Donald Trump offered up his typical word salad to the Values Voter Summit today, but this time while hoisting his Bible in the air and claiming that it is “the reason” that he is leading among evangelical voters in Iowa and declaring that it is “the key” to saving America.
“The word ‘Christmas.’ I love Christmas," he said. "I love Christmas. You go to stores, you don’t see the word ‘Christmas.’ It says ‘Happy Holidays’ all over. I say, 'Where’s Christmas?’ I tell my wife, ‘Don’t go to those stores. I want to see Christmas. I want to see Christmas.’ Other people can have their holidays but Christmas is Christmas. I want to see ‘Merry Christmas.’ Remember the expression ‘Merry Christmas’? You don’t see it anymore. You’re going to see it if I get elected, I can tell you right now.”
Of course, Trump himself has waged war on Christmas:
During the 2013 government shutdown fight, Rep. David Nunes, R-Calif., referred to the extremist members advocating a shutdown as “lemmings with suicide vests.” But the far-right flank, often called the “Suicide Caucus,” has only grown in power since then and has recently gained momentum in its push to remove John Boehner, who they say hasn't done enough to fight President Obama, from his position as speaker of the House.
The "Suicide Caucus" is particularly angry that the House Republican leadership approved an increase in the debt ceiling and hasn’t successfully defunded Planned Parenthood or the Affordable Care Act. Of course, there was little Boehner could do to accomplish any of these goals, since Republicans could not override an inevitable veto from the president or overcome opposition from Senate Democrats. But the “Suicide Caucus” doesn’t exactly function according to logic.
Many of the most radical members of Congress became more organized with the formation of the House Freedom Caucus, which The Economist described as a group dedicated to making “reckless and unrealistic” demands of Boehner, “consistent with their record of attempting wild, hapless heists against both Mr. Obama and the Republican leadership.”
With Boehner announcing his resignation today, it’s important to remember that the people who have spent years calling for Boehner’s ouster also represent the far-right flank of the party. As Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., put it, “this is a victory for the crazies.”
And, of course, the "Suicide Caucus" treats Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, as its leader, which Boehner doesn't exactly like.
The anti-Boehner caucus also got help from conservative talk radio. American Family Radio's Sandy Rios dubbed Boehner a “big liar,” AFR's Bryan Fischer compared him to Pontius Pilate and syndicated radio host Michael Savage referred to the speaker as a “deranged drunk.”
One of Boehner’s most vocal opponents was Glenn Beck, who told his listeners that they should consider themselves “done with the Republican Party” if Boehner won re-election to his post as speaker (which he did).
Beck’s choice to replace Boehner? None other than Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, the top conspiracy theorist of the House GOP.
After Gohmert tried, and failed, to win the speakership earlier this year, he explained that Americans would only turn to him to be speaker in a time of war or a similar crisis, when everyone would realize that he was the right choice all along. “The only way a guy like me could ever get elected to be speaker would be is if we were during a time of all-out war and people had figured, ‘Wow, Louie’s been right all along and maybe we should give him a chance,’” he said. “That’s the only — we’re not going to elect me in a time of undeclared war and I know that and I understood that.”
But who could better reflect the Republican Party’s decline into a hotbed of radicalism and conspiracy theories than Gohmert?
In response to Speaker John Boehner’s announcement of his resignation next month, People For the American Way President Michael Keegan issued the following statement:
“John Boehner’s resignation should put any doubts to rest that the inmates are running the asylum in today’s GOP. Throughout his career, John Boehner has been radically anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-worker and anti-regulation. At his party’s behest, he’s spent his time as Speaker taking dozens of votes to repeal Obamacare, launching frivolous lawsuits against the President, slashing the social safety net and blocking efforts at meaningful immigration reform. The fact that he’s resigning in order to avoid a coup precipitated by the idea that he’s ‘too moderate’ would be funny if it weren’t so frightening.
“Ultimately, it’s clear that John Boehner’s greatest sin wasn’t that he was too moderate, but that he tried to be a grown-up in a party that demands petulance and temper tantrums as its agenda for governing. Boehner tried to lead the party of Reagan. He got fired by the party of Trump.”
End Times broadcaster Rick Wiles invited Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy In Media onto his “Trunews” program yesterday to discuss Ben Carson's remark that he would never support a Muslim candidate for president. Wiles and Kincaid said that the Republican presidential candidate didn't go far enough, wondering why Carson didn't assert that we already have a Muslim president in the White House.
A larger conspiracy, Wiles said, must be at work, which led him to imply that the same people who are covering up the truth about President Obama's Muslim faith are the very same ones who helped Obama steal the 2012 election. Wiles knows that Obama only defeated Mitt Romney by nefarious means because he, Wiles, doesn't personally know anyone who supported the president’s reelection.
"Barack Obama was speaking to empty coliseums, empty auditoriums," Wiles said. "Mitt Romney was attracting these huge, enthusiastic crowds. It was obvious there was momentum for the Romney campaign. So on election night with suddenly Obama to win re-election it was very weird, it was strange, it was like, where are these Obama supporters? I never met anybody that was enthusiastic about re-electing Obama and suddenly he wins re-election."
Wiles said his gut feeling told him that Obama's re-election wasn't legitimate: "There was just that feeling on Election Night, something really strange and weird and evil and corrupt just happened tonight."
Rafael Cruz believes that his son, Texas senator and presidential candidate Ted Cruz, is on a divinely inspired mission to overturn the city of Houston's nondiscrimination ordinance. The elder Cruz, who also serves as a campaign surrogate for his son’s campaign, is not just upset that Houston approved an ordinance protecting LGBT people from discrimination, but is also furious that the city even elected an openly gay mayor.
In a speech earlier this month on behalf of the group working to repeal Houston’s ordinance, Cruz lit into the Supreme Court for striking down state bans on same-sex marriage, claiming that the court "had no jurisdiction to rule over marriage."
He said the court's decision on marriage, which he has blamed on Satan, should inspire more conservative Christians to run for higher office.
"It is appalling that in a city like Houston, right in the middle of the Bible Belt, we have a homosexual mayor," Cruz said, referring to Annise Parker. He blamed the church's inability to stop a lesbian from winning elected office on the separation of church and state, which he called "a lie."
In the past decade, scores of Supreme Court decisions addressing some of the most fundamental questions in our country have hinged on the vote of a single Supreme Court justice. Who can marry? Can everyone access the ballot box? Can women be denied reproductive health care? Can corporations flood elections with money?
In past 5-4 decisions on questions like these, from Citizens United to Hobby Lobby to Obergefell, the impact of each presidential Supreme Court nomination on our rights and liberties is clear. And for future decisions, Election Day 2016 – when Americans elect a president who will almost certainly be nominating one or more new justices – becomes a “judgment day” for our rights going forward.
A new PFAW report out today, “Judgment Day 2016,” looks at 80 5-4 decisions the Court has issued since Bush-nominees John Roberts and Samuel Alito joined the Court ten years ago in key areas like money and politics; civil and voting rights; LGBT rights; women’s rights; workplace fairness; protecting the environment, and more. On a range of issues, the report underscores what’s at stake when Americans vote next November.
As principal report author and PFAW Senior Fellow Elliot Mincberg put it:
In the 2016 election, the Supreme Court is on the ballot…Our next president may very well be nominating three or more Supreme Court justices who could tip the balance in critically important cases.
Earlier this week, GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said that he didn’t want “stupid” people — i.e. people who won’t vote for him — to vote at all. Then a Republican state representative in Florida was caught suggesting that the party beat Rep. Corrine Brown by redrawing her African-American-majority district to include a large population of prisoners, who are not allowed to vote in Florida.
These are just two of the instances of Republican lawmakers admitting that their electoral strategy hinges not just on winning votes, but on suppressing the votes of people who they think will oppose them.
More than 30 years ago, an influential conservative leader explained why his movement shouldn’t “want everybody to vote.”
Paul Weyrich, an operative considered to be the “founding father of the conservative movement” because of his hand in founding the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Heritage Foundation, Moral Majority, the Council for National Policy and other influential conservative groups, laid out the GOP’s voter suppression strategy in a 1980 speech in Dallas.
"I don't want everybody to vote,” he said. “Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now. As a matter of fact our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."
In 2013, North Carolina lawmakers pushed through a package of voter suppression bills , including restrictions on early voting, something that many African American voters had taken advantage of the previous year.
Conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly rejoiced in the news , saying that the early voting restrictions were “particularly important” because early voting had tended to help Democrats:
The reduction in the number of days allowed for early voting is particularly important because early voting plays a major role in Obama’s ground game. The Democrats carried most states that allow many days of early voting, and Obama’s national field director admitted, shortly before last year’s election, that “early voting is giving us a solid lead in the battleground states that will decide this election.”
Doug Preisse, the chairman of the Franklin County Republican Party (whose area includes the city of Columbus), put his party’s case frankly in an email to the Columbus Dispatch:
I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter turnout machine.
Before the 2012 presidential election, Pennsylvania Republican House Leader Mike Turzai declared that a new voter identification law would “allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”
In 2013, then-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott — who has since become the state’s governor – responded to the Justice Department’s accusation that recent redistricting had discriminated against minorities by explaining that the goal was just to discriminate against Democrats and “effects on minority voters” were merely “incidental”:
DOJ’s accusations of racial discrimination are baseless. In 2011, both houses of the Texas Legislature were controlled by large Republican majorities, and their redistricting decisions were designed to increase the Republican Party’s electoral prospects at the expense of the Democrats. It is perfectly constitutional for a Republican-controlled legislature to make partisan districting decisions, even if there are incidental effects on minority voters who support Democratic candidates.
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, urged the Senate to block President Obama's nominee for Secretary of the Army, Eric Fanning, because having an openly gay Army secretary may send the message that the U.S. condones the sexual abuse of children.
In an interview with Gohmert yesterday on his “Washington Watch” radio program, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said that the Senate should refuse to confirm a new Army secretary following a New York Times report alleging that U.S. officials in Afghanistan told service members to look the other way on cases of sex abuse among allied Afghan fighters. Perkins said that the Senate should tell the president that "we are not going to confirm your nominee, especially this guy."
"What do you think they will think,” Gohmert wondered, “when they hear that not only did we tolerate what was being done to their boys by people under our authority but we turn around and approve a Secretary of the Army that they as moderate Muslims believe is just an atrocious thing? They're going to think that that is quite consistent with us approving of what was going on between the older men in authority and these boys."
He added: "This is not a good move, but the president's priority has not been the lives of our military."
Mike Huckabee continued his campaign of outrage against President Obama for daring to include pro-gay-rights and pro-choice Christians among the thousands of people invited to a reception with Pope Francis this week, telling Newsmax TV yesterday that the president was “disrespectful” and “not being a very gracious host.”
Huckabee was galled that Obama invited these “dissidents” to “instruct the pope on what the doctrine of the church should be,” especially since, he claimed, Obama goes out of his way to accommodate other world leads by bowing to heads of state and even “will often take on robes and various costumes to fit into the local culture.”
Alex Jones is not the biggest fan of Pope Francis, telling “InfoWars” viewers yesterday that the “slimebag” pope wants to destroy America’s borders, preserve the power of pedophiles, establish a “one world religion” and turn Americans into “abject slaves.”
He also expressed just a tiny amount of displeasure with Francis’ call for nations like the U.S. to commit to fighting climate change.
“If he gets his way, a billion people will starve to death in the next ten years,” Jones said. “I’m going to vomit.”
WASHINGTON – With little over a year left before 2016 election, People For the American Way released a report today analyzing recent 5-4 decisions from the Supreme Court and the effect that new Justices could have on the Court’s direction.
The report, “Judgment Day 2016: The Future of the Supreme Court as a Critical Issue in the 2016 Presidential Election,” examines more than 80 5-4 decisions the Court has issued since President George W. Bush pushed the nation’s highest court far rightward by putting John Roberts and Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court in 2005-6. In light of the narrow majorities in landmark decisions such as Obergefell v. Hodges (protecting the right of same-sex couples to marry), Citizens United v. FEC (finding that corporations have a right to make unlimited campaign expenditures), Burwell v. Hobby Lobby (finding that corporations can claim religious rights to exempt themselves from federal laws about contraceptive coverage), and Shelby County v. Holder (overturning a key section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act), the report highlights the fact that Election Day 2016 is “Judgment Day” for the rights of all Americans going forward.
The report reviews and analyzes 5-4 court decisions in eleven key areas:
• Money and politics
• Civil and voting rights
• LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) rights
• Reproductive freedom and women’s rights
• Workplace fairness
• Protecting the environment
• Religious liberty
• Gun violence
• Marketplace and consumer fairness
• Access to justice
• Protection against government abuse
“In the 2016 election, the Supreme Court is on the ballot,” said Elliot Mincberg, Senior Fellow at People For the American Way, principal author of the Judgment Day 2016 report. “Closely-divided 5-4 Supreme Court rulings in recent years have wreaked havoc on Americans’ rights and, in some cases, only narrowly averted doing so. Our next president may very well be nominating three or more Supreme Court justices who could tip the balance in critically important cases. This report highlights what’s at stake for our rights when Americans cast their ballot next November.”
Of all the important issues at stake in the 2016 presidential election, one stands out for right-wing conservatives: the future of the Supreme Court. For the rights of all Americans, November 8, 2016, is truly judgment day.
After insisting that Islam should not be considered a religion deserving of the same protections as Christianity, Perkins addressed the arrest of Texas teenager Ahmed Mohamed for bringing a homemade clock to school.
Perkins said that President Obama’s supportive tweet about the case showed that the president is trying to “vilify authorities” while “trying to placate an ethnic group in this country that has been associated with terrorist activities.” (Among the many things wrong with this statement is the fact that Islam is not an ethnicity.)
“Often times, and I’m not saying that this is the case with Ahmed in Irving, Texas, I am just saying that this is how they operate, is that you will sometimes see terrorists come in and do a dry run to see where the security lapses are and what the responses are and they will just test the systems, again I’m not saying what happened here, but it could have been and you wouldn’t know unless you began asking questions and you began to investigate,” he later said.
A caller, Michael, then chimed in with various scenarios about the student, including one suggestion that Ahmed could actually have been plotting to get the White House invitation so he could then blow it up: “This child’s dad ran for the president of Sudan twice, and we know how Sudan is. Here in America, now we know that the radical Muslims, they’ll tie explosives to the kids, so what makes us think that they didn’t come do this? We’ve got a president that invites this child, and I’ve got nothing against this kid, the president invites him to our White House, now what if, let’s just say for example, what if this child is carrying a bomb? Is it still smart?”
“I agree one hundred percent with your analysis,” Perkins said.
Conservative pundit and short-lived Republican presidential candidate Dennis Michael Lynch guest-hosted Steve Malzberg’s Newsmax TV show yesterday, where he invited ACT! for America’s Brigitte Gabriel to discuss her efforts to keep the U.S. from resettling refugees from Syria’s civil war.
Gabriel, who will be speaking alongside several GOP presidential candidates at this week’s Values Voter Summit, claimed that Muslim refugees currently in the country “are not assimilating because they have a different value system,” which “will prevent them from assimilating no matter how long they stay in our country.”
“They are coming to your neighborhood,” she warned, “they are coming to your state, you need to know who’s coming and how many of them are coming and whether you can stop it.”
Lynch then asked Gabriel about his theory that President Obama is intentionally allowing ISIS to gain territory in order to cause a refugee crisis that will in turn “transform” America.
“He said he was going to fundamentally transform America,” Lynch said. “I’ve always believed he was going to do it through immigration. There is a part of me that believes he did not want to take out ISIS, he does not want to take out ISIS, because it creates an incredible refugee issue. … Do you think this is all part of his plan?”
“Yes it is,” Gabriel agreed, “and he is already partly changing America because that’s his values. He does not believe in American exceptionalism, he believes that America has to be on par with the rest of the world and therefore we are all one, and that’s why he wants to intermingle America, to have a population of every corner of the world, whether or not they are equal to us or not.”
On Monday, conservative talk radio host Michael Savage decried President Obama’s decision to appoint Eric Fanning, an openly gay man, as Secretary of the Army, suggesting that Fanning’s appointment would lead to a “culture” of child abuse in the military.
Savage read from a recent New York Times report describing the disturbing allegations that the U.S. military ordered service members to overlook abuse of children by local Afghan soldiers who were fighting the Taliban, reportedly justifying letting the abuse continue by saying it was part of their Afghan allies’ “culture.”
“Well, maybe the whole culture of the Army soon, given Obama’s recent appointment,” Savage remarked.
Last week, Savage said that Obama’s nomination of Fanning proves that he is a “psychopath.”
In an interview with Newsmax TV yesterday, Pat Buchanan compared Kentucky county Kim Davis’ defiance of court orders to issue same-sex marriage licenses to his own efforts to convince President Nixon to defy a Supreme Court ruling on school desegregation.
Host Rick Ungar asked Buchanan to explain why he would oppose a devout Muslim becoming president out of fear that his or her religion would trump the Constitution, when Mike Huckabee and other GOP candidates frequently say that their Christian religion trumps U.S. law.
Buchanan responded that there were plenty of examples of people rightly following “natural law” rather than obeying the courts, such as protesters in the Civil Rights Movement. He added that his father, a devout Catholic, would likewise have disobeyed a law requiring him to provide “abortifacients and contraceptives to his employees.”
“I think that [Davis] did the right thing,” Buchanan said, “she defied the law and went to jail and paid the price, that’s the price of civil disobedience of an unjust law. But I do believe this. When I was in the Nixon White House, I urged the president to defy court orders mandating court-ordered busing from counties into cities, which were tearing apart cities and towns, defy the court and work with the Congress of the United States to really circumscribe the jurisdiction of the court under … Article III, Section II of the Constitution. In other words, it would be a constitutional confrontation, you’re exactly right. I don’t disagree with that, if you believe your position is correct.”
In a column last year, Buchanan similarly compared resistance to same-sex marriage to busing opponents’ efforts to nake “our black-robed radicals back down.”
You remind us that people are only truly free when they can practice their faith freely. Here in the United States, we cherish religious liberty. Yet around the world at this very moment, children of God, including Christians, are targeted and even killed because of their faith. Believers are prevented from gathering at their places of worship. The faithful are imprisoned. Churches are destroyed. So we stand with you in defense of religious freedom and interfaith dialogue, knowing that people everywhere must be able to live out their faith free from fear and intimidation.
The Obama administration, of course, had nothing to do with Davis’ case, as Huckabee’s Vine implied.
But it revealed how the Religious Right thinks about “persecution.”
Davis’ detention by U.S. Marshals due to her continued refusal to let deputy clerks issue marriage licenses in defiance of a court order was seen by conservatives like Huckabee as part of the “criminalization of Christianity,” no different than actual violence perpetrated against Christians in parts of the Mideast or the imprisonment of Christians in countries like China.
Huckabee marked the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests last year by declaring that “China is becoming more like the United States used to be and the United States is becoming more like China used to be.” He has also claimed that pastors will soon face “criminal charges” for refusing to gay couples’ weddings and said that gay rights supporters won’t stop “until there are no more churches, until there are no more people who are spreading the Gospel.”
“We are moving rapidly towards the criminalization of Christianity,” he often states.
“We’re seeing, certainly at the national level, internally, this battle on marriage, but globally what we’re seeing is that there is an assault on the Christian faith in general,” Huckabee said in response to a pastor who likened gay marriage activists to ISIS members during a conference call earlier this year.
Huckabee isn’t the only one making such dramatic claims about anti-Christian persecution in America.
Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council compared Davis to a woman who was imprisoned in Sudan for converting to Christianity and Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, who also led Davis’ unsuccessful legal battle, likened Davis to Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
Davis, who was trying to impose her own religious views on others, is not a victim of religious persecution, but that won’t prevent politicians like Huckabee from using her case to whip up claims that American Christians, just like Christians in China or the self-styled Islamic State, are facing oppression from the government.
The chief organizer of the Values Voter Summit, FRC’s Tony Perkins, criticized Trump when the candidate initially declined an invitation to the summit, claiming that Trump was neglecting conservative evangelicals and wasn’t trying to “talk about issues they care about” in “a way that is convincing.”
But given that the Values Voter Summit has traditionally been an event at which speakers are wildly cheered for delivering bigoted remarks and self-righteous tirades, Trump will probably fit right in.
He also expounded on his feelings about God during an interview on the Christian Broadcasting Network today:
Well I say God is the ultimate. You know you look at this? Here we are on the Pacific Ocean. How did I ever own this? I bought it fifteen years ago. I made one of the great deals they say ever. I have no more mortgage on it as I will certify and represent to you. And I was able to buy this and make a great deal. That’s what I want to do for the country. Make great deals. We have to, we have to bring it back, but God is the ultimate. I mean God created this (points to his golf course and nature surrounding it), and here’s the Pacific Ocean right behind us. So nobody, no thing, no there’s nothing like God.
Iowa conservative talk radio host Jan Mickelson’s morning program has become a required stop for Republicans campaigning in the first-in-the-nation caucus state. Nearly every GOP presidential candidate has appeared on Mickelson’s program at least once this year, which is remarkable given that Mickelson recently suggested enslaving undocumented immigrants and often asks his guests to comment on right-wing conspiracy theories such as those surrounding Jade Helm 15 and a toxic spill in Colorado.
Rick Santorum got the full Mickelson treatment yesterday when the radio host asked him to comment on a theory espoused by anti-government tax protesters that the 16th Amendment was never actually ratified and therefore the federal income tax is illegal.
The two got to talking about the “strange bedfellows” behind the 16th Amendment, which Mickelson compared, seemingly disapprovingly, to the coalition of “the business community lined up with the feminists” who backed the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote.
He then threw Santorum a curveball: “So, do you think the 16th Amendment actually really passed?”
“There’s a whole book about the 16th Amendment, it was never legally ratified because the language in many, many different states was not uniform and there was all kinds of trickery involved,” Mickelson continued, apparently referring to William Benson’s 1985 book “The Law that Never Was,” whose contentions have been repeatedly debunked.
Santorum didn’t take a stand on the validity of the 16th Amendment (which he has said he wants to repeal), but did agree that progressives are nefarious tricksters. “That’s the progressives!” he said. “It’s the same group, it’s the same group of people. It was the progressive movement that pushed the income tax and it’s the same progressive movement that’s out here pushing Obamacare and all the other socialism that we’re seeing pushed.”
On Sunday, the New York Times published an alarming account of how U.S. service members were told by higher-ups to ignore the sexual abuse of children by Afghan soldiers fighting the Taliban or else face punishment.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins naturally found a way to link the reported toleration of child abuse to the military’s “preoccupation with homosexuality and transgenderism.”
Perkins told listeners on yesterday’s edition of “Washington Watch” that President Obama has destroyed the military’s morality with its policies on LGBT service members and supposed persecution of Christians, linking these policies to the alleged allowance of child abuse in Afghanistan.