Offering analysis, inside information, Monday-morning quarterbacking, and, yes, blame, four high-level insiders of the LGBT political movement convened in Manhattan’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center Thursday night and spoke to a standing room-only house of hundreds for almost two hours. Political strategist Richard Socarides moderated, â€œDonâ€™t Ask, Donâ€™t Tell: Where Are We, and How Did We Get Here,” with panelists Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post, author Dr. Nathaniel Frank, and the Center for American Progress’ Winnie Stachelberg.
It was clear that Stachelberg, the Senior Vice President for External Affairs at the Center for American Progress, and who reportedly had a great deal to do with the controversial DADT repeal compromise language, was the Obama-apologist and blame-thrower in the room.
Saying, “Two years, not much has happened,” Socarides, who served as chief advisor to Clinton on gay civil rights from 1997-99, was rebuffed by Stachelberg, who claimed, “We’re closer than ever to repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” When Socarides asked the panel what the chances were of repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 2011, if repeal fails in this year’s lame duck session, Nathaniel Frank opted to quote Rep. Barney Frank (no relation) and replied, “Zero.” Stachelberg, who later said, “I’m a Yankee fan. I’m an optimist,” said, “Very, very remote.”
Stachelberg’s optimism goes only so far. When asked about the current state of repeal, Stachelberg says, “You wouldn’t get sixty. You’d get fifty-four, fifty-six or -seven.”
But perhaps the most striking revelation of the evening was Stachelberg’s own indictment of what is commonly referred to as, “Gay, Inc.,” the cadre of professional LGBT advocacy groups, including her former employer, HRC. The title of the evening was, indeed, “How Did We Get Here?,” and Stachelberg certainly had a rather controversial take.
Socarides, who experienced gay rights challenges as part of the Clinton White House, posed the question, “Why did the Obama administration wait so long to get started [on repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”]?” Stachelberg offered that there was “disagreement from the advocacy community as to why a study was needed,” and claimed, “had advocacy groups in January of 2009 said, ‘Let’s get a study together,’ we’d be further ahead.” Nathaniel Frank immediately reminded the panel that there had already been twenty-two studies commissioned by the military on the subject of gays in the military.
Now, think about that for a moment. Then read Stachelberg’s bio:
“Winnie Stachelberg is the Senior Vice President for External Affairs at the Center for American Progress. Prior to joining American Progress, she spent 11 years with the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay civil rights organization. In January 2005, Stachelberg was appointed to the newly created position of vice president of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. Previously, she was HRC’s political director, initiating and leading the expansion of HRC’s legislative, political and electoral strategies. Before joining HRC, Stachelberg worked at the Office of Management and Budget.”
So, Stachelberg is blaming gay “advocacy groups” for not advancing the need for yet another study, after there have already been twenty-two, as the reason “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal is about to fail?
Stachelberg has held top-level, senior positions in the very advocacy groups she is now blaming, and that many in the LGBT community hold responsible for having attained not a single goal in “the gay agenda,” namely, repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” repealing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA,) and enacting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA.)
Frank, renowned author of, Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America, said, “the idea that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal needed to be studied is political cover.”
So, let’s be clear here. A senior “Gay, Inc.” executive wants to fall on her sword, giving the perception that LGBT advocacy groups have the power to make things happen, but failed, thus protecting politicians? While I don’t doubt that some key LGBT advocacy groups have clearly failed, that seems extraordinarily generous in my estimation.
I think it’s clear that “Gay, Inc.” thinks it wields more power than it actually does, and in the face of mounting public frustration over its repeated record of failure, is, by Stachelberg’s statements, willing to prop up the politicians even at the cost of their own futures.
Given the dismal record of the current Senate and the current administration, and LGBT advocacy groups on critical LGBT issues, the question is, “Why?”
Jonathan Capehart, who has been supportive of this administration, told the audience that President Obama in 2009 had two meetings with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and at one point, looked at the Secretary and said of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” “You know this is un-American?”
Capehart believes that Obama deserves credit for getting Gates and Admiral Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, on board with repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and with creating the climate within the senior ranks of the military that will allow it.
Capehart, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and MSNBC Contributor, also says of the public’s level of frustration with the route “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal has gone, that the Obama administration has “always gotten it.”
“The impression I get is they know the frustration. They understand the frustration. They appreciate the frustration.”
Stachelberg added, “It is clear to me that the administration understands the importance of getting this done now. Very much a difference now.”
The panel essentially blamed Senator Reid for the way he brought the National Defense Authorization Act to the floor, with the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal rider attached, and the DREAM Act also attached at the last minute, as the reason the Senate voted down the measure in September.
Once the panel’s discussion was over, the floor was opened to questions.
(At this point I must say, on a personal note, I was extraordinarily proud. The only questions came from Tanya Domi, a regular contributor to The New Civil Rights Movement, and from Justin Elzie and Scott Wooledge, both of whom have written for The New Civil Rights Movement in the past. They were impressive, extremely knowledgeable, and insightful.)
Domi, an Assistant Adjunct Professor at Columbia and former U.S. Army Captain who in the late 1990’s was the legislative director and military freedom initiative director at the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce, stood and commandingly said, “I am stunned that this discussion did not include the fact that we are in a time of war.” She went on to say that the president has the right during a time of war, due to the military powers act, to choose any category of personnel (“even blonds,”) and stop all discharges.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Stachelberg answered that Obama’s lawyers are telling him he does not have that right. (A thought flashed through my mind at this point that I wish Bush 43 had had Obama’s lawyers. Perhaps we wouldn’t have waterboarded.)
Then Justin Elzie spoke, identifying himself as the first Marine to come out under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” author of the upcoming book, Playing By the Rules, as well as someone who has written extensively on the subject of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” emceed the Washington, D.C. May 2 rally at the White House which Howard Dean showed up unannounced, and has worked with GetEQUAL, “so this isn’t my first trip around the barbecue.” Having established his credibility, Elzie responded to Capehart’s assertion that if Obama had executed a stop-loss (executive order) early in his presidency that a “Palin presidency” or future president could come back and undo it was a “red-herring.”
Elzie stated that a stop-loss order early in Obama’s presidency would have negated any issue of a problem “in foxholes and showers,” and would have taken that argument away from those opponents of repeal after having LGBT servicemembers serving openly for two years, in which no enormous consequences would have happened, stating no president would have been able to undo that after “Pandora’s box had been opened.” He also responded to the assertion that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal couldn’t be done overnight, reminding the panel that the U.K. switched overnight into allowing openly-gay service.Â Elzie also responded to an assertion that Obama, due to long-standing tradition, had to appeal the Log Cabin Republicans’ “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” court case by indicating the National Law Journal had written there were thirteen cases the Department of Justice under Bush and Obama never appealed.
The panel, needless to say, had little to offer in way of response, but Stachelberg did say that how the bill comes to the floor, and how the GOP is involved in the process, is up to Senator Reid.
Wooledge, who himself has worked as an activist for LGBT rights and has also written extensively about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” reminded the panel that the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal bill isn’t actually even a repeal bill, which Senator Carl Levin has even admitted. What it is, what we’ve been fighting for, (thanks, by the way to Stachelberg and “Gay, Inc.,”) is a bill that puts the how and when of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal one hundred percent in the hands of the military.
Wooledge has an excellent point. As he says, this legislation is discretionary, it’s “not enduring policy.”
Socarides, Capehart, Frank, and even Stachelberg did a good job of presenting and defending recent history and facts as they saw them. I would add that Domi, Elzie, and Wooledge had at least as much to offer on the longer side of history, and deeper, more pro-active facts.
All images Â© David Wallace and used by permission.
The New Civil Rights Movement
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‘Can Be Used Against You’: Trump Took Big Risk Pleading the Fifth 400 Times in Deposition Says Legal Expert
A newly released video shows Donald Trump pleading the Fifth Amendment hundreds of times in a deposition, and a legal expert explained how that could be used against him in court.
The former president was finally hauled in to testify last year in the $25 million fraud lawsuit filed against the Trump Organization by New York attorney Letitia James, and he exercised his constitutional right against self-incrimination nearly 450 times — but MSNBC legal analyst Andrew Weissmann said the move carried potential risk in a civil case.
“I agree with him on the point of taking the Fifth,” Weissmann said. “It’s important to remember everyone has a right to the Fifth if a truthful answer would tend to incriminate you. In a civil case, it can be used against you, unlike in a criminal case.”
“One other thing I would disagree is when he is saying there’s this witch hunt, he left out jurors,” Weissmann added. “The Trump Organizations went to trial, they had their day in court. They could present all of their evidence, [and] 12 jurors, that’s everyday citizens, found beyond a reasonable doubt that there was a multi-year tax conspiracy that his organizations were involved in, and there was evidence he knew about it as would make sense. That’s one more reason for him to be asserting the Fifth Amendment.”
Image via Shutterstock
Stefanik Was Once ‘Laser Focused on Electing Santos’ – Now She Blames Voters for Electing Him as She Backs Away
One of the most powerful Republicans in the House of Representatives, U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), used her reputation and geographic proximity to help get fellow New York Republican George Santos elected to Congress. But now, as her donors and his express anger at being misled and lied to, and ahead of what appears to be a likely federal investigation and possible prosecution against the freshman GOP lawmaker, Stefanik is blaming voters for electing him to Congress: “Ultimately voters make this decision,” she said Tuesday.
Stefanik is the Chair of the House Republican Conference, a role she was first elected to when the now former Congresswoman, Liz Cheney, was thrown out of GOP leadership for telling the truth about the January 6 insurrection and Donald Trump. Stefanik was re-elected to her role after the November election.
Amid Santos announcing on Tuesday he is temporarily recusing himself from the two committees he was appointed to, Stefanik was asked if she regretted supporting his candidacy.
Indeed, one of the top reasons Santos was elected was Stefanik’s endorsement – and all the donor money that came with it.
“Stefanik’s team was laser focused on electing Santos to Congress – more than just about any other race in the country,” a senior Republican strategist involved in campaigns before the midterms told CNN. “Another donor, who attended a fundraising luncheon with Stefanik and Santos, confirmed to CNN through a representative that ‘he donated to George Santos because of Elise Stefanik’s endorsement.'”
It wasn’t just her endorsements. It appears Stefanik took great interest in getting Santos elected. CNN also reported that a source “said that a top political aide for Stefanik was involved in campaigning for Santos. Multiple sources told CNN that aide was closely advising Santos’ campaign and involved in hiring people.”
Stefanik’s spokesperson denied the allegations.
In July, Santos tweeted that Stefanik “has been one of my strongest backers and closest friends. I fully stand with her vote today as she stood up for civil rights. I look forward to serving alongside her when I’m elected to Congress in November.”
In fact, this was the banner atop Santos’ Twitter account for a very long time, up until recently:
Here is Stefanik tweeting her “major announcement” – her endorsement of Santos – on August 11, 2001, more than a year before Election Day.
“Excited to endorse my friend and fellow America First conservative George Santos for Congress in #NY03. @Santos4Congress will take on NYC liberal elites and bring a new generation of GOP leadership to NY and America. He has my full support!”
🚨🚨 MAJOR ENDORSEMENT ALERT 🚨🚨
Excited to endorse my friend and fellow America First conservative George Santos for Congress in #NY03.@Santos4Congress will take on NYC liberal elites and bring a new generation of GOP leadership to NY and America. He has my full support! 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/vGTnWW1ROY
— Elise Stefanik (@EliseStefanik) August 11, 2021
And in May of last year: “WOW! Great lunch event for @Santos4Congress! We raised over $100,000 to help George FLIP #NY03 George has my complete and total endorsement and come November, New Yorkers will send George to Congress! #SaveNewYork #SaveAmerica”
WOW! Great lunch event for @Santos4Congress!
We raised over $100,000 to help George FLIP #NY03 🔵➡️🔴
— Elise Stefanik (@EliseStefanik) May 23, 2022
She literally told voters that electing George Santos to Congress will “Save New York” and “Save America.”
On Tuesday, Stefanik told voters something very different: it’s their fault they voted for him, she said, taking no responsibility for her endorsements.
“Like all of my colleagues, particularly in New York State, I supported George Santos as the nominee, and the people of his district voted to elect him,” she told reporters – not once mentioning there was no Republican primary and Santos automatically became the Republican party’s nominee.
“Ultimately voters make this decision about who they elect to Congress,” Stefanik declared, wholly removing herself, her endorsements, and any possible assistance she or her campaign may have given to Santos or his campaign.
— CSPAN (@cspan) January 31, 2023
See the tweets and video above or at this link.
Santos Recuses Himself From Committees Amid Possible Criminal Investigation
Embattled freshman U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-NY), in what is the first time he has taken any steps to acknowledge the depths of political and now possibly criminal challenges he faces, says he will recuse himself from his committee assignments until his ethics issues have been resolved.
Santos also told his Republican colleagues of his plans on Tuesday, NBC News reports. Santos is on the Science and Small Business committees.
The Daily Beast’s Roger Sollenberger, who has provided extensive reporting on the Republican frequently called a “serial liar,” adds that the Santos’ announcement came after a meeting with Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
“With all signs pointing to an active federal criminal investigation into his campaign finance activity, Santos has ‘voluntarily’ declined—after meeting last night with Kevin McCarthy—to stay off of committees, as Republicans try to sideline Ilhan Omar,” Sollenberger reports.
Sollenberger broke the news that Santos, or his campaign, amended his FEC filing to indicate $625,000 in “personal” loans to his campaign were not actually from his personal funds.
Republicans are trying to keep U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), one of their regular, prime targets, from taking her seat on the Foreign Affairs Committee. Speaker McCarthy has already blocked Democratic Congressmen Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from the House Intelligence Committee, invoking his ability to do so because it is a Select committee and subject to the Speaker’s decisions.
MSNBC reported the breaking news on-air. Watch below or at this link.
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) January 31, 2023
This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change.
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