Rick Perry

2016 Republican Candidates Report

As the GOP embraces the reactionary politics and anti-government zealotry of the Tea Party, it is steadily purging “moderates” and empowering extremists. Nothing shows this trend more clearly than the lineup of potential Republican presidential candidates.

In order to compete in early caucus and primary states such as Iowa and South Carolina, Republican presidential hopefuls must engage with a voter base that leans significantly farther to the right than the average American voter. Pro-corporate groups, often working outside of the public eye, have invested millions of dollars in creating a political infrastructure that has pushed the party to the extreme fringe, leading candidates to increasingly rely on a small class of mega-donors who seek to bankroll the campaigns of their personal favorites.

Candidates are already competing to see who is more skeptical of the science behind climate change, critical of any reform of America’s immigration system or financial industry, and vocal about the dangers of a Big Government that is purportedly crushing religious freedom and bent on seizing people’s guns. As the GOP moves farther to the right, its presidential candidates are moving with it.

Jeb Bush
Ben Carson
Chris Christie
Ted Cruz
Carly Fiorina
Lindsey Graham
Mike Huckabee
Bobby Jindal
Rand Paul
Rick Perry
Marco Rubio
Rick Santorum
Scott Walker

 

Jeb Bush: Staying True to W’s Legacy

A favorite among “establishment” Republicans who see him as a “serious”figure who would be competitive in a general election, Jeb Bush is emerging as the favorite of the GOP’s donor class. His brother George W. Bush’s disastrous legacy as president won’t necessarily endanger Jeb Bush’s chances among GOP voters, as the former president holds an 84 percent approval rating among Republicans

Jeb Bush’s legacy is tied to his brother’s in more ways than their shared name (and advisers). Under Bush’s leadership, Florida purged thousands of people from its voter rolls in the run-up to the 2000 election, disproportionately removing African-American voters from its lists of registered voters.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights found that “black voters were nearly 10 times more likely than nonblack voters to have their ballots rejected” while trying to vote in Florida that year, and that “African-Americans cast about 54 percent of the 180,000 spoiled ballots,” despite constituting just 11 percent of the voting population. The commission’s report called out Bush and other officials for showing a “lack of leadership in protecting voting rights,” and recommended that the Department of Justice pursue charges against the governor for violating the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

In 2004, elections officials working under Bush tried again to conduct a large-scale and faulty purge of the state’s voter rolls, but were rebuffed thanks to the efforts of voting rights advocates.

Like his brother, Bush knows how to appeal to right-wing audiences. Warning that “we have a federal government that is willingly violating the religious freedom of its citizens,” Bush told students at a Pennsylvania Christian college this year that hostility to religious liberty is growing in America as a result of Obama’s leadership. Bush has also been making overtures to top Religious Right figures, including Ralph Reed and the Southern Baptist Convention’s Russell Moore. Bush even tapped a leader of a notorious anti-LGBT, anti-choice group to lead his outreach to the Religious Right.

He is still fondly remembered by the Religious Right for his efforts to intervene in the Terri Schiavo case, attempting to defy court orders to remove Schiavo, who had spent years in a persistent vegetative state, from life support.

As governor, Bush also signed Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law, a major legislative victory that the NRA used as a launching pad to promote similar bills in other states.

Bush remains a significant player in the movement to boost corporate involvement in education, and increase taxpayer support for private and religious schools. He even co-founded a Miami charter school, which eventually shut its doors amid budgetary, financial and building troubles. But in a party whose base looks askance at even the slightest veer away from orthodoxy, Bush’s support for Common Core standards and some kinds of immigration reform may impede his efforts. Glenn Beck, for example, claimed that Bush is among the “progressives in the Republican Party” who are working to undermine the conservative movement from within.

Bush will at least have one wing of the GOP behind him: donors. The former governor is seen as a favorite among the party’s richest backers, a stature cemented by his work for the Wall Street firm Lehman Brothers until its collapse in the 2008 financial crisis and his subsequent job as an adviser for Barclays.

Bush’s experience on Wall Street could, however, come back to haunt him, particularly his role in the “Project Verde” operation, in which Bush was sent to solicit Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim to bail out Lehman. The former governor’s close ties to Wall Street have helped launch his recent fundraising bonanza.

For a candidate trying to break free from the shadow of his brother, who presided over the 2008 financial meltdown, undermined voting rights, led polarizing initiatives meant to throw a bone to the Religious Right and signed an unpopular education “reform” law, Jeb Bush seems to be mirroring the 43rd president’s agenda rather than proposing new ideas for the country.

 

Ben Carson: From Gifted Neurosurgeon to Tea Party Conspiracy Theorist

Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon Ben Carson became an overnight conservative celebrity in 2013, when he delivered a National Prayer Breakfast speech criticizing President Obama — who was sitting beside him while he spoke from the podium — for his handling of the deficit, the national debt, taxes and health care.

He has formed an exploratory committee and PAC, while a “Draft Ben Carson for President Committee” has been campaigning on his behalf and raising lots of money. Its leaders insist that Carson can defeat Democrats by capturing a significant share of the black vote.

As a black conservative, Carson quickly emerged as a favorite speaker among Tea Party activists who relish his assurance that criticism of President Obama is never motivated by racism, while criticism of Ben Carson most certainly is.

Carson has expanded on his views in speeches to conservative gatherings and on a timely book tour, revealing himself to be a politician adept at dishing out conservative talking points and playing into right-wing fears about government persecution.

For example, Carson has called the Affordable Care Act “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery,” declaring it to be “slavery in a way,” and has said that the law is worse than the September 11, 2001, attacks, claiming that its passage was part of a larger Leninist push to impose communism on America.

Far-right activists eat up Carson’s claims that the U.S. military should not follow rules about war crimes and that supposedly anti-American AP U.S. History courses will inspire students to join ISIS.

Carson has inserted himself directly into popular Tea Party martyrdom narratives, claiming that he is the victim of liberal media bias and IRS targeting. Carson, a former Fox News contributor, also alleges that the Obama administration is trying to “shut down” the conservative network. Without Fox News, Carson said, Obama would have successfully introduced communism, and “we would already be Cuba.”

Carson has even claimed that he is losing his First Amendment right to free speech and that Hitlerian progressives are turning America into a society “very much like Nazi Germany.” “We live in a Gestapo age,” he has said, also arguing that Obama takes his cues from “Mein Kampf” and is effectively committing treason.

He is a favorite of the anti-gay right, and with good reason. Carson has linked gay rights advocates to supporters of pedophilia and bestiality, attacked LGBT-affirming churches as offensive to God, demanded that Congress oust judges who back gay rights, and accused gay people of seeking “extra rights” and creating a powerful “P.C. police who have tried in many cases to shut me up.”

Speaking at a National Organization for Marriage fundraiser, he insisted that gay marriage is a communist plot designed to bring down America and usher in a “New World Order.” However, Carson said he would no longer discuss gay rights issues after he received criticism for telling a CNN host that prison sex proves homosexuality is “absolutely” a choice.

Add Carson’s anti-gay rhetoric to his remarks that legal abortion is the same as “human sacrifice,” that the progressive income tax violates biblical principles and that America is facing a “war on God,” and you have a strong potential “standard-bearer” for the Religious Right.

Stoking fears of conservative persecution, political correctness, Big Government and gay rights is a necessary staple for Republican politicians, and Carson has mastered the art.

 

Chris Christie: The ’Problem-Solver’ Who Left New Jersey a Mess

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s ties to “establishment” party figures have enabled him to become a prolific fundraiser and frequent campaign surrogate, and his heated and bombastic rhetoric has animated many conservatives. However, the New Jersey governor has run a chaotic state government with frequent budget crises, credit downgrades and an atmosphere that led to the notorious, apparently politically motivated Fort Lee highway lane closures, just one of several scandals Christie is facing.

Christie, nonetheless, has one key ally: Fox News.

The conservative media empire that drives the agenda of the Republican Party outinely showers Christie with accoladeseven defending the embattled governor in the midst of the lane closure scandal (a scandal the network initially tried to bury). Christie is also close to top conservative bankrollers David Koch, Kenneth Langone and Paul Singer.

Religious Right activists are less warm, and sometimes  openly hostile, to Christie. He angered anti-gay activists when he said he didn’t consider homosexuality to be a sin, signed into law a bill banning the practice of ex-gay therapy on minors and decided against appealing a court ruling in favor of marriage equality. His appointments of Muslim and gay judges have also sparked outrage and far-right accusations that he supports Sharia law and the gay agenda.

At the same time, Christie has cozied up to grassroots conservatives in an attempt to prove that he’s not a moderate. A quick look at his record, including his veto of a bill that would have legalized same-sex marriage and his strong opposition to abortion rights and Planned Parenthood funding, shows just some of his deeply conservative stances. He has even built a relationship with Ralph Reed, the former Christian Coalition leader who now heads the Faith and Freedom Coalition (and who, like Christie, has a legacy of shady political dealings), and has tried to win conservative support by relentlessly criticizing publications like The New York Times, blaming his failings on “liberal judicial activism” and pandering to anti-vaxxers.

In the wake of the Bridgegate scandal and the resulting four investigations into his administration, , Christie embraced the tried-and-true conservative strategy of playing the victim.

Christie will likely campaign as a strong fiscal conservative, but his tenure as governor reveals a miserable legacy on financial and economic issues. Under his leadership, New Jersey experienced multiple credit downgrades, regular budget shortfalls, a failed pension reform plan, fiscal mismanagement that benefited political donors, anemic job growth, a transit funding scandal and mishandling of Hurricane Sandy recovery money.

Christie is essentially running on an image the media constructed for him, that of a problem-solving, outspoken governor. In reality, however, the governor has very few accomplishments to substantiate the rhetoric surrounding him.

But Christie may prove to be an appealing candidate for conservative leaders hungry for a win after taking a beating from Obama. And just as when Romney captured the 2012 presidential nomination, the party’s far-right flank is likely to rally behind whoever ends up as the nominee, whether they like him or not, as long as he pledges to hold the line on social issues, appoint conservative ideologues to the judiciary and help elect extremist candidates to Congress.

Just as Romney’s previous support for reproductive rights, LGBT equality and Wall Street bailouts didn’t stop far-right activists from coalescing around his candidacy, Christie’s purported “center-right” reputation is unlikely to dampen Republican enthusiasm after eight years of being shut out of the White House.

Christie’s belligerent style and penchant for picking fights with Democrats may also win the support of Tea Party Republicans who believe their last two nominees lost because they were too apologetic, too moderate and too nice. Say what you will, but that certainly wouldn’t be the case with Christie.

 

Ted Cruz: The Tea Party’s Doomsday Prophet

No candidate flaunts his Tea Party bona fides more loudly than Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, whose 2012 campaign for an open Senate seat made him a celebrity among conservative activists nationwide. Cruz sprinkled his 2012 campaign with conspiracy theories about Sharia law and Agenda 21, and started his Senate career by suggesting — without any evidence — that defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel received money from North Korea, Saudi Arabia or “extreme or radical groups.” That turned out to be just a preview of what was to come.

Cruz continued his self-aggrandizing conservative crusade by holding a faux filibuster demanding that the government block implementation of the Affordable Care Act, holding forth in a 21-hour speech that he compared to the Bataan death march. His anti-Obamacare campaign led him to orchestrate the 2013 government shutdown, in which he and other Republicans demanded that Congress keep the government closed until President Obama agreed to repeal the health care law.

Republican leaders eventually let the government reopen, conceding that virtually no changes to the health care law would be made as a result of the Cruz-inspired shutdown that had cost the economy billions of dollars. Cruz, however, said the debacle was worth it because he was able to use the manufactured crisis to build his fundraising list.

The Tea Party can count on Cruz to advertise its conspiracy theories on nearly any issue. During the debate over expanding background checks for those purchasing firearms, Cruz brazenly argued that gun reform laws would lead to higher crime rates and a national gun registry, even though he later admitted that the bill did not provide for such a registry. He also dismissed families who lost loved ones in the Newtown massacre as “political props.”

Cruz similarly used the debate over a constitutional amendment to overturn the 2010 Citizens United decision to warn that the government planned to stifle the speech of pastors and throw media personalities in jail. He insists that the Obama administration is targeting conservative groups and media outlets, which he says should lead to Attorney General Eric Holder’s impeachment.

At the start of this year, Cruz said that his “top priority” in the Senate would be pushing for the end of a program giving temporary deportation relief to undocumented immigrants who were brought into the country as children, a program he blames — again without any evidence — for this summer’s crisis of unaccompanied Central American children fleeing to the southern border of the U.S. His other legislative priority in Congress is “repealing” Common Core, which is not a federal statute.

Cruz has become notorious for his doomsday predictions. The senator, who is sponsoring a bill to curtail federal recognition of married same-sex couples, has claimed that marriage equality is a surreptitious push to outlaw the freedom of speech, imprison pastorscrush liberty and eviscerate the Constitution.

He has warned that the implementation of Obamacare will “shut down” religiouslyaffiliated “charities and hospitals.” He predicted that net neutrality will destroy “freedom online.” He criticized the constitutional amendment giving voters the power to directly elect their U.S. Senators, while calling for the repeal of the Voting Rights Act and the enactment of new legislation to make it more difficult to register to vote.

While many conservatives see him as the second coming of Ronald Reagan, Cruz sees himself as the reincarnation of a different right-wing figure: the late North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms.

 

Carly Fiorina: Falling Upward to the White House

Carly Fiorina may have lost her post on the McCain-Palin campaign and herclosely watched U.S. Senate race in California, but now the former Hewlett-Packard CEO is planning another foray into politics…this time, running for president. Fiorina told Fox News Sunday in March 2015 that there was a “higher than 90 percent” chance that she would throw her hat into the ring, noting that Hillary Clinton would “get a hitch in her swing” if she were to face a female opponent.

Fiorina insists that unlike Clinton — whom she claims “lacks a track record of accomplishment” — she knows “what leadership means” as a result of her experience in business.

However, her time at HP was not exactly a success story, as it ended with the company’s board firing her in a very public spat.

Arianna Packard, the granddaughter of HP cofounder David Packard, said Fiorina’s tenure was a “disaster” that “almost destroy[ed]” the company: “The stock price dropped by 50%, only to rally 10% on the announcement of her firing. She fired 28,000 people before she herself was fired, departing with the $21 million golden parachute that is financing her campaign.” (The golden parachute also included an additional $19 million in stock and pension benefits, which is quite a severance package for someone considered to be one of the country’s worst CEOS). David Packard’s grandson, Jason Burnett, added that Fiorina “did damage to a great company, and I don't want to see her do damage to a great country.”

Her legacy includes offshoring American jobs, overseeing huge layoffs and pushing through an ill-fated merger with Compaq, which one competitor called the “dumbest deal of the decade.” Fiorina also put business above American foreign policy interests, finding ways to work around U.S. sanctions so that HP could continue to trade with Iran.

While running for U.S. Senate, Fiorina was a strong supporter of Proposition 8, which ended marriage equality in California, and mocked efforts to address human influences driving climate change as being “worried about the weather.” Her campaign’s main contribution to the race was a bizarre ad referring to insufficiently conservative Republicans as demonic sheep.

 

Lindsey Graham: Frightening People All the Way to the Presidency

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is attempting to establish himself as the race’s expert on national security…mostly, it seems, by stoking fear among voters. While no one contests the threat posed by terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and ISIS, Graham has played up wild fears in an effort to frame himself as the “security candidate,” even naming his Super PAC “Security Through Strength.”

Graham believes America is facing a “perfect storm” of terrorism and insists that the U.S. is in a “religious war”: “We’re in a religious war. These are not terrorists. They’re radical Islamists who are trying to replace our way of life with their way of life. Their way of life is motivated by religious teachings that require me and you to be killed, or enslaved, or converted.”

"This president needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed back here at home” Graham said of ISIS, demanding that President Obama send in ground troops to fight the violent group. He has also said that he sees an “American city in flames” because “of the terrorists’ ability to operate in Syria and Iraq.”

In September of 2013, Graham predicted that the Syrian Civil War would lead to an all-out war between Iran and Israel in six months’ time, which would then lead to a nuclear device coming into the U.S. “in the belly of a ship in the Charleston or New York harbor.” (These statements were later cited by far-right conspiracy theorists who believed Obama nearly nuked Charleston as part of a false flag operation.) 

Revealing his trademark paranoia after Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address, Graham said that “the world is literally about to blow up,” while Obama is “doing nothing.”

“They are coming here,” Graham said of ISIS during a Fox News interview. “And if we get attacked because he has no strategy to protect us, then he will have committed a blunder for the ages.”

Despite his absolutely atrocious record on foreign policy predictions, Graham still insisted on “Meet the Press” this year that “the world is falling apart, and I’ve been more right than wrong when it comes to foreign policy.”

Graham also accused Obama of prioritizing efforts to combat Ebola over fighting ISIS, while simultaneously criticizing him for not doing enough to eradicate Ebola.

The South Carolina senator is one of the most vocal peddlers of myths about the 2012 Benghazi attack, even denouncing a Republican-led report, which joined all the other official panels that investigated the attacks in debunking right-wing accusations, calling it “full of crap" and "a bunch of garbage,”" since it knocked down many of his own beliefs about the event. In 2013, he announced his plan to block all presidential nominations in reaction to a CBS report about the attack, refusing to back down, even when the report was retracted by the news company. Unsurprisingly, Graham contributed to the discredited story, which he used to blast the "scumbags" in the Obama administration.

When a Florida pastor with a small church sparked violent incidents abroad after he very publicly burned copies of the Qu’ran, Graham said that he wished “we could find some way to hold people accountable” and went on to question free speech rights: “Free speech is a great idea, but we're in a war. During World War II, you had limits on what you could say if it would inspire the enemy.”

 

Mike Huckabee: From the Pulpit to the White House, Seeking to Become America’s Pastor in Chief

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee may have lost his 2008 presidential bid, in which he ran as a folksy “Christian leader,” but the heavy media exposure he got from it helped him to become a national Religious Right hero with his very own Fox News show. He even has a new book out with the red-meat title “God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy.”

Huckabee has been especially active in the debate over marriage equality, hoping to convince the GOP to fight gay rights more aggressively. He told one conservative talk show host that he is “utterly exasperated” with his party and may become an independent if Republicans don’t work harder to ban gay marriage. He insists that governors should defy court decisions striking down such bans, explaining that it is appropriate to ignore gay rights measures just as it would have been right to flout laws under Jim Crow or Nazi Germany. He once said he worried that marriage equality might sanction man-sheep marriage.

Beyond just the issue of marriage, Huckabee has criticized gay people for joining the Boy Scouts and appearing on television, while also likening homosexuality to alcoholism and gay marriage to Nazi Germany. He says that states should simply ignore federal court rulings on gay rights and has vowed to restore “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” if elected president.

“I feel homosexuality is an aberrant, unnatural and sinful lifestyle, and we now know it can pose a dangerous public health risk,” Huckabee said in 1992 during an unsuccessful campaign for U.S. Senate. That year, he also suggested that the government quarantine people with HIV/AIDS: “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.” During his 2008 presidential campaign, Huckabee defended his past remarks on homosexuality and HIV, saying, “I still believe this today.”

Not only does Huckabee believe that gay marriage will incite God’s wrath against America, the former governor has also said that abortion rights are “a curse for which we will answer.”

While other Republicans ran away from the extremist anti-abortion, anti-contraception “personhood” movement, Huckabee keynoted a fundraiser for the unsuccessful Mississippi personhood campaign, which was led by a Christian Nationalist secessionist, and endorsed another failed personhood amendment in North Dakota.

While other Republicans ran away from the extremist anti-abortion, anti-contraception “personhood” movement, Huckabee keynoted a fundraiser for the unsuccessful Mississippi personhood campaign, which was led by a Christian Nationalist secessionist, and endorsed another failed personhood amendment in North Dakota.

Befitting his role as a Fox News personality, Huckabee has wondered if Obama is ushering in the End Times, predicted that laws to curb gun violence and gay rights will lead to Nazi-style tyranny, alleged that Christians are becoming second-class citizens to Muslims, and has repeatedly pushed the birther movement’s conspiracy theories.

Huckabee has also used his newfound fame to make a bit of money pushing miracle cancer cures purportedly found in the Bible, discredited diabetes remedies and survival food supplies.

With this record of extremism, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has held Huckabee up as “a model” for other Republican politicians to follow: “I always tell people: Listen to Governor Mike Huckabee.”

 

Bobby Jindal: Champion of “The Stupid Party”

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, the self-styled policy wonk who once lamented that “dumbed-down conservatism” is turning the GOP into “the stupid party,” has quickly embraced the Republicans’ increasingly frantic talking points about the imminent end of liberty and freedom in America. Capturing the mood of Tea Party activists this year, Jindal touted his support for a “rebellion” and a “hostile takeover” of the government to stop the “radically, extremely liberal, ideological president.”

Jindal also jumped on the controversy surrounding Phil Robertson, star of the Louisiana-based A&E reality TV show “Duck Dynasty,” to position himself as a defender of conservative Christian values against a tyrannical government and secular media. Jindal, along with other conservative figures, turned Robertson into a cause célèbre when his show was temporarily put on hiatus after he made statements attacking gays and lesbians, and defending Jim Crow. Jindal alleged that A&E violated Robertson’s First Amendment rights when it put the star on leave, and has since cited the “Duck Dynasty” fracas to warn that the rights of same-sex marriage opponents are under “assault.” The Obama administration, gay rights advocates and the courts, Jindal told graduates of the conservative bastion Liberty University this year, are all waging a “war on religious liberty — on your freedom to exercise your religion, on your freedom to associate, on your freedom of expression.”

“The same liberal extremists that want to come take our guns are the same forces that want to take away our religious liberty,” he told a National Rifle Association gathering the month before. He added: “Our freedom is under attack. Our opponents don’t believe in individual freedom…They believe the individual is subordinate to the state, subjects of the elite…We cannot let them change who America is.”

He also alleged that freedom is under attack across countries like the United Kingdom due to Sharia law no-go zones, or areas governed by Islamic law that he believes are coming to America. When asked by a reporter where in the U.K. such no-go zones exist, Jindal was unable to name a single location. While Fox News retracted its claims about such zones after experts said that the charges were completely baseless, Jindal has turned the belief in no-go zones into a major campaign theme.

An opponent of abortion rights “with no exceptions,” Jindal signed legislation that would have shut down all of his state’s abortion clinics if not for a federal judge’s decision to halt its enforcement. He also signed laws limiting insurance options for women seeking abortion care and mandating that a woman undergo a medically unnecessary ultrasound before being allowed to have an abortion.

Jindal has led an aggressive push in his home state for the privatization of public education and the taxpayer funding of religious schools, even directing taxpayer dollars to schools espousing Creationism, which he said would let kids “be exposed to the best facts.” Unsurprisingly, these policies have failed to improve education outcomes in the state.

Jindal was at one time a strong supporter of the Common Core education standards: He once called Common Core’s adoption a key part of his education policy and was featured in a U.S. Chamber of Commerce advertisement promoting the standards. But Jindal has since done an about-face to get behind the growing Tea Party and Religious Right hostility to Common Core. The Louisiana governor is now touting his opposition to Common Core in front of conservative audiences and implying that the standards entail a surreptitious socialist agenda. Jindal’s new line on Common Core plays right into conservative conspiracy theories about the standards, including claims that they represent a federal government takeover of the education system and will indoctrinate students into left-wing politics. Louisiana’s state board of education has ignored Jindal’s reversal and is implementing the Common Core standards anyway.

Jindal’s desire to appeal to right-wing conspiracy theorists has even led him to wade into the issue of President Obama’s citizenship, supporting a “birther bill” under consideration in the state legislature in 2011. Jindal has repeatedly suggested that Obama neither understands American values nor loves America.

While Jindal works on burnishing his image for national audiences, he remains deeply unpopular among his own constituents. A majority of Louisiana voters, including Republicans, disapprove of the job Jindal has done as governor and say he shouldn’t run for president. Jindal is especially unpopular on pocketbook issues, as his economic agenda has led to a collapse in the state’s fiscal health. His policies have been so damaging that even Republican lawmakers in the state consider his policy program to be “insane.”

 

Rand Paul: The GOP's “Principled” Flip-Flopper

Following his upset victory in the 2010 Republican U.S. Senate primary in Kentucky, Rand Paul told the country that he had “a message from the Tea Party.”

That message has turned out to be a mix of anti-establishment libertarianism in the mold of his father, Rep. Ron Paul, and tired Republican ideas repackaged under the brand of the Tea Party.

Paul has received glowing media attention for his purported focus on promoting a brand of principled libertarianism and expanding the party’s base, which skews older and whiter, by building bridges to voters who typically receive little attention from Republican politicians. His campaign against the scope of the federal government plays well in today’s GOP, which is trying to shy away from the unpopular legacy of George W. Bush, and blames “big government” under Obama for any and all societal ills.

But Paul is willing to buck his ‘“principled libertarianism”’ when politically expedient — all while insisting that his positions have never changed. Paul, for example, claims that he has always supported the Civil Rights Act, even though, before he entered the national spotlight, he adamantly opposed key parts of the law.

Similarly, Paul told the Urban League in a 2014 speech that he supports the Voting Rights Act, although he had previously told the conservative outlet Newsmax that he opposed the law. He told a group of black pastors that he thinks the GOP should stop pushing restrictive voter ID laws, but then turned around and told Fox News’ Sean Hannity that he doesn’t actually oppose voter ID laws and only regrets the negative attention they have received.

Paul insists that those who point to his past statements are part of a liberal media conspiracy to mischaracterize his record. But while conservatives may not mind his apparent shift on civil rights, he has also taken contradictory stances on issues that are more important to the GOP base.

Although he once proposed an end to all foreign aid, including dollars going to America’s largest aid recipient, Israel, Paul now claims that he never once tried to end aid to the country. Paul’s historical revisionism may be part of an effort to shore up support from Religious Right activists whose Christian Zionist views have made U.S. support for the Israeli government a central cause of their movement. But it may be hard for him to escape his past statements and lengthy legislative record to the contrary.

One commentator for the conservative Heritage Foundation blasted Paul’s “confusing” position on marriage equality, and it’s no wonder why. The Kentucky senator has said that he is “in favor of the concept” of a federal marriage amendment banning same-sex unions, while at the same time insisting that he opposes a federal role in the matter. Paul has repeatedly expressed support for state bans on marriage equality — even going so far as to warn that same-sex marriage will pave the way for human-animal nuptials — while also making the case that the GOP can become “a bigger tent” without a “complete flip” on the marriage issue. Now he says that he opposes same-sex marriage simply because he and others are personally “offended” by it.

Paul has also been on all sides of the question of abortion rights. Although Paul is the chief sponsor of a federal personhood bill that would ban abortion in all cases and has warned that a failure to pass the bill will result in the collapse of civilization, he has also said that he does not favor changing the nation’s abortion laws because the country is currently too divided on the issue. Paul insists that he opposes bans on birth control, despite the fact that his own personhood bill would give legal rights to zygotes and could ban common forms of contraception. In a 2013 CNN interview, Paul said that there would be “thousands of exceptions” to his personhood bill, but a spokesman later assured anti-choice activists that the senator approved of just a single exception, allowing abortion in cases where the life of the pregnant woman is at risk.

If it sounds like Rand Paul has one message for one audience and a different message for another, it’s because he does.

Paul’s pattern of policy shifts belies his image as a principled, libertarian pioneer. In reality, he attempts to portray himself as a moderate to a national audience, while boasting of his far-right views in front of GOP audiences. While this maneuvering may play to conservative voters and his loyal base, it is only a matter of time before his reversals and denials catch up with him.

 

Rick Perry: God’s Candidate for President, This Time…

Texas Gov. Rick Perry quickly won support from conservative activists, especially the Religious Right, when he made a late entry into the 2012 presidential election, unofficially launching his campaign with a prayer rally packed with Religious Right extremists. Perry came into the race midway through his third term as governor, armed with a record of right-wing economic policies; close ties to the oil industry and opposition to regulations on polluters; antagonism to the federal government; and hostility to LGBT equality and abortion rights. Portraying himself as a candidate to the right of Mitt Romney but more electable than the rest of the GOP field, Perry gained traction until his campaign self-destructed, thanks to a series of horrific debate performances and unforced errors.

Perry, who has floated the idea of secession from the United States and signed constitutionally dubious legislation defending the right of states to nullify federal laws, wants to repeal the amendments to the U.S. Constitution allowing for a progressive income tax and requiring that U.S. senators are elected directly by voters.

He believes states should be able to opt out of programs like Social Security — which he called a “Ponzi scheme” — and Medicaid. His decision to refuse Medicaid expansion in Texas has cost the state tens of billions of dollars and left millions without insurance. A staunch critic of federal economic policies who once threatened the “almost treasonous” chairman of the Federal Reserve, his opposition to the 2009 federal economic stimulus package didn’t stop him from using stimulus dollars to balance Texas’ budget and stave off a massive shortfall. But it’s unclear how much power Perry thinks economic policy actually has: He once suggested that the 2008 economic crisis was an anti-government message from God.

Perry has played with the conspiracy theories surrounding President Obama’s birth, citing Donald Trump as his source of information on the legitimacy of the president’s citizenship and saying that the conspiracy theory surrounding the president’s birth certificate is “a good issue to keep alive.”

The Texas governor has also dabbled in other anti-Obama conspiracy theories, including alleging that the Obama administration orchestrated a humanitarian crisis on the southern border for political purposes. He made waves with his decision to send the National Guard to patrol the border against Central American children, a plan he unveiled while campaigning in Iowa.

While he will likely ground his candidacy in issues relating to immigration and the economy, Perry is also a social issues warrior. As governor, Perry championed Texas’ law criminalizing consensual sex between adults of the same gender, which was struck down by the Supreme Court in the landmark Lawrence v. Texas case. He made anti-gay animus a central part of his presidential campaign, running a desperate TV ad attacking gay military service members. After his presidential campaign, Perry became an outspoken opponent of a policy change allowing gay youths to join the Boy Scouts, likening that fight to the fight to end slavery. Earlier this year, he defended his state party’s decision to endorse pseudoscientific ex-gay therapy by comparing homosexuality to alcoholism.

As governor of Texas, Perry enacted some of the most sweeping anti-abortion rights laws in the country, even going so far as to call an emergency session of the state legislature to pass a bill to force the closure of most of the state’s abortion clinics, though a federal judge has temporarily blocked portions of the new restrictions. Perry mocked one of the bill’s principal opponents, state Sen. Wendy Davis, saying “it is just unfortunate that she hasn’t learned from her own example” of being a teen mother.

Perry was recently indicted on charges that he abused his power as governor to defund an investigative unit that was looking into a project that he had championed. Despite his best effort to portray himself as the victim of a political witch hunt, a judge declined Perry’s attempt to have the indictments thrown out.

 

Marco Rubio: The Tea Party’s Prodigal Son Returns

The Republican Party has been increasingly willing to cave to far-right purists who want to drive out anyone who they deem to be ideologically impure. The career of Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is a case in point.

After winning his U.S. Senate seat with Tea Party support in 2010, Rubio tried to follow through on his pledge to work toward a bipartisan bill on immigration reform, helping to lead the efforts of the so-called “Gang of Eight.” But many conservative activists turned against Rubio for daring to sponsor a bill that drew broad support from his colleagues in the Senate and the American people at large. In the end, under pressure from the party’s far-right flank, House Republicans blocked the “Gang of Eight” bill, failing to even put the reform legislation up for a vote.

As the attacks piled up, Rubio began sending mixed messages about his position on immigration reform, even while the Senate debated his bill. After voting for his legislation, Rubio worked hard to redeem himself in the eyes of the increasingly angry base,  renouncing his support for the bill he helped to write and  promising to oppose future comprehensive reform efforts.

This was all a bit of a turnaround for a politician whose willingness to work on immigration reform had led Time Magazine to dub him “The Republican Savior.”

Instead of leading his party, the Florida senator presented a textbook study in how to cave to the party’s most extreme fringe: Denounce past positions and then try to scramble as far to the right as possible.

After the “Gang of Eight” debacle, Rubio tried to score points with anti-immigrant activists by facing off with Dreamers who called him out for “flip-flopping” on his stance on comprehensive reform and using baseless right-wing talking points to denounce relief for young undocumented immigrants. The senator briefly threatened to use a budget standoff to block President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, but eventually said that Congress should back down and fully fund the Department of Homeland Security.

Apparently fearing that his former stance on immigration has poisoned his image among conservative voters, Rubio has now embraced a whole host of right-wing causes in an attempt to win them back. Rubio pushed for a government shutdown over the Affordable Care Act, denounced a bipartisan budget deal that was derided by many Tea Party activists and criticized minimum wage laws.

The senator also boasted that he does not accept the consensus among climate scientists that human activities have an influence on climate change.

“I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it,” Rubio said. “I don’t agree with the notion that some are putting out there, including scientists, that somehow, there are actions we can take today that would actually have an impact on what’s happening in our climate. Our climate is always changing. And what they have chosen to do is take a handful of decades of research and — and say that this is now evidence of a longer-term trend that’s directly and almost solely attributable to manmade activity.”

While speaking with Fox News pundit Bill O’Reilly, Rubio insisted — falsely — that “surface temperatures [on] the earth have stabilized.” He also failed to disclose, when asked during a press conference, which studies he has relied on for his claim that climate change is a myth, instead choosing to simply ignore the question and vowing to oppose efforts to “ban all carbon emissions in the United States,” something that no one is proposing.

In addition, Rubio has kowtowed to the Religious Right by mocking the separation of church and state, warning of the purported loss of religious liberty under Obama, lambasting abortion rights, blocking a gay judicial nominee and denouncing the legalization of same-sex marriage in his home state.

He has also embraced the Religious Right’s victimhood rhetoric, insisting that gay rights advocates preach “intolerance” and warning that American society is marginalizing Christians.

The man who was once hailed as the leader who could help the GOP become a successful national party in a new electoral landscape seems to have given up on that ideal, settling instead for chasing approval from the party’s extreme and demanding far-right base.

 

Rick Santorum: A Religious Right Crusader Masquerading As a “Blue Collar” Conservative

Since losing to Mitt Romney in the 2012 Republican presidential primary season, Rick Santorum has tried to position himself as the “anti-Romney.” The former Pennsylvania senator isn’t just a conservative warrior on issues like immigration, legal abortion and gay rights; he is also trying to change the image of his party as an organization led by and only concerned about millionaires and billionaires.

In his 2014 book, “Blue Collar Conservatives,” Santorum chides his party for being too focused on cutting taxes for the rich, and showing little empathy for workers and the unemployed. His message of right-wing populism, while not exactly revolutionary, captures the mood of many Tea Party activists who see GOP elites as too close to Wall Street and Washington. But his critique of the GOP is mostly cosmetic: Santorum offers the same tired Republican solutions for cutting taxes and domestic programs, deregulating Wall Street, promoting the fossil fuel industry and curtailing immigration.

Contrary to his rhetoric, Santorum pushes a policy agenda heavily favored by Wall Street: repealing regulations governing the financial services sector and other industries, attacking the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the National Labor Relations Board, rolling back the powers of the EPA and, of course, cutting taxes for the very rich. Santorum perfectly embodies the spirit of the Tea Party as he makes overtures to voters who are upset by Wall Street’s behavior, while pushing policies that allow Wall Street to continue that behavior unfettered.

Santorum complements his message of economic populism with a crusading stance on social issues, arguing that the GOP must become more conservative, and more aggressive, if it wants to win. Shying away from social issues, Santorum contends, would only undermine the GOP.

In a yearlong gig as a columnist for the online conspiracy theory clearinghouse WorldNetDaily that he started after dropping out of the presidential race, Santorum proved himself adept at speaking to his party’s extreme base. He used the platform to play up right-wing fears about government and gays, stoking conservative opposition to such measures as an international disability rights treaty and the inclusion of gay youths in the Boy Scouts of America.

Santorum also stands to benefit from his deep roots in the first-in-the-nation caucus state of Iowa, where he built a coalition of Religious Right activists to edge out Romney in 2012. He received a late but critical endorsement from Bob Vander Plaats, a leading Iowa power broker who spearheaded Mike Huckabee’s successful 2008 caucus campaign and heads an amalgam of Religious Right groups called The Family Leader. Santorum teamed up with Vander Plaats in 2010 for the successful campaign to remove three Iowa Supreme Court judges who joined a unanimous decision in favor of marriage equality.

Santorum also won the support of a large coalition of Religious Right leaders from across the country in 2012, but only after Romney had already racked up early primary victories.

After coming up short in the presidential primary, Santorum got a job as the chief executive of a conservative Christian film company EchoLight Studios. He has used his new post to push the right-wing narrative that conservative Christians in America are facing widespread persecution as a result of gay rights, Obamacare, and the separation of church and state. The way Santorum tells it, marriage equality is a threat to the freedom of speech and religion, and Satan is using universities, mainline Protestant churches and the government to extinguish conservative values.

Naturally, he plans to center his upcoming presidential campaign on putting Bibles in public schools, criticizing the separation of church and state and gay rights, and warning of Nazi-style, anti-Christian oppression in America.

 

Scott Walker: The Koch Brothers’ Favorite Extremist

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker became a right-wing hero in 2011 when he pushed a package of union-busting labor reform laws through the state legislature as protesters occupied the Capitol Building, and then survived a subsequent recall election.

Walker — who portrays himself as an “unintimidated” leader — has attempted to turn Wisconsin into a petri dish for conservative orthodoxy, spearheading efforts to curb the rights of workers, implement austerity economics, defund and privatize education, undermine campaign finance laws, restrict voting rights and crack down on legal abortions.

After the corporate tax cuts he championed caused his state’s budget deficit to balloon, Walker argued that Wisconsin needed to curtail the collective bargaining rights of public employees in order to close the deficit. His proposal targeted unions that typically supported Democrats, while GOP-aligned unions were conveniently left unaffected.

Tea Party groups rallied to Walker’s defense as protests rocked Madison, and right-wing groups poured in millions of dollars to defend Walker and promote his policies. Prosecutors alleged that several of these organizations were part of a “criminal scheme” involving illegal coordination with Walker’s office.

Walker’s recipe for economic prosperity in Wisconsin, which he wants to replicate nationwide, hasn’t exactly been a success, as the state lags in job growth compared to its neighbors, and Walker badly missed his goal of creating 250,000 jobs by the end of his first term.

Walker coupled his offensive against workers with attacks on families who rely on public health insurance, costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars in federal Medicaid subsidies. He also drove through new laws curbing early voting and making it harder for the hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin residents without drivers licenses to vote, a move that disproportionately affected people of color and young people [PDF].

But most recently, Walker has been receiving attention for his clear policy shifts as he prepares to run for president. He signed so-called “right-to-work” legislation crippling private-sector unions, a bill he repeatedly said he wouldn’t touch as governor; reversed his position on whether undocumented immigrants should have a pathway to citizenship, saying that, despite past statements, he is now opposed to such a plan; he endorsed a federal ethanol mandate, popular among Iowans, that he previously criticized for interfering in free markets and opposed as far back as 1999; and he pledged to sign into law a 20-week abortion ban, although he had vowed in a campaign ad to leave the “final decision” on terminating a pregnancy to “a woman and her doctor.”

After pivoting to the center to win a tight race for re-election, Walker now seems comfortable embracing his previous right-wing stances as he explores a campaign for the GOP presidential nomination. Despite his campaign claims that he doesn’t have a position on marriage equality and will not “focus on” or “obsess with” abortion rights, Walker actually has a long record of Religious Right-aligned political activism.

Walker used his position as governor to fulfill a right-wing wish list, successfully repealing a law that allowed women to challenge discriminatory payment practices in state court; blocking the defense of a state law granting hospital visitation rights to same-sex partners; enacting targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) laws aimed at closing clinics and limiting coverage; requiring women who seek an abortion to undergo an ultrasound; restricting birth control access; ending the state’s relationship with Planned Parenthood; and weakening comprehensive sex education in favor of abstinence-only lessons.

One Wisconsin Republican state senator criticized Walker’s policies as “way too extreme,” arguing that they serve “an out-of-state billionaire-funded and driven agenda.” One of Walker’s own fundraising officials emphasized the need for the governor to solicit money from the Koch brothers and billionaire GOP donor Sheldon Adelson, writing, “Corporations. Go heavy after them to give.”

With such experience, it is no wonder that Walker cited his standoff with pro-labor demonstrators as a reason that he would be effective in fighting terrorists.

Five Things To Know About Iowa GOP Kingmaker Bob Vander Plaats

Four Republican presidential candidates are set to appear at a forum in Iowa tonight hosted by one of the state’s best known political organizers: Bob Vander Plaats. Vander Plaats’ group, The Family Leader, along with the National Organization for Marriage, is hosting Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal for a “family leadership regional summit.” 

It’s no surprise that the candidates are courting Vander Plaats: He is widely seen as the organizing powerhouse behind Huckabee and Santorum’s successful 2008 and 2012 Iowa caucus campaigns. It’s even less surprising that Republican candidates are seeking to ingratiate themselves to one of the country’s most radical Religious Right activists.

Vander Plaats, although he has been unsuccessful in his own three attempts to win the Republican gubernatorial nomination, has put together a political coalition in Iowa that, along with carrying Huckabee and Santorum to caucus victories, helped to oust three state supreme court judges who had ruled in favor of marriage equality in the 2010 election. While a similar attempt two years later was unsuccessful, Vander Plaats has nonetheless become a major force in the state’s conservative movement.

5) Slavery Rhetoric

Warning Republicans not to “abandon their base” by softening their opposition to gay rights, Vander Plaats insists that fighting same-sex marriage is not a losing issue for the GOP. He believes that Republicans should stand up and be proud of their refusal to support marriage equality, just as the party fought to curb slavery during its founding era.

“We actually stand for what God has designed because, just like with slavery, the truth is on our side,” Vander Plaats said last year in an interview with right-wing talk show host Steve Deace. “We can win this battle.”

He told another outlet that Republicans shouldn’t even take the position that the states should decide their own marriage laws since same-sex marriage, like slavery, is unequivocally immoral: “You don’t leave slavery up to the states, nor should you. It’s either right or it’s wrong.” In a speech in 2012, Vander Plaats said that a court ruling in favor of marriage equality should be viewed as judicial overreach on the level of Dred Scott.

During the last presidential primary season, Vander Plaats tried to get Republican candidates to sign a pledge that, among other questionable provisions, suggested that African-American families were more stable under slavery than they are today.

4) Conspiracy Theories

In Vander Plaats’ world, the right to speak freely about “faithful heterosexual monogamy” is under attack, “Sharia Islam” is a menace in American politics and President Obama’s birth certificate is missing. (Vander Plaats has praised Donald Trump’s quixotic birther crusade as “bold.”)

Perhaps no issue has Vander Plaats more concerned than gay marriage, which he has called a grave threat to liberty and a Satanic plot. One video his group produced showed images of terrorist attacks and shootings alongside stories about same-sex couples’ weddings and gay members of the Boy Scouts to make a point about the “darkness” sweeping America

3) Gay Marriage Predictions

In his campaigns against marriage equality, Vander Plaats has done whatever it takes to scare voters about the dire consequences of gay rights. He warned that the legalization of same-sex marriage would lead to “tyranny” and sanction “a parent marrying their child.”

He defended his group’s comparison of homosexuality to second-hand smoke by explaining that both represent “a public health risk,” adding: “If we’re teaching the kids, ‘don’t smoke, because that’s a risky health style,’ the same can be true of the homosexual lifestyle.”

Vander Plaats also took the time to criticize an Iowa anti-bullying conference that focused on the targeting of LGBT youth, saying that the state should instead be promoting abstinence-only summits.

2) Crush on Putin

Vander Plaats may still be weighing which Republican candidate to endorse this year, but he has already thrown his support behind one foreign leader: Russian President Vladimir Putin. When Putin signed a law that effectively bans speech in support of gay rights, Vander Plaats praised the Russian president for saying “you know what, don’t bring this homosexual propaganda into my country.”

He said that Putin now encapsulates the traditionally American values of “military might, decisive action, core values, morality, beliefs.”

“He’s taken what used to be our strengths, which has now defaulted into our weaknesses because of Barack Obama, no leadership, and he’s making them his strengths and he’s emerging now on the world stage as a newly discovered leader,” Vander Plaats said back in 2013.

1) No Separation of Church and State

While Vander Plaats’ prediction about gay marriage ushering in adult-child marriage has come true in exactly zero of the dozens of states with marriage equality, he was prophetic in one respect: Vander Plaats advocated for governors to ignore court rulings on the marriage question well before it became a widespread sentiment among conservatives.

Vander Plaats insists that a governor can simply set aside any ruling that violates his or her reading of the Bible, insisting that if a judge legalizes marriage equality in a state, the state’s governor should simply issue an executive order “that places a stay on the judge’s decision” since it “goes against the law of nature and the law of nature’s God, which means, it’s against the Constitution.”

Vander Plaats believes that the U.S. government must fall under God’s jurisdiction and follow “God’s principles and precepts,” not just on social issues like marriage but also in economic and foreign policies.

“If you believe what you say you believe, that marriage is foundational and it’s between a man and a woman, which is what He says he believes, then you got to stand up for that, because that’s the law of nature, that’s the law of nature’s God, that’s the Declaration of Independence, which this whole country was founded on,” he said last year.

Vander Plaats specifically pointed to the Supreme Court’s recent ruling striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act, calling it a travesty that created a “constitutional crisis” by “defying the law of nature and the law of nature’s God” and “going against the document that predates the Constitution.”

Rick Perry: God's Candidate For President, This Time…

As the GOP embraces the reactionary politics and anti-government zealotry of the Tea Party, it is steadily purging “moderates” and empowering extremists. Nothing shows this trend more clearly than the lineup of potential Republican presidential candidates. In this new series, we’ll be looking at the records and promises of the Republican Party’s leading presidential prospects. Next up is Rick Perry:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry quickly won support from conservative activists, especially from the Religious Right, when he made a late entry into the 2012 presidential election, unofficially launching his campaign with a prayer rally packed with Religious Right extremists. Perry came into the race midway through his third term as governor, armed with a record of right-wing economic policies; close ties to the oil industry and opposition to regulations on polluters; antagonism to the federal government; and hostility to LGBT equality and abortion rights. Portraying himself as a candidate to the right of Mitt Romney but more electable than the rest of the GOP field, Perry gained traction until his campaign self-destructed thanks to a series of horrific debate performances and unforced errors.

Perry, who has floated the idea of secession from the United States and signed constitutionally dubious legislation defending the right of states to nullify federal laws, wants to repeal the amendments to the U.S. Constitution allowing for a progressive income tax and requiring that U.S. senators are elected directly by voters.

He believes states should be able to opt out of programs like Social Security — which he called a “Ponzi scheme” — and Medicaid. His decision to refuse Medicaid expansion in Texas has cost the state tens of billions of dollars and left millions without insurance. A staunch critic of federal economic policies who once threatened the “almost treasonous” chairman of the Federal Reserve, his opposition to the 2009 federal economic stimulus package didn’t stop him from using stimulus dollars to balance Texas’ budget and stave off a massive shortfall. But it’s unclear how much power Perry thinks economic policy actually has: he once suggested that the 2008 economic crisis was an anti-government message from God.

Perry has played with the conspiracy theories surrounding President Obama’s birth, citing Donald Trump as his source of information on the legitimacy of the president’s citizenship and saying that the conspiracy theory surrounding the president’s birth certificate is “a good issue to keep alive.”

The Texas governor has also dabbled in other anti-Obama conspiracy theories, including alleging that the Obama administration orchestrated a humanitarian crisis on the southern border for political purposes. He made waves with his decision to send the National Guard to patrol the border against Central American children, a plan he unveiled while campaigning in Iowa.

While he will likely ground his candidacy in issues relating to immigration and the economy, Perry is also a social issues warrior. As governor, Perry championed Texas’ law criminalizing consensual sex between adults of the same gender, which was struck down by the Supreme Court in the landmark Lawrence v. Texas case. He made anti-gay animus a central part of his presidential campaign, running a desperate TV ad attacking gay military service members. After his presidential campaign, Perry became an outspoken opponent of a policy change allowing gay youth to join the Boy Scouts, likening that fight to the fight to end slavery. Earlier this year, he defended his state party’s decision to endorse pseudo-scientific ex-gay therapy by comparing homosexuality to alcoholism.

As governor of Texas, Perry enacted some of the most sweeping anti-abortion rights laws in the country, even going so far as to call an emergency session of the state legislature to pass a bill to force the closure of most of the state’s abortion clinics, though a federal judge has temporarily blocked portions of the new restrictions. Perry mocked one of the bill’s principal opponents, state Sen. Wendy Davis, saying “it is just unfortunate that she hasn’t learned from her own example” of being a teen mother.

Perry was recently indicted on charges that he abused his power as governor to defund an investigative unit that was looking into a project that he had championed. Despite his best effort to portray himself as the victim of a political witch hunt, a judge declined Perry’s attempt to have the indictments thrown out.

PFAW And Allies Call On GOP Presidential Candidates To Distance Themselves From CPAC’s White Nationalist Sponsor

Today, People For the American Way, America’s Voice and ColorOfChange.org called on GOP presidential candidates to distance themselves from Conservative Political Action Conference’s ties to ProEnglish, a group led by white nationalist Robert Vandervoort.

As we reported last week, ProEnglish is sponsoring a booth in the event’s exhibit hall, which costs $4,000. ProEnglish has been allowed to sponsor the event for the past several years, despite Vandervoort’s well documented ties with white nationalist groups. Nearly every major Republican presidential contender is scheduled to speak at the event this weekend.

Here is the full text of the open letter from PFAW, America’s Voice and ColorOfChange.org:

Dear Gov. Jeb Bush, Dr. Ben Carson, Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Gov. Bobby Jindal, Sen. Rand Paul, Gov. Rick Perry, Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Rick Santorum, and Gov. Scott Walker:

We understand that you are scheduled to speak at this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference, an event which is being partially sponsored by ProEnglish, a group led by white nationalist Bob Vandervoort. We urge you to decline to speak at CPAC unless it cuts ties with ProEnglish and Vandervoort.

ProEnglish has sponsored CPAC for the past several years, despite Vandervoort’s well documented ties to the white nationalist movement. As the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights has reported, Vandervoort is the former leader of Chicagoland Friends of American Renaissance, a group dedicated to supporting the ideals of the infamous white nationalist publication American Renaissance. One member of the group described its mission as encouraging “white survival and maintaining white majorities.”

Vandervoort’s own writings reflect these views. He has expressed concern about the need to “halt the cultural and racial dispossession of the West's historic people” and expounded on “racial differences” in “intelligence and temperament.” He has wondered how “race realists and pro-Western Civ nationalists” like himself can counter historical comparisons to the Holocaust and slavery.

CPAC has a troubling history of welcoming white nationalists. In 2012, the conference hosted a panel on race featuring Vandervoort and fellow white nationalist writer Peter Brimelow. And ProEnglish has continued to be allowed to sponsor the event even after civil rights groups have raised concerns.

Clearly, Robert Vandervoort and his group should have no place as a financial sponsor of the nation’s largest convention of conservatives. We urge you to distance yourself from Vandervoort’s views and refuse to speak at CPAC unless ProEnglish’s sponsorship is withdrawn.

Sincerely,

Michael Keegan, President

People For the American Way

Frank Sharry, Founder and Executive Director

America’s Voice

Rashad Robinson, Executive Director

ColorOfChange.org

Right Wing Round-Up – 2/13/15

  • Kyler Geoffrey @ Towleroad: AL Pastor Rails Against ‘Comedic’ Gay Marriages, Claims You’ll Be Able To Marry Roaches In 2016

More Governors Planning 'Response' Rallies To Stop God From Destroying America, Says Tamara Scott

Tamara Scott, an Iowa Religious Right organizer and RNC committeewoman who was involved in organizing Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s “The Response” prayer rally, said last week that a number of other Republican governors have committed to or are seriously considering holding similar rallies, which she hoped would save America from God’s destruction.

In an interview with “The View From a Pew” program, an Iowa-based webcast, Scott said that in addition to Jindal and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who hosted a “The Response” event in 2011, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley “has agreed” to host a rally and organizers are trying to convince Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to do the same.

On her own program, “Tamara Scott Live,” earlier in the week, Scott said that Gov. Rick Scott of Florida had sent a staff member to the Jindal event to investigate the possibility of holding a “The Response” rally himself and that Jindal had approached Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to ask him to consider holding one as well. Scott also expressed her hope that Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas would consider hosting a rally.

Scott told the “View from a Pew” hosts that such events are needed to save American from destruction, paraphrasing the biblical book of Jeremiah: “If I build up your nation and you fall away, I’ll destroy you…If I’m going to destroy you and you repent, I will heal your land and rebuild you.”

“If our federal government is not smart enough to stick to the foundational principles of those who set this country on the great start that it had by calling on the name of Jesus — George Washington to all the men on Mount Rushmore — if they were not smart enough to understand, then our states can do it individually,” she said on the earlier program.

The Jindal rally’s organizers have hinted that other governors may be planning similar events, writing in a recent email, “There is a sense that God may be orchestrating similar days of prayer and fasting called by Governors around the nation over this next year.” Although the event’s main organizer, David Lane, has allied with a number of top Republican figures, he has yet to name names of governors he hopes to convince to host “The Response” replicas.

Jindal was forced multiple times to back away from the extremism of the organizers of his “The Response” rally, David Lane and the American Family Association. A prayer guide posted on the event’s website was removed after we reported that it blamed marriage equality and legal abortion for natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina. Then the organizers tried to scrub the website of evidence of the participation of self-proclaimed prophet Cindy Jacobs after Rachel Maddow ran a segment highlighting her extremism. And a few days after the rally, AFA stripped its main spokesman, Bryan Fischer, of his title under apparent pressure from the Republican National Committee, which was about to send 60 of its members on a trip to Israel funded by the AFA and organized by Lane.

CPAC Superheroes: Who's The Hulk?

If “superhero” is not the word that comes to mind when you think of Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz, or Rick Perry, you clearly aren’t CPAC material. The Conservative Political Action Conference, the annual right-wing gathering hosted by the American Conservative Union, is promoting this year’s event with a graphic inspired by the movie “Avengers” – or Disney’s animated series “Avengers Assemble.”

As in the Marvel universe, there are some household names, and some clearly second- or third-tier heroes. We’ll leave it to you to speculate on the superpowers wielded by Bobby Jindal, John Bolton, Laura Ingraham, Ben Carson, and others.

Meet David Lane: The Anti-Gay, Christian-Nation Extremist Of The RNC

Last night, Rachel Maddow reported that the American Family Association has fired Bryan Fischer as its official spokesman, while letting Fischer keep his radio show on the organization’s radio network. The move apparently came as a result of growing controversy surrounding a trip to Israel for Republican National Committee delegates bankrolled by the AFA.

It didn’t look good for the RNC that the group paying the tab for the trip to Israel has a spokesman and radio host who believes that gay people are modern-day Nazis who are responsible for the Holocaust, demands Jewish conversion to Christianity (and wants to require conversion for Jewish and other non-Christian immigrants), and insists that non-Christians have no First Amendment rights: “Counterfeit religions, alternative religions to Christianity, have no First Amendment right to the free exercise of the religion.”

However, the RNC trip’s chief organizer, David Lane of the American Renewal Project, which has close ties to the AFA, is no less radical than Fischer … but his extreme views haven’t stopped Republicans from embracing Lane.

lane

Priebus, center. Lane, far right. Via The Brody File.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has appeared at Lane’s political gatherings and praised his radical anti-LGBT activism. In fact, potential Republican presidential candidates like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry and Mike Pence have either appeared at Lane’s events, which typically take place in early primary states, or participated in election-themed advertisements for Lane’s group.

Bobby Jindal, who has participated in both ventures, even hosted a prayer rally last weekend that was organized by Lane and funded by the AFA.

Lane and the AFA also organized an earlier visit to Israel for Paul and Perry, and Lane also organized Huckabee’s recent trip to Europe.

Lane, who describes himself as a political operative who prefers working behind the scenes, shares Fischer’s view that God is preparing to violently punish America for its tolerance of homosexuality. Lane, like Fischer, also believes that gay Republicans and gay rights supporters in the GOP are dangerous figures who will help bring the country down. He has:

  • Feared that God might destroy the U.S. just as he punished Nazi Germany: “If we get judgment like Nazi Germany, I’m assuming we go to rebel, and God says ‘I’m done.’”
  • Favorably quoted a Christian author who said that “same-sex marriage practiced universally is suicide. To survive gays and lesbians are parasites, depending for their cultural survival on couples that birth the next generation.”
  • Explained why homosexuality is a threat to freedom: “Homosexuality is debauchery. God’s loyalty and fidelity — that guard the nation — make sustainable freedom dependent on seeking virtue.”
  • Predicted that homosexuality will lead to the destruction of America: “Homosexual desire and marriage is unnatural and — more so — is a symptom of advanced cultural decay and precursor to the collapse of the Republican Party and the nation.... The mark of a decadent society is the exaltation and normalization of sin — which leads to the death.”
  • Compared Republicans who support marriage equality to politicians who backed slavery in the run-up to the Civil War.

“What is our aim?” Lane asked in a 2013 op-ed. “One word only: victory, in spite of all intimidation and terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, America will ultimately collapse.”

He has set his sights at the separation of church and state, warning that “America is lost, one has to think through and devise a strategy to recapture our Christian heritage and reestablish our Christian culture.” Lane has also outlined his strategy to further entrench his radical ideology in the Republican Party by holding prayer rallies like “The Response,” sponsoring events featuring GOP leaders, known as “restoration” and “renewal” events or “pastor policy briefings,” and recruiting 1,000 pastors to run for elected office.

Urging conservatives to “wage war for the Soul of America and trust the living God to deliver the pagan gods into our hands,” Lane wants conservatives to embrace his exclusionary Christian Nationalist beliefs and abolish the separation of church and state. Lane:

  • Called the separation of church and state a “lie” and a “fabricated whopper” used to stop “Christian America – the moral majority – from imposing moral government on pagan public schools, pagan higher learning and pagan media.”
  • Claimed that while “America was a Christian nation” since its founding, now it must choose between being “a Christian nation or a pagan nation.”
  • Said America needs a “thorough cleaning from pornography, abortion, homosexuality, filth from TV and Hollywood, racism, and injustice.”
  • Congratulated a pastor for exposing Mitt Romney’s belief in the “false god of Mormonism” during the 2012 GOP primaries.
  • Lamented that the “‘religion of secularism’ has produced red ink as far as the eye can see, homosexuals praying at the Inauguration, tax-funded abortion, homosexual marriage in several States, Evangelicals held in contempt, and God expelled from the classrooms of America — and the public square.”
  • Warned that while America has “grovel to the false god of Islam,” “America, a Christian nation in heritage and culture, is being dismantled brick by brick.”

Bobby Jindal Hopes To Emulate Rick Perry's Miracle-Producing Prayers

Just as Texas Gov. Rick Perry launched his 2012 presidential bid with a prayer rally called “The Response,” fellow Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana is set to lead his own “Response” prayer event this Saturday in Baton Rouge. Many of the pastors and conservative activists who backed the 2011 rally credited Perry’s actions with various miracles, raising the bar for Jindal’s event, which is being organized by the very same people.

Unfortunately for Perry, the various miracles produced by his prayer rally did not include producing even a single delegate in his disastrous presidential campaign, but it did save Texas from the scourge of Native American cannibals, at least according to Cindy Jacobs, a self-proclaimed prophet who endorsed both “Response” prayer rallies.

Jacobs said that Native Americans who “ate people” produced a “curse” in Texas, until it was healed by Perry’s prayer rally:

Another evangelist who joined Perry at “The Response,” Lou Engle, noticed evidence that God blessed Perry’s bid for president. According to Engle, God sent rain to Texas in response to the governor’s campaign announcement.

“I heard that actually the day that Governor Perry announced that he’s running for president, and this is not an endorsement I’m giving here, it simply it rained I believe he said for five hours, it poured,” Engle said on a 2011 conference call. “And people think that that could’ve been a sign, I don’t know. I think that was a historic prayer gathering for a governor to call a true Joel:2 solemn assembly. You don’t always see an immediate answer to these kinds of prayers but God does, God sees and responds and I believe we’ll look back at that gathering as a historic moment in American history and that’s what I’ve got to believe.”

Rick Scarborough, a prominent Texas conservative activist, also claimed that Perry’s prayers ended a drought during a conference call for his 40 Days to Save America campaign. Texas Republican leader David Barton agreed, adding that Perry’s prayers also controlled the BP gulf oil spill:

Scarborough: Our Governor here in the state of Texas called for a day of prayer and fasting last May. We were at the height of a drought that meteorologists were telling us was part of a cycle that would last perhaps for a number of years and that it would take us years to get our lake levels back up and so forth. It occurs to me that, not immediately, but after that prayer event that thirty thousand people participated in, we started getting rain and in less than a year, our lakes are full, our fields are brimming. A lot of people seem not to connect the dots on that, but we've got a fresh illustration of how God honors prayer.

Barton: Yeah, that's one of those many things that historians will looks back upon and say 'look at the correlation.' But I look back over the last few years at Sonny Perdue of Georgia who called, in the middle of their drought - that was an unprecedented century drought that they had there - he called for prayer and within three days they had rain falling in Georgia again. They're back in good condition.

I recall what happened with the oil spill in the Gulf, how all the Gulf governors except for Charlie Crist of Florida got together and called for a time of prayer that God would mitigate the damage of that and cause that thing to be sealed. And guess what? All the expected damage along the shorelines to all the wildlife, it didn't happen.

Jindal For Christian Nation President?

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s upcoming prayer rally has been organized by David Lane, a Christian-nation absolutist who believes America was founded by and for Christians and demands that politicians make the Bible a primary textbook in public schools. The American Family Association, whose chief spokesperson believes the First Amendment’s religious freedom protections do not apply to non-Christians, is paying for the rally.

It’s clear that Jindal, a convert to Christianity, is positioning himself to win the support of conservative evangelicals for a potential presidential bid. (Lane for one has cheered Jindal’s recent remarks about Muslims.) But does Jindal see himself as a potential president for all Americans, or only American Christians?

Jindal’s initial letter inviting “friends and fellow patriots” to the eventon his official letterhead —declared, “We are in need of spiritual and transforming revival, if we are to recapture the vision of our early leaders who signed on the Mayflower, ‘In the name of God and for the advancement of the Christian faith.’” Jindal’s letter declared, “Jesus Christ, Son of God and the Lord of Life, is America’s only hope.” What does that say to non-Christian Americans about how Jindal views them and their contributions to America’s future?

Jindal also recorded a video promoting the event as the spark that would help bring the “spiritual revival” America needs.

This week the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody reported that Jindal sent a letter to the other 49 governors inviting them to attend. “We need an appeal to heaven for heaven’s intervention over us,” he wrote. “We need to pray to the Lord that He will send spiritual revival to our nation.”

“This gathering will be apolitical in nature,” Jindal writes unconvincingly to his fellow governors, adding, “There will only be one name lifted up that day – Jesus!”

Is Jindal unaware that not all his fellow governors are Christians, or does he just not care?

Jindal, of course, has the right as an American to participate in a rally like this. But it is wrong for him to use the power of his office to proselytize for his own faith and denigrate the faith of others. The critics of his prayer rally have the right, and good reason, to question what his promotion of this event says about Jindal’s judgment, values, and commitment to religious pluralism and other constitutional principles.

Bobby Jindal's Extremist Prayer Rally Brings Together Prophets, Bigots And Far-Right Activists

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who only a few years ago was lamenting the GOP’s decline into “the stupid party,” is now staking out a position on the party’s far-right fringe in preparation for an expected run for the presidency. Jindal has reached out to the party’s increasingly extreme base by undermining the teaching of evolution in public schools; promoting wild conspiracy theories about Common Core, an effort to adjust school standards that he supported before it became the target of the Tea Party’s fury; and hyping the purported persecution of Christians in America, specifically citing the plight of Christians with reality television shows.

Jindal, once hailed as the GOP’s top intellectual and reformer who denounced “dumbed-down conservatism” in an era of Tea Party populism, is slated to lead a prayer rally this weekend, “The Response: Baton Rouge,” organized and sponsored by some of the most extreme figures within the party.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry organized the original “Response” prayer gathering as a prelude to his 2012 presidential bid, allying with many of the same radical activists and organizations who are supporting Jindal’s version of the rally. While Perry’s campaign ultimately imploded, the people who helped put together his prayer rally credited it for various miracles. Jindal’s event has even recycled promotional materials from the Texas rally, including a “prayer guide” blaming marriage equality for Hurricane Katrina and the 2011 Joplin tornado.

“The Response” is being organized by David Lane, a Religious Right activist who boasts of his great influence and low profile, and various conservative pastors, including several who claim to be modern-day prophets and apostles, who all kicked off the prayer rally with an event at the Louisiana governor’s mansion earlier this month. The American Family Association, so notorious for its apoplectic anti-gay rhetoric and opposition to the freedoms of non-Christians that its chief spokesman earned a rebuke from Mitt Romney, is putting up the funding.

The organizers

David Lane, a self-styled “political operative” who gloats that he has “operated since 2005 largely under the radar” on behalf of conservative causes and Republican candidates, is serving as the organizational muscle behind Jindal’s prayer rally.

Jindal isn’t the only potential GOP candidate who is getting Lane’s help; Lane has also arranged various events focused on energizing conservative pastors in early GOP primary states that have featured appearances from potential presidential hopefuls Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee. He also organized overseas tours with various conservative activists for likely candidates including Huckabee, Perry and Paul. Lane has also teamed up with the Republican National Committee, whose chairman, Reince Priebus, sings his praises.

Lane hopes to use “The Response” as a launching pad for his effort to recruit 1,000 pastors to run for elected office.

Lane, who has connections to the top of the Republican Party, has views which are far out of the mainstream. He has:

  • called on conservatives to attack Mitt Romney for worshiping “the false god of Mormonism”;
  • warned that LGBT rights are creating an unparalleled “crisis” leading to “our utter destruction” as a nation;
  • forecasted America’s destruction as a result of “the pagan onslaught imposing homosexual marriage” and “homosexual scouts”;
  • declared that “our long-term strategy must be to place the Bible in Public Schools as the principle [sic] textbook of American education”;
  • and predicted that “homosexuals praying at the Inauguration” in 2013 would lead to divine punishment in the form of “car bombs in Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Des Moines, Iowa.”

The American Family Association, classified as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, is providing the financial backbone for Jindal’s prayer rally, as it did for Perry’s 2011 event.

The group’s chief spokesman, Bryan Fischer, has won nationwide notoriety for his remarks about homosexuality and religious and ethnic minorities, which he shares on his daily program on the AFA’s radio network. Fischer has:

Other AFA officials have blamed gay people for natural disasters like Hurricane Isaacpromoted birther conspiracy theories and railed against secular Jews as threats to America.

The “apostles”

The latter half of Rick Perry’s “The Response” prayer rally was emceed by a self-proclaimed prophet who believes Oprah Winfrey is the harbinger of the Antichrist.

It looks like Jindal’s rally will be no different: Doug Stringer, who considers himself to be a modern-day apostle and who also worked on Perry’s rally, is spearheading the Louisiana event. Stringer has blamed American “[l]icentiousness or moral looseness to the degree that it is ‘in your face,’ including homosexuality,” for the September 11, 2001 attacks, which he described as a “wake-up call” from God.

Another self-proclaimed prophet, Cindy Jacobs, is also featured on “The Response: Baton Rouge” website. Jacobs has quite the prophetic record. She:

  • suggested that legal victories for marriage equality advocates led to Hurricane Sandy and other natural disasters;
  • proclaimed that Rick Perry’s “The Response” prayer rally “broke the curses on the land” of Texas brought on by “the Native American people [who] were cannibals and they ate people”;

Jim Garlow, a prominent “The Response: Baton Rouge” endorser who is involved in the “apostolic” movement, has been a leader of the movement against LGBT rights. Garlow has:

One event sponsor, Jennifer LeClaire, has used her column in Charisma News to broadcast several “prophetic” warnings about the evils of homosexuality and the “gay agenda” that is “working overtime to send millions to hell.” LeClaire has:

  • and claimed that gay people are possessed by a demonic “spirit of immorality” that “often enters in through some sort of abuse and the lies of the enemy [Satan] that follow.”

The activists

“The Response: Baton Rouge” has also featured endorsements from a slew of conservative politicians. Tamara Scott, as a member of the Republican National Committee representing Iowa and leader of the Iowa chapter of Concerned Women for America, is a key political player in the first-in-the-nation caucus state. But her political clout doesn’t hide her unbridled extremism. Scott has:

  • characterized young Central American immigrants as “highly trained warriors” who could “rise up against us as Americans”;
  • and suggested that Muslim-Americans are waging a “stealth jihad” to overthrow the U.S.

Another official “Response” endorser, longtime conservative activist and failed Republican nominee for lieutenant governor of Virginia E.W. Jackson, has pushed similarly radical views, particularly on gay rights, saying that “homosexuality is a horrible sin, it poisons culture, it destroys families, it destroys societies; it brings the judgment of God unlike very few things that we can think of.” He has also:

  • said of gay people: “Their minds are perverted, they’re frankly very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally”;
  • warned that homosexuality will bring about a “torrent of wickedness,” including human-animal marriages;

Gene Mills, leader of the Louisiana Family Forum and another key “Response” endorser, is a vocal ally of Jindal’s who helped push the governor’s policies undermining public education and promoting religious schooling. It’s no surprise that Mills leads the state’s foremost anti-LGBT group, as he has:

  • asserted that homosexuality is not a sexual orientation but a “disorder”;
  • falsely claimed that anti-gay speech is now classified as hate crimes;
  • said that abuse shelters should turn away transgender victims of spousal abuse;
  • and explained that anti-gay discrimination is a myth because “the reality is the shame and the guilt the homosexual feels is mistakenly reinterpreted as discrimination and what they attempt to do is to call it discrimination and prohibit it.”

The Year In Homophobia: Ten Of The Worst Anti-LGBT Stories Of 2014

Supporters of marriage equality made tremendous progress this year in striking down discriminatory bans on same-sex marriages while, on the local level, more municipalities have enacted legal protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The Radical Right, however, sees these changes as a reason to find new strategies to fight what it believes is a tyrannical government bent on persecuting conservatives and inviting divine punishment. Facing losses in court and at the ballot box, many conservatives hope that their brand of anti-gay politics may find more success overseas.

Just in case you thought that the debate over gay rights was “over,” we decided to look back on some of the anti-gay Right’s worst moments of 2014.

10. Comparing LGBT Americans To Nazis And Terrorists

There’s nothing that Religious Right activists love more than to pretend they are being oppressed by the LGBT community. This year, Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage, Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel and Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association all said opponents of LGBT rights today are facing a situation reminiscent of the oppression African Americans endured under Jim Crow, while other anti-LGBT activists shamelessly compared themselves to Jewish people living in Nazi Germany. More recently, Religious Right activists compared supporters of gay rights to ISIS members bent on beheading Christians, and Pat Robertson described gay rights supporters as terrorists.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins wondered when gay people and gay rights advocates would “start rolling out the boxcars to start hauling off Christians,” and “Trunews” host Rick Wiles even warned that LGBT rights activists in the U.S. are hoping to fulfill Adolf Hitler’s dream of creating “a race of super gay male soldiers.”

9. Civil Disobedience To Stop Gay Rights

While conservatives rail against civil disobedience to protest police brutality, they are hopeful that the anti-gay movement will launch its own civil disobedience campaigns. In 2014, Sen. Ted Cruz urged gay rights opponents to “disregard unjust edicts from the government” and Fox News pundit Todd Starnes predicted that conservatives would take part in acts of civil disobedience and marches reminiscent of the Civil Rights Movement. Pat BuchananLinda Harvey and Jeff Allen also joined calls for mass civil disobedience to protest LGBT equality, while Peter LaBarbera proposed protests to stop same-sex weddings.

Janet Mefferd hoped that an anti-gay Rosa Parks would soon emerge, while Matt Barber, who has pledged to bring back “some of the civil disobedience that we saw in the 60s during those civil rights struggles” to stop the “LGBT sexual orientation agenda,” said that anti-gay activists will be acting just like Martin Luther King Jr. by demonstrating against gay rights.

8. Breakaway Anti-Gay Nation

Upset over recent gay rights victories, former Reagan administration official Douglas MacKinnon seems ready to give up on America and start a new country composed of conservative Southern states that will secede from the U.S. as a way to preserve their bans on same-sex marriage. MacKinnon outlined his plan in his book, “The Secessionist States of America: The Blueprint for Creating a Traditional Values Country . . . Now,” and in an interview with right-wing talk show host Janet Mefferd, he defended the South’s original attempt at secession during the Civil War.

MacKinnon said that if the secession plan actually worked, he would name the country “Reagan.”

7. Dave Agema’s ‘Common Sense’

It wasn’t a good year for Dave Agema, the Michigan GOP politician and a member of the Republican National Committee. Not only did Agema lose his lawsuit against People For the American Way, the notoriously anti-gay activist made waves after he endorsed Russia’s criminalization of speech in favor of gay rights as a “common sense” measure and faced calls to resign from the RNC after attacking Muslim-Americans in a Facebook post. Last year, Agema posted a bizarre pseudo-scientific survey on how homosexuality is “filthy” on his Facebook page.

Agema became a right-wing martyr after people dared to criticize his bigoted statements, and he refused to step down despite statements from top GOP leaders urging him to leave his position. Instead, Agema only amped up the rhetoric, blasting people for “shoving this idea down our throat that we have to accept this homosexual lifestyle” and warning that gay rights will destroy America.

6. Duggars Show ‘Love’ For Gays By Fighting Gay Rights

While the Duggar family usually campaigns for Republican candidates across the country come election time, in 2014 they worked in their home state of Arkansas to repeal an ordinance in the city of Fayetteville that added the categories of sexual orientation and gender identity to existing bans on discrimination in areas such as commerce, housing and employment.

Michelle Duggar recorded a highly misleading robocall for the successful anti-LGBT campaign, suggesting that the ordinance would undermine public safety and empower “child predators.”

But Josh Duggar, who claims that God sent him to Washington D.C. to work with Family Research Council in opposing LGBT rights, defended their work to strip LGBT people of their rights and legal protections because it is done out of love for the LGBT community.

5. Rick Perry Goes There

As Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s 2012 presidential campaign flamed out after a series of poor debate performances, he used gay-baiting TV ads in one last desperate attempt to win the GOP nomination. Now, as Perry prepares for the 2016 campaign, it seems that by wearing new eyeglasses he is all of a sudden the new wonky candidate. He showed off this new-found knowledge during an appearance in California where he reacted to the news that the Texas GOP had adopted a resolution endorsing “reparative therapy and treatment” to help people “escape from the homosexual lifestyle” by comparing gay people to alcoholics.

“Whether or not you feel compelled to follow a particular lifestyle or not, you have the ability to decide not to do that,” Perry told the Commonwealth Club of California to audible groans from the crowd. “I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way.”

Of course it wasn’t the first time Perry made such a claim, and other potential presidential candidates such as Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum have made similar arguments. 

4. Ted Cruz’s New DOMA

After the Supreme Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, marriage equality opponents looked to their allies in Washington D.C. to try to reverse the court’s decision. Sen. Ted Cruz was more than happy to help, and the Texas senator joined Mike Lee, Utah’s freshman senator, in introducing the State Marriage Defense Act. The bill’s stated purpose is to undercut federal recognition of married same-sex couples, and while it didn’t gain much traction in Congress, it did give Cruz an opportunity to grandstand about his dreams of curtailing gay rights. He told right-wing radio hosts that his “heart weeps” due to same-sex couples’ legal victories, calling rulings in favor of marriage equality “heartbreaking” and a sign “that our constitutional liberties are being eroded.”

After the Supreme Court recently refused to hear appeals in several cases involving same-sex marriage rights, Cruz decided to introduce a constitutional amendment to ensure that the 14th Amendment cannot be used in cases involving equal rights for gays and lesbians.

3. Still Angry About Repeal Of DADT

Anti-gay activists issued countless dire predictions about the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, which officially ended in the summer of 2011, warning about everything from a return to the draft to a “virtual genocide” of Christian service members. None of their claims ever materialized, but conservatives are now just acting as if they did.

One American Family Association radio host blamed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the U.S. military’s “sissification,” and Jerry Boykin of the Family Research Council linked the lifting of the ban on gay service members to what he called the “absolute destruction of our military readiness and our military morale.” Gordon Klingenschmitt read a statement on his “Pray In Jesus Name” program from a press release alleging that gay service members will soon be “taking breaks on the combat field to change diapers all because their treacherous sin causes them to lose control of their bowels.”

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, captured the mood best when he alleged that the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell will make the U.S. more “vulnerable to terrorism” because gay soldiers will take after the ancient Greeks in bringing their lovers to the frontlines so they can “give them massages before they go into battle.”

2. ‘Forced’ To Watch Michael Sam’s Kiss

This year, the far Right leveled an all-out attack against openly gay athlete Michael Sam, who is apparently paving the way for the Antichristbrainwashing children, Satanic and part of a “plan to destroy black America” by “emasculating its men.” After ESPN aired footage of him kissing his boyfriend when he was notified that he was drafted into the NFL, right-wing activists denounced his “slobber-knocker of a kiss” as “sewer filth”; “yucky”; “gross”; “cringe-inducing” and “nauseating.”

Some conservatives claimed that they were actually forced to watch Sam kiss his boyfriend, while other conservatives vowed to boycott the NFL. Rush Limbaugh feared that Sam’s decision to come out of the closet is evidence that heterosexuals are “under assault,” and one right-wing outlet warned of “the gayification of professional sports.”

1. Cheering On Uganda And Russia

This year, Uganda’s president signed into law a new version of the country’s “Anti-Homosexuality Act” which imposed extreme penalties for the crime of being gay (though dropping its provision making homosexuality a death penalty offense in certain cases). American anti-gay activists mostly offered praise to the East African nation. At least one group thought that Uganda should have kept its death penalty plank.

While the country’s top court ultimately struck down the law on technical grounds, organizations such as Concerned Women for AmericaLiberty Counsel and the American Family Association defended Uganda, with the latter condemning criticisms of the law as Satanic. Pastor Scott Lively, who helped craft the original anti-gay bill, spoke out in favor of the new law.

Glenn Grothman, a Wisconsin lawmaker who last month won his race for an open seat in the U.S. House, also attacked opponents of Uganda’s anti-gay law, warning that people like Sec. John Kerry will bring about God’s judgment on America for his criticisms of Uganda.

The Uganda news came at a time when many U.S.-based activists were already pleased with new laws in Russia criminalizing speech in favor of gay rights and enthralled with Vladimir Putin, demanding that America enact similar laws.

Bryan Fischer Bonus

American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer’s daily cascade of anti-gay bigotry is difficult to summarize, but rest assured that throughout 2014 he remained in “fine form” when it came to maliciously attacking the LGBT community. Insisting that his hostility to homosexuality is just something that he was born with, Fischer regularly uses his radio program to rail against gay rights as the “greatest threat” America has ever seen and a precursor to the End Times. Fischer has even suggested that God will uses ISIS terrorists to “discipline the United States” for supporting gay rights and urged the government to ban gay people from ever holding public office.

Right Wing Round-Up - 12/11/14

Bobby Jindal's Prayer Rally Materials Blame Gays & Legal Abortion For Hurricane Katrina

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is following in the footsteps of Texas Gov. Rick Perry and kicking off his possible presidential campaign next month with a stadium prayer rally organized by radical religious right activists. As Brian reported on Monday, the virulently anti-gay Christian nationalist American Family Association, influential Religious Right leader David Lane and Doug Stringer, a self-proclaimed “apostle” from Texas who has blamed America’s rejection of God for the September 11 attacks, are spearheading Jindal’s Baton Rouge rally.

These activists are the perfect ambassadors for the Christian nationalists that Jindal appears to be courting. In a letter introducing the rally — printed on official governor’s mansion stationary — Jindal warns of “a new world order of chaos…being driven by militant Islam seeking to impose Sharia Law worldwide” and domestic epidemics of “fatherless homes,” “drugs and crime in our inner cities” and “a saturation of pornography, abortion, racism,” problems for which Jesus Christ “is America’s only hope.”

Jindal’s prayer rally appears to be so closely modeled after Perry’s that its organizers are even reusing materials from the 2011 Texas event, including a prayer guide contending that natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the tornado in Joplin, Missouri, were the result of God’s displeasure with the “alternative lifestyle” of homosexuality, marriage equality, legal abortion, and Internet pornography.

The prayer guide listed on the “resources” page of the website for Jindal's rally includes suggestions for seven days of prayer leading up the event. It appears to be exactly the same as the guide disturbed to participants in Perry’s event in 2011  it hasn't even been updated to include the increased number of states that are bringing God’s judgment on America by allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry:

Day 2 - Locust plagues

CONSIDERATION

In Joelʼs day Israel experienced the destruction of a massive locust plague. The nationʼs economy was crippled because of the decimation of the agriculture. The reason these plagues came was because of the peopleʼs negligence to worship and serve God with their whole heart. Because the people grew cold and eventually departed from God, they experienced incredible hardships. The result of their inner departure was multiple external crises.

In America today we face a similar crisis. We have watched sin escalate to a proportion the nation has never seen before. We live in the first generation in which the wholesale murder of infants through abortion is not only accepted but protected by law. Homosexuality has been embraced as an alternative lifestyle. Same-sex marriage is legal in six states and Washington, D.C. Pornography is available ondemand through the internet. Biblical signs of apostasy are before our very eyes. While the United States still claims to be a nation “under God” it is obvious that we have greatly strayed from our foundations in Christianity.

This year we have seen a dramatic increase in tornadoes that have taken the lives of many and crippled entire cities, such as Tuscaloosa, AL & Joplin, MO. And let us not forget that we are only six years from the tragic events of hurricane Katrina, which rendered the entire Gulf Coast powerless.

Furthermore, because of mismanagement and greed, our national economy is in incredible disarray, with our national debt topping 14 trillion dollars. We have effectively mortgaged our childrenʼs future, while spending money we do not have on entitlements as we search in vain for “the American dream”. The first “wave of locusts” has begun to descend upon us and many are oblivious to the fact that destruction has come and is still coming.

God destined America to be a gospel beacon to the rest of the earth – a nation under God who declares His goodness, truth and mercy to a world desperately in need.

The Jindal rally’s prayer guide also includes the 2011 guide’s plea to conservative Christians to save the United States from “debauchery, sin and ultimately destruction.”

There is much at stake for the church in America. In many ways we are at a crossroads of two divergent paths. Either the church will turn to the Lord with her whole heart, sparking a great revival and reformation in our nation, or she will continue in compromise, keeping the status quo as we watch our nation turn to debauchery, sin and ultimately destruction.

(Emphases are ours.)

Both “Response” rallies are modeled after the “Call” rallies organized by Religious Right leader Lou Engle. The leadership team of Perry’s rally included a number of officials from the International House of Prayer, a ministry closely associated with Engle that promotes the dominionist theology that calls for evangelical Christians to gain control of all parts American culture and government. 

Right Wing Round-Up - 12/10/14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ted Cruz And GOP Leaders Record Ads For Far-Right Groups: 'God's People' Must 'Restore' American Values

David Lane is an extremely influential but notoriously media-shy Religious Right activist who regularly organizes secretive events at which leading Republican politicians speak to pastors in key swing states in an effort to mobilize conservative Christian voters. He is also a full-blown Christian nationalist who believes that the Bible should serve as "the principal textbook" for public education and has warned that the United States would see car bombings all over the nation as a result of God's judgment because "homosexuals [were] praying at the inauguration" of President Obama.

So naturally, Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Perry have all now recorded radio ads on behalf of Lane's current voter mobilization effort, which is being funded by the political arm of the anti-gay hate group the American Family association no less. 

As CBN's David Brody reported last night:

The Brody File has exclusively obtained brand new radio commercials recorded by possible GOP presidential candidates, urging conservative Christians to get out and vote in the upcoming Midterm Elections. Below you can listen to the spots recorded by Senator Ted Cruz, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and Texas Governor Rick Perry.

In one of the radio spots, Senator Ted Cruz tells the Christian audience, “The Bible is full of stories of men and women whose faith in God led them to take action during difficult times, trusting in Him for His glory. Today God’s people are once again being called to action as we seek to restore the values our nation was founded upon and to honor the legacy of those who have given their lives in defense of our freedom.” He then implores the audience to get out and vote.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal says the following in one of his radio spots: “Throughout the Bible, God’s people are driven to action by their faith in difficult times. Today we’re being called to action to restore the values our nation was founded.” Then, once again there is a call to action to vote.

The radio spots will run nationwide on American Family Radio, the Bott Radio Network and the National Religious Broadcasters Network. That means that these spots will be on close to 300 radio stations across the country in more than 35 states and reaching over nearly 70 million people.

The spots are part of the American Renewal Project’s, “Get Out The Vote” effort. The American Family Association political arm called AFA Action funds it. Part of their stated goal is to, “inform, equip, and activate individuals to strengthen the moral foundations of American culture.” David Lane, the influential evangelical organizer behind this effort also holds his popular, “Pastors and Pews” events around the country in multiple states including the early GOP Primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. Those events are geared for pastors to get energized and mobilized so they can get more of their parishioners excited about voting their values.

The Right Enemies: A Look Back At Right-Wing Attacks On Eric Holder

Attorney General Eric Holder, who today announced his plans to resign, has been a leader in addressing systems of racial discrimination and protecting the fundamental rights of every American to be treated equally under the law and participate in our democracy.

Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that the Right loves to hate him.

In February of this year, the American Family Association demanded Holder’s impeachment after he had the audacity to treat married same-sex couples like married opposite-sex couples with regard to a host of legal rights and recognitions. Shortly after, both Faith and Freedom Coalition head Ralph Reed and Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp echoed the call for Holder’s impeachment because of his support for marriage equality. Televangelist Pat Robertson also joined the impeachment parade, alleging that under Holder, “sodomy” was being “elevated above the rights of religious believers.”

Holder’s commitment to redressing racial injustice was no more warmly received by the Right than his work in support of LGBT equality. After Holder spoke out against voter ID laws, which disproportionately harm people of color, Texas Gov. Rick Perry accused him of “purposefully” “incit[ing] racial tension.” Gun Owners of America director Larry Pratt argued that Holder’s open discussion of racial discrimination in the criminal justice system means that he is the real “racist,” asserting last year that Holder wants to “intimidate the rest of the country so that we don’t think about defending ourselves” against “attacks by black mobs on white individuals.” Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association went so far as to say that Holder would never “prosecute someone if the victim is white.” And after Holder visited Ferguson, Missouri last month, David Horowitz outrageously commented that the attorney general was leading a black “lynch mob.”

And those are just a handful of the attacks the Right has leveled against Holder for his work protecting equality under the law.

The fact that the far Right has reacted with so much vitriol to the attorney general’s leadership is a sign not only of how uninterested they are in the civil rights that the Justice Department is meant to protect, but also of how effective Holder’s work has been. The next attorney general should share Holder’s deep commitment to protecting the rights of all Americans – and, by extension, make all the “right” enemies among those hoping to turn back the clock on civil liberties.

This post originally appeared on the PFAW blog.

Beware The Gay Antichrist! The Seven Most Appalling Moments In Values Voter Summit History

 
Every year since 2006, Republican leaders have joined some of the country’s most notorious anti-gay, anti-choice activists and fringe conspiracy theorists at the Family Research Council’s annual Values Voter Summit.
 
 
Don’t be surprised if summit speakers venture off into the deep-end of the right-wing fringe this week. Far from anomalies, intolerant rhetoric, self-serving claims of persecution and doomsday predictions are a Values Voter Summit tradition.
 
Here, we’ve collected seven of the worst moments from previous Values Voter Summits.
 
1. The Antichrist Will Be Gay
 
The Values Voter Summit is often an educational affair, and one thing we learned at the 2006 conference is that the Antichrist will be gay. Right-wing pastor Dwight McKissic told the VVS audience that year that the gay rights movement is a “Satanic” effort birthed “from the pit of Hell itself,” before suggesting that “the Antichrist himself may be homosexual.”
 
“The gay rights movement, I believe, was birthed and inspired by the Antichrist,” McKissic added, while conservative pastor and co-panelist Wellington Boone lamented that it is no longer socially acceptable to call people “faggots.”
 
 
2. Hillary Clinton Will Imprison Christians, ‘Shut Down’ Churches
 
Remember when Hillary Clinton destroyed the Constitution, closed churches and put all Christians in jail? No? Well, 2012 speaker Kamal Saleem predicted that by the end of her term as secretary of state, Clinton would “subjugate American people to be arrested and put to jail and their churches and synagogues shut down.”
 
Saleem has made a career as a phony ex-terrorist who converted to Christianity, and has concocted several other insane conspiracy theories.
 

Of course, the Values Voter Summit regularly features warnings that the U.S. has morphed into Nazi Germany and will establish concentration camps for Christians.
 
3. Mormonism Meltdown
 
On one rare occasion, even a Republican politician couldn’t ignore the rank bigotry that takes place at the Values Voter Summit.
 
In 2011, televangelist Robert Jeffress, who introduced then-presidential candidate Rick Perry at the summit, blasted Mitt Romney in a post-speech interview as a cult member and fake Christian, comments thatcame as no surprise since Jeffress had railed against the Mormon faith and Romney in previous speeches.
 
Romney, incidentally, was set to speak that year immediately prior to American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer, who is notorious for his incendiary comments about gays and lesbians, immigrants, African Americans, Native Americans, Muslims and, yes, Mormons. During his speech, Romney criticized Fischer’s “poisonous language,” prompting Fischer to lash back at Romney. Romney ally Bill Bennett also jumped in, criticizing Jeffress for promoting “bigotry” while Perry went back and forth between ignoring the controversy and eventually distancing himself from Jeffress.
 
While Romney may have spoken out against Fischer during the summit, Fischer had the last laugh as he succeeded in his campaign to oust a gay official from Romney’s presidential campaign.
 
That wasn’t the last time we would see infighting at the Values Voter Summit. Last year, Rep. Louie Gohmert accused Sen. John McCain of supporting Al Qaeda, to which McCain responded: “Sometimes comments like that are made out of malice, but if someone has no intelligence I don't feel it as being a malicious statement.”
 
4. Demand Abortions Be Performed In Public
 
Lila Rose, the anti-choice activist known for her campaigns against Planned Parenthood, had a modest proposal at the 2009 summit: “If I could insist, as long as they are legal in our nation, abortions will be done in the public square.”
 
Rose, who sees herself as the Malala Yousafzai of America, said that mandatory public abortions are necessary so we can “hear angels singing when we ponder the glory of conception.”
 
Many other Values Voter Summit speakers have also shared memorable messages for the women of America.
 

 
5. Perkins Mocks Gay Soldiers
 
At the 2010 summit, in the midst of the fight over the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins warned that if the ban on openly gay service members was lifted, then the U.S. military would become nothing but a parade-marching force.
 
Speaking on a panel with Bob Maginnis, FRC’s senior fellow for national security, Perkins said that militaries that allow openly gay members — which by that time included Israel and NATO allies such as Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany — are the “ones that participate in parades, they don't fight wars to keep the nation and the world free.”
 
 
6. A Bigger Crown In Heaven
 
Miss USA contestant Carrie Prejean told the 2009 conference that while she may have lost the beauty competition, which she said was a result of her answer to a question about gay marriage, she knew “that the Lord has so much of a bigger crown in Heaven for me.”
 
In fact, she said, the “vicious” reaction she received following the pageant was one of worst incidents of persecution in American history.
 
Prejean later sued Miss USA for discrimination but settled the case for legal fees after a sex tape she had made materialized.
 

 
7. Obamacare 'Is The Worst Thing That Has Happened In This Nation Since Slavery'
 
Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Values Voter Summit speakers have been in a fierce competition to see who can come up with the most insane reaction to the law. Michele Bachmann pilloried the health law as “DeathCare,” Ken Cuccinelli blasted it as “the greatest erosion of liberty” in modern history and Rick Santorum linked it to the French Revolution.
 
 

After all this, it is no wonder that Santorum told the Values Voter Summit in 2012 that “we will never have the elite, smart people on our side.”

Right Wing Round-Up - 9/22/14

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