Friday, November 16, 2018

News Round-Up: November 16, 2018

InstaHunk Max Emerson (r) snowboarding in Quebec

Some news items you might have missed:

• What to do when a November storm dumps lots of snow on you? Go snowboarding! Someone might have told Max Emerson to take a few bits of clothing with him, but then - when you've got a Porsche, you don't keep it in the garage.

• Tanzania just lost $10 million in aid from its second biggest donor, Denmark, thanks to the recent homophobic crackdown in the East African country.

• Hat tip to Kenneth-in-the-212 who found the ultimate 'Hunk' of House Hunters - Liev Schreiber - who, along with SNL's Leslie Jones, totally spoof every cliche you've ever seen on the show. This is pretty funny.

• Gubernatorial hopeful Stacey Abrams has acknowledged she will not be able to close the gap between herself and her Republican opponent, former Secretary of State Brian Kemp. But, she did not concede the race saying Kemp had spent years working to suppress voters in Georgia in order to tilt the contest his way.

• A gay man in Miami says a Lyft driver spewed homophobic slurs at him during his ride before pulling a gun on him. The driver allegedly stopped the car and forcibly removed the man from the car, kicking him in the process and saying he wanted to "kill everyone who is gay."

• I'll be interviewing the oh-so-dashing and talented Mr. Norm Lewis about this his new holiday album soon, but for now ... :)

RuPaul Guest-Stars On 'The Simpsons' This Sunday

RuPaul as "Queen Chante" on The Simpsons

You know you’ve arrived at the pinnacle of pop culture when you finally get that call to guest star on an episode of the long-running animated FOX series, The Simpsons.

This Sunday, Emmy Award-winner RuPaul makes his animated debut on the long running animated series as “Queen Chante.”

FOX released a teaser video of the upcoming episode along with some clues about the storyline.

From what we can tell, Marge makes yet another attempt at finding a successful career, this time as a Tupperware salesperson.

But to get an edge on her competition, Marge’s friend Julio suggests selling in drag. Apparently, drag queens sell the most Tupperware - who knew?

Showrunner Al Jean told Entertainment Weekly in a recent interview, “This is true - most successful Tupperware sellers are drag queens.”

Dang, queens are good at everything!

And somewhere in the mix, Homer makes HIS drag debut complete with full-on runway strut adorned in a blond wig and black dress.

How the animated series has gone 30 seasons without Homer in drag almost boggles the mind.

Not only do we get Mama Ru in the drag-tastic episode, but RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 3 champ, Raja, makes a cameo as herself as well.

In an Instagram post, Raja shared the cartoon image writing, “The Simpsons was a huge part of my childhood, being asked to be on an episode was surreal and mind blowing, to say the least.”

Watch the teaser below. Mama Ru’s “Queen Chante” will come to slay this Sunday at 8/7c on FOX.

Judge Orders Trump To Restore Press Pass To CNN's Jim Acosta

CNN reporter Jim Acosta

CNN and Jim Acosta won in court today in their lawsuit to restore Acosta's suspended press access to the White House as a Trump appointed judge ordered the return of his 'hard pass.'

From CNBC:

A federal judge on Friday granted CNN's request for a court order that would temporarily reinstate network correspondent Jim Acosta's White House press pass, which had been suspended indefinitely in the wake of a fiery exchange between the reporter and President Donald Trump a week earlier.

The ruling from Judge Timothy Kelly, who was appointed by Trump, gave CNN a victory in the ongoing case.

"I want to thank all of my colleagues in the press who supported us this week, and I want to thank the judge for the decision he made today," Acosta said outside U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

"Let's go back to work!" he added.

CNN's lawsuit, announced Tuesday, argues that Acosta's constitutional rights had been violated by Trump and five other members of his administration, as well as by the U.S. Secret Service. The other defendants include chief of staff John Kelly, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, deputy chief of staff Bill Shine and Secret Service Director Randolph Alles.

In a statement, CNN and Acosta said they "look forward to a full resolution in the coming days."

In his decision, Kelly ruled that Acosta’s First Amendment rights overruled the White House’s right to have orderly news conferences.

Over several days, the White House has changed its reasoning for suspending Acosta.

At first, Sarah Huckabee Sanders attempted to say Acosta had physically attacked a White House intern when she reached to take a microphone out of Acosta's hand as he was asking Donald Trump a question.

Then, the reasoning moved to Acosta being 'rude.'

Donald Trump and his staff have targeted Acosta since the beginning of the Trump administration for asking actual questions and holding them to answers.

The day a nation's leader shuts down a free press is a dark day for any country.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

2018 Midterms: Democrats Flip Two More House Seats

As the last races of the 2018 midterms are finally coming to a close, there's more good news for the Democrats.

Two more seats in the House of Representatives have been flipped to blue:

Democrat Jared Golden, a U.S. Marine veteran, defeated two-term Republican Representative Bruce Poliquin in Maine’s Second District.

This was the state’s first use of ranked-choice balloting in a congressional race proved consequential.

After the first round of vote counts, Poliquin lead but no candidate had a majority. Under ranked-choice voting, the lowest-choice candidates were eliminated and their votes reallocated to their second choices.

Golden, it turns out, was the second choice in more of the lower-choice candidates than Poliquin. That meant Golden for the win.

And Democrat Katie Porter upset anti-LGBT Republican Mimi Walters in Southern California’s Reagan country.

While in the California Assembly, Walters supported the anti-marriage equality Prop 8. And in the House, she voted against LGBT protections for federal employees.

Good riddance.

Democrats now have won five GOP seats in California, and Republicans are being threatened in another race that still is too close to call. Porter’s victory is a sign of changing times in Orange County, once known nationally as a GOP stronghold but now increasingly Democratic.

As a member of the California Assembly, Mimi Walters endorsed Prop 8 and voted against the ban on ex-gay torture. In the US House, she voted against protections for LGBT employees of federal contractors. And that’s just a start.

Democrats have now flipped 36 seats in the House and there are three more yet to be called that are leaning Democrat.

Michelle Obama Snuck Out Of The White House To Enjoy Rainbow Lights Celebrating Marriage Equality

In her new memoir, Becoming, former First Lady Michelle Obama shares a touching episode from the day the U.S. Supreme Court declared marriage equality the law of the land.

The date was June 26, 2015.

Although she had just returned from a funeral service for the victims of the Charleston church shooting, she saw crowds gathering in front of the White House as evening fell.

From the window she could see a purple glow.

The staff had arrange to illuminate the residence in rainbow lights in celebration of the landmark ruling by SCOTUS.

Seeing the energy of the people, she found she was "suddenly desperate to join the celebration."

After checking with her husband ("There are tons of people out there - you know I can't do tons of people!") and her youngest daughter, Sasha, who was engrossed in her iPad, Michelle found Malia was down for the adventure.

(image via Twitter/WhiteHouse)

From Becoming:
“Looking out the window, I saw that beyond the gates on Pennsylvania Avenue, a big crowd of people had gathered in the summer dusk to see the lights. The north drive was filled with government staff who’d stayed late to see the White House transformed in celebration of marriage equality. The decision had touched so many people.

"From where I stood, I could see the exuberance, but I could hear nothing. It was an odd part of our reality.

“We made our way down a marble staircase and over red carpets, around the busts of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin and past the kitchen until suddenly we were outdoors. Malia and I just busted past the agents on duty, neither one of us making eye contact.

"The humid summer air hit our faces. I could see fireflies blinking on the lawn. And there it was, the hum of the public, people whooping and celebrating outside the iron gates.

“It had taken us 10 minutes to get out of our own home, but we’d done it. We were outside, standing on a patch of lawn off to one side, out of sight of the public but with a beautiful, close-up view of the White House, lit up in pride.

"Malia and I leaned into each other, happy to have found our way there.”

In related news, Michelle appeared on ELLEN today to chat on the new book.

The segments included a visit to Costco with Ellen (where she created a foreseeable spectacle); her first kiss; Malia attending her prom with secret service agents in tow; and a discussion about inauguration crowd sizes ("Two of ours, one of someone else's...").

Michelle's publisher, Crown Publishing, reports that Becoming sold over 725,000 copies on its first day making it one of the biggest debuts of the year.

Former Dallas Cowboys Linebacker Comes Out As He Readies For Upcoming Wedding

Jeff Rohrer (L) and Joshua Ross (R) (photo: Allen Zeki)
Jeff Rohrer, a former Dallas Cowboys linebacker from 1982 to 1988, will marry his partner of two years, Joshua Ross, this Sunday in California.

In doing so, Rohrer will become the first NFL player - past or present - to celebrate a same-sex marriage.

Rohrer came out in an emotional interview with Outsports’ Cyd Zeigler this week, and in doing so shared the emotional impact the acceptance of his former teammates has made.

Zeigler writes that the 59-year-old had to pause several times as waves of gratitude washed over him talking about how supportive his football family has been as he’s shared this part of his life with them.

”The kindness of my friends and my family and my teammates,” Rohrer told Outsports, pausing due to the weight of the emotion. “It’s just been fucking ridiculous how nice they have been, and how supportive. And how they don’t care about any of that. They just love me, they always have. Nothing’s changed. Nothing’s changed.”

”To know that at a time like this, that they have my back, it’s fucking amazing,” said the 59-year-old. “I never expected it. I figured the world is fucked, but it’s not. It’s amazing. It’s fucking amazing.”

While the reception to his coming out has been exhilarating, it’s a complete 180 degree flip from his days in the NFL.

A second round draft pick in 1982, Rohrer played in 83 games over six seasons for the Cowboys. The entire time he hid his sexuality from his teammates.

"If I had told the Dallas Cowboys in the 1980s that I was gay, I would have been cut immediately," Rohrer shared with The New York Times. "It was a different world back then, people didn’t want to hear that."

(image via Instagram/DallasCowboys)

Rohrer referred to his younger, closeted self as something of a ‘monster’ he felt he had to keep suppressed.

“So many nights I cried myself to sleep, feeling like I was the Wolfman, or Jekyll and Hyde, or Frankenstein, some kind of monster that only comes out when it’s a full moon, always living in the shadows.”

Now a successful producer of television commercials, Rohrer met his future husband at Tortilla Republic, a gay bar in West Hollywood.

He says he wasn’t out at the time, just ‘working in the area’ and was killing time so rush hour traffic could wind down. The two men struck up a conversation which led to Ross giving Rohrer his contact info.

Although he’d never dated a man before, he admits the feelings he’d kept at arm’s length for so long had become impossible to dismiss.

“My experience is that people are born gay, and anyone who wants to dispute that I’d be happy to have a conversation with them, including Mike Pence,” he told Outsports. “I’d love to sit down with him.”

Growing up in a conservative Southern California community, Rohrer says the idea of being gay “was not acceptable.”

“When I went to Yale, it was the same thing there,” he added. “And then I got drafted by the Cowboys. What am I going to do, come out then?”

It wasn’t until after Rohrer’s divorce - he has two children from his previous marriage - that he finally allowed himself to explore and express his authentic self.

“When I got divorced, I said the hell with it, I’m going to do what I’ve always wanted to do,” he told The New York Times. “Then I found Josh, and began to openly live the life I was born to live.”

Living that life has given him not only the happiness he’s found with Ross, a successful aesthetician and founder of SkinLab, but the courage to share his story with the public.

”I’m not going to change the world, but we can at least get the message out there that it’s OK and I’m proud of where I am,” admits the award-winner TV producer. “I’m not ashamed. I’m not the Wolfman anymore. My family and friends are 100% behind me. That kind of message can maybe move the ball forward a little bit.”

In 2017, Outsports’ Jim Buzinski wrote that 7 former NFL players who had played in regular season games have come out (Dave Kopay, Jerry Smith, Ray McDonald, Roy Simmons, Esera Tuaolo, Kwame Harris, Ryan O’Callaghan), as well as four more (Wade Davis, Dorien Bryant, Brad Thorson, Michael Sam) who had taken part in either training camps or preseason games.

Click over to Outsports to read Rohrer’s full story.

Congratulations to the happy couple!

(h/t Outsports)

Trump Twitter Rant: More Fake News, Mueller Investigation & Witch Hunts

Donald Trump
Donald Trump has been on quite the Twitter rant this morning.

With reports of Robert Mueller’s Russia probe about to issue new indictments, Melania making a public statement shaming him into firing John Bolton’s Deputy National Security Adviser, and rumors he plans to also get rid of his own Homeland Security chief, I'm guessing someone's isn't caring for the latest news cycle...?

The man who is shouting via his Twitter account in capital letters tried to assert that Mueller's team is a "total mess" and folks are "screaming and shouting at people."

The inner workings of the Mueller investigation are a total mess. They have found no collusion and have gone absolutely nuts. They are screaming and shouting at people, horribly threatening them to come up with the answers they want. They are a disgrace to our Nation and don’t care how many lives the ruin. These are Angry People, including the highly conflicted Bob Mueller, who worked for Obama for 8 years. They won’t even look at all of the bad acts and crimes on the other side. A TOTAL WITCH HUNT LIKE NO OTHER IN AMERICAN HISTORY!

Why are you SCREAMING???

Florida: Judge Orders Injunction To Allow Voters To Validate Their Ballots

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson (L) and Gov. Rick Scott (R)

A federal judge has ordered an injunction to allow voters whose signatures don't appear to match on their ballots in the hotly-contested Florida race for US Senate to correct their ballots.

From FirstCoastNews:

U.S. Chief Judge Mark Walker issued a preliminary injunction this morning in a lawsuit filed by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson over ballots thrown out because of mismatched signatures — declaring a state law unconstitutional and offering a middle path to give voters a few days to correct their ballots.

"The precise issue in this case is whether Florida’s law that allows county election officials to reject vote-by-mail and provisional ballots for mismatched signatures — with no standards, an illusory process to cure, and no process to challenge the rejection — passes constitutional muster," Walker said. "The answer is simple. It does not."

The ruling is a victory for Nelson as he tries to narrow the almost 13,000 vote margin between him and Gov. Rick Scott in a razor-thin Senate race that is currently the subject of multiple lawsuits and is undergoing a machine recount, which will likely progress to a hand recount.

After Walker's order was filed, the National Republican Senatorial Committee filed a notice of appeal to the 11th Circuit.

Election officials have identified 3,688 vote-by-mail ballots and 93 provisional ballots in 45 counties that were not tabulated because of signature mismatches.

Based on 2016 results, the total could be as high as 5,000.