Texas

John Roberts, Calling Strikes and Strikes

Allowing Texas to enforce a voter ID law found to be intentionally discriminatory suggests the "umpire" takes sides.
PFAW Foundation

Rafael Cruz: Voters Are 'Disobeying God' By Failing To Elect 'Righteous' Politicians

In an interview last month with Religious Right radio host Glenn Pav, Sen. Ted Cruz’s father and frequent campaign surrogate Rafael Cruz warned that God is going to punish evangelical pastors who don’t turn out their congregations to vote for “righteous” candidates.

After discussing how God told him that He would hold pastors accountable for low election turnout among evangelical Christians, Cruz warned that God would fault pastors for their supposed silence on Supreme Court decisions blocking school-sponsored prayer, which he said led to spikes in teen pregnancy and violent crime, and securing abortion rights.

“If the righteous are not voting, if the righteous are not even running for office, what is left is the wicked electing the wicked,” he said. “I mean, it’s our fault. It’s our fault because the people of God are not engaged in the process.”

He lamented that unlike anti-Nazi dissident Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Christians in the U.S. today are “not even speaking out against the evil that is all around us” but are instead “acquiescing because of fear” and “excusing everything because of political correctness.”

Citing a fallacious David Barton story about Congress printing a Bible to use as a school textbook in the early days of the republic, Cruz said America’s downward slide began with the Supreme Court decisions barring government-organized prayer in public schools. “But the travesty, the tragic thing is the Church remained silent after those two decisions,” he said.

“The consequence of that silence was that those two decisions caused, number one, teen pregnancy to skyrocket after 1963, as did violent crime,” he added.

“How long are we going to remain silent?” he asked. “But the more important question, Glenn, is, is God going to hold us accountable for that silence?”

Later in the program, Cruz shared his views on America’s “divinely inspired” founding.

“I am absolutely convinced, Glenn, that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States were divinely inspired documents,” he said. “They were written on the knees of the Framers. These were men of God seeking revelation from God, and that’s what they got.”

He argued that previous governments were set up so that “authority flows from God to the government to the people,” leading to monarchy and tyranny. But at the beginning of America, he said, “God gave them a different model and the model God gave the Framers is authority flows from God to the people to the government.”

“And so with that authority comes the responsibility for We the People to elect righteous leaders. And people in the Church need to understand, if we fail that responsibility to elect righteous leaders, we are disobeying God.”

Ted Cruz: Anti-Gay Civil Disobedience May Be Needed To Resist Alinskyite Democrats

Conservative talk show host Steve Deace has been focusing his program over the last couple weeks on what he calls the “rainbow jihad” of gay rights, in particular the situation in Houston involving a lawsuit filed by Religious Right activists attempting to take down the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance. On his program yesterday, Deace welcomed the self-appointed star of the Houston dust-up, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who told him that pro-equality Democratic lawmakers are waging an Alinsky-inspired plot to silence dissent and that anti-gay conservatives may soon have to resort to civil disobedience.

“The problem is the modern Democratic Party, the professional politician, whether it is Democratic senators in Washington or whether it is the mayor or the city council members in the city of Houston, they have gotten so extreme that their objective is not to win an argument but it is instead to try to silence dissent and to crush and destroy anyone they deem to be their political opponent,” Cruz said.

“You know, Saul Alinsky, who both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton studied carefully, Saul Alinsky said you never want to debate your opponent because it humanizes them,” he continued. “Instead you simply want to silence them. And that is the reality of the modern Democratic party, the elected politicians.”

Later in the interview, Deace asked Cruz if “we are coming to the point” where anti-gay conservatives will have to participate in “organized civil disobedience” like that of the civil rights movement.

“Well, listen, if government tries to silence pastors, if government tries to force believers to violate their faith, it is my hope that believers honor their faith and disregard unjust edicts from government,” Cruz responded.

Beck: Houston Subpoena Flap Is 'More Dangerous Than Anything I Have Ever Seen'

For the time being, Glenn Beck appears to have moved on from his increasingly panic-stricken rants about the threat posed by Ebola and has now turned his attention instead to the situation in which five Houston-area pastors were subpoenaed as part of a lawsuit against the city for rejecting petitions challenging a local anti-discrimination ordinance.

Beck interviewed one of those pastors on his radio program today, during which he declared that this case is the most dangerous thing he has ever seen.

"This is more dangerous to the Republic of Texas than Ebola is," Beck said. "This is more dangerous than anything I have ever seen."

Calling on religious leaders and laypersons from all over America to rise up in opposition to this, Beck said that "this is the most dangerous thing I have seen and we are becoming openly hostile to God. It doesn't end well when a nation like ours does that."

Ted Cruz, the Houston Hype, and the Dishonesty of the Anti-Equality Movement

Conservative religious leaders have a long track record of hyping supposed threats to religious liberty in America  specifically, to the religious liberty of conservative Christians. In fact, portraying Christians as a persecuted minority under siege by anti-freedom LGBT activists and secular humanists has become the right's primary strategy for reversing the advance of equality in America. But even in the long context of crying wolf over threats to religious freedom, Sen. Ted Cruz and his religious right allies have set new records for dishonest hype in their response to this week's controversy over subpoenas sent to a few religious leaders in Houston.

Cruz told the Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody that there is a "real risk" that preachers will be hauled off to jail for preaching against homosexuality, recycling an old and equally ludicrous charge that hate crimes laws would result in pastors being dragged from the pulpit.

Some in the media ridicule that threat saying there is no danger of the government coming after pastors. That is the usual response." But he adds: "The specter of government trying to determine if what pastors preach from the pulpit meets with the policy views or political correctness of the governing authorities, that prospect is real and happening now.

Cruz is lying. And he has lots of company promoting the Houston hype. Todd Starnes of Fox News charged, "There is a war over religious liberty in Houston, Texas." The Family Research Council's Ken Blackwell said it smacked of totalitarianism and said it suggested that it was "a domestic version of the terrorists outside of our country" who think "America is evil." Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, declared, "This is how religious liberty dies."

As exciting as it is to hear the alarm bells and read the hyperventilating emails, the truth is far less dramatic. Sorry, Sen. Cruz, but the government is not policing sermons for political correctness. It's not going to start tossing anti-gay preachers in jail.

So what is the real story?

The immediate cause of the ruckus was a subpoena sent by attorneys for the city of Houston to several pastors who had been active in opposition to the city's new anti-discrimination law. Conservatives ran a signature-gathering campaign to put the law before the voters, but city attorneys ruled that so many of the signatures were not valid that the effort did not qualify for the ballot.

The Alliance Defense Fund, a Religious Right law firm, stepped in and sued the city over that decision. As part of the discovery process in the lawsuit, attorneys for the city sent subpoenas to five prominent pastors asking for sermons and other communications they had about the ordinance, the signature gathering effort, and the controversy over homosexuality and gender identity.

Here's the problem. The subpoena was sent to pastors who are not party to the lawsuit, and it asked for some materials that do not seem directly relevant to the determination of whether signatures were collected in accordance with the law. By giving pundits something to scream about, the subpoena was a gift to Religious Right leaders and their political allies, who thrive on promoting the myth of anti-Christian religious persecution in the U.S. And they have run with it.

On Friday the city narrowed the scope of their discovery request somewhat. And it's entirely possible that a judge will further limit the amount of materials the city can collect in the Religious Right's lawsuit. That's how our legal system works.

It's terribly inconvenient to the Religious Right's narrative that progressive religious leaders are among those who have criticized the Houston attorneys' subpoena. Among those who criticized the city's subpoena as troubling and overly intrusive were supporters of LGBT equality and church-state separation. Baptists of all stripes weighed in. Both progressive religious leaders and atheists publicly agreed. Even the ACLU! So much for the supposed enemies of religious freedom.

Even some religious conservatives have denounced the Houston hype. In reality, the entire episode undermines right-wing claims that religious liberty is hanging by a thread in America. Indeed, it demonstrates that Religious liberty is widely respected as a core constitutional principle and a fundamental American value — by people across the religious landscape and our fractured political spectrum. If only Ted Cruz and his allies were as committed to the constitutional and legal equality of Houston's, and America's, LGBT citizens.

This post originally appeared at the Huffington Post. 

Richard Land: Houston Subpoenas Foretell True LGBT 'Agenda'

In an interview with Newsmax yesterday, former Southern Baptist Convention public policy chief Richard Land reacted to the controversy over subpoenas issued to Houston pastors , warning that the incident is a harbinger of a future shaped by the gay “agenda” in which pastors will be prosecuted under unconstitutional hate speech laws.

“Are you afraid at some point that your sermons are going to have to be dictated?” the Newsmax host asked Land.

“Well, I think that there’s certainly the danger that they’re going to try to make any biblical reference to homosexuality hate speech,” Land responded.

He added: “I think that this is a warning. This is an overreach by a group that, let’s make no mistake about it, their agenda from the beginning has been not only to have their lifestyle tolerated but to have it affirmed and have it paraded before our children as normal and healthy and to marginalize anyone who disagrees with that to the level of being Klansmen. They want to turn us into Klansmen.”

FRC's Ken Blackwell: Houston Pastor Subpoenas Stem From 'Domestic Version Of The Terrorists Outside Our Country'

The Family Research Council’s Ken Blackwell, formerly the secretary of state of Ohio, was a guest on FRC’s “Washington Watch” program yesterday, where the exclusive topic was, of course, the subpoenas of a number of pastors in Houston.

“There are two things throughout human history that welfare states, totalitarian states, utilitarian states have done to maintain their control and to force their worldview on all who are under their governance, and that is they have destroyed the family and they have silenced the church,” Blackwell told guest host Craig James.

The Houston subpoenas, he said, are part of “the big welfare state’s attempt to silence the church, to marginalize the church, to silence Christians so that they can actually concentrate power on reshaping not only their cities, their towns, their states, but also the country.”

He then urged Christians to speak out or else “buy into a domestic version of the terrorists outside of our country” who think “America is evil.”

Conservative Christians must fight back against the “political powers that ride roughshod over us when we relegate ourselves to the sidelines and fall into silence in the face of this sort of abuse of power and cultural attack on what has made us not only the freest country in all of human history, the most prosperous country in all of human history, but has also made us the most diverse country in all of human history,” he said. “So for folks to buy into this ‘blame America first,’ ‘America is evil,’ to buy into a domestic version of the terrorists outside of our country is ridiculous and cannot stand.”

Elsewhere in the program, Blackwell called the subpoenas “a blatant attempt to criminalize Christianity” and alleged that city officials are “engaging in a good, old-fashioned inquisition.”

“Just as the inquisition of old, it wasn’t arrested until good people overtook evil,” he added.

Ted Cruz Agrees Pastors May Soon Be 'Hauled Off to Jail For A Hate Crime'

Sen. Ted Cruz has, unsurprisingly, positioned himself right in the center of the Religious Right’s latest cause celebre, a lawsuit in Houston in which attorneys working for the city subpoenaed materials from local pastors, including copies of their sermons.

City officials have distanced themselves from the subpoenas, issued by pro-bono lawyers defending the city in a dispute over petitions for a referendum to repeal the city’s antidiscrimination ordinance, with Mayor Annise Parker calling their scope “overly broad.” But that hasn’t stopped activists and politicians like Cruz from jumping on the case to claim that all their dire warnings about gay rights leading pastors being thrown in jail are coming true. (An extra element of the case is the fact that Parker is openly gay, which groups like the American Family Association have been quick to note.)

Cruz joined pastors and Religious Right activists at a press conference in Houston yesterday, and in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody today said that all his warnings about the persecution of Christians in America have come to fruition.

When Brody asked Cruz if “we very well soon go through a period where pastors are hauled off to jail for a hate crime because they are speaking for traditional marriage,” Cruz agreed, saying, I think that is a real risk and you and I have both pointed to that risk in the past.”

Jody Hice: Houston Subpoena Flap Is The Anti-Gay Alamo

Georgia Republican congressional candidate Jody Hice devoted his most recent radio commentary to the controversy over subpoena’s served to a number of Houston pastors as part of litigation over the city’s recently enacted nondiscrimination ordinance.

Although city officials have been backing away from the subpoenas, attributing them to overly zealous pro-bono lawyers, the Religious Right has turned the incident into a cause celebre, and Hice is on board, declaring on his radio program that the Houston incident is “the new Alamo” for anti-gay activists.

“This is the battleground now over traditional family,” he said. “And what is going to occur over this development is that we are either going to see this in Houston, Texas, be the beginning of the end of the LGBT assault, if you will, on freedom to practice religion and of traditional family values being rightfully defended, or this is going to be a huge step toward the ultimate collapse of religious liberty in America.”

He warned listeners that if they don’t get involved in Houston, “one day the government is going to be knocking on the door of your pastor.”

“This is the first attempt in this country where we have a widespread attack on pastors in an entire region. And if it is not stopped here, we are in for a serious problem regarding the attacks of religious liberty in this country,” he said.

Earlier in the program, Hice alleged that the subpoenas — which were related to a lawsuit over the validity of petition signatures — were in fact part of a scheme by Houston’s openly lesbian mayor to find sermons that she “might deem to be offensive or whatever” and bring charges against pastors for preaching from the Bible.

“They may be actually trying to bring legal charges against these pastors for sharing with their congregants scriptural passages,” he guessed.

Fifth Circuit's Voter ID Decision Shows the Attitude of Bush's Judges

What is the public interest in enforcing a voting law that was found to have been passed with the intent to discriminate?
PFAW Foundation

Texas Judge Could Teach the Roberts Court a Thing or Two

A Texas federal judge strikes down that state's restrictive voter ID law as intentionally discriminatory.
PFAW Foundation

Anti-Gay Mega-Donor Sean Fieler Is Funding Mark Regnerus' New Think Tank

Last year, University of Texas professor Mark Regnerus — author of a widely panned study on same-sex parenting that is nonetheless frequently cited on the Religious Right — helped launch a new group called the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture, which has since been publishing his research on topics including pre-marital sex, divorce, religion among college students and masturbation.

According to tax records filed this summer, the Austin Institute receives much of its funding from one donor: New York hedge fund honcho and social conservative mega-donor Sean Fieler.

The 2013 tax return for Fieler’s Chiaroscuro Foundation reports two grants to the Austin Institute, totaling $250,000. Although the public copy of Chiaroscuro’s tax return obscures the dates of its fiscal year, the organization’s 2010 return indicates that its tax year runs from January through December.

Meanwhile, the Austin Institute’s return reports that it took in just $205,000 in contributions between February and June 2013, indicating that a significant portion of its initial funding came from Fieler’s charity.

Fieler’s funding of the Austin Institute shouldn’t come as a surprise. To begin with, he is a trustee of the Witherspoon Institute, the Princeton-based think tank that kicked in $700,000 for Regnerus’ now infamous “New Family Structures” study. The study claimed to show that children raised by gay and lesbian parents suffer all sorts of harmful consequences like drug use and abuse, despite only actually studying two people raised by same-sex couples.

According to the Austin Chronicle, the new group was quickly dubbed “Witherspoon Institute South” — a name stemming from its staff’s plentiful ties to the Witherspoon Institute and the Religious Right.

The Austin Institute grants were among the biggest expenditures last year by Fielder’s Chiaroscuro Foundation, many of which went to groups fighting marriage equality and abortion rights. This year, recipients include Americans United for Life ($20,000), the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty ($260,000), the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), which fights pro-choice and LGBT rights initiatives at the U.N. ($20,000), the National Abstinence Education Foundation ($50,000) and the Susan B. Anthony List ($40,000). As ThinkProgress noted yesterday, Fieler’s foundation also gave $50,000 last year to Morality in Media for its increasingly quixotic anti-porn campaign.

In 2012, the foundation gave $20,000 to the National Organization for Marriage, but seems to have snubbed the group in 2013.

The Chiaroscuro Foundation is just the beginning of Fieler’s influence: Last month, RH Reality Check delved in detail into Fieler’s political spending, including his funding of the American Principles Project and his hand in political races across the country.

While Regnerus’ research at the Austin Institute has so far made less of a splash than his faulty same-sex parenting study, he has continued to lend his voice to the effort to stop marriage equality, including testifying on behalf of a same-sex marriage ban in Michigan this year. (That move caused some of his UT colleagues to distance themselves from his work.)

The Austin Institute’s most noticeable contribution so far is a viral YouTube video applying a pop-economics veneer to the Religious Right’s favorite target, the sexual revolution. The video explains (in economic terms, of course) how contraception led to women turning against each other while men became video-game playing slobs — the only solution to which is for women to band together to withhold sex until marriage.

And the Austin Institute seems primed to provide more research to conveniently reinforce the Religious Right’s policy views — a solid investment for a donor like Fieler.

UPDATE: A reader points out that the Bradley Foundation, a conservative group that includes the Witherspoon Institute's Robert George on its board and that also helped to fund Regnerus' "New Family Structures" study, also reported a $100,000 grant to the Austin Institute last year.

Look Who Wants To Amend The Constitution Now: Ted Cruz Wants States' Rights Amendment on Marriage

Sen. Ted Cruz has spent the past several months railing against a proposed constitutional amendment to undo the Supreme Court’s decisions in Citizens United and related campaign-finance cases, which would restore to Congress and the states the ability to “set reasonable limits” on election spending.

Cruz has gone into full hyperbole mode over the amendment, claiming that the campaign to narrowly roll back what many legal experts believe is an erroneous interpretation of the First Amendment is in fact an effort to “repeal the First Amendment,silence pastors and imprison old ladies.

So, of course, it was no surprise at all yesterday to see Cruz himself proposing to amend the Constitution to reverse what he sees as an erroneous interpretation by the courts, this time on the issue of marriage. Roll Call reported on Cruz’s reaction to the Supreme Court’s "tragic" decision yesterday to decline hearing any marriage equality appeals, thus letting same-sex couples in several states get married:

While most Republicans shied away from commenting Monday on the Supreme Court’s historic decision to let stand a slew of lower court rulings legalizing gay marriage, Sen. Ted Cruz torched the court’s decision.

The Texas Republican called the decision “tragic and indefensible” and said he would introduce a constitutional amendment that would ensure states can ban gay marriage.

“By refusing to rule if the States can define marriage, the Supreme Court is abdicating its duty to uphold the Constitution. The fact that the Supreme Court Justices, without providing any explanation whatsoever, have permitted lower courts to strike down so many state marriage laws is astonishing,” he said in a statement.

“It is beyond dispute that when the 14th Amendment was adopted 146 years ago, as a necessary post-Civil War era reform, it was not imagined to also mandate same-sex marriage, but that is what the Supreme Court is implying today. The Court is making the preposterous assumption that the People of the United States somehow silently redefined marriage in 1868 when they ratified the 14th Amendment,” he said.

“Nothing in the text, logic, structure, or original understanding of the 14th Amendment or any other constitutional provision authorizes judges to redefine marriage for the Nation. It is for the elected representatives of the People to make the laws of marriage, acting on the basis of their own constitutional authority, and protecting it, if necessary, from usurpation by the courts.”

For the record, here is the section of the 14th Amendment that courts have been relying on to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Texas Supreme Court Justice: 'The Church Has Gone To Sleep' And Let Progressives Rule 'Every Facet of Government'

Texas Supreme Court Justice John Devine joined the “Faith & Liberty” program recently to discuss his originalist judicial philosophy, which he said reflects the “intent of the founders,” unlike that of the progressives who now — thanks to the negligence of the church — control “the White House and almost every facet of government.”

“How do you react when you hear the Constitution as a living and breathing document?” host Dave Garrison asked Devine.

“Well, it’s just not what the intent of the Founding Fathers was,” Devine replied. “It’s like the Ten Commandments, if we would just stick to those basic principles our nation would be far better off and we would once again be the light on the hill. And unfortunately, the church has gone to sleep, many Americans have gone to sleep and we have allowed those with these progressive ideas to have the White House and almost every facet of government.”

Texas GOPer Hints Of War At Border To Stop Immigrants From Taking 'Free Stuff'

Earlier this month, the Texas Observer dug up video of a speech given by Texas Republican state House candidate Tony Tinderholt — a Tea Party favorite who is expected to win and has received campaign help from Sen. Ted Cruz — sounding off about immigration at a July meeting.

Tinderholt said that “we are being thieved” by undocumented immigrants who are “taking the lifeblood of our country.” He conceded that immigrants want a better life, “but that better life for them is free stuff.”

He then suggested that the U.S. deploy the military to the southern border, starting a conflict in which “people are going to die.”

Watch the full video of Tinderholt’s remarks at the Texas Observer.

Ted Cruz Raises Money For Ted Cruz With Anti-Immigration Reform Campaign

Sen. Ted Cruz is out with a new effort today opposing President Obama’s possible executive action preventing the deportation of many undocumented immigrants living in the U.S…and in the process is raising money and collecting email addresses for Sen. Ted Cruz.

In a new website and online video, Cruz incorrectly links the crisis of unaccompanied minors at the southern border with Obama’s executive order deferring deportation for DREAMers. A voiceover in the online video says, “we cannot hope to address the crisis on the border without first addressing the fundamental cause of it,” before showing a still shot of someone climbing over the border fence.

But luckily, Cruz is here to save the day! “Senator Ted Cruz is leading the fight to secure the border, stop Obama’s amnesty and celebrate legal immigration,” he voiceover says.

The website, “StopObamasAmnesty.com,” then leads visitors to give Cruz’s fundraisers their email addresses and to donate to Cruz’s joint fundraising committee. The committee has raised over $4 million so far in this election cycle, much of it during the government shutdown that he orchestrated.

This summer, Cruz successfully lobbied a number of GOP House members to block a bill to handle the crisis of unaccompanied minors on the border. So, once again, Cruz is fundraising off a problem that he personally prevented the government from trying to solve.

h/t Center for New Community

Proposed Texas Textbooks Channel David Barton, Attribute US Government To Moses

Four years ago, the Texas State Board of Education made national headlines when it worked with Religious Right activists like David Barton to create a set of new textbook standards that played up the role of Christianity in the nation’s founding and played down the role of slavery in the Civil War, among other questionable changes.

According to our friends at the Texas Freedom Network , a new set of social studies textbooks up for approval from the state school board contain many flaws that “reflect the ideological beliefs of politicians on the state board rather than sound scholarship and factual history.”

TFN convened a panel of historians to review proposed textbooks and found that a number of the board’s faulty claims had been absorbed into proposed textbooks. For instance, a number of books followed the board’s advice in making vague claims about Moses as a direct influence on the framers of the Constitution — a claim straight out of David Barton’s pseudo-scholarship.

The material presented in these textbooks on this issue seems to have been determined more by political concerns than considerations of good scholarship. On the one hand, the decisions of these textbooks seem to have been strongly influenced by the suggestions and requirements of the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE). For instance, that the Texas SBOE suggested in the 2009-2010 debate over curriculum standards that Moses influenced the writing of the nation’s founding documents and that several textbooks mention Moses’ influence on the Founders seems to be no coincidence. On the other hand, the frequently vague nature of the textbooks’ statements about the influence of Moses and other religious ideas and figures on the Founders seems to indicate that the publishers did not want to be held accountable by scholars are those critical of SBOE’s standards. Unfortunately, the result of this at once overly controversial and overly careful strategy is the failure to provide students with an understanding of the influence of religion on our Founders that rests on sound scholarship and captures the diversity of the Founders’ views. These textbooks too often settle for giving students vague impressions about the Founders and religion while denying them the crucial information necessary to evaluate these claims. The SBOE and these textbooks have collaborated to make students’’ knowledge of American history a casualty of the culture wars.

Other concerns that TFN’s reviewers found in the textbooks include:

  • Some textbooks greatly exaggerate religious influences on the American founding, with some going so far as to suggest without substantiation that Moses was a major influence, that “the roots of democratic government” can be found in the Old Testament, and that “the biblical idea of a covenant … contributed to our constitutional structure.”
  • While the textbooks largely make clear that slavery was the central cause of the Civil War, some give nods to neo-Confederate arguments first promoted after the war that “states’ rights” was the driving issue. Some also downplay the serious hardships faced by African Americans during segregation.
  • Some textbooks reinforce negative stereotypes of Islam as a violent religion spread exclusively by conquest. One tells students, inaccurately, that “the spread of international terrorism is an outgrowth of Islamic fundamentalism,” ignoring the numerous examples of terrorism not related to Islam at all.
  • Some textbooks suffer from an incomplete and at times inaccurate coverage of religions other than Christianity. For example, one textbook teaches students, inaccurately, that all Hindus are vegetarians. On other hand, coverage of key Christian concepts and historical events are lacking in a few textbooks, often apparently due to the presumption that all students are Christians and already familiar with that information.
  • Reflecting concerns already noted about the curriculum standards by the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a number of textbooks present an uncritical celebration of the free enterprise system. They downplay or even ignore legitimate problems in capitalism and the role government played in the growth of the American economy of the 1800s.
  • A number of U.S. History textbooks suffer from a general lack of attention to the experiences of Native American peoples and cultures and sometimes include biased or misleading information.
    One textbook includes a biased even offensive treatment critical of affirmative action, including cartoons that jokingly suggest space aliens would qualify.
  • Most textbooks offer scant coverage of the movement for LGBT equality, one of the salient civil rights struggles of the last half-century. One publisher links the gay rights movement of the late 1960s to society “spinning out of control.”

No, Ted Cruz, The #GetMoneyOut Amendment Wouldn't Censor SNL

Cross-posted from PFAW's blog.

Sen. Ted Cruz has been known to make some pretty outlandish comments about the Democracy for All Amendment, a proposed constitutional amendment being debated in the Senate which would overturn decisions like Citizens United, but his latest may take the cake. “Lorne Michaels [of Saturday Night Live] could be put in jail under this amendment for making fun of any politician,” Sen. Ted Cruz claimed on the floor of the Senate this week.

Luckily, a number of more grounded voices were able to set the record straight about Cruz’s wild and inaccurate remark. Last night, CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin said:

I think [Cruz] is wrong… This amendment is simply about restoring the old status quo about campaign contributions… I think his point…really has very little, if anything, to do with the constitutional amendment that the Senate is debating.

Amendment sponsor Sen. Tom Udall clarified that “[n]othing in the amendment would permit the arrest of anyone for engaging in political speech,” and pointed out that the proposal intends to bring the country’s campaign finance rules back to what they were in 1975, when Saturday Night Live began.

Other responders were a little more fiery, including former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson, who on Monday published an op-ed with Sen. Udall in support of the Democracy for All Amendment. Simpson called Cruz’s remarks about Saturday Night Live “outrageous,” and urged Sen. Cruz to “read the damn amendment. That would be a wonderful thing.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders also joined the conversation on The Ed Show last night, noting that Sen. Cruz “sounds like he is on Saturday Night Live. It’s a very funny skit.” He pointed out that “Citizens United is a little over four years old; Saturday Night Live has been on the air for decades. And I don’t recall too many people on Saturday Night Live going to jail for making fun of politicians.” Sen. Sanders added that it’s a “preposterous argument” and “just another scare tactic.”

Indeed, as Sen. Udall said in a speech on the Senate floor yesterday, quoting People For the American Way President Michael Keegan:

‘A good rule of thumb in politics is that the scarier someone sounds, the more you should doubt what they’re saying.’ We heard some scary things in the last couple of days. Lorne Michaels is going to jail. And he’s sharing a cell with the little old lady who put up a $5 dollar political yard sign. Books and movies are banned. The NAACP, Sierra Club, and Moveon.org have been prohibited from speaking about politics. Scary stuff. But none of it is true. [emphasis added]

Here’s what is true: the proposed amendment is supported by 73 percent of voters, including a growing body of grassroots activists who have pushed for hundreds of state and local resolutions and who are making senators’ phones ring off the hook this week with thousands of calls expressing their support for fixing our democracy.

So if the best that amendment opponents like Sen. Cruz can do is to push wild-eyed myths about comedic producers being thrown in jail, it’s clear that the American people are winning this fight.
 

Louie Gohmert Reminds America 'It's Not Just Foreign People That Have Dreams'

In an appearance on the radio show “Point of View” last week, Rep. Louie Gohmert took issue with the use of the term “DREAMers” to refer to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children.

“People here need to understand, it’s not just foreign people that have dreams,” Gohmert said. “They say, ‘Oh, they’re the DREAMers.’ We’ve got children of our own that have dreams that will never be realized.”

Gohmert went on to compare the thousands of Central American children who have come to the southern border of the U.S. after fleeing drug-related violence in their home countries to North Korean defectors, who he said make a “good neighbor” by comparison.

“And I mentioned that I’ve met with North Koreans before, children and people that they want their families to be free,” he said. “But they’re not asking us to bring millions of people over from Korea. They’re saying, help us make our own country safer. That would be a good neighbor.”

Of course, while very few North Korean refugees have made it to the United States, there are tens of thousands living in neighboring China, which has built a fence along its North Korean border.

A New Reason to Confirm Texas Judicial Nominees This Fall

Yet another of Texas's federal court vacancies has officially been designated a judicial emergency.
PFAW
Share this page: Facebook Twitter Digg SU Digg Delicious