Last week on his radio show AFA Today, the American Family Association’s Buster Wilson, the General Manager of American Family Radio, warned that the European Union is setting the stage for the emergence of the Antichrist. While reading an article from a British tabloid magazine, Wilson claimed that the EU is poised to abolish its member states and foist upon them a single, dictatorial ruler, who he believes may be the Antichrist.
Bloomberg Businessweek put together a handy infographic charting the path of one particular piece of ALEC model legislation, the Private Attorney Retention Sunshine Act, on its journey from approval as a model through introduction in 12 states across the country, and eventually becoming law in three. Shielding corporations from liability for causing harm to consumers and the environment is a major ALEC priority, and this legislation makes it harder for states to hire law firms to bring suits against businesses.
ALEC claims that it is just a library for bills and falsely states on its IRS returns that it conducts no lobbying, but documents submitted by Common Cause to the IRS last week all but prove otherwise. Internal documents show that ALEC actively engages in all the hallmarks of lobbying – from advocating for bills to tracking their progress through statehouses nationwide.
Back in 2010, Janet Porter's world was thrown into chaos after her flagship radio program was dropped by VCY America due to her increasing involvement with Dominion Theology and partnership with leaders within the New Apostolic Reformation.
Considering that this radio program was the central focus of her Faith 2 Action activism, Porter suddenly found that her entire career had essentially ground to a halt and she more or less disappeared from the scene for several months ... until she resurfaced in her native Ohio in early 2011, introducing radical anti-choice legislation known as the "Heartbeat Bill" and leading the fight for its passage.
The legislation created a deep rift among Ohio's anti-abortion activists, but quickly gained support from national Republican and Religious Right leaders as Porter organized a variety of stunts and promotions designed to pressure Ohio legislators to pass it, including flooding their offices with heart-shaped balloons and even scheduling a fetus to "testify" on behalf of the bill.
The bill passed in the state House but then stalled when it reached the state Senate amid concerns that it was blatantly unconstitutional. Convinced that she had the votes in the Senate needed to pass the legislation if it could simply be brought to a vote, Porter began holding regular rallies to pressure Republican Senate leaders to allow a vote, even bringing in a variety of self-proclaimed apostles and prophets to wage spiritual warfare as part of her effort.
Recently, Porter's group hoped to set up the pressure with newspaper ads [PDF] warning the Republican leadership that if they did not allow a vote on the bill, "we will work to replace them with people who will."
But all of this pressure appears to have backfired, as today, Senate President Thomas Niehaus announced that Porter's Heartbeat Bill was dead and blasted her organization for its unwillingness to accept any compromise on the legislation and for making "exaggerated and inflammatory statements" about his opposition to it:
President Tom Niehaus says he won’t pass legislation to essentially outlaw abortion in Ohio.
House Bill 125, the so-called heartbeat bill, triggered an unprecedented split in Ohio’s anti-abortion community, which disagreed about whether it was a good legal strategy to enact legislation almost certain to be declared unconstitutional.
In a strongly worded letter to “fellow pro-life Ohioan(s),” Niehaus said the bill was flawed and slammed supporters for questioning the commitment of majority Republicans in the Senate to ending abortion.
“Unfortunately, leaders of an organization called Faith2Action have made exaggerated and inflammatory statements...their claim that we ‘lose more than a school bus full of children every day’ due to a lack of Senate action on the bill is simply false, and I will not continue to allow this organization to question the commitment of my colleagues to ending the scourge of abortion.”
On today's episode of Liberty Counsel's "Faith and Freedom" radio program, Matt Barber and Shawn Akers discussed the rise in out-of-wedlock births, which they blamed on the fact that "counterfeit marriage" is undermining the value of marriage as an institution.
The discussion prompted Barber to declare that it was absurd to even use the term "marriage" when talking about this issue, because same-sex marriage is really just "mock marriage ... and God will not be mocked," which is why God is turning his face away from this nation:
Recently it dawned on me that so-called "same-sex marriage," to use the term "marriage" isn't even appropriate. It's not same-sex marriage, it's mock marriage because it's not real marriage, it's a mock marriage. And same-sex marriage and the attacks on marriage mock God and his design for the institution of marriage.
And God will not be mocked, Shawn, and as we turn our face from God, relative to marriage and our larger culture on a number of these issues of morality and sexual morality, why should be we surprised when God turns his face from us?
Fresh off of filing a major complaint with the IRS alleging that the American Legislative Exchange Council abused their tax-exempt status by acting primarily as a lobbying organization, the good-government group Common Cause is now pressing for state-level investigations. Yesterday, Common Cause asked New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa to investigate whether ALEC’s activities are in violation of state law.
Nine companies based in New Jersey, including Honeywell, Johnson & Johnson and Merck are ALEC members, and an investigation by the Star-Ledger found that a close resemblance between ALEC model bills and several pieces of legislation and executive actions pushed by the Christie Administration. The investigation also noted that ALEC member corporations and their executives have given at least $200,000 to New Jersey officials who are responsible for advancing these bills.
ALEC claims that it only “provides a constructive forum for state legislators and private sector leaders to discuss and exchange practical, state-level policy issues,” and “does not lobby state legislatures.” But it’s difficult to understand how an organization that pays for state legislators to go to exclusive resorts, where they discuss and vote as equals with corporations on model legislation, can be considered anything but a lobbying front. One thing is clear: ALEC certainly is not the “charity” they claim they are on their tax returns.
Who has ditched ALEC so far?
A major component of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s agenda to transfer the public’s resources to a few private hands revolves around privatizing our public school systems. From model bills that sanction “Virtual Public Schools” run by for-profit companies to subsidizing private school vouchers with taxpayer money, ALEC places corporate profits above children’s needs.
Perhaps this is why the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), the national certifying body for teachers in the United States and an organization that is ostensibly dedicated to serving children’s educational needs, announced that they are severing ties with ALEC:
Given recent events, the new NBPTS President and CEO decided to discontinue engagement with ALEC. As a result, NBPTS terminated its membership as an Education Task Force Member of ALEC effective April 18, 2012, and also withdrew from participating in the upcoming ALEC conference....The decision to participate in ALEC had been made by previous NBPTS leadership.
–NBPTS spokesperson Brian Lewis
NBPTS is a non-profit organization, but they take positions on many aspects of education policy, including teacher-certification regulations. Before their departure, the organization sat on ALEC’s Education Task Force, which, as the Center for Media and Democracy reports, boasts private-sector members such as the James Madison Institute of Florida and the Pioneer Institute of Massachusetts, both members of the Koch-funded State Policy Network.
ALEC is too toxic even for some for-profit education companies. Last week, Kaplan announced that they are declining to renew their ALEC membership.
After weeks of reviewing applications and conducting interviews, we’re pleased to announce People For the American Way Foundation’s 2012-2013 Young People For (YP4) Fellowship class! From a large and diverse pool of over 450 applications, 150 dynamic progressive leaders were selected.
Young People For (YP4) is a year-long leadership development program that helps a diverse set of student leaders turn their idealism into actions that advance social change on their campuses and in their communities.YP4 develops Fellows’ leadership capacity and strategic thinking through a capstone project, the Blueprint for Social Justice. YP4 helps them refine their plans, organize and network with fellow campus leaders, partners and alumni at regional trainings, through mentorship and at the National Summit.
YP4’s newest class is comprised of young progressive leaders from 32 states, 76% represent communities of color, 67% are women, 21% identify as LGBT. The Fellows will begin their YP4 experience this summer at their respective Regional Training, where Fellows will meet with 30-40 other young activists and organizers from their region as well as YP4 staff and organizational partners. The regional trainings provide Fellows with the opportunity to gain expertise in the issues affecting their communities and participate in workshops designed to develop the skills they need to become leaders in the progressive movement.
On today's broadcast of James Dobson's "Family Talk" radio program, Dobson once again aired a sermon delivered by John MacArthur, Pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, in which he explained that America has been abandoned by God.
Dobson prefaced MacArthur's message by saying that not everyone in the audience would be comfortable hearing this message, but "I do agree with what he had to say on this day, it is consistent with my own perspectives of where we are as a nation."
MacArthur's sermon focused on Roman 1: 18-32 as he declared that "you know a society has been abandoned by God when it celebrates lesbian sex":
The first thing that happens in a nation when it is abandoned by God is a sexual revolution. Moral sexual perversion, pornographic desire describes the general character of the culture. When a society is abandoned by God, it operates out of its own perverse sexual passion without restraint. The first thing you look for in a society if you are trying to discern whether God has abandoned that society is whether or not that society has gone through a sexual revolution so that illicit sex, adultery, every form of immorality is accepted as normal in that society.
God gave them over, not just to passions that are explicable because they're men and women, but to inexplicable, degrading passions for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural. You know a society has been abandoned by God when it celebrates lesbian sex.
The Pacific Justice Institute, a California-based Religious Right group, is attacking a bill that would bar minors from undergoing discredited “ex-gay” reparative therapy and ensure that older patients sign a disclaiming informing of reparative therapy’s well-known “harmful” effects. In an interview with LifeSiteNews, PJI president Brad Dacus called the legislation a “gross and outrageous violation against humanity” and an “egregious attack on children and youth”:
Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), one of several groups who testified against the bill last week, said the bill’s anti-conservative bias was extreme even by California’s standards.
“I can honestly say this is one of the most outrageous, speech-chilling bills we have ever seen in California - and that’s saying a lot,” said Dacus, who told LifeSiteNews.com that the bill is “a child’s welfare issue.”
Dacus pointed out that clinical evidence has shown that sexual molestation and other trauma at an early age can lead to sexual confusion. “To deprive these young people of quality psychiatric counseling and therapy is a gross and outrageous violation against humanity,” he said.
Coupled with California’s recent legislation mandating that public schools use textbooks highlighting homosexual roles in history, Dacus said California’s legislators are waging an “egregious attack on children and youth.”
Rep. Louie Gohmert was the guest on yesterday's episode of "WallBuilders Live" for a discussion on "the present administration's attitude towards our Israeli allies."
During the interview, Gohmert repeatedly accused President Obama of undermining Israel while aiding and abetting Israel's enemies and said that if Obama promises that he has your back, you had better "be wearing something that will stop a knife":
We've learned over the last few years how to interpret what the President is saying. So now when he says, in the last couple of weeks, "I have Israel's back," what that means is he's going to watch over the shoulder of Israel as they play their cards and telegraph to Israel's opponents everything that Israel has in their hand ... Well, you do that not to a friend; you do that to someone you are betraying. So, I tell you when this president says "hey, I've got your back," I know I need to be wearing something that will stop a knife.
Last night, David Barton was the guest on "The Daily Show," ostensibly to discuss his new book "The Jefferson Lies." And while Barton did discuss his book a bit at the beginning of the interview, most of the extended discussion revolved around the intersection of faith and public policy and on issues like public prayer and the Obama administration's contraception mandate.
During the first part of the interview (starting around the 5:00 mark,) Jon Stewart made the point that, looking at things from a non-Christian or non-religious perspective, Christianity seems pretty safe in America and rather ubiquitous, contrary to Barton's claims that it is constantly under attack.
Barton responded that that was not necessarily the case, especially when it comes to public policy issues, where he cited an incident in St. Louis where a five year old student was supposedly yanked out of his chair and yelled at by a teacher merely for praying before eating his lunch in the school cafeteria:
Stewart was justifiably skeptical of this story, but Barton insisted that it had happened and that the school principal also yelled at the student for praying, which prompted Stewart to declare that, if that was the case, then those school officials are "idiots" and the discussion moved on.
But Stewart's initial skepticism was correct, though it helps to be rather well-versed in Religious Right mythology in order to recognize the incident that Barton was citing.
This myth involved a student named Raymond Raines and it has been around since 1994 when Newt Gingrich and various Religious Right leaders frist started making Raymond's sorry tale the centerpiece of their campaign to pass a constitutional amendment protecting the right to expressions of faith ... despite the fact that it wasn't true:
The St. Louis case concerned 10-year-old Raymond Raines who, his mother said, was given detention because he sought to pray over his lunch. When lawyers for the Rutherford Institute heard about the case, they filed a lawsuit against the principal and issued a press release denouncing the school system.
"I know it sounds bizarre, but we have substantial evidence to believe it happened," said Timothy Belz, the St. Louis lawyer working with the Rutherford Institute.
On NBC-TV's "Meet the Press," Gingrich described the situation as "a real case about a real child. Should it be possible for the government to punish you if you say grace over your lunch? That's what we used to think of Russian behavior when they were the Soviet Union."
But school officials said the incident never happened. Rather, they said, Raymond was disciplined for fighting in the cafeteria.
"I can tell you he was not reprimanded for praying," said Kenneth Brostron, the school's lawyer. "Do you think it makes sense that the teachers would look around the cafeteria and target the one student who was praying quietly at his seat?"
So despite the fact that this incident took place nearly twenty years ago - and never actually happened - David Barton is still citing it today as proof that Christianity is under attack in America.
It was just last week that Bryan Fischer was declaring that if Mitt Romney wants to win in November, he'd "better start listening to me." And the first thing that Romney needed to do was fire Richard Grenell because all week Fischer had been relentlessly attacking the campaign for having hired an openly gay man to serve as the foreign policy and national security spokesman.
Today, during the second hour of Fischer's daily radio broadcast, the news broke the Grenell had in fact resigned from the campaign and Fischer could barely contain his glee, declaring it a "huge win" for the Religious Right because it means that they have forced Romney to back down and taught him that he cannot do anything like this again:
Peter LaBarbera was the guest on Michael Brown's "Line of Fire" radio program yesterday where the two discussed Dan Savage's recent appearance at the National High School Journalism Conference where he offended some students by criticizing the Bible and then mocked those walked out, for which he has since apologized.
Brown and LaBarbera spent most of the interview complaining that they are called bigots simply for attempting to help gays out of love while Savage is given lucrative speaking engagements even though he is an anti-Christian bigot and hater.
After an excruciatingly dull hour of that, the two moved on to other topics, offering LaBarbera an opportunity to vent that President Obama has "turned the United States into a huge gay-rights government.":
Nowadays, I think the big threat we see now - it's just incredible, Mike - the Obama administration has turned the United States into a huge gay-rights government. We are using our resources to force every government across the world, pushing them to promote homosexuality. And there's lots of government and states, whether they're Muslim or like ardently Christian nations like Uganda that don't want, they don't share the caviler attitude of the West toward homosexuality, they certainly don't want to promote it. And all of a sudden Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have turned the United States into a pro-homosexual regime and it's just despicable.
The American Legislative Exchange Council’s influence over state legislative bodies is well documented. We’ve seen countless examples of corporate lobbyist-drafted model legislation, developed at exclusive retreats at fancy resorts out of the public’s eye, make its way to the statehouse floor, bringing disastrous results to working families, public education, the environment, voting rights and much more.
Last week, Common Cause released a bounty of ALEC’s internal documents as part of an official complaint to the IRS, claiming that ALEC has abused its tax status as a 501c3 organization. As a result, a new window was been opened into the processes responsible for creating these pro-special interest bills, revealing just how much power ALEC’s corporate members enjoy.
One such document, the minutes from ALEC’s 2011 Telecommunications & Information Technology Task Force meeting in New Orleans, reveals how the private sector (ALEC-speak for “corporations”) has equal – and often greater – policy-making power than elected officials through their influence in developing model legislation that can become law. The document describes how the U.S. Chamber of Commerce offered a resolution regarding federal efforts to curtail internet sites that sell counterfeit products, and after discussion amongst the public and private sector members, the resolution was defeated:
The Task Force then proceeded with a vote on the motion to amend by Mr. Castleberry, which was adopted by the private sector 8-1 in favor and by the public sector 19-3 in favor. On final passage of the resolution as amended, the public sector voted 17-1 in favor of the resolution, but the private sector voted 8-8 in favor; thus, the resolution failed on final passage because it failed to achieve a majority of support from the private sector.
In this case, the will of 94% of our elected representatives participating in the discussion was trumped by just half of the task force’s corporate members. To put it simply: unelected corporations are voting as equals with elected officials on model bills that become our laws.
This is how ALEC accomplishes its stated mission to “advance the fundamental principles of free-market enterprise”: by helping free market enterprises literally vote on public policy.
[H/T Republic Report]
On his radio program yesterday, Bryan Fischer quoted Martin Luther King, Jr.'s iconic "I Have a Dream" speech to argue in favor of discrimination against gays.
Citing King's line that he dreamed that one day his children would "live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character," Fischer argued that discrimination based on behavior is justified and absolutely appropriate ... and, as such, "you begin to see the implications when it comes to homosexuality because you're dealing there with issues of content of character and you are dealing with issues of behavior and conduct and it's perfectly appropriate to discriminate against immoral conduct":
Young People For (YP4), a program of People For the American Way Foundation, is a year-long leadership development program that helps a diverse set of student leaders turn their idealism into actions that advance social change on their campuses and in their communities. YP4 Fellows design and implement a capstone project called the Blueprint for Social Justice and work on social justice projects of their choosing.
We’ll be highlighting the work of some of our outstanding Fellows here. This week, we’re pleased to introduce Johnny Buck, representing Northwest Indian College.
Johnny Buck grew up near Priest River Dam on the Columbia River in central Washington state, and is a student at Northwest Indian College, where he focuses on environmental studies. Buck is also a George Washington University Native Political Leadership program Fellow at the Department of Education, a program designed to give young Native Americans the skills they need to be successful political leaders.
His goal is to apply what he’s learned to revitalize his tribe’s language and culture in the Wanapum Village and ultimately to benefit all Tribal Nations.
Young People For has been actively engaging the Native American community for several years. In 2009, Buck was a member of YP4’s Tribal College Leadership Program (TCLP), which brings together 23 tribal college students showing great leadership potential and seeks to empower young Native Americans to change their communities by connecting them to the larger progressive movement.
“My community is deeply rooted in culture, language, traditions and ceremony,” said Buck. “By helping to revitalize our horse culture and language, I have committed myself to the younger generations in my community.”
On today's edition of Liberty Counsel's "Faith and Freedom" radio program, Matt Barber and Shawn Akers were discussing the opposition from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to the Obama Administration's contraception mandate and the Religious Right's related outrage rooted in the myth that the mandate and health care reform legislation require every taxpayer to pay for abortion.
Barber was absolutely incensed, saying that the mandate was just like Muslim terrorists forcing people to kill members of their own family and another example of President Obama's tyranny:
This is much more than just a violation of conscience. What's analogous to this is we know that one of the tactics of Muslim terrorists is that they will go into a village - we have seen it in the Sudan and elsewhere - they will take individuals, they will hold a gun or a machete to them and say "see that family member of yours, that uncle, that individual, you must kill them or I am going to kill the rest of your family."
This mandate does that. It says to the Catholic bishop, it says to the individual Christian "you have no choice, you must embrace our post-modern secularist worldview that says that life is meaningless and the unborn child has no value and you must become complicit in abortion homicide, you must fund, underwrite that slaughter of innocent human beings or you will be penalized under the full weight of government."
That is no different than the Muslim terrorist going into the village, holding the gun to your head and saying "kill your family member or you will suffer the full weight of our tyranny." This is all tyranny; this president is engaging in tyranny.