Reince Priebus

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 7/16/14

• Right-wing leaders including Jenny Beth Martin, Tony Perkins, Richard Viguerie and Ken Blackwell are urging RNC chairman Reince Priebus to investigate the Mississippi runoff election.

• Hazelton, Pennsylvania, may be on the hook for millions more dollars for its failed anti-immigrant policy.

• The Pew Research Center is out with new findings on the “feelings that members of America’s religious groups have about one another.”

• Tony Perkins says “President Obama has put the demands of this 3% [of LGBT people] before the entire nation and its interests.”

• Finally, Laurie Higgins urges parents to “flee from public school pornogogues pronto.”

Tom DeLay And Reince Priebus Wonder Why The Obamas Keep Mentioning Race

Former Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said in an interview yesterday that First Lady Michelle Obama was promoting “racism” when she pointed out in a commencement address this weekend that there is still segregation and racial inequality in America’s schools.

After playing a clip of the first lady’s speech, Newsmax host Steve Malzberg asked DeLay, “I’m not sure what she’s pushing for. Is she looking for bussing?”

“What she’s pushing for is racism,” DeLay responded. “Michelle Obama and Barack Obama can’t do anything unless there’s a certain amount of race involved in it.”

While DeLay conceded that there are racial inequalities in some “inner cities,” he blamed that “leftist organizations” who have “have completely destroyed the education system.”

“Mostly around the country, race has no part being played in our education system,” he claimed. He speculated that the Obamas talk about racial inequality “because it keeps people motivated to see their point of view, they’re world of view, and follow them right over the cliff.”

Malzberg continued on the subject in an interview with Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus.

Quoting Attorney General Eric Holder’s remark that “outbursts of bigotry” like Donald Sterling’s can be less harmful than the “subtle racism” of “policies that impede equal opportunity,” Malzberg told Priebus, “It just seems that this is a Justice Department that is 100 percent only involved with race, racial issues. And one way!”

“Yeah, it is interesting that you point it out that way. There’s so many examples of that in regard to how Eric Holder runs the department,” Priebus agreed. He then suggested that racial inequality in public schools could be eliminated through school voucher programs.

The DOJ is currently working in Lousiana to make sure a school voucher program isn’t increasing segregation

Religious Right Warns RNC Not To Hold 2016 Convention In Las Vegas

The Republican National Committee is currently in the process of selecting the location for the 2016 national convention and among the cities in the running is Las Vegas, Nevada.

That, of course, is not sitting well with Religious Right activists who have now dashed off a letter to RNC Chairman Reince Priebus warning him that the RNC had better choose a different place to hold the convention:

The leaders sent a letter last week to Republican chairman Reince Priebus, putting him on notice that picking Vegas would generate friction. They call the city a “trap waiting to ensnare. … What could go wrong? The answer is obvious.”

Leaders from the religious right who have joined the effort include Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association; Phyllis Schlafly, founder of Eagle Forum; Andrea Lafferty, president of the Traditional Values Coalition; Paul Caprio, director of Family-PAC; and James Dobson, president of Family Talk ministry.

“The GOP is supposedly interested in reaching out to conservatives and evangelicals. Maybe that’s just a front, but if they really mean it this is not the way to do it,” Dobson said Tuesday. “Even though Vegas has tried to shore itself up and call itself family-friendly, it’s still a metaphor for decadence. There’s still 64 pages of escort services in the yellow pages. … You can’t have it both ways.”

...

Excerpts from social-conservative leaders’ letter to Republican Party Chairman Reince Preibus warning against selecting Las Vegas to host the 2016 GOP convention:

“In spite of ‘family-friendly’ outreach in the past decade, Las Vegas remains a metaphor for all things decadent. And looking at the yellow pages, one can see that it still delivers. With 64 pages of escort services and countless gambling casinos, it remains a trap waiting to ensnare.”

“At a time when the base needs to be motivated, this is no time to mute or offend them in any way. It may seem strange, silly even to some that conservatives would object to something that COULD be so innocuous. Surely there are shows and great restaurants and beautiful hotels. … What could possible go wrong? The answer is obvious, and wisdom dictates the chance not be taken.”

“There are several wonderful venues being considered. We are not advocating for any of them. But we urge you to reject Las Vegas and celebrate the vibrancy and strength of the Republican Party in a place not at odds with its values.”

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.

Reince Priebus Promises To Be 'As Strong On These Social Issues' As A Pastor 'On Sunday Morning'

In a conversation with conservative bloggers at CPAC last week, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus promised that he would be “as strong on these social issues” – including choice and marriage equality – as a pastor “on Sunday morning.”

In the wide-ranging conversation, audio of which was posted by LifeSiteNews, Priebus assured his audience that autopsy reports aside, the GOP will not moderate or shy away from its anti-choice or anti-gay stances…while at the same time saying he wasn’t going to be “walking around down the street” proclaiming his opposition to marriage equality.

He said that his attendance at the March for Life this year was a “wake-up call” that “maybe we need to start reminding people about the core positions of our party more.”

"We're a pro-life party and I'm not shying away from that at all," he added.

He also said that he tells pastors that “church can’t just be vanilla ice cream and cotton candy on Sunday morning either, and that there’s joint responsibility in talking about issues of faith.”

“I tell a lot of pastors sometimes, in groups like this, I say, ‘Listen, I got a deal for you. I’ll be as strong on these social issues as you’re willing to be on Sunday morning. How about that deal?’”

When an attendee asked him if he considers “opposition to gay marriage still to be a core party issue,” Priebus responded that it was but implied that Republicans should avoid talking about it to much.

“Yeah, I mean, we’re a party that believes that marriage ought to be between one man and one woman, that’s our party platform, it’s a position that I’ve never backed away from,” he said. “What I have said, though, is that we need to treat each other with grace and dignity and respect. And that’s not code language, it comes out of the New Testament. So there should be no confusion about where we stand.”

When the questioner asked if opposition to marriage equality was “something that you want to be reminding people of more,” Priebus answered: “Well, I mean, I’m not like walking around down the street, but if someone wants to ask me like you did, I didn’t dance for you. I mean, I answered the question head-on and very clear.”

Right Wing Round-Up - 1/30/14

It's Not Just Dave Agema: 5 RNC Committee Members Who Have Pushed Anti-Gay Bigotry

With GOP leaders calling for Michigan Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema to resign over his latest anti-gay outbursts, we were surprised that Agema’s views would really be that shocking in a party that, as former GOProud leader Jimmy LaSalvia puts it, has a wide “tolerance for bigotry.”

Republicans like RNC chairman Reince Priebus may think by denouncing Agema’s rhetoric they are putting distance between the GOP and extremists. But at the end of the day, the party’s platform embraces the extreme anti-LGBT agenda that Agema represents, opposing not just marriage equality but also civil unions, fair employment practices, non-discrimination policies, hate crimes laws and LGBT-inclusive foreign policy.

And Agema isn’t the only RNC member who has been quite open about his anti-gay bigotry. In fact, it wasn’t very hard at all to put together a short, and by no means an exhaustive, compilation of RNC members who have made anti-gay claims similar to Agema’s.

5. Tamara Scott (Iowa)

Scott, a Concerned Women for America leader and National Republican Committee member, has alleged that the legalization of gay marriage hurt her state’s economy. She also worried that marriage equality will pave the way man-Eiffel Tower marriage.

4. Steve Scheffler (Iowa)

Scheffler got his start as the head of the Christian Coalition’s Iowa chapter (which is now the Iowa Faith and Family Coalition chapter). Under his leadership, the group falsely linked homosexuality to pedophilia and claimed that gay men typically don’t live past the age of 47.

After he became a GOP committeeman, Schleffler blocked openly gay candidate Fred Karger from joining a presidential debate, saying that Karger belonged to the “radical homosexual community” which seeks “to harass supporters of REAL marriage.” He warned against a movement in Republican circles to push the party to support gay rights, arguing that such a move would “literally destroy the Republican Party.”

When Iowa legalized same-sex marriage, Schleffler tried to repeal marriage equality and warned that his state would become “the homosexual capital of the Midwest” and dangerous for kids. “We Iowans want this state to be a good, safe environment for our kids. You ask the average person in the street whether they support gay marriage, and they’ll say no,” he wrote.

3. Bill Armistead (Alabama)

Armistead, the Alabama GOP chairman, tried last year to purge a young Republican activist from the state GOP steering committee after she criticized the party’s hardline stance again marriage equality.

When the Supreme Court struck down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act, Armistead accused the government of “hijacking marriage.” “Whether by a constitutional amendment or other means, US taxpayers should not be forced by their government to reward those who choose to engage in activity that had been banned in 35 states,” he said. “Alabama’s state law banning gay marriage will prevent these benefits from being extended in Alabama, but our tax dollars will still go to support a lifestyle that we fundamentally disagree with.”

Armistead also claimed same-sex marriage would lead to polygamy and charged that acceptance of gay people is a “sad testament to where we are as a nation,” warning that tolerance of LGBT people puts “America on a slippery slope.”

2. Debbie Joslin (Alaska)

Alaska Republican committeewoman Debbie Joslin led her state’s campaign to bar same-sex marriage and benefits as the state’s Eagle Forum leader.

Joslin also fought a proposal to require schools to adopt LGBT-inclusive policies, warning that increased tolerance would “foster confusion in the minds of our children.” In addition, she denounced openly gay members of the Boy Scouts, whom she claimed were not “healthy role models.”

1. Ada Fisher (North Carolina)

Fisher, a National Republican Committee member from North Carolina, expressed outrage when President Obama and former President Clinton endorsed marriage equality, suggesting that it showed a lack of respect for…straight people: “OK, now I’m confessing to a poorly kept secret — I am a heterosexual black female who loves men and has achieved some modicum of success. So, now will President Obama, Bill Clinton and others give me a call for coming out and openly expressing my sexual preference?”

Fisher also suggested that gay marriage harms the black community by destabilizing the relationships closeted gay men have with women. “The psychological side of my brain is disturbed by the further negative impact of changing gender roles in undermining already fragile black families…black men in the closet are coming out or remaining on the down-low, which may be perceived as another blow to viable relationships with these men at the expense of black women.”

 

Paranoia-Rama: Pot Welfare; Islamists In Charge & The Gay Police State Is Coming For You

RWW’s Paranoia-Rama takes a look at five of the week’s most absurd conspiracy theories from the Right.

This week, we learned more details about President Obama’s sinister gay-Sharia plot. And according to one right-wing radio host, if the president fails to implement his nefarious policies before his second term runs out, he will simply set up “a satellite administration in exile.”

5. Pot Wreaking Havoc On Colorado!

Colorado’s legalization of marijuana went into effect at the start of the year, providing plenty of material for satirical websites such as the Daily Currant and the National Report. Unfortunately, it seems that many people fell for the Daily Currant’s post titled “Marijuana Overdoses Kill 37 in Colorado On First Day of Legalization”; many also believed the National Report articles, “Feds Raid Colorado Pot Shop” and “Colorado Pot Shop Accepting Food Stamps – Taxpayer Funded Marijuana for Welfare Recipients.”

Of course, we don’t need satirical stories from the Daily Currant or National Report when we already have terrible reporting on marijuana policy from folks like Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly and Washington Times opinion editor Emily Miller.

4. Priebus Uncovers Democratic Jobless Aid Conspiracy

After Senate Republicans failed to block a vote to extend unemployment benefits for three months, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus alleged that is actually the Democrats who want the jobless aid bill to fail, even though every single Democratic member of the Senate voted to consider the legislation. “They don’t want this to pass,” Priebus said, arguing that Democrats simply want to make Republicans look bad by trying to hold a vote on an extension of unemployment insurance for 1.3 million jobseekers.

“I’m reasonably certain this theory is stark raving mad, but let’s assume for the sake of conversation that Priebus is onto something,” Steve Benen responded. “If this were true, wouldn’t it make sense for Republican leaders to pass the measures and undermine the Democratic plan?”

Instead, all but six Senate Republicans opposed it.

3. The Mythical Gay Police State

The National Organization for Marriage is still fuming Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson’s brief suspension from A&E and defending his imaginary constitutional right to appear on television. In a hysterical post about the Duck Dynasty flap — since deleted but grabbed by Jeremy Hooper — NOM president Brian Brown warned that soon the police may arrest and prosecute people for “criminal hate-speech charges.” He asserted that the “homosexual lobby” is creating “a new State regime” that will make religious beliefs “subject to punishment” and “grounds for criminal action.”

“This is what our country is facing if the same-sex ‘marriage’ movement gets its way: a society in which not just Phil and other celebrities who voice Christian values are put in the crosshairs and targeted for persecution, but any ordinary citizen who believes in traditional values — ordinary citizens like you and me — will be liable to sanction,” Brown wrote.

Laura Ingraham delivered a similar message on her radio show this week, cautioning that gay rights laws represent “a victory against religious liberty” that “puts us on a very dangerous path, it’s a path that Karl Marx would be very happy from the grave, or from hell, to see us being on right now.”

2. Limbaugh: Obama Will Keep Power After Second Term

When President Obama announced that his family may stay in the Washington, DC, area after his second term ends so his youngest daughter can graduate from school, Rush Limbaugh’s sixth sense for conspiracies was immediately triggered.

The conservative talk show host alleged that Obama will try to hold on to power by establishing “a satellite administration in exile” with the “media continuing to treat him as though he is still president.” He warned that Obama will have an “unprecedented post-presidency” that will allow him to hold onto the reins of power even outside of elected office. 

“He’s gonna be staying there to protect his legacy and to make sure it is never unwound,” Limbaugh said. “Unless he’s run out of town in shame.”

1. Islamists In The White House

Doing his best Joseph McCarthy impression, Fox News pundit Tom McInerney insists that he has a list of names of the members of the Muslim Brotherhood who are working in government…except he doesn’t know their names. “We’ve got Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S. government today,” McInerney told the Washington radio station WMAL. “I haven’t got their names exactly but there’s a list of them, at least 10 or 15 of them in the U.S. government.”

Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association took this theory one step further to contend that the chief Islamist in the Obama administration is Obama himself:

Priebus: Democrats Secretly Oppose Unemployment Insurance As Part Of Obamacare Plot

Yesterday, all but six Republicans voted to block the Senate from taking up a bill extending unemployment insurance for three months. But according to RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, it is actually the Democrats who don’t want jobless aid to pass the Senate.

That’s right, even though his own party has tried to throw a wrench into efforts to extend aid to 1.3 million jobseekers — the GOP’s position would even threaten job growth and cut GDP — Priebus yesterday told radio host Lars Larson that Democrats “don’t want this to pass.” He claimed that the Democrats’ attempt to pass emergency jobless aid was in fact a ploy to “avoid Obamacare.”

Priebus claimed that President Obama is promoting income inequality, even though the federal programs such as food stamps that Republicans want to drastically cut keep millions of people out of poverty.

Priebus: I think the President is the king of income inequality. He has doubled food stamps, the poor are poorer under this president, Wall Street is doing better under this president and he’s jamming Obamacare under everybody’s throat. That’s his record.

Larson: The first three months of this extension — if the Houses is crazy enough to pass it — costs about $6-7 billion.



Priebus: All of this kind of stuff is ridiculous because we’re spending all of our time actually talking and perpetrating what the Democrats actually want. They don’t want this to pass, what they want to do is they want to talk about these things, they want to talk about minimum wage and what they want to do ultimately is create a campaign issue, this sort of rich vs. poor, the same old thing they can do and avoid Obamacare. That’s what they want.

Perhaps Priebus should have listened to the interview with Larson’s other guest today, Sen. Jim Inhofe.

The Oklahoma Republican in no uncertain terms said he has consistently opposes extensions of unemployment insurance. He also contradicted Priebus by saying that Democrats do in fact want to extend such aid…but only because it will encourage joblessness and government dependency.

“I think that we’ve developed a society that, you know, as long as they don’t have to work they don’t work. I’ve always opposed extending that and I’ve opposed that in my own state,” Inhofe said. “This president has intentionally put us in the position where people are relying upon government for their existence, this is just one element in that overall program.”

Priebus: GOP Not Embracing 'Tolerance,' Just Becoming More Loving

Following their 2012 election debacle, the Republican National Committee and the College Republicans issued reports which urged the party to go through an image makeover without adjusting its political stances. Essentially, they argued, the party should only appear to be changing and becoming more open-minded, empathetic and welcoming.

Speaking with David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network posted today, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus confirmed that the party will try to reach out to groups like gays and lesbians by simply appearing to be more respectful without actually changing its views on issues such as marriage equality.

After Brody said conservative evangelical voters are nervous that the GOP thinks “we have to be more tolerant,” Priebus said there is nothing to worry about. “I don’t know if I’ve used the word ‘tolerance,’ I don’t really care for that word myself. I don’t have a problem with it, I just think it has another meaning politically that can go the other direction,” the party chairman said.

“It’s not what you say, I think, it’s sometimes – like our moms used to tell us – it’s how you say it. And I think that’s really the issue. And quite frankly, I think some of that has been overblown.”

Priebus assured Brody that the GOP will continue to represent “things that are very square with our beliefs as Christians” and recognize that “there’s only one sovereign God.”

Watch:

Brody: I want to talk to you about this way forward for the GOP. When you use that word ‘intolerant,’ ‘you know we have to be more tolerant’ in what the RNC put out. Evangelicals start to grab the Excedrin bottles when they hear ‘tolerance’ because they think ‘oh no the GOP is changing and the whole gay marriage situation.’ Why don’t you address this and maybe put evangelicals at ease or can you put them at ease at all here?

Priebus: Well, one hundred percent. I don’t know if I’ve used the word ‘tolerance,’ I don’t really care for that word myself. I don’t have a problem with it, I just think it has another meaning politically that can go the other direction. I happen to believe that our principles are sound. I do believe, and I still will tell you that our party believes that marriage is between one man and one woman. Our party believes that life begins at conception. I think those are foundational issues that aren’t going anywhere but what I have said, which I don’t think should be controversial at all and I would think that Christians and pastors and everyone in between should agree that our principles have to be draped in the concepts of grace, love and respect and that’s not code language, that’s the New Testament, so I don’t think there should be any problem with that thinking within our party. That’s all I’ve said. It’s not what you say, I think, it’s sometimes like our moms used to tell us, it’s how you say it; and I think that’s really the issue and quite frankly I think some of that has been overblown. I’m happy to address it but clearly myself and our party haven’t changed on those principles.



Priebus: Looking at the evidence, what you will see is a party that embraces life, a party that embraces marriage and a chairman that understands that there’s only one sovereign God and that we ultimately aren’t dependent on what happens in politics, that that ultimately matters in our lives is that we’re salt and light in the world and that we’re honoring God in the things that we do every day. I get that. I think our party gets that and there’s never been a movement away from that. So ‘tolerance,’ maybe some people use that word, what I would tell you, when I think about it, I think about grace, I think about love, I think about respect, and I think those are things that are very square with our beliefs as Christians.

Teavangelicals Told to Be ‘Happy Warriors’ Against Liberals, Big Govt, GOP Nay-sayers

Here’s a question for Ralph Reed and the ‘Teavangelical’ wing of the conservative movement: how can you portray yourselves as serious about governing when the keynote speakers at last week’s “Road to Majority” conference were Donald Trump and Sarah Palin?

Palin’s conference-closing remarks on Saturday featured a breathtakingly offensive joke about the Syrian civil war, which has taken an estimated 100,000 lives. She said we should just “let Allah sort it out.” Palin also had choice words for the bipartisan immigration reform bill moving through the Senate, which she dismissed as “a pandering, rewarding-the-rule-breakers, still-no-border-security, special-interest-written amnesty bill.” She was one of many conference speakers rhetorically crapping on Marco Rubio and the bipartisan “Gang of 8” reform bill and burning the bridges that conservative Latinos are trying to build.

At Friday night’s “gala” Reed bestowed a lifetime achievement award on Pat Robertson, who is increasingly difficult to take seriously, and who devoted his remarks to trashing President Obama.  Trump, who also addressed the gala, spoke mostly about his own Trumpian greatness and how Mitt Romney might have been president if he had the guts to run Trump’s anti-Obama “you’re fired” ad.  Trump shared plenty of pablum and piercing political insights, such as the Republicans needing to be “really smart” in choosing a “great candidate” in 2016. Trump also criticized the immigration reform bill as a “death wish” for the Republican Party, saying “every one of those people, and the tens of millions of people they will bring in with them, will be absolutely voting Democratic.”

There’s no question Ralph Reed still has pull. His conference opened with a luncheon featuring four Tea Party senators and he got a handful of Republican House members to speak along with former and future presidential hopefuls like Mike Huckabee, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, and Ted Cruz.  Rick Perry, who was introduced as a “Renaissance man,” bragged about the law he recently signed to protect the ostensibly threatened right of public school students to wish each other “Merry Christmas” Perry said, ““I hope my state is a glowing example of men and women who believe that those traditional values are how you make a stronger society.” Stronger society? Not so much.

In addition to the divide on immigration, relentless attacks on President Obama (Dick Morris said of the president, “he doesn’t care about national security”), and the unsurprising rhetoric on abortion, marriage, and supposed threats to religious liberty, there were some other major themes:

Government Bad

The conference was infused with the Tea Party’s anti-federal-government themes. Jonah Goldberg of the National Review reminded people of a video shown at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, which he recalled saying the government is the one thing we all belong to.  “Now, as sort of a Tea Party-ish kind of guy, that makes me want to flip the safety on my rifle.”

Speakers urged activists to take advantage of the recent scandals surrounding the IRS, the Justice Department, and the National Security Agency. Santorum urged activists to “think big” and “seize the moment” provided by the IRS scandal. Sen. Ron Johnson said he would like Americans to apply their disgust about the scandals to the federal government in general. Rather than trying to restore faith in government, Johnson said, activists should be fostering distrust of the government.

Grover Norquist is known for his quip that he wants to shrink the government until it is small enough to drown in the bathtub.  At Road to Majority he spelled out his plan to complete the strategy he embarked on with the Bush tax cuts and the no-tax-increase pledge he demands Republican candidates sign. He noted that “thanks to the marvels of modern redistricting,” Republicans are likely to have a Republican House until 2022, which means they have several chances to get a Senate majority and a Republican in the White House before then. Whenever that happens, he says, Republicans can put the Ryan budget into law and dramatically curtail government spending. He calls it “completely doable.”

Meanwhile, he said, in the 25 states where Republicans control the legislative and executive branches, activists should push for the passage of more anti-union legislation, and for laws that encourage people to obtain concealed carry permits, home school their children, and participate in stock ownership, three things that he said make people more Republican. He called this changing the demographics by changing the rules.

Obamacare: Will it Destroy America or Obama?

House Republicans have made repealing the Affordable Care Act – “Obamacare” – an obsession. Rick Santorum said opposition to the law should have been the centerpiece of the 2012 campaign. And many speakers repeated the demand that the health care reform law be repealed in its entirety.  Stephen Moore, founder of the Club for Growth and a Wall Street Journal editorial board member, said repealing Obamacare is the single most important thing that has to happen in Washington over the next two years. But a number of speakers had a slightly different take, suggesting that the implementation of the complex law would be its undoing, and that public outrage at rising insurance rates would bring down the Obama administration. Dick Morris predicted Obama would be “destroyed” by the law’s implementation.

GOP: Friend or Foe?

One running theme of the conference was conservative activists’ distrust for national Republican leaders, particularly around opposition to abortion and LGBT equality. Several speakers made reference to the notorious RNC “autopsy” on the 2012 election and the perception that some party leaders want social conservatives to tone it down. Reed himself complained that while self-identified evangelicals represented 45 percent of the Republican ticket’s vote, some party leaders were saying they are the problem and should “ride in the back of the bus.” He vowed that on issue of abortion and man-woman marriage, social conservatives would not be silent, “not now, not ever.”

It’s not just Ted Cruz who mocks his fellow Republicans. Gary Bauer complained that the last two Republican nominees had a hard time talking about sanctity of life issues, and he said party officials in Washington spend too much time taking the advice of “cowardly pollsters and political consultants.”  Mike Huckabee complained that “Republicans have been, if not equal, sometimes more guilty than Democrats in thinking the brilliant thing to do would be to centralize more power in the hands of the central government.” He said he’s “sick of hearing” that people think the GOP needs to move away from a conservative message.

There was enough grumbling that when it was RNC Chairman Reince Priebus’s turn to speak on Saturday, the Wisconsin Faith & Freedom official who introduced him felt a need to vouch for Priebus’s faith and commitment to conservative causes. He said angrily that it is “an absolute lie” that Priebus is not a social conservative and insisted that there is no division in the party.

Priebus started his remarks by establishing his religious credentials: “I’m a Christian. I’m a believer. God lives in my heart, and I’m for changing minds, not changing values.” He added, “I’m so grateful that we’ve got a party that prays, that we’ve got a party that puts God first, and I’m proud to be part of that.” He said he “gets it” that conservative Christians are a “blessing” to the party. He said the GOP needs to have a permanent ground game in place all across the country. 

Priebus defended his plan to shorten the presidential primary season and move the party convention from August to June from critics who call it an insider move against grassroots conservatives. It isn’t an establishment takeover, he insisted, but a way to prevent a replay of the 2012, when Romney went into the summer months broke after a long primary season but not yet able to tap general election funding.

Still, not all the conservative are convinced that national Republicans are with them.  Palin portrayed Republicans in Washington as being overly fond of government spending: “It doesn’t matter if it’s a Republican or a Democrat sitting atop a bloated boot on your neck, out of control government, everyone gets infected, no party is immune. That’s why, I tell ya, I’m listening to those independents, to those libertarians who are saying, you know, it is both sides of the aisle, the leadership, the good old boys….”

Phyllis Schlafly talked about having waged internal battles to make the GOP a solidly anti-abortion Party and encouraged activists not to be seduced by talk of a conservative third party but to work within the Republican Party to make sure the right people on the ballot. Norquist insisted that activists had helped brand the GOP as the party that will not raise your taxes, and he said Republican elected officials who vote for tax increases damage the brand for everyone else. They are, he said, “rat heads in coca-cola.”

Message Envy

It might surprise many progressives, who have spent years bemoaning the effectiveness of Republicans’ emotion-laden rhetoric, that speaker after speaker complained that Democrats are so much better than Republicans at messaging.  Of course complaining about messaging is easier than admitting that there may be something about your policies that voters don’t like.

At a panel on messaging strategies, author Diane Medved said that when defending traditional marriage, she would love to say “what is it about ‘abomination’ that you don’t understand?” But she knows that won’t reach people who don’t already agree with her. She argued that conservatives should marshal the “science” that supports their positions.  She also tried out a new messaging strategy, saying that opposition to marriage equality is a feminist issue because it is empowering to women to affirm that they are different than men. “Women deserve to have credit for being who they are as a separate gender and they are not interchangeable with men.”

Ryan Anderson, co-author of a book on marriage with Robert George, the intellectual godfather of the anti-marriage-equality movement, took issue with the name of the panel, which was “Don’t Preach to the Choir.” Anderson said the choir needs to be preached to, because too many Christians are giving up on marriage. There is no such thing as parenting, he insisted, there is mothering and fathering. Anderson said that anti-marriage equality forces have only been fighting for five years, while proponents have been fighting for 20 to 30 years. “It’s not that our argument for marriage has been heard and been rejected,” he said. “It’s that it hasn’t been heard at all.”  Anderson promoted the widely discredited Regnerus study on family structures as evidence that science is on his side.

Eric Teetsel, executive director of the Manhattan Declaration, encouraged activists to be careful with their rhetoric. “I don’t believe that there are very many, if any, people in this movement, certainly not in public life, who have any ill will toward the same-sex community, at all. But sometimes we say things that make it sound like we do.” If Teetsel really believes that, he needs to spend some more time actually listening to conservative religious leaders, pundits and politicians who regularly charge that gay-rights advocates are Satan-inspired sexual predators who are out to destroy faith and freedom if not western civilization itself.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy or Arguing as a Lover with Stupid Liberals

Anyone who pays attention to religious right groups has been seeing the word “winsome” a lot. Conservative evangelical leaders are well aware of polling data that shows young Christians are turned off by the anti-gay bigotry they see in the church.  So there’s a push on for everyone to make conservative arguments in a “winsome” way, to be “happy warriors” like Ronald Reagan, to be cheerful when arguing with liberals. Being cheerful was a big theme at Road to Majority. Said Rick Perry, “when we fight for our county, we need to do it with joy.” 

The Manhattan Declaration's Teetsel took this theme to new heights in the messaging panel in which he called for “arguing as a lover” when “trying to woo people over to our side”: be respectful, self-effacing, funny, give people an opportunity to save face.  But he doesn’t seem to think much of his audience, saying America is no longer a society of ideas, and that in our celebrity-crazed culture it doesn’t make sense to appeal to 18th Century sources of authority like the Federalist Papers, which “are not considered authorities in my generation. People do not care what these men in wigs thought 300 years ago.”

“We serve a God who condescended to become a man in order to share his gospel. And I think that’s an example that we can learn from. Romans 12:16 advises us, do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. So we have to bite the bullet.  We have to recognize some of these facts and condescend to watching Glee from time to time so that we can talk to people about it.”

 

Tony Perkins Knows What's Best for Gays – and the GOP

The latest fundraising pitch from the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins blasts “the national Republicans” whom he says are “running away from the natural and biblical definition of marriage, flocking to the radical side in support of same-sex ‘marriage.’”

Perkins’ letter insists that allowing same-sex couples to get married is dangerous to religious liberties, to the next generation, and “dangerous to civilization itself.” Perhaps worst of all is that Obama’s “machine” would benefit from the GOP alienating its conservative base:

Sacrificing our values, and their distinctives as a Party, will send millions of voters packing. One terrible side effect: President Obama’s machine will be stronger than ever. Their radicalization of American public policy will intensify.

But be assured that Perkins “cares deeply” about gay people:

Please understand: this is no vendetta. We care deeply about those who engage in either heterosexual sex outside of marriage or homosexual behavior in any context. Both are immoral and unhealthy. We want what is truly best for them and for our nation.

What is truly best for them is a lifestyle of biblical morality. (emphasis in original)

Perkins calls for a “massive outpouring of outrage from principled conservatives” and urges supporters to sign a petition to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. And, of course, to send a check.

PFAW: GOP Has ‘Painted Itself Into a Corner’ Over Marriage

WASHINGTON – Today the Republican National Committee passed by voice vote a resolution reaffirming the party’s opposition to marriage equality. Passage of the resolution followed a letter earlier this week from the leaders of thirteen right-wing organizations to RNC Chairman Reince Priebus calling for a reaffirmation of the 2012 GOP platform and warning party leadership of potential “abandonment of our constituents to their support.”

People For the American Way President Michael Keegan released the following statement:

“The GOP has painted itself into a corner.  For many years, the Republican party fostered anti-gay sentiment for political benefit.  Now that the political landscape is shifting, they are unable to escape the extreme ideology of the far Right even as the majority of American voters embrace equal rights for same-sex couples. There are strong forces within the GOP dedicated to preventing the party from embracing marriage equality, and they are making it clear that they will not give in without a fight.” 

###

Trouble on the GOP Homefront

The GOP seems to be stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Responding to last month’s Republican National Committee “autopsy,” the leaders of thirteen right wing organizations sent a letter this week to RNC Chairman Reince Priebus to “strongly recommend” a reaffirmation of the 2012 National GOP Platform—including strident opposition to marriage equality.

On the question of young voters and marriage equality, the letter states that “Republicans would do well to persuade young voters why marriage between a man and a woman is so important rather than abandon thousands of years of wisdom to please them.”  The letter also explicitly warns the GOP leadership that “an abandonment of its principles will necessarily result in the abandonment of our constituents to their support.”

It seems like those right-wing groups will get their wish: the Washington Post reports that the RNC’s Resolution Committee passed a resolution reaffirming the 2012 platform yesterday which will be voted on by the full RNC tomorrow.

This incident highlights the degree to which the Republican Party is caught in a trap of its own making.  Despite a dawning awareness that moderate voters reject the extreme agenda of the Right, the GOP can’t escape the reactionary anti-gay ideology that it’s exploited for so long.

PFAW

Right Wing Round-Up - 3/26/13

Memo to Reince Priebus: Mike Huckabee's Anti-Gay Views Are Not 'Reasonable'

Via Think Progress, we see that Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus thinks that a good way for the GOP to win support from voters who have turned away from the party is to start sounding "reasonable" ... like Mike Huckabee:

Priebus cited former governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas as an example of someone who could be “a model for a lot of people in our party” in terms of discussing issues like marriage and abortion. “I always tell people: Listen to Governor Mike Huckabee,” he said. “I don’t know anyone that talks about them any better.”

Ummm ... does Prebius really think that Huckabee has a good record of sounding "reasonable" on these issues? Does he actually even know anything about Huckabee's anti-gay views?

Huckabee was, after all, the candidate of choice for a cavalcade of rabidly anti-gay Religious Right activists for a reason and with whom he continues to associate. Heck, he even received an award from Vision America in 2010 which is run by a man who still declares that AIDS is God's punishment for immoral behavior. And just last year, he campaigned for a congressional candidate who openly supports the criminalization of homosexuality.

Huckabee has declared that, if he became president, he would reinstate Don't Ask, Don't Tell and proclaimed that he is looking for "spiritual warriors" who will not allow the nation to fall "to the hands of those who would enslave us" but will instead stand and fight against marriage equality. In fact, his opposition to gay marriage is well-known, as he has compared it to bestiality and alcholism:

"The problem with changing the definition of marriage is that once you cross that line, then there's no stopping," he explains. He tells me that when he spoke recently in Japan, there was an American student there who objected to his views on gay marriage. "This was right in the middle of what was going on in west Texas, and I thought, Okay, how can we say that what those polygamists in west Texas are doing is wrong if we allow same-sex marriage? Who are you to tell them that that man can't have fifteen wives? [The student said] 'Well, it's not the same!' And I said, 'Okay, well, here's another one: bestiality. Now I know you're going to have a problem,' and he just went berserk on that. But there was recently an actual news story where a man wanted to marry his animal. . . . I think it was a sheep."

Huckabee says he doesn't know if homosexuality is inborn, but he believes you can control the behavior. He compares homosexuality to obesity or alcoholism: "Some people have a predisposition to alcoholism. Does that mean they're not responsible for getting drunk? No."

And finally, who could ever forget his statement from 1992 calling for those infected with HIV to be quarantined, a position he refused to retract even when he ran for president:

"It is the first time in the history of civilization in which the carriers of a genuine plague have not been isolated from the general population," he said. "This deadly disease, for which there is no cure, is being treated as a civil rights issue instead of the true health crisis it represents.

"If the federal government is truly serious about doing something with the AIDS virus, we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague."

If this is the sort of stuff that Priebus thinks will make the GOP seem "reasonable," then the party is in even deeper trouble than we imagined.

GOP Electoral College Power Play Tests Our Democracy

The GOP proposal to game the Electoral College in key blue states represents a massive escalation in the GOP war against electoral democracy.
PFAW

Reince Priebus, Ron Johnson to Headline Dinner Hosted by Birther Alabama GOP Chair

Sen. Rand Paul isn’t the only prominent Republican hanging out with birthers these days. Next month, RNC chairman Reince Preibus and Wisconson Sen. Ron Johnson will travel to Alabama to headline a dinner hosted by state GOP chairman Bill Armistead. Armistead raised eyebrows last year when he publicly recommended “Dreams From My Real Father,” a “documentary” that promotes the alternate birther theory that President Obama somehow inherited a Marxist worldview from his “real father” Frank Marshall Davis. Somewhat unbelievably, Armistead stated that he had “verified that it is factual, all of it.”

Interestingly, Priebus and Johnson will be stepping into the middle of a fight over whether Armistead will keep his job. (He faces a challenger backed by his longtime rival, state House Speaker Mike Hubbard.) Charles Dean at the Birmingham News reports that Priebus might be attending as a political favored to Armistead:

Some saw Tuesday's late announcement by Armistead that Priebus had accepted the invitation to attend the dinner as a sign that maybe Armistead had convinced the GOP national party chairman to support him.

Late last week Armistead announced that he was supporting Priebus for a second term as Republican Party Chairman. So far Priebus is unopposed for a second term but rumors have persisted for months that a challenger might step up.

UPDATE: The RNC tells the Birmingham News that Priebus is not taking sides in the party chairmanship race.

Yes, There is a War on Women

In an interview with Bloomberg today, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus claimed that accusing the Republican Party of waging a “war on women” is as absurd as accusing them of a “war on caterpillars”:

“If the Democrats said we had a war on caterpillars and every mainstream media outlet talked about the fact that Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then we’d have problems with caterpillars,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt” airing this weekend. “It’s a fiction.”

Perhaps Preibus should listen to women in his own party before declaring the GOP’s war on women to be a “fiction.” Speaking in Alaska today, Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski was very clear that the war on women exists and is alienating female voters. According to the Huffington Post:

"It makes no sense to make this attack on women," she said at a local Chamber of Commerce luncheon, according to the Homer News. "If you don't feel this is an attack, you need to go home and talk to your wife and your daughters."

She also said that she would continue to support funding for Planned Parenthood, adding that the courts have affirmed a legal right to an abortion and she stands by that.

Murkowski criticized GOP presidential candidates for not condemning Rush Limbaugh for calling Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke a "slut" and a "prostitute," which he later apologized for. Fluke was rejected as a witness before a panel on the Obama contraception mandate chaired by House Oversight And Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) last February. (She spoke Thursday to HuffPost in a Q&A.)

"To have those kind of slurs against a woman … you had candidates who want to be our president not say, 'That's wrong. That's offensive.' They did not condemn the rhetoric," she said.
 

PFAW
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