It didn’t take long for Republicans to admit that their purportedly principled vow to block anyone President Obama nominates to the Supreme Court to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia is all about politics.
Just minutes after the news broke of Scalia’s death, many Republican politicians and conservative activists said that the Senate should refuse to hold any hearings or votes on whomever Obama nominates to replace him because it is an election year.
Donald Trump and Ben Carson have both admitted that if they or another Republican were in the White House, they would have no problem with filling the vacancy. Different rules, it seems, apply to President Obama.
This admission undermines the GOP’s entire argument that they are simply abiding by a nonpartisan tradition of refusing judicial confirmations in election years, an assertion also contradicted by past statements from Senate Republicans such as Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, who said in 2008 that “the reality is that the Senate has never stopped confirming judicial nominees during the last few months of a president’s term.”
Before the president has even hinted at his choice to replace Scalia on the court, Republicans have been busy concocting bogus “traditions” and other excuses for obstruction — all in an effort to hide the partisan motivations behind keeping Scalia’s seat open.
5) It’s A Tradition!
Several conservatives have been pushing the easily debunked claim that the Senate never confirms a nominee to the Supreme Court during an election year.
Marco Rubio said on Meet the Press that “it’s not just for the Supreme Court, even for appellate courts, both parties have followed this precedent. There comes a point in the last year of the president, especially in their second term, where you stop nominating, or you stop the advice and consent process.”
Rubio’s claim was demonstrably false, but he wasn’t alone in making it.
During Saturday’s GOP presidential debate, moderator John Dickerson called out Ted Cruz for saying that “we have 80 years of precedent for not confirming a Supreme Court justice in an election year,” noting that Justice Anthony Kennedy was in fact confirmed in 1988, Ronald Reagan’s final year in office. Cruz responded that “Kennedy was confirmed in ’87,” which is simply untrue. (The audience booed Dickerson for saying he “wanted to get the facts straight for the audience.”)
Cruz’s father, Rafael, took it one step further, telling Pat Robertson that “if the Democrats want to appoint somebody, let them win the election,” seeming to forget that President Obama was elected for a full term in 2012 and that the drafters of the Constitution didn’t want Supreme Court appointments put up to a popular vote.
4) Chuck Schumer Said…
Conservative activists have seized on remarks that Sen. Chuck Schumer made in 2007, which they claim prove that the New York Democrat favored blocking any Supreme Court justice nominated by George W. Bush in case of a vacancy in his last year in office.
However, this line of attack conveniently ignores a key part of Schumer’s speech, where he said that Democrats would only oppose a far-right judicial nominee, explaining that “they must prove by actions not words that they are in the mainstream rather than we have to prove that they are not.”
Josh Marshall of TPM notes that conservatives are misreporting the content of Schumer’s speech:
Schumer quite explicitly never said that the Bush shouldn’t get any more nominations. He also didn’t say that any nominee should be rejected. He said they should insist on proof based on judicial history, rather than just promises that they were mainstream conservatives rather than conservative activists, which both have proven to be. But again, set all this aside. He clearly spoke of holding hearings and being willing to confirm Bush nominees if they met reasonable criteria.
3) What About Robert Bork?
In defense of their stance that Republicans should refuse to consider any Obama Supreme Court nominee, some conservatives have cited the 1987 fight over Robert Bork’s nomination to the Supreme Court, which they offer as proof that Democrats have done the same thing in the past.
This is an odd case to bring up, seeing that Bork did in fact receive a fair hearing and a vote on the Senate floor, two things many Republicans today say should not be given to a future Obama pick.
Bork was voted down by a bipartisan majority of senators due to his extremist views, particularly his hostility to civil rights laws, which is a completely different matter than flatly refusing to hold committee hearings or a vote on a nominee.
2) Obama Is Packing The Court!
Carrie Severino of the Judicial Crisis Network, a conservative group that, ironically, was previously named the Judicial Confirmation Network, told the Washington Post on Monday that “if the president tries to pack the court, as it is apparent he may, then JCN will be leading the charge to delay a Senate vote until the American people decide the next president.”
“Obama doesn’t give a crap about the Constitution…he sees an opportunity to pack the court,” conservative radio host Mark Levin said. “Obama wants to pack the court. That’s what he wants to do on the way out the door and he must be prevented.”
Simply fulfilling his constitutional duties to fill a vacancy in the court following a jurist’s death is not an attempt to “pack” the court. Court packing is when an official tries to expand the current size of the court or create new courts in order to appoint new judges without waiting for vacancies.
1) Obama Has A ‘Conflict Of Interest’
Sen. Rand Paul, who styles himself as a constitutional scholar, said he is uncomfortable with President Obama appointing anyone to the bench because the Supreme Court is considering cases involving Obama’s executive orders on issues like immigration and environmental regulation.
Therefore, Paul concludes, Obama “has a conflict of interest here in appointing somebody” to the court.
The Kentucky Republican’s logic that a president shouldn’t be allowed to make judicial nominations because they may have to rule on actions of the executive branch is absurd on its face. The Constitution provides the president the power to do just that and, if Paul’s logic were to be applied, no president would be able to make any nominations at any time in office.
According to this argument, senators would similarly have a “conflict of interest” in voting to confirm Supreme Court justices since a future justice would likely decide on the constitutionality of laws passed by Congress.
Paul’s bizarre assertion that presidents shouldn’t be allowed to appoint justices due to a possible “conflict of interest” merely speaks to how desperate the GOP has become in trying to come up with dubious arguments that will make their proposed blockade seem like a principled stance, rather than what it really is: a brazenly partisan endeavor that will allow them to shirk their constitutional responsibilities.
Last week, Sen. Rand Paul reintroduced his “Life at Conception Act,” an attempt to ban all abortion by granting legal “personhood” to zygotes and fetuses from “the moment of fertilization,” all without needing a constitutional amendment or Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. Paul has been a staunch backer of such personhood efforts despite once claiming that he didn’t support “changing any of the laws” on abortion “until the country is persuaded otherwise.”
The bill Paul introduced last week varies slightly from the one he first introduced in 2013, specifically stating that it shouldn’t be construed as “a prohibition on in vitro fertilization, or a prohibition on use of birth control or another means of preventing fertilization.”
Personhood measures have been widely criticized for vague wording that could put legal birth control at risk, a concern that Paul appears to attempt to put at rest in the new bill. But that would all depend on what counts as protected birth control under the bill. Would IUDs, which could possibly prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg, be protected? What about the morning-after pill or hormonal contraception bills, which some anti-choice groups claim, with little evidence, could do the same thing? Some anti-choice activists claim that some or all of these constitute abortion, not birth control … notably the plaintiffs in the Hobby Lobby case, whose cause Paul enthusiastically supported.
It’s especially interesting that Paul attempts to avoid the growing controversy within the anti-abortion movement about in-vitro fertilization and the rights that should be granted to the excess frozen embryos that are often a byproduct of the process. It’s unclear if Paul is saying that embryos that are the result of in-vitro fertilization should not be granted the personhood rights that his bill would grant to all other embryos or if the bill would simply require that those embryos never be destroyed.
Both Paul’s 2013 bill and his 2016 version state that they shouldn’t “be construed to require the prosecution of any woman for the death of her unborn child,” an important exemption because under such a law, ending a pregnancy at any stage would be the legal equivalent of murder. Already, an experiment in personhood-style laws in Alabama has led to the arrests of hundreds of women for using drugs while pregnant or otherwise contributing to the “chemical endangerment” of a fetus.
All of this, of course, is purely hypothetical at this point. Paul's bill is the product of a theory, which is controversial even within the anti-abortion movement, that there is a magic loophole in Roe v. Wade that would allow legal abortion to come tumbling down if Congress were simply to define fertilized eggs as “persons” under the law. Most likely, however, such a strategy would collapse in the courts: One prominent anti-choice attorney has called the personhood loophole an “urban legend.”
That’s not to say that Paul’s strategy doesn’t have support. His fellow Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has been talking up the personhood strategy on the campaign trail, saying that he would simply issue a decree as president that there would be “no more abortion” in America. Ted Cruz has quietly pledged to support personhood measures and said late last year that a personhood strategy to avoid Roe would “absolutely” work. Marco Rubio has hinted at a personhood strategy, but not explicitly embraced it.
Yesterday, Rand Paul appeared on “The Simon Conway Show” to rail against left-wing environmentalism that he says “has infected the Pentagon” and driven up military expenditures.
One result of this “green craziness,” he said, was the construction of a natural gas fueling station in Afghanistan, even though, according to the Kentucky senator, “nobody’s got a damn car in Afghanistan.”
However, the money in question actually went towards a larger effort “to bring Afghanistan’s giant Shebergan gas field back into production,” and people in Afghanistan do in fact drive and own cars.
Paul then pivoted to attack his fellow presidential hopefuls Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz for their stances on military spending, which he said would “bankrupt the country.”
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., appeared on Alex Jones’ radio program today, where he tried to win the bizarre conspiracy theorist back from his Republican presidential rival Donald Trump, who lavished praise on Jones last month.
Paul, who has appeared on Jones’ show several times before, urged InfoWars viewers to demand that the Republican National Committee allow him on the main stage during Thursday’s Fox Business Network debate, which he is currently boycotting because he was placed in the undercard debate.
Jones said that Paul could defeat Trump, who he said is riding a wave of anti-government resentment.
“How do we get you elected president?” he asked. “I know there’s a lot of time left and folks thought Trump would fade but I think really getting aggressive is the way to go. I don’t claim to be the big political guru here, sir, but I’d really like to see you as president.”
Paul insisted that Trump isn’t a true conservative, citing his differences with Trump on the issue of eminent domain.
“I know you’re the statesman that would make the perfect president,” Jones told Paul, wondering “how we could catapult you back to the lead.”
Media Matters, which first highlighted Paul’s appearance today on Jones’ program, pointed out that “Paul attempted to downplay his alliance with Jones,” whom he once thanked “for being a vital part of his 2010 Senate campaign.”
Jones said on the air last year that he hoped Paul would win the GOP nomination for president and that he was confident that Paul would “probably end up being president if we turn this country around” and was only trying to moderate his image because he is “playing politics.”
After floating the idea of mosque closures, being open to a government database to track all Muslims and making false claims about Muslim-Americans celebrating the 9/11 attacks, Donald Trump is now calling for a sweeping ban on all Muslim immigration to the U.S. Trump proposed the immigration ban in a press statement today, claiming that Muslims harbor a “hatred” of America and of human life.
To back up this assertion, Trump cited an unscientific online poll from the Center for Security Policy, a radical group led by conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney, that the group claimed demonstrated anti-American views among American Muslims. Experts have dismissed the poll as significantly flawed and dishonest.
While Trump’s statement implies that he is interested in “preventing Muslim immigration,” his new plan may even bar tourism as it calls for the “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
His campaign manager Corey Lewandoski told the AP that Muslim tourists would also be barred from entering the country.
Trump’s GOP presidential rival Rand Paul made a similar suggestion on Glenn Beck’s program today, saying that “until we have a better handle on who is already here and whether the people here are obeying our laws, I’d just stop immigration from the Middle East.” Paul also called for increased scrutiny from European travelers because too many people who live in the continent are “against Western civilization.”
Read Trump’s statement here:
BREAKING: Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States pic.twitter.com/FJxRSrVE92— Katy Tur (@KatyTurNBC) December 7, 2015
Seven Republican presidential candidates will be travelling to Iowa today to take part in a “presidential family forum” hosted by The Family Leader, a social conservative group led by activist Bob Vander Plaats, who is seen as a kingmaker in the Iowa caucus.
Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Rick Santorum will all be speaking at the forum, at which the candidates are arranged family-style around a Thanksgiving table. (At the 2011 forum, Michele Bachmann memorably took it upon herself to serve water to all of the male candidates.)
The endorsement of Vander Plaats, whose backing helped catapult Huckabee and Santorum to Iowa caucus victories in 2008 and 2012, is one of the most coveted in the state. While most observers think that Cruz will nab Vander Plaats’ endorsement, the activist is keeping his options open. Vander Plaats told a reporter that although Donald Trump was unable to make tonight’s forum, he told him, “If you can guarantee me your endorsement, I will turn the plane around and get there.”
As Vander Plaats’ previous endorsements of Huckabee and Santorum show, he has a powerful machine ready to push an ideologically pure social conservative. Back in 2010, Vander Plaats also led a successful effort to remove three Iowa Supreme Court judges who participated in the court’s landmark unanimous marriage equality decision.
But to get that endorsement, candidates must cater to an activist far the right of mainstream voters. Not only does Vander Plaats want to remove from office or defund the courts of judges who find in favor of marriage equality, he believes that anything, like gay marriage, that “goes against the law of nature” is by definition unconstitutional . He argues that the government is an institution of God and therefor its purpose is “to promote righteousness” and to apply “God’s principles and precepts.” He once warned that God might withdraw his blessing from America because of a Wiccan prayer at the Iowa state capitol.
Vander Plaats has suggested that marriage equality could lead to legal protections for pedophilia and “ a parent marrying their child” and compared the “public health risk” of homosexuality to second-hand smoke. He has praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for his “decisive leadership” in preventing “homosexual propaganda” in his country.
Taking its anti-gay sentiment to a new level, The Family Leader was a sponsor of a conference earlier this month — at which Cruz, Huckabee and then-candidate Bobby Jindal spoke — whose organizer, Kevin Swanson, called for the death penalty for gay people and warned that God would judge America for liking the Harry Potter series too much. (The group later clarified that it does not support violence against gay people but declined to denounce Swanson.)
Speaking at an event last year, Vander Plaats played a video showing a gay pride event alongside the Boston Marathon bombing and mass shootings as illustrations of the “darkness” that has fallen over America:
Vander Plaats had also dabbled in birther conspiracy theories, implying in 2011 that the president’s birth certificate was missing and praising Trump for his “bold” crusade to uncover the truth about the president’s past.
Sen. Rand Paul came up with an interesting analogy in an attempt to argue against refugee resettlement yesterday, saying that Iraqi refugees seeking resettlement in the U.S. “when we won the war” is “sort of like us winning the revolution and our Founding Fathers decide to take political asylum in England.”
Paul, who has used the “we won the war” logic while discussing Iraqi refugees before, fought back against criticism of his legislation to stop the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the U.S. in an interview with Breitbart News, saying it’s “ridiculous to say it has anything to do with hate” because “you’ll never meet someone who is more fair-minded than myself, who believes in individual rights of every individual no matter what their religion is.”
Paul recalled the arrest of two Iraqi refugees in Kentucky who were accused of sending weapons to Al Qaeda in Iraq, the sole case of terrorism charges among the 745,000 refugees admitted to the U.S. since the September 11 attacks. (None have been accused of planning domestic attacks). “My question at the time was why did we admit 60,000 Iraqi refugees when we won the war?” Paul asked. “I thought you got political asylum if you lost the war.”
“Here’s my point also is that if they were pro-Western, which many of them probably are, they would have been the best people to rebuild Iraq in a reasonable fashion,” the Kentucky Republican added. “It would be sort of like us winning the revolution and our Founding Fathers decide to take political asylum in England. You know, it just makes no sense at all.”
Among the many obvious faults with Paul’s analogy is that, as Think Progress has noted, “Many of the Iraqis seeking asylum are people who helped the United States military or contractors as translators and guides,” a somewhat different relationship than the American revolutionaries had with England.
In a radio interview yesterday, Sen. Rand Paul said that if he were to become president, he would pare down the federal government so much that he might even do away with the U.S. Postal Service.
Paul joined Iowa talk radio host Jan Mickelson, who played a clip of last week’s Republican presidential debate in which the Kentucky Republican said that he wants “a government really, really small, so small you can barely see it.”
Paul told Mickelson that this microscopic government might not have room for a postal service. “I think the federal government ought to defend us from foreign attack and have a judiciary and, let’s see, I would say the post office, but they screw up the post office too, so we really don’t even need them for the post office,” he said. “So I want a government that’s really small.”
“I would have a country that defends us from foreign attack, a country that sort of keeps the peace and a country that has a judiciary, a legislative branch, but a country where the federal government didn’t do much,” he added.
Paul’s previous contribution to postal reform was trying to amend a bill to allow guns in post offices.
While speaking with host Ed Berliner, Paul said that he “spends quite a bit of time on Bernie” during appearances at college campuses to let students know that “there’s nothing sexy or cool about socialism.”
The Kentucky senator said that “socialism is anti-choice” and deadly. “If you choose to challenge the state,” he said, “they have to get rid of you, they have to arrest you or they have to eliminate you.”
In a Newsmax interview posted online yesterday, Sen. Rand Paul said he was confident that Republican primary voters will eventually turn against frontrunner Donald Trump once they realize he is a “disaster” who, if nominated, would “get swamped in a landslide.”
“Donald Trump would be probably the largest loser of any candidate ever in the history of the country if he were our nominee,” the Kentucky Republican told host Ed Berliner. “He’s the worst nominee we could possibly think of.”
He explained that Trump is only leading because “people haven’t started looking really seriously at the record” of the different candidates, agreeing with Berliner’s point that “America is just simply too smart to elect Donald Trump as president.”
The 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, was viewed by some on the Right as the subject of “the biggest cover-up in history” and a sign of the coming apocalypse, so it came as no surprise that House Republicans eventually organized a special committee to investigate the attack, which had already been examined by several other congressional and executive panels.
Republicans have tried for years to use the terrorist attack — which led to the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens — to go after former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is testifying before the committee today. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy recently admitted that the special committee was formed to bring down Clinton’s popularity in advance of the 2016 presidential election.
Of course, uncovering facts has never been the GOP’s primary motivation when it comes to Benghazi (or much else). As these five instances show, Republicans and their allies in the conservative media have been much more concerned with creating bizarre scenarios to claim that the administration, and fellow Republicans, are suppressing the truth of the attack.
1) ‘No Evidence’ But What The Hell…
Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch unveiled an elaborate conspiracy theory earlier this year, alleging that the Obama administration wanted Libyan militants to kidnap Stevens in order to then do a prisoner swap for terrorist Omar Abdel-Rahman, who was convicted in the U.S. for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. However, the compound attackers botched the job after Stevens died, Fitton said, and therefore we can never know if the administration was actually ready to release Abdel-Rahman.
Fitton conceded in an interview with WorldNetDaily’s Jerome Corsi, a fellow Benghazi truther, that there is “no evidence” to support his theory.
“Given what we know now, it is not out of the realm of possibility that the terrorist attack on Benghazi could have been a kidnapping attempt aimed at releasing the Blind Sheik,” Fitton said.
He noted, however, there is “no evidence” that the Obama administration may have been complicit in any kidnapping plot related to the Benghazi attack.
And since he can’t find any evidence to substantiate this claim, Fitton is pretty sure that there must have been a cover-up, insinuating that the State Department was trying to stop his group from receiving corroborating information.
2) Cover-Up Of The Cover-Up!
When President Obama first proposed bombing the Syrian regime after it used chemical weapons on civilians in Ghouta, Glenn Beck knew that Obama didn’t want to stop such war crimes — but instead wanted to cover up what really happened in Benghazi.
According to one conspiracy theory, Stevens was actually organizing an operation to transfer weapons from Libya to Syria to aid Islamic extremists (which of course raises the question of why these extremists would then want to attack the American post in the first place).
Seizing on that conspiracy theory, Beck speculated that it wasn’t the Assad regime that used the chemical weapons in Ghouta, but rebels using weapons delivered from the U.S. via Benghazi. Now, Beck reasoned, Obama wanted to bomb Syria because he was “covering the trail of the lost weapons from Benghazi.”
Beck later claimed that David Petraeus stepped down as CIA director not because he leaked classified information to his mistress but because he was about to blow the Benghazi scandal wide open. Beck’s theory ran into a slight hitch when Petraeus publicly praised Clinton’s response to the attack.
3) ‘I Don’t Have Any Proof’
The arms-running conspiracy theory cited by Beck emerged in the right-wing outlet WorldNetDaily, a home of credible journalism such as “Is Obama Biblical ‘Lord of the Flies’?” and “Does Bible Code Predict President Romney?.”
While we weren’t surprised that Beck would pick up a conspiracy theory from such a website, it was a bit more shocking when a U.S. senator brought up WND’s conspiracy theory in a hearing with Clinton. At a 2013 hearing, Sen. Rand Paul demanded that a dumbfounded Clinton tell him if the U.S. was transferring weapons from Libya into Syria via Turkey.
Paul admitted that he didn’t “have any proof” before suggesting that the gun-running scheme was what was really happening “and the cover-up was an attempt to massage and get over this issue without getting into the gun trade.”
Investigations, including one led by Republicans, have found that Stevens was trying to find weapons, but in order to keep them out of the hands of extremists, with no evidence at all that he then sent those weapons to Syrian groups.
4) Marijuana A Benghazi Distraction!
Ben Carson is very upset about the Obama administration’s push to reform American drug laws. The GOP presidential candidate told Joseph Farah, the editor of WorldNetDaily (notice a theme?), that the administration’s push to liberalize laws on marijuana, along with its stance on the trademark of the Washington Redskins, is all part of a plot to “distract people” from the Benghazi attack.
Carson told Farah last year that most people now just think Benghazi “is a singer.”
“And these people vote and they have no idea,” he lamented.
Carson isn’t the only one to latch onto the “distraction” theme. Conservative activist Robert Knight of the American Civil Rights Union dedicated a column in the Washington Times about New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s since-lifted suspension by insisting that the “Deflategate” scandal was part of an effort to distract people from Benghazi. Iowa radio broadcaster Steve Deace similarly wonder if NFL prospect Michael Sam’s decision to come out of the closet was also just a Benghazi distraction.
5) Benghazi Special Committee Is Part Of The Benghazi Cover-Up!
Since every single official committee, including ones led by Republicans, that has investigated the Benghazi attack has ended up debunking the conspiracy theories percolating through the right-wing media, a group of conservative activists has launched the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi to find the real truth.
This unofficial committee has embraced so many conspiracy theories surrounding the attack that its members even believe that the GOP-led Benghazi Special Committee is aiding the cover-up!
One member, Ret. Navy Adm. James “Ace” Lyons, told, guess who, WorldNetDaily, that committee chairman Trey Gowdy needs to go, lamenting that “this is a continued cover-up.”
But the Kentucky Republican isn’t giving up hope, telling Newsmax TV in an interview posted online yesterday that the polls have been “skewed” by the presence of “a celebrity reality TV star.”
Republican politicians Rand and Ron Paul have long been big fans of radical conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, so it is no surprise that Ron Paul was a guest on Jones’ “InfoWars” program today, discussing renewed calls to pass gun restrictions following the recent string of mass shootings.
The elder Paul told Jones that eventually the people will be driven to violence, which would then lead to calls for authoritarian government and gun confiscation.
“If push comes to shove and there’s violence in the street, they’re going to look for a strongman, they’re going to look for somebody who is an authoritarian and said the violence in the cities won’t last, and then people will say, yeah, that’s right, we can’t have anarchy, and they will capitulate,” he said. “The day will come.”
The only form of gun control that’s appropriate, he said, “is taking the guns away from the bureaucrats, the government and taking the guns or restricting the guns use of the president starting wars.”
Last week, Sen. Rand Paul went after Sen. Bernie Sanders, comparing the Democratic presidential candidate to Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot and warning that his ideology could likewise lead to “mass genocide.”
In an interview yesterday with Iowa talk radio host Jan Mickelson, the Republican senator and presidential candidate doubled down on his warning, but clarified that he wasn’t comparing Sanders to Pol Pot … “yet.”
I want to go head to head with this, I think, crazy notion of collectivism, crazy notion of socialism. And I want to make sure that all these young people realize is what socialism is is a lack of choice. You won’t be able to make what you want, you won’t be able to buy what you want. It’ll be controlled by the government. If you disobey, you’ll be fined. If you do it again, you’ll be imprisoned. If you continue doing it, what has often happened under socialism is the inherent force morphs into something even more dastardly. And that’s what happened under Stalin, under Mao, under Pol Pot.
And people say, ‘You’re calling Bernie Pol Pot.’ Not yet. But what I’m saying is the underpinnings of the belief in socialism is the implication of force in that you will force people to do what the states want them to do and that you take away their choices. And I think if young people knew that it was anti-choice, that socialism took away their choices to buy, sell, and do and work where they want to work, I think they’d be running away from it. But Bernie’s offering a version to them where he doesn’t quite inform them of the horrors of socialism.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., joined South Carolina radio host Vince Coakley yesterday to discuss the first Democratic presidential debate, where he said the candidates were “all trying to outdo each other in their disdain for the economic system of capitalism that made us great.”
The Republican presidential candidate linked Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-proclaimed democratic socialist in the mold of Northern European countries, to the murderous communist regimes of Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot, saying that “most of the times when socialism has been tried” there “has been mass genocide of people or any of those who object to it.”
“It amazes me and it actually kind of scares me,” Paul said. “I’ve been spending more time going after Bernie and socialism because I don’t want America to succumb to the notion that there’s anything good about socialism. I think it’s not an accident of history that most of the times when socialism has been tried that attendant with that has been mass genocide of people or any of those who object to it. Stalin killed tens of millions of people. Mao killed tens of millions of people. Pol Pot killed tens of millions of people. When you have a command economy, when everything is dictated from one authority, that’s socialism, but it doesn’t come easily to those who resist it.”
Whatever one might think of Sanders’ political ideology, there is a vast gulf between the kind of socialist policies he is discussing and the total economic and social control imposed by communist dictatorships.
Falsely suggesting that the recent mass shooting at an Oregon community college took place in a gun-free zone, Sen. Rand Paul said yesterday that as president he would encourage every school in America to place stickers on its windows warning potential criminals that teachers are armed and “you will be shot.”
The Kentucky Republican told Iowa talk radio host Jan Mickelson that the Oregon shooting was “an incredible tragedy, but it’s even made worse by the president politicizing it and jumping in.” The president “doesn’t understand,” he said, that “the problem is mental illness and not necessarily gun registration or gun ownership.”
“The other common denominator, other than mental illness,” he added, “is that people are going to places where guns are prohibited. So when you have a gun-free zone at a school, it’s like an invitation, if you are crazy and want to shoot people, that’s where you go. I would do the opposite. I would have and encourage every school in American put stickers on every window going into the school saying, ‘We are armed. Come in at your own peril. We have concealed carry for teachers who have it and we also have armed security and you will be shot.’”
Such stickers should be placed on “every cockpit of every commercial airliner” and on “every school,” he said.
Paul said that he would support preventing “people who have exhibited criminal insanity” from owning guns, but that such laws would have to be made at the state level. But he added that broader issues, such as the lack of a “Christian foundation” in the country, may also be influencing mass shooting.
“I do think that we have generalized problems in our country that may somehow influence, I’m not sure they’re the answer, but I think that we lack a certain belief in right and wrong, a certain Christian foundation or religious foundation to our country anymore,” he said, “and I think some of this perversion is coming from that. But also there’s some things that are just inexplicable, that’s just mental illness, they’re not getting better with treatment and they’re not going to get necessarily better with religious influence as well.”
Yesterday, anti-Muslim activist Frank Gaffney had on his radio show well-known white nationalist Jared Taylor, who has called African-Americans “crime-prone” and “deviant” and said that his goal is to ensure the “ biological and cultural continuity” of white people in America. On the show, Gaffney said that he “appreciated tremendously” Taylor’s work. While that’s all heinous on its own, seven of the Republican presidential candidates have appeared on Gaffney’s program or spoken at his events, including recent campaign events in early primary states.
People For the American Way President Michael B. Keegan responded with the following:
“This is a new low, even considering how hard all the leading Republican candidates have been courting the xenophobic Republican base enthralled with Trump.
“All of the Republican candidates should cut ties with Gaffney immediately and refuse to go on his show or speak at future events he sponsors. The Republican Party should not give any space to white nationalism.”
Additional background on Gaffney, Taylor, and the connections that Trump, Carson, Huckabee, Santorum, Paul, Jindal, and Cruz have to Gaffney can be found here, from People For the American Way’s Right Wing Watch.
The Center for Security Policy, the anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim organization run by former Reagan administration official Frank Gaffney has a comfortable place in Republican politics.
Republican presidential candidates Ben Carson, Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal and Ted Cruz, have all spoken at at least one CSP event, as have a number of prominent conservative activists. Former Vice President Dick Cheney has accepted an award from the group. Just this month, Gaffney cosponsored a rally against the Iran nuclear deal that was headlined by Trump, Cruz, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin. Carson appeared on his radio program this month; Cruz, Jindal and Rand Paul have joined the program in the past.
This is all despite Gaffney’s long track record of pushing outrageous conspiracy theories , including birther and “secret Muslim” theories about President Obama, panic about Sharia law coming to the United States, and embarrassing campaigns against people he thinks are infiltrating the American government or the GOP or the NRA or CPAC on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood.
And then there’s this: As the Southern Poverty Law Center spotted, Gaffney invited Jared Taylor, one of the most well-known white nationalists in the country, to speak on his “Secure Freedom Radio” program yesterday and took trouble to tell Taylor that he “appreciated tremendously” Taylor’s work at his racist publication American Renaissance, which Gaffney called “wonderful.”
The two discussed their aversion to the Syrian refugees fleeing to Europe. Gaffney asked Taylor, according to SPLC’s transcript:
At some point there will be a very vigorous resistance to the infusion into these countries of large numbers of people who don’t assimilate, many of them Muslim who bring with them a Sharia ideological program that is antithetical to the culture and civilization and polities of European nations. Do you anticipate, as we’re seeing now evidence of increasing violence, notably against women, on the part of these refugees, not all of them by any means but some, rapes now becoming a serious problem in some of the refugee holding areas, and demonstrations and in some cases worse that are breaking out in various parts of Europe when they’re not accommodated to their satisfaction, that you may see in fact Europe devolving once again into the types of cataclysms that it has from time immemorial with, you know, blood letting taking place. Is that overreaching at this point or perhaps just a distant possibility?
We have unleashed now what would not be an exaggeration to call almost demonic forces. We have close to a million now of these so-called refugees, most of whom are young men. They are young, single men. Most of whom have never seen a woman in a bikini in their lives. Most of them are part of, as you say, this Sharia culture that despises any woman who walks around with her face uncovered, with her legs bare. These people are going to be all sorts of trouble for Europe for many, many years to come.
Taylor is an unapologetically racist activist. He has written that "Blacks and whites are different. When blacks are left entirely to their own devices, Western civilization — any kind of civilization — disappears"; he has urged white people to “rekindle” their “instinctive preference for their own people and culture.” Taylor has been active in the effort to build alliances between American white nationalists and the European far-right, participating in a meeting in Budapest last year, where he told his “European brothers” that “the genetic and cultural effect of alien immigration is no different from armed invasion.”
While Taylor is largely shunned by mainstream right-wing circles, he has expressed an affinity for Donald Trump, telling the New Yorker that “I’m sure he would repudiate any association with people like me, but his support comes from people who are more like me than he might like to admit.”
When Media Matters asked Gaffney to explain his interview with Taylor, CSP sent them a statement claiming that Gaffney invited Taylor exclusively to discuss refugee policy and “was unfamiliar with Mr. Taylor's views on other matters and did not discuss or endorse them.” The group did not explain how Gaffney was able to lavish praise on American Renaissance without being familiar with its contents.
While Gaffney’s already lengthy record of extremism hasn’t yet caused major GOP figures to distance themselves from him, Gaffney’s decision to elevate Taylor and his work should cause him to lose all credibility among candidates and officials who wish to be taken seriously in the future.
UPDATE: In a statement on the Center for Security Policy's website, the group says that Gaffney's compliments to Taylor were "routine" and that if he had done his "due diligence" before the interview, he would not have invited Taylor as a guest:
Yesterday’s program included a conversation with Jared Taylor concerning a recent article by him addressing the dire implications for Europe, its people and civilization of large numbers of migrants from nations in which shariah-adherence is the norm. The host was unfamiliar with Mr. Taylor’s views on other matters and did not discuss or endorse them.
Subsequently, Mr. Gaffney had a chance to examine those views and the American Renaissance website on which they appear. There is much there with which he strongly disagrees. Had due diligence been done beforehand, such disagreements would have resulted in Mr. Taylor not being invited on the show, routine compliments to such guests not made and an offer to appear again not extended.
UPDATE II: CSP has removed the interview with Taylor from its website.