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Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

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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, please  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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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

The ‘White Power Movement’ Is Ramping Up Its Attacks on Energy Infrastructure – Anti-Terrorism Expert Explains Why

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Professor, historian and author Kathleen Belew, one of the United States’ top experts on white supremacist and white nationalist terrorism, has often stressed that violent, racially motivated attacks shouldn’t be viewed as isolated incidents, but as part of a broader movement. And when Belew made a Monday night, February 6 appearance on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” she explained how a Maryland woman’s alleged role in a plot to attack five energy substations in the Baltimore area fits into the overall “white power” game plan.

Earlier in the day, law enforcement officials had announced the arrest of Maryland resident Sarah Beth Clendaniel, who, they allege, conspired with fellow white supremacist Brandon Russell in that plot. Clendaniel and Russell, according to officials, hoped to completely disable energy infrastructure in Baltimore and deprive the city of electricity for an extended period of time.

During her conversation with Maddow, Belew emphasized that this was not an isolated incident. White supremacists, white nationalists and neo-Nazis, according to the professor, are targeting energy infrastructure in general — not just in Baltimore, Maryland.

READ MORE: Why the power grid is an ‘attractive target’ for domestic terrorists and white supremacists: report

Belew, author of the 2019 book, “Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America,” told Maddow, “The electrical part may be new, but infrastructure attacks by this movement are not new. This is a strategy that was pioneered by a group called The Order in 1983…. Infrastructure attacks are one kind of violence among several others that are all laid out in a strategy in common in order to bring about what the movement seeks, which is the overthrow of the United States and the creation of a white ethno-state — mass violence against communities of color and even genocide against non-white peoples.”

According to Belew — who teaches at Northwestern University in the Chicago suburbs — attacks on energy infrastructure and the January 6, 2021 insurrection are both part of the “white power” game plan.

Belew told Maddow, “Infrastructure attacks sit next to a show of forced violence like the January 6 attack on the Capitol and mass casualty violence like the Oklahoma City bombing. All of these exist together within one broad ideology in the white power movement.”

READ MORE: Terrorism expert explains why the Great Replacement theory is so central to white racist ideology

Watch the full video at this link.

Image via Wikimedia and a Creative Commons license

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COMMENTARY

Right-Wing Outraged Over Falsely Thinking White House Press Secretary Said National Security Council Is Using ‘TikTok’

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For decades White House press secretaries, military officers, and reporters have used the words “tick-tock” to denote an overview of a conversation, or a chronological telling of a series of events – and not the now-popular Chinese app “TikTok,” which some allege has major national security implications.

And yet, the far-right-wing website Daily Caller, a veteran Fox News host, and many others on the social media site Twitter attacked Karine Jean-Pierre Monday afternoon, after the White House Press Secretary told the press: “I know there was a tick-tock that went out to all of you from the National Security Council that was pretty detailed on how everything broke down for the past week.”

Inside Elections’ Jacob Rubashkin mocked The Daily Caller, (which was founded by Tucker Carlson,) for getting something so basic so wrong.

READ MORE: Morning Joe Reminds Viewers of the Last Time the Koch Network ‘Stopped the Craziness’ in GOP Primaries

Longtime journalist Keith Olberman blasted several people on Twitter who assumed the worst, including veteran Fox News reporter David Asman.

He didn’t stop there.

 

 

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News

House Ethics Committee Begins Questioning Santos Staffers

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The U.S. House Committee on Ethics has begun questioning staffers for embattled Rep. George Santos, who on Friday was accused of sexual harassment and improper hiring practice by a prospective aide the New York Republican interviewed and hired.

CNN Capitol Hill reporter Melanie Zanona, reporting the committee’s questioning, calls it “a sign that the committee is looking into some of the allegations against Santos, though it doesn’t necessarily mean a formal investigation has been launched yet.”

“It is unclear what exactly the committee asked these staffers about, but multiple ethics complaints have been filed against Santos,” Zanona adds.

READ MORE: Watch: Democrats File Ethics Complaint Against George Santos After GOP Leadership Calls It an ‘Internal’ Matter

Most recently, a prospective staffer filed a complaint that the congressman made an unwanted sexual advance.

Two New York Democrats last month also filed an ethics complaint against Santos over his financial disclosure reporting.

 

 

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