The subtle genius of Trump

Posted on 11 Jan 2017 at 9:55am

leslie-mcmurrayI gotta give the guy some credit: Donald Trump is either getting some really clever advice, or he is smarter than he lets on, at least when it comes to managing the media and his messaging.

When he was elected in November (Thanks Russia!), Trump decided not to do the usual Q&A with the press. Good idea, because goodness knows we have a LOT of questions and we have learned that Trump has very few answers.

Instead, The Orange Oracle tweets from on high; he’s the man in the High Castle. He tweets about the ratings for the new version of The Apprentice. He blames the DNC for being hacked (Blame the victim, that Makes America Great!). He tweeted about the importance of a great relationship with Russia (he will need that to get re-elected right?).

And the media? They print it all!

He even responds to Golden Globe speeches by attacking the great Meryl Streep, calling her “overrated.” Seriously? This is from the guy you elected president?

Again, the media just laps it all up — CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, even Saturday Night Live.

Time Magazine has a circulation of three million; Rolling Stone is about a million-and-a-half. The CBS Evening News hits about 6.3 million viewers a night. All three of them combined pale in comparison to Trump’s Twitter account.

CNBC declared: “The most powerful publication in the world today is Donald Trump’s personal Twitter account. In the past six weeks, it has moved markets, conducted shadow foreign policy, and reshaped the focus of media around the world. Just today, it caused Toyota’s stock to drop. It is also shockingly insecure.”

Trump has just shy of 19 million followers, far more than would be watching most press conferences, and Trump has 100 percent control of the message. (Well, by “control’ I mean the only viewpoint is Trump’s, not control as in “self control” or “discretion.” Trump is a petty little man with a penchant for grudge holding, and he is a bully, attacking those who challenge him until he tires of the game.

Trump promised to hold a press conference in mid-December, but cancelled it. He has now re-scheduled it, by tweet, no less, for today (Wednesday, Jan. 11).

This strategy, if by design, is brilliant. It protects Trump from being exposed. But I don’t care how expensive the suit, this emperor has no clothes. He will be exposed.

I’m guessing that the “honeymoon” with the press will end sooner rather than later. Trump has said in the past that he has a fantastic vocabulary, he knows the “best words.” Maybe he’s saving them for later. According to an analysis of his speeches done by Carnegie Mellon University, Trump’s vocabulary is “just below 6th grade level.”

This speaks to either Trump’s astute research into the intelligence of his voters or we just elected Jethro Bodine to the White House. Either way, this doesn’t bode well for this little experiment in Democracy we call “America.”

Leslie McMurray, a transgender woman, is a former radio DJ who lives and works in Dallas. Read more of her blogs at


Sessions: Abortion rights, marriage equality are settled law

Posted on 10 Jan 2017 at 3:35pm

U.S. attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions: Abortion rights and marriage equality are settled law.

UPDATE: Sessions dodged Sen. Lindsey Graham’s questions over whether Russia tried to hack or did hack the U.S. elections, and Graham might have said the hacking changed the outcome of the election. And when questioned by Sen. Patrick Leahy, Sessions acknowledged that grabbing a woman’s genitals without consent would “clearly” be sexual assault.

UPDATE: Sessions has also said that “religious liberty” would be one of his priorities, and that he would not support a “blanket ban” on Muslims entering the U.S.

Alabama’s Sen. Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump’s controversial pick to be U.S. attorney general, is facing the Senate today in a confirmation hearing for that nomination, and he opened with a statement declaring that Roe v. Wade and Obergefell v. Hodges are both settled law, and that as AG he would respect those Supreme Court rulings.

Roe v. Wade was the 1973 Supreme Court ruling making abortion legal; Obergefell v. Hodges was the 2015 SCOTUS ruling making marriage equality the law of the land. Given Sessions’ right-wing history, many civil rights advocates have been concerned that he would not defend those decisions and would, in fact, work to overturn them.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee which is holding the hearings, said that while Democrats on the committee might find it difficult to go after a long-time colleague, it would be necessary to do so. Feinstein said, according to CNN,  “The process is going to be fair and thorough. But today, we’re not being asked to evaluate him as a senator. We’re being asked to evaluate him as the attorney general of the United States. We cannot ignore that there are deep concerns and anxieties throughout America.”

On the issue of abortion, Sessions said that although he believes the Roe v. Wade decision “violated the Constitution,” it is “law of the land; it has been settled for some time. … I will respect it and follow it.”

He had a similar response on the question of marriage equality and the Obergefell ruling: “The Supreme Court has ruled on that, the dissents dissented vigorously, but it was 5-4 and … I will follow that decision.”

In 1986, when Ronald Reagan nominated him for a federal judgeship, the Senate refused to confirm the nomination based on Sessions’ alleged racist comments and actions. Today he veered away from his prepared remarks to address the expected accusations head on: “”I abhor the Klan and its hateful ideology. I never declared the NAACP was un-American.”

He also declared that he understands the impact of discrimination based on race and on sexual orientation, and vowed to protect the civil rights not only of racial minorities but of women and the LGBT community, too.

“I deeply understand the history of civil rights and the horrendous impact that relentless and systemic discrimination and the denial of voting rights has had on our African-American brothers and sisters,” Sessions said. “I have witnessed it. We must continue to move forward and never back. I understand the demands for justice and fairness made by our LGBT community. I will ensure that the statutes protecting their civil rights and their safety are full enforced. I understand the lifelong scars born by women who are victims of assault and abuse. And if I am so fortunate to be confirmed as your attorney general, you can know that I understand the absolute necessity that all my actions must fall within the bounds of the Constitution and the laws of the United States.”

Sessions also pledged to recuse himself from any investigations involving Hillary Clinton, based on nasty and inflammatory comments he made about her during the presidential campaign.


Arkansas State Society’s D.C. inaugural ball canceled; Charlotte Church says no thanks

Posted on 10 Jan 2017 at 2:51pm

Donald Trump

A day after the Washington Post called out Donald Trump for claiming that “all the dress shops are sold out in Washington” by women looking for gowns to wear to his inaugural ball (a flat-out lie), it’s being reported that the Arkansas State Society has had to cancel its planned Arkansas Inaugural Gala due to poor ticket sales.

According to the 4920 News website (KHBS-KHOG Fort Smith-Fayetteville), the event was canceled due to low demand for tickets. The website for the event said the “early bird” price for the tickets, beginning Dec. 26, was $200. The 4029 site said tickets were “at least $125,” and the event was to be held at the National Press Club. The website reports that Arkansas State Society President Glen Mahone said “planners canceled the event before any ticket … had been sold. Mahone believes the event will be revived eventually.”

The Arkansas State Society posted this notice on its website:

“The Arkansas 2017 Inaugural Gala has been cancelled at this time due to unforseen circumstances. Please accept our deepest apologies from the entire Arkansas State Society Board of Directors as we know that this is a beloved event for all of our fellow Arkansans. We sincerly hope that you will still enjoy other inaugural events that are offered within our Nation’s Capitol. Please go to Guide to the 2017 Presidential Inauguration for other local event information.

“Again, we apologize for any inconvenience that this may cause. For additional information please contact Gala Chair Glenn Mahone at 202-302-9941.”

This news comes at about the same time as news that British classical pop singer Charlotte Church announced that she had refused an invitation to perform at the inauguration because she thinks Trump is “a tyrant.”

Here’s the tweet in which Church refused the invitation:

Well, she forgot to add the “Felecia” after “Bye,” but the four poop emojis make Church’s feelings on the matter pretty clear, it seems.

As Yahoo reports, “With 10 days to go before Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration, the 30-year-old former child star who crossed over from singing classical arias as a tween to more mainstream pop as an adult joins a list of other artists who have reportedly said ‘no’ to performing for the real estate billionaire. A glance through Church’s Twitter feed from 2016 finds a number of retweets from the singer critical of Trump.

“Former Celebrity Apprentice star Trump has said he’s not interested in attracting ‘A-list’ celebs to his inaugural festivities, which so far will include appearances from fellow reality TV star Jackie Evancho, Big & Rich, country rapper Cowboy Troy, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and a handful of marching bands. The tweet from Church came shortly after [DJ] Moby said he was also reportedly asked to DJ at an inaugural ball, a request the proudly liberal EDM star said he’d gladly entertain if ‘#trump released his tax returns.’

“Another reality TV singer, Rebecca Ferguson — who was runner-up in the seventh season of Britain’s The X Factor — said last week that she would perform, but only if Trump’s team allowed her to sing ‘Strange Fruit,’ the legendary protest song against racism made famous by Billie Holiday. (In other words, no.) Elton John, Gene Simmons, Garth Brooks are among the other artists who have reportedly declined to appear.

“A spokesperson for the Trump campaign could not be reached for comment at press time.”


Straus re-elected as House speaker

Posted on 10 Jan 2017 at 1:54pm

Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus

Dallas Voice Senior Staff Writer David Taffet is in Austin today for the opening of the 85th Texas Legislature, and he sends word that Rep. Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, has been re-elected, by unanimous vote, as Speaker of the House. This will be his fifth term as speaker, putting him on par with former speakers Gib Lewis and Pete Laney as having the longest tenures as speaker, according to The Texas Tribune.

Straus is a moderate Republican, and many see him as the best hope for stopping SB 6, Dan Patrick’s ridiculous bathroom bill, when it reaches the House.


ACLU seeks to stay court order allowing healthcare providers to discriminate

Posted on 10 Jan 2017 at 11:32am

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a motion Monday, Jan. 9, in the Northern District Court of Texas, asking the court stay the nationwide court order preventing the federal government from enforcing an Affordable Care Act regulation that protects transgender people and women from discrimination in healthcare.

The ACLU also asked the court to issue a formal ruling on its request to intervene in the lawsuit.

A group of states, led by Texas and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, and a group of religiously-affiliated health care organizations who claim that Affordable Care Act regulations banning discrimination against transgender people and women could force healthcare providers to violate their personal religious beliefs. The plaintiffs in the case claim “they should be allowed to deny essential healthcare services and coverage to transgender people and women,” the ACLU says.

The ACLU originally moved to intervene on behalf of the ACLU of Texas and the River City Gender Alliance in September because the lawsuit “seeks to undermine critical anti-discrimination measures and to allow religion to be used to harm others, including by denying medical care,” according to an ACLU press release.

Federal Judge Reed O’Connor — the same judge that enjoined federal guidelines to school districts on interacting with transgender students — issued a preliminary injunction on Dec. 31 that halted enforcement of the ACA regulations just hours before it was to go into effect. The nationwide injunction restrains the government from enforcing the regulation to prevent public and private healthcare providers, including hospitals and healthcare centers, from discriminating against transgender people and women.

Such discrimination may include harassment, refusal to perform essential healthcare services like reproductive or gender-affirming care, and denials of insurance coverage for essential healthcare services, according to the ACLU.

ACLU Deputy Legal Director Louise Melling said, “Religious liberty does not mean the right to discriminate or harm others. No one should live in fear of being turned away at a hospital because of who they are, and we’re ready to fight this decision sanctioning discrimination. We won’t sit idly by while women and transgender people continue to see their rights come under assault.”

Kate Parrish, president of the Omaha, Nebraska-based River City Gender Alliance, said, “The judge’s court order direct attack on the transgender community’s right to function normally and safely in everyday life. Our access to medically necessary health care treatment is being restricted simply because of who we are.”

To see the ACLU’s motion, go here.


Having a hard time coming out? Here are some phrases to help

Posted on 10 Jan 2017 at 8:51am

Sometimes, it’s difficult to say the words: “Mom… Dad… I’m gay.” You panic. What will they say? How can five letters do so much? Have I sprung it on them too quickly?

Fear not. We have some alternative ways you can come out that may soften the blow. There are the old-school ones — “I’m a confirmed bachelor,” “I’ll never be the marrying kind,” “I’m a Friend of Dorothy,” “I’ve started dating someone… I think you will like this person….They are very lovely.” But we have some much more modern versions. Insert as warranted for your situation.

“I want to be a theater major at Baylor.”

“Cam and Mitch are like role models for me and my friends.”

“Bey has it all over Nicki, m’kay?” (Optional: Head roll and finger snap.)

“Bob is my roommate.” (You live in a studio. With one bed. And your parents have visited.)

“Debbie Reynolds and George Michael in one week?!?!… I just can’t.”

“Who care about a Grammy — I want to win a Tony.”

“Who does Donald Trump’s hair? No one good, I promise you.”

“I got you tickets to Cher’s latest farewell tour. I thought we could go together.”

“Who’s Russell Wilson?!?!?…. Oh! Ciara’s husband.”

“You’re not actually wearing a sweater set to church are you, Mom? Grrrl.”


UPDATE: Similar graffiti found blocks from Cathedral of Hope

Posted on 09 Jan 2017 at 4:48pm

Graffiti similar the that found last week at the Interfaith Peace Chapel at Cathedral of Hope was found today on an abandoned shopping center on Denton Drive Cutoff across the street from Inwood Station. The building formerly housed the Resource Center Food Pantry but has been vacant for more than a year.

Instead of “kitty porn,” this graffiti says “child porn.” An address that is in the neighborhood is painted on the wall. That address wasn’t on the Cathedral of Hope graffiti. The phone number is the same, this time without the Shreveport area code and the name is written the same — Johntion (presumably for Jonathan) and Kimbrou (possibly for Kimbrough).

Because the graffiti is scrawled on an abandoned building, this may not have been a hate crime. The tagger might have simply been looking for a white wall to send a message about someone who he accuses of dealing in child and feline pornography. The phone number does belong to a Jonathan Kimbrough and there is a Jonathan Kimbrough in Acadia Parish jail in southern Louisiana. An elderly couple lives at the address written on the wall.

UPDATE: Chris Chism sent a picture taken a few days ago of similar graffiti taken on the wall of a storage unit building on Lemmon Avenue. Same phone number. Same reference to kitty porn. Tagging around the neighborhood makes this look less and less like a hate crime and more like someone who just doesn’t want his cats appearing in X-rated videos or has a vendetta against someone he thinks is distributing child porn.


Texas would lose 174,000 jobs if ACA is repealed

Posted on 09 Jan 2017 at 11:34am

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson

A new study by the Commonwealth Fund and Milken Institute of Public Health at George Washington University found that repeal of the Affordable Care Act would cost Texas 174,700 jobs and 2.6 million jobs nationwide in 2019.

The report debunks the idea that the ACA has been a job killer.

“These losses would not be limited to hospitals, clinics, and patients; they would have widespread repercussions for businesses and workers as well, affecting multiple sectors of each state’s economy,” the report says.

A third of the jobs lost would be in the healthcare sector, but other losses would be in construction and real estate, retail, finance and insurance and public employment.

In addition, the number of people without health insurance would double.

“We in Congress must be mindful of not only the thousands in our districts, but the millions across the country, who are at risk of losing health coverage,” Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson said after reviewing the report. “A repeal of the healthcare law would put millions of jobs under attack. Repealing the ACA is dangerous and a threat to our community and our nation’s economic growth. After the years it took to dig this country out of recession that followed the 2008 housing collapse, why would we do something to put our citizens, our economy, and our country’s future at risk again.”

Gross State Product in Texas would also decline. Repeal of the ACA would result in the loss of $107.4 million in gross state product in Texas from 2019 to 2023 and the loss of $2.7 million in state and local taxes in Texas from 2019 to 2023.

In addition, a heavy burden would be placed on counties like Dallas that have public hospitals as the number of uninsured patients increased. Parkland Hospital’s costs not covered by insurance are paid by Dallas County residents through property taxes that must balance the Dallas County Hospital District’s budget. Although a number of patients from surrounding counties also access Parkland services, Dallas can’t recover those costs from those counties, so Dallas County residents are stuck with those expenses as well.

“I am committed and will continue to work to ensure that the ACA stays in place, despite the uproar and support Republicans have put forth to dismantle it,” Johnson said.


Texas author declines Legislature’s invite over SB6

Posted on 09 Jan 2017 at 10:17am

Rick Riordan

Author Rick Riordan turned down an invitation to be honored by the Texas Legislature in March because of SB6, the bathroom bill introduced last week by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and state Sen. Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham.

Riordan tweeted, “Just turned down an invite to be honored by TX state legislature as a Texas author. If they want to honor me, they could stop this nonsense.”

Riordan is the bestselling author of more than 20 novels for young readers. Born in San Antonio, he graduated from UT Austin and now lives in Boston.

The event honoring Texas authors takes place on March 8 and is organized by Dallas state Rep. Jason Villalba.

SB6 would require transgender people to use bathrooms in public schools, government buildings and public universities based on their “biological sex.” It’s unclear which bathroom the bill would require that person to use if the sex assigned at birth differs from the birth on his or her birth certificate if that birth certificate has been corrected. The Bureau of Vital Statistics has been correcting birth certificates since October 2015 as part of the settlement of the state marriage-equality case and will continue to do so under that federal court order.

North Carolina’s HB2, a law similar to SB6, has cost that state an estimated $600 million in its first six months. The conservative Texas Association of Business has condemned SB6 and said it will do everything it can to defeat the bill, which it estimates could cost Texas up to $8.5 billion in its first year.

The North Carolina law also outlawed local protections for LGBT people. In Texas, local ordinances protect LGBT people in Dallas, Fort Worth, Plano, Austin, San Antonio and El Paso. Other cities like Grand Prairie and Mesquite have policies that protect their LGBT employees. Other bills have been filed in the Legislature to strip cities of their right to protect their own citizens.


Golden Globe winners have a gay ol’ time

Posted on 08 Jan 2017 at 10:04pm

The Golden Globes had an entertaining opening number parodying ‘La La Land,’ which went on to win seven awards, a record number in the history of the awards.

The Golden Globe awards did something unusual last night — it entertained not as a drunken rude trainwreck but as a funny festival of film (and TV). Following the opening parody musical number — wherein the typically puppy-whiny host Jimmy Fallon did an extended tribute to nominee La La Land — Fallon got off some terrific one-liners, many jibing the President-Elect. (Look forward to the brain-damaged tweets to critique it).

The award packs some early surprises. Frontrunner best picture Moonlight lost its first category, for best supporting actor nominee Mahershala Ali, to the excellent Aaron Taylor-Johnson for director Tom Ford’s chilling Nocturnal Animals. (Taylor-Johnson bested some of the best nominees of the night, including Jeff Bridges for Hell or High Water, Simon Helberg for Florence Foster Jenkins and Dev Patel for Lion.)

It wasn’t all bad news for Moonlight, though — the film ended up with one win: Best Motion Picture/Drama. It was also my No. 1 film of 2016.

Viola Davis was a popular sentimental win for Fences (supporting actress), but the most heartfelt moment of the night was surely Ryan Gosling, winner as best actor in a musical or comedy for La La Land, in his acceptance speech honoring his wife for all of her sacrifices as he pursued his career.

That wasn’t the film’s only win, though. Best song and score went to La La Land, including out co-lyricist Benj Pasek, whose writing partner Justin Paul tributed “to musical theater nerds everywhere,” as well as to writer-director Damien Chazelle for his screenplay and as best director, actress Emma Stone and best comedy motion picture for a total of seven awards — a record. (Barring ties, no film could win more than nine or ten; no TV show could win more than five.)

As expected, Casey Affleck won best actor in a drama for Manchester by the Sea. He’s the unchallenged frontrunner for the Oscar. The brooding French actress Isabelle Huppert won for the thriller Elle.

Zootopia was the surprise winner for animated feature (opposite Moana, Sing and Kubo and the Two Strings) but it did give the film’s gay director, Byron Howard, the opportunity to thank his husband.

In the TV category, Atlanta (my No. 2 show of 2916) stood out among a lot of gay-friendly series to take best comedy series and best actor for series creator Donald Glover, while out actress Sarah Paulson won best actress in a miniseries portraying Marcia Clark in The People v O.J. Simpson, which also won best limited series (my No. 5 show). It was out-matched by three wins for The Night Manager (actor/miniseries, supporting actor and supporting actress). The Crown on Netflix won best actress/drama (Claire Foy) and best drama series.

Meryl Streep won the Cecil B. DeMille Award for career achievement, delivering a powerful, political speech.

Here are all the winners.

Motion Pictures

Supporting Actor: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Nocturnal Animals.

Original Score: La La Land.

Original Song: “City of Stars” La La Land.

Supporting Actress: Viola Davis, Fences.

Actor/Comedy: Ryan Gosling, La La Land.

ScreenplayLa La Land.

Byron Howard, right, thanked his husband while accepting the Golden Globe for ‘Zootopia.’

Animated Feature: Zootopia.

Foreign Film: Elle.

Director: Damien Chazelle, La La Land.

Actress/Comedy: Emma Stone, La La Land.

Motion Picture/Comedy: La La Land.

Actor/Drama: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea.

Actress/Drama: Isabelle Huppert, Elle.

Motion Picture/Drama: Moonlight.



Actor/Drama: Billy Bob Tornton, Goliath.

Actress/Comedy: Tracee Ellis Ross, Blackish.

Series/Comedy: Atlanta.

Sarah Paulson, winner for best actress in a miniseries, for playing Marcia Clark in ‘The People vs. O.J. Simpson.’

Actress/Miniseries: Sarah Paulson, The People vs. O.J. Simpson.

Miniseries or TV MovieThe People vs. O.J. Simpson.

Supporting Actor: Hugh Laurie, The Night Manager.

Supporting Actress: Olivia Colman, The Night Manager.

Actor/Miniseries: Tom Hiddleston, The Night Manager.

Actress/Drama: Claire Foy, The Crown.

Series/Drama: The Crown.

Actor/Comedy: Donald Glover, Atlanta.


Cecil B. DeMille Award: Meryl Streep.