This article first appeared in Michelangelo Signorile’s Substack newsletter. To see the article in its original location or to subscribe, click here.
After the the names were released by the government last week of those who received pandemic-relief assistance under the Payroll Protection Program — transparency the Trump administration initially fought hard against — we learned of many billionaires and big, well-funded companies that received government loans, in additions to Trump family friends and allies, like billionaire governor Jim Justice of West Virginia and billionaire rapper Kanye West.
But also among those who received more than $150,000 — which are the only recipients whose names are made public — has been the Catholic Church, a multi-billion dollar tax exempt global empire that hardly qualifies as a “small business,” which is what the program was initially designed to help save. Meanwhile, thousands of desperate, hurting small businesses, per a Pro Publica investigation, didn’t receive money promised them and many were forced to shut down, their owners left penniless.
“Houses of worship and faith-based organizations that promote religious beliefs aren’t usually eligible for money from the U.S. Small Business Administration,” the Associated Press noted. “But as the economy plummeted and jobless rates soared, Congress let faith groups and other nonprofits tap into the Paycheck Protection Program, a $659 billion fund created to keep Main Street open and Americans employed.”
After heavy lobbying by the church, the virulently anti-LGBTQ, anti-abortion Archdiocese of New York received $28 million, an archdiocese led by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who’s called gay relationships not “natural.” Catholic entities in total — including many archdioceses that had paid out huge settlements in sex abuse cases and were facing bankruptcy — were paid at least $1.4 billion. But the AP believes the money may actually have exceeded $3.5 billion.
The list goes on and on. The American Family Association, labeled as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center — and whose spokesperson and “radio host,” Bryan Fischer, just two weeks ago called homosexuality “unnatural, unhealthy and immoral”— received a loan to keep propagating its lies and distortions.
Also on the list was the Liberty Counsel, the legal group that fights against laws protection LGBTQ people, and the ugly Concerned Women for America and Joyce Meyer Ministries, which rail against homosexuality, same-sex marriage and transgender people.
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Signorile: The Trumpian Attacks on Pride Flags
Anti-LGBTQ haters, mounting a resistance in Biden’s America, are targeting the rainbow symbol
This article first appeared in Michelangelo Signorile’s Substack newsletter. To see the article in its original location or to subscribe, click here.
I wrote a few weeks ago about several jarring incidents in which rainbow flags symbolizing queer Pride were vandalized or had triggered acts of violence against people, in addition to demands of removal from property.
Now comes this story this week out of Eastland Cove, a condo development just north of gay-friendly Fort Lauderdale, in Broward County, Florida. A gay couple, Mike Ferrari and Bob Plominski, have lived there for over 10 years, and have hung Pride flags in the past. But this year they received a letter from the Eastland Cove Homeowners Association that they must remove their flag from their mailbox or be fined $50 and $10 additionally for each day they refuse to remove it. They’re standing firm, and have taken their story nationally.
A Florida homeowners association has ordered a gay couple to remove a small rainbow flag from their front yard or pay a $50 daily fine if the flag is not removed by June 15. The couple said they will continue to fly it until the end of the month. https://t.co/IHAz2eEESi
— NBC News (@NBCNews) June 19, 2021
Sure, homeowners associations have wide discretion on decorations, including flags, and some are quite strict. But the key issue here is that Ferrari and Plominki have flown a rainbow flag for years. The association’s rules state that only American flags, state flags or military flags may be flown, but no one complained in the past. Now, however, one or more people lodged a complaint and the board says it was compelled to demand the couple remove the flag.
Why didn’t anyone care enough in the past to file a complaint, but now they have? It could be any of a number of reasons — including someone new moving in — but I’m betting, looking at what’s happening all over the country, that it’s more of an assertion of backlash by people who were emboldened by Donald Trump’s expressions of hate. That included his administration’s stripping LGBTQ rights and removing rainbow decorations and Pride flags from embassies around the world. The Trump White House had reversed course from the Obama White House, not marking Pride month with a proclamation, nor flying a rainbow flag or lighting the White House in rainbow colors.
But President Joe Biden, in rapid pace, reversed Trump’s horrific executive orders that harmed LGBTQ people. And now the embrace of Pride by the White House is back — and the flags are flying at embassies around the world, including at the Vatican — while the haters are lashing out now in an act of resistance in Biden’s America.
Certainly there have been hateful attacks on Pride flags since the time it was created by activist Gilbert Baker in 1978, through some of the most overtly homophobic times this country has seen, including during the escalation of the AIDS crisis. But in 2021 the attacks seem to have escalated in a way that shouldn’t be happening at this point in time. It’s like we’re gong backwards — or there is a backlash by people who feel very threatened by the current reality, in which Trump lost the election but they believe it was stolen and their rightful place was taken away. As I wrote a few weeks ago:
A Sacramento church had its Pride flag burned last week. A student in Florida was brutally stomped on for bringing a Pride flag to a picnic. Boaters terrorized people in another boat on a lake in Washington state two weeks ago because they flew Pride flags on their boat (Ironically, the only harm came to the harassers, whose boat exploded, ignited by an engine fire during the altercation). Wisconsin homeowners were told by their association to remove Pride flags; they got creative and doused their home in rainbow floodlights.
Since then, a Pride flag was vandalized at a vintage shop in a town in Maine. A church outside of Cleveland reported its Pride flags were stolen two dozen times. Pride flags were stolen from the streets of Boise, Idaho. A teen at a Washington state university allegedly burned a Pride flag. A California city even refused to fly the flag at the request of residents.
Read the entire article and subscribe at The Signorile Report.
Sessions Joins Barr in Pleading Ignorance About Trump DOJ Spying on Dems – Is Rosenstein the Guy or Are They Setting Him Up?
Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions late Friday afternoon announced that he too, just like former Attorney General Bill Barr, had no idea the Dept. of Justice was spying on at least two top House Democrats on the Intelligence Committee. The scandal has shaken both the DOJ and the general public so broadly the Inspector General – less than 24 hours after The New York Times bombshell dropped – announced a wide-ranging internal investigation.
The track records of both Barr and Sessions when it comes to telling the truth – even under oath – are questionable at best and subject to interpretation.
Are they setting former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein up to take the fall? Or was it Rosenstein all along? Or both – were they all in on spying on Democrats?
Many Americans will remember that Sessions lied under oath during his confirmation hearing:
Jeff Sessions lied under oath about meeting with Russian officials during the presidential campaign pic.twitter.com/zxVnV2Asdc
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) March 2, 2017
And this famous video of then-Senator Kamala Harris, now Vice President Kamala Harris, grilling Barr to a crisp is legendary:
Flashback: May 2019
Harris: Has the president or anyone at the WH ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone?
Harris: Seems you’d remember something like that and be able to tell us.
Barr: Yeah, but I’m trying to grapple with the word suggest. pic.twitter.com/y8ewAgVAgE
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) June 11, 2021
Barr on Friday also claimed Trump knew nothing about the “investigation” and did not order the spying.
This is what Trump was tweeting about the same month that Trump’s DOJ subpoenaed Apple for metadata to spy on Rep. Schiff & other House Intel Democrats who Trump accused of “leaking”. It seems clear that Trump was directly involved in the DOJ’s targeting of Schiff, which is huge. pic.twitter.com/mdEH6ame5p
— Caroline Orr Bueno, Ph.D (@RVAwonk) June 11, 2021
At the FBI, which the DOJ oversees, it’s called “lack of candor” and it’s a fireable offense. Unless you’re the Attorney General and your boss is Donald Trump and you’re helping him.
(Sessions was fired by Trump, not directly for this lie, but as a result of it: he was was forced to recuse himself from all things Russia, including protecting Trump, which led to Trump giving him the ax.)
Legal experts have said there is no way any investigation into a sitting member of Congress could have taken place – including, especially, with subpoenas of at least a dozen staffers, family members, and a minor child signing off on those warrants – unless a very top official or officials at DOJ approved the investigations.
On Friday both Barr and Sessions claimed they knew nothing about the investigations involving members of Congress, so, if Americans are to believe them, (and there’s great reason to not,) presumably the only other person who conceivably could have approved the spying on top elected Democrats would be Rod Rosenstein.
Rosenstein is also the only top DOJ official who was there throughout the spying, which started in 2017 under Sessions, ended after nothing was found, and was started up again under Barr. And again, came up empty.
Speaking of lack of candor, Congressman Matt Gaetz, who is under DOJ investigation and has every reason to want to take a swipe at DOJ, would like you to believe Rosenstein is the one who OK’d the spying:
To all those “shocked” and “horrified” that Rod Rosenstein might spy on Schiff…
He was making these threats to BOTH sides, including congressional staff.
They don’t treat their critics well at the DOJ. https://t.co/iLWS6nVuX6
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) June 11, 2021
So all we know is that we don’t know, but hopefully the Inspector General will find out and let the American people know who approved spying on Democrats for political retribution.
‘Sit This One Out Champ’: Trump Surgeon General Slammed for Being ‘Uncomfortable’ With Biden Support of Anheuser’s Beer-for-Vaccine Incentive
After spending the first year of the pandemic generally staying quiet about President Donald Trump’s downplaying of the coronavirus pandemic, comparison to the flu, calling it the “China virus,” opposing masks and social distancing, promoting hydroxychloroquine and other fake “cures,” refusing to invoke the Defense Production Act, and using the pandemic as a way to get on TV every day while spreading false information, former Trump Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams is “uncomfortable” with the Biden administration supporting a private company’s free beer incentive, and wonders, “Are cigarettes next?”
“Do public health advocates who’ve tried to raise the alarm about the health complications of increasing alcohol consumption really not have a problem with a federally sanctioned beer giveaway?” Dr. Adams, a former Vice Admiral, asked on Twitter Tuesday.
That “federally sanctioned beer giveaway” comes courtesy of Anheuser-Busch, which has “partnered with the Biden White House to give every American a free beer if 70% of Americans are vaccinated with at least one shot by the Fourth of July,” according to Fortune.
Americans are not given a COVID-19 vaccine shot and then a beer chaser at their local CVS, Walgreen’s or hospital or health clinic.
It’s merely one way to get more people vaccinated.
Given that the Trump administration is responsible for what the media generously calls “vaccine hesitancy,” it’s stunning the top health official who sat back and said little as Trump spread falsehoods – literally creating the situation we now see, where 41% of Republicans say they will never get vaccinated – is “uncomfortable.”
“I’m all for incentives/ rewards, and I’m not against people making personal choices to drink, but even the current Surgeon General put out a report warning about the health effects of alcohol consumption. Donuts, gambling (lottery tickets)… Are cigarettes next? Just me?” Dr. Adams asked.
He then suggested he had tried to take the high road, but just could not stand by any longer.
“I’m just really starting to get uncomfortable with the public health trade offs here,” he said, which would be trying to unite America by motivating people to get their friends and family members who refuse to follow the science and get vaccinated to save their lives and the lives of those around them, vaccinated. “And the messages we’re subtly sending our youth. Is it really worth it?”
I’ve tried to hold off as I know my message is likely to be seen by some as attacking the administration, but I’m not. I’m just really starting to get uncomfortable with the public health trade offs here. And the messages we’re subtly sending our youth. Is it really worth it? 🤔
— Jerome Adams (@JeromeAdamsMD) June 8, 2021
Many argue that, yes, it is. Some agreed with Adams. Some criticized him for his performance as Surgeon General.
And some asked why he didn’t have a problem with the gun giveaway.
1) They aren’t giving beer away. It’s a cash gift card payed for by Budweiser. 2) Krispy Kreme decided themselves to give donuts away and it’s not a program from the government. 3) why not mention the rifles and shotguns being given away by WV?
— Frederick Augustus Olds (@fredaolds) June 8, 2021
(1) Some vice-based incentives are worth it, if it gets more people vaccinated (2) You, as Surgeon General, mocking COVID-19 (and blasting Democrats who were trying to take the response seriously) to get Trump to like you: now that probably killed a lot of people.
— David Rothschild (@DavMicRot) June 8, 2021
Jerome, I hear you. Wonder where the concern was when your boss was telling people to inject bleach and not wear masks or that testing was the only reason we had cases. Agree with your concerns on incentives, but would be more credible if you called out BS consistently
— Ariel Berger (@ArielBerger5) June 8, 2021
They wouldn’t have to beg if there wasn’t people continuously downplaying the vaccine or virus
— Camille (@clt_luv) June 8, 2021
If only the people from the Trump administration (and Trump) had been consistent in their message about ways to fight Covid (masks, social distancing, washing hands, vaccination, etc.) and hadn’t made it a political, partisan issue from the very beginning….. If only.
— Michele (@ourroseylife) June 8, 2021
The sad part of all this is that it had to come to “bribes” for people to take the vaccine. The Right spreads the lie that the vaccine is not safe and why they won’t take it, not even considering the truth of the matter….that Covid was politicized and the vaccine along with it!
— truth hag (@HagTruth) June 8, 2021
Any problem with gun incentives or nah?
— RudyTheBold (@BoldRudy) June 8, 2021
After your obsequious ass kissing of trump, while abetting the misinformation & negligence during the early days of the pandemic, you really should sit this one out, champ.
— Inept Sloganeer (@EliotGreenspan) June 8, 2021
Image: Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen via Flickr
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