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DOMA: Maggie Gallagher Needs To Actually Read The First Amendment

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Maggie Gallagher, Chuck Grassley, heck, maybe all conservatives (including Sarah Palin!) and anti-equality fear-mongers need to actually read the First Amendment. I’m sure if you’re reading this, you have, but since Gallagher has been known to stop by here, I’ll post it here for her to see:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

See? It’s short — only 45 words. Not hard to read, right? How long did it just take you?

So why is it that Maggie Gallagher — certainly a learned woman — felt the need yesterday to pen, “The Chilling of Our First Amendment Rights,” over at the National Review, in response to Senator Chuck Grassley’s mistaken testimony? (A great deal of the senior Senator from Iowa’s testimony Wednesday at the DOMA hearing was mistaken.)

“I’d like to note that one of our witnesses describes the serious threats that were made against ordinary citizens who exercise their First Amendment right to petition the government for redress of grievances when California judges forced that state to adopt same-sex marriage,” Grassley said at Wednesday’s DOMA hearing. “The minority very much hoped to call a witness today, at this hearing, to testify in support of DOMA. I’m sure she would have done an excellent job. She declined, however, citing as one reason the threats and intimidation that have been leveled against not only her but her family as a result of her support of DOMA. She will continue to write on the subject but will no longer speak publicly. This chilling of the First Amendment rights is unacceptable.”

Clever how Grassley sticks First Amendment in there, first plausibly, since it states, as you well know now, that,

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances,”

then totally incorrectly.

If someone is invited by Congress to testify in front of Congress, are their First Amendment rights violated if they choose to not testify, for whatever reason — be  it fear, perceived threats or perceived intimidation? No.

Is it wrong — possibly a crime — if someone is threatened to not speak in front of Congress? Of course!

But is this a “chilling of their First Amendment rights?” No.

Gallagher, and Grassley, should know better, just as should Sarah Palin, who infamous claimed in 2008,

“If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations, then I don’t know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media.”

And just as Palin was sadly mistaken in 2010, when she defended Dr. Laura’s right to be a hate monger, saying, via Twitter, “Dr.Laura:don’t retreat…reload! (Steps aside bc her 1st Amend.rights ceased 2exist thx 2activists trying 2silence”isn’t American,not fair”)”

(Dr. Laura herself needs to read the First Amendment. The embattled conservative radio show host, explaining her resignation, stated she was quitting to “regain my First Amendment rights.” She never lost them — just the good sense to treat people well, and to tell the truth. Sadly, those two attributes make for popular conservative talk show hosts.)

But Maggie Gallagher, the Chairman of NOM  — the National Organization for Marriage that works hard not to save or protect marriage, but to ensure same-sex couples are unable to be included in the institution — gets around all this, (just as she gets around anything she doesn’t like, by creating a false narrative,) stating,

“The First Amendment is more than a legal guarantee. It is a culture — a key American value — which holds that in a decent and free society, law-abiding citizens should not face reprisals for speaking up with civility for the moral good as they see it.”

See, just like Grassley sneaks the First Amendment reference into his comments, Gallagher likes to redefine the meaning — when it suits her purpose.

(Why is it conservatives, who generally claim to be strict Constitutionalists when it comes to the Constitution — and the Bible — like to interpret when it’s convenient? Redefine the First Amendment? Go ahead! “Redefine” marriage? Hell no!)

I certainly agree that Americans “should not face reprisals for speaking up with civility for the moral good as they see it,” as long as their “speaking up” doesn’t incite violence, or create a culture of fear and hate — which is what Gallagher’s pals like Bryan Fischer do, almost daily.

And yes, I’m aware courts disagree, most recently in fact, stating it’s OK to level a death threat on a presidential candidate under the guise of “free speech.”

“Sen. Chuck Grassley’s remarkable opening statement in today’s Senate hearing on a bill to repeal DOMA called attention to a very serious and growing intolerance directed at Americans who believe marriage is the union of husband and wife,” Gallagher claimed yesterday.

Is there “a very serious and growing intolerance directed at Americans who believe marriage is the union of husband and wife?”

There certainly is a growing embrace of same-sex marriage — now that we have six major nationwide polls over the past twelve months that find that a majority of Americans support same-sex marriage.

Is it intolerant to be intolerant of the Right’s intolerance?

(Speaking of tolerance and intolerance, I’ll take a moment to direct your attention to “I Do Not Deserve Your Tolerance,” my post years back on the very subject.)

“An unfortunate aspect of the church’s opposition to same-sex marriage in the civil forum is that it carries aspects of intolerance,” writes Roman Catholic canon lawyer and professor Nicholas P. Cafardi in the National Catholic Reporter. “Yes, I realize that the opposite is true. The church could say that those pushing same-sex civil marriage on those of us who, because of our faith, are unalterably opposed to it are also intolerant of our religious beliefs. But in the scales of intolerance, the weight will always go against those who would prevent rather than those who would permit.”

And make no mistake. Gallagher’s NOM may downplay its religious roots, but they’re deep — in culture and in finance. NOM states it is “a nonprofit organization with a mission to protect marriage and the faith communities that sustain it.” Those faith communities —  widely-believed to be both the Mormon Church and the Catholic Church — have sustained NOM, financially.

Gallagher has the audacity to state,

“The death threats and hateful mail New York state senator Rev. Ruben Diaz says he has received are not unusual. Whole professions are in the process of being closed to anyone who espouses — and acts — on the view that marriage is the union of husband and wife.”

New York State Senator and Reverend Rubén Díaz is the man who stood idly by while Maggie Gallagher’s NOM-sponsored anti-gay hate rally — prior to the New York State marriage equality win last month — featured a preacher who actually advocated for the genocide of the LGBT community.

Gays are worthy of death,” Reverend Ariel Torres Ortega preached, in Spanish, back in May.

Gallagher, whose organization sponsored the event, said little more than, “I whole-heartedly and unreservedly denounce any suggestion of violence against gay people, or anyone in the gay marriage debate,” — on my site, in the comments section, not in a press release — far the the eyes of most.

New York State Senator and Reverend Rubén Díaz refused to even acknowledge the genocidal raving, much less denounce it.

Like so many conservatives, Gallagher sees what she wants to see, ignorant of the concept of cause and effect.

Have there been incidents of angry verbal and written attacks on those who voted for Prop 8? Of course. Have there been incidents of angry verbal and written attacks on those who speak for or against equslity? Of course.

In a nation that embraces the right of a man to suggest he will put a .50 calibre bullet into the head of the nation’s first African-American president, and chalk it up to free speech, surely no one should be surprised if those on both sides of any question get verbally hostile. (Let me make perfectly clear, I find disgusting and morally offensive both someone threatening violence, and a ruling that says it’s OK to do so.)

But no one is “chilling” the First Amendment rights of anyone in the battle for marriage equality. To say so is just another of the right’s orchestrated campaign of falsehoods.

The bottom line is simple. You probably figured this out by now. Gallagher and Grassley and Palin, and Dr. Laura, and all the others, all claim First Amendment rights are being compromised, because they don’t like what their critics have to say — or because there are fewer people who are saying what they want to hear.

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News

Another Santos Financial Concern: GOP Lawmaker Claims Campaign Paid WinRed Triple the Fees It Should Have

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According to an NBC News report there’s yet another mystery swirling around U.S. Rep. George Santos and his campaign financial activity and reports.

WinRed, the right-wing fundraising processor platform created to compete with Democrats’ ActBlue, has asked the Santos campaign to correct a financial report that claims the New York GOP lawmaker paid them more than triple what it should have – suggesting the entry on his Federal Election Commission (FEC) report is erroneous.

“Santos reported paying WinRed more than $206,000 to process donations to his 2022 campaign, records show. But that amount doesn’t match up with how much money Santos actually raised,” NBC News reports.

“WinRed charges candidates a 3.94% fee for contributions made online by credit card. At that rate, Santos would have had to have raised more than $5.2 million through WinRed to warrant a $206,000 payment to the firm,” NBC explains. “Through November, however, his campaign reported total contributions of $1.7 million, including donations that didn’t come through WinRed.”

READ MORE: ‘Deliberately Deceived the Nation’: Legal Experts Stunned by ‘Jaw-Dropping’ Report on How Barr and Durham Protected Trump

WinRed would not tell NBC News how much the Santos campaign actually paid them, with the news network offering that it could be “sloppy accounting.”

But one campaign finance expert, attorney Brett Kappel, warns, “nothing that appears on Rep. Santos’s FEC reports can be taken at face value.”

This follows reports that the Santos campaign amended two filings to indicate that a $500,000 personal loan and a $125,000 personal loan, claimed to have been from the candidate’s own personal funds, was not from his personal funds. There is no information indicating what entity loaned the Santos campaign the money, or if it actually even existed.

That bombshell was followed up this week with yet another one: the FEC reports were allegedly signed by a “treasurer” who does not and never has worked for the Santos campaign. One expert called that a “big no-no,” and “completely illegal.”

READ MORE: Watch: Santos Responds to Report He Joked About Hitler, ‘The Jews’ and Black People

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'GASLIGHTING'

‘Deliberately Deceived the Nation’: Legal Experts Stunned by ‘Jaw-Dropping’ Report on How Barr and Durham Protected Trump

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Legal experts are now weighing in on Thursday’s bombshell, massive and months-long reporting from The New York Times that reveals, among several previously unknown allegations, that then-Attorney General Bill Barr and his special counsel, John Durham were handed apparent evidence of suspicious financial acts by Donald Trump, and proceeded to create a false public narrative that Durham’s investigation found evidence of “suspicious financial dealings” related to Trump, suggesting it was on the part of the FBI, not the president, in order to protect the president.

“On one of Mr. Barr and Mr. Durham’s trips to Europe,” The Times reveals, “according to people familiar with the matter, Italian officials — while denying any role in setting off the Russia investigation — unexpectedly offered a potentially explosive tip linking Mr. Trump to certain suspected financial crimes.”

The Times adds that “Mr. Barr and Mr. Durham never disclosed that their inquiry expanded in the fall of 2019, based on a tip from Italian officials, to include a criminal investigation into suspicious financial dealings related to Mr. Trump.”

READ MORE: Bombshell NYT Report Reveals Bill Barr’s Special Counsel Opened ‘Secret’ Financial Crimes Probe Into Trump But Never Prosecuted

“Mr. Durham never filed charges, and it remains unclear what level of an investigation it was, what steps he took, what he learned and whether anyone at the White House ever found out. The extraordinary fact that Mr. Durham opened a criminal investigation that included scrutinizing Mr. Trump has remained secret.”

Until now.

Harvard Law Professor Emeritus Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law expert who literally wrote the book on the U.S. Constitution, calls the Times’ report “jaw-dropping.”

“When Durham unexpectedly found evidence of crimes committed BY rather than AGAINST Trump, he and Barr deliberately deceived the nation into thinking the opposite! This deep dive by the NYT is as jaw-dropping as anything I’ve read in the past decade,” Tribe says.

Law professor and former President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) Sherrilyn Ifill, one of TIME’s  2021 most influential people in the world, accused Barr of “gaslighting” the public.

READ MORE: ‘Moral Turpitude’: Trump Coup Memo Author John Eastman Now Facing 11 Counts of Alleged Ethics Violations – and Disbarment

“Every line of this article must be read,” Ifill implored. “Horrifying breaches of professional ethics, misuse of DOJ investigative resources, and deliberate lies to, and gaslighting of the public. A grotesque perversion of the appropriate role of Attorney General.”

Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, the well-known MSNBC legal contributor and professor of law, also calls it “jaw dropping.”

“Jaw dropping reporting. Lots here including an explanation of why Durham’s colleague resigned: under pressure from Barr to release an ‘interim’ report damaging Clinton & the FBI as the election drew near, Durham had a draft prepared that wasn’t factual,” she says.

Andrew Weissman, the former General Counsel of the Federal Bureau of Investigation who spent 20 years at DOJ, including working under Special Counsel Robert Mueller, calls Barr “corrupt.”

“Can anyone really be surprised by this?” he asks. “Barr was just so corrupt and so corrupted the DOJ.”

MSNBC legal analyst Jill Wine-Banks, a former Watergate prosecutor and the first woman to serve as US General Counsel of the Army was troubled by the picture The Times painted of how close Barr and Durham were, when special counsels are supposed to have great autonomy and not be shaded by any Attorney General interference.

“Even more troubling than Barr and Durham frequently having drinks and discussing the investigation is the fact that the only crime they discovered on their foreign trip was Italian intel about crimes by Trump,” she says via Twitter. “I want to know the status of that investigation!”

READ MORE: Republicans Claiming ‘Censorship’ Threaten to Haul AT&T and DirecTV Into Congress for Dropping Far-Right Newsmax

Some legal experts lament that despite the bombshells in The Times’ report, it appears nothing will come of it – certainly nothing from the House Republicans.

Former Associate White House Counsel Ian Bassin sardonically asks, “Surely McCarthy and Jim Jordan’s new Select Committee on ‘the Weaponization of the Federal Government’ will focus on this story and the actions of Bill Barr, John Durham and Donald Trump. Surely, right? Right?”

Wine-Banks also points to House Republicans’ new committee investigating what they claim is “weaponization” of the federal government.

“Barr’s relationship with Durham, his pressure on him to reach a certain result and their failure to follow up on Trump’s crime revealed during the investigation is what weaponization of the DOJ looks like — not what Republicans want to investigate now.”

Pete Strzok, who spent 26 years at the FBI including as Deputy Assistant Director of the Bureau’s Counterintelligence Division, and led the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States election, speaks from experience.

“I can see Barr allowing the stunning amount of craziness (a gentle choice of word) described in this article,” he writes. “But does anyone in the current OAG or ODAG care about this? Durham has reported to AG Garland for twenty two (22) months now.”

“This,” Weissman adds separately, pointing to The Times article, “is all about the Trump weaponization of the DOJ – but we know that the House Rs won’t give a damn about it.”

 

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Questions Raised About Another Freshman Republican’s Finances After He Refuses to Comply With Federal Law

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Rep. George Santos (R-NY) isn’t the only freshman Republican facing questions about his personal finances.

An investigation conducted by News Channel 5 in Nashville has found that freshman Rep. Andy Ogles (R-TN) never complied with federal laws requiring that he make disclosures about his personal finances.

In fact, notes News Channel 5, “not only did Andy Ogles ignore that law during the campaign, he continues to ignore it today.”

The law in question requires that Ogles and all candidates for elected office to disclose their assets and unearned income, their liabilities, and sources of income paid by one source that exceed $5,000.

READ MORE: Marjorie Taylor Greene’s amendment to bar Biden from selling oil goes down in massive bipartisan defeat

Ogles’ office hasn’t responded to News Channel 5’s questions even though the Tennessee lawmaker’s refusal to comply with the law could result in up to a year in prison.

Ogles’ defeated Democratic opponent, Heidi Campbell, told News Channel that it was “frustrating” to see Ogles flout the law, which she complied with last year by releasing her personal finance information all the way back in April of 2022.

“We, as Tennesseans, deserve to have representatives who are following the rules,” she said.

Ogles was also regularly late in filing campaign finance reports, which also contained so many discrepancies that Ogles has received four different letters from the Federal Election Commission demanding that they be explained.

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