Paul Broun

Jody Hice, Barry Loudermilk Win GOP Primaries In Georgia

Two candidates with sterling Religious Right credentials won runoff primary elections yesterday to become GOP nominees to the U.S. House in Georgia.

Jody Hice won a primary to succeed Rep. Paul Broun in Georgia’s 10th District, and seems prepared to pick up Broun’s mantle as one of the most far-right members of Congress.

In 2012, Hice wrote a book in which he claimed that gay people have launched a scheme to “sodomize” children and proposed that Muslims be denied First Amendment rights.

Hice, a Baptist pastor, also hosts a syndicated radio show in which he has compared homosexuality to alcoholism and lamented that it “enslaves” people “in a lifestyle that frankly they are not”; blamed school shootings on the end of government-sponsored school prayer; and speculated about the prophetic qualities of “blood moons.”

Hice, who made his name advocating for copies of the Ten Commandments to be displayed in government buildings, once told a newspaper reporter  that a woman should be free to run for public office….as long as she stays “within the authority of her husband.”

And just last week, Hice suggested that the crisis of refugee children at the southern border might need to be dealt with through “Second Amendment” means.

Also winning his GOP primary in Georgia yesterday was state Sen. Barry Loudermilk, who beat former Rep. Bob Barr in a runoff in the 11th District. Loudermilk is an acolyte of fake historian David Barton, who endorsed his campaign. When he won Barton’s endorsement, Loudermilk said, "There is no greater expert on the U.S. Constitution and the underpinnings of American government, than David Barton."

Anti-Choice Infighting Disrupts Georgia, Colorado Senate Races

In an echo of the electoral battle between Tea Party groups and the establishment GOP, Senate candidates in Colorado and Georgia are being caught up in a long-simmering conflict between purists and pragmatists in the anti-choice movement.

Rep. Cory Gardner of Colorado attracted national attention yesterday when he announced that he was reversing his previous support for radical and wildly unpopular anti-choice “personhood” laws. Personhood USA, the primary group pushing such laws, promptly responded with a press release declaring that "Cory Gardner has betrayed the Republican Party, his pro-life voters, and most importantly, unborn babies in Colorado” and (hilariously) insisting that Mitt Romney lost the 2012 election because he didn’t get behind personhood.

Now, the anti-choice site Life News is citing the Susan B. Anthony List's endorsement of Gardner in his previous congressional race to attack Personhood USA, accusing them of trying to sabotage the race. Reporter Steven Erkelt writes:

Unlike Harry Reid and his friends who control the Senate, Cory Gardner will give the pro-life movement another vote and the potential to actually pass legislation that will stop abortions and abortion funding. At a critical time when the rest of the pro-life movement is working in unison to win control of the Senate and stop abortion, Personhood USA should stop misleading pro-lifers about our pro-life candidates.

Meanwhile, in Georgia, anti-choice groups are also engaged in a public spat on strategy, linked to a contentious Republican Senate primary.

A brand new group called Georgia Life Alliance is reportedly challenging Georgia Right to Life, a prominent state anti-choice lobbying group that subscribes to the “all-or-nothing” strategy, for its spot representing Georgia within National Right to Life.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Jim Galloway writes that the public feud between the Georgia groups “has everything to do with the U.S. Senate race,” in which anti-choice absolutist Rep. Paul Broun is vying with Karen Handel, an anti-choice crusader who nevertheless supports legal exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of a pregnant woman – and has been endorsed by the Susan B. Anthony List .

There’s an assumption in these quarters that this has everything to do with the U.S. Senate race. U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, R-Athens, is prominently featured on the current GRTL website, praised for his endorsement of the organization’s aggressive approach – which some critics have described as all-or-nothing.

Likewise, the group’s antipathy toward former secretary of state Karen Handel dates to the 2010 race for governor and beyond.

The major point of contention: The National Right to Life organization allows for exceptions to abortion bans in cases of rape and incest. GRTL does not, and has insisted that no politician who endorses those exceptions can be considered pro-life.

Last June, Broun voted against a “fetal pain” abortion bill backed by House Republicans that would ban abortions after a fetus is 20 weeks old. He and Georgia Right to Life blanched when House Republican leaders inserted exceptions for rape and incest.

The vote last year on the national 20-week abortion ban pitted National Right to Life, which supported the ban even though it contained rape and incest exceptions, against Georgia Right to Life, which sided with Broun in saying it didn’t go far enough, and subsequently endorsed him for Senate.

Two other Georgia representatives in the race, Rep. Phil Gingrey and Rep. Jack Kingston, sided with the national group voted for the bill with the rape and incest exceptions, with Kingston saying, “As we live in this post Roe v. Wade world, the reality is that we have to play chess, not checkers."

In response to Georgia Right for Life’s breaking of ranks on the 20-week bill, RedState blogger Erick Erickson called for the formation of a rival Georgia group, a wish that has apparently come true this week.

UPDATE (3/27/14): Surprise, surprise: It turns out that Erickson was involved in the creation of Georgia Life Alliance, and will be on its board

CORRECTION: This post has been updated to clarify that Life News was citing Susan B. Anthony List's endorsement of Cory Gardner in a previous race.

Right Wing Round-Up - 3/18/14

One Year After Release Of Autopsy Report, GOP Still Caving To Voices Of Extremism

Last year, we noted five ways in which Republican leaders were either ignoring or directly contradicting the recommendations put forth in the party’s post-election “autopsy report,” which called for a more diverse and modern GOP with a broader appeal. Today, on the first anniversary of the report’s release, it is clear that those who opposed the plan for a more inclusive party have prevailed, succeeding in moving the GOP even farther to the right.

Republican leaders seem to be accepting — albeit not openly — the pleas of right-wing pundits for the party to embrace ultraconservative views and veer away from outreach to young voters and people of color. These activists have called for the GOP to become a party focused on appealing exclusively to white voters with a mixture of Tea Party populism, Nativism and social conservatism.

This tension within the party has played out the most clearly in the debate over comprehensive immigration reform, in which reform advocates found themselves facing a wall of opposition from vocal activists. Many of these activists used the immigration debate to outline their vision for the party’s future, urging the party abandon immigration reform and instead work to increase its share of the white vote.

The extremists won the debate. The House Republican leadership has refused to even hold a vote on immigration reform and have approved only draconian bills that would curtail the rights of immigrants.

The GOP’s extreme right wing kept the party from taking up immigration reform by putting forward a political strategy argument backed by wink-and-nod racism.

Conservative luminary Phyllis Schlafly spent the year arguing that Latino voters are culturally resistant to Republican principles because they “don’t really understand our country.”

“The people the Republicans should reach out to are the white votes,” Schlafly said, arguing that Latinos are more likely to vote for Democrats over Republicans because they haven’t been sufficiently “Americanized.”

Rep. Michele Bachmann also warned that immigrants will usher in a far-left government that will jeopardize the future of America. Rep. Paul Broun similarly claimed that immigration reform is a plot to “destroy our country” by “keep[ing] Democrats in power for perpetuity.”

Pat Buchanan, true to form, was upfront about the strategy to stop immigration reform and expand the Republican share of the white vote. Buchanan wrote that just as the GOP used the Southern Strategy of racial polarization to win an overwhelming share of the Southern white vote, Republicans should adopt a new strategy “to increase the enthusiasm and turnout among [white voters] for the GOP” by “demand[ing] the sealing of America’s borders against any and all intruders.”

The Center for Immigration Studies, a leading voice on the anti-immigrant Right, also told Republicans no t to bother appealing to the Latino community and instead to frame Democrats as the “party of minorities.”

The GOP has also failed to make good on its promise to appeal to young and LGBT voters by moderating its hardline opposition to LGBT equality.

Last summer, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus reassured the Christian Broadcasting Network that the GOP is not becoming more tolerant and even lauded former governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, a stringently anti-LGBT politician, as “a model for a lot of people in our party” on dealing with social issues.

Priebus was apparently under pressure from social conservatives like National Organization for Marriage founder Maggie Gallagher, who demanded that the party amplify its right-wing social agenda and avoid “adopting a suicidal political strategy.”

While Republican leaders say that the will accept openly gay Republican candidates for Congress, they have not budged on any items important to the LGBT community, blocking even the consideration of legislation to prevent job discrimination or inequality in the immigration system. Republican lawmakers have also pushed bills designed to roll back LGBT rights, such as the State Marriage Defense Act and the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act, and have challenged the Justice Department’s treatment of marriage equality laws.

It seems that the GOP has only committed itself to changing semantics and appearances, but is still committed to the same right-wing agenda that was soundly defeated in 2012.

'Freedom Fighter' Paul Broun: Immigration Reform 'Disastrous For Anybody Who Is Freedom-Loving'

Georgia Republican congressman and Senate candidate Paul Broun has been trying to out-extreme his opponents on the issue of immigration reform, announcing in a debate this weekend that the only immigration law he wants is one “that makes English the official language of America.” In an interview with Tea Party Express earlier this month, Broun made the same policy recommendation, claiming that comprehensive immigration reform would be “disastrous for Republicans” and “disastrous for anybody who is freedom-loving.”

Later in the interview, Broun claimed that “both political parties today are domestic enemies to the Constitution” and that he is a “freedom-fighter” who is “fighting those people.”

I think if John Boehner were to press on with comprehensive immigration reform, it will be disastrous for Republicans, not only in this election, but for decades to come. And it would be disastrous for anybody who is freedom-loving and wants to reduce the size of government. I introduced the “No Amnesty” resolution, which says, “no amnesty for anyone with any immigration reform.” And we should not have amnesty. We should be a nation that is directed under the rule of law.




Until we secure the borders, nothing else matters. And then we have to start enforcing the laws that are on the books. There’s only one new law I would like to see passed. One, and only one. And that’s one to make English the official language of America.



We’ve got to go back to the limited government as our founding fathers meant it, and that means by golly we’ve got to go back to the Constitution. When I was sworn into the Marine Corps, when I was sworn into Congress, I swore to uphold the Constitution against enemies both foreign and domestic. Both political parties today are domestic enemies to the Constitution. I’m fighting those people. I’m a freedom fighter. I’m fighting for liberty and freedom.

 

Right Wing Round-Up - 2/11/14

The Perils of Religious Politicking

Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, a centrist Democrat facing a tough re-election campaign, launched a new political ad this month, and both the ad and the responses to it have highlighted the challenges of mixing religion and politics in ways that respect religious freedom, pluralism, and the spirit of the Constitution.

In Pryor’s new ad, he doesn’t talk about political issues or his opponent; he just talks about the Bible.

“I’m not ashamed to say that I believe in God and I believe in His word. The Bible teaches us no one has all the answers. Only God does. And neither political party is always right. This is my compass, my north star. It gives me comfort and guidance to do what's best for Arkansas. I’m Mark Pryor, and I approve this message because this is who I am and what I believe.”

The centrality of faith in Pryor’s life is well-known. But the ad was slammed by Brad Dayspring at the National Republican Senatorial Committee, who mockingly suggested the ad contradicted comments Pryor had made last year: “The Bible is really not a rule book for political issues. Everybody can see it differently.”  But I don’t see the contradiction. In both, Pryor seems to be acknowledging that even people who look to the Bible for guidance can disagree on particular policy positions. Dayspring’s attack drew a surprising rebuke from Pryor’s Republican opponent, Rep. Tom Cotton, who called the NRSC response “bizarre and offensive.”

The ad has drawn a mixed response from progressive commentators. Ed Kilgore at the Washington Monthly praises Pryor for “basically saying the Bible teaches some humility and reserves wisdom and final judgment to Gold Almighty, not to his self-appointed representatives on earth.” But Paul Waldman at the American Prospect takes issue with Pryor’s “I’m not ashamed” line, suggesting it is a dog-whistle for those who believe the Religious Right’s charge that Christianity is under attack in America.

Waldman notes, however, that the ad could have been a lot worse, reminding us of this notorious Rick Perry ad from 2012 which starts with very similar “I’m not ashamed” language but then gets “much more vulgar.”

A more recent example of the “a lot worse” school of religion and politics came from Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia, who is currently running for the Senate. In a six-minute speech from the floor of the House of Representatives in September, he mixed personal religious testimony with Christian-nation claims that the government should be run according to his interpretation of the Bible.

Broun’s remarks start with a core Christian Reconstructionist principle: that God ordained family, church and government and gave each a specific area of authority. But, he says, because of “this mistaken idea that we’re supposed to have a separation of church and state, the family and the church have abdicated a lot of its duties over to government.” (Reconstructionists believe that God did not authorize government to be involved, for example, in education or the reduction of poverty; that role is meant for family and church.)

Broun calls the Bible “the basis of our nation,” and says the fact that we aren’t running society accordingly will mean the death of our Republic.  The founding fathers, he says, were “Bible-believing Christians” who believed that “every aspect of life should follow the dictates of God’s inerrant word. That’s what I believe in. That’s what we should all believe in.”

This message is not new for Broun. Last year Kilgore wrote about a Broun speech in which he said that evolutionary science is “from the pit of hell” and that the Bible is a “manufacturer’s handbook” that “teaches us how to run all of public policy and everything in society,” as well as our lives as individuals. “That’s the reason as your Congressman I hold the Holy Bible as being the major directions to me of how I vote in Washington, D.C.”

There are important distinctions between Pryor’s ad and Broun’s speeches.  It is helpful to look at them through the prism of People For the American Way Foundation’s 12 Rules for Mixing Religion and Politics. These “rules of the road” are meant to generate a broader conversation about how we can create and sustain a civic space that reflects the principles of the Constitution and the values of respectful civic discourse, one that welcomes the participation of people of all faiths and people of none. Consider this passage from the 12 Rules:

Public officials are free to talk about their faith, the role it plays in their lives, and how it influences their approach to issues, but must not use the power of their office to proselytize or impose particular religious beliefs or practices on others.

Pryor’s ad seems to be intended to keep to the appropriate side of this rule, where Broun clearly violates the rule by proselytizing from the floor of the House.

In addition, Broun, like David Barton and other Religious Right leaders, claims that the right-wing position on every political issue finds some grounding or justification in the Bible, which should be the final word on every policy matter.  Broun’s insistence that every aspect of law and society should fit his interpretation of the Bible also violates another rule, “It is appropriate to discuss the moral and religious dimensions of policy issues, but religious doctrine alone is not an acceptable basis for public policy.” In contrast, Pryor’s ad explicitly says that he doesn’t claim to have all the answers, even though he uses the Bible as his moral compass.

A Religious Right critic of Pryor’s ad broke another of PFAW Foundation’s rules: “Religion should not be used as a political club.” As blogger Jeremy Hooper noted, Andrea Lafferty of the Traditional Values Coalition was “outraged” by Pryor’s ad. She said his claim to be guided by the Bible “the furthest thing from the truth” because he had voted for the Employment Non Discrimination Act, which protects people from being discriminated at work based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Lafferty is of course free to believe that fairness is not a biblical value; but she shouldn’t denigrate the sincerity of Pryor’s faith because he disagrees.

Still, Pryor’s ad is a cautionary tale about the fact that, as he himself has said, the intersection of faith and politics can be difficult to navigate.  It can come across as saying, “vote for me because I’m a Christian,” a message that fails to respect America’s constitutional ideals and growing religious pluralism. And it could be seen as uncomfortably close to the message of Mike Huckabee’s 2008 primary campaign against Mitt Romney in Iowa, which essentially boiled down to, “vote for me because I’m the right kind of Christian.” Candidates or campaigns that suggest only Christians, or certain kinds of Christians, are worthy of public office violate the spirit if not the letter of the Constitution’s prohibition on a religious test for public office. 

With Christian-nation advocates like David Lane organizing all over the country for the 2014 and 2016 elections, there’s little doubt that the months ahead will bring some downright toxic mixing of religion and politics.

PFAW

Right Wing Round-Up - 10/8/13

  • Truth Wins Out: Press Conference: LGBT Advocates and Allies to Declare on Thursday That the Values Voter Summit Misrepresents Christianity and Has a Harmful Agenda For the Nation.
  • Jeremy Hooper @ GLAAD Blog: The Values Voter Summit is bringing anti-LGBT extremism back to the fore.
  • Matt Wilstein @ Mediaite: Colbert Plays ‘Not A Game: The Government Shutdown Home Game.’
  • Josh Israel @ Think Progress: Arizona Legislator Compares President Obama To Hitler Because National Parks Are Closed.
  • David Edwards @ Raw Story: Rep. Broun tells CNN: ‘I’m a medical doctor’ and Obamacare will ‘destroy everything we know.’
  • TNF Insider: Pastor Organizer for Rick Perry, GOP Politicians Wants Congress to ‘Reestablish’ the Bible in Public Schools.

Rep. Broun: Immigration Law a Ploy to Doom America, 'Keep Democrats in Power for Perpetuity'

Georgia Republican congressman and Senate candidate Paul Broun has hardly hid his opposition to creating a new immigration policies. Back in June, for instance, he warned that immigration reform would “destroy our country” and “destroy our Constitution and limited government.”

Speaking with Steve Malzberg earlier this week, Broun repeated his warning that if the House GOP compromises at all on immigration, “America, economically, is doomed because we cannot afford to put these people on government largesse.”

By “these people,” Broun means formerly undocumented immigrations working toward citizenship, whom Broun claims Sen. Chuck Schumer, one of the authors of the Senate immigration bill, “wants to put on…federal welfare programs and federal largesse so that they vote for the Democrats and keep Democrats in power for perpetuity.”

“Anything that Chuck Schumer’s for, any freedom-loving American should be against,” Broun added.

Rep. Broun: Immigration Reform 'Will Destroy Our Country' and 'Destroy our Constitution'

Congressman and US Senate candidate Paul Broun (R-GA) told conservative talk show host Steve Malzberg yesterday that comprehensive immigration reform “will destroy our country” and “destroy our constitution and limited government.”

Broun agreed with Malzberg’s claim that Republicans “will never win another election” if a reform bill passes because liberal groups won’t ever be satisfied with the law and “the CBO says 40 more million immigrants in twenty years, 95 percent of them are going to vote Democrat; to me it’s political suicide.”

“You’ve got that just absolutely correct,” Broun said, “I don’t understand why Republicans are embracing this.”

Right Wing Round-Up - 10/5/12

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