News Round-Up: January 17, 2019

This pic is an ad for a necklace by Dueros
Rodiney Santiago

Some news items you might have missed:

• The above pic featuring InstaHunk Rodiney Santiago is an ad for a necklace. #TheresAnecklace?

• Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino says the US State Department is ‘deeply disturbed’ by the latest reports out of Chechnya regarding the anti-LGBTI crackdown. But no one is doing anything about it.

• Donald Trump cancelled Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s trip to meet with our soldiers in Afghanistan citing budgetary reasons due to his government shutdown, but hours later First Lady Melania Trump flew on an Air Force plane to Mar a Lago for a weekend holiday. #hypocrisy

• Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to allow a vote to approve a recent House bill that would re-open the federal government. The government remains closed at this writing because McConnell refused to bring the bill up for a vote.

• Second Lady Karen Pence recently announced she’s going back to teach at a school in Washington DC that doesn’t allow gay kids or teachers. So, The Trevor Project sent copies of pro-gay kids book, A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, to the private school. #Awesome

• Former Minnesota rabbi Aryeh Leiv Cohen received a 2 day jail sentence after being caught in a police sting operation. Cohen was arrested after sexting with, and showing up expecting to have sex with, what he believed was a 15-year-old boy.

• Folks on the political right lost their minds today as newly-sworn Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gave her first-ever speech from the floor of the House of Representatives.

Her three minute speech, on behalf of the 800,000 federal workers affected by the current Trump shutdown, broke the record for the most viewed video on C-SPAN’s Twitter account drawing over 1.6 million views.

Betsy DeVos Has Rough Ride During Education Secretary Confirmation Hearing

Education Secretary nominee Betsy DeVos had a very poor showing under during her confirmation hearing.

Wow. Watch this and think about the fact that Ms. DeVos is going to be the next person overseeing the entire federal education system.

It’s notable that she has no experience working in education, nor does she have any education certification of any kinds.

Minnesota Sen. Al Franken focused on Devos’ and her families huge donations to anti-LGBTQ organizations (around the 4:00 mark):

Franken: “Mrs. DeVos, your family has a long history of supporting anti-LGBT causes including donating millions of dollars to groups that push conversion therapy, the practice of trying to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. For example, you and your family have given over $10 million to Focus On the Family, an organization that currently states on its website that, ‘homosexual strugglers can and do change their sexual behavior and identity.’”

“Mrs. DeVos, conversion therapy has been widely discredited and rejected for decades by every mainstream medical and mental health organization as neither medically nor ethically appropriate,” the senator continued. “It has been shown to lead to depression, anxiety, drug use, homelessness, and suicide, particularly in LGBT youth. In fact, many of the leaders and founders of conversion therapy, including both religious ministries and mental health professionals, have not only publicly renounced it but have issued formal apologies for their work and how harmful it has been to the individuals involved. Mr. Chairman, I would ask that this be included in the record.”

“Mrs. DeVos, do you still believe in conversion therapy?”

DeVos: “Senator Franken, I’ve never believed in that. First of all, let me say I fully embrace equality and I believe in the innate value of every single human being and that all students, no matter their age, should be able to attend a school and feel safe and be free of discrimination. So let’s start there and let me just say that your characterization of our contributions I don’t think accurately reflects those of my family. I would hope you wouldn’t include other family members beyond my core family.”

Here she has a difficult time answering practically anything Sen. Tim Kaine asks:

Kaine: “If confirmed will you insist upon equal accountability in any K-12 school or educational program that receives taxpayer funding whether public, public charter or private?”
DeVos: “I support accountability.”
Kaine: “Equal accountability?”
DeVos: “I support accountability.”
Kaine: “Is that a yes or a no?”
DeVos: “I support accountability.”
Kaine: “Do you not want to answer my question?”
DeVos: “I support accountability.”
Kaine: “Let me ask you this. I think all schools that receive taxpayer funding should be equally accountable. Do you agree?”
DeVos: “Well they don’t, they are not today.”
Kaine: “Well, I think they should. Do you agree with me?
DeVos: “Well no . . . ”
Kaine, interrupting her, said: “You don’t agree with me.”

And then, this moment when she justifies guns in schools because some areas, like Wyoming, need them “to protect from potential grizzlies [bears].”

Tim Kaine Explains Why He Didn’t Go After Pence’s Anti-LGBT Record During VP Debate

LGBT advocates were surprised Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate Tim Kaine didn’t bring up his Republican counterpart’s record on LGBT issues.

As many know, Gov. Mike Pence has one of the most virulently anti-LGBT in the country, most recently his signing into law a “religious freedom” bill in his state that, for all intents and purposes, legalized discrimination against LGBTs. Eventually, national outcry forced the governor to add a “fix” to the legislation that stated the law could not be used for discrimination.

Speaking to CNN, Kaine noted that the moderator didn’t ask any direct questions addressing LGBT rights.

Kaine then admitted that, while there was an opportunity there, he wanted to keep the focus on Clinton and Trump.

“Well, it is the case that there was no question that was asked that dealt with Governor Pence or just the issue of LGBT equality,” Kaine told CNN. “Hillary and I are strongly for LGBT equality, including marriage equality, and a Trump-Pence ticket is deeply against it, especially Governor Pence.”

“I viewed this as fundamentally a debate that was about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, not about Tim Kaine and Mike Pence. So I went in with the thought that, look, Hillary Clinton is the top of the ticket, and Donald Trump is the top of the ticket, and that’s where I’m going to focus.”

Watch Kaine explain below.

#TBT – Hottie Young Tim Kaine

How about this for #ThrowBackThursday?

I’ve always thought Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate Tim Kaine has a handsome face, but take a look at these pics of a young Tim Kaine!

Woof.

(h/t Queerty)

Vice-Presidential Debate Recap: Pence Wins On Style, Kaine Wins On Substance

Last night, voters got to see their vice-presidential candidates – Democrat Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia and Republican Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana – face off for the one and only time this election cycle.

While Kaine had some issues with style (the interrupting from the get-go was a bit off-putting), he did what he needed to do. And that was bring up all the distasteful things Trump has said throughout the campaign, which Pence tried to deny.

Pence was successful in looking calm and presidential, hoping to tamp down some of the fallout from last week’s first presidential debate where his running mate Donald Trump ran off the rails a bit.

As an LGBT advocate, I was disappointed that Kaine didn’t take an opportunity to highlight Pence’s virulently anti-LGBT record, which I’ve documented many times here on The Randy Report. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow felt the same way.

It did seem Kaine got under Pence’s skin a bit by bringing up Trump’s anti-Mexican comments. At one point Pence turned to Kaine and said, “You whipped out that Mexican thing again,” which immediately became an Internet meme.

The CNN/ORC poll right after the debate showed Pence won by a narrow margin. A CNN focus group of undecided voters, however, felt Kaine was the victor.

However, when it came to who defended their running mate better, Kaine won by a wide margin.

In the end, I don’t think the debate will move the needle much in either direction. As others have said, Pence helped Pence while Kaine helped Clinton. Kaine knew exactly what he was doing.

Kaine’s pugnacious performance made it possible to produce videos like the two below, which are devastating to the Trump/Pence campaign.

Politifact: Donald Trump Wrong On Tim Kaine Accepting More Gifts Than Bob McDonnell

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump

Upon the announcement of Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia joining Hillary Clinton on the Democratic ticket for the White House, Donald Trump tried to paint Kaine as somehow “corrupt” for taking more gifts during his time as an elected official in Virginia than former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.

McDonnell was convicted for taking gifts that he did not disclose.

From the Pulitzer Prize winning website, Politifact:

“Bob McDonnell took a fraction of what Kaine took,” said Trump, the GOP presidential nominee. “And I think, to me, it’s a big problem. Now, how do you take all these gifts? Hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

We wondered whether McDonnell’s gift-taking was, in fact, “a fraction” of Kaine’s. Trump’s campaign did not respond to our request for proof. So we set out on our own, comparing gifts Kaine received as lieutenant governor and governor from 2002 to 2010 to those McDonnell accepted as attorney general from 2006 to 2009 and as governor from 2010 to 2014.

During those years, Virginia didn’t limit gifts to its politicians; the only requirement was that officeholders disclose what they accepted.

We researched the online files of the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonprofit organization that keeps records of campaign contributions and financial disclosure statements filed by state politicians.

[snip]

Kaine accepted $162,083 in gifts as lieutenant governor and governor, all of which was disclosed as required by state law.

McDonnell disclosed accepting $275,707 in gifts as attorney general and governor. And there was another $177,000 that he didn’t disclose. That comes to a total of $452,707 in gifts – almost three times Kaine’s total.

Trump has got this one dead wrong. We rate his statement Pants on Fire.

Miami: Hillary Clinton Introduces Sen. Tim Kaine As Her Running Mate

What a contrast in vice-presidential candidate introductions.

Democratic White House hopeful Hillary Clinton appeared for the first time on the campaign trail with her newly announced running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine. And what a contrast in style between the GOP ticket versus the Dems.

Hillary Clinton spent 17 minutes speaking about Sen. Kaine before stepping aside and letting Kaine speak. Trump spent about 28 minutes mostly talking about himself in a speech that was supposed to be about his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. And when Trump finished his intro, he left the stage.

Watching Tim Kaine speak today, you get the sense that he’s actually the kind of decent, white male Christian most Republicans would love to really be. There’s a very warm, approachable demeanor about him.

Kaine brings a lot of strengths to the Dem ticket including his executive experience as mayor of Richmond and governor of Virginia. His time as a U.S. Senator on the Armed Forces and Foreign Relations committees. And his years spent working on behalf of folks who experienced housing discrimination as a lawyer.

And in terms of appealing to the enormously important Hispanic vote, Kaine speaks fluent Spanish which, like today, will clearly be on display across the country on the campaign trail.

It’s a very different ticket compared to the Republican counterparts, and the contrasts are clear: hope vs. fear; positive vs. darkness; upbeat vs. “midnight in America.”

Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin makes clear the differences between Kaine and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

“While Donald Trump doubled down on discrimination by picking Mike Pence, Hillary Clinton has bolstered her campaign’s historic commitment to LGBTQ equality by choosing Tim Kaine,” Griffin said. “Having proven time and time again that they have the experience, determination, and leadership needed to move equality forward for all Americans, we are confident Clinton and Kaine will tear down the walls of discrimination that hold all of us back.”

Anyone who thought they would be disappointed by the Clinton/Kaine ticket saw serious political chemistry today.

I approve.

You can watch the Democratic ticket take the stage today below.

Hillary Clinton Picks Sen. Tim Kaine Of Virginia For Dem Running Mate

Hillary Clinton announced tonight that Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine has been tapped to be her running mate on the Democratic ticket for the White House.

Kaine is solid pick: he is one of only 20 people who have served as a mayor, governor and U.S. Senator; fluent in Spanish; blue collar roots. He serves on both the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees.

Voting record is strong, too.

Planned Parenthood: 100%
Brady Campaign: 100%
NARAL: 100%
Human Rights Campaign: 100%
AFL/CIO: 94%

The New York Times reports:

Hillary Clinton named Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia to be her running mate Friday, according to a senior campaign official, selecting a battleground state politician with working-class roots and a fluency in Spanish, traits that she believes can bolster her chances to defeat Donald J. Trump in November.

In the end, Mrs. Clinton decided Mr. Kaine, 58, a former governor of Virginia who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and speaks fluent Spanish, had the qualifications and background and the personal chemistry with her to make the ticket a success.

In the end, Mrs. Clinton, who told PBS she is “afflicted with the responsibility gene,” avoided taking a chance with a less experienced vice-presidential candidate and felt no political need to push the historic nature of her candidacy by adding another woman or a minority to the ticket.

Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Kaine have similar centrist positions on foreign policy, education and criminal justice and they are said to share an easy rapport and a love of granular policy-making. “I do have a fondness for wonks,” Mrs. Clinton said in the PBS interview.

Waiting For Announcement Of Hillary Clinton’s Running Mate

Hillary Clinton (L) and Sen. Tim Kaine (R)

As the Republican National Convention closed up shop last night, the country now awaits the announcement of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s running mate.

The news could come as soon as tonight, and most believe Tim Kaine, U.S. Senator from Virginia, will be the pick.

Kaine, while not the flashiest choice, would be a serious “steady-eddie” who checks a lot of boxes in terms of filling the role of vice-president both on the campaign trail and in the White House:

• Helps Clinton with the white male demographic, her weakest demo.

• Kaine speaks Spanish fluently – a serious plus at campaign rallies to reach out to the important Hispanic voter.

• He enjoys a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood and NARAL.

• As opposed to picking Sen. Sherrod Brown from Ohio (a good progressive option), who would be replaced by the Republican governor of that state should Hillary win, the governor of Virginia would most certainly choose a Democratic replacement helping Democrats possibly retake control of the U.S. Senate.

And then there’s the fact that he has won state-wide election several times – as governor and U.S. Senator – in the all-important swing state of Virginia.

I’ve always been one to believe it’s the thinking behind the choice of running mate and not the running mate themselves that makes any kind of difference to a campaign.

No one votes for a vice-president, but if folks see logic and good judgement in choosing a running mate, you can tell voters a bit more about who you are and where you stand.