President Obama, looking for easy, low-cost wins to placate his base — especially after angering LGBT allies for refusing to sign an executive order banning anti-gay discrimination among federal contractors — today announced his support for two anti-bullying bills in the wake of a firestorm over a GOP Senatorial candidate’s attack on one, theÂ Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA).
Conveniently tied into today’sÂ GLSEN-supported National Day of Silence, an annual event designed to highlight and protest anti-LGBT bullying in schools, the President today announced his support for both theÂ Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) andÂ the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA). Both bills have been languishing in Congress since 2010.
â€œThe president and his administration have taken many steps to address the issue of bullying,â€ Shin Inouye, a White House spokesperson, told reporters. â€œHe is proud to support the Student Non-Discrimination Act, introduced by Senator Franken and Congressman Polis, and the Safe Schools Improvement Act, introduced by Senator Casey and Congresswoman Linda Sanchez. These bills will help ensure that all students are safe and healthy and can learn in environments free from discrimination, bullyingÂ and harassment.â€
Last year, U.S. Rep. Jared Polis introduced the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA)Â in the House and Senator Al Franken introduced a companion version in the Senate. SNDA hasÂ an estimated 99 co-sponsors in the House and 27 co-sponsors in the Senate. Polios also released a fact sheet.
TheÂ Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) was introduced in the Senate jointlyÂ by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Mark Kirk (R-IL).
Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade today, in an extensive article, noted:
Both pieces of legislation address bullying in different ways. SNDA would prohibit and harassment in public elementary and secondary schools based on a studentâ€™s actual or perceived LGBT status.Â SSIA would require schools to adopt anti-bullying codes of conduct and submit to states data to the Department of Education on bullying.
Obama endorses the legislation as his administration has taken flak from the LGBT community for saying itÂ wonâ€™t issue at this timeÂ an executive order requiring federal contractors to have non-discrimination policies based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
On the same day the endorsement was announced, theÂ WhiteÂ House was set to host a screening of â€œBully,â€Â a 2011 documentary about school bullying thatÂ follows the lives of five students who were bulliedÂ on a daily basis.
Over the past two days, GOP Senatorial candidate Heather Wilson came under fire for her comments last week mocking anti-LGBT bullying in schools.
â€œIt is an act that would criminalize harassment or bullying in schools of children who are gay or who â€” it criminalizes bullying. It basically makes federal funding dependent on school board policies that will not tolerate bullying of people based on their sexual orientation or, you know, even when kids are below puberty,â€ Wilson said.
HRC and others have condemned Wilson’s ignorant and debilitating comments.
Both SNDA and SSIA have been all but dormant. The President’s sudden acknowledgment of them is a positive move for LGBT youth who daily are barraged by anti-LGBT messages from conservatives.
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Mike Johnson Likens Himself to Moses, Tells Christian Nationalists God Charted His Path to Speaker
Mike Johnson, delivering the keynote address to a far-right Christian nationalist group Tuesday, likened himself to Moses and declared God had charted his path to become the Republican Speaker of the House, after telling him in his prayers to prepare.
Speaker Johnson, a Christian nationalist who falsely claims the Constitution’s separation of church and state is a “misnomer” and has declared the United States is not democracy but a “biblical” republic, is an attorney who once worked for a far-right organization that has since been designated an anti-LGBTQ extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Johnson was the lead sponsor last year of a federal “Don’t Say Gay” bill and has bragged that he and his teenaged son are accountability partners in a no-porn pledge that includes installation of monitoring software on all their devices.
“I’ll tell you a secret since the media is not here,” Speaker Johnson said at the National Association of Christian Lawmakers (NACL) Gala (video below), where he was honored with their American Patriot Award for Christian Honor and Courage, as Right Wing Watch reported.
“Thank you for not allowing the media in, I’ll tell you a secret because they wanted to come because they wanted to, you know, take my comments out of context as they’ve been doing with with great joy for the last few weeks,” Johnson charged, not specifying which of his remarks he believes have been taken out of context.
“The Lord impressed upon my heart a few weeks before this happened, that something was going to occur,” Johnson continued. “And the Lord very specifically told me in my prayers to prepare, but to wait. ‘Prepare for what?’ I said to the Lord. You know, I had this sense that we were going to come to a Red Sea moment in our Republican conference and the country at large.”
“And look, I’m a Southern Baptist, I don’t want to get too spooky on you. Okay, but you know, you know okay,” he continued. “All right. But you know, the Lord speaks to your heart. And He had been speaking to me about this and the Lord told me very clearly to prepare and be ready. Be ready for what? Okay, I don’t know. We’re coming to a Red Sea moment. ‘What does that mean, Lord?’ And then when the Speaker’s race happened.”
He said, “the Lord began to wake me up through this three-week process we’re in in the middle of night and to speak to me and to write things down plans and procedures and ideas on how we could pull the conference together.”
“Now at the time I assumed the Lord is going to choose a new Moses. And oh, thank you the Lord. Lord, you’re gonna allow me to be Aaron to Moses,” Johnson told the attendees.
Johnson reminded his audience of the Speaker’s debacle, going down the line of friends who he tried to help become Speaker, acknowledging that all of them failed.
He continued, explaining that “at the end, when it came to the end, the Lord said, ‘Now step forward.’ ‘Me? I’m supposed to be Aaron.’ Now the Lord said, ‘Step forward.’ Psalm 77 speaks of the Exodus in the 14th chapter of Exodus and it says, ‘Only God saw the path through the roiling sea, we could not see it, men could not see it.’ And I believe deep in my heart, is my core conviction, that God wants us to seek Him for the path through the roiling sea.”
As Right Wing Watch reports, after Johnson’s speech, “NACL founder Jason Rapert presented Johnson with the Honor and Courage award, along with a piece of a destroyed Ten Commandments monument that Rapert had placed in front of the Arkansas state capitol in 2017.”
“’It’s very obvious to see, you’re one of us,’ Rapert told Johnson.”
Rolling Stone adds that Johnson’s speech Tuesday is “just the latest evidence that the politician who is now second in line for the presidency views himself as on a divine mission.”
Watch the video of Speaker Johnson below or at this link.
‘Hardball? You Bet’: Dems ‘Need to Be Prepared’ After McCarthy Exit Urges Top Political Scholar
The American voters sent 222 Republicans and 213 Democrats to the House of Representatives in the 2022 elections, the exact same margin, but flipped, as the 2020 election. But today, with the announcement that ousted, former GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is not only not running for re-election but is quitting Congress at the end off the year, Republicans have a big majority crisis — because of their now tiny majority.
It’s no longer 222 to 213.
After McCarthy’s exit, and with the recent expulsion of now-former Congressman George Santos (R-NY) Republican Speaker Mike Johnson will have a very slim majority.
“The party’s margin in the House fell to three seats from four with the expulsion of Representative George Santos of New York last week,” The New York Times explains. “That leaves almost no wiggle room for Mr. Johnson, who is already dealing with a revolt from the far right for working with Democrats to keep the government funded and faces another pair of shutdown deadlines in mid-January and early February.”
“When the House returns in January,” The Washington Post adds, “Republicans can lose only two votes from their ranks to pass any legislation at a time when the chamber faces major decisions on government spending and foreign aid. That dynamic could force Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), who assumed the post after a tumultuous three weeks following McCarthy’s ouster, to work with Democrats to avert a partial government shutdown as soon as mid-January.”
U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH) has announced he will retire and exit Congress early next year.
But possibly even before that, Speaker Johnson’s tiny majority could at some point become an opening for Democrats, according to a top political scientist and scholar, Dr. Norman Ornstein.
“Democrats need to be prepared to act swiftly and decisively if the numbers drop below 218– even if only for a day. Quick motion to vacate, [Hakeem] Jeffries as Speaker, immediate agenda,” writes Dr. Ornstein, a senior fellow emeritus at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), “where he has been studying politics, elections, and the US Congress for more than four decades.”
Ornstein offers more opportunities should Democrats be able to take the majority back soon.
“Reconciliation bill to secure robust spending, eliminate debt limit permanently, taxes on rich to pay for permanent child tax credit.”
He adds, the number of Republican members “would need to get down to 213. But any set of problems– a Covid outbreak, for example– could bring those numbers down, if only for a day or two. Have a plan ready! Hardball? You bet.”
David Rothkopf, the noted foreign policy, national security and political affairs analyst and commentator, responding to Ornstein’s remarks appeared to urge Republicans to join with Democrats to elect a Democratic Speaker, or even to switch parties:
“This. C’mon you GOPers from purple districts. Trump will have you purged and sent to Siberia. We just need 2 of you. You can be unloved by the GOP or heroes to the rest of America! Make your move now.”
Of course, special elections will be held to replace both Santos (scheduled for February 13, 2024) and McCarthy (likely summer, according to The Post), and at some point Johnson.
But with the extremely large number of members of Congress who have exited or will be, as Ornstein says, Democrats need to be ready.
Comer Threatens ‘Contempt’ Despite Hunter Biden’s Lawyer Quoting Chairman’s Media Appearances
Republican House Oversight Committee Chairman Jim Comer is now threatening Hunter Biden with “contempt” of Congress if he refuses to testify behind closed doors. The President’s son has repeatedly offered to testify in public.
Abbe Lowell, the attorney with “close ties inside the Trump White House” who is now representing Hunter Biden, Wednesday morning again reiterated his demand that any testimony before the House Oversight Committee be in a public hearing, and he used Chairman Comer’s own words to make his point.
But Comer, who is moving toward impeaching President Joe Biden despite having offered no actual proof of any impeachable offense, was quick to tell Politico: “He’s been subpoenaed. We expect him to show up. They don’t get to make the rules.”
“I would expect Congress to hold the president’s son in contempt,” Comer said, if Hunter Biden refuses to testify in a closed-door session.
“As indicated in my November 28, 2023, letter,” Lowell wrote to Chairman Comer earlier on Wednesday, in a letter published by The Washington Examiner, “Mr. Biden has offered to appear at a hearing on the December 13, 2023, date you have reserved, or another date this month, to answer any question pertinent and relevant to the subject matter stated in your November 8, 2023, letter.”
Lowell made clear his motivation for a public hearing before cameras.
“He is making this choice because the Committee has demonstrated time and again it uses closed-door sessions to manipulate, even distort, the facts and misinform the American public—a hearing would ensure transparency and truth in these proceedings.”
But Lowell cited Comer’s own words from a few of his numerous media appearances to demonstrate how the Chairman welcomed an open-door public hearing. The Daily Beast’s Justin Baragona noted that Lowell, in his letter, “again cites Comer practically daring Hunter to publicly testify.”
Lowell cited Comer’s remarks on October 31 on “The Benny Show.”
“We’re in the downhill phase of this investigation now because we have so many documents, and we can bring these people in for depositions or committee hearings, whichever they choose , . . . .”
Also, his September 13 statement on Newsmax.
“Hunter Biden is more than welcome to come in front of the committee . . . he’s invited today. We will drop everything.”
He also cited Comer’s “November 8, 2023, statement in your cover letter addressed to me: ‘Given your client’s willingness to address this investigation publicly up to this point, we would expect him to be willing to testify before Congress.”
(Emphasis included in Lowell’s letter.)
“We look forward to working out the schedule,” Lowell concluded.
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