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Pastors Saying ‘Stay Home On Election Day’ Dishonor Civil Rights Pioneer John Lewis

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Some Black pastors are telling their congregations to stay home on election day, because of President Obama’s support for same-sex marriage, and because they don’t trust Mitt Romney’s Mormon religion, according to news reports today. But those who counsel their congregants to do so are risking repeal of Obamacare and the voting rights act, just for starters. And those who do so also  snub their noses at civil rights pioneer and Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, who earlier this month said, “your vote is precious, almost sacred.”

Brothers and sisters, do you want to go back? Or do you want to keep America moving forward? My dear friends, your vote is precious, almost sacred. It is the most powerful, nonviolent tool we have to create a more perfect union. Not too long ago, people stood in unmovable lines. They had to pass a so-called literacy test, pay a poll tax. On one occasion, a man was asked to count the number of bubbles in a bar of soap. On another occasion, one was asked to count the jelly beans in a jar-all to keep them from casting their ballots.  Today it is unbelievable that there are Republican officials still trying to stop some people from voting. They are changing the rules, cutting polling hours and imposing requirements intended to suppress the vote. The Republican leader in the Pennsylvania House even bragged that his state’s new voter ID law is “gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state.” That’s not right. That’s not fair. That’s not just. And similar efforts have been made in Texas, Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, Arizona, Georgia and South Carolina. I’ve seen this before. I’ve lived this before. Too many people struggled, suffered and died to make it possible for every American to exercise their right to vote.

Who would intentionally give that away?

Watch: DNC: 1961 Freedom Fighter, Congressman John Lewis Decries GOP Vote Suppression

Pastors who tell congregants to not vote, to stay home, also do so at the very peril of their Church’s tax exempt status, and thus, their future.

Churches that file as 501(c)(3) organizations are required to follow decades-old rules the IRS conveniently makes very, very clear, including on this page and in this handbook:

“Under the Internal Revenue Code, all IRC section 501(c)(3) organizations, including churches and religious organizations, are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made by or on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise tax.”

Saying “stay home” and “don’t vote” violate this basic tenet of the IRS rules.

But the tax issue aside, Pastors of the African American community — indeed, all pastors, preachers, and leaders of communities of all faiths, should be aware of what’s at stake in this election, and accept the fact that not voting is equal to handing a vote to your opponent — and handing away your rights. Surely, that is not an act the Church wants to teach its members, is it?

“Some black clergy see no good presidential choice between a Mormon candidate and one who supports gay marriage, so they are telling their flocks to stay home on Election Day,” an AP article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports today:

That’s a worrisome message for the nation’s first African-American president, who can’t afford to lose any voters from his base in a tight race.

The pastors say their congregants are asking how a true Christian could back same-sex marriage, as President Barack Obama did in May. As for Republican Mitt Romney, the first Mormon nominee from a major party, congregants are questioning the theology of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its former ban on men of African descent in the priesthood.

In 2008, Obama won 95 percent of black voters and is likely to get an overwhelming majority again. But any loss of votes would sting.

“When President Obama made the public statement on gay marriage, I think it put a question in our minds as to what direction he’s taking the nation,” said the Rev. A.R. Bernard, founder of the predominantly African-American Christian Cultural Center in New York. Bernard, whose endorsement is much sought-after in New York and beyond, voted for Obama in 2008. He said he’s unsure how he’ll vote this year.

If Mitt Romney wins the election, he will most assuredly replace retiring Supreme Court Justices with even more conservative ones, paving the way for the following:

Crawford v. Marion County Election Board will stand, enabling more and greater voting rights restrictions.

Obamacare will be dismantled, repealed, or whatever else the Republicans would like to do.

Citizens United, which claims money is speech, will grow even larger.

Are these issues anyone can afford to ignore?

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OPINION

SCOTUS Justices Appear to Want to Toss Obstruction Charges Against Some J6 Defendants: Experts

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Republican justices on the U.S. Supreme Court appeared skeptical of a law used to prosecute over 300 January 6 defendants, and Donald Trump, as they heard oral arguments Tuesday.

“A decision rejecting the government’s interpretation of the law could not only disrupt those prosecutions but also eliminate two of the federal charges against former President Donald J. Trump in the case accusing him of plotting to subvert the 2020 election,” The New York Times reports.

“January 6 insurrectionists had a great day in the Supreme Court today,” Vox‘s Ian Millhiser reported. “Most of the justices seem to want to make it harder to prosecute January 6 rioters.”

Millhiser on social media put it this way: “On Monday, the Supreme Court effectively eliminated the right to hold a Black Lives Matter protest in three US states. On Tuesday, the same justices were very, very afraid that January 6 insurrectionists are being treated unfairly.”

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

Right-wing justices on the Supreme Court suggested the law, which makes it a crime to obstruct an official proceeding, could be used too broadly.

“Would a sit-in that disrupts a trial or access to a federal courthouse qualify?” Justice Neil Gorsuch asked, as NBC News reported. “Would a heckler in today’s audience qualify, or at the State of the Union address? Would pulling a fire alarm before a vote, qualify for 20 years in federal prison?”

Some legal experts appeared stunned and disappointed by the right-wing justices’ remarks.

“In oral argument today, Justice [Clarence] Thomas is minimizing the severity of the 1/6 insurrection at the Capitol. Perhaps that’s because his wife was part of the conspiracy. What a disgrace that he’s sitting on this case,” attorney and frequent CNN guest Jeffrey Toobin commented.

READ MORE: ‘I Have a Bucket of Water’: Dems to Save Johnson’s Job Over GOPer Who Wants ‘World to Burn

“The text of the obstruction law the Supreme Court is considering today pretty clearly applies to January 6 defendants. Will the purportedly textualist conservative majority, as in Trump v. Anderson, once again bypass text to avoid accountability for Trump and his supporters?” asked former federal corruption prosecutor Noah Bookbinder, who is now president of the government watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

“Supreme Court expressed concern that Jan 6 prosecutions could chill violent insurrections against democracy,” wrote Scott Shapiro, a Yale Law School professor of law and professor of philosophy.

Elie Mystal, The Nation’s justice correspondent, did not hold back.

“The six conservative justices are absolutely trying to figure out how to throw out the obstruction charges against their cousins and wives and pledge brothers who attacked the Capitol on January 6,” he wrote.

Similar to Millhiser’s comparison, Mystal remarked, “If you think that trash you just heard from the Supreme Court about protecting J6 rioters will *ever* be applied to peaceful Black protesters, think again.”

READ MORE: ‘Something’s Fishy Here’: Trump’s Latest $175 Million Bond Filings Questioned by Experts

 

Image via Shutterstock

 

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‘I Have a Bucket of Water’: Dems to Save Johnson’s Job Over GOPer Who Wants ‘World to Burn’

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Mike Johnson can count on at least some Democrats to save his job after a second Republican announced he supports U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene‘s efforts to remove the embattled GOP Speaker of the House. Weeks ago Greene filed a motion to “vacate the chair,” which she can call up at any time to force a vote that could lead to Johnson losing his gavel.

“I just told Mike Johnson in conference that I’m cosponsoring the Motion to Vacate,” U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) declared late Tuesday morning. “He should pre-announce his resignation (as Boehner did), so we can pick a new Speaker without ever being without a GOP Speaker.”

“You’re not going to be the speaker much longer,” Massie directly told Speaker Johnson, Politico reports, citing two lawmakers in the room.

Asked by a social media user, “What was the straw that broke the Camel’s Back? FISA? Foreign War Funding? Spending more than Nancy Pelosi? All of the above?” Massie replied: “All of the above. This camel has a pallet of bricks.”

Like many far-right House Republicans, Massie is furious Speaker Johnson plans to put on the floor foreign aid and national security legislation to support Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan this week, only after Iran’s attack on Israel over the weekend forced his hand.

“Friday, we have one less Republican in the majority as Rep Gallagher leaves instead of finishing his term,” Massie wrote earlier Tuesday morning, referring to exiting U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI). “As a going away gift, Speaker Johnson plans to force the senate to take up Gallagher’s bill to ban tiktok and give Presidential power to ban websites.”

READ MORE: ‘Something’s Fishy Here’: Trump’s Latest $175 Million Bond Filings Questioned by Experts

“But still no border,” Massie lamented, referring to Republicans’ top priority after Donald Trump made clear he will campaign on an anti-immigrant platform and urged Republicans to block bipartisan legislation to fund additional border security.

(President Joe Biden and Senate Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer supported the Senate’s bipartisan bill, which would have provided aid to Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, humanitarian assistance to Gaza, and a massive increase in border security. It was killed in the Senate after Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell pulled his support in response to Trump’s remarks.)

Congresswoman Greene, who was accused by U.S. Rep. Jared Moskowitz last week of not having enough votes to “rename a post office,” much less unseat Speaker Johnson, responded to Massie’s remarks:

“Johnson is the Deep State Speaker of the House funding the Democrat’s agenda in an omnibus, blocking warrant requirements for FISA, this week ramming through billions for Ukraine, and now this after allowing Gallagher to leave his district without representation. Can’t continue.”

She also posted Massie’s signature signing onto her Motion to Vacate.

In a show of support for Johnson, last week Donald Trump held a joint press conference with the embattled Speaker, during which both attacked immigrants and Johnson vowed legislation to ban non-citizens from voting. It is already a federal felony for non-citizens to vote.

CNN’s Manu Raju reports, “after Gallagher resigns — Johnson would almost certainly need Democrats to save his job if the motion to oust him comes up for a vote. Democratic Rep. Jared Moskowitz says he would save Mike Johnson’s job if MTG [Marjorie Taylor Greene] brings motion to oust him.  Others like Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi also said they would vote to save Johnson  ‘Democrats don’t even let her rename post offices, I’m not gonna let her make a motion to vacate,’ Moskowitz told me.”

Moskowitz responded, saying: “My position hasn’t changed. Massie wants the world to burn, I won’t stand by and watch. I have a bucket of water.”

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

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‘Something’s Fishy Here’: Trump’s Latest $175 Million Bond Filings Questioned by Experts

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Attorneys for Donald Trump waited until less than two hours before midnight Monday to file revisions to the ex-president’s $175 million bond for the judgment in his civil fraud case after New York State Attorney General Letitia James questioned the validity of his first bond. Legal experts are now questioning details of the new bond filings. Some suggest a portion of the $175 million might also currently be in use to secure other debts or obligations.

After Trump was found liable for manipulation of his net worth in the civil business fraud case and ordered to pay a $354.9 million penalty plus interest, he was required to post bond to ensure the people of the State of New York would receive $454.2 million if his appeal is unsuccessful.

“The judge said that the former president’s ‘complete lack of contrition’ bordered on pathological,” The New York Times reported two months ago.

Trump’s attorneys later declared it impossible for him to come up with a bond of that amount, and an appeals court drastically reduced the required bond amount to $175 million.

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

After 10 PM Monday night, ahead of the midnight deadline, attorneys for Donald Trump in court filings said the $175 million bond is secured, and is tied to a Trump account at Charles Schwab that has over $175 million in cash, CNN reports. The filing states the California company securing the bond, Knight Specialty Insurance Company (KSIC),  has administrative access to it and can pay out the $175 million if needed.

Trump’s attorneys “asked the judge to set aside the attorney general’s challenge to the bond and award him costs and fees.”

Professor of law Andrew Weissmann, a frequent MSNBC legal analyst and former Dept. of Justice official, is raising questions.

“Something’s fishy here,” he wrote late Monday night. “If Trump has $175M free and clear, why not just directly post it and not pay a fee for a surety bond? And the agreement does not give Knight a lien on the account as collateral and seems to afford Trump a two-day window to dissipate the account.”

A screenshot of a portion of the filing, posted by MSNBC’s Lisa Rubin, states, “Schwab, as custodian of the account, has acknowledged KSIC’s right to exercise control over the account within two business days of receiving notice from KSIC of KSIC’s intent to activate the control.”

Attorney and journalist Seth Abramson in a series of posts on social media claimed, “so this is looking very bad for Donald Trump. He says in his Monday night filing that the Schwab account has $175.3 million *in total*, so *if* Axos Bank is depending on that same account for a (semi-)liquid $100M in collateral on another loan, this bond filing is DOA.”

After asking, “Is Trump double-dipping?” Abramson posted more details.

NCRM has not verified those claims.

Attorney Lupe B. Luppen adds, “it took about ten seconds from opening the account security agreement to find a significant drafting error, which makes the signature page look like it belongs to a different agreement (DJT Jr’s attestation identifies the wrong secured party—a Chubb co.).”

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

Late Monday night on MSNBC Weissmann “expressed incredulity,” as Mediaite reported, saying of Trump and his bond: “It is just so remarkable. This is somebody who has been found by two juries to have defamed somebody, who has been found to have sexually assaulted somebody – the company of which has been found criminally liable for a decade-long tax conspiracy, criminally, and has been found to have committed fraud, has to post a bond of $175 million, is on trial starting today for a criminal case involving 34 felonies.”

“And he can’t find a frigging company that is registered in New York? Meaning, that they are licensed to do business here, which it appears they are not, and that has the wherewithal to pay the money because remember, the whole point is that you either have to put up the money now or you have to find a bond company that is sufficiently liquid that the plaintiff can look to that bond company if at the end of the day the judgment is affirmed.”

Attorney General Letitia James earlier had alleged KSIC, the company that secured the bond, was not registered to do so in New York. Experts questioned the language of that filing, claiming it did not require the company that secured the bond to actually pay out $175 million should Trump lose his appeal and be ordered to pay the full amount.

Calling it a “bizarre contract,” earlier this month The Daily Beast reported, “the legal document from Knight Specialty Insurance Company doesn’t actually promise it will pay the money if the former president loses his $464 million bank fraud case on appeal. Instead, it says Trump will pay, negating the whole point of an insurance company guarantee.”

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

 

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