Washington, DC -- State and local budget crises and the election of anti-government ideologues have left taxpayers and communities increasingly vulnerable to predatory “privatization” of government services and public infrastructure. “Desperate government is our best customer,” says one finance company executive specializing in the privatization of public infrastructure. A new report from People For the American Way documents that the push to privatize public services and assets often reduces the quality of services, burdens taxpayers and threatens democratic government.
A copy of the full report, Predatory Privatization: Exploiting Financial Hardship, Enriching the One Percent, Undermining Democracy [pdf] is available here: http://site.pfaw.org/pdf/Predatory-Privatization.pdf
“The combination of budget deficits, anti-tax ideology, and financial predators can be deadly to the interests of citizens and communities,” said People For the American Way President Michael Keegan. “Right-wing anti-government and anti-union ideologues are exploiting tough economic times and taking advantage of desperate public officials. The public picks up the tab but gives up control and accountability. The public good should never be on the auction block. If citizens are not vigilant, they will end up paying a terrible long-term price for deals to plug short-term budget holes. ”
Among the examples examined in Predatory Privatization:
The report also gives individuals advice on how to protect the public interest by responding strategically to privatization schemes, including a set of crucial questions that public officials should be forced to answer before voting on any proposal.
Two weeks ago, Senate Democrats filed cloture on the Republican-led filibuster of the DISCLOSE Act, and failed to achieve the necessary 60 votes to bring the bill to the floor. Thus the DISCLOSE Act died once again, as it did in 2010, at the hands of Republican Senators who prefer obstruction and dark money over functionality and transparency. And unless there is an abrupt, unexpected reversal of the tide in the Senate, those who wish to bring a higher level of accountability to our democracy will, in the short term, have to explore alternative routes to bring about such reforms.
Those alternative routes exist in the federal agencies that interpret laws passed by Congress, but that so far have done a poor job in doing so correctly.
For confirmation of this, one need only look at the significant dilution of the McCain-Feingold Act of 2002, which had strict provisions requiring outside groups – including 501(c)(6)’s & 501(c)(4)’s – who participate in electioneering communications (any communication about a clearly identified candidate on satellite, T.V., or radio within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election to a relevant targeted audience) to disclose their donors. The Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling upheld this part of the law, with eight of the nine justices in agreement.
However, transparency would take a back seat with the Federal Elections Commission’s interpretation of the law, in which a loophole to disclosure was written into their regulations. That FEC regulation only requires disclosure of donors for 501(c)(4)’s and 501(c)(6)’s if those donors specifically earmark their donations for the purpose of electioneering communications. Thus as long as a donor does not require specifics for an organization on how to use their donation, disclosure of the donor’s identity is not legally required. Yet the disclosure provisions of McCain Feingold were not written – and were never meant to be interpreted – this way.
On April 2, 2012 Congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland’s 8th District won a lawsuit he filed against the FEC challenging the agency’s interpretation of the law. D.C. District Court Judge Amy Jackson found that the FEC had severely watered down existing legal requirements to disclose donors in campaign-related ads, stating “…Congress did not delegate authority to the FEC to narrow the disclosure requirement through agency rulemaking.” While Judge Jackson’s ruling is supposed to restore the statutory requirement that requires greater disclosure of the donors who provide funding for electioneering communications, it remains unclear that it will be implemented. Paul Ryan, FEC program director and associate legal counsel at the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center has assessed, “Unfortunately, it’s highly unlikely that this dysfunctional commission will heed the court’s order anytime soon.” Implementation will also be delayed further due to appeals from conservative groups.
Had Congress’ law had been implemented accurately, full disclosure would have been the reality of the 2010 congressional races, which instead were marred by over $135 million in undisclosed spending; and which continues to mar the current election cycle.
Another party at fault is the IRS, which has sat idly by as a number of overtly politically-based 501(c)(4)’s have engaged in an overabundance of election activity when they are supposed to be first and foremost social welfare organizations. It seems obvious to all that the primary activity of organizations like Crossroads GPS and American Action Network is to engage in political advocacy and spend hundreds of millions of dollars influencing elections. Due to IRS inaction on the issue, the donors of these organizations need not be publicly disclosed.
In June the IRS finally initiated steps to to investigate some of these organizations taking advantage of tax exempt status while at the same time being overly engaged in election processes, in particular Crossroads GPS. However it is unlikely that any actions or penalties will be taken or applied in the near future leaving these huge, undisclosed, tax-exempt pools of money to flood our electoral process for the foreseeable future.
Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, IRS regulations that implement Internal Revenue Code distort the intent of the law. As noted by Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center in a letter to IRS commissioners:
The Internal Revenue Code provides that section 501(c)(4) groups must engage "exclusively" in social welfare activities. … The regulations implementing this provision state, however, that "social welfare" organizations must be "primarily engaged" in social welfare activities.
If, as Congress intended, 501(c)(4) groups could achieve their tax-exempt status only by “exclusively” engaging in social welfare activities, the Crossroad GPS’s of the world would instantly have their (c)(4) statuses revoked. Instead, as we’ve witnessed with the tax-exempt status of the American Legislative Exchange Council, the big money players are able to indirectly charge the American taxpayer for their lobbying and political activity by not paying their fair share, benefitting their entrenched interests and not the country as a whole.
We must not give up on transparency in our democracy, especially if our electoral process is to remain awash in unlimited spending under the Citizens United ruling. In the not so distant past this was the dream of Republicans and Democrats alike. In his 2002 memoir “Worth Fighting For,” John McCain, a former champion of transparency, wrote “By the time I became a leading advocate of campaign finance reform, I had come to appreciate that the public's suspicions were not always mistaken. Money does buy access in Washington, and access increases influence that often results in benefiting the few at the expense of the many.” We await a return to this sober analysis by the GOP, and by the agencies who implement the laws Congress passes; the foundations of our republic are dependent on it.
Yesterday during In The Market, Dan Gainor of the right-wing Media Research Center and host Janet Parshall are the latest conservative activists to deny their movement’s history of supporting boycotts in order to attack gay rights groups protesting Chick-fil-A, agreeing that “conservatives generally are against boycotts” while freedom-hating liberals just can’t help themselves:
Gainor: This is a line in the sand for everybody listening, for every American right now: what country do we want to have, do we want to have people just say ‘well I don’t like what you believe so we’re going to destroy your business’?
Parshall: Exactly. Dan let me pick up on that point because I think it’s a great one. Paradoxically, in the midst of this brouhaha with Chick-fil-A comes the announcement that Amazon.com CEO and his wife give $2.5 million to Washington state for the same-sex marriage battle going on there. I tell you what, I get an awful lot of press releases all day long and I’m still waiting, I have yet to hear a Christian group that’s saying we’re going to boycott Amazon.com because their founder and CEO has decided to make a multimillion dollar contribution to battle against something that I happen to hold dear and believe in. So this tactic, unfortunately, seems to be one sided, one the one hand I guess I can understand it, and on the other hand, it’s just not the way Christians behave in the marketplace.
Gainor: Conservatives generally are against boycotts. We’ll boycott occasionally for something that’s really extreme. But we accept that people have different values and different opinions, that’s called democracy, we tend to like that and like our Constitution and like our freedom of speech.
Parshall: I couldn’t agree more.
Huh, that’s odd since the National Organization for Marriage is boycotting Starbucks and General Mills, and the American Family Association and the Catholic League are boycotting countless companies. In fact, the AFA’s One Million Moms has said “so long Amazon.”
Concerned Women for America, Parshall’s former employer which recently urged shoppers to stop shopping at Macy’s and once endorsed a boycott of Disney, just today sent an email to members warning them about shopping at…Amazon.com! While they claimed that the group “does not participate in boycotts,” they suggested members shop at their website instead of Amazon.com due to their CEO’s pro-gay rights contribution:
Now Amazon.com Founder and President Jeff Bezos is wading into the moral morass by offering 2.5 million investor dollars (unlike Amazon.com, Chick-fil-A is privately owned) to same-sex "marriage" advocates in Washington state in retaliation for the Cathy's religious stance. (We're also taking it personally, as Maureen Richardson, State Director for CWA of Washington, has fought like a lioness against the efforts of liberal legislators to redefine marriage.)
Concerned Women for America (CWA) is supporting the Chick-fil-A Day of Appreciation on August 1, 2012, in defense of a Christian family that is being absolutely excoriated by the mainstream media, public officials, private companies, and irate liberals for honoring their faith.
While CWA does not participate in boycotts, we understand that the brazen, politically correct move of Amazon.com's founder and president may trouble some of our members and supporters. If you feel uneasy shopping at Amazon.com, we would like to take this opportunity to remind you that our own store, www.shopcwfa.org, carries over 170,000 Christian titles, and part of every purchase goes back to CWA so we can continue to be your voice on Capitol Hill and in the culture.
Gainor’s MRC promoted boycotts against McDonalds and Ford that were organized by anti-gay groups, denouncing journalists for not giving them enough attention, and MRC head Brent Bozell lauded the Southern Baptists Convention’s boycott against Disney as the “correct” decision:
The Mouse answered with a spit in the face. The Disney-owned production company Touchstone, along with Disney-owned ABC television, brought America the most hyped, high-profile homosexual happening in entertainment history: "Ellen." To no one's surprise, on June 18 the 1997 SBC overwhelmingly voted to undertake an all-out boycott of Disney and its subsidiaries.
Bozell also said that boycotts are an important tool for pressure groups and commended groups like CWA for joining the cause:
It certainly grew on August 27 when Dr. James Dobson announced that his organization, Focus on the Family, would join the SBC, the Catholic League, Concerned Women for America (CWA), the American Family Association (AFA), and several smaller groups. The SBC claims 16 million members; Focus on the Family four million; the Catholic League, the AFA, and CWA several hundred thousand each. Add those numbers up and you've got an awful lot of parents whose entertainment dollars have bought a lot of Disney products for their children.
A Disney executive has said his company thinks of the boycott as analogous to "a gnat on an elephant." But remember this: gnats are persistent, and if you've ever been plagued by a cloud of them, you know you'll do almost anything to make them leave you alone. If the boycott reaches gnat-cloud proportions - which it probably will given the tenacity of the boycott's leaders - Michael Eisner, et al, will want to shoo it away, and fast. The good news is that Disney can do so simply by returning to the family-friendly product that won it a special place in American cultural history.
But forget all that, conservatives don’t boycott!
Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver and Matt Barber yesterday on Faith & Freedom said that legal abortion had a role in the Colorado movie theatre massacre. Staver maintained that America has been consumed by a “culture of death” that has led to recent shootings while Barber claimed that the “sacred cow of the left--abortion--they worship at the altar of euphemistic, so-called choice,” is partly to blame. Because of legal abortion, Barber said, “we have to expect these kinds of consequences.”
Today, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released a poll finding that more Americans favor than oppose legalizing same-sex marriage, confirming other polls which show rising support for marriage equality, and the Democratic Party is likely to endorse marriage equality in its party platform. But Pat Robertson today on the 700 Club derided the Democratic Party for having a “death wish” if they decide to back same-sex marriage since they will be “further alienating themselves from the mainstream of America.”
Robertson: About 2% of the population are homosexual, 1% of the population is lesbian. That’s a tiny group and every time this initiative has been brought to the ballot where the people have a chance to vote they vote overwhelmingly in favor of traditional marriage. For the Democrats to go out on that limb, it just seems like to me that they are further alienating themselves from the mainstream of America. If that’s what they want to do, fine, but it will mean the death knell of their party, it seems like to me, and of course that’s what they’re doing but maybe they have a death wish.
The anti-gay group Liberty Counsel has a history of supporting boycotts and organizing similar pressure campaigns, targeting companies like McDonalds, Pay Pal, Starbucks, Lowe’s and any retailer that doesn’t say the word “Christmas” enough. But much like their allies at the National Organization for Marriage and the American Family Association, LC now believes that boycotts and pressure campaigns are only acceptable if they are the ones organizing them. Objecting to protests against Chick-fil-A for its record of anti-gay advocacy and financing of anti-gay groups, LC now is running a petition denouncing potential boycotters.
LC’s Matt Barber, who led a news conference outside of McDonalds’ corporate headquarters protesting the company’s support for the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and declared that “anyone who supports traditional marriage should boycott McDonalds,” today attacked boycotters of Chick-fil-A while wondering if the Muppets are gay, linking homosexuality to pedophilia, and comparing same-sex couples to Christmas lights:
Forget about Bert and Ernie. I always thought Kermit the Frog was a little “light in the flippers,” if you know what I mean. Miss Piggy? Probably just cover (wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more). And, how about that perennial bachelor, Fozzie Bear? Wocka Wocka, indeed.
I don’t know.
Still, a recent move by The Jim Henson Company makes you wonder. In a distinctly knee-jerk, anti-family development, the Muppet mogul has severed promotional ties with Chick-fil-A – the booming fast-food chain and American Cinderella story. The multi-billion dollar company has stirred the ire of left-wing extremists in recent days.
Cathy’s statement was all it took. The “progressive” establishment had a mouth-frothing, water-meets-Wicked-Witch-of-the-West meltdown. They’ve charged the battlefield with that characteristic slash-and-burn, seek-and-destroy style and grace we’ve come to expect.
“Boycott Chick-fil-A!” shrieked the ever-tolerant, oh-so-enlightened sexual-anarchist troglodytes. “Bigots! Haters! Homophobes!” (You know; same pointless pap, different day.)
That’s the thing about liberalism – about political correctness. It exists in the realm of fantasy. It’s a barrier to truth. “Progressivism” comprises a farcical assortment of pseudo-utopian ideals that reflect how postmodern leftists want things to be, rather than how things actually are.
They float the propagandist idiom “marriage equality” – choosing all the while to ignore objective “marriage reality.”
So-called “same-sex marriage”? A counterfeit. It’s like taking a rotten apple, spray-painting it orange, and then calling it an orange. “Gay marriage” is no more real marriage then a rotten apple is an orange.
It’s unavoidable. Marriage is, by definition, the joining of two complementary opposites – two “others.” Consider Christmas lights. When you string them together you necessarily “marry” the male end with the female end. It defies logic and physics to try and force a male-male or female-female connection. There can be no real connection. Sure, you can employ some artificial mechanism – say, superglue or duct tape – to create a mock connection, but the lights don’t work, and the duct tape eventually gives out. Not to mention that it’s aesthetically off-putting.
“Gay marriage” is mock marriage. It’s fantasy – a dead end. Even a child knows this intuitively and, in their heart-of-hearts, lefties and “gay” activists know it, too. That’s why they respond so violently when people snicker at it or, as in the case of Dan Cathy, even respectfully acknowledge that it’s not grounded in reality.
In the wake of the Penn State scandal surrounding Jerry Sandusky’s homosexual assault on dozens of young boys, the Boy Scouts of America moved to protect children by re-affirming its prohibition against scoutmasters who live a homosexual lifestyle. Although they didn’t expressly indicate that Penn State influenced their decision, there can be little doubt it did.
As with the Chick-fil-A debacle, libs lost their collective noodle. Apparently, the only thing they hate more than Chick-fil-A is a “morally straight” 12-year-old who strives for integrity and merit.
So here’s my proposal: Don’t let a bunch of uber-obnoxious, loud-mouthed liberal pansies intimidate you. They’re nothing but a wet paper tiger. On Wednesday, Aug. 1, have your kids wear their Boy Scout uniforms to Chick-fil-A. Scoutmasters, bring ‘em all.
Washington, DC – The Senate GOP set an obstruction record today, for the first time in history successfully filibustering a federal appeals court nominee who had come out of the Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support. In a 56 to 34 vote, a partisan minority prevented the Senate majority from ending the filibuster of the nomination of Oklahoma’s Robert Bacharach to become a judge on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. No senator has actually spoken against Bacharach’s nomination, and he has received the strong support of both his home-state senators, Republicans Tom Coburn and James Inhofe. In an interview in June, Coburn called plans to block Bacharach’s nomination “stupid.” But even Coburn and Inhofe’s support evaporated when McConnell gave the command to filibuster: both Oklahoma senators voted "present," which in the case of a filibuster is the same as a "no" vote.
“If you need any further proof of the Senate GOP’s blind dedication to obstruction, this is it,” said Paul Gordon of People For the American Way. “Robert Bacharach should have been a shoe-in for a federal judgeship. His superior qualifications aren’t in dispute. His home-state senators, both conservative Republicans, fully support his nomination. Republicans aren’t even bothering to pretend he is controversial. For the first time in American history, we see a successful filibuster of a circuit court nominee who was approved by committee with bipartisan support – all because Sen. McConnell and his party are more interested in playing politics than in doing their jobs. So Americans in six states remain stuck with a circuit court without enough judges to deliver justice efficiently.
“With nearly 80 current vacancies in the federal courts, the Senate GOP should be doing everything in its power to help clear the nominations backlog, rather than making flimsy excuses for further obstruction. This absurd gamesmanship is not what Americans are paying our Senate to do.”
Last week, People For the American Way circulated this fact sheet on Bacharach’s nomination:
There has never been a successful filibuster of a circuit court nominee who was approved in committee with bipartisan support. A failed cloture vote on Tenth Circuit nominee Robert Bacharach would represent a massive escalation in obstruction.
Robert Bacharach should be a shoe-in
The “Thurmond Rule” is no excuse for blocking Bacharach
This is part of the GOP’s ongoing campaign of obstruction against consensus nominees
Vacancies are taking a toll on the Tenth Circuit (Oklahoma, Kansas, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado)
Last week, the Constitution Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. Senate held hearings entitled, “Taking Back Our Democracy: Responding to Citizens United and the Rise of Super PACs,” which examined the devastating Citizens United decision, and the need to amend the Constitution to overturn it. As acknowledged by the hearings’ participants – and as evidenced by the overflow crowd who came to see the hearing in person, as well as the 1.9 million petition signatures calling for an amendment that were delivered to the committee and on display in the room – these hearings were held in response to the growing grassroots movement across the country in support of constitutional remedies, and demonstrated a form of bottom-up democratic participation seldom witnessed in Washington.
As noted by the Executive Vice President of PFAW, Marge Baker, “… by holding these hearings, our elected representatives are honoring the millions of Americans who are calling for a Constitution that ensures that “We the People” means all the people, not just the privileged few.”
The first panel of the hearings featured testimony from Senator Max Baucus, Senator Tom Udall, Senator Bernie Sanders, and Representative Donna Edwards, all of whom have introduced amendment resolutions in the 112th Congress. Although their approaches differ, one theme remained consistent throughout their testimonies: since legislative remedies alone cannot undo the damage wrought by Citizens United, the amendment strategy must be employed to take back our democracy.
In his opening remarks, Senator Durbin, who chairs the Constitution Subcommittee, echoed the thoughts of many of his colleagues – currently 28 U.S. Senators are in support of an amendment, as are 92 U.S. Representatives – by stating, “After much deliberation, with some hesitation, I have reached the conclusion that a constitutional amendment is necessary to clean up our campaign finance system once and for all.”
Indeed, although we strongly advocate for an amendment that would restore the American people’s ability to regulate election spending, People For The American Way agrees that the amendment process should not be taken lightly. As we noted in the written testimony we submitted for the hearings:
Amending the United States Constitution is not something we recommend lightly, but the danger caused by the Roberts Court’s distortion of the First Amendment requires us to take corrective action. Some who are genuinely concerned about the threat to our democracy might nevertheless be reluctant to tamper with perhaps the greatest legal document in world history. As an organization that deeply respects the Constitution, we understand that reluctance, and we address this section of our comments to those of that view.
The American people, as shown by polling PFAW conducted on the issue, understand better than their elected representatives the need to support constitutional remedies to overturn Citizens United. The second panel of the hearings reflected this sentiment. It featured testimony from former Louisiana Governor and 2012 GOP presidential candidate Charles ‘Buddy’ Roemer and the celebrated legal scholar Professor Lawrence Lessig. As Professor Lessig stated in his testimony, “simply, the people have lost faith in their government,” and therefore deep reform is now necessary. Testifying at the request of the ranking Republican member of the subcommittee, Senator Lindsey Graham, was senior fellow of the Cato Institute, Ilya Shapiro. He opposed not only the amendment proposals in the hearings, but also the DISCLOSE Act, which Republicans recently blocked from coming to a vote in a highly partisan filibuster.
In a piece published last week, Senior Fellow of People For the American Way Professor Jamie Raskin stated, “The American people have been forced several times to amend the Constitution to reverse the damage caused by the Supreme Court when it acts in collusion with the enemies of social justice and popular democracy.” Professor Raskin then cited the Dred Scott decision, Minor v. Hapersett, and Breedlove v. Suttles all as cases that solidified unjust and undemocratic judicial systems; and all of which were later overturned by constitutional amendment.
It is up to the American people to ensure that Congress continues to examine the amendment strategy, and that Citizens United is added to that list. Video highlights of the hearings are featured below, while individual testimonies can be found on PFAW’s YouTube Page.
Earlier this month the American Family Association’s Buster Wilson, who loves floating false conspiracy theories, warned that Obama was creating his own “version of the Brownshirts” through a security program known as the National Defense Executive Reserve and has existed for decades. The AFA posted a video of Wilson entitled, “Is DHS Plotting A Civil War,” and then turned around and removed the video from their YouTube channel; fortunately, we grabbed the video.
Today on his program, Wilson reacted to reports that the Department of Homeland Security is “seeking riot gear for the presidential conventions and inauguration.” The DHS works to provide security for National Special Security Events, which include “presidential inaugurations, presidential nominating conventions, major sports events, and major international meetings” that are deemed security targets. Wilson went on to conflate the NDER program and the DHS decision to, as usual, provide security for the presidential inauguration and major party conventions, and claim he was “proven right” while Right Wing Watch was very wrong.
Unfortunately for Wilson, providing security for events like inaugurations and the Super Bowl is not the same as reestablishing the Brownshirts.
New York Times reporter Erik Eckholm has a big front-page story in Sunday’s paper on a case that readers of RWW are familiar with: the disappearance of Lisa Miller. Eckholm traveled to Nicaragua to talk with the Mennonite communities that have helped harbor Miller and her daughter Isabella on their flight from United States law enforcement and from Isabella’s other legal parent, Miller’s former partner Janet Jenkins of Vermont. Miller, who kidnapped her daughter rather than allow her to have visitation rights with Jenkins, has become a cause celebre among the Religious Right, a supposed victim of anti-Christian persecution.
Eckholm supplies us with an illuminating and creepy anecdote about a family of hamsters left to die in Miller’s abandoned house, and casts some light on the thinking of those who helped harbor Miller in Nicaragua. But there’s one important piece of the puzzle that remains a mystery: did Miller’s attorneys at Liberty University have anything to do with Miller’s disappearance? LU Law School dean Mat Staver tells Eckholm that he was surprised as anyone when Miller disappeared, as he has since it first became known.
But Liberty University’s relationship with Miller has always been a little complicated. Rena Lindevaldsen, an LU Law School dean and Miller’s attorney before she disappeared, has now written a book arguing Miller’s case. And even before Miller kidnapped with Isabella, Lindevaldsen and Staver were teaching Miller’s case as an example of a situation where the demands of “God’s law” trump those of “man’s law.” Religion Dispatches’ Sarah Posner talked with several students who had taken a required class from the two deans and got her hands on a copy of an exam that quizzed students on what to do in Lisa Miller’s situation:
Students at Liberty Law School tell RD that in the required Foundations of Law class in the fall of 2008, taught by Miller’s attorneys Mat Staver and Rena Lindevaldsen, they were repeatedly instructed that when faced with a conflict between “God’s law” and “man’s law,” they should resolve that conflict through “civil disobedience.” One student said, “the idea was when you are confronted with a particular situation, for instance, if you have a court order against you that is in violation of what you see as God’s law, essentially... civil disobedience was the answer.
This student and two others, who all requested anonymity for fear of reprisal by Staver (who is also the law school’s dean), recounted the classroom discussion of civil disobedience, as well as efforts to draw comparisons between choosing “God’s law” over “man’s law” to the American revolution and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail. According to one student, in the Foundations course both Staver and Lindevaldsen “espoused the opinion that in situations where God’s law is in direct contradiction to man’s law, we have an obligation to disobey it.”
That semester’s mid-term exam, obtained by RD [see excerpts of the actual exam here], included a question based on Miller’s case asking students to describe what advice they would give her “as a friend who is a Christian lawyer.” After laying out a slanted history of the protracted legal battle, the exam asked, “Lisa needs your counsel on how to think through her legal situation and how to respond as a Christian to this difficult problem. Relying only on what we have learned thus far in class, how would you counsel Lisa?”
Students who wrote that Miller should comply with court orders received bad grades while those who wrote she should engage in civil disobedience received an A, the three students said. “People were appalled,” said one of the students, adding, “especially as lawyers to be, who are trained and licensed to practice the law—to disobey that law, that seemed completely counterintuitive to all of us.”
Still, some knew what they needed to “regurgitate,” in order to get a good grade. “It was obvious by the substance of the class during the semester the answer that they wanted,” said one of the students. “The majority of people that I am acquainted with who did get As wrote that because that was expected of them.”
One of the students who got an A said, “I told them she needed to engage in civil disobedience and seriously consider leaving the country,” adding, “I knew what I needed to write.”
Given what was expected of them on the exam, and the tenor of the class, there is “not a lot of shock among the students about the current developments,” said one of the students, referring to the revelation that Miller is in hiding in Nicaragua. “Everybody semi-suspected that Liberty Counsel had something to do with her disappearance.”
Of course, we have no way of knowing what Liberty Counsel knew and when they knew it. But Posner’s reporting shows that it’s certainly worth looking into.
Pastor and radio host Kevin Swanson of Generations with Vision earlier this month expressed nostalgia for the Pilgrims’ approach to homosexuality, when it was punishable by death. On his radio show last week, longed for a time when Christians “brought the death penalty upon homosexuality” and “for about 1,500 years that form of life had pretty much been eliminated except here and there.”
Later in the program, Swanson and his co-host Dave Buehner talked about the backlash over Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy’s anti-gay statements, including denouncements from public officials and a decision by the Muppets to sever ties with the restaurant chain. They wondered if the Muppets support NAMBLA and if Kermit is “interested in another frog” instead of Miss Piggy and suggested that Chick-fil-A have a “frog filet” or a “Miss Piggy on a bun” to memorialize the Muppets’ decision to “take the sodomy route.”
Swanson: A Christian perspective ultimately brought the death penalty upon homosexuality between roughly 350 AD and roughly 1850 or so, for about 1,500 years that form of life had pretty much been eliminated except here and there, it was in the closet, but it was almost unheard of for over 1,000 years, until recently. Of course, now you have a massive, massive increase in this kind of thing.
Swanson: I say this is a really bad idea for somebody to stand up against the laws of God. Realize that this is a brave venture, this has been about a 30 year plan, a 40 year plan maybe, to completely consume America with a pro-homosexual agenda, and I just don’t think it’s going to last, I think you are going to see Jesus Christ coming up against this kind of thing, as we have said already about the Joe Paterno case.
Buehner: It’s pretty obvious to anyone who’s on looking that tolerance only runs one direction, you only can tolerate gays, you can’t tolerate those who don’t support gays.
Swanson: And Kermit the Frog is not eating Chick-fil-A either.
Buehner: No, they’re pulling out. Chick-fil-A had an association with the Muppets, a Happy Meals kind of thing. But Kermit the Frog doesn’t want to be there anymore, turns out that Kermit is not that interested in Miss Piggy, maybe he’s interested in another frog.
Swanson: Maybe Dan Cathy should consider doing a frog filet for one of the sandwiches.
Buehner: A frog filet?
Swanson: A frog filet, by commemoration of Kermit the Frog pulling out of his support for Chick-fil-A. Dave, you know that Sesame Street and the Muppets are going to take the sodomy route. I don’t know, do they support NAMBLA? I’m not sure, we should ask, we should ask if the Muppets support NAMBLA.
Buehner: I don’t think the frog filet will sell, just a little marketing advice, I think Miss Piggy on a bun, that’s a better bet, the winner.
Swanson: Miss Piggy on a bun, that sounds good, a fried pig on a bun.
Buehner: Sausage, a little bacon.
Swanson: Piggy on a bun. Well folks, it’s good news we have some organizations like Chick-fil-A.
One of the major backers of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s expansive private school voucher program was Rev. Gene Mills of the Louisiana Family Forum, who also endorsed Jindal’s plan to exempt private schools receiving vouchers from participating “in the state testing and accountability program imposed on traditional and charter public schools.” Private schools receiving vouchers under the program, the vast majority of which are religious schools, are free from the requirement to have their students pass state exams to advance to the next grade level and won’t even receive state letter grades meant to evaluate student performance. Through the voucher program, Mills may finally get his wish of teaching creationism in schools as many of the voucher schools teach “bible-based math” and creationism in place of evolution, using the Loch Ness Monster as proof, all with taxpayer funding.
Mills is so close to the governor that he even prayed over Jindal at his organization’s Christmas Gala:
Just in case you need even more evidence that Louisiana’s voucher program was more about financing religious schools than improving student performance, Mills told David Barton and Rick Green today on WallBuilders Live that the program will increase student exposure to “religious material” and “release the Word of God” to children.
And who is rallying the opposition from the “teachers unions and the government bureaucrats”? Why, Satan of course. “There is no doubt it’s going to have its impact and it’s going to hit its target and it’s going to strike fast, and that’s why the Enemy is kicking back,” Mills said, “He realizes what’s going to happen when all of the sudden these kids come into a knowledge unlike their former secular humanist seminary, they are being rooted and grounded in foundational and fundamental, timeless principles that can change a person’s eternity.”
Mills: I think one of the undercurrents that you can’t see but it was one of the reasons that the Louisiana Family Forum weighed in so heavily, is that it has the effect—the further you get away from those options we talked about a moment ago, away from public school, away from the public charter school, away from the public virtual school, and into the private or parochial school—it has the effect of removing the federal court’s jurisdiction from decisions that are made in how that school operates and/or is governed.
For those of us who have a faith background, the idea that the truth can still set kids free, can you imagine what would happen if you uncapped religious clubs, religious speech, student body prayer, religious material, as is the case in most private or parochial schools.
Green: You hit the nail on the head with this because isn’t that the real underlying challenge in America right now? Because, we’ve had now several generations come through an education system void of values, where right and wrong aren’t taught, anything goes, everything is OK, you and up with a society like this. You get half these kids going through a school system where there is a set of values, where there is a right and wrong. It’s not just reading, writing and arithmetic they’re gonna do better, they’re gonna become better people.
Mills: That’s exactly right. I don’t even know if the governor, who is a person friend of mine and we’ve worked closely on this, fully comprehends how imperative or how essential that component is. When you remove the federal courts and you release the power of the word of God, there is no doubt it’s going to have its impact and it’s going to hit its target and it’s going to strike fast, and that’s why the Enemy is kicking back. He realizes what’s going to happen when all of the sudden these kids come into a knowledge unlike their former secular humanist seminary, they are being rooted and grounded in foundational and fundamental, timeless principles that can change a person’s eternity. They will be equipped, and they’ll be educated along the way too, but they’ll be filled with character capable of making insightful decisions towards the future.
I gotta tell you, that’s one of the reasons I believe that what the governor has called the ‘coalition of the status quo’ has raised so many points of opposition, they want to divert attention from their chronic failure throughout the years and they also want to divert attention from what has fundamentally taken place, in Louisiana we’re separating child and state and it’s resulted in traumatic stress amongst the teachers unions and the government bureaucrats but it’s a healthy thing.
Americans for Truth About Homosexuality’s Peter LaBarbera continued his discussion with Liberty University Law School’s Rena Lindevaldsen on Friday. The two revisited the topic of openly gay judges, specifically the Virginia prosecutor who was rejected from a judgeship simply because he was gay. That discrimination was ok, Lindevaldsen said, because “if you’re engaged in a lifestyle of immorality, whether that be a homosexual lifestyle or an adulterous relationship or fornication, that’s not the type of moral character that I believe should be someone who’s being appointed to become a judge”:
Lindevaldsen: I think we can equate this not only with the judiciary, but the same debate is taking place, you know, who we want to serve as our schoolteachers, for example. We want moral, upstanding individuals to serve as judges, and this debate’s taking place with schoolteachers too. So if you’re engaged in a lifestyle of immorality, whether that be a homosexual lifestyle or an adulterous relationship or fornication, that’s not the type of moral character that I believe should be someone who’s being appointed to become a judge.
I think it goes to fit moral character and I think that the necessary qualification of any judicial appointment. And therefore it is relevant, based on your conduct, to judge and decide whether you should be allowed to sit in the judiciary.
Immediately after Lindevaldsen and LaBarbera made the case that gay judicial nominees should be defined by and excluded for their sexual orientation, they changed the rules when it came to another prominent example of an openly gay person in public life. Lindevaldsen and LaBarbera heaped scorn on gay rights activists who have had the nerve to call the late Sally Ride, who lived for 27 years with her same-sex partner, a gay pioneer. Emphasizing Ride’s sexual orientation, LaBarbera said -- expanding on a tweet from shortly after her death --would be like defining her as an alcoholic if she had a drinking problem:
LaBarbera: They’re always using opportunities to promote what their version of reality on homosexuality. And really quickly, Sally Ride, another great example. Sally Ride was the first female astronaut, the first…and she had many amazing accomplishments. Unfortunately she also fell into lesbianism and left her husband, she was married, she ended up living in a lesbian lifestyle. She was not public about it. Now gay activists, like Michelangelo Signorile, are using her homosexual, you know, the fact that she practiced the homosexual lifestyle, to say, ‘Hey, this is another gay hero.”
Kirkwood: She was a female astronaut, now she’s the ‘lesbian astronaut.’
LaBarbera: Now she’s the lesbian astronaut, and you better believe in textbooks like in California where they’re teaching gay history now, there’s going to be Sally Ride. So people are going to learn Sally Ride as a, and we’re going a bit over here, they’re going to learn Sally Ride, Rena, as a gay hero, even though she wasn’t even public about it in her life.
Lindevaldsen: Yeah, because they need to contort our history to show that we’ve accepted this all along and that it’s perfectly normal, and see you too can do this and become great things. And you can, you can accomplish things, but that’s not who she was, that doesn’t define who she was and what she accomplished.
LaBarbera: And Rena, I tweeted, and I knew this was going to get me in trouble, but I tweeted, ‘Did she have a drinking problem too?’ In my tweet, I said that she made great accomplishments. But she should not be, and I didn’t, of course she doesn’t, I don’t know if she had a drinking problem or not, but my point was the fact that she practiced homosexuality would be about as relevant as saying, ‘Sally Ride, hey people who drink can be great.’ I mean it’s still immoral behavior, it’s very sad to me that she was involved in that lifestyle. The fact that she was in that lifestyle doesn’t take away from the great accomplishments that she had. But the point is gay identity politics now wants to seize her as a hero.
Pastor Robert Jeffress has been making the rounds to defend Chick-fil-A’s anti-gay advocacy with claims that gays lead a “miserable lifestyle” and telling his congregants to support “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day”:
"The liberals have gone into a frenzy," said Jeffress. "Their first response was to try to stop the expansion of businesses with which they disagree. That should be of great concern for every American," he added.
The pastor, who last year made headlines for saying Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is not a Christian and Mormonism is a cult, also urged his church members to support the Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day on Aug. 1.
"Let's go to Chick-fil-A this Wednesday to support religious freedom in America,'" said Jeffress. Supporters of traditional marriage and fans of Chick-fil-A are expected to head to their nearest chain restaurant on Aug. 1 to encourage Cathy.
His Pathway to Victory radio ministry also replayed one of his an anti-gay sermons on Friday, where he warned that homosexuals, since they are “perverse,” could begin to molest children since “if a person will sink that low” then “there is no telling to whatever sins he will commit as well.”
Jeffress: Amazingly, some gay activists don’t even try to hide the link between homosexuality and pedophilia. There are some who are right now are actively involved in trying to legalize sex between adults and children by lowering the age of consent or removing it altogether. In all fairness, it would be wrong to suggest that all homosexuals to pedophiles, it would be wrong to even suggest that a majority of homosexuals are pedophiles, but the truth nevertheless is there. There are a disproportionate amount of assaults against children by homosexuals than by heterosexuals, you can’t deny that, and the reason is very clear: homosexuality is perverse, it represents a degradation of a person’s mind and if a person will sink that low and there are no restraints from God’s law, then there is no telling to whatever sins he will commit as well.
A number of prominent women leaders of the Religious Right have come together for the American Prayer Initiative, which is “designed to help draw ‘we the people’ of this nation back to the One upon whom she was founded.’ The group includes the National Day of Prayer’s Shirley Dobson and Vonette Bright, talk show host Janet Parshall, Liberty Counsel’s Anita Staver, Concerned Women for America’s Penny Nance, Susan B. Anthony List’s Marilyn Musgrave, activist Rebecca Hagelin and Susan Allen, wife of Virginia’s George Allen. The group offers members a specific prayer for every day of each month until Election Day, including prayers condemning homosexuality and the separation of church and state.
One message asks participants to pray for God’s “healing for those who struggle with same-sex attraction” and to “replace unnatural affections”:
We pray for healing and restoration of true manhood and womanhood in America. We ask for Your wisdom and protection against attempts to re-define our very identity as men and women.
We pray for Your design for abundant and fulfilled manhood, womanhood and marriage to gain preeminence in America.
We pray for a full restoration of the image and definition of manhood and womanhood in America.
We petition You, God for Your healing for those who struggle with same-sex attraction. May they come to know Your power, Your mercy and Your love as You replace unnatural affections with ones You Yourself designed.
Another is a prayer to oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage:
We pray that the union of one man and one woman will be embraced by all societies as the sole form of legitimate marriage and the proper basis of family.
We ask that the power of Your hand intervene to transform and heal the hearts of those who would attempt to re-define marriage.
The group also sends a message criticizing the influence of judges and proponents of the separation of church and state:
We ask for leaders, a judicial system and judges who adhere to the original intent of our founding documents and their many connections to Biblical principles.
We pray for a true understanding of justice according to Your Word We pray for Your protection from attempts to redefine justice for political gain.
We ask You to convict, transform and protect those who are out of Your will. We ask You to encourage, strengthen and protect those who honor and follow You.
We ask You for judges who will follow constitutional principles rather than ruling according to pre-chosen outcomes or relying on international law.
We pray that courts will recognize parents’ fundamental rights to the care, custody and control of their children.
We ask for Your guidance for accurate rulings over first amendment issues, and an awareness in our country that the words, “separation of church and state” are found nowhere in any one of our founding documents. We ask for a reversal of rulings which have inaccurately established “separation” as a Constitutional principle.
There is even a prayer against a media looking “to bring our country down by bringing our culture down”:
We ask you, Lord, to open greater and greater opportunities for Your Gospel to flow freely across our airwaves.
We ask, Lord, for You to grant Americans the wisdom to discern truth from deception.
We pray for those in the entertainment industry that they may better serve the families of our country by creating programs and movies that are uplifting in nature and extol positive virtues.
We especially pray Your blessings upon those in media, entertainment, the arts and journalism who are driven by loyalty to You. We ask for favor and acceptance for their work.
We ask You to raise up, equip, and abundantly provide for Your true disciples in the media, the arts, entertainment and journalism.
We pray for honesty in journalism.
We pray for those who would intend to bring our country down by bringing our culture down.
We ask you to foil the plans of those who would bring others down in any form.
We ask for Your transforming power in the lives of those who would divide, deceive and destroy.
On his radio show today, the American Family Association’s Buster Wilson tried to explain the AFA’s rather inconsistent view of boycotts. As we’ve reported, the organization is attacking gay rights supporters for boycotting Chick-fil-A even as the AFA itself is leading a boycott of Home Depot and countless other companies for backing “the pro-homosexual movement.” According to Wilson, “Chick-fil-A is neutral in the culture war” and is “not trying to influence the culture war, not trying to influence what’s going on in the culture”:
Besides Chick-fil-A’s anti-LGBT workplace policies and president Dan Cathy’s well documented anti-gay views, the company’s charitable arm has given millions of dollars to anti-gay groups. Organizations receiving money include openly and undeniably political, right-wing organizations like Focus on the Family, Eagle Forum, Family Research Council, the Alliance Defense Fund and Exodus International, an ‘ex-gay’ group.
To say that Focus, Eagle Forum, ADF, FRC or Exodus are neutral in the culture war is patently absurd.
In that case, Wilson’s own AFA must be “neutral” too!
Grove City College professor Paul Kengor is out with a new book, The Communist, which examines President Obama’s relationship with his grandfather’s friend Frank Marshall Davis, who has become the nexus of several right-wing conspiracy theories.
In an interview with American Family Radio’s Sandy Rios this week, Kengor went into detail about the “amazing” similarities between Davis and Obama, including what he claims is their “hate” for Winston Churchill. Kengor and Rios went on to recount the favorite right-wing story that “one of the first things” Obama did as president was remove a bust of Churchill from the Oval Office and send it back to England.
Kengor imagines that when this imaginary diss of the British leader took place, “Churchill rolled over in his grave” and “Frank Marshall Davis leapt up in his grave and laughed and saluted.”
Kengor: Well, I dug into the Chicago Star writings, the Honolulu Record writings, and you see here in Frank Marshall Davis a man who constantly bashed Wall Street, excess profits, capitalism, the rich, GOP tax cuts, General Motors, was calling for taxpayer funding of public works projects and universal healthcare, was trashing Winston Churchill. I mean, here’s a thought for you: name two Americans who hate Winston Churchill. Well, I couldn’t have done that five years ago. Now I can give you two: Barack Obama and Frank Marshall Davis. The similarities are amazing.
Rios: Well, and evidenced by, you know, one of the first things Barack Obama did, you and I both know but others might not, that he removed the bust of Winston Churchill from the White House. Sent it back to Great Britain!
Kenger: Unbelievable. Unbelievable and so many Americans just yawned when that happened. I mean, Churchill rolled over in his grave when that happened. Frank Marshall Davis leapt up in his grave and laughed and saluted when that happened, because Davis despised Winston Churchill, called him, like Harry Truman, called him a ‘fascist,’ a ‘racist,’ an ‘imperialist,’ a ‘colonialist,’ every name in the book. And to imagine that today, Frank Marshall Davis must be looking at the results of November 2008 and seeing all these young people that voted for Obama and all these old, one-time Cold War anti-communist Democrats and all these moderates and independents and he must just be laughing so hard that he can hardly control himself at what’s happened.
For the record, here is a photo the White House posted today of Obama and British Prime Minister looking at the Churchill bust outside the Oval Office in 2010:
Update: White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer clarifies that there were at one point two busts of Winston Churchill in the Oval Office area. One, which was a gift to George W. Bush, was removed when President Obama took office to make room for a bust of Lincoln. The other, which has been in the White House since the 1960’s, remains. And the argument that President Obama’s change of Oval Office décor signals a “hatred” for Churchill remains absurd.
Former congressman Virgil Goode (R-VA), best known for his malicious attacks on Muslims and immigrants, is running as the Constitution Party’s candidate for president. While as a third party candidate he likely to get little support, Public Policy Polling in a recent survey of Virginia voters found that “Goode is pulling 9% of the vote, bringing Romney down seven points to 35% and hardly moving Obama to 49%.” Goode yesterday in an interview with Steve Deace, a conservative talk show host and Romney critic, said that he seeks to exploit Romney’s flip-flops on issues like abortion rights, gay rights and gun control to win voters who want to support a candidate who “hasn’t wavered on pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, Second Amendment and those things.”
“Do you trust someone that’s been in many different positions on those three key areas or do you trust someone that has a solid record,” Goode told Deace, “and I’d submit that my record in terms of consistency is much more consistent than Governor Romney’s.”
People will wake up and see there’s not much difference between Romney and Obama. You’ve got a choice for a true conservative, one that will stand up, that hasn’t wavered on pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, Second Amendment and those things. If they wake up and see the differences and want somebody that’s not going to be just a weak, soft difference between Obama and Romney, somebody that’s got a solid record, they’ll vote for me and we could carry Virginia and we could carry some other states too.
On your social issues, it’s a question of how much do you trust Romney. If you believe that he’s made a complete conversion on right to life and on gay marriage, then he is better than Obama. But I would wonder if Romney got in office if he would do like he did as governor of Massachusetts, you know he ordered the issuance of the first gay marriage certificates in Massachusetts as governor, I would hope that he wouldn’t revert to that but I don’t know if you could trust him. I mean, I have a solid record of opposing gay marriage and I have a solid pro-life voting record and I don’t think you’d have to worry about me with the Second Amendment either because I know Romney at one time was opposed to so-called assault weapons and then he said some negatives about the NRA but now he says he is pro-NRA. Do you trust someone that’s been in many different positions on those three key areas or do you trust someone that has a solid record, and I’d submit that my record in terms of consistency is much more consistent than Governor Romney’s.