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Values Voters Summit: My Yom Kippur War

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Yom Kippur is the most important holiday in the Jewish calendar. It is a day when you can find even the most secular of Jews in synagogues. But I stayed home this year. If Jews believed in doing penance, my self-inflicted torture would have counted; it was as excruciating as a hair-shirt; almost as painful as the guilt inflicted by a Jewish mother. But, alas, we Jews don’t believe in penance as a vehicle for repentance.

Yom Kippur is the holiest of holy days. One is supposed to spend the day at prayer and contemplation. It is a day devoted to atonement; no work is performed and we refrain from eating and drinking (even water.) The Talmud specifies additional restrictions that are less well-known – washing and bathing, anointing one’s body (with perfume, cosmetics, deodorants, etc.), wearing leather shoes and engaging in sexual relations are among the behaviors prohibited on Yom Kippur.

But we Jews are a practical people; there are exceptions to the rules even on this holiest of holy days. These restrictions can be lifted when a threat to life or health is involved. Even if they want to, children under the age of nine and women in childbirth (from the time labor begins until three days after birth) are not permitted to fast. And of course there is an exception in wartime, for example the Yom Kippur War fought from October 6th to 25th, 1973 … which was the basis for the rationalization I used to get myself off my spiritual hook.

For make no mistake, America is at war. Oh, I don’t mean those engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan that have killed thousands of people, bankrupted our country and compromised the effectiveness of our military. The conflict that must also concern us is being fought right here at home. And Friday and Saturday I was directly in the line-of-fire.

Thanks to live streaming, I spent Yom Kippur with the folks at the Values Voter Summit, sponsored by the Family Research Council (FRC), an organization which because of the homophobia and lies it propagates is designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)  While many of my family and friends, supported by each other in community and prayer, contemplated their transgressions, I listened to speaker after speaker preach how my extended family and friends were much of what is wrong in America and how my life (which was consistently called a lifestyle) is itself a transgression. While my family’s and friends’ souls were stirred as they listened to the haunting melody of Kol Nidre, my stomach churned as I listened to Michele Bachmann and Star Parker.

It was a weekend filled with irony, much of which was apparently lost on its sponsors as well as the attendees; a weekend when vitriol was cheered and pleas for civility and respect were met with derision.

The presentation of the colors was accompanied by a stirring rendition of “Fanfare for the Common Man” by Aaron Copeland.

Copeland was never troubled by his sexual orientation and although he never made the political statement of coming out publically, he was quite open about it – his being gay was not a secret. As part of a group of Manhattan-based gay composers, Copeland, along with Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, Marc Blitzstein, Paul Bowles, David Diamond, Ned Rorem and Virgil Thomson, changed the complexion of American Music.

After a welcome speech in which Tony Perkins, the President of the FRC, declared war on marriage equality, family planning, health care and regulations governing the environment, banks and other financial institutions, House Speaker John Boehner reaffirmed his determination to repeal health care reforms and to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

But it was House Majority Leader Eric Cantor who got the first standing ovation when he said, “We have, and we always should, stand by Israel.” Observant Jews however were out of luck if they wanted to attend the whole conference. As the National Jewish Democratic Council pointed out, this is the third Values Voter Summit in a row to be scheduled during the Jewish High Holy Days. The workshop “Why Christians should support Israel” was held on Yom Kippur.

Cantor complained about the Occupy Wall Street movement, stating, “I for one am increasingly concerned about the growing mobs occupying Wall Street and other cities across our country,” claiming that Occupy Wall Street is “pitting of Americans against Americans.” Of course, when members of the Tea Party took to the streets, we were told that it was a sign of grassroots democracy in action.

Evolution was a central theme in the speech given by Bryan Fischer: “I submit to you that not a single one of our unalienable rights will be safe in the hands of a president who believes that we evolved from slime and that we are the descendants of apes and baboons.” He claimed the separation of church and state is “mythical.” Fischer’s convoluted logic posited that since the Founders believed that our unalienable rights came from the Creator, Creationism not Evolution is the correct explanation of the origin of our species and no person who does not believe in Creationism should be elected President.

The presidential candidates Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich, as well as past candidates Tim Pawlenty and Mike Huckabee, have all appeared on Fischer’s show. Fischer is the spokesperson for the organization, The American Family Association, another SPLC designated hate group, which co-hosted “The Response” prayer rally with Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Fischer’s call for the return of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and a declaration by the next president that gays are a threat to national security and public health were reported by The New Civil Rights Movement October 9.

Robert Jeffress, a Texas Southern Baptist megachurch senior pastor introduced Rick Perry to the appreciative audience. People for The American Way’s Right Wing Watch points out, “Jeffress’ anti-Mormon views should have been no surprise to the Perry camp, and in this interview last year with the Trinity Broadcasting Network, Jeffress argued that the Mormon religion, along with Islam, is ‘from the pit of Hell.’ He went on to say that along with Mormons and Muslims, Jews and gays are also destined for Hell.”

All of the Republican hopefuls — except Jon Huntsman, Fred Karger, Thad McCotter, and  Buddy Roemer — spoke at the conference. Among the promises they gave if elected President was repeal of or a moratorium on all pending federal government regulations for six months, repeal of the recently passed healthcare plan, cutting taxes, defunding Planned Parenthood, appointing Supreme Court Justices who would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, sponsoring a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, reinstating Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and eliminating the Department of Education. Family was always defined as a man, a woman and their children.

The most moderate of them, Mitt Romney, called for civility and respect, saying, “Poisonous language does not advance our cause. It has never softened a single heart nor changed a single mind. The blessings of faith carry the responsibility of civil and respectful debate.” Romney added, “The task before us is to focus on the conservative beliefs and the values that unite us – let no agenda narrow our vision or drive us apart.” Although these remarks were not well received in the hall, as David Badash reported on October 8th they were acknowledged positively outside the conference.

Almost every speaker assured the audience that God was on their side and that they would win this war they were waging, because God wanted them to put Him back where He belonged, in the home, in the schools, in public places, in the courts in the House of Representatives and the Senate and in the White House.

If I had any doubts that this is a genuine war, they were erased when they brought in the Marine and rolled out the General. Tony Perkins, a former Marine whose rank was never revealed, assured us, “I never back down from a campaign!” and Lt. General Benjamin Mixon (Ret.), Former Commander, Multi-National Division, Iraq, agreed that the Military is its own “kind of subculture” and “open homosexuality’ would be detrimental to the troops and their families.

I confess I skipped some of Michele Bachmann’s 46 minute speech; I’d heard it all before. The evening finally closed with this admonishment by Star Parker:

“And now we’re yearning, waiting, to protect the interest of marriage, such a most humble position God would put us in, the marital sacrament, to recognize how personal and private that is. It’s absolutely under attack to the degree that in California they now have to stop a law, they have to form an initiative to stop a law, from teaching their children gay history. We are sick as a country, and we are going to have to recognize how deep this sickness is. So that when we get to November 3rd, regardless of the outcome, the same way big moral questions were on the table before, God would answer what we are praying for.”

War had been declared: And according to them, it’s God vs. us!

The next day Lieutenant General William G. Boykin (retired) Former Commander; Delta Force, marched onto the stage and laid out the rules of engagement:

“You don’t go into battle afraid of your enemy, you just simply don’t, you have to go in knowing that you will be victorious. You know it is important that we develop the attitude that we’re going to win because we have the ultimate force-multiplier with us, and that is God Himself, the Holy Spirit. You know, nobody in this country fought a greater fight to stop the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell than Tony Perkins; he used every resource he had to try and stop the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. And you know who led the charge in our government to try and stop this repeal? That was John McCain. John McCain led the charge and John McCain kept turning to Tony Perkins, saying, ‘Where’s the church? Where are the spiritual leaders that are going to come along beside me, that are going to stand up with me?’ The answer was they were silent, the church was silent, and it is time for the Church to rise up like a mighty army.”

But it wasn’t all speeches and workshops. Those who were actually at the conference had an opportunity to visit the booths in the exhibition hall. There were books and badges for sale and buttons and brochures for the asking. In an article titled, “Antigay Message Is Everywhere at GOP Candidates Event,”  The Advocate wrote they had found disturbing imagery everywhere, with one table giving away buttons that proclaim, “Ex-Gay Is OK!” The list of more than 50 exhibitors includes the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX).

Saturday night, while some of the conference-goers attended The Faith, Family, And Freedom Gala Dinner in the Regency Ballroom (a black-tie optional, ticketed event,) which featured Phyllis Schlafly, whom Michele Bachmann has called the “most important woman in the United States in the last 100 years,” because of her fight against the Equal Rights Amendment, my partner and I celebrated the end of Yom Kippur with friends and family at a traditional Break-Fast at my nephew’s home. There we were greeted with hugs. He and members of his family call both of us Uncle and my cousins and their families and friends honor our relationship of almost 34 years. Here our life together is not called a “lifestyle” nor is our love considered an abomination. Over bagels and lox and kugel and herring we discussed my Yom Kippur War.

Make no mistake, America is at war. Our New Civil Rights Movement is under attack. Our families are under attack. This was the year of my Yom Kippur War; this is the year of your Yom Kippur War.

Stuart Wilber lives in Seattle with his partner and cat. Equality continues to elude them. (Image: Mathew Ryan Williams.)

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BREAKING NEWS

Watch: Santos Responds to Report He Joked About Hitler, ‘The Jews’ and Black People

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U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-NY) allegedly made a social media post appearing to praise Adolf Hitler while referring to “the Jews and Black” people, and frequently made pejorative “jokes” about being Jewish according to friends interviewed by Patch and screenshots of now-deleted social media posts.

In 2011, Santos “commented on a Facebook post with what appear to be intended-jokes about Hitler, a phrase that appears to salute Hitler and observations about ‘the Jews and black[s],’ exclusive screenshots obtained by Patch show.”

Patch, which published a screenshot of  what appear to be Santos’ comment, reports he had written this: “hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh hiiiiiiiiiiiitlerrrrrrrrrrr (hight hitler) lolololololololololololol sombody kill her!! the jews and black [sic] mostly lolllolol!!! Dum”

Sarah Fishkind, whose LinkedIn profile describes her as a political organizer, posted video Thursday afternoon of her conversation with Rep. Santos.

“Do you have any comments about your most-recently-leaked Facebook comments about killing all Jews and Black people?” she asked, according to her post.

“I’m sorry?” Santos, appearing to be stunned, replied.

READ MORE: ‘Big No-No’: Santos May or May Not Have a Campaign Treasurer Prompting Questions About Whose Signature That Is

“It’s on the news right. now,” she responded, “that you Facebook commented.”

Santos replied with a frustrated huff, then said: “That’s going to be hard to hold.” It’s unclear what he meant by that comment.

Santos ran and won his congressional seat claiming to be a gay Jewish Republican, only later to falsely claim he never said he was Jewish, but “Jew-ish.” He also lied about his grandparents fleeing the Holocaust.

Jewish groups have condemned his false claims of Jewish heritage, which include false claims that his grandparents were “Holocaust refugees.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change. 

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

‘Moral Turpitude’: Trump Coup Memo Author John Eastman Now Facing 11 Counts of Alleged Ethics Violations – and Disbarment

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John Eastman, the far-right attorney, disgraced former law professor, former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and current chairman of the anti-LGBTQ National Organization For Marriage (NOM) is facing eleven counts of alleged ethics violations, and disbarment, by California state bar regulators. Among the allegations, “intentional acts of moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption.”

As The New York Times reported last fall, “after the November election, Mr. Eastman wrote the memo for which he is now best known, laying out steps that Vice President Mike Pence could take to keep Mr. Trump in power — measures Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans have likened to a blueprint for a coup.

So has the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, which late last month referred Eastman – in the same breath as Donald Trump – to the Dept. of Justice for possible prosecution on criminal charges, including obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy to defraud the United States.

On Thursday, Bloomberg News reported California state bar regulators “say they will seek to strip” Eastman of his law license.

READ MORE: Ginni Thomas Looking Like ‘Full Fledged Potential Co-Conspirator’ After Discovery of Emails With Eastman: Legal Expert

“The Notice of Disciplinary Charges alleges that Mr. Eastman violated this duty in furtherance of an attempt to usurp the will of the American people and overturn election results for the highest office in the land — an egregious and unprecedented attack on our democracy — for which he must be held accountable,” the State Bar of California’s Chief Trial Counsel George Cardona said in a statement. “Eastman has not been charged with any crimes to date.”

“The 11 charges arise from allegations that Eastman engaged in a course of conduct to plan, promote, and assist then-President Trump in executing a strategy, unsupported by facts or law, to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election by obstructing the count of electoral votes of certain states,” the State Bar of California’s statement adds.

Law & Crime’s Adam Klasfeld further explains that Cardona “intends to seek Eastman’s disbarment for alleged violations of Business and Professions Code section 6106, which punishes making false and misleading statements that constitute acts of ‘moral turpitude, dishonesty, and corruption.'”

Last week The New York Times described Eastman as “a chief architect of Donald Trump’s effort to reverse his election loss,” but it is his fellow Republican attorneys who delivered the judgment on his skills.

“Many White House lawyers expressed contempt for Mr. Eastman, portraying him as an academic with little grasp of the real world,” The Times reported. “Greg Jacob, the legal counsel to former Vice President Mike Pence, characterized Mr. Eastman’s legal advice as ‘gravely, gravely irresponsible,’ calling him the ‘serpent in the ear’ of Mr. Trump. Eric Herschmann, a Trump White House lawyer, recounted ‘chewing out’ Mr. Eastman. Pat A. Cipollone, the chief White House counsel, is described calling Mr. Eastman’s ideas ‘nutty.'”

READ MORE: Bombshell NYT Report Reveals Bill Barr’s Special Counsel Opened ‘Secret’ Financial Crimes Probe Into Trump But Never Prosecuted

It wasn’t just Republican attorneys in the Trump White House.

During the January 6 insurrection, Eastman, certainly no silent architect, stood at the same podium Donald Trump would speak at, and delivered a fiery speech alongside Rudy Giuliani. Six days later his colleagues at Chapman University demanded his firing.

The disbarment may be the least of Eastman’s self-inflicted woes.

“He has been drawn into the criminal investigation into election interference in Atlanta, which is nearing a decision on potential indictments,” according to The Times, also adding that the “F.B.I. seized his iPhone.”

READ MORE: ‘Big No-No’: Santos May or May Not Have a Campaign Treasurer Prompting Questions About Whose Signature That Is

Watch the videos above or at this link.

This article was updated at 5:41 PM ET with details reported by Law & Crime, including references to “moral turpitude.”

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Bombshell NYT Report Reveals Bill Barr’s Special Counsel Opened ‘Secret’ Financial Crimes Probe Into Trump But Never Prosecuted

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Special Counsel Robert Durham, appointed by then-Attorney General Bill Barr, uncovered possible financial crimes by Donald Trump but made no attempt to prosecute them, The New York Times reveals in massive, bombshell report published Thursday after a months-long investigation.

“Mr. Barr and Mr. Durham never disclosed that their inquiry expanded in the fall of 2019, based on a tip from Italian officials, to include a criminal investigation into suspicious financial dealings related to Mr. Trump. The specifics of the tip and how they handled the investigation remain unclear, but Mr. Durham brought no charges over it,” The Times’ Charlie Savage, Adam Goldman, and Katie Benner report.

The “potentially explosive tip linking Mr. Trump to certain suspected financial crimes” came during a trip Barr and Durham, his special counsel, took together. They “decided that the tip was too serious and credible to ignore.”

But, “Mr. Durham never filed charges, and it remains unclear what level of an investigation it was, what steps he took, what he learned and whether anyone at the White House ever found out. The extraordinary fact that Mr. Durham opened a criminal investigation that included scrutinizing Mr. Trump has remained secret.”

That’s just one aspect of The Times’ extensive and disturbing report.

It also reveals that there was little justification for Barr to install Durham as a special counsel to investigate what Trump wrongly maintained was an unjustifiable investigation into his ties to Russia.

In fact, The Times “found that the main thrust of the Durham inquiry was marked by some of the very same flaws — including a strained justification for opening it and its role in fueling partisan conspiracy theories that would never be charged in court — that Trump allies claim characterized the Russia investigation.”

READ MORE: ‘Failed Spectacularly’: Top Legal Experts Call for Ethics Probe Into Bill Barr’s Handpicked Special Counsel John Durham

In another shocking revelation, The Times reports Durham “used Russian intelligence memos — suspected by other U.S. officials of containing disinformation — to gain access to emails of an aide to George Soros, the financier and philanthropist who is a favorite target of the American right and Russian state media.”

The Times does not explain how Durham obtained the Russian disinformation.

“Mr. Durham used grand jury powers to keep pursuing the emails even after a judge twice rejected his request for access to them. The emails yielded no evidence that Mr. Durham has cited in any case he pursued.”

Attorneys on Durham’s team apparently had significant qualms with his actions, leading at least two to resign.

“There were deeper internal fractures on the Durham team than previously known,” The Times reports. “The publicly unexplained resignation in 2020 of his No. 2 and longtime aide, Nora R. Dannehy, was the culmination of a series of disputes between them over prosecutorial ethics. A year later, two more prosecutors strongly objected to plans to indict a lawyer with ties to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign based on evidence they warned was too flimsy, and one left the team in protest of Mr. Durham’s decision to proceed anyway. (A jury swiftly acquitted the lawyer.)”

BARR THREATENED NSA

The Times also reports that Attorney General Barr bought into Trump’s false claims that there had been “no collusion” between the Trump camp and Russia.

READ MORE: Republicans Claiming ‘Censorship’ Threaten to Haul AT&T and DirecTV Into Congress for Dropping Far-Right Newsmax

Importantly, The Times states point-blank that the Mueller Report “detailed ‘numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign,’ and it established both how Moscow had worked to help Mr. Trump win and how his campaign had expected to benefit from the foreign interference.”

According to The Times’ account, “soon after giving Mr. Durham his assignment,” in May of 2019, “Mr. Barr summoned the head of the National Security Agency, Paul M. Nakasone, to his office. In front of several aides, Mr. Barr demanded that the N.S.A. cooperate with the Durham inquiry.”

The NSA is a wholly separate entity from the Dept. of Justice. It is an agency under the Dept. of Defense and reports to the powerful Director of National Intelligence (DNI).

Barr apparently did not care, and, “repeating a sexual vulgarity, he warned that if the N.S.A. wronged him by not doing all it could to help Mr. Durham, Mr. Barr would do the same to the agency.”

DURHAM TRIED TO SCUTTLE A REPORT’S FINDING THAT TRUMP-RUSSIA INVESTIGATION WAS WARRANTED

“Mr. Durham’s team spent long hours combing the C.I.A.’s files but found no way to support the allegation” that the investigation into Trump and Russia was the result of some anti-Trump deep state operation.

Barr and Durham actually “traveled abroad together to press British and Italian officials to reveal everything their agencies had gleaned about the Trump campaign and relayed to the United States, but both allied governments denied they had done any such thing. Top British intelligence officials expressed indignation to their U.S. counterparts about the accusation, three former U.S. officials said.”

The Dept. of Justice’s Inspector General’s investigation found there was, in fact, sufficient cause for the DOJ to have opened up the Trump-Russia investigation, contrary to Barr’s personal beliefs.

So he tried to have that finding removed from the final report.

READ MORE: ‘Big No-No’: Santos May or May Not Have a Campaign Treasurer Prompting Questions About Whose Signature That Is

The Times reports that “the broader findings contradicted Mr. Trump’s accusations and the rationale for Mr. Durham’s inquiry,” which should have shut down what ultimately became Durham’s four-year long investigation that netted almost nothing.

The DOJ Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, “found no evidence that F.B.I. actions were politically motivated. And he concluded that the investigation’s basis — an Australian diplomat’s tip that a Trump campaign adviser had seemed to disclose advance knowledge that Russia would release hacked Democratic emails — had been sufficient to lawfully open it.”

So Barr tried to discredit Horowitz’s report.

“Minutes before the inspector general’s report went online, Mr. Barr issued a statement contradicting Mr. Horowitz’s major finding, declaring that the F.B.I. opened the investigation “on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient.” He would later tell Fox News that the investigation began “without any basis,” as if the diplomat’s tip never happened.”

Read the entire Times report here.

 

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