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LGBT Leadership Town Hall: Why Was HRC’s Joe Solmonese So Supportive Of Obama’s Performance?

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Earlier, I shared with you Michelangelo Signorile’s first question, “What Grade Would You Give Obama And Congress on LGBT issues?” and the panel’s responses from his Out-Q Sirius Radio show yesterday, “The Path Forward: An LGBT Leadership Town Hall.”

Remember, 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.

Now, I want to share the next segment, comments made by National Gay & Lesbian Task Force executive director Rea Carey, Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese, and blogger and activist Pam Spaulding of Pam’s House Blend. After you read them, I’ll share my thoughts. The question was a bit broad ranging, but had to do with where we are right now, in relation to progress on LGBT issues, and the White House, from the moment Obama took office.

Rea Carey:

Some of these things [we’ve accomplished] are not sexy. They’re not going to make headlines. So we have to force them to make the headlines.

It’s as if during the previous eight years, someone went through the entire federal government and unplugged every lamp that had anything to do with money going to our community, attention to young people, to seniors, anything that would benefit LGBT people, and they shoved them in closets.

She went on to say that there’s been a lot of work by a coalition of twenty LGBT organizations to work their way back, and to communicate our needs and our stories to decision-makers in government.

Joe Solmonese:

This administration has appointed the highest-ranking openly gay person of any administration in history in John Berry as head of the OPM, and the greatest number of openly-LGBT people, moreso than any previous administration.

When we talk about these things, like DOMA, and ENDA, and Uniting American Families, and the big landmark legislation, that is not something that sits solely with the president. You can’t evaluate the president’s performance on the idea the we ought to have overturned DOMA at this point, without considering the fact that you’ve got to look at the fact of where we are in the House and Senate on those things.

Pam Spaulding:

I expect that the [LGBT activist] groups working at the federal level are going to see the importance of getting ENDA done, getting these things done. And when you see the behavior that has been exhibited during the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which, it seems like that repeal should have been a lot easier than it has been, I wonder when I see lots of my readers saying, ‘Why aren’t they all working together and holding a press conference?’ ‘Why can’t they do joint activities that show the level of urgency?’

While listening to the Town Hall, I gained a tremendous amount of respect for NGLTF’s Rea Carey. She has credibility and intimate knowledge of details. Pam Spaulding said the exact same thing I said a year ago in May, 2009, in my piece, “The Big Tent,” when I asked, “How do you feel our leaders are serving us?” and, when are they going to start working together? and then later, when I wrote in “LGBTQ Leadership: Going The Way Of America’s Automakers,” that our LGBT activist groups are like the American automakers,

…old, outdated, ineffective, over-lapping behemoths whose lack of achievement demand they either declare bankruptcy, then refocus on their core competencies and truly re-create themselves, or turn over the wheel to the new leaders of our community: national grassroots organizations like Join the Impact, and local ones, like Mass Equality, Equality Maine, and One Iowa.

In my previous post I mentioned how HRC’s Joe Solmonese was really the “punching bag” of the day. Do you see why?

Why is it at every turn, Solmonese makes a concerted effort to bend over backwards and applaud Obama for things like appointing “the highest-ranking openly gay person of any administration in history,” (which is nice, but doesn’t stop DADT discharges or let me marry.) Joe’s own letter to Obama a year ago June, while firm, has certainly not delivered any results.) Why is Solmonese working so hard to defend Obama’s performance?

Here’s a little fact I learned during my twenty-five years in business. Think about your own experience and you’ll recognize its truth: Poor performers stick together. Excellent performers stick together. Not all the time, but look around your workplace, or think about life in college or high school.

Those who are doing a great job surround themselves with others who do a great job. Solmonese’s adamant, uncritical, unwavering support of Obama on LGBT issue performance — which is where they both are weak — is becoming, well, let’s call it uncomfortable.

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‘He Said I’m Doing a Very Good Job’: Mike Johnson Slammed Over Remarks on Trump Meeting

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Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, the most-powerful elected Republican in the nation, second in line to the presidency, is under fire after appearing to subordinate himself to the criminally-indicted and criminally-convicted one-term ex-president, as he glowingly delivered a report of his Thursday meeting with Donald Trump.

Trump “said very complementary things about all of us. We had sustained applause. He said I’m doing a very good job. We’re grateful for that,” Speaker Johnson told reporters (vide below) after he and members of his Republican conference met with the ex-president barely blocks from where the January 6, 2021 insurrection Trump incited took place. Thursday marks the first time since that fatal and violent day Trump has returned to Capitol Hill.

The Speaker of the House is the co-head of a co-equal branch of the federal government. Donald Trump is no longer president, so is no longer head of the executive branch.

House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik told reporters it was a “very successful special political conference with our special guest, President Donald J. Trump.”

“Johnson has openly embraced Trump, who was crucial in supporting him when he faced the threat of being ousted … by conservative GOP House hard-liners, saying coordination with Trump is important heading into November’s election and a potential second Trump presidency,” ABC News reports.

READ MORE: ‘Don’t Breathe Easy Yet’: Abortion Pill Safe Only ‘For Now’ Experts Say After SCOTUS Ruling

“I think it’s important for the country, to have us, to have close coordination,” Johnson also said Wednesday. “I believe he’ll have, can be, the most consequential president of the modern era, because we have to fix effectively every area of public policy.”

Presidential historian Michael Beschloss, who has written nine books on the American presidency, slammed Johnson.

“Speaker of the House is incumbent elected officer of coequal branch of American government—shouldn’t feel need to publicly pronounce himself ‘grateful’ to an ex-President for saying he and party colleagues are doing a ‘good job.’ ”

“Half the US Congress is now weaponized, obstructing justice, and abusing power to help trump launder away his criminality, malfeasance, and failure—while also conflating government business with his campaign and insurrection with government,” observed Condé Nast legal affairs editor Luke Zaleski. “Trump owns the House. Is America next?”

Former Obama senior advisor Dan Pfeiffer noted, “Trump’s supporters almost murdered these folks less than four years ago.”

U.S. Rep. Sean Casten (D-IL) added, “The guy who found ‘very fine people on both sides’ of a neo-Nazi rally thinks Mike Johnson is doing a good job. And Mike Johnson is proud of that. These people.”

Watch Speaker Johnson’s remarks below or at this link.

RELATED: ‘These Kinds of Folks’: Jim Jordan Wants to Block Fani Willis and Alvin Bragg

 

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‘Don’t Breathe Easy Yet’: Abortion Pill Safe Only ‘For Now’ Experts Say After SCOTUS Ruling

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In a largely expected ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously rejected an attempt to have a decades-old prescription drug widely used to induce abortions, mifepristone, pulled from the market, but only because the group that filed the lawsuit lacked standing. The court did not rule on the actual merits of the case, nor on the drug’s safety and viability, or the FDA’s decision to approve the medication. Civil rights and other legal experts have long held Republicans, especially after Roe v. Wade was overturned, want to go after medication abortion and contraception, and warn after Thursday’s SCOTUS ruling those efforts will continue.

Mifepristone, which was first approved for use in France in 1988, was approved for prescription use in 2000 by the U.S. Food and Drug administration, which states it is safe to use.

“Justice Brett Kavanaugh, writing for the court, wrote that while plaintiffs have ‘sincere legal, moral, ideological, and policy objections to elective abortion and to FDA’s relaxed regulation of mifepristone,’ that does not mean they have a federal case,” NBC News reports.

Justice Kavanaugh advised the plaintiffs that they “may present their concerns and objections to the president and FDA in the regulatory process or to Congress and the president in the legislative process.”

“And they may also express their views about abortion and mifepristone to fellow citizens, including in the political and electoral processes,” he added.

READ MORE: GOP Will Ban IVF if Trump Wins After Southern Baptists Condemnation: Expert

Robert Reich, the professor of public policy and former U.S. Cabinet Secretary, wrote: “The Supreme Court dismissing challenges to the FDA’s approval of mifepristone is good news, but the fight’s not over. A MAGA-controlled FDA could effectively ban all abortion medications without even involving the courts or Congress. Abortion access is on the ballot this fall.”

Legal journalist Cristian Farias, added, “Today’s decision denying standing to religious doctors challenging the FDA’s approval of mifepristone says nothing about states doing the same. That’s a big problem, because Trump judge Matthew Kacsmaryk allowed a trio of states to intervene in this very case. He’s on a mission.”

Also pointing to the Kacsmaryk decision, Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern warns, “Today’s decision will probably not stop him from issuing more nationwide restrictions on mifepristone.”

Legal experts say the way the court ruled was anticipated, the physicians’ claim to standing was “utterly ridiculous,” and warn the right will return with another attack on medication abortion.

Attorney Moe Davis, the well-known and outspoken retired U.S. Air Force Colonel, professor of law, and judge, declared: “To be clear, the Supreme Court did not decide the merits of the case. They said the party challenging mifepristone lacked standing (i.e., they couldn’t show they suffered any injuries) to bring the case. Another party could (and will) try again. This isn’t a win, it’s a delay.”

Professor of law and legal historian Mary Ziegler said, “The fight over abortion pills and the Comstock Act isn’t over. Other plaintiffs are ready to bring identical claims and assert they have standing. And conservatives argue that a Trump DOJ could enforce the Comstock Act as a ban and force SCOTUS to take up the q.”

READ MORE: ‘Birth Control and Dental Dams and Food’: Fox News Host’s Rant Goes Viral

Alex Aronson, former Chief Counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, now Executive Director of the non-profit organization Court Accountability, responded to Thursday’s ruling from a tactical perspective.

“Classic Roberts Court maneuver:

-grant dangerous, frivolous, right-wing case with no business on its docket;

-light country’s hair on fire;

-smack down frivolous case to be hailed as reasonable and moderate, giving cover to other destruction.

-still advance right-wing agenda”

Professor of law Melissa Murray, making clear this ruling is likely not the end, warned, “don’t breathe easy yet.”

“This decision preserves access to medication abortion… FOR NOW,” she wrote. “There will be another case–with better plaintiffs–before the Court faster than Thomas can book a ride on Crow’s private jet.”

READ MORE: ‘Lying’: Johnson Slammed for Latest Claim on Trump Respecting Peaceful Transfer of Power

 

Image via Shutterstock

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‘These Kinds of Folks’: Jim Jordan Wants to Block Fani Willis and Alvin Bragg

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Republican Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, increasing his efforts to use the tools of his office to support, protect, and promote Donald Trump, has been speaking with Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan about defunding federal prosecutions of the now-criminally convicted ex-president, according to a report by Politico Playbook.

Thursday morning Donald Trump is meeting with House Republicans, barely blocks away from the violent and deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol he incited, at the restaurant where one of the pipe bombs was discovered outside on January 6, 2021. Republicans, according to Punchbowl News’ Max Cohen, are singing the indicted ex-president “Happy Birthday,” and have presented him with the bat and ball from the congressional baseball game, which the GOP won Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, asked if Trump has committed to respect the peaceful transfer of power, an irritated and frustrated Speaker Johnson told reporters, “Of course he respects that. And we all do and we’ve all talked about it ad nauseam.”

READ MORE: GOP Will Ban IVF if Trump Wins After Southern Baptists Condemnation: Expert

Trump has been urging Speaker Johnson to pass legislation that would allow an ex-president to move any state-level prosecutions against them to the federal courts. It’s an idea that has been met with skepticism among Republicans, but “there’s an education effort underway inside the House GOP,” Politico reports, citing remarks by the bill’s sponsor, U.S. Rep. Russell Fry (R-SC).

Chairman Jordan wants to take those efforts to defund those federal prosecutions, specifically defunding Special Counsel Jack Smith’s Office, and extend them to state prosecutors who have brought cases against the ex-president. State and local law enforcement agencies, including district attorneys offices, are eligible for federal grants.

“That country certainly sees what’s going on, and they don’t want Fani Willis and Alvin Bragg and these kinds of folks to be able to continue to use grant dollars for targeting people in a political lawfare type of way,” Chairman Jordan told Politico Playbook.

READ MORE: ‘Birth Control and Dental Dams and Food’: Fox News Host’s Rant Goes Viral

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