Why does much of America still think it is acceptable â€“ and even expected â€“ for Republican presidential candidates to align themselves with the most virulent of anti-gay religious right leaders?
For more than two decades, conservative Christian voters have been regarded as a crucial voting bloc necessary to win the Republican presidential nomination.Â
GOP candidates Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, and Bobby Jindal, clearly in a seductive dance with conservative bases, have linked the approval of same-sex marriage by the Supreme Court to attacks on the religious liberties of conservative Christians. Their efforts to amass the conservative votes in early caucus conventions has produced some visible alignments of note between candidates and religious leaders.
As exhibited in the November 6-7 Des Moines Freedom 2015 rally sponsored and hosted by anti-gay and anti-trans extremist Colorado pastor Kevin Swanson, it appears some presidential candidates are willing to tolerate extreme hostility toward LGBT people for valuable conservative backing. All three Republican candidates spoke at Freedom 2015 after Swansonâ€™s tirade without denouncing him.Â
Another such display of endorsing hostility in exchange for votes will take place Saturday, when Ted Cruz travels to the campus of Bob Jones University, widely known for on campus anti-gay rhetoric throughout past decades that is still happening there despite recent administration apologies.
At the gathering, positioned as a â€œrally for religious freedom,â€ Cruz will be joined by Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, along with the usual cadre of bakers, florists, twins, and religious leaders.
Cruz, who has failed to denounced or distanced himself from the hateful rants of Swanson, will be joined by yet another anti-gay religious leader, Michael Brown.
Though Brown has publicly denounced the words of Swanson, stating it is “not Christian in any shape, size, or form to provoke hatred towards gay or lesbians, or worse still, to suggest that they should be mistreated,” one would be wrong to view Brown as the kind and compassionate voice he suggests himself to be.
Often lacking self-awareness of impact of their teachings, it seems a hierarchy of â€œGod-approvedâ€ anti-gay religious leaders exists. Most of us would readily recognize Swanson as an extremist. But what about the pastor-types and organization heads whose teachings and policies foster mistreatment and hatred toward gays?
Brown, who has written three non-academic and ideologically-based books focused on gays and transpeople, their need to change, and their destructive influence on marriage, family and the culture, believes his version of damaging rhetoric is a more loving variety ordained by God.
I have engaged with Brown, his writings and books, his public action of leading 200 Christians into Charlotte Gay Pride with the intention of redirecting attendees to reparative therapy, and followed his public comments about LGBT people for almost five years. Though not as extreme as Swanson, Brown is guilty of dangerous teachings that have driven LGBT people, LGBT Christians, and their families and allies from finding spiritual haven in many Christian faith communities. and acceptance within their own families.
Typical of anti-gay conservative religious and organizational leaders and the presidential candidates who hold hands with them, Brownâ€™s own cultural ideology, disguised as theology, thoroughly ignores the historical and cultural progression between what was written thousands of years ago to and in a specific culture and what we recognize today as same-sex couples in loving and committed relationships.
Increasingly, progressive Christians, myself included, are refusing to allow conservative interpreters of the Bible who neglect to address the cultural shifts in the status of women, the progression of understanding and input from experts in human sexuality, and the merger of conservative politics and religion since the late 1970s, each having significantly influenced the ability to take an honest look at biblical translations to inform our faith at its intersection with sexual orientation and gender identity. (I have written a book detailing this, Walking the Bridgeless Canyon)
In attempts to woo conservative Christian voters, we are witnessing public displays of alliances between candidates and religious leaders like Brown, and Eric Teetsel, a strong anti-gay leader amongst the Southern Baptists whom Marco Rubio has selected as his faith advisor.
Staunchly anti-gay Family Research Council representatives will also anoint their choice; as of now, that choice appears to be Cruz.
Weâ€™ve seen this demonizing and dehumanizing the LGBT community tactic used before in the 1980, 1992, and 2004 elections to get conservative voters registered and to the polls.Â
As long as the candidates. or those who support them, continue to ignore the fact that every professional medical and mental health organization in the U.S. asserts that homosexuality is a normal variation of human sexuality, they are complicit in creating destructive environments for LGBT people and their families.Â
There is no hierarchy of who hates less or with a â€œGod-ordainedâ€ hatred when it comes to religious leaders who, in ignorance, formulate opinions and doctrine detrimental to LGBT people and their families. They are all guilty.
Presidential candidates who align with such ideologues are themselves anti-LGBT and should be plainly labeled as such as they exchange hostility of LGBT people for conservative votes.
Photo is from Ted Cruz Facebook page
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Watch: Santos Responds to Report He Joked About Hitler, ‘The Jews’ and Black People
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.
“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.
While on his way to the House floor, I asked George Santos about his recently leaked Facebook comment saluting hitler.
— sarah fishkind (@sarahefishkind) January 26, 2023
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.
In an interview with JNS at the RJC meeting last month, Santos said, “as I always joke, I am Jew-ish” and repeated his claim about his grandfather “fleeing Hitler” in 1940.https://t.co/OTkCVt0uam pic.twitter.com/U3kn2ZNFhu
— Jacob Kornbluh (@jacobkornbluh) December 21, 2022
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.
‘Moral Turpitude’: Trump Coup Memo Author John Eastman Now Facing 11 Counts of Alleged Ethics Violations – and Disbarment
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.
“We believe that the evidence described by my colleagues today and assembled throughout our hearings warrants a criminal referral of former President Donald J. Trump, John Eastman, and others…” — @RepRaskin #January6thCommitteeHearings pic.twitter.com/Baa1jxsx8k
— Defend Democracy Project (@DemocracyNowUS) December 19, 2022
On Thursday, Bloomberg News reported California state bar regulators “say they will seek to strip” Eastman of his law license.
“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.'”
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.”
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.”
Bombshell NYT Report Reveals Bill Barr’s Special Counsel Opened ‘Secret’ Financial Crimes Probe Into Trump But Never Prosecuted
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.”
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.
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.
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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