At the end of April we learned that the Benghazi Select Committee had become so desperate in its quest to uncover groundbreaking information on the 2012 attacks on Americans in Libya that it had requested that the Department of Defense track down a caller to a right-wing radio show.
Specifically, the committee sought to speak with “John from Iowa,” a drone camera operator who had called into Sean Hannity’s radio program to talk about what he saw on the night of September 11, 2012 in Benghazi.
Yesterday “John” testified before the committee and South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, the committee’s Republican chairman, issued a press release trumpeting the accomplishment. However, Gowdy left out one significant detail.
Committee Democrats noted that “there is a gaping hole in the Republican press release—it completely ignores the fact that ‘John from Iowa’ provided virtually no substantive information we didn’t already have.” They continued, “To the contrary, he referred us back to the same videos the Pentagon made available to the Select Committee more than a year ago.”
The vast majority of the Republican release simply complains about not getting access to “John from Iowa” quickly enough, without noting they waited 18 months to even request the interview.
The argument stemming from “John from Iowa’s” testimony fits a continued pattern for the Benghazi Select Committee. Gowdy complains about process, while after more than two years of work and $7 million spent, his investigation produces no new information about the Benghazi attack or its aftermath.
MILWAUKEE – During a press conference today, Wisconsin Latino leaders spoke out against Donald Trump’s racist attacks against Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel and challenged Sen. Ron Johnson’s decision to hold open the Supreme Court vacancy for Trump to fill.
Responding to Trump’s statements that a federal judge couldn’t be fair based simply on his Mexican-American heritage, Sen. Johnson and House Speaker Paul Ryan criticized Trump, yet the two are backing Trump’s presidential bid and Johnson continues to hold the Supreme Court seat open for Trump to fill by refusing to give fair consideration to Supreme Court nominee Judge Garland. Ryan continues to ignore the ongoing bigotry of Trump’s campaign by categorizing Trump’s latest racist attacks as “out of left field.”
Wisconsin State House Representative JoCasta Zamarripa:
“As a legislator, I work on issues critical to the community I represent, whether that’s working to combat discrimination, support immigrant families, protect voting rights. Donald Trump stands against everything that we stand for.
“Ron Johnson has said that he won’t support Trump if he “crossed a line.” How is it possible that launching racist attacks against a federal judge doesn’t cross the line? And how can Johnson justify holding open the Supreme Court vacancy for someone who shows such disregard to our courts and the Constitution?”
Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director of Voces de la Frontera:
“Trump’s racist comments against Judge Curiel exposes the true character of the man. He is both a bully and a fraud. He is a bully because he uses personal attacks and threats to try to get his way, and he is a fraud because he is a swindler through projects like Trump fake University, his string of bankruptcies, and his made-in-China products.
“The failure of Senator Johnson and US Speaker Paul Ryan or Governor Walker to pull their support, is dangerous. Their own policy proposals are a dressed up version of Trump’s, but Trump’s appeal to growing a white supremacist movement through hate and violence, is a threat that extends beyond an election, and should be aggressively condemned and marginalized.”
Freya Neumann, Citizenship Coordinator at Voces de la Frontera:
“I came to this country almost 40 years ago from Mexico, and I became a naturalized citizen to challenge stereotypes and combat the racism I experienced and witnessed far too often in Milwaukee. Sadly, in 2016, racism has increased because of Trump’s hate campaign.
“I am though so happy to see many people who are becoming US citizens because like me, they understand that they must stand up to racism by education, voting, speaking out, and demonstrating. Shame on our Wisconsin Republican leaders who disagree with Trump’s message but continue to support him as president; for the US constitution, the founding document of this nation, upholds the ideal that all people are created equal.”
Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way:
“We now know that Trump has no problem launching racist attacks against judges, and we know that President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Garland is superbly qualified and has earned significant praise from Democrats and Republicans alike. So why is Ron Johnson holding open the Supreme Court vacancy for a Trump nominee instead of calling for hearings and a vote for Judge Garland?
“It’s time to call the question: Senator Johnson needs to support a fair process for Judge Garland, or else he stands in solidarity with Trump’s racist attacks on our judiciary. He can’t do both.”
For follow-up questions or interviews, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donald Trump-loving right-wing pastor and conspiracy theorist Carl Gallups appeared on TheDove TV's "Focus Today" program yesterday, where he called upon sheriffs to tell managers of Target stores in their communities that they will be arrested if they follow the company policy of allowing transgender individuals to use facilities that match their gender identity.
Bragging that he is a "sworn special deputy" in Arizona under extremist Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio, Gallups also called upon sheriffs all over the nation to arrest anyone who follows Obama administration guidelines for respecting the rights of transgender students.
Falsely claiming that the Obama administration's policy allows male teachers or janitors to take showers with female students, Gallups declared that he "is calling upon sheriffs all over this nation: man up!"
"Sheriffs needs to go to Target managers operating in their counties," Gallups proclaimed, "and say, 'I am the chief constitutional law enforcement officer of this county. If a man purposely goes into the women's room in your store, I will arrest the man and I will arrest you, mister manager, for aiding and abetting in a crime."
Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., devoted her speech at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority conference today to telling activists not to lose faith in the political process and to remember that elected officials — or, more specifically, Republican elected officials — know that America needs a “moral and spiritual foundation in order to survive and thrive.”
She had a message for those who think that “politics is a dirty business”: “If people of faith are not involved in political life, then you’re leaving it to the Philistines. And I’m not willing to leave it to the Philistines.”
Speaking today at the Road to Majority conference, an annual event hosted by Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a fierce immigration opponent in Congress who helped craft Donald Trump’s immigration policy, referred to a handful of Bible stories to declare that immigration reform advocates’ position, which he characterized as that nations can’t “establish who can and can’t enter,” is “not biblical.”
Sessions spoke of the biblical figure of Nehemiah, who rebuilt the walls in Jerusalem after obtaining traveling papers from the king of Persia, and referred to another story, which although Sessions seems to have gotten the details mixed up, seems to be the tale of the Israelites being barred by the king of Edom from crossing his land.
“So the idea that nations don’t set laws, establish who can and can’t enter, is not biblical in my opinion. Nations do that and they’ve done it since time immemorial and there’s nothing wrong with it,” he said.
Today, Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, went on yet another anti-trans rant, this time at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority conference in Washington, D.C.
The congressman spent most of the time criticizing sex reassignment surgery, saying that the practice will “destroy people’s lives.”
“Now this administration says, ‘We’re going to have the V.A. do sex change operations.’ Really?!” he asked. “Do we not have enough veterans committing suicide without you increasing that 20 times? Enough is enough! We have to stand up for our veterans. We’re the adults. We have to stand up for our children.”
After spending the entire program telling his studio audience that America is utterly doomed regardless of whether Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton becomes president, Beck tried to leave them "with a little bit of hope" by explaining that the parting of the Red Sea was "God's Empire State Building."
Just as man took things that already existed and used them to construct the Empire State Building, God took the wind and used it to part the Red Sea, Beck explained. He said that God is also capable of taking nothing and turning it into something, as He did with the atom, but both efforts require God's full attention because if He turns away, they collapse.
Similarly, Beck has been trying to build some "revolutionary" things, but they require his full attention because "when we want do to a revolution, we had better stay in all the time — go, go, go, go, go, go, go — because if you let go and you turn your face, it goes back to its natural space."
"God really helps those who are doing a revolutionary thing," Beck declared. "As long as we are putting all of our power into it, He has to be there every step of the way, putting all of His power in us as well."
Pat Buchanan, who wrote a column earlier this week decrying the “lynching” of Donald Trump over his racist remarks about a federal judge, discussed the issue further in an interview yesterday with talk radio host Mike Gallagher.
Gallagher asked Buchanan if he found “any merit” in criticism of Trump for saying that the judge hearing a fraud suit against his Trump University is biased because he’s Mexican-American.
“I really don’t,” Buchanan said. “I mean, I can I understand why they would say that Donald Trump shouldn’t have suggested that it’s because he’s a Mexican-American that he’s biased against him, but I think that’s Trump’s point.”
“Look, let me just say this,” he said. “Donald has a perfect reason to believe he might be having this thing stuck to him right in the middle of a campaign, this guy dropping all these documents, etc. Secondly, and it might well be because the judge is a Mexican-American that he really does not like Donald Trump. There’s an awful lot of Mexican-Americans and, indeed, former presidents of Mexico who have said that they can’t stand the guy. But the basic point is, if Trump believes this, and it may be true, what is he supposed to do if he said what he believes to be true and now everybody wants him to apologize for a statement he believes to be true?”
Buchanan made a similar argument in his column today, adding that because “Hispanic rioters” have protested outside Trump rallies, Trump is right to be suspicious of a Mexican American judge.
He also favorably compared Trump’s stand against “political correctness” to Barry Goldwater’s refusal to vote for the Civil Rights Act of 1964:
Assume, as we must, that Trump believes what he said.
Why, then, should he apologize for speaking the truth, as he sees it?
To do so would be to submit to extortion, to recant, to confess to a sin he does not believe he committed. It would be to capitulate to pressure, to tell a lie to stop the beating, to grovel before the Inquisition of Political Correctness.
Contrast Trump with Paul Ryan, who has buckled pathetically.
The speaker says Trump's remark about Judge Gonzalo Curiel being hostile to him, probably because the judge is Mexican-American, is the "textbook definition of a racist comment."
But Ryan's remark raises fewer questions about Trump's beliefs than it does about the depth of Ryan's mind.
We have seen a former president of Mexico curse Trump. We have heard Mexican-American journalists and politicians savage him. We have watched Hispanic rioters burn the American flag and flaunt the Mexican flag outside Trump rallies.
We are told Trump "provoked" these folks, to such a degree they are not entirely to blame for their actions.
Yet the simple suggestion that a Mexican-American judge might also be affected is "the textbook definition of a racist comment"?
The most depressing aspect of this episode is to witness the Republican Party in full panic, trashing Trump to mollify the media who detest them.
To see how far the party has come, consider:
After he had locked up his nomination, Barry Goldwater rose on the floor of the Senate in June of 1964 and voted "No" on the Civil Rights Act. The senator believed that the federal government was usurping the power of the states. He could not countenance this, no matter how noble the cause.
Say what you will about him, Barry Goldwater would never be found among this cut-and-run crowd that is deserting Trump to appease an angry elite.
These Republicans seem to believe that, if or when Trump goes down, this whole unfortunate affair will be over, and they can go back to business as usual.
Sorry, but there is no going back.
The nationalist resistance to the invasion across our Southern border and the will to preserve the unique character of America are surging, and they have their counterparts all across Europe. People sense that the fate and future of the West are in the balance.
Larry Pratt, the former executive director of Gun Owners of America, added Hillary Clinton this week to the list of public officials who he has warned will face violence from gun owners if they impose regulations on guns.
Pratt, who said last month that if conservatives lose at the “ballot box” they might “have to resort to the bullet box,” said in an interview on the “Crosstalk” radio program on Tuesday that Clinton’s support for some gun regulations may be an attempt to disarm civilians so that she can impose tyranny.
The Second Amendment means, he told Clinton, that “if you even try to go off in a tyrannical direction, the Constitution protects the people’s right to protect the people themselves against people like you.”
What she’s telling me is that she may understand the meaning of the Second Amendment, which is even scarier, because the Second Amendment is meant to tell people like her that might be thinking about going off in a tyrannical direction: ‘Don’t even think about it.’ Because the Second Amendment has recognized the right people have to possess the kind of firearms that your protectors have, Mrs. Clinton, and if you even think, if you even try to go off in a tyrannical direction, the Constitution protects the people’s right to protect the people themselves against people like you.
In an appearance yesterday on “The Jim Bakker Show,” Curves gym founder and “Amerigeddon” producer Gary Heavin once again promoted debunked claims about the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, while at the same time insisting that he was just asking the question, a favorite rhetorical tactic of conspiracy theorists like Donald Trump.
Heavin said that he was inspired by God (and Donald Trump) to start speaking the truth about the terrorist attacks, but then went on to say that he was merely asking questions about the attacks.
“I’m just sayin,’” he said. “I’m just wanting to ask some questions.”
“Donald Trump is giving us permission to speak freely to ask these questions,” he added.
Heavin raised falseclaims including that no plane wreckage was found at the Pentagon and that Building 7 was brought down by a controlled demolition.
His new movie, “Amerigeddon,” discusses a future in which the U.S. government collaborates with the United Nations to launch a false flag attack on America, in the form of a nuclear electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack, in order to impose a dictatorial form of government.
In a previous edition of this post, we mistakenly referred to Gary Heavin as "Mark Heavin." We regret the error.
In her opening remarks, Black acknowledged that she saw the panel as an extension of her efforts to “go after” Planned Parenthood that began even before the Center for Medical Progress released its videos that claimed, falsely, that the women’s health organization illegally profits from the small amount of fetal tissue it donates to medical research. In fact, she said, the fact that Planned Parenthood provides abortion is evidence enough that “we must expose them.”
“Even before last summer’s videos were exposing Planned Parenthood and their role in the trafficking of aborted baby body parts,” she said, “their own annual report told us in black and white why we must expose them and go after what they stood for: They’re the largest abortion provider in this nation. They perform more than 320,000 abortions annually while they receive over $500 million of taxpayer dollars to perform these abortions.” (This last figure is incorrect: Planned Parenthood is barred by federal law from using taxpayer funding on abortions except in very limited cases.)
Black recalled how the very first law she introduced in Congress was a 2011 measure to cut funding from Planned Parenthood in a short-term spending bill but that her project met with “tepid” reception on Capitol Hill until David Daleiden’s videos provided an “opportunity” to further that goal.
Earlier this year, President Obama vetoed legislation that would have cut all federal funds from Planned Parenthood, which Black said means “if we had a willing partner in the White House, this is possible, so we cannot give up.”
She said that the select panel was designed as an alternative to this legislation: “We wanted to focus, since this didn’t become law, on the first steps that we can take to hold the abortion industry accountable that don’t require the signature of a president. And that was the genesis, really, of the [committee.]”
Remarkably, after explicitly saying that the panel grew out of her years-long fight against Planned Parenthood, Black said that the panel is not actually meant to target Planned Parenthood.
“They’ve called us a witch hunt against Planned Parenthood, though Planned Parenthood is never named anywhere in the resolution that authorizes the panel’s formation and was not called to testify at either one of our two public hearings that we have head to this point,” she said.
Later in the speech, when asked by an audience member what medical providers can do to help prevent abortion, Black responded that doctors should “help to educate young women with prevention first, using healthy practices to prevent pregnancies before they’re ready for that family” — which is, incidentally, the exact kind of medical care that much of Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding goes toward.
Far-right radio host Michael Savage was incensed yesterday by the Secretary of the Air Force’s recent comments suggesting that transgender military service members “will be allowed to serve in a more open way” within “the next few months.”
Savage said that a review of the military’s policy on transgender service members will cause the armed forces to ignore the needs of the troops, and is just another sign that America is witnessing “the meltdown of our culture under Barry Hussein Obama like you could never imagine.”
“Think of your most radical, crazy professor,” Savage said. “Think of the nuttiest, the most stupid professor you’ve ever had, totally locked into the left-wing shibboleths of the time, and you learn to listen to it in order to just get through the course. Now take that professor, put the professor into the presidency, give him all the power in the world and let that professor take all the power it can because of a supine Congress and a nonexistent press, and now you know what’s going on in America. We have an out-of-control, lunatic, left-wing college teacher running the country.”
“That’s why we need the antidote,” he continued. “The antidote to this toxic snake poison is Donald Trump. Trump is the antidote to the Hussein snake poison.”
"From a biblical perspective," he said, "Exodus 18 gives us the criteria by which we're supposed to evaluate candidates when Jethro, the father-in-law, said to Moses, 'Choose out from among you capable individuals that fear God, love truth and hate covetousness, teach them the law' — of course, they had a constitutional republic, quite frankly; they were 12 sovereign tribes working together as one and they weren't ruled by a king, they were ruled by the Torah, the Constitution. 'Teach them the law and have them be judges over tens, fifties, hundreds and thousands.' Quite frankly, that was the birth of republicanism, the republican form of government."
As we and others have noted before, the idea that Exodus 18 lays out the framework for voters on how to choose candidates for office is absurd as it was Moses who appointed these judges, not the people who chose them freely. On top of that, for Blair to claim that the Israelites "had a constitutional republic" is laughable considering that they were living in the desert under what was a literal theocracy that was being directly controlled by God, who ruled over them through Moses.
Religious Right activists are always insisting that they have no desire to impose any sort of theocracy on America because they deeply respect our constitutional republican form of government, but that is a little hard to swallow when they insist that an actual ancient theocracy was the ideal form of a constitutional republic.
Focus on the Family founder James Dobson invited Faith 2 Action’s Janet Porters on to his “Family Talk” radio program this week to discuss transgender-inclusive facilities policies in schools and stores like Target, which Dobson said violate the Levitical prohibition against selling your daughter into prostitution.
“Let me share a Scripture with you all that I came across that speaks to this issue,” he said. “It’s addressed directly to parents, I think. It’s Leviticus 19:29. Listen to this: ‘Do not degrade your daughters by making them a prostitute or the land will turn to prostitution and be filled with wickedness.’ That comes right to the heart of this. It sort of feels like that’s where we are. We’re taking our little, vulnerable kids and we’re saying in the name of political correctness, ‘Here are our children. Do with them what you want.’ And I’m here to say that I’m going to fight that as long as I have breath in my body.”
He added that he was worried not only about children but also about his wife, Shirley, “being in a bathroom where some grungy guy comes in there and zips down the zipper and does things that she will remember the rest of her life.”
“I mean, where is manhood that we don’t stand up and defend our own families?” he asked. “And I think that we’re going to be responsible before the Lord if we don’t do it.”
Porter heartily agreed, saying that while some are staying out of the issue because they’re “afraid of being called a mean name,” it’s time for “men of courage” to “stand and fight.”
Dobson’s cohost, Meg Meeker, chimed in to say, “Woe to us who do not intervene on behalf of our kids, that’s all I can say.”
“They’re sitting ducks,” said Dobson.
Porter then invoked another Bible verse, the passage in Luke where Jesus tells his disciples that "it would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.”
“You know, the Bible says it’s better to have a millstone hung around your neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble,” she said. “And I think … that this applies not just to those in the schools that are doing this, those in the White House and the Target corporation, but I think it applies to parents. Because if you don’t vigilantly watch what they’re teaching your children, if you don’t stand now, school administrators, if you don’t stand now and fight this, then this verse, I believe, applies to you. Because these children are being led astray, they’re being harmed, they’re being violated and the only thing that can protect them is for those adults in authority to stand now and fight.”
Tomorrow, the business mogul is scheduled to speak at the Road to the Majority summit in Washington, D.C., an event sponsored by two anti-LGBT groups, the Faith and Freedom Coalition and Concerned Women for America.
Reed started the FFC in 2009, a few years after he lost his own campaign to become the lieutenant governor of his native Georgia, in part thanks to reports that emerged during the election implicating him in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. It turned out that Reed had taken money from casino and lottery interests, including those with ties to Abramoff, to help his consulting firm’s conservative Christian clients wage anti-gambling campaigns that just so happened to block the funders’ potential competitors from entering the market.
Despite the scandal, Reed eventually found a way to return to his old passion of opposing LGBT equality, demanding that the government withdraw an arts grant for repairing the Washington National Cathedral because the Episcopal Church performs weddings for same-sex couples and attacking the Employment Non-Discrimination Act as “a dagger aimed at the heart of religious freedom.”
While Trump may focus his stump speeches on building a border wall and torturing prisoners of war, his promise to appoint far-right judges to the bench and his attempts to win the support of radical anti-LGBT activists should give no comfort to those who hope a President Trump might advance LGBT rights.
On her radio show Tuesday, American Family Association official Sandy Rios criticized Deshauna Barber, the newly crowned Miss USA, for praising gender equality in the military at Sunday’s pageant.
During the Miss USA pageant’s question-and-answer segment, Barber, an Army Reserve officer, was asked about the Pentagon’s decision to make all combat jobs available to women.
Barber called the decision “an amazing job by our government to allow women to integrate into every branch of the military. We are just as tough as men… As a commander of my unit, I am powerful, I am dedicated and it is important that we recognize that gender does not limit us in the United States Army.”
Rios mocked Barber’s response, saying, “So, as a woman, just so you know, cause I say so, I am just as tough as a man, I am powerful, and gender does not matter in the American military. You see the trend? Just, you know, I think it, so it is. I mean, this is incredible fantasy, and it’s just so unhealthy.”
Trump has said that judges of Mexican descent or of the Muslim faith cannot be impartial in a case involving his Trump University scam because of his proposals for building a wall with Mexico and banning Muslims from entering the country, respectively, but according to his supporters, Trump never made such a claims and the real problem is with Judge Curiel.
Here are seven of the most ridiculous defenses of Trump’s comments:
1) ‘It wasn’t racist! He’s calling attention to racism! Hello!’
Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., said today on Sean Hannity’s radio program that Judge Curiel’s membership in a state Hispanic bar association is just like belonging to a white supremacist group, alleging that the group wants to take California “back” from the U.S. “and they’re gonna take it by force if they have to.”
Hunter added that a “Muslim-American judge of Iraqi descent” would not be able to preside over a case involving the late Chris Kyle because he “killed a whole bunch of bad guys in Iraq.”
Hannity, for his part, likened Curiel presiding over a case involving Trump University to a Hispanic or black defendant facing an all-white jury.
After insisting that Trump’s claim that Judge Curiel shouldn’t be allowed to hear his case because of his Mexican heritage wasn’t racist, former Gov. Mike Huckabee told Megyn Kelly last night that he believes Judge Curiel is motivated not necessarily by an ethnic bias but by a left-wing political agenda that makes him prejudiced against Trump in the fraud case.
When Kelly asked Huckabee if he has any evidence demonstrating such an anti-Trump political bias, Huckabee conceded that he had none:
4) Obama Is Racist!
While Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., didn’t agree with Trump’s “regrettable” statement, he went on to claim in a rather awkward CNN interview yesterday that he could just as “easily argue that the President of the United States is a racist with his policies and his rhetoric.”
Zeldin said that he would rather talk about what he sees as the racist “micro-targeting to blacks and Hispanics” from the Democratic Party, which is “more offensive to me, what I’ve seen through the years, than this one statement.”
5) Sotomayor Said The Same Thing!
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley invoked remarks made in years past by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor in order to defend Trump’s allegation that Judge Curiel cannot be impartial because he’s “a Mexican.”
“I think that you don’t have any more trouble with what Trump said than when Sotomayor said that -- when she was found saying in speeches that, quote, ‘A wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male,’” the Iowa senator told the Des Moines Register.
While Trump was insisting that Mexican-Americans are inherently disqualified from presiding over a case involving him, Sotomayor was making the exact opposite point, as she was describing the need for a more diverse judiciary that isn’t shaped entirely by the background and experiences of white men.
“I do believe every person has an equal opportunity to be a good and wise judge, regardless of their background or life experience,” she said.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) seems to think Trump is being unnecessarily bullied for his remarks. “Be nice to him. He’s a first-time candidate,” he told reporters. “When you’re in a big race, you make mistakes.”
In a separate interview with The Huffington Post, Hatch speculated that Trump just felt like he was “being picked on.”
“He’s the type of a person who will make comments that sometimes you differ with, and then as he gets to reality on things,” the senator said. “He’ll change his point of view and be, you know, more responsible.”
“I think he does feel like he’s being picked on by the courts. A lot of people who go through the courts feel the same way. He just speaks about it.”
Hatch’s claim that the media should have a lower standard for Trump is as laughable as it is revealing that the GOP believes Trump should get a pass for his racist remarks.
7) He’s A Member Of La Raza!
Last week, Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson said that Judge Curiel is biased because he’s a member of the California La Raza Lawyers Association, which she said “is an organization that has been out there organizing these anti-Trump protesters with the Mexican flags… so Mr. Trump is just stating the obvious.”
She added that the group sponsors “criminal rallies” and “criminal protesters” under “the guise of an anti-Trump protest” and “this judge is connected to that.”
“This is not a pro-American group who is out there wanting to get their voices heard, they are out there pushing to destroy, propose anarchy and to stop an American president from running for office,” she said.
Pierson, like many other right-wing commentators, apparently confused the La Raza Lawyers Association with the National Council of La Raza, a Latino group that is a favorite bogeyman of the Right. Aside from the fact that NCLR is not the anarchy-promoting criminal organization that Pierson claims it is, it isn’t even the organization that Curiel is a member of. The two are completely different groups; the lawyers’ organization is nonpartisan and “focuses on the professional development of Latino lawyers and encouraging students to pursue a career in law.”
Grassley’s blockade became even more problematic this week when Trump launched a racist assault against a federal judge who is hearing a fraud case involving his Trump University. Trump claimed that the judge, who was born in Indiana to parents who emigrated from Mexico, had an “inherent conflict of interest” in the case because he is “Mexican” and Trump is “building a wall.” The presumptive GOP presidential nominee later acknowledged that using the same logic, it was “possible” that a Muslim judge should also be disqualified from hearing a case involving him.
“I think that you don’t have any more trouble with what Trump said than when Sotomayor said that — when she was found saying in speeches that, quote, ‘A wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male,’” he said. “I don’t hear any criticism of that sort of comment by a justice of the Supreme Court.”
It’s a flashback to 2009, when conservatives latched on to a speech Sotomayor had given in 2001 in which she disagreed with the idea that a judge isn’t influenced by his or her personal background:
Justice O'Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. … I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, … there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.
What Sotomayor’s critics often chose to ignore was that she went on to say that while a judge’s personal experience can’t help but influence how they see the world, a good judge tries to look beyond the myopia of personal experience to understand the lives of others:
I … believe that we should not be so myopic as to believe that others of different experiences or backgrounds are incapable of understanding the values and needs of people from a different group. Many are so capable. … [Nine] white men on the Supreme Court in the past have done so on many occasions and on many issues including Brown.
However, to understand takes time and effort, something that not all people are willing to give. For others, their experiences limit their ability to understand the experiences of others. Other simply do not care. Hence, one must accept the proposition that a difference there will be by the presence of women and people of color on the bench. Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see. My hope is that I will take the good from my experiences and extrapolate them further into areas with which I am unfamiliar. I simply do not know exactly what that difference will be in my judging. But I accept there will be some based on my gender and my Latina heritage.
Sotomayor later clarified in the face of right-wing criticism: “I want to state upfront, unequivocally and without doubt: I do not believe that any ethnic, racial or gender group has an advantage in sound judging. I do believe every person has an equal opportunity to be a good and wise judge, regardless of their background or life experience."
It shouldn’t be surprising that Grassley and some of his allies on the Right are reviving the “wise Latina” attack on Sotomayor as they attempt to defend Trump. In fact, Trump’s comments about Judge Gonzalo Curiel are not that different from how the Right attacked Sotomayor during her confirmation hearings, claiming that simply because she had spoken proudly of her Latina heritage and acknowledged that a person’s background can shape how they see the world she would be driven by “identity politics” rather than the law.
Some claimed explicitly, and many others implicitly, that Sotomayor, who had graduated from Princeton and Yale and had served for many years as a federal judge, was not as qualified as a white judge with a similar record. Pat Buchanan, who is now an enthusiastic cheerleader for Trump, was one of those who made the claim explicitly when he wrote that white Americans “pay the price of affirmative action when their sons and daughters are pushed aside to make room for the Sonia Sotomayors.”
Sotomayor’s “wise Latina” remarks were taken out of context to imply that she was some kind of ethnic supremacist, and her ruling in the Ricci affirmative action case was wildly distorted to suggest that she was a judicial activist who lived to use the law as a club against white men. Pundits like Rush Limbaugh and elected officials like Tom Tancredo called her a racist. Pat Buchanan charged her with having a “race-based” approach to justice and having demonstrated “a lifelong resolve to discriminate against white males.”
On the first day of Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings, columnist Eugene Robinson observed:
Republicans' outrage, both real and feigned, at Sotomayor's musings about how her identity as a "wise Latina" might affect her judicial decisions is based on a flawed assumption: that whiteness and maleness are not themselves facets of a distinct identity. Being white and male is seen instead as a neutral condition, the natural order of things. Any "identity" — black, brown, female, gay, whatever —has to be judged against this supposedly "objective" standard.
Thus it is irrelevant if Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. talks about the impact of his background as the son of Italian immigrants on his rulings — as he did at his confirmation hearings — but unforgivable for Sotomayor to mention that her Puerto Rican family history might be relevant to her work.
This seems to be the attitude of the Trump campaign, whose top operative has said that picking a woman or person of color as a vice presidential nominee would amount to “pandering” and whose list of potential Supreme Court picks were all white and mostly men. According to Trump, it seems, only white men can be unbiased and qualified. And Grassley seems to think that’s just fine.