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GOP Rep: Donald Trump Won't Build A Border Wall

Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, has been a vocal supporter of Donald Trump, hailing him as a “dealmaker” who “will get some stuff done.”

However, Farenthold said in an interview last week with Virginia radio host John Fredericks that he doesn’t think Trump will actually fulfill his signature policy proposal, building a wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border that is paid for by the Mexican government, and instead will settle for a “virtual wall.”

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and anti-immigrant activist Dan Stein have similarly said that they believe Trump will not really build a border wall.

Earlier in the interview, Farenthold criticized President Obama for tossing “a can of gasoline on the fire” of race relations in America, claiming that the president knows “he can only win through dividing.”

“He gives lip service to uniting but you listen to the next sentence or two and it’s all about us against them and divisiveness,” he said.

He then criticized the Black Lives Matter movement, saying, “I think it’s 'all lives matter' and I think everybody can get behind that. Why do we have to differentiate between different groups? We need to come together. As long as we keep talking about division, it increases the tension between the different groups and puts us on the wrong path.”

Donald Trump: 'There's Something Going On' With Obama's Body Language

Today on “Fox & Friends,” Donald Trump repeatedly used one of his favorite lines — “There’s something going on” — while addressing President Obama’s response to the recent shooting of three police officers in Baton Rouge.

Trump, who has previously used the phrase to suggest that President Obama is a terrorist sympathizer, said that “there’s something going on” with the president’s “body language” that shows that his praise of the work of police officers isn’t sincere.

“You know, I watch the president, and sometimes the words are okay but you just look at the body language and there’s something going on. Look, there’s something going on, and the words are not often okay, by the way,” he said. “There’s just bad feeling and a lot of bad feeling about him. I see it too. There’s a lot of bad feeling about him. We have a country that has not been like this since I can remember it.”

Trump also made the baseless claim that the Baton Rouge shooter was a radical Islamist, a mistake that an adviser later blamed on the fact that the interview took place early in the morning.

Anti-Choice Leader: Tax Evasion A 'Serious Consideration' If Hyde Amendment Repealed

Marjorie Dannenfelser, head of the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List, said last week that anti-choice activists should take into “serious consideration” refusing to pay taxes if the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funds from going to most abortion services, is repealed.

Dannenfelser told the Media Research Center after a speech at the National Press Club on Wednesday that a tax protest would be "something to think about" if the Hyde Amendment were repealed, as proposed in a draft of the Democratic platform.

"If it were repealed, how should pro-lifers react?" MRC's Katie Yoder asked Dannenfelser. "Should they go so far as to refuse to pay taxes?"

"That would be a serious consideration," Dannenfelser responded. "That would be a serious consideration. When you're made complicit in the killing of another person, you have to weigh the consequences of all your actions, so it would be something to think about."

PFAW Applauds Clinton Pledge to Introduce Amendment in First 30 Days

In response to reports that Hillary Clinton will pledge to introduce an amendment to overturn Citizens United and related decisions in the first 30 days of her administration, Marge Baker, Executive Vice President at People For the American Way, issued the following statement:

“Plenty of politicians talk the talk about taking on the challenges of big money in our democracy, but Hillary Clinton is showing us that she’ll walk the walk. This is a crystal clear indication that Hillary Clinton absolutely understands the gravity of the problem and will make the fight for a democracy for all the people a top issue in her administration.

“Americans overwhelmingly favor common sense reforms, including amending the Constitution, to make sure our government is one of, by and for the people—not just wealthy corporations and special interests. Momentum is building in the movement to restore our democracy, and voters across the ideological spectrum who care about protecting the core values of our democracy should cheer Secretary Clinton’s announcement."

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Right Wing Round-Up - 7/15/16

  • Joe.My.God: Trump Says Franklin Graham Will Speak At Convention Which Comes As News To Franklin Graham
  • Brad Reed @ Raw Story: Ivanka Trump’s rabbi pulls out of the RNC — after he’d planned to lead a prayer against bigotry

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 7/15/16

  • Speaking of AFTAH, Peter LaBarbera has uncovered "Barack Obama's radical LGBT legacy -- an immoral transformation of America."
  • “Remember where you read it first”: Joseph Farah predicts that Donald Trump will “win big” in November.

Trump Tells Far-Right Radio Host Many Immigrants 'Are Not Well People'

Among the many far-right conspiracy theorists that Donald Trump has embraced in his quest for the presidency is conservative talk radio host Michael Savage, who offers a steady stream of conspiracy theories and bigotry on his nationally syndicated program. Yesterday, as he was preparing to announce his vice presidential pick, Trump appeared yet again on Savage’s radio program, where he declared himself to be a loyal listener, praised Savage for the “great job” he is doing, and engaged with Savage in a discussion of what the radio host called “diseased immigrants” coming into the country.

After Trump casually mentioned something that Savage had said about not “liking” the videos of the two black men killed by police earlier this month, Savage asked Trump if he had heard that from listening to his show.

“I heard you say it, I heard you say it on the show,” Trump confirmed. “And, you know what, I heard you say it on the show, I do listen to your show, a lot of people listen to your show, I don’t even know if you know how many people. So many people come up and they say, ‘Michael Savages loves you.’ I say, ‘Well, that’s good news, I think that’s true.’”

This led Savage to ask if Trump would induct him into the Radio Hall of Fame in November. While the candidate said he couldn’t make the promise this far in advance because he might be busy negotiating a trade deal with China, he told Savage that “you deserve it” and promised that “if I could be a part of it in some way, I would be a part of it. You are doing a great job and you’ve been loyal to me from the beginning and I appreciate it.”

Later in the program, Savage declared that President Obama “has not only been flooding America with immigrants who cannot or will not work, he’s bringing in people who have brought back illnesses that were once basically eliminated in America” and offered to “help” Trump with the problem if he’s elected president.

“It’s a disaster to bring in diseased immigrants, don’t you agree?” Savage asked.

“Well that’s what’s happening,” Trump said, “and people don’t like talking about it and certainly it’s not politically correct to talk about it and that’s why they don’t do it, because everything we do today has to do with political correctness. If something’s a little bit off, off just a little bit, they say, ‘Oh, please don’t mention that.’ Even my people tell me ‘don’t mention that’ and I decide to mention things anyway, even though I know it’s going to end up being a firestorm I mention them anyway. But there’s something that’s one of the other elements, and the people are pouring into this country and, in many cases they’re not well people, in many respects.”

Mike Pence Backed Personhood Bills To Criminalize Abortions Nationwide

There's a reason anti-choice groups are celebrating Donald Trump's decision to tap Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate: Pence has spearheaded congressional efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, even if it meant shutting down the government, signed anti-abortion measures into law in Indiana and rallied opposition to President Obama's effort to roll back prohibitions on stem-cell research.

Pence, who pledged at an anti-choice rally to send Roe v. Wade, which he called "the worse Supreme Court decision since Dred Scott," to "the ash heap of history," also cosponsored anti-choice "personhood" resolutions while serving in Congress.

The Life at Conception Act, which Pence cosponsored, called for Congress to "implement equal protection under the 14th article of amendment to the Constitution for the right to life of each born and preborn person," defining legal personhood as beginning at the "moment of of fertilization."

Pence also cosponsored the Right to Life Act, a similar personhood bill.

Advocates of federal personhood bills believe that if Congress passes legislation defining “personhood” as beginning at conception, they can bypass and nullify Roe v. Wade, criminalizing abortion nationwide with no exceptions. While the personhood movement has traditionally sat on the far-right fringes of the anti-abortion movement, in recent years Republican politicians like Pence have brought the extremist cause into the GOP mainstream. Unlike more established abortion rights opponents that seek to cut off access to abortion and gradually outlaw the procedure, personhood activists want the government to immediately end abortion in all cases.

Trump, of course, has taken several contradictory positions on abortion rights throughout the campaign, including saying that women who have abortions should face legal punishment. While many anti-abortion groups condemned his remarks, his call for punishing women who have abortions was completely compatible with the message of personhood groups like Personhood USA, which praised the prosecution of a Tennessee woman for murder last year after she attempted a do-it-yourself, coat-hanger abortion.

Now, with Pence as his running-mate, Trump has decided to fully bring the personhood movement into his campaign.

Rep. Steve King Defends Confederate Flag On Desk: Slavery Just 'Small Part' Of Civil War

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, landed in some hot water this week after he gave an interview to a local TV station in his Sioux City district office and viewers noticed that he kept a Confederate flag on his desk.

In an interview with Iowa talk radio host Jeff Angelo on Wednesday, King explained that the flag had been on his desk, along with an American flag and a Gadsden flag, for “a long, long time” and “no one has ever commented about it” until now.

He told Angelo that his critics don’t understand the “real history of the Civil War” and that only a “small part of it was about slavery.” He claimed that nobody minded the Confederate flag until the past year or so when people starting using the flag as a “pretext in order to divide us.”

“This is a free country and there’s freedom of speech,” he said, “and, by the way, I’d encourage people to go back and read the real history of the Civil War and find out what it was about. A small part of it was about slavery, but there was a big part of it that was about states’ rights, it was about people that defended their homeland and fought next to their neighbors and their family. And on both sides of that, roughly 600,000 Americans lost their lives in the Civil War and we put an end to slavery, a stain upon our country. And we’ve lived with respecting the South and their way of life for 150 years and now, after 150 years, there has to be an issue about a Confederate flag?”

King told Angelo that he had ancestors who had fought and died in the Union Army.

“Our family cares a lot about unity but also about the truth and accuracy in history,” he said, “and so that Confederate flag has been here for a long, long time, it just does a reflection of our history, it’s not meant to be anything else. And, by the way, up until about a year ago, it never occurred to me that anyone would think that it has something to do with — that it was an advocacy for anything other than, let’s just say, a piece of our history that we should remember and remember the right lessons from.”

“I’m watching our civilization digress,” he added, “because people are pitting — they are looking for pretext in order to divide us, and this is the pretext that they have chosen upon. And so I’d say to them the same thing the Texans say about their flag with the cannon on it: ‘You see this flag? Come and take it.’”

David Whitney: Dallas Shooting Was Either False Flag Or Symptom Of Evolution Being Taught In Schools

The Institute on the Constitution’s David Whitney published a doozy of a response on Wednesday to the assassination of five police officers in Dallas, claiming that the sniper attack was likely a government-orchestrated false flag and, even if it wasn’t, it was the result of teaching evolution in schools.

Whitney first laid out the “false flag” theory, that the government orchestrated the shooting in order to “establish the New World Order, another name for the kingdom of Satan”:

… This sniper event couldn’t have happened at a more propitious time as the Congress is pushing through more gun control legislation. Could the timing just be just coincidental? Consider some similar sniper events.

In March 2011 the “spontaneous democratic protest” in Daraa led to carnage as trained snipers killed seven policemen and four protesters, escalating the crisis and launching the five-year long devastation of Syria. That sniper event was carefully planned and well coordinated in an attempt to destabilize that country and its government. In February 2014 paramilitary snipers (later identified as Gladio operatives) opened fire on protestors and police forces in Ukraine, escalating the crisis and putting the final nail in the coffin of Yanukovych’s rule. Now here in July 2016 unidentified snipers opened fire at an otherwise peaceful protest in Dallas. Is there a pattern here?

Could this be another false flag?

The difficult thing here as in other such events is that we cannot always get at the truth. We know the media, particularly the mainstream media, is lying to us regularly. We know our civil government in general is not to be trusted – they have their own agenda which is to establish the New World Order, another name for the kingdom of Satan. They will stop at nothing to achieve it, including murdering policemen. They are of their father the Devil and the works of the Devil they do. As he was a murderer from the beginning so murder is part of their playbook.

Whitney then explains that even if the shooting was not a false flag, it shows that legal abortion and teaching evolution in schools leads people like the Dallas shooter to mass murder:

By they way. If the narrative presented by the media and government were actually true, and I doubt that it is, what should be done? So we have an irate black man with a gun killing police officers. What should be done? Take away everyone’s guns? That begs the question, what brought this man to this point where he considers murdering others a good thing? How was he educated?

In a school house where the Bible was forbidden, prayer illegal, the Ten Commandments could never be seen by him or any student …

Add to that his school taught him evolution – that he was just a compilation of mutations and mistakes, just an overgrow ape. Add to that the notion of relativism, that there are no absolutes, nothing absolutely right or wrong. Compound that with the preaching from the school house that each individual is entitled to make up their own moral value system. Then top it of by showing the student for more that forty years murdering is not only valued as a social good, it has such an exalted status that the government will pay you to murder, provided you are female and it is your own child in the womb you are choosing to murder.

Given all these facts, that the government indoctrination centers have raised a generation of barbarians, what surprises me is that we don’t see more wholesale murder taking place in our already blood soaked land. In spite of the relentless Satanic propaganda drilled in by the government run schools, some survivors of those indoctrination camps still have a semblance of a conscience remaining.

A Big Week for #Demcoracy4All

We reached a major milestone in the House and also made progress in the Senate.
PFAW

Klayman: 'Muslim-In-Chief' Obama Treats Whites As 'Inferior'

Judicial Watch founder Larry Klayman, who is currently suing President Obama for endangering his life as a white man, claimed this week that the “Muslim-in-chief” Obama treats white people as “inferior” because he wants “payback” for discrimination. Klayman told “Trunews” host Rick Wiles on Wednesday that while in the 1960s people of all races loved Motown music, that racial harmony was ruined by Obama. 

“President Obama — who I call, actually, the Muslim-in-chief — favors his own people over other people,” Klayman said. “We deserve to be treated equally. I’m, in effect, a civil rights lawyer. I was on Fox News yesterday about that, the business channel, and I just pointed out that everybody needs to be represented by our president, not just blacks, not just Muslims, and not just black Muslims.”

Klayman claimed that Obama has “systematically … tried to fan the flames of racial hatred and division. The president has a problem. He is an angry man. He has done everything in his administration, whether it’s with regard to egging on violence against white police officers or whites in general to, in effect, have people, not of color but white people and others, pay reparations for what he saw as years of discrimination.”

“We don’t condone the discrimination of the past,” Klayman said, “we want to resolve it. And that’s exactly what Martin Luther King started to do back in the 1960s: judge people on the content of their character, not on their color; peaceful nonviolence, not like Black Lives Matter, but bringing about change and having the races respect each other and appreciate each other. You know, we all grew up [with] Motown Sound, we loved the Temptations, we loved the Supremes, you know. Why couldn’t that continue? Obama didn’t want it to continue.”

“Obama was raised as a Muslim,” Klayman continued. “Obama is taught to hate Christians and Jews. Obama does not accept the fact that this country should include everybody and he wants payback.”

“We just can’t take it anymore,” Klayman said of white Americans. “We’re equal to African-Americans, we’re not inferior, and Obama has treated us as if we are inferior in the last many years. I mean, overtaxing, Obamacare, destroying the entire healthcare system to take care of a few, executive amnesty, which brings in a lot of illegal aliens that commit crimes, a lot of them across the Mexican border, even Muslim terrorists, they’re being left in this country, bringing in people from Syria, everything else. It’s all part of his plan. It’s his clever caliphate, basically, to turn this country into, you know, something like his Middle Eastern brothers would have, and I hate to say that and it sounds extreme, but it’s gotten worse and worse.”

Rick Wiles: Pokémon Go, ‘Purge’ Movie Target Christians

On yesterday’s edition of “Trunews,” host Rick Wiles continued his condemnation of the “Pokémon demons” inhabiting the game Pokémon Go, claiming that the game “could be used for the elimination of Christians” by showing players where Christians live. He predicted an onslaught of crime akin to the “The Purge: Election Year” movie. 

“Churches are the number one sites on the app that are containing these Pokémon demons that people are trying to find,” Wiles said. “The number one site on the app are churches. So, if they are creating a technology that could be used for the elimination of Christians, here are the churches, here are the homes of the pastor, the elders, the Sunday school teachers.”

Wiles continued, “This movie, this ‘Purge: Election Year,’ are they preparing the minds of young people for a day of rage? I mean, we now, we have Anonymous calling for a day of rage. Are they whipping up this bloodlust, hoping that they can ignite it, they can get this fuse burning by October?”

“What do we do if Islamic leaders, radical, you know, Black Panther party leaders, all these whacked-out guys start saying, ‘We need a purge, we need a day of rage, we need a purge?’” Wiles asked.

“This is what the Lord told me in 1998 was coming,” Wiles claimed. “I saw a day of jihad, a day of bloodletting, that what the Lord showed me in ‘98 was pandemonium, people being killed, just innocent people being killed in their homes, being pulled out of their cars, being killed, people walking down the street, being slaughtered.”

Mike Pence: Donald Trump On Decaf

Donald Trump’s 2016 effort was born in the bowels of conservative talk radio. Former staffer (and current litigant) Sam Nunberg described, “listen[ing] to thousands of hours of talk radio” in order to hone the nascent campaign’s message in 2014.  

It should therefore come as no surprise that Donald Trump has reportedly chosen Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a former talk radio host who once described himself as “Rush Limbaugh on decaf,” as his running mate.

For months Trump’s campaign has been forced to confront a disturbing pattern of violence at its events and rallies. Just as Trump has defended supporters who have turned violent, Pence defended a conservative protestor who carried an assault rifle at an Obama event in 2011. The man had previously attended a church where the pastor "pray[ed] for Barack Obama to die and go to hell.” Responding to this incident, Pence compared carrying a weapon in close proximity to the president to carrying “placards” at an anti-war protest.

Numerous organizations (including us) have already pointed to Pence’s extreme anti-choice record. Like Trump, his rhetoric is on this issue is extreme, strange, and way out of sync with most Americans. In 2011, Pence spoke at the March for Life in Washington and defended House Republicans’ decision the previous year to vote on an anti-abortion bill before working on the core economic issues they had promised voters they would address.

“Amidst these struggles, some would have us focus our energies on jobs and spending. We must not remain silent when great moral battles are being waged,” Pence told the anti-abortion protestors. “Those who would have us ignore the battle being fought over life have forgotten the lessons of history. As in the days of a house divided, America's darkest moments have come when economic arguments trumped moral principles.”

In other words, Pence believed — and proudly said — that it was a greater priority for Congress to pass a divisive anti-abortion than to address creating jobs.

Pence was also a cheerleader for the do-nothing Congress, bragging about the GOP’s ability to say “no” to progress on any issue. In 2010, he told a crowd of conservative activists at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC):

Some folks like to call us the 'party of no.' Well, I say 'no' is way underrated in Washington, DC. Sometimes 'no' is just what this town needs to hear. When it comes to more borrowing, the answer is no. When it comes to more spending, the answer is no. When it comes to more bailouts, the answer is no. And when it comes to some health care summit that is nothing more than a photo-op to pave the way for Obamacare 2.0, the answer is no.

Pence, like Trump, has also show a disdain for the free press. As governor of Indiana, he attempted to thwart the media in his state capital by creating his own propaganda outlet, paid for with taxpayer dollars. The state-run news website, according to official documents, would “break news — publishing information ahead of any other news outlet. Strategies for determining how and when to give priority to such ‘exclusive’ coverage remain under discussion.” Ultimately, after a public outcry about this abuse of government funds and runaround of the First Amendment, Pence scrapped the concept.

Extreme statements on social issues, defenses of guns at political rallies and attempts to thwart the press —  Pence might not be as loud and brash as Trump, but he shares many of his worst traits. Perhaps just on decaf.

Plenty Of Anti-LGBT Speakers At Trump's Convention

In the lead-up to and during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, we’ll be profiling some of the activists and politicians invited to speak at the event. Find more of our Meet the Speakers series here.

As Peter noted earlier today, speculation that Donald Trump may move the Republican Party into greater acceptance of LGBT people is hard to take seriously given the GOP platform committee’s approval this week of an exceptionally anti-LGBT platform, not to mention the anti-LGBT activists whom Trump himself has enthusiastically embraced in his quest for the presidency.

A preliminary list of this year’s Republican National Convention speakers should also put that idea to rest.

Along with the many businessmen and celebrity buddies of Trump who appear on the speakers list are a number of activists and politicians who have long records of anti-LGBT activism.

Jerry Falwell Jr., the son of Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell and one of Trump’s earliest endorsers from the Religious Right, has a speaking slot. Falwell is the head of Liberty University, the school founded by his father, which is well known for itsanti-gay politics and student policies discouraging homosexuality. Liberty University is closely affiliated with Liberty Counsel, the anti-gay legal group that represented Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis in her quest to defy the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling.

Also speaking will be three former GOP presidential rivals to Trump who are known for their anti-LGBT politics.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who hooked his presidential campaign on an appeal to Religious Right voters, will have a speaking slot. As we previously wrote , Huckabee managed to cover plenty of extremist ground just in his 2016 campaign:

After all, Huckabee had vowed to outlaw abortion with a sweeping presidential decree,promised to defy the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling before it criminalized Christianity and destroyed America, and literally turned Kentucky clerk Kim Davis’ release from detention into a campaign rally, volunteering to go to jail on her behalf. The former Arkansas governor even pledged to boycott Doritos because the company released rainbow-colored chips benefiting an LGBT suicide prevention group and starred in a bizarre anti-gay film.

Then there’s Ben Carson, who attracted plenty of attention during his presidential run forclaiming that prison rape proves that being gay is a choice. Carson insisted that “abnormal” LGBT people shouldn’t get “extra rights” and called for the impeachment of justices who back gay marriage. He also argued, as Brian has summarized, that the gay rights movement is “part of a wideranti-American, anti-God, anti-Constitution plot conjured up by communist subversives and the New World Order.”

Then there’s Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who, along with repeatedly lying about LGBT people, accused the gay community of waging a “jihad” against people of faith:

Cruz and Huckabee were both so eager to win the votes of anti-gay extremists that they attended a conference last year at which the organizer, radical pastor Kevin Swanson, repeatedly declared that the Bible demands that gay people be put to death.

And there are many more. Newt Gingrich, when he was running for president in 2011, signed the National Organization for Marriage’s candidate pledge to support a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality and said that he would reinstate “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” In 2008, Gingrich warned that "there is a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us, is prepared to use violence, is prepared to use harassment.” Mike Pence, who’s now being reported to be Trump’s vice presidential pick, has a long record of opposing LGBT rights, including signing a bill in Indiana last year that would authorize broad discrimination against LGBT people, before backing down under public pressure to amend the law.

While few sitting members of Congress are showing up to the convention, among those invited to speak are several with strongly anti-LGBT records. Just this year, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy personally twisted arms to ensure the last-minute defeat of a provision that would have protected LGBT people from employment discrimination from federal contractors, creating a chaotic scene on the House floor. Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee was instrumental in making the 2012 Republican platform reach new levels of anti-LGBT sentiment (although this year’s platform is even worse). Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, when she was a state legislator, tried to get a referendum on the ballot in an effort to overturn the state supreme court’s landmark marriage equality ruling. She has claimed she wants to leave the marriage issue to the states, but at the same time has said that she would support a constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage.

The Unforeseen Consequences Of Legalizing Gay Marriage? Glenn Beck And The Dilemma Of The Gay Bulls

While the Religious Right's dire predictions about what would happen in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling striking down anti-gay state marriage amendments last year have not come true, one possible consequence that nobody could have foreseen is now vexing Glenn Beck.

As Beck explained on his radio program today, he recently received a call from those who run his ranch in Idaho letting him know that his bull seems to have started a relationship with a bull owned by a neighbor.

Beck said that they had been forced to artificially inseminate many of the cows on his ranch because the bull that he owns has not been interested in mating with any of them and they couldn't figure out why. It turns out that a bull from a neighboring property has been escaping its pen and making its way onto Beck's property and the two bulls have now, as Beck put it, "become very close" and are regularly "enjoying each other's company."

"I don't know if they're going with the times or what," Beck quoted the person who runs his ranch as saying. "In all my years of doing this, I have never seen this before, but yes, they're [gay]."

This is creating a bit of a dilemma for Beck, who half-jokingly wondered if he is going to be sued for getting rid of this gay bull because it is not doing its job of impregnating his cows:

Faith Leaders Urge Senate Action on Supreme Court Vacancy

With the Senate Judiciary Committee holding its last business meeting until the Senate comes back to work in September with no action on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, faith leaders held a press call today announcing release of a statement calling on senators to end their obstruction.  The statement, which can be read below, is signed by over 40 national and state religious organizations representing a diverse group of faith traditions and beliefs and is being delivered today to Senate leadership. 

Key statements from today’s press call announcing the letter:

Harsh Voruganti, Esq., Executive Council Member, Hindu American Foundation:

“As faith leaders, we expect better from our Senators. We expect our Senators to fulfill their constitutional obligation to give fair consideration to the President’s nominee.  This means that the nominee should receive a prompt hearing, and a timely up or down vote, regardless of the party of the appointing President, or who controls the Senate.”

Nancy K. Kaufman, CEO, National Council of Jewish Women:

“Every aspect of our lives and the character of our democracy is impacted by judicial vacancies, none more so than the current vacancy on the Supreme Court.

“For those of us who increasingly depend on the court to protect our religious freedom and our rights as women, the ongoing vacancy is disastrous. That’s why people of faith, including NCJW, are mobilizing like never before to hold senators accountable to do their job.”

Minister Leslie Watson Malachi, Director of African American Religious Affairs, People For the American Way:

“Courts matter. As an African American woman, someone who has been involved in civil rights and civic engagement for over 30 years, the communities I am a part of have relied on the Supreme Court time and time again to protect our voting rights, our reproductive rights, and our fundamental rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

“I believe that the 2300 members of the African American Ministers Leadership Council, and all voters in this country, sent folks to the Senate to do what’s right, and not necessarily what’s easy. Yet this morning, during the last Senate Judiciary Committee executive committee meeting until September, the Senate again failed to do its job, which is to do what’s right – give fair consideration to Judge Garland – and stop doing what’s easy – being divisive and nonproductive on this critical issue.”

Rabbi Michael Namath, Program Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism:

“Pursuing justice means demanding a system of justice that provides equal protection and equal access for all. In setting up the Jewish people’s first judicial system, Jethro taught, ‘Judge the people at all seasons’ (Exodus 18:22). This text reminds us today that judgement must happen in all seasons, in all presidencies and in all congresses in order for our democracy to function and protect our constitutional rights.

Rev. Aundreia Alexander, Esq., Associate General Secretary, National Council of Churches: 

“The faith community holds views that are as far right as one can go, and equally extreme on the proverbial political left, but at our core are common values that affirm love, grace, mercy and the intrinsic value of all life.  One of our roles in society is to serve as a moral compass within the public square, and to call our leaders to account when they act in ways that are unfair or are self-serving.  Christian leaders have a responsibility to care for the holistic needs of the community as well as to speak truth to power and hold the 3 branches of government accountable. 

“The Supreme Court is the ultimate arbiter and interpreter of laws that are of vital importance to people of faith including immigration, voting, health care, etc. The plight of individual lives and society at large is too important for these issues to not be given the comprehensive examination and review that a fully functioning court provides. Therefore, as faith leaders in the United States, we declare that it is a moral imperative that the Supreme Court vacancy be filled.”

Interfaith Moral Message on US Supreme Court Vacancy

On behalf of our groups, representing a diverse group of faith traditions and beliefs, we urge the Senate to fulfill its constitutional responsibility and hold a swift hearing and vote on US Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland.

The constitution clearly assigns the Senate a crucial role in the judicial nominations process when it states that the President, “By and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint…Judges of the Supreme Court.” While many of our groups do not take positions on individual nominees, we stand united in our belief that the Senate’s duties regarding Supreme Court vacancies ought to be carried out in a timely fashion. The Senate’s ongoing delay in fulfilling this responsibility threatens the ability of our government to operate at full capacity and undermines our nation’s commitment to the pursuit of justice and democracy.

The 2015-2016 US Supreme Court term demonstrated the urgency of ensuring a full bench when a new term begins in October. The Court’s decisions have a major impact on core issues of American life, from healthcare to education to immigration and more. Only with a nine member Court can the split decisions that we saw this year be avoided and clear direction be provided.

We urge you to uphold your constitutional responsibility and expeditiously act on Judge Garland’s nomination by supporting confirmation hearings and a Senate floor vote.

Signatories,

National Organizations
African American Ministers Leadership Council
Anti-Defamation League
Bend the Arc Jewish Action
Central Conference of American Rabbis
DignityUSA
Franciscan Action Network
Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement
Hindu American Foundation
Individual Citizen of Gospel Peace
Interfaith Alliance
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Leadership Conference of Women Religious
National Council of Churches
National Council of Jewish Women
The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
Reconstructionist Rabbinical College/Jewish Reconstructionist Communities
Sadhana
The Shamayim V'Aretz Institute
Women of Reform Judaism
Union for Reform Judaism
Unitarian Universalist Association
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
Uri L'Tzedek

State/ Local Organizations
Courts Matter (Illinois)
Franciscans Sisters of Mary (Maine)
Hadassah, New Orleans (Louisiana)
The Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action (Massachusetts)
Jewish Community Relations Council of New Haven (Connecticut)
Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara (California)
JPIC Committee of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia (Pennsylvania)
The Imani Group, Inc. (South Carolina)
National Council of Jewish Women, Arizona Section (Arizona)
National Council of Jewish Women, Bergen County Section (New Jersey)
National Council of Jewish Women, California (California)
National Council of Jewish Women, Florida (Florida)
National Council of Jewish Women, Greater New Orleans Section (Louisiana)
National Council of Jewish Women Illinois State Policy Advocacy Network (Illinois)
National Council of Jewish Women, Long Beach (California)
National Council of Jewish Women, Los Angeles (California)
National Council of Jewish Women, Minnesota (Minnesota)
National Council of Jewish Women, New York (New York)
National Council of Jewish Women, Seattle Section (Washington)
National Council of Jewish Women, St. Louis (Missouri)
Ohio Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (Ohio)
SisterReach (Tennessee)
Temple Sinai (Louisiana)
Total Community Action, Inc. (Louisiana)

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PFAW Statement on Lack of Latino Voices at RNC

In response to the lack of Latino speakers listed on the Republican National Convention speakers list released this morning, Lizet Ocampo, People For the American Way Director of Latinos Vote!, released the following statement:

“The lack of Latino voices in the Republican National Convention lineup is jarring, but should surprise no one. The Republican Party is clearly the Party of Trump. Trump and his party have pushed anti-immigrant stereotypes and promoted mass deportation and anti-immigrant policies. Their election strategy has been to demonize immigrants to try to win elections, and if the lineup of anti-immigrant speakers is any indication, they’ll be doubling down on their bigotry in Cleveland next week.

“We know this won’t work. Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party elevate our voices, applaud the important contributions of immigrants to our country, and promote policies that support Latinos, women, and working families. That’s why come November, Latino voters will turn out in record numbers in support of those who stand with us.”

People For the American Way is a progressive advocacy organization founded to fight right-wing extremism and defend constitutional values including free expression, religious liberty, equal justice under the law, and the right to meaningfully participate in our democracy.

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Barber: US Christians Entering ‘An Age Of Hard Persecution’

On Monday’s episode of “Janet Mefferd Today,” anti-gay activist Matt Barber claimed that Christians are on the road to facing ISIS-style persecution in the U.S. and that liberals “attack the schools” and indoctrinate children into homosexuality and bisexuality.

When Mefferd asked Barber about “the origins of this war on Christianity” in America, Barber explained that it went all the way back to biblical times. Baal worshippers, he said, “sacrificed children, burned them at the altar of Baal, burned them alive. They had big orgies, heterosexual and homosexual orgies, they worshipped earth, they engaged in pantheism. You think of radical environmentalism today, you think of abortion, the sacrifice of children at the altar of so-called choice. You think of the rampant promotion and indoctrination of children into promiscuity and homosexuality and bisexuality and, I mean, you name it, anything goes anymore. That is as old as the worship of Baal.”

He warned that “hard persecution,” such as that suffered by the Christian victims of ISIS, is coming to America.

“No, we are not suffering the same kind of hard persecution, being beheaded and burned alive, that many of our brothers and sisters are around the world, particularly in Muslim countries,” he said, “but we are entering an age of hard persecution here, when now people are actually thrown in jail, fined tens of thousands of dollars, their livelihoods taken away. We are entering an age of hard persecution here in the United States and I believe it’s gonna get much worse before it gets any better.”

Trump Invites Anti-Government Extremist Sheriff To Speak At GOP Convention

In the lead-up to and during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, we’ll be profiling some of the activists and politicians invited to speak at the event. Find more of our Meet the Speakers series here

The Republican National Convention released a partial list today of the politicians, activists, C-list celebrities and Donald Trump family members who will be speaking at next week’s convention. What the speakers’ list lacks in establishment GOP leaders it makes up for in fringe activists. One name especially stands out: Sheriff David Clarke, the Milwaukee law enforcement officer who has made a name for himself hurling anti-Obama vitriol on Fox News and elsewhere while quietly cozying up to anti-government extremist groups.

Clarke, who is African American, has built a conservative following by enthusiastically bashing President Obama, his Justice Department, Hillary Clinton and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Clarke has called the Black Lives Matter movement “black slime” that “needs to be eradicated from the American society and the American culture,” “garbage” and a “subversive movement” that seeks to overthrow the government, and said that the movement is driven by “an ideology of victimhood with a list of grievances that do not exist.” He has dismissed concerns about police brutality by saying that “black criminal abuse, black criminal brutality” is “the real brutality going on in the United States.” The real problem in “the American ghetto,” he has said, is “modern liberalism.”

Clarke said that Michael Brown, the black teenager shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri, was a “co-conspirator in his own demise” because he “chose thug life.” After Sandra Bland, a black woman who had been thrown to the ground during a traffic stop, died in police custody, Clarke went on Fox News to chastise her. He said that he would have used even more force against a group of black teenagers who were thrown to the ground by police outside a public swimming pool in Ohio, telling people who saw a racial component in the action to “shut up already.”

Clarke has been colorful in his condemnation of President Obama and Hillary Clinton for sympathizing with the Black Lives Matter movement, calling them “straight-up cop haters.” He called Obama a “heartless, soulless bastard” for speaking up about “goons” killed by police and said that the Obama administration’s attempts to address racial disparities in policing were a plot to “emasculate the police” in order to impose dictatorial control.” He accused the president of worsening racial divides in the country by pitting “whites against blacks” and “Hispanics against Americans.”

The sheriff is also happy to throw red meat to his conservative audience on a number of other topics. After the Supreme Court struck down state marriage equality bans, Clarke called for a “revolution” to “get this country back,” complete with “ pitchforks and torches ,” urging his audience to launch a standoff against the federal government the next time a bakery or the like is fined for refusing business to a same-sex couple.

When Trump caused a national uproar when he attacked a judge because of his Mexican-American heritage, Clarke took to his radio show to defend the candidate.

Clarke first became a conservative hero when, in 2013, he aired radio ads in his county urging citizens not to rely on calling 911 but instead to learn to protect themselves against crime. Speaking at the National Rifle Association’s convention last year, he proposed adding a semi-automatic rifle to the Great Seal of the United States. Appearing on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ radio program, Clarke warned that a renewal of the federal assault weapons ban would lead to gun confiscations that would spark “the second coming of the American Revolution, the likes of which would make the first revolution pale by comparison.”

While Clarke has no patience for African Americans who have deadly run-ins with the police, he has repeatedly associated himself with anti-government militia groups who have staged armed standoffs with federal government agents or who threaten to defy federal law. Earlier this year, when a group of armed activists took over a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon, Clarke backed their cause, saying that the country had reached a “pitchforks and torches moment” that couldn’t be solved by an election.

In 2013, after he aired his ads discouraging citizens from relying on 911, Clarke accepted the “ Constitutional Sheriff of the Year” award from the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, an anti-government group that promotes the idea that county sheriffs are the highest law enforcement officers in the country and thus have the power to defy federal laws that they believe are unconstitutional. In his acceptance speech , Clarke declared that “government” was the “common enemy” of the “patriots” in the room. In a radio interview that year, he said that “on an everyday basis, to me, federal government is a bigger threat” than terrorism.

Just this year, Clarke spoke at a fundraising event for the New York chapter of the Oath Keepers, an anti-government group aligned with the Constitutional Sheriffs that urges law enforcement officers and military personnel to defy laws they believe are unconstitutional and encourages its members to form militias ready to defy an out-of-control federal government. At that event, Clarke called Black Lives Matter a “hate group” and vowed to do “everything I can” to get Trump elected president.

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