Miranda Blue's blog

Cruz Revives Ugly Confirmation Fight In Latest Attempt To Recruit 'Silent Majority'

Apparently still trying to steal support from Donald Trump’s “silent majority,” Sen. Ted Cruz insisted last night that while the media is reporting on the anti-choice politics of the man who attacked a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs last week, they never report that “the overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats.”

“Now listen,” Cruz told Hugh Hewitt, “here’s the simple and undeniable fact. The overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats. The media doesn’t report that. And there’s a reason why the Democrats for years have been soft on crime, because they go in and they appoint to the bench judges who release violent criminals.”

“They go in and they do what Barack Obama tried to do,” he continued, “which is appoint a lawyer who voluntarily represented for free a cop killer to a senior Justice Department position, that they go in and fight to give the right to vote to convicted felons. Why? Because Democrats know that convicted felons tend to vote Democrat.”

There’s a lot of bile to unpack there, from Cruz’s dismissal of the bipartisan campaign to restore voting rights to people who have served time for felonies, which disproportionately affects people of color, to his Willie Horton dog-whistle about Democrats appointing “soft on crime” judges.

But there’s one part of Cruz’s remarks that threatens to get buried under the rest of it: his boast about the Debo Adegbile episode, in which Cruz was instrumental in blocking a Justice Department nominee because of his history as a criminal defense attorney.

Back in 2013, President Obama nominated Adegbile, a longtime civil rights attorney who had previously worked at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, to head the Justice Department’s civil rights division, which had been infamously thrown off course by the Bush Administration.

Cruz spoke out on the Senate floor against Adegbile’s nomination, focusing on the attorney’s role while at the LDF representing Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted of murdering a Philadelphia police officer. With the LDF representing him on appeal, a federal court found that the instructions to the jury that had sentenced Abu-Jamal to death had violated the Constitution, and Abu-Jamal was resentenced to life in prison.

When Obama nominated Adegbile to the civil rights post, conservative media blasted him as a “cop killer coddler,” a refrain which helped Republicans in the Senate pressure vulnerable Democrats into voting against his nomination.

It was an ugly episode, in which politicians like Cruz essentially declared that not all criminal defendants deserve the Constitution’s guarantee of legal counsel. And it’s telling that Cruz, the self-proclaimed lover of the Constitution, brought it up in his latest ugly screed.

Cruz Laughs Off The 'Condom Police,' Ignores His Own Anti-Contraception Policies

At a campaign event in Iowa yesterday, Sen. Ted Cruz responded to a question about contraception access by dismissing the threat of “condom police,” calling attacks on contraception “an utterly made-up, nonsense issue.”

“Now listen,” he told the audience. “I have been a conservative my entire life. I have never met anybody, any conservative who wants to ban contraceptives.”

It may be true that that Cruz has never met anyone who wants to ban condoms. But he deliberately misses the point.  

Only a few fringe activists are talking about banning all forms of birth control outright. But the larger conservative movement, with Cruz’s vocal support, has been diligently working to make it more difficult for women, especially low-income women, to access reliable and affordable contraception.

This is a result of the anti-abortion movement’s quiet shift back toward anti-contraception policies, including their plans to close down Planned Parenthood, enact sweeping restrictions on health insurance for contraception and, increasingly, pass “personhood” measures that, if successful, could ban certain forms of contraception.

The most recent legislative assault (and, as of last week, violent assault) on Planned Parenthood was prompted by a smear campaign conducted by activists who have long sought the organization’s destruction. This is not just an attack on abortion rights — these activists, and the politicians who support them, want to prevent the organization from conducting all of its health care activities, including providing women with affordable contraception. Cruz has made defunding Planned Parenthood a centerpiece of his campaign, calling the women’s health organization an “ongoing criminal enterprise.”

Cruz, who has taken on with enthusiasm the Right’s campaign to redefine “religious liberty,” has been a vocal proponent of efforts to allow employers to block their employees from receiving insurance coverage for contraception, as mandated by the Affordable Care Act. He celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision in Hobby Lobby v. Burwell, which allowed private employers to refuse to provide health coverage for contraception. And he frequently brings up on the campaign trail the case currently before the Supreme Court in which a group of employers want to be able to deny their female employees access to contraception coverage through a separate entity. This would all be moot anyway if Cruz were to become president: He’s promised to “repeal every word of Obamacare.”

Along with working to make it more difficult for women to access reliable and affordable contraception, Cruz has flirted with the parts of the extremist personhood movement that could more accurately be described as the “condom police.”

Cruz has privately promised at least two anti-choice groups promoting fetal “personhood” laws that he would support their legislative efforts, which, if successful, could criminalize common forms of hormonal contraception. One group, Georgia Right to Life, said Cruz signed their pledge to give legal rights to embryos and another organization, National Pro-Life Alliance, announced that Cruz supports the radical Life at Conception Act. In addition, he has courted the support of activists who are vocally hostile to contraception, including, most recently, radical preacher Kevin Swanson.

It may be true that Cruz doesn’t know anybody who wants to outlaw condoms. But that’s not the threat that reproductive rights advocates are talking about, and he knows it.

Diana West Praises Donald Trump For Exposing 'The Population Replacement Of The West'

In an interview with the Center for Security Policy’s Frank Gaffney last week, conservative author Diana West lamented that the “messianic cult of multiculturalism” is giving cover to “the population replacement of the West by the rest of the world” in the form of immigration, praising Donald Trump for bringing “this issue into political forums that it never, ever entered before.”

Claiming that multiculturalism allowed Europeans to ignore “the obvious signs that we were about to enter this violent stage of jihad,” West said that the U.S. is on a similar precipice thanks to immigration from Latin America.

“What’s happening in Europe is happening here, we have a similar immigration phenomenon coming up from Latin America, primarily, and … many others from across the world coming across our borderless southern flank,” she said. “But this is the same thing we’re seeing with the immigration coming into Europe. This is the destruction of the West, this is the population replacement of the West by the rest of the world, by what we call the Third World, by the Middle East, by Islam, by Africa, by South America, this is all happening and it needs to be understood in a totality.”

“And, yes, I would hope there is a concerted effort to push back,” she added, “and this is where we see the phenomenon of Donald Trump having brought this issue into political forums that it never, ever entered before, so for that we can be thankful and build.”


Colorado Anti-Choice Groups: Why Isn't Media Covering 'Pro-Abortion Violence'?

After an anti-abortion terrorist killed three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs on Friday, reportedly declaring “no more baby parts,” anti-choice groups have been scrambling to condemn the crime and distance themselves from its perpetrator.

But some groups are being slightly less than unequivocal in their denunciation of the murders. In Colorado, which has been the testing ground for the anti-choice movement’s fetal “personhood” strategy, “personhood” groups lashed out at the media for paying too much attention to the murders at the clinic and not to what they see as the greater problems of legal abortion and what one group calls “pro-abortion violence.”

Jennifer Mason of the Colorado-based Personhood USA, which has been working to pass state-level personhood measures, wrote to her group’s supporters on Friday night that while Personhood USA “absolutely opposes all abortion-related violence,” the media is “failing to report that innocent babies are killed in that very building every day”:

Personhood USA absolutely opposes all abortion-related violence, against born and unborn people. That said, the media is failing to report that innocent babies are killed in that very building every day that they are in business. Please join me in praying that the people inside, along with the babies in their mothers' wombs, are released safely.

Meanwhile, the Colorado-based American Right to Life and its affiliate Colorado Right to Life, which dramatically split with the National Right to Life Committee in 2007 because it disagreed with the national group’s incremental anti-choice strategy, complained that the media was not covering the even greater scourge of pro-choice terrorism:

Colorado RTL contrasts the eight people unjustly killed since 1993 by known anti-abortion vigilantes with the eighty women killed by pro-abortion violence for refusing to abort their own children. Those murdered moms are invisible to the media.

When a journalist advocates a "right" to dismember an unborn child (an act that would put an animal rights activist into a rage if done to a preborn cow), that kind of psychological dysfunction helps explain why the pro-killing media ignores those mothers who were brutally killed. And then there are the hundreds of women sexually assaulted by their own abortionists who are also ignored. But who cares: certainly no one in the media. The silence is for the greater good. No?

The group’s assertion that 80 women have been “killed by pro-abortion violence” comes from a list put together by anti-choice activist Mark Crutcher (a driving force behind the Center for Medical Progress’ “baby parts” videos), which lists women who have been killed in domestic violence episodes that included arguments about abortion.

Frank Pavone: Anti-Choice Activists Must 'Exploit The Stigma Of Abortion'

Frank Pavone, the head of Priests for Life, explained a key part of his movement’s strategy for stopping abortion rights yesterday, telling a Catholic radio network that “pro-life” activists must resist Planned Parenthood’s efforts to “destigmatize abortion” by reinforcing anti-abortion stigma and lifting it “up high for people to see.”

“They survive, these Planned Parenthood efforts survive to the extent that abortion is destigmatized,” Pavone told Ave Maria Radio’s “Catholic Connection” program. “To the extent that you cannot get the stigma out of it, that you cannot get people to say they don’t regret it, that you cannot get people not to cringe when they hear the details of abortion, that is a plus for our side that we have to continue to exploit, in the best sense of the term. We exploit the stigma of abortion, we lift it up high for people to see, we reinforce it.”

He added that lifting up this stigma is important for stopping Planned Parenthood from “convincing medical students and doctors and nurses to take part in abortion” and thus causing a shortage of providers.

Austin Ruse: Phrase 'Comprehensive Sex Ed' Was 'Created In The Pits Of Hell'

Austin Ruse of C-FAM, a group that works to push social conservative policy at the UN, emailed supporters early this morning to boast that his group and its allies had successfully removed reproductive rights language from a UN resolution on youth yesterday, which he called “a breathtaking achievement given the fact that the radical left at the UN hungers and thirsts to enslave young people to the sexual revolution.”

Ruse also noted a debate that took place yesterday over the inclusion of comprehensive sex education in a resolution on the rights of children. “Comprehensive sexuality education,” Ruse contended, “is a phrase created in the pits of hell by wicked individuals who wanted to undermine family and ultimately to destroy any institution that stands between the family and the state." (Efforts to remove the sex-ed language failed.)

Maddow Calls Out Ted Cruz For Embracing Radical Anti-Choice Activist

Over the past few weeks, we have been covering the parade of increasingly extreme activists whom Sen. Ted Cruz is embracing as he seeks to shore up the hard-right vote in the Republican presidential primary.

There was the conference Cruz spoke at immediately after the summit’s organizer declared that the biblical punishment for homosexuality is death. There was the list of endorsements from faith leaders that his campaign released that included a pastor who has blamed Ebola on gay rights and another whose long history of right-wing activism includes protesting at gay couple’s weddings and a criminal conviction for stalking an abortion doctor. And then there was the joint press release that Cruz issued with Operation Rescue’s Troy Newman, announcing the endorsement of the activist who has long inhabited the radical fringes of the anti-choice movement.

Last night, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow looked into Newman’s history, citing our reporting on Newman and Operation Rescue, including his backing of capital punishment for abortion providers and tying abortion rights to natural disasters such as the current drought in California.

“This is one of those stories that I recognize the beltway media doesn’t sort of have its feelers out for,” Maddow said. “As Ted Cruz ascends in the polls and as his lift in the polls is driven basically entirely by very, very conservative Religious Right voters, this is part of understanding why and this is one of the things that he should explain to people who may have some justifiable concerns about who he’s building his campaign on.”

For more on Newman and his colleague Cheryl Sullenger, who as Maddow noted was convicted of conspiring to bomb an abortion clinic in the 1980s, you can read our recent in-depth report on Operation Rescue.

Robert Spencer: Obama Inviting Terrorists To America To Make Us Like The Rest Of The World

Jihad Watch’s Robert Spencer reached deep into the well of anti-Obama conspiracy theories in an interview with Janet Mefferd last week, claiming that the fact that the president was once spotted reading a book by Fareed Zakaria shows that he is intent on making America “level” with the rest of the world by bringing in terrorists in the form of Syrian refugees.

The president wants to admit refugees from the Syrian civil war, Spencer said, “because he’s a leveler and he believes that the United States is the problem in the world.”

As evidence, he cited the fact that Obama was photographed in 2008 reading a copy of Zakaria’s “The Post-American World,” which Spencer — not exactly accurately — claimed argues that the U.S. should be “weakened militarily, politically and economically.”

“I think it’s unarguable that that’s been Obama’s program,” he said. “It certainly has weakened America in all those ways. And the thing is that this Syrian refugee crisis is part of the same thing, that he brings everyone over here, brings even jihadis over here, and here again then we’re just like the rest of the world where this kind of thing like the Paris attacks happens with much more frequency than it has here up to now. And it’s all part of this socialistic leveling and anti-American stance that the president has had not only as president, but throughout his career.”

Religious Right's Russian 'Pro-Family' Ally May Be Helping Fund Pro-Putin Propaganda

A leading Russian operative with the U.S-based World Congress of Families may be helping fund an English-language website dedicated to providing positive coverage of Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to a report today by The Interpreter, a website run by a think tank critical of Putin.

The Interpreter’s Anton Shekhovtsov reports on a series of leaked emails between the editor of Russian Insider, a new pro-Putin publication, and Alexey Komov, the World Congress of Families’ Russian representative, in which the editor seeks funding from Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev for his website.

Shekhovtsov notes that both Malofeev and Komov have been involved in coordinating activities among European far-right groups, along with their “pro-family” activism:

The leaks reveal that Bausman, rather than relying on crowdfunding for Russia Insider, asks for money from Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev via his associate Alexey Komov.

There were several interesting articles devoted to Malofeev in the international and Russian media. In the context of this blog, Malofeev is known for providing financial assistance to the pro-Russian extremists in Eastern Ukraine (for this very reason Malofeev was sanctioned by the EU, Norway and Switzerland), organising homophobic conferences in Russia, assisting French far right politicians in getting Russian money, and building European far right alliances.

Komov is a no less interesting figure. He is an employee of several organisations founded and funded by Malofeev, as well as a representative of the homophobic World Congress of Families in Russia. He is also an honorary president of the Lombardy-Russia Cultural Association, Russia’s front organisation in Italy established by the far right Lega Nord party. Komov even gave speech at the party’s congress at the end of 2013 that elected Matteo Salvini as its leader.

Malofeev is the one who brought together the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown and a number of French far-right activists in 2013 at a “traditional values” roundtable in Moscow that just happened to coincide with the passage of a spate of anti-LGBT laws in Russia. Komov was the leading organizer of the planned World Congress of Families in Moscow last year (which ended up dropping the World Congress of Families name), and, as Buzzfeed’s Lester Feder reported, was found to be feeding information about the event to Malofeev.

As we have noted, the rush to embrace “traditional values” has been an important part of Putin’s propaganda efforts in Russia and the region.

GOP Senator: People Of Faith The New Targets Of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

As we have continually noted over the last few years, the Religious Right is in the process of an attempt to radically redefine the term “religious liberty” to encompass not just the right to live out one’s own faith but also the right to cite one’s faith as justification for infringing on the rights of others, whether by denying service to gay people in public accommodations, kicking people out of housing because of their sexual orientation, or preventing your employees from accessing affordable birth control even if you don’t pay for it.

So it was startling last week to hear Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, in an address on religious liberty to the Family Research Council, claim that it is in fact progressives who have redefined the term “religious liberty” in order to persecute people of faith, making believers, in Lankford’s words, the targets of a new “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

“We have an undercurrent of conversations happening in the country, where there’s become a redefinition of the term ‘religious liberty,’” Lankford said. “ Is this a term that has the same meaning as we use it out in the common vernacular? And I would tell you, across the country and multiple places that I’ve visited, no is the correct answer. This term is attempting to be redefined by our culture to say if you’re for religious liberty, then you’re hatred [sic] towards other people, you’re exclusive, you’re divisive, you’re a person who needs to be isolated because you’re for religious liberty.”

“I would say to you, people of faith in the workplace and in public settings have become the new individuals that are targeted towards ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’” he added. “If you have faith, don’t tell anyone and don’t ask anyone if you have faith, and if you have it don’t live it out publicly because people don’t want to see it.”

Lankford, for the record, has said that he would oppose workplace protections for LGBT people because “ homosexuality is a choice.”

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