Some Republican lawmakers in Georgia are objecting to an art exhibit at Kennesaw State University called “Art AIDS America” that “introduces and explores the whole spectrum of artistic responses to AIDS, from the politically outspoken to the quietly mournful, surveying works from the early 1980s to the present.”
The Marietta Daily Journal reported last week that state Republican lawmakers are calling the exhibit “sickening,” “trash” and “garbage”:
State Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, who chairs the Georgia House committee that funds universities, called the exhibit “sickening” and “a blatant political statement.”
Ehrhart said he called KSU president Dan Papp to complain about the exhibit this week.
Papp did not return calls from the Journal by press time.
Moving forward, don’t expect to see such exhibits at KSU in the future, Ehrhart said.
“I’m going to make it real clear, let’s just put it that way. I had a lot of success in getting Tech’s attention in spending taxpayer money on ridiculous things,” said Ehrhart, referring to his criticism of how the Georgia Institute of Technology handles accusations of sexual assault. Ehrhart said when Georgia Tech ignored his requests, he eliminated the university’s request for a $47 million building.
State Sen. Lindsey Tippins, R-west Cobb, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said after visiting the museum he was both disappointed and disgusted.
“Typically, communities send their garbage to the dump and dispose of their body waste at the local sewage treatment plant,” Tippins said. “KSU has chosen to celebrate and elevate it to an ‘art’ exhibit. Trash is trash. I think it speaks for itself.”
State Rep. Ed Setzler, R-Acworth, said the exhibit undermines the university’s reputation.
“Making this kind of trash publicly undermines the otherwise great work that’s happening at Kennesaw State University and makes it much more difficult for those who love the university to talk about the great things that are happening there,” Setzler said Thursday. “I think this sadly trivializes the very serious issue of AIDS, which is something that we as a nation are committed to dealing with in a serious way.”
Ehrhart believes “a fully loaded porta-potty would be a better artistic expression” than the exhibit at Kennesaw State.
The lawmakers reportedly particularly object to “a painting by Jerome Caja of a naked man wearing a clown mask engaged in a sex act with a skeleton” and “a mixed-media installation that includes pictures of the late President Ronald Reagan, conservative godfather William F. Buckley Jr., conservative Sen. Jesse Helms and televangelist Jerry Falwell, mixed in with what appear to be Nazi storm troopers under a pink triangle.”
The criticism is reminiscent of the right-wing outrage over a National Portrait Gallery exhibit on the gay and lesbian experience in American art in 2011.
Donald Trump frequently attempts to get away with spouting wild conspiracy theories by claiming that he doesn’t necessarily believe in the conspiracy theories in question, but is simply asking the question.
This rhetorical trick, one perfected by Fox News hosts and right-wing pundits like Glenn Beck, enables Trump to insert a conspiracy theory into the news narrative without taking any responsibility as to whether the allegation is true or not.
Take, for example, his interview yesterday with the Washington Post, where he mentioned the thoroughly discredited claim that Bill and Hillary Clinton murdered Vincent Foster, a former aide who died of suicide. While bringing up the debunked conspiracy theory, Trump insisted that he wasn’t bringing it up, but was only saying that other people have said Foster was killed.
“He knew everything that was going on, and then all of a sudden he committed suicide,” Trump said. “I don’t bring [Foster’s death] up because I don’t know enough to really discuss it. I will say there are people who continue to bring it up because they think it was absolutely a murder. I don’t do that because I don’t think it’s fair.”
“It’s the one thing with her, whether it’s Whitewater or whether it’s Vince or whether it’s Benghazi. It’s always a mess with Hillary,” Trump said in the interview.
One issue on Trump’s radar is the 1993 death of Foster, which has been ruled a suicide by law enforcement officials and a subsequent federal investigation. But some voices on the far right have long argued that the Clintons may have been involved in a conspiracy that led to Foster’s death.
When asked in an interview last week about the Foster case, Trump dealt with it as he has with many edgy topics — raising doubts about the official version of events even as he says he does not plan to talk about it on the campaign trail.
He called theories of possible foul play “very serious” and the circumstances of Foster’s death “very fishy.”
“He had intimate knowledge of what was going on,” Trump said, speaking of Foster’s relationship with the Clintons at the time. “He knew everything that was going on, and then all of a sudden he committed suicide.”
He added, “I don’t bring [Foster’s death] up because I don’t know enough to really discuss it. I will say there are people who continue to bring it up because they think it was absolutely a murder. I don’t do that because I don’t think it’s fair.”
The GOP presidential candidate used the same rhetorical trick when broadcasting the conspiracy theories that the late Justice Antonin Scalia was murdered and that Rafael Cruz, the father of his then-rival Sen. Ted Cruz, was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. He did the same thing when he raised questions about the validity of President Obama’s birth certificate.
For a candidate who claims to have a brash, tell-it-like-it-is manner, he sure does try his best to not to be held accountable for the things he says.
Having already adopted the language of the anti-abortion movement and received the endorsements of its leaders such as Operation Rescue’s Troy Newman, Priests for Life's National Director Frank Pavone, and Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser, along with culture warriors such as Phyllis Schlafly, Donald Trump will now do what Donald Trump does best: get paid.
Bloomberg News reports that Trump has set a goal of soliciting 200,000 contributions from the evangelical community.
The article goes on to describe some odd contortions that some of Trump’s conservative Christian supporters are going through to justify their endorsements of the thrice-married New York businessman.
Bloomberg’s Kevin Cirilli and Jennifer Jacobs write:
At one recent meeting with Trump, evangelical leaders noted how he often flashes a signature hand gesture, with a thumb out and a finger point to the sky, as he enters and exits rallies.
"You see athletes do it all the time and it's their chance to point to the sky, to thank God for their success," said Pastor Mark Burns, CEO of a Christian television network based in South Carolina. "Trump does this all of the time, too. He's giving reverence to the man upstairs."
"Even with Mr. Trump's billions of dollars, he too still submits himself to God," said Burns, who has become a top Trump surrogate and a staple on the campaign trail, frequently introducing the candidate at rallies. "We should all chip in to help him out. You know, even a billionaire needs some cash flow."
The article also notes that according to Burns, he sees “Mr. Trump's personal and professional connection to his faith at every rally where I introduce him."
The truth is these justifications should be unnecessary. Politically, Trump has bent over backwards to please the Christian Right, which initially had been quite skeptical of his candidacy.
Since becoming the Republican nominee Trump has adopted the language and policies of the antiabortion movement. He also hired former hill staffer John Mashburn as his policy director, to the rave reviews of anti-abortion leaders, and he recently released a slate of Supreme Court picks, any one of whom would shift the court far to the Right and all of whom anti-choice activists seem to be confident would help them to roll back reproductive rights.
Furthermore, Trump’s declaration that “we are going to staring saying Merry Christmas again” is drawn directly from the rhetoric of the Christian conservative movement, which has taken to claiming that sales clerks wishing their customers “happy holidays” amounts to a “war on Christmas.” He also promised to create a Christian "lobby" by removing IRS regulations that prevent churches from engaging in partisan politics.
This all makes sense in the context of Donald Trump. If he is going to have to cite “two Corinthians” in a speech, he might as well profit from it.
Andrea Lafferty, the anti-LGBT crusader who runs the Traditional Values Coalition, visited “Breitbart News Daily” this morning, where she warned parents not to “let your young girls and teen girls buy their summer clothes or bathing suits at Target” because of the company’s transgender-inclusive facilities policy.
She added that Target and Hershey Park have now become “pedophile magnets and pervert magnets” because they allow people to use the restroom of the gender with which they identify.
Lafferty then suggested that customers go into Target and fill up their shopping carts, go to the register, and say “Uh, I’m not going to buy this. Look at how much money I would have spent.’”
In a video clip posted yesterday, Jones suggested that Beck is a “marionette” who is being controlled by “spiritual slave masters,” adding that he has cried on air over Beck’s actions “because when you see a Judas Iscariot tarot card, an archetype, when you actually see Judas Iscariot in the modern world, a true Benedict Arnold, and just the spirit of deception and true manifest evil, it’s very painful.”
“He is a very evil person,” Jones said. “Very evil.”
Jones particularly took issue with how Beck acted during a meeting between conservative activists and Facebook executives, including Mark Zuckerberg, after allegations surfaced that the social media giant suppressed posts from conservative outlets.
“Like a rat leaving a sinking ship, he’s scurrying into the arms of Zuckerberg, who just is the very vision of a vampire,” Jones said of Beck. “We can put a photo of him up. Not just the giant canine teeth, the psycho eyes. You can look at him and see an evil that may rival Beck’s. Look at Hillary. These are monsters.”
Progressives like Zuckerberg and Clinton, Jones explained, are using people like Beck to lead a “false opposition” in order to usher in a one-world government and destroy humanity.
“Where we’re going,” he warned. “Is a place like hell on earth.”
Jones added: “Beck is the government, Beck is the Democratic Party, Beck has always been Zuckerberg’s buddy, they’ve always been this snickering, evil team. He is a narcissistic, power-mad Satanist in my view…. The guy is literally such a predator. He looks like a serial killer. My cells cry out against him.”
Glenn Beck kicked off his radio program today by reacting to the announcement by Hershey Park that its guests and employees are allowed to use the restrooms that match the gender with which they identify by declaring that the next step will be the normalization of pedophilia.
"If you don't stand up now," Beck declared, "I guarantee you the next thing that will be mainstreamed" will be pedophilia.
The push for transgender equality is "not normal," Beck insisted, unlike the fight for gay marriage, which was something he claimed that the American public would have accepted within the next few years on its own.
"Transgender bathrooms have come out of nowhere," he stated, "and are being jammed down our throat. I guarantee you, I guarantee you the next stop on this train is pedophilia. I guarantee it. They will normalize pedophilia."
Mario Bramnick, an official with the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, told Time magazine last week that Donald Trump has taken on Frank Amedia of Touch Heaven Ministries in Ohio as his new “liaison for Christian policy” and that Amedia has been arranging meetings for the Republican presidential candidate with conservative religious leaders.
Amedia, who was once implicated in a bribery scandal in which he attempted to help a car-dealer friend avoid prosecution, is now a self-proclaimed “apostle” who says that he once single-handedly stopped a tsunami from hitting an island in Hawaii.
Amedia got his religious training from Miami pastor Guillermo Maldonado, who is associated with the controversial New Apostolic Reformation, a group of self-proclaimed modern-day apostles and prophets. In a 2012 appearance on Maldonado’s TBN program, Amedia referred to Maldonado as his “spiritual father.”
Frank Amedia is called as an Apostle, Prophet, Pastor, Evangelist, Teacher, and Minister in sound biblical doctrine with gifts of knowledge, healing, and discernment … For over two decades, his clarity of vision, prophetic insight, and revelations of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God in the scriptures have been an enormous blessing to a worldwide audience. Enabled by this extensive experience, Pastor Frank has a unique perspective on the parallel journey of the Church and Israel as he is called as one to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord. Thousands of wondrous records of miraculous testimonies of healings, deliverances, re-creative miracles, and physical gifts follow him wherever he goes, even as he gives all of the Glory to God his Father, Jesus his Messiah, and the Holy Spirit.
Like other self-proclaimed apostles and prophets, Amedia claims to be able to control natural events. On Maldonado’s TBN program in 2012, Amedia claimed to have single-handedly stopped waves from the 2011 tsunami in Japan from hitting a Hawaiian island where his daughter was at the time. He boasted that the waves instead moved on to devastate another island:
I stood at the edge of my bed and I said, ‘In the name of Jesus, I declare that tsunami to stop now.’ And I specifically said, ‘I declare those waters to recede,’ and I said, ‘Father, that is my child, I am your child, I’m coming to you now and asking you to preserve her.’ Apostle, it was seen by 400 people on a cliff. It was on YouTube, it was actually on the news that that tsunami stopped 200 feet off of shore. Even after having sucked the waters in, it churned and it went on and did devastation in the next island.
As part of Amedia’s ministry, he runs a North American affiliate of Isaac TV, a Christian evangelist network based in Pakistan. In an undated program broadcast on the station, which was posted on YouTube late last year, Amedia discussed with viewers how faith in Christ could save them from “generational curses,” “traditions and cultures that keep us away from God,” and “an evil lifestyle.”
He went on to discuss how AIDS is the result of “unnatural sex” and can be avoided by practicing a "wholesome life”:
We know that many of the diseases today are avoidable if only we practiced a wholesome life. AIDS is a disease that comes because of unnatural sex. We understand that many of the diseases that we receive is because of exposure that we have to things that we should not be exposed to, lifestyles that are unhealthy or things in our spirit that cause us to become bitter.
He told viewers of a friend of his who “began to hate some people” and then he “lost his mind and he died a horrible death.”
Later in the program, Amedia doled out some faith healings, healing a viewer with “cancer in your tongue” and another who had chapped lips:
True to the spirit of Trump, Amedia has at least one shady business deal in his past. In 2001, he was granted immunity to testify that he had helped try to bribe a prosecutor to drop a case against a car-dealer friend in Ohio who had allegedly been rolling back car odometers. The Pittsburgh Tribune Review recapped the case in a 2011 article about an unrelated case in which Amedia testified:
"Did you not enter into a conspiracy to fix a court case in Mahoning County (Ohio)?" said Jeffrey Wilhelm, a Reed Smith attorney representing BlackRock. He referred to Amedia as "the bag man" in the incident, and said Amedia's admission "demonstrates his dishonesty."
The pointed question referred to Amedia's testimony in 2001 that he tried to bribe a prosecutor in 1994 not to pursue charges against a Youngstown car dealer for rolling back odometers on vehicles.
Amedia admitted he helped arrange a payment of $250,000 through a prominent local businessman, Anthony Saadey. Amedia gave the money to Russell Saddey Jr., Anthony Saadey's nephew, whom Amedia understood was an investigator for the Mahoning County prosecutor's office.
Amedia was never charged in the incident and moved to Florida in 2000. He admitted the attempted bribery in 2001 under grant of immunity for testimony in the prosecution of Russell Saddey on racketeering and other charges.
"I didn't ask for immunity; only that my family be protected," said Amedia yesterday, holding back tears. He said his family members were subjected to "death threats" by mobsters involved in the incident, and noted he received no money for his role in the bribery attempt.
We reported last week on Amedia’s mission work in Haiti after the country was hit by a devastating earthquake, when he linked the country’s troubles to “the curse of Voodoo” and said that he might give up providing aid to Haitians who did not renounce Voodoo.
As we reported last week, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) president Samuel Rodriguez gave Donald Trump a chance to “redeem the narrative” with Latino voters by showing a videotaped message from the candidate to attendees at an NHCLC gathering last Friday; a video from Hillary Clinton was also played. Rodriguez has criticized Trump’s harsh anti-immigration rhetoric and mass deportation plan, but has also given him political cover, telling the Christian Broadcasting Network last month that Trump is not a racist and blaming such a characterization on “liberal media.”
Rodriguez has said he hopes Trump will apologize for his “hurtful, erroneous, and dangerous statements” about Latino immigrants. And he said earlier last week that he would only show Trump’s video if he deemed it sufficiently conciliatory and respectful.
Conciliatory and respectful are clearly in the eyes of the beholder. Trump’s two-and-a-half minute video, apparently shot on a cell phone while he sat in his private jet reading from a piece of paper, included no apologies for any of the harsh rhetoric that Rodriguez has complained about.
Instead, Trump made the kind of broad promises that have characterized his campaign — creating good schools, safe communities and providing “massive tax cuts” for the middle class — without many details about how he would do so, other than controlling immigration and making “great trade deals.” Hillary Clinton’s video did address Trump’s rhetoric without mentioning him by name, saying, “That is not who we are as a people.”
Trump told Hispanics that poor people would pay nothing under his tax plan: “You’re going to start paying taxes after you’re making a lot of money, and hopefully that is going to be soon.” Other tidbits from his video:
Before the NHCLC conference last week, Trump met privately with some evangelical leaders, in a meeting arranged by Frank Amedia, Trump’s “liaison for Christian policy.” Representing NHCLC at the meeting was Mario Bramnick, who praised Trump’s “genuineness.”
“Donald Trump showed a tremendous understanding and concern for the undocumented immigrants,” he said. “We all came out really sensing his genuineness.”
He added: “We didn’t get into specifics other than that he wants to work with us, work with the Hispanic community, Hispanic leadership on substantive policy regarding immigration.”
Bramnick also said Trump embraced the Religious Right’s “Christian persecution” narrative, telling Charisma:
"He told us in the meeting that he's very, very concerned that Christians are losing their rights in America, that we no longer can even speak or express what we believe," Bramnick said. "And he did say that if he becomes president, he's going to change things to make sure that we as Christians have our religious liberties restored. He said he's concerned about Christians, he's concerned about Jews, and he wants to help."
In March, Bramnick spoke at Liberty Counsel’s “Awakening” conference, quoting Cindy Jacobs’ prophecy that Florida had determined that George W. Bush would be president and that God would use Florida to shift the nation again. “God by his Holy Spirit can appoint the president that God has ordained,” said Bramnick.
At the Awakening conference, Bramnick prayed:
Father, awaken the sleeping the church. Unite us. We come against the diabolic spirit of division in the body of Christ, that spirit that would put us to sleep, spirits of anti-Christ and witchcraft, and we declare out of Orlando, the church of Jesus Christ is arising, not by power, not by might, but by your spirit. And father we declare out of Orlando, shift for Florida, shift for the United States, and the man you have selected to be our next president, shall be elected president of the United States, and shall usher in the Third Great Awakening…
It’s not just the NHCLC giving Trump another look. Some other Latino conservatives are showing some willingness to rally around him. The Hill’s Ben Kamisar noted over the weekend that last October, Alfonso Aguilar, a former Bush White House official who now heads the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, said Trump was “done” in the eyes of the Latino community. Aguilar declared, “If Donald Trump is the GOP candidate, we won’t work to support him and we are sure he will lose the general election because there’s no way a GOP candidate can win the White House if they don’t get more support from Latino voters.” But now that Trump is the nominee, Aguilar is singing a different tune, saying that if Trump were to “seek my support and show he’s willing to change his tone and be open to some form of legalization, I would be willing to reconsider my position.”
BuzzFeed’s Adrian Carrasquillo recently noted that there are a lot of major conferences coming up. The National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO) and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) have both sent formal invitations but “have had difficulties getting responses from the Trump campaign.” The National Council of La Raza has not yet decided whether to invite Trump to its July conference.
On Saturday, anti-gay Religious Right activists rallied in Montgomery in support of Alabama Supreme court chief justice Roy Moore, who has been suspended from his position by the state's judicial inquiry committee for attempting to defy federal court rulings on marriage equality.
The event kicked off with a prayer from pastor Rusty Johnson, who called upon God to not only bless the rally and Justice Moore, but also "to stand against this militant homosexual movement that is invading our land, stand against the demonic influences that have come not only to the state of Alabama but across the United States of America" by granting to Christians "the power and authority" to "cast these wicked spirits out of our society."
Kayla Moore, who is the wife of Justice Moore and currently runs the the Foundation for Moral Law that he started, delivered the keynote address, during which she spent several minutes attacking Ambrosia Starling, a drag queen who was a member of the coalition that filed a complaint against Moore.
Conflating Moore's suspension with the current right-wing outrage over transgender equality, Moore declared that she will not stand by and watch as men are allowed to enter the restroom with one of her granddaughters, which then prompted her to voice her outrage that her husband has been removed from the bench based on a complaint filed by "a man dressed as a woman."
"This man dresses as a woman, with makeup, a blonde wig, a dress, jewelry and calls himself a drag queen," Moore complained, as she demanded that the press investigate and expose him. "He works a regular job during the day and, at night, dresses as a woman and goes into nightclubs and bars. Now, I ask the press, who is he? Who is this man who hides his true identity? I charge you, find out who he is and let us know."
After declaring that her husband did not serve in Vietnam to protect the rights of people like Starling "because up to the last couple of years ago, it was a mental illness," she then read a reworked version of Martin Niemöller's famous "First They Came For The Socialists" anti-Nazi quote.
"First they came for the bakers, but we sat back because we don't bake cakes. Then they came for the florists and we sat back because we don't arrange flowers. Then they came for the clerks and the judges and we sat back because we don't issue marriage licenses and we don't judge. But then they came for me and there was no one left to defend me."
Televangelist Jim Bakker offered yet another extremely vague prophecy while pitching his survival food buckets last week, telling viewers to purchase his $100 “30-Day Fiesta bucket” because God told him that “major events” will occur at some point in the future.
After recounting the Mexican food items in the Fiesta Bucket, which he says “passes the official Mexican test” and “is Mexican food that real-life Mexicans approve of,” Bakker told viewers, “I believe there’s going to be some events take place.”
“I believe there’s going to be major events that’s literally going to, like a shot across the bow, is going to warn us,” he said. “God’s been dealing with me. I’m so unrestful about it because I know things are coming.”
Last week, we noted that Family Research Council executive vice president Jerry Boykin announced that he had been fired from a teaching position he held at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia. Boykin asserted that he had lost his job because of comments he had made earlier in the year at a Religious Right conference where he had voiced his opposition to transgender protection efforts by declaring that "the first man that walks in my daughter’s bathroom, he ain't going to have to worry about surgery."
Boykin, a notoriously anti-gay and anti-Muslim right-wing activist, claimed that he was only joking but that the "LGBT community once again came after me" and pressured "the college leadership to terminate me and they did."
Predictably, the incident became a rallying cry for the likes of Ted Cruz, who used it to fundraise for his own Senate re-election bid, and Fox News commentator Todd Starnes, who wrote a column decrying the upposed persecution of Boykin.
Thanks to the outcry from Christian conservatives, Hampden-Sydney backed down and rehired Boykin, who called it "a victory for academic freedom and free thought on a college campus."
Interestingly, Andrew Beaujon of The Washingtonian reported today that the entire story of Boykin's alleged firing was apparently an utter misrepresentation of what actually took place and was seemingly whipped up for the purpose of browbeating the college into re-hiring Boykin.
According to Hampden-Sydney College, the position held by Boykin "was created to be a rotating position, allowing Hampden-Sydney to bring distinguished individuals from a wide variety of professional backgrounds to the campus."
The decision not to renew Boykin's contract had reportedly been made back in March, well before concerns had even been raised about his "jokingly" violent remarks:
If the “LGBT community” indeed went after Boykin, its campaign was remarkably incompetent. Asked about the existence of such an effort, Hampden-Sydney spokesperson Tommy Shomo says, “There was a letter from Hampden-Sydney constituents expressing concerns over some of Gen. Boykin’s public remarks, recent and past, and questioning his association with the College.” Shomo says the letter was received in April, after the college had already decided, in March, not to renew.
But thanks to the outrage generated by the false narrative created by Boykin, Cruz, Starnes and other Religious Right activists, Hampden-Sydney College was forced to back down and rehire Boykin for one more year:
After discussions with Hampden-Sydney College, Gen. Jerry Boykin has accepted another year's contract to teach in the College's Military Leadership and National Security minor as Wheat Professor. Boykin stated, he "loves the college and its students and would be honored to teach for another year."
Interim President Dennis Stevens said he was pleased that General Boykin will be with Hampden-Sydney for one more year.
At the end of the 2016-2017 academic year, the College will continue with its plan to restore the Wheat Professorship to short-term appointments in order to bring multiple perspectives on leadership to its students.
None of this should come as a surprise, since constantly alleging that he's been the victim of anti-Christian persecution has been a hallmark of Boykin's career.
From the moment Donald Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee, certain members of the media have been eagerly predicting his pivot away from the far right into the mainstream of American politics.
Today, while collecting the National Rifle Association’s endorsement at the group’s annual convention, he continued to keep both his campaign and his rhetoric firmly rooted in the policies and rhetoric of the far right.
Trump began his speech by claiming that Hillary Clinton wants to “abolish the Second Amendment.” Politifact rated this Trump claim “false” nine days ago.
In uttering this lie, Trump aligns himself with a longstanding NRA strategy. In both 2008 and 2012, the organization and its leadership made similar claims about Barack Obama, yet none of them ever came to pass. NRA board member Grover Norquist even acknowledged these statements were hyperbole.
Creating a climate of fear around the notion that a Democratic president will strip Americans of gun rights is not only designed to whip conservative voters into a frenzy, it also benefits the bottom line of the NRA’s benefactors in the gun industry.
As Jarret Murphy explained in The Nation:
There is no divorcing the politics of guns from their profits. America’s gun lobby and gun industry both benefit from creating a fearful vision of life in the United States—a picture of criminals constantly menacing our families and a government hellbent on taking our guns—that is very effective at selling weapons. In fact, in large part because of the way anxieties about his gun policies have been manipulated, the Obama era has been a golden age for firearms manufacturers, and the run-up to Election 2012 could be for Glock and Remington what the Christmas shopping season is for Macy’s and Sears: a time to cash in before the narrative changes.
This sentiment was reflected by gun industry analyst Jim Barrett, who told The Blaze in 2012, “The driver [of the gun industry's financial success] is President Obama. He is the best thing that ever happened to the firearm industry.”
The Blaze reported in the run-up to the 2012 election:
Major gun company stock prices are up. The number of federally licensed, retail gun dealers is increasing for the first time in nearly 20 years. The U.S. gun lobby is bursting with cash and political clout.
The NRA’s endorsement, if nothing else, means that Donald Trump will attempt to keep this gravy train of fear fueling the bottom line for gun manufacturers for another four years.
According to a Time report today, Donald Trump is trying to make up with the National Hispanic Leadership Conference, the Hispanic evangelical group headed by Samuel Rodriguez, who has spent much of the presidential campaign cycle criticizing Trump for his anti-Latino, anti-immigrant rhetoric.
An official with NHLC, Mario Bramnick, apparently met with Trump earlier this month and came away thinking that “Donald Trump showed a tremendous understanding and concern for the undocumented immigrants.”
The meeting was reportedly organized by televangelist Frank Amedia of Touch Heaven Ministries, who is the Trump campaign’s “liaison for Christian policy.”
We had never heard of Amedia before, so we did a news search and found an AP story from February 24, 2010, titled “Voodoo practitioners attacked at ceremony for Haiti earthquake victims”:
Angry crowds in a seaside slum in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, attacked a group of Voodoo practitioners Tuesday, pelting them with rocks and halting a ceremony meant to honor victims of last month's deadly earthquake.
Voodooists gathered in Cite Soleil where thousands of quake survivors live in tents and depend on food aid. Praying and singing, the group was trying to conjure spirits to guide lost souls when a crowd of evangelicals started shouting. Some threw rocks while others urinated on Voodoo symbols. When police left, the crowd destroyed the altars and Voodoo offerings of food and rum.
Tensions have been running high since the Jan. 12 earthquake killed an estimated 200,000 people and left more than 1 million homeless. More than 150 machete-wielding men attacked a World Food Program convoy Monday on the road between Haiti's second-largest city of Cap-Haitien and Port-au-Prince. There were no injuries but Chilean peacekeepers could not prevent the men from stealing the food, U.N. spokesman Michel Bonnardeaux said.
Religious tension has also increased: Baptists, Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses, Scientologists, Mormons and other missionaries have flocked to Haiti in droves since the earthquake to feed the homeless, treat the injured and jockey for souls. Some Voodoo practitioners have said they've converted to Christianity for fear they will lose out on aid or a belief that the earthquake was a warning from God. "Much of this has to do with the aid coming in," said Max Beauvoir, a Voodoo priest and head of a Voodoo association. "Many missionaries oppose Voodoo. I hope this does not start a war of religions because many of our practitioners are being harassed now unlike any other time that I remember."
"There's absolutely a heightened spiritual conflict between Christianity and Voodoo since the quake," said Pastor Frank Amedia of the Miami-based Touch Heaven Ministries who has been distributing food in Haiti and proselytizing.
"We would give food to the needy in the short term, but if they refused to give up Voodoo, I'm not sure we would continue to support them in the long term because we wouldn't want to perpetuate that practice. We equate it with witchcraft, which is contrary to the Gospel."
In a YouTube video posted in 2011 of a post-earthquake visit to Haiti, Amedia channeled Pat Robertson by attributing Haiti’s problems to a lack of literal fatherhood and a relationship with God, saying that the country had been afflicted by “the curse of Voodoo”:
The redemption of the country has to be in the fathering of the country. Pastors need fathers; the president need a father; and the families need fathers. There’s a lack of a fathering spirit here. And once that’s restored, the relationship with the Father in heaven and then the fathers here on earth, and there’s a mentoring and a fathering going on, this land will heal.
It’s the curse of Voodoo that has taken away the fathering in this land.
Yesterday, American Family Association official Sandy Rios criticized the confirmation of Eric Fanning to be Army secretary. Rios didn’t find anything wrong with Fanning’s qualifications, she was just upset that he is a gay man.
As a gay man, Rios said, Fanning cannot be an “alpha male.”
“When it comes to leading men into battle, when it comes to being secretary of the Army, I’ll take an alpha male any day,” she said. “I’m sorry. I know these war-like men too well and I don’t think most of them — very few of them are gay. You that are in the gay community, if you were to describe your friends and colleagues who are in this community, I don’t think you would describe them as warriors. I’m sure there are some, but still, I would prefer an alpha male.”
Rios compared Fanning’s confirmation to the controversy surrounding Jerry Boykin after the Religious Right activist made remarks threatening violence against transwomen.
“That’s where we’ve come: an openly gay man is the secretary of the army while the founder of the Delta Force, because he disapproves of transgender bathrooms in North Carolina, is fired from teaching at a college,” she said. “It’s just amazing.”
On the latest episode of "Truths That Transform" from D. James Kennedy Ministries, the organization's president, Frank Wright, interviewed Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis about her fight against the Supreme Court's gay marriage decision, during which she refused to allow her office to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because doing so conflicted with her religious beliefs.
Davis, who imposed her personal religious view on the entire county, told Wright that she was simply following the law because the Supreme Court had no authority to strike down Kentucky's law banning gay marriage or to make her violate the Bible and that those who were demanding that she do her job were trying to shove the ruling down her throat.
"I was obeying my law," she insisted. "I had couples bring in the whole Supreme Court ruling and I said, 'You know, I really don't need to see this because that's not a law, that's a ruling' [and they'd say] 'Well, why won't you do this?' And so then I go to the Bible and I'd tell them, [and they'd respond,] 'Don't be reading me the Bible.' Well, you asked why I couldn't issue you a marriage license and I'm explaining to you, I'm showing you why I cannot. They didn't want to hear that though. They wanted to shove that paper down my throat and make me eat it for my dinner."
After Donald Trump released a list of 11 people he would consider nominating to the Supreme Court if he were elected president, some conservatives who had been wary of supporting the presumptive GOP nominee began using it as an excuse to rally behind him. But not all of Trump’s conservative critics are convinced that he would actually pick from the judges on his list, many of whom were hand-picked by the conservative Heritage Society.
Among the skeptics is Steve Deace, the conservative Iowa talk radio host and vocal Trump critic, who said on his radio program yesterday that he did not believe Trump would actually nominate any of those judges when push comes to shove and that conservative activists are just using the Supreme Court list as a “fig leaf” as they “sell their souls” to Trump.
Deace’s guest, Daniel Horowitz of Conservative Review, predicted that Senate Democrats would never allow the confirmation of “a true originalist in the mold of Clarence Thomas” and that Trump would end up compromising on his court picks.
Deace agreed. “Why does anybody believe, anybody, unless they just want to be deceived, why does anybody believe that he would follow through on any of those things?” he asked.
“This is being done to offer a fig leaf to give conservative leaders and conservative voters who supported Ted Cruz permission to cross over and to say ‘We can now vote for Trump,’” he said. “And they have plausible deniability, if he doesn’t nominate any of those guys, then they’re victims later on, ‘Well, we went with his words, we had no other alternative, there’s nothing else we could do, we didn’t want Hillary to win, it’s all on his head.’ That’s what this is. It’s nothing more, nothing less, than a fig leaf to give Ted Cruz’s conservative infrastructure permission to sell their souls and to bow the knee and kneel before Zod.”
In a press release today, the conservative legal group Liberty Counsel took credit for a bill that passed the Oklahoma legislature yesterday that would make it a felony to perform abortions in the state. The group also claims that Paul Blair, a far-right Oklahoma pastor and activist who was embraced by Ted Cruz’s failed presidential campaign, “initiated” the legislation.
“SB 1552 was authored by Sen. Nathan Dahm,” the press release says. “Yet this legislation was initiated by a local pastor, Paul Blair, with the support and guidance of Liberty Counsel.”
“Life begins at conception,” the press release quotes Liberty Counsel’s founder Mat Staver saying. “Preborn children are in fact children, not merely fetuses, and their lives should be protected from the moment of conception. This bill is a very positive step toward affirming the value of human life by taking away ability to murder children. Liberty Counsel stands ready to defend this legislature if it is challenged.”
Liberty Counsel is perhaps best known for its role representing Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who tried to stop her office from issuing marriage licenses after the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling. The group and Staver have a long history of vicous anti-gay activism, including defending criminal bans on same-sex relationships . The group has also taken credit for the wave of anti-transgender laws sweeping the country, althought the Religious Right behemoth Alliance Defending Freedom seems to have played alarger role.
Blair also has a long history of extreme anti-gay rhetoric, including saying that the source of the “radical homosexual agenda” is Satan and declaring that the success of the movie “Brokeback Mountain” was proof that Americans are “under attack” from the devil. He is also a vocal advocate for states to ignore Supreme Court rulings with which they disagree — including Roe v. Wade.
As Peter wrote earlier this year, Blair has been working to convince state lawmakers to defy court rulings on abortion rights and marriage equality:
Reclaiming America for Christ , a ministry of Blair’s church in Edmond, Oklahoma, is promoting “Protect Life and Marriage,” an effort “dedicated to the proposition that the state of Oklahoma has federal and state constitutional authority to (1) protect the institution of natural, traditional marriage and; (2) protect innocent, unborn children from abortion; and that in the face of unjust, unlawful U.S. Supreme Court actions it is time for Oklahoma to exercise this authority.”
Blair said his group has 980 pastors and over 20,000 supporters, and is working with the governor, attorney general and state legislators to promote a nullification strategy: “We are trying to stop this legally, lawfully, politically, actually using the Constitution initially…”Speakers at a Protect Life and Marriage rally at the Oklahoma state capitol last October included U.S. Sen. James Lankford and Rep. Jim Bridenstine, along with state legislators and pastors. Blair also said people supporting some kind of state-led resistance are working through different channels in Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky and Texas.
At a conference in March, Blair distributed copies of an interview he did with the magazine of the John Birch Society in which he says there is no need for constitutional amendments reversing Supreme Court decisions on marriage equality and abortion rights because states can simply cite the 10th Amendment to ignore them. He said in the interview that “we want Oklahoma to be a ‘sanctuary state’ for marriage, life and the Constitution.”
Blair told The New American that Obergefell is illegitimate, unconstitutional, violates natural law and “celebrates immoral conduct.” The decision, he said, “is an attempt to force everyone to celebrate a behavior that violates conscience and the Holy Scriptures, and to force the acceptance of that behavior on our children through public education.”