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LGBTQ Leadership: Gone The Way Of America’s Automakers

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Remember the Big Four Automakers? Who are now the Big Three Automakers? Maybe soon the Big Two Automakers, now that GM has declared bankruptcy? They had their glory days, but failed to see the coming change, spent too much time and money on misguided efforts, and ultimately lost relevance, credibility and the support of their customers. They grew too big, became loath to change, and are dying a slow death. The automobile will live on, but those companies that drove it into the twenty-first century, and themselves into bankruptcy, may not.

Just as the automobile itself was truly a vehicle for social change during much of the twentieth century, so were the Big Four. Not the automakers, but the main LGBTQ activist organizations: Human Rights Campaign (HRC), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF). The LGBTQ community now has grown up strong, thanks to our leaders, the Big Four. And I say thank you to the The Task Force, the oldest LGBTQ activist organization. Thank you to HRC. Thank you to the ACLU. And thank you to GLAAD. I say thank you, and I say, goodbye.

Now, for the first time, the LGBTQ community is in a position of power. We are winning marriage equality, slowly but surely. Our goals are well-defined. They include passage of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Bill, repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), passage of the Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), and repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), as well as full marriage equality in all 50 states, all territories, and in Washington, D.C.  We’ve won marriage equality in six states, hopefully seven (New York) before month’s end. And yet, despite a clearer path and major successes, despite increasing public attention on our issues and rising public support, despite a Democratic Congress and Democratic President, the ire and anger within our community is at a level not seen, many would say, since Stonewall. And the big difference now, the sign that we’ve achieved critical mass: the anger is directed at our allies. Why? Because, when you’re so close to achieving your goals, when you succeed despite the efforts of your leaders, and sometimes fail because of them, it’s clear you need new ones.

The Big Four did their job. They drove us to the twenty-first century. But they didn’t push themselves into it. Collectively, like the American automakers, they are 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.

These are the groups that are able to mobilize hundreds of thousands, to get the attention of the media and voters, focus our energy and our message more efficiently, more effectively, without concern for the ways of the past, and without concern for their boards of directors. These groups are inter-dependent, act quickly, and can attack an issue from many different angles, because they’re down in the trenches and accessible. They aren’t thinking of themselves as leaders, but as partners, forging new ground. And they’re successful because they care more about our cause than about their corporate boards and sponsors, if they even have any.

Contrast them with the old guard, the Big Four. The Task Force’s main focus is developing and educating at the grassroots level. But they have fourteen different focuses and address too many tangential issues that have little to do with the success of our mission. For example, the murder of Dr. George Tiller. An atrocity, to be sure. But it has little to do with DADT, ENDA, DOMA, or, even, the Hate Crimes bill. And yet, the Task Force was quick to release a statement condemning it. Why? How much energy and time was spent on that issue, especially when three days earlier they had just begun their Twitter social media effort. Why has it taken them so long to begin to harness social media?

Or the Human Rights Campaign, which focuses on thirteen different issues. Which actually has had to start sending out emails that read “What has HRC done for me lately?”. Which, recently, has been forced into the position of denying a close relationship with the White House and Congress, when it should be touting its ability to access and to partner with government on planning and executing strategy.

GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, has done little to attack the Right Wing or to change the tone and perception of anti-gay Conservatives. How can I say this? Their websites do not even mention extreme Right-Wing blogger Michelle Malkin, barely mention Maggie Gallagher, President of the National Organization For Marriage, and only once mention Michael Savage, whose views are so outrageous he was actually banned from entering Great Britain. Can you name any three people in the media who have had more to do with defamation of the LGBTQ community?

The ACLU, which is not solely an LGBTQ-focused organization, has had its share of successes and failures, but overlaps many efforts and suffers an overextended focus.

And now, we have countless LGBTQ activists and organizations. Hundreds of dedicated bloggers. All acting independently. All acting on their own agenda. Most, if not all, looking for attention and funding. Most, if not all, overlapping efforts. Our diversity, which has always been our greatest strength, is now threatening to become our greatest weakness.

Here’s what needs to happen:

Organizations like HRC, GLAAD, the ACLU, and the Task Force need to look at themselves and strip down to their most basic assets. Be the support services for legal, educational, media, and lobbying national issues. Embrace all the twenty-first century has to offer, starting with social media opportunities like Twitter and Facebook, YouTube and MeetUp. And act as background, technical support and capacity-building for the grassroots groups that are in the trenches, truly making a difference.

The ACLU should attack all our legal issues and court cases that deal with discrimination, hate crimes, the military, and marriage equality.

GLAAD should be our media arm, but partner with the Task Force, the ACLU, and the HRC. Let’s get our messaging clear and into the right media outlets.

The Task Force should focus only on educating grassroots organizations.

Finally, the HRC, with new, better leadership, should be our representatives to government. They should be lobbying and creating legislative strategy to ensure successful outcomes on DADT, ENDA, DOMA, and the Hate Crimes Bill.

The Boards of Directors and CEOs of the Big Four should be in regular contact. The CEO of The Task Force should sit on the Board of HRC. The ACLU’s CEO should sit on the Board of GLAAD, and so on.

It’s time the Big Four start working together. End whatever old animosities they harbor, for the good of the community. Step back, give their power to the grassroots. The LGBTQ movement has once again become a grassroots movement. We no longer need the old guard, the Big Four. But it would be nice to have them, if they can learn to adapt. If not, we’ll be happy to remember them fondly. Like General Motors.

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‘Your Client Is a Criminal Defendant’: Judge Denies Trump Request to Skip Trial for SCOTUS

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Barely hours after New York State Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan gave Donald Trump the same set of rules requiring him to appear in court as all other criminal defendants, the ex-president’s attorney requested his client be allowed to skip trial next Thursday to attend the U.S. Supreme Court arguments on his immunity claim.

“If you do not show up there will be an arrest,” Judge Merchan had told Trump Monday at the start of his criminal trial, according to MSNBC’s Jesse Rodriguez. Trump is facing 34 felony charges for falsification of business records related to his alleged attempts to cover up hush money payments in an effort to protect his 2016 presidential campaign.

Judge Merchan had read from the same rules that apply to all defendants, but right at the end of day one of trial Trump attorney Todd Blanche made his request.

MSNBC’s Lisa Rubin reports, “after the potential jurors are gone, the fireworks start after Blanche asks Merchan to allow Trump to attend the SCOTUS argument on presidential immunity next Thursday, 4/25.”

READ MORE: ‘What Will Happen in the Situation Room?’: Trump Appearing to Sleep in Court Fuels Concerns

“The Manhattan DA’s office opposes the request, saying they have accommodated Trump enough,” MSNBC’s Katie Phang adds, citing Rubin’s reporting.

Judge Merchan “acknowledges a Supreme Court argument is a ‘big deal,’ but says that the jury’s time is a big deal too. Blanche says they don’t think they should be here at all, suggesting that the trial never should have been scheduled during campaign season.”

“That comment appeared to trigger Merchan, who asked, voice dripping with incredulity, ‘You don’t think you should be here at all?'” Rubin writes.

“He then softly asks Blanche to move along from that objection, on which he has already ruled. Merchan then got stern, ruling that Trump is not required to be at SCOTUS but is required, by law, to attend his criminal trial here.”

“Your client is a criminal defendant in New York. He is required to be here. He is not required to be in the Supreme Court. I will see him here next week,” Judge Merchan told Blanche, CBS News’ Scott MacFarlane reported.

That was not the only request Trump’s attorneys made to have their client excused from the criminal proceedings.

Lawfare managing editor Tyler McBrien reports, “Blanche says that the campaign has taken pains to schedule events on Wednesdays and asks Merchan if Trump be excused from any hearings that take place on Wednesdays, when the jury is in recess. Merchan says he will take this into consideration.”

READ MORE: ‘Scared to Death’: GOP Ex-Congressman Brings Hammer Down on ‘Weak’ Trump

Blanche also asked Judge Merchan to allow Trump to skip trial to attend his son Barron’s high school graduation. While the judge has yet to rule, Trump told reporters at the end of day one of trial, “it looks like the judge will not let me go to the graduation.”

The judge told Trump, “I cannot rule on those dates at this time.”

But Trump told reporters, “It looks like the judge isn’t going to allow me to escape this scam, it’s a scam trial.”

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‘What Will Happen in the Situation Room?’: Trump Appearing to Sleep in Court Fuels Concerns

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Donald Trump’s apparent sleeping in court on day one of his criminal trial for alleged business fraud related to a cover-up of “hush money” election interference has critics concerned.

While initial reactions to the news largely mocked him as “Sleepy Don,” or “Drowsy Don,” political and legal experts are wondering if the 77-year old ex-president would be able to stay awake during times of crisis, when an alert president would be critical to the nation’s security.

The New York Times‘ Maggie Haberman, the longtime “Trump whisperer,” reported the ex-president “seemed alternately irritated and exhausted Monday morning,” “appeared to nod off a few times, his mouth going slack and his head drooping onto his chest.” She added the ex-president’s attorney “passed him notes for several minutes before Mr. Trump appeared to jolt awake and notice them.”

READ MORE: ‘Staged Photo Op’ of Trump With Black Chick-fil-A Patrons Was ‘True Retail Politics’ Says Fox News

Haberman followed up her Times article with a CNN appearance detailing more of what she saw. The Guardian‘s Victoria Bekiempis, MSNBC’s Katie Phang, and others also reported Trump was seen nodding off.

Critics raised concerns that question Trump’s ability to perform the duties of President.

“If Trump is too old and weak to stay awake at his own criminal trial, what do you think will happen in the Situation Room?” asked former senior advisor to President Barack Obama Dan Pfeiffer.

Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Will Bunch invoked Hillary Clinton’s famous “3 AM phone call” ad from the 2008 campaign, and wrote:

“2008: Which candidate can handle the 3 a.m. phone call?

2024: Which candidate can handle the 3 p.m. phone call?”

Several also noted that Clinton, the former U.S. Secretary of State, testified for 11 hours on live television before a congressional committee and did not fall asleep. Some also noted that President Joe Biden sat for a five-hour deposition with Special Consul Robert Hur and did not fall asleep.

READ MORE: ‘Not a Good Start’: Judge Slams Trump’s ‘Offensive’ Recusal Claims as a ‘Loose End’

Calling it “simply incredible,” professor of law, MSNBC/NBC News legal contributor and former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance asked, “If he can’t keep his eyes open when his own liberty is at stake, why would Americans have confidence he’s capable of focus when our country’s interests require sound presidential leadership?”

MSNBC contributor Brian Tyler Cohen commented, “To be clear, ‘Sleepy Joe’ is awake and criss-crossing the country, while Trump is literally asleep at his own criminal trial.”

Former journalist Jennifer Schultz observed, “Moment of truth for all the legacy media outlets who hyped the Biden age stories. Now we have actual evidence of the other candidate falling asleep at a critical time.”

 

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Fox Personality’s Tweet Called ‘Jury Tampering’ by US Congressman

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A Fox personality and Fox News contributor’s social media post on Monday is raising eyebrows, as one U.S. Congressman calls it “jury tampering” and a legal expert suggests it could be “conspiring to commit jury tampering.”

Clay Travis is an attorney and the founder of the conservative “sports and American culture” website Outkick, which was purchased by Fox Corporation in 2021.

His Fox News bio calls him “the founder of the fastest-growing national multimedia platform,” and, “One of the most electrifying and outspoken personalities in the industry,” who “provides his unfiltered opinion on the most compelling headlines throughout sports, culture, and politics.”

READ MORE: ‘Not a Good Start’: Judge Slams Trump’s ‘Offensive’ Recusal Claims as a ‘Loose End’

On Monday, Travis’ account on X, formerly Twitter, displayed a post that reads: “If you’re a Trump supporter in New York City who is a part of the jury pool, do everything you can to get seated on the jury and then refuse to convict as a matter of principle, dooming the case via hung jury. It’s the most patriotic thing you could possibly do.”

“Jury tampering. That’s what they do. *It’s a felony,” wrote U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) in response.

National security attorney Bradley Moss weighed in, writing, “Clay is arguably conspiring to commit jury tampering here by encouraging someone to deliberately engage in jury nullification. Not a wise move by Clay.”

Former federal and state prosecutor Ron Filipkowski, now the editor-in-chief of MediasTouch, wrote simply, “This is MAGA.”

READ MORE: ‘Scared to Death’: GOP Ex-Congressman Brings Hammer Down on ‘Weak’ Trump

Sirius XM host Dean Obeidallah, also an attorney, commented, “Hoping Manhattan DA is aware of this attempted jury tampering by Fox News regular Clay Travis.” He also wrote: “This is the exact type of juror tampering I knew Trumpers would engage in. Next Clay will tell Trumpers to bribe jurors or witnesses. MAGA is a cancer!”

Travis, responding to Congressman Swalwell, denied the allegation:

“This isn’t jury tampering you imbecile. I would nullify if I were seated on this jury as a matter of principle. I think all Americans with a comprehension of basic justice should do the same.”

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