Maggie Gallagher, front woman for National Organization for Marriage, trying desperately to spin the disastrous showing marriage equality opponents had at Thursday’s legislative hearing in New Hampshire, posted an interesting talking point she seemed to think had value to her organization’s blog. Praising her compatriot in bigotry, Kevin Smith from Cornerstone Action PAC, who is like her, a professional homophobe that collects a salary to testify against the equal rights of gay people, Maggie says:
My favorite Kevin Smith line: â€œThe sky didnâ€™t fall in 2008 when the voters repealed same-sex marriage. The sky didnâ€™t fall in Maine either the next year in 2009, when the voters repealed gay marriage passed by the legislature.â€
Let’s look at what she’s really saying there.
Maggie Gallagher and her crew are saying, “Hey, it’s not such a big deal. Just go ahead and do it. They did it elsewhere.”
She’s suggesting lawmakers ignore the will of the people. Ignore the WMUR/Granite State poll, that show 62% of New Hampshire residents have no desire to see this repealed in favor of the 29% who do. University of New Hampshire pollster Andrew Smith, who directs the UNH Survey Center, called it more than opposition but rather “powerful resistance.”
Let’s look at how the breaks down by intensity:
Clearly not only the numbers, but the passions lie in defending New Hampshire’s marriage equality.
And this was demonstrated very clearly in Thursday’s hearing.
In droves, supporters took time out of their day to discuss the humanity of the people these repeal bills would hurt. They spoke for themselves, their partners, their sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, parents and grandparents. Maggie’s group is imploring legislators to ignore it all, because, well, they’ll get over it.
Ignore Paul Ober (left) who bravely came out of the closet to his friends and his hockey team to testify, because he said, “this is too important.” Ignore Craig Stowell who stood up for his brother, and said, “no one has the right to take away his freedom to marry.” Ignore Linda Maloney who stood up for her daughter saying, “when I found out from Courage Campaign that NOM, the so-called ‘National Organization for Marriage,’ was trying to take that right away from my Cait, I couldnâ€™t stand by and do nothing.”
Maggie’s saying to lawmakers, “Everything you saw Thursday, ignore it.” Ignore these 600+ people who took time out of their day to come and testify, to plead with the lawmakers on behalf of equality, respect and simple common decency. The pictures told an amazing story, I provided many here. For the more empirically inclined, here’s a look at how the turnout for the day breaks down:
“Let’s ignore unprecedentedly lopsided turnout.” If the will to repeal exists in the the Granite State, there was scarce evidence of it Thursday. But hundreds and hundreds of people did take the time out of their day to come and testify, to plead, demand and argue their case before the lawmakers.
“But ignore all that,” says Maggie, because “they’ll all get over it.”
As one poster put it succinctly at Prop 8 Trial Tracker:
Please note that the sky didnâ€™t fall the day that your Jesus was supposedly killed. It didnâ€™t fall the day Eve got a craving for fruit. The sky has NEVER fallen down, no matter what horrendous or marvelous things have been done underneath it.
What DID happen on the days you mention is that hearts were broken, families were punished, children were harmed, love was judged unimportant, people were relegated to second class citizenshipâ€¦
But the broken hearts of gay people and their families are of no consequence to Mrs. Gallagher. If you can stomach it, here’s Maggie’s testimony on video:
Note she says:
“It is not discrimination to treat different things, differently.”
The subject on the table is not the sorting of one “thing” from another. The sorting is that of people. And treating different people differently is a pretty good working description of “discrimination” as we understand it.
There are Freudian slips, and then there are Freudian slips. For Maggie, I consider this a doozy. This is where we see what a cold and heartless person she is at her very core. Maggie views gays not as people, but mere “things.” The dehumanization of gay people is time-honored tactic of the anti-gay crowd that makes up the base of Maggie’s support.
Looking very closely at the underbelly of Maggie’s supporters is, in fact, recommended. Maryland State Senator James Brochin, who previously opposed marriage equality took in Maggie and her supporter’s testimony and said:
â€œWhat I witnessed from the opponents of the bill was appalling. Witness after witness demonized homosexuals, vilified the gay community, and described gays and lesbians as pedophiles. I believe that sexual orientation is not a choice, but rather people are born one way or another. The proponents of the bill were straightforward in wanting to be simply treated as everyone else, and wanted to stop being treated as second-class citizens.
This is more than a tactic to this mob–without whom NOM would cease to exist–it is a firmly held world view. Gays are not humans, but monsters, who molest children and live lives of depravity and disease, and we’d all be better off if they were jailed, or executed. Proudly held by one of the few souls that turned out for a National Organization for Marriage rally held this summer:
The expression of these world views have been documented extensively by the Southern Poverty Law Center. And NOM’s gleeful distribution of lies and slander about LGBT Americans earned them a spot on SPLC’s list of 18 Anti-Gay Groups and Their Propaganda.
Legislators would be wise to understand whose counsel they are considering, what their history is and the dangerous and potentially expensive consequences of listening to them.
This fall, NOM meddled in Iowa’s Supreme Court elections with feckless disregard for the collateral damage to the judiciary there, ousting the three Justices for affirming LGBT rights. The effect for every Iowan when National Organization for Marriage selects their Justices for them may well be disastrous for years to come on a host of rulings.
Maggie herself has a very sordid past as a unethical propagandist, having shamelessly collected a paycheck from the Bush administration to write allegedly “objective” journalism pieces in her syndicated newspaper column on Bush policies. Her conscience apparently felt there was no conflict of interest there or cause to disclose the sources of her dual incomes.
Now, Maggie draws a good paycheck from National Organization for Marriage’s multi-million dollar war chest, swooping from state to state testifying against the equal protection of LGBT Americans. She can never provide a compelling reason why this is such an imperative, beyond “it’s always been this way.” Which at one point, was a pretty compelling argument to deny women voting rights, or African Americans their basic freedom. Or, ironically, her right to marry her Hindu-practicing East Indian husband.
But, even as she can find time in her schedule to attend hearings to lobby lawmakers in New Hampshire, Maryland and Rhode Island, when it was time to swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, to present hard evidence, not slurs, propaganda, innuendo and dog whistles, Maggie took a pass. She was one of the many, many marriage equality opponents that didn’t have the courage of their convictions to testify in a court of law in Perry vs. Schwarzenegger, the Federal Constitutional challenge to Prop 8. She worked tirelessly to pass Prop 8. She had the time, she attended the trial, watching from the bench. So why not step up and defend it?
Plaintiff attorney David Boies has a theory. As he said on Face The Nation:
“a witness stand is a lonely place to lie. And when you come into court you can’t do that.”
Rather than a witness stand, Maggie is much more comfortable in the bully pulpit, free of the rules of evidence or threat of perjury.
It’s well-documented that Maggie and her crew can’t or won’t follow the law. They steal music and art work with impunity and they have been dogged by legal and ethical investigations in every state they’ve operated, in California, Iowa, Rhode Island, Washington, Maine and others.
They are accused of violating campaign finance law in the state of Maine, by not disclosing their donor list as compelled by law. In defense, they filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law. Yesterday, they lost.
The ruling, handed down late today, is being praised by supporters of Maine’s campaign spending disclosure laws. “This is an important decision for Maine voters, because they need to know who is influencing them on ballot questions,” says Jonathan Wayne, executive director of the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election practices.
The challenge was brought by the National Organization for Marriage, which spent $1.9 million dollars in a successful campaign to overturn Maine’s same-sex marriage law in 2009. The Ethics Commission had determined that NOM was required to disclose the identities of its donors, but the group refused, and filed suit on grounds that Maine’s requirements were unconstitutional on a number of fronts.
Such a pity that the taxpayers of Maine are burdened with the cost of defending a law against a legal challenge from a group that has consistently shown no respect for the truth, the law or other human beings.
If NOM, an out-of-state special interest group, prevails in New Hampshire, it will clearly be an expensive proposition for the taxpayers there, as well. One wonders how many Colorado state taxpayer dollars were wasted in the failed defense of Colorado’s discriminatory law, in the Romer v. Evans case?
If repeal goes through, it is a near certainty that it will only be a matter of time before an advocacy group steps up and challenges the law, in State or Federal court, or both. Just a few organizations that are sure to look into taking it on might be the Americans for Equal Rights (who funded the Prop 8 challenge), American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (all of whom are currently challenging the Federal Defense of Marriage Act).
The NH Attorney General will then be tasked to defend a law that few people wanted passed in the first place. It will be a long, divisive and expensive and wholly unnecessary battle.
And don’t expect Maggie to swing back to New Hampshire and defend these laws if they pass. She’ll be MIA, just like she was to California. I am reminded of a one of my favorite literary quotes:
“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy–they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money of their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”â€”F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
So, while taxpayer dollars are wasted paying the Attorney General’s office to defend it, Maggie and her friends will be laughing all the way to the bank, collecting money to “protect marriage” even as they run roughshod over it.
How much does Maggie herself hate gays? Who know? At the end of the day she’s happy to collect a paycheck feeding off the crowd that does. She doesn’t care a bit about the devastation and chaos she and her organization leave in their wake in states across the country. They devastate families, state budgets, the political, electoral and judicial systems without a care in the world and just move on to the next state.
In November, voters had the good sense to stop NOM in their tracks, rejecting their call for the scalp of Governor Lynch on the issue of marriage equality. Let’s hope lawmakers also have the good sense to stop an out-of-state special interest group from dictating the policies of the Granite State.
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McConnell to Step Down as Minority Leader
Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the longest-serving party leader in the history of the U.S. Senate, will relinquish his leadership role in November. The Kentucky Republican, who is 82 and has suffered health issues, has served in the Senate since 1985.
“One of life’s most underappreciated talents is to know when it’s time to move on to life’s next chapter,” Leader McConnell said in prepared remarks, The Associated Press reports. “So I stand before you today … to say that this will be my last term as Republican leader of the Senate.”
McConnell, who told colleagues Wednesday that “the politics within the Republican Party” have “changed,” is stepping down but not retiring. He plans to serve out his current term to the end, in January 0f 2027.
News outlets have reported McConnell has been under pressure to endorse Donald Trump’s bid for re-election. The New York Times reports “conversations between the Trump and McConnell camps have been happening between key advisers to both men,” despite that neither has “said a word to each other since December 2020.”
In March of 2016, as Majority Leader, he refused to follow the U.S. Constitution’s call for “advice and consent” of Presidential nominees, derailing then-Judge Merrick Garland’s appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court.
McConnell partnered with then-President Donald Trump to install a record-number of judges to the federal bench, many chosen by the far-right Federalist Society. But even before Trump’s election, McConnell, PBS’s Frontline reported, held open “vacancies that Trump then filled with conservative federal judges at a breakneck pace.”
“When President Trump took office and McConnell served as Senate majority leader, Trump had more than 100 vacancies to fill in the lower courts, including 17 in the U.S. courts of appeals — all of them lifetime appointments,” according to Frontline. “The Supreme Court hears around 80 cases a year, while the courts of appeals handle tens of thousands of cases annually — often making them the last word in most cases that impact the lives of Americans.”
MSNBC/NBC News legal analyst Glenn Kirschner, a former federal prosecutor for 30 years, remarked in a thread on X: “Mitch McConnell’s legacy, at least in part, will be violating the Constitution by denying a president’s Supreme Court nominee a confirmation hearing – ignoring the Senate’s ‘advice and consent’ responsibilities. McConnell then led Trump by the nose, orchestrating the degradation of the Supreme Court, with the predicable results being a callous and conflicted Supreme Court revoking women’s constitutional privacy rights, damaging equality of educational opportunities for minorities, and unleashing business discrimination cloaked in religious piety.”
“McConnell also improperly orchestrated an acquittal at Trump’s first impeachment trial,” Kirschner continued, “enabling Trump to launch a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol. American will be better for Mitch McConnell’s departure from the US Senate.”
Watch McConnell’s announcement below or at this link.
McConnell on the Senate floor announcing his upcoming retirement as Senate leader: “Believe me, I know the politics within my party at this particular moment in time. I have many faults. Misunderstanding politics is not one of them.” pic.twitter.com/gyvZjNoxba
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 28, 2024
‘MAGA-Motivated Conspiracies’: Hunter Biden Decimates Comer and Jordan in Opening Remarks
Hunter Biden is testifying behind closed doors in a joint hearing of the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees, but the President’s son released his opening statement Wednesday morning, accusing Republican Chairmen Jim Comer and Jim Jordan of basing their investigation on an “entire partisan house of cards” of “lies” told by two people who have been indicted, a third who is behind bars, and fourth who has been “exposed” for his “false statements.”
Politico calls Hunter Biden’s opening statement a “blistering rebuke of Republicans’ investigation into his father, President Joe Biden.”
“I am here today to provide the Committees with the one uncontestable fact that should end the false premise of this inquiry: I did not involve my father in my business. Not while I was a practicing lawyer, not in my investments or transactions domestic or international, not as a board member, and not as an artist. Never,” Hunter Biden’s statement begins.
“You read this fact in the many letters that have been sent to you over the last year as part of your so-called impeachment investigation. You heard this fact when I said it weeks ago, standing outside of this building. You heard this fact from a parade of other witnesses – former colleagues and business partners of mine, including my uncle – who have testified before you in similar proceedings. And now, today, you hear this fact directly from me.”
“For more than a year, your Committees have hunted me in your partisan political pursuit of my dad. You have trafficked in innuendo, distortion, and sensationalism – all the while ignoring the clear and convincing evidence staring you in the face,” Biden’s statement reads. “You do not have evidence to support the baseless and MAGA-motivated conspiracies about my father because there isn’t any.”
Biden goes on to charge Comer and Jordan with building their “entire partisan house of cards on lies told by the likes of Gal Luft, Tony Bobulinski, Alexander Smirnov, and Jason Galanis. Luft, who is a fugitive, has been indicted for his lies and other crimes; Smirnov, who has made you dupes in carrying out a Russian disinformation campaign waged against my father, has been indicted for his lies; Bobulinski, who has been exposed for the many false statements he has made, and Galanis, who is serving 14 years in prison for fraud.”
Alexander Smirnov is the latest witness House Republicans chose whose credibility has been destroyed. Two weeks ago today he was arrested on federal charges including lying to the FBI about the very topic Comer and Jordan have based their entire impeachment investigation on: the debunked “Burisma” conspiracy theory. Smirnov has admitted, according to court documents, those claims were handed to him by Russian intelligence officials.
“Rather than follow the facts as they have been laid out before you in bank records, financial statements, correspondence, and other witness testimony, you continue your frantic search to prove the lies you, and those you rely on, keep peddling. Yes, they are lies. To be clear, I have made mistakes in my life, and I have squandered opportunities and privileges that were afforded to me. I know that. I am responsible for that. And I am making amends for that. But my mistakes and shortcomings are my own and not my father’s, who has done nothing but devote his entire life to public service and trying to make this country a better place to live.”
Biden points to his “battle with addiction,” praises his father for his support, and says, “He helped save my life. His love and support made it possible for me to get sober, stay sober and rebuild my life as a father, husband, son, and brother.”
“What he got in return for being a loving and supportive parent is a barrage of hate-filled conspiracy theories that hatched this sham impeachment inquiry and continue to fuel unrelenting personal attacks against him and me.”
Biden charges Republicans with taking his “communications out of context,” and alleges they “relied on documents that have been altered, and cherry-picked snippets of financial or other records to misrepresent what really happened.”
He then told the Republican Chairmen they used “a few references to my family in emails or texts that I sent when I was in the darkest days of my addiction.” And he starkly warned: “If you try to do that again today, my answers will reveal your tactics and demonstrate the truth that my father was never involved in any of my businesses.”
U.S. Rep. Robert Garcia (D-CA), who is attending today’s hearing, blasted Speaker Johnson, Donald Trump, and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“We’ve been in the deposition now for about an hour, and one thing is crystal clear: Republicans have zero evidence linking Hunter Biden to any sort of business dealings with the president,” he told MSNBC. Garcia also accused Speaker Johnson of having “absolutely no plan” as the government shutdown deadline approaches.
Watch below or at this link.
Rep. Robert Garcia on MSNBC: “We’ve been in the deposition now for about an hour, and one thing is crystal clear: Republicans have zero evidence linking Hunter Biden to any sort of business dealings with the president.” pic.twitter.com/CAH5HnIuUn
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 28, 2024
‘Neck Snapping’: Speaker Johnson’s Latest ‘Flip Flop’ Could Kick Shutdown Down the Road
Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, opposed to a government shutdown but appearing willing to allow it to happen, during Tuesday’s White House meeting offered President Joe Biden and top congressional leaders to kick the can down the road in his latest policy “switch.” His reputation for flip-flopping is so strong it’s being described by the D.C. press as “neck snapping.”
“Johnson has offered to shift existing government funding deadlines from March 1 and March 8 to March 8 and March 22,” Punchbowl News reports, calling it “Johnson’s Latest Shift.” Johnson had chosen the March 1 and March 8 dates and the concept of a “laddered” government shutdown, which other stakeholders opposed but accepted.
Johnson has made clear he opposes stop-gap funding, or continuing resolutions, known as CR’s, which this would be.
“After saying late last year he was done with any more short-term stop-gaps to avoid a shutdown, Mike Johnson had to do one in January and may have to do one again. Facing a partial shutdown Friday, he’s bowing to reality and floating another CR,” notes CNN’s Manu Raju. “Negotiators say they’re making progress to complete at least some of the annual funding bills (that they were supposed to get done by last October.)”
The Speaker is now offering up a continuing resolution, but with strings attached.
“Any CR would be part of a larger agreement to finish a number of appropriations bills, ensuring adequate time for drafting text and for members to review prior to casting votes,” Johnson Press Secretary Athina Lawson said in a statement, Punchbowl’s Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan report.
“In this offer, Johnson also is making an explicit threat – if the Louisiana Republican doesn’t have a bipartisan agreement in hand by Friday, he’s not willing to pass a short-term CR to avert a shutdown. Johnson will let government funding lapse starting at midnight Friday. Four bills expire at that point.”
Punchbowl reports this is the “first time” that “Johnson is making explicit to Democrats and the White House that he’s willing to shut down federal agencies unless he has a global agreement – of sorts – on all 12 FY 2024 appropriations bills.”
“These kinds of course changes have become a hallmark of Johnson’s speakership. Plans shift drastically without much notice. Lawmakers are often settling into one strategy when the entire scheme changes. It’s neck snapping,” declare Punchbowl’s Sherman and Bresnaahan.
The House has been on vacation for the past two weeks, and is not scheduled to be back in session until Wednesday evening, giving them just over 48 hours to craft legislation, pass it, have the Senate pass it, and the President sign it into law, all before the 12:01 AM Saturday shutdown deadline.
As Axios reported Tuesday night: “More than a year after Republicans took back the House, the sum result of their work on government spending so far is to extend the budget passed under former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).” Axios added, “What comes next in the shutdown drama is solely up to House Speaker Mike Johnson.”
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