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As The Lame Duck Congress Ends, Will Equality Elude Gays And Lesbians — Again?

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With tax cuts, unemployment benefits, the START treaty, the DREAM Act, a Ground Zero workers’ health care bill, continued funding of government operations, not to mention the National Defense Authorization Act spending bill, is there any room left on the calendar for the bill everyone was talking about last week, repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the ban against gay and lesbian service members in the military?

After the Senate Democrats went down to defeat in efforts to extend tax cuts for the middle class over the weekend, President Barack Obama announced he would seek unemployment assistance and other support for the long-term unemployed, as part of a deal with the Senate Republicans on extending tax cuts, during the remaining days of the lame duck session of Congress.

President Obama also made clear last week that getting the START Treaty ratified is a priority for his administration by inviting former Secretary of State and retired General Colin Powell to the Oval Office, seeking his public endorsement announced in an open press avail.  “Now it’s time to get this done,” Obama said, with Powell at his side.  “It is important for us to make sure that we complete the evaluation process, we finish the debate, and we go ahead and finish this up before the end of the year.”

(Note: There was no mention of repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” at the presser by either the President or the General, who presided over its adoption in 1993, and has come out publicly against it recently.)

White House officials have claimed ratification of the START Treaty is an emergency because Russian nuclear weapon sites have not been inspected since Dec. 2009 when the treaty expired. But the White House “emergency” on the START Treaty is really about vote counting –when the Senate returns in January, there will be six fewer Democrats in its caucus, making it much more difficult to get the necessary 67 votes needed for ratification.

On Friday afternoon, according to Politico, White House staff from the Office of Public Engagement that included director Tina Tchen, her deputy Brian Bond, and legislative affairs aide Chris Kang, attempted to reassure gay advocacy groups that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell remained a White House priority and there was enough time for debate on the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes the repeal language.

Later during the same afternoon, Majority Leader Harry Reid announced the Senate would adjourn on Dec. 17th for the year, but not before he lambasted John McCain for his rigid opposition to repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” During Reid’s floor time, he was reminded by Senator Carl Levin, the chairman of the  Senate Armed Services Committee, to include the bill on the Senate’s agenda (see video).

We believe tax cuts and unemployment assistance are a priority with so many Americans out of work, or under-employed.  But we remain concerned with so little time left–about 12 days (including a weekend) in light of announced White House priorities and the schedule announced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will drop off the agenda without adequate time for Senate debate needed to obtain the 60 votes needed for cloture, enabling a floor vote that assuredly will pass.  Some senate experts have observed that the NDAA and the defense appropriation bills can take up to two weeks, if not longer for amendments, debate and voting, depending upon the hostility of the minority party. Given this scenario it is likely that the NDAA may not even come up for vote, with so few days left for legislation action–this would be a first in 48 years.  The NDAA also includes pay raises for all service members.

As the weekend proceeded several statements made by Republican Senators Richard Lugar, Mitch McConnell, the Minority Leader and John Kyl deepened our concern that DADT will fall off the Senate agenda.  A Lugar spokesman issued a statement indicating that “DADT needed more study” before moving forward. By Sunday evening both McConnell and Kyl said that DADT was dead for this Congress and there was not enough time for debate and amendments on NDAA.

A number of commentators have lamented Obama’s and the Senate Democrats’ weak leadership in handling the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal, including New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd who wrote:  “Once again, the Democrats waited too long to close the deal, the president showed no leadership, and a campaign promise that was seen as a fait accompli now seems a casualty.” A New York Times editorial published on Dec. 4th titled “Inside the Beltway, a Deficit of Purpose,” also pointed out that the White House should not be trading core principles for a deal on tax cuts, although Democrats did not vote on tax cuts before the elections, thus, negotiations were put off to the lame duck session, putting the White House in a weakened position.


http://www.c-spanvideo.org/videoLibrary/assets/swf/CSPANPlayer.swf?pid=296907-1&start=9490&end=9752

Here is a list of legislation, besides early mentions, that is likely to be taken up by the Senate in the next 12 days:

The Dream Act, according to the National Immigration Law Center is a bipartisan legislation that addresses the tragedy of young people who grew up in the United States and have graduated from our high schools, but whose future is circumscribed by our current immigration laws. Under current law, these young people generally derive their immigration status solely from their parents, and if their parents are undocumented or in immigration limbo, most have no mechanism to obtain legal residency, even if they have lived most of their lives here in the U.S. The Dream Act would provide such a mechanism for those who are able to meet certain conditions, including serving in the Armed Service or by going to college.  The White House has given the Dream Act regular visibility on its home page, which includes a fact sheet on the bill.

The Zadronga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act would provide $7.4 billion over 10 years for health care and compensation for those whose illnesses are blamed on working at Ground Zero, according to the New York Daily News. Reid has indicated he will try to force the bill to a vote this week amid strong Republican opposition, which only includes one Republican senator, Mark Kirk of Illinois.  Reid needs 60 votes to bring the bill to the floor and for cloture.  All 59 Democrats senators are supporting, including two independents and needs one more Republican. Usual suspects include Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe from Maine, who might join with Democrats.

Continuing resolutions to fund government operations, pay salaries i.e., must be adopted by the House and Senate because many appropriation bills remain outstanding.  In the Congress, all funding bills must begin in the House and authorization bills must be adopted first, before appropriations can be processed for a vote.The White House management of the DADT repeal process can be defined as political malpractice.  It has been quite clear from the begining that Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been in charge from the moment President Obama turned it over to the Pentagon.  In fact, the Washington Post reported over the weekend that allegedly that Rahm Emanuel, the former chief of staff and Jim Messina, deputy chief of staff, begged Gates to allow the Congress to move on DADT, knowing that losing the House was likely, as early as May, but he refused.

Gates, known to be an adept bureaucrat, seems to have really dropped the ball this time, when it really counts.  His calendar called for the release of the Pentagon’s report after the midterm elections, when most first term presidents lose a minimum of 25 seats.  The Gates time line and calendar undercut the likelihood of passage of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and now we all see a weakened Democratic majority in the Senate that left too much business to the lame duck session.  Reid’s calendar, unless changed, insures that the repeal of DADT will be pushed off to another day and time sometime in the future.

These actions taken as a whole, reflect the height of incompetence and cynicism on the part of the Obama White House and the Senate’s Democratic leadership.  Clearly, the White House, along with the Senate, have made its priorities known for several days now. They plan to take care of constituencies that will insure their reelections.  What does this say about America’s promise?  We hold ourselves out and open our doors to those from around the world who are political oppressed and to those who are dispossessed, and yet our politicians have apparently decided to leave lesbian and gay servicemembers during a time of two wars on the side of the road.

They will not cast their votes to take us across the bridge to freedom and justice this time and we will not let them forget it.

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‘I’m Not Suicidal’: Kari Lake Pushes Hillary Clinton Murder Conspiracy Theory

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Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kari Lake is promoting a conspiracy theory suggesting Hillary Clinton wants to assassinate her. Her remarks came just one day before she lost her attempt to have the Supreme Court review what some have called her conspiracy-theory fueled lawsuit about electronic voting machines.

“Lake, who filed the lawsuit during her failed campaign for governor in 2022, challenged whether the state’s electronic voting machines assured ‘a fair and accurate vote.’ Two lower courts dismissed the suit, finding that Lake and former Republican state lawmaker Mark Finchem had not been harmed in a way that allowed them to sue,” CNN reported Monday.

Also on Monday Law&Crime reported that when she filed her lawsuit, a Dominion Voting Systems spokesperson “rejected Lake’s cybersecurity claim, telling Law&Crime it was ‘implausible and conspiratorial.'”

Democracy Docket, founded by top Democratic elections attorney Marc Elias, called it “the end of the road for a conspiratorial lawsuit,” and Lake and Fincham, “election deniers.”

READ MORE: ‘Old and Tired and Mad’: Trump’s Demeanor in Court Detailed by Rachel Maddow

Lake, a far-right conspiracy theorist who has yet to concede the 2020 election, which she lost to Democrat Katie Hobbs, has a history of pushing exaggerated and baseless claims.

On Sunday, as MeidasTouch Network reported, Lake promoted an old, anti-Clinton conspiracy theory but twisted it to try to make it appear she was in danger from former U.S. Secretary of State and former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Lake on Newsmax listened to a clip of Secretary Clinton calling Trump’s fondness for Russian President Vladimir Putin a “bromance,” and saying the ex-president is “just gaga over Putin, because Putin does what he would like to do: kill his opposition, imprison his opposition, drive, you know, journalists and others into exile, rule without any check or balance.”

Then Lake promoted a thoroughly debunked conspiracy theory by responding, “Oh, boy. Oh, that’s really rich coming from a woman like Hillary Clinton, who’s, how many of her friends have just like, mysteriously died or committed suicide?”

“I mean, honestly, that’s rich of her. What President Trump wants is to root out the corruption and deliver our government back to We The People and she looks very nervous. She talked about her friend Mark Elias, Mark Elias has meddled in in his and his cohorts have meddled in the elections.”

She called Democratic policies, “destructive, deadly and frankly, in some ways, diabolical,”and added, “it’s almost comical that Hillary Clinton is talking about Trump wanting to kill his opponents.”

READ MORE: ‘Election Interference’ and ‘Corruption’: Experts Explain Trump Prosecution Opening Argument

“I just want to say as I’m as I’m speaking about this topic, I want everyone out there to know that my brakes on my car have recently been checked and they work. I’m not suicidal. And Hillary, I don’t mean any harm to you. Please don’t send your henchmen out to me. We understand what you’re about. ”

Watch below or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Rally Behind MAGA’: Trump Advocates Courthouse ‘Protests’ Nationwide

 

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‘Old and Tired and Mad’: Trump’s Demeanor in Court Detailed by Rachel Maddow

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MSNBC top host Rachel Maddow, inside Manhattan’s Criminal Courthouse on Monday declared Donald Trump appeared “old and tired and mad,” as she delivered observations about the ex-president on trial for 34 counts of falsification of business records alleged in the alleged pursuit of election interference to protect his 2016 presidential run.

Trump “seems considerably older, and he seems annoyed. Resigned, maybe, angry. he seems like a man who’s miserable to be here,” the award-winning journalist told MSNBC viewers Monday afternoon.

“I’m no body language expert,” she conceded, “and this is just my observation. He seemed old and tired and mad.”

The New York Times’ Susanne Craig, from inside the courthouse Monday morning reported: “Trump is struggling to stay awake. His eyes were closed for a short period. He was jolted awake when Todd Blanche, his lawyer, nudged him while sliding a note in front of him.”

The Biden campaign was only too happy to pick up and report Craig’s observation, adding “feeble.”

Former Obama senior advisor David Axelrod, pointing to his piece at The Atlantic, wrote of Trump: “He has charmed & conned, schemed & marauded his way through life. He was bred that way. But the weariness & vulnerability captured in courtroom images betray a growing sense in Trump that he could wind up as the thing his old man most reviled:
A loser.”

Watch Maddow’s remarks below or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Election Interference’ and ‘Corruption’: Experts Explain Trump Prosecution Opening Argument

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‘Election Interference’ and ‘Corruption’: Experts Explain Trump Prosecution Opening Argument

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Prosecutors for the State of New York in their opening statement drew a direct line between the October 2016  “Access Hollywood” leaked audio and Donald Trump’s alleged “hush money” payoff to two women, including the adult film actress Stormy Daniels, telling the jury it was “election fraud, pure and simple.”

Legal experts are dissecting the prosecution’s opening argument. Professor of law, MSNBC contributor and former FBI General Counsel Andrew Weissmann summed it up, saying New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg “squarely places the NY criminal trial in the election interference/corruption bucket– exactly what the DC and GA indictments allege, just 4 years later.”

“And the NY alleged ‘cover up’ is reminiscent of the two MAL [Mar-a-Lago] alleged obstruction schemes post-presidency, to keep prosecutors from uncovering evidence of that scheme,” Weissmann added.

Prosecutor Matthew Colangelo late Monday morning in his 45-minute opening argument told jurors, “This case is about criminal conspiracy and a cover up,” according to MSNBC’s Joyce Vance.

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“The defendant, Donald Trump, orchestrated a criminal scheme to corrupt the 2016 presidential election,” Colangelo told jurors, CNN reports. “Then he covered up that criminal conspiracy by lying in his New York business records over and over and over again.”

“This was a planned, coordinated long-running conspiracy to influence the 2016 election, to help Donald Trump get elected through illegal expenditures,” Colangelo, a former U.S. Department of Justice Acting Associate Attorney General, told jurors.

“Another story about sexual infidelity, especially with a porn star, on the heels of the Access Hollywood tape would have been devastating to his campaign,” Colangelo added. “’So at Trump’s direction, Cohen negotiated the deal to buy Daniels’ story,’ and prevent it from becoming public before the election.”

“It was election fraud, pure and simple.”

Vance, an MSNBC legal analyst, professor of law and former U.S. Attorney, explains: “The scheme the prosecution is outlining is catch & kill to elect Trump-awful but lawful. Trump crossed the line into illegality when he created false business records to conceal his payments to Cohen to cover up the payments to Stormy Daniels.”

READ MORE: Fox News Host Suggests Trump ‘Force’ Court to Throw Him in Jail – by Quoting Him

“It’s always the cover up,” she adds.

Professor of law and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Harry Litman adds, the prosecution told jurors “a straight election-interference story.”

Colangelo, Litman says, told jurors that Trump’s then personal attorney Micheal Cohen “then discussed the [Stormy] situation with Trump who was adamant he did not want the story to come out. Another story…on the heels of the Access Hollywood tape would have been devastating to his campaign.”

MSNBC legal contributor Katie Phang describes Colangelo’s opening argument, saying he is “working methodically and chronologically through the conspiracy, identifying the main characters and their involvement. He speaks clearly and succintly [sic].”

Trump has been criminally indicted in four separate cases and is facing a total of 88 felony charges, including 34 in his New York criminal trial for alleged falsification of business records to hide payments of hush money to an adult film actress and one other woman, in an alleged effort to suppress their stories and protect his 2016 presidential campaign, which could be deemed election interference.

Watch an MSNBC clip below or at this link.

 

READ MORE: Gaetz: ‘Corrupt’ Republicans Could ‘Take a Bribe’ and Throw House to Dems, Blocking Trump Run

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