Has The Promise Of Obama Been Broken For Now, Or Forever?
Part I: That Was Then
“They used to tell me I was building a dream, and so I followed the mob,
When there was earth to plow, or guns to bear, I was always there right on the job.
They used to tell me I was building a dream, with peace and glory ahead,
Why should I be standing in line, just waiting for bread?”
So many of us fought hard, worked hard, in our own ways. We gave our money. We gave our time. We gave what felt like our souls. All for building a dream, with peace and glory ahead. All because this honorable, poetic, honest, and at times, challenged, man embodied our dreams of a better world, a new world. We knew he could build a better America. We knew he could save us from Republican greed and dishonesty and bigotry and hate. We knew he could save us from Republican empire and class building and warfare. He told us we were building a dream, and so we followed him. He knew how to use the tools of today to bring us a smarter, better, more human tomorrow. And he promised us something no one else ever had: inclusion. He spoke to us. By name. He spoke to us as if we were (almost, at least) just as good as he was. We gave him everything we had. Some gave all they could just to ensure that, together, we would realize the promise of Obama. But now, many are wondering if his were false promises. Many are seeing promises broken. And many are answering, “NO,” to the question, “Brother, can you spare a dime?”
“Once I built a railroad, I made it run, made it race against time.
Once I built a railroad; now it’s done. Brother, can you spare a dime?
Once I built a tower, up to the sun, brick, and rivet, and lime;
Once I built a tower, now it’s done. Brother, can you spare a dime?”
We were all kids with drums. We all felt like kids. We all felt like children of the 60’s. Standing together, singing in perfect harmony. We had a dream. His dream. Our dream. We sang our dreams to each other through emails and phone calls and heard his name grow louder and louder. We were his army. Manning phone banks. Knocking on our neighbors’ doors. Wearing his “Obama” and “Change” buttons on our khaki suits, our tee shirts, his bumper stickers on our cars, his magnets on our refrigerators. We were his half a million, hell, we were his million-man army.
“Once in khaki suits, gee we looked swell,
Full of that Yankee Doodly Dum,
Half a million boots went slogging through Hell,
And I was the kid with the drum!”
We were successful. Obama was elected. By a strong margin. He gave us the tools and we made them work. We made our own tools. We networked like crazy. We responded to all his emails. “Please, just $25.” We gave him our money. We built his railroad. We built his shining tower. And once it was done, once he was elected, we gave him time and space to do the nation’s business, putting our needs, our hopes, on hold. We stood in line, waiting for bread. But then he took those hopes and threw them in our face. He ignored our dreams, our needs. And if that weren’t bad enough, last week he compared our relationships to those of marrying children and to incest. We have to wonder, why? Why invoke incest and marrying children to defend DOMA, a law you claim to want to repeal, Mr. President? Why? Don’t you remember us, and your promises to us? Weren’t we buddies? Weren’t we pals?
“Say, don’t you remember, they called me Al; it was Al all the time.
Why don’t you remember, I’m your pal? Buddy, can you spare a dime?
Once in khaki suits, gee we looked swell,
Full of that Yankee Doodly Dum,”
But as another song goes, money makes the world go round. And in many respects it’s true. But money, withholding money, also makes people stand up and take notice. The gay community is strong. And rich. Very rich. Look at our demographics. Gays are more likely (thanks to the establishment we fight against) to be single, childless, with a greater disposable income, and greater say over where we invest both time and money than our married, child-raising, heterosexual counterparts. Make no mistake, many, a great many of us would like to be afforded the right to marry, many of us don’t even have the right to raise children, and we’re working for those rights, but as it stands now, stripped of that which defines many, marriage and families, we are in a sense a class of privilege: financial privilege. And President Obama and DNC Chair Tim Kaine, would do well to remember that.
Part II: This Is Now
“Half a million boots went slogging through Hell,
And I was the kid with the drum!
Say, don’t you remember, they called me Al; it was Al all the time.
Say, don’t you remember, I’m your pal? Buddy, can you spare a dime?”*
The President’s gay agenda is all but invisible. (Click here to view what one enterprising person thinks of Obama’s plan for gay rights.) Certainly, there is no plan to bring the gay community the rights we have fought for. And many are fighting back. At the June 25 Democratic National Committee Fundraiser, several key gay Dems will be conspicuous in their absence: award-winning gay blogger Andy Towle, and author, political strategist and civil rights activist David Mixner. Pam Spaulding of Pam’s House Blend is asking others to drop out in protest:
If you feel so inclined, pleaseÂ politely contact our out LGBT representatives on the Hill to ask them why they still plan to hold the event in the wake of lack of leadership re: DADT repeal and the horrible DOMA brief and 2) do they see anything problematic about financially supporting a party that runs for cover when our issues come up on the Hill.
She then lists contact information for Barney Frank, Tammy Baldwin, and Jared Polis, three openly-gay Congressmen.
But if withholding money from the DNC to highlight our power and remind people the importance of our cause isn’t enough, perhaps this is: Forbes Magazine, that bastion of capitalism, the icon of industry, today ran an article titled, “The $9.5 Billion Gay Marriage Windfall.” They write, “If half of the same-sex couples got hitched, Forbes estimates that the industry would reap nearly $10 billion in additional revenue.” And continue with,
“There are 781,267 same-sex couples living together in the U.S., according to the Census Bureau’s 2005-07 American Community Survey. The Williams Institute, a research arm of UCLA’s law school, predicts that if gay marriage were legalized nationwide–only Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, Iowa and (as of earlier this month) New Hampshire allow it now–about half of those couples would tie the knot within three years.
Talk about a stimulus package.”
Our lawmakers need to understand the following:
DOMA is unconstitutional. It violates not only our Constitution but our principles of fairness and equality. And it is unacceptable.
DADT actually weakens our nation by putting at risk the tens of thousands of gay and lesbians serving in our military. Imagine trying to do a good job, putting your life and career on the line every day, only to go to sleep each night knowing tomorrow you could be fired just for being gay. Imagine sending your husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend off to war, not knowing if you’ll ever see them again, and knowing if you never do, the knock on the door, the call in the dead of night, won’t be on your door, won’t be to your phone. It is unacceptable.
ENDA will protect millions and millions of gay and lesbian Americans who simply want to continue to do their jobs without harassment or fear of termination just because they are gay. That is unacceptable.
The gay community isn’t the problem. We’re the solution. Enact Hate Crimes (reportedly it will happen this week.) Enact ENDA. Repeal DADT. Repeal DOMA. Watch the economy strengthen. Watch families being formed. Watch families get stronger. Watch children being raised in loving households by two parents. And watch our military men and women grow even stronger and more secure.
Or don’t. And see what happens to the Obama Administration and to the Democratic party. Obama has the ability to change this all. We spent our political capital on him. He needs to spend his political capital on us. Not later, not in a possible second term. But soon. And, he needs to apologize. Or there may not be a second term. And that would be a shame. Because, despite his obvious blind spot for the gay community, I still believe Obama can become the greatest president in decades. We elected him for a reason. Because he is the right man for our time. But if he fails the gay community, it will be his fault, no one else’s. His fault, but the results of that failure will be our burden. We need to force his hand – he won’t do it if we do not.
Today I received a very nice message from a reader. He writes, in part,
“…how can others help you with your mission? I donate $ to HRC and GMHC already.”
Well, here’s my answer:
Times are tough. First, if you need money, stop donating to the DNC, or to the HRC. If you don’t, don’t start. If you donate to charities like GMHC, the Gay Mern’s Health Crisis, by all means, please continue to do so.
Second, money talks, but the promise of money can talk more. Take whatever money you might have donated to the DNC, to a Democratic candidate, and put it aside. then write them a letter. Email is OK, but if you really mean business, write them a letter. Maybe send thema photocopy of a check made out to them in the amount you were going to donate, and tell them that WHEN they vote to repeal DADT, WHEN they vote to repeal DOMA, WHEN they vote to enact ENDA, THEN you’ll make good on your promise. If you’ve sent them money before, remind them of that.
So, you say, you don’t have time? Well take some of the funds you were going to donate and donate them to yourself, in the form of hiring a neighbor’s son or daughter to save you time by waling your dog, cleaning your home, cutting your lawn, running some errands. Take that time and start writing your letters to the people we put in office to do the right thing. Tell them you’ve started your own stimulus program in your neighborhood. Tell them, until they cast their vote for civil rights, for a stronger nation, you can’t spare a dime.
*”Brother, Can You Spare a Dime,” lyrics by Yip Harburg, music by Jay Gorney (1931)
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‘Heist’: Ginni Thomas Tells J6 Committee Election Was Stolen, Says She Never Discussed Efforts to Overturn With Spouse
Appearing behind closed doors in person for four hours with investigators from the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, far right wing activist and lobbyist Ginni Thomas reiterated her false claims the 2020 presidential election was stolen, calling it a “heist.” Thomas also insisted she has never discussed her work to overturn the election results with her husband, the person she publicly refers to as her “best friend,” U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who has resisted calls to recuse himself from any cases surround the January 6 insurrection.
The 2020 president election was not stolen, there has never been any proof to support that false contention, more than 60 court cases claiming fraud brought by the Trump team or their supporters have been thrown out or lost, and even Donald Trump’s own Attorney General and Dept. of Homeland Security officials have said there was no significant fraud, with the later issuing a statement that reads: “The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history.”
And yet, despite mountains of evidence President Joe Biden won the election, despite the election being certified with him winning 81,268,924 votes against Trump’s 74,216,154 votes – a margin of more than 7 million, and despite him winning the Electoral College 306 to 232, Ginni Thomas for hours on Thursday insisted Donald Trump was the rightful president.
“During her interview, Ms. Thomas, who goes by Ginni, repeated her assertion that the 2020 election was stolen from President Donald J. Trump,” The New York Times reports, citing remarks made by the Committee’s chairman, Bennie Thompson. The Times called it “a belief she insisted upon in late 2020 as she pressured state legislators and the White House chief of staff to do more to try to invalidate the results.”
And yet to reporters Thomas’ attorney called her actions merely “minimal and mainstream activity focused on ensuring that reports of fraud and irregularities were investigated.”
“Beyond that, she played no role in any events after the 2020 election results,” he added, despite press reports that Thomas held a months-long text message exchange with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, urging him to find a way to overture the election.
“As she wrote in a text to Mark Meadows at the time, she also condemned the violence on Jan. 6, as she abhors violence on any side of the aisle.”
“Ms. Thomas,” The Times adds, “exchanged text messages with Mr. Meadows, the White House chief of staff, in which she urged him to challenge Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the 2020 election, which she called a ‘heist,’ and indicated that she had reached out to Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, about Mr. Trump’s efforts to use the courts to keep himself in power. She even suggested the lawyer who should be put in charge of that effort.”
Despite earlier reports Thomas did appear in person, but refused to answer reporters’ questions.
NEW: Ginni Thomas met with Jan 6 committee IN PERSON. She did not answer my questions pic.twitter.com/5z6pypr0S9
— Annie Grayer (@AnnieGrayerCNN) September 29, 2022
‘No Shame’: Trump Judge Overrules Special Master – Stuns Legal Experts
U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon on Thursday overruled the special master Donald Trump’s legal team chose and she installed, deciding to change the deadlines he set, delaying the case and DOJ’s work for months, and overruling his decisions.
Specifically, Judge Cannon ruled Trump and his attorneys do not have to make any statements to support the former president’s baseless claims that the FBI “planted” documents or other evidence.
“Judge Cannon overrules the order by her special master that would have forced Trump’s lawyers to lodge objections to the accuracy of the DOJ’s inventory, effectively forcing him to prove his ‘planting claims,'” Law & Crime managing editor Adam Klasfeld reports. “Trump doesn’t need to do that any more, she rules.”
“Upon review of the matter,” Cannon writes in her order Thursday, “the Court determines as follows. There shall be no separate requirement on Plaintiff [Trump] at this stage, prior to the review of any of the Seized Materials, to lodge ex ante final objections to the accuracy of Defendant’s Inventory, its descriptions, or its contents. The Court’s Appointment Order did not contemplate that obligation.”
Legal experts are stunned by Cannon’s latest move.
The Nation’s justice correspondent Elie Mystal writes: “Trump Judge Cannon trying to preserve the white wing talking point without forcing Trump to prove it. She’s in too deep now. She has to ride Trump all the way and hope he wins and promotes her.”
Civil liberties and national security journalist Marcy Wheeler says, “Judge Cannon unilaterally rewrites HER OWN deadlines to make sure that her Trumpy doesn’t have to commit until after the election. Holy hell this woman has no shame.”
Over at her site, Wheeler expands her thoughts.
“Aileen Cannon, without explaining why she was intervening, just rewrote Judge Raymond Dearie’s work plans regarding the Special Master review,” Wheeler says, calling it “an obvious power grab to ensure her own intervention doesn’t backfire on Trump.”
“With no justification (particularly given the way Dearie has ceded to multiple issues Trump has raised), and after having been scolded by the 11th Circuit for her improper claims of jurisdiction, she effectively just eliminated any claim that the Special Master Trump picked and she appointed is a neutral observer.”
“Cannon is shamelessly acting as Trump’s defense attorney. If you are a reporter, that’s what your story is. If you’re not a reporter, that’s also what your story is,” she warns. “At the very least fact check this woman.”
Slate senior writer Mark Joseph Stern, who has authored a book on the Supreme Court, says, “Cannon was shameless enough to overrule the special master, because she is not a real judge.
Former General Counsel of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and well-known MSNBC legal analyst Andrew Weissmann calls Cannon “a disgrace.”
“Oy- Judge Cannon tinkers badly with (and with typos) Judge Dearie’s scheduling order, relieving Trump of obligation to say whether docs were planted, even though she had wanted a clear inventory of what was found. She is such a disgrace.”
‘Tarnished Image’: Gallup Releases Devastating SCOTUS Poll – as Conservative Justices Snipe at Kagan’s Warning
Ever since December of 2021, when the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the case that six months later would overturn Roe v. Wade, a 49-year old precedent – “settled law,” Americans were assured by the Court’s Justices in their confirmation hearings – ensuring women have the constitutional right to abortion, Chief Justice John Roberts has been accused of losing control of his justices.
On Thursday, just days before the high court begins its new term, as one of the Justices’ spouses delivers testimony on her role in the coordinated efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, amid sniping by the Chief Justice and a conservative justice at their liberal colleague, and anger across the nation so virulent the midterm elections appear to be rapidly swinging back to Democrats, the right-leaning Gallup organization has released a new poll that’s absolutely devastating for the Chief Justice and the Court he was entrusted to lead – not to mention American democracy itself.
“Supreme Court Trust, Job Approval at Historical Lows,” Gallup’s damning headline reads.
“47% trust the judicial branch; previous low was 53%,” “40% job approval of U.S. Supreme Court is tied for record low,” and “Record-high 42% say Supreme Court is too conservative.”
Translated, that means the legitimacy of the court is in question, despite entreaties from Justice Samuel Alito, who authored the Dobbs opinion that discarded nearly five decades of settled law to achieve a desired goal: rescinding the constitutional right to abortion, and with it, quite possibly not far down the road, the constitutional right to contraception, same-sex intimacy, and same-sex marriage.
“‘Less than half of Americans say they have ‘a great deal’ or ‘a fair amount’ of trust in the judicial branch of the federal government, representing a 20-percentage-point drop from two years ago, including seven points since last year,'” Politico reports, quoting an advanced copy of Gallup’s findings.
“This represents a 20-percentage-point drop from two years ago,” Gallup’s own report reveals, “including seven points since last year, and is now the lowest in Gallup’s trend by six points. The judicial branch’s current tarnished image contrasts with trust levels exceeding two-thirds in most years in Gallup’s trend that began in 1972.”
Respect for the Supreme Court was such a non-question that from 1976, when Americans’ “trust and confidence” in the nation’s highest court stood at 63%, Gallup, it appears, did not even ask the question again in polls again until 1997, when the answer came back at 71%.
Today, under Chief Justice Roberts, it is a mere 47%.
Also today, Ginni Thomas, the far right wing activist spouse of one of the Court’s most right-wing jurists, Clarence Thomas, is testifying before the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack regarding her role in efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.
This week Justice Alito, also a far-right conservative, delivered a thinly-veiled attack against Justice Elena Kagan, a liberal, in a rare public forum.
So did the Chief Justice, just weeks earlier.
“The very worst moments [in the court’s history] have been times when judges have even essentially reflected one party’s or one ideology’s set of views in their legal decisions,” Justice Kagan said recently, sparking anger from the right. “The thing that builds up reservoirs of public confidence is the court acting like a court and not acting like an extension of the political process.”
“Judges create legitimacy problems for themselves when they don’t act like courts,” she also said, and “when they instead stray into places that looks like they are an extension of the political process or where they are imposing their own personal preferences.”
“If, over time, the court loses all connection with the public and with public sentiment, that is a dangerous thing for democracy,” Kagan warned.
Chief Justice Roberts later delivered a terse retort.
“Simply because people disagree with an opinion is not a basis for questioning the legitimacy of the court.”
Bloomberg Law columnist Vivia Chen, citing the well-respected constitutional scholar and retired Harvard Law professor of law, Laurence Tribe, recently wrote: “Chief Justice Roberts Is Officially Irrelevant.”
“Having had both John Roberts and Elena Kagan as my brilliant students in constitutional law, and having watched each of their careers unfold, I can’t help thinking that one of them, Justice Kagan, has grown into her role as a wise jurist,” Tribe told Chen in response to the Roberts-Kagan flap.
“Chief Justice Roberts has dwindled in stature as his cliches have lost their power and even their relevance,” Tribe added.
Justice Alito entered the sparring match this week, telling The Wall Street Journal: “It goes without saying that everyone is free to express disagreement with our decisions and to criticize our reasoning as they see fit. But saying or implying that the court is becoming an illegitimate institution or questioning our integrity crosses an important line.”
It was a clear swipe at Justice Kagan.
“It’s embarrassingly obvious that recent decisions rendered by the conservative supermajority hew to a certain political agenda,” Bloomberg’s Chen noted, asking: “where does one start? I guess Dobbs was a biggie because it destroyed almost 50 years of reproductive rights for women.”
“Then,” she added, “there’s the decision that crippled New York’s gun-control law and the one that severely cut back climate change regulations. And let’s not forget how the court keeps siding with religion, as if the separation of church and state is an optional part of the Constitution.”
“That the Supreme Court lurched so far to the right in less than a year is breathtaking,” Chen observes. “It’s like we’re suddenly transported to a country where Wayne LaPierre, Christian fundamentalists, corporate polluters, and the ghost of Phyllis Schlafly are calling the shots.”
(For those looking fore even more justification of how the Supreme Court is undermining its own legitimacy, this video clip offers an additional answer.)
All this turmoil, turbulence, and trouble comes days before the Court begins its new term.
“The Supreme Court will return to work on the first Monday of October, after a three-month summer break, with all the determination of a Renaissance-era explorer looking for new lands to conquer,” snarked – or warned – The Nation‘s Elie Mystal. “Last term, the court’s conservative supermajority showed it was willing to ignore precedent (overturning Roe v. Wade), reality (issuing rulings that will lead to more gun violence and climate pollution), and facts (making up evidence in the praying-football-coach case) to arrive at its preferred judicial outcomes.”
“This term, the high court will cement its grip on political life in America, overturning affirmative action and other critical protections along the way,” he says.
“The conservative Supreme Court has been willing to suppress the vote or let Republican-controlled state legislatures gerrymander district maps to the point where the popular vote is all but meaningless, but so far, the court has been unwilling to throw away enough votes after the fact to change the outcome of an election. We’ll see if there’s a first time for everything.”
How bad could it be?
A picture’s worth a thousand words.
Affirmative Action. Tribal Sovereignty. LGBTQ+ Rights. Voting Rights. They’re all on the chopping block this coming Supreme Court term—and this is just what we know so far. In this essential SCOTUS preview, @ElieNYC lays out what’s at stake this term. https://t.co/i3C1vHntmY
— The Nation (@thenation) September 29, 2022
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