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Voting For The Future Of Voting: Secretary of State Races To Watch

This post originally appeared on Right Wing Watch.

One influential issue at the ballot box this year is the future of how we cast our ballots. In secretary of state races throughout the country, voters will be choosing who runs their elections — and how open those elections are to all voters.

As Republican lawmakers continue to enact news laws aimed at curtailing the rights of voters, secretary of state elections have taken on renewed importance.

We’ve picked three key secretary of state races that we’ll be watching closely Tuesday and added a few more influential races that are also worth keeping an eye on. (And this isn’t even counting states like Florida and Pennsylvania, where the secretary of state is picked by the governor, leaving the gubernatorial elections will have even stronger voting rights implications.)

Kansas

Perhaps the hardest-fought and most-watched secretary of state race this year is taking place in the heavily Republican Kansas. And that’s all because of the national profile and extreme agenda of one man: incumbent Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

When Kobach won his job in 2010, he was already a national figure. After a stint in the Bush Justice Department, Kobach joined the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) — the legal arm of the nativist anti-immigrant group FAIR — where he worked with lawmakers to craft harsh anti-immigrant measures throughout the country, including Hazleton, Pennsylvania, and Arizona, where he helped write the infamous “show me your papers” law SB 1070. After a failed run for Congress in 2004, Kobach set his sights on his state’s elections office.

Kobach has recently gained a prominent place in national Republican politics, serving as an immigration policy adviser to Mitt Romney and working to insert anti-gay and anti-immigrant language into the 2012 GOP platform.

Kobach won his position handily in 2010, but is facing an unexpectedly tough fight to hold onto it. Part of the reason is because he’s kept up his out-of-state anti-immigrant work: He still holds a position at IRLI and jets around the country advising states and localities that have agreed to be his policy guinea pigs, prompting his critics to complain that he’s not spending enough time in Kansas. And part of it is because he’s brought his activism home, using his platform in Kansas to push some of the most extreme voting restrictions in the country by hyping fears that undocumented immigrants are voting en masse in Kansas.

In 2011, at Kobach’s urging, Kansas passed a restrictive voter ID law that included a requirement that those registering to vote provide a passport, birth certificate, or similar “proof of citizenship" to elections authorities. The proof-of-citizenship provision, which took effect this year, has thrown Kansas voter registration into chaos. Less than one week before the election, 22,394 potential Kansas voters are unable to cast ballots because they had not provided an acceptable form of citizenship documentation. In addition, Kobach has placed an estimated 300-400 voters in a special voting rights “tier” in which they can vote only in federal elections and not in state elections. Kobach has proudly reported that of the 200 people who were placed in this special class of disenfranchised voters in this summer's primary election, only one bothered to show up to cast a half vote.

Kobach is also at the helm of Interstate Crosscheck, a faulty program that claims to identify people who are voting in two states at once but in reality has encouraged states to purge eligible minority voters from their voter rolls.

Kansans became even more leery of Kobach’s priorities this year when he spent $34,000 in taxpayer money trying to keep a Democratic senate candidate, Chad Taylor, on the ballot after he dropped out to make way for the independent challenging Republican Sen. Pat Roberts. Kobach only relented when the state supreme court ordered him to, and even then he tried (unsuccessfully) to find a way around the order.

A recent poll shows Kobach tied with his Democratic challenger, Jean Schodorf.

Ohio

In the presidential swing state of Ohio, the secretary of state is often in the center of national battles over voting rights. Republican John Husted has been no exception.

In the lead-up to the 2012 election, Husted stepped in to break tie votes in Democratic-leaning Ohio counties, allowing those counties to eliminate night and weekend early voting hours... even as Republican-leaning counties expanded their early voting hours. In response to a national outcry, Husted enforced “uniformity” by requiring all counties to bring early voting opportunities down to the lowest common denominator, including cutting off night and weekend voting and eliminating early voting in the three days before the election. When a federal judge ordered Husted to reopen voting in the three days before the election, he flatly refused to comply, saying it would “confuse voters.” Eventually he relented, but as the election approached he appealed the ruling all the way to the Supreme Court.

Since the 2012 election, Husted has kept up his efforts to restrict early voting in 2014, fighting to eliminate the so-called “Golden Week” of early voting — in which voters can register and cast their ballots in one visit — and to cut early voting hours, including on Sundays, a time frequently used by African American churches for get-out-the-vote efforts.

Husted faces a Democrat state Sen. Nina Turner, a major critic of his record on voting rights. Although the two were neck-and-neck in an early poll, a recent poll shows Husted with a significant lead.

Arizona

Before Kansas ushered in its restrictive “proof of citizenship” law, Arizona was already fighting for a similar measure. In 2004, Arizona voters passed Proposition 200, a medley of anti-immigrant and voter suppression measures including a requirement that those registering to vote present one of a narrow set of documents to prove that they are citizens. The Supreme Court struck down the provision in 2013, saying that it was preempted by federal law — but left a loophole, suggesting that Arizona could sue the federal Election Assistance Commission to require that federal voter registration forms used in the state include the extra “proof of citizenship” requirement. So Arizona did just that, joined by Kansas under Kobach.

That case is still working its way through the courts, but it’s left a peculiar situation in Kansas and Arizona where Kobach and his Arizona counterpart Secretary of State Ken Bennett have set up dual-track voting systems in their states in which people who register to vote with a federal form but do not provide additional citizenship documents are allowed to vote in federal elections, but not in state elections. As we noted above, of about 200 Kansans on the special limited-rights voting track in this year’s primary election, just one voted. In Arizona, about 1,500 were put on the limited track, and 21 cast ballots.

Bennett isn’t up for reelection this year — he unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for governor — but the race to succeed him will determine the future implementation of Arizona’s restrictive requirements. Republican Michele Reagan sought and won Kobach’s endorsement, boasting that she voted for the infamous anti-immigrant bill that Kobach helped bring to Arizona. In the state senate, Reagan wrote a bill that, among other voting restrictions, would prevent community groups from collecting and delivering mail-in ballots, a method commonly used in voting drives by Latino groups. When an effort to repeal the bill by referendum started to gain steam, Reagan and her fellow Republicans worked to repeal it first, thus allowing the state legislature to bring back parts of the bill in a piecemeal fashion.

Reagan is facing off against Democrat Terry Goddard, a former state attorney general and mayor of Phoenix. Both candidates have said they want tighter disclosure requirements for “dark money” spending by outside groups. But when the Koch-backed 60 Plus Association bought $304,000 in ads attacking Goddard last week, she refused to distance herself from the dark money effort.

Reagan also struggled this week to explain her vote for Arizona’s so-called “birther bill,” which would have required presidential candidates to prove to the secretary of state that they are native-born American citizens.

Other States To Watch: Colorado, New Mexico, Arkansas, Iowa

In Colorado, Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler — a key Kobach ally and crusader against the supposed scourge of Democratic “organized voter fraud” who last year tried to stop county clerks from sending ballots to voters who had not voted in the the last election — is stepping down this year, having tried and failed to get his party’s gubernatorial nomination. In the race to replace him are Republican El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams, described by the Denver Post as Gessler’s “lone public ally” among clerks in the ballot controversy, and Democratic attorney Joe Neguse. The two differ on the sweeping elections overhaul Colorado passed last year, which allows same-day voter registration and requires the state to mail a ballot to every voter.

New Mexico’s secretary of state race has incumbent Republican Dianna Duran pitted against Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver, a rising Democratic star. Toulouse Oliver is emphasizing “full participation across a wide spectrum of the electorate” in her campaign, while Durran is accusing her of using “community-organizer, consultant-styled rhetoric.” In a TV ad that doubles as a promotion for right-wing myths about widespread voter fraud, Durran accuses Toulous Oliver of “registering a dog to vote.” In reality, a right-wing activist tried to register his dog to try to prove a point; he was caught and Toulouse Oliver referred his case to the proper authorities.

Earlier this month, the Arkansas Supreme Court struck down the state’s voter ID requirement, a ruling that Secretary of State Mark Martin is vowing to fight. As the case worked its way through the courts, Arkansas voters got conflicting messages from elections officials under Martin’s leadership. He faces a challenge from Democrat Susan Inman.

In Iowa, outgoing Secretary of State Matt Schultz spent $150,000 in taxpayer money in a quest to root out voter fraud in Iowa…and found none. He also conducted a voter roll purge that critics called an attempt to  intimidate Latino voters.” The race to succeed him — between Republican voter ID supporter Paul Pate and Democrat Brad Anderson — is locked in a dead heat.

PFAW

Voting For The Future Of Voting: Secretary of State Races To Watch

One influential issue at the ballot box this year is the future of how we cast our ballots. In secretary of state races throughout the country, voters will be choosing who runs their elections — and how open those elections are to all voters.

As Republican lawmakers continue to enact news laws aimed at curtailing the rights of voters, secretary of state elections have taken on renewed importance.

We’ve picked three key secretary of state races that we’ll be watching closely Tuesday and added a few more influential races that are also worth keeping an eye on. (And this isn’t even counting states like Florida and Pennsylvania, where the secretary of state is picked by the governor, leaving the gubernatorial elections will have even stronger voting rights implications.)

Kansas

Perhaps the hardest-fought and most-watched secretary of state race this year is taking place in the heavily Republican Kansas. And that’s all because of the national profile and extreme agenda of one man: incumbent Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

When Kobach won his job in 2010, he was already a national figure. After a stint in the Bush Justice Department, Kobach joined the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) — the legal arm of the nativist anti-immigrant group FAIR — where he worked with lawmakers to craft harsh anti-immigrant measures throughout the country, including Hazleton, Pennsylvania, and Arizona, where he helped write the infamous “show me your papers” law SB 1070. After a failed run for Congress in 2004, Kobach set his sights on his state’s elections office.

Kobach has recently gained a prominent place in national Republican politics, serving as an immigration policy adviser to Mitt Romney and working to insert anti-gay and anti-immigrant language into the 2012 GOP platform.

Kobach won his position handily in 2010, but is facing an unexpectedly tough fight to hold onto it. Part of the reason is because he’s kept up his out-of-state anti-immigrant work: He still holds a position at IRLI and jets around the country advising states and localities that have agreed to be his policy guinea pigs, prompting his critics to complain that he’s not spending enough time in Kansas. And part of it is because he’s brought his activism home, using his platform in Kansas to push some of the most extreme voting restrictions in the country by hyping fears that undocumented immigrants are voting en masse in Kansas.

In 2011, at Kobach’s urging, Kansas passed a restrictive voter ID law that included a requirement that those registering to vote provide a passport, birth certificate, or similar “proof of citizenship" to elections authorities. The proof-of-citizenship provision, which took effect this year, has thrown Kansas voter registration into chaos. Less than one week before the election, 22,394 potential Kansas voters are unable to cast ballots because they had not provided an acceptable form of citizenship documentation. In addition, Kobach has placed an estimated 300-400 voters in a special voting rights “tier” in which they can vote only in federal elections and not in state elections. Kobach has proudly reported that of the 200 people who were placed in this special class of disenfranchised voters in this summer's primary election, only one bothered to show up to cast a half vote.

Kobach is also at the helm of Interstate Crosscheck, a faulty program that claims to identify people who are voting in two states at once but in reality has encouraged states to purge eligible minority voters from their voter rolls.

Kansans became even more leery of Kobach’s priorities this year when he spent $34,000 in taxpayer money trying to keep a Democratic senate candidate, Chad Taylor, on the ballot after he dropped out to make way for the independent challenging Republican Sen. Pat Roberts. Kobach only relented when the state supreme court ordered him to, and even then he tried (unsuccessfully) to find a way around the order.

A recent poll shows Kobach tied with his Democratic challenger, Jean Schodorf.

Ohio

In the presidential swing state of Ohio, the secretary of state is often in the center of national battles over voting rights. Republican Jon Husted has been no exception.

In the lead-up to the 2012 election, Husted stepped in to break tie votes in Democratic-leaning Ohio counties, allowing those counties to eliminate night and weekend early voting hours... even as Republican-leaning counties expanded their early voting hours. In response to a national outcry, Husted enforced “uniformity” by requiring all counties to bring early voting opportunities down to the lowest common denominator, including cutting off night and weekend voting and eliminating early voting in the three days before the election. When a federal judge ordered Husted to reopen voting in the three days before the election, he flatly refused to comply, saying it would “confuse voters.” Eventually he relented, but as the election approached he appealed the ruling all the way to the Supreme Court.

Since the 2012 election, Husted has kept up his efforts to restrict early voting in 2014, fighting to eliminate the so-called “Golden Week” of early voting — in which voters can register and cast their ballots in one visit — and to cut early voting hours, including on Sundays, a time frequently used by African American churches for get-out-the-vote efforts.

Husted faces a Democrat state Sen. Nina Turner, a major critic of his record on voting rights. Although the two were neck-and-neck in an early poll, a recent poll shows Husted with a significant lead.

Arizona

Before Kansas ushered in its restrictive “proof of citizenship” law, Arizona was already fighting for a similar measure. In 2004, Arizona voters passed Proposition 200, a medley of anti-immigrant and voter suppression measures including a requirement that those registering to vote present one of a narrow set of documents to prove that they are citizens. The Supreme Court struck down the provision in 2013, saying that it was preempted by federal law — but left a loophole, suggesting that Arizona could sue the federal Election Assistance Commission to require that federal voter registration forms used in the state include the extra “proof of citizenship” requirement. So Arizona did just that, joined by Kansas under Kobach.

That case is still working its way through the courts, but it’s left a peculiar situation in Kansas and Arizona where Kobach and his Arizona counterpart Secretary of State Ken Bennett have set up dual-track voting systems in their states in which people who register to vote with a federal form but do not provide additional citizenship documents are allowed to vote in federal elections, but not in state elections. As we noted above, of about 200 Kansans on the special limited-rights voting track in this year’s primary election, just one voted. In Arizona, about 1,500 were put on the limited track, and 21 cast ballots.

Bennett isn’t up for reelection this year — he unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for governor — but the race to succeed him will determine the future implementation of Arizona’s restrictive requirements. Republican Michele Reagan sought and won Kobach’s endorsement, boasting that she voted for the infamous anti-immigrant bill that Kobach helped bring to Arizona. In the state senate, Reagan wrote a bill that, among other voting restrictions, would prevent community groups from collecting and delivering mail-in ballots, a method commonly used in voting drives by Latino groups. When an effort to repeal the bill by referendum started to gain steam, Reagan and her fellow Republicans worked to repeal it first, thus allowing the state legislature to bring back parts of the bill in a piecemeal fashion.

Reagan is facing off against Democrat Terry Goddard, a former state attorney general and mayor of Phoenix. Both candidates have said they want tighter disclosure requirements for “dark money” spending by outside groups. But when the Koch-backed 60 Plus Association bought $304,000 in ads attacking Goddard last week, she refused to distance herself from the dark money effort.

Reagan also struggled this week to explain her vote for Arizona’s so-called “birther bill,” which would have required presidential candidates to prove to the secretary of state that they are native-born American citizens.

Other States To Watch: Colorado, New Mexico, Arkansas, Iowa

In Colorado, Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler — a key Kobach ally and crusader against the supposed scourge of Democratic “organized voter fraud” who last year tried to stop county clerks from sending ballots to voters who had not voted in the the last election — is stepping down this year, having tried and failed to get his party’s gubernatorial nomination. In the race to replace him are Republican El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams, described by the Denver Post as Gessler’s “lone public ally” among clerks in the ballot controversy, and Democratic attorney Joe Neguse. The two differ on the sweeping elections overhaul Colorado passed last year, which allows same-day voter registration and requires the state to mail a ballot to every voter.

New Mexico’s secretary of state race has incumbent Republican Dianna Duran pitted against Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver, a rising Democratic star. Toulouse Oliver is emphasizing “full participation across a wide spectrum of the electorate” in her campaign, while Durran is accusing her of using “community-organizer, consultant-styled rhetoric.” In a TV ad that doubles as a promotion for right-wing myths about widespread voter fraud, Durran accuses Toulous Oliver of “registering a dog to vote.” In reality, a right-wing activist tried to register his dog to try to prove a point; he was caught and Toulouse Oliver referred his case to the proper authorities.

Earlier this month, the Arkansas Supreme Court struck down the state’s voter ID requirement, a ruling that Secretary of State Mark Martin is vowing to fight. As the case worked its way through the courts, Arkansas voters got conflicting messages from elections officials under Martin’s leadership. He faces a challenge from Democrat Susan Inman.

In Iowa, outgoing Secretary of State Matt Schultz spent $150,000 in taxpayer money in a quest to root out voter fraud in Iowa…and found none. He also conducted a voter roll purge that critics called an attempt to  intimidate Latino voters.” The race to succeed him — between Republican voter ID supporter Paul Pate and Democrat Brad Anderson — is locked in a dead heat.

Bachmann: Obama Wants To 'Flood Our Nation With Millions Of Sure-Thing Democrat Voters'

Rep. Michele Bachmann said today that if President Obama were to take executive action to prevent the deportation of some undocumented immigrants living in the United States, his goal would be to “flood our nation with millions of sure-thing Democrat [sic] voters” who would rely on “the United States government as their source of supply.”

“This will be the most significant achievement of President Obama’s second term,” Bachmann told Newsmax host Ed Berliner of the potential executive action. “It is what he has wanted from the very beginning, and that is to flood our nation with millions of new sure-thing Democrat voters. And the reason why is because he wants to bring a flood of individuals into the country who will be looking to the United States government as their source of supply.”

The Minnesota Republican went on to argue that such a move from the president would simultaneously hurt Democrats and ensure their victory in future elections: “That won’t help the Democrat Party, the president’s actions will hurt the Democrat Party in future elections, but the president unfortunately doesn’t care because his long-term view is that it will eventually deliver voters to the Democrat Party.”

PFAW’s Dolores Huerta Energizes Latino Voters in Colorado and Georgia

With Election Day rapidly approaching, get-out-the-vote outreach is heating up in key states across the country. This week, civil rights legend and PFAW board member Dolores Huerta is busy getting out the vote. She’s on the ground with PFAW staff energizing Latino voters in two critical midterm states: Colorado and Georgia.

Yesterday Huerta spoke at two kick-off events in Colorado for local canvassers going door-to-door to get out the vote. The first event, hosted by NextGen Climate Colorado and PFAW, drew scores of enthusiastic canvassers ready to talk to voters about pressing environmental issues and turn people out to the polls.

Later in the day, she met with Latino volunteers and canvassers gearing up to do voter turnout work in their communities – critical work in a state where the Senate race is tight and every vote counts.

Today Huerta has headed to Georgia with other members of the PFAW team to meet with more local organizers, speak at a rally, and encourage local residents to cast their ballots on Tuesday.

As Huerta said yesterday:

The Latino vote can decide the election, as we have done in other states. We need to elect people who are going to protect us – to protect our health, our safety, and work to pass immigration reform. It’s up to each one of us. We need to contact our friends and families to make sure they vote.

Indeed, Latino voters may prove to be decisive in a number of tight races. In both Colorado and Georgia, as well as in four other states with close Senate races, the Latino portion of the electorate is larger than the polling margin between the candidates. PFAW will continue to be on the ground in these states, working to ensure that Latino voters are informed, engaged, and ready to cast a vote on Election Day.
 

PFAW

Republicans Solve Problem Of The Personhood Amendment's Unpopularity By Lying About The Personhood Amendment

For an example of the dilemma that today’s Republican Party finds itself in when it comes to abortion rights and radical “personhood” laws, look no further than Mitt Romney.

After running as a pro-choice Republican in Massachusetts, Romney transformed into a “severely conservative,” anti-choice presidential candidate, then ultimately came full circle when he closed out his 2012 campaign with TV ads trumpeting his support for abortion rights in certain cases.

Perhaps Romney’s advisers figured out that the candidate’s opposition to abortion rights would prove unpopular among the general electorate. Exit polls in 2012 showed that 59 percent of voters supported legal abortion.

It turned out that Romney’s professed commitment to “get rid” of Planned Parenthood and pledges to support state and national “personhood amendments” — which would ban abortion in all cases and also outlaw common forms of birth control by giving personhood rights to zygotes — weren’t exactly winning positions.

Several Republican politicians in this election cycle have followed Romney’s lead by painstakingly trying to paint themselves as the real pro-choice candidates, despite having a long history of opposing abortion rights. Still others are flat-out denying that they support extreme anti-choice legislation like ‘personhood’ bills…even when they are on the record supporting them.

Take Cory Gardner, the congressman running for U.S. Senate in Colorado, for instance.

With the personhood amendment on the Colorado ballot for the fourth time this year, it must have been just a coincidence that Gardner renounced his support for the unpopular measure just three weeks after he announced his U.S. Senate bid. In his previous races for the U.S. House, Gardner boasted of circulating petitions in favor of the personhood amendment, and as a congressman he cosponsored a federal personhood bill.

Despite claiming that he is now a personhood opponent, Gardner remains to this day a cosponsor of the federal personhood legislation.

Instead of explaining the discrepancy, Gardner just claims that the personhood bill he is cosponsoring, the “Life at Conception Act,” simply doesn’t exist. As one journalist interviewing Gardner pointed out, he seems to be alone in that view: supporters and opponents of the personhood movement alike, including the authors of the bill in question, disagree with his unique reading of the bill.

“We don’t see how the Colorado initiative and the federal bill, which supporters in Congress describe as a ‘personhood’ measure, are different on this point,” FactCheck.org reports, noting that even a spokesman for Personhood USA said “there’s no reason for [Gardner] to pull local support while he’s still 100 percent behind the federal amendment.”

Another personhood group, the National Pro-Life Alliance, similarly promotes [PDF] the “Life at Conception Act” because it “is legislation that, quite simply, would declare the unborn to be ‘persons’ under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution” and would ensure that “Roe v. Wade would be effectively reversed.”

When pressed on the issue in a debate, Gardner simply avoided the question.

As Gardner’s candidacy’s proves, sometimes it is easier to just make blatantly false statements about your position than to actually change it.

Taking a page from Gardner, Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst has also resorted to rewriting history about her record on personhood.

Ernst supported a personhood amendment in the Iowa legislature and recently committed to cosponsoring a federal personhood bill if elected. When called out by her Democratic opponent for backing a state personhood amendment, Ernst falsely claimed that it was merely a symbolic measure.

As Ed Kilgore writes, politicians like Gardner and Ernst are just trying “to weasel out of such positions the moment they become inconvenient.”

Other Republican Life at Conception Act cosponsors in the House, including Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Steve Daines of Montana, are also running for seats in the U.S. Senate. North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis also pledged to support a personhood amendment.

Tillis and Gardner, like other Republicans who are trying to come across as reproductive rights supporters, are now highlighting their support for the over-the-counter sale of birth control, which actual reproductive health activists note will actually make birth control more expensive.

Meanwhile, as personhood supporters these Republicans are backing laws that would ban several forms of contraception that they claim to want to make more accessible.

As Republicans face pressure from their anti-choice base to endorse radical “personhood” measures, they are faced with a choice: alienate staunch anti-choice conservatives or turn off moderates. Many, like Gardner and Ernst, are apparently finding that it’s easier to just lie to voters than to defend their views.

Pat Robertson: This Halloween, Give Satan A Black Eye For Legalizing Abortion

Pat Robertson, who is no fan of Halloween, today urged viewers to mark the occasion by punching the Devil in the face.

“Just say, ‘I am free. On this Halloween I gave a black eye to Satan,’” he told viewers while promoting a booklet he wrote called “Angels, Demons and the End Times.” (Robertson had also just responded to a CBN story about an abusive Satanist household.)

Robertson told viewers that Satan is behind not only Halloween, but also abortion rights: “The Devil has tried to destroy people, he wants to kill babies. Why do you think we’ve got such an incredible culture of death in our country? Why do you think that we’ve killed over 50 million unborn babies? Who do you think is behind all that? This isn’t just human, it is demonic. Satan wants to destroy our babies. He wants to destroy our babies just like Pharaoh sent the word to destroy the Hebrew babies, and it’s the same thing all the way through.”

Pat Robertson: 'Dangerous' Ouija Boards 'Communicate With Demonic Spirits'

Today on “The 700 Club,” Pat Robertson denounced the use of Ouija boards after a viewer asked him about the new horror movie, “Ouija.”

“The spirit is causing that little needle — it goes around to letters and spells out words and so you feel like [it’s] some dead person, but actually it is communicating with demonic spirits,” he said. “It is a dangerous thing and I strongly urge people not to get involved in it.”

Previously, Robertson said that “Ouija boards aren’t harmless. Ouija boards are often time-directed by demonic spirits. There are various types of chants. The so-called TM Mantras are actually prayers in Sanskrit to various Hindu Gods who are in turn demons, and you are saying something you don’t understand when in essence you are praying to a devil to come to you.”

Betting Against Latino Voters Is a Bad Move

This post originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

It's official. In case there was any doubt left, this election cycle shows that the GOP's hyped-up "rebranding" efforts with Latino voters have been all but abandoned.

Last month, we found out that Virginia GOP congressional candidate Barbara Comstock thinks immigrants should be tracked like FedEx packages. Rep. Steve King from Iowa, who previously shared his belief that most undocumented immigrants are drug runners with "calves the size of cantaloupes," is trying to link immigrants toISIS and Ebola. And Republican candidates across the country, including Tom Cotton in Arkansas, Scott Brown in New Hampshire, Terri Lynn Land in Michigan, and Pat Roberts in Kansas, are running anti-immigrant ads. "Illegal immigration is threatening our communities," warns one of Roberts' ads

Not exactly the kind of rhetoric one might expect from a party trying remake its image among voters who care deeply about immigration reform. But far more important than the failed rebranding efforts of an increasingly out-of-touch party is the harm done to real people whose lives are touched by these dehumanizing myths. Ads labeling immigrants a "threat" to other Americans and comments comparing immigrants to objects or rodents don't just go out into the abyss of TV land. They reach - and hurt - real people in communities across America.

Not only is this anti-immigrant bigotry morally wrong, it's also bad politics. Someone may want to tell Republican strategists about the research showing that these ads actually have a reverse effect. According to Latino Decisions, studies have found that "anti-immigrant rhetoric and ads do not mobilize Republican voters, but rather lead to higher turnout among Latino voters who are angered by this campaign strategy."

It's possible that the GOP is making a cold (and ill-advised) calculation that relying on nativist myths about the supposed "threat" of undocumented immigrants will turn out their base in the midterms and that Latino voters will forget all about it by 2016. But I'd imagine that it's pretty hard to forget being called a drug runner or being compared to a FedEx box.

Or maybe Republicans are thinking that they can simply ignore Latino voters in the midterms since their numbers are relatively small in the states with the closest races. But this is also a bad bet. Though Colorado seems to be the only state where the mainstream media is talking about Latino voters, there are actually six states - Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, and North Carolina - where the polling margin between the Senate candidates is smaller than the percentage of the eligible electorate that is Latino. 

And there is a very real possibility that Latino discontent with the GOP could cost them races in these states. For example, new polling this month shows that 77 percent of Latino voters in Colorado either believe that Republicans "don't care too much about Latinos" (37 percent), "take Hispanic voters for granted" (23 percent), or "are being hostile towards Latinos" (17 percent). In North Carolina, the numbers are similar. PFAW has been running Spanish-language ads in these and other key Senate states to make sure that when Republican candidates are spouting anti-immigrant rhetoric or pushing an agenda that harms Latino communities, voters hold them accountable on Election Day.

As Salon's Elias Isquith recently wrote, "The more Republicans attempt to turn anti-immigrant sentiment into a defining issue... the more they prove that the GOP is currently more of a faction than a national party interested in appealing to citizens of all 50 states." The Latino community, both immigrant and non-immigrant, is here to stay, and it's a growing, vibrant part of this country. So if the GOP wants to remain relevant, this so-called national political party has to start thinking about the whole nation and stop demeaning and alienating a large, and rapidly growing, swath of our country.

PFAW

Bradlee Dean: America Needs An Anti-Obama William Wallace

Right-wing activist Bradlee Dean is hoping for America’s own “Braveheart” moment, writing today in WorldNetDaily that an American version of William Wallace must emerge to fight President Obama’s “tyranny.”

Dean writes that just as the English monarchs abused their power over Scotland, Obama and his administration are becoming despots who must be “tried, convicted and brought to justice.”

What if you woke up this morning, opened up the newspaper or turned on the TV to your local news channel and saw this:

“The Obama administration has been found criminal and corrupt. Impeachment will take place this week, and all administrative officials who have continuously broken the laws of our constitutional republic will be tried, convicted and brought to justice.”

Would you not be shocked? But why is that? It’s because American citizens have fallen so far from the Bible, the U.S. Constitution and, of course, what our forefathers established that we think justice is impossible.

Yet, justice is what preserves our republic.

I am reminded of the true story of William Wallace – most of you know him as “Braveheart.” William was told by the “Nobles” of Scotland that it was impossible to defeat the tyrannical king of England and his minions (which held Scotland in captivity to their tyrannical ways). They were too many (which is completely opposite of America’s state), too strong in every way for Scotland … or so they thought.

This one man, William Wallace, knew more than the “Nobles” of Scotland. He knew that freedom was not a gift granted to them by mere men or a tyrant king, but freedom was a right guaranteed to every man by God, which has been summed up in our Declaration of Independence. Freedom was not a thing to be stripped away from the common people by a tyrant; Wallace knew that rights were granted by God.

The people of Scotland, outnumbered, outmatched, starving and without even the proper weapons to fight with, followed William Wallace, and eventually Robert the Bruce, into battle. Although it was a high cost to pay (namely, the life of William Wallace himself), they won their freedom and were delivered from the tyrannical king of England.



Now take that to America. The “Nobles,” or shall we say most congressmen and women, will not stand up against the crimes that have befallen “we the people” at the hands of this administration. They have titles and positions they don’t want to lose, much like the “Nobles” of Scotland in the day.

But the tyrannical king of England was not defeated by the “Nobles.” He was defeated by the people.

Justice doesn’t need to be something we only dream about. Justice is brought forth to establish righteousness because you are grateful for your blood-bought freedoms (Isaiah 51:4). America, it can be the reality we leave to our children, the way our forefathers left it unto us.



In our pledge we state, “With Liberty and Justice for All.” It doesn’t say justice for all unless you are the president of United States or an attorney general, or the Congress, does it? The word “Justice” applies to all and means all! If America fails to bring forth justice, rest assured tyranny will reign.

In Kentucky McConnell Campaign Benefits Big From Dark Money

With the Kentucky Senate race a major point of focus in the upcoming midterms, and potentially determining control of the Senate, the issue of big money in politics has been repeatedly raised in debates and interviews by Sen. Mitch McConnell’s challenger, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. McConnell, for his part, has defended Citizens United v FEC and the influence of big money in politics.

It’s not hard to see why. A recent article by the Center for Public Integrity details the enormous amount of cash that has been spent in support of Sen. McConnell’s reelection campaign by outside “dark money” groups. One group in particular, the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, has spent $14 million since the beginning of 2013. Groups like the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition are granted tax-exempt status by the IRS as “social welfare organizations” and are not required to disclose their donors.

According to The Center for Public Integrity:

Despite having effectively no physical presence, the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition now ranks among the largest social welfare nonprofits in Kentucky — bringing in more money, according to Internal Revenue Service records, than some of Kentucky’s more high-profile nonprofits, such as the Kentucky School Boards Association and the Kentucky Derby Festival, the group behind two weeks’ worth of events surrounding the Kentucky Derby.

Of the more than 12,000 ads put on air by the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, every single one of them specifically mentions either McConnell or Grimes. About half, 53 percent, expressed approval of Sen. McConnell while the remainder criticized Grimes. These massive ad buys have all occurred since early 2013. Prior to then the organization was almost inactive. Incorporated in 2008, during its first five years the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition never reported more than $50,000 in annual receipts. 

The article continues:

When it applied for tax-exempt status as a social welfare nonprofit, the group told the IRS that it did not have any plans to spend any money “attempting to influence” the election of any political candidates. It added that it would be “operated exclusively for public and social welfare purposes.”

The McConnell campaign has refused to acknowledge or discuss the impact of the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition until recently, after a mid-October debate, when a campaign staff member responded to a question about how Sen. McConnell would be doing without the support from the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, replying “We’d be winning just like we are right now.” Recent polling shows McConnell and Grimes locked in a close race, with McConnell leading by just a few percentage points.

Without reforming the way elections are financed, shadowy dark money groups like the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition will continue to funnel millions of dollars into elections on the local, state and federal level. While the Supreme Court may have ruled that money is speech, most Americans don’t buy it. A majority of the public thinks there is too much money in politics and three in four people support a Constitutional amendment to overturn Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United v FEC. Whether this overwhelming support for reform translates to progressive candidates getting elected next week remains yet to be seen.

One thing, however, is clear. Mitch McConnell doesn’t just favor the current system of campaign finance: he benefits from it.

PFAW

Tony Perkins: Gay Rights Part Of Population Control Agenda

On yesterday’s edition of “Washington Watch,” Tony Perkins returned to one of his favorite talking points about how gay rights are part of a population control conspiracy to extinguish the human race.

A listener called in to tell the Family Research Council president that he thinks the reason homosexuality is “promoted is because it doesn’t lead to reproduction and that’s why it’s promoted. There’s this anti-life agenda, there’s a total anti-human, anti-life, human beings are a virus, type of mentality.”

Perkins responded that the caller was “absolutely correct,” saying that he once wrote about how “climate change alarmists and those who are pushing population control” actually “promote homosexuality” because “there’s no procreation there.”

“They go crazy, they deny it but the evidence is there, it’s footnoted in my book.”

Tony Perkins: 'If Republicans Capture The Senate, There's No More Excuses About Impeachment'

Yesterday, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins once again demanded that Congress impeach and remove President Obama from office, telling a caller on his “Washington Watch” radio show that the GOP must go through with impeachment after the midterm elections.

When a caller asked why Republicans haven’t made impeachment into an election issue, Perkins responded that they should pursue it if the elections go there way: “If the Republicans do capture the Senate, there’s no more excuses about impeachment. See, what we’ve heard so far is how we can’t do that because we’d never get it through the Senate, the House could impeach him but the Senate would never convict, it would just be a waste of time. Well, if they have control of the Senate it won’t be.”

Of course, it takes a two-thirds vote in the Senate to remove a president.

Erik Rush: Obama Using Kaci Hickox To 'Facilitate An Ebola Epidemic In The United States'

Following up on his last column suggesting that Obama administration officials “want Ebola to spread in the United States” in order to declare martial law, WorldNetDaily’s Erik Rush writes today in his column, Does White House Want An Ebola Epidemic In U.S.?,” that the quarantine fight surrounding nurse Kaci Hickox is part of President Obama’s plan to “facilitate an Ebola epidemic in the United States.”

Rush writes that Hickox, whom he calls a “diva” with “a history of left-wing activism,” defied a quarantine upon returning to the U.S. in order to do her part in an Obama administration conspiracy to undermine quarantine policies in hopes of spreading the virus: “It is no great intellectual leap in considering the timing of Hickox’s quarantine (and subsequent public meltdown), the ‘omission’ of her ties to the CDC and her penchant for left-wing causes to arrive at the conclusion that this stunt just might have been an elaborate White House PR contrivance to foment opposition to Ebola quarantine efforts.”

As a precautionary measure, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ordered health-care workers coming in from West Africa to undergo a 21-day quarantine upon their arrival in those states. Several other states followed suit.

In an almost uncanny twist, and right on the heels of the quarantine orders, along comes Kaci Hickox, a nurse who had just finished treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone. Last Friday, she flew into Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey and was promptly quarantined.

Just as promptly, Hickox lawyered up and began screaming to the press and anyone else who would listen that the government was putting her through “emotional and physical stress” and that her “basic human rights” were being violated. In the ensuing firestorm – and after direct pressure from the White House – governors Cuomo and Christie folded like a crappy hand of cards; Hickox was released, and both states agreed to re-evaluate their quarantine policy.

One would think that Kaci Hickox, a health-care professional who had seen the devastation wrought by Ebola, and who understood the risks, would have considered it her civic duty to take one for Team America and sit out the quarantine. I mean, it isn’t like they were sending her to Gitmo. Instead, she chooses to re-define the term “diva” and raise as much hell as possible.

Well, there was a method to Ms. Hickox’s madness – and it lay in the fact that she just happened to be in the employ of the CDC.

Yes, you can pick your jaw up off the floor now, and as humorist Dave Barry was known to say: I am absolutely not making this up. Though efforts were made to scrub the evidence of Kaci Hickox’s affiliation with the CDC from online sources, enough remained to definitively determine that she was not only an employee of the CDC, but a registered Democrat and Obama supporter with a history of left-wing activism.

Earlier this year, Hickox featured prominently in the 63rd Annual Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Conference, a CDC symposium on infectious diseases. Thus, it is no great intellectual leap in considering the timing of Hickox’s quarantine (and subsequent public meltdown), the “omission” of her ties to the CDC and her penchant for left-wing causes to arrive at the conclusion that this stunt just might have been an elaborate White House PR contrivance to foment opposition to Ebola quarantine efforts.

If the administration’s imperative for maintaining unfettered access on the part of potential Ebola carriers to this country isn’t perplexing enough: A State Department memo leaked to Fox News this week suggests that the Obama administration has been considering allowing non-American Ebola patients into the U.S. for treatment. This was confirmed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., who told Fox News that his office had received “information from within the administration” that such plans were being developed.

Are they insane? the reader may ask.

Under other circumstances, I might answer in the affirmative – or at least entertain the possibility that administration officials had taken leave of their senses. Considering the character of this administration, I feel quite comfortable maintaining that this administration – the same one whose principals’ beliefs are rooted in the philosophy of Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Castro, the same one whose actions have led to the deaths of tens of thousands in the Middle East and Africa, the same one that has targeted and persecuted political opponents, spied on private citizens, funded and trained terrorists and left America open to attack via their immigration, visa and border policies – might well intend to facilitate an Ebola epidemic in the United States.

How large they might wish it to get and how it plays into their sick endgame specifically is difficult to say, but with this bunch, history dictates that it’s better to err on the side of the diabolical.

Matt Barber: Satan Deceiving People Into Denouncing Ex-Gay Therapy

Upset with Southern Baptist official Russell Moore’s recent rebuke of ex-gay therapy, Matt Barber appeared on “The Janet Mefferd Show” yesterday to criticize Moore for failing to hold the anti-gay line when “the heat is on.”

Barber told Mefferd — who took to Facebook yesterday to attack Moore for “playing right into the hands of Big Gay” — that Satan is behind the foundering anti-gay cause: “It’s this homosexual issue that is the head of the spear. This is the issue that the Enemy is using to both divide the church and separate souls from God.”

Barber also claimed that the higher rate of sexual abuse reported in the gay community is proof that abuse makes people gay.

“We know conclusively that sexual abuse is one of the main catalysts for same-sex attraction,” he said. “And now we have Christian kids and other kids, Christian or not, who want to find freedom from a demonstrably self-destructive lifestyle.”

Actually, experts have not found a connection between sexual abuse and gay sexual orientation, but have found that gay people are targeted for abuse because of their sexual orientation.

“They want freedom from this identity, the same-sex attractions, that stem from a sexual assault at the hands of a person like a Jerry Sandusky for instance,” Barber said. “It is reckless, it is irresponsible of Russell Moore to give fodder to these sexual anarchists.”

Paul Broun: Obama And 'Incompetent Boob' At CDC Are Exposing Americans To Ebola

After suggesting that President Obama may want Americans to contract the Ebola virus, Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., told Rick Wiles of “Trunews” yesterday that the decision to send U.S. military service members to West Africa on a relief mission may end up bringing the Ebola epidemic back to the U.S.

“Barack Obama’s using the military to actually expose them which could expose further people across this country,” he said.

Broun added that the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other military officials should have defied orders to organize a military operation in West Africa. “The military should have told Obama, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and all the military leaders should have said, ‘Mr. President, this is not a military function, do not do this, we’re not going to send our troops into harm’s way,’ because they have a responsibility to the troops and they could have told the president, ‘no, we’re not going to do this,’ and they should have.”

Broun maintained: “I don’t know if Obama thinks that they are going to shoot the virus with their M16s. What in the world is he thinking? I have absolutely no clue, he is just exposing American citizens to this very deadly virus.”

The congressman also called CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden an “incompetent boob” who “needs to be removed ASAP” and said the appointment of Ron Klain to coordinate the administration’s Ebola response “makes absolutely no sense, it’s just totally craziness on the part of Obama and this administration.”

“Give me a break. What in the name of peace would somebody do this?”

When Wiles asked if Obama should resign for “endangering our lives” with Ebola, Broun just reiterated that Attorney General Eric Holder should be “prosecuted for lying to Congress.” 

Paul Broun: Obama May Have 'Purposeful' Plan To Spread Ebola

The last time a Republican congressman appeared on the conspiracy theory radio program “Trunews,” he ended up arguing that President Obama wants to spread Ebola in order to impose martial law.

Naturally, when Rep. Paul Broun appeared on Trunews” yesterday, the Georgia Republican wondered if Obama wants Americans to contract Ebola.

Broun spoke with host Rick Wiles — who once hoped that “Ebola could solve America’s problem” with homosexuality while also predicting that Obama will deliberately spread Ebola in order to “round up patriots” — about the baseless claim that “Obama’s wanting to bring [foreign] Ebola patients here to this country” and “take care of every Ebola patient all across the globe.”

After Wiles wondered whether Obama's response to Ebola has been driven by malicious intent, Broun demurred, responding: “I don’t know, I didn’t want to go there. Some people might think that it is malicious intent and certainly if you look at it from a logical perspective, there is no logic whatsoever about why they are acting the way they are.”

Wiles then called for Obama to be “removed from office” because of his Ebola policies.

Broun also appeared to accept Wiles’ conspiracy theory that Obama will put people with Ebola in VA hospitals in order to “contaminate the VA hospitals with the Ebola virus.”

“That may very well be, it’s almost apocalyptic what potential [sic] is coming if that happens, if we bring these Ebola patients here and put them in hospitals, VA hospitals or any hospital,” he said. “We should not be exposing American citizens to this virus and this administration already is exposing people to this virus and is going to continue to expand that exposure.”

The Georgia congressman said that it was “beyond belief” and “unconscionable” that the Obama administration decided to follow the recommendations of health experts by not enforcing a travel ban on people leaving West Africa, and once again suggested that something sinister is at work: “I just cannot fathom why anybody would be doing what this administration’s been doing, whether it’s purposeful or whether it’s due to ignorance or whether it’s due to ineptness, I don’t know but it certainly has got to stop.”

John Oliver and Friends Stress the Importance of the Supreme Court

Oliver's comedy bit is premised on a truth: The Court is too important not to pay attention to.
PFAW

Arizona School Board Votes To Remove Pages Of Biology Textbook That Aren't Anti-Abortion Enough

In response to a complaint from the Religious Right group Alliance Defending Freedom, a school board in Arizona has voted to remove pages of an honors high school biology book that ADF contends don’t show “an affirmative preference to childbirth and adoption as options to abortion” in describing various forms of contraception.

ADF based its complaint to the Gilbert, Arizona, school board on a 2012 state law that bans schools from providing instruction “that does not give preference, encouragement and support to childbirth and adoption as preferred options to elective abortion.” Although the school board’s lawyers and the state department of education both argued that the pages in question — one of which you can view here — didn’t violate the law, conservatives on the board went ahead with the page removal.

The textbook states that “Complete abstinence (avoiding intercourse) is the only totally effective method of birth control,” before launching into a straight-forward explanation of the workings of several methods of birth control, including emergency contraception.

One board member told Phoenix's 12 News that “by redacting, we are not censoring”:

Board member Julie Smith said the school district was breaking state law by using the book " Campbell Biology: Concepts and Connections ."

The 2-year-old state law, signed by Gov. Jan Brewer, bars school districts and charter schools from making presentations or providing instructional materials to pupils "that does not give preference, encouragement and support to childbirth and adoption as preferred options to elective abortion."

Smith said she raised questions about the text in January after a comment from a constituent. The Alliance Defending Freedom, a faith-based legal organization that recently defended Arizona's ban on same-sex marriage, raised the issue in a letter to Gilbert Superintendent Christina Kishimoto in August.

The focus is two pages in the book, titled "Contraception can prevent unwanted pregnancy."

The text says, "Complete abstinence (avoiding intercourse) is the only totally effective method of birth control." It also describes how the "morning after pill" works as a contraception method.

Board member Lily Tram said the board's decision to remove pages from the book, which has been used by the district since 2006, amounted to censorship.

Smith disagreed. "By redacting, we are not censoring," she said. "This school district does offer sexual education classes. If we were censoring we would not offer anything on this topic whatsoever."

Board President Stacy Burk said some parents had said they were ready to help remove or redact the pages in the textbook.

Pat Robertson Warns God May Punish Houston For Defending 'Militant Homosexuals'

Last week, Pat Robertson reacted to a case in Houston in which a group of pastors were subpoenaed as part of the discovery process in a lawsuit over the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance by calling gay rights advocates “terrorists.”

The subpoenas have since been withdrawn, but that has done nothing to rein in Robertson, who warned today on “The 700 Club” that Houston could be punished just like the biblical city of Gibeah was when it defended what he calls a group of “militant homosexuals”…who raped a woman.

Robertson said Judges 19 was a story of “militant homosexuals” who wanted to rape a Levite traveler in Gibeah but ended up raping his female concubine, who ultimately died.

“These homosexuals abused her all night long,” Robertson said.

In the Bible’s telling of the story, a “depraved lot” of Benjaminites demanded that a man who took in the Levite traveler turn him over to the group so they could rape him. Instead, the host offered them his virgin daughter and the Levite’s concubine — “Ravish them and do whatever you want to them” — and “seized his concubine, and put her out to them. They wantonly raped her, and abused her all through the night until the morning.”

After the concubine died, the Levite cut her “into twelve pieces, limb by limb, and sent her throughout all the territory of Israel.” In the next chapter, the Israelites routed the Tribe of Benjamin and “put them to the sword — the city, the people, the animals, and all that remained. Also the remaining towns they set on fire.”

Robertson suggested that Houston might face fate similar to that of the Benjaminites of Gibeah: “Benjamin had been annihilated. They had killed all the women, they had killed a good portion of the fighting men, they burned a number of their cities, it was a complete mess. Why? Because they had defended these rapist homosexuals. Is that a message for Houston? For someplace else in America?”

2014 Midterm Elections: PFAW Holds Member Telebriefing with Political Strategist Jim Messina

With less than a week to go before this year’s midterm elections, People For the American Way hosted a telebriefing on Wednesday to update PFAW members and activists on the shifting electoral landscape in key races around the country. The call, which was moderated by PFAW President Michael Keegan, featured political strategist and President Obama’s 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina, as well as PFAW’s Executive Vice President Marge Baker, Political Director Randy Borntrager and Coordinator of Political Campaigns Carlos Sanchez.

With Democrats locked in a number of tight battles to maintain a majority in the Senate, Messina and Keegan emphasized how critical recent demographic changes in the U.S. are to mobilizing progressive voters. In particular, Messina cited the power of Latino voters on Election Day. As Messina outlined the battleground races that will likely have the biggest impact this year, Political Director Randy Borntrager discussed PFAW’s on-the-ground efforts to inform and turn out voters in key states like North Carolina and Colorado.

Executive Vice President Marge Baker spoke of recent Republican-backed restrictions enacted to curb voter turnout and disenfranchise particular groups, like students and communities of color, that have a history of supporting Democratic candidates. She also touched on the work PFAW has done to both help voters overcome these attempts to suppress their votes and our work challenging the flood of big money into elections.

Questions from callers centered on the need to overcome redistricting maneuvers and on the challenges of obtaining accurate polling information on key demographics.

You can listen to the full telebriefing here:

 

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