Heritage Foundation

Sandy Rios: Liberals Bringing Soviet 'Sexual Chaos' To America

The American Family Association’s Sandy Rios invited anti-marriage-equality activist Ryan Anderson onto her radio program last week to promote his new book “Truth Overruled,” written in reaction to the Obergefell decision.

Anderson repeated his lament that marriage equality is a “symptom” of the “disintegration of marriage and family” that began with “the hookup culture, the rise of premarital sex, the rise of non-marital childbearing, the rise in the divorce rate, the redefinition of divorce laws with no-fault divorce laws.”

Rios agreed, saying she had been distraught in the decades since the 1960s watching the “fabric of our morality” tear, with “everyone acting out on their own sexual whims in any way they chose, and not wanting boundaries for themselves or anybody else.”

“It’s sexual chaos," she said, "which is what the left has been proposing since a long time ago, in fact back in communist Russia, and then the Weather Underground in the ‘60s wanted to practice, smash monogamy. It was the destruction of the family. I don’t understand that, but it is absolutely their goal and they’ve really done a good job of it.”

Ben Carson's Bible-Based Tax System and Other GOP Adventures In 'Biblical Economics'

In last night’s Republican presidential debate, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson said he would base a new tax system on the biblical system of tithing. “I think God is a pretty fair guy,” he said.

And he said, you know, if you give me a tithe, it doesn’t matter how much you make. If you’ve had a bumper crop, you don’t owe me triple tithes. And if you’ve had no crops at all, you don’t owe me no tithes. So there must be something inherently fair about that.

And that’s why I’ve advocated a proportional tax system. You make $10 billion, you pay a billion. You make $10, you pay one. And everybody gets treated the same way. And you get rid of the deductions, you get rid of all the loopholes, and…

Carson has plenty of company on the far right. The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer has declared, “God believes in a flat tax.” On his radio show last year, Fischer said, “That’s what a tithe is, it’s a tax.”

Of course, that kind of flat tax would amount to a massive tax cut for the richest Americans and a tax hike on the poorest. So it’s not terribly surprising the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity has teamed up with the Religious Right to promote the idea that progressive taxation is an un-Christian idea. AFP joined Religious Right groups to create the Freedom Federation, one of the right-wing coalitions that sprung up in opposition to Barack Obama’s election as president. The coalition’s founding “Declaration of American Values” declares its allegiance to a system of taxes that is “not progressive in nature.”

David Barton, the pseudo-historian, GOP activist, and Glenn Beck ally, is a major promoter of the idea that the Bible opposes progressive taxes, capital gains taxes, and minimum wage. Barton’s views are grounded in the philosophy of Christian Reconstructionism, a movement whose thinking has infused both the Religious Right and Tea Party movements with its notion that God gave the family, not the government, responsibility for education — and the church, not the government, responsibility for taking care of the poor. 

That’s how we have Republican members of Congress supporting cuts in food stamps by appealing to the Bible. And how we get Samuel Rodriguez, the most prominent conservative Hispanic evangelical leader, saying that a desire to “punish success” — i.e. progressive taxes — “is anti-Christian and anti-American.”

This notion that laissez-faire economics, small government, and flat taxes are divine mandates, and that taxation is theft, is also how we end up with the Heritage Foundation promoting the idea that “[t]hose who esteem the Bible should also applaud St. Milton Friedman and other Church of Chicago prelates, because their insights amplify what the Bible suggests about economics.” And the idea that unions and collective bargaining are unbiblical is how we get Religious Right groups celebrating Scott Walker’s war on unions.

Already-Huge Heritage Foundation Expands DC Presence To 'Hit Washington Establishment' From 'Close Range'

The Heritage Foundation is a giant within the massive right-wing legal, political and cultural infrastructure that has been built over the past several decades. An ideological marketing operation in the guise of a think tank, Heritage has played a significant role in in getting economic and social conservatives to work together to push the Republican Party further and further to the Right. It operates out of an enormous complex near the U.S. Capitol — one that Heritage has announced is now growing even bigger.

In an email headlined “From close range,” Heritage President Jim DeMint writes:

If we’re going to reclaim America, conservatives have to hit the Washington Establishment from close range.

That’s why a critical phase of The Heritage Foundation’s Reclaim America campaign is building the Freedom Center.

Only steps from the U.S. Capitol, the Freedom Center will be at very close range. It will be your conservative stronghold for retaking our country.

The group’s website says, “The new Freedom Center will be the driving force behind a revitalized conservative resurgence, not just in Washington, but also around the country.”

The Heritage Foundation is vastly expanding our presence in Washington D.C.—the belly of the beast.

Our headquarters in the heart of Washington, D.C. is just two city blocks from the Senate offices, three city blocks from the Capitol building, and three city blocks from the House offices. It’s from this base that we will wage a policy war with the Left and the Establishment at very close range. In politics, proximity matters. That’s why our physical presence is key and that’s why expansion is critical to future conservative victories.

To beat down Big Government, we need to expand our footprint on Capitol Hill.

The Freedom Center will be only blocks from the U.S. Capitol in a remodeled structure already purchased—prime real estate once rented by far-left groups. The modernized Freedom Center will be specifically outfitted for:

  • Educating Congress about how conservative ideas solve today’s problems and help the American people;
  • Reaching the American people with an enhanced media outreach program focused on spreading conservative ideas;
  • Communicating facts to mobilize grassroots Americans;
  • And bringing together conservative groups to coordinate strategy.

In short, the Freedom Center will be a beachhead from which we can advance your principles in Washington from inescapably close range. 

DeMint says that Heritage is trying to raise $1 million for the project by August 18 and that a donor will match gifts made by August 18. According to IRS filings from 2013, the Heritage Foundation had income that year of $112.7 million, with net assets of more than $194 million. Its explicitly political arm, Heritage Action for America, reported income of $8.8 million and net assets of $4.8 million.

Ryan Anderson's Road Map for Marriage Resisters

The Heritage Foundation’s Ryan Anderson, celebrated as the anti-marriage movement’s fresh young face, is promoting his new book Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom, which promises to tell anguished opponents of marriage equality how to respond in to the Supreme Court ruling that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to be legally married. Anderson’s book will be available July 20, but there’s probably no need to order it, since he has been flooding the media with his analysis of the ruling and advice about what anti-equality Christians should do in its wake.

Anderson is a protégé of Robert George, the Princeton professor and current intellectual godfather of the anti-gay movement. Like George, Anderson has made the case that the dispute over marriage is not about discrimination but about definition. Same-sex couples cannot be married, they argue, because marriage is by definition a relationship between a man and a woman, “uniting comprehensively, creating new life, and uniting new human beings with their mother and father.”

Anderson repeats that argument in his legal analysis of the Supreme Court’s ruling at Public Discourse, complaining that Justice Anthony Kennedy did not seriously engage with the main arguments of anti-marriage-equality advocates in his majority opinion. Anderson is unmoved by analogies to bans on marriage by interracial couples:

The problem with the analogy to interracial marriage is that it assumes exactly what is in dispute: that sex is as irrelevant to marriage as race is. It’s clear that race has nothing to do with marriage. Racist laws kept the races apart and were designed to keep whites at the top. Marriage has everything to do with men and women, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers and their children, and that is why principle-based policy has defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Anderson has previously pointed to the anti-abortion movement as the model for long-term resistance to marriage equality. Since the Court’s ruling in Obergefell, Anderson has been more explicit about what the strategy means. In a panel discussion at the Heritage Foundation on June 30, Anderson declared, “The central thesis of my new book…is that the pro-marriage movement is in the same exact situation culturally that the pro-life movement found itself in 42 and a half years ago after Roe v. Wade.”  In the 40 years since the Roe v. Wade decision, that movement has been all too successful at getting legislatures to restrict women’s ability to access reproductive health care, and at convincing courts to go along. In the Boston Globe, Anderson explained how that happened:

The pro-life community stood up and responded to a bad court ruling. Academics wrote books and articles making the scientific and philosophical case for life. Statesmen like Henry Hyde, Edwin Meese, and Ronald Reagan used the bully pulpit to advance the culture of life. Activists and lawyers got together, formed coalitions, and devised effective strategies.

At Heritage, Anderson identified three steps taken by abortion foes that he says must now be pursued by anti-marriage-equality advocates.

  1. Identify the decision as illegitimate judicial activism.
  2. Act to protect the rights of “conscience.”
  3. Wage a long-term campaign of “rebuilding a truthful, strong marriage culture” to “bear witness to the truth” within a culture that has been told a lie, in this case about the nature of marriage. This will be a long-term, “generational” effort, “something our children and grandchildren will be responding to.”

Anderson and other right-wing leaders have certainly been ready to carry out his first piece of advice, denouncing the ruling as judicial activism and, in Anderson’s words, “a significant setback for all Americans who believe in the Constitution, the rule of law, democratic self-government, and marriage as the union of one man and one woman.” His mentor Robert George responded in kind, saying, “we must reject and resist an egregious act of judicial usurpation. We must, above all, tell the truth: Obergefell v. Hodges is an illegitimate decision.” Anderson’s colleague Matthew J. Franck, called it an “appallingly illegitimate decision.”

As for the second step, acting to protect the “rights of conscience,” Anderson says, “There is an urgent need for policy to ensure the government never penalizes anyone for standing up for marriage. We must work to protect the freedom of speech, association, and religion of those who continue to abide by the truth of marriage as one man and one woman.”

Anderson and other anti-equality leaders are pushing for passage of the so-called First Amendment Defense Act in Congress, and for passage of similar laws at the state level. He says that the First Amendment Defense Act would allow individuals, organizations, and businesses to “act on the belief that marriage is the union of a man and a woman” – in other words, to discriminate against same-sex couples without facing any legal consequences.

Just as the pro-life movement ensured that no pro-life citizen would ever have to pay for an abortion or perform an abortion, so too must we work to ensure no one is coerced on marriage. Rather than forcing people and institutions of faith to go to court for their religious liberty, this bill would prevent the government from ever acting unjustly in the first place.

As we noted recently, this strategy has the potential to lead to increasing restrictions on the ability of same-sex couples and their families to experience the equal dignity the Court has said they deserve.

Shortly after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v Wade, laws were passed to allow doctors who had religious objections to performing abortions to refuse to do so without experiencing negative professional consequences. There has been little opposition to such laws. But over the past few decades, at the urging of anti-abortion activists, the scope of that kind of religious exemption has been expanded wildly to include people ever-further removed from the actual abortion procedure, and expanded to include even marginal participation in the provision of contraception. In emergency situations these accommodation could come at high cost, including the life of a patient.

Exemptions have been extended to or claimed by nurses who don’t want to provide care to women after an abortion, pharmacists who don’t want to dispense a morning-after pill prescribed by a woman’s doctor, even a bus driver who refused to take a woman to a Planned Parenthood facility because he said he suspected she was going for an abortion.

Law professors Douglas NeJaime and Reva Siegel describe these as “complicity-based conscience claims” – claims that are about refusing to do anything that might make one complicit in any way with another person’s behavior that one deems sinful. They note that the concept of complicity has been extended to allow health care providers not to even inform patients that some potential care or information has been withheld from them based on the religious beliefs of an individual or the policies of an institution.

The resistance to complying with the requirement under the Affordable Care Act that insurance plans cover contraception takes the notion of complicity to almost surreal lengths.  Just days after the Hobby Lobby decision, the Court’s conservatives sided provisionally with religious conservatives who are arguing that it is a burden on their religious freedom even to inform the government that they are refusing to provide contraceptive coverage, because that would trigger the process by which the coverage would be provided by others. Cases revolving around the simple act of informing the government of an objection are working their way back toward the Supreme Court….

Given what we know about the intensity of the anti-gay movement’s opposition to marriage equality, it is not hard to imagine how far that movement could run with the principle that religious beliefs about “traditional” marriage are a legitimate basis for discriminating against same-sex couples.

As for Anderson’s final step, waging a generational culture war to promote the idea that marriage can only exist between a man and a woman, he offers several strategies:

  1. Conduct “rigorous social science” on family structures, which he says could be used to sway future conservative justices to overturn Obergefell. Anderson is editor of Public Discourse, published by the Witherspoon Institute, which is probably best known for financing the notorious Mark Regnerus study on “family structures,” which anti-equality groups continue to cite even though the study and the way it has been used by marriage equality opponents have been thoroughly discredited.
  2. Use “better spokespeople.” Anderson says the movement should make more use of gays and people raised by same-sex couples who oppose marriage equality.  Anderson complained at Heritage that both groups filed amicus briefs but that the Court did not acknowledge either.
  3. Live out “the truth about marriage” by demonstrating the beauty, truth, and holiness of one-man, one-woman marriage. Anderson acknowledged that gay and lesbian people did not cause family breakdown, heterosexuals did that through contraception, divorce, and other aspects of the sexual revolution. “Justice Kennedy’s philosophy of marriage is the natural result, the logical result, of the past 50 years of the breakdown of the American family. It’s the natural, logical conclusion of the sexual revolution.” Anderson said "We have ourselves to blame” for 50 years of “failing to live out the truth about marriage.”  Still, he said, “redefining marriage will not do anything to strengthen the family; but it will likely make the family even weaker.”

Anderson has achieved folk-hero status among the anti-gay right and many are likely to follow his road map. The National Organization for Marriage is praising his “encouraging words and advice” on how to “continue the fight to defend marriage as it has always been defined – the union between one man and one woman.”

 

Ryan Anderson: Gay Marriage Will Make Sexual Revolution's 'Mess Of Marriage' Worse

Ryan Anderson, senior fellow at Heritage Foundation and founder of “Public Discourse,” joined Eric Metaxas on his show Tuesday to discuss the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling.

Anderson provided listeners with a historical backdrop to the ruling, arguing that for “the past 50 years heterosexuals have failed to live out the truth about marriage.” Heterosexuals mistakenly “bought into a bad ideology; it was called the ‘sexual revolution.’” This, he said, made “a mess of the family, whether it was the hook-up culture, pre-marital sex, non-marital childbearing, lots of divorce.”

“And once you have made a mess of marriage in those ways,” Anderson continued, “there’s a certain logic to redefining it to include same-sex couples: if it’s just about consenting adult romance, why not?”

“That whole 50 years has been a problem,” he said. “Same-sex marriage didn’t cause the problem, but same sex marriage will make the problem worse and it will make it harder to create a strong marriage culture.”

Anderson made similar comments earlier this year in response to an interviewer who lamented that “the widespread acceptance of contraception” was “the first domino to fall” on the way to marriage equality.”

GOP targets Latinos’ ability to vote

This piece by People For the American Way Political Coordinator Carlos A. Sanchez originally appeared in Fox News Latino.

Even as a diverse coalition of Americans unite around the principle that voting rights are an essential American principle that needs to be protected, the Republican Party remains firmly committed to doing the opposite. Their continued push for policies that make it more difficult for people to vote disproportionately affects minority and young voters.

Republicans – including leading Presidential candidates – have for years been pushing initiatives that make it harder to vote. Jeb Bush supports states’ efforts to enact voter ID laws, and as governor, he restricted early voting and infamously purged 12,000 eligible voters before the 2000 presidential election. Marco Rubio asked, “What’s the big deal?” with voter ID laws. Scott Walker enacted what has been described as “one of the most restrictive voter ID laws in the country.”

Voter ID laws systematically target Latinos’ and other minorities’ ability to vote. In 2012, measures to restrict voting could have affected over 10 million Latino voters. A Brennan Center for Justice study reported, “In Colorado, Florida, and Virginia, the number of eligible Latino citizens that could be affected by these barriers exceeds the margin of victory in each of those states during the 2008 presidential election.”

And it’s no accident that these laws disproportionately affect Latinos. A separate study from last year found “a solid link between legislator support for voter ID laws and bias toward Latino voters, as measured in their responses to constituent e-mails.” And yet another study that was released earlier this year found that even in states without voter ID laws, Latinos were targeted: “Election officials themselves also appear to be biased against minority voters, and Latinos in particular. For example, poll workers are more likely to ask minority voters to show identification, including in states without voter identification laws.”

Some Republicans have explicitly made known their intentions of suppressing Latino and African-American voters in order to win elections. Over 30 years ago, ALEC-founder and co-founder of the Heritage Foundation Paul Weyrich spoke plainly:  “I don’t want everybody to vote…As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.” Republican after Republican has continued in his footsteps: An Ohio GOP County Chair stated he supports limits on early voting because, “I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban – read African-American – voter-turnout machine.” Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai believed voter ID laws would “allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.” Former GOP Precinct Chair Don Yelton used the “n” word as he tried to deny that a voter ID law in North Carolina was racist (and he explained that “the law is going to kick the Democrats in the butt”). Conservative activist and notoriously anti-immigrant Phyllis Schlafly said, “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.” Schlafly’s Eagle Forum endorsed Marco Rubio in his run for Senate (here’s a lovely picture of the two of them) and applauded Scott Walker for his opposition to legal immigration.

The Republican response to the growing power of minority voters could not be clearer: shut them out of the election process. Under the guise of fighting voter fraud, despite a striking absence of evidence that fraud exists, Republican-led chambers across our nation have moved in concert to restrict access through the polls for political reasons. It’s that simple.

What’s even more upsetting is to hear a group who claims to represent the best interests of a community choose to ignore the facts in favor of their funder’s agenda.  Daniel Garza, executive director of the Libre Iniative, said he’s fine with voter ID laws and that he doesn’t think Republicans are trying to suppress the Latino vote. Libre is a Koch-funded GOP shadow group that time and again turns its back on the Latino community – for example, Libre supported Republican candidates who opposed immigration reform in 2014. Garza’s support for voter ID laws is yet another instance of him and Republicans supporting a policy that’s devastating to Latinos.

It’s time for the Republican Party to end their campaign against voting rights—and for people like Daniel Garza to stop giving them cover when they do it.

Carlos A. Sanchez is the Coordinator of Political Campaigns for People For the American Way.

PFAW

Sandy Rios 'Grieved To The Bone' That Gay Pundit May Destroy The Conservative Movement

Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, spoke to American Family Association’s Sandy Rios on her talk show “Sandy Rios in the Morning” this week about the danger of growing support for gay rights within the conservative movement.

Rios began the segment by discussing her concern regarding Guy Benson, a conservative commentator for the Salem Media Group-owned Townhall.com who recently came out as gay in a footnote to his new book, End of Discussion, coauthored by Mary Katharine Ham. Rios is not the only AFA affiliate to speak out against Benson, as American Family Radio’s Bryan Fischer also issued a statement calling for Benson’s replacement. Rios played a clip in which Megyn Kelly of Fox News tells Guy Benson on her show, “You are in a safe place here.”

Rios, who hired Benson to be the producer of her previous radio program, responded to Benson’s announcement by sharing that “when he came out last week it was a great shock to me, and very sad, very sad.” For Rios, “it’s not just a matter of Guy coming out; it’s that they’re coming out endorsing gay marriage. That’s not the main part of their book but it’s, it’s a huge part of their book. They’re both mainstream conservative voices.” Rios warned that “even though Guy smiles and is very sweet, I fear for the repercussions of this.”

“Guy Benson’s professed homosexuality is not a mere footnote, Sandy,” LaBarbera added. “And that’s the temptation of the new, I guess I’d call it soulless, conservatism.” LaBarbera explained that identifying as a gay Christian “makes no more sense, Sandy, than someone being a so-called porn-using Christian, or substitute any other sexual sin, and that doesn’t make a positive identity.”

“And yet,” bemoaned LaBarbera, “look what Megyn Kelly says. She says ‘you’re so brave.’ Why is it brave? You can tell there’s an approving tone when you watch the interview. It’s just bizarre that we’ve come to this point that somebody professes homosexuality and a quote ‘gay’ identity, which puts a really sort of nice face on it, is brave and that’s a sign of being honest, when actually it’s merely publicly embracing a sin.”

Rios, seemingly personally offended by Kelly’s “safe place” remark, responded, “Where did that, I mean, what could have been unsafe? I mean, Guy worked with me for years, and he’s still, he may not be happy with me discussing this publicly, but he would not be surprised, and certainly when he was working with me he was in a safe place. My love for him has not changed, but I am grieved to the bone, that he is, that this is an issue in his life.”

Rios added that she felt compelled to speak because, from her perspective, Benson’s coming out will have “detrimental, terribly detrimental effects on what it means to be a Christian conservative because it muddies the lines. And it’s also, if Salem does not care about this, Salem the Christian communications company, and if Heritage, who is fighting gay marriage, doesn’t care that they’re premiering a book that, you know, the authors, Mary Kathrine Ham has her own big following, are supportive of gay marriage, the lines are just being erased.”

Rios, still reeling from her grief, said, “Surely he must know that if the Supreme Court comes out and legalizes gay marriage all over the country people will be breaking the law if they oppose it in any way. So, uh, the normally clear-thinking guy is not thinking clearly, and neither is Megyn.”

“Yeah. I agree with you,” LaBarbera responded. “He also came out for nondiscrimination laws in the BuzzFeed article and those laws have been the basis for the persecution of people who oppose homosexuality.”

Comparing Benson with the “small number of openly homosexual people” who are against marriage equality, LaBarbera said that by embracing LGBT equality, Benson has joined a “radical” and “revolutionary” movement that “is all about normalizing homosexuality.”

“He says he’s standing on the shoulders of gay activists,” LaBarbera said, “and when I saw that I was like, ‘Well, which ones?’ Are you standing on the shoulders of the 1970s gay activists who scream in politicians’ faces? What about the homosexuals who will harass people, harass the psychologists to have them supposedly normalize homosexuality in the APA, the American Psychiatric Association, the direct-action homosexuals who use far-left techniques? I know he said he’s not with the far left, but, I mean Sandy, this is a movement that is all about normalizing homosexuality. That was a radical, a revolutionary goal. So which homosexual activist is Guy Benson standing on? That’s kind of troubling to me.”

Marriage Equality Opponent: Gay Marriage 'Mess' Started With Contraception

The Heritage Foundation’s Ryan T. Anderson — the fresh face of the movement against marriage equality — agreed with an interviewer last week that the road to marriage equality started with widespread contraception use, saying that the acceptance of gay marriage came about because “we’ve had a culture since the ‘60s, since the sexual revolution, that has largely made a mess of human sexuality, the family and marriage.”

Patrick Coffin, who hosts a podcast for the group Catholic Answers, asked Anderson whether “the widespread acceptance of contraception” was “the first domino to fall” on the way to marriage equality.

“Yes, the sexual revolution explains quite a bit of this,” Anderson agreed. “We only arrived at the place where we are today, in 2015, at the cusp of a potential Supreme Court case redefining marriage everywhere because we’ve had a culture since the ‘60s, since the sexual revolution, that has largely made a mess of human sexuality, the family and marriage. It’s only after a generation or two of premarital sex, non-marital childbearing, the hookup culture, pornography, no-fault divorce, that you’d then be at the point of saying, ‘Oh, yeah, marriage has nothing to do with men and women.’”

Opponents of marriage equality don’t always acknowledge that the rights that they would like to roll back don’t stop with gay marriage. But just as the gay rights and women’s rights movements have been intertwined for decades, so has the opposition to those advances.

In fact, Anderson made this very argument in a 2006 essay in defense of the radically anti-contraception Quiverfull movement (made famous by the Duggar family), in which he wondered if a backlash against gay marriage might lead Christians to reexamine their "sexual practice" and come to realize "the immorality of contraception":

As people continue to see the bad results of the sexual revolution, they are likely to reevaluate their current attitudes toward sex, and while doing so they may find that the logic of human sexuality leads right back to traditional Christian orthodoxy. Might the continued push for same-sex "marriage" and the normalization of homosexuality prove to be the tipping point, the catalyst for a widespread reexamination of Christian sexual practice? Might these issues push the envelope so far that, as faithful Christians reflect on the reasons why they must conclude that homosexual acts fail to embody the truth of human sexuality, they come to realize that these same reasons entail the immorality of contraception? (For the moment I’ll assume that anyone entertaining this line of thought has already concluded that premarital and extramarital sex likewise fail to embody the truth of human sexuality.)

Last month, during the Supreme Court arguments in the Obergefell v. Hodges marriage equality cases, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg challenged the idea that the definition of marriage has existed for “millennia,” pointing out that the ground for same-sex marriage was paved by a “change in the institution of marriage to make it egalitarian” for women. More recently, the legal fight for reproductive rights for women — starting with defending the right to contraception — has gone hand in hand with the fight for LGBT rights.

This post has been updated with Anderson's 2006 article.

The Anti-Equality Movement's Favorite Laughably Disingenuous Talking Point

Anyone who has paid any attention at all to the marriage equality debate has heard an equality opponent speak some version of this line: “All Americans have the freedom to live as they choose. But no one has the right to redefine marriage for the rest of us.”

There’s a reason for that. The National Organization for Marriage instructs its activists that it is the “most effective single sentence” the anti-marriage-equality movement has:

Extensive and repeated polling agrees that the single most effective message is the following: “Gays and lesbians have a right to live as they choose; they don’t have the right to redefine marriage for all of us.” This allows people to express support for tolerance while opposing gay marriage.

Not surprisingly, people like former NOM President Maggie Gallagher use that talking point. And even as the movement continues to lose public support and legal battles, they have maintained message discipline when it comes to using this sentence. You can find nearly endless examples of it with tiny variations, spanning more than a decade. Here are just a few examples:

  • Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson used the line in his speech at last year’s Conservative Political Action Conference;
  • Kate Sweeney, assistant director of the Colorado-based Catholic women's group ENDOW, used it while opposing a state civil unions bill in 2013;

Of course, the line is not only ineffective, judging by the continued pro-equality swing in public attitudes, but it’s also ridiculously disingenuous coming from people who have tried so hard over the years to restrict the ability of LGBT people “to live as they choose,” as PFAW Senior Legislative Counsel Paul Gordon recently documented.

That includes DeMint, who believes gay people should not allowed to be teachers and slams the Supreme Court for overturning sodomy laws that made gay people criminals. And it certainly includes the Heritage Foundation, which slams landmark equality cases Lawrence v. Texas and Romer v. Evans as examples of unacceptable “judicial activism.”

Heritage, also the professional home of the fresh-faced hope of the marriage equality movement Ryan T. Anderson, opposes the Employment Non Discrimination Act, which would protect people from being fired for being gay, and fought federal hate crimes legislation. Of course, Anderson frequently uses the same poll-tested phrase, as he did in a 2013 briefing paper for Heritage on the perils of “redefining marriage.”

While it is increasingly true that LGBT Americans are “free to live as they choose,” that goal is far from being accomplished nationwide. And whatever progress has been made, it has been over the opposition of people who now smile into the camera and hope to hide their anti-gay agenda with a little deceptive messaging. 

Ryan T. Anderson: Gay Marriage Advocates Like Opponents Of Interracial Marriage

Heritage Foundation fellow Ryan T. Anderson, a vocal opponent of marriage equality, spoke to Sandy Rios of the American Family Association today about the controversy over “religious freedom” measures in states like Indiana and Arkansas. During the interview, Anderson took issue with gay rights supporters who assert that businesses that cite moral reasons to deny services to same-sex couples aren’t acting all that differently from businesses that denied services to interracial couples by claiming that such relationships were immoral and unnatural.

While anti-miscegenation laws were implemented throughout the United States for centuries until the Supreme Court struck them down in 1967, and it wasn’t until fairly recently that a majority of Americans began to accept that interracial relationships are moral (many, and disproportionately white evangelicals, still do not believe so), Anderson suggested that interracial marriage opponents never really held sway.

“What does race have to do with marriage?” he asked. “Absolutely nothing. And no great thinker at any point in human history ever said race had anything to do with marriage.”

Well, they may not be the greatest thinkers of human history, but plenty of leaders of the Religious Right movement believed that the Bible required them to oppose interracial marriage. Bob Jones said that any “Bible-believing Christian” would oppose interracial marriage, Jerry Falwell preached against it, and Jesse Helms — who has been honored by Anderson’s own group — “got his political start by bashing interracial marriage.”

Anderson then went one step further, insisting that gay rights advocates are the ones acting like the opponents of interracial marriage.

“For the past generation, there have been a bunch of lies told in the public schools and in the media, lots of propaganda, but propaganda can’t win in the long run. In the long-run, the truth wins out,” Anderson said. “In the same way when there were some racists who tried to say that you can’t have interracial marriage, that was propaganda, it was a lie, and it failed. In the same way, trying to eliminate that marriage is about uniting the two halves of humanity, not black and white, because that’s not the two halves of humanity, the two halves of humanity, male and female, husband and wife, mom and dad, you can’t erase that, and in the long run the truth will win out.”

Heritage Foundation Event Defends Ex-Gay Therapy As Sound Science

While John G. West of the Discovery Institute dedicated most of his time speaking at the Heritage Foundation today to attacking evolution and “totalitarian science,” he briefly discussed laws prohibiting sexual orientation conversation therapy for minors during the Q&A portion of the event.

While leading associations in the medical community have roundly denounced ex-gay therapy as reliant on discredited science and dangerous to the people it is supposed to “help,” West claimed that it is actually the LGBT advocates who are harming young people by placing limits on such practices and pushing “preposterous” claims about sexual orientation.

Heritage Anti-Evolution Event Blasts 'Cosmos' For Promoting 'Totalitarian Science'

The Heritage Foundation today hosted a speech by John G. West of the Discovery Institute, a group founded to promote Intelligent Design, undermine the teaching of evolution in public schools and raise the alarm about the purported persecution of people who do not believe in evolution.

While promoting his book “Darwin Day in America,” West told the audience that proponents of evolution seek to “muzzle” and “silence” Intelligent Design supporters.

West, who concedes that he is not a scientist, also lashed out at Neil deGrasse Tyson’s reboot of the television program “Cosmos.” He criticized President Obama for filming an introduction for the first episode of the series, claiming that the Obama administration has joined scientists in promoting “totalitarian science.”

National School Choice Week: PR For Privatizers?

On Wednesday morning, a roomful of school children were herded into a congressional meeting room and required to sit through an hour and a half worth of speeches by conservative Members of Congress, including House Speaker John Boehner, Sens. Ted Cruz and Tim Scott, Chief Deputy Whip Rep. Patrick McHenry, Education & Workforce Committee Chair John Kline of Minnesota, and a handful of others. Rep. Luke Messer of Indiana was the emcee.

The Capitol Hill event was in honor of National School Choice Week, whose organizers describe it as a nonpolitical, nonpartisan “independent public awareness campaign” promoting the idea that every child deserves access to an excellent education. Who would disagree?

In other words, it’s a PR campaign, one that wraps itself in the moral mantle of children. But the bright yellow scarves it wraps around its participants are meant to distract attention from the fact that sponsors of this week’s thousands of events include many anti-public education, anti-union, anti-government ideologues, including the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, the Heritage Foundation, the Alliance for Prosperity and others. The President of National School Choice Week, Andrew Campanella, used to work at the Alliance for School Choice, whose board is chaired by deep-pocketed right-wing activist Betsy DeVos and is funded by a who’s who of right-wing foundations.

As we noted during last year’s NSCW:

Education policy is a vast, complicated, and hotly contested arena. Terms like “education reform” and “school choice” sound good, but they are so broad as to be almost meaningless. They can be applied to genuine efforts to strengthen teaching and educational opportunity as well as cynical schemes to destroy public employee unions and dismantle public education altogether.

In particular, “school choice” encompasses a huge array of education policies, from public charter and magnet schools to taxpayer-funded for-profit cyberschools and homeschooling.  Even a seemingly specific term like “charter schools” cloaks a more complex reality that ranges from innovation labs co-located in public schools to for-profit chain operations.  

Indeed, this year, Richard Kahlenberg and Halley Potter published “A Smarter Charter: Finding What works for Charter Schools and Public Education.” The book documents that the original vision for charter schools – teachers empowered to be creative in diverse schools that could identify ways to strengthen public education – has been turned on its head. Rather than a teacher-empowering and collaborative paradigm, charter schools are often noted for tightly controlled teachers in highly segregated schools dominated by an ideology of competition with public schools. 

There are more collaborative models, just as there are charter schools with strong academic track records as well as those that lag behind the public schools that choice advocates consistently disparage. Important distinctions get lost under the big, vague, banner of school choice. And that’s intentional.

NSCW is about painting in broad strokes and drawing no distinctions, for example, between public magnet schools and for-profit corporations cashing in on the “reform” movement. No distinction is made between giving students choice among their district’s public schools and diverting education dollars into religious academies and online homeschooling via vouchers and other schemes.  These do not have the same impact on public schools, or the same levels of public accountability, but in the interest of keeping things simple, and winning public support for across-the-board expansion of these programs, they’re all “choice.”

As we wrote last year:

The problem with this “collective messaging” approach is that it hides the anti-public-education agenda of some “reformers.” Celebrating “school choice” across the board lends credibility to organizations pushing for destructive policies that are not at all popular with the American public. In spite of decades of right-wing-funded attacks on public education, for example, Americans oppose privatization plans like vouchers that transfer public education funds to private schools.

Self-proclaimed reformers often dismiss concerns about privatization as a “red herring.” But you can’t embrace the Milton Friedman Foundation as a partner and then pretend that privatization is only an imaginary threat dreamed up by teachers unions.  Friedman has an explicit goal of getting rid of public schools altogether; they see programs like vouchers for poor kids as a tactical stepping stone toward that ultimate goal.

Other supporters of National School Choice Week have included companies that want to tap into the huge flow of public dollars spent every year on education. K12, a member of the “choice”-promoting American Legislative Exchange Council and a company the New York Times has described as “the biggest player in the online-school business,” paid its president more than $5.5. million last year; two other executives each made more than $4 million. A November 2014 investigation by Bloomberg focused on the company’s efforts to turn around “subpar test scores” and declining enrollments.

National School Choice Week promoters say it is nonpolitical and has no legislative agenda, but that’s hard to take seriously given the agendas of its backers. At this week’s event on Capitol Hill, the only Democratic Member of Congress to join the Republican parade was Illinois’ Dan Lipinski, who declined to endorse Barack Obama’s re-election in 2012. (Former Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford also spoke.)

Members of Congress at Wednesday’s event talked about pushing legislation this year to expand “school choice” programs, meaning that battles over vouchers, charter schools, and other education issues will be on the agenda this year, including February’s Senate markup of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. And, according to Americans United for Separation of Church and State, “There are currently private school voucher and tuition tax credit programs in 23 states and at least 10 states are looking to create new or expanding existing school voucher programs this year.”

Obviously, not everyone who participates in National School Choice Week activities is an anti-public-education ideologue. People from across the political spectrum are eager to strengthen schools and give students an opportunity for a great education. That includes public school teachers, administrators, and school board members – people who are collectively smeared as “the blob” by some “reformers.” People who are seeking to strengthen public education and make schools better for all children should think twice about making common cause with organizations that see public education as something to be dismantled and corporations that see students as the means to a bigger bottom line.

This post originally appeared on People For the American Way's blog.

National School Choice Week: PR for Privatizers?

On Wednesday morning, a roomful of school children were herded into a congressional meeting room and required to sit through an hour and a half worth of speeches by conservative Members of Congress, including House Speaker John Boehner, Sens. Ted Cruz and Tim Scott, Chief Deputy Whip Rep. Patrick McHenry, Education & Workforce Committee Chair John Kline of Minnesota, and a handful of others. Rep. Luke Messer of Indiana was the emcee.

The Capitol Hill event was in honor of National School Choice Week, whose organizers describe it as a nonpolitical, nonpartisan “independent public awareness campaign” promoting the idea that every child deserves access to an excellent education. Who would disagree?

In other words, it’s a PR campaign, one that wraps itself in the moral mantle of children. But the bright yellow scarves it wraps around its participants are meant to distract attention from the fact that sponsors of this week’s thousands of events include many anti-public education, anti-union, anti-government ideologues, including the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, the Heritage Foundation, the Alliance for Prosperity and others. The President of National School Choice Week, Andrew Campanella, used to work at the Alliance for School Choice, whose board is chaired by deep-pocketed right-wing activist Betsy DeVos and is funded by a who’s who of right-wing foundations.

As we noted during last year’s NSCW:

Education policy is a vast, complicated, and hotly contested arena. Terms like “education reform” and “school choice” sound good, but they are so broad as to be almost meaningless. They can be applied to genuine efforts to strengthen teaching and educational opportunity as well as cynical schemes to destroy public employee unions and dismantle public education altogether.

In particular, “school choice” encompasses a huge array of education policies, from public charter and magnet schools to taxpayer-funded for-profit cyberschools and homeschooling.  Even a seemingly specific term like “charter schools” cloaks a more complex reality that ranges from innovation labs co-located in public schools to for-profit chain operations.  

Indeed, this year, Richard Kahlenberg and Halley Potter published “A Smarter Charter: Finding What works for Charter Schools and Public Education.” The book documents that the original vision for charter schools – teachers empowered to be creative in diverse schools that could identify ways to strengthen public education – has been turned on its head. Rather than a teacher-empowering and collaborative paradigm, charter schools are often noted for tightly controlled teachers in highly segregated schools dominated by an ideology of competition with public schools. 

There are more collaborative models, just as there are charter schools with strong academic track records as well as those that lag behind the public schools that choice advocates consistently disparage. Important distinctions get lost under the big, vague, banner of school choice. And that’s intentional.

NSCW is about painting in broad strokes and drawing no distinctions, for example, between public magnet schools and for-profit corporations cashing in on the “reform” movement. No distinction is made between giving students choice among their district’s public schools and diverting education dollars into religious academies and online homeschooling via vouchers and other schemes.  These do not have the same impact on public schools, or the same levels of public accountability, but in the interest of keeping things simple, and winning public support for across-the-board expansion of these programs, they’re all “choice.”

As we wrote last year:

The problem with this “collective messaging” approach is that it hides the anti-public-education agenda of some “reformers.” Celebrating “school choice” across the board lends credibility to organizations pushing for destructive policies that are not at all popular with the American public. In spite of decades of right-wing-funded attacks on public education, for example, Americans oppose privatization plans like vouchers that transfer public education funds to private schools.

Self-proclaimed reformers often dismiss concerns about privatization as a “red herring.” But you can’t embrace the Milton Friedman Foundation as a partner and then pretend that privatization is only an imaginary threat dreamed up by teachers unions.  Friedman has an explicit goal of getting rid of public schools altogether; they see programs like vouchers for poor kids as a tactical stepping stone toward that ultimate goal.

Other supporters of National School Choice Week have included companies that want to tap into the huge flow of public dollars spent every year on education. K12, a member of the “choice”-promoting American Legislative Exchange Council and a company the New York Times has described as “the biggest player in the online-school business,” paid its president more than $5.5. million last year; two other executives each made more than $4 million. A November 2014 investigation by Bloomberg focused on the company’s efforts to turn around “subpar test scores” and declining enrollments.

National School Choice Week promoters say it is nonpolitical and has no legislative agenda, but that’s hard to take seriously given the agendas of its backers. At this week’s event on Capitol Hill, the only Democratic Member of Congress to join the Republican parade was Illinois’ Dan Lipinski, who declined to endorse Barack Obama’s re-election in 2012. (Former Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford also spoke.)

Members of Congress at Wednesday’s event talked about pushing legislation this year to expand “school choice” programs, meaning that battles over vouchers, charter schools, and other education issues will be on the agenda this year, including February’s Senate markup of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. And, according to Americans United for Separation of Church and State, “There are currently private school voucher and tuition tax credit programs in 23 states and at least 10 states are looking to create new or expanding existing school voucher programs this year.”

Obviously, not everyone who participates in National School Choice Week activities is an anti-public-education ideologue. People from across the political spectrum are eager to strengthen schools and give students an opportunity for a great education. That includes public school teachers, administrators, and school board members – people who are collectively smeared as “the blob” by some “reformers.” People who are seeking to strengthen public education and make schools better for all children should think twice about making common cause with organizations that see public education as something to be dismantled and corporations that see students as the means to a bigger bottom line.

PFAW

Heritage Fellow: Obama Will Use Government 'Goodies' To Replace Americans With Latino Immigrants

Discussing President Obama’s likely executive action on immigration with the American Family Association’s Sandy Rios today, Heritage Foundation senior fellow Mike Gonzalez suggested that the president wants to swap freedom-loving Americans with government-worshiping Latinos as part of his plan to weed out liberty from the country.

After Rios read an excerpt from a Federation for American Immigration Reform report claiming that an executive action would “open up federal and state benefits to individuals that are illegal immigrants,” Gonzalez said “Obama’s calculus” is to use undocumented immigrants to breed support for “big government.”

(Noncitizens under the Obama administration’s current deferred action program — which would be expanded under the proposed executive action — are not eligible for any federal benefits and do not have a path to citizenship and voting rights.)

“The reason he wants to do this is because he believes that these people, when they become voters, will support Big Government,” Gonzalez said. “For them to be assimilated into the ‘new America’ that the president and the progressives around him are trying to create, they need to be acclimated right away to being on government services, to liking government services, to think of the government as being a benevolent dispenser of goodies.”

He added that Obama plans to undermine the country’s “experiment in human freedom and prosperity” by replacing native-born Americans with immigrants who want a bigger government: “In order to change it, they need to create a people that like and look upon government as benevolent and a provider.”

Rios agreed, saying that Latino immigrants are “accustomed to government sort of being the ruler, they’re not used to self-rule or self-decisions.” She insisted that the “poison pill” of government will weaken Latino families just as she believes it damaged the black community.

Rick Perry, Ron Johnson And Jeff Sessions To Join Anti-Muslim Activists At Florida Beach Resort Confab

FrontPageMag editor and increasingly unhinged anti-Obama yeller David Horowitz is hosting his annual “Restoration Weekend” for anti-Muslim activists at a beach resort in Florida this month. This year, Horowitz has recruited an impressive slate of Republican politicians, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, Oklahoma Rep. Jim Bridenstine to partake in the event’s offerings of golf, spa treatments, and Muslim-bashing.

Joining the GOP politicians at the Palm Beach weekend will be anti-Muslim activists including the Family Research Council’s Jerry BoykinJihadWatch’s Robert SpencerNational Review columnist Andrew McCarthy and, as Horowitz announced this weekend on Newsmax, far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders.

Conservative pundits Ann Coulter, Michael Reagan and Ben Shapiro will also be at the event, according to its website, along with FreedomWorks CEO Matt Kibbe, Heritage Foundation economics chief Stephen Moore and Wall Street Journal editorial board member Kimberly Strassel.

Horowitz organizes and funds the annual Restoration Weekend through his David Horowitz Freedom Center — attendees pay between $1,750 and $20,000, but the group’s most recent available tax return shows the 2012 event didn’t even break even. At past events, Horowitz has attracted GOP luminaries including Sen. Ted Cruz, former Sen. Jim DeMint, Rep. Steve King and Rep. Michele Bachmann. All apparently undeterred by their host’s record of anti-Muslim extremism, including accusing former Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin and Republican anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist (whose wife is Muslim) of being secret Muslim Brotherhood agents.

In just the past year, Horowitz’s commentary has moved even further to the fringe. As the Justice Department launched an investigation of the shooting of an unarmed black teen in Ferguson, Missouri, this summer, Horowitz accused Attorney General Eric Holder of leading a black “lynch mob.” A day earlier, Horowitz said he was “sure” President Obama was secretly a Muslim because “he’s a pretend Christian in the same way he’s a pretend American.”

Such anti-Obama conspiracy theories have a welcome place at Horowitz’s Restoration Weekends. At last year’s event, for instance, Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona agreed with Robert Spencer’s statement that President Obama is either a secret Muslim or just acting like one:

Wilders, who has spoken at past Horowitz-affiliated events, including at least one Restoration Weekend, is currently on a U.S. tour that included lunch at the Capitol with Bachmann. Wilders, one of the most fiercely anti-Islam voices in Europe has compared the Quran to Mein Kampf and this year lost some prominent members of his own party when he targeted Moroccans living in the Netherlands to stir up support before the European elections.

Michele Bachmann Leaves Congress, But Her Ideology Is Here To Stay

At the Heritage Foundation this morning, Rep. Michele Bachmann gave what may have been her last major speech as a member of Congress. But although Bachmann may be leaving Congress, she made it very clear that her ideology is staying behind in the form of a Republican Party that has moved far to the right to make way for the Tea Party’s “freedom-loving reinforcements.”

Linking the Tea Party’s ideology to those who fought in the American revolution, Bachmann said the Tea Party was about “republishing the American values of American greatness.”

And it doesn’t matter whether politicians affiliated with the Tea Party win or lose in elections, she said. They’ve already won, in the form of an establishment Republican Party that has “moved toward embracing the Tea Party’s messaging":

These aren’t new ideas. They are the same values that have been espoused since the time of the American Revolution. But what is different is that it was time for us, we were in desperate need for a reawakening. And that’s what the Tea Party was all about: republishing the American values of American greatness.

All the media wanted to talk about was whether the Tea Party was up or down, whether it was dead or alive. But that missed the point entirely. Because the Tea Party never was, never has been, never will be a political party. Because, you see, it’s a movement about returning us, returning our nation to our founding principles, front and center by contending for them in our public discourse.

Well, the grassroots energy sent a wave of freedom-loving reinforcements to Washington, D.C., in 2010, including the likes of Senators Mike Lee and Rand Paul, and it took the gavel away from Nancy Pelosi in the House of Representatives. And with the largest number of seat pick-ups since 1948, I wonder what this election this year will yield. Even the establishment moved toward embracing the Tea Party’s messaging about constitutional principles like national debt and balanced budgets.

Nothing To See Here: The Alternate Reality Of Voter-Suppression Advocates

It’s been a rough few days for voter-ID proponents. On Thursday, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office came out with a report showing that restrictive photo-ID measures had depressed turnout in Tennessee and Kansas, especially among young people and African Americans. The same day, the Supreme Court blocked the implementation of a photo-ID law in Wisconsin that voting rights advocates said there was not enough time to implement before the election and a federal judge in Texas struck down that state’s restrictive law, citing its impact on minority voters and calling it an “unconstitutional poll tax.”

Then, the next day, renowned conservative 7th Circuit judge Richard Posner requested a full-court rehearing of the challenge to Wisconsin’s law, in the process offering a blistering takedown of the voter-ID crowd’s arguments. "There is only one motivation for imposing burdens on voting that are ostensibly designed to discourage voter-impersonation fraud, and that is to discourage voting by persons likely to vote against the party responsible for imposing the burdens,” he wrote. He added a special dig at the advocacy group True the Vote, calling some of their supposed evidence of voter-impersonation fraud “goofy” and “paranoid.”

Then, just today, University of Delaware researchers came out with a study showing that support for voter ID laws among whites jumps when they are shown a picture of a black person voting.

All of which made a Heritage Foundation panel today called “Keeping Elections Honest” seem like it was taking place in an alternate reality, one in which the extremely rare voter-impersonation fraud is in fact rampant and in which laws making it more difficult to vote do not have negative effects.

The Heritage discussion featured some of the nation’s top proponents of voter suppression measures, including Heritage’s Hans von Spakovsky, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (the brains behind anti-immigrant and voter suppression measures around the country), Kobach’s Colorado counterpart Scott Gessler and True the Vote’s Catherine Engelbrecht.

Kobach spent part of his presentation attempting to refute the GAO study, but the court rulings went mostly unmentioned.

This alternate reality was perhaps most stark when, during a question-and-answer session, a reporter asked Kobach about the two-tiered voting system he’s instituted in Kansas for the coming election. Kobach and Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett are in the process of suing the Election Assistance Commission to include a more restrictive “proof of citizenship” requirement on the federal voter registration forms it uses in those two states. In the meantime, Kansas and Arizona are allowing people who register using the federal form without providing additional documentation to vote…but only in federal elections. (Votes those people cast in state-level elections won’t be counted.)

About 1,500 Arizonans and 200 Kansans were put in this special federal-only voting tier in the primary.

Kobach, far from seeming concerned about this state of affairs, proudly reported that of the 200 Kansans to whom he gave special limited voting rights, only one bothered to show up at the polls.

In the primary on August 5, we had fewer than 200 total voters in the state who had registered using the federal form and had not provided photo ID. Using that number, we then created a sort of federal-elections-only voter roll, if you will, so a roll in addition to the main voter roll. And it didn’t include all of the 105 counties, it included a minority of the counties. And then those people, when they showed up, they were to be given a provisional ballot and told that they would be — actually it would occur on the back end, even if the poll worker didn’t know that that’s why they were being given a provisional ballot, the county canvas would count only the federal elections on the ballot.

So anyway, to answer your question, we are going to be doing a count, a final count – our registration actually closes today, this is the final day to register in Kansas – as soon as it closes, we’ll have a final count. My guess is it probably will be in the range of maybe 300-400, we’ll know soon what that number is, for the whole state. And by the way, of those fewer than 200 people— if memory serves, it was like 186 or something like that — only one actually showed up to vote out of that entire number. So, we’ll see what the number is. So the numbers are actually pretty small and pretty manageable right now and we’re hopeful that we’ll get a decision that will be a favorable one and then we won’t have to maintain a separate, federal-elections-only list.

At no point in the discussion did anyone mention the thousands of Kansans who currently have no right to vote in any kind of election because they haven’t been able to produce one of the few kinds of citizenship documentation required by the new state voter registration form.

Heritage Foundation's Jim Carafano Blames President Obama For Rise In Anti-Immigrant Sentiment

In an appearance on One America News Network’s “The Daily Ledger” on Friday, Heritage Foundation vice president Jim Carafano claimed that President Obama’s “animosity and divisiveness” is responsible for a rise in anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States.

“Here’s the thing that’s really frustrating to me, is this is a nation of immigrants and that’s part of who we are,” Carafano told host Graham Ledger. “The president’s actions have been so divisive that if you look at the polling, Americans aren’t just worried about illegal immigrants, Americans are now increasingly becoming anti-immigrant. And they’re becoming anti-immigrant because of the animosity and divisiveness of this president, which is really, really shocking.”

Ledger, apparently unaware that he was undermining Carafano’s argument that Obama is responsible for spreading anti-immigrant views, responded by disputing the idea that the U.S. is a “nation of immigrants” and suggested that all undocumented immigrants be deported immediately.

Dinesh D'Souza's 'America' - The Book Is Not Better Than The Movie

This week Dinesh D’Souza’s “America: Imagine the World Without Her” is sitting at the top of the New York Times “nonfiction” bestseller list. Earlier this month, the movie version crossed the $14 million dollar mark, which moved it into six place overall for earnings by a political “documentary.”

But D’Souza is not just out to make money, of course. At a June screening of “America,” right-wing strategist Ralph Reed called D’Souza “a national treasure for our cause.” D’Souza’s last movie, “2016: Obama’s America,” was designed to keep Barack Obama from being elected.  “America” is an attempt to prevent Hillary Clinton from being elected in 2016, wrapped in an attack on the progressive movement.

At a time when corporate power and profits are at record highs, “America” the movie argues that America the country is being led down the road to national “suicide” and socialist tyranny in a plan that was conceived by organizer Saul Alinsky and is being carried out by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Central to this long-term leftist scheme to bring about American decline has been an effort to convince Americans to be ashamed of the country’s history so that they will support a reduced role for America in the world.

In the movie, D’Souza sets out to refute progressive “indictments against America: We stole the country from the Native Americans, we stole the labor of the African Americans, we took half of Mexico in the Mexican War. Today our foreign policy and free market system are forms of theft.” D’Souza says this “new story of American shame” is “not just an attack on the one percent. It’s an attack on all of us. We are a nation of immigrants and settlers and we are the ones accused of these crimes.” 

D’Souza interviews some leftists and liberals as foils, including Noam Chomsky, Ward Churchill, and Michael Eric Dyson, and turns to Alexis de Tocqueville, writing more than 150 years ago, as a “more reliable” source. De Tocqueville understood, D’Souza says, that slavery and the treatment of Native Americans were nothing unique to America, but reflected a universal “conquest ethic.” Throughout history, he says, wealth was built by conquest and theft. But America is uniquely based on a different idea – the idea of acquiring wealth not by taking it from someone else but through innovation, entrepreneurship and trade.

In the process of taking on these progressive “indictments” of American history, D’Souza essentially tells Native Americans, African Americans, and Mexican Americans that in the big picture they really have nothing to complain about, and could be successful if they were just willing to work rather than spending all their time complaining.

D’Souza is proud of himself for being willing to take on racial taboos, which he calls “the enemies of history and truth.” His point seems to be that African Americans were not uniquely abused by slavery and so they should stop thinking the country owes them something. Yes, he says, enslavement was theft of life and labor. But Irish people were also sold into indentured servitude. And some free blacks also owned slaves. Slave-owning founders should not be viewed as hypocrites but as pragmatists who had to accept slavery as the price of creating the U.S. And besides, slavery is part of the “universal conquest ethic” but “what’s uniquely American is the fighting of a great war to end it.”

The movie ignores Jim Crow, but tells the story of Madam C.J. Walker, an African American woman who was born just after the Civil War and who became wealthy by building a successful business in the early 20th Century. In the movie, an actress playing Walker lectures workers about freedom and opportunity and hard work. Of course, the movie does not mention her support for the NAACP or her active involvement in its anti-lynching campaigns. D’Souza claims she is left out of history because her success “confounds the shaming narrative.”

D’Souza also interviews Star Parker, a familiar figure at right-wing conferences, whose I-used-to-be-lazy-and-on-welfare shtick suggests that it is only an unwillingness to work hard that keeps people from being successful. In remarks made after the screening, D’Souza said nonwhite immigrants are doing better than African Americans because the latter have adopted a strategy of “agitate, agitate, agitate” rather than “work, work, work.”

In the movie, D’Souza portrays American foreign policy and global capitalism as fundamentally noble. So why are progressives out to destroy America and its place in the world?

The answer is Saul Alinsky. “America” portrays Alinsky as the ruthless mastermind of a plot to bring socialism to America, and Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as his equally ruthless acolytes. Hillary Clinton turned down a job offer from Alinsky after she graduated from college because she had more nefarious plans. “While Alinsky wanted the radicals to pressure the government, Hillary wanted the radicals to become the government,” D’Souza says. Why shame people from the outside when you can intimidate them from the inside? “Hillary figured it out,” says D’Souza, “Obama is now carrying it out.”

D’Souza wraps up the movie with a disjointed section on the surveillance state. D’Souza says the government is gathering information on all Americans so that it can target political opponents, the way he says the Obama administration has targeted conservatives through the IRS and other agencies. Not very convincingly, he portrays his recent prosecution for violating campaign finance laws – he has pleaded to a felony and faces sentencing in September – as part of this ideological warfare.

All of which is a long way of saying the movie is a jumbled, self-indulgent, right-wing mess, aside from the slanted take on American history. Critics have not been kind to “America,” which has a 9% rating from movie review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes. Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers put the movie in the “Scum Bucket,” calling D’Souza a “lunatic.”

But plenty of good books have been made into mediocre movies, right? At the screening, D’Souza described the book as the “intellectual spine” of the movie, and said it had been hard to fully communicate all of the book’s ideas and make the movie entertaining.

So, if the book any better? Sadly, no. If anything, D’Souza’s polemics are even more ridiculous and incendiary when he has the space to spell them out. For example, “Today’s progressivism is less indebted to Marx than it is to Lenin.”

D’Souza’s take on race and civil rights is particularly noteworthy given events in Missouri that have focused national attention on the unequal treatment of people of color by police and the justice system.

D’Souza says the Civil Rights movement was hardly revolutionary because racism was already on the decline after World War II.  Government-enforced segregation was bad, he acknowledges, because it represented “a triumph of government regulation over the free market.” But private discrimination is not theft and should not have been banned, he says, writing, “Private employers should no more be forced to hire employees than employees should be forced to work for employers against their will.”

“Somewhat weirdly, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not merely outlaw discrimination by the government; it also outlawed most forms of private discrimination. While I consider these restrictions on the private sphere to be unwise and unnecessary, they are also understandable.”

D’Souza says the election of Barack Obama, the existence of affirmative action programs, and changing attitudes toward racial intermarriage are all evidence of the continuing decline in racism in America.

“Blacks know it too: ask blacks today to recall when they personally experienced racism—when for example someone called them ‘nigger’—and many are hard pressed to give a single example.”

So there’s no reason for whining about racism, or God forbid, reparations. “Racism today is not strong enough to prevent blacks or any other group from achieving its aspirations,” he says, adding a couple pages later,

“Progressives are still chasing the windmills of old-style racism, whipping the nation into a frenzy every time there is some obscure incident. The reason blacks remain so far behind whites, however, has very little to do with racism. It has to do with African American cultural backwardness.”

Here are some other highlights:

·         Obama: “Obama is simply part of a fifty-year scheme for the undoing and remaking of America,” he writes. So how did Obama get elected? “There is a one-word answer: slavery.”

·         Clinton: “If Hillary Clinton is elected in 2016, the baton will have passed from one Alinskyite to another. In this case, Alinsky’s influence will have taken on a massive, almost unimaginable, importance. Obama will have had eight years to remake America, and Hillary will have another four or perhaps eight to complete the job. Together these two have the opportunity to largely undo the nation’s founding ideals.”

·         Native Americans: “The Indians were here first, but they were only sparsely and sporadically occupying the land. Consequently, many settlers regarded America as largely unoccupied, although the Indians surely disagreed with that perspective. Too bad the two groups could not amicably work out a way to share and benefit from this vast country.” Too bad? “They couldn’t, I believe, because both groups continued to espouse at least elements of the conquest ethic. Neither wished to be taken from, but both were willing to take when they had the power and the inclination to do so.” D’Souza has little sympathy for those “forlorn” Indians who “seem to prefer the joy of victimhood – and the exertions of claiming reparations of one sort or another –to the joy of entrepreneurial striving” – unlike those who are making money with casinos.

·         Immigration: “Immigration—legal and illegal—is the mechanism that today’s progressive organizers are counting on to undo the consequences of the Mexican War, and make the dream of Aztlan a reality.”

D’Souza asserts that “in no circumstance over the past hundred years” has America “stolen the wealth of any other country.” It’s not foreigners, but Americans, who are victimized by the federal government, “the biggest thief of all,” he writes. “In fact, progressives have turned a large body of Americans—basically, Democratic voters—into accessories of theft by convincing them that they are doing something just and moral by picking their fellow citizens’ pockets.”

With this line of reasoning, D’Souza aligns himself with the proponents of biblical economics, who argue that the government has no right to tax someone in order to alleviate someone else’s poverty.  “It does not promote the common good for the state to insist that successful people pay other people’s medical bills,” he says, describing Obamacare and progressive taxation as forms of theft. Transfer payments, unlike roads, do not constitute “general welfare.” Rather, “It constitutes a forcible extortion from one group and an unearned benefit to another.” The federal government is therefore not an instrument of justice but “an instrument of plunder.”

As in the movie, D’Souza takes time in the book to complain about his own prosecution (even though he admits having broken the law) and to suggest that the current surveillance state is part of the progressive movement’s strategy to impose totalitarianism: “Surveillance is simply the means to ensure that no one is safe.” He writes, “If progressives enforce their agenda through total control and compliance, America will truly be an evil empire, and it will be the right and duty of American citizens to organize once again, as in 1776, to overthrow it.” (Of course, aggressive surveillance began well before the Obama presidency, and progressives have been among those opposing government overreach.)

D’Souza denounces what he says is the progressive plan to diminish America’s influence globally, and closes the book with a warning about what the world might look like when its dominant force is not America but China, whose growing economic power is translating into greater military force and geopolitical influence. Similar concerns may be shared across the political spectrum, but having celebrated China’s adoption of market economics and economic growth, and having defended the export of American manufacturing jobs to cheap-labor China – trends that cannot be blamed on the Obama presidency –D’Souza does not make it clear what he would have American leaders do to forestall China’s rising influence. If he has a solution, he’s keeping it to himself.

The same can be said for the plight of unemployed and underemployed American workers. It doesn’t matter that you’re willing to work hard if there are no jobs to be had. And while D’Souza describes inequality as an essential element of the free market economy, he does not address the fact that in recent decades American workers have received almost none of the benefits of increasing productivity. His lectures to African Americans that their unwillingness to work hard is the only obstacle to their success ignore both evidence of continuing impacts of structural racism – reflected for example in exploitive mortgage underwriting – and the brutal consequences of the recent economic downturn on the already huge disparities of wealth between white and African American (and Latino) households.

The facile ideology of “America: Imagine the World Without Her” – both book and movie – should be no surprise. D’Souza’s entire career, beginning with his work at the right-wing Dartmouth Review and continuing through stints at the Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute, has been nurtured by far-right funders. His claim to being a “scholar” is grounded in his authorship of a series of polemical books, including “The Roots of Obama’s Rage,” an exercise in ideological excess that even some conservative commentators found embarrassing. He champions traditional values, but in 2012 he resigned as president of the Christian King’s College after news that he had traveled with, and become engaged to, a woman who was separated from but still married to her husband.  Like his old friend Ann Coulter, D’Souza has learned that there is seemingly no end to the money to be made, and fame to be enjoyed, by repackaging and peddling ideological diatribes to the country’s right-wing activists.

 

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