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LGBT Leadership Town Hall: What Grade Would You Give Obama And Congress?



On Thursday, April 22, the renowned Michelangelo Signorile, on his Out-Q Sirius Radio show, hosted “The Path Forward: An LGBT Leadership Town Hall,” an historic event to discuss the current state of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights, including “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” marriage equality, and other issues we’re focusing on right now.

Participants included National Gay & Lesbian Task Force executive director Rea Carey; Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese; National Center for Transgender Equality executive director Mara Keisling; Servicemembers Legal Defense Network executive director Aubrey Sarvis; former Clinton White House advisor on gay rights Richard Socarides and blogger and activist Pam Spaulding of Pam’s House Blend.

It was a great show, and I encourage everyone to take the time to listen to it. We owe Mike a debt of gratitude for his hard work and hard-hitting questions.

You can listen to a rebroadcast in full this weekend (schedule here.) If you’re not a Sirius subscriber, think about signing up — Mike is great! But you can get a free pass at the site if you want to try it out first.

I’ll be posting some highlights and my thoughts here.

So, here’s the first question Mike asked:

What is the grade you would give President Obama and the Congress, on LGBT issues?

Pam Spaulding: D

Aubrey Sarvis: C

Richard Socarides: D

Rea Carey: D

Mara Keisling : C Congress, B for president

Joe Solmonese: B for president, House a B, Senate a C.

Pam sited her frustration with communication, including “mixed messages” and a “press secretary that can’t answer yes or no.”

Aubrey supported his ‘C’ “because an extraordinary thing happened” in that Mullen and Gates both called for repeal.

Mike reminded Joe that “everything that has happened has not required the president to spend a lot of political capital…” Joe said we saw Obama spend capital on the hate crimes bill, and offered this on Obama and DADT:

“[If] we are able to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” we may not be as far along as we would like to be but I think he is as far along as he probably ever thought he would be.”

Socarides: “[Obama] has turned out to be an incrementalist of the purist order,” and said “the stuff that has come out of the justice department is despicable.” he also chastized Obama and the Democrats for not moving forward on marriage equality.

Mara said, “We’re getting a lot done,” and offered a comprehensive list.

Rea: “I expect more… the standards are higher.”

Now, I know you probably did a double-take on Joe’s comments. And let me say that Joe was the punching bag of the day, as he has been for quite some time now. I’ll leave that for later, but I’ll offer this now.

It’s three months, almost exactly to the day, since Obama declared,

“This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are.”

Solmonese immediately after said,

“Ridding our laws of discrimination that weakens our national security will require continued leadership from the President as well as Congressional allies.”

By comparison, Lt. Dan Choi, immediately after, said, “Now I have a job. To make sure it happens.” He’s chained himself to the White House gates twice and risked his career in the military. Draw your own conclusions.

I think it’s pretty clear, amid news that the White House has all but publicly back-pedaled on the president’s promise to repeal DADT this year, that we’re not seeing “continued leadership from the President.” And yet, Solmonese gives Obama a ‘B’?

Even Congressional Democrats want to move faster. (Read Clarknt67’s “Hill Democrats: Obama’s making a “huge mistake” on DADT, “we need the gay vote” at Daily Kos.)

In college, one of my professors graded us on what he thought our potential in life would be. I got a B+. It did nothing for me or for my life (although it might have raised my GPA.)

I don’t think the head of our country’s largest LGBTQ activist group should be grading the president on where the president “probably ever thought he would be.”

We’re literally talking about our lives, and make no mistake: LGBTQ issues are life and death issues. I don’t think we should let our leaders grade or be graded on a curve.

I agree with Rea Carey on this. “I expect more… the standards are higher.”

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‘I’m Broke’: One Day Before Shutdown and With No Plan McCarthy Says He Has ‘Nothing’ in His ‘Back Pocket’



Just 30 hours before his own Republican conference likely will have succeeded in shutting down the federal government of the United States, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy candidly admitted to reporters he’s run out of ideas.

Earlier Friday in an “embarrassing failure,” 21 House Republicans killed legislation from their own party, a short-term continuing resolution, that would have kept the federal government open.

Later on Friday afternoon, swarmed by reporters, McCarthy was asked if he was going to tell them what his plans are. He sarcastically replied, “No, I’m going to keep it all a secret.”

When pressed, he said he would “keep working, and make sure we solve this problem.”

“What’s in your back pocket, Speaker?” another reporter asked, pressing him for an answer.

“Nothing right now. I’m broke,” he admitted, apparently referring to options and ideas to avoid a shutdown.

READ MORE: ‘Bad News’ for Sidney Powell as First Trump Co-Defendant in Georgia RICO Case Takes Plea Deal: Legal Expert

But another reporter asked Speaker McCarthy the main question: Would he partner with House Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries to put the Senate’s bill before the House.

He refused to answer.

Just before 5 PM CNN’s Manu Raju reported on the ongoing House Republicans’ closed-door meeting with the Speaker, a meeting where the 21 Republicans who will likely be effectively responsible for the shutdown reportedly did not attend.

“McCarthy is telling [Republicans] now there aren’t many options to avoid a shutdown, according to sources in room. He says they can approve GOP’s stop-gap plan that failed, accept Senate plan, put a ‘clean’ stop-gap on floor to dare Democrats to block it — or shut down the government.”

READ MORE: Will McConnell and Senate Republicans Use Feinstein’s Passing to Grind Biden’s Judicial Confirmations to a Halt?

He adds, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) largely responsible for the impending likely shutdown and the impending possible ouster of McCarthy said: “We will not pass a continuing resolution on terms that continue America’s decline.”

At midnight Saturday Republicans will likely have succeeded in furloughing 3.5 million million federal workers – two million of them service members in the U.S. Armed Forces – and countless contractors, while financially harming untold thousands of businesses that rely on income from all those workers to keep running – unless Speaker McCarthy puts a bipartisan continuing resolution approved by at least 75 U.S. Senators on the floor, legislation every House Democrat is likely to vote for.

Should he do so, many believe he will have also signed his own pink slip.

But whether or not the government shuts down, and whether or not McCarthy puts the Senate’s CR on the floor, according to The Washington Post the far right extremists in his party are already moving to oust him “as early as next week.”

The Biden campaign is making certain Americans realize the blame for the impending shutdown sits at McCarthy’s feet.

At 6:23 PM Friday evening, Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman wrote on social media: “HOUSE REPUBLICANS HAVE NO PLAN TO KEEP GOVERNMENT OPEN.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

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‘Bad News’ for Sidney Powell as First Trump Co-Defendant in Georgia RICO Case Takes Plea Deal: Legal Expert



The first of 19 co-defendants in Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ RICO and election interference case against Donald Trump has pleaded guilty in what is being described as a “plea deal.”

“Under the terms of an agreement with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’s office, Hall pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit election fraud, conspiracy to commit computer theft, conspiracy to commit computer trespass, conspiracy to commit computer invasion of privacy, and conspiracy to defraud the state,” NBC News reports. “Under the terms of the deal, he’s being sentenced to five years probation.”

CNN previously reported “Hall, a bail bondsman and pro-Trump poll-watcher in Atlanta, spent hours inside a restricted area of the Coffee County elections office when voting systems were breached in January 2021. The breach was connected to efforts by pro-Trump conspiracy theorists to find voter fraud. Hall was captured on surveillance video at the office, on the day of the breach. He testified before the grand jury in Fulton County case and acknowledged that he gained access to a voting machine.”

READ MORE: Will McConnell and Senate Republicans Use Feinstein’s Passing to Grind Biden’s Judicial Confirmations to a Halt?

Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, a professor of law and frequent MSNBC contributor, says Hall “was in the thick of things with Sidney Powell on Jan 7 for the Coffee County scheme involving voting machines. If he’s cooperating, it’s a bad sign for her.”

Hall’s plea deal “spells bad news for, among others, Sidney Powell,” says former Dept. of Defense Special Counsel Ryan Goodman, an NYU Law professor of law. Goodman posted a graphic showing the overlap in charges against Hall and Powell, which he called “alleged joint actions.”

See the graphic above or at this link.


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Far-Right Republicans Kill GOP Bill to Keep Government Running in ‘Embarrassing Failure’ for McCarthy: Report



With a shutdown less than 36 hours away, far-right Republicans in the House of Representatives Friday afternoon voted against their party’s own legislation to kept the federal government running. Democrats opposed the content of the bill and voted against it. Just 21 far-right members of the GOP conference were able to effectively force what appears to be an all but inevitable shutdown at midnight on Saturday.

“HARDLINE HOUSE RS take down stopgap funding bill. 21 GOP no votes. 232-198,” reported Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman just before 2 PM Friday.

NBC News reported that a “band of conservative rebels on Friday revolted and blocked House Republicans’ short-term funding bill to keep the government open, delivering a political blow to Speaker Kevin McCarthy and likely cementing the chances of a painful government shutdown that is less than 48 hours away.”

READ MORE: Will McConnell and Senate Republicans Use Feinstein’s Passing to Grind Biden’s Judicial Confirmations to a Halt?

“Twenty-one rebels, led by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., a conservative bomb-thrower and a top Donald Trump ally, voted Friday afternoon to scuttle the 30-day funding bill, known as a continuing resolution or CR, leaving Republicans without a game plan to avert a shutdown. The vote failed,” NBC added. “The embarrassing failure of the GOP measure once again highlights the dilemma for McCarthy as his hard-liners strongly oppose a short-term bill even if it includes conservative priorities. It leaves Congress on a path to a shutdown, with no apparent offramp to avoiding it — or to quickly reopen the government.”

A bipartisan group of at least 75 U.S. Senators has passed two bills this week that would keep the government running. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy has refused to allow it to come to the floor for a vote.




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