Last month, right-wing psuedo-historian David Barton appeared on "The Patriot and The Preacher" radio program, where he claimed that "biblical teachings" were responsible for a 75 percent reduction in violent crime in the city of Las Vegas, Nevada.
Barton said that he was "a math and science guy" before God "providentially" led him into the study of American history, prompting him to reiterate his claim that it was in this capacity that he discovered that the removal of mandatory prayer from public schools was responsible for a steep decline in academic achievement. For example, Barton believes that the end of school-sponsored prayer led to a significant drop in SAT scores.
Barton claimed that he could prove this via "double causation," which he later called "double correlation," by showing that just as removing organized prayer from public schools leads to lower test scores, adding the "God factor" to schools increases test scores.
"There appears to be a God factor in this thing," he said, "and we were able to document actually 47 categories of government-kept statistics that plummeted at that point in time when we told God to take a hike. Apparently He did and it hasn't worked out too well for us since then. But when God is reintroduced back into policy, for instance, in Las Vegas, the churches there worked with the police department to teach morals in the city, the violent crime rate has gone down 75 percent in Las Vegas by the reintroduction of biblical teachings back in the city through the police department and the churches."
As usual, it is almost impossible to determine where Barton is getting this information since he never bothers to cite any sources, but our best guess is that he is referring to a recent documentary called "Vegas Vikings" about a community outreach effort that claims to have reduced the crime rate by 75 percent in one Las Vegas neighborhood.
Leading up to the December 15 Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas, PFAW board member Dolores Huerta traveled to Las Vegas to speak with Nevada voters about the dangerous platforms of Republican presidential candidates. The trip was part of PFAW’s Latinos Vote! program, and this was the third GOP debate where Huerta joined PFAW on the ground to emphasize the extremism of the current Republican presidential candidates.
Her first stop was a Latino voters and leaders roundtable where she addressed the Republican candidates’ far-right platforms on a number of issues, including the environment, immigration, the minimum wage, and women’s health.
Huerta also headlined a press conference with unions and progressive organizations, and a #NoHateDebate rally outside of the debate. As the leading Nevada newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, reported, “Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and civil rights champion Dolores Huerta said ‘there's a war going on’ against women, labor unions and the environment, and it's being waged by the candidates who will take the stage in Las Vegas Tuesday night and their respective party.”
Watch her speech at the #NoHateDebate rally:
Mobilizing voters in Nevada will be a key to Democrats winning the White House in 2016. In 2008 and 2012, Obama won Nevada, but in the 2014 elections, Republicans won up and down the ticket. The state is one of the targets for PFAW’s Latinos Vote! program that works to expose and counter anti-immigrant and anti-Latino rhetoric and policies, as Nevada Latinos could be the margin of victory for Democrats in Nevada in 2016. While in 1994 Latino voters were just 5% of the electorate, they’re now 15% of the voting population. By speaking directly with Latino voters and to local media, Huerta was able to address how important the Latino vote will be in Nevada and the dangerous threat that the Republican presidential candidates pose to Latino and immigrant communities.
Sen. Ted Cruz submitted a video address to conservative activist Frank Gaffney's “Nevada National Security Action Summit” last night, in which he put his own spin on the event’s theme of claiming that President Obama doesn’t care about America’s national security and threw in a casual lie about a nonexistent Obama administration "ban" on "rhetoric against radical Islamic terrorists."
Cruz defended Gaffney, an anti-Muslim activist and birther who has recently been in the news for providing shoddy polling data to Donald Trump, laughably claiming that “Frank Gaffney has been attacked over and over again for having the courage to stand up and speak the name ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ of the enemy that is waging jihad against us,” something that he said Obama won’t do.
He then went on to casually lie about recent remarks that Attorney General Loretta Lynch made about anti-Muslim hate speech. Lynch told a Muslim group that the Justice Department would “take action” when it sees anti-Muslim rhetoric that “edges towards violence,” later clarifying that “of course, we prosecute deeds and not words.”
According to Cruz, however, Lynch has now imposed a “ban on anti-Muslim rhetoric, what she considers rhetoric against radical Islamic terrorists” which is being used to force Americans to “submit” to the Obama administration and is having a “chilling effect” on people reporting suspicious activities, including the neighbors of the San Bernardino shooters. Of course, these neighbors were probably not silenced by comments that the attorney general made after the shooting.
Cruz started out his comments by praising Gaffney, saying that the activist “is a patriot, he loves this country, and he is clear-eyed about the incredible threat of radical Islamic terrorism.”
This, Cruz said, was in contrast to President Obama, who has left the issue of terrorism “festering unattended” because preventing terrorism is “peripheral at best to his core progressive agenda, an agenda that appeases our enemies before actually defending the national security interests of our great country.”
Today is a big day for conservative activist and former Libertarian vice presidential nominee Wayne Allyn Root, who, as the Republican presidential candidates descend on his home state of Nevada for tomorrow’s debate, joined Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson and Rick Santorum at a summit hosted by anti-Muslim activist Frank Gaffney before moving on to emcee a rally for Donald Trump.
The proximity of presidential candidates did not cause Root to hold back on his rhetoric, telling the audience at Gaffney’s forum that Hillary Clinton has committed “a hanging, treasonous offense” involving foreign donors to the Clinton Foundation but is getting off the hook by blackmailing FBI Director James Comey and other Republicans in Washington.
“Can you imagine a Republican secretary of state working for a Republican president starting a foundation for charity that collects money from foreign governments by the hundreds of millions and billions and then takes the money and hands out government contracts to the same country that made the contribution from the State Department?” he asked. “That’s not a criminal offense, that’s a hanging, treasonous offense.”
When a member of the audience asked Root “when we are going to nail Hillary,” Root responded that he wasn’t sure because “I don’t know if Comey, the FBI director, is totally on the straight-and-narrow.”
“I believe we’ve got massive blackmail going on in the United States government,” he said. “The NSA, the IRS, their goal is to find out everything about Republicans — not everybody, Republicans.”
“They want to know everything about us, especially Republican politicians in Washington, D.C., and then they blackmail them,” he explained. “Is Comey susceptible to that? I have no idea, but I certainly have my suspicions about the Supreme Court justice of the United States voting twice for Obamacare.”
Root has previously shared his theory that Chief Justice John Roberts was blackmailed into ruling against challenges to the Affordable Care Act.
Wayne Allyn Root, a Nevada activist and the 2008 Libertarian nominee for vice president, comes across as something like the poor man’s Donald Trump. Like Trump, Root is loud, bombastic and full of barely thought-through conspiracy theories about President Obama. The two also know each other: Trump wrote a blurb for Root’s most recent book and Root volunteered to be Trump’s “Karl Rove” if he’s elected president.
Root boasted of his role in the Trump rally during a rambling speech at a summit hosted by Frank Gaffney today that at least three GOP candidates are scheduled to attend.
Here is a brief introduction to some of Root’s favorite conspiracy theories, which we can only imagine he will touch upon at tonight’s rally:
1. Obama Both Did And Did Not Attend Columbia
Root’s signature conspiracy theory has to do with Obama’s time at Columbia University, which Root says is where Obama learned his strategy to impose socialist control on the U.S. even though, according to Root, he was never seen in classes and probably is lying about going to Columbia at all.
Root attended Columbia at the same time as Obama (if Obama really did attend Columbia!) and so can attest that the president was never seen in class but also was indoctrinated into Marxism during his classes at Columbia .
2. Obama ‘Cut His Afro’ To Become The ‘Manchurian Candidate’
Root put a new spin on his Obama theory during a 2014 campaign stop for Mississippi Senate candidate Chris McDaniel, when he said that Obama’s Columbia classes (which he both did and did not attend) taught him to “cut his afro” in order to infiltrate the political class and become a “Manchurian candidate” meant to take down America from within.
3. Obama Is A Sociopath Who Will Kill Us All
Root has diagnosed Obama as an “arrogant, egomaniacal sociopath” who is either “mentally ill” or committing treason and must be removed from office “before he kills us all” with Ebola-ridden terrorists.
4. Obama Wants A Race War So He Can Impose Martial Law
Like many conservative commentators, Root contends that America’s troubles with race were in the past until Obama came along to divide everyone, saying that the president “didn’t come in to help us end the specter of racism, he brought it back.”
Root wrote during the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, that “Obama needs ‘division.’ Race warfare. Class warfare. Anger. Resentment. Civil war.” Obama, he wrote, saw Ferguson as “the perfect opportunity to divide the nation, to incite unrest and violence across America” and could “use spreading unrest to declare martial law.”
5. Democrats Win By Voting 10 Times Each
Root has taken voter fraud hysteria to a new level, claiming last year that President Obama won reelection because “Democratic voters across this country are voting four times, five times, 10 times each for the Democrats.”
Root is sure that the same mischief is afoot for 2016 and that Hillary Clinton is conspiring with Obama and with the defunct organization ACORN to steal the presidential election.
6. Somebody Is Blackmailing John Roberts
Root had a reasonable reaction to the Supreme Court’s rejection of another challenge to the Affordable Care Act in the King v. Burwell decision this year:
Time to question Justice Roberts' decisions. Just like John Boehner, I now believe Justice Roberts has been blackmailed or intimidated.— Wayne Allyn Root (@WayneRoot) June 25, 2015
At Wednesday night’s presidential debate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush went out of his way to tout “a voucher program that was created under my watch, the largest voucher program in the country, where kids can go to a Christian school” — a phrase he sandwiched into a conversation about Donald Trump criticizing him for speaking Spanish in public.
Julie Ingersoll, a religious studies professor at the University of North Florida, tweeted a reminder that her book on Christian Reconstructionism, which was recently released by Oxford University Press, mentions Bush’s voucher program. “Building God’s Kingdom: Inside the World of Christian Reconstructionism” includes chapters on the enormous influence of Christian Reconstructionism in the homeschooling and Christian school movements, which have succeeded in getting states like Florida to funnel taxpayer money to their religious education efforts
Christian Reconstructionism, grounded in the teachings of 20th-century writer R.J. Rushdoony, has greatly influenced both the Religious Right and Tea Party movements with its doctrine of “sphere sovereignty,” which states that God has given government, church, and family specific responsibilities over different “spheres.” Reconstructionists argue that there is no biblical authority for the government to take on a duty that is given to church or family – for example, they argue that the government has no role in caring for the poor because charity is the job of the church.
Reconstructionism teaches that education is the duty of parents, and that the state therefore has no role in or legitimate authority over the education of children. Reconstructionists led legal and political battles to win the right of parents to homeschool their children, and continue to resist efforts at regulating homeschoolers. As Ingersoll notes, “Reconstructionists are unabashedly committed to the dismantling of public education, and their strategies and solutions have gained a hearing far beyond the boundaries of the small groups explicitly affiliated with them.” In June, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott named a right-wing homeschooler to chair the state’s Board of Education.
The organized and intensely active network of evangelical homeschooling families in Iowa is credited, in part, with Mike Huckabee’s win in the 2008 Iowa caucus, and the Associated Press reported this year that presidential candidates have been jockeying for its leaders’ support.
Ingersoll also explores how central creationism is to the Christian Reconstructionist worldview; as others have noted, creationism also forms the basis of “science” education in books and curricula used by some Christian schools and homeschoolers.
Ingersoll writes about the independent, Reconstructionism-inspired Rocky Bayou Christian School in Niceville, Florida, which was founded in the 1970s. In addition to the hundreds of students in its K-12 program, the school offers a program allowing homeschoolers to participate in courses and activities. Writes Ingersoll, “RCBS also has a program designed to take advantage of Florida’s school voucher plan. The plan, put into place by former Governor Jeb Bush, permits students at ‘failing public schools’ to obtain vouchers that can be used at any school.”
According to Ingersoll, the Bush voucher program “has become such a significant revenue stream” for Rocky Bayou Christian School that “it would have a major impact on the school if the state were to decide to discontinue the controversial program….” But, she notes, “the conservative legislature took up the effort to expand the state’s privatization of public education with vouchers and the expansion of charter schools.”
Indeed, legislation signed by Gov. Rick Scott last year expanded voucher and tax-credit programs; it also, according to the Orlando Sentinel, created state-funded “personal learning scholarship accounts” that “parents of students with certain disabilities can use to pay for private school, buy home-school curriculum or pay for needed therapies, among other services, if their child is not in public school.”
Florida is not the only state where proponents of privatization have won victories. Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal used the Katrina disaster to push through a radical privatization scheme and has battled the Obama administration over its efforts to monitor the state’s voucher program’s effect on racial segregation. Proponents of “school choice” had a major victory in Nevada this year, where a law pushed by an education foundation created by Jeb Bush would allow parents of any income level to “pull a child from the state's public schools and take tax dollars with them, giving families the option to use public money to pay for private or parochial school or even for home schooling.” While some Christian homeschoolers want no part of voucher programs, because they believe taking voucher money would bring more intrusive government regulation, laws like Nevada’s could prove a windfall for Religious Right and Christian Reconstructionist groups that provide curricula to homeschoolers.
Ingersoll writes about a 2009 Men’s Leadership Summit hosted by the Christian Home Educators of Colorado at an Indianapolis facility of Bill Gothard’s Institute for Biblical Life Principles, a troubling organization in the news recently for its connection to the Duggar family. The purpose of the summit, writes Ingersoll, was the development of a “Christian Education Manifesto,” which is no longer public, but whose goals included the elimination of public education and dismantling of government agencies that regulate the rights of parents, such as child welfare and child protective service groups.
There have been some setbacks for the privatization movement. In June, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that its state’s Choice Scholarship Pilot Program violates the state Constitution by channeling public money to private religious schools, contrary to an explicit constitutional prohibition on doing so.
But, as Ingersoll notes, the massively funded privatization movement is advancing the dream of the Christian Reconstructionists:
Florida’s efforts mirror attempts across the nation to shift the delivery of public education to the private sector; a shift of tax money from a public endeavor intended to educate and foster a shared sense of what it means to be American to sectarian efforts, including efforts at schools like Rocky Bayou which seek to transform society according to biblical law. The long-standing goal of the Christian Reconstructionists to defund, and ultimately eliminate, public education has come as close as it has ever come to being a reality.
Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes told a gathering of “constitutional sheriffs” last month — which also featured Rep. Steve Stockman of Texas — that federal officials eventually backed down in the standoff at the Bundy Ranch earlier this because they knew that if they didn't the U.S. military would turn against the federal government, igniting a second civil war.
Noting that a number of military veterans joined the armed anti-government protest at the Nevada ranch, Rhodes said that “the politicians and the would-be dictators in Washington, D.C…have to worry if they go too hard, if they drop the hammer too blatantly on Americans like at Bundy Ranch, that the Marine Corps would flip on them. And I think it would. And same goes for the tip of the spear in the Army, Army Airborne, special forces, your Navy Seals, all of those groups out there, the more hardcore they are as warriors, the more likely they are to look at something like that and say, ‘that’s it, I’m done’ and join the resistance.”
“And so that’s why [federal officials] are careful about what they do,” he added. “It’s not out of charity or concern for your lives that the don’t drop the hammer.”
Citing a Washington Times report that the Obama administration “considered but rejected deploying military force” against the armed groups trying to stop the Bureau of Land Management from collecting decades of grazing fees from Cliven Bundy, Rhodes said, “Thankfully they did not, because if they had, that would have kicked off a civil war in this country. It would have.”
The only way to avoid a civil war, he said, was for sheriffs and other officials like those in the audience to refuse to be "the muscle for idiots like Cuomo or Obama or Holder who don't understand warfare."
"Do not open the door on U.S. soil for sheepdog and sheepdog violence," he warned.
In a radio program posted online Monday, Georgia pastor Jody Hice, the GOP nominee to replace Paul Broun in the U.S. House, linked the anti-government Bundy ranch standoff to anti-gay politics, saying that the militia groups that faced off against the Bureau of Land Management in Nevada were a symbol of Americans standing up against Big Government incursions on their liberties…like the legalization of same-sex marriage.
“There is unquestionably an undercurrent that is taking place across America where people are getting fed up,” he said. “They are saying to themselves and now beginning to say to themselves, ‘Enough is enough. We are not going to sit back while our government tramples over our liberties.’”
I will never forget these ranchers on horseback continuing to walk slowly toward the BLM. They were prepared to die. They were ready for confrontation. They were saying, ‘Enough is enough. You’re not going to trample on our rights any more. You have gone far enough and no further will you go.’
I mean, that was the statement being made by the ranchers and they continued marching toward the BLM. You will remember what happened, eventually the BLM never fired a shot, instead they got in their vehicles and left. Again, one of the other reasons they did not fire a shot is because all these ranchers, the cowboys and many, many others around them were themselves armed and ready for action if it came to that point, thank God it did not, but they were prepared just in case.
Now, that’s the image that comes to my mind. There is unquestionably an undercurrent that is taking place across America where people are getting fed up. They are saying to themselves and now beginning to say to themselves, ‘Enough is enough. We are not going to sit back while our government tramples over our liberties.’
And the examples are numerous. We could deal with different scenarios I don’t know how many times, they are abundant in the various ways in which this is taking place.
Now, I want to give you just what is the latest example: the whole battle over gay marriage, and in particular gay marriage as it relates to businesses, that businesses cannot remain committed to their personal religious convictions if there is ever a confrontation between those religious beliefs and same-sex marriage.
People For the American Way Action Fund announced today the endorsements of a slate of dynamic young progressive candidates running for public office across the United States. The endorsees are a diverse mix of candidates 35 and under who are marking a new generation of progressive leadership for the future. These candidates and officials represent a vision that will benefit communities all over the country, as they fight for social, economic, and environmental justice, and equality for all.
The endorsements are part of People For the American Way Action Fund’s Young Elected Progressives (YEP) program. YEP evaluates and endorses young progressive candidates ages 35 and under in their bids for elected office around the U.S. at all levels.
People For the American Way Action Fund is proud to endorse these YEP candidates for 2014:
James Albis – CT House District 99
James Albis is running for reelection to the Connecticut House of Representatives 99th District, representing East Haven. Albis has advocated consistently on behalf of the families of East Haven for better jobs, better schools, and better opportunities. In his second term as Representative, Albis worked to protect the environment, serving on the Speaker’s Task Force on Shoreline Preservation. Dedicated to supporting children and families, Albis has sponsored and voted for numerous laws that would expand family and medical leave, as well as healthcare, and to protect East Haven’s share of state education funding. Visit James Albis’s campaign website for more details.
John Paul Alvarez – FL House District 100
John Paul Alvarez is running for Florida House of Representatives District 100, representing Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Alvarez, a true Floridian born and raised in South Florida, knows first-hand about the issues facing his community and is dedicated to making Florida prosper. As a teacher, mentor, and community leader, Alvarez is a fierce advocate for public education. By fighting for the issues that matter most to students, working families, retired citizens, taxpayers, and South Florida’s most vulnerable citizens, Alvarez is determined to improve his community by creating more jobs, lowering the cost of living, and promoting equality for all. Visit John Paul Alvarez’s campaign website for more details.
Nelson Araujo – NV Assembly District 3
Nelson Araujo is a candidate for Nevada’s Assembly District 3, representing Clark County and Las Vegas. He is a native Nevadan that was born to struggling immigrant parents. Araujo, a determined leader, fought to help his family out of poverty and became the first in his family to graduate high school. As a community leader and elected official, Araujo is dedicated to stimulating job growth, providing greater healthcare access, and making higher education more accessible to everyone. We believe that with his leadership, Nevada will thrive. Visit Nelson Araujo’s campaign website for more details.
Mandela Barnes – WI Assembly District 11
Mandela Barnes is running for reelection in Wisconsin’s State Assembly District 11, representing central Milwaukee. Born and raised in Milwaukee, Barnes has done important work for Milwaukee as a community organizer and youth and development specialist. His dedication to creating jobs, reforming public education, and modernizing public transportation will serve the people of Milwaukee and strengthen the community. Visit Mandela Barnes’s campaign website for more details.
Jonathan Brostoff – WI Assembly District 19
Jonathan Brostoff, lifelong resident of Milwaukee’s East Side, is running for Wisconsin State Assembly’s 19th District representing central Milwaukee. Brostroff’s dedication to Milwaukee and experience as a legislative aide will help him lead Wisconsin toward a brighter future. Brostoff is determined to promote equal rights for all, to reinvest in public education, and to improve public transit in Wisconsin. Brostoff is a capable leader, devoted to making Wisconsin thrive for generations to come, whose real-world solutions will create progress in the state. Visit Jonathan Brostoff’s campaign website for more details.
Marina Dimitrijevic – WI Assembly District 19
Marina Dimitrijevic is running for the Wisconsin State Assembly District 19. Born and raised in Milwaukee, Dimitrijevic made history in 2004, when she became the youngest woman to be elected to the Milwaukee County Board. During her 10 year tenure, she has championed legislative victories on equal rights for the LGBT community, environmental sustainability, public transit, and workers’ rights. Dimitrijevic’s experience, leadership, and commitment to winning on progressive issues are exactly what the community of Milwaukee needs. Visit Marina Dimitrijevic’s campaign website for more details.
Justin Chenette – ME House District 134
Justin Chenette is running for reelection to the Maine House of Representatives’ 134th District , representing Saco. Before being elected as state Representative, Chenette served on the Maine State Board of Education, and has carried his passion for education into the state legislature. Chenette sponsored several education-related bills including legislation to promote community service in school and require internship experiences for high school students. Chenette, who was 22 years old upon his election to the House, has already proven himself to be a tireless and dedicated advocate and an important member in the next generation of leaders. Visit Justin Chenette’s campaign website for more details.
Luke Diaz –WI Verona Alder District 3
Luke Diaz is seeking reelection to the Verona City Council’s 3rd District, representing central Verona. Diaz has made it his mission to celebrate the city’s culture by cultivating a thriving downtown in Verona, working to expand jobs, improve transit, and provide important services to the community. An experienced city councilman, Diaz is an accessible leader that is dedicated to listening to the needs of his community. Visit Luke Diaz’s campaign page on Facebook for more details.
Zachary Dorholt – MN House District 14B
Zach Dorholt is running for reelection the Minnesota House of Representatives’ District 14B, representing St. Cloud City, and Haven and Minden Townships. Previously elected in 2011, Dorholt has been a champion for progressive values during his time in the House. He is an advocate for women’s rights and has sponsored bills to equalize pay in Minnesota and lengthen paid maternity leave. Dorholt has also fought for public education funding and is dedicated to creating a pathway to higher education for young Minnesotans. A proven leader, Dorholt will continue to make Minnesota a better and more prosperous place for the entire community. Visit Zach Dorholt’s campaign website for more details.
Crisanta Duran is running for reelection in the Colorado House of Representatives’ 5th District, representing Denver. As chairwoman of the joint budget committee, Crisanta guided the passage of a state budget that helped protect the environment, boost investments in education and job training, provide better women’s health services, help survivors of abuse, and create a better state economy for all Coloradoans. In her position as an elected official, she will continue to build a strong progressive foundation for the state’s future. Visit Crisanta Duran’s campaign website for more details.
Daneya Esgar – CO House District 46
Daneya Esgar is a candidate for Colorado State House of Representatives’ District 46, representing Pueblo. A dedicated public servant and product of Pueblo’s public education system, Esgar has dedicated her career as a television news producer and a community organizer to improving this community. Esgar has a clear vision for the future of Pueblo, and will continue to work toward job growth and improved public education as an elected official. Visit Daneya Esgar’s campaign website for more details.
Ryan Fecteau – ME House District 11
Ryan Fecteau is a Biddeford native running for Maine House of Representatives’ District 11, representing his hometown. Fecteau has a fresh and progressive perspective on the issues affecting Maine today. As representative, Fecteau will bring strong support of public education, women’s rights, and equal opportunity for all Americans by championing for middle-class workers, seniors, and college graduates of his district. Visit Ryan Fecteau’s campaign website for more details.
Joe Fitzgibbon – WA House District 34
Joe Fitzgibbon is running for reelection to the Washington House of Representatives’ District 34, representing Burien, West Seattle, White Center, and Vashon and Maury Islands. Fitzgibbon has been a fierce advocate for undocumented students, voting for both the DREAM Act and for in-state tuition for undocumented students. A champion for equality in Washington, Fitzgibbon has le d efforts to legalize gay marriage and expand healthcare and Medicaid to help ensure safe abortion procedures. Fitzgibbon is a true progressive and will continue to work toward equality for all Washingtonians. Visit Joe Fitzgibbon’s campaign website for more details.
Chris Larson – WI Senate District 7
Chris Larson is running for reelection to the Wisconsin State Senate’s 7th District, representing Milwaukee County. In Larson’s first term as senator, he served as the Minority Leader and worked tirelessly to end marriage discrimination in Wisconsin, to promote public education, and to protect the environment. Larson has worked to stimulate job growth and to increase access to health care, proving that he is truly in-tune with the needs of his community. “Larson is a true progressive leader,” PFAW’s Political Director Randy Borntrager said. “He is clearly dedicated to his community and determined to help each person and his community as a whole.” Visit Chris Larson’s campaign website for more details.
Eric Luedtke – MD House District 14
Eric Luedtke is running for reelection to the Maryland House of Delegates’ District 14, representing Montgomery County. Luedtke, who was first elected in 2010, has already made his mark as a progressive representative for Maryland. Luedtke, a teacher by profession, has advocated for public education reform, especially advocating for equality for students with special needs. Committed to families and children, Luedtke has worked on a variety of issues, from promoting easier access to healthcare to sponsoring bills that provide greater aid and support for survivors of sexual assault. Visit Eric Luedtke’s campaign website for more details.
Stefanie Mach – AZ House District 10
Stefanie Mach is running for reelection to the Arizona House of Representatives’ 10th Distric , representing Tucson. Since she was elected in 2012, Mach has proven herself to be a fighter, both professionally and personally. In her time as representative, Mach has worked to improve public education, to make higher education more affordable, to encourage job growth and the expansion of local businesses. An advocate for women and minorities, Mach has demonstrated she is dedicated to making Arizona a prosperous community for everyone. Visit Stefanie Mach’s campaign website for more details.
Marcus Madison – OH Senate District 13
Marcus Madison is a candidate for the Ohio State Senate’s 13th District, representing Huron and Lorain counties. Madison, currently serving as a city councilman in Elyria, has already proven that he is a dedicated public servant. He is the former student body president of Lorain County Community College, and previously served as deputy field officer for Obama for America, as well as Communications Director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lorain County. A determined advocate, Madison is committed to improving public education, protecting workers, and providing sustainable jobs that will strengthen the middle class. Visit Marcus Madison’s campaign website for more details.
Aaron Marquez – AZ Senate District 27
Aaron Marquez is running for Arizona State Senate District 27, representing Maricopa County. Marquez, a captain with the U.S. Army Reserve, has been a courageous public servant both overseas and at home. Marquez is a fearless advocate for women’s rights, strong supporter of veterans, and a fighter for public education. A dedicated leader, Marquez will be a force for good in the Arizona legislature. Visit Aaron Marquez’s campaign website for more details.
Andrew McLean – ME House District 129
Andrew McLean is running for reelection to the 129th District in the Maine House of Representatives, representing North Gorham, White Rock, Little Falls, the Village and South Gorham. McLean was previously elected in 2012 and has worked tirelessly to support legislation that would protect the environment, expand healthcare, and reform gun laws in Maine. A resilient advocate, as representative McLean will continue to work on behalf of children and families in his next term and for years to come. Visit Andrew McLean’s campaign page on Facebook for more details.
Matt Moonen – ME House District 118
Matt Moonen is running for reelection in the 118th District in the Maine House of Representatives, representing part of Portland. Moonen has been dedicated to improving healthcare in Maine by sponsoring bills that would prohibit smoking in public places and that would expand Medicaid coverage and eligibility. Additionally, Moonen has been a fierce advocate for raising the minimum wage, passing comprehensive immigration reform, and reforming campaign finance. A true progressive candidate, Moonen will continue to make Maine an accepting and thriving place for all. Visit Matt Moonen’s campaign page on Facebook for more details.
Joe Neguse – CO Secretary of State
Joe Neguse, who is running for Colorado Secretary of State is the right choice for Colorado. Neguse brings with him knowledge and experience as a business attorney, member of the University Of Colorado Board Of Regents, and as a public servant. As secretary of state, Neguse will perform his duties with integrity and transparency, and will work to ensure that all eligible voters have the opportunity to vote in Colorado. Neguse will advocate for everyone, regardless of wealth, age, or social standing. Visit Joe Neguse’s campaign website for more details.
Kesha Ram – VT House District 6-4
Kesha Ram is running for reelection to the Vermont House of Representatives’ District 6-4, representing Chittenden. Ram has worked to promote green job creation, affordable housing, and expanded access to healthcare. Both personally and in her capacity as a representative, Ram has worked to support survivors of domestic violence and is an active advocate for women’s rights. Ram is forward-thinking and dedicated, and her service will help Vermont flourish. Visit Kesha Ram’s campaign website for more details.
Laurie Anne Sayles – MD House District 17
Laurie Anne Sayles is running for Maryland’s House of Delegates District 17, representing Montgomery County. Sayles is a committed parent who has overcome obstacles to become a dedicated public servant in Maryland. A smart and capable leader, Sayles is a determined advocate for affordable healthcare, stronger public education, and accessible public transportation. As an elected official, Sayles will be a truly progressive leader for years to come. Visit Laurie Anne Sayles’s campaign website for more details.
Katrina Shankland – WI Assembly District 71
Katrina Shankland is running for reelection to the Wisconsin State Assembly, representing Stevens Point and its neighboring counties. In her one term as representative, Shankland has become a dedicated advocate for women’s rights and workers’ rights in Wisconsin. Shankland has worked to improve public education opportunities, and has been a fighter for environmental preservation and clean and sustainable energy practices. Visit Katrina Shankland’s campaign website for more details.
Alonzo Washington – MD House District 22
Alonzo Washington is running for reelection to the Maryland House of Delegates’ District 22, representing Prince George’s County. Washington, who has served in the House since 2012, already made a name for himself as a fighter for progressive values. He has sponsored and voted for bills that will increase the minimum wage, expand access to higher education, and strengthen public schools. As an important leader for Maryland’s future, Washington has and will continue to support progress in Maryland. Visit Alonzo Washington’s campaign website for more details.
Faith Winter – CO House District 35
Faith Winter, running for the Colorado House of Representatives’ 35th District to represent Westminster, is the right choice for Colorado. Winter has dedicated her life to public service, previously serving as a city councilwoman, mayor pro tem, and as the Emerge Colorado’s Executive Director, supporting women running for public office. In these capacities, Winter worked to create long-term jobs, expand affordable housing, and increase usage of sustainable energy in Colorado. Visit Faith Winter’s campaign website for more details.
If the anti-immigrant protests in Murietta, California, and the gathering of militia groups at the border remind you of the anti-government standoff at Cliven Bundy’s ranch, that might be because the events are attracting some of the very same people.
Far-right radio host Pete Santilli, who we last saw harassing a Mexican-American reporter at Bundy’s ranch, has been broadcasting from Murietta for the past week or so and has mentioned that he has also driven down to join some groups along the Southern border, who he has been working with in an effort to shut down the Tijuana border crossing.
In fact, yesterday, Santilli interviewed Bundy himself about the similarities between the Bundy ranch standoff and the events in Murietta and at the border.
Calling the Bureau of Land Management “dirty rotten buggers,” Bundy told Santilli that the groups who faced off with the BLM at his ranch were “successful in bringing back freedom to America, at least in this area.”
Speaking of the militia groups gathering at the Southern border — including groups like the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters, who were strongly represented at his ranch — Bundy said that like at his ranch, federal agents are “pointing their guns at we the people” and not at the “enemy,” who he said is the “encroacher that’s illegally coming in here.”
Today People For the American Way Action Fund announced its endorsement of Nevada State Assemblywoman Lucy Flores for Lieutenant Governor.
Flores, one of the first Latinas to serve in the Nevada legislature, rose rapidly into leadership. By 2013, she was already serving as Assistant Majority Whip, and she now serves as vice chair of the Nevada Hispanic Legislative Caucus.
“Lucy Flores is exactly the kind of young, dynamic, progressive leader that Nevada needs,” said PFAW Political Director Randy Borntrager. “Her story of overcoming adversity puts her in a unique position to fight for women’s rights and minority rights from a place of personal experience. I am confident she will continue to fight for equal protection under the law for all Nevadans.”
The daughter of Mexican immigrants, Flores grew up as one of 13 siblings and struggled as a teenager, ultimately dropping out of high school. But with encouragement and support, Flores put her troubled years behind her, received a GED, and became the first in her family to go to college. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California and later a law degree from the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
In 2008, Flores served on the Nevada Commission on Minority Affairs, where she was an advocate for the renewal of the state’s ombudsman for minority consumer affairs, ensuring equal protection under Nevada’s consumer protection laws. In the legislature, she passed landmark legislation improving high school testing, protecting consumers from predatory unauthorized practice of law, and protecting survivors of domestic violence from their abusers.
People For the American Way Action Fund is proud to support Flores’ quest to “bring a vision and voice to Nevada that hasn’t been heard before.” Learn more about her campaign for Lieutenant Governor at http://www.lucyflores.com.
It should come as no surprise to learn that Pete Santilli, an Internet radio host best known for wishing he could shoot Hillary Clinton “right in the vagina” and helping to organize last year’s “Truckers For the Constitution” rally, has spent the last couple of weeks broadcasting live from Cliven Bundy’s ranch in Nevada.
Last Friday, Santilli filmed the press conference at which Bundy attempted to explain that his view that black people were better off under slavery isn’t racist. After Bundy spoke, Santilli announced that “somehow” the Bureau of Land Management had used the media to “hijack” the press conference by “injecting race and dividing us.”
So, naturally, Santilli decided to confront a local TV reporter who had apparently questioned Bundy on his views about race, drawing the attention of Bundy supporters standing nearby.
“Who do you work for?” Santilli demanded of the reporter, who appears to be Antonio Castelan of Channel 3 New. “Do you believe that the media is state-run?” When Castelan responded that “as a Mexican-American” he didn’t think his questioning on race was biased, Santilli hounded him: “Why do you believe you need to inject Mexican-Americanism into your line of questioning?”
“As a Mexican-American you should know that we’re defending your rights, and you’re working for the state-run media, and you should know that, especially by the bias in the line of your questioning,” he yelled as Castelan walked away, hounded by Bundy supporters. “You’re not serving the American public and you do not deserve even First Amendment constitutional rights, sir!”
Later, talking to another reporter, Santilli accused Glenn Beck, who has criticized the Bundy ranch protester, of promoting a “race war” on behalf of the United Nations’ Agenda 21. That is surprising, given that Beck has written an entire book warning about the very same Agenda 21 conspiracy theory that he is being accused of promoting.
In an interview with Texas radio host Chad Hasty yesterday, Sen. Ted Cruz said that the armed standoff between anti-government militias and the Bureau of Land Management at a Nevada ranch is the “unfortunate and tragic culmination of the path that President Obama has set the federal government upon.”
Rancher Cliven Bundy failed to pay federal grazing fees for over 20 years because he refused to recognize federal authority over the land he was using. When the Bureau of Land Management started to remove Bundy’s cattle from federal land, militia members gathered at his ranch and staged an armed standoff with federal officials, which Bundy threatened could turn into a “range war” or another Waco. The agency eventually backed down in order to prevent violence, but militia members havestayed at the ranch and the event has emboldened the anti-government militia movement.
When Hasty asked Cruz about the Bundy standoff, the senator conceded that “the details of the Bundy matter may be complicated,” but insisted “the reason this issue is resonating…is that for five years, we have seen our liberty under assault. We have seen our liberty under assault from a federal government that seems hell-bent on expanding its authority over every aspect of our lives.”
“It is in that context that people are viewing this battle with the federal government,” he said. “We should have a federal government protecting the liberty of the citizens, not using the jackboot of authoritarianism to come against the citizens. And I think this is the unfortunate and tragic culmination of the path that President Obama has set the federal government upon.”
Upset that the Nevada Republican Party recently voted to remove anti-choice, anti-gay language from its official platform, GOP state assemblyman Ira Hansen took to The Janet Mefferd Show yesterday to argue that the party made a grave mistake in avoiding such social issues.
Hansen said that Republicans are failing to win support from young voters because they are “being alienated partially because of this absence of values.” He argued that Republicans could win support from new voters by embracing the “Pat Robertson wing” of the party.
That’s right, Hansen thinks the GOP politicians would become more competitive among youth if they were only more like Pat Robertson.
We don’t see that younger recruitment into the party. I think they are actually being alienated partially by this absence of values. I also think as people get older, they lose some of their drive to fight, I think that’s even true of the pro-life, traditional marriage type crowd. I think they are basically not just shell-shocked but there’s like — you know what, I’ve been fighting this twenty, thirty years; me, I’ve been involved in the Republican Party virtually since I was eighteen, going back to the Reagan era. But I’d probably say in Nevada you still see a big strong element going back to the Pat Robertson campaign in 1988, and that was when there was a huge fight here in Nevada between the Rockefeller wing of the party, as I call them, and the Pat Robertson wing. And with time the Robertson wing won and you had these social issues openly adopted by the Republican Party. And, by the way, in the ‘90s and 2000s, the Republican Party actually did very, very well in Nevada with those in the platform.
Richard Mack, the Arizona sheriff who earlier this week compared the stand of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s armed standoff with the Bureau of Land Management with “Rosa Parks refusing to get off the bus ”and even the Holocaust, told Alan Colmes yesterday that the federal government brought “paid hit men” to Bundy’s ranch who were “ready to fire on innocent and unarmed people.”
The Fox Radio host asked Mack, “We can agree or disagree about how much the government should own in terms of federal property, but is this the way to go about changing it?
Mack responded that Bundy’s stand “was peaceful until it got escalated by the federal government in bringing out paid hit men, mercenaries, and you know, getting violent.”
When Colmes asked Mack if he had evidence to substantiate his claim that the government had brought in mercenaries to face down the militia members at Bundy’s ranch, Mack responded, “we have our intel sources” and insisted that “they were there with the military weapons and they were there ready to fire on innocent and unarmed people.”
Graham County Sheriff Richard Mack – Arizona’s second most notorious birther sheriff –of course traveled to Nevada this week to join rancher Cliven Bundy’s armed standoff with the Bureau of Land Management .
In an interview with Iowa talk show host Steve Deace on Monday, Mack compared the militia groups standing with Bundy to Rosa Parks and suggested that if reinforcements had not arrived, the Bundy family would have fallen victim to Holocaust-like violence.
Deace told Mack that the Nevada standoff was a “warning shot” and “a test to see if their efforts over the last 40 years to dumb you down in academia and pop culture and install the idiocracy” had succeeded.
Mack replied that it was. “This was Rosa Parks refusing to get to the back of the bus,” he said.
Deace: I think this is a test to see if their efforts over the last 40 years to dumb you down in academia and pop culture and install the idiocracy – and that’s their numbing agent – to see if you are now compliant to the point of just saying, ‘Nothing we can do, the almighty state has spoken.’ I think this is a warning shot.
Mack: Well, I think it is too, and I think that everything they do is based on this kind of propaganda scheme of the warning shots and trying to make sure other peasants don’t rise up with their pitchforks. Well, this particular peasant said, ‘No, I’m sorry, I’m not rolling over for this one. You guys are out of line, you don’t own the land, you don’t own our ranch, you don’t own us, and we will stand firm in the principles of freedom that we were blessed with as Americans.’ And that’s exactly what this was. This was Rosa Parks refusing to get to the back of the bus.
Later, the two moved on to criticizing the BLM employees who were sent to enforce a court order to remove Bundy’s cattle from federal land because the rancher has refused to pay grazing fees since 1993. “Any tyrant anywhere is only as good as the collaborating bureaucrats under his command that are willing to actually carry through with his orders,” Deace said. “‘Just following orders’ is the tagline of every tyrannical government in the history of human civilization.”
Mack agreed, noting that a similar defense had been attempted in the Nuremberg trials. “The soldiers that were put on trial at Nuremberg used that as a defense, and it was disallowed,” he said. “They said anybody should know you don’t get to just kill people and then claim that you were just following orders. And same thing for all of this.”
He then claimed that if the militias hadn’t shown up at the Bundy ranch, the family would have been shot.
Deace : They can give all the unconstitutional edicts from Washington, DC, all they want. Any tyrant anywhere is only as good as the collaborating bureaucrats under his command that are willing to actually carry through with his orders. And that’s the part about this that bothers me. ‘Just following orders’ is the tagline of every tyrannical government in the history of human civilization.
Mack: Well, in fact that’s a quote, and I know you know this, but it’s a quote from the Nuremberg trials regarding the Holocaust. And the soldiers that were put on trial at Nuremberg used that as a defense, and it was disallowed. They said anybody should know you don’t get to just kill people and then claim that you were just following orders.
And same thing for all of this. We’re supposed to be the ones in the world that are above such. This is the United States of America, where the rights of the individual are protected by the rest of us in government. And now we have the actual government officials doing just the opposite and almost bragging about it. And so, what I do know is that the people who showed up en masse protected this family and others from being shot.
While just about the entire right-wing movement has rallied behind Cliven Bundy, the Nevada cattle rancher locked in a battle with the federal government over his refusal to recognize the government's control over public grazing lands, Glenn Beck, of all people, is refusing to do so.
This showdown ought to be the sort of thing that Beck eagerly embraces and you can tell that it is causing his extreme consternation not to be able to do so, but he is very concerned about the fact that the anti-government forces that have lined up behind Bundy are issuing threats of violence, which is why he penned an open letter over the weekend saying that he cannot side with them and, instead, calling for people to turn to God:
I do not mean to lecture you or anyone else. I am so far away from a perfect man. In fact I am very much the “dispensable man”, the opposite of the man I am striving to be, but I am working on it. I pour over my scriptures like never before. I rarely am with out them. I read them day and night, in bed, in the car, on the set, and at the dinner table and yet I am a million miles from where The Lord needs his people. For this too, I repent. ”I am sorry Lord for not being ready for your call.” I am one that is finding there is no oil in my lamp.
Never try to create your own miracles. Every time you will fail and make it worse. Moses thought he would make it better when he killed the Egyptian but it only delayed freedom.
I worry about the rancher and his family. The ranchers around him and all around the country. I was blowing the warning trumpets on this kind of usurpation long ago. But any fan of mine knows that I have also said that I will never call for arms with the state of our faith.
I, too, am a rancher but the ultimate rancher is God and we are His flock. I will follow His voice for it is the only one I recognize.
I am sorry, but as all MY real fans know, I believe Ghandi, MLK, Bonhoeffer and Jesus were right. I will follow their example. I know what that means or meant for them.
But I will stand with The Lord.
That message was not well-received on Beck's Facebook page, which prompted him to declare that "those of you calling for violence over this Nevada standoff are not supporters or any kind of long-term fan of mine":
Beck discussed the situation again on his radio program today, saying that he would be speaking with Bundy later in the broadcast and reiterating that he was very disturbed by the violent threats being issued by those who had rallied around Bundy, asserting that God does not support what they are doing and therefore "I will have nothing to do with you":