In an interview with conservative radio host Dana Loesch on Tuesday, Rafael Cruz, father and campaign surrogate of Sen. Ted Cruz, declared that his son will save America after Obama “practically destroyed” it and that the harsh criticism that his son has faced on the campaign trail is just because people don’t want to hear the truth.
When Loesch asked if it was “difficult to see people go at” his son in the campaign, the elder Cruz replied that Jesus had prepared his followers for just such persecution.
“It is, Dana, but at the same time, you know, if you are not making a difference, if you are not having an impact, nobody’s going to attack you,” he said. “Jesus said, ‘They persecuted me, they will persecute you.’ When you are having an impact on America, those who disagree with you are going to come out lashing at you with everything they’ve got. But you know what, we get encouraged for seeing that we are making a difference, Ted is making a difference, that truth sets people free. And he’s speaking the truth and those who don’t want to hear it are going to lash out.”
Cruz traced the beginning of the nation’s troubles to “the beginning of progressivism at the beginning of the last century,” the Humanist Manifesto, and when “Marxism began to be immersed into a lot of our universities” and faulted churches for allowing “this misconstrued idea of separation of church and state, which is neither in the Constitution or in the Declaration.”
Loesch, who has endorsed the Texas Republican's campaign bid, told Rafael Cruz that with the 2016 election, “we’re either on the cusp of another great awakening, or we are on the cusp of America as we know it ending entirely,” which of course Cruz agreed was true.
“It is a time of choosing,” he said, “but I’ll tell you what, I am very encouraged. Because just like it happened in 1980, because of all the horrible things that we had in the Carter administration, millions and millions of constitutional conservatives, of people of faith, united to give us the Reagan revolution. And Reagan didn’t just win, he won by a landslide, because he had a vision for America of restoring America to those principles that have made America the most exceptional country on the face of the earth. Well, we have the same thing today. Barack Obama has practically destroyed this country in the past seven years, but because of that, more and more and more people are waking up.”
Cruz has been attempting to recruit conservative evangelicals to his side by running explicitly on his personal faith and his Christian-nation views, a strategy exactly designed to appeal to a person like Vander Plaats, who earlier this week urged members of his group to convince their fellow churchgoers to caucus in Iowa because the government’s “God-given purposes easily become corrupted without Christians engaged and guiding it.”
In an email to members of The Family Leader on Monday, Vander Plaats lamented that “hundreds of thousands of Iowa Christians stayed home” during the last presidential caucus. To reverse that trend, he asked members to encourage their pastors to distribute a Family Leader-produced bulletin insert on Sunday urging their flocks to participate in Monday’s caucus.
The bulletin insert offers instructions on how to caucus as well as a list of reasons “why it's important that Christians caucus,” including that it’s necessary to choose “godly candidates” with a “Christian worldview” in order to bring revival to America.
The TFL caucus guide also reminds churchgoers that elected officials are “ministers of God,” and as such, government’s “God-given purposes easily become corrupted without Christians engaged and guiding it.”
We just won an important victory in our fight to create a democracy that is of, by and for the people. Earlier this week, Initiative 735, calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn cases like Citizens United and get big money out of politics, was certified by the Washington Secretary of State, meaning that after months of petition gathering the people of Washington state will be able to officially weigh in at the ballot box come November on the influence of big money in politics.
PFAW members were among those that played a decisive role in this effort, participating in phone banks, sign-on letters, and signature gathering efforts that led to this exciting accomplishment. Getting Initiative 735 on the ballot was no small feat; as recently as December more than 50,000 signatures remained to be collected. Yet due to the hard work put forth by the WAmend coalition, along with support from PFAW members and many allies, we collected enough signatures so that Washington has the opportunity to become the 17th state to support a constitutional amendment overturning Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United. Such an amendment is critical to getting big money out of politics, and members of Congress, major reform groups and millions of Americans agree.
Public opinion is clear: voters support campaign finance reform, and when given the chance to vote in favor of it, they do. Just this past November, voters in Seattle and Maine passed measures that put in place or strengthened programs to amplify the voices of ordinary people in elections, and to provide opportunities for candidates who want to be competitive in fundraising without being beholden to a few big donors. On the amendment front, more than 680 towns and cities have passed resolutions supporting an amendment to the Constitution, in addition to the sixteen states that have already done so.
While getting Initiative 735 on the ballot is a significant breakthrough, the work is far from over. We need to win this at the polls in November. Voters in Washington state now have the power to be next in line when it comes to taking a stand for our democracy. While big money continues to pour into the 2016 elections, initiatives like this one remind us that our system is ultimately still accountable to “We the People.”
Yesterday, Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, spoke with Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council about Donald Trump’s appeal to evangelical voters.
While both Gohmert and Perkins have endorsed Ted Cruz and were campaigning for the Texas senator in Iowa before the “Washington Watch” interview, the two said that Trump is winning over some conservative evangelicals because they are fed up with anti-Christian “persecution” and “sick of the nation being fundamentally transformed away from being a Christian nation.”
How a sitting member of Congress can possibly believe that he is facing persecution for being a member of the country’s largest religious group shows just how absurd Religious Right’s persecution narrative has become. And, ironically enough, these conservative leaders are now worrying that their manufactured paranoia of religious persecution may end up sinking their preferred candidate and help Trump.
Gohmert: I understand where so many believers, so many Christians have been in the past seven years, we now are experiencing something I never thought I would experience in my life, I never experienced it growing up and it’s what Jesus promised us would happen, and that is, ‘You will be persecuted for my sake.’ I never got persecuted growing up in Texas and I bet you didn’t in Louisiana, but we’re being persecuted now, Christians are being persecuted here for our religious beliefs and I think people are so sick of the nation being fundamentally transformed away from being a Christian nation.
You know, it reminds me maybe of the children of Israel. They had not been as faithful to God as they should have and things weren’t going like they wanted so they said, ‘God, give us a king and he can fix all this,’ and God said, ‘That’s not what’s going to fix it and it’s not a good idea.’ But I get the feeling people are thinking, if we can just have somebody that is as narcissistic and self-centered and will stand up to anybody as Obama is, then that person can go back and fix it. That’s a problem.
Perkins: What I see as I travel the country is there’s a fear, a fear that the country has changed, that we’re losing the country, just a fear of the loss of religious freedom. But we have to operate in faith, not fear. Fear causes us to make the wrong choices and go the wrong direction.
A case in point was the interview that Lila Rose, the founder of Live Action and a mentor of indicted activist David Daleiden, gave to conservative radio host Eric Metaxas yesterday, in which she falsely claimed that a prosecutor who serves on a local Planned Parenthood board had refused to recuse herself from the investigation into the videos and that the charges against Daleiden actually demonstrate Planned Parenthood’s guilt.
A grand jury in Houston that had been convened to investigate Daleiden’s accusation that Planned Parenthood was illegally selling fetal tissue for profit at the behest of state’s anti-choice lieutenant governor found no wrongdoing on Planned Parenthood’s part, but instead issued indictments of Daleiden and a colleague for tampering with a government document and for attempting to buy fetal tissue, although without success.
Daleiden’s supporters have latched on to the fact that one of the 300 prosecutors serving in the Houston office that conducted the investigation is a board member of the local Planned Parenthood affiliate. However, as Brian wrote, that prosecutor, who works in the office’s family law division, disclosed her Planned Parenthood connection from the beginning of the case and had nothing to do with the investigation:
When the Houston case started in August, the attorney who serves on a local Planned Parenthood board disclosed the connection herself and the district attorney announced that she would “not be involved in any manner in this investigation." At the time, one Texas Republican lawmaker praised the decision to "insulate that person from any involvement with the ongoing investigation."
Rose told Metaxas, however, that the indictment was a case of “judicial activism and tyranny” and that the Planned-Parenthood connected prosecutor “did not recuse herself” from the investigation.
“So would you think that there’s political motivation behind this or just simple bias?” Metaxas asked.
“Well, I think that bias becomes political motivation becomes judicial activism and tyranny becomes extremely overstepping, absurd actions by sometimes the people in power,” Rose responded. “And that might be what we’re looking at here, especially because that prosecutor who was a board member for Planned Parenthood in that office in Harris County did not recuse herself, and that is extremely problematic. And I think that this case is going to blow up, and not in a good way for the folks that are bringing the indictment charges against these two brave activists.”
Rose also repeated the myth that the charge against Daleiden for attempting to buy fetal tissue proves that Planned Parenthood was selling it. Daleiden, she said, was “charged with the same crime, part of the same crime, that Planned Parenthood was totally let off the hook for, which is they were charged with trying to buy baby body parts but Planned Parenthood, who’s actually selling them, was completely let off the hook for selling them, for trying to sell them.”
In reality, the charge against Daleiden reportedly stems from an email he sent to Houston Planned Parenthood officials “offering to buy fetal tissue for $1,600 per sample.” Planned Parenthood never responded.
On Tuesday, Religious Right activist Bradlee Dean appeared on “The Real Side with Joe Messina,” where he criticized “the homosexual industry, or lobby, in America” for going to “war with Scripture.”
Dean also had a message for “radical” gay rights advocates: “Those radicals need to be lawfully dealt with because they are radical, they mean to divide and conquer, they mean to make war against real Christianity.”
“I’ve yet to find a situation where a homosexual could actually verify the fact that they were the victim of someone actually hating on them,” he said. “I have yet to see it.”
Last week, Sen. Rand Paul reintroduced his “Life at Conception Act,” an attempt to ban all abortion by granting legal “personhood” to zygotes and fetuses from “the moment of fertilization,” all without needing a constitutional amendment or Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. Paul has been a staunch backer of such personhood efforts despite once claiming that he didn’t support “changing any of the laws” on abortion “until the country is persuaded otherwise.”
The bill Paul introduced last week varies slightly from the one he first introduced in 2013, specifically stating that it shouldn’t be construed as “a prohibition on in vitro fertilization, or a prohibition on use of birth control or another means of preventing fertilization.”
It’s especially interesting that Paul attempts to avoid the growing controversy within the anti-abortion movement about in-vitro fertilization and the rights that should be granted to the excess frozen embryos that are often a byproduct of the process. It’s unclear if Paul is saying that embryos that are the result of in-vitro fertilization should not be granted the personhood rights that his bill would grant to all other embryos or if the bill would simply require that those embryos never be destroyed.
Both Paul’s 2013 bill and his 2016 version state that they shouldn’t “be construed to require the prosecution of any woman for the death of her unborn child,” an important exemption because under such a law, ending a pregnancy at any stage would be the legal equivalent of murder. Already, an experiment in personhood-style laws in Alabama has led to the arrests of hundreds of womenfor using drugs while pregnant or otherwise contributing to the “chemical endangerment” of a fetus.
All of this, of course, is purely hypothetical at this point. Paul's bill is the product of a theory, which is controversial even within the anti-abortion movement, that there is a magic loophole in Roe v. Wade that would allow legal abortion to come tumbling down if Congress were simply to define fertilized eggs as “persons” under the law. Most likely, however, such a strategy would collapse in the courts: One prominent anti-choice attorney has called the personhood loophole an “urban legend.”
Ted Cruz has comeunderfire from Mike Huckabee and a super PAC linked to Huckabee’s campaign for his failure to tithe sufficiently, an awkward political attack at a time when Cruz is boasting of his own personal religiosity in an effort to coalesce evangelical support behind his candidacy.
He explained to David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network that he didn’t tithe because he was “newly married” and “just started a family.” However, as Mediaite pointed out, Cruz has been financially well-off for years.
One of the people who believes Cruz is on a God-appointed mission to become president is his father, Rafael Cruz, a top campaign surrogate and fiery preacher of bunk Christian nationalist history and anti-gay rhetoric who speaks about his son in almost messianicterms. Interestingly enough, as BuzzFeed pointed out, he has also “preached fervently to evangelical crowds about the blessings God will rain down on those who tithe mightily.”
Indeed, the elder Cruz has told crowds that God will withhold blessings from those who don’t tithe because they are stealing from Him. In a 2012 sermon dug up by Warren Throckmorton today, Rafael Cruz said that Satan would come after all those who fail to tithe and that financial struggle is no excuse not to do so.
The first thing I ask someone that comes to me and asks me, ‘Oh, I need you to pray for my finances because I don’t have enough, I can’t pay my rent,’ first thing I ask is, ‘Are you tithing?’ If you’re not, why should God bless you? You read Malachi 3:7, he says if you’re not tithing, you’re stealing from God. Why should God bless you?
So when you don’t have any money, that’s when it is the most important that the first thing you do is an offering unto the Lord because that offering sanctifies the rest and opens up the windows of heaven. As a matter of fact, Malachi 3:11 says that when you do that, he rebukes the Devourer. But you know, the opposite is also true. If you do not do it, the Devourer is going to eat everything you’ve got. And you know, ‘If God is for you then who can be against you?’
While whether or not a candidate tithes normally wouldn’t be a matter of discussion on the campaign trail, Cruz has forced the issue by trying to tell voters that they should vote for him if they want to be on the right side of God.
“By fashioning himself as the candidate of ‘the body of Christ,’ Cruz is trying to make it seem that he is the candidate of Christians writ large, when there are millions of American Christians who don't agree with Cruz's take on biblical values or politics,” our colleague Peter Montgomery has written. “This kind of rhetoric also sends a clear message to non-Christians that Cruz sees them as some kind of lesser Americans who have no real role in building our shared future.”
As we noted this morning, Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign has launched a new “Pro-Lifers for Cruz” coalition, led by the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins along with 10 co-chairs, including radical anti-abortion activist Troy Newman. Another co-chair of the new coalition is anti-abortion filmmaker Jason Jones, who joined a call for coalition members today, where he warned that electing Cruz is essential because America can’t “survive another 40 years of Roe v. Wade.”
“You know, the right to life is the founding principle not only of this country but of our civilization,” Jones said on the call, “and we are fighting to preserve our nation for our posterity. We are fighting in a real way for our posterity. And I don’t believe our country can survive another 40 years of Roe v. Wade because Roe v. Wade undermines the idea that we are endowed by God with inalienable rights. We’ll see our religious freedom leave, we’re seeing that. We’ll see our economic freedom leave, we’re seeing that. We’ll see our political freedom leave, we’re seeing that with the most recent case with David Daleiden. So let’s fight to defend the pre-born child from the bounds of abortion, let’s fight for our republic, and let’s call everyone in Iowa and let’s expand this pro-life caucus.”
The loss of “political freedom” that he was referring to was the recent indictments brought against David Daleiden, who was accused of breaking laws in Texas when he and his Center for Medical Progress infiltrated Planned Parenthood, a project concocted with the help of Newman.
While Huckabee thanked Christian News Wire, which just posts press releases from different groups and activists, the statement actually came from Andrew.
In his press release, titled “5 Reasons Why Mike Huckabee is #1 for Traditional Marriage,” Andrew warned that “Christians could be jailed with Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden. The reason is they think same-sex marriage is law.”
“We know the founders made homosexual sin illegal so God would bless the USA,” he continued. “They would agree with Huckabee and no one else.”
Last year, Andrew suggested that God was supporting Huckabee’s campaign, explaining that “voting for Huckabee will bring God's economic recovery and protection, since God rewards obedience.” He claimed in 2012 that God was backing Rick Santorum because President Obama and Mitt Romney worship “demons,” elaborating in a “God’s State of the Union” address that he delivered last year that Obama wants “to follow Satan” by “forcing people to have death panels” and promoting “homosexual sin.” Andrew even called for a boycott of Nike, Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Starbucks because of their support for marriage equality, accusing the companies of “doing the devil’s work” and “leading people to sin and to possibly go to hell.”
He reacted to the Supreme Court’s “unAmerican and unconstitutional” decision to strike down bans on same-sex marriage by asserting that “the court is committing treason” and warning that “history shows that no homosexual societies remain because the Supreme Judge has destroyed them for rebellion.”
This morning, Rafael Cruz returned to “Breitbart News Daily,” where he had previously warned that the public school system was a part of a communist plan to “brainwash” kids to hate America.
Cruz, the father of presidential candidate Ted Cruz, once again issued a dire warning to listeners, alleging that the Supreme Court may soon do away with American principles and that President Obama is bringing in ISIS terrorists to the U.S. through the refugee resettlement program.
“The decay, the deterioration of America in the last seven years has been at an accelerated pace,” he said. “We are seeing the destruction of America before our very eyes.”
He went on to falselyclaim that “Obamacare is destroying millions of jobs” and that the Iran deal “puts us at the brink of war.”
Schlafly started things out by alleging that the political problems of conservatives stem from the fact that “we’ve taken in millions of people who have no concept of the whole idea of limited government” and who “don’t even know what it means or have a desire to be American.”
Pratt agreed that we are “bringing in people who have never had any tradition of, never been schooled in what it means to have a limited government” and that “folks coming abroad are all natural Democrats, they’re looking, as you say, for big government, that’s their whole idea of what government is about, it’s there to give them more and more things.”
He added that Democrats are “eagerly bringing in these immigrants who at best don’t have an idea of what it means to be an American if they were to become one and may well be terrorists.”
“You know, I have friends who came in long ago,” Schlafly said, “and they told me with pride that after they got off the boat at Ellis Island to immigrate, their parents would stand them up and say, ‘And now we’re in America and we’re going to be Americans and we’re going to learn English and we’re going to learn a whole new set of laws and this is our country now, we’re going to be American.’ But you don’t find these immigrants saying this today.”
Now, she said, “anybody can come, no matter how much you hate us, no matter how you have no concept about limited government and the rule of law and the things that we believe in.”
Pratt added that this problem was especially acute with Muslim immigrants because “they’re taught from the Koran, they’re taught to hate people like us, they’re taught to want to kill people like us, and to the extent that they don’t, that’s taqiyya, that’s just a temporary lying to get along until they are tactically and strategically in a position to strike.”
Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign launched a “Pro-Lifers for Cruz” coalition yesterday, which is to be chaired by the leader of an anti-gay hate group and a radical anti-choice activist who has written that a just society would execute abortion providers.
Stunningly, in its short biography of Newman, the Cruz campaign mentions that he is the author of a book called “Their Blood Cries Out”:
Troy Newman is the president of Operation Rescue, one of the leading pro-life Christian activist organizations in the nation and a founding board member for the Center for Medial Progress. He has been involved in the pro-life community for over 20 years, starting in 1991 as the Operation Rescue West president. He is also a published author, having written Their Blood Cries Out and his most recent book Abortion Free.
We have reviewed both “Abortion Free” and “Their Blood Cries Out” here at Right Wing Watch. In “Their Blood Cries Out,” written in 2000 and revised in 2003, Newman lays out the case for churches to oppose abortion rights, saying that by failing to follow what he says is the biblical response to abortion — executing abortion providers and treating women who have abortions as “murderers” — the country is mired in “bloodguilt” and is awaiting the judgment of God. In the meantime, Newman writes, the U.S. has experienced “warnings” from God about legal abortion, including the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Yesterday, far-right radio host Michael Savage spoke with Donald Trump about how he would defeat Bernie Sanders in a potential general election matchup and “overcome the poor and immigrants who hate the rich.”
Trump told Savage that he “would be very happy” if Sanders won the Democratic nomination, saying that the Vermont senator is “probably a communist” who will “destroy the fabric of what we are.”
“I just can’t believe that this country is ready for socialism or communism, because it’s pretty close to communism, some of the things he wants to do,” Trump added.
Savage, in turn, said he is praying for a Sanders nomination because “it’d be the greatest landslide in history,” predicting that Trump would take 85 percent of the vote.
In her weekly column for WorldNetDaily yesterday, Mission America’s Linda Harvey railed against “the GOP establishment” for “‘going gay,’” warning that doing so “will eviscerate the GOP.”
Harvey said that gay peoples’ “aberrant sexual conduct is a blight on America” that’s “sinful, unhealthy and immoral, and there is no need for anyone to engage in it” since “people are not constructed for these bizarre behaviors.” This “behavior,” she wrote, is “tearing our country – and families – apart.”
Angry that gay conservative commentator Guy Benson is making an appearance at CPAC in March, Harvey warned that Republicans are “becoming willing tools of the gaystapo” whose leaders are “full of pink testosterone” and bent on promoting “child-endangering, changeable deviance.”
Jeb Bush and John Kasich hired them for key campaign staff positions.
John Boehner and others campaigned for them.
Speaker Paul Ryan said he would vote to grant them special rights.
Chris Christie happily signed a key bill granting their New Jersey leaders full access to children in public schools under the guise of preventing “bullying.”
And Nikki Haley pledged that a future Republican president “… would respect differences in modern families” while respecting religious freedom, which many see as irreconcilable objectives.
I’m talking, of course, about those involved in proud homosexual behavior. It’s true there’s nothing foundationally different about these people. Each is made in the image of God and shares constitutional rights with every other American. But their aberrant sexual conduct is a blight on America. It’s sinful, unhealthy and immoral, and there is no need for anyone to engage in it. People are not constructed for these bizarre behaviors.
And regarding establishment GOP leaders, it seems they’re becoming willing tools of the gaystapo, the same revolutionaries who routinely bully bakers, florists, photographers and innkeepers without batting an eyelash.
The Human Rights Campaign and others are now so full of pink testosterone that they boldly advocate denial of First Amendment religious freedoms to anyone who resists the required obeisance: bowing before homosexual and transgendered demands – which is why no open homosexuals, even if they claim affinity with conservative values, deserve a key platform, like Townhall’s Guy Benson will get at the upcoming CPAC meeting March 2-5. Benson is an advocate of same-sex “marriage.”
Our future president should respect two “moms” who happily omit a father figure? Haley and others are pledging support for behavior tearing our country – and families – apart, conduct God calls an abomination.
Respect from the “gay rights” movement toward other views? There is none. This movement divides and destroys, all because of unhealthy, deviant behavior, and it will eviscerate the GOP if they embrace child-endangering, changeable deviance.
At Mass Convergence on Washington, D.C., People Will Demand That Policymakers Address Barriers to Voting, Curb the Influence of Wealthy in Elections
WASHINGTON, D.C – Thousands of people will converge on Washington, D.C., this spring as part of an unprecedented movement to demand a democracy that works for all Americans, one in which everyone has an equal voice and elected officials are accountable to the people, not the wealthy.
The landmark three-day mobilization, called “Democracy Awakening” and scheduled for April 16-18, brings together two advocacy communities in one movement. Together, they will press for reform proposals focused both on restoring and expanding voting rights protections, and curbing the influence of wealthy interests and corporations on elections. Polls show that the public overwhelmingly agrees on the need for reforms in both arenas, but this will mark the first mass demonstration calling for change on both these fronts.
More than 100 groups representing a diverse array of issues are organizing Democracy Awakening. Lead organizations include the American Postal Workers Union, Common Cause, Communications Workers of America, Democracy Initiative, Every Voice Center, Food & Water Watch, Franciscan Action Network, Greenpeace, NAACP, People For the American Way, Public Citizen, Student Debt Crisis and U.S. PIRG. A list of all endorsing organizations is available here.
Democracy Awakening will feature a rally and march on Sunday, April 17, as well as targeted actions at the “Congress of Conscience” on Monday, April 18, that will call for voting rights protections, measures to curb the influence of money in politics and more. Democracy Awakening will include teach-ins and cultural events throughout the weekend.
For both money in politics and voting rights, the U.S. Supreme Court has eviscerated laws that once protected the voices and votes of everyday Americans. Congress has solutions in front of it, but has failed to pass them into law or even hold a hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“That’s why it’s time for us to fight back on a scale that’s never been done before,” announces a video about Democracy Awakening created by Brave New Films.
City by city and state by state, a national movement is growing to ensure voters are fully heard. In communities throughout the country, voters have turned back efforts to impose discriminatory barriers to voting, won measures for public financing of local and state elections, and passed resolutions calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and other rulings.
Solutions being sought as part of Democracy Awakening include legislation to restore the protections against voting discrimination that were struck down by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby County, modernize voter registration, prevent deceptive practices that keep people from the ballot box and ensure equal access to voting for all.
Activists also will call for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and allow elected representatives to set commonsense limits on money in elections. They will press for increased disclosure of the source of election spending and public financing of elections.
Democracy Awakening will follow a march and demonstrations organized by 99Rise and Avaaz as part of a separate event called “Democracy Spring.” The march will go from the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., in early April.
Why It Matters
Representatives of some of the organizations participating in Democracy Awakening explain why they are involved:
“We’re not talking about the nostalgic disenfranchisement of 1965. Once again, states with the worst histories of discrimination are pushing for new barriers to block the young, the poor, the elderly and minority voters from the ballot in 2016,” said Cornell William Brooks, president and CEO of the NAACP. “We must answer the call for action.”
“Americans’ frustration – and despair – is reflected in countless polls that show staggering majorities of our citizens believe the system is rigged to favor the rich and powerful,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “These views transcend party, region, race and gender. The American people know the system is not working for them, and that a broken system is blocking us from addressing our great challenges.”
“Protecting voting rights and pushing for money in politics reform are two sides of the same coin,” said Marge Baker, executive vice president of People For the American Way. “When people face barriers to casting a ballot, and when wealthy special interests can overpower the voices and priorities of everyday Americans, our democracy simply isn’t working.”
“A handful of wealthy and corporate donors are hijacking our political system through mega-contributions and a systematic assault on voting rights that can only result in a breakdown in democracy and the belief by the average person that her or his vote doesn’t matter,” said Christopher Shelton, president of Communications Workers of America. “This spring, CWA members are ready to join the millions of others in this movement and to do what it takes to win back our democracy.”
”Americans across the country are demanding a democracy where everyone has an equal voice and our elected officials are held accountable to the voters,”said Marissa Brown, executive director of the Democracy Initiative.“Thousands of people will join together in Washington, D.C., for a Democracy Awakening – a call to conscience for our elected officials.”
“People are fed up with a political system that too often works for big donors at the expense of everyone else,” said Nick Nyhart, president and CEO of Every Voice Center. “And at the Democracy Awakening this spring, in Maine, in Seattle, and in cities and states across the country Americans are coming together to demand a democracy in which one’s influence isn’t determined by the size of their wallet.”
“As long as our government is controlled by corporate interests, we’ll never be able to protect our food, ban fracking, or prevent disasters like we’ve seen in Flint,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “Our democracy is broken, and for the sake of our food, water, and climate, it’s time for us to fix it.”
“The Democracy Awakening mobilization will galvanize the emerging movement that’s challenging America to live up to its promise of government of, by, and for the people,” said Annie Leonard, executive director at Greenpeace USA. “That promise means politicians putting people first by supporting voting rights and rejecting the campaign contributions from fossil fuel companies which manipulate our political system.”
“Student Debt Crisis wholeheartedly believe that borrowers, students and young people are facing an uphill battle when it comes to higher education reform due to the influence of billionaires and corporations on our political system,” said Natalia Abrams, executive director of Student Debt Crisis. “Until we get money out of politics and restore voting rights, our voices will not have the power that we, the people, deserve. It is our hope that once we get rid of the corporate stronghold on our democracy we will see reforms such as free college and some form of student loan forgiveness.”
“As Franciscans and people of faith, we're working to remove the road block of unchecked money in politics as issues such as immigration, care for creation, and gun safety are not moving on Capitol Hill,” said Patrick Carolan, executive director of the Franciscan Action Network. “As we continue to advocate for these core issues, we must also work to alleviate the root of the problem in order to see real progress.”
“Voters want to be heard in our elections – they want a government that works for them instead of mega-donors,” said Dan Smith, democracy program director for U.S. PIRG. “As an independent voice for American consumers, U.S. PIRG has made voter empowerment a top priority. Democracy Awakening is a chance for us to push lawmakers for real election reforms.”
“Democracy Awakening is the American Postal Workers Union’s chance to become bigger than ourselves,” said Debby Szeredy, executive vice president of the APWU. “We are a union representing our members and all of America as we fight to provide a Postal Service that is prompt efficient, affordable, with decent living wage jobs and benefits that communities have valued for years. Democracy Awakening connects us to the political revolution that has become crucial.”
“Our democracy faces serious threats. Everyday Americans know our system is out of balance, and what’s worse, our constitutional right to free speech has been reduced to a whisper as a few wealthy special interests spend billions so their voices are heard over everyone else,” said Miles Rapport, president of Common Cause. “This spring, Common Cause’s 400,000 members join with Americans from all walks of life to lift our voices and demand change through a series of important actions during two weeks in April, highlighting the importance of voting rights and reducing money’s influence so together we create a 21st century democracy that works for every American.”
As we wrote several weeks ago when a group of armed militia members took over a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon, many antigovernment leaders were not on their side. This isn’t because these groups disagree with the occupiers’ cause — outrage at the arrests of two ranchers for arson on federal lands — but because they don’t have faith in the leadership of those who took over the building.
Now that eight of the occupiers — including their leader, Ammon Bundy —have been arrested and one has been killed in a clash with law enforcement, antigovernment groups are caught between a cause they agree with and a leader they don’t trust. These groups are obsessed with the idea of the federal government provoking a “civil war” with “patriots” like them, and they have been worried that they will now be forced to fight a civil war on behalf of Ammon Bundy.
Stewart Rhodes, head of the Oath Keepers, has from the beginning urged his followers to stay out of the Oregon standoff, but has nevertheless warned the government that “there will never again be a free Waco” and that any force against the occupiers could lead to a “bloody, brutal civil war.” Mike Vanderboegh, leader of the Three Percenters movement, similarly warned that Bundy and his allies had “written a check that they expect the rest of us to cash in our own blood in a ghastly civil war” and may have been infiltrated by federal "provacateurs" trying to provoke such a war.
These groups are, at least for now, sounding a note of caution.
The Pacific Patriots Network, an umbrella group of militia groups in the area, including members of the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, wrote in a press release last night that it was urging its members to “stand by” and that “[n]o mobilization of any kind is to take place until every piece of speculation and hearsay have been verified or dismissed.” It repeated that call today, writing that the group is “working on maintaining a calm presence in town and are still acting as a buffer between the Refuge and the FBI.”
The post concludes ominiously: “We need more information and confirmation of what I have written, but it is apparent that the Feds are giving us all a choice.”
As the Anti-Defamation League’s Mark Pitcavage noted on Twitter, at this point the danger of backlash comes not from these larger groups but from rogue individuals who have been motivated by their ideology:
Anti-govt *groups* relatively unlikely to take action re #oregonstandoff. Real danger of violence is from volatile individuals & offshoots.
On Monday, the work of an anti-choice group called the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) backfired badly when its attempt to launch criminal proceedings against Planned Parenthood ended up with its leader, David Daleiden, along with a fellow activist getting indicted by a Texas grand jury, which in turn cleared Planned Parenthood of alleged wrongdoings.
A small number of Planned Parenthood clinics — "just 1% [of clinics] are involved with fetal tissue research," according to Planned Parenthood — donate fetal tissue for research that many scientistshavecredited with important breakthroughs in vaccines and other medical treatments.
CMP activists, posing as representatives of a biomedical company, claimed that they recorded Planned Parenthood officials admitting to making a profit off those donations, a criminal act. However, there is no evidence any official from the organization made such a statement, although they did mention fees covering the costs of storage and transportation.
CMP's videos, as it turned out, were manipulated to make it seem that the officials wanted to make money. FactCheck.org explained that "the full, unedited video they cite as evidence shows a Planned Parenthood executive repeatedly saying its clinics want to cover their costs, not make money, when donating fetal tissue from abortions for scientific research." Planned Parenthood has since stated that it will no longer accept such reimbursements at all.
Despite the flimsy evidence presented in CMP’s videos, Republican politicians in Congress and throughout the country seized on Daleiden’s claims and launched investigations into Planned Parenthood fetal tissue donation practices. Not a single investigation that has been completed so far has foundedanyevidenceofwrongdoings. Texas was one of several states where politicians called for investigations into Planned Parenthood's fetal tissue donation program.
Which brings us back to the indictments.
The New York Times notes that the case in Harris County, which includes the city of Houston, "started in August, when Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican and an outspoken opponent of abortion and Planned Parenthood, asked [Republican district attorney Devon] Anderson to open a criminal investigation into the organization."
In the end, the grand jury cleared Planned Parenthood but indicted CMP founder David Daleiden and his colleague Sandra Merritt on felony charges of tampering with government records. Daleiden also faces a misdemeanor charge of attempting to purchase human organs.
While the indictments further discredit CMP's work, abortion-rights opponents are relishing the opportunity to portray Daleiden as a martyr and hero of the cause. As Miranda pointed out yesterday, "arrest and jail time for violation of what they see as unjust laws is a badge of honor" for many in the anti-choice movement. And as expected, Daleiden’s supporters on the Right are using the indictments as an opening to spread even more misinformation.
1) Daleiden Is A Journalist
Following news of the indictments, Daleiden called himself an "investigative journalist," tweeting that Planned Parenthood's local affiliate is "trying to jail investigative journalism." (Never mind that it was actually an anti-Planned Parenthood politician who launched the probe that ensnared him).
Thank you everyone for all the support! Something smells rotten in TX: it's @PPGulfCoast trying to jail investigative journalism.
Sorry, but Daleiden isn't exactly aiming for a Pulitzer.
For starters, CMP did not originally describe itself as a journalistic outlet. It was only around the time the group started releasing its videos that it updated its website's “About Us” page to say that it was comprised of "citizen journalists."
Daleiden himself served as a staffer for the anti-abortion group Live Action, which has its own history of launching sham investigations of Planned Parenthood, and said he wanted CMP to emulate a similar 1999 anti-Planned Parenthood sting by the anti-choice organization Life Dynamics. That scheme fell apart because Life Dynamics paid a witness for their testimony.
Troy Newman, a CMP board member, is a longtime anti-abortion activist with the group Operation Rescue. He told fellow activists that when Daleiden approached him about the project, the goal wasn't to follow the facts where they lead, as journalists do, but to put Planned Parenthood officials behind bars and "destroy" the group. In fact, Newman said that CMP's venture would be a failure if it only succeeded in drawing the attention of members of the press and did not lead to prosecutions of Planned Parenthood officials.
Newman told a church audience in September: "We said, ‘Look, if we just get on Fox News’ — and we were on Fox News, we were on there a couple weeks ago — ‘if we just got a bunch of YouTube video hits or something, if, you know, people are talking about — we would consider it a failure.’ The first and foremost thing is we wanted prosecutions. We want prosecutions, want to defund them, and, finally, we want to completely destroy the entity called Planned Parenthood. And we’re well on our way."
About three years ago, David Daleiden came here to Wichita and actually visited us in our office, and he had discussions with Troy about his visions for this undercover project. … David was really motivated to conduct a long-term investigative study of Planned Parenthood and their practices regarding the buying and selling of aborted baby remains. And the reason that he came to us was because he shared our vision for obtaining criminal prosecutions and really doing something substantial to report these abuses, document and report them, and bring an end to not only these practices, but an end to the abortion industry in America. And he knew if he focused on Planned Parenthood that would be probably the most powerful way to do that.
Daleiden is not an “investigative journalist.” He is an anti-abortion activist who is now trying to pose as a journalist.
This detail is particularly important because the grand jury's felony indictment stemmed from the contention that Daleiden and his colleague used fake IDs with an "intent to cause harm."
2) Indictment Proves Planned Parenthood Was Selling Human Tissue
Anti-choice activists have jumped on the misdemeanor charge that Daleiden faces for attempting to purchase human organs, saying that the charge in turn proves that Planned Parenthood was selling organs.
The Resurgent, a right-wing blog, called the charge a "gift" to the anti-choice movement because it "proves" that Planned Parenthood was selling tissue all along.
This is a big distortion of the case.
Daleiden did send Planned Parenthood an email asking to purchase fetal tissue for $1,600.
"Whether Daleiden actually intended to buy tissue doesn’t matter in the eyes of Texas law," the Washington Post points out. "The inquiry alone could have spurred the misdemeanor charge. Authorities don’t need to see evidence of a deal or interest from another party to pursue the charge."
To say that Planned Parenthood is guilty of breaking the law simply because Daleiden asked them to break the law, without success, may be one of the most absurd claims that has emerged following the indictments.
Anti-choice groups used similar logic when Planned Parenthood announced that it would cease collecting legal reimbursements for fetal tissue, claiming that the move somehow proved that Planned Parenthood was collecting illegal reimbursements all along.
3) Planned Parenthood-Linked Attorney 'Tainted' The Investigation
Surprised by the indictments and still unable to prove that Planned Parenthood committed any wrongdoings, now anti-choice activists are contending that the district attorney's office that brought the grand jury investigation must be at fault. After all, the grand jury didn't accept the movement's narrative that, as Ted Cruz put it, Planned Parenthood "confesses to multiple felonies."
The conservative outlet the Federalist thought it found quite the scoop when it reported that one of the prosecutors working in the district attorney's office was a local Planned Parenthood board member, posting an image of her LinkedIn page as damning evidence of misconduct.
Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice, the conservative legal group founded by televangelist Pat Robertson, said that the case may been "tainted" by this alleged "conflict of interest."
Except that the assistant district attorney in question had nothing to do with the investigation, and she personally revealed her connection to the organization at the very beginning of the inquiry. No LinkedIn screenshot was needed, as a simple Google search would do.
When the Houston case started in August, the attorney who serves on a local Planned Parenthood board disclosed the connection herself and the district attorney announced that she would “not be involved in any manner in this investigation." At the time, one Texas Republican lawmaker praised the decision to "insulate that person from any involvement with the ongoing investigation."
Even the Blaze, the conservative website launched by Glenn Beck, reported on the non-issue back in August, noting that "office spokesman Jeff McShan told TheBlaze that approximately 300 prosecutors and 700 employees work for the Harris County DA’s office."
The smoking gun that may have "tainted" the investigation was actually disclosed from the get-go, and the attorney, one of around 300 in the office, had no involvement in the proceedings.
But none of these misleading and blatantly false claims should surprise anyone.
The CMP probe was always a sham, but that didn’t stop Republican politicians and conservative media pundits from running with the group's discredited "findings." Some, such as Carly Fiorina, even added a few of their own false claims to boot.
Since they appear to be immune to facts, including the outcomes of the many investigations from both government bodies and actual journalists that have already cleared Planned Parenthood, it is no wonder that CMP's defenders are twisting the truth now that it turns out that Daleiden and his CMP colleague, rather than Planned Parenthood officials, are facing indictments.