Donald Trump To Receive Endorsement Of Anti-Immigrant, Birther Extremist Joe Arpaio

An Arizona sheriff best known for his human rights abuses, attacks on immigrants and birther conspiracy theories is heading to Iowa today to endorse Donald Trump, according to a report in the New York Times.

Trump, who has recently won support from Sarah Palin and Jerry Falwell Jr., has actively courted Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who defended the GOP presidential candidate after he claimed that most immigrants are criminals.

As we've reported, Arpaio "has a horrific record on issues like immigration, racial profilingdetainment and upholding basic human rights. Most recently, he tapped a child sex offender to work as an armed guard for schools and confessed to having 'violated several federal court orders resulting from a long-running racial-profiling suit.' The sheriff, who has been cited by the Justice Department for violating the First Amendment rights of his critics, recently alleged that criticism of Trump’s comments on immigration undermines his 'freedom of speech.'"

Last March, Arpaio admitted to violating a federal court order "by continuing to allow sheriff's deputies to make traffic stops based on suspicions about individuals' immigration status." A party held in Arpaio's honor included racist jokes about the sheriff pulling over drivers just for being Hispanic.

Along with sharing anti-immigrant policies and a disdain for civil liberties, Trump and Arpaio areboth outspoken birthers. Arpaio even leads his own "cold-case posse," which has promised "universe-shattering" evidence proving that President Obama's birth certificate is fraudulent.

Perhaps such evidence will be unveiled in Trump's future birther book.

Ted Cruz: God Is Helping Me 'Bring America Back From The Abyss'

In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody on Monday, Ted Cruz said that conservative voters should back him over Donald Trump because "for seven years, we've had a president in the White House who has had a messiah complex."

Cruz went on to credit his presidential campaign with sparking a national movement to "bring this country back" and create "a spirit of revival" that's "sweeping this country."

"I fear for America," he said. "If we keep on this path there comes a point of no return and my prayer is that this awakening continues, that the body of Christ rise up to pull us back from the abyss."

After mentioning how campaigning has been "humbling," Cruz said that "we are going to, together with God's blessing and grace, pull America back from the abyss and it is this election that makes the difference." He then urged people who oppose gay marriage and abortion rights to back him in the Iowa caucuses.

After the interview with Brody, Cruz spoke to a pastors' event sponsored by right-wing extremist David Lane, where he told attendees that "the federal government daily wages a war on life, on marriage, on religious liberty, on the Judeo-Christian values that built this country."

He also urged pastors to "sound the alarm" and to make sure that "every member of your congregation will show up and caucus and caucus for someone who defends biblical values."

Cruz was very clear about who that someone might be: "If everyone in this room ensures that every member of your congregation comes out in votes in the Iowa caucus and votes for our values, we will win one week from today."

Anti-Planned Parenthood Activist David Daleiden Gets Indicted, But The Anti-Choice Movement Still Feels Like It's Winning

In an interesting turn of events yesterday, a Texas grand jury that had been convened to investigate Planned Parenthood based on the claims of anti-abortion activist David Daleiden instead indicted Daleiden and a colleague on charges relating to their infiltration of the women’s health care organization.
In a statement responding to the charges, Daleiden called himself an "investigative journalist," something that he has been doing from the beginning of his project. In reality, Daleiden's "investigation" was rooted in a tradition of anti-abortion activists attempting to harass and intimidate abortion providers to prevent them from practicing, rather than a genuine effort to uncover the truth. In fact, one of Daleiden's associates at the radical anti-choice group Operation Rescue, which helped to get his project off the ground, said that Daleiden's goal going into the project was to “obtain prosecutions” of Planned Parenthood officials.
So far, Daleiden's attempt to "obtain prosecutions" has come up empty.
But pushing for the prosecution of Planned Parenthood officials was only part of Daleiden’s plan. In a statement following the indictment, Daleiden claimed that the “admissions” of Planned Parenthood were “captured on video for all the world to see.” Never mind that the videos show no such “admissions” of law-breaking. The point of the videos was not just to make a case to law enforcement, but to sway public opinion.
On a large scale, that hasn't been successful: One poll showed barely a flutter in the public’s views about Planned Parenthood between August and September of last year, in the height of the visibility of Daleiden’s videos. Planned Parenthood's favorability ratings had already dropped over the last two decades, Gallup found, but mostly among Republicans, a trend that the polling agency attributed to the growing “politicization of Planned Parenthood."
What Daleiden’s project has done is to galvanize support among those who were already opposed to abortion rights. Protests in front of Planned Parenthood offices, driven by the old guard of the anti-abortion “rescue” movement, expanded and multiplied, with the support of much more visible anti-choice groups. At this year’s March for Life, it was impossible to go five minutes without hearing a mention of Daleiden or his videos, with speaker after speaker saying that their movement finally had winning momentum. In the days leading up to the march, Daleiden crossed the city to speak to protesters holding gruesome signs outside a construction site for a new Planned Parenthood clinic; to talk with Americans United for Life lawyers working on strategies to restrict abortion rights; and to be prayed over by Russell Moore and Jim Daly, evangelical leaders who are trying to put a kinder, gentler face on their movement.
Speakers at nearly every event noted with hope that a bill defunding Planned Parenthood recently made it through a Republican Congress, allowing anti-choice activists to say that all they need now is to elect a president who would sign it.
Now that Daleiden is facing prosecution, he’s in the company of many fellow members of the “rescue” movement, which his work grew out of. Among those who protest outside of clinics, or try to infiltrate them, arrest and jail time for violation of what they see as unjust laws is a badge of honor. At a protest last week in front of a new Planned Parenthood that is being built in Washington, D.C., before Daleiden spoke, one “rescue” movement leader asked who there would be willing to “lay their body in front of the door” or “handcuff yourself to construction equipment” in order to stop the building from opening. Another touted the work of one of Daleiden’s mentors to train “a whole army of David Daleidens” to infiltrate Planned Parenthood clinics throughout the country.
Yesterday’s indictment is unlikely to dissuade these activists, who feel that they are on the cusp of a David-and-Goliath victory. In fact, at events connected to the March for Life last week, speakers expressed hope that a separate lawsuit against Daleiden by Planned Parenthood would instead turn up unflattering information about the women's health provider and land it in hot water instead. So far, the opposite has been true. But, to the anti-choice movement, that just makes Daleiden seem even more like David, closer than ever to slinging the winning shot.

Trump Embraces Radical Anti-Catholic, Anti-Gay Pastor

Donald Trump has once again joined up with Texas pastor Robert Jeffress, this time inviting Jeffress to introduce him at an event at a Christian college in Iowa over the weekend.

"It’s becoming something of a regular gig: Jeffress, you may recall, also intro’d Trump at his American Airlines Center rally in September. And when he’s not introducing Trump, Jeffress is laying hands on the man," Robert Wilsonsky of The Dallas Morning News wrote, noting that Trump has returned the favor by lavishing praise on Jeffress...for boasting about Trump.

Jeffress insists that his appearances don't amount to an official endorsement, but has said that Trump has the best chance of defeating a Democratic opponent and "could be a very effective president of the United States."

However, courting Jeffress' support didn't end well for the last Republican presidential candidate who tried it: Rick Perry.

Perry, then the governor of Texas, drew flak for embracing Jeffress during his 2012 presidential campaign, particularly after Jeffress criticized Mitt Romney for his Mormon faith when he introduced Perry at the Values Voter Summit. Jeffress also declared that a Mormon president would cause God to judge America and that Mormons, Muslims, Jews and most Catholics are destined for hell.

The megachurch pastor also claimed that Satan is behind Roman Catholicism.

Jeffress has warned that the gay rights movement "will pave the way for that future world dictator, the Antichrist, to persecute and martyr Christians without any repercussions whatsoever," and similarly declared that the Supreme Court's marriage equality ruling signaled the coming of the Last Days. He even claimed that the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks represented God's judgment for legal abortion, predicting that advances in gay rights would bring about similar forms of divine punishment.

As we previously noted:

He has described gays and lesbians as “perverse,” “miserable” and “abnormal” people who engage in an “unnatural” and “filthy practice” that will lead to the “implosion of our country.” Jeffress argues that the gay community employs Chinese “brainwashing techniques” in order to have homosexuality “crammed down our throats.”

While many Religious Right leaders are flocking to Ted Cruz, it seems that Trump is trying to win over his very own posse of extremist pastors.

Supreme Court Goes Back to Work in January and Shows Again Why Election Day is Judgment Day

This piece originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

After a Holiday break, the Supreme Court returned to a full schedule of arguments and other activity in January. The crucial oral argument before the Court this month in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, as well as several cases that the Court agreed to review later this year, again show that on a variety of important issues, the Court has enormous influence but is closely divided. With the president elected in November likely to select as many as four new Supreme Court justices beginning as early as next year, the person we elect as president will be critical. That’s why Election Day 2016 will be Judgment Day for the Court and our rights and liberties.

Friedrichs is the latest battle in what the New York Times has called the “war on workers” and unions being waged by Justice Alito and other conservatives on the Court. A primary target of that war has been a decision almost 40 years ago inAbood v. Detroit Board of Education. In that case the Court determined that although workers cannot be forced to join a union or contribute to its political activities, since that would violate their First Amendment rights, they can be required to help pay for the costs of collective bargaining and related activities from which they benefit even if they are not union members. That solution to what would otherwise be a “free rider” problem is crucial to the ability of unions to effectively represent the interests of workers.  Even though a unanimous Supreme Court recognized the principle of Abood as recently as 2009, subsequent 5-4 decisions written by Justice Alito have criticized that ruling and effectively invited attempts to overturn it. That is exactly what the plaintiffs in Friedrichs, a small group of California teachers, are attempting to do, claiming they should not have to join or pay “fair share” costs to the state teachers union and that Abood should be overturned.

The justices’ comments at the oral argument made clear that the conservative 5-4 majority remains hostile to unions and Abood, and may well be prepared to overrule it this year. (As usual, Justice Thomas did not speak at the argument, but his negative views in this area have been made clear in past opinions). Particularly troubling were some comments by Justice Kennedy, who is often the “swing” vote on the Court, but in this case maintained that “free riders” are really “compelled riders” who, he claimed, are forced to support unions on “issues on which they strongly disagree.” Regardless of the merits of that claim, on which many have disagreed, it strongly suggests that there may now be five votes to overturnAbood, with disastrous consequences for unions and workers.

It is impossible, of course, to predict the precise outcome of a Supreme Court case based on the oral argument, and the Court could issue a decision that does not completely overrule Abood. The Court could send the case back to a lower court for specific fact-finding on issues like the impact of eliminating “free rider” payments on unions, as was suggested at one point in the argument, or could limit its holding to the specific case in California. Particularly if the Court chooses one of those alternatives, the question of who will replace older justices like Kennedy, Ginsburg, and Scalia when they retire will be critical. That is why the election in November of our next president, who will nominate such replacements, is crucial for the Court and workers’ rights. Even an outright overruling of Abood could be softened or revisited, but only if a progressive president is elected and selects more progressives Justices for the Court.

During January, the Court also agreed to review several important cases on other subjects this year. The case that has generated the most controversy is United States v. Texas, where lower courts have put on hold the president’s executive orders on immigration that would defer deportation enforcement against millions of undocumented immigrants who have children who are citizens or legal permanent residents and would be able to apply for jobs and stay in the U.S. for three years.  Twenty-six states led by Texas filed the challenge, and the huge partisan divide on the question almost guarantees that it will be an election issue this fall. The most extreme Justices on the Court (Scalia, Alito and Thomas) have voted against virtually every significant Obama initiative that has come before the Court, and the Court’s decision to add a question for the parties to address - whether the Obama order is consistent with the Constitution’s language that the president should “take care” that federal laws be “faithfully executed” -- suggests deep skepticism by some of the justices. The decision itself could have a huge impact not only on this specific issue, but also on the ability of a future progressive president to take other executive action in the face of a recalcitrant Congress. However this case is decided, there is also little question that these issues will return to the Court in 2017 or later, and the views of the president who will appoint future justices will be crucial to the results. 

The Court also decided in January to review several other important cases this year. In one, the Court has been asked to decide whether a state constitution can more strictly separate church and state than the increasingly conservative Supreme Court has and can prohibit any direct state financial aid to religious institutions. Thirty-five states have such constitutional provisions, and the Court is very divided on such religion issues, which are very likely to come up in the future as well. And in another big business vs. consumers case, the Court will consider what must be proven to prosecute someone for illegally using inside company information for stock or other trading. This issue has divided lower courts, one of which has adopted a narrow interpretation that has dealt a significant setback to the efforts of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara to crack down on insider trading in the $3 trillion hedge fund industry. The Court is likely to be divided on this issue as well.

The Court’s decisions in both these cases later this year will be important in and of themselves. But they are also very unlikely to be the last word on the significant big business, consumer, and religion issues they raise. The fact that these and other crucial issues will be decided by this divided Court in the future, and the fact that four justices on the current Court will be over 80 in the next president’s first term, is what makes the identity of the president who will appoint future justices so important. Statements this month by both Democratic and Republican candidates show that, even as they also discuss other issues, they clearly recognize the importance of the election for the future direction of the Court. In short, Election Day 2016 truly is Judgment Day for the Supreme Court and for all of our rights and liberties.


Media Advisory: Congressional Champions and Entertainment Stars Celebrate Artists and Activists Working to Get Big Money Out of Politics

Winning video selected among entries submitted by Americans during nationwide video competition to be announced and used for national campaign to support Democracy For All amendment

WHAT: A panel of celebrity judges including Michael Moore, Norman Lear, Kathleen Turner and Dolores Huerta, selected one video from entries submitted by everyday Americans to raise awareness of big money in politics. The winning video will be announced and used to represent the voice of Americans in a national campaign to support the Democracy For All constitutional amendment currently being considered by Congress.

WHEN: Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016, 12:15-1:15 p.m.

WHERE: National Press Club (Murrow room), 529 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20045

WHO: U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM)
U.S. Representative Ted Deutch (FL-21)
Kathleen Turner, Academy Award-nominated actress
Jeff Haggin, president, Say No To Big Money
Marge Baker, executive vice president, People For the American Way
Winning video creators

AGENDA: Welcome (Baker)
Amendment/initiative update (Udall/Deutch)
Contest (Haggin)
Winner announcement/presentation (Turner)

AMENDMENT: The Democracy For All Amendment, currently being considered by Congress with 144 cosponsors in the House and 41 supporters in the Senate, would overturn cases such as Citizens United, the 2010 Supreme Court case that paved the way for unlimited political spending by corporations and the super wealthy.

ABOUT: The Democracy For All Video Challenge (www.democracyforall.com) is a project of Say No to Big Money and People For the American Way. People For the American Way is a progressive advocacy organization founded to fight extremism and defend constitutional values including free expression, religious liberty and the right to meaningfully participate in our democracy. More information is available at www.PFAW.org. Say No To Big Money is a nonprofit corporation with the mission of supporting the ratification of the Democracy For All Amendment that will regulate campaign contributions. More information is available at www.SayNoToBigMoney.com.

CONTACT: Steve Honig, The Honig Company, LLC, 818-986-4300 / press@honigllc.com

# # #

Louie Gohmert: 'It's Time To Start Impeaching Judges' For Marriage Equality Ruling

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, said last week that “it’s time to start impeaching” Supreme Court justices in response to the Obergefell marriage equality ruling, which he called an “illegal decision” that amounted to the court declaring itself to be God.

In an interview with Florida talk radio host Joyce Kaufman on Friday, Gohmert falsely claimed that church-state separation decisions in the 1950s and 1960s mandated that “you can’t talk about God in schools and public places.” But, he said, the Supreme Court did something even worse with Obergefell.

“The Supreme Court said, ‘You know, we told you you couldn’t use ‘God,’ now here’s the new line: We’re God,’” he said. “‘We are your God. Forget what God, Moses, Jesus ever said, we are your God now, the five of us in the majority, you do as we tell you.’”

Gohmert went on to repeat his call for Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan to be impeached for participating in the decision after having performed legal same-sex marriages.

“We have two of them who had done same-sex marriages before they participated, they were disqualified, but they illegally participated, it’s an illegal decision, and it’s time to start impeaching judges and remove them from the Supreme Court,” he said.

Kaufman, for her part, seemed to say that Ginsburg and Kagan should have been disqualified for “being gay.”

Operation Save America: Terrorism Is God's Punishment For Legal Abortion

Operation Save America’s Rusty Lee Thomas has blamed the September 11 attacks on legal abortion in the U.S., so it’s only natural that he’s now saying that current terror threats, along with undocumented immigrants and big government, are all part of God’s punishment on America for legal abortion.

In a press release on Thursday, the eve of the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, Thomas declared that the “real danger” facing America is “God Himself” because He “will not be mocked” and will flatten America like Sodom if legal abortion isn’t stopped.

Operation Save America is what remains of the original anti-choice group called Operation Rescue. (The Operation Rescue that is currently operating was a rival group with similar goals and tactics.) Thomas took over as the head of Operation Save America after working for years alongside its former leader, Flip Benham, who was recently embraced by Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign.

From Thomas’ press release:

Listen to the concerns of 21st century Americans! Terror, Islamic Jihadists, Illegal Immigration, Out of Control Federal and State Governments, Economic Collapse, loss of retirement funds. But what's on God's heart? What is the real danger facing the home of the brave land of the free?

It is God Himself. He will not be mocked! What men and nations sow, they shall surely reap. We have sowed domestic terrorism in the womb and now face foreign terrorism from without.

Our nation is staggering under the weight of blood guiltiness. We have poured out gallons; hundreds and thousands of gallons throughout the streets and sewers of America. Nearly 60 million children made in the image of God have been slaughtered in our legal and federally protected abortion mills.

Even the gruesome videos of Planned Parenthood executives making light and laughing over the horror of selling little babies' body parts has made nary a ripple in the lakes of innocent blood shed defiling and polluting our land.

Abortion is not political, social or economic. It is a Gospel/Kingdom issue. It is the ancient evil of child sacrifice that is dressed up as a women's rights issue. Since 1973, our nation has accumulated a great debt of blood guilt and the bill is past due.

Is there any hope? Yes, it is found in the Lord we have spurned, His law that we have violated, and His salvation we have rejected to our own demise. 2 Chronicles 7:14 declares, "if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."

If we meet God's conditions, He will heal our land. If not, we will go the way of every other nation that murdered their babies and paraded their sin like Sodom.

Gohmert: Clinton Backing Obama's Agenda Because Otherwise He'll Indict Her

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, has a theory as to why Hillary Clinton has been largely supporting President Obama’s policies and record on the campaign trail: because she knows that if she crosses him, she’ll be indicted.

Gohmert spoke yesterday with Alex Marlow on Breitbart News’ Sunday show on SiriusXM, where he insisted that as long as Clinton “doesn’t trash Obama, then she’s probably going to avoid indictment.”

Gohmert, who has been an enthusiastic proponent of the conspiracy theory that former CIA director David Petraeus was indicted for leaking classified information because he was about to expose information about the Benghazi attack, said that Clinton is probably facing a similar situation as Petraeus was.

“I know others who are saying, ‘Oh, it’s going to happen she’s going to be indicted,’” he said, “but look at Petraeus, they saw him as a threat, they’d been sitting on information about his affair for 10, 11 months or so, however long it’d been, and decided to use it right before he could destroy their scenario about the video causing Benghazi. So, I don’t know, just looking at the way this administration operates. If you’re on their side, you don’t get indicted. If you’re a threat to them, you get indicted.”

This prompted Marlow to bring up a theory of his own. “Did you notice what Hillary’s latest campaign tactic is, if you saw the latest debate, you know what she’s doing these days?” he asked. “She keeps backing Obama’s entire agenda. She keeps saying what his success has been.”

“Exactly,” Gohmert responded. “Why do you think that is?”

“Well, I’m starting to think, maybe all these rumors flying that she could be indicted, and I’d always thought that it wasn’t a chance, but maybe she’s thinking, ‘Well, we’d better make sure,’” Marlow said.

“Yeah, well, I mean, I think if she becomes a threat then she gets indicted like Petraeus was,” Gohmert responded. “You know, they’ve got the evidence, if they want to use it, then they can. But they obviously look the other way if you’re helping them, if you’re intimidating voters that may be Republican at a polling place then you walk, despite the laws you violate. It’s what this administration has done. They support those that help them even when they’re breaking the law.”

(Gohmert’s mention of people getting away with “intimidating voters” is a reference to the overblown, Fox News-driven New Black Panther Party scandal .)

Supreme Court Rejects Attempt At Restrictive Six-Week Abortion Ban

There has long been a debate raging within the anti-abortion movement between those who have mapped out a careful strategy to slowly chip away at Roe v. Wade through incremental restrictions on abortion and those who want to launch legal broadsides against abortion rights in the hopes that one will take Roe down once and for all.

The incrementalists will have their big day in court on March 2, when the Supreme Court hears arguments in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, a challenge to a set of laws in Texas that seeks to cut off access to legal abortion even as the procedure remains legal. Whole Woman’s Health is the culmination of a decades-long strategy by groups like Americans United for Life to choke off abortion access by creating unnecessary regulations on clinics. These groups are also hoping to get the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe in the form of laws banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, just before when the court has said that abortion bans are legal.

But those who want to find a silver bullet to end abortion rights completely just had a day in court too … and it didn’t go well for them.

The Supreme Court today declined to hear an appeal of a lower court ruling that struck down North Dakota’s “fetal heartbeat” law, which would have banned abortion at about six weeks of pregnancy, before many women even know that they are pregnant. The law was clearly unconstitutional — one prominent anti-choice lawyer has called such efforts “futile” — but North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple said that it was an “attempt by a state legislature to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade.”

The boundaries of Roe v. Wade, it turns out, however much they may be weakened by incremental restrictions, still prevent banning almost all abortions.

Yet today’s rejection is unlikely to halt the efforts of “heartbeat bill” crusaders, the most prominent of whom is Religious Right activist Janet Porter, who is currently running for the legislature in her home state of Ohio in an effort to push such a bill through.


Supreme Court Rejects Attempt At Restrictive Six-Week Abortion Ban

There has long been a debate raging within the anti-abortion movement between those who have mapped out a careful strategy to slowly chip away at Roe v. Wade through incremental restrictions on abortion and those who want to launch legal broadsides against abortion rights in the hopes that one will take Roe down once and for all.

The incrementalists will have their big day in court on March 2, when the Supreme Court hears arguments in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, a challenge to a set of laws in Texas that seeks to cut off access to legal abortion even as the procedure remains legal. Whole Woman’s Health is the culmination of a decades-long strategy by groups like Americans United for Life to choke off abortion access by creating unnecessary regulations on clinics. These groups are also hoping to get the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe in the form of laws banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, just before when the court has said that abortion bans are legal.

But those who want to find a silver bullet to end abortion rights completely just had a day in court too … and it didn’t go well for them.

The Supreme Court today declined to hear an appeal of a lower court ruling that struck down North Dakota’s “fetal heartbeat” law, which would have banned abortion at about six weeks of pregnancy, before many women even know that they are pregnant. The law was clearly unconstitutional — one prominent anti-choice lawyer has called such efforts “futile” — but North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple said that it was an “attempt by a state legislature to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade.”

The boundaries of Roe v. Wade, it turns out, however much they may be weakened by incremental restrictions, still prevent banning almost all abortions.

Yet today’s rejection is unlikely to halt the efforts of “heartbeat bill” crusaders, the most prominent of whom is Religious Right activist Janet Porter, who is currently running for the legislature in her home state of Ohio in an effort to push such a bill through.

The Agenda of National School Choice Week: Don't Be Blinded by the Bright Yellow Scarves

National School Choice Week is a massive public relations campaign featuring rallies and other public events to promote the idea that parents and students benefit from maximizing "school choice" options. But by deliberately trying to smooth over crucial distinctions between policies that promote stronger public schools and policies that promote private interests, National School Choice Week distorts a necessary public debate.

Maddow Calls Out Cruz For Embracing Pastor Who Said God Sent Hitler & Oprah Presages Antichrist

Sen. Ted Cruz has been embracing so many far-right figures in his quest to become president that we’ve almost stopped being surprised every time he rolls out a new, more extreme endorsement.


Last week, Cruz outdid himself when he sent out a press release announcing the endorsement of Mike Bickle, head of the 24-hour International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri.

Cruz’s announcement was remarkable because associating with Bickle had already caused a considerable amount of trouble for Cruz’s fellow Texan Rick Perry back when he was launching his first presidential run in 2011. Bickle, whose theology iscontroversial even among evangelicals, was involved in organizing a prayer rally meant to launch Perry’s campaign, which ended up causing trouble for the then-Texas governor when Bickle’s extreme views — including his belief that Oprah Winfrey is the forerunner to the Antichrist — came to light. Nonetheless, Bickle ended up emceeing the second half of the event.

Even more disturbing than his unusual theological beliefs about Oprah was a sermon that came to light after Perry’s prayer rally in which Bickle declared that in the End Times, God will “raise up a hunter” to kill Jews who don’t accept Christ “and the most famous hunter in recent history is a man named Adolf Hitler.’”

This statement was similar to remarks made by Religious Right leader John Hagee that had caused Sen. John McCain to publicly reject his endorsement during his own presidential campaign in 2008.

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, who extensively covered Bickle’s role in Perry’s prayer rally back in 2011, took on Cruz’s latest endorsement on Friday, saying that while “candidates cannot be held responsible for everything said and done and believed by people who like them and endorse them and vote for them,” once you welcome and campaign on an endorsement, “you kind of own it” … and while John McCain sought to quickly distance himself from this type of controversy, Ted Cruz doesn’t seem to mind at all.

Kim Davis: God Chose Me To Stand Against Gay Marriage

Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who became a Religious Right hero last year when she tried to stop issuing marriage licenses in the wake of the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision, told an American Family Radio host that she was chosen by God to fight gay marriage.

On Friday, American Family Radio host and American Family Association official Sandy Rios broadcast an interview that she had conducted with Davis, in which she lavished praise on Davis for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. "It's interesting to me how God chose you," Rios said. "Not a Sunday school teacher, not a Republican, not the standard — this is like God, this is so like God, so he chose you."

Davis said that she considered it "a joy to be chosen, to make a stand and to defend my God's word, the infallible word of God."

"You were chosen, Kim," Rios agreed. "I know that. God picked you, plucked you out."

David Barton: Thomas Jefferson Would Endorse Ted Cruz

Last year, a Christian publisher pulled "The Jefferson Lies," a book authored by right-wing pseudo-historian David Barton, off the shelves after it came under heavy criticism from actual historians who pointed out the book's significant factual inaccuracies.

Fortunately for Barton, the conspiracy theory site WorldNetDaily decided to republish his book on Thomas Jefferson shortly after Barton found a new job running a super PAC supporting Ted Cruz's presidential candidacy.

Naturally, Barton gave an interview yesterday to WorldNetDaily about who Jefferson would support for president in 2016, and — surprise, surprise — Barton said that Jefferson would likely back Cruz. 

Historian and Thomas Jefferson scholar David Barton says the choice is clear when it comes to the 2016 presidential candidate Thomas Jefferson would endorse.

“Jefferson would eliminate 80 percent of the candidates,” said Barton. But after that, he said, “one of the last guys standing would be [Ted] Cruz.”

Barton, who serves as head as of the pro-Cruz Keep the Promise political action committee, told WND Cruz is the candidate who comes closest to Jefferson and what he believes were the third president’s principles on “debt, religious liberty, and the war on Islam.”


"Two hundred years ago, the Founding Fathers dealt with abortion," said Barton. "They dealt with marriage laws, they dealt with homosexuality in the military, they dealt with whether the federal government should bail out private businesses 'too big to fail.' Everything we're going through now, they already dealt with and so we can learn from history if we're willing to do so."

PFAW, CODEPINK and Allies Speak Out Against Trump

Donald Trump has established himself as the candidate of hatred and bigotry, and he's dragging the rest of the party along with him. Anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric has become the norm in the GOP presidential debates, as Trump's policy proposals become more absurdly racist and xenophobic -- like a ban on allowing any Muslims to enter the United States.

In the face of this, the progressive movement is standing up for what's right. Over 30,000 PFAW members have already pledged to stand strongly against fascist policies that restrict our basic rights, like the ones Trump has built his campaign on. And our allies at CODEPINK are leading the #StopHateDumpTrump campaign, calling on Americans of all political affiliations to speak out in every way possible against political fear-mongering.

Together, we are pledging to take action in the face of hatred and bigotry that stand in stark contrast to our fundamental American values. 


Republican Presidential Candidates: End Your Campaigns of Hate

This piece originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

It seems there's no end to the Republican presidential candidates' campaigns of hate. As showcased by last week's Republican debate, their deeply-troubling rhetoric on immigrants and Muslims has become a standard talking point. It's impossible to turn on the TV without hearing the newest iteration of the candidates' hateful stances.

Sitting through last week's debate was nothing short of painful. Donald Trump doubled down on his commitment to ban Muslims from entering the United States. All the candidates were united in their anti-refugee stances.

Of course, it's not just debates where the Republican candidates spew their xenophobia. Their anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies are flooding the airwaves. The ad Donald Trump released recently is focused on banning Muslims from entering the U.S. and paints immigrants as a danger to national security. Trump's fellow Republican contenders have been mirroring his language. As Marco Rubio campaigns throughout the country, he's repeating the talking point he used in the last debate, that all immigrants and refugees pose a terrorist threat to America. He also has gone so far as to accuse President Obama, our Commander in Chief, of having "deliberately weakened America." Ted Cruz, for his part, is trying to out-Trump Trump. He too released a new TV ad that falsely portrays immigrants as taking jobs and draining the U.S. economy and he'sproposing not only that the US should not accept any Syrian refugees, but that we should expel refugees who are already here.

That's not the American way. As President Obama said at the State of the Union: "We need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion. This isn't a matter of political correctness. It's a matter of understanding what makes us strong."

It's time for the Republican candidates to end their campaigns of hate. The bigoted rhetoric and policy positions we're hearing from these candidates go against core American values. They don't merit discussion at the kitchen table, and they certainly don't merit discussion at a debate for those aspiring to the nation's highest office.

Sadly, I'm not holding my breath for Republicans to stop vilifying Muslims or immigrants.

As the Republican presidential candidates continue their attacks, it's critical that ordinary Americans stand up for the values we know are right. The message we heard from President Obama during the State of the Union, his call to embrace diversity and our history as a nation that welcomes immigrants and refugees, is rooted in our country's deepest principles, and no matter what happens in the GOP primary, that's the message we need to carry forward.


As Anti-Abortion Groups Gather in D.C., A New High Profile For A Radical Movement

This piece originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

This week, many of the various factions of the anti-abortion movement will gather in Washington for the March For Life, an annual event that marks the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade.

The wide array of events surrounding the march reflect many of the strands of the anti-choice movement. This morning, far-flung members of the “rescue” movement -- those who protest outside of clinics and sometimes harass providers and patients -- joined local activists who have been protesting at a new Planned Parenthood building, much to the dismay of the elementary school next door. On Wednesday, a group of demonstrators elsewhere in Washington mistakenly protested outside of a closed Planned Parenthood building. Over the next few days, young activists will have two rallies and a conference dedicated just to them. Lawyers and law students will meet about legal strategies for turning back abortion rights. For the first time, there will be a conference focused on evangelicals.

But many of these events will be connected by the presence of one familiar face: David Daleiden, the young activist whose “sting” operation against Planned Parenthood has shaken up the anti-abortion movement. Daleiden isn’t scheduled for a main-stage slot at the march, but he’ll be making appearances at the Planned Parenthood protest, the evangelical summit, the lawyers’ event and a Family Research council event, along with a related Students for Life event on the West Coast on Sunday.

Daleiden’s influence will likely be felt even at events where he isn’t present: The keynote speech at the march itself will be delivered by Carly Fiorina, the Republican presidential candidate who has routinely recited a false story of what she claims to have seen in one of Daleiden’s films.

The central role of Daleiden in this week’s events reflects the extent to which his project, which stemmed from one of the most radical strands of the anti-choice movement, has brought radical protest groups back to prominence and shifted the strategy and priorities of the more “mainstream” parts of the movement.

Last summer, Daleiden started releasing a series of videos, taken undercover in conversations with Planned Parenthood employees, which he claimed showed the women’s health organization illegally profiting off fetal tissue donated for research. Those claims didn’t hold up, but they opened up a new line of attack for the anti-choice movement -- along with a new wave of violence -- that culminated in the recent votes in Congress to defund Planned Parenthood, something that anti-choice leaders say they will now be able to do once and for all if a Planned Parenthood foe is elected president. Planned Parenthood is now suing Daleiden and his accomplices.

This renewed focus on Planned Parenthood has helped to elevate the rescue movement, which Daleiden’s project grew out of. Two of Daleiden’s closest advisors, Operation Rescue’s Troy Newman and Life Dynamics’ Mark Crutcher, helped to pioneer the strategy of cutting down access to abortion by making life miserable for abortion providers and patients. Crutcher has specialized in doing this through “sting” operations, including one that Daleiden’s was modeled after, and now hopes to train and “unleash a whole army of David Daleidens” on abortion providers.

Planned Parenthood has long been a target of these groups. After Daleiden started releasing his videos, anti-choice groups began directing their activists to protests in front of Planned Parenthood clinics led by some of the old guard of the rescue movement. This created what Newman described as “the largest coordinated protest of abortion clinics” since the prime of the rescue movement in the 1980s and 1990s.

Daleiden’s videos have also prompted a shift in how major anti-choice groups are talking about their work. Americans United for Life, the influential anti-abortion legal group, has been a leader in the strategy of pushing abortion restrictions in the name of “women’s health,” offering legislators anti-choice model bills through what it calls its “Women’s Protection Program.” But since Daleiden started releasing his videos, AUL has sensed an opportunity and started shifting its rhetoric toward legal rights for fetuses, launching what it calls an “Infants’ Protection Project” that quietly aims to build on “personhood” protections for fetuses.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, the head of the anti-choice campaign powerhouse Susan B. Anthony List, told ProPublica that in Daleiden’s videos, her group “saw our opening -- and we jumped all in.”

That has certainly also been the case with Fiorina and her fellow Republican presidential candidates, nearly all of whom say they want to remove federal funding from Planned Parenthood’s services to low-income women (none of which goes towards abortions), and several of whom have vowed to attempt to ban all abortion, some through a radical “personhood” strategy.

The official theme of this year’s March for Life is “Pro-Life and Pro-Woman go Hand in Hand,” a nod to the strategy of portraying abortion restrictions as protections for women. But it seems likely that it will be hard to escape Daleiden’s attack on Planned Parenthood and its aftermath.


House GOP Seeks Names Of Medical Students, Could Endanger Abortion Patient Information

Roll Call reported yesterday that Democratic members of the House select committee investigating the accusations against Planned Parenthood inspired by recent “sting” videos have taken issue with a set of “overbroad document requests” that Republicans on the committee have sent to some health care providers, including requests for information on medical students who learn about abortion and one request that could expose information on patients:

Six Democrats serving on a select panel investigating Planned Parenthood are accusing their Republican counterparts of issuing document requests that “pose grave privacy and security concerns.”

In a letter sent Thursday to the panel’s Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., the Democratic members of the select committee cite a recent request to a health care provider in which Republicans ask for “a list of any students, residents, or other medical personnel” who have participated in an abortion, prenatal or postnatal infant care, as well as all communications between the provider and any government officials.

The requests “appear to be a completely unjustified attack on women’s healthcare,” wrote the Democrats, who said they were not consulted about the queries. “Whether intended or not, these requests would require a healthcare provider to turn over to Congress the personal medical information of any patient who happens to work for the federal government or any State.”

Whatever led to the committee’s requests, the providers who received them had good reason to express concern. Efforts to root out the identity of abortion providers and even patients have long been a mainstay of radical anti-choice activists. This effort has also included intimidating medical students.

In 1993, Mark Crutcher, the activist who inspired the video project that led to the congressional investigations, somehow got a list of tens of thousands of medical students and sent them a “joke” book that included this barrel of laughs:

Q.: What would you do if you found yourself in a room with Hitler, Mussolini and an abortionist and you had a gun with only two bullets?

A: Shoot the abortionist twice.

Crutcher said he wasn’t advocating violence against abortion providers, but was trying to dissuade medical students from becoming abortion providers, saying, “Basically, what we’re saying to the medical community is, ‘Look, if you want to do abortions, that’s fine, but you’d better understand something. There’s a hell of a price to pay.’”

There’s no evidence that Republicans on the committee are deliberately intimidating medical students or patients, but it’s not hard to understand why these requests might make providers nervous.

Protesters Warn 'The Troubles For Planned Parenthood Have Only Just Begun'

On Thursday morning, about 50 protesters gathered in the bitter cold in front of a new Planned Parenthood facility that is under construction in northeast Washington, D.C. Although local protesters have been picketing the construction site for months, yesterday’s protest brought in activists from around the country who were in town for the March for Life, becoming something of a reunion for the old guard of the anti-abortion “rescue” movement.

The event included an appearance by David Daleiden, the activist behind this summer’s anti-Planned Parenthood “sting” operation, whose work grew out of the radical “rescue” movement and who has become a hero in all factions of the anti-abortion movement. It also included a one-man counter-protest from a parent whose child’s school next door was closed to avoid the event; an exhortation to be willing to die fighting legal abortion; and a brief exorcism.

Although the event was fairly small, the mood was hopeful, even victorious.

Daleiden, who is now being sued by Planned Parenthood for racketeering, told the crowd that the facility under construction behind them looked “kind of like fortresses or the castle of an evil baron in a fairy tale” but that Planned Parenthood was “stopped in their tracks” and “the days of legalized, state-subsidized, industrial-scale child-killing in our country are numbered.”

He said that 2016 would be a “historic, watershed year” for opponents of legal abortion, citing the congressional select committee investigating his allegations about Planned Parenthood and the upcoming Supreme Court hearing in Whole Women’s Health v. Texas, which he said “will be something that will continue to break down the fortress.”

Joe Scheidler, the founding father of the “direct action” anti-abortion movement,  which seeks to cut off legal abortion at its source by picketing clinics and harassing providers, was at the protest along with his son and successor at the Pro-Life Action League, Eric Scheidler. Eric Scheidler presented Daleiden with a tongue-in-cheek “Racketeers for Life” button, noting that Daleiden is being represented by the same attorneys who represented his father when he faced similar charges.

Father Frank Pavone, the head of Priests for Life, also acknowledged the link between Daleiden’s work and the rescue movement. He noted that Mark Crutcher, whose unsuccessful “sting” operation 15 years ago inspired Daleiden’s attempt to frame Planned Parenthood for mishandling fetal tissue, is now creating a national training facility to build what Crutcher hopes will be “a whole army of David Daleidens.”

“The troubles for Planned Parenthood have only just begun,” Pavone said, adding that he thought that Daleiden’s operation would lead to prosecutions and then praising Crutcher’s effort to build “a new army of people into the abortion industry undercover.”

“So our message to Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry today is very simple,” he said. “Be on your toes because we are in your midst, we are behind your doors, we are in your secret meetings, we are working for you and with you though you know it not, but in His good time the God who reveals all secrets will reveal that too.”

“We will see the end of this Holocaust,” he declared.

Joan Andrews Bell, known in the movement for having spent years in jail for various violations of trespassing laws during abortion clinic protests, spoke briefly, saying, “I want you to know that the rescue movement isn’t dead. Jesus rescued us on the cross, he rescued us. And every single one of you ... you are part of the rescue movement, you are rescuing babies.”

Monica Miller, another longtime leader of the rescue movement, compared the efforts of protesters to the civil rights movement, saying that anti-abortion activists must be willing to give up their livelihoods and even their lives for the cause.

“To stop abortion, to be involved with this injustice, to want to see it end, you can’t live a normal life anymore,” she said. “All that’s gone. All your plans of having, ‘Oh, let’s get married, we’ll have children, we’ll buy the house, this is going to happen next and this is my plan,’ all that’s gone. You’re not going to live a normal life anymore. Are we willing to really allow ourselves to be spent, to allow ourselves to be spent so that others may live? And that means are we willing to allow our property to be taken, our jobs to be lost, our reputations to be lost, are we willing to go to jail, are you willing to die, give up your life for this social justice, moral spiritual cause?”

She urged activists to use any peaceful means necessary to prevent the new Planned Parenthood building from opening, including blocking its doors or handcuffing themselves to construction equipment, using old-school rescue movement tactics.

“On the day that this death mill will open, will there be anybody here, will somebody lay their body in front of the door, will you handcuff yourself to construction equipment?” she asked. “Come on guys, think about it, let’s be creative, what are you willing to do to stop this place from being built? Non-violent action, laying down your life, allowing yourself to absorb the violence without retaliating against it, but laying down your life so that others may live.”

Another direct-action tactic on display was a large poster with pictures of the owners of the construction company building the Planned Parenthood building, urging activists to call them and accuse them of “killing children.”

At one point a man who said he had a child in the school near the construction site, which had to close for the day to avoid the protest, started yelling at the speakers. Pat Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition, who has been leading protests in front of the building site and emceed Thursday’s rally, responded that he should instead be blaming Planned Parenthood for opening its building in the location.

Shortly after the disruption, one speaker led the crowd in a short exorcism of the construction site to “take out the demons that hover above this place.”

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