress has made clear through its actions and inactions in this area that Title VII’s prohibition of sex discrimination does not encompass sexual orientation discrimination. Other statutes and rules may prohibit such discrimination, but Title VII does not do so as a matter of law, and whether it should do so as a matter of policy remains a question for Congress to decide.”

Although the Justice Department under the Obama administration never took an official view on whether sexual orientation discrimination is prohibited under Title VII, the brief effectively turns a Justice Department that once argued for protections for LGBT people into an institution that seeks to undermine them.

The reasoning in the brief contrasts with the determination of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the independent agency charged with enforcing federal workplace civil rights laws. In 2015, the EEOC found in the case of Baldwin v. Foxx anti-gay discrimination constitutes sex discrimination under Title VII.

Sarah Warbelow, legal director for the Human Rights Campaign, issued this statement, “In one fell swoop, Trump’s DOJ has provided a roadmap for dismantling years of federal protections and declared that lesbian, gay, and bisexual people may no longer be protected by landmark civil rights laws such as the Fair Housing Act, Title IX, or Title VII.”

Here's a recap of actions the Trump administration has taken against LGBT folks since Trump was inaugurated.

But remember, Donald Trump promised during the 2016 campaign how much "better" for the gays he would be than Hillary Clinton.

New Music: Kirstin "Break A Little" (Acoustic)


Kirstin Maldonado of triple Grammy Award-winning a cappella group Pentatonix shares this lovely acoustic version of her current single, "Break A Little," from her debut solo EP L O V E, now available on iTunes.

Maldonado goes by the single name Kirstin for her solo projects, and she also departs a bit from the sound of her hit singing group. Whereas Pentatonix creates in a millennial-inspired a cappella space, Kirstin's solo sound embraces a decidedly electronic-pop mode.

That said, while I really enjoy her EDM-pop inspired version of "Break A Little," (recently performed live on The Today Show) I was struck by the open, breezy acoustic version here.

The acoustic music video was shot at the Shadowland Foundation - a non-profit organization dedicated to educating children of all ages about wolves and their contribution to the environment.

Kirstin, a native of Fort Worth, Texas, (my hometown, by the way) began singing at just 8 years old, and hit the big time when she teamed up with her fellow Pentatonix members to compete to great acclaim on the 2011 season of The Sing-Off.

It was just last year she began spinning off to solo side-gigs which has now culminated in the release of L O V E.

The official music video can be found here.

Trump's "Generals And Military Experts" Did Not Know Trump Anti-Trans Policy Was Coming


Even though Donald Trump began his tweet banning transgender military service members by stating, "After consultation with my Generals and military experts..." it's become clear that the top military leaders at the Pentagon were surprised by the bombshell announcement yesterday.

As CNN's Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr points out, today's announcement from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stating there will be no changes in policy in the short term, does not offer any clear support for the president's sudden shift in direction on transgender military.

Watch below.

Poll: Only 27% Of Americans Think Trump Will Definitely Serve Four-Year Term


According to a USA Today/iMediaEthics Poll, Americans are evenly split 42% to 42% on whether Donald Trump should be impeached.

Additionally, 36% don't believe Trump will finish his first term in the White House.

Only 27% believe he will definitely reach the end of his four year term.


The Late Late Show's James Corden Sings & Dances Some "L-O-V-E" To Transgender Military


The Late Late Show's James Corden trolled Donald Trump's latest policy debacle via a song and dance parody of Nat King Cole's "L.O.V.E."

But Corden's version, meant as commentary on Trump newly-tweeted transgender military ban, is spelled, "L.G.B.T."

Armed with a swing band and backup dancers, Corden doesn't miss his chance to skewer Trump's well-known sensitivities about his diminutive assets:

“Trump wants to seem like a manly man, overcompensating for his tiny... hands.”

Watch the clip below:

Joint Chiefs Of Staff: No Change In Transgender Policy Until Further Notice


An email obtained by USA Today indicates the Navy will not be discharging transgender sailors anytime soon in response to Donald Trump's surprise tweets yesterday morning announcing a sudden ban on transgender service in the military.

The email from Vice Adm. Robert Burke also acknowledges that Trump's announcement is "causing concern for some of our sailors and that they likely have questions."

What's more, it indicates that the Trump's tweets that the U.S. military will not accept transgender troops into its ranks or allow them to serve in any capacity caught military brass unawares.

His email represents the military's first known steps to deal with the tumult unleashed by Trump's tweets.

Burke notes that the office of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is "working to quickly discern the President's intent." Mattis was on vacation when Trump made his announcement.

Also on Thursday, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joe Dunford sent a memo to the service chiefs Thursday saying there will be no change in current policy on transgender troops until Mattis receives direction from Trump. That indicates there has been no formal policy guidance issued from the White House.

In the meantime, Burke said that no transgender sailors – nor likely troops from other services – will be discharged until there is clear guidance from the White House.

There may be as many as 6,600 transgender troops on the military's active duty force of 1.3 million, according to a RAND Corp. report.

UPDATE - The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff issued this further guidance (from Reuters):

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine General Joseph Dunford, said in a written message on Thursday to military leaders that there has been no change yet to the military’s policy on transgender personnel, despite plans for a ban announced by President Donald Trump.

“There will be no modifications to the current policy until the President’s direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidance,” Dunford, said in the written message to service chiefs, commanders and senior enlisted leaders, first reported by Reuters.

“In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect. As importantly, given the current fight and the challenges we face, we will all remain focused on accomplishing our assigned missions.”

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Politico: House Repubs Wanted To Stop Military-Funded Trans Surgeries, Trump Jumped The Shark


According to Politico, today's transgender ban in the military by President Trump came about because House Republicans went to Trump to stop the military from paying for transgender's gender reassignment surgeries. Trump apparently jumped the shark.

A handful of House Republicans threatened funding for Trump's Mexican wall. They went around Defense Secretary Mattis to Trump asking him to do something about the military funded surgeries, and instead got all trans military booted.

“There are several members of the conference who feel this really needs to be addressed,” senior House Appropriations Committee member Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) said Tuesday. “This isn’t about the transgender issue; it’s about the taxpayer dollars going to pay for the surgery out of the defense budget.”

The president’s directive, of course, took the House issue a step beyond paying for gender reassignment surgery and other medical treatment. House Republicans were never debating expelling all transgender troops from the military.

“This is like someone told the White House to light a candle on the table and the WH set the whole table on fire,” a senior House Republican aide said in an email. The source said that although GOP leaders asked the White House for help on the taxpayer matter specifically, they weren’t expecting — and got no heads up on — Trump’s far-reaching directive.

Podcast: Trump Bans Transgenders From U.S. Military; Texas Senate Approves Anti-Trans "Bathroom Bill"


In this mid-week podcast from The Randy Report, two big stories:

• President Trump bans - via tweet - any transgender individuals from serving in the U.S. military calling them "a burden."

• The Texas State Senate has approved it's hateful, anti-transgender "bathroom bill."

Music Video: Eli Lieb Is Awash In Intoxicating Kisses In "Shangri La"


Perfect for Hump Day!

Out singer/songwriter Eli Lieb has just dropped his new music video, "Shangri La."

Having recently relocated from Los Angeles to Iowa, the talented Mr. Lieb appears to be awash in the memory of intoxicating kisses, and a cocktail or two.

Romantic longing becomes naked, exposed emotion.

I'm definitely a fan, having previously featured Eli on The Randy Report here and here and here and here.



Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Covers Rolling Stone Magazine


Rolling Stone opens it's cover story on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ("Why Can't He Be Our President?") thusly:

It's strange to witness: He speaks in a modulated, indoor voice. His dark hair is a color found in nature. At home, there is a glamorous wife and three photogenic children, still not old enough to warm his seat at next week's G-20 summit or be involved in an espionage scandal.

When Trudeau moves on to his feminist bona fides (women and minorities make up more than half of his Cabinet), he pauses for a moment, but does not lose his train of thought. His words are coherent and will not need to be run through Google Translate when he is done (except if you want to translate his French into English).

He talks about steps taken to deal with the opioid crisis and mentions the country's dropping unemployment rate. He uses the original Clintonian recipe on the crowd: "We're focused on getting people into good careers and helping families get ahead and stay ahead," he says. "But we know there's more hard work in front of us than there is behind us."

Then he gives the press corps a high-five. “The back and forth between the press and government is essential to any good democracy,” he says. “When you’re at your best, it reminds us and challenges us to be at ours. So thank you all for your tireless work.”

Where are we? Narnia? Coachella recovery tent? 2009? We are in Ottawa, Ontario, a mere 560 miles from Washington, D.C.

It's another world up north.

Check out the entire article here.

Trump: U.S. Military Will Not Allow Transgender Individuals To Serve In Any Capacity


Donald Trump announced this morning via Twitter that transgender Americans will not be able to "serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military."

In June 2016, the Pentagon lifted a ban on transgender men and women serving in the military. This is a huge U-turn for trans military personnel who have been serving openly for months.

No word on how Trump and his generals expect to proceed. Will those trans personnel be discharged?

Important to note that the Trump administration has also stepped back from protections for transgender students.

Remember - during the 2016 campaign, Trump declared he would be a better ally for the LGBTQ community than Hillary Clinton.

Stay tuned.

After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow [...]Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming [...]victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you







The Rand Corporation estimates the cost of gender transition–related health care coverage for transgender personnel to be between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually, representing a tiny 0.04- to 0.13-percent increase in active-component health care expenditures.

Oh, and just a little reminder...



UPDATE:

Axios' Jonathan Swan received this response from the White House on the newly announced policy:

"This forces Democrats in Rust Belt states like Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin, to take complete ownership of this issue. How will the blue collar voters in these states respond when senators up for re-election in 2018 like Debbie Stabenow are forced to make their opposition to this a key plank of their campaigns?"

So, Team Trump is making this a move for anti-trans votes in the Rust Belt.

How does this "make America great again?"

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Trump: "I Can Be More Presidential Than Any President That's Held This Office"


“Sometimes they say, ‘He doesn’t act presidential.’ And I say, with the exception of the late, great Abraham Lincoln, I can be more presidential than any president that’s held this office. That I can tell you. It’s real easy.” - Donald Trump speaking in Youngstown, Ohio at an "I need attention" rally

News Roundup: July 25, 2017


Some news items you may have missed:

• Let's hear it for the bears! Furball in focus (above).

• According to a new USA Today poll, Americans are split 42% yes/42% no on whether President Trump should be impeached.

• The Queer Insurrection and Liberation Army, or TQILA, is a newly-formed LGBT-centric unit of volunteers who have joined the fight against ISIS in Syria.



• Trump says Attorney General Jeff Sessions only endorsed him for president because of his "massive numbers" at campaign rallies. #brutal

• Always on the lookout for new out music? Check out this list of summer tunes by LGBT artists.

• Mark Ruffalo shared this pic of Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston cuddling with Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi on a recent flight. #Grrrr

A post shared by Mark Ruffalo (@markruffalo) on

Gallup Poll: Trump Approval Rating Drops Again


Gallup's daily tracking poll shows Donald Trump's Approval rating has dropped again to near his lowest point.

Sitting at 36% today, the only time he's shown worse numbers was on March 28 when he hit a dismal 35% approval rating.

His disapproval numbers hit a high of 60% last month on June 12. He currently shows a 59% disapproval rating.

Trump On Jeff Sessions: "I Am Disappointed In The Attorney General"


During a press conference with the Prime Minister of Lebanon, Donald Trump was asked whether he wants his Attorney General to resign.

He never got to a direct answer to that question, but he did say he was disappointed in Attorney General Jeff Sessions, wants him to be tougher, and wants him to be tougher on leaks coming out of the intelligence agencies.

Watch below.





And, of course, there's this:

Senate Poised To Vote On Obamacare Repeal

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
As the U.S. Senate votes to proceed to some kind of movement regarding health care reform, it looks like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's plan is to get past the motion to proceed, then offer up the "repeal and replace" bill known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act.

No one really expects that to pass.

From reading sources I follow online, McConnell would then look to put together a handful of amendments that would repeal just certain parts of the Affordable Care Act, something being referred to as a "skinny repeal."

Not a huge bill, but something that can perhaps pass in the Senate which would then head over to the House for a compromise bill.

If House and Senate Republicans can come to an agreement, it could be at least something Trump and Republicans could call a win.

I don't think Trump cares what the eventual legislation looks like. He just wants a victory lap of any sort.

Stay tuned.

WH Comm Director Scaramucci Threatens To "Fire Everybody" To Stop Leaks

Anthony Scaramucci

The first head has rolled in the White House press office as assistant press secretary Michael Short has resigned in advance of being fired by White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci.

From Politico:

Short’s ouster is Scaramucci’s first warning shot to White House aides who have been perceived as disloyal to the president. In an echo of Trump’s not-so-subtle warning to Jeff Sessions about his status as attorney general, Scaramucci’s vow to “fire everybody” is a warning to staffers perceived as leakers.

“I’m going to fire everybody, that’s how I’m going to do it,” Scaramucci said to reporters outside of the White House on Tuesday. “You’re either going to stop leaking or you’re going to be fired.”

He claimed to have the full authority of the president to clean out the communications shop and put his own stamp on the team. A source close to Scaramucci said that he’s planning to bring in people from the corporate communications world in addition to conservative broadcast stars.

Short was apparently not well-liked by his colleagues in the White House having quit Team Trump during the campaign but was hired for White House duty by Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.

Scaramucci told reporters it "really upsets me as a human being and as a Roman Catholic" that Short found out about his departure through the media.

He added he's prepared to reduce the communications office to just himself and Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders if necessary.

Just Because...


Sen. Susan Collins On Dueling Rep. Farenthold: "He's So Unattractive. It's So Unbelievable"

Rep. Blake Farenhold (R)

Sharp-eared reporter Niv Elis of The Hill noticed this funny exchange between what seems to be Sens. Jack Reed and Susan Collins speaking near an open mic.

During the hot-mic chat, Collins mentions GOP House Rep. Blake Farenthold, who had publicly announced he'd want to settle things with female senators against the Trumpcare bill with a duel.

Reed quickly assures Collins that she could “beat the shit” out of Farenthold. Collins goes on to note, “He’s so unattractive. It’s unbelievable.”

The "unattractive" Farenthold is in the pic above in his pajamas. Just to gross you out a little more, apparently the "M" on the hand of the young lady on the left is to let bartenders know she's a minor.

I know. I know.

Listen to the exchange below.








Jonathan Groff's "Being Alive" At Hollywood Bowl "Sondheim On Sondheim"


Broadway (Hamilton, Spring Awakening) and TV star (Looking, GLEE) Jonathan Groff delivered a sensitive, show-stopping performance of "Being Alive" at this past Sunday's Sondheim on Sondheim concert at the Hollywood Bowl.

Groff's voice and moment-to-moment journey are totally on point here.

Watch below.


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