Mike Pence

Happy Birthday Social Security—Let's Remember That Mike Pence Was A Cheerleader For The Program's Destruction

On August 14, 1935, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law. Eighty-one years later it still represents one of the most successful social programs in our country’s history.

Nearly two out of every three seniors rely on the Social Security for the majority of their income. If it did not exist, 44 percent of the elderly would live in poverty. Currently only 9 percent do.

As a member of Congress, Donald Trump’s vice presidential nominee Mike Pence was one of the biggest cheerleaders for George W. Bush’s privatization plans and other reforms that would have harmed the program.

As early as 2002, Pence spoke in the House of Representatives in favor of privatization. In 2005, after President Bush proposed reforms, he delivered speech after speech in favor of the proposal. He claimed at the time, “Social Security reform means keeping its promise in tact for seniors and all who choose to remain in the system. But Social Security reform also means offering a better deal to younger Americans in the form of voluntary personal accounts.”

A consistent theme of Pence’s was that privatization and other reforms would save the program from insolvency and protect seniors from future cuts. This was not true.

According to an analysis at the time from the Center for American Progress, such reforms would actually “worsen Social Security’s financial outlook. In addition:

  • Bush Would Address Solvency Solely by Cutting Benefits.
  • Benefit Cuts Would Come Through a Change in the Benefit Formula.
  • Bush’s Benefit Cuts Would Affect 70 Percent of All Taxpayers.
  • More Benefit Cuts Down the Road under Bush’s Plan.

Furthermore, Bush’s privatization plan would have added “trillions of dollars” to the deficit, while only providing “limited” investment choices for seniors. Yet Pence enthusiastically supported this policy.

Paul Krugman wrote of Bush’s Social Security proposal, “Privatizing Social Security—replacing the current system, in whole or in part, with personal investment accountswon't do anything to strengthen the system's finances. If anything, it will make things worse. Nonetheless, the politics of privatization depend crucially on convincing the public that the system is in imminent danger of collapse, that we must destroy Social Security in order to save it.”

On Social Security’s birthday, let’s remember that Mike Pence was one of those cheering for the program’s destruction.

At The Height Of The Great Recession, Mike Pence Wanted The Fed To Stop Focusing On Unemployment

Donald Trump delivered a speech to the Detroit Economic Club yesterday in which he promised to lay out his plan to improve the economy and encourage job growth. Unsurprisingly, Trump’s proposals were nothing more than the GOP’s standard offerings of tax cuts for the wealthy and the elimination of regulations. Casting even more doubt on the idea that a Trump administration would place any focus on jobs are the policy preferences that his vice presidential running mate, Mike Pence, expressed at the height of the great recession.

The unemployment rate in November, 2010 was 9.8 percent, near its peak level. However, joblessness was not Pence’s concern at the time. That month he went to the floor of Congress and called on the Federal Reserve to stop focusing job growth and proposed legislation to enshrine this change into law. In a speech titled “End The Dual Mandate At The Fed,” he called on Congress to alter the bank’s role in the economy.

“It is time, once again, to demand that the Federal Reserve focus exclusively on price stability and protecting the dollar,” he said.

Pence made similar statements in a speech to the Detroit Economic Club later that month.  

The “dual mandate” refers to a requirement that the Federal Reserve focus both on achieving full employment and controlling inflation. In May 2016, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Rep. John Conyers Jr. and more than 100 of their congressional colleagues wrote a letter to Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen thanking her for placing “renewed emphasis on the importance of building a full employment economy,” while criticizing the lack of minority representation at the institution. In response, Hillary Clinton’s campaign pledged that she would “defend the Fed's so-called dual mandate — the legal requirement that it focus on full employment as well as inflation — and will appoint Fed governors who share this commitment.”

On the other hand, Pence has made clear that he would like inflation to be the only focus of the Fed, leaving job growth to Congress, a change that would allow Republicans to limit economic stimulus plans to tax cuts and regulatory rollbacks.

What Pence’s speeches reveal was that at a time when Americans were hurting from a lack of jobs, he wanted the Federal Reserve to ignore the present problem of unemployment in favor of the theoretical problem of inflation. His reverence for conservative economic orthodoxy led him to want to pull out the rug from one agency whose mission it was to help put people back to work at a time when it was critically necessary.  

Mike Pence In 2003: Anti-Muslim Bigotry Makes Us 'No Better Than The Terrorists Who Attacked Us'

In March, 2003, a little over two weeks before the start of the Iraq War, then-Rep. Mike Pence delivered a heartfelt speech titled “Tolerance,” asking Americans not to condemn all Muslims based on the September 11 attacks, stating, “I said that terror has no regard for religion or ethnicity, and if we attack the innocent simply because of their ethnic status, we are no better than the terrorists who attacked us.”

Donald Trump has spent his campaign “attacking the innocent” with both policies and rhetoric. This includes his proposed ban on Muslim immigration to the United States, his lies about witnessing celebrations in New Jersey following the collapse World Trade Center, his refusal to “rule out” a special ID for Muslims, along with his  statements such as “I think Islam hates us."

With this track record in mind, does Mike Pence believe Donald Trump is “no better than the terrorists who attacked us?”

FLASHBACK: Mike Pence Delivers Entire Speech Denying Evolution

In a widely posted interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews from 2009, Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence refused to say whether or not he believed in evolution. While Pence dodged the question in 2009, previously the answer was an emphatic no — he does not believe in the theory of evolution.

In 2002, Pence delivered an entire speech in the House of Representatives on the subject. “I believe that God created the known universe, the earth and everything in it, including man,” Pence told his colleagues. “And I also believe that someday scientists will come to see that only the theory of intelligent design provides even a remotely rational explanation for the known universe.”

Pence went to the floor to discuss the discovery of a skull from Sahelanthropus tchadensis, “one of the oldest known species in the human family tree.” He attempted to use this discovery to cast doubt on the entire theory of evolution. While there are still questions being raised about where this discovery fits on the evolutionary spectrum, whether the skull came from a common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees or a direct descendent of humans, the skull did not throw the case for natural selection into doubt.

In his speech Pence also deployed the old Creationist canard of confusing the scientific definition of the word “theory” with its common usage. “The truth is it always was a theory, Mr. Speaker. And now that we have recognized evolution as a theory, I would simply and humbly ask, can we teach it as such and can we also consider teaching other theories of the origin of species?” Pence asked before continuing to push Creationism as an equally scientifically viable alternative. “Like the theory that was believed in by every signer of the Declaration of Independence. Every signer of the Declaration of Independence believed that men and women were created and were endowed by that same Creator with certain unalienable rights. The Bible tells us that God created man in his own image, male and female. He created them. And I believe that, Mr. Speaker.”

While it seems silly to have to point this out, as the National Academy of Science notes, “The formal scientific definition of theory is quite different from the everyday meaning of the word. It refers to a comprehensive explanation of some aspect of nature that is supported by a vast body of evidence.”

The NAS also points out:

Many scientific theories are so well-established that no new evidence is likely to alter them substantially. For example, no new evidence will demonstrate that the Earth does not orbit around the sun (heliocentric theory), or that living things are not made of cells (cell theory), that matter is not composed of atoms, or that the surface of the Earth is not divided into solid plates that have moved over geological timescales (the theory of plate tectonics). Like these other foundational scientific theories, the theory of evolution is supported by so many observations and confirming experiments that scientists are confident that the basic components of the theory will not be overturned by new evidence. However, like all scientific theories, the theory of evolution is subject to continuing refinement as new areas of science emerge or as new technologies enable observations and experiments that were not possible previously.

Mike Pence might have been cautious with his words when questioned by Chris Matthews in 2009, but in 2002 his answer was clear. He was so dedicated to the cause of Creationism he gave an entire speech on the subject. It should come as no surprise that a politician who denied the dangers of tobacco would not believe in basic science.

 

FLASHBACK: Mike Pence: 'It Is A Literal Truth... I Am In Congress Today Because Of Rush Limbaugh'

It is widely known that Donald Trump’s presidential campaign was born in the fever swamps of conservative talk radio: In 2014, former Trump adviser Sam Nunberg listened “to thousands of hours of talk radio” as he formed the basis for the campaign’s message.  

Previously Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Trump’s running mate has been quoted describing himself as "Rush Limbaugh on decaf," but it turns out the fully caffeinated version inspired his political career. 

Just over a month after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Pence delivered a speech on the House floor which served no other purpose than to heap praise on the conservative talker. Later that evening, many of his Republican colleagues would do the same, but Pence was unable to join a series of Special Orders speeches organized by Georgia Rep. Jack Kingston because his daughter was sick.

Pence, though, did dedicate his time on the floor to noting that “it is a literal truth, Mr. Speaker, to say that I am in Congress today because of Rush Limbaugh, and not because of some tangential impact on my career or his effect on the national debate; but because in fact after my first run for Congress in 1988, it was the new national voice emerging in 1989 across the heartland of Indiana of one Rush Hudson Limbaugh, III, that captured my imagination.”

He went on to claim he was “inspired by” Limbaugh’s “dulcet tones to seek a career in radio and television.”

While Pence has been portrayed as a moderating force on the Trump campaign, the truth is he has been “inspired” by the same offensive rhetoric the GOP nominee uses today. Limbaugh, by the time Pence effusively praised him on the House floor, already had a long track record of racist, sexist and homophobic comments.

Limbaugh told an African-American caller in the 1970s to “take that bone out of your nose and call me back." On his television show during the Clinton administration he stated, “Socks is the White House cat. But did you know there is also a White House dog?” while holding up a picture of Chelsea Clinton. He has since the 1990s repeatedly referred to prominent women as “feminazis” and has recalled saying on-air in the 1980s that “feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society.” Of Native Americans he once said, “There are more American Indians alive today than there were when Columbus arrived or at any other time in history. Does this sound like a record of genocide?”

These were just a few quotes from the days before progressive groups and the media monitored Limbaugh’s show and posted his most offensive statements. However, his offensive and divisive reputation was already known.  

Pence, in his first year in Congress, decided to tie his career to Limbaugh’s and he hasn’t cut the cord since.

Mike Pence: 'I Don't Think Name Calling Has Any Place In Public Life'

Yesterday on “The Hugh Hewitt Show,” Mike Pence defended the “extremely considerate and kind” Donald Trump from President Obama’s suggestion that Trump is a “demagogue,” and said he was insulted that anyone would ever tag Trump in such a way: “I don’t think name calling has any place in public life.”

This is surely news to “Crooked Hillary,” “Liddle Marco,” “Lyin’ Ted,” “Crazy Megyn,” “Crazy Bernie,” “Pocahontas,” “Low Energy Jeb” and, as recently as this morning, “Little Michael,” among others.

HT: Sopan Deb.

PFAW's Peter Montgomery Discusses the Trump-Pence Ticket and the RNC on Democracy Now!

Last week People For the American Way Senior Fellow Peter Montgomery was in Cleveland, Ohio, covering this year’s Republican National Convention for Right Wing Watch.

On Thursday, he joined Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! to discuss Donald Trump’s selection of Governor Mike Pence as his running mate, the Religious Right’s response to this choice, and Montgomery’s recent piece in Right Wing Watch entitled, “How Would Religious Right Respond to Pence as VP?” Montgomery told Goodman:

“I think he [Trump] probably chose Mike Pence because Mike Pence is close to both the Koch brothers’ political network and to the Religious Right. And those are two hugely important parts of the Republican infrastructure that have not been uniformly excited about Trump.”

While on the program, Montgomery also detailed some instances of hate speech and intolerance that he observed in Cleveland, including misogynistic rhetoric about Hillary Clinton, attacks on Black Lives Matter activists, and attacks on immigrants. “It’s really been a disturbing show,” Montgomery said.

You can watch the full interview here:

[https://publish.dvlabs.com/democracynow/360/dn2016-0721.mp4?start=4548&end=5065]

PFAW

Right Wing Round-Up - 7/21/16

  • Simon Maloy @ Salon: Mike Pence’s Iraq lie: The VP candidate (wrongly) announced the discovery of WMDs.

Mike Pence's Practice RNC Speech: Trump's 'A Good Man'

The American Conservative Union Foundation hosted an event at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday, featuring panel discussions on whether conservatives will support Trump and whether the “imperial Obama presidency” can be reversed. It also included a surprise keynote speech from Donald Trump’s vice presidential pick, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

Pence was introduced by NRA’s Chris Cox, who said that it is important for conservatives to win the culture war, because right now “everything that we’ve grown up knowing to be good, right and true has been twisted and perverted and repackaged to our kids as wrong.” Cox said the Second Amendment suffered a “devastating loss” with the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. “This is a critical time in American history,” he said. “It’s a critical time for constitutional freedoms.”

Pence’s appearance may have been a practice run of sorts for Wednesday night’s speech. He worked hard to convince attendees that they should feel good about supporting Trump, who Pence repeatedly called “this good man.”

Pence got applause with his first three words, “my fellow conservatives.” He described himself as “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.” He gave a short political bio, taking about being inspired to run for office by Ronald Reagan, serving in Congress, and then returning to Indiana, where he has helped usher in the largest school voucher program in the country.

Pence bragged that his “strong Republican leadership” has achieved results in Indiana, “and that’s exactly the kind of strong Republican leadership Donald Trump will bring to the White House.”

Pence described Trump as a builder, a fighter, a father, and a patriot. He said after spending time with Trump, “I know that Donald Trump will be a great president of the United States of America because his heart beats with the heart of the American people.”

Pence compared Trump to Ronald Reagan, who he said “never lost the common touch.” He recalled a story about when, as a young congressional candidate, he met Reagan and said he was grateful for everything Reagan had done for the country. Reagan demurred, saying, “The American people decided to right the ship, and I was just the captain they decided to put on the bridge, and they did.”

Pence said he sees and hears in Donald Trump the same humility and unshakeable faith in the American people that he saw in Reagan.

Pence also had some direct words for those conservatives who have been resistant to Trump’s charms:

So the time has come for us to come together. The primaries are over. It was a big stage up there, with a lot of extraordinarily talented men and women. I say to my fellow conservatives today, it’s time for us to come together, time for us to come together around this good man and reelecting Republican majorities in the House and the Senate, because this is no ordinary time in the life of our nation…

We must decide here and now that Hillary Clinton will never become president of the United States of America…for the sake of a Supreme Court that will uphold the sanctity of life, our Second Amendment and our God-given liberties, we must elect Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States of America.

 

Colorado's Demon-Hunting State Legislator Gordon Klingenschmitt Loves Mike Pence

One person who is unambiguously thrilled with Donald Trump's choice of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate is Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt, the demon-hunting Religious Right activist who is currently serving out the end of his term as Republican member of Colorado's state legislature.

Klingenschmitt's activist career is grounded in his claim that he was fired from a post as a military chaplain because he prayed "in Jesus' name." In reality his lost the job because he violated military rules in appearing at a political event in uniform. When Klingenschmitt sued, a federal judge found that he had never been ordered not to pray in the name of Jesus and that along with defying orders by appearing in an official capacity at the political event he had been found to have an "unsatisfactory" job performance.

But those facts didn't stop Klingenschmitt from sending out an email to his followers on Sunday recalling how Pence, when he was the head of the conservative Republican Study Committee in Congress, had met Klingenschmitt in a "divine appointment" in the halls of Congress and championed his cause.

Klingenschmitt credits Pence with spearheading a letter from a few dozen conservative members of Congress objecting to a Bush administration Pentagon policy that The Hill described at the time as calling for "nonsectarian prayers" after the emergence of "allegations that evangelical Christians wielded so much influence at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs that anti-Semitism and other forms of religious harassment had become pervasive."

Not surprisingly, Klingenschmitt was also a big fan of the RFRA bill that Pence signed in Indiana that was meant to enable anti-gay discrimination.

From Klingenschmitt's email:

If you remember my story, you know in 2005 the U.S. Navy punished my chapel sermons in writing, then wrote a policy that banned praying "in Jesus' name" which cost my career.

That year I walked the halls of Congress, meeting any Members who'd defend religious freedom for Chaplains.  Friends told me "go see Mike Pence" the Congressman from Indiana who was then chairman of the powerful Republican Study Committee, composed of the 70 most conservative Congressmen. 

So I went to Congressman Pence's office.  I had just missed him, but I glanced at his official photo to get a visual impression of his face, (something I never did otherwise), and a half-hour later I turned a hallway corner, and literally bumped into him.  It was a divine appointment.

"You're Mike Pence!"  I said, immediately recognizing his face from the photo.

"Yes I am!" he smiled.

He was very attentive, and although he was on the way to another meeting Congressman Pence said to me, "walk with me and tell me your story."  We walked and talked for 10 minutes together.

I told Pence how 65 Chaplains were suing the Navy, all denied promotion for praying and preaching "in Jesus' name."  I showed him documents how they punished me for quoting the Bible in chapel.

He looked me in the eye and said "OK, I get it.  I'm with you 100%." 

Pence kept his word.  The next week every member of his committee, all 70 members led by Mike Pence and Walter Jones, signed a letter to the President on my behalf, demanding he let Chaplains pray "in Jesus' name." 

One year later Congress ordered the Navy to reverse their bad prayer policy and we won.

I know from personal experience, Mike Pence is a Christian, Conservative, Republican, as he freely admits "in that order" and I've seen him stand up for chaplains' rights.

Right Wing Round-Up - 7/15/16

  • Joe.My.God: Trump Says Franklin Graham Will Speak At Convention Which Comes As News To Franklin Graham
  • Brad Reed @ Raw Story: Ivanka Trump’s rabbi pulls out of the RNC — after he’d planned to lead a prayer against bigotry

Mike Pence Backed Personhood Bills To Criminalize Abortions Nationwide

There's a reason anti-choice groups are celebrating Donald Trump's decision to tap Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate: Pence has spearheaded congressional efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, even if it meant shutting down the government, signed anti-abortion measures into law in Indiana and rallied opposition to President Obama's effort to roll back prohibitions on stem-cell research.

Pence, who pledged at an anti-choice rally to send Roe v. Wade, which he called "the worse Supreme Court decision since Dred Scott," to "the ash heap of history," also cosponsored anti-choice "personhood" resolutions while serving in Congress.

The Life at Conception Act, which Pence cosponsored, called for Congress to "implement equal protection under the 14th article of amendment to the Constitution for the right to life of each born and preborn person," defining legal personhood as beginning at the "moment of of fertilization."

Pence also cosponsored the Right to Life Act, a similar personhood bill.

Advocates of federal personhood bills believe that if Congress passes legislation defining “personhood” as beginning at conception, they can bypass and nullify Roe v. Wade, criminalizing abortion nationwide with no exceptions. While the personhood movement has traditionally sat on the far-right fringes of the anti-abortion movement, in recent years Republican politicians like Pence have brought the extremist cause into the GOP mainstream. Unlike more established abortion rights opponents that seek to cut off access to abortion and gradually outlaw the procedure, personhood activists want the government to immediately end abortion in all cases.

Trump, of course, has taken several contradictory positions on abortion rights throughout the campaign, including saying that women who have abortions should face legal punishment. While many anti-abortion groups condemned his remarks, his call for punishing women who have abortions was completely compatible with the message of personhood groups like Personhood USA, which praised the prosecution of a Tennessee woman for murder last year after she attempted a do-it-yourself, coat-hanger abortion.

Now, with Pence as his running-mate, Trump has decided to fully bring the personhood movement into his campaign.

Mike Pence: Donald Trump On Decaf

Donald Trump’s 2016 effort was born in the bowels of conservative talk radio. Former staffer (and current litigant) Sam Nunberg described, “listen[ing] to thousands of hours of talk radio” in order to hone the nascent campaign’s message in 2014.  

It should therefore come as no surprise that Donald Trump has reportedly chosen Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a former talk radio host who once described himself as “Rush Limbaugh on decaf,” as his running mate.

For months Trump’s campaign has been forced to confront a disturbing pattern of violence at its events and rallies. Just as Trump has defended supporters who have turned violent, Pence defended a conservative protestor who carried an assault rifle at an Obama event in 2011. The man had previously attended a church where the pastor "pray[ed] for Barack Obama to die and go to hell.” Responding to this incident, Pence compared carrying a weapon in close proximity to the president to carrying “placards” at an anti-war protest.

Numerous organizations (including us) have already pointed to Pence’s extreme anti-choice record. Like Trump, his rhetoric is on this issue is extreme, strange, and way out of sync with most Americans. In 2011, Pence spoke at the March for Life in Washington and defended House Republicans’ decision the previous year to vote on an anti-abortion bill before working on the core economic issues they had promised voters they would address.

“Amidst these struggles, some would have us focus our energies on jobs and spending. We must not remain silent when great moral battles are being waged,” Pence told the anti-abortion protestors. “Those who would have us ignore the battle being fought over life have forgotten the lessons of history. As in the days of a house divided, America's darkest moments have come when economic arguments trumped moral principles.”

In other words, Pence believed — and proudly said — that it was a greater priority for Congress to pass a divisive anti-abortion than to address creating jobs.

Pence was also a cheerleader for the do-nothing Congress, bragging about the GOP’s ability to say “no” to progress on any issue. In 2010, he told a crowd of conservative activists at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC):

Some folks like to call us the 'party of no.' Well, I say 'no' is way underrated in Washington, DC. Sometimes 'no' is just what this town needs to hear. When it comes to more borrowing, the answer is no. When it comes to more spending, the answer is no. When it comes to more bailouts, the answer is no. And when it comes to some health care summit that is nothing more than a photo-op to pave the way for Obamacare 2.0, the answer is no.

Pence, like Trump, has also show a disdain for the free press. As governor of Indiana, he attempted to thwart the media in his state capital by creating his own propaganda outlet, paid for with taxpayer dollars. The state-run news website, according to official documents, would “break news — publishing information ahead of any other news outlet. Strategies for determining how and when to give priority to such ‘exclusive’ coverage remain under discussion.” Ultimately, after a public outcry about this abuse of government funds and runaround of the First Amendment, Pence scrapped the concept.

Extreme statements on social issues, defenses of guns at political rallies and attempts to thwart the press —  Pence might not be as loud and brash as Trump, but he shares many of his worst traits. Perhaps just on decaf.

Plenty Of Anti-LGBT Speakers At Trump's Convention

In the lead-up to and during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, we’ll be profiling some of the activists and politicians invited to speak at the event. Find more of our Meet the Speakers series here.

As Peter noted earlier today, speculation that Donald Trump may move the Republican Party into greater acceptance of LGBT people is hard to take seriously given the GOP platform committee’s approval this week of an exceptionally anti-LGBT platform, not to mention the anti-LGBT activists whom Trump himself has enthusiastically embraced in his quest for the presidency.

A preliminary list of this year’s Republican National Convention speakers should also put that idea to rest.

Along with the many businessmen and celebrity buddies of Trump who appear on the speakers list are a number of activists and politicians who have long records of anti-LGBT activism.

Jerry Falwell Jr., the son of Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell and one of Trump’s earliest endorsers from the Religious Right, has a speaking slot. Falwell is the head of Liberty University, the school founded by his father, which is well known for itsanti-gay politics and student policies discouraging homosexuality. Liberty University is closely affiliated with Liberty Counsel, the anti-gay legal group that represented Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis in her quest to defy the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling.

Also speaking will be three former GOP presidential rivals to Trump who are known for their anti-LGBT politics.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who hooked his presidential campaign on an appeal to Religious Right voters, will have a speaking slot. As we previously wrote , Huckabee managed to cover plenty of extremist ground just in his 2016 campaign:

After all, Huckabee had vowed to outlaw abortion with a sweeping presidential decree,promised to defy the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling before it criminalized Christianity and destroyed America, and literally turned Kentucky clerk Kim Davis’ release from detention into a campaign rally, volunteering to go to jail on her behalf. The former Arkansas governor even pledged to boycott Doritos because the company released rainbow-colored chips benefiting an LGBT suicide prevention group and starred in a bizarre anti-gay film.

Then there’s Ben Carson, who attracted plenty of attention during his presidential run forclaiming that prison rape proves that being gay is a choice. Carson insisted that “abnormal” LGBT people shouldn’t get “extra rights” and called for the impeachment of justices who back gay marriage. He also argued, as Brian has summarized, that the gay rights movement is “part of a wideranti-American, anti-God, anti-Constitution plot conjured up by communist subversives and the New World Order.”

Then there’s Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who, along with repeatedly lying about LGBT people, accused the gay community of waging a “jihad” against people of faith:

Cruz and Huckabee were both so eager to win the votes of anti-gay extremists that they attended a conference last year at which the organizer, radical pastor Kevin Swanson, repeatedly declared that the Bible demands that gay people be put to death.

And there are many more. Newt Gingrich, when he was running for president in 2011, signed the National Organization for Marriage’s candidate pledge to support a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality and said that he would reinstate “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” In 2008, Gingrich warned that "there is a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us, is prepared to use violence, is prepared to use harassment.” Mike Pence, who’s now being reported to be Trump’s vice presidential pick, has a long record of opposing LGBT rights, including signing a bill in Indiana last year that would authorize broad discrimination against LGBT people, before backing down under public pressure to amend the law.

While few sitting members of Congress are showing up to the convention, among those invited to speak are several with strongly anti-LGBT records. Just this year, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy personally twisted arms to ensure the last-minute defeat of a provision that would have protected LGBT people from employment discrimination from federal contractors, creating a chaotic scene on the House floor. Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee was instrumental in making the 2012 Republican platform reach new levels of anti-LGBT sentiment (although this year’s platform is even worse). Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, when she was a state legislator, tried to get a referendum on the ballot in an effort to overturn the state supreme court’s landmark marriage equality ruling. She has claimed she wants to leave the marriage issue to the states, but at the same time has said that she would support a constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage.

How Would Religious Right Respond To Pence As VP?

According to some news reports, Donald Trump has settled on Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his vice presidential running mate, though other reporters say their sources tell them the decision has not been finalized. Trump has said he will announce his decision on Friday morning.

Pence has a long record before becoming governor that includes time in nearly every branch of the country’s huge right-wing political infrastructure: He headed a state-level “free-market” think tank; had a career in talk radio; and served in Congress, where he led the right-wing Republican Study Committee.

That’s a lot of right-wingery that we and others will be exploring in depth if he is indeed Trump’s running mate. But here are a few initial points about Pence’s relationship with the Religious Right, whose leaders seem to be largely coming around to Trump’s candidacy despite initial skepticism.

Pence has been much beloved on the Religious Right. Early in the 2012 election cycle, he won the Values Voter Summit straw poll and won gushing praise from CBN’s David Brody. Even the American Family Association’s far-right radio host Bryan Fischer predicted that Pence would be the 2012 nominee. 

Pence has participated in Christian-nation advocate David Lane’s political events and he has been an aggressive proponent of defunding Planned Parenthood. He has connections with other Religious Right leaders through the National Day of Prayer task force.

Pence was unhappily in the national media last year when Indiana became embroiled in a high-profile controversy over a state “religious liberty” law pushed by anti-gay groups and signed by the governor. Pence seemed to have been caught completely off-guard when business and community leaders joined equality activists in a backlash to the law.

Pence tried to defend the law on national television, with disastrous results. Pence’s main problem is that he was essentially caught in a lie. He pretended the bill had nothing to do with legalizing anti-gay discrimination, when that was the clear purpose of the religious groups that pushed the law and gathered around him when he signed it.

But having said that protecting discrimination wasn’t the law’s intent, he was not well positioned to resist demands by business leaders and media that he sign an amendment saying so. When he ultimately signed off on such an amendment, some Religious Right leaders were furious. Some compared his reversal to an act of betrayal like Judas selling out Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

It is not clear how warmly Religious Right leaders will embrace Pence as Trump’s running mate. Earlier this week, anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera responded to rumors about Pence as VP by tweeting, “HOW ironic it wld be if Mike Pence ever became VP. Pence declined to run for president in part b/c he FAILED conservatives on relig liberty.”

Others may be more forgiving given Pence’s long track record, and may rationalize that his heart was in the right place but he was forced to back down when business leaders and the LGBT lobby — twin enemies of the Religious Right these days — ganged up on him.

Possible Trump VP Pick Mike Pence Spearheaded Attacks On Planned Parenthood

Before becoming governor of Indiana, Mike Pence was one of the most conservative members of Congress, and arguably one of the most important players in the GOP’s attempt to defund Planned Parenthood.

Pence, who appeared at a Donald Trump rally yesterday, has reportedly risen to the top of the presumptive GOP nominee’s list of potential vice presidential candidates. If Trump asks Pence to be his running mate, he would be elevating one of the darlings of the anti-abortion movement, which has generally been mistrustful of Trump since he has made several contradictory statements on abortion rights and once praised Planned Parenthood for doing “very good work,” even while vowing to defund the women’s health organization unless they stop providing abortion services.

Back in 2011, Pence seized on discredited video excerpts released by the radical anti-abortion group Live Action that purported to show Planned Parenthood aiding sex trafficking. Pence’s amendment to strip federal funds from the group helped to create a standoff between the House and President Obama that nearly led to a government shutdown.

Pence appeared at a Tea Party rally outside of the Capitol, where he said that if Obama and Senate Democrats didn’t agree to a House proposal to “cut spending to pre-Stimulus, pre-bailout levels, defunding Obamacare and ending all public funding for Planned Parenthood of America,” “then I say, 'Shut it down.'”

Besides citing the doctored videos released by Live Action, Pence bizarrely suggested that Planned Parenthood must be defunded because of the country’s high unemployment rate.

When Pence’s home state of Indiana decided to defund Planned Parenthood, clinic closures left counties without HIV testing facilities, exacerbating the state’s HIV outbreak. Pence himself signed into law an anti-abortion bill that led to a grassroots effort in which women flooded his office with detailed accounts of their periods. The law required that miscarried and aborted embryos and fetuses of “any gestational age” be “interred or cremated”; critics noted that fertilized eggs are sometimes expelled in a woman’s period without her even knowing it.

By picking Pence, Trump would give one of Planned Parenthood’s loudest critics an even bigger megaphone to launch more attacks on the health organization.

Tony Perkins: Negotiating With Gays Like Negotiating With Satan

Yesterday, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins — still reeling from the fight over Indiana’s controversial “religious freedom” law — likened dealing with gay people to negotiating with Iran …and Satan.

Perkins said on his “Washington Watch” radio program that he agrees with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the U.S. should not negotiate with Iran (actually, Netanyahu said he supports talks in principle, just not the current negotiations), adding that “Ronald Reagan said ‘we don’t negotiate with terrorists.’”

“Did Jesus negotiate with the Devil? No, he said, ‘Away with you Satan.’ He goes on later in the scripture to talk about ‘what fellowship has light with darkness.’” Perkins said. “The same can be said of the cultural totalitarians who want to force everyone to embrace and even celebrate their view of morality. You cannot compromise, you cannot appease. Just ask Gov. [Mike] Pence and others who have compromised their values in an effort to appease these folks. It only increases their aggressiveness and their demands.”

Right-Wing Pundit: 'Gov. Pence Is The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Of 2015'

Writing today in WorldNetDaily, Liberty Counsel communications director Charla Bansley proposed that pastors and “those victimized by religious intolerance” from all around the country hold a massive rally in Indianapolis to defend Indiana’s ‘religious freedom’ law.

“Gov. Pence is the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. of 2015,” the Religious Right activist wrote.

She also made the erroneous claim that the Indiana law is just like other versions of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Can conservatives responding to the recent controversy in Indiana over religious freedom learn anything from liberals about messaging? After the Michael Brown shooting, liberal leaders from the left, such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, and secular progressive communities from across America seized the opportunity and flocked to Ferguson, Missouri, to take over the narrative, blaming Brown’s death on “institutional racism.” Universities as far away as George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, held diversity discussions. College students from all over the country joined the crowds walking the streets chanting “Hands up, don’t shoot.”

Today, the church must contend for the faith and the faithful in like manner. What churches and religious universities will take a page out of the liberal playbook to rally, to march, to hold candle vigils and to speak out? What pastors will go to Indianapolis to stand by Gov. Mike Pence and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act? Which organizations will help pay the way for those victimized by religious intolerance – bakers, photographers, venue owners – to make their way to Indianapolis? When will we as a church begin matching our words with action? If not now, then when?



Pence said Sunday that the new state law “is not about discrimination. This is about empowering people to confront government overreach.” Unfortunately, those words went over the heads of most people watching the interview. Homosexual activists went to the streets claiming the law would legalize discrimination, and Americans believed the false narrative. The truth is a federal RFRA was signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993, and 19 other states have passed similar laws, but not one case of discrimination exists. The real cases of discrimination are the religious businesses who have been sued for refusing to participate in a same-sex wedding: the Catholic B&B owners who didn’t want to host a same-sex wedding in Vermont, the baker in Oregon, the photographer in New Mexico, the florist in Washington and a host of others.

Gov. Pence is the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. of 2015, courageously defending the bakers, photographers, florists, ministers, county clerks, and owners of wedding venues who, after a lifetime of acquiring skills and building businesses, have seen their livelihoods destroyed, forced to pay exorbitant fines and even threatened with jail.

Right Wing Round-Up - 3/31/15

Indiana Activist: Don't Clarify That 'Religious Freedom' Law Won't Allow Discrimination

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has been appearing all over the media in the last few days to insist, erroneously, that Indiana’s new “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” is no different from other similarly-named laws in other states and will not effectively legalize discrimination.

According to reports, Pence and others may push for the legislature to clarify that the law does not sanction discriminatory practices.

However, Micah Clark of the American Family Association’s Indiana chapter, who stood right behind Pence, along with several other Religious Right leaders, when he signed the bill into law and has quite a record of anti-gay activism, said today that he opposes any such clarification.

He told AFA President Tim Wildmon today that conservatives should call Pence and other state officials and demand that they oppose any effort to clarify that the law does not legalize discrimination: That could totally destroy this bill.(In Georgia, supporters of a similar bill also opposed a push to ensure that the legislation will not permit discrimination in business.) 

Wildmon agreed, adding that the Indiana law is necessary to protect anti-gay business owners from “persecution.” The law’s critics, Wildmon claimed, are waging “spiritual warfare” against state officials.

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