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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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OPINION

‘Fact Checking His Delusions’: Trump’s Falsehoods May Not Be Lies Anymore, Critics Warn

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Suggesting there is an actual “method to the madness,” as the saying goes, in April The New York Times published “The Method Behind Trump’s Mistruths,” implying the falsehoods and lies Donald Trump tells almost if not daily are part of some coherent and intentional plan.

The Times’ Angelo Fichera offered explanations for why Trump lies with tremendous frequency. A few excerpts: “He grossly distorts his opponents’ records and proposals to make them sound unreasonable,” “He exaggerates and twists the facts to make his record sound better than it is,” “He relies on both well-worn and fresh claims of election rigging to suggest he can lose only if his opponents cheat,” and “He makes unverifiable claims about what the world would have been like had he secured a second term.”

Tuesday night, CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale, who started listening to or reading Trump’s every public statement during the 2016 election cycle, debunked 30 of the ex-president’s falsehoods and lies at his Wisconsin rally earlier that day. It took him just three minutes:

Barb McQuade, the well-known MSNBC/NBC News legal analyst, professor of law, and former U.S. Attorney responded to the CNN video: “The lies have become a tribal pose. Some Trump supporters believe his lies. Others don’t care. It is all about allegiance to the tribe over truth.”

Sarah Longwell, the executive director of the Republican Accountability Project and publisher of The Bulwark, earlier this year in The Atlantic wrote: “Trump Supporters Explain Why They Believe the Big Lie.”

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“For many of Trump’s voters, the belief that the election was stolen is not a fully formed thought. It’s more of an attitude, or a tribal pose,” she added.

John Stoehr, editor of the Editorial Board, said of Dale’s fact-checking, “What interesting here is Dan Dale isn’t just fact checking Trump’s lies. He’s fact checking his delusions. More of that would highlight his habitual incoherence.”

Trump’s public remarks, in interviews and on stage at rallies, do seem to have taken a turn. Some critics, like Stoehr, have pointed out that at times the criminally-convicted ex-president’s words aren’t just false, they don’t make sense.

Journalist Aaron Rupar, founder of Public Notice, has watched and recorded countless hours of Trump’s remarks.

In this clip from just a few weeks ago, he says Trump was “not coherent.”

This video from earlier this month got a lot of attention, with Trump talking about shark attacks, and electrocution from boats.

The Washington Post’s Philip Bump offered one reason why Trump might have injected sharks and electric-powered boats into a campaign speech, despite it being to a crowd in landlocked Nevada: Trump’s New York criminal trial was “centered on Stormy Daniels,” who “explained that one of their encounters overlapped with the Discovery Channel’s ‘Shark Week’ programming. As the two sat in Trump’s hotel room, he volunteered how much he hated sharks and wished they all would die.”

But that semi-logical divining still does not explain Trump’s “cognitive questions” – perhaps best exposed most recently by the author of a new book on Trump, “Apprentice in Wonderland.”

READ MORE: Republican Who Declared His State a ‘2nd Amendment Sanctuary’ Blocks Senate Bump Stock Ban

“Ramin Setoodeh, who interviewed Trump six times after he left office in 2021, told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins that there were points during those sessions when Trump seemed to think he still had some presidential powers,” HuffPost reports.

Saying he is the “journalist who spent the most time” with Trump, post-election, Setoodeh notes, “Donald Trump had severe memory issues.”

And while the anecdotes are disturbing, Setoodeh’s summation is far worse: “there was some cognitive questions about where he was and what he was thinking and he would he would, from time to time become confused.”

CNN’s Kaitlan Collins told Setoodeh, “you talked about his memory, you wrote that, you know, on some days I have the feeling he has no idea who he’s even talking to that he actually forgot, or didn’t remember that the two of you had spoken at your first sit down interview.”

Setoodeh responded, “right.”

It’s not just telling the truth Trump has a problem with, it’s his actual speech.

On Tuesday Raw Story‘s Sarah K. Burris reported on several verbal stumbles Trump made during his Wisconsin rally.

Trump, she wrote, “struggled to remember ABC News host George Stephanopoulos’ name, making a couple of efforts to pronounce it: ‘George Stopalopodis … George Stopodiaiiee.’ ”

“Trump mispronounced citizenship by calling it ‘citizensip.’ ”

“‘Joe Biden is forming granting mass–thinkit,’ Trump meandered in a section of the speech, with an excerpt of the video quickly spreading online.”

Back in March, Salon‘s senior politics writer Chauncey DeVega wrote: “In a recent conversation with Dr. John Gartner, a prominent psychologist and contributor to the bestselling book ‘The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President,’ the former faculty member at Johns Hopkins University told me that based on Trump’s speech, memory, recall, and other behavior, he appears to be ‘hypomanic’ and cognitively deteriorating at a rapid rate.”

DeVega quotes Gartner saying, “in my opinion, Donald Trump is dangerously demented.”

“I had to speak out now because the 2024 election might turn on this issue of who is cognitively capable: Biden or Trump? It’s a major issue that will affect some people’s votes,” Gartner said. “Not enough people are sounding the alarm, that based on his behavior, and in my opinion, Donald Trump is dangerously demented. In fact, we are seeing the opposite among too many in the news media, the political leaders and among the public. There is also this focus on Biden’s gaffes or other things that are well within the normal limits of aging. By comparison, Trump appears to be showing gross signs of dementia. This is a tale of two brains. Biden’s brain is aging. Trump’s brain is dementing.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

READ MORE: Democrats Have One Way to Correct Corruption of Justices Thomas and Alito: Expert

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Republican Who Declared His State a ‘2nd Amendment Sanctuary’ Blocks Senate Bump Stock Ban

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In 2021, as the Republican Governor of Nebraska, Pete Ricketts signed a “largely symbolic” proclamation declaring The Cornhusker State a “Second Amendment Sanctuary.” Now, calling the legislation a “show vote,” U.S. Senator Ricketts has blocked a Democratic bill that would have restored a ban on bump stocks, like the one used in the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.

Just four days ago, in a 6-3 decision along partisan lines, right-wing justices on the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a bump stock, that effectively turns an AR-15 into a machine gun, cannot be regulated under current law. Justice Clarence Thomas authored the majority opinion. The device is so dramatically lethal pro-gun President Donald Trump banned it in 2018.

In his concurring opinion, Justice Samuel Alito made clear: if lawmakers want to ban bump stocks, they can, by passing a federal law:

“Congress can amend the law—and perhaps would have done so already if ATF had stuck with its earlier interpretation. Now that the situation is clear, Congress can act.”

On Tuesday, Senator Ricketts blocked a bipartisan bill banning bump stocks – what the Supreme Court suggested and what Donald Trump had done – which was sponsored by Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Susan Collins (R-ME).

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Bump stocks increase the rate of fire from approximately 45-60 rounds per minute, to 400-800 rounds per minute.

Senator Ricketts called the vote on banning the lethal accessory that effectively increases the rate of fire by a factor of ten, “another day in the Democrat summer of show votes,” and called the legislation “a gun-grabbing overreach.”

“This bill will not pass,” Ricketts also said, as the Associated Press reported. “It won’t pass because enough people in this building still believe in the Constitution, and the Constitution affords Americans the right to own a firearm.”

Watch Ricketts’ remarks below or at this link.

READ MORE: Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Desperate Scramble to Stop Steve Bannon From Going to Prison

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Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Desperate Scramble to Stop Steve Bannon From Going to Prison

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On July 1, criminally-convicted former top Trump advisor Steve Bannon is expected to begin his four-month prison sentence for contempt of Congress after a federal appeals court in May rejected his last-ditch claim he was merely following advice of counsel by ignoring a lawful subpoena issued by the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack.

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has a plan to make Bannon’s conviction and prison sentence disappear – and that of former top Trump adviser Peter Navarro, who is currently serving his four-month prison sentence.

“I fully support and am co-sponsoring @RepThomasMassie’s resolution to rescind the subpoenas for Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro by repudiating Nancy Pelosi’s illegitimate J6 committee,” Congresswoman Greene wrote on social media Tuesday.

“Nancy Pelosi violated House rules by refusing to accept McCarthy’s appointed Republicans on the committee. Now, our Republican-led House must nullify any actions taken by the illegitimate J6 committee,” Greene wrote, falsely.

Two federal courts have ruled the House January 6 Committee was legally constituted.

READ MORE: Matt Gaetz Ethics Committee Sexual Misconduct and Drug Use Probe Expands

“We must also hold the J6 Committee members accountable for the destruction of the committee’s records,” she clamored, also falsely.

The New Republic‘s Hafiz Rashid is mocking the Georgia GOP lawmaker: “MTG’s New Plot to Save Trump Allies From Jail May Be Her Stupidest Yet.”

“Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene seems to think you can just rewind time,” TNR writes. “Unfortunately for Greene and other House Republicans, rescinding the subpoenas doesn’t magically mean no crime was committed.”

Bannon, who served as Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign CEO, his Chief White House Strategist, and Senior Counselor to the President, before returning to the far-right wing website Breitbart, where he was a founding board member and later, executive chairman.

But now Bannon, a far-right provocateur, hosts the “War Room” podcast, which Media Matters last year called “the media home of Project 2025 and Trump’s retribution plans.” Last year he called for Rep. Greene to become Speaker of the House.

Project 2025 is The Heritage Foundation’s massive plan to remake the entire Executive Branch, fire thousands of civil servants, and turn the Dept. of Justice into an arm of the next Republican President.

“Bannon has continued his usual activities, such as telling a Turning Point Action convention audience Saturday who exactly will be on Donald Trump’s anticipated ‘retribution’ list and naming Justice Department officials,” TNR added. “But now, after escaping prison once thanks to a Trump pardon over a border wall fraud scheme, he will soon be behind bars, and not in a minimum-security prison camp as he wants, but in a low-security prison like Rikers since he still has an open criminal case against him.”

READ MORE: Whoopi Goldberg Mocks ‘Crook’ Trump for ‘Black Church’ Trip

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