Category: Entertainment

Candidate for Mayor of Houston, Texas once used racist N-word on national television

AUTHOR’S NOTE #1: This blog post includes a web video, which was not produced by the author, featuring a clip of an individual using racist profanity on national television. The author of this blog post strongly disapproves of the use of racial epithets.

AUTHOR’S NOTE #2: This blog post uses some professional wrestling terminology; a glossary of professional wrestling terminology can be found here.


Houston, Texas’s next mayoral election is in 2019, but that hasn’t stopped Booker Huffman, who is best known for his work under the stage name Booker T in World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) professional wrestling, from entering the race.

Huffman is well-known for an infamous use of a racial epithet on national pay-per-view television. During the 1999 WCW pay-per-view event Spring Stampede, Huffman was cutting a promo about a four corners match between Huffman and his real-life brother Lash “Stevie Ray” Huffman, as well as Terry “Hulk Hogan” Bollea and Lawrence “Lex Luger” Pfohl. Booker presumably intended to call Hogan, who is white, a “sucka”, a word that was part of Booker’s on-screen character; however, Booker said something a lot more racist instead. You can view a clip of the promo in question and a shoot interview of Huffman explaining what happened here:

I’m not endorsing a candidate in the 2019 Houston, Texas mayoral race, although I figured that I take the opportunity to mention one of the worst professional wrestling promo botches of all time.

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UNCONFIRMED REPORT: Marla Maples may have released Donald Trump’s 1995 tax return

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The following blog post includes a description of a female individual as an “actor”. The word “actor” is used in a gender-neutral context on this website, although most people use the term “actress” to describe a female actor.


In 2016, the 1990’s have officially come full circle thanks to a recent New York Times report on Donald Trump’s 1995 tax returns.

Trump declared a nearly $916 million loss on his 1995 tax returns. In the mid-1990’s, Trump’s business record included the failure of Trump Airlines and the mismanagement of three Atlantic City, New Jersey casinos. The kind of loss that Trump declared was a net operating loss, and it could have legally allowed Trump to pay zero income taxes from three years prior to the declaration of the loss (1992) to 15 years after the declaration of the loss (2010). In that time frame, Trump earned tens of thousands of dollars per episode of The Apprentice that he hosted, and he also earned roughly $45 million for being the top executive of a publicly-traded company created by Trump to assume ownership of his Atlantic City properties. It’s also worth noting that ordinary investors in Trump’s publicly-traded company had the value of their shares decline to a measly 17¢ from $35.50, many contractors were not paid for work on Trump’s properties, and casino bondholders lost money.

However, as fellow progressive blogger Chris “Capper” Liebenthal likes to say, there’s more…there’s always more!

Jon Lovett, who lists himself as a presidential speechwriter on his Twitter page, has claimed that actor and television personality Marla Maples, who was Trump’s wife at the time the tax return was filed (Trump and Maples divorced in 1999), released Trump’s tax returns:

While this is an unconfirmed report, what is an indisputable fact is that the tax return was a tax return jointly filed by Trump and Maples as a married couple, something that federal law and IRS rules have long permitted. It is possible, but not confirmed, that Maples may have released the tax return to the public.

Donald Trump’s sex tape hypocrisy

Recently, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump claimed that former Miss Universe Alicia Machado has a sex tape. Such a sex tape is not known to exist. As it turns out, an adult entertainment tape including a cameo appearance by…you guessed it, Donald Trump…actually exists:

BuzzFeed News recently uncovered a relic from Trump’s past: a softcore video documentary made in 1999 called “Playboy Video Centerfold 2000.”

As might be expected from the title, the video features lots of shots of naked women dancing and posing, as well as touching themselves (and each other).

[…]

(Trump) appears in a brief cameo in which he opens a champagne bottle with the help of some playmates and then pours it on the Playboy bunny logo.

The scandal is not that Donald Trump appeared in a sex tape. I don’t have a problem with political figures appearing in adult entertainment shows, films, or videos, provided that they’re legally old enough to appear in any form of adult entertainment and that any sex acts that are associated with the show, film, or video in question is consensual.

The scandal is that Trump has accused (presumably falsely) a recently-naturalized U.S. citizen and winner of a beauty pageant of having a sex tape, while Trump himself has appeared in at least one adult video that I am aware of. That is blatant hypocrisy.

The top-selling iPhone app in America encourages people to invade private property

To give you a general idea of how pervasive and dangerous the smartphone culture is in America, the top-selling Apple iPhone smartphone app in America is Pokémon GO, an augmented reality smartphone game that encourages people to violate private property laws by invading private property to catch Pokémon characters that exist in the game, but not in real life.

Pokémon GO and other augmented reality games set a dangerous precedent for private property rights in America.

The makers of Pokémon GO, Niantic, have a clear goal in mind with their game: violate the private property rights of Americans, then convince politicians to repeal private property rights to benefit players of the game. Private property rights are as American as apple pie and Chevrolet, and it would be a travesty if it private property rights were eroded with the same tactics that ridesharing services like Über and Lyft have used to erode local control over public transportation matters.

I call for Congress and state legislatures to ban augmented reality games.

John Oliver delivers strong rebuttal to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and business record

Yesterday, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders sent out this tweet in response to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump refusing to condemn former Ku Klux Klan (KKK) Grand Wizard and failed 1991 Louisiana gubernatorial candidate David Duke, who has publicly praised Trump:

Bernie’s rival for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton, had absolutely nothing to add, so, in an extremely rare move, she retweeted Bernie’s tweet.

On the other hand, John Oliver, the host of the HBO comedy show Last Week Tonight and not a politician, had a lot to add. Oliver devoted nearly an entire episode of his show to Donald Trump’s record of bigotry, mocking people, failed business ventures, hypocrisy, dishonesty, and being a total jerk. I encourage everyone to watch the entire Oliver segment on Trump here:

I have absolutely nothing else to add.

Why this blog will no longer use the words “actress” and “comedienne”

This paragraph will be the last paragraph of a blog post here on The Progressive Midwesterner in which I use the words “actress” and “comedienne”. From this point forward, a person who plays roles in movies, television shows, and/or plays, regardless of gender, will be referred to as an “actor” (plural: “actors”), and a person who is a practitioner of comedy, regardless of gender, will be referred to as a “comedian” (plural: “comedians”)

There are two reasons for this change:

  1. In a non-scientific poll that I conducted on Twitter, two-thirds of respondents voted for using “actor” as a gender-neutral term (although only six people voted in the poll).
  2. I use words like “hero” as a gender-neutral term, even though there are many people who do not (example here).

As a general rule, with the exception of pronouns, I’m not going to use gender-specific terms to describe someone.

The First Annual Order of The Progressive Midwesterner Awards

For the first time ever, this blog will be awarding end-of-the-year awards to several individuals who I consider to be effective at advancing progressive causes during the year, regardless of whether or not one meets the typical criteria of being politically progressive or not. This is the first annual awarding of the Order of The Progressive Midwestern Awards, for the year 2015. All ProgMid Award winners for this year and years in the future are automatically inducted into the Order of The Progressive Midwesterner.

The award categories for the first ProgMid Awards are as follows:

  • Person of the Year
  • Man of the Year
  • Woman of the Year
  • American of the Year
  • International Person of the Year
  • Group of the Year
  • Athlete of the Year
  • Blogger of the Year
  • Activist of the Year
  • Elected Official of the Year
  • Entertainer of the Year
  • Young Person of the Year

There are two important notes regarding the awards:

  • Many award recipients will receive multiple awards. For example, if the Person of the Year in a given year is a female athlete from Canada, she would win Person of the Year, Woman of the Year, International Person of the Year, and Athlete of the Year.
  • Should multiple people or a group of people win award(s) other than Group of the Year, the plural form of the name(s) of the other award(s) will be used (People, Men, Women, Americans, International People, Athletes, Bloggers, Activists, Elected Officials, Entertainers, and/or Young People).

With that said, I hereby present the First Annual Order of The Progressive Midwestern Awards, for the year 2015!

Person of the Year – Bernie Sanders

Person of the Year is the only open ProgMid Award category.

No person has made a bigger impact on advancing progressive causes in the year 2015 than Bernie Sanders. Bernie, the junior U.S. Senator from Vermont, is currently seeking the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in the 2016 elections, and he has made improving America’s economy a key part of his campaign. Bernie has publicly championed raising the U.S. minimum wage to $15/hour, guaranteeing paid family leave, making college in America truly affordable, breaking up large financial institutions, and many other progressive ideals. Bernie is the ProgMid Person of the Year for 2015.

Man of the Year – Bernie Sanders

Men are eligible for the Man of the Year Award.

Since the Person of the Year, Bernie Sanders, is male, Bernie is also the ProgMid Man of the Year for 2015.

Woman of the Year – Rachel Notley

Women are eligible for the Woman of the Year Award.

In Alberta, Canada’s most conservative province, Rachel Notley led the Alberta New Democratic Party to a landslide victory in the Alberta legislative general election in May of 2015, and, as a result of the election, Notley became Premier of Alberta. Notley and her party ran on a progressive platform that championed good government, Alberta’s environment, economic justice, and common sense, and they won in a very conservative part of Canada. Notley is the ProgMid Woman of the Year for 2015.

American of the Year – Bernie Sanders

In order for one to be eligible for the American of the Year Award, one must be a United States citizen, United States national, resident of the United States, or some combination thereof.

Since the Person of the Year, Bernie Sanders, is an American, Bernie is also the ProgMid American of the Year for 2015.

International Person of the Year – Rachel Notley

Those who are not eligible for the American of the Year Award are eligible for the International Person of the Year Award.

Since the Woman of the Year, Rachel Notley, is a Canadian, Notley is also the ProgMid International Person of the Year for 2015.

Group of the Year – The Black Lives Matter Movement

The Group of the Year Award is the only ProgMid Award that is required to be awarded to a group of people.

In response to racism, police brutality, and police shootings of black people in America, the Black Lives Matter movement, a group of progressive activists seeking reform of the criminal justice system and increased accountability of law enforcement in America, has brought the issues of criminal justice reform and law enforcement accountability to the forefront of American politics. Black Lives Matter is the ProgMid Group of the Year for 2015.

Athlete of the Year – Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Professional athletes and individuals primarily known for being amateur athletes (including, but not limited to, collegiate athletes and amateur Olympic athletes) are eligible for the Athlete of the Year Award.

Although one would usually not think of a NASCAR driver as advancing a progressive cause, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr. played an important role in building public support for taking down the Confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina State House in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. When asked about his thoughts about the Confederate flag, Dale Jr. called the Confederate flag “offensive to an entire race” and said that the Confederate flag “belongs in the history books, and that’s about it”. For his condemnation of the Confederate flag, Dale Jr. is the ProgMid Athlete of the Year for 2015.

Blogger of the Year – Kelly Wilz

Those who are an administrator of, editor of, author of, and/or contributor to a blog are eligible for the Blogger of the Year Award.

One of the newest members of the progressive blogosphere is Kelly Wilz, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Marshfield/Wood County. Wilz is also the author of the progressive political blog Dissent and Cookies, which launched in May of 2015. As a blogger, Wilz has primarily focused on ending rape culture in America and supporting tenure protections for college professors, both of which are very important causes. Wilz is the 2015 ProgMid Blogger of the Year.

Activists of the Year – The Black Lives Matter Movement

Those who are largely or primarily known for being a political activist are eligible for the Activist of the Year Award.

Since the Group of the Year, the Black Lives Matter movement, is a group of political activists, members of the Black Lives Matter movement are also the 2015 ProgMid Activists of the Year.

Elected Official of the Year – Bernie Sanders

Those who were a public official elected either directly by the people or elected by a body elected by the people (such as the U.S. Electoral College) at any point in the year in which the award is given are eligible for the Elected Official of the Year Award.

Since the Person of the Year, Bernie Sanders, is an incumbent elected official, Bernie is also the 2015 ProgMid Elected Official of the Year.

Entertainer of the Year – Jon Stewart

Those who are entertainers (actors/actresses, comedians/comediennes, musicians, sports announcers, radio show hosts, television show hosts, etc.) are eligible for the Entertainer of the Year Award.

While Jon Stewart left the anchor desk of the Comedy Central news satire program The Daily Show in August of this year, Stewart has not abandoned the first responders who responded to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Stewart passionately advocated for, and won, renewal of federally-funded health care for 9/11 first responders. Stewart is the 2015 ProgMid Entertainer of the Year.

Young Person of the Year – Keanan Sargent

In order to be eligible for the Young Person of the Year Award, one must be less than 18 years of age on December 31 of the year in which the award is given.

At an August 2015 LGBT pride parade and rally in Madison, Wisconsin, Keanan Sargent, the then-nine-year-old son of Wisconsin State Representative Melissa Sargent, did something incredibly creative when confronted by homophobia. Keanan used balloons to obscure a sign that anti-LGBT protesters were displaying at the pride parade and rally. For his creativity and progressive values, Keanan Sargent is the 2015 ProgMid Young Person of the Year.

Bill Goldberg shoots on Donald Trump, says that Trump and Vince McMahon are “off their rocker”

AUTHOR’S NOTE: In American professional wrestling parlance, a “shoot interview” refers to an unscripted interview that is not part of a professional wrestling storyline.


Former professional wrestler Bill Goldberg, whose real name is William Goldberg, recently did an impromptu shoot interview with TMZ, in which he sharply criticized Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump by comparing him to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) CEO Vince McMahon and saying that both Trump and McMahon are “off their rocker”:

Bill Goldberg says he lost all respect for Donald Trump back in 2010 — saying he’s still pissed about the way he was fired from “The Celebrity Apprentice.”

[…]

“I respected him a lot before he fired me,” Goldberg told TMZ Sports.

There’s more … Bill says Trump is basically the same person as WWE honcho Vince McMahon — “They’re both kind of off their rocker.”

You can view a video clip of Goldberg’s TMZ shoot on Trump here.

This reminds me a lot of longtime professional wrestling promoter and manager Jim Cornette’s 2010 shoot on then-U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon (R-CT), the wife of Vince McMahon and a former WWE CEO, in which Cornette blasted Linda and the Republican Party in one of the greatest rants of all time. While Goldberg didn’t go as far as Cornette did in criticizing a political figure, Goldberg’s remarks give you a general idea of how much of a horrible person Trump is.

To my knowledge, Goldberg has not endorsed a presidential candidate.

Turn out the lights…Scott Walker’s presidential campaign is over!

Ladies and gentlemen, our long, national nightmare is over.

Scott Walker will not be our nation’s 45th President of the United States, as he has officially dropped out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

Long story short, Scott Walker defeated himself. Walker ran a horrible presidential campaign, most notably proposing some downright asinine ideas (such as eliminating the National Labor Relations Board and building a fence along the U.S.-Canada border). Other factors that brought down Walker’s campaign is the national corporate media not giving Walker as much of a free pass as the corporate media in Walker’s home state of Wisconsin has done, the rise of the Donald Trump presidential campaign, and Walker’s support for the Milwaukee Bucks arena giveaway alienating anti-corporate welfare types within the far-right Tea Party that dominates the Republican caucus/primary electorate in many states. Right before Walker dropped out of the race, Walker was polling at 0% among Republicans according to CNN opinion polling, which obviously doesn’t sell well to Republican voters as 0% financing on a new car.

I’m not done criticizing Scott Walker by any stretch of the imagination, as he’s still Governor of Wisconsin with a majority of Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, and Walker still has a little over three years left in his second term as governor. I thank everyone in Wisconsin and across the country who has opposed Walker’s horrible policies, but I’ll also remind everyone that the fight for progressive values will never end.

I’ll leave you with a video of me singing a modified version of an old Willie Nelson song (lyrics here) commemorating Walker’s exit from the presidential race:

Scott Walker is the WCW of presidential politics

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post contains some terms that are used by professional wrestling insiders, such as heel, face, shoot, kayfabe, and stable, that are not used in a normal context. A glossary of professional wrestling terms is available here.


The sudden fall of Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s presidential campaign has caught me, and many other political observers, by surprise. Since not long after Walker survived a recall attempt against him (full disclosure: I was a vocal recall supporter from a neighboring state) in 2012, I pretty much assumed that Walker was going to win next year’s Republican presidential nomination in a cakewalk and be a formidable general election opponent to whoever Democrats nominate. However, in recent polling, Walker has only been polling at a few percentage points in Iowa, where Walker lived part of his childhood.

Molly Ball of The Atlantic magazine has a great piece about Walker’s floundering campaign here. Normally, I would link to Ball’s piece on Twitter and say that anything else I could add is redundant, but I do have something to add. The fall of Scott Walker’s presidential campaign, and possibly the beginning of the end of Walker’s political career, seems eerily reminiscent of the fall of the scripted professional wrestling promotion World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. What I’m about to write is, in professional wrestling vernacular, called a “shoot”, or something (in this case, a blog post) that is unscripted and not part of “kayfabe”, which is the presentation of storylines and matches in a professional wrestling promotion as being real, when, in reality, they’re scripted.

While WCW being in deep debt by early 2001 and AOL Time Warner (now called Time Warner), which was WCW’s parent company in its last years, no longer being interested in professional wrestling actually brought WCW down, WCW lost its way, and much of its audience, in the late 1990’s for a number of reasons:

  • WCW was essentially caught flat-footed by a World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now called World Wrestling Entertainment, or WWE) that began using their adult-oriented “attitude” programming style to boost TV ratings for its flagship weekly program, Raw.
  • WCW began rehashing the New World Order (nWo) stable and storyline, which worked very well for WCW for a couple of years in the mid-to-late 1990’s, in a number of different iterations to the point of being repetitive.
  • WCW began alienating its traditional fan base in the southeastern part of the country. In one notable instance, a storyline in which the West Texas Rednecks, a group of wrestlers (stable) with a country music-themed gimmick, were supposed to be the antagonists (heels) to a protagonist (face) stable called the No Limit Soldiers, which was led by rapper Percy “Master P” Miller. However, the storyline backfired on WCW after their fans cheered the Rednecks and booed the Soldiers.
  • On one 1999 episode of WCW’s flagship weekly program, Nitro, WCW announcer Tony Schiavone (under orders from WCW executive Eric Bischoff) gave away the result of a WWF Championship match that aired on a tape-delayed episode of Raw (Mick “Mankind” Foley defeated Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to win the title) on Nitro, which caused many Nitro viewers to tune into Raw in order to see the WWF title match. The Nitro main event that night featured the infamous “fingerpoke of doom”, in which Kevin Nash deliberately laid down after Terry “Hulk Hogan” Bollea poked Nash in the chest with his finger, and Nash allowed Hogan to pin him and take the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. This is often cited as the beginning of the end of WCW, which folded in 2001.

There are some interesting correlations between what led to the fall of WCW and what has led to Walker’s fall in the Republican presidential caucus/primary polls:

  • Walker (and a lot of other Republican presidential candidates) have been caught flat-footed by the Donald Trump presidential campaign, which has used overt racism and other forms of bigotry to appeal to many of the same racist, far-right voters that Walker would need to win the Republican nomination. Trump’s campaign is, in this regard, analogous to the late 1990’s/early 2000’s edgy programming of the WWF (now WWE).
  • Walker has rehashed his infamous 2011 fight against Wisconsin labor unions repeatedly as a presidential candidate to the point of being repetitive. Walker’s campaign message is, in this regard, analogous to the late 1990’s/early 2000’s WCW rehashing the nWo stable and storyline under various iterations to the point of being repetitive.
  • Walker has dodged questions on, refused to take a stand on, and/or flip-flopped on a number of issues, most notably immigration. This has alienated many conservatives from Walker’s campaign and is somewhat analogous to the late 1990’s/early 2000’s WCW using storylines and gimmicks that their fans did not like or respond in the way that WCW wanted.
  • In a desperate attempt to pander to Trump’s far-right supporters, Walker tried to tack to Trump’s right on immigration by suggesting building a border fence along the U.S.-Canada border. This was quickly viewed as desperate pandering to Trump’s supporters on Walker’s part, and is somewhat analogous to the “fingerpoke of doom” that led to WCW’s demise.

With increasing evidence that Scott Walker’s presidential campaign is tanking (such as recent polls showing low support for Walker within his own party and Walker cancelling a scheduled appearance at the California state Republican convention), Walker has become the WCW of presidential politics.