C4

GOP Rep.: Conservative Judges Needed To Stop Sharia Law

Last week on “Secure Freedom Radio,” Frank Gaffney asked Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., about Gaffney’s discredited report on the use of Sharia law in the U.S., telling the congressman that the judiciary is bending to the wishes of the Muslim Brotherhood to use Islamic jurisprudence in the court system.

Marino told Gaffney that America needs a president who is “not going to step back and allow this kind of activity to take place in our court rooms.”

“We need conservative judges, we need a conservative president who will appoint conservative justices to the Supreme Court and to the appellate court and the district court as well where this issue can be snuffed out immediately when the defendant tries to raise the issue,” Marino said.

National Right To Life Targeting GOP Congresswomen Who Objected To Abortion Ban’s Rape Provision

The National Right to Life Committee is indicating that it will work to unseat the anti-choice Republican House members who sidetracked a 20-week abortion ban last week because of a dispute over the wording of a rape exception.

The House members, led by Republican women including Rep. Renee Ellmers of North Carolina and Rep. Jackie Walorski of Indiana, objected to a provision that would have exempted rape survivors from the ban only if they first filed a police report describing their assault. The members contested that the provision would be politically unpopular and could discourage women from coming forward about sexual assaults. When GOP leaders cancelled a vote on the bill that had been scheduled for the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, anti-choice groups were furious, prompting Sen. Lindsey Graham to  beg for their help to “find a way out of this definitional problem with rape.”

LifeNews reports that National Right to Life’s Carol Tobias recently sent an email to supporters urging them to tell Ellmers and her allies, “If you vote or work behind the scenes to allow the slaughter of abortion to continue, you will hear from pro-life voters loudly and clearly at the polls”:

In an email to supporters that LifeNews.com received titled “Elected Officials Who Betray Unborn Babies Have to Go,” Tobias said, “Last week, a small handful of congresswomen and men did something absolutely unconscionable. These lawmakers claim to be “pro-life,” and they were elected to Congress in part because they promised their constituents they would support laws to save the lives of unborn babies.”

“But despite their solemn promises to their pro-life constituents and more important, to the unborn, they ganged up last week to sidetrack for now the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. This humane bill would ban abortions when an unborn baby is developed enough feel terrible pain during an abortion – and if you can’t vote for such a humanitarian no-brainer of a law to protect the unborn, you can’t be trusted to vote for any pro-life legislation,” Tobias added.

We need to send a message loud and clear to all “pro-life” representatives who ask for our vote, but who betray the lives of vulnerable unborn babies when they get in office: If you vote or work behind the scenes to allow the slaughter of abortion to continue, you will hear from pro-life voters loudly and clearly at the polls ,” Tobias added.

Ironically, the last time the 20-week ban was being considered in Congress, NRLC was attacked by others in the anti-choice movement for being too moderate on rape exceptions.

A version of the bill approved by a House committee in 2013 had contained only an exception for abortions that would save the lives of pregnant women; GOP leaders quietly added the rape exception with the reporting requirement after the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Trent Franks, sparked controversy by implying that rape rarely results in pregnancy. When NRLC continued to support the bill, which had originally been based on its own model legislation, one of its chapters broke off and started a rival group promoting a no-exceptions policy to abortion bans.

A number of no-exceptions anti-choice groups continued to object to the most recent iteration of the 20-week ban because it contained a rape exception at all.

Roy Moore’s Approach To The Constitution: 'They Didn't Bring The Quran Over On The Pilgrim Ship'

In January of last year, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore denounced the decriminalization of sodomy and the separation of church in state in a speech to Pro-Life Mississippi and Pastors for Life in Jackson, Mississippi. Moore, who first received national attention when he lost his post for refusing to obey a court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument he erected in a courthouse rotunda, recently urged Alabama to flout a federal court’s decision finding that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

Moore’s understanding of the Constitution is pretty well summed up by his belief that Christianity and the Bible should have privileged roles in U.S. government because “they didn’t bring a Quran over on the Pilgrim ship, the Mayflower.”

Upset that the military was allowing “two men getting married in a chapel,” Moore said that America is forgetting about God and only turning to public worship “when we get in trouble, when they bombed the Twin Towers.”

“They don’t acknowledge Buddha,” Moore said of elected officials. “Buddha didn’t create us, Mohammad didn’t create us.”

Moore, who once described homosexuality as a “criminal lifestyle,” also criticized the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down bans “sodomy” bans in Lawrence v. Texas.

He said that the “abominations” of gay rights and legal abortion are now putting America in direct confrontation with God.

MRC Spox: Dan Savage Is 'One Of The Most Well-Known Vicious, Hating Individuals In The World'

To say that Tony Perkins is no fan of Dan Savage would be an understatement, as the Family Research Council president has threatened Savage with legal action and claimed that the It Gets Better Project is a “disgusting” attempt to “recruit” children into “perversion.”

Perkins invited Dan Gainor of the conservative Media Research Center onto his “Washington Watch” radio program to discuss reports that Savage will have a new show on ABC, and the two fumed at the news.

“How in the world can ABC think that this will fly?” Perkins asked. Gainor warned that Savage’s new project “will be like Glee was to the gay agenda,” describing Savage as “one of the most well-known vicious, hating individuals in the world.”

“It is something you would expect from the old Soviet Union,” Gianor added.

Has The AFA Changed Its Position On Sodomy Laws?

Yesterday, the American Family Association announced that it was stripping Bryan Fischer of his position as a spokesman for the group. The AFA's move to distance itself from Fischer’s regular barrages of bigotry apparently came in response pressure from its allies in the Republican National Committee, who are preparing to go on a tour of Israel on AFA's dime. (Though the fact that the group is retaining Fischer as a radio personality on its American Family Radio network makes the whole thing somewhat less convincing.)

In what seems to be part of this effort, AFA has sent the Southern Poverty Law Center a letter explicitly denouncing a laundry list of Fischer’s statements, from his blaming the Holocaust on gay people to his insistence that the First Amendment applies only to Christians.

But one statement in the letter stands out:

AFA rejects the policy advocated by Bryan Fischer that homosexual conduct should be illegal.

Really? Is AFA renouncing its support for criminal sodomy laws?

If the AFA has indeed changed its positions on criminal prohibitions on “homosexual conduct,” that would certainly be news! But we somehow wonder if this is yet another example of the group saying one thing to its critics while it continues to say another to its base.

After all, in 2003, when the Supreme Court was preparing to hear arguments in Lawrence v. Texas, the case that struck down state-level prohibitions on sexual relationships between consenting adults of the same sex, the AFA submitted an amicus brief [PDF] passionately defending such laws.

AFA’s attorneys urged the court to consider the “injury caused to the public by same-sex sodomy,” which it implied was more harmful than rape:

In addition to the concrete physical harms that can be caused by private vices, morals laws may prevent moral harm, both to the potential wrongdoer and to the community at large. Just as “[a] physical environment marred by pollution jeopardizes people’s physical health; a social environment abounding in vice threatens their moral wellbeing and integrity.” The injury caused to the public by same-sex sodomy was well understood in the past. Blackstone, having spent several pages immediately prior on rape and abduction, introduces the section on sodomy as dealing with an offense “of a still deeper malignity,” “the very mention of which is a disgrace to human nature.” Plainly, this crime is of a different magnitude. [citations removed for clarity]

AFA also warned that sodomy laws protect “the well-being of those engaged in the immoral behavior,” and that though they “may seem severe to those struggling with strong sexual urges” they will be “beneficial in the end”:

Another interest often overlooked in analysis of the issue of public harms occasioned by private immorality is that of the well-being of those engaged in the immoral behavior. The enormous price in terms of illness, disease and death resulting from the conduct…is well documented.

But even aside from the health issue, it has been almost universally recognized that restraint is the sine qua non for social harmony. “Human society requires the direction and restraint of many impulses. Few of those impulses are more powerful or unpredictable than sexual desire.” Laws such as [these] may seem severe to those struggling with strong sexual urges, but the restraint they encourage is beneficial in the end. American jurisprudence long ago rejected Hume’s notion that “reason is, and ought only to be, the slave of the passions.”  [citations removed]

The same year, AFA’s Ed Vitigliano wrote in the American Family Association Journal that a victory in Lawrence would be necessary to preserve “the notion of law and morality inherent in the Judeo-Christian worldview” and praised sodomy laws as deriving “from an older recognition of an orderly natural world, reflecting an intelligent design and, thus, purpose within nature, called natural law.”

Interestingly, the nation’s highest court will be revisiting in Lawrence and Garner v. Texas the same general issues dealt with in a previous Supreme Court case. In Bowers v. Hardwick (1986), a 5-4 high court majority upheld Georgia’s sodomy statute.

That narrowest of decisions, however, pitted two culturally distinct appraisals of morality and law against each other – and in fact provides a clear lesson about what has become known as the culture war.

Sadly, however, since 1986 the more traditional Judeo-Christian views which prevailed in Bowers have been steadily eroding in our culture, in favor of the more postmodern views of the minority in that case. Should the Supreme Court in Lawrence take an opposite view than it did in Bowers, that would mean – quite remarkably – that in the span of only 17 years, the notion of law and morality inherent in the Judeo-Christian worldview had been decreed, by unelected judges, obsolete.

Most sodomy laws have already disappeared anyway. In 1960, all 50 states had such laws on their books – now only 13 states do. However, the repeal of these laws – either by state legislatures or judges – indicates that the statutes represent a worldview that is rapidly being abandoned in favor of postmodern relativism. Sodomy laws derive from an older recognition of an orderly natural world, reflecting an intelligent design and, thus, purpose within nature, called natural law.

We look forward to seeing the AFA issue a full retraction of its previous support for criminalizing “homosexual conduct.” But we aren’t holding our breath.

Not Even GOP's Own Witnesses Oppose Loretta Lynch

Not even the hearing witnesses invited by Judiciary Committee Republicans oppose Loretta Lynch as attorney general.
PFAW

Mike Huckabee: Obama Giving Muslims 'Special Rights' While 'Stomping All Over Christians'

Mike Huckabee stopped by the American Family Association’s radio network today to denounce the Obama administration as “incapable of knowing the difference between good and evil” in the fight against extremist groups.

The former governor and likely presidential candidate told Kevin McCullough of “AFA Today” that the Obama administration is “bending over backwards to do everything possible to accommodate Muslims but they don’t mind stomping all over Christians and they do it regularly. This is just the most astonishing reversal of true American tradition that I’ve ever seen.”

Huckabee, who in a previous appearance on American Family Radio said that the president is more familiar with madrassas than Boy Scout meetings, argued that the administration wants to let Muslims “enjoy special rights and privileges” while it at the same time ignores terrorists who claim they are motivated by Islam.

Group Organizing RNC Israel Trip Attacks Israel's 'Atheist Jews'

Sandy Rios, the American Family Association’s director of governmental affairs, said today that criticism of her organization’s role in financing a Republican National Committee trip to Israel is unfounded because Israel “could not have a better ally” than the AFA … despite the fact that God disapproves of the country’s “secular government” and is not “fond of atheist Jews” who live there.

“In terms of our teachings and our biblical understanding there could not be any more strong support for Israel than you find among people who understand and believe in the Bible and believe that God’s hand is on Israel, in spite of what’s happening there, in spite of its government,” she said. She mocked the notion “that God is in favor of a secular government or that God is fond of atheist Jews who occupy the land in Israel.”

“It is His land and I believe He will reclaim it in time,” Rios said.

In an apparent response to pressure from the RNC, the AFA distanced itself from its main spokesman Bryan Fischer yesterday, stripping him of his title while still allowing him to host a daily talk show on the organization’s radio network.

Rios has a history making such statements about American Jews. She has argued that “powerful Jewish forces” use groups like the ACLU to destroy America, claimed “Jewish leftists in this country are eager to embrace Islam,” lamented that “the Jewish vote in this country is so confused, so many of the Jews in this country are atheist and their hearts are with this President,” and warned that “Jewish atheists” are among “the worst enemies of the country.”

AFA president Tim Wildmon has agreed with her assessment: “Most of the Jews in this country, unfortunately, are far-left.”

Nebraska GOP Board Of Education Member With Racist Blog: 'I Am Not A Racist'

The Republican member of the Nebraska Board of Education who until recently ran a blog that called President Obama a “half-breed” and railed against “queers and perverts” is facing calls from his peers to resign from his post.

By a 6-2 vote yesterday, Pat McPherson’s fellow state school board members approved a resolution calling on him to step down, but he has refused to comply.

McPherson, who maintains that he didn’t write the posts in question but refuses to reveal who did, told the board that the controversy over the racist posts on his blog was manufactured by his political adversaries on the left who want to “overturn an election.”

“I am not a racist,” McPherson said, before blaming “the frenzy around this” on “political interests who opposed me in the general election” who want to “inflame the issue using the racist appellation.”

One of McPherson’s allies, Doug Kagan of the conservative group Taxpayers for Freedom, claimed McPherson is the victim of “a witch hunt against him.”

McPherson said he was merely “negligent” in supervising the material that appeared on his blog and said it was the first time he had ever been accused of racism.

CPAC Superheroes: Who's The Hulk?

If “superhero” is not the word that comes to mind when you think of Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz, or Rick Perry, you clearly aren’t CPAC material. The Conservative Political Action Conference, the annual right-wing gathering hosted by the American Conservative Union, is promoting this year’s event with a graphic inspired by the movie “Avengers” – or Disney’s animated series “Avengers Assemble.”

As in the Marvel universe, there are some household names, and some clearly second- or third-tier heroes. We’ll leave it to you to speculate on the superpowers wielded by Bobby Jindal, John Bolton, Laura Ingraham, Ben Carson, and others.

Mike Huckabee Says He Can Win Because 'American Sniper' Was A Hit

Whenever a Republican presidential candidate prepares to campaign in Iowa, he or she will inevitably start putting in appearances on “The Steve Deace Show.” Ben Carson recently chatted with Deace about why Congress should remove judges from office if they rule in favor of marriage equality; Bobby Jindal used his appearance on the program to promote the “no-go zone” myth and deride Democrats as weak on security issues; Ted Cruz told Deace that civil disobedience may be necessary to stop gay rights; and Rick Santorum even guest hosted Deace’s show.

Yesterday, Mike Huckabee, another likely presidential candidate, spoke with Deace about his new book, “God, Guns, Grits and Gravy.”

Deace asked Huckabee if he could win a general election since he is currently seen as a far-right conservative who, just like Dan Quayle after he made speeches attacking fictional TV character Murphy Brown, will be stuck talking about his criticism of musicians like Beyoncé.

Huckabee said he will win because more people live in the “flyover country” than the “bubbles” of Washington, D.C., New York and Los Angeles, citing the commercial strength of films like “The Blind Side” and “American Sniper” as proof that conservatives represent an electoral majority.

Oddly, he used the two films, both distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, to attack Hollywood and allege that the entertainment industry doesn’t understand Americans and is more interested in producing “bombs” like “Noah” (which in fact was a box office success).

The former Arkansas governor said he will win the presidency by securing support from conservatives, whom he suggested were uninspired by Mitt Romney’s milquetoast social conservativism.

“I just don’t agree with the assessment that we’re on the losing side of history,” he said. “I keep hearing that my strong adherence to biblical marriage is ‘on the wrong side of history.’ I don’t really think so. My ‘view of life is outdated.’ I don’t think so. Am I going to carry New York or the District of Columbia or California? Probably not. But guess what, no other Republican is either. The question is: do we have somebody who can rally the people and get that mass of voters who do live in flyover country to show up? Because if Mitt Romney had four percent more of just evangelical voters — don’t even include the middle-class economic voters or pro-life Catholics —four percent more, he would’ve been president.”

Huckabee told Deace that that the country is polarized between “Bubbleville” and “Bubbaville,” or real America, and he intends to rally “Bubba” voters all the way to the White House.

He said conservatives understand that liberals in “Bubbleville” have an “irrational, illogical way of looking at life” and are determined to make sure that businesspeople are “forced either to make decisions that they don’t want to make morally or fined or threatened with jail time because they don’t want to make a gay wedding cake.”

“When people in ‘Bubbleville,’ when they say ‘diversity,’ what they mean is ‘uniformity’; when they say ‘tolerant,’ what they mean is ‘intolerant,’” Huckabee said. This is the ultimate example of how we have really come to the Orwellian, 1984 newspeak of 2015.”

Anti-LGBT Groups Cheer On Roy Moore's Standoff With Federal Courts

Earlier this week, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore sent a letter to Alabama’s governor urging him to ignore a federal court ruling striking down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage because, he wrote, “the laws of our state have always recognized the Biblical admonition” against homosexuality.

Moore’s arguments may be legally questionable, but his stand against the federal courts seems to be catapulting him back into right-wing hero status that he hasn’t seen since he defied a court order to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from his court’s rotunda.

Anti-LGBT groups have been praising the move by the viciously anti-gay judge.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins praised Moore for standing up against marriage equality, which he warned is a threat “not just to our nation’s stability, but to its very survival":

Federal judges may have the last word on marriage -- but they won’t have the final one. That’s becoming abundantly clear in Alabama, the latest state to feel the sting of a runaway court invalidating the will of the people on marriage. In a letter to Governor Robert Bentley (R-Ala.), Chief Justice Roy Moore made that quite clear -- explaining that this isn’t an issue that the federal courts will resolve. Rather, he said, it “raises serious, legitimate concerns about the propriety of federal court jurisdiction over the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment.”

Unelected judges and a handful of lawyers have been pushing state marriage amendments over like sleeping cows. Meanwhile, stunned Americans have struggled to make sense of a legal system that puts its own political agenda ahead of the expressed will of the people. Like most conservatives, FRC has watched in horror as the courts have robbed tens of millions of Americans of their voice on an issue of critical importance -- not just to our nation’s stability, but to its very survival.

Bryan Fischer, who at the time he made the comments was a spokesman for the American Family Association, also praised Moore for taking “a stand against judicial tyranny”:

State justices can, as Justice Moore has done, defy unconstitutional federal rulings which have overturned marriage amendments. Governors, such as Gov. Bentley, can defy unconstitutional federal rulings by forbidding county clerks to issue marriage licenses which would be in violation of the state constitution. (First Amendment law firms such as the Alliance Defending Freedom have pledged to defend pro bono any clerks who refuse to issue same-sex licenses on grounds of conscience.)

Such actions would most emphatically not represent civil disobedience, but rather the best in civil obedience. An elected official can hardly be charged with rebellion when he is simply fulfilling the oath he took before God to uphold both the federal constitution and the constitution of his own state.

Meanwhile, CitizenGo, a petition hub run in part by National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown, asked supporters to sign a petition commending Moore for "standing up against the federal tyranny that seeks to impose gay ‘marriage’ on the state of Alabama":

Chief Justice Roy Moore,

Thank you for standing up against the federal tyranny that seeks to impose gay "marriage" upon the state of Alabama. Your bold stand against the redefinition of marriage and the erosion of our nation's moral foundations is an inspiration.

I want you to know that I stand with you as you resist the federal government's unconstitutional demands regarding homosexual "marriage."

I encourage you to fulfill your duty as a lesser magistrate to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the great state of Alabama by resisting these unjust demands.

Meanwhile, the Foundation for Moral Law, the group that Moore led before returning to the Alabama Supreme Court and which is now run by his wife, hasn't reacted to Moore's letter. But the group did respond to the judge’s ruling by acknowledging that “Jesus loves” gay people but “homosexual conduct is still sin, and we must stand firm for what is right.”

“Alabamians approved the 2006 Sanctity of Marriage Amendment by 81% of the vote,” she said, “and the will of the people should not be lightly discarded in favor of an alleged right that is found nowhere in the Constitution.” She added that the Foundation bears no animus toward the plaintiffs in this case or in any other: “Jesus loves them, and He died for their sins as well as for mine. But homosexual conduct is still sin, and we must stand firm for what is right.”

Meet David Lane: The Anti-Gay, Christian-Nation Extremist Of The RNC

Last night, Rachel Maddow reported that the American Family Association has fired Bryan Fischer as its official spokesman, while letting Fischer keep his radio show on the organization’s radio network. The move apparently came as a result of growing controversy surrounding a trip to Israel for Republican National Committee delegates bankrolled by the AFA.

It didn’t look good for the RNC that the group paying the tab for the trip to Israel has a spokesman and radio host who believes that gay people are modern-day Nazis who are responsible for the Holocaust, demands Jewish conversion to Christianity (and wants to require conversion for Jewish and other non-Christian immigrants), and insists that non-Christians have no First Amendment rights: “Counterfeit religions, alternative religions to Christianity, have no First Amendment right to the free exercise of the religion.”

However, the RNC trip’s chief organizer, David Lane of the American Renewal Project, which has close ties to the AFA, is no less radical than Fischer … but his extreme views haven’t stopped Republicans from embracing Lane.

lane

Priebus, center. Lane, far right. Via The Brody File.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has appeared at Lane’s political gatherings and praised his radical anti-LGBT activism. In fact, potential Republican presidential candidates like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry and Mike Pence have either appeared at Lane’s events, which typically take place in early primary states, or participated in election-themed advertisements for Lane’s group.

Bobby Jindal, who has participated in both ventures, even hosted a prayer rally last weekend that was organized by Lane and funded by the AFA.

Lane and the AFA also organized an earlier visit to Israel for Paul and Perry, and Lane also organized Huckabee’s recent trip to Europe.

Lane, who describes himself as a political operative who prefers working behind the scenes, shares Fischer’s view that God is preparing to violently punish America for its tolerance of homosexuality. Lane, like Fischer, also believes that gay Republicans and gay rights supporters in the GOP are dangerous figures who will help bring the country down. He has:

  • Feared that God might destroy the U.S. just as he punished Nazi Germany: “If we get judgment like Nazi Germany, I’m assuming we go to rebel, and God says ‘I’m done.’”
  • Favorably quoted a Christian author who said that “same-sex marriage practiced universally is suicide. To survive gays and lesbians are parasites, depending for their cultural survival on couples that birth the next generation.”
  • Explained why homosexuality is a threat to freedom: “Homosexuality is debauchery. God’s loyalty and fidelity — that guard the nation — make sustainable freedom dependent on seeking virtue.”
  • Predicted that homosexuality will lead to the destruction of America: “Homosexual desire and marriage is unnatural and — more so — is a symptom of advanced cultural decay and precursor to the collapse of the Republican Party and the nation.... The mark of a decadent society is the exaltation and normalization of sin — which leads to the death.”
  • Compared Republicans who support marriage equality to politicians who backed slavery in the run-up to the Civil War.

“What is our aim?” Lane asked in a 2013 op-ed. “One word only: victory, in spite of all intimidation and terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, America will ultimately collapse.”

He has set his sights at the separation of church and state, warning that “America is lost, one has to think through and devise a strategy to recapture our Christian heritage and reestablish our Christian culture.” Lane has also outlined his strategy to further entrench his radical ideology in the Republican Party by holding prayer rallies like “The Response,” sponsoring events featuring GOP leaders, known as “restoration” and “renewal” events or “pastor policy briefings,” and recruiting 1,000 pastors to run for elected office.

Urging conservatives to “wage war for the Soul of America and trust the living God to deliver the pagan gods into our hands,” Lane wants conservatives to embrace his exclusionary Christian Nationalist beliefs and abolish the separation of church and state. Lane:

  • Called the separation of church and state a “lie” and a “fabricated whopper” used to stop “Christian America – the moral majority – from imposing moral government on pagan public schools, pagan higher learning and pagan media.”
  • Claimed that while “America was a Christian nation” since its founding, now it must choose between being “a Christian nation or a pagan nation.”
  • Said America needs a “thorough cleaning from pornography, abortion, homosexuality, filth from TV and Hollywood, racism, and injustice.”
  • Congratulated a pastor for exposing Mitt Romney’s belief in the “false god of Mormonism” during the 2012 GOP primaries.
  • Lamented that the “‘religion of secularism’ has produced red ink as far as the eye can see, homosexuals praying at the Inauguration, tax-funded abortion, homosexual marriage in several States, Evangelicals held in contempt, and God expelled from the classrooms of America — and the public square.”
  • Warned that while America has “grovel to the false god of Islam,” “America, a Christian nation in heritage and culture, is being dismantled brick by brick.”

Catherine Engelbrecht: Blame Immigrants For Voter Disenfranchisement

Catherine Engelbrecht, head of the “voter fraud” vigilante group True the Vote, testified this morning at a hearing on the nomination of Loretta Lynch to be U.S. attorney general. Engelbrecht discussed her claims that she was targeted by the IRS, but also criticized Attorney General Eric Holder for his work protecting voter rights.

Engelbrecht said she was “extremely disappointed” to hear comments from Lynch acknowledging that voter ID laws are meant to suppress minority voter turnout and applauding the Justice Department’s work protecting voting rights. (Lynch was merely acknowledging the reality: a federal judge in Texas, for instance, found that proponents of one such voter ID law “were motivated, at the very least in part, because of and not merely in spite of the voter ID law's detrimental effects on the African-American and Hispanic electorate.”)

She added that critics of voter suppression laws have it all wrong and that “the most significant voter disenfranchisement threat currently facing our country” is President Obama’s executive actions deferring deportation for some undocumented immigrants, whom she implied would illegally register to vote.

Engelbrecht has previously criticized a bipartisan effort to restore the Voting Rights Act as a “move toward race-based segregation” because it ensured federal oversight for areas with a history of disenfranchising minority voters.

Engelbrecht left out of her remarks a line in her official prepared testimony alleging that Holder has “created a radical, racialist agency that metes out social justice on an as needed basis to promote the advancement of a progressive agenda.”

PFAW: American Family Association Fires Bryan Fischer, Can't Hide Its Extremism Or His Connection To The GOP

WASHINGTON -- MSNBC's Rachel Maddow reported last night that the American Family Association (AFA) has fired its longtime spokesman, Bryan Fischer, from his position as the organization’s director of issues analysis. However, AFA reportedly plans to keep Fischer as the host of a daily program on its radio network.

Fischer has a long record of bigotry and extremism, chronicled by People For the American Way’s Right Wing Watch. He repeatedly blames gay men for the Holocaust, says that non-Christians have no right to First Amendment protections, has derided African American welfare recipients as “people who rut like rabbits,” and once attacked a Medal of Honor recipient for having “feminized” the honor.

"The AFA has for years tolerated Fischer's bigotry, and Republicans have for years been perfectly willing to associate themselves with Fischer and the AFA," said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. "What changed is not that they stopped agreeing with his views but that he finally became too great a political liability."

Fischer was removed from his position under apparent political pressure related to a trip to Israel that AFA is organizing for dozens of members of the Republican National Committee, which begins this weekend. The other organizer of the trip is David Lane, a Christian-nation activist whose views are just as troubling as Fischer’s.

"Bryan Fischer is one of the most colorful bigots in the game," said Keegan. "But changing Fischer's title can't hide the fact that the AFA remains an extreme group that was willing to tolerate his abhorrent statements until they became too politically inconvenient."

"The RNC is still partnering with a group that wants to send LGBT people back into the closet and claim the U.S. government for Christians and Christians only."

People For the American Way Resources on Bryan Fischer, the American Family Association, and David Lane:

Right Wing Watch’s archive of articles on Fischer
PFAW Report: The GOP’s Favorite Hate-Monger: How The Republican Party Came To Embrace Bryan Fischer
RWW Post: RNC Teams Up With Anti-Gay Extremist And Hate Group
RWW Post: David Lane: Republican Presidential Hopefuls’ Favorite ‘Christian Nation’ Extremist

###
 

National School Choice Week: PR For Privatizers?

On Wednesday morning, a roomful of school children were herded into a congressional meeting room and required to sit through an hour and a half worth of speeches by conservative Members of Congress, including House Speaker John Boehner, Sens. Ted Cruz and Tim Scott, Chief Deputy Whip Rep. Patrick McHenry, Education & Workforce Committee Chair John Kline of Minnesota, and a handful of others. Rep. Luke Messer of Indiana was the emcee.

The Capitol Hill event was in honor of National School Choice Week, whose organizers describe it as a nonpolitical, nonpartisan “independent public awareness campaign” promoting the idea that every child deserves access to an excellent education. Who would disagree?

In other words, it’s a PR campaign, one that wraps itself in the moral mantle of children. But the bright yellow scarves it wraps around its participants are meant to distract attention from the fact that sponsors of this week’s thousands of events include many anti-public education, anti-union, anti-government ideologues, including the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, the Heritage Foundation, the Alliance for Prosperity and others. The President of National School Choice Week, Andrew Campanella, used to work at the Alliance for School Choice, whose board is chaired by deep-pocketed right-wing activist Betsy DeVos and is funded by a who’s who of right-wing foundations.

As we noted during last year’s NSCW:

Education policy is a vast, complicated, and hotly contested arena. Terms like “education reform” and “school choice” sound good, but they are so broad as to be almost meaningless. They can be applied to genuine efforts to strengthen teaching and educational opportunity as well as cynical schemes to destroy public employee unions and dismantle public education altogether.

In particular, “school choice” encompasses a huge array of education policies, from public charter and magnet schools to taxpayer-funded for-profit cyberschools and homeschooling.  Even a seemingly specific term like “charter schools” cloaks a more complex reality that ranges from innovation labs co-located in public schools to for-profit chain operations.  

Indeed, this year, Richard Kahlenberg and Halley Potter published “A Smarter Charter: Finding What works for Charter Schools and Public Education.” The book documents that the original vision for charter schools – teachers empowered to be creative in diverse schools that could identify ways to strengthen public education – has been turned on its head. Rather than a teacher-empowering and collaborative paradigm, charter schools are often noted for tightly controlled teachers in highly segregated schools dominated by an ideology of competition with public schools. 

There are more collaborative models, just as there are charter schools with strong academic track records as well as those that lag behind the public schools that choice advocates consistently disparage. Important distinctions get lost under the big, vague, banner of school choice. And that’s intentional.

NSCW is about painting in broad strokes and drawing no distinctions, for example, between public magnet schools and for-profit corporations cashing in on the “reform” movement. No distinction is made between giving students choice among their district’s public schools and diverting education dollars into religious academies and online homeschooling via vouchers and other schemes.  These do not have the same impact on public schools, or the same levels of public accountability, but in the interest of keeping things simple, and winning public support for across-the-board expansion of these programs, they’re all “choice.”

As we wrote last year:

The problem with this “collective messaging” approach is that it hides the anti-public-education agenda of some “reformers.” Celebrating “school choice” across the board lends credibility to organizations pushing for destructive policies that are not at all popular with the American public. In spite of decades of right-wing-funded attacks on public education, for example, Americans oppose privatization plans like vouchers that transfer public education funds to private schools.

Self-proclaimed reformers often dismiss concerns about privatization as a “red herring.” But you can’t embrace the Milton Friedman Foundation as a partner and then pretend that privatization is only an imaginary threat dreamed up by teachers unions.  Friedman has an explicit goal of getting rid of public schools altogether; they see programs like vouchers for poor kids as a tactical stepping stone toward that ultimate goal.

Other supporters of National School Choice Week have included companies that want to tap into the huge flow of public dollars spent every year on education. K12, a member of the “choice”-promoting American Legislative Exchange Council and a company the New York Times has described as “the biggest player in the online-school business,” paid its president more than $5.5. million last year; two other executives each made more than $4 million. A November 2014 investigation by Bloomberg focused on the company’s efforts to turn around “subpar test scores” and declining enrollments.

National School Choice Week promoters say it is nonpolitical and has no legislative agenda, but that’s hard to take seriously given the agendas of its backers. At this week’s event on Capitol Hill, the only Democratic Member of Congress to join the Republican parade was Illinois’ Dan Lipinski, who declined to endorse Barack Obama’s re-election in 2012. (Former Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford also spoke.)

Members of Congress at Wednesday’s event talked about pushing legislation this year to expand “school choice” programs, meaning that battles over vouchers, charter schools, and other education issues will be on the agenda this year, including February’s Senate markup of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. And, according to Americans United for Separation of Church and State, “There are currently private school voucher and tuition tax credit programs in 23 states and at least 10 states are looking to create new or expanding existing school voucher programs this year.”

Obviously, not everyone who participates in National School Choice Week activities is an anti-public-education ideologue. People from across the political spectrum are eager to strengthen schools and give students an opportunity for a great education. That includes public school teachers, administrators, and school board members – people who are collectively smeared as “the blob” by some “reformers.” People who are seeking to strengthen public education and make schools better for all children should think twice about making common cause with organizations that see public education as something to be dismantled and corporations that see students as the means to a bigger bottom line.

This post originally appeared on People For the American Way's blog.

Ben Carson: Police Protests Help Al Qaeda, ISIS

Last Wednesday, likely Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson appeared on “The Andy Parks Show” to discuss a recent meeting he had with the leader of the New York Police Department Sergeants Benevolent Association.

Carson told Parks that NYPD officers have completely lost faith with New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio because of comments he made that some perceived as sympathetic to people protesting excessive force by police in the death of Eric Garner. Lamenting the recent debates over police tactics in New York and other cities in the U.S., Carson worried that violent groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda will capitalize on the discord.

After Parks said people should move on and focus on “real problems” like national security threats — “We’ve got ISIS, we’ve got Al Qaeda, we’ve got constant terrorist threats around the world” — Carson cheerfully agreed.

“Can you imagine how delighted they are when they see all of this strife, internal strife?” Carson said. “They’re saying, ‘Oh my this is going to make it easy for us. We’ll get in there, we’ll infiltrate, we’ll get things going and they won’t even notice what’s going on.”

J. Christian Adams Attacks Loretta Lynch For Acknowledging That Structural Racism Exists

The Senate Judiciary Committee held its first hearing today on Loretta Lynch’s nomination to be U.S. attorney general, which Senate Republicans mostly used as an opportunity to attack current Attorney General Eric Holder and to try to extract promises from Lynch that she would break course from Holder on issues like immigration enforcement.

But it might be tough for Lynch to completely appease Holder’s critics on the Right, who have repeatedly attacked the attorney general for working to fight racially discriminatory voting laws and acknowledging racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

In fact, J. Christian Adams, a former Justice Department official who has become one of Holder’s most prominent critics on the Right, attacked Lynch today for her statements implying that structural racism exists in areas like voting rights and law enforcement.

“I think that Lynch buys into this same grievance industry about structural racism in the United States, about how minorities cannot get a fair shake ever, that the system is stacked against them, that it’s a collectivist, anti-individual approach to things,” Adams warned the American Family Association’s Sandy Rios.

“I think that Lynch is going to sound a lot like an Eric Holder mini-me when it comes to election issues and voter ID,” he said.

Earlier in the interview, Adams discussed an article he co-wrote with the Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky yesterday urging Republicans, as he told Rios, to use the Lynch hearings to “extract course corrections out of the Justice Department.”

In particular, Adams wants the Justice Department to stop hiring attorneys who have previously provided legal representation to terror suspects. (Similar attacks on DOJ attorneys by Liz Chaney in 2010 were condemned by a group of Bush administration officials as “shameful” and “unjust.”)

“We’ve had an attorney general who has turned toward lawyers who have worked for Al Qaeda terrorists, who were their attorneys, to then work at the Justice Department,” Adams said.

“That’s how crazy it’s gotten in the last six years, where it seems that one of the top qualifications to become a lawyer working for the Justice Department is that you used to work at Al Qaeda, or for Al Qaeda detainees.”

Adams demanded that Republicans “get a commitment out of [Lynch] to stop catering to this far-left-wing legal world that hates U.S. foreign policy, that hates detainee policy, that hates Gitmo, that that hates our war on terror.”

Sandy Rios Thinks The Government Is Blackmailing Sen. Menendez With Discredited Prostitution Story

On her radio program today, the American Family Association’s Sandy Rios raised the prospect that someone in high places may be blackmailing Sen. Robert Menendez, the New Jersey Democrat who recently agreed to delay a vote on an Iran sanctions bill he is cosponsoring as nuclear negotiations continue.

Rios speculated that Menendez has been “silenced” by someone with information about his alleged use of prostitutes. The prostitution story, which originated with The Daily Caller, was discredited after it was revealed that people were paid off to make the false claims about Menendez, possibly at the behest of the Cuban government.

But Rios seems to have missed the fact that the prostitution story was completely bogus, speculating that Menendez is now being blackmailed into delaying the vote on new Iranian sanctions.

“He has a terrible personal — there are terrible personal reports about his life, with prostitutes and young girls,” Rios said. “Remember he just barely made it through the last scandal so when people are not careful about their personal conduct, then they can be silenced over threats. Now I’m not saying — I don’t know that this is happening, but why in the world, suddenly he saw it very clearly just a few days ago, now not so clearly.”

Democracy For All Amendment to #GetMoneyOut Becomes Bipartisan Bill

On Monday the push for the Democracy For All Amendment, a proposed constitutional amendment that would overturn decisions like Citizens United v. FEC and allow legislators to put reasonable limits on money in elections, became a bipartisan effort in Congress when Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) signed on as a cosponsor of the legislation.

While this is a historic step that deserves celebration, in many ways it is long overdue. Washington is the only place where the fight to get big money out of politics is a partisan issue, and it hasn’t always been that way.

Similar amendments proposed in the past have found bipartisan support in Congress, including from Rep. Jones. Republican elected officials across the country have been advocating at the local and state level to get big money out of politics. In fact, a recent report from Free Speech For People highlights the more than 100 Republican officials nationwide who favor an amendment to overturn decisions like Citizens United.

Among voters, it’s also a bipartisan movement, with Americans of all political stripes speaking out against a democracy unduly influenced by corporations and billionaires. A 2014 poll found that in Senate battleground states, almost three in four voters favor a constitutional amendment to undo the harm of decisions like Citizens United, including majorities in “even the reddest states.” This support did not waver among Republican voters polled: amendment supporters outnumbered opponents by a 26 percent margin.

Still, Rep. Jones’ decision to become a cosponsor of the Democracy For All Amendment is an important step forward. Money in politics is an issue that affects all of us, and one that Americans of all political backgrounds feel strongly about. It’s only fitting that our federal elected officials in both parties listen to the voices of their constituents and join the movement to take our democratic process back from the grips of wealthy special interests.

PFAW
Share this page: Facebook Twitter Digg SU Digg Delicious