Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Time Flies: 25th Anniversary Of Vanessa Williams' "The Comfort Zone"

Hard to believe that it was 25 years ago this week that the uber-talented Vanessa Williams released her smash hit album, The Comfort Zone.

Regular readers of The Randy Report know that I went to college with Vanessa long before that Miss America title, tons of hit records, starring on Broadway, in movies and wide spread television fame.

We're still good friends today, and I love her recordings.

The Comfort Zone, her second album, gave us several top charting singles including Vanessa's first #1 hit, "Saved The Best For Last."

I can listen to this album every day.  So very Vanessa.  Rock on, V.

Hillary Clinton Proves Her Good Health By Opening A Jar Of Pickles

I love when presidential candidates (and presidents for that matter) can share their sense of humor on talk shows.

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton chatted with Jimmy Kimmel last night on a range of topics including the new line of attack from Donald Trump and his surrogates regarding her health.

From ABC News:

When Kimmel asked Clinton about the rumors swirling about her health, she offered up her hand and said “take my pulse.”

Kimmel agreed as Clinton explained “to make sure I’m alive.” That’s when Kimmel took her hand and gasped telling the audience “oh my god there’s nothing there.”

Clinton played off Kimmel’s words, implying that the stories are baseless. “With every breath I take, I feel like it’s a new lease on life,” Clinton quipped sarcastically.

And then she opened a jar of pickles to prove she's health.

I kid you not. I think that's hilarious.

New Music: Idina Menzel "Queen Of Swords"

From Idina Menzel's upcoming album Idina., set for release September 23, everyone's favorite Broadway/Frozen diva drops this new music video for "Queen of Swords."

On her official website, Idina calls the new collection "The most personal introspective album I've made."

Listen for that last note!

You can pre-order the album on iTunes here. Both "Queen of Swords" and "I See You" are available for immediate download. 

Reuters/Ipsos Poll: Hillary Clinton Opens Up 12 Lead Over Donald Trump

The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll shows Democrat Hillary Clinton with a strong 12 point lead over Republican Donald Trump.

Even as Trump relentlessly hammers Clinton over an "everything but the kitchen sink" range of issues, likely voters favor Clinton over Trump 45% versus 33%.

Even in a four-way poll that Clinton holds a decisive 8 point lead over Trump, still well outside the 3 point margin of error.

The four man race broke down as Clinton getting 41%, Trump 33%, Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson 7% and Green Party candidate 2%.

From Reuters:

Clinton, the former U.S. secretary of state, has led Trump, a New York businessman, throughout most of the 2016 campaign. But her latest lead represents a stronger level of support than polls indicated over the past few weeks. Earlier in August, Clinton's lead over Trump ranged from 3 to 9 percentage points in the poll.

The poll also found that about 22 percent of likely voters would not pick either candidate. That lack of support is high compared with how people responded to the poll during the 2012 presidential election between Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney.

"Those who are wavering right now are just as likely to be thinking about supporting a third-party candidate instead, and not between Clinton and Trump," said Tom Smith, who directs the Center for the Study of Politics and Society at the University of Chicago.

Just Because...

Hmm, I wonder what America's Next Top Model and Dancing With The Stars champ Nyle DiMarco is doing today?

News Round-Up: August 23, 2016

Some news stories you may have missed:

• Kayne Lawton posted something about food on his Instagram, but... there's food in the pic?

• There's yet another sexual harassment lawsuit filed against former Fox News boss Roger Ailes.

• Right-wing nutjob Ann Coulter says if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, there will never be another Republican president. I'm not seeing the problem here...

• GOP presidential candidate flew to Louisiana for a photo op during which he spent exactly 49 seconds "helping" the people affected by disastrous flooding, and gave a $100K donation to the church of virulently anti-LGBT Tony Perkins.

• Homocon and Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos raised between $100-250K for scholarships for "white men" but in almost a year none of the money has been distributed as the cash sits in Yiannopoulos' bank account.

• Speaking of Milo, Trump supporters have begun to defend accusations of racism by saying "We can't be racist because Milo is gay." Feel free to explain that cognitive dissonance.

• Melania Trump is suing the Daily Mail and other outlets for insinuating she was an "escort" in the 1990s.

• A federal judge has ordered the release of another 15,000 emails from Hillary Clinton's email server over the course of four dates in October.

• The man who wrote the Republican National Convention speech for Pat Smith, whose son was killed in the Benghazi attacks, now says he will probably be voting for Hillary Clinton.

• Check out the one and only Cher introducing Hillary Clinton at a fundraiser in Provincetown this past weekend.

Trump Campaign Manager: Trump Does "Hurl Insults" But It's The Victim's Fault

Donald Trump's new campaign manager (is this version 3.0?) Kellyanne Conway sat down with Fox News' Megyn Kelly to chat on several Trumpian topics, including his penchant for insulting folks he doesn't like via the campaign stump and Twitter.

After Conway told the media this past Sunday that Trump "doesn't hurl personal insults," Megyn Kelly had to call Conway out.

From Talking Points Memo:

After Trump took to Twitter to slam Mika Brzezinski as “neurotic” and call her the “very insecure long-time girlfriend” of co-host Joe Scarborough, Fox News host Megyn Kelly recounted how Conway had argued Trump doesn’t employ personal attacks.

“Now, you know that’s not true,” Kelly said on her show.

Conway replied that Trump “doesn’t do it without being attacked first,” a well-worn defense Trump himself has used since his campaign's infancy.

“But does that excuse it? Just today he called Mika Brzezinski neurotic, which is another term, basically, for mentally ill,” the Fox News host responded. “He’s called other female news personalities things like crazy. The man does hurl personal insults.”

“But not unprompted,” Conway said.

It's always interesting the language games these surrogates play. Note how Kellyanne won't say that Trump will "deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants." She's clearly dodging a word or phrase that she doesn't want uttered on record. And while she gets away with it, the viewer sees that she's dodging. And that throws up a flag.

The questions about insults starts at the 6:50 mark, but I think the full interview is worth watching.

Daily Dance: JT & Robert "Mr. Bojancgles" SYTYCD

With choreography by Al Blackstone, JT and Robert dance a magical "Mr. Bojangles" on Season 13 of So You Think You Can Dance.

Seriously, look at JT's technique - the line of his leg, the stretch of his arms in a jump, his musicality - he's really quite awesome. He's going to be dangerous on the dance floor when he grows up :)

Trump Cancels Campaign Events With No Explanation

Donald Trump's Communication's guy, Jason Miller, shares the news that Sean Hannity's show has, basically, become an unofficial arm of the Trump campaign.

"Today, Mr. Trump is in Texas for two large fundraisers and then he will be taping an important town hall on border security and crimes committed by illegal aliens that will air nationally over two nights on Fox News' Hannity."

"Over two nights on Fox News' Hannity???"

Meanwhile, the Trumpster has cancelled other events scheduled for this week with no explanation.

#ManyPeopleAreSaying there's a health issue involved. Not me, of course, but many people.

Many people...

Monday, August 22, 2016

Robbie Rogers Responds To Being Called "Queer" In The Heat Of Soccer Match

A reminder that we live in a world that still has a way to go when it comes to LGBT acceptance.

Out soccer player Robbie Rogers wrote on his Facebook page last night about an opposing player - for the first time since he became the first openly gay professional athlete in the U.S. - calling him "queer," and the impact it had on him.

From Robbie's Facebook page:

"Shit Off My Chest: 4 years later."

After being out injured for two months with an Achilles surgery I finally made my return last night.

In the heat of the last fifteen minutes of the game a player from the opposing team called me a "queer" repeatedly. To be honest my initial reaction was one of shock. This is my fourth season back in the MLS and I've yet to hear another player use that or any other gay slur during a game. I quickly became enraged, I spent the drive home wishing I had channeled my inner Zidane and punched or head-butted this player even though I knew punching this person wouldn't have helped either of us, my team, or the greater cause of advancing equality in sports. I went to bed upset last night. Angry at this player and and his ignorance. Angry at myself for not doing more in the moment. Sad the we still live in a time where this kind of intolerance still exists in my sport and elsewhere. And if I'm being honest, I was even a bit ashamed that a single word could make me feel, even just for a moment, all the awful feelings I felt for so many years: small, less than, wrong, and unworthy of love and respect by my family or god forbid by my teammates.

But it was just for a moment.

Minutes later my head was back in the game. And this morning even most of the anger has faded and the predominant emotions left are just love and gratitude. I'm happy that I practiced restraint worthy of my sport. I'm thankful for the many players on my team and even the opposing one who apologized to me for one man's actions. Today, I woke up grateful to work in organization filled with so many players and coaches who have worked hard to practice tolerance of everyone and to help change a culture.

But mostly I'm proud of myself. I am proud more than ever that I had the courage to come out as a queer man. I feel so fortunate to have gotten to share my story with others and to have gotten to play this sport I love so much as an openly gay person. I am, more than ever, thankful to have teammates and a family that love and support me for the son, brother, partner, father and queer player that I am.

I'm encouraging, as I did when I came out four years ago, all athletes to find the courage within themselves to come out. Listen, only you know when and how it's best for you to live your truth and share your story, but each one of you that chooses to make this courageous step is not just vastly improving your own life but literally saving others.


Robbie continues to inspire.

I completely get Robbie's thought that he was "ashamed that a single word" could affect him so strongly. I think most gay men still have that knee-jerk reaction when we hear the words that taunted us in the past in today's social landscape.

I have to say thanks to Robbie for sharing the incident and how it processed through his heart and mind.


Texas Judge Blocks Federal Guidance Allowing Trans Students To Use Bathrooms Consistent With Gender Identity

A federal judge has blocked President Obama's guidelines which would allow transgender students to use the bathrooms which align with their gender identity.

From Buzzfeed:

U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor in Fort Worth issued the order sought by Texas and 10 other states on Sunday. The states sued the Obama administration in May over its guidelines regarding accommodating transgender students in restrooms and facilities at public schools.

The 11 states had asked O’Connor to suspend Obama’s policies — largely an interpretation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 — in a hearing held on Aug. 12.

In his 38-page order, O’Connor ruled that the states had standing to bring their lawsuit because the administration’s “Guidelines are clearly designed to target [their] conduct.”

The court found that the Obama administration’s actions likely violate the Administrative Procedure Act for failing to follow proper notice and comment procedures under the law because, the court found, the policies are “legislative and substantive.” Additionally, the court found that, under the text of the law, the Obama administration’s interpretation is incorrect — a ruling that contradicts an earlier decision from the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in a related case challenging a Virginia school district’s policies.

In granting the states’ request, O’Connor issued a nationwide injunction of the guidance, writing that “while this injunction remains in place, [the Obama administration is] enjoined from initiating, continuing, or concluding any investigation based on [its] interpretation that the definition of sex includes gender identity in Title IX’s prohibition against discrimination on the basis of sex.”

The Human Rights Campaign issued this statement:

“Judge O’Connor’s decision to bar the Department of Justice from enforcing this important guidance puts thousands of transgender students at even greater risk of marginalization, harassment, and discrimination as they return to school this fall,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow.

“All students, regardless of their gender identity, deserve to be able to learn in an environment free from discrimination. Despite this judge’s decision, schools are not barred from following the federal guidance, and school administrators still have a responsibility to ensure that the civil rights of all students are respected and that transgender students have access to facilities consistent with their gender identity.

"As lawsuits on the scope of Title IX proceed, we believe that justice will prevail as courts continue to recognize that discrimination against transgender students is a form of sex discrimination."

Donald Trump's Staffers Love To Post Racist/Anti-Muslim Content To Social Media

A look into the social media accounts of 50 present and former Donald Trump staffers by the Associated Press reveals numerous racist and anti-Muslim posts including Muslims being unfit to be U.S. citizens, mocking Mexican accents, black on white violence and more inflammatory content.

The AP examined the social media feeds of more than 50 current and former campaign employees who helped propel Trump through the primary elections. The campaign has employed a mix of veteran political operatives and outsiders. Most come across as dedicated, enthusiastic partisans, but at least seven expressed views that were overtly racially charged, supportive of violent actions or broadly hostile to Muslims.

A graphic designer for Trump's advance team approvingly posted video of a black man eating fried chicken and criticizing fellow blacks for ignorance, irresponsibility and having too many children. A Trump field organizer in Virginia declared that Muslims were seeking to impose Sharia law in America and that "those who understand Islam for what it is are gearing up for the fight."

The AP's findings come at a time when Trump is showing new interest in appealing to minority voters, insisting he will be fair in dealing with the 11 million people in the U.S. illegally and explicitly pitching himself to African-Americans, saying "what do you have to lose?"

The AP also reviewed the public social media accounts of more than three dozen employees of Hillary Clinton's far larger campaign staff and found nothing as inflammatory. One staffer said Trump's style of speaking reminded him of a roommate who had taken too many hallucinogenic mushrooms. AP also reviewed images attached to more than 19,000 stolen internal emails from the Democratic National Committee for racially or religiously inflammatory memes, finding nothing of note.

While the AP has sent several requests for comment on the social media posts over the past month, no response has been forthcoming.

Trump Tweets Attacks After Campaign Manager Claims He "Doesn't Hurl Personal Insults"

Donald Trump's newly installed campaign manager caught folks off-guard last week when she proclaimed that he "doesn't hurl personal insults."

As Think Progress reports, though, it only took hours for the Trumpster to fire off a few new attacks on choice targets in the media.

Just a few hours after Conway’s comments, however, Trump took to Twitter to call television personality Donny Deutsch a “big failure.” And on Monday morning, Trump implied that MSNBC hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski were having a relationship, calling Brzezinski “neurotic” and unintelligent, and referred to former Rep. Anthony Weiner as a “pervert sleaze.”

Twitter was quick to notice:

Trump Could Win Florida, Pennsylvania & Ohio And Still Lose

NPR's Domenico Montanaro tweeted this completely plausible electoral college map showing Republican winning Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio, and still losing to Democrat Hillary Clinton.

In reality, I think Hillary will probably win those three states, but this example shows how far back Trump is in the electoral college count.

Congressional Candidate Dan Bongino's Epic Curse-Laden Tirade Against Reporter

Politico reporter Marc Caputo was following a story via Twitter where Congressional candidate and former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino had attacked the Naples Daily News for what he called "propaganda" in a story the paper had published about him.

Caputo atempted to clarify, via Twitter, exactly what Bongino felt was "propaganda" in the article.

From Politico:

The newspaper had reported Sunday that Bongino was "lacking" financial backing from the district, noting that only 6 percent of itemized donations came from Collier and Lee counties. Citing Federal Election Commission records, it also reported that he raised "a disproportionate amount of his money from donations of less than $200."

Bongino asked Caputo to call him and, after a long back and forth of exchanges on Twitter, he gave his telephone number after being told the conversation would be recorded. Bongino later hung up after losing his temper and shouting “shut the fuck up! … Go fuck yourself, you piece of shit!”

The full, recorded conversation is below. While the 17 minute length might seem long for casual web surfing, I found it highly enlightening that a candidate for Congress would act out in this manner speaking to the press, especially when Caputo had expressly communicated that he was going to be recording the conversation.

Some of Bongino's comments are captured for closed-captioning. I've included a few screen captures of the actual recording.

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