Peter Montgomery's blog

Ted Cruz Tries To Downplay His Anti-Choice Extremism

Last weekend, the National Right to Life Committee’s board of directors voted to support Ted Cruz in the remaining Republican presidential primaries. A post on the group’s website yesterday said:

National Right to Life believes Sen. Cruz is the only candidate for president who has always been pro-life, who has a 100% pro-life voting record with National Right to Life, who can win the Republican nomination, and who can defeat pro-abortion Hillary Clinton in November.

Cruz spent an hour with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly last night. The first audience question came from a woman who described herself as a pro-choice Republican who was afraid that Cruz would make abortion illegal nationwide if he became president. Those are extremely well-founded fears; Cruz is a zealous advocate for the criminalization of abortion. Last night he said that he sees Roe v. Wade as judicial activism, not settled law. Kelly noted for the record, and Cruz reaffirmed, that he wants to ban abortions without any exceptions for cases of rape or incest.

Cruz then engaged in a bit of disingenuous rhetorical misdirection, saying that if Roe v. Wade were not the law of the land, questions about abortion and exceptions “would be up to the people of Wisconsin to decide.” But of course Cruz doesn’t really want decisions about abortion being made at the state level as they were before Roe v. Wade. He has publicly supported a constitutional amendment to ban abortion nationwide. And he doesn’t really even think a constitutional amendment is necessary. He said a few months ago that Congress could “absolutely” get around Roe v. Wade just by passing a law declaring that fertilized eggs have all the legal rights of people under the 14th Amendment. That would not only criminalize all abortion nationwide but would almost certainly make some forms of birth control illegal and leave women open to prosecution for miscarriages deemed suspicious by local authorities.

Cruz also criticized Donald Trump’s recent comments, quickly reversed, that women who have abortions should be punished. “No conservative actually believes that,” said Cruz. Of course, Cruz is lying.

 

Tennessee Senate Votes To Officially Honor Bible Alongside Sniper Rifle

On Monday the Tennessee Senate voted to make the Bible the state’s official book, even though the state’s attorney general argued that it conflicts with the state constitution, which says, “no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment or mode of worship.” That seems pretty clear cut.

The fate of the Bible bill is now in Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s hands. According to the Tennessean, Haslam has raised questions about its constitutionality. The sponsor of the legislation, Sen. Steve Southerland, tried to mask the religious intention of the legislation by arguing that the Bible is “a history book.”

The legislation also seems to run afoul of the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause, though some  Religious Right figures, like Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, do not believe the Establishment Clause applies at all to the states. They would argue that Tennessee lawmakers could go even further and declare Protestant Christianity the state’s official religion.

They haven’t gone that far yet. But there’s no telling how far the religious politicking might go. The American Bible Society recently reported that two Tennessee cities are among the nation's top five "most Bible-minded." More from Associated Press’s Erik Schelzig:

In solidly Republican Tennessee, heavy doses of God and guns are considered reliable election-year politics.

The Bible bill came to a vote just days before the candidate filing deadline, giving lawmakers pause about being portrayed by political rivals as being as opposed to the Bible if they voted against the bill.

State lawmakers recently made a .50-caliber sniper rifle the official state rifle. The Tennessean notes that if Haslam signs the bill, Christianity’s sacred scripture “would join a list of state symbols such as the raccoon as the state’s wild animal, the Eastern box turtle as the state reptile, the square dance as the state folk dance, milk as the official state beverage and the Barrett M82 sniper rifle as the official state rifle, which lawmakers approved earlier in the session.”

NOM's Brian Brown Rallies Support For Mississippi's 'Horrific' Anti-LGBT Legislation

The Religious Right’s ongoing effort to create special legal protections for anti-LGBT discrimination continues in Mississippi, where a “breathtaking” and “horrific” anti-LGBT bill — even worse that North Carolina’s recent law — is waiting final passage in the House. National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown is urging NOM supporters to contact Gov. Phil Bryant and Republicans in the state house in support of legislation that passed the state senate last week.

In an email alert sent today, Brown asks activists to stand up for “the rights of Christians and people of faith to be free from recrimination and harassment from extremists who believe that religious liberty must be eliminated when it comes to the gay agenda.” Brown apparently has no sense of irony or shame, arguing for pro-discrimination legislation while complaining, “It is outrageous that gay and lesbian extremists have been allowed to discriminate against, harass and punish Christians and others when it comes to marriage.”

More from Brown’s urgent email:

All across America, LGBT extremists are working overtime to force devout Christians and other people of faith to personally participate in celebrating a same-sex 'marriage' even when doing so violates their deeply held religious beliefs. Those who have refused to abandon God's commands when it comes to marriage have been hit with lawsuits and huge fines, lost their jobs and even been put in jail. This must stop, and at least in Mississippi it will stop if you act today…

For years, LGBT activists lied to Americans about gay 'marriage,' claiming that redefining marriage to suit their demands would not hurt anyone. Instead, people's lives have been ruined and the sexual extremists are intent on forcing every person in America to genuflect at the altar of gay "rights."

…House Bill 1523 protects pastors, churches and individuals from having to solemnize a gay 'wedding' and protects individuals and small businesses like florists, bakers and photographers from being forced to perform services at a gay 'wedding' ceremony that violates their deeply held religious beliefs. The legislation also prevents LGBT extremists from forcing their gender ideology on Mississippi which would allow men to force their way into intimate facilities reserved for girls and women, including showers and restrooms, simply by claiming they "identify" as women. Biology determines gender, not "feelings!"

…Just as they have done in other states, LGBT extremists have orchestrated a campaign of "manufactured outrage" utilizing Hollywood celebrities, corporate giants and billionaire sports owners who wish to curry favor with gay activists. Their well-orchestrated play book threatens boycotts, companies threatening to leave the state and sports leagues hinting a state may be denied high-profile events like a Super Bowl or college bowl game. They are making identical threats and false claims of "discrimination" in Mississippi and we need people of faith and marriage supporters all across the nation to let the leaders of Mississippi know that we want them to lead by example and stand strong for people of faith.

 

Bad News For Republicans Hoping For A Platform Less Hostile To LGBT Equality

The platform approved at the Republican National Convention in 2012 was, we said at the time, “a far-right fever dream, a compilation of pouting, posturing, and policies to meet just about every demand from the overlapping Religious Right, Tea Party, corporate, and neo-conservative wings of the GOP.” Every attempt at moderating language — whether on equality for LGBT people or the right of D.C. residents to congressional representation — was shot down by the far-right activists on the party’s platform committee.

At the convention that year, supporters of the LGBT-friendly Log Cabin Republicans vowed that things were changing, and that never again would the Republican platform include anti-equality language about “preserving and protecting traditional marriage” as “a union of one man and one woman” that “must be upheld as the national standard.” A group called Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry launched a million-dollar “Reform the Platform” campaign, which has since been absorbed by American Unity Fund, a pro-marriage-equality group affiliated with hedge-fund billionaire Paul Singer, a major Republican Party donor.

But the road to a more gay-friendly Republican platform is going to be a rocky one. Earlier this month, the Louisiana Republican Party chose its two delegates to the platform committee: stridently anti-gay Family Research Council President Tony Perkins and Sandy McDade, political chairman of Eagle Forum, which “adamantly opposes” marriage equality.

Four years ago, FRC and Eagle Forum teamed up to make anti-equality language in the platform even stronger. Perkins bragged at the time:

With a presence in the committee meetings, the FRC Action staff has been able to help delegates hold the line of social issues.

Just this morning, our efforts made what was already a good document even better. Before this week, the GOP’s draft platform included solid language defending the family – and FRC Action, in tandem with Eagle Forum, made it even stronger.

In a press release celebrating his re-selection to the platform committee this month, Perkins again boasted about the role he had in shaping 2012’s anti-gay platform:

In 2012, my role as a delegate gave me the opportunity to play a key role in amending the marriage plank, which led to the committee approving a much stronger version than 2008's. We also tightened language on obscenity and pornography, protected conscience rights, explained how abortion hurts women, and supported the Second Amendment in D.C.

Both Perkins and McDade are backing Ted Cruz, even though Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly is in the Trump camp. Perkins is a member of Cruz’s Religious Liberty Advisory Council, which suggests that he’ll also be pushing for anti-gay platform language under the banner of religious liberty.

Cruz Backer Bryan Fischer Calls For Ban On Mosques To 'De-Islamize' America

The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, long a font of anti-Muslim bile and other bigotry, has posted a call to “de-Islamize” America.

Fischer’s “de-Islamization” program has three planks, one of which has already been promoted by GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump:

  1. Immediately suspend immigration by Muslims. Fischer says that “unvetted, untrammeled immigration of Muslims to the U.S. is a form of insanity.” Islam, he says, “is the Ebola virus of culture.” He says, “Preventing carriers of this cultural virus from entering America is simply common sense…”
  2. No More Mosques. Fischer says there is no constitutional problem with state governments banning mosques “if we use the Constitution given to us by the Founders and not the one mangled by the courts.” Fischer argues that the First Amendment’s establishment clause does not apply to the states, which he says “have unilateral authority to regulate religious expression within their borders.” In other words, he would see no constitutional barrier to Texas, for example, allowing only Baptists to worship openly.
  3. No more Muslims in the military. Fischer says Congress can and should bar Muslims from service in the armed forces.

Earlier this month, Fischer was scheduled to participate in a campaign rally with presidential candidate Ted Cruz. The Cruz campaign ended up canceling his visit to Mississippi, saying the candidate did not feel well.

There’s no reason to think, however, that Fischer’s most recent anti-Muslim comments will threaten his standing with the Cruz campaign, which recently named Frank Gaffney, one of the country’s most vitriolic anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists, to Cruz’s national security advisory team. Cruz himself, in his response to recent terrorist bombings in Brussels, called for empowering law enforcement “to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.”

 

Rafael Cruz, Dinesh D'Souza And Selectively Flexible 'Moral Absolutes' On Marriage

Last Saturday, right-wing pundit and propagandist filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza was married in a ceremony that was reportedly to include “prominent players in conservative politics.” Among them was the celebrant, presidential candidate Ted Cruz’s father and campaign surrogate Rafael Cruz, whose fiery rhetoric on the campaign trail has given him folk-hero status among the Religious Right.

D’Souza has spent time on the moral values high horse. In his absurd and reprehensible 2007 book “The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11,” D’Souza lumped divorce and homosexuality together as “liberal family values” that offend the Muslim world. He declared that acceptance of divorce is one of the changes in America that “reflect the triumph of liberal morality, the morality of the inner self.’”

In his book, “A Time for Action: Empowering the Faithful to Reclaim America,” Rafael Cruz called the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling “one of the biggest signs of our country’s moral degradation” and decried “secular humanists” for rejecting the idea of moral absolutes:

Everyone, then, feels entitled to establish his or her own standards by which to live. This has given rise to the attitude “if it feels good, do it,” the pursuit of hedonism, immoral or chaotic behavior, greed, and even a life of crime.

On the campaign trail for his son, Rafael Cruz insists that there are moral absolutes that run in opposition to the values of “tolerance”:

“So we’re supposed to prostitute our principles on behalf of tolerance,” Rev. Cruz said.

“Well, I’ll tell you what. There are absolutes. There are absolutes,” he emphasized. “Start being biblically correct instead of politically correct.”

Many conservative evangelical and Catholic leaders teach that divorce is not, except in particular circumstances, “biblically correct.” According to the biblical book of Matthew, Jesus said divorce was unacceptable except in the case of a spouse’s sexual immorality; in the books of Mark and Luke, Jesus is quoted saying that someone who divorces and remarries is committing adultery.

D’Souza is a questionable icon for so-called traditional values. He resigned as president of King’s College in 2012 after a scandal over his traveling with, and calling himself engaged to, a woman while he was still married to his first wife. When called out on his behavior by a conservative reporter, D’Souza apparently lied about having filed for divorce, said he had “done nothing wrong” and proclaimed that he was sure that the woman with whom he was having an affair was “the one for me.”  D’Souza pleaded guilty in 2014 to criminal campaign finance law violations in which he reportedly used both his then-wife and then-mistress as straw donors to a friend’s political campaign. Since then he has consistently portrayed himself as the victim of a political vendetta.

The twice-divorced Rafael Cruz officiating at D’Souza’s wedding — the second marriage for both bride and groom — is one more example of how flexible the Religious Right’s “moral absolutes” about marriage can be when they hit close to home, or when they involve a political ally such as Newt Gingrich or Rush Limbaugh.

And that makes it easy to understand why fewer and fewer Americans are buying the Religious Right’s argument that its conveniently flexible “moral absolutes” justify overriding the constitutional principle of equality under the law and denying loving same-sex couples and their families the ability to protect their commitments through marriage.

Trump Turns To Far-Right Heritage Foundation For Future Supreme Court Nominees

While many Americans grimly wonder which would be worse for the country, President Donald Trump or President Ted Cruz, one issue isn’t providing much help: Both candidates are making it clear that their potential nominations to the U.S. Supreme Court would be terrible.

We reported yesterday on Cruz’s suggestions that he would nominate his best friend in the Senate, Utah’s Mike Lee. Under his extreme views of the Constitution, much of what the federal government does is unconstitutional, including Social Security and Medicare.

What about Trump? Last year, Trump called Clarence Thomas his favorite justice. This year, he declared Justice Antonin Scalia’s death a “massive setback” for the conservative movement and joined right-wing conspiracy theorists in raising suspicions that Scalia had been murdered.

Last month Trump tossed out the names of two right-wing appeals court judges, William Pryor and Diane Sykes, as two potential nominees from a Trump administration. Pryor calls Roe v. Wade and Miranda v. Arizona, two landmark cases protecting the rights of women and criminal defendants, respectively, “the worst examples of judicial activism.” Sykes, like Pryor, has upheld damaging voter ID laws. She also argued that anti-gay groups have a constitutional right to receive government subsidies regardless of whether they engage in discrimination.

Now, Trump is pledging to release a list of seven to 10 potential justices from which he commits to choosing a nominee – and that list is being put together with help from the far-right Heritage Foundation. Heritage is a massively funded right-wing powerhouse that is home to, among others, anti-marriage-equality activist Ryan Anderson, who is urging social conservatives to resist the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling.

Heritage and its more explicitly political arm Heritage Action have demanded even greater obstructionism from congressional Republicans. Even before Scalia’s death, the group had urged the GOP to refuse to confirm any executive branch or judicial nominations except for appointments dealing with national security. Heritage senior fellow Hans von Spakovsky has even demanded that Scalia be allowed to “vote” – even though he is dead – on a case that right-wing activists were hoping the court would use to destroy public sector unions.

Trump met in Washington yesterday with congressional Republicans, and at a press conference he pushed back against accusations by Cruz that he couldn’t be counted on to name a conservative to the court. “Some people say maybe I’ll appoint a liberal judge,” he said. “I won’t.” He promised that his nominee would be “pro-life” and “conservative.”

Trump also explicitly warned (or taunted, depending on your view) Republicans opposed to his nomination that if they support a third-party candidate against him, they will allow a Democrat to name Supreme Court justices who “will never allow this country to be the same.”

Among the Republicans huddling with Trump? Heritage Foundation president and former Sen. Jim DeMint.

NOM's Brian Brown Asks For Money to Make Kasich 'Toxic'

Religious Right leaders who back Ted Cruz for president are beginning to turn their fire on Ohio Gov. John Kasich, whose continued presence in the race they believe is preventing Cruz from defeating Donald Trump. Last week Glenn Beck slammed Kasich as a delusional “son of a bitch” who might go down in history as the guy who “possibly destroyed the republic.”

Today the National Organization for Marriage, which endorsed Cruz in December, sent out a plea for money to go after Kasich, who NOM’s president, Brian Brown, describes as “a liberal Republican who has abandoned the fight for marriage, is extremely weak on religious liberty and who cannot be trusted to appoint strong, conservative constitutionalist judges to the US Supreme Court who would reverse the Court's illegitimate marriage ruling.”

Brown suggests that Kasich, who cannot mathematically win a majority of delegates prior to the Republican convention, is hoping either that “the GOP power brokers” will hand him the nomination or that he can at least build enough bargaining power to cut a deal for himself at the expense of the country.

“If you liked John Boehner, you’ll like John Kasich – lot’s [sic] of talk but no guts to actually fight for conservative principles like preserving marriage,” writes Brown, who complains that Kasich would “do nothing” to help business owners who run into trouble for refusing to provide services to same-sex couples. “That is why NOM is committed to ensuring that the American people learn the truth about Kasich and make him toxic as a potential vice presidential pick.”

More from Brown:

I'm asking for your immediate financial help so that we can get the truth about John Kasich out to voters and the media and stop any consideration of him as the GOP nominee, or even the vice presidential selection. Your membership contribution of at least $35 will go a long way toward helping us shine the light of truth on the Kasich record.

NOM is one of the few groups willing to take on the politically-correct yet powerfully wrong elite in America, which is what John Kasich represents. But to be effective, we need to increase our membership dues from grassroots supporters like you. Please act today to make a membership contribution of at least $35 which will allow us to take the fight to Kasich and others who disrespect the importance of marriage and refuse to protect the rights of average Americans to live out their beliefs about marriage in their daily lives.

Please make your membership contribution of at least $35 today so that we can ramp up our efforts to derail Kasich, the last remaining establishment Republican who has abandoned us when we needed him most. If you can afford to give more than the minimum $35, please do so.

Thank you for standing strong for God's design for marriage, and for helping us fight the PC crowd that refuses to stand with us for the truth of marriage and religious liberty.

What Would It Look Like If Ted Cruz Put His Pal Mike Lee on the Supreme Court?

Back in December, Kyle reported that Glenn Beck, who believes Ted Cruz is anointed by God to be president, suggested that a President Cruz should nominate Utah Sen. Mike Lee to the Supreme Court. This weekend, while campaigning in Utah, Cruz himself floated the prospect, saying Lee “would look good” on the court.

“Good” is not really the right word. “Terrifying” is more like it.

Lee, who calls Cruz his “best friend at work,” has perhaps the most extreme view of the Constitution of anyone in the Senate. Lee is a fervent “tenther,” someone who believes the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution radically restricts the authority of the federal government. As Jeffrey Rosen wrote in the New York Times Magazine in 2010, “Lee offered glimpses of a truly radical vision of the U.S. Constitution, one that sees the document as divinely inspired and views much of what the federal government currently does as unconstitutional.”

Lee dismisses Supreme Court rulings upholding a women’s right to abortion. He called the court’s marriage equality ruling a “breathtaking presumption of power.” People For the American Way noted in a 2010 report that Lee “has denounced as ‘domestic enemies’ those who disagree with his radically limited view” of the Constitution.

Here are a few things that Sen. Mike Lee believes are unconstitutional for the federal government to be engaged in:

This list helps explain why right-wing law professor Jonathan Adler, a force behind the King v. Burwell challenge to the Affordable Care Act, has also suggested that the next Republican president should put Lee on the court.

For an ardent self-described constitutionalist, Lee has a lot of problems with the Constitution as amended over the years and as interpreted by the Supreme Court. Lee published a book last year called “Our Lost Constitution: The Willful Subversion of America's Founding Document.” He believes the 16th amendment, allowing the federal government to collect income taxes, should be repealed, leaving it to the states to determine how they would tax their own citizens to pay for the extremely limited federal government that would fit his vision of the constitution. He also thinks the 17th Amendment was a mistake and thinks the power to elect U.S. senators should be taken away from voters and returned to state legislatures. He also wants to "clarify" the 14th Amendment through legislation to deny citizenship to children born in the U.S. to parents who are not citizens or legal residents and wants to amend the Constitution to require a balanced federal budget and to impose congressional term limits. He supports a campaign by some right-wing activists for state legislators to convene an “Article V” convention for the purpose of amending the Constitution.

As a Senate candidate he said he would like to abolish the federal Departments of Energy and Education, dismantle the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and phase out Social Security altogether. As a senator, Lee orchestrated shutting down the government in an effort to defund Obamacare, even though Cruz took most of the blame for it.

Cruz and Lee share a sort of gleeful pride in playing the outsiders who have contempt for “the establishment.” Lee is reportedly the guy who suggested that Cruz run for Senate; he was among those who endorsed Cruz in his long-shot primary for his Senate seat. This month, he became the first of Cruz’s Senate colleagues to endorse his presidential run.

More than 50 Conservative Catholics Back Ted Cruz

The latest announcement in the Ted Cruz presidential campaign’s ongoing rollout of endorsements from right-wing leaders is a group of more than 50 “Catholic influencers” led by Robert George, the intellectual muscle for the Religious Right, and Ken Cuccinelli, former attorney general of Virginia and failed gubernatorial candidate. The campaign announced the endorsement of Robert George yesterday; some others on the list have also been announced previously.

Not surprisingly, the list of Catholics for Cruz is heavy on culture warriors who have been fighting to criminalize abortion and resist legal equality for LGBT people and same-sex couples. Although Cruz is not Catholic, he made a reference to the Year of Mercy announced by Pope Francis, saying “we have an opportunity to protect the most vulnerable and safeguard the truth revealed through Scripture and the tradition of millennia.”

One eyebrow-raising name on the list is Anne Schlafly Cori, president of Missouri Eagle Forum and daughter of Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly, who endorsed Donald Trump last week

Also on the list:

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