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Texas GOP Embraces Discredited Ex-Gay Therapy

We reported back in April that Eagle Forum, a staunchly anti-gay Religious Right group, announced that it would pressure the Texas GOP to back ex-gay therapy and other anti-gay measures in its party platform.

The Texas GOP convention, which banned conservative gay rights groups from participating, appears to have agreed on including ex-gay advocacy as part of its platform, according to a draft of the platform obtained by the Houston Chronicle:

We support the definition of marriage as a God-ordained, legal and moral commitment only between a natural man and a natural woman.

We support withholding jurisdiction from the Federal Courts in cases involving family law, especially any changes in the definition of marriage.



We oppose the assault on marriage by judicial activists.



Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable alternative lifestyle, in public policy, nor should family be redefined to include homosexual couples. We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin.

Additionally, we oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values. We recognize the legitimacy and value of counseling which offers reparative therapy and treatment to patients who are seeking escape from the homosexual lifestyle. No laws or executive orders shall be imposed to limit or restrict access to this type of therapy. (emphasis added)

Mike Huckabee Marks Tiananmen Square Protests By Comparing US To Communist China

Mike Huckabee, who back in April remarked that people in North Korea have more freedoms than Americans, today marked the anniversary of the Chinese government’s violent suppression of the pro-democracy Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 by alleging that the United States is turning into Communist China.

In an interview on Newsmax TV, Huckabee insisted that “China is becoming more like the United States used to be and the United States is becoming more like China used to be.”

“We’re getting to the place where our government is controlling much more of what we say, what we think, what we do and they’re invading our privacy,” he said. “That ought to scare the daylights out of Americans.”

Texas GOP Debates Whether To Remove Anti-Gay Language From Platform, Risk 'Demise' Of Society

Updated

While subcommittees at the Texas GOP’s convention today rebuffed hardliners by removing some especially vicious anti-gay language from the state party’s platform and keeping an endorsement of an immigrant guest worker program, the debate over both issues continues.

Brian wrote earlier today about the efforts of Texas conservatives to bring back the party platform’s previous hardline anti-immigration language , including those of Texas Eagle Forum leader and former state party chairwoman Cathie Adams, who has warned that immigration reform will bring about the End Times .

A similar battle is unfolding over gay rights. Two conservative LGBT groups that were denied permission to sponsor booths at the convention are now calling on the party to remove language from its platform that states:

Homosexuality ― We affirm that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans.

While a subcommittee nixed the language today, the decision won’t be final until it’s approved by the full convention on Thursday night .

And in any case, the subcommittee appears to have kept the rest of the party’s anti-gay plank, which contains the actual policy prohibitions against equality, along with plenty of pointed scare quotes:

Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable “alternative” lifestyle, in public policy, nor should “family” be redefined to include homosexual “couples.” We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin. Additionally, we oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction or belief in traditional values.

One activist who will be fighting for the preservation of the platform’s original anti-gay language is Adams, who told the radio station KERA that backing down on gay rights would mean that the “society is well on its way to demise.”

Cathie Adams, executive director of Texas Eagle Forum, believes the platform currently reflects a position that’s biblical.

“When a culture descends to a point where homosexuality is openly accepted as a normal behavior, then a society is well on its way to demise," she said.

UPDATE: Adams might not have to worry too much. A draft platform leaked Thursday eliminated the "fabric of society" language but added an endorsement of the discredited practive of "ex-gay" therapy.

Chris Christie To Join Ralph Reed Summit To Dispel Moderate 'Myth'

Today, Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition announced that Gov. Chris Christie will speak at its “Road to Majority” conference this month, where perhaps Reed can offer the embattled governor advice on how to downplay scandals.

But the director of the New Jersey Faith and Freedom Coalition, Larry Cirignano, doesn’t seem to be much of a fan of his state’s governor.

On his Facebook page, Cirignano has posted columns attacking Christie from the right, including articles titled “Chris Christie dooms NJ to judicial activism and himself to obscurity” and “Chris Christie’s court pick has a pro-choice, anti-free press record,” which criticizes the governor for having “rolled over” on nominees for the Supreme Court.

Cirignano also shared a post “exposing ‘Republican’ Christie” as a secret Democrat for backing a “radical pro-abortion and pro-gun control” judicial nominee.

Last year, Christie was accused of snubbing the “Road to Majority” summit to attend a Clinton Global Initiative event.

Right-wing pundits have expressed outrage and disgust over Christie’s decision to sign a law banning ex-gay therapy for minors, even linking it to the bridge scandal, and lashed out at the governor for declining to appeal a court ruling in favor of marriage equality and appointing a Muslim-American to a judgeship.

At CPAC earlier this year, Christie emphasized his anti-choice stances and told the Christian Broadcasting Network that it is a “myth” that he is a moderate.

Larry Pratt: Elliot Rodger's Manifesto 'Reflects The Thinking Of A Person Like Our President'

According to Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America, the unhinged, misogynist manifesto written by Elliot Rodger before he killed six people and himself in a mass shooting outside of Santa Barbara “reflects the thinking of a person like our president.” 

In an interview last week with Stan Solomon, the GOA executive director reacted to Rodger's shooting spree the way he reacts to every mass shooting – by finding anything to blame other than guns.

Solomon ripped into Richard Martinez, who criticized the NRA after losing his son in the shooting, calling the bereaved father a “stupid son of a bitch” and asking “what the hell is wrong with you?” Mistakenly thinking that Martinez lost a daughter in the shooting, he added, “If you had taught your daughter how to have and use a weapon, she might still be alive.”

Pratt responded by blaming Rodger’s lack of a “traditional kind of family life” for the shooting, adding, “I think that the parents deserve a lot of the credit slash blame for bringing up a son like that.” (Pratt has also blamed Trayvon Martin’s death on his “broken family”).

The two then discussed Rodger’s manifesto, in which he railed at women for refusing to have sex with him, which Pratt said reminded him of President Obama.

The manifesto, Pratt said, “clearly reflects the thinking of a person like our president, who’s extremely narcissistic and it’s all about me, all about me.”

Dinesh D'Souza Says There Would Have Been 'A Massive Revolt' Against Obama If It Hadn't Been For The Meddling Media

In case you thought that Dinesh D’Souza’s sex scandal would get him in trouble with his supporters in the Religious Right, rest assured that the “pro-family” movement is still enthralled by his outlandish anti-Obama rhetoric.

For example, D’Souza told right-wing broadcaster Janet Mefferd yesterday that “under normal circumstances, we would actually have a massive revolt in this country right now” against President Obama if it wasn’t for the “sycophantic, lapdog media” that treats Obama like “the second coming.”

Oh, so that’s why events built around forcing Obama out of office – like Operation American Spring and Reclaim America Now – were miserable failures. It was the media’s fault!

The Sun Sets On GOProud

After denying reports that it was dissolving, the conservative LGBT organization GOProud released a statement on Monday announcing its closure after five years.

To deflect a story alleging that the organization planned to shut its doors as part of a rebranding effort following years of financial woes and stagnancy, the organization took to social media to claim that “nothing could be further from the truth” and insist that “GOProud is not closing. It is growing.”

But just a day later, the group’s leaders reneged on their denials. “I posted what I had to on Facebook so I wouldn’t scare our members and thwart our fundraising efforts,” executive director Matthew Bechstein told The Bilerico Project in an interview, explaining that not all contributors and members were made aware of the decision to shut down prior to the news breaking. “I wanted to mitigate a disaster,” he said.

Bechstein spoke with The Bilerico Project’s Bil Browning about the next steps for GOProud, which has been mired in controversy since its inception and has struggled to gain a strong foothold in either conservative or LGBT political circles.

“There have been concerns among our members and investors about whether or not we can continue to grow and be effective without severing ourselves from past controversies," Bechstein said in a separately emailed statement.

He also conceded that GOProud’s strategy – which has included a series of failed attempts to ally with inhospitable right-wing groups –might not have been the best course of action to mobilize LGBT support within the conservative movement.

"The fact is, in order to continue promoting the conservative principles upon which this organization was founded, change is needed. One of the changes under discussion is a switch to a different legal type of organization - basic paperwork that requires dissolution and immediate subsequent reorganization. Technically, as some argue, this would be a legal closure," he emailed. "But if it were to actually happen, it would only be momentary and certainly not the end of our organization."

BarbWire Pundit Says Transgender Boy Is Possessed By Demons

Writing today for BarbWire, ex-gay activist Matt Moore concedes that he does not “understand what people with gender identity issues experience,” but is still more than comfortable declaring that transgender people, specifically the six-year-old transgender boy Ryland Whittington, are possessed by the Devil:

With all that said, I get angry because of stories about kids like Ryland. Angry at people. Angry as sin. Angry at Satan.

I am not the type of person that believes Satan is hiding behind every rock, but I do think that there is a demonic element at play when little girls actually start to think they’re little boys, or little boys actually start to think they’re little girls. Actually, I’m sure that demons are all up in that. God created men and women to reflect His image and Satan is all about distorting God’s image. How better a way to do that than to get the image bearers to go against their own physical and biological make up? So-called transgender-ism is a literal rejection of God’s creation and image. Satan loves it.

But Satan is not only to blame for this confusion. We are too.



I hope that in the days to come — where sexual and gender identity confusion is going to abound more and more — followers of Jesus will be just as vocal with the truth as Satan and the world are with lies. I hope we won’t begin to give up on people or on our culture. I hope we won’t begin to disbelieve in God’s transforming mercy, grace and love available in Christ. I hope we won’t believe that He’s done working in the world and that we’re just here to “wait it out” among all the evil and confusion until he comes. I hope we won’t cower down, shrivel up and shrink back. I hope we don’t get hateful and bitter. I hope we don’t start pronouncing condemnation and judgment instead of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus.

45 Senators Support Amendment Strategy to Get Money Out of Elections

45 US Senators now support a constititutional amendment to undo the harm of decisions like Citizens United and McCutcheon. Do yours?


State Senator

Alaska

Sen. Mark Begich

California

Sen. Barbara Boxer

California Sen. Diane Feinstein
Colorado Sen. Michael F. Bennet
Colorado

Sen. Mark Udall

Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal
Connecticut Sen. Christopher Murphy
Delaware

Sen. Thomas R. Carper

Delaware Sen. Christopher A. Coons
Hawaii Sen. Mazie K. Hirono
Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz
Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin
Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin
Maine Sen. Angus S. King, Jr.
Maryland Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin
Maryland Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski
Massachusetts

Sen. Edward J. Markey

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren
Michigan

Sen. Debbie Stabenow

Minnesota Sen. Al Franken
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar
Montana Sen. Jon Tester
Montana Sen. John E. Walsh
Nevada Sen. Harry Reid
New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen
New Jersey Sen. Cory A. Booker
New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez
New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall
New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich
New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer
New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan
North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp
Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown
Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden
Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley
Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed
Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse
South Dakota Sen. Tim Johnson
Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy
Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders
Washington Sen. Patty Murray
Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin
West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin
West Virginia Sen. John D. Rockefeller, IV

For more elected officials who support an amendment, visit United4thePeople.org.

PFAW

PFAW and Allies Deliver to Senate Hearing Two Million Petitions for an Amendment to #GetMoneyOut

Before yesterday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on a proposed campaign finance constitutional amendment had even begun, advocates from People For the American Way and partner organizations had already delivered a powerful message from the American people. Carrying signs saying “Restore the First Amendment” and “Amend the Constitution to #GetMoneyOut,” activists rolled in stacked boxes of more than two million petitions in support of an amendment to get big money out of politics.

 

In his opening remarks, Sen. Patrick Leahy noted that these petitions serve as a “tangible reminder that Americans are calling on Congress to act.”

In an rare move that underscored the importance of the proposed amendment, both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell testified at the hearing. Sen. Reid issued a call to action for the amendment, urging Americans to work together to restore the basic principle of one American, one vote. “Our involvement in government should not be dependent on our bank account balances,” he said.

Sen. McConnell, on the other hand, used the platform to claim that the proposed amendment is about shutting people up, calling it the “latest proposal to weaken the First Amendment.” Later, Sen. Ted Cruz continued to push the false claim that the amendment would “repeal the free speech protections of the First Amendment” and “muzzle” Americans.

But other witnesses were quick to debunk this myth, including constitutional law expert Jamie Raskin, who is also a senior fellow at People For the American Way. In his testimony, Raskin noted:

[E]ven as our huge majorities of Americans support reclaiming our democracy, opponents of the Amendment are waving the flag of the First Amendment, as if political democracy and free speech are enemies. But the Citizens United era has nothing to do with free speech and everything to do with plutocratic power. Citizens United did not increase the rights of a single citizen to express his or her views with speech or with money. Before the decision, all citizens, including CEOs, could express themselves freely, make contributions, and spend all the money they had to promote their politics. They could band together with the help of the corporation and form a PAC. All Citizens United did was confer a power on CEOs to write corporate treasury checks for political expenditures, without a vote of the shareholders, prior consultation or even disclosure.

In terms of real world consequences, Raskin went on to note, these damaging Supreme Court decisions did not “expand the political freedom of citizens but… reduce[d] the political power of citizens.”

North Carolina State Senator Floyd McKissick described some of those real world effects, noting that he can divide his time in the state legislature into two distinct periods: “before Citizens United, and after”:

Suddenly, no matter what the race was, money came flooding in. Even elected officials who had been in office for decades told me they’d never seen anything like it. We were barraged by television ads that were uglier and less honest than I would have thought possible. And they all seemed to be coming from groups with names we had never even heard of. But it was clear that corporations and individuals who could write giant checks had a new level of power in the state.

PFAW

Tony Perkins Claims ENDA Will Turn America Into Nazi Germany, Do Away With First Amendment

With right-wing opposition to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) becoming increasingly unhinged, it was no surprise that Family Research Council president Tony Perkins warned members in an email today that ENDA would destroy businesses, entire communities, and the First Amendment.

Perkins writes that ENDA, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to current non-discrimination protections such as race, religion, gender and disability, would “banish” Christians from society and have them “stripped of their livelihood” while turning America into Nazi Germany.

They're pushing ENDA again -- the Employment Non-Discrimination Act -- which would strip Americans of their religious liberties. No longer will an employer be able to make employment decisions based on what qualities or characteristics are most relevant to a particular job. Instead, ENDA will grant special rights and privileges, special power over an employer's religious convictions, to an entire group of people -- simply because of their preference for a certain type of sexual activity.

This is the most perverse distortion of the Constitution of the United States imaginable. And is more likely to impact you personally than ever before. Because ENDA is the federal government forcing a pro-homosexual point of view upon the entire (supposedly "free") marketplace.



You enjoy working in a Christian-owned business, for example. It's a great place to work, a good family-friendly environment. If your company does any work with the federal government, or if you're a subcontractor to a business holding a federal contract, you could suddenly find that your company's policies, if they reflect biblical views and values, are considered a violation -- and the company could lose that contract. Company revenues plummet. People get laid off. Maybe the company has to close its doors altogether and you are out of work.

As businesses are boarded up, whole communities will be affected. But the powerful anti-Christian lobby will dust off their hands: mission accomplished.

ENDA takes the chilling concept of "Big Brother" one diabolical step further . . . to "Big Bully." The federal government becomes the "enforcer" for liberal activists, driving anyone with a traditional view of natural marriage into the shadows ... because of the threat of a federal lawsuit.

You no longer enjoy freedom of speech, freedom of religion, or freedom of association. The First Amendment is dead to you -- because of your biblical views on the sin of homosexuality.



If the federal government can coerce you to comply with its views . . . cooperate with its policies . . . contribute to its plans for the transformation of America . . .

. . . well, sadly, this looks more and more like totalitarianism. We only have to look back to 1930 in Germany, or the USSR in the 1950s, to see what happens when leaders impose a totalitarian state on the people.



They are pushing for America to conform to their ideology. Freedom of speech and religion have no place in their vision. We can't let it happen.



. . . then anyone in America can be targeted ... called out ... pilloried in the public square . . . stripped of their livelihood ... branded as a "bigot" and banished from "society."

The 10 Most Absurd Arguments Against The Udall Citizens United Amendment

While good-government groups have been calling for a constitutional amendment to reverse the Supreme Court’s dismantling of campaign finance laws since the day the Court handed down Citizens United in 2010, the issue has been largely off the radar of conservative activists – and has actually enjoyed broad bipartisan support in an array of polls and in state and municipal ballot measures.

It was largely off their radar, that is, until this week. This morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on a proposal by Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., to send a constitutional amendment to the states restoring to Congress and state governments the ability to regulate the raising and spending of money in elections. In response, Republican politicians and conservative activists have kicked into gear and are starting to try out new talking points to get their movement to oppose efforts to lessen the influence of big money in politics.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, launched the misleading campaign two weeks ago when he warned a group of pastors that the Udall proposal would “repeal the First Amendment” and allow Congress to “muzzle” the free speech of clergy. In advance of the hearing today, conservative groups including the Family Research Council, Eagle Forum, Tea Party Patriots and the Home School Legal Defense Association started to mobilize against the amendment. Yesterday, the Heritage Foundation held a panel discussion to test out arguments against the amendment, featuring Bobby Burchfield, the attorney who argued the McCutcheon case before the Supreme Court, controversial former FEC chairman Don McGahn, and infamous voter-fraud conspiracy theorist Hans van Spakovsky .

Here, we’ve collected some of the most deceptive arguments that have been launched so far against the Udall amendment.

1. Democrats want to repeal the First Amendment!

When we first heard Ted Cruz  tell a stunned group of pastors that Democrats in the Senate were planning to “repeal the First Amendment,” we knew that we would be hearing that line again and again.

And we were right. Tea Party Patriots adopted the line in mobilizing its activists, as did the Eagle Forum. The Family Research Council claimed the Udall amendment would “strip political speech out of the First Amendment,” and von Spakovsky told the Heritage panel that the amendment would “roll back” the Bill of Rights.

Burchfield and McGahn both argued that the introduction of the constitutional amendment means, in the words of McGahn, that campaign finance law advocates are “admitting” that campaign finance regulations are “unconstitutional.”

On the surface, this is the opposition’s strongest argument, because it sounds so scary. But it’s just not true. Whether you support the Udall amendment or not, it’s dishonest to suggest that it would amount to a “repeal of the First Amendment.” Instead, proponents argue that it strengthens the First Amendment by undoing the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence declaring that spending on elections, including from corporate treasuries, cannot be limited. Proponents of the Udall amendment hold that this jurisprudence, including recent decisions in the Citizens United and McCutcheon cases, represented a radical reinterpretation of the First Amendment; undoing them would simply re-establish the ability of Congress and the states to set reasonable regulations on the raising and spending of money to influence elections.

2. Amendment supporters want to ‘silence critics’ and ‘cling to power’!

The Heritage panelists repeatedly claimed that the Udall amendment is an attempt to protect incumbency by preventing challengers from raising enough money to win elections. McGahn insisted that it was an effort by Democratic incumbents “desperately clinging to power.”

“They want to change the rules of the game and prevent people from criticizing them, not unlike England did before our revolution, and which led to our revolution,” he added.

The American Family Association’s Sandy Rios also invoked the American Revolution in an interview with von Spakovsky yesterday, saying, “The First Amendment, the rights to free speech – particularly the right to political speech – were the right to criticize the king, criticize the authorities over you.”

In a later interview with Rios, Tea Party Patriots spokesman Scott Hogenson even managed to connect the Udall amendment with immigration reform, claiming that both are part of a “larger, concerted effort to maintain the Democratic Party’s control of American politics and eventually move to one-party rule.”

In reality, it’s unlimited campaign spending that tends to be a boon for incumbents, who on average are able to raise far more than challengers. For instance, in Texas, a state with few campaign finance limits, incumbents who win on average raise more than twelve times the average amount raised by challengers. By contrast, in Colorado, which has relatively low individual contribution limits, incumbents on average raise less than three times what challengers are able to raise [pdf].

3. Liberals just want to protect the lame-stream media!

In his speech to the pastors' group, Ted Cruz seized on the Udall proposal’s stipulation that “Nothing in this article shall be construed to grant Congress the power to abridge the freedom of the press” to claim that the amendment carved out an exemption to protect the New York Times.

Von Spakovsky also played up conservative conspiracy theories about the “liberal media,” telling Rios, “No surprise, there’s a glaring exception in this proposed amendment for the press. And that means that MSNBC or the New York Times Company, which are big corporations, they could spend as much newsprint or airtime as they wanted going after and criticizing candidates or talking about political issues.”

These arguments fail to recognize one key distinction, which is that there is a difference between the New York Times publishing an editorial (which would be protected under the proposed amendment, as it is now) and the corporate managers of the New York Times taking $50 million out of their corporate treasury to buy ads to influence an election (which would not be protected).

4. They’ll go after pastors!

Opponents of the constitutional amendment have also been trying to tie the proposal to the right-wing paranoia about the impending persecution of America’s Christian majority .

It’s no coincidence that Cruz rolled out his criticism of the Udall proposal at a pastors’ event organized by the Family Research Council, a main theme of which was the supposed assault on the religious liberty of Christians in America. Cruz told the pastors that the Udall measure would “muzzle” clergy and was being proposed because “they don’t like it when pastors in their community stand up and speak the truth.”

Likewise, McGahn said at the Heritage event that the amendment would endanger the religious liberty of clergy: “What about pastors and churches? This is an issue that comes up once in a while. Can the government get in there and tell a priest he can’t talk to his congregation because it may somehow have something to do with politics?”

This might be true if the proposal would, in fact, “repeal the First Amendment.” In fact, the First Amendment’s protection of religious liberty would remain in place.

Of course, that didn’t stop the FRC’s Tony Perkins from somehow linking the Udall amendment to the imprisonment of a Christian woman in Sudan:

5. It’s like the Alien & Sedition Acts!

Along with comparisons to British control before the American Revolution, amendment opponents are trying to link the Udall proposal to the 18th century Alien & Sedition Acts.

In his interview with Rios yesterday, van Spakovsky claimed that “the last time Congress tried to do something like this was when they passed the Alien & Sedition Act in 1798 that criminalized criticism of the government.” Multiple GOP senators at today’s hearing, including Judiciary Committeee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley, repeated the talking point.

Of course, the amendment does nothing to reduce the right of individuals to criticize the government or politicians.

6. The polls are skewed!

When an audience member at yesterday’s Heritage Foundation panel asked about polls showing overwhelming opposition to the Citizens United decision, McGahn replied that the questions in the polls were “skewed.”

You can judge for yourself whether this question from a recent Greenberg Quinlan Rosner poll  – which found 80 percent opposition to the Citizens United decision  – is “skewed” on behalf of campaign finance law proponents:

(image via Buzzfeed)

7. What about disclosure?

In one of the least self-aware moments we’ve witnessed in the last few days, McGahn told the Heritage audience that campaign finance reform proponents could have just worked for tougher disclosure requirements, which the Supreme Court’s majority has consistently endorsed as a way to prevent corruption:

What’s interesting is the courts have upheld some disclosure of independent speech, which six months ago was supposed to be the answer, a year ago was supposed to be the answer – remember the DISCLOSE Act, Part 1 and Part 2? Well, that was supposed to cure all the ills in our democracy, but unfortunately I guess they’ve given up on that and they’ve moved to the more radical change, which is the constitutional amendment.

Of course, the DISCLOSE Act – which would have exposed the source of some of the “dark money” behind large campaign expenditures – was blocked by Senate Republicans. And McGahn, when he was at the FEC, fought hard against disclosure requirements proposed in the wake of the Citizens United decision, even though the decision explicitly sanctioned such requirements.

8. The poor don’t participate anyway!

Speaking to the Heritage audience, Burchfield  presented the curious argument that the Udall amendment would demand to "equalize debate among the haves and have-nots,” and since “the portion is small” of “those with limited means” who participate in electoral debates, this would require “severe restrictions.”

The rich do not advocate a single viewpoint. Think of Sheldon Adelson and George Soros, they don’t agree on anything. There are strong voices on the left and on the right, not just in privately funded campaign advertisements, but also in the broadcast and print media. Only a small portion of those with significant resources even bother to participate in the debate. And among those with limited means, the portion is small indeed. In order to equalize debate among the haves and the have-nots, severe restrictions would be necessary. The quantity and quality of discourse would certainly suffer.

The amendment under consideration doesn’t require that everybody be heard an equal amount; instead, it gives Congress and the states the ability to create a more even platform for those who wish to be heard, regardless of their financial means.  

Burchfield's reasoning echoes the arguments of voter-suppression proponents who claim that their laws only inconvenience people who don’t really care about voting anyway.

9. It’s voter suppression!

Although many of the advocates of unlimited, undisclosed money in politics are the same people pushing harmful voter suppression laws, Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas yesterday insisted that it’s actually amendment proponents who are advocating “voter suppression” and want to “silence” critics.

10. Blame Saul Alinsky!

Inevitably, anti-amendment activists have begun invoking the right-wing bogey-man Saul Alinsky.

Hogenson told Rios that the Udall amendment is “just taken right out of Saul Alinksy’s book, ‘Rules for Radicals,’ it just makes up a gigantic lie and perpetuates it, that somehow democracy needs to be restored.”

Von Spakovsky also invoked Alinsky in his interview with Rios, claiming that criticism of the enormous political spending of the Koch brothers is an Alinskyite plot: “What’s really going on here is, look, if you look at Alinsky’s ‘Rules for Radicals,’ one of the rules that he sets out is you pick a villain and you basically blame those villains for all of the problems. It’s a way of distracting the public, it’s a way of diverting attention, and that’s exactly what Harry Reid and the Democrats are doing here.”

Oliver North (Yes, Oliver North) Accuses Obama Of 'Financing A Terrorist Organization' With Bergdahl Release

Newsmax host and former Republican congressman J.D. Hayworth added his voice today to the growing right-wing outrage over the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in a prisoner exchange with the Taliban, and what better person to discuss the situation with than Oliver North!

North demanded that the media ask the Obama administration if there was “a ransom, a fiscal, financial, money transaction,” with the Taliban as part of the deal. “Was there a ransom paid? Did the government of the United States, either directly or indirectly, finance a terrorist organization?”

North, of course, was heavily involved in the Iran-Contra scandal, in which Reagan administration officials unlawfully sold arms to Iran in hopes of releasing American hostages and used the proceeds of the sale to illegally fund Contra militants in Nicaragua, and then attempted to cover up their work.

The independent counsel report of the scandal details North’s involvement:

The Iran/contra affair concerned two secret Reagan Administration policies whose operations were coordinated by National Security Council staff. The Iran operation involved efforts in 1985 and 1986 to obtain the release of Americans held hostage in the Middle East through the sale of U.S. weapons to Iran, despite an embargo on such sales. The contra operations from 1984 through most of 1986 involved the secret governmental support of contra military and paramilitary activities in Nicaragua, despite congressional prohibition of this support.

The Iran and contra operations were merged when funds generated from the sale of weapons to Iran were diverted to support the contra effort in Nicaragua. Although this ``diversion'' may be the most dramatic aspect of Iran/contra, it is important to emphasize that both the Iran and contra operations, separately, violated United States policy and law.2 The ignorance of the ``diversion'' asserted by President Reagan and his Cabinet officers on the National Security Council in no way absolves them of responsibility for the underlying Iran and contra operations.



The operational conspiracy was the basis for Count One of the 23-count indictment returned by the Grand Jury March 16, 1988, against Poindexter, North, Secord, and Hakim. It charged the four with conspiracy to defraud the United States by deceitfully:

(1) supporting military operations in Nicaragua in defiance of congressional controls;

(2) using the Iran arms sales to raise funds to be spent at the direction of North, rather than the U.S. Government; and

(3) endangering the Administration's hostage-release effort by overcharging Iran for the arms to generate unauthorized profits to fund the contras and for other purposes.



The illegal activities of the private citizens involved with the North and Secord operations are discussed in detail in Part V. The off-the-books conduct of the two highly secret operations circumvented normal Administration accountability and congressional oversight associated with covert ventures and presented fertile ground for financial wrongdoing. There were several funding sources for the contras' weapons purchases from the covert-action Enterprise formed by North, Secord and Hakim:

(1) donations from foreign countries;

(2) contributions from wealthy Americans sympathetic to President Reagan's contra support policies; and

(3) the diversion of proceeds from the sale of arms to Iran.

Ultimately, all of these funds fell under the control of North, and through him, Secord and Hakim.

North used political fundraisers Carl R. Channell and Richard R. Miller to raise millions of dollars from wealthy Americans, illegally using a tax-exempt organization to do so. These funds, along with the private contributions, were run through a network of corporations and Swiss bank accounts put at North's disposal by Secord and Hakim, through which transactions were concealed and laundered. In late 1985 through 1986 the Enterprise became centrally involved in the arms sales to Iran. As a result of both the Iran and contra operations, more than $47 million flowed through Enterprise accounts.

Rick Wiles: Pat Robertson Becoming An 'Embarrassment' For Questioning Creationism

Rick Wiles, the End Times radio host who thinks the Sandy Hook and Columbine shootings were carried out by CIA “mind-control assassins” and that Adolf Hitler’s "race of super gay male soldiers” is taking over America, is angry at Pat Robertson for saying “crazy things” and becoming an “embarrassment” to the conservative movement.

Which of Robertson’s “crazy” statements is Wiles upset about? Is it his advice that a man divorce his wife if she has Alzheimer’s? Or his infamous “gay AIDS ring” theory? No, of course. Wiles is upset by the televangelist’s condemnation of Young Earth Creationism, the claim that the Earth is just 6,000 years old.

On his TruNews program on Friday, Wiles lamented that he used to look up to Robertson, but “in recent years, Dr. Robertson has been saying some really crazy things” about Creationism and is “becoming an embarrassment to those of us who are upholding the ancient faith handed down in the Book of Genesis.”

Wiles was joined by the Creation Museum’s Terry Mortenson, who explained that modern geology and the big bang theory were developed by “godless men or professing Christians who didn’t pay attention to what the Bible said.”

He added that scientists who fail to take the Bible literally are"really, really irresponsible" and like police detectives who ignore eyewitness testimony, because “God’s eyewitness testimony in the scripture is the key evidence for unravelling the rocks of the earth.”

Wiles spent the first half of his program presenting the totally reasonable theories that the Bilderberg Group is controlling U.S. presidential elections and that the Federal Reserve is going to start cutting off the bank accounts of same-sex marriage opponents. 

Rick Wiles Wonders If 'Bilderberg Boys' Already Picked Hillary Clinton To Be The Next President

In just a few minutes of Rick Wiles’ TruNews program on Friday, we learned that Hillary Clinton “covered up Vince Foster’s murder” and was chosen by the “Bilderberg boys” to be president; that the federal government is collecting bank account information in preparation to “steal” and “redistribute” wealth; that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is planning to cut off the bank accounts of same-sex marriage opponents and global warming deniers; and that something mysterious is up with the appointment of U.S.-Israeli dual citizen Stanley Fischer to be the vice-chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Wiles started off the program by speculating that Clinton and “Barack ‘Benghazi’ Obama” met last week “to get their story straight” about the 2012 Benghazi attack. “But that’s no big deal for Hillary,” Wiles said. “I’m sure she told Obama how she covered up Vince Foster’s murder.” He also invoked the conspiracy theory that the Netherlands-based Bilderberg Group, which is meeting this year in Copenhagen, is secretly controlling world affairs and has “chosen” Clinton to be the next president.

Hillary Clinton and Barack ‘Benghazi’ Obama held a secret meeting yesterday. Most likely, they need to get their story straight about what happened on the night of September 11, 2012, when Obama and Clinton let four Americans die at the hands of Islamic murderers. But that’s no big deal for Hillary. I’m sure she told Obama how she covered up Vince Foster’s murder. Or Hillary informed Obama that the Bilderberg boys called from Copenhagen and told her she’s been chosen to be president in 2016.

The U.S. federal government is building a massive database with personal financial information on every American citizen, all of your mortgage information, loans and credit card payments, account balances, credit history, late payments, minimum payments, account balances, racial and ethnic data, gender, marital status, religion, education, employment history, military status, the number of people in your home, your wealth, your assets, will be stored for Washington’s snoopy eyes. You see, the communists must first identify who has the wealth before they can steal it and redistribute it.

Later, during an interview with Gun Owners of America president Larry Pratt, Wiles wondered how “the governor of the Bank of Israel move over to the United States and become the deputy chairman of the Federal Reserve, and nobody said a word?” Stanley Fischer, President Obama’s nominee to the Fed position, is a dual U.S. and Israel citizen.

He also launched off allegations that the FDIC is scrutinizing gun sellers to claim that the government will soon “start cutting off the bank accounts of churches that uphold same-sex marriage” or of global warming deniers.

If this continues, with the Federal Reserve – and by the way, did you notice how last week, the Federal Reserve approved Stanley Fischer of the governor – deputy governor or deputy chairman – of the Federal Reserve? Who is Stanley Fischer? He was the governor of the Bank of Israel. Hello! How does the governor of the Bank of Israel move over to the United States and become the deputy chairman of the federal reserve, and nobody said a word?

That’s another topic, but if they are allowed to do this kind of stuff, this harassment, using the power of the federal reserve, the FDIC, to cut off the credit of legitmate businesses, Larry, they’re going to extend this to political correctness. For example, they’ll start cutting off the bank accounts of churches that uphold same-sex marriage. They’ll choose their topics: ‘Oh, you’re a global warming denier. We’re going to have to cut off your credit.’

Yesterday, Wiles’ guest was Republican Rep. Pete Hoekstra, the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Ken Ham Cites White House Science Fair To Promote Teaching Creationism In Public Schools

Creation Museum founder Ken Ham found it “ironic” that Bill Nye, who joined Ham in a debate on Creationism earlier this year, attended the White House Science Fair.

Ham wrote on his blog yesterday that evolution didn’t play a role in any of the projects featured in the fair, which he believes proves that teaching Creationism in public schools would not “undermine technology.”

“The students could all be biblical creationists and that wouldn’t change even one aspect of their experiments and ideas,” he said.

On May 27, President Obama hosted the “White House Science Fair.” The White House describes this fair as featuring “extraordinary science projects and experiments from some of America’s most innovative students.”

President Obama introduced various government officials, and then the fifth person he introduced was Bill Nye “the Science Guy” of TV fame. Nye received the loudest applause, and President Obama then commented on that response. I actually thought it was ironic that Bill Nye was present. Let me explain.



During that debate, Bill Nye made disparaging statements about the state of Kentucky, claiming that if students were not taught evolution in school, it would undermine technology. In fact he’s made many similar statements before and after the debate.



I have a question about the fair and its experiments: Please tell me what the role of a belief in evolution played in any of these experiments and innovative ideas? The answer is none! Evolution is not mentioned. The students could all be biblical creationists and that wouldn’t change even one aspect of their experiments and ideas. Isn’t it ironic, that Bill Nye, who has stated over and over again that students will not be innovative if they believe in creation, was present for these innovative students to be honored—and evolution had zero to do with their accomplishments!

He went on to invite students to attend a camp organized by the Creation Museum:

It’s not beliefs in evolution that are foundational to technology—it’s the Christian worldview founded in the Creator who created the laws of logic, the laws of nature, and the uniformity of nature!

To help your students love science and be innovative—don’t let them be taught by Bill Nye. Send them instead to the Creation Museum, and sign them up for the STEM camp this summer that is run by biblical creationists.

Stop Gay Marriage, Because Gun Rights

We have already heard from right-wing leaders about how blocking immigration reform is needed to preserve gun rights, but now one anti-gay activist argues that opposition to marriage equality is also linked to gun issues.

Former Pennsylvania lawmaker Sam Rohrer, who now leads the American Pastors Network, held a press conference yesterday demanding that Gov. Tom Corbett appeal a federal court ruling striking down the state’s ban on marriage equality, suggesting that the governor’s refusal to do so may jeopardize gun rights:

“If the federal government comes back and says, ‘We’re going to take away your guns – Second Amendment,’ and eviscerate that, or, ‘We’re going to take away private property rights,’ do you think this legislature or this governor is going to stand up and say, ‘Well, that’s fine, go ahead and do it’? Because if we do, we don’t live in a republic anymore.”

Rohrer blasted the court’s decision as “tyranny” and called for the removal of Judge John E. Jones III, who was appointed by George W. Bush and backed by then-Sen. Rick Santorum.

He also accused Jones of thinking that he is God:

"Let's be clear, this ruling was made by one man - a federal district judge unelected and unaccountable. Politically appointed, never facing the voters and never answering to the press, many people in this position when unrestrained by moral truth, perceive themselves to be above the law," said Rohrer, who held the press conference in the Rotunda of the state Capitol. "Indeed, their arrogance makes them appear as if they think they are God."



Rohrer accused Jones - who in ruling the former ban on gay marriage as a violation of constitutional rights said the law should be "discarded into the ash heap of history"...because "we are better people than these laws" - of aggressive ideological elitism. The pastor added that Jones seemed to have an "undeveloped or distorted understanding" of the basis for civil law, adding that the judge may have been motivated by an intentional defiance of God.

One pastor who joined Rohrer at the press conference said the ban on same-sex marriage was needed to stop crime in the African-American community:

The Rev. Todd Johnson, pastor at First Immanuel Baptist Church in Philadelphia, said the future welfare of the black community hinged on the protection of traditional marriage.

"Marriage is biblical and sacred honor between one man and one woman," he said. "In the African-American community, the statistics are overwhelming: in traditional families anchored by the marriage of one man and one woman, children are less likely to commit a crime, less likely to have babies out of wedlock, more likely to graduate from school, and more likely to participate in the workforce in a meaningful way."

Johnson said the uptick in negative statistics in the black community has coincided with the dismantling of the nuclear family.

"Governor Corbett's decision shows a lack of traditional moral leadership, and in the end, it will have a tremendously negative impact on the already declining family structure in the urban African-American community," Johnson said.

Bob Vander Plaats Says Republicans Will Defeat Gay Rights 'Just Like With Slavery'

Yesterday, Iowa conservative activist Bob Vander Plaats once again compared the GOP’s fight against marriage equality to efforts to abolish slavery, proclaiming that Republicans will win their battle against gay rights “just like with slavery.”

The Family Leader president spoke with radio host Steve Deace about Republican politicians who they believe are caving on the issue of same-sex marriage.

Deace, for example, blamed Pennsylvania Republican Gov. Tom Corbett’s dismal polling on his refusal to appeal a court ruling which struck down his state’s ban on same-sex marriage, even though Corbett has had terrible polling numbers for several years.

Vander Plaats, whose group once claimed that black families were better off under slavery than they are today, said that Republicans should preserve their anti-gay stance: “We actually stand for what God has designed because, just like with slavery, the truth is on our side. We can win this battle.”

Mark Creech: 'Hunger Is Rampant In India' Because 'False Religion' Makes People Vegetarians

North Carolina Religious Right activist Mark Creech has a theory about why “hunger is rampant in India.” It’s not that “they don’t have enough food,” the Christian Action League director writes today in the Christian Post. Instead, he claims, it’s because “false religion has a stranglehold on their hope for a better future.”

“Though I do not mean to disparage that beautiful country, it cannot be denied the two prominent religions, Hinduism and Islam, hold the nation back,” he writes. He argues that the vegetarianism of many Hindus and what he believes is Islam’s teaching that “human initiative amounts to nothing” are perpetuating hunger in India.

“The factor determining wealth is connected more to a people's belief system than anything else,” he concludes. We hope nobody tells him about Qatar.

Few people ever question why Western Civilization has experienced so much abundance in comparison to poorer nations around the world. The reason is inextricably connected to Christianity. The Bible says, "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he" (Prov. 23:7). What individuals believe, what nations believe has everything to do with their essence and determines whether they grow, multiply, and succeed.

I served as a short-term missionary to India on three different occasions and saw this principle worked-out first-hand. India's economy has been stagnated for centuries. Though I do not mean to disparage that beautiful country, it cannot be denied the two prominent religions, Hinduism and Islam, hold the nation back. Hunger is rampant in India, but not because they don't have enough food. Hinduism teaches that people who die come back as animals. There are plenty of cows and pigs that roam the streets freely, but no one will slaughter them, even if their child's belly is bloated with malnutrition. Moreover, two hundred million "sacred cows," eat up enough food to feed seven people, taking enough sustenance that could feed as many as 1.4 billion. Neither will they kill the mice and rats that devour much of the grain. For those who have embraced Islam, the fatalism of that religion stifles human progress by telling them Allah has fated all that there is and human initiative amounts to nothing. False religion has a stranglehold on their hope for a better future.

So the affluence of a people doesn't simply rest with the presence of natural resources as many seem to think. There are plenty of countries that have considerably less natural resources that are more prosperous than those who have more natural resources, but are still not as prosperous. The factor determining wealth is connected more to a people's belief system than anything else.

Pat Robertson Thinks Cutting Air Pollution Won't Prevent Asthma Attacks, But Watching '700 Club' Can

In response to new EPA rules cutting carbon emissions, Pat Robertson mocked President Obama and EPA officials as “highly motivated zealots” who “worship the environment and worship climate.”

“The inmates have taken over the asylum,” the “700 Club” host said today. “There seems to be no relationship to actual, on ground activity.”

Despite evidence that air pollution is linked toheart attacks and respiratory diseases like asthma, Robertson mocked Obama for claiming that reducing pollutants would reduce asthma attacks and save lives: “Maybe he has a touch with the divine somehow.”

And why shouldn’t Robertson feel that way?

Instead of working to reduce air pollution, why doesn’t Obama just have everyone watch the “700 Club,” where Robertson will cure his viewers of asthma.

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