Monday, July 24, 2017

News Round-Up: July 24, 2017

(via Instagram)

Some news items you may have missed:

• Fitness trainer Ramses Principe (above) looks right at home chilling in Cuba

• The Minnesota Department of Education advisory council voted to approve the “Safe and Supportive Schools for Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students” toolkit. The toolkit is a guide for making schools welcoming for all students with specific guidelines for supporting transgender and gender nonconforming students.

• How long has Obamacare been in effect? Trump thinks it's 17 years...



• Anti-LGBT bakers and florists have said designing cakes and flowers for a same-sex wedding goes against their religious beliefs because it encompasses their First Amendment "expression." But this wedding dress shop refused to sell a dress for a lesbian wedding. They didn't design or make the dress, so...?

• CW Seed has released a trailer for the upcoming animated super-hero series Freedom Fighters: The Ray, which marks the first time a DC/CW series will feature an openly LGBTQ lead character.

• Donald Trump was asked today if his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, should resign. Check out his response - not good news for Sessions:

MSNBC Tops All Cable Networks For 1st Time


MSNBC celebrates being the most watched cable network for the first time in the network's history.

Last week's stats also show that MSNBC has bested CNN in 29 of the last 30 weeks.

Via press release:

For the first time in the network’s 21-year history, MSNBC finished the week as the most-watched cable network during weekday prime (M-F 8-11pm) in total viewers. According to Nielsen, MSNBC ended the week of July 17-21 as the #1 cable network for all weekday prime, averaging 2.34 million viewers, ahead of FOX News at 2.25 million.

MSNBC was previously #1 in cable news in weekday prime during the weeks of May 15, 2017 (behind TNT) and September 3, 2012 (behind USA) among total viewers, but this was the 1st time MSNBC was #1 among all of cable. Additionally, MSNBC’s 7pm through midnight lineup was the #1 cable network in total viewers.

Among cable news, last week marked MSNBC’s 29th weekly win (out of 30 weeks) in M-F prime over CNN with total viewers this year. MSNBC also topped CNN in total viewers in dayside (9am-5pm) and during mornings (6-9am) with “Morning Joe.” The dayside win was the 5th consecutive weekly win over CNN, while “Morning Joe” topped CNN’s “New Day” for the 30th week in a row.

“The Rachel Maddow Show” (9-10pm) also bested both FOX News and CNN among total viewers for the 4th straight week in 9-10pm time period. “Maddow” was the 2nd ranked show in all of cable for the week in total viewers behind WWE Entertainment.

Viral Video: "The Rock X Siri Dominate The Day"


Check out the mini-movie from Apple starring The Rock - and iPhone voice Siri.

The Rock teams up with Siri to prove "You should never, ever, under any circumstances, underestimate how much Dwayne Johnson can get done in a day with Siri. Follow the world’s busiest actor and Siri as they dominate the day."

2.6 million views in less than a day.

Learn more about Siri at http://siri.com

Out UK Diver Tom Daley Wins Gold At World Aquatics Championships

Tom Daley (via Instagram)
Out UK diver Tom Daley snagged the gold medal this past weekend at the World Aquatics Championships in Budapest.

The triumph surely helps smooth some heart ache for Daley after a disappointing Olympic showing in Rio last year where he was eliminated in the semi-finals.

His victory included beating the Olympic gold medalist, Chen Aisen of China.

Hubby (and Oscar winner) Dustin Lance Black took to Instagram to celebrate: "I already couldn't have loved you more or been prouder so I'll just go full Texan and say Holy Cow! My husband is World Champion! Now let's go honeymoon. I love u @tomdaley1994!!"

Kushner Speaks: "I Did Not Collude With Russia"


Jared Kushner, White House Senior adviser and Trump son-in-law, spoke to the press today following his closed-door interview with members of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Among other things, Kushner reiterated what he had already declared in an 11-page written statement, specifically that “did not collude with Russia, nor do I know of anyone else in camp who did so.”

He also underscored that he is "eager" to provide any information he may have because he has "nothing to hide."

It is interesting that he isn't issuing a complete denial of any possibility of Team Trump collusion, only that he doesn't "know of" any taking place.

I also have an issue that he now refused to be placed under oath. My understanding is lying to Congress is a crime anyway, so why not testify under oath?

Just because he says something is true, doesn't mean it is true.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has his doubts as well. Following Kushner's statements, Wyden told reporters, “Kushner has repeatedly concealed information about his personal finances and meetings with foreign officials. There should be no presumption that he is telling the whole truth.”

“It is imperative that the public hears Jared Kushner testify in an open session, under oath, and support his claims with full transparency in the form of emails, documents, and financial records,” Wyden added.



Here's Kushner's 11-page statement he provided to Congress.

He concludes the statement saying, "Hopefully, this puts these matters to rest."

I'm thinking that's not the case.

STATEMENT OF JARED C. KUSHNER TO CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEES

July 24, 2017

I am voluntarily providing this statement, submitting documents, and sitting for interviews in order to shed light on issues that have been raised about my role in the Trump for President Campaign and during the transition period.

I am not a person who has sought the spotlight. First in my business and now in public service, I have worked on achieving goals, and have left it to others to work on media and public perception. Because there has been a great deal of conjecture, speculation, and inaccurate information about me, I am grateful for the opportunity to set the record straight.

My Role in the Trump for President Campaign

Before joining the administration, I worked in the private sector, building and managing companies. My experience was in business, not politics, and it was not my initial intent to play a large role in my father-in-law’s campaign when he decided to run for President. However, as the campaign progressed, I was called on to assist with various tasks and aspects of the campaign, and took on more and more responsibility.

Over the course of the primaries and general election campaign, my role continued to evolve. I ultimately worked with the finance, scheduling, communications, speechwriting, polling, data and digital teams, as well as becoming a point of contact for foreign government officials.

All of these were tasks that I had never performed on a campaign previously. When I was faced with a new challenge, I would reach out to contacts, ask advice, find the right person to manage the specific challenge, and work with that person to develop and execute a plan of action. I was lucky to work with some incredibly talented people along the way, all of whom made significant contributions toward the campaign’s ultimate success. Our nimble culture allowed us to adjust to the ever-changing circumstances and make changes on the fly as the situation warranted. I share this information because these actions should be viewed through the lens of a fast-paced campaign with thousands of meetings and interactions, some of which were impactful and memorable and many of which were not.

It is also important to note that a campaign’s success starts with its message and its messenger. Donald Trump had the right vision for America and delivered his message perfectly. The results speak for themselves. Not only did President Trump defeat sixteen skilled and experienced primary opponents and win the presidency; he did so spending a fraction of what his opponent spent in the general election. He outworked his opponent and ran one of the best campaigns in history using both modern technology and traditional methods to bring his message to the American people.

Campaign Contacts with Foreign Persons

When it became apparent that my father-in-law was going to be the Republican nominee for President, as normally happens, a number of officials from foreign countries attempted to reach out to the campaign. My father-in-law asked me to be a point of contact with these foreign countries. These were not contacts that I initiated, but, over the course of the campaign, I had incoming contacts with people from approximately 15 countries. To put these requests in context, I must have received thousands of calls, letters and emails from people looking to talk or meet on a variety of issues and topics, including hundreds from outside the United States. While I could not be responsive to everyone, I tried to be respectful of any foreign government contacts with whom it would be important to maintain an ongoing, productive working relationship were the candidate to prevail. To that end, I called on a variety of people with deep experience, such as Dr. Henry Kissinger, for advice on policy for the candidate, which countries/representatives with which the campaign should engage, and what messaging would resonate. In addition, it was typical for me to receive 200 or more emails a day during the campaign. I did not have the time to read every one, especially long emails from unknown senders or email chains to which I was added at some later point in the exchange.

With respect to my contacts with Russia or Russian representatives during the campaign, there were hardly any. The first that I can recall was at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. in April 2016. This was when then candidate Trump was delivering a major foreign policy speech. Doing the event and speech had been my idea, and I oversaw its execution. I arrived at the hotel early to make sure all logistics were in order. After that, I stopped into the reception to thank the host of the event, Dimitri Simes, the publisher of the bi-monthly foreign policy magazine, The National Interest, who had done a great job putting everything together. Mr. Simes and his group had created the guest list and extended the invitations for the event. He introduced me to several guests, among them four ambassadors, including Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. With all the ambassadors, including Mr. Kislyak, we shook hands, exchanged brief pleasantries and I thanked them for attending the event and said I hoped they would like candidate Trump’s speech and his ideas for a fresh approach to America’s foreign policy. The ambassadors also expressed interest in creating a positive relationship should we win the election. Each exchange lasted less than a minute; some gave me their business cards and invited me to lunch at their embassies. I never took them up on any of these invitations and that was the extent of the interactions.

Reuters news service has reported that I had two calls with Ambassador Kislyak at some time between April and November of 2016. While I participated in thousands of calls during this period, I do not recall any such calls with the Russian Ambassador. We have reviewed the phone records available to us and have not been able to identify any calls to any number we know to be associated with Ambassador Kislyak and I am highly skeptical these calls took place. A comprehensive review of my land line and cell phone records from the time does not reveal those calls. I had no ongoing relationship with the Ambassador before the election, and had limited knowledge about him then. In fact, on November 9, the day after the election, I could not even remember the name of the Russian Ambassador. When the campaign received an email purporting to be an official note of congratulations from President Putin, I was asked how we could verify it was real. To do so I thought the best way would be to ask the only contact I recalled meeting from the Russian government, which was the Ambassador I had met months earlier, so I sent an email asking Mr. Simes, “What is the name of the Russian ambassador?” Through my lawyer, I have asked Reuters to provide the dates on which the calls supposedly occurred or the phone number at which I supposedly reached, or was reached by, Ambassador Kislyak. The journalist refused to provide any corroborating evidence that they occurred.

The only other Russian contact during the campaign is one I did not recall at all until I was reviewing documents and emails in response to congressional requests for information. In June 2016, my brother-in-law, Donald Trump Jr. asked if I was free to stop by a meeting on June 9 at 3:00 p.m. The campaign was headquartered in the same building as his office in Trump Tower, and it was common for each of us to swing by the other’s meetings when requested. He eventually sent me his own email changing the time of the meeting to 4:00 p.m. That email was on top of a long back and forth that I did not read at the time. As I did with most emails when I was working remotely, I quickly reviewed on my iPhone the relevant message that the meeting would occur at 4:00 PM at his office. Documents confirm my memory that this was calendared as “Meeting: Don Jr.| Jared Kushner.” No one else was mentioned.

I arrived at the meeting a little late. When I got there, the person who has since been identified as a Russian attorney was talking about the issue of a ban on U.S. adoptions of Russian children. I had no idea why that topic was being raised and quickly determined that my time was not well-spent at this meeting. Reviewing emails recently confirmed my memory that the meeting was a waste of our time and that, in looking for a polite way to leave and get back to my work, I actually emailed an assistant from the meeting after I had been there for ten or so minutes and wrote “Can u pls call me on my cell? Need excuse to get out of meeting.” I had not met the attorney before the meeting nor spoken with her since. I thought nothing more of this short meeting until it came to my attention recently. I did not read or recall this email exchange before it was shown to me by my lawyers when reviewing documents for submission to the committees. No part of the meeting I attended included anything about the campaign, there was no follow up to the meeting that I am aware of, I do not recall how many people were there (or their names), and I have no knowledge of any documents being offered or accepted. Finally, after seeing the email, I disclosed this meeting prior to it being reported in the press on a supplement to my security clearance form, even if that was not required as meeting the definitions of the form.

There was one more possible contact that I will note. On October 30, 2016, I received a random email from the screenname “Guccifer400.” This email, which I interpreted as a hoax, was an extortion attempt and threatened to reveal candidate Trump’s tax returns and demanded that we send him 52 bitcoins in exchange for not publishing that information. I brought the email to the attention of a U.S. Secret Service agent on the plane we were all travelling on and asked what he thought. He advised me to ignore it and not to reply — which is what I did. The sender never contacted me again.

To the best of my recollection, these were the full extent of contacts I had during the campaign with persons who were or appeared to potentially be representatives of the Russian government.

Transition Contacts with Foreign Persons

The transition period after the election was even more active than the campaign. Starting on election night, we began to receive an incredible volume of messages and invitations from well-wishers in the United States and abroad. Dozens of messages came from foreign officials seeking to set up foreign leader calls and create lines of communication and relationships with what would be the new administration. During this period, I recall having over fifty contacts with people from over fifteen countries. Two of those meetings were with Russians, neither of which I solicited.

On November 16, 2016, my assistant received a request for a meeting from the Russian Ambassador. As I mentioned before, previous to receiving this request, I could not even recall the Russian Ambassador’s name, and had to ask for the name of the individual I had seen at the Mayflower Hotel almost seven months earlier. In addition, far from being urgent, that meeting was not set up for two weeks — on December 1. The meeting occurred in Trump Tower, where we had our transition office, and lasted twenty- thirty minutes. Lt. General Michael Flynn (Ret.), who became the President’s National Security Advisor, also attended. During the meeting, after pleasantries were exchanged, as I had done in many of the meetings I had and would have with foreign officials, I stated our desire for a fresh start in relations. Also, as I had done in other meetings with foreign officials, I asked Ambassador Kislyak if he would identify the best person (whether the Ambassador or someone else) with whom to have direct discussions and who had contact with his President. The fact that I was asking about ways to start a dialogue after Election Day should of course be viewed as strong evidence that I was not aware of one that existed before Election Day.

The Ambassador expressed similar sentiments about relations, and then said he especially wanted to address U.S. policy in Syria, and that he wanted to convey information from what he called his “generals.” He said he wanted to provide information that would help inform the new administration. He said the generals could not easily come to the U.S. to convey this information and he asked if there was a secure line in the transition office to conduct a conversation. General Flynn or I explained that there were no such lines. I believed developing a thoughtful approach on Syria was a very high priority given the ongoing humanitarian crisis, and I asked if they had an existing communications channel at his embassy we could use where they would be comfortable transmitting the information they wanted to relay to General Flynn. The Ambassador said that would not be possible and so we all agreed that we would receive this information after the Inauguration. Nothing else occurred. I did not suggest a “secret back channel.” I did not suggest an on-going secret form of communication for then or for when the administration took office. I did not raise the possibility of using the embassy or any other Russian facility for any purpose other than this one possible conversation in the transition period. We did not discuss sanctions.

Approximately a week later, on December 6, the Embassy asked if I could meet with the Ambassador on December 7. I declined. They then asked if I could meet on December 6; I declined again. They then asked when the earliest was that I could meet. I declined these requests because I was working on many other responsibilities for the transition. He asked if he could meet my assistant instead and, to avoid offending the Ambassador, I agreed. He did so on December 12. My assistant reported that the Ambassador had requested that I meet with a person named Sergey Gorkov who he said was a banker and someone with a direct line to the Russian President who could give insight into how Putin was viewing the new administration and best ways to work together. I agreed to meet Mr. Gorkov because the Ambassador has been so insistent, said he had a direct relationship with the President, and because Mr. Gorkov was only in New York for a couple days. I made room on my schedule for the meeting that occurred the next day, on December 13.

The meeting with Mr. Gorkov lasted twenty to twenty-five minutes. He introduced himself and gave me two gifts — one was a piece of art from Nvgorod, the village where my grandparents were from in Belarus, and the other was a bag of dirt from that same village. (Any notion that I tried to conceal this meeting or that I took it thinking it was in my capacity as a businessman is false. In fact, I gave my assistant these gifts to formally register them with the transition office). After that, he told me a little about his bank and made some statements about the Russian economy. He said that he was friendly with President Putin, expressed disappointment with U.S.-Russia relations under President Obama and hopes for a better relationship in the future. As I did at the meeting with Ambassador Kislyak, I expressed the same sentiments I had with other foreign officials I met. There were no specific policies discussed. We had no discussion about the sanctions imposed by the Obama Administration. At no time was there any discussion about my companies, business transactions, real estate projects, loans, banking arrangements or any private business of any kind. At the end of the short meeting, we thanked each other and I went on to other meetings. I did not know or have any contact with Mr. Gorkov before that meeting, and I have had no reason to connect with him since.

To the best of my recollection, these were the only two contacts I had during the transition with persons who were or appeared to potentially be representatives of the Russian government.

Disclosure of Contacts on My Security Clearance Form

There has been a good deal of misinformation reported about my SF-86 form. As my attorneys and I have previously explained, my SF-86 application was prematurely submitted due to a miscommunication and initially did not list any contacts (not just with Russians) with foreign government officials. Here are some facts about that form and the efforts I have made to supplement it.

In the week before the Inauguration, amid the scramble of finalizing the unwinding of my involvement from my company, moving my family to Washington, completing the paper work to divest assets and resign from my outside positions and complete my security and financial disclosure forms, people at my New York office were helping me find the information, organize it, review it and put it into the electronic form. They sent an email to my assistant in Washington, communicating that the changes to one particular section were complete; my assistant interpreted that message as meaning that the entire form was completed. At that point, the form was a rough draft and still had many omissions including not listing any foreign government contacts and even omitted the address of my father-in-law (which was obviously well known). Because of this miscommunication, my assistant submitted the draft on January 18, 2017.

That evening, when we realized the form had been submitted prematurely, we informed the transition team that we needed to make changes and additions to the form. The very next day, January 19, 2017, we submitted supplemental information to the transition, which confirmed receipt and said they would immediately transmit it to the FBI. The supplement disclosed that I had “numerous contacts with foreign officials” and that we were going through my records to provide an accurate and complete list. I provided a list of those contacts in the normal course, before my background investigation interview and prior to any inquiries or media reports about my form.

It has been reported that my submission omitted only contacts with Russians. That is not the case. In the accidental early submission of the form, all foreign contacts were omitted. The supplemental information later disclosed over one hundred contacts from more than twenty countries that might be responsive to the questions on the form. These included meetings with individuals such as Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Israel’s Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Luis Videgaray Caso and many more. All of these had been left off before.

Over the last six months, I have made every effort to provide the FBI with whatever information is needed to investigate my background. In addition, my attorneys have explained that the security clearance process is one in which supplements are expected and invited. The form itself instructs that, during the interview, the information in the document can be “update[d], clarif[ied], and explain[ed]” as part of the security clearance process. A good example is the June 9 meeting. For reasons that should be clear from the explanation of that meeting I have provided, I did not remember the meeting and certainly did not remember it as one with anyone who had to be included on an SF-86. When documents reviewed for production in connection with committee requests reminded me that meeting had occurred, and because of the language in the email chain that I then read for the first time, I included that meeting on a supplement. I did so even though my attorneys were unable to conclude that the Russian lawyer was a representative of any foreign country and thus fell outside the scope of the form. This supplemental information was also provided voluntarily, well prior to any media inquiries, reporting or request for this information, and it was done soon after I was reminded of the meeting.

****

As I have said from the very first media inquiry, I am happy to share information with the
investigating bodies. I have shown today that I am willing to do so and will continue to cooperate as I have nothing to hide. As I indicated, I know there has been a great deal of speculation and conjecture about my contacts with any officials or people from Russia. I have disclosed these contacts and described them as fully as I can recall. The record and documents I am providing will show that I had perhaps four contacts with Russian representatives out of thousands during the campaign and transition, none of which were impactful in any way to the election or particularly memorable. I am very grateful for the opportunity to set the record straight. I also have tried to provide context for my role in the campaign, and I am proud of the candidate that we supported, of the campaign that we ran, and the victory that we achieved.

It has been my practice not to appear in the media or leak information in my own defense. I have tried to focus on the important work at hand and serve this President and this country to the best of my abilities. I hope that through my answers to questions, written statements and documents I have now been able to demonstrate the entirety of my limited contacts with Russian representatives during the campaign and transition. I did not collude, nor know of anyone else in the campaign who colluded, with any foreign government. I had no improper contacts. I have not relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector. I have tried to be fully transparent with regard to the filing of my SF-86 form, above and beyond what is required. Hopefully, this puts these matters to rest.

NYT: Spicer Turned Off Press Briefing Cameras So Trump Would Stop Criticizing Him

Sean Spicer
New York Times reporter Glenn Thrush, speaking on the newspaper's podcast, "The Daily," says former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer turned off the cameras during press briefings because he was tired of Donald Trump criticizing him.

Via DeathAndTaxes:

“A lot of us assume, and I think the punditocracy assumed, this was an assault on broadcast journalism,” Thrush said in the podcast. “In fact, most of it was Spicer not wanting to be on camera so Donald Trump would not yell at him.”

Trump generally thought Spicer was not tough enough at his job, and that he made a bunch of missteps, including favorably comparing Hitler to Assad, which even Trump thought was too far, Thrush said.

The host of the podcast asked Thrush to clarify: “He didn’t want the president of the United States, his boss, to see him conducting the business of being press secretary?”

“Exactly,” Thrush responded. “The principled prime mover of that decision amounted to Sean Spicer not wanting his boss watching him work. That is a fact.”

Trump's Monday Morning Twitter Rant


Donald Trump got off to a raring Monday morning as he took to Twitter (where else?) to attack a number of personal irritants including Hillary Clinton, Rep. Adam Schiff and his own Attorney General, Jeff Sessions.



Of course, the reason Hillary Clinton isn't being investigated is that there was a year long investigation which found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing. Plus, she hasn't held a position in government in over four years whereas the Trumpster is actually the president.

And how about the use of the word "beleaguered?" After attacking Sessions in his NY Times interview last week, and this comment, I think Trump is now trying to get Sessions to resign.



I think it's rich that a man who boasts about grabbing pussies, and leers at Miss Universe contestants can call Schiff "sleazy."

Schiff responded with class:



Yesterday, Trump took swipes at his own party for not "protecting" him. How are Republicans supposed to "protect" him?



Could Rex Tillerson Resign As Secretary Of State Before End Of The Year?

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

CNN is reporting Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is growing weary of White House antics, including President Trump's attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, which Tillerson considers "unprofessional."

Sources are hinting Tillerson could leave the State department before the end of the year.

Among those who viewed the President's public rebuke of Sessions as unprofessional, according to several sources, is Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former Exxon-Mobil CEO.

Tillerson has a growing list of differences with the White House, including a new debate over Iran policy and personnel. His frustration is hardly a secret and it has spilled out publicly at times. But friends sense a change of late.

For weeks, conversations with Tillerson friends outside of Washington have left the impression that he, despite his frustrations, was determined to stay on the job at least through the end of the year. That would allow time to continue efforts to reorganize the State Department and would mean he could claim to have put in a year as America's top diplomat.

But two sources who spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity over the weekend said they would not be surprised if there was a "Rexit" from Foggy Bottom sooner than that.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Podcast: Texas' Anti-Trans Bill; Star Trek Discovery; New Jersey's Support For Trans Students


Listen in as I discuss this week’s LGBTQ headlines including:

• The Texas Legislature is on its way to approving an anti-transgender “bathroom” bill

• Rhode Island becomes the 9th state to ban harmful “ex-gay therapy”

• New Jersey passes required guidance for trans students

Star Trek Discovery will feature its first gay romantic couple

• We may soon find out if Academy Award winner Moonlight opened the door for more mainstream success for queer-themed cinema

All that and more on this episode of The Randy Report.

For past episodes, or to subscribe to the podcast for free, click here.

And, by the way, please feel free to share The Randy Report podcast with friends. It's a great way to catch up on the week's LGBT political, pop culture and entertainment headlines in about 15 minutes :)

UK Eases Rules On Blood Donations By Gay & Bisexual Men

(image via Flickr)

Restrictions on blood donations by gay men in the United Kingdom have been eased again.

In 1981, the government placed an outright ban on all blood donations by gay men as a response to the AIDS epidemic.

That policy was relaxed to allow gay men to donate blood IF they practiced sexual abstinence for 12 months.

Now, gay and bisexual men will be able to donate if they refrain from having sex for three months.

The changes in policy are directly related to the improved testing which detects HIV, syphilis or hepatitis.

Here in the U.S., gay and bisexual men have been able to donate blood since 2015 if they abstain from sex for a year. Prior to 2015, there was an outright ban in place since 1992.

(source)

Joe Santagato: Idiots Of The Internet Part 13


I'm in the mood for some hilarious Mr. Joe Sanatagato today. I realized this morning I haven't shared any Joe in some time.

For those who don't know, Joe is an uber-popular vlogger on YouTube with over 2 million subscribers and over 278 million views.

Direct from his parents' basement, Joe rails against the idiocy of the internet.

He's also an LGBTQ ally, and he's definitely on the hottie side of things #EasyOnTheEyes.

You can find more videos of Joe's that I've shared before at this link.

Happy Sunday, folks. Enjoy.

New White House Comm Director Denies Russian Interference In 2016 Election


The new White House Communications Director, Anthony Scaramucci, sat down for a lengthy chat on CNN's State of the Union with Jake Tapper this morning.

Started out very polite, but Scaramucci quickly became combative, which is certainly going to please his boss.

At one point, Scaramucci offered the opinion of an anonymous person on Russia. When pushed by Tapper, the new comm director admitted that it was President Trump.

Via Raw Story:

CNN host Jake Tapper on Sunday called out newly-appointed White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci for continuing to deny Russia’s interference in the U.S. election. On Sunday’s State of the Union program, Tapper asked Scaramucci if President Donald Trump was prepared to sign a sanctions bill against Russia.

“There’s a lot of misinformation,” Scaramucci said, dismissing the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies. “Somebody said to me the other day — I don’t want to say who — if the Russian actually hacked the this situation and spilled out those emails, you would have never seen it. You would have never had any evidence of them. Meaning that they’re super confident in their deception skills and hacking.”

“Wait, wait, wait,” Tapper interrupted. “I don’t know who this anonymous person is.” “How about it’s the president, Jake,” Scaramucci revealed. “He called me from Air Force One and basically said to me, ‘This is — maybe they did it, maybe they didn’t do it.’”


Props to Jake Tapper for trying to keep Scaramucci on topic.

A few other points gleaned from Mr. Scaramucci's appearance:

• We now know he likes to remind folks he went to Harvard Law School.

• He hasn't met a superlative, in regard to Trump, he doesn't like.

• He really loves to say he "loves" the president. He loves to say it a lot.

• He enjoys dropping lines like, "The president called me from Air Force One."

• Scaramucci says once he has his security clearance, he'll "take a look" at the intelligence and decide for himself if he believes Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

It's clear to see why Trump would like a guy like Scaramucci. He constantly praises his boss; he's much more smooth than Sean Spicer; he's a middle-class guy who created his own success - a narrative Trump would love to believe about himself; and he looks like what Trump probably thinks he sees when he looks in the mirror.

Here's the full segment. I encourage you to watch.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Video Of The Day

New "Justice League" Trailer Unveiled At ComicCon


Oh. Mah. Gawd.

ComicCon got the first look at the new trailer for the upcoming Justice League movie due in theaters November 17.

Squee!!!

Trailer: Netflix/Marvel's "The Defenders"


Netflix and Marvel unveiled a second trailer for the upcoming series, The Defenders, this week at ComicCon.

Squee!!!

The series features a team of super-heroes (each already has their own show on Netflix) who come together to defend New York City.

The Avengers, they're not.

Daredevil (played by the hunky Charlie Cox), Luke Cage (Mike Colter), Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) and Iron Fist (Finn Jones) become a "team of outcasts" to fight a common enemy: The Hand.

From GamesRadar.com:

"With the Avengers, there’s a pride about who they are, they’re very chest-out, gung-ho, and that’s very cool to watch," says Daredevil actor, Charlie Cox. "To make this work on TV, with these street-level heroes, we have to go the opposite way. We go to a place of shame, and a place of loneliness for these guys. We’re trying to find moments where Matt is essentially learning not just what these guys can and cannot do but how they deal with the same pain he deals with on a daily basis. How do they not feel like they’re freaks of nature and outcasts of society?"

Here's the official synopsis:

Blind ninja. Smart-ass detective. Bulletproof ex-con. Kung Fu billionaire. Marvel’s The Defenders centers on four outsider heroes that have to put aside their personal issues and come together when a villainous sect threatens to destroy New York City as we know it. The Netflix original series launches globally on August 18, 2017.

AND - Sigourney Weaver is a total bad-ass villain as "Alexandra."

Watch the new trailer below.

New White House Comm Director Has A Liberal Past

Anthony Scaramucci

Newly installed White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci has a liberal background, and he's quickly deleting as much of his progressive side as he can on Twitter.

Scaramucci says he's deleting the tweets because they represent old views that he has now "evolved" from, and the tweets shouldn't be a "distraction."



It turns out the new comm director is pro-marriage equality, pro-gun control, pro-choice and believes in climate change. Oh, during the 2016 presidential campaign, he tweeted that "walls don't work. Never have never will."

Scaramucci is around 52 years old. I find it hard to believe views he held at 47 would have changed that much.

Of course, this is the internet where everything is forever.

Here's a small selection of what folks have found.








Instahunk Round-Up

Alex Abramov & bf know how to weekend (via Instagram)

Some Saturday morning eye-candy featuring Alex Abramov, Ricky Martin, Gus Kenworthy, Chef Franco Noriega, and more.

Happy Weekend, kids!



A post shared by Franco Noriega (@franconorhal) on


A post shared by gus kenworthy (@guskenworthy) on




A post shared by Anton Hysen (@antonhysen) on


A post shared by Milan Christopher (@milanchristopher) on


Trump To Spend 3 Weeks Vacationing At His New Jersey Golf Club


Just this past Wednesday, President Trump told Republican Senators that health care reform is so important, "We have to stay here. We shouldn't leave town, and we should hammer this out and get it done."

Well, "we" somehow didn't include the Trumpster himself.

News outlets are now reporting Trump plans to spend a whopping 3 weeks in Bedminster, New Jersey, beginning August 3rd.

Trump will be staying at his golf resort there (more money for his business, don't you know) after "slaving" for six months as president.

Today was his 41st day at a golf course as president. Just saying...

Of course, some of you might remember this from the 2016 campaign:



And then, there are the tweets condemning President Obama every time he played golf over 8 years. Here's just a sample:





#hypocrisy #liar

Friday, July 21, 2017

Music Video: Hercules & Love Affair "Omnion"


Set against a journey of seemingly endless staircases, the music video for the title track of Hercules & Love Affair's upcoming album Omnion is described by the directors as "a story of rebirth. Perspective play, scale, and negative space is used to reflect the complexity of identity."

Frontman Andy Butler calls the title track, which features Sharon Van Etten, “an appeal to the divine for help and healing.”

The video is visually stunning in the director's use of color, light, and shadowy texture.

I wrote about the band's first music video for the album, "Controller," here.

The album is set to be released on September 1st.

For tour dates and more on Hercules & Love Affair, head over to the official website here.

Queer Film: "Beach Rats"


I'll be curious to see if Barry Jenkins' Oscar winning Moonlight might open the door for more queer-themed indie films.

The film I have in mind right now is Eliza Hittman's new flick, Beach Rats, which just dropped a full-length trailer.

Synopsis:

On the outskirts of Brooklyn, Frankie, an aimless teenager, suffocates under the oppressive glare cast by his family and a toxic group of delinquent friends.

Struggling with his own identity, Frankie begins to scour hookup sites for older men. When his chatting and webcamming intensify, he begins meeting men at a nearby cruising beach while simultaneously entering into a cautious relationship with a young woman.

As Frankie struggles to reconcile his competing desires, his decisions leave him hurtling toward irreparable consequences.

Eliza Hittman won at Sundance for her direction this year; and the film also won at the Montclair Film Festival and the Independent Film Festival of Boston.

Critics have called the film a powerful character study that is as visually stunning as it is evocative.

The Hollywood Reporter reviewed the flick thusly:

The film brews a potent cocktail of bristling male aggression and inarticulate sexual longing mixed with fear, as Frankie's burgeoning identity becomes irreconcilably distant from his native habitat. That makes for a tense and unsettling final section, with a conclusion that leaves Frankie reeling at an ambiguous crossroads.

English actor Dickinson stands to make a significant leap on the casting radar with his work here, playing a character floating through his impulsive sexual exploration, seemingly in total denial that any of it involves conscious choices. It's a characterization that might easily have read as weak, unfeeling, even remote, and yet despite the refusal of both actor and filmmaker to signal Frankie's vulnerability, his lost quality keeps us in a melancholy grip.

In select theaters August 25th. Watch the trailer below.

White House Comm Director Anthony Scaramucci In 2015: Trump Is "A Hack" & "Anti-American"


Newly installed White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci has nothing but love for Donald Trump today. Witness the many times he said so at the press podium this afternoon.

But back in 2015, Scaramucci supported Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for president and called Trump "a hack" and "anti-American" on Fox Business News.

Take a trip on the way-back machine below:



But, here's Scaramucci today. As Judd Legum points out, this is why Trump picked this guy. #PraisePraiseNothingButPraise

Tweet Of The Day

News Round-Up: July 21, 2017

Nyle DiMarco via Instagram


Some news items you may have missed:

America's Next Top Model/Dancing with the Stars champ Nyle DiMarco asks, "Will you be my beach?"

• Researchers are looking at a two-step "shock and kill" approach to cure HIV with a cancer drug that appears to bring dormant virus cells out of hiding.

• Donald Trump apparently thinks health care premiums cost about $15 a month. #seriously

• Allentown becomes the 3rd city in Pennsylvania to ban so-called "ex-gay" conversion therapy torture.

• Donald Trump says he enjoyed sitting next to the First Lady of Japan even though she doesn't know english. Or does she? She sure seems to know english here.

• Head into the weekend with some 80s color and light from Harper Starling's "Disco Mirror Dream:"

The Daily Show Presents "Sean Spicer's Greatest Hits"

Sean Spicer during White House press briefing
Wow, that was fast.

Take a look at this compilation by The Daily Show of former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicers "greatest hits" following his resignation today.

The clips include his assertions that Trump's inauguration had the largest number of viewers, and that Hitler never used chemical weapons.



For his part, Spicer tweeted out this after his resignation:

Sean Spicer Resigns As White House Press Secretary

Sean Spicer

White House press secretary Sean Spicer has resigned from his position in the Trump administration over the hiring of New York financier Anthony Scaramucci as communications director.

From the New York Times:
Mr. Trump offered Mr. Scaramucci the job at 10 a.m. The president requested that Mr. Spicer stay on, but Mr. Spicer told Mr. Trump that he believed the appointment was a major mistake, according to person with direct knowledge of the exchange.

Mr. Trump made the appointment over the objection of Mr. Priebus, who thought Mr. Scaramucci lacked the requisite organizational or political experience. But the president believed Mr. Scaramucci, a ferocious defender of Mr. Trump’s on cable television, was best equipped to play the same role in-house, and he offered him a role with far-reaching powers independent of Mr. Priebus’s.

Mr. Spicer flatly rejected the president’s offer of a position subordinate to Mr. Scaramucci, according to two administration officials familiar with the exchange.

The appointment of Mr. Scaramucci, a favorite of Mr. Trump’s earliest campaign supporters, was backed by the president’s daughter Ivanka, his son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, the officials said.

Also from The Daily Beast:

Spicer was not the only one opposed to Scaramucci’s hiring. His deputy, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, was as well. So, too, was chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon, who vocally opposed Trump’s decision, two senior Trump administration officials told The Daily Beast.

According to three senior officials with knowledge of the situation, they and other top aides worried that the Scaramucci hiring would perpetuate the notion of “amateur hour” in the West Wing. White House officials who opposed Scaramucci’s planned rise in Trump’s ranks have referred to the incoming new addition as a “joke” and as a Trump-world “hanger-on” who isn’t qualified for the job and is unprepared to handle the near-constant communications crisis dogging President Trump, senior White House aides noted.

June 23 was the last time Spicer handled an on-camera daily briefing.

CBS News' Major Garrett reports that Spicer's exit raises questions about the security of Priebus' job.











Germany's President Signs Marriage Equality Into Law


German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has signed into law legislation making same-sex marriage legal in the most populous state in the European Union.

The German Parliament approved the legislation on June 30th and the new law will come into force October 1.

However, that's if the state of Bavaria doesn't file a challenge with Germany's Constitutional Court. Bavaria's Minister President Horst Seehofer is reportedly considering such action.

Stay tuned.

Just Because...

(via kenneth-in-the-212)

Randy Rainbow Trolls Trump Jr. With "The Room Where It Happened" Parody


Just in time for Friday! Randy Rainbow delivers again with this uber-clever parody of the Hamilton tune, "The Room Where It Happened."

So many Russians in the room where it happened...

Watch below. #brilliant

Thursday, July 20, 2017

#TBT: Olivia Newton-John "Help Me To Heal"


For a bit of #ThrowBackThursday, I'm thinking of my girl, Olivia Newton-John.

Her brilliant 2006 album, Grace and Gratitude, was a touchstone for my cancer journey back in 2009.

She re-released the album, dubbed Grace and Gratitude Renewed, in 2010 with added tracks, including a contribution from Grammy winner David Darling.

When she re-released the album in 2010, it debuted at #2 on the Billboard New Age chart - a new frontier for her.

I was clear of my cancer at the time, and Olivia asked me to direct a charity concert of the album. I was, of course, honored.

The new iteration of G&G featured a new song, "Help Me To Heal." There wasn't a music video for the album, but her team gave me raw footage from the original recording sessions in Toronto, Ontario, inviting me to create.

What you see below became the "official" music video for the song. How cool is that?

The album is easily a highlight of her already golden career. Not necessarily a "new age" release, it's relaxing, revitalizing and helps people "breathe" after day-to-day pressures. I think it's quite fantastic.

As many know, Olivia is currently facing a recurrence of her breast cancer from 1992.

I hear she is doing very well with her current treatment, and I look forward to seeing her back onstage next month.

#F*ckCancer #TeamONJ

Trump's NY Times Comments Were A Surprise To Many In White House


Apparently, Team Trump didn't realize the president was sitting down with the New York Times for such an in-depth interview.

Quel surprise...

Via Politico:

Trump did not consult before the interview with his lawyers, who weren’t aware that he was going to be talking about the investigation extensively, according to a person close to the legal team. He didn’t prepare answers with top aides, some of whom were unaware he had been in such a lengthy interview with The New York Times.

While the chat was scheduled, it went longer than they expected and was far more wide-ranging, one official said. “It was Trump saying what he thought,” this person said. “It’s what he does every day on Twitter.”

Afterward, some in his circle didn’t learn about the full extent of his comments until they were posted online, an adviser said.

Trump's Mar-a-Lago Resort Asks To Hire More Foreign Employees


I'm sorry, but this should really make all Americans who are concerned about jobs in the U.S. mad.

According to The Hill, Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort has asked the federal government to be allowed to hire 70 foreign employees.

And I'm not talking high-end, high-training jobs.

We're talking cooks, housekeepers and servers.

The jobs would begin on Oct. 1 and end in May 2018, according to the filings. Those positions would take advantage of the H-2B visa program, which allows U.S. employers to bring foreign nations to the country for temporary, nonagricultural work.

The Trump National Golf Course in Jupiter, Fla., also filed a request to hire temporary foreign workers as cooks for the same period of time.

The requests came as the White House celebrates what it has designated "Made in America Week," highlighting American-made products and re-upping the administration's emphasis on bringing jobs back to the U.S.

Employers must establish that there are not enough American workers able or willing to fill the temporary positions in order to qualify for H-2B classification.

The cook positions at both Mar-a-Lago and the golf course pay $13.34 per hour, according to the filings. The server jobs pay $11.88 per hour, while the housekeeping positions pay $10.33 per hour.

As a presidential candidate and in his first six months in office, Trump touted the importance of U.S. manufacturing and labor and savaged international trade agreements, saying they have killed American jobs.

It is impossible to believe that there are not 70 people in the Palm Beach area who couldn't (or wouldn't) fill jobs for servers or housekeepers.

How this fits into Trump's "Buy American, Hire American" theme makes no sense.

Trump spent the 2016 campaign railing against lost American jobs. He can personally hire 70 Americans right now.

#smh
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