Iowa

The Family Leadership Summit: Right-Wing Activists Converge On Iowa

This weekend, a who’s who of far-right activists and politicians will convene in Iowa for the 3rd annual Family Leadership Summit, hosted by anti-gay and anti-choice organization The Family Leader and sponsored by Religious Right groups including the National Organization for Marriage, the Family Research Council’s political wing, Alliance Defending Freedom and Focus on the Family’s CitizenLink.

In an effort to establish themselves with social conservative voters, potential Republican presidential candidates including Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum are joining a roster of speakers who push far-right views on LGBT rights, women’s equality and religious pluralism.

Below is an introduction to the sponsor and some of the featured speakers at The Family Leader Summit.

The Family Leader

The Family Leader is conservative political advocacy group based in Iowa that serves as the parent organization of The Family Leader Foundation, Marriage Matters, Iowa Family PAC, and Iowans for Freedom. The group is currently run by three-time failed gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats, who made a name for himself when he led the successful 2010 campaign to oust three Iowa Supreme Court justices who joined a unanimous marriage equality decision.

Under Vander Plaats’ leadership, The Family Leader has become influential in national GOP politics, helping presidential hopefuls to court Religious Right activists in the first-in-the-nation caucus.

The Family Leader has:

  • Defended the Boy Scouts’ ban on openly gay members and leaders as a “policy designed to protect Scouts from sexual abuse.”

Vander Plaats has:

  • Compared same-sex unions to polygamy and asserted that recent marriage equality laws will pave the way towards marriages between parents and children for the purposes of tax evasion.
  • Implied that same-sex marriage produces a threat to the United States equivalent to terrorism.Said that God won’t “bless the country” if the U.S. continues with marriage equality and legal abortion.

Tony Perkins

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins — whose organization is a major sponsor of the Family Leadership Summit — is one of the far Right’s top spokesmen in the national media.

Perkins has:

  • Warned that LGBT rights advocates will launch a Holocaust against Christians, placing those that oppose same-sex marriage into “boxcars.”
  • Praised a Uganda bill condemning homosexuals to death as an effort to “uphold moral conduct that protects others and in particular the most vulnerable.”
  • Agreed with a caller on his program that Obama might attempt a “hostile government takeover” that would cancel the 2016 presidential election.

The Benham Brothers

Jason and David Benham are twin brothers, Religious Right activists and entrepreneurs who operate Benham Companies, a conglomerate providing real estate, property management and marketing services, as well as the Benham Foundation, which channels company profits towards conservative social causes.

The brothers were catapulted to national attention after an HGTV show that they were set to star in was cancelled following revelations about their anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-Muslim activism. Since the show’s cancellation, the brothers have become a cause celebre for the Religious Right movement, which has lifted them up as an example of the supposed persecution of conservative Christians in America. One or both of the brothers have:

  • Organized a prayer rally to coincide with the 2012 Democratic National Convention, declaring that America must repent for “homosexuality and its agenda that is attacking the nation.”
  • Called an Islamic community center a “den of iniquity” and referred to Muslims as “the enemy attacking America.”Compared the fight against marriage equality to opposing Nazi Germany.
  • Urged the city of Charlotte, NC to deny permits to an LGBT Pride event, calling it a “vile” and “destructive” activity that “should not be allowed in our city.”
  • Asserted that the LGBT equality movement is part of a “spiritual war” between God and Satan.Led protests outside of abortion clinics, praising anti-choice demonstrators for taking a stand at “the gates of hell” and confronting the “altars of Moloch.”

Rafael Cruz

Rafael Cruz is an evangelical Christian pastor who currently serves as the director of the Purifying Fire International ministry, an organization that espouses Christian dominionism and advocates for a theological grounding in government and public service. Cruz rose within the ranks of conservative far-right activism largely thanks to his son, Ted Cruz, the junior Republican senator from Texas and darling of the Tea Party movement, and has made a name for himself as a frequent public speaker and political commentator. The elder Cruz is a frequent campaign surrogate for his son.

Rafael Cruz has used his sudden prominence to:

  • Lament that the admission of openly gay members to the Boy Scouts would expose children “to sexual predators.”
  • Promote the theocratic Seven Mountains Dominionism theory, asserting the need for Christian leadership to have “an influence upon every area of society, upon arts and entertainment, upon media, upon sports, upon education, upon business, upon government.”

Alveda King

Alveda King is a conservative activist and Christian minister who serves as a Pastoral Associate and the Director of African American Outreach for Pastors for Life, an organization that opposes reproductive rights. The niece of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., King also campaigns against LGBT equality. King has:

  • Compared the murder of Trayvon Martin to legal abortion.
  • Condemned the wife of the late Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King, for her pro-choice and pro-equality stances, saying the stances would bring “curses on your house and your people…cursing, vexation, rebuke in all that you put your hand to, sickness will come to you and your house, your bloodline will be cut off.”
  • Denied that her uncle supported legalized abortion, despite his acceptance of an award by Planned Parenthood and public support for family planning.
  • In response to a plaque commemorating African American slaves, said, “If Congress really wants to honor African Americans, they can start by ending federally funded programs that allow abortion.”

Joel Rosenberg

Joel Rosenberg is a conservative activist, author and former political strategist who is widely known for writing End Times-themed books.  Rosenberg is also the founder and president of the Joshua Fund, a non-profit organization that proselytizes to Israeli Jews and attempts to convert them to Christianity. A familiar presence on the right-wing talk show circuit, Rosenberg has repeatedly linked disasters and public tragedies to secular government. Rosenberg regularly employs apocalyptic prophecies to help enact an aggressively conservative social agenda. He has: 

  • Depicted the Newtown, Conn. shootings as divine punishment for Americans waging a “cultural war against Jesus and Christmas” and trying to “drive [God] out of our society.”
  • Written that Hurricane Sandy was a response to  the legalization of abortion and part of God’s plan to “get our attention and call us to repent of our sins and turn back to faith in Jesus Christ and back to reading and obeying the Bible”. 
  • Implied that legal abortion is a greater sin than exterminations during the Holocaust, predicting that since the Roe v. Wade decision “we have killed ten times more Americans than the Nazis killed of the Jews.”
  • Following the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008, pointed to home foreclosure as one feature of the Rapture, creating a “ripple effect” that will lead to the “implosion of America.” 

The Right Wing's Immigration Hysteria: Round-Up

Here’s a round-up of last week’s Right Wing immigration hysteria:

PFAW

Steve King: Migrants May Go To 'A Crack House,' 'An MS13 House' Or 'A Cat House'

In an interview with Steve Malzberg on Newsmax last Monday, Rep. Steve King of Iowa warned that Central American migrants who are apprehended at the southern border can be "delivered to the address of their choice" while they await a deportation hearing, and “that might be a crack house, it might be an MS13 house, it might be a cat house.”

Later in the interview, King harped on President Obama’s “messiah complex” and claimed that Obama wants to be impeached in order to become a “martyr” and “put tens of millions of illegal aliens into America,” ultimately turning the country “into a leftist state in perpetuity.”

Just yesterday, King himself insisted that Congress should take a “serious look” at the “i-word.”

“The most extreme narcissist that you could ever find,” King said to Malzberg, “would be somebody that would say, ‘Go ahead and crucify me in the House of Representatives, but I’ve got eternal life in the United States Senate, so it will make me the martyr that I need to be and history will look on me benevolently and kindly and we will put tens of millions of illegal aliens into America who are undocumented Democrats and we will start the process to document them and thereby convert America into a leftist state in perpetuity.’”

When Malzberg asked King if Obama is “testing our very system to see if it will survive,” he responded, “I absolutely do.”

Just a few days after his interview with Malzberg, King was charged with pretty much single-handedly shaping the GOP’s immigration policy.

Bob Vander Plaats Links Terrorism, Gay Rights, Pot Legalization

Bob Vander Plaats, president of the Iowa-based Religious Right group The Family Leader, held a revival event yesterday that also happened to be a good marketing opportunity for his new book about the “urgent call for revival” in America.

Vander Plaats introduced the event — which also featured a Q & A with Chuck Norris and a performance by the Christian rock band the Newsboys — by showing a video of the “darkness” in America that he identified as calling for a spiritual revival. Featured in the video are images of terrorists attacks and mass shootings….along with images of same-sex weddings, the Boy Scouts’ admittance of gay members, Justice Anthony Kennedy, gambling and rallies on behalf of legalizing marijuana.

Vander Plaats mentioned at the end of the video that many of the national leaders he frequently speaks with share these concerns. He’ll have a chance to discuss them in more depth next month, when GOP leaders including Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry and Tim Scott come to Iowa for Vander Plaat’s annual Family Leadership Summit.

Steve King Calls For The National Guard To Seal The Border Before America Is Overrun By Billions Of Undocumented Immigrants

Appearing on Steve Malzberg's Newsmax radio program yesterday, Rep. Steve King called upon the governors of the states along the southern border to call out their national guard units and seal the border because otherwise America will be overrun with billions of undocumented immigrants by the time President Obama leaves office.

Saying that since Obama has the resources necessary to close the border but is refusing to do so, King therefore urged border governors to call up their National Guard units and do it themselves because soon "it won't be any longer a question of whether we can deport eleven million people; it will be tens of millions more and the question will be how many billion people can we let into the United States?"

"And I say that term 'billion,' I didn't just pull it out of the air," King made clear, "there's seven billion people on the planet and over half of them would like to be in America":

Fresh From Celebrating Hobby Lobby, Bob Vander Plaats Calls Judicial Review 'Nonsense'

It is truly amazing how conservative activists continue to harp on “judicial activism,” while supporting sweeping judicial decisions that happen to go their way.

For instance, just a couple of weeks ago, Bob Vander Plaats of The Family Leader was celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case but today he talked with James Dobson about how when it comes to gay rights cases “the Supreme Court is starting to believe that they are the Supreme Being” and calling the principle of judicial review “nonsense.”

Vander Plaats and Dobson both lamented the Supreme Court’s 1803 decision in Marbury v. Madison, which established the principle of judicial review, which Vander Plaats said meant “we’ve had 50 years of law school teaching the lawyers that no, the courts do make law, which is complete nonsense. And God help us if that ever becomes the rule in our day.”

Vander Plaats and Dobson echoed Mike Huckabee, who insisted last month that "this notion that when the Supreme Court says something it’s the last word is fundamentally unconstitutional and wrong."

Later the “Family Talk” interview, Vander Plaats told Dobson that Americans’ pursuit of “all sort of lustful living” has made us God’s “prodigal son.”

"I just hope we're not feeding with the pigs when we decide to turn back to Him," he added.


 

Self-Aware Bobby Jindal Is Tired Of 'Candidates Who Tell Us One Thing Then Go Do Another'

In an interview earlier this month with the Iowa blog Caffienated Thoughts, noted paragon of consistency Bobby Jindal lamented about “candidates who tell us one thing then go do another” on judicial nominations.

Jindal was discussing recent court decisions in favor of marriage equality, which he suggested could be grounds for recalling judges. In 2012, Jindal joined the failed effort to recall an Iowa Supreme Court justice who had joined the court’s unanimous marriage equality ruling.

The Louisiana governor spent the first half of the interview deriding the Common Core education standards — which he previously backed — as a “federal takeover of education."

Judicial Watch: Obama 'Engineered' Border Crisis To Force Vote On Immigration Reform

Yet another anti-immigrant activist is claiming that President Obama orchestrated the crisis at the southern border in order to push a vote on immigration reform.

Sean Dunagan of Judicial Watch tells the American Family Association’s OneNewsNow today that Obama “engineered” the influx of families and unaccompanied children in order to “make current immigration law look as cruel and inhumane as they possibly can to possibly build political support for some additional amnesty program”:

Dunagan suggests Obama is opening the floodgates to these young illegal aliens for purely political reasons.

"It seems to be that the administration is trying to make current immigration law look as cruel and inhumane as they possibly can to possibly build political support for some additional amnesty program," he says. "I absolutely believe that it's being engineered and exploited to try force action into bad policy decisions and bad votes on the issue."

Last week, Republican congressmen Steve King and Steve Stockman claimed that the influx of immigrants was part of an Obama administration plot to increase the Democratic vote . Anti-immigrant activist William Gheen has also claimed that the crisis was “orchestrated” by President Obama and George Soros.

On his program last week, Glenn Beck also claimed that the border crisis is part of a plot to pass immigration reform and to ultimately return Arizona to Mexico:

To his credit, Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, one of the anti-immigration reform movement’s most prominent spokespeople, has pushed back on the conspiracy theory.

Ted Cruz And Rick Santorum To Join Iowa Pastor Who Predicted Marriage Equality Would Increase The Murder Rate, Destroy America

Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum are slated to appear at a September “American Heritage Summit” in Washington, D.C., hosted by a right-wing Iowa pastor Cary Gordon of Cornerstone World Outreach.

Along with Gordon and the pair of likely presidential candidates, the guests include conservative pseudo-historian David Barton, Iowa-based talk show host Steve Deace and Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King.

Gordon became heavily involved in politics during the 2010 campaign to remove Iowa Supreme Court Justices who ruled in favor of marriage equality, and he endorsed Santorum’s 2012 presidential campaign, helping the former Pennsylvania senator to win the Iowa caucuses.

At an anti-gay marriage rally in 2011, Gordon described marriage equality as a demonic attempt that would bring about America’s destruction, warning that Iowans must “protect the virtue of true Americanism from our own mental barbarians who attack our minds with the God-hating secularism of Europe” or risk being “extinguished from the earth.”

Gordon even predicted that gay marriage would increase the murder rate: “The natural problem that causes is an overt immorality. The crime rates go up, people suffer, people are stealing and murdering and [doing] all the things morality tells you not to do.”

The pastor, insisting that it is a “glaringly obvious fact that being ‘gay’ is a behavior, and has nothing to do with civil rights,” charged in a 2010 blog post that the same-sex marriage ruling put Iowa on the road to Nazism: “True pastors, in the fashion of Christ, will not and cannot bow before the arrogance of Caesar and Herod. We have learned from our past mistakes. We will not repeat the mistake made by Lutheran pastors when confronted with German fascism.”

“[T]o the intelligent religious man, homosexuality will always be un-natural for a myriad of obvious reasons one shouldn’t have to explain,” Gordon wrote. “To the intelligent evolutionist, it will NEVER agree with the doctrine of ‘survival of the fittest.’”

Gordon’s church also released a video asserting that same-sex marriage would legalize incest, pedophilia and bestiality.

Iowa GOP Senate Candidate Fears Government Is 'Destroying Our Churches'

Last week, Iowa conservative talk show host and Republican US Senate candidate Sam Clovis appeared on “The Steve Deace Show” to deliver a warning about the government’s encroaching “soft tyranny.”

Clovis, whose campaign has been endorsed by Deace, said the government is “taking away individual liberty, attacking the family and destroying our churches.”

Clovis has also picked up support from Rick Santorum, Religious Right activist Bob Vander Plaats and the Tea Party Patriots.

Iowa GOP Senate Candidates Vow To Block Judges Who Won't Follow 'Biblical' Law

The Iowa-based Religious Right group The Family Leader held a forum for Republican US Senate candidates on Friday, at which the group’s view that “God instituted government” figured heavily. In fact, nearly every candidate at the debate vowed that if they were to be elected to the Senate they would block federal judicial nominees who do not follow what they perceive as “natural law” or a “biblical view of justice.”

Bob Vander Plaats, head of The Family Leader, opened the forum by declaring, “At The Family Leader, we believe God has three institutions: It would be the church, the family, and government.”

He warned that policies such as legal abortion and marriage equality would cause God to cease blessing the country. “As we have a culture that runs further and further from God’s principles, His precepts, from God’s heart, it’s only natural consequences that we’re going to suffer,” he said.

“You cannot run away from the heart of God and expect God to bless the country," he concluded.

Several of the candidates echoed this theme during the forum. When moderator Erick Erickson, the right-wing pundit, asked the candidates what criteria they would look for in confirming federal judges, three out of four said they would demand faith in God or adherence to “natural law.”

Sam Clovis, a college professor and retired Air Force colonel, answered that he has  “a very firm litmus test” on judges: “Can that judge…explain to me natural law and natural rights?”

Joni Ernst, who is currently a state senator, agreed, adding that federal judges should understand that the Constitution and all of our laws “did come from God” and that senators should “make sure that any decisions that they have made in the past are decisions that fit within that criteria.”

Former federal prosecutor Matt Whitaker argued that neither Clovis’ nor Ernst’s answer had gone “far enough.” He said that he would demand that federal judicial nominees be “people of faith” and “have a biblical view of justice.”

“As long as they have that worldview, then they’ll be a good judge,” he said. “And if they have a secular worldview, where this is all we have here on earth, then I’m going to be very concerned about how they judge.”

This all must have been very pleasing to Vander Plaats, who in 2010 orchestrated the ousting of Iowa Supreme Court justices who had ruled in favor of marriage equality, and who has repeatedly insisted that marriage equality is unconstitutional because it "goes against" the Bible and the "law of nature."

Steve King: Dreamers Joining Military Are 'Mercenaries,' Not 'Patriots'

In an interview with Iowa TV station KIMT last week, Republican Rep. Steve King implied that undocumented immigrants who wish to join the military are “mercenaries” rather than “patriots.”

King falsely stated that those who would be granted a path to citizenship for military service under the DREAM Act or two bills being considered in the House “lied to get into the military.” The proposals would grant a path to citizenship to some undocumented immigrants by allowing them to enlist openly.

“It isn’t that we have to hire mercenaries to put on a uniform,” King said. “We have always had an adequate number of American patriots to step up who are lawfully present in the United States, most of them citizens.”

King also attacked the Justice Department’s new clemency review guidelines that will consider clemency for nonviolent drug offenders serving sentences under laws that have now changed. The uneven application of draconian drug sentencing laws has disproportionately landed African Americans in jail, often for lengthy sentences, although whites and blacks use illegal drugs at roughly the same rates.

But King dismissed the reasoning for the clemency saying, “Now the administration is preparing to let out as many as 200,000 felons out of prison because he thinks that the law has been unfairly applied to certain demographic groups of people.” He also claimed that the move is unconstitutional, even though the Constitution explicitly grants the president the power to issue pardons.

“There will be crimes committed on the streets of this country in multiple ways and multiple times because of this decision,” King warned.

Deace Implies Same-Sex Marriage Is As Impossible As Human Flight

Speaking with Phyllis Schlafly on Eagle Forum Live this weekend, Iowa talk show host Steve Deace implied that same-sex couples who want to get married are like people who want to be able to fly.

Responding to a caller who asked what he should say to a friend who says “it’s not government’s job to legislate morality,” Deace responded that the friend has “bought into some postmodern thinking” where he doesn’t want to impose his idea of what’s “wrong and icky” on other people.

Deace compared this to fighting the law of gravity, implying that a gay person who wants to get married is like someone who jumps off a skyscraper because they think they can fly.

“I mean, someone might think, I have the right to fly and I’d love to fly and I have a desire to fly and I even found a judge that gave me a piece of paper that told me I have the right to fly,” he said. “But when I fling myself off the top of a skyscraper, I run smack-dab into the law of gravity.”

“It didn’t change because some judge said so,” he added.
 

Caller: I’ve got a buddy who’s semi-liberal and he says, his main premise is that it’s not government’s job to legislate morality. And I was wondering what you’ve got to say about that.

Schlafly: Well, practically ever law is legislating morality.

Deace: Phyllis is correct. Everything is morality. That’s a false objection. Question him further to find exactly out what that means. And I’m telling you, what I’m 99 percent positive that it will mean is that he’s bought into some postmodern thinking that says, ‘Well, yeah, I think this stuff is wrong and icky for me but I can’t impose my value system on somebody else.’

But of course, that’s a very slippery slope as well. I mean, someone might think, I have the right to fly and I’d love to fly and I have a desire to fly and I even found a judge that gave me a piece of paper that told me I have the right to fly. But when I fling myself off the top of a skyscraper, I run smack-dab into the law of gravity. It didn’t change because some judge said so. It still exists. So, chances are that’s a false objection from your friend because he’s bought into some postmodern thinking about over-judgementalism.

Culture Warriors Danny Carroll & Gopal Krishna Picked To Head Iowa GOP

Last month, we wrote that the Iowa Republican Party had picked a new co-chair , Danny Carroll, a social conservative culture warrior who serves as a lobbyist for The Family Leader.

Shortly after Carroll became co-chair, the state party chairman, libertarian-leaning A.J. Spiker, announced that he was resigning from his position. And this weekend, Carroll was elected to replace him as the chairman of the Iowa GOP.

It’s unclear how long Carroll’s reign over the state party will last and if he will still be at its helm in 2016, when he would be in charge of running the Iowa caucuses. New state central committee members will be seated in June, and could possibly then oust him as chairman.

But in the meantime, Carroll’s election seems to show that the Iowa GOP has no intention of softening on social issues.

Here is Carroll opining last year that banning gay marriage will help fix “just about every problem facing society today”:

And here he is in 2010 blaming teen suicides on the end of school-sponsored prayer:

And let’s not forget the new co-chair of the Iowa GOP, elected this weekend. Gopal Krishna of the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition (the state branch of Ralph Reed’s group) will succeed Carroll as the state party’s number two. Krishna, who boasts that "the first three letters of my name are G-O-P,"  looks to be just as much of a culture warrior as Carroll.

For instance, here’s Krishna in 2011 warning that the United States has become “a multicultural haven for every weird and kinky lifestyle”:

Steve King Compares Immigration Enforcement To Recreational Fishing

Speaking at today’s “Homeland Threats” national security summit, an alternative to CPAC hosted by Brietbart News and moderated by Frank Gaffney, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) compared immigration enforcement on the southern border to recreational fishing.

He told a story about going out with border patrol agents who would “catch and release” immigrants like a recreational fisher because they “like their jobs” and want to keep them.

Later in the speech, King said that when Reagan signed an immigration reform bill in 1986, he was so angry that he “kicked my filing cabinet.” If immigration reform passes again, King warned, “we won’t be able to restore the rule of law within the lifetime of this republic.”

Steve King: Being Gay Is 'Self-Professed Behavior' That Can't Be 'Independently Verified'

Rep. Steve King of Iowa joined Des Moines’ WHO TV yesterday to discuss Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s veto of a bill that would have strengthened the ability of businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

“When you’re in the private sector and you’re an individual entrepreneur with God-given rights that our founding fathers defined in the Declaration, you should be able to make our own decisions on what you do in that private business,” King said.

He quickly clarified that he saw civil rights laws as an exception to that rule, but one that shouldn’t be expanded to protect LGBT people. “There’s nothing mentioned in [civil rights laws] about self-professed behavior,” he said, “and that’s what they’re trying to protect is special rights for self-professed behavior.”

Asked whether he thought that being gay is a choice, King responded that he didn’t “know whether it’s a choice or not,” that he imagined some type of “continuum or curve.” 

“I don’t know what that curve looks like,” he added. “I think some’s nature and some’s nurture, and some might be purely each. But I think a lot of it is a combination of nature and nurture.”

The congressman went on to imply that LGBT people are making their identities known in order to entrap business owners into discriminating against them.

“The one thing that I reference when I say ‘self-professed,’” he said, “is how do you know who to discriminate against? They have to tell you. And are they then setting up a case? Is this about bringing a grievance or is it actually about a service that they’d like to have?”

He then implied that homosexuality cannot be “independently verified” and can be “willfully changed.”

“If it’s not specifically protected in the Constitution,” he said of civil rights protections, “then it’s got to be an immutable characteristic, that being a characteristic that can be independently verified and cannot be willfully changed.” He added that this is part of why he opposes hate crimes laws.
 

Vander Plaats: Marriage Equality 'Runs Contrary to Liberty,' Defies Declaration of Independence

Iowa Republican gadfly Bob Vander Plaats attacked Rand Paul on yesterday’s Steve Deace program over the Kentucky senator’s silence on a federal court ruling striking down his state’s same-sex marriage ban.

Vander Plaats, head of The Family Leader, mused (probably correctly) that if Newt Gingrich were in Paul’s place, he would have called for defunding the federal district court that ruled in favor of marriage equality.

If Paul were truly “about liberty,” Vander Plaats said, he would be taking the lead to punish the Kentucky judge who struck down the marriage ban, a decision that Vander Plaats insisted “runs contrary to liberty” and defies the Declaration of Independence.

Vander Plaats:  If another good friend of ours, Newt Gingrich, was in his position from the state of Kentucky, I can almost guarantee what Newt’s response would have been. It would have been, ‘We need to defund that court, we need to defund that judge. The Congress still holds the power of the purse. If we have courts, if we have judges operating outside of their constitutional authority, let’s pull their meal ticket away.’



It’s too bad that a senator like Ted Cruz and a senator like Mike Lee have to actually step up for the state of Kentucky when their own senator, Rand Paul, should be doing that.

Deace: What should Rand be doing instead of what he is doing right now, which is basically nothing? What shouldhe be doing instead?

Vander Plaats: Well, I think one thing is that he needs to step up to the microphone. This is his state, this is Kentucky. This is something that runs totally against who he is. I mean, he’s about liberty. And if it’s about liberty, and if you have a judge usurping the will of the people of Kentucky, that runs contrary to liberty. If you believe marriage is a state rights issue and the state of Kentucky says, ‘This is what marriage is to us, one man and one woman, clearly defined,’ then you better stand up to that state rights issue. 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.
 

Steve King Claims 'Cantaloupes' Comment Won The DREAM Act Debate

Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King set off a political firestorm last year when he claimed that for every valedictorian who would benefit from the DREAM Act, “there’s another hundred out there who they weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’ve been hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”

King’s remarks drew heated criticism from progressives, but also from members of his own party, including House Speaker John Boehner, who reportedly called King an “asshole.” This criticism in turn caused King to become hilariously self-righteous, accusing Boehner of making “hateful or ignorant comments” and using “indelicate language.”

In an interview with the Spencer, Iowa, Daily Reporter posted on YouTube today, King continued to lash out at his critics, saying, “they cannot make a point about anything I said that was anything other than true.” He added that his detractors just “call names and criticize the utilization of the language.”

In fact, King claimed that his infamous “cantaloupes” comment was actually an intentional and successful policy move. “Sometimes, I’ve made the point for years and they weren’t listening, so I’ve found another way to get them to pay attention,” he said. “For example, Dick Durbin, as far as I know, no longer describes the DREAMers as ‘valedictorians.’ We’ve corrected that major flaw and sometimes we have to, otherwise it distorts the public’s understand.”

“When they start calling names, they’ve lost the debate,” he said.

King also illustrated his point with a long story about how he doesn’t want the U.S. to be like the Netherlands.

Iowa Republicans Pick Anti-Gay Crusader And Roy Moore Backer To Co-Chair Party

Last month, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called for Michigan GOP committeeman Dave Agema to resign over anti-gay, anti-Muslim comments. Apparently, the Iowa Republican Party didn’t get the message. Barely a week after the Agema controversy broke, the Iowa GOP picked an anti-gay crusader to be the state party co-chair.

Danny Carroll, a former state representative who took over as the Iowa GOP’s co-chair on February 3, is a lobbyist for The Family Leader, the right-wing social issues group run by Bob Vander Plaats, who is considering running for Senate. While Vander Plaats’ over-the-top rhetoric is better known, Carroll is equally adamant in his opposition to gay rights and his Christian-nation view of government.

Back in 2010, Danny Carroll, then the head of Iowa Family Policy Center, refused to endorse the candidacy of Republican Terry Brandstad even after he won the gubernatorial primary because of what he saw as Brandstad’s insufficient opposition to gay rights. Brandstad merely wanted to pass a state constitutional amendment overturning the Iowa Supreme Court’s 2009 marriage equality ruling; Carroll’s preferred candidate, Vander Plaats, led a campaign to target and oust the judges behind the ruling. Carroll assured Vander Plaats’ supporters that they were “answering to God Almighty.” After the election, Vander Plaats was hired to head The Family Leader, a new umbrella group that encompassed the Iowa Family Policy Center.

At a Family Leader conference last year, Carroll insisted that more important than the breakdown of families was the “crisis is in the definition of family” – that is, the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage. He said the group was pushing for a state constitutional amendment on marriage equality because “just about every problem facing society today could be fixed, eliminated or significantly reduced if we held up marriage between one man and one woman for life.”

Over the past several years, Carroll has used his influence in Iowa to back candidates who share his far-right views. In 2008, he co-chaired Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign in Iowa. In 2012, he went for Michele Bachmann, who he declared was “biblically qualified” for the presidency.

But Carroll’s first choice in 2012 was maybe even further to the right than Bachmann: He backed the short-lived presidential campaign of Alabama Judge Roy Moore, who became famous for defying a court order to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from a government building, and who now wants to hold a Constitutional Convention to pass an amendment banning same-sex marriage. When Moore dropped out of the race, Carroll lamented, “He’s a great guy. I love him and respect him. He’s a hero, that’s for sure. And he’s an honorable person. I can’t say anything negative against Judge Moore. Just the reality of politics, I guess.”

Carroll seems to share Moore’s leanings. In a speech in 2010, Carroll blamed the Supreme Court ruling banning school-organized prayer for recent teen suicides in Iowa and railed against legal abortion and gambling. He said these trends could only be reversed by electing people “who will stand up and unashamedly and without apology assure us that they will be guided by absolute and timeless Christian morals that comes from a regular reading of God’s Word.”

“I am through apologizing for what this country was founded on: a firm conviction that a free people cannot be self-governed unless they have a strong conviction to religion and morality,” he added.

In an interview with radio host Jan Mickelson earlier this month, Carroll agreed with Mickelson’s assessment that his appointment to serve alongside the Ron Paul-supporting state party chair A.J. Spiker represented “a marriage between the Paulistas and the evangelicals, or the Teavangelicals” in Iowa. In a possible signal that the party was patching things up, Carroll last week endorsed Brandstad’s reelection bid.

Carroll is hardly alone as a hard-right social conservative in the state-level leadership of a party that just last year proposed softening its image to expand its base. As Brian noted last month, it was odd that Priebus singled out Agema, since anti-gay sentiment is a common feature among RNC committee members. In fact, in Iowa, Carroll will be serving alongside RNC committeewoman Tamara Scott, who once warned that gay marriage will lead to man-Eiffel Tower marriage and who blamed the recession in part on legalized same-sex marriage.

6 Things To Know About Potential Iowa Senate Candidate Bob Vander Plaats

Bob Vander Plaats, head of the right-wing group The Family Leader, told The Hill yesterday that he is still weighing a run for U.S. Senate in his home state of Iowa to replace retiring Democrat Tom Harkin.

We’re not entirely convinced that the Religious Right activist isn’t just putting his name out there to get attention – one Iowa GOP strategist said in 2010 that he had “never witnessed an ego the size and proportion of Bob Vander Plaats” – but he certainly has the connections to raise money and early polls show that he would at least be a contender for the Republican nomination.

Vander Plaats, who lost three consecutive gubernatorial elections in the last decade, is a small-time kingmaker for socially conservative national Republicans. Vander Plaats helped to spearhead Mike Huckabee’s and Rick Santorum’s presidential caucus victories in 2008 and 2012 and hosted a 2012 Republican candidates’ forum that attracted every major presidential candidate except for Mitt Romney.

His biggest political victory to date was in 2010 ,when he ran a successful recall campaign against three state supreme court justices who had ruled in favor of marriage equality the previous year. An attempt to oust another justice two years later was a bust.

Vander Plaats insists that he isn’t too extreme to win a general election in the swing state. “I don’t think I’m an extreme in America in regards to valuing human life, the foundation of family with one-man, one-woman marriage, and religious liberty,” he told The Hill.

We’ll believe that when we see it. Here are just six of the most extreme right-wing items on Vander Plaats’ resume:

1. Suggested African American Families Were Better Off Under Slavery

During the 2012 presidential campaign, Vander Plaats took advantage of Iowa’s outsized influence to convince Republican candidates to participate in a debate hosted by his group and to sign the group’s “Marriage Vow.”

The pledge — signed by Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry — suggested that African-American families were better off under slavery than in present day: “Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.”

The language was eventually removed, but now Vander Plaats has moved on to comparing marriage equality to slavery and the Dred Scott ruling.

2. Favors Russia’s Anti-Gay Crackdown

After launching a campaign to encourage stronger conservative leadership, Vander Plaats hailed Russian president Vladimir Putin as a great leader for his criminalization of “homosexual propaganda.”

While Vander Plaats commends Putin’s anti-gay crackdown, the conservative crusader hasn’t mentioned if he thinks Putin’s bold leadership includes his suppression of dissent, human rights activism and religious freedom .

3. Uses Toxic Anti-Gay Rhetoric

Vander Plaats has likened homosexuality to second hand smoke, a point emphasized by a Family Leader seminar demonstrating that homosexuality, like smoking, represents a “public health crisis.” He defended the comparison, saying, “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 has even linked homosexuality to the national debt and said that an anti-bullying youth conference dishonors God because it tackles the issue of the bullying of LGBT youth.

According to Vander Plaats, same-sex marriage is akin to polygamy and incest and any marriage equality law is unconstitutional because it “goes against the law of nature.”

4. Loves A Good ‘Faggot’ Joke

Exhibiting great leadership, Vander Plaats burst into laughter in response to a joke about “fags” marrying. When asked why a homophobic joke made him crack up, Vander Plaats explained he was merely trying to “love people” and “speak the truth in love.”

5. Wants to Outlaw Pornography

Vander Plaats wants to outlaw pornography, a principle which he attempted to have presidential candidates endorse in his 2012 “Marriage Vow.” In his 2006 gubernatorial campaign, Vander Plaats cited the work of prominent pornography-ban advocate Judith Reisman.

6. Promotes Birther Conspiracies

A big fan of Donald Trump’s “bold” birther crusade, Vander Plaats remains unconvinced that President Obama has a birth certificate proving his U.S. birth.

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