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PFAW Statement on Jeb Bush’s Citizens United Remarks

Following reports today that GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush supports overturning Citizens United but wants to allow unlimited contributions to candidates, People For the American Way executive vice president Marge Baker released the following statement:

“The vast majority of Americans oppose the Citizens United decision, including eight in ten Republicans, so it’s understandable that any candidate would want to go on the record opposing it. But replacing unlimited outside spending with unlimited contributions to candidates’ campaigns would not be real reform – not even close. The bottom line, which Bush still seems to miss, is that billionaires and wealthy special interests should not be able to pour unlimited money into our elections, period.”

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Rafael Cruz: 'The New Religion Of America Is Secular Humanism'

Anti-gay activist Michael Brown endorsed Ted Cruz for president last year and on Wednesday welcomed the Texas senator’s father, Rafael Cruz, to his “Line of Fire” radio program to discuss the campaign.

After Cruz gave his standard spiel about Ted’s candidacy awakening millions of “missing” evangelical voters all while uniting diverse constituencies in order to replicate Ronald Reagan’s 1980 victory, Brown asked him how he would respond to people who say that some of what he says “sounds like you’re advocating a theocracy.”

“Well, we’re not talking about theocracy,” the elder Cruz responded, “we’re talking about people who have been the background of America, the moral fiber of America, have been divorced from the political process. We have had over 50 percent of evangelicals not even voting, so you have a large percentage of the population that have been absent from the political process. All we are saying is we need everyone who has a desire to see America restored to become involved.”

In fact, he implied, America is currently a theocracy of “secular humanism,” which has become the “new religion of America.”

“We’re talking about restoring America back to the foundations,” he said. “The Bible says, ‘If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?’ Our foundations have been eroded by secular humanism, by … just destroying the family, by basically the moral values that have made America great have been practically destroyed and we have secularized America and the new religion of America is secular humanism.”

He added that in public schools, children are “being brainwashed not only with secular humanism but with socialism.”

Correction: The interview took place on Wednesday, February 3, not Friday, February 5. 

Michele Bachmann: Muslim Migrants Rape Women To Commit Jihad And 'Destroy Western Christendom'

Michele Bachmann spoke with End Times radio hosts Jan Markell and Eric Barger on Saturday about the migration of Muslims into Western Europe and the United States, calling it a “planned invasion” meant to destroy “Western Christendom.”

“This clearly is an invasion,” Bachmann said. “This is a planned invasion, not only in Europe but also in the United States, I believe for the specific purpose of destroying Western Christendom.” Bachmann said that countries with large Muslim minorities like France now experience “Islamic jihad 24/7, terrorist bloodbath attacks 24/7,” warning that the same thing is coming to the U.S. unless we decide to have “no more immigration into the United States.”

Now, Bachmann said, Muslim migrants are raping Western women as part of their religious terrorism.

“The more that come in, the more they act upon their religious convictions and their stated religious convictions,” she said. “The imams from the original countries that they come from, they recruit and send these guys to come in and to bring about this destruction. Right now in Europe it’s called a ‘rape culture’ that’s coming into Sweden and Germany and all across Europe for the specific purpose of Islamizing these countries, and they are falling.”

“Islamists have a plan,” Bachmann later added. “They have a plan to destroy Western Christendom. It’s called civilization jihad. By bringing Islamists into our country and destroying us from in, they don’t need to just have a nuclear bomb. If they send their invading army into our countries and if young men are doing what they did on New Year’s Eve in Cologne, Germany, and other places where they are literally sexually attacking and raping and groping women and causing them to fear, we are looking at a completely ramped-up level of invasion one like we have never seen before.”

“Not only is Europe getting that, the United States is getting that, but we need to recognize what is happening,” she said. “This isn’t unintentional. This is intentional and it’s meant to destroy Western Christendom.”

The former congresswoman and GOP presidential candidate then said that Muslim migrants from countries like Pakistan and Iran may pose as Central American refugees in order to enter the U.S., all thanks to Obama’s refugee policy.

Earlier in the same interview, Bachmann suggested that President Obama is an Antichrist-like figure bringing about the Last Days.

Don't Be Fooled: Marco Rubio And Rick Santorum Are Two Of A Kind

This post originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

Some were taken by surprise when former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum endorsed his former opponent Marco Rubio as soon as he dropped out of the Republican presidential race on Wednesday. But it shouldn’t come as a shock that the conservative true believer, notorious for his anti-gay and anti-abortion crusades, would back the supposedly “mainstream” Florida senator.

While the press likes to portray Santorum as a kooky culture warrior and Rubio as an establishment square, the two hold many of the exact same positions.

The similarities start with their dangerous views on abortion rights. Rubio wants to ban all abortions with no exceptions even for survivors of rape and incest or for women withlife-endangering pregnancies. In the very first 2016 Republican presidential debate, Rubio went so far as to suggest that the U.S. Constitution may already ban abortion. Rubio has hailed anti-abortion activists as similar to those who fought for the abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage and civil rights for African Americans and has pledged to “immediately” re-impose the Mexico City Policy, which would block crucial funding to women’s health groups outside of the U.S. A vocal critic of Planned Parenthood, Rubio once made the absurd claim that women at Planned Parenthood clinics are “pushed into abortions so that those tissues can be harvested and sold for a profit.”

He told one conservative pundit that because “there is no way that you can read that Constitution and deduce from it that there is constitutional right to an abortion,” he would only appoint Supreme Court justices who see Roe v. Wade as a “flawed” decision.

The Florida senator is aggressively courting the Religious Right, which should come as no surprise since his stances on social issues are barely distinguishable from Santorum’s.

Rubio joined Santorum and four other Republican presidential candidates in pledgingto sign legislation making it legal to discriminate against same-sex couples. He even implied his support for Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, who attempted to use her county office to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples, by claiming that people can and should “ignore” laws or court rulings that do not “adhere to God’s rules” because “God’s rules always win.” “We cannot abide by that because government is compelling us to sin,” he said.

Rubio has called same-sex marriage “a real and present danger” to freedom and religion, arguing that only someone who has a “ridiculous and absurd reading of the U.S. Constitution” would agree with the Supreme Court’s landmark marriage equality decision and promising that his nominees to the Supreme Court would disagree with the ruling.

The potential for a President Rubio to be nominating the next few Supreme Court justices could prove especially frightening seeing that the senator, in an address to afar-right Florida grouprejected the separation of church and state as unconstitutional.

He has also embraced the Right’s phony religious persecution rhetoric, running campaign ads and delivering speeches about how conservative Christians like himself who oppose gay marriage are the real victims of discrimination in America. During Saturday’s debate, he said that Christians in America face far more discrimination than Muslim-Americans.

On the economy, Rubio might even be furtherto the right of many in the GOP. For starters, as New York Times reporter Josh Barrow explained, Rubio “would impose no tax at all on interest, dividends or capital gain income from stocks” as part of a larger tax-slashing regimen that Barro called “a big tax cut for people who are already doing well.” Think of it as the Bush tax cuts on steroids: disproportionate government aid to the ones who need it the least that costs the government trillions of dollars in revenue.

Rubio, who was first elected to the Senate as a Tea Party favorite, has also vowed torepeal Wall Street reform and oppose any increase in the minimum wage, and has adopted a “do-nothing” and denialist approach to climate change.  

Despite this record, the media has given Rubio flattering coverage, portraying him as a mainstream candidate who can thwart radicals like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Part of Rubio’s reputation as somehow more “moderate” or “mainstream” comes from his previous support for a bipartisan immigration reform bill. But of course Rubio ended uprenouncing the bill and tacking further to the right on immigration than many of his Republican colleagues.

Even though Santorum, when asked last week, couldn’t name a single legislative accomplishment of Rubio’s, it is obvious that Rubio has succeeded in doing at least one thing: embracing the ideology of the GOP’s extremist wing without being held accountable for it.

PFAW

Listen To Michele Bachmann Discuss Whether Obama Is The Antichrist

Last week, Michele Bachmann claimed that the world is rushing into Armageddon, citing a dubious report from a Kuwaiti newspaper, which alleged that President Obama is attempting to lead the United Nations after leaving office but that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is thwarting his effort.

Bachmann told radio hosts Jan Markell and Eric Barger that Obama will turn the UN into an enormously powerful global institution, which she said will pave the way for a joint Russian-Iranian invasion of Israel. The anti-Israel alliance, she said, “lines up with scripture.”

In a follow-up interview that aired on Saturday, Markell came right out and said that while she isn’t sure that Obama is the Antichrist, the Antichrist would be a such a global leader.

Bachmann, in turn, claimed that Obama will make a deal with Russia and Islamic nations such as Iran to create a “super UN” that will run the entire world.

This is not the first time that the former congresswoman and Republican presidential candidate has said that Obama is ushering in the End Times.

New Report Looks at Wins on Money in Politics Reform Since Citizens United

It’s no secret that the Supreme Court’s misguided Citizens United decision in 2010 opened the floodgates for an influx of money into our elections. But a new report released today by PFAW and six other organizations highlights what else it did: energize a movement to fight big money in politics that’s made real progress in the six years since the decision was handed down.

As the report notes, since 2010:

  • More than 5 million people have signed petitions calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United. Sixteen states and more than 680 cities and towns – as well as a majority of the U.S. Senate in 2014 – have called for an amendment.
  • At least 23 states have put in place disclosure rules to ensure the peoples’ right to know about the big donors trying to buy political influence.
  • States and cities across the country have acted to pass or strengthen publicly funded election systems to amplify the voices of small donors, including Seattle and Maine in 2015.

As the 2016 presidential race sees an increasing focus on the problem of big money in politics, the magnitude of our country’s current crisis can make progress seem unlikely, or even impossible. But as this report outlines, change is already happening in cities and states across the country, as people organize in their own communities for solutions to make sure that our democracy is working for everyone – not just for billionaires and corporations.

You can read the full report here.

PFAW

Nearly Everything Ted Cruz Said At Saturday's Debate Was A Lie

Marco Rubio’s robotic recitation of anti-Obama talking points may have been the biggest story coming out of Saturday’s GOP presidential debate, but at least one candidate stood out with his unrelenting dishonesty: Ted Cruz.

Following his opening statement, almost every remark from Cruz was either completely misleading or flat-out wrong.

1) Dirty Tricks

Cruz kicked things off by flatly lying about his campaign’s role in propagating a rumor about one of his rivals leaving the race during last week’s Iowa caucuses.

Shortly before Iowans started casting votes, the Cruz campaign urged its supporters to tell caucus-goers that Ben Carson was likely dropping out of the race and that his supporters should back Cruz instead.

At the debate, Cruz blamed a CNN report for suggesting that Carson was withdrawing from the race, claiming that it was an honest mistake from his campaign and blaming the network for only having “corrected” its reporting several hours later in the evening.

Cruz’s claim is bogus, and seeing that the dirty tricks story has been in the news for days, he must know by now that it is not true.

CNN never reported that Carson was quitting the presidential campaign. Its first report on Carson’s plan to fly to his Florida home after the caucuses, apparently so he could get a fresh set of clothes, stated that the neurosurgeon planned “to stay in the race beyond Iowa no matter what the results are tonight.”

“CNN never reported that Carson was suspending his campaign and never issued a correction, because there was no need to do so,” Dylan Byers notes. CNN itself strongly rebutted Cruz’s claim: “What Senator Cruz said tonight in the debate is categorically false. CNN never corrected its reporting because CNN never had anything to correct. The Cruz campaign's actions the night of the Iowa caucuses had nothing to do with CNN's reporting. The fact that Senator Cruz continues to knowingly mislead the voters about this is astonishing.”

The Texas senator’s campaign, it seems, is trying to cover up one lie with another.

2) North Korea

On the topic of North Korea, Cruz said that the Clinton administration allowed “billions of dollars” to flow into North Korea and that “the lead negotiator in that failed North Korea sanctions deal was a woman named Wendy Sherman who Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton promptly recruited to come back to be the lead negotiator with Iran.”

The Washington Post’s Michelle Ye Hee Lee writes that Cruz’s statement “significantly overstates the monetary benefits of the Clinton deal to North Korea.” As part of a limited accord known as the Agreed Framework, the North Korean government agreed to replace a “plutonium reactor with two light-water reactors,” and in return the U.S. supplied the country “with 500,000 tons of heavy fuel oil every year to make up for the theoretical loss of the reactor while the new ones were built.” Any money involved in the deal, writes the Post’s Glenn Kessler, went to companies outside of North Korea.

“It’s simply false that Clinton eased sanctions that led to billions of dollars flowing into North Korea, allowing it to build a nuclear weapon,” Kessler writes. “Virtually no funds were received by North Korea as a result of the Agreed Framework. He also notes that Cruz’s claim about Sherman is “also wrong,” since “she did not negotiate the Agreed Framework.”

Cruz finished his remarks by alleging that North Korea or another state could then use a nuclear electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack to “take down the entire electrical grid on the Eastern seaboard, potentially killing millions,” a notion roundly dismissed as overblown by security experts but is popular in right-wing media.

3) Immigration

After receiving applause for suggesting that he would task Donald Trump with building a wall along America’s southern border, Cruz said he would offer no path to legal status for any of the undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., instead promising to deport them all through existing law.

“I will enforce the law, and for everyone who says you can’t possibly do that, I would note that in eight years, Bill Clinton deported 12 million people,” he said. “In eight years, George W. Bush deported 10 million people. Enforcing the law — we can do it. What is missing is the political will.”

The Associated Press reports that Cruz’s figures on past administrations are just plain wrong: “Statistics from Immigration and Customs Enforcement show that roughly 1.6 million were deported under Bush, not 11 million. Under Clinton, about 870,000 immigrants were deported, not 12 million, according to the Migration Policy Institute. So far, about 2.4 million have been deported under the Obama administration.”

He also falsely claimed that undocumented immigrants are eligible for federal welfare benefits.

Cruz, unsurprisingly, is no stranger to telling falsehoods about immigration.

4) Health care

Cruz’s rant against the “disaster” of “socialized medicine,” in which he warned of health care rationing and doctor shortages, was so egregious that Jonathan Cohn of the Huffington Post laid out a six-point debunking of his claims.

Cohn notes that “countries with ‘socialized medicine’ seem to be getting results that are as good if not better than what the U.S. gets from its health care system — and they do so while spending far less money” and tend to have more physicians per capita than the U.S.

The rationing claim, reminiscent of the “death panel” smear, is also misleading, as countries with “socialized medicine” perform just as well if not better in providing services like hip replacements, while de facto rationing already exists America, as many people cannot afford or are unable to access health services.

5) Terrorism

When asked about his remarks mocking Donald Trump’s temperament, Cruz pivoted to criticizing President Obama, whom he said “is unwilling even to acknowledge the enemy we’re facing.” “[Obama] will not even use the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism,’ much less focus on defeating the enemy,” he said.

Cruz’s insistence that the Obama administration is ignoring the threat from terrorism came amidst news that a U.S. drone strike killed a senior commander of Al Qaeda and that ISIS is losing territory and followers in the Mideast in the wake of a U.S.-backed campaign against the terrorist organization.

He seems to think that the problem could be solved just by uttering the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism,” even though many experts caution that using such terms could be a huge propaganda victory for terrorists who try to claim that they are the true Muslims fighting against western powers that are warring against Islam, along with isolating the vast majority of Muslims and Muslim-led governments that oppose groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda.

Cruz also misled on what he called the “generally recognized” definition of torture in his defense of waterboarding. 

6) Iran

After criticizing the “James [sic] Bergdahl deal,” Cruz also denounced the Obama administration for releasing or ending the prosecution of “up to 21 terrorists or potential terrorists” as part of a deal with Iran to secure the release of four American prisoners.

Cruz was wrong on both counts: The U.S. only released seven people who were convicted or prosecuted for violating trade sanctions on Iran or, in one case, hacking a Vermont engineering business. The other 14 were only facing extradition and do not reside in the U.S.

Naturally, Cruz also used debunked revisionist history to extol the Reagan administration's dealings with Iran.

Of course, we’ve known for quite a long time that Cruz has a difficult time with the truth.

Cruz Forced To Defend Contraception Comments In Catholic Media

At a campaign event in Iowa in December, Sen. Ted Cruz laughed off the idea that Republicans were threatening access to birth control, saying, “I have never met anybody, any conservative, who wants to ban contraceptives. As I noted, Heidi and I, we have two little girls. I’m very glad we don’t have 17.”

As we noted at the time, Cruz’s comments were disingenuous. But it turns out that they were also not well received by some in one group that Cruz has been trying to court: conservative Catholics.

When Cruz gave an interview last week to the Catholic news network EWTN, host Raymond Arroyo played back the birth control comments, telling Cruz that “a lot of our viewers sent me emails” about the comments and that “some larger families took offense at that statement, they say it’s less than pro-life.”

Cruz scrambled to defend himself, saying that it was “a little snippet that’s taken out of context” and that he was pushing back against a Democratic “political attack that was deliberately deceptive.”

“I am unequivically pro-life, I believe that every life is a precious gift from God that needs to be protected from the moment of conception until the moment of natural death,” he said. “But the Democrats didn’t raise that battle on the issue of life; instead they did it on contraceptives, and it was deliberately deceptive, they were trying to scare young women into thinking some politician is going to come take their birth control away from them.”

“And the point I was making through humor – and humor is often a very effective way to communicate – is that nobody was talking about banning birth control for anyone,” he said.

He then pivoted to the Little Sisters of the Poor case, in which a number of religious nonprofits are claiming that having to fill out a form exempting themselves from a contraceptive insurance coverage mandate violates their religious beliefs because they’re making it possible for employees to get contraceptive coverage elsewhere.

The issue of contraception has sometimes been a sticking point in the anti-abortion alliance between Catholics and evangelicals. In the early days of the anti-abortion movement, some Catholic leaders of the movement presented the issues of abortion and contraception as two sides of the same coin. Conservative evangelicals, who came late to the anti-abortion movement, generally have more permissive doctrines involving birth control. Yet the two groups have united in recent years in fighting contraception access on “religious liberty” grounds, exemplified by the alliance of Catholic and evangelical leaders who drafted the 2009 Manhattan Declaration, which called for broad exemptions from and civil disobedience against civil laws on LGBT rights and reproductive freedom.

PFAW and Allies Release Report on Money in Politics Reform Victories Since Citizens United

WASHINGTON – In a new report released today, “Our Voices, Our Democracy: Victories Since Citizens United and the Road Ahead Empowering Voters Over Wealthy Special Interests,” People For the American Way and six other national organizations leading the effort to empower voters over wealthy special interests document a national movement gaining steady momentum since the Supreme Court’s disastrous decision in Citizens United.

Citizens United did more than usher in unprecedented outside spending – it also invigorated a national movement to ensure democracy for all that’s seen some real wins in the past six years,” said Marge Baker, executive vice president of People For the American Way. “Heading into the 2016 election, it’s critical that we continue to build on that momentum across the country.”

As the report notes: “Opportunities to reduce the influence of big money in elections are everywhere – in local towns and communities, in city halls and state legislatures, and in the White House and in Congress.”

According to the report:

  • From California to South Dakota, there are more ballot initiatives in 2016 to rebalance the system so it works for voters than in any previous election cycle.
  • After receiving more than one million petition signatures in support, President Obama is “seriously considering” signing an executive order to disclose political spending by federal contractors.
  • Thousands of Americans organized by hundreds of organizations representing a diverse array of constituencies will pour into Washington D.C. between April 11-18 for mass civil disobedience, demonstrations, concerts, teach-ins, a rally, lobbying and more.
  • More than 200,000 Americans have called on the presidential candidates to get serious about fighting big money in elections. For the first time ever, every Democratic candidate for president has publicly embraced a comprehensive plan to fight big money and many Republicans are embracing solutions of their own.

In addition to outlining a strong, coordinated plan of action that will make 2016 a critical year for ensuring a government truly of, by, and for the people, the report summarizes the range of nationwide victories building momentum for change.

According to the report:

  • More than 5 million people have signed petitions urging Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn decisions like Citizens United since 2010. Moreover, sixteen states, the District of Columbia, more than 680 cities and towns, and a majority of the U.S. Senate in 2014 have called for an amendment.
  • At least 23 states have enacted new disclosure rules since 2010 to ensure the public’s right to know the big donors trying to influence our elections.
  • States and cities have acted to pass, defend, and strengthen citizen-funded election systems that amplify the voices of small donors, including in Connecticut, Maine, Maryland’s Montgomery County, Seattle, and Tallahassee.

The organizations that authored the report – Center for Media and Democracy, Common Cause, Demos, Every Voice, People For the American Way, Public Citizen, and U.S. PIRG – conclude, “The debate about the problem of money in politics is over. The question is not ‘if’ but ‘when and how’ we will reform our democracy. The movement for common-sense, winnable solutions is paving the way forward – to a government truly of, by, and for the people.”

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Paranoia-Rama: Bernie's Prison Camps, Bachmann's Nightmare And Obama's 'Jihad'

Following a much needed mental health break, Paranoia-Rama is back! However, there may not be much time left for us since, as Michele Bachmann explained this week, the Battle of Armageddon is imminent.

Anti-Abortion Groups Argue That Restrictive Texas Law 'Prevents Discrimination' Against Women

In an amicus brief filed at the Supreme Court yesterday, the anti-abortion-rights groups Susan B. Anthony List and Concerned Women for America argue that a restrictive Texas law that threatens to shut almost all of the state’s abortion clinics is actually meant to prevent discrimination against women seeking abortions.

In the brief, written by former Family Research Council official Ken Klukowski on behalf of the American Civil Rights Union, the groups argue that HB2, the Texas law being considered in the case Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, in fact “prevents discrimination” against women seeking abortions by “ensuring that women seeking an abortion receive medical care that is equal in quality to the medical care provided to men”:

By ensuring that women seeking an abortion receive medical care that is equal in quality to the medical care provided to men, HB2 prevents discrimination against those women. To the extent challengers to HB2 might suggest HB2 is a form of sex discrimination, it is actually a statute that prevents discrimination. As such, invalidating HB2 would carry the opposite consequence of effectuating discrimination against women.

HB2’s ASC [ambulatory surgical center] provision commands that “the minimum standards for an abortion facility must be equivalent to the minimum standards . . . for ambulatory surgical centers.” … Only women are patients at abortion facilities, but ASCs treat both women and men. This provision thus ensures that the women at one facility are entitled to the same quality of care that men at the other facility receive.

The groups conclude that “invalidating HB2 would subject women to second-class medical treatment, thus effectuating discrimination against women seeking an abortion.”

As we’ve noted, HB2 is one of a spate of state laws that have been passed in recent years by anti-choice lawmakers seeking to cut off access to abortion under the guise of protecting women’s health.

Among other restrictions, the Texas law requires that facilities providing abortions meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs) even, as Think Progress has noted, at facilities that provide only medication abortion and don’t perform surgeries. The Guttmacher Institute explains that ambulatory surgical centers are subject to more restrictive regulations because they generally perform riskier and more invasive procedures than surgical abortion.

Anti-Abortion Group Furious At Christie & Bush Campaigns For Mentioning Rape Exceptions

Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the anti-choice campaign group the Susan B. Anthony List, sent a letter yesterday to all of the remaining Republican presidential candidates, except for Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, warning them against criticizing Cruz and Rubio for their extreme, no-exceptions stances on abortion rights.

Although Dannenfelser didn’t name names, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who endorsed Jeb Bush after dropping out of the presidential race himself, and Gov. Chris Christie both attacked Cruz and Rubio over their opposition to rape exceptions in separate Morning Joe interviews this week.

Graham said on the program that although he’s “pro-life,” he thinks Ted Cruz’s stance on exceptions would be “a hard sell with young women.”

"I may be wrong, and I hope I'm wrong, but I think it’s going to be very hard to grow the party among women if you’re gonna tell young women, ‘If you get raped, you’re gotta carry the child of the rapist,’” he said. “Most pro-life people don't go there.”

Christie, meanwhile, said that Rubio’s no-exceptions policy is “the kind of position that New Hampshire voters would be really concerned about.”

The spat gets to the heart of the anti-choice movement’s long-running debate about whether to tolerate the inclusion of certain exceptions in legislation aimed at curtailing abortion rights in an attempt to broaden their appeal and give political cover to vulnerable lawmakers.

Dannenfelser has called rape exceptions “abominable,” “regrettable” and “intellectually dishonest,” but has made it clear that her group will back bills that include exceptions if they deem it necessary for those bills to pass. Graham takes a similarly pragmatic approach to the issue, pleading after a 20-week abortion ban he sponsored got caught up in a debate about the wording of its rape exception that the movement needed to “find a way out of this definitional problem with rape.”

But what Dannefelser seems to be most upset about is the fact that Christie and Graham talked about rape at all, which she says plays right into “Planned Parenthood’s talking points.” Indeed, after Republican Senate candidates Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock made disastrous comments about pregnancy from rape in 2012, Dannenfelser held trainings for Republicans to teach them how to avoid the subject.

In her letter to the candidates, Dannefelser notes that her organization, along with Rubio and Cruz, have supported legislation that includes exceptions, but purely as a political compromise. Attacking those candidates for their no-exceptions ideology, she says, is “incredibly damaging to the prolife movement at a point in which momentum is on our side.”

“Let me be clear: An attack on this aspect of these candidates’ pro-life positions is an attack on the pro-life movement as a whole,” she warned.

Dear Candidates:

On behalf of the Susan B. Anthony List and our 465,000 members across the country, I am writing to you today to urge a swift and decisive end to the attacks other candidates and their surrogates are making concerning the courageous pro-life positions of Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. These attacks ill-serve a party that has pledged, in one form or another, since the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 “to restore protection of the right to life for unborn children.”

While Senators Cruz and Rubio have supported SBA List-backed legislation that includes certain exceptions, they personally believe – as do we – that unborn children conceived in even the most difficult circumstances deserve the same legal protections that every other unborn child deserves. They know that you do not correct one tragedy with a second tragedy.

Let me be clear: An attack on this aspect of these candidates’ pro-life positions is an attack on the pro-life movement as a whole.

These tactical broadsides for perceived short-term advantage are incredibly damaging to the prolife movement at a point in which momentum is on our side. Our movement has worked diligently, especially in the wake of the 2012 elections, to put pro-life candidates on offense and pro-abortion candidates on defense.

As a movement, we have put forward legislative proposals that not only save lives, but also have the strong backing of the American public, such as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would protect babies after 20 weeks, or five months of pregnancy. During the 2014 election cycle this legislation dramatized the extreme position of abortion advocates, and it will have the same effect once again this cycle – largely thanks to the public support it enjoys from every single one of you.

To conclude, I urge you and your campaigns to reject Planned Parenthood’s talking points and instead keep the pro-life movement on offense by focusing on exposing the extreme position held by the other side: Abortion on-demand, up until the moment of birth, for any reason, paid for by the taxpayer. This is the winning message that will result in a pro-life president who will sign into law life-saving protections for the most vulnerable in our society.

Alex Jones: Bernie Sanders Supporters Like Nazis Clamoring For Adolf Hitler

Conspiracy theorist radio host Alex Jones, broadcasting from a dim, bunker-like studio yesterday, pleaded with Bernie Sanders supporters to abandon their candidate, telling them that Sanders is aiding a scheme devised by “European royalty” to “scapegoat the free market as the problem and to sell communism and socialism and wealth-redistribution as a solution.”

As Jones puts it, the super-super-rich intend to use socialism to seize the wealth of the regular rich, thus consolidating their power.

Jones later added that Sanders fans are like the Germans who supported Adolf Hitler: “This is the most ganged-mentality, dumbed-down, it’s like, ‘We want to elect Hitler, he says he’ll invade France and give us free stuff.’”

The InfoWars broadcaster previously said that Sanders wants to throw people him into forced labor camps.

Maryland House Stands Up for Voting Rights for Formerly Incarcerated Persons

2/5/16 Update: PFAW has sent a new veto override message to the Maryland Senate. Their vote was to have taken place on January 21, but was postponed to today, and is now not expected until next week.
PFAW

Ben Carson: Flying To Florida To Get New Clothes Proves I'll Make A Great President

Ben Carson spoke yesterday with Fox News pundit Todd Starnes about the debacle in Iowa on Monday when Carson’s campaign announced, just before Republican caucus-goers started casting their votes, that the candidate would be traveling from Iowa to his Florida home rather than directly to another early primary state like New Hampshire or South Carolina.

The campaign immediately insisted that Carson was only making the Florida stop in order to get “a fresh set of clothes” and that he wasn’t dropping out of the race. However, Ted Cruz’s campaign seized on the news to urge its supporters to tell Carson backers at caucus sites, falsely, that the neurosurgeon was leaving the race and that they should vote for Cruz instead.

While this latest controversy seemed like the latest misstep in a presidential campaign already ridden by infighting and accusations of scamming donors, not to mention the candidate’s own bizarre rantings, Carson is now trying to use it to attack Cruz, suggesting that the Texas senator is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Carson told Starnes that Cruz’s indifference to his campaign’s alleged dirty tricks was reminiscent of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s response to the 2012 Benghazi attack. “It’s sort of like if Hillary Clinton said after Benghazi, ‘What difference does it make?’” he said. (Clinton was not talking about the terrorist attack, as Carson implied, but was responding to GOP criticisms of the administration’s talking points following the attack).

Carson went on to note that he wasn’t comparing Cruz’s actions to Benghazi, but was merely saying that he demonstrated “the same kind of attitude, the attitude being, ‘It’s water under the bridge, it’s gone by, let’s not deal with it.’”

Carson also addressed his post-Iowa trip to his Florida home.

He told Starnes that he did indeed get a fresh change of clothes rather than buy new ones and “just throw away the clothes that needed to be dry cleaned or washed,” proving that he would make a fiscally conservative president who wouldn’t “go out and spend the taxpayers’ money willy-nilly.”

We hate to have to point out to Carson that a trip to a dry cleaner in New Hampshire would likely have cost far less money than a plane ticket to Florida and would have prevented this whole commotion in the first place.

The Great Planned Parenthood Plot

The anti-abortion movement’s fixation on Planned Parenthood stems in part from a long-running effort to paint legal abortion providers, and Planned Parenthood in particular, as a predatory “abortion industry” out to profit off the women they serve. This has led a number of activists to claim, in various ways, that Planned Parenthood’s non-abortion health care offerings — like affordable contraception and STI testing — are all part of a plot to eventually lure women into having abortions in order to line the pockets of the “abortion industry.”

Kristan Hawkins, the head of Students for Life, has been repeating this line for years and has recently taken to calling Planned Parenthood “the Walmart of abortion” in an effort to appeal to millennials who are wary of the influence of big corporations.

Hawkins laid out this argument in detail at a Students for Life conference in California last month, claiming that Planned Parenthood’s sex education, birth control and STI testing services are all part of their effort to get women hooked on Planned Parenthood so that they will eventually come back for abortions.

According to Hawkins’ theory, Planned Parenthood convinces teens to have premarital sex but provides them with ineffective condoms and bad advice about birth control, causing them to eventually get pregnant and need an abortion.

“We talk about their cycle,” she said of Planned Parenthood, “how they come to our schools, they won’t talk about abortion mills to our high schools, but they say, ‘Hey, when you’re ready to have sex, you know, you can try the whole abstinence thing, but when you’re ready to have sex, you don’t want to talk to your parents about it, just come to us, everything is confidential, we’ll give you condoms and birth control.”

“Tell your friends, do not use Planned Parenthood condoms,” she added, claiming that they are “the lowest ranked by Consumer Reports.” (A 2005 Consumer Reports review ranked one of the brands of condom distributed by Planned Parenthood lowest among a number of competitors, but said they were still safe to use; Planned Parenthood quickly redesigned the product.)

“They know if they get you coming to the clinics, they get you on this birth control, they give you these bad condoms, the sooner you will have sex,” she said. “Here’s a little hint if you don’t realize that, you start having sex early on, you’re going to have some heartbreak, right? So they know she’s going to fall in love with this guy, they’ll have sex, they’ll break up, then she’ll find another partner, another guy she’ll want to have sex with, but guess what? She’ll need to go get tested. So Planned Parenthood will be back there for her again for an STD test.”

She claimed that “Planned Parenthood doesn’t tell you” the importance of taking birth control pills at the same time of day and keeping them at a certain temperature “because they don’t care, because their plan is to get you coming back and back and back and back again until that day you’re facing an unplanned crisis, you think you’re pregnant. Who are you going to go to? Planned Parenthood, because they built a relationship with you.”

She said that this is why Students for Life promotes anti-abortion “pregnancy resource centers” so that they can “build that relationship with young people first before Planned Parenthood does.”

Anti-Choice Groups Are Trying To Claim The Term 'Back Alley' To Oppose Legal Abortion

Next month, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a challenge to a restrictive Texas abortion law and a key test of the anti-choice movement’s long-term strategy of eliminating abortion access by regulating abortion providers out of existence.

Central to the case is the claim that laws like the one in Texas, which could close three quarters of the state’s abortion clinics if it’s fully enacted, impose tough regulations on abortion providers in order to protect the health of the women who take advantage of their services.

Now, in an effort to claim that they are the ones who are really concerned about women’s health, anti-choice groups are appropriating the term “back-alley abortion,” using the phrase that has long described dangerous illegal procedures in the years before Roe to claim that it is in fact legal abortion that forces women into the “back alley.”

In an article for the Federalist yesterday, Americans United for Life (AUL) attorney Mailee Smith wrote that the Texas case has “prompted a discussion about what is more important: ‘access’ to the current back alley of abortion now offered by an industry that puts profits over people, or commonsense health and safety standards the Court has historically supported.”

It’s a line that AUL has been repeating in the past few years, encouraged in part by the case of Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortion provider who was convicted of several gruesome crimes after the lax enforcement of regulations allowed him to stay in business.

Speaking at a Heritage Foundation event in 2013 after Gosnell’s conviction, AUL’s president, Chairmaine Yoest, declared, “Gosnell is sadly not an aberration. Ladies and gentlemen, we already have the back alley of abortion in this country and the back alley of abortion in this country is legal abortion.” A 2012 law review article by AUL attorney Clarke Forsythe in favor of clinic regulations was titled “A Road Map Through The Supreme Court’s Back Alley.” A 2013 AUL guide to regulating abortion clinics declared, “abortion clinics across the nation have become the true ‘back alleys’ of abortion mythology.”

Other groups have caught on to the messaging too. Speaking of Gosnell’s conviction in 2013, the Susan B. Anthony List’s Marjorie Dannenfelser claimed that “the result of the current law is that we’re living back-alley abortions right now.” 

In a set of talking points posted on its website in 2014, the National Right to Life Committee recommended countering pro-choice arguments about the risk of back-alley abortions by saying, “The only thing that legalizing abortion did was to give abortionists the ability to hang their shingle on the front door and stop using the back alley!”

Few would disagree that Gosnell — who was convicted of killing a patient and three infants who were born alive at his squalid clinic — was offering the functional equivalent of back-alley abortions. But the anti-choice movement is instead attempting to exploit the Gosnell case to claim that legal abortion is back-alley abortion, and to use it to justify unnecessary regulations meant to cut shut down safe providers.

Abortion rights opponents often attempt to downplay the real danger of illegal abortions women faced before the liberalization of abortion laws and Roe. Although women with money and connections could often obtain a safe hospital abortion (whether or not it was technically legal) in the years leading up to Roe, the burden of unsafe abortion fell disproportionately on poor women and women of color.

Guttmacher reports that although rates of death from unsafe abortion fell as medical care improved on all levels, 200 women died from unsafe abortion in 1965, making up 17 percent of all pregancy-related deaths that year. Even as states began to liberalize their abortion laws, many women without access to safe procedures still obtained illegal abortions.

As a number of commentators pointed out when Gosnell’s crimes came to light, forcing safe clinics to close would only force more women to predatory providers like Gosnell.

From the beginning, anti-choice activists have acknowledged that clinic regulations like those in Texas are meant not to protect women but to challenge legal abortion. In a 2007 memo arguing against “personhood” laws that attempt to ban all abortions in one fell swoop, influential anti-abortion attorney James Bopp listed clinic regulations like Texas’ as one way to “improve the legal situation” of the anti-abortion movement without fully taking on the constitutional right to abortion. In its annual package of model legislation for state legislators, AUL touts clinic-regulation measures as part of the effort to “unravel” Roe and facilitate its “demise.”

Texas’ law, which AUL says it helped write, requires abortion clinics to remodel if they don’t meet the stringent standards of ambulatory surgical clinics, which in general perform more complicated and riskier procedures than abortion. It also mandates that abortion providers have admitting privileges at a local hospital, an unnecessary requirement that it is sometimes difficult or impossible for abortion providers to meet. (This is in part because anti-abortion activists pressure hospitals not to offer such admitting privileges, again showing that their goal is closing clinics, not improving safety standards.)

The law behind the Whole Women's Health case isn’t meant to eliminate “back-alley” abortions, as its backers are now claiming. It’s meant to cut off access for the women who can least afford it and to chip away at the legal framework of Roe, which would, ironically, mostly likely lead to more true back-alley abortions. 

Cruz And Rubio Sign Amicus Brief Urging Supreme Court To Weaken Roe

Republican presidential candidates Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida are among the 174 members of Congress who have submitted an amicus brief yesterday urging the Supreme Court to uphold a Texas anti-abortion law that threatens to close most of the abortion providers in the state.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt (previously called Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole) on March 2, considering whether sweeping abortion restrictions in Texas present an unconstitutional “undue burden” on women seeking abortions or whether they are merely meant to protect women’s health, as their backers claim. The case is a critical test of the anti-choice movement’s long-term strategy to weaken Roe by gradually chipping away at abortion access in the states, often by claiming that burdensome regulations are meant to protect the health of women seeking abortions.

Texas’ law was written in consultation with Americans United for Life, the national group that is leading the charge to eliminate abortion access via restrictive state laws. The regulations imposed by the law included specifications on things like hallway width and even on water fountains, along with unnecessary and sometimes untenable hospital “admitting privileges” requirements for abortion providers. If upheld by the court, the law would likely close all but a handful of Texas’ abortion clinics, creating a model for other conservative states to follow. Texas’ lieutenant governor at the time the law was passed, David Dewhurst, boasted that it would “essentially ban abortion statewide.”

Yet Texas lawmakers and their attorneys are sticking with the story that the law is a reasonable regulation meant to protect patients’ health, allowable under the framework laid out in the Supreme Court’s 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. And that is the argument that the brief by Cruz, Rubio and their fellow members of Congress makes too, claiming that doctors “disagree” on the necessity of the regulations and so Texas legislators merely “decided to strike a balance that gives first priority to women’s health and safety, choosing to risk erring on the side of safety rather than on the side of danger.”

As an example of the supposed necessity of such regulations, the brief cites Kermit Gosnell, the Pennsylvania abortion provider who was convicted of a number of appalling crimes related to his shoddy practice. Gosnell was not only operating in an entirely different state, it was clear that his crimes were the result of insufficient enforcement of existing regulations on clinics rather than insufficient regulation.

In a statement about the amicus brief, Rubio started off with the Gosnell case, claiming that the Texas law “best protects the safety and well-being of women who choose to have abortions, and serves as a model for other states to follow,” adding that such measures are stop-gap until “we can put an end to abortion and protect life once and for all.” Cruz also raised the specter of Gosnell, claiming that “the most zealous abortion advocates, nothing—not even women’s health—can be allowed to stand in the way of abortion-on-demand.”

Rubio and Cruz, like the law they are defending, are deliberately skirting around the point. Rubio supports banning abortion in all circumstances, while Cruz has backed a radical “personhood” laws that would ban all abortion and could even risk outlawing some types of birth control. At the same time, Cruz backed then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s refusal to accept federal Medicaid expansion that would have insured more than one million people while Rubio has tried repeatedly to take away insurance coverage for contraception from some women. It’s hard to believe that Rubio and Cruz’s position in Whole Woman’s Health stems from a sudden interest in women’s health rather than a concerted strategy to eliminate abortion rights.

Rick Wiles Prays Obama Will Be Ousted And Sent To Prison

“Trunews” host Rick Wiles was outraged by President Obama’s appearance at a Baltimore mosque yesterday, calling the president a supporter of Islamic terrorism and asking listeners, “Why are we tolerating this criminal thug?”

Insisting that the president is not only a Muslim but “the jihadist-in-chief” who “is waging jihad against the United States from inside the White House,” Wiles said that he prays Obama “will be arrested, tried in court, found guilty and sentenced to prison for his bloody crimes against humanity.”

However, Wiles isn’t looking forward to Hillary Clinton succeeding Obama as president, calling her “a puppet of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Wiles even made a prediction that Obama will “out himself” as a Muslim before leaving office.

Diana West Decries 'Hispanization' Of US, 'Demographic Invasion' From Southern Border

Conservative columnist Diana West, a frequent guest on Frank Gaffney’s “Secure Freedom Radio” program, appeared on Gaffney’s program yesterday to discuss with guest host Jim Hanson the struggle that many European countries are having in accommodating millions of refugees and migrants from North Africa and the Mideast.

West warned that the U.S. is “deep into the same exact transition” as Europe and “we are being replaced also and our culture is being absolutely taken over in similar ways,” not only by relatively small numbers of refugees, whom she called “non-assimilable,” but by the “Hispanization” of U.S. culture through immigrants from Latin America.

“We are experiencing the exact same forces and movement here,” she said. “We’re much bigger, obviously, and the conditions are somewhat different. However, we have no border, we have massive invasions by demographic invasion coming up on the southern border in particular. This would be an effort that we are watching, my father used to use the phrase, the United States becoming the northern tip of South America. I mean, this is a sense of the Hispanization of the country.”

“And meanwhile we’re watching refugee resettlement and the Syrian quote ‘refugee’ project also coming in with population blocks, non-assimilable population blocks coming out of the Islamic world and elsewhere being imposed on communities across the country,” she added.

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