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Mitt Romney: “We must make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern.”

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Boldly Disappointing Everyone

It must suck to be Mitt Romney. Well actually, as Mitt is fabulously wealthy, well-connected, famous, and enjoys the sort of lifestyle where one day you wake up to find your modest 3000 square foot La Jolla, California mansion confining enough to necessitate replacing it with one that is 8000 square feet larger (as he would like to be closer to the waves), it appears to be pretty goddamned sweet to be Mitt Romney. Politically though, it’s been a little rough.

Mitt Romney is the front runner only if you look at the contest in terms of statistical duration. He has been in the top tier of candidates for longer than any other candidate, just not always in the #1 slot. It was Bachmann for awhile, until people remembered that she was crazy, then Rick Perry for an hour or so, until his campaign proved itself far more valuable as brilliant performance art than as an actual political organization, and now, inexplicably, it is Herman Cain.

Through it all, Mitt Romney has been out there, pleading desperately for the love of a party that really, deep down, can’t stand him. It is, like many old-fashioned Republican marriages, a dry and loveless organism brought about more by appearances and necessity than anything resembling passion. The Republican party may not love Mitt Romney, but in the end they will marry him, if for no other reason than that it will give them someone with health insurance who will help raise the kids.

In the meantime however, Mitt must stand by and watch all the other candidates have their seasons in the media spotlight, biding his time, taking solace in the consistency and depth of his convictions.

I’m joking, of course. Mitt Romney has no deeply held convictions, or to be more specific, he has one deeply held conviction: This man wants to be president. He will say whatever he has to in order to see that goal achieved. He reminds me a lot of John Edwards like that. I felt like Obama ran for president because he believed in things, Romney just seems to want the resume upgrade.

With Romney being such a moving target, it can be hard to know exactly where he stands on anything. Most of the time I simply assume that his views exactly reflect those of the people in his immediate vicinity. Like when he told unemployed Floridians during an appearance, “I’m also unemployed.” That sort of political tone deafness is a clue. This man will say anything.

What then does this mean for LGBT equality should he get elected? Nothing good. The 2012 Model of Mitt Romney is pretty anti-gay. Mind you, he’s not Tony Perkins, Fred Phelps anti-gay, he’s a more watered down, less confrontational brand of bigot.

In fact, gay rights is an area that serves as a wonderful test case for learning more about the craven pander-bot that is Mitt Romney.

See, in 1994, Mitt was running for the Senate in Massachusetts in an effort to unseat Ted Kennedy. And yes, you read that correctly, he was running against a Kennedy in Massachusetts. Just think of that when you consider the strength of Romney’s judgement. That he thought he could pull this off is foot stomping, pee your pants hilarious.

Now, as Massachusetts is a pretty Liberal state, Mitt had to perform some fairly impressive political gymnastics regarding his platform in order to become in any way viable. This meant  attempting to cut into Kennedy’s base by kissing a few asses not normally fondled by Republican candidates. It was in this atmosphere that Mitt wrote a letter to the Log Cabin Republicans, asking for their support. Here is an excerpt:

“As a result of our discussions and other interactions with gay and lesbian voters across the state, I am more convinced than ever before that as we seek to establish full equality for gay and lesbian citizens, I will provide more effective leadership than my opponent.”

“I am not unaware of my opponents considerable record in the area of civil rights, or the commitment of Massachusetts voters to the principle of equality for all Americans. For some voters it might be enough for me to simply match my opponent’s record in this area. But I believe we can and must do better. If we are to achieve the goals we share, we must make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern.”

“We have discussed a number of important issues such as the Federal Employment Non-Discrimination act ENDA, which I have agreed to Cosponsor, and if possible, broaden to include housing and credit, and the bull to create a federal panel to find ways to reduce gay and lesbian youth suicide, which I also support. “

He goes on to talk about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and how Clinton took a step in the right direction but that he wanted to see troops able to serve openly and honestly in our nation’s military. Seriously. He totally said that. And get a load of this:

 

Right? Who is this guy? Where did this Mitt Romney go? Listen to the language he’s using. He talks about “full equality” and the plague of gay and lesbian youth suicide. In the full text of the letter he twice mentions the need to make gay and lesbian equality a mainstream concern. He wants to cosponsor ENDA for crying out loud, and even expand it to include all the housing stuff.

These are the words of a man who understands the situation. The person who wrote that letter gets it. You don’t use words like “civil rights” otherwise. Once you are to that stage of evolution in your thinking about LGBT rights, there really is no way to go back to the “homos make the baby Jesus cry” mindset.

But of course, he was lying. Or he’s lying now. Take ENDA for example, which in 1994 he was eager to co-sponsor. What the hell is this then, from the December 16, 2007 Meet the Press:

MR. RUSSERT:  You said that you would sponsor the Employment Nondiscrimination Act.  Do you still support it?

GOV. ROMNEY:  At the state level.  I think it makes sense at the state level for states to put in provision of this.

MR. RUSSERT:  Now, you said you would sponsor it at the federal level.

GOV. ROMNEY:  I would not support at the federal level, and I changed in that regard because I think that policy makes more sense to be evaluated or to be implemented at the state level.  And let me describe why.

MR. RUSSERT:  So you did–you did change.

GOV. ROMNEY:  Oh, Tim, if you’re looking for someone who’s never changed any positions on any policies, then I’m not your guy.

He never gets around to describing why, in case you were curious.

I consider ENDA a critical piece of the civil rights puzzle. This isn’t one of those issues, like flag burning for example, that is largely symbolic and that you can safely throw around without actually hurting anyone. I live in a state where my employers could fire me on the spot for being gay, and I would have absolutely no legal recourse whatsoever. This is part of the terrifying reality of being gay in America. That is what ENDA is about for me, and I find his flexibility on the issue disturbing.

The problem is that if you leave stuff like this up to the states, it will never ever, ever ever ever, happen. If I live to be 1000 years old, the confederacy will never pass ENDA, or institute marriage equality. There would still be segregation in Mississippi if the federal government hadn’t forced them knock it off. Mitt Romney is wrong here, and he knows he is wrong. This paints a picture of a man who is willing to sacrifice what is morally right if it stands in the way of his presidential aspirations. I don’t want a man like that in charge of the bake sale cash box, much less the most powerful military the planet has ever known.

This was never about civil rights for Mitt Romney. That 1994 letter was simply an exercise in varsity level pandering. He obviously understands our side of the issue, as his language clearly indicates, he just doesn’t care. His behavior is premeditated. Right now, he needs to hate gay people to get elected, so he will do things like sign the National Organization for Marriage’s stupid pledge promising to pass a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. This from a man who wrote so passionately about “full equality.”

Then again, he would still like our vote, if he could possibly get it. Watch him try to not sound like an asshole in this clip from a town hall thing he did last week:

https://youtube.com/watch?v=iGJ3J1uUN0o%3Fversion%3D3%26hl%3Den_US%26rel%3D0

For those of you who didn’t watch, he gets grilled on marriage equality, and trots out the current line of of boilerplate horse crap about a man and woman raising children being the ideal, and how marriage should be reserved for them. (No word on why he’s cool with childless marriages, but whatever.) He then goes on to throw a bone to gay people in the way of allowing the formation of “partnership agreements,” saying that these would allow same-sex couples to have “hospital visitation rights and similar benefits of that nature.”

First of all, go to hell, Mitt Romney. We were looking for some of that “full equality for gay and lesbian citizens” you were talking about before. Not “partnership agreements.” There are no half-measures regarding civil rights. Second class citizenship is not to be tolerated.

Second, this is exactly why Mitt Romney has such a hard time winning people over. On one side, he opposes marriage equality so that the Fred Phelps wackos will like him, on the other, he panders to gay people with his weak offer of “Partnership Agreements.” It’s not enough for either of us.

But that’s Mitt Romney. Never afraid to take both sides of a black and white issue.

This situation reminds me of something my mother used to say when I was a kid. “Cheaters cheat. If he cheated on someone to be with you, then he’ll cheat on you to be with someone else.” Keep that in mind, Republicans. If he cheated on us, then what makes you think he won’t cheat on you, too?

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Benjamin Phillips is a Humor Writer, Web Developer, Civics Nerd, and all around crank that spends entirely too much time shouting with deep exasperation at the television, especially whenever cable news is on. He lives in St. Louis, MO and spends most of his time staring at various LCD screens, occasionally taking walks in the park whenever his boyfriend becomes sufficiently convinced that Benjamin is becoming a reclusive hermit person. He is available for children’s parties, provided that those children are entertained by hearing a complete windbag talk for two hours about the importance of science education, or worse yet, poorly researched anecdotes PROVING that James Buchanan was totally gay. If civilization were to collapse due to zombie hoards or nuclear holocaust, Benjamin would be among the first to die as he has no useful skills of any kind. The post-apocalyptic hellscape has no real need for homosexual computer programmers who can name all the presidents in order, as well as the actors who have played all eleven incarnations of Doctor Who.

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News

Trump Witness Turns ‘Strawberry Red’ After Judge’s Scalding Scolding

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New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan, after becoming visibly angered by Trump defense witness Robert Costello, cleared the courtroom of the jury and the press before admonishing the “MAGA-friendly lawyer” Monday afternoon in the ex-president’s criminal “hush money” trial.

Calling it a “brawl,” The Daily Beast set the scene: “After Costello, a former prosecutor, was reprimanded for delivering outbursts in the court whenever he was interrupted or told not to answer a question that had been objected to and sustained, Costello began to stare down the judge.”

Before the reprimand, CNN’s Kaitlan Collins reported: “Twice now the judge has sustained an objection and Costello answered regardless. Judge Merchan addresses him directly to not answer if he’s sustained the objection. ‘Jesus,’ Costello mutters after it happens again. ‘I’m sorry,’ the judge, visibly annoyed, says to him. ‘I’m sorry?'”

And then, the admonition.

READ MORE: ‘Wack Pack’: Questions Swirl Over ‘Trump Uniforms’ and Who’s Funding ‘Weird’ Trial Surrogates

“I’d like to discuss proper decorum in the courtroom,” Judge Merchan said, according to Collins. “If you don’t like my ruling, you don’t give me side eye and you don’t roll your eyes.”

Collins added: “Then in a raised voice, Merchan asks, ‘Are you staring me down right now?!'”

“The jury was NOT in the room for this,” Collins added. “Merchan sent them out, then admonished Costello, then when he was staring him down, Merchan became furious and cleared the courtroom. So the jury witnesses none of this. (And the press missed whatever was said in the interim.)”

Here’s how it went down, according to MSNBC host and legal contributor Katie Phang.

“Judge Merchan is ANGRY,” she observed, before reporting the dialogue:

“MERCHAN: ‘I’d like to discuss proper decorum in my courtroom’
MERCHAN: ‘If you don’t like my ruling, you don’t say ‘Jeez’ ‘
MERCHAN: You don’t say ‘strike it’ because I’m the only one who can strike it.
MERCHAN: ‘You don’t give me side eye and you don’t roll your eyes’
COSTELLO: I understand.”

Phang added, “When the media were allowed back in, Costello is seated at the witness stand looking decidedly chastened. Merchan looks calm.”

The Guardian’s Hugo Lowell reports the judge didn’t calmly just clear the courtroom:

MSNBC legal contributor Lisa Rubin called it, “one of the wildest things I’ve ever seen in court.”

READ MORE: Law ‘Requires’ Alito and Thomas to Recuse Says Former Federal Prosecutor

And while CNN’s Collins noted the jury was not in the courtroom for exchange, Phang reports: “Although the dressing down of Costello took place outside of earshot of the jury, they witnessed firsthand Costello’s demeanor and petulance and heard firsthand his quips and remarks from the witness stand. Perhaps Costello just reinforced to the jury why Cohen didn’t want to keep Costello as his lawyer…Costello is pandering for an audience of one: Trump.”

MSNBC legal analyst Kristy Greenberg noted, “Michael Cohen was respectful. Bob Costello is acting like a clown. Jurors will notice and this will hurt Trump. Any concerns that jurors may have had about Cohen have now been overshadowed by Costello’s disrespect to the judge right in front of their faces.”

Lowell also reported after that the reprimand, “Costello is so red in the face he resembles a strawberry.”

See the social media post above or at this link.

 

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OPINION

‘Wack Pack’: Questions Swirl Over ‘Trump Uniforms’ and Who’s Funding ‘Weird’ Trial Surrogates

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Trump trial watchers are raising questions over the increasingly large number of elected Republicans and big-name allies showing up at the Manhattan Criminal Courts Building to show support for the indicted ex-president, often giving angry and factually inaccurate speeches before the cameras, or standing behind the defendant in the background as he delivers his rants to reporters.

They are usually all men, and usually all dressed just as Donald Trump does: blue suit, white shirt, red tie.

Public Notice founder Aaron Rupar on Monday, observed, “they’re all in Trump costumes again. how cute.”

Questions about their “uniforms,” and more importantly, who is funding and organizing their travel, are being raised.

Media critic Jennifer Schulze, a former Chicago Sun-Times executive producer, WGN news director, and adjunct college professor of journalism, commented: “The trump uniforms angle is flying way too low beneath the mainstream news radar. The same is true for how this weird courtroom guest star show is being organized & financed.”

READ MORE: Why Alito’s ‘Stop the Steal’ Flag Story Just Fell Apart

And they are being called “uniforms.”

Filmmaker and podcaster Andy Ostroy declared, “I’m sorry, but all these #Trump capos showing up each day at the trial dressed exactly the same as The Godfather in blue suit and red tie is not only creepy AF but is a chilling foreshadowing of the fascist uniform-wearing government they’re jonesin’ to be a part of…”

Talk radio host Joan Esposito also asked who’s paying for these appearances: “Is the trump campaign paying for these surrogates to fly to & from nyc? If not, who is?”

Political commentator Bob Cesca remarked, “Trump’s fanboys are like the Wack Pack from the Stern show circa 1990.”

Monday’s star surrogates included South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, an election denier who had supported overturning the 2020 presidential election and signed onto what has been called a “false and frivolous” lawsuit attempting to overturn the results.

Also, Republican U.S. Reps. Eric Burlison, Andrew Clyde, Mary Miller, and Keith Self. And John Coale from the Trump-aligned America First Policy Institute, attorney Alan Dershowitz, Trump attorney and GOP attorney general candidate Will Scharf, convicted felon and Trump pardon recipient Bernie Kerik, Trump loyalist and former Trump administration official Kash Patel, and others.

READ MORE: Law ‘Requires’ Alito and Thomas to Recuse Says Former Federal Prosecutor

Op-ed columnist Terry Cowgill last week called them “manservants…standing at attention like automatons.”

“Scary and very very strange” was actress and activist Mia Farrow’s observation last week.

Vanity Fair’s Molly Jong-Fast, an MSNBC political analyst, last week asked, “Why did they all wear the same outfit?”

The Biden campaign was only too happy to post this video last week:

See the social media posts and videos above or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Partisan Insurrectionist’: Calls Mount for Alito’s Ouster After ‘Stop the Steal’ Scandal

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News

Law ‘Requires’ Alito and Thomas to Recuse Says Former Federal Prosecutor

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U.S. Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas have no choice but to observe federal law and recuse themselves from cases involving the 2020 presidential election, according to an attorney who served as a federal prosecutor for 30 years, while a noted constitutional law expert is warning Justice Alito “may be responsible for delaying” the Court’s decision on Donald Trump’s claims of absolute immunity.

Their remarks come as Americans are waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court to issue its decision on Donald Trump’s claim of absolute and total immunity from prosecution.

“The Supreme Court, as led by insurrection advocates Alito & Thomas, has caught & killed Trump’s prosecution for trying to overturn the 2020 election. The impartiality of Thomas & Alito ‘might reasonably be questioned’ so the federal law REQUIRES their recusal. Period. Full stop,” wrote Glenn Kirschner, now an NBC News/MSNBC legal analyst.

Kirschner posted text from federal law, 28 U.S.C. Sec. 455, which reads: “Any justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the United States shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.”

READ MORE: ‘Partisan Insurrectionist’: Calls Mount for Alito’s Ouster After ‘Stop the Steal’ Scandal

The renewed interest in both far-right justices comes after Friday’s New York Times bombshell report that revealed a symbol of January 6 insurrectionists, the “Stop the Steal” flag, which is the U.S. Stars and Stripes flying upside down, was flown at Justice Alito’s home just days before President Joe Biden was inaugurated.

Justice Alito claimed his wife was responsible for flying the American flag in that manner, which is also used to indicate a situation of dire or extreme distress. He claimed she had done so after an altercation with a neighbor, who had a “F*** Trump” sign on their lawn that could be seen by children awaiting the school bus. But those claims seemed to fall apart after sleuths noted because of COVID schools were operating virtually, so there were no school buses running, and neighbors did not remember what allegedly was extreme neighborhood drama.

On Friday, Laurence Tribe, University Professor Emeritus at Harvard University, a constitutional law scholar and professor who has argued three dozen times before the Supreme Court, told CNN (video below) he believes Justice Alito must recuse.

“I do. I don’t think there’s any question about it. It’s in many ways, more serious than what we’ve seen with Justice Thomas. At least Justice Thomas could say that, ‘my wife Ginny has her own separate career. We don’t talk about the cases.’ You may believe that or you may not, but that’s very different from what’s going on with Justice Alito. He’s not saying, ‘My wife has her own separate career.’ He’s throwing her under the bus and blaming her for what is on his house, his flagpole. It’s his flag malfunction. It’s his upside down flag and everyone knows that the upside down the flag, which the United States Code says should be flown that way only in cases of absolute emergency as a kind of SOS, was in this case, a symbol of the claim that the election was stolen from Donald Trump.”

“It was the banner of the insurrectionists,” Tribe continued. “And I’m reminded of something that the late Justice Scalia said in the opinion he wrote in 1987, he said, ‘you cannot expect to ride with the cops if you cheer for the robbers.’ In this case, Justice Alito expects to preside over a decision about whether there wasn’t it direction and who was responsible for it. And whether Donald Trump who has been charged with involvement in trying to obstruct the operations of government and the transfer of power is immune, or if cases before the court, he’s obviously not qualified to sit in this case.”

READ MORE: ‘Mouths of Sauron’: Critics Blast ‘Mobster Tactic’ of Trump Surrogates ‘Violating’ Gag Order

Like Kirschner, Tribe pointed to 28 U.S.C. Sec. 455, saying, “28 US Code section 455 says that any federal judge or justice must – not may, but must – recuse him or herself in any case where either that justice or the justice’s spouse has any skin in the game. There’s no distance here between Mr. Alito and Mrs. Alito. It’s clear that whatever offensive sign was involved, that dispute between neighbors trivializes what’s involved here.”

On the Supreme Court’s pending decision on Trump’s immunity claims, Tribe added, Justice Alito “may be responsible for delaying it.”

“After all, the protocol within the court is the different justices dissenting and Alito is probably writing a dissent from a rejection of the extreme claim of absolute immunity. That didn’t seem to gain traction with the court. If a justice is dissenting, you wait till the dissent is done before announcing the case. So by delaying this immunity decision so long that a trial can’t occur before the election, the effect may be to give de facto immunity to the former president, who if he wins the election will pick an attorney general who will dismiss the case. So ultimate accountability is very much on the line.”

As for Justice Thomas, back in March of 2022, The New Yorker‘s Jane Mayer wrote: “Legal Scholars Are Shocked By Ginni Thomas’s ‘Stop the Steal’ Texts,” which also read: “Several experts say that Thomas’s husband, the Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, must recuse himself from any case related to the 2020 election.”

And in June of 2022, former Bush 43 chief White House ethics lawyer Richard Painter, also posting that federal law, wrote: “Justice Thomas’s participation in Dobbs means Ginni Thomas was not receiving payment from persons seeking reverse of Roe. Right?”

He was referring to the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, coincidentally written by Justice Alito, which overturned five decades of civil rights law and removed abortion as a constitutionally-protected right.

“We have no idea who’s paying Ginni Thomas,” he continued, referring to Clarence Thomas’s spouse, who also alleged worked to overturn the 2020 election. “Justice Thomas refuses to recuse from any cases because of her. This conflict of interest is unworkable.”

Watch Professor Tribe below or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Not Weighing in on That’: Republicans Refuse to Pull Support for Trump as Trial Nears End

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