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Gays, Tea Parties, And Tax Day Protests. One Year Later, A Look Back.

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Wrong Fight At The Wrong Time In The Wrong Place Surrounded By The Wrong People

Editorial note:

I published this piece on Tax Day, 2009, under the title, “An Open Letter To Joe Solmonese About Teaparties, Taxes, Cabbages, And Kings,” and I am republishing it today.

To be clear, this is a piece from last year, and HRC is not planning any tax day protests and is not planning to encourage the gay community to attend any, based on information from my contact there. This piece this year has nothing to do with HRC, please do not view it as anything more than a look back, and an urging to not attend Tea Party or Tax Day Protests this year, especially while attempting to engender support for LGBTQ Americans and our second-class status.

Several LGBTQ organizations are encouraging people to form Tax Day, “Tea Party” style protests on the steps of their local post offices. Respectfully, this is a bad idea, for all the reasons I mention below. Bottom line, yes, our bottom lines are affected by being second-class citizens in the eyes of our government. But trying to gain support by protesting alongside the Tea Party protesters will only hurt, not help our cause.

Sometimes, doing the right thing at the wrong time is just as bad as doing the wrong thing at any time. And LGBTQs know all too well that guilt by association is how far too many people operate. Perception, as they say, is reality.

Protesting alongside the “Tea Party Patriots” or “Tea Party Americans” will only associate the LGBTQ community with their unhinged antics and lunatic rhetoric, racism, and bigotry in the minds of the general public. And then it becomes one more misconception, one more opportunity to blame us for something that we don’t deserve.

Lastly, one year later, I thought it would be interesting to look back to see how far the Tea Party has come. A word to the wise: they’re not going away. We need to remember how much they have turned our nation’s conversation to the right and emboldened the bigots and those who hate us to feel comfortable in their hate speech and ignorance. They’ve gone from wanting to elect someone they’re comfortable having a beer with to someone they’re comfortable having a beer with in an 1850s saloon with a gun strapped to their belt. And we need to thwart them at every turn.


April 15, 2009

Dear Joe,

For several months, Conservatives have been the willing butt of many “teaparty” jokes, by, pretty much most of the country. They’re really excited about playing dress-up and pretending to be Paul Revere, or 1773 pre-Revolutionary War Sons of Liberty left-overs. And for the past few days, my friends and I have had a blast, watching Rachel Maddow and Ana Marie Cox ridicule Conservatives and their teaparties. I’m sure you saw them last Thursday night on “The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC. Who hasn’t watched that clip of “Insanitea” over and over and over! It’s become such a joke that even Anderson Cooper last night on his show said, “It’s hard to talk when you’re tea bagging.” Yeah, it’s been good times!

So, imagine my anger when I got your “Stop unfair taxes on lesbian and gay families!” email, asking gays and lesbians to “head down to your local post office April 15 to talk to people in line and any members of the media who show up.” It’s the wrong fight, at the wrong time, in the wrong place, Joe. This is wrong on so many levels. I would say I can’t even begin to tell you, but I’m going to.

Today, April 15th, Conservatives will be holding “teaparties” on the steps of post offices around the country, hoping to rally support against what they perceive as an “oppressive Obama administration” and against what they see as unfair taxes. Taxes, I might add, that go to support the very programs that help our community, programs that Conservatives would cut first, given the chance, programs championed by those who support our cause the most.

Programs like 1-800-RUNAWAY, the federally-funded National Runaway Switchboard. Joe, as you know, while only a small percentage of all youths are gay, approximately 40% of all runaway youths are gay. 40%. Gay teens are up to four times more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual counterparts. We learned just last week of an eleven year old boy who committed suicide because he suffered taunts and threats from other students who made fun of him, insulted the way he dressed and called him gay.

Even when money exists for LGBTQ programs, money from taxes, Conservatives want to take it away. In 2006, in Southeastern Nebraska, Conservatives rallied to deny a small grant that would go to help LGBTQ youth, “saying it was controversial and “causes grief” to use tax dollars to fund gay and lesbian issues.” Protesting against taxes is not the right fight for us right now.

Let the Conservatives rally against cabbages and kings. Let us not be seen railing against an administration that is reaching out to our community and is providing us with the best chance at true equality we have ever had. An administration that, albeit far too slowly, will act to repeal DOMA and DADT, and enact ENDA.

I love my country, Joe. I love our rich and activist history. I love the idea of the Boston Tea Party. Good for those guys! Without their courage, we might not be here today. But, like many things they touch, today’s Conservatives have corrupted the very essence, and purity of meaning that the original Tea Party represented.

These tea parties (teaparties that are being organized not at the grassroots, but behind the scenes by a group funded by Westinghouse Corporation, Prudential Insurance, and AETNA, among others,) are attended by the very people who hate our community the most. The people who hate “liberals” the most. The people who hate gays the most. People like Alan Keyes, and Newt Gingrich, and Michelle Malkin, and religious extremists and secessionists. To copy their inane rhetoric and actions puts us in the wrong game, on the wrong field, next to the wrong players.

What will we have gained, when the local TV station in Des Moines, in Boswell, in Fremont, in New Haven, shows ten-second clips of the LGBTQ community standing on the steps of their post office, next to rallying right-wing Conservatives who don’t believe Barack Obama is an American?

Putting us in the same venue as those who openly advocate against us, while letting the media mistake our presence as being part of the Conservative Teaparty is just a bad idea. What little exposure we might gain is not worth the risk of being accused of palling around with teaparty terrorists. Our presence merely will be taken as a show of support for those who hate us, our agenda, and our recent successes. What helps them hurts us. Contributing to their turnout hurts us. Via GayPatriot:

“The Tea Party movement is currently on track to be the largest genuine grassroots movement America has seen since the Sixties. We don’t know yet whether it will be such a grassroots movement, but it could be. We’ll have a better idea on Wednesday when reports from across the country start coming in. If on a weekday, these protests attract more than 224,000 people, we’ll know there really is something to it. A quarter-million participant would suggest it’s more than just a flash in the pan.”

Why risk credibility with a protest hastily-organized on the coattails of our detractors that will merely give them the ammunition they need to say of our fight, “It’s not about marriage, it’s about money.” Joe, with the possible exception of Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who said, “I like to pay taxes. With them I buy civilization”, no one enjoys paying taxes. That “same-sex couples pay an average of about $1000 more in taxes than their opposite-sex counterparts” no doubt is true. We are, as a friend wrote to me on Twitter, “paying *more* than straight people to a government that classifies us as second-class citizens.” This is entirely unacceptable.

I believe in, and fight for LGBTQ equality every day. I want equal rights for all Americans, regardless of gender, orientation, or race. But the fight we don’t need to have today is one of economics. It’s not a fight we can win right now. The Right knows this. They’ve been marketing to us for decades. And given all the challenges the Right has thrown at us over the years, parts of the LGBTQ community are desperately in need of the support of civilization these days.

We are coming off of an historic week. Our wins in Iowa, in Vermont, and in D.C. will go down in history. The world, literally, is watching. Watching as yet another American civil rights movement spreads its wings. Last week gave hope to millions of Americans. Hope that said, in the words of our president, “Yes we can.” Yes we can actually win the rights we so richly deserve. The civil rights. The “unalienable rights”. The moral rights. We need to let the world know that these are the rights we’re fighting for. Economic rights come with moral rights. Not vice-versa.

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'USED BY THE FUHRER'

Dr. Oz Campaigned in Front of Hitler’s Car at a Fundraiser Hosted by Matt Gaetz’s In-Laws and Rick Scott’s NRSC: Report

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New Jersey celebrity doctor turned Pennsylvania Republican senatorial nominee, Dr. Oz, asked high-dollar donors for campaign cash Thursday night while standing in front of a car – emblazoned with a red swastika flag – that actually was used by Adolf Hitler. The fundraiser was hosted by U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz‘s in-laws and Republican Senator Rick Scott‘s National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC).

Ironically, it was all predicted by “The Simpsons.”

Calling it “quite a choice,” Jezebel reports, “Dr. Mehmet Oz attended a $5,000-a-plate fundraiser hosted by sex pest Matt Gaetz’s in-laws on Thursday night at the Lyon Air Museum and stood in front of one of Adolf Hitler’s cars, which made it into the background of attendees’ photos.”

“The museum is full of WWII memorabilia, and yes, it is just a museum,” the website explains. “Twitter user Larry Tenney shared a screenshot from Instagram stories showing Oz standing on a small podium next to a TV monitor showing the logo for the National Republican Senatorial Committee and a hashtag #TheOzShow. Jezebel confirmed the image as coming from the account of Shane Mitchell, who attended the event.”

The NRSC is chaired by Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott, who has come under fire for somehow spending millions of dollars in donations, but not on Senate campaigns. Scott, the former Florida governor, was the head of a healthcare corporation that was forced to pay the largest health care fraud settlement in history.

READ MORE: ‘What I Saw Was Abuse’: Allegations of Dr. Oz’s Experiments Killing Hundreds of Animals Fact-Checked by Whistleblower

Oz is running against – and slightly behind – Pennsylvania Democratic Lt. Governor John Fetterman.

Jezebel has much more in its report, including that the “chair of the event, Palmer Luckey, is Gaetz’s brother-in-law and the billionaire founder of Oculus VR.”

“Luckey is a Donald Trump supporter and, in 2017, he was photographed with Steve Bannon and white supremacist Chuck C. Johnson, with both Johnson and Luckey flashing a white power gesture. Luckey claimed on Twitter that the gesture being a hate symbol was ‘fake news’ and that people do it to ‘playfully mimic Trump.'”

READ MORE: Dr. Oz Trounced in Newsmax Interview as Host Demands Explanation for ‘Wegner’s’ and ‘Crudité’ Ad

“Potentially not unrelated to his politics, Luckey is also the head of a military technology company called Anduril that makes surveillance equipment used on the US border and is now making drones. The company has multiple contracts with the Department of Defense and Gaetz, meanwhile, sits on the House Armed Services Committee.”

“Mitchell’s Instagram stories also showed that cancel culture warrior and incel king Jordan Peterson appeared at the event by video.”

“Dr. Oz began the week with a story about him killing puppies,” observes The Forward’s Jake Wasserman, “and now is ending it standing in front of Hitler’s car. Truly a landmark in the history of U.S. Senate campaigns.”

Sawyer Hackett, a communications strategist and advisor to former HUD Secretary Julián Castro noted “The Simpson’s” and Fetterman seem to have predicted this all.

READ MORE: ‘Depraved’: Rick Scott’s NRSC Slammed Over Fundraiser Asking GOP Voters ‘Where Do You Want to Send Illegal Immigrants Next?’

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Biden Names and Shames ‘Socialist Republicans’ Who Voted Against His Infrastructure Bill but Are Begging Him for Funding

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President Joe Biden spoke about the September jobs report praised by leading economists Friday afternoon, and took a few moments to criticize the “socialist Republicans” who publicly voted against the critical infrastructure legislation that is an important part of his economic agenda, while privately begging him for funding for their districts.

“There’s a report, you guys can, as they say, as my grandkids say, ‘Google it,’ but a report that came out on CNN that says, ‘Republicans called Biden infrastructure program socialist.’ Then they asked for the money,” the President said mockingly.

“And it goes through all the Republicans, the most conservative Republicans, who called it ‘socialism,’ and how they’re asking for it. A guy named Paul Gosar,” President Biden said, referring to far-right wing white nationalist U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, Republican of Arizona.

“He’s written three separate letters to the administration, asking for projects in his district,” Biden said, appearing to read from the CNN report. “He says they enhance the quality of life and ease congestion, boost the economy.”

Biden. leaning into the microphone, told supporters, “Voted against it, says it’s all socialism.”

“Go down the list. Kentucky Representative Andy Barr.”

Mocking the GOP lawmaker he mimicked him saying, “The biggest socialist agenda.”

“Three different projects he wants, citing the importance of safety and growth in his district.”

“Rand Paul,” President Biden continued. “I go down the list. Look it up,” he said waving the pages of the report.

“Socialist,’ he said mockingly.

“I didn’t know there were that many socialist Republicans,” Biden deadpanned.

“Think about it. I’m serious,” the President urged. “Let’s get serious about taking care of ordinary people. Regular people like I grew up. Folks, look, you can’t make this stuff up. You got to say, I got to say, I was surprised to see so many socialists in the Republican caucus.”

Watch below or at this link.

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‘Just a Disgrace’: Former DOJ Officials Express Concern, Call for Resignation of FBI Director Wray

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Christopher Wray, the Trump-appointed Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is in hot water as former Dept. of Justice officials express concern, with some calling for his resignation.

“Christopher Wray has a problem and it’s coming from inside the house,” says Asha Rangappa, a former FBI Special Agent, a senior lecturer at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, a legal and national security analyst, and a CNN commentator.

Rangappa was responding to a damning report on Thursday from NBC News Justice reporter Ryan J. Reilly.

“Another former Oath Keepers member testifies that he tried to tip off the FBI and other officials after he recorded an Oath Keepers call he was concerned about in Nov. 2020, before Jan. 6,” Reilly tweeted.

“Did anyone call you back?” the Oath Keeper was asked.

“Yeah, after it all happened,” he responded.

READ MORE: ‘Did Not Further Investigate’: FBI Director Reveals Trump White House Was in Charge of FBI’s Tips About Brett Kavanaugh

“On Nov. 9, 2020,” The Washington Post explains, “as Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes told members of his paramilitary group to get ready to fight for President Donald Trump in the streets of Washington, one listener was secretly recording, an FBI agent testified Tuesday.”

“An ‘increasingly alarmed follower’ recorded the meeting and shared it with law enforcement, prosecutor Jeffrey Nestler said Monday in the federal trial of Rhodes and four others accused of a seditious conspiracy to keep Trump in office. But the tip, sent to the FBI on Nov. 25, 2020, was apparently ignored.”

NBC News Justice and Intelligence Correspondent Ken Dilanian, responding to the Post’s report, tweeted: “The FBI got [a] tip in November 2020 about the Oath Keepers’ plans for an armed fight in DC–but apparently ignored it. This is the latest evidence of a massive failure to act on available intelligence that all but predicted Jan. 6th. The FBI has no comment.”

Attorney Andrew Weissmann spent 20 years at the U.S. Dept. of Justice, including serving as chief of the DOJ’s Criminal Fraud Section. At the FBI, Weissmann was director of the Bureau’s Enron Task Force, and served as FBI General Counsel. He also held a management role on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team.

Late Thursday night, also responding to Reilly’s tweet, Weissmann declared: “Wray has to go. It’s just a disgrace. With not an ounce of expressed remorse.”

Weissmann is not alone.

READ MORE: ‘No Recession’: Economists Elated Over ‘Amazing’ and ‘Perfect’ Jobs Report – Blast Media’s ‘Anti-Biden Narrative’

Former SDNY Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Signorelli says, “I am joining [Andrew Weissmann] in calling for the resignation of Christopher Wray @FBI director for, at the very least, gross incompetence, & at the very worst, turning a blind eye to the 1/6 insurrection that was to happen. He is partially responsible for the death & destruction.”

Reilly’s tweet about a major tip getting ignored by the FBI received a great deal of attention.

Journalist JJ MacNab, a Fellow at George Washington University’s Program on Extremism, responded to it, saying, “I can tell you from personal experience, this rings true.”

Award–winning journalist Andrea Bernstein also responded to Reilly’s tweet, writing: “Another tip, sent before J6 to FBI. That’s two early tips from Oath Keepers. Plus Jackson Reffitt, son of convicted J6 attacker guy Reffit. There were So. Many. Warnings.”

Wray became the Director of the FBI in August of 2017. FBI Directors are appointed by the President, confirmed by the Senate, for a 10-year term. Presidents can fire FBI Directors technically for any reason, but doing so can lead to calls of politicization.

Donald Trump, as president, infamously fired FBI Director Jim Comey, one day later telling top Russian officials inside the Oval Office doing so removed “great pressure” on him from the Russia investigation.

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