Sunday, February 25, 2018

Trump Tries To Take Full Credit For "Lowest" Unemployment Since 1973

Donald Trump recently tweeted that unemployment claims are "at the lowest level since 1973."

Now, at first read you would think (and the Trumpster would WANT you to think) that he deserves the credit for all that.

BUT - here are the facts.

Thanks to the 8 years of fiscal policies under George W. Bush, the United States fell into the worst financial crater since the Great Depression.

During Bush's last year in office the U.S. economy lost 5 million jobs. And that slide continued into Obama's first year in office as it takes several months for a new administration's policies to take effect.

Unemployment peaked at 10% during the Great Recession in October of 2009. Over the course of Obama's 8 years in office that number fell to 4.8%.

That's a drop of 5.2%.

See that big slide in the graph above?

Under Trump unemployment has fallen from 4.8% to 4.1%. That constitutes a decline of .7%.

See what the simple math shows?

Trump wants you to think he got us all the way down to 4.1% when in reality it was Obama who did the heavy lifting from 10% to 4.8%.

Got it?

Tongan Olympian Pita Taufatofua Goes Shirtless For PyeongChang Closing Ceremonies

Summer & Winter Olympian Pita Taufatofua

Ah, yeah.

I knew everyone's favorite Olympian from Tonga - Pita Taufatofua - wouldn't let us down for the closing ceremonies of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The unlikely Winter Olympian, Tonga's second ever, oiled up once again for the closing ceremonies in PyeongChang today.

After capturing the world's attention in the 2016 Rio Summer Games, Pita decided he wouldn't wait four more years to compete at the Olympics again. Instead, he learned to cross-country ski from scratch in the course of a year and qualified for these Winter Games.

Check my full report on his incredible, inspiring story here.

Did he think he'd medal? No.

But watch this interview below as he explains that, for him, the journey was about getting out of comfort zones and inspiring others to do the same.

This is Olympic spirit.

You go, Pita. I'm still cheering for you.

Texas: Trans Wrestler Forced To Compete As Girl Wins 2nd State Title

As I reported yesterday, transgender high school senior Mack Beggs returned to the state wrestling finals this weekend after winning his division last year.

Beggs has asked to compete in the boys division but the University Interscholastic League (UIL), which regulates high school athletics in Texas, made him compete in the girls division based on the gender listed on his birth certificate.

Beggs is undergoing hormone replacement therapy under the care of a doctor, which the UIL allows. Beggs said last year that he’s taking less than the recommended dosage of testosterone in order to stay within the “allowed level.”

Beggs' weekly injection of .18 milliliters (36 milligrams) is medically prescribed and monitored for the primary purposes of stopping his menstrual cycles and allowing him to grow body and facial hair.

That dosage is tiny compared to what male body builders typically inject - 500 to 1,000 milligrams of testosterone per week.

Over the past years, parents of Beggs' competitors have been vocal saying Beggs' use of testosterone constituted an illegal advantage over girls calling the hormone treatment "steroid use."

On Saturday evening, the transgender male wrestler ended his perfect 36-0 season by winning his second straight UIL girls Class 6A state title in the 110-pound weight class.

According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, there were a few boos last year but those cheering for Beggs drowned the haters out. This year the boos were back and more pronounced.

What I want to make absolutely clear is that Beggs' won fair and square playing by the rules. Period.

Beggs' focus moves now to "top surgery" in the next few months and then on college. He has already been offered a wrestling scholarship at an out of state college.

The NCAA, which regulates college athletics, allows transgender wrestlers to compete with their gender.

Watch video below of the last minute of Mack's title-winning match.

Michelle Obama's Memoir Has November 18 Release Date

Former First Lady Michelle Obama tweeted the news today that her upcoming memoir, to be titled Becoming, will be released on November 13, 2018.

“Writing BECOMING been a deeply personal experience,” she wrote via Twitter. “It has allowed me, for the very first time, the space to honestly reflect on the unexpected trajectory of my life. In this book, I talk about my roots and how a little girl from the South Side of Chicago found her voice and developed the strength to use it to empower others. I hope my journey inspires readers to find the courage to become whoever they aspire to be. I can’t wait to share my story.”

It was announced last year that both Michelle and President Obama had signed a joint agreement with Penguin Random House for both of their proposed memoirs.

TIME reported that the dual memoir package could be worth in excess of $60 million.

Presidential memoirs have historically racked up big fees and book sales.

Former president Bill Clinton's memoir “My Life” was reportedly sold for more than $10 million.

Former First Lady Hillary Clinton's “Living History” drew an $8 million advance.

And when it comes to book sales, Barack Obama has a proven track record. His three previous books — “Dreams From My Father,” “The Audacity of Hope” and “Of Thee I Sing” — have sales in excess of four million copies.

Mexican President Cancels White House Visit After "Testy" Phone Call Over Border Wall

Donald Trump (L) and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto (R)

The tense relationship between Donald Trump and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto continues in "testy" territory as a tentative plan for Peña Nieto to visit the White House has been scrapped thanks to disagreement regarding Trump's long-promised border wall.

From The Washington Post:

Peña Nieto was eyeing an official trip to Washington this month or in March, but both countries agreed to call off the plan after Trump would not agree to publicly affirm Mexico’s position that it would not fund construction of a border wall that the Mexican people widely consider offensive, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a confidential conversation.

Speaking by phone on Tuesday, Peña Nieto and Trump devoted a considerable portion of their roughly 50 minute conversation to the wall, and neither man would compromise his position.

One Mexican official said Trump “lost his temper.” But U.S. officials described him instead as being frustrated and exasperated, saying Trump believed it was unreasonable for Peña Nieto to expect him to back off his crowd-pleasing campaign promise of forcing Mexico to pay for the wall.

During a phone call in January 2017, Trump admitted to Peña Nieto that they both were "in a little bit of a bind" over the promised border wall.

“The fact is, we are both in a little bit of a political bind because I have to have Mexico pay for the wall,” Trump told Peña Nieto. “I have to. I have been talking about it for a two-year period. If you are going to say that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall, then I do not want to meet with you guys anymore because I cannot live with that.”

Poll: 70% Of Americans Support Stricter Gun Laws

Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz
In the aftermath of the tragic gun massacre in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead, a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS shows increased support for stricter gun laws at its highest level in almost 25 years.

From the survey:

• 70% say they support stricter guns laws; only 27% oppose stricter laws

• The intensity of support is also deepened as 52% of those says they "strongly" support stricter gun laws

• 57% of those who in live in gun-owning households support stricter gun laws

• 57% say they are concerned they or a family member will be a victim of gun violence

• 87% support keeping guns out of the hands of convicted felons or those with mental health issues

• 71% support preventing those under 21-years-old from buying any kind of gun

• 63% support a ban on the sale and possession of high-capacity ammunition magazines

• 46% have a favorable view of the National Rifle Association; 49% hold an unfavorable view - that's the worst rating for the NRA since 1995

A recent poll by Quinnipiac shows similar results:

• 66% of American voters support stricter gun laws

• 97% support universal background checks for all gun buyers

• 67% support nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons

• 83% support a mandatory waiting period for all gun purchases

Gus Kenworthy's Sassy Sunday Twitter Feed

2018 Winter Olympians Adam Rippon (L) and Gus Kenworthy (R)

Out Olympic freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy is having a sassy time on the Twitter today as he enjoys the closing ceremonies in PyeongChang.

From sharing the news of Team Russia's gold medal win in men's hockey ("Russia's biggest win since the 2016 Presidential election!") to questioning Ivanka Trump's "hard work" to get to the Olympics to teasing his new bestie Adam Rippon ("Please stop calling me. You're honestly starting to get v clingy and I can't anymore").

More please.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Podcast: Celebrating The 2018 Out Winter Olympians

Out U.S. Olympians (L-R) Adam Rippon, Brittany Bowe and Gus Kenworthy

As the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang come to a close, join me as I celebrate the awesome accomplishments of the openly gay, lesbian and bisexual Olympians at these games.

Of a record 15 out LGBTQ athletes (including out men for the first time at a Winter Olympics), four athletes won a combined seven medals.

The number of out Olympians at these Games is more than double the seven from the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. In contrast, there were 56 out Olympians at the much larger Summer Olympics in 2016.

Listen as I recap the fantastic achievements of U.S. Olympians Adam Rippon, Gus Kenworthy and Brittany Bowe as well as Canada's Eric Radford, the Netherlands' Ireen Wust, Belgium's Jorik Hendrickx, Belle Brockhoff and Barbara Jezeršek of Australia, Swiss snowboarder Simona Meiler and more.

Hit the play button below.