From a mailman flying a gyrocopter to the Capitol to protest big money in politics, to Hillary Clinton making the issue a centerpiece of her campaign, to Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Lindsey Graham being asked about their stances on campaign finance reform at Q&A events, it’s clear that money in politics is shaping up to be a major issue in 2016. Yesterday The Washington Post’s Matea Gold reported on the grassroots push to spotlight the topic of big money’s influence on our democracy:
[F]ive years after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision — which held it was unconstitutional to ban independent political spending by corporations and unions, and helped set off a financial arms race — there are signs that politicians are beginning to confront a voter backlash.
….For those who feel strongly about it, the 2016 primaries and caucuses — and the up-close access they bring to the presidential contenders — offer a ripe opportunity to elevate the topic.
In New Hampshire, nearly 500 people have volunteered to attend public forums and press the White House hopefuls about money in politics, Weeks said.
"When the leading candidate for president says she's going to make reducing the influence of money in politics one of the four pillars in her campaign, you know that that's going to be a major issue in 2016," Baker said. "So this is a very, very big deal."
While there are many issues that divide Americans, addressing the big-money takeover of our political system is not one of them. That both Lindsey Graham and Hillary Clinton expressed support for an amendment to get big money out of politics in the past two weeks underscores the fact that fighting to fix our broken democracy is not only the right thing to do, it’s also good politics – across the political spectrum.
Virginia Del. Bob Marshall, the sponsor of a measure that would go beyond the state’s existing Religious Freedom Restoration Act to explicitly allow discrimination against LGBT people, complained in a radio interview earlier this month that business that oppose such bills are implying that “heterosexuals cannot be the best and the brightest.”
Falsely claiming that a controversial “religious liberty” measure recently debated in Indiana was no different from the RFRA already on the books in Virginia and other states, Marshall told talk radio host John Fredericks that he took issue with a letter Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe published in the Indianapolis Star inviting businesses to relocate to his state’s “open, inclusive and thriving business environment.”
Such rhetoric, Marshall complained, is derogatory to straight people: “When you actually look at the rhetoric, that you need these laws to hire the best and the brightest, that kind of like is a sweeping statement that says that heterosexuals cannot be the best and the brightest.”
Marshall also objected to claims that legislation like his would diminish the rights of LGBT people. “My question is, what possible rights can a person who has this inclination have that you don’t have right now?” he asked. “I mean, homosexuals go to public schools, they can go to colleges, they vote, they drive cars, they have businesses, they go to country clubs. I don’t know what else is needed.”
Discussing a conflict between the Freedom from Religion Foundation and the University of Tennessee about sectarian prayers before football games, West said that in the days of state-sponsored school prayer, there was no problem with football injuries.
“Now see, I remember growing up in the inner city of Atlanta, Georgia,” he said. “I went to Grady High School and I played football and we didn’t have all this high-speed gear and everything like that, there was no such thing about ‘targeting.’ I mean, you were not a tough football player unless you did try to hit someone head-on. And even in high school, before every game at Grady Stadium, the pastor would come down and pray before every football game. I don’t remember catastrophic injuries. I don’t remember anyone getting carted off that field paralyzed.”
Last month, far-right talk show pundit Pete Santilli hosted Harlem pastor James David Manning, notorious for his desire to “stone homos” and combat “Obama’s homo-demons,” to discuss a recent incident in which Manning claimed that “a sodomite” sent him a package filled with feces. “The sodomites are the most vicious, demonic, vile people,” Manning said.
“I’ve dealt with all kind of people, I’ve lived in the ghetto, I’ve been black all my life, I’ve been through prisons and jail, I’ve dealt with evil people, I’ve done things myself, I’ve dealt with Obama supporters, Obama lovers, Obama worshipers, I have never in my life encountered anybody has routinely evil as the sodomite. These are vicious people.”
Later, when Santilli asked him if the “promotion of sodomy” comes “directly from Satan himself,” Manning said that Satan created homosexuality.
“When we oppose the sodomites, this is not just a battle between the heterosexuals and the homosexuals,” Santilli responded, “this is a battle between good and evil, a battle between God and Satan himself. Sir, I appreciate you leading this charge in the ‘homosexual Armageddon,’ per se.”
Judicial Watch, the right-wing legal group founded by conspiracy theorist Larry Klayman, has been pushing to conservative media its new claim that the terrorist group ISIS has set up camp just south of the U.S. border with Mexico.
This weekend, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins spoke with Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, about the allegations, and Perkins announced that “authorities have confirmed” the group’s report about an ISIS base a few miles south of El Paso, Texas.
Fitton nonetheless told Perkins that Judicial Watch’s research is so reliable that the group actually recently prevented a terrorist attack from occurring in the U.S.
“There was going to be an imminent attack around September which we reported, I think it was averted as a result of our report,” Fitton said, before acknowledging that DHS and other agencies have denied his group’s account of an ISIS border camp.
According to Fitton, the government is only disputing Judicial Watch’s work is “because it gets in the way of the open borders agenda, it gets in the way of the amnesty agenda.”
Yesterday, “InfoWars” host Alex Jones marked the 20th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing the only way he knows how: by insisting that the attack, which left 168 people dead, was a government “false flag” operation aimed at discrediting conservative talk radio and “the liberty movement.”
Jones called the Oklahoma City tragedy a Nazi-inspired “open-and-shut” false flag that was used to paint all conservatives as terrorists.
Last month, when a pregnant woman in Colorado was brutally attacked and her unborn child cut from her womb, the state’s influential fetal “personhood” movement saw a grisly opportunity.
Over the past few weeks, the Colorado-based Personhood USA has been touting a recent YouGov poll finding broad support for allowing prosecutors to press murder charges in similar violent attacks on pregnant women that lead to the death of a fetus. Although Colorado imposes heavy penalties on crimes against pregnant women, it has stopped short of adopting a “fetal homicide” law categorizing such attacks as murder.
The problem for personhood advocates is that while the general public is ready to throw the book at people who attack pregnant women, they do not share the personhood movement’s goal of criminalizing abortion. While 76 percent of respondents in YouGov’s poll wanted to charge a pregnant woman’s attacker with murder, only 17 percent wanted a complete ban on abortion.
As we explored in a recent series on the personhood movement, anti-choice groups have attempted to use fetal homicide laws as a back door to imposing abortion restrictions, using them to build up a body of law establishing “personhood” for fetuses. After two unsuccessful attempts to establish fetal personhood by ballot measure in Colorado, last year Personhood USA pushed a modified measure focusing on crimes against pregnant women. The measure failed, but less badly than had the group’s previous attempts.
This conflict is playing out once again in Colorado, where the Republican state senate president has introduced a fetal homicide bill with an explicit exemption providing for abortion rights. The state affiliate of the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) supports the bill, but Personhood USA and Colorado Right to Life — which was kicked out of NRLC in 2007 — oppose it, saying that language preventing the prosecution of pregnant women and medical professionals undermines the ultimate anti-abortion goal.
Personhood USA, an organization that pushed the ballot initiatives, opposes the bill because the language protects abortions — aligning it with the state's Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro Choice groups, which are concerned that it could threaten the legality of abortions.
And two prominent Colorado anti-abortion organizations are split on the measure.
"We believe that we want to protect every baby we can," said Sarah Zagorski, the executive director of Colorado Citizens for Life, which is an affiliate of the National Right to Life organization. "I don't think (the bill) says anything about how we view abortion right now."
But Colorado Right to Life's Rosalinda Lozano sees it differently.
"It was an opportunity for (Cadman) to really stand strong on life, and the way it is written he is actually affirming abortion," she said. "The Republican Party is really trying to get away from the life issue. ... They are preparing for 2016 and this is not an issue they want to fight about in a presidential election."
In an interview with End Times broadcaster Jan Markell that was aired this weekend, former Rep. Michele Bachmann said that people should “not despair but rejoice” that the world has reached the “midnight hour” and that “we in our lifetimes potentially could see Jesus Christ returning to earth and the Rapture of the church.”
The former Republican congresswoman from Minnesota said that President Obama’s policies, including support for marriage equality and nuclear negotiations with Iran, are to blame for the world’s imminent demise. “We need to realize how close this clock is to getting towards the midnight hour,” Bachmann said. “Barack Obama is intent, it is his number one goal, to ensure that Iran has a nuclear weapon.”
After Bachmann said that Obama intends to “lift up the agenda of radical Islam,” Markell added that legal abortion and marriage equality for gays and lesbians are bringing about divine punishment on America.
“You are right,” Bachmann responded, lamenting that God will soon lift His “hedge of protection” over “pagan” America “and we will suffer the consequences as a result.”
“That’s why so many Christians I think are sad and despairing because we know what the word of God says,” she said. “But it is also a chastening as individual believers for our good and that, to me, is extremely exciting.”
Savage said that the Archbishop’s “narrow-minded critics” should just leave the Roman Catholic Church and stop “persecuting the rest of us.”
“This is how bullies operate,” he said. “They’re the bullies, the Nazis of today are these bullies.”
Savage, who is seemingly under the impression that LGBT equality will end all heterosexual relationships and curtail procreation, later claimed that gay rights advocates will ultimately “destroy the human race” by teaching “children filth and pollution.”
“They want to eliminate the difference between the sexes, they want you to believe that God made man and woman identical,” Savage said. “Go tell that to the duck in the pond. You people are so stupid that you’ve lost touch with reality. Somehow Donald Duck knows who Daisy Duck is. He doesn’t mount Billy Duck or there would be no eggs and no ducks. So Donald Duck has more brains than these hundred people.”
In an April 9 interview with Virginia talk radio host John Fredericks, conservative activist E.W. Jackson insisted that President Obama does not love his country enough, in part because he refuses to acknowledge that slavery in America was “not a racial issue.”
Jackson, the 2013 Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in the state, responded to a clip of a sermon by the president’s former pastor Jeremiah Wright by insisting that Obama “always seems to want to put American down, apologize for America, indicate what America has done wrong, and yet he never — just like Jeremiah Wright — he never talks about the virtue of our country, he never talks about its greatness, its freedom.”
“I mean, Jeremiah doesn’t want to talk about, for example, the fact that slavery was a worldwide institution and that Nigerians apologized for their complicity in slavery because those slave-masters and slave-traders could not have gotten those slaves without Africans going into the interior to bring people out,” he continued.
“So this is not a racial issue, it’s a human issue, people subjugating each other. But America’s the place where people of all races, all backgrounds, have come and found freedom. And I don’t think he understands that, the president that is, and Jeremiah Wright certainly doesn’t understand it and doesn’t want to understand it and the president sat in that church for 20 years because he agrees with it.”
In WorldNetDaily this weekend, former Rep. Tom Tancredo wondered if President Obama will soon launch a military strike against Israel in order to help Iran.
Citing a fabricated quote from Obama’s book “The Audacity of Hope,” the former Colorado Republican congressman wrote that the president may bring about “a U.S. military attack on Israel” to stop the country from “attack[ing] Iran’s nuclear facilities.”
He added that by refusing to impeach Obama, Republicans in Congress are giving Obama an opportunity to launch such an attack.
Would anyone be surprised to see this headline in the spring or summer of 2016: “Obama orders U.S. military attack on Israel / blocks Israeli strike at Iran / Iran grateful“?
Like it or not, there is an increasing likelihood we will see that kind of headline before Obama leaves office.
Why should we worry about that? Does water flow downhill?
Obama, by contrast, believes “Islam is a religion of peace” and “Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance.” Moreover, in his book, “The Audacity of Hope,” Obama said: “I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.” Well, forgive me, but nuclear missiles pointed at the United States and Tel Aviv from the foremost terrorist-sponsoring nation in the world might be construed by many as “an ugly direction.”
Who or what would stop Obama from attacking Israel? A Republicans [sic] Party that is already throwing in the towel on the Iran nuclear agreement? Republican leaders who will not even utter the word “impeachment” no matter how unconstitutional Obama’s actions? Republican presidential candidates who can’t even make a strong case for secure borders?
There is good reason why Obama does not fear the Republican-controlled Congress. Why should he? Does the snake fear the mouse?
So, it is entirely likely and predictable that if Israel decides it has no choice but to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities before Iran can produce nuclear weapons, Obama would likely act to block that military intervention by whatever means necessary, including a U.S. military attack on Israel. Why would he not do it? Who would stop him?
Frank Pavone of Priests for Life says: “Abortionists don’t need a reason to perform abortions – not even a pregnancy.”
Mat Staver warns that gay rights advocates are bringing about “the destruction of our nation’s religious and cultural underpinnings.”
After attempting to ban the Log Cabin Republicans from appearing at the Western Conservative Summit, the conference chairman says he is upset with the gay group’s “shaming and bullying pressure tactics.”
Cathie Adams, the former chairwoman of the Texas Republican Party who now leads the state chapter of Eagle Forum, told a Republican group yesterday that if Texas doesn’t defy a potential Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality this year, it “could be the end of America.”
“On April 28, the U.S. Supreme Court is going to hear arguments on marriage, and we expect that they’re going to do the wrong thing,” she said in at the end of a speech on Islam to the Smith County Republican Women, which was posted on YouTube by an attendee.
“Texas holds a whole lot more power and a whole lot more authority,” she said, “and if we don’t come out and do something before April 28, this could be the end of America.”
“If we don’t get this done by April 28, I don’t know that we’re going to be able to hold back what is happening,” she said. “And folks, if you are a believer, you understand what happened in Sodom and Gomorrah. You understand. And we are on the threshold. “
“I mean, young people in schools, elementary all the way through universities, are being lied to that these people are ‘born this way,’” she continued. “No, they’re not. I’ve met friends who have come out of that lifestyle, I’ve met men who are willing and ready and begging for a bill to come up in the Texas legislature that they can testify in support of in order to defend the right of parents and defend the right of those individuals who choose to seek a way out of sexual perversion.”
Rep. David Brat, R-Va., took issue with a PolitiFact post that rated a recent anti-Obamacare statement he made as “false,” telling conservative talk show host Lars Larson at yesterday’s “Hold Their Feet To The Fire” conference that the Affordable Care Act represents a severe threat to the country.
Brat said that Obamacare, which Larson inaccurately referred to as “a health care system run by government,” will move America away from a free market system. He pointed to the two Koreas as an example of the dangers of such policies: “Look at every country in the world. Look at North Korea and South Korea. It’s the same culture, it’s the same people, look at a map at night, one of the countries is not lit, there’s no lights, and the bottom free-market country, all Koreans, is lit up. So you make your bet on which country you want to be, you want to go free market.”
“We have poverty on the rise because we’re moving away from free markets,” he said.
He added that in high schools he visits most graduating seniors “can’t tell you what a business is” because the schools “are not teaching people that business is a good thing.”
Mike Huckabee says he is making a big announcement tonight on Fox News, the former home of his television talk show, which is leaving many to speculate that he will throw his hat into the presidential race.
Although Huckabee has never made it very far in his presidential ambitions, his national media platform and popularity in the Religious Right have made him influential in pushing his party further to the fringe including LGBT equality, birth control and the separation of church and state.
1) Extreme Opposition To Gay Rights
During an unsuccessful campaign for a seat in the U.S. Senate in 1992, Huckabee argued that “homosexuality is an aberrant, unnatural and sinful lifestyle” that can “pose a dangerous public health risk,” asserting that the government should make sure that people with HIV/AIDs are “isolated from the general population.” Huckabee stood by his remarks when he was asked about his comments during his last presidential bid.
Huckabee waded into the legal fight over whether the government can mandate that insurance plans cover contraceptives by becoming one of the most outspoken defenders of Hobby Lobby, the craft company that dropped its own coverage of contraceptive drugs in order to sue the government.
Huckabee even connected his hostility to the contraception insurance mandate to the Sandy Hook school shooting, saying that the insurance policy was a sign that America has kicked God “out of our culture and marched him off the public square.” Therefore, Huckabee said, people shouldn’t “express our surprise” when a school shooting occurs.
“We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools,” Huckabee told Fox News on the day of the Sandy Hook massacre. “Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?”
When Bill Maher asked Huckabee to explain his “persecution complex,” the evidence he produced was the portrayal of Christian characters in “television shows and movies.”
5) Advertising Quack Cures
While Huckabee is angry with how the entertainment industry treats conservative Christians, he seems to have no problem with sending his overwhelmingly conservative Christian email subscribers sponsored content from quack doctors and conspiracy theorists. Huckabee has used his email list to advertise bogus cures to diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cancer (the latter a cure allegedly gleaned from the 859th page of an ancient Bible).
Rep. Louie Gohmert said yesterday that “it ought to scare people” that a man was able to land a gyrocopter near the U.S. Capitol earlier this week, blaming the incident on President Obama’s immigration policy.
In an interview with conservative talk radio host Lars Larson, who was broadcasting from the annual “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” event held by the anti-immigration Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), Gohmert said that the Department of Homeland Security was trying to portray the event as “a hologram that didn’t really happen.”
“Homeland Security is so overwhelmed in trying to bring in and ship around illegal aliens and give amnesty to as many people as they can, the millions we’re told will ultimately have this amnesty, that they can’t do something as simple as protect the United States Capitol,” Gohmert said.
While she praised the “great dignity and kindness” of Rubio’s statement — that he would attend the wedding of a gay or lesbian loved one while still opposing marriage equality as policy — Gallagher said that she would personally tell her loved one that “on your happy day you should be surrounded by people who can honor your vow and help you keep it” and “I can’t do that.”
At the end of her draft speech to her hypothetical gay friend, Gallagher urges, “let us somehow against all odds find a way to love each other as we are, and not how each of us would wish the other to be.”
So I would sit down with my friend and tell them this:
Here’s what I think. We are born male and female, and marriage is the union of husband to wife that celebrates the necessity of the two genders’ coming together to make the future happen. I know you don’t think that. I know the law no longer thinks that. But I have staked my life on this truth.
The problem for me in celebrating your gay wedding, as much as I love you, is that I would be witnessing and celebrating your attempt not only to commit yourself to a relationship that keeps you from God’s plan but, worse, I would be witnessing and celebrating your attempt to hold the man you love to a vow that he will avoid God’s plan. To vow oneself to sin is one thing, to try to hold someone you love to it — that’s not something I can celebrate.
And I would be party to the idea that two men can make a marriage, which I do not believe.
On your happy day you should be surrounded by people who can honor your vow and help you keep it. I can’t do that.
“Porneia” is a word in the Bible that has been much mistranslated. But I think it means a sexual relationship that cannot by its nature become a marriage. That’s why Christ said that marriage is forever, unless it is porneia. I understand that you might well want to rupture our friendship over this, my honest view.
I choose to love you both and keep you in my life. But let us somehow against all odds find a way to love each other as we are, and not how each of us would wish the other to be.
On yesterday’s edition of “Washington Watch,” Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., accused President Obama of letting Iran develop a nuclear weapon, allowing “the potential of jihad to put their finger on the nuclear button.”
Franks said that the U.S. must show unequivocal support for Israel if the country launches an attack on Iran because “Israel is on the cutting edge of standing up to this global monstrosity called jihad.”
“There comes a time when Israel will not be able to reach from the air, without some ground forces, some of the potential facilities that could come into being and if they don’t do it at the right time, it may be essentially too late for them to reach that, so they’re in an extremely difficult circumstance,” Franks said.
“All I can say is that if America lets Israel down, America will be letting America down and America will be letting the world down.” Franks continued: “I sometimes do not have the intellectual wattage to overcome the bewilderment in my heart when an American president stands by and lets Israel, our most vital ally in the world, be threatened by a dangerous, hellish regime like exists in Iran today and allows the potential of jihad to put their finger on the nuclear button. It is a disgrace that literally defies description in the English language.”