Tom Fitton

Paranoia-Rama: CPAC Edition

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

This week, here at Right Wing Watch we have been monitoring the Conservative Political Action Conference, the American Conservative Union’s annual summit that has been packed with typical right-wing blustering over taxesBenghazi, Ronald Reagan, not to mention plenty of good old fashioned anti-government conspiracy theories:

5) Wayne LaPierre’s American Nightmare

NRA head Wayne LaPierre told CPAC attendees yesterday that “political and media elites” have conspired against gun owners and conservatives in general, working to “punish anyone who disagrees.”

“The media's intentional corruption of the truth is an abomination and NRA members will never, and I mean never, submit or surrender to the national media,” he said.

Even though crime rates have been falling steadily since the 1990s, LaPierre described his dark vision of an America in which happy and peaceful neighborhoods have been transformed into places of violence and death filled with “knockout-gamers.”

4) IRS Just As Bad As Deposed Leader Of Ukraine

Plenty of CPAC speakers have mentioned the crisis in Ukraine as a supposed failure of President Obama, but Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch went as far as comparing the Obama administration to the government of overthrown Ukrainian president and Putin ally Viktor Yanukovych.

Andy Kroll of Mother Jones reports that Fitton told attendees of CPAC’s “IRS Targeting Scandal: Protecting the Voice of the People” panel that Obama’s IRS, which has been falsely accused of targeting conservative groups, is operating much like how the Yanukovych government violently suppressed anti-government protesters: “People are dying in the streets in Ukraine. People being oppressed by the political regime. That's what the IRS was doing.”

3) Trump’s Immigration Solutions

Donald Trump seems to think Jimmy Carter is dead, and that the US may die too if Congress passes immigration reform. The real estate mogul told CPAC yesterday that immigration reform would mean that America would no longer exist, as immigrants flood into the country, destroy the GOP and “take your job.”

2) Muslim Brotherhood Infiltration of CPAC

Anti-Muslim activist Frank Gaffney hosted an alternative CPAC event yesterday, prompted in part by worries that the right-wing gathering has been infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood through Republican activists such as Grover Norquist and Suhail Khan. Gaffney joined other conservatives in denouncing Norquist and Khan as Muslim Brotherhood agents who are advancing “civilization jihad” and undermining America.

Diana West yesterday took to WorldNetDaily to warn CPAC that Norquist and Khan are “a pair of influential men with track records of working with America’s enemies – Islamic organizations the U.S. government has linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and larger world of jihad.” She claimed that they are allied with those who hope “to destroy the United States and transform what is left into an Islamic-ruled land,” and pushed the Muslim Brotherhood “straight into the inner sanctum of the Bush White House.”

1) President Obama Is George Wallace

When the Justice Department challenged Louisiana’s voucher scheme over evidence that the program would resegregate the state’s schools, conservatives were unsurprisingly outraged. At CPAC today, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Religious Right leader Ralph Reed likened President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to segregationist Alabama governor George Wallace.

Judicial Watch: Obama and Holder's 'Racial Extremism' Behind Zimmerman Trial

As Dave Weigel writes today, the right-wing media’s newest race-baiting theory around the George Zimmerman trial is that the Department of Justice organized the rallies calling for justice after Trayvon Martin’s death.  This theory is based on documents “unearthed” by the right-wing Judicial Watch that don’t say what Judicial Watch says they do.

But the theory fits right in to the Right’s preferred narrative of the Zimmerman trial, so it’s stuck. In an interview with NewsMax radio host Steve Malzberg yesterday, Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton predicted that if Zimmerman is acquitted of murdering Martin, the Justice Department will then go after him. “Given the racial extremism of this president and this Justice Department, not only Mr. Holder and his civil rights division, it wouldn’t surprise me,” he said.

“There’s nothing neutral about this Justice Department…when it comes to race matters,” Malzberg said.


Malzberg: There’s nothing neutral about this Justice Department, and we’ve heard that from people who have worked, career Justice employees, when it comes to race matters. We’re talking to Tom Fitton, Judicial Watch president, here on the Steve Malzberg show. And let me ask you this, and I’m just asking your opinion, obviously. If there’s an acquittal in the Zimmerman trial, I think certainly, at least legally speaking, the door is still open for the Justice Department to pursue him with civil rights violations. And do you believe that that would be the case?

Fitton: Well, I don’t know, because, I would be very worried if I were Mr. Zimmerman, because we’ve also asked for documents from the Justice Department civil rights division, and we’ve gotten back, saying, the proverbial hand to the face, saying, ‘No, these are documents created for law enforcement purposes.’ So it seems like there has been, at least at one point, an active investigation. And, you know, given the racial extremism of this president and this Justice Department, not only Mr. Holder and his civil rights division, it wouldn’t surprise me. If I were betting, I’d bet they would try to do something, yes.

Malzberg: Yes, especially to quell what unfortunately, almost universally, experts, especially down in Sanford, Florida, and many others around the country, are expecting will be a horrific reaction on the streets of Sanford, of Miami and possible of other cities around the country. So, like you say, you know, I wouldn’t want to be George Zimmerman in any way, shape, or form, with this Justice Department and with this state prosecution, which is obviously politically motivated.
 

Geller Out, But Anti-Muslim Voices Remain at CPAC

Pamela Geller will not be welcomed back to CPAC this year, representing yet another development in annual conservative gathering’s frequent clashes over Islamophobia. Anti-Muslim activists like Geller, David Horowitz, Frank Gaffney and Robert Spencer claim that the Muslim Brotherhood and its cohorts, namely Grover Norquist and Suhail Khan, are trying to infiltrate the conservative movement.

During her panel last year, James Lafferty of the Virginia Anti-Shariah Task Force bragged that he was “proud” that many of the attacks on mosques in the U.S. have occured in the South.

But while Geller might be absent this year, CPAC still is hosting a number of anti-Muslim speakers:

1. Allen West.

Former congressman Allen West became a hero of the Radical Right through his inflammatory remarks about Islam, including his claim that the “enemy represents something called Islam and Islam is a totalitarian theocratic political ideology, it is not a religion,” and that the Quran commands people to become terrorists. West has worked with Geller before (even writing a column for her blog) and told one of her conferences that “the nation goes to war against an ideology and we’ve been talking about the fact that we are against something that is a totalitarian theocratic political ideology and it is called Islam.” He also said that “satellite organizations that come from the Muslim Brotherhood” are growing throughout the US.

2. Tom Fitton.

Judicial Watch head Tom Fitton has been on a mission to “expose” how the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department are all working together with radical Islamists from the Muslim Brotherhood. In a recent interview with End Times radio host Rick Wiles, he argued that the State Department is recruiting people directly from “the jihadist movement here in the United States” and “terrorist front organizations,” adding that the majority of Muslim-American groups are “all fronts for these terrorist front groups.”

Fitton also told Wiles that he agreed with Rep. Michele Bachmann’s anti-Muslim government witch hunt as “perfectly legitimate” and said that Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin may be connected to people who are security threats.

3. Newt Gingrich.

Former Speaker Gingrich praised the anti-Muslim witch hunt spearheaded by Bachmann and four of her fellow Republican colleagues, calling the group of congressmen the “National Security Five.” He consistently attacked the Muslim community during his presidential campaign and claimed that Muslims in the US are trying to impose Sharia law. He even argued that the US should respond to Saudi Arabia’s ban on churches by banning the Park 51 Islamic Community Center in New York, and said that the government should treat Muslims like Nazis. Gingrich has also warned that America’s “elite favors radical Islam” and that the media is covering up stories about “Obama’s Muslim friends.”

4. Rick Santorum.

While running for president, former U.S. Senator Santorum claimed that equality is incompatible with the Islamic faith and that Muslims should face profiling by law enforcement. He also raised doubts about Obama’s Christian faith and a top aide accused the President of supporting “radical Islamic policies.” Following the campaign, he became a columnist for the anti-Muslim conspiracy website WorldNetDaily. Before running for president, Santorum told a conference hosted by Islamophobic activist David Horowtiz that America is engaged in a “long war” with “Islamo-fascism” and that it must be “eradicated.”

5. Ted Cruz.

Sen. Cruz has claimed that “Sharia law is an enormous problem” in the U.S. and attacked President Obama for allegedly being “utterly unable to utter the words radical Islamic terrorist.” Cruz especially stoked anti-Muslim attitudes during the confirmation hearing of defense secretary Chuck Hagel, maintaining that the former Republican senator may be a pawn of Saudi Arabia and Iran.

CPAC: A few more scenes from off-Broadway

The main themes from this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference were not terribly surprising to anyone paying attention to the GOP presidential primary.  According to CPAC speakers, President Obama is a “socialist, Marxist president” bent on destroying the country and the Constitution, and the nation will not survive if he is re-elected.  “Compromise” is a four-letter word. Health care reform is tyranny. Contraception is tyranny. TSA searches are tyranny.  You get the idea.

But there were also moments of insight into aspects of the conservative movement, often coming from smaller rooms and panels, like actor Stephen Baldwin’s declaration that “separation of church and state can kiss my ass” and the anti-multicultural, anti-diversity discussion which featured the founder of a white-nationalist website. Here are a few additions to the excellent RWW coverage of CPAC by Kyle and Brian.

Screw the Vote

As we have reported, Republicans are waging aggressive voter suppression campaigns across the country, including voter ID laws and voter registration restrictions supposedly needed to prevent “voting fraud.”  At CPAC, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton hosted a press conference to talk about the group’s  “Election Integrity Project,” which is suing states that Judicial Watch says have not done enough to clean up their voter registration lists.  Panelists claimed that “rampant election fraud” took place in the last two election cycles – there’s no real evidence to back up that claim – and complained that the Obama administration’s Justice Department is selectively enforcing the Voting Rights Act.  Fitton said that having the DOJ meet with representatives from Project Vote and ACORN is “like having the mafia running the FBI.” Another speaker represented True the Vote, an outgrowth of Houston Tea Party group King Street Patriots, which hosted a fundraising event last year with a speaker who believes:

Registering [poor people] to vote is like handing out burglary tools to criminals.  It is profoundly antisocial and un-American to empower the nonproductive segments of the population to destroy the country — which is precisely why Barack Obama zealously supports registering welfare recipients to vote.

True the Vote is backing states whose voter ID laws have been challenged by the Justice Department and recruiting volunteers to challenge signatures gathered by those seeking to recall Wisconsin’s anti-labor governor Scott Walker.

The Federal Government’s War on Clean Underwear

It is an article of faith among many right-wing activists and candidates that health, safety, and environmental regulations are oten unconstitutional and are destroying the American economy.  Americans for Tax Reform and its affiliate Cost of Government Center sponsored a panel dubbed “The Red Tape War: How the Regulatory Burden and Growing Nanny State Threaten Prosperity.” The group’s Mattie Duppler described regulation as an ongoing “war on consumers and taxpayers.”  Sam Kazman of the Competitive Enterprise Institute said that energy efficiency regulations had caused a steep decline in the quality of top-loading washing machines, and talked about a campaign his group had run to have people send virtual underwear to the undersecretary of the Department of Energy. (Turns out that campaign was in 2007 during the George W. Bush administration)

Beyond Obstructionism to Nullification

One Newt Gingrich campaign theme has been pledging that as president he would ignore Supreme Court decisions he disagrees with and abolish the jobs of federal judges who don’t share his view of the Constitution.  A couple of groups at CPAC – the Tenth Amendment Center and the Foundation for a Free Society – held a series of events to promote nullification, the idea that the states should similarly ignore federal laws that they believe are unconstitutional.  In fact, they want to go far beyond ignoring such laws.  Speakers introducing a documentary on nullification praised an Arizona bill that would not only declare the federal health care law null and void in the state, but would also make any agent of the government who tries to enforce the law guilty of a felony.  The documentary featured state legislators as well as speakers from the Oath Keepers and the John Birch Society.

Here Sharia Comes!

Pamela Geller hosted a panel on Sharia, at which speakers complained about the room they were given and about their supposed mistreatment at the hands of CPAC – though other panels met in the same room and the “Islamic Law” panel was listed in the conference program.   Geller and fellow panelist Robert Spencer attacked panelists from a previous, more thoughtful, panel on religious liberty which defended the religious rights of American Muslims.  Also speaking was North Carolina congressional candidate Ilario Pantano, who said he was once charged with murder for killing terrorists in Iraq [charges were dropped] and who denounced “political correctness run amok.” Pantano praised discredited “historian” David Barton for telling the “truth” about America’s founding and called the misnamed “Ground Zero Mosque” a “desecration of an American holy site and an American national battlefield.”

Civics Education = David Barton, the Bible, and American Exceptionalism

In a panel on civics education, Matthew Spalding, VP for American Studies at Heritage Foundation praised the battle over textbook standards in Texas, in which David Barton and other Religious Right activists pushed to infuse far-right ideology into social science books.  

Those are the battles that matter, especially big states because they control the textbooks. Texas had a great battle, and the media hated it, the left went crazy, but it’s an extremely reasonable curriculum improvement, and they focus on very good things. It’s a solid, good model….Civic education is not just in the classroom. You must understand the effect that public discussion about these questions, about history and about the meaning of our country affect politics, politics affects elections, elections affects state boards and things that make the curriculum.

Another panelist, Larry Schweikart, author of Patriot’s History of the United States, argued that civics education must be grounded in “American exceptionalism.”

All of the founders understood that the bible and biblical virtues were necessary to a good education, and a civic order. So once again it comes down to those four pillars of American exceptionism: common law, a predominantly Christian religion, property rights, and free markets.

 Limit Government, Not Campaign Speeches

One of the final sessions before Sarah Palin’s closing remarks was intended to give a number of congressional candidates challenging Republican incumbents the chance to make 5-minute speeches.  A couple candidates were shortchanged by the fact that Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock, running to unseat Sen. Richard Lugar, took about twice as much as his allotted time and Ted Cruz, running against Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the GOP Senate primary, ran even longer. 

Mourdock devoted his speech to the need for conservatives to “conquer”  - conquer the media, educators, advocates of reproductive choice, big-spenders, anyone who thinks America is just an “average” nation, and all who “wish to crush our traditional American values,” presumably including 35-year Senate incumbent Lugar.  Repeated Mourdock again and again, “Conquer we must!”

Cruz, who was also given time at last year’s Awakening Conference at Liberty University, argued that liberty is under assault like never before, that President Barack Obama is the “most radical president this country has ever seen,” and that the U.S. Senate is the key battleground.  Cruz, who hopes to follow in the electoral footsteps of Florida’s Marco Rubio, is like Rubio the child of Cubans who came to the U.S. in the 1950s.  Cruz brags that he is the only candidate this year supported by all four of his favorite senators: Jim DeMint, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, and Pat Toomey, and called his primary “ground zero” in the battle between the Tea Party and the GOP’s “moderate establishment.”

 

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