Texas

Glenn Beck Can Barely Contain Himself At The Idea Of 'Senator David Barton'

A few weeks ago, Glenn Beck set out on a mission to convince Rep. Louie Gohmert to launch a primary challenge to Sen. John Cornyn; an endeavor that Gohmert was clearly reluctant to undertake.

But now Beck has moved on, predicting that Gohmert will remain in the House where he will run for Speaker, which leaves open the position of primary challenger to Cornyn.  So who does Beck want to see fill that slot?  None other than his best friend David Barton.

"Senator David Barton," Beck just kept repeating on his radio program today, unable to keep the elated smile off of his face just thinking about it:

Texas Voter ID Law Disenfranchises Women Who Have Changed Their Names

In June, the Supreme Court struck down the key enforcement mechanism of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which mandated Justice Department review of election law changes in states and counties with a history of voting discrimination.

The state of Texas responded almost immediately by going ahead with an arduous photo ID requirement that had until the Supreme Court’s decision been blocked by federal courts.

As the Justice Department and voting rights advocates feared, Texas’ law, which went into effect on Monday, is already keeping qualified people from registering to vote. So far, only 41 of the 1.4 million people who lack an eligible voter ID have obtained a substitute “election identification certificate.” But the new requirement isn’t just preventing people who don’t have certain forms of ID from registering to vote – it’s also threatening to disenfranchise women who changed their names when they married.

Policy Mic notes that the Texas law “requires all voters to provide a photo ID that reflects their current name. If they cannot, voters must provide any of a series of other acceptable forms of identification all of which must match exactly and match the name on their birth certificate." This presents a problem for the 34 percent of women who lack an ID that shows their current name, including those who changed their names when they married:

In fact, only 66% of women have an ID that reflects their current name. If any voter is using name different than what appears on their birth certificate, the voter is required to show proof of name change by providing an original or certified copy of their marriage license, divorce decree, or court ordered name change. Photocopies aren’t accepted.

Now ask a woman who’s been married for years where her original marriage certificate is. Ask a woman who’s been divorced — maybe more than once — where all the divorce decrees are. Ask elderly women where their original birth certificate is.

Today, Think Progress reports on one Texas woman caught in this trap: a state district court judge who has been voting for nearly 50 years but whose registration was almost blocked because her drivers’ license lists her maiden name as her middle name, while her voter registration form did not:

As she told local channel Kiii News, 117th District Court Judge Sandra Watts was flagged for possible voter fraud because her driver’s license lists her maiden name as her middle name, while her voter registration form has her real middle name. This was the first time she has ever had a problem voting in 49 years. “What I have used for voter registration and for identification for the last 52 years was not sufficient yesterday when I went to vote,” she said.

Watts worried that women who use maiden names or hyphenated names may be surprised at the polls. “I don’t think most women know that this is going to create a problem,” the judge said. “That their maiden name is on their driver’s license, which was mandated in 1964 when I got married, and this. And so why would I want to use a provisional ballot when I’ve been voting regular ballot for the last 49 years?"

The Justice Department is currently suing Texas over the law  and asking a federal court to require preclearance in the future, under a section of the Voting Rights Act not affected by its recent ruling.

PFAW

Houston Chronicle’s Buyer's Remorse Over Ted Cruz Endorsement

Even the conservative Houston Chronicle thinks Cruz has gone too far.
PFAW

Texas School Board Chair Hails Creationist Dietitian And Businessman As Biology Experts

At a Texas State Board of Education meeting last month, the Republican head of the school board defended the qualifications of a biology textbook review panelist who said that “creation science based on biblical principles should be incorporated into every biology book that is up for adoption.”

SBOE chair Barbara Cargill defended the panelist, who is not a biologist but… a dietitian. Cargill defended another Creationism advocate on the panel, a businessman, because he has a degree in chemical engineering, saying that not enough biology teachers wanted to serve on the panel reviewing textbooks.

“They might be well-qualified in their own professional fields, but they are no more qualified to review biology textbooks than a biologist would be qualified to review a mathematics or engineering textbook,” Dan Quinn of the Texas Freedom Network points out.

He also notes that Cargill’s claim that teachers didn’t step up to serve on the panels is baloney, as 140 of the 183 of the “individuals who applied or were nominated by State Board of Education members to serve as biology textbook reviewers” were educators, and the “vast majority of them have degrees and teaching experience specifically in biology.”

“Some of them are among the 28 individuals appointed as biology textbook reviewers. But all of the others were passed over for the dietician, business and finance professionals, and various chemical, mechanical, systems and civil engineers who used their positions on the review teams to promote completely discredited junk science attacking evolution (or simply to call for teaching “creation science based on biblical principles” in biology textbooks).”

GOP Official Who Backs White Supremacist And Violent Groups Wants To Be Next Texas Attorney General

A Republican official who is running to be Texas’ next attorney general has defended white supremacists, Mormon fundamentalists and a militant Jewish group that plotted the assassination of a US congressman, the Texas Observer has found.

The Texas Observer reports that Texas Railroad Commission chairman Barry Smitherman penned a letter to his daughter’s school last year criticizing them for using literature from the Southern Poverty Law Center in a lesson on intolerance in conjunction with the book “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

In the letter, Smitherman accused the SPLC of “intolerance” specifically because of its opposition to the Crusaders for Yahweh, the Jewish Defense League, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), Border Guardians and the Oath Keepers. So who are these innocent, patriotic groups?

  • Crusaders for Yahweh, officially known as the Crusaders For Yahweh-Aryan Nations, is a neo-Nazi group that advocates “pro-white Christian identity [and] white nationalism.” Its founder Paul Mullet has criticized the “Jewish media,” called Obama “the Antichrist,” and railed against “nigger behavior.” CrusadersForYahweh.org redirects to a Ku Klux Klan website. 

Here’s Smitherman’s letter, courtesy of Forrest Wilder:

This is Barry Smitherman, [name omitted]’s dad. I am presently helping [name omitted] with this project. While I’m incredibly supportive of reading and analyzing “To Kill a Mockingbird,” an American Classic set in the early part of the 20th century in the rural south, I’m troubled by the “Us and Them” study material provided by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). “To Kill a Mockingbird” not only shows us the tragedy of the Jim Crow south of 60 years ago, played out horribly in the conviction of Tom Robinson for a rape that he didn’t commit, the book also highlights the strength and integrity of Atticus Finch, some of the townspeople of Maycomb, and even apparently a few of the jury members who struggled with their verdict. At the conclusion of the book, Harper Lee has given us hope that the South is moving away from discrimination based upon skin color and toward judging a man (or woman), as Dr. King would say, “not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center, however, has a more radical view of racism, hate, and intolerance. A quick review of their website shows that the SPLC considers many patriot, mormon, and judeo-christian religious groups across America, including some in Texas, to be hate groups. For example, the group “Crusaders for Yahweh” is labeled by the SPLC to be a “Christian identity” group and is placed on the SPLC’s national “hate map.” The same with the “Evangelical Latter Day Saints” (mormons), the Jewish Defense League, which SPLC calls “anti-Arab”, and the Border Guardians, which is labeled by the SPLC as “anti-immigration.” Equally disturbing, the SPLC calls out groups like “We the People”, “patriots”, The “Constitution Party,” and “oath keepers” as groups which subscribe to unfounded conspiracy theories and are “opposed to one world order”.

I identify myself as a Christian and find it intolerant for the SPLC to label me as intolerant. Same with many of the patriot groups that have organized in Texas over the last several years. I personally know members of these groups and they are focused not on racism, but on balancing the federal budget and reducing or eliminating our $16 trillion national debt.

Perhaps you are unaware of the tenants of the SPLC; I encourage you to research it thoroughly during this exercise and to explain to your students that SPLC, which allegedly fights intolerance, is itself often intolerant. Thanks for your consideration of this issue. Barry

Glenn Beck Tries To Convince Louie Gohmert That God Wants Him To Run For Senate

For several days now, Glenn Beck has been leading a campaign to convince Rep. Louie Gohmert to launch a primary challenge against Republican Senator John Cornyn in Texas. Today, Gohmert called into Beck's radio program where Beck told Gohmert that he had been praying on the question and the answer that he heard from God is that Gohmert should run.

Ghomert demurred, saying that he'd need to raise millions of dollars to launch such a challenge, which prompted Beck to tell him that he should not worry about that since God will provide all the funding he would need because "we live in a time of miracles."

"You are the guy," Beck assured him. "As long as we're on God's side, who could stand against us?"

Glenn Beck Vows To Camp Outside Of Louie Gohmert's House Until He Agrees To Run For US Senate

Last week, Glenn Beck became very excited over the idea that Congressman Louie Gohmert would launch a primary challenge against Republican Senator John Cornyn in Texas and today he announced on his radio program that he will be camping outside of Gohmert's house if necessary in order to make his fantasy come true.

"Last night, I made up my mind," Beck declared. "I am going to camp outside of Louie Gohmert's house if I have to, and I mean it.  I am going to be Louie Gohmert's worst nightmare until he says 'yes, I'm going to run for Senate."

Beck went on to call upon his listening audience to take over the various government institutions in their respective hometowns in order to "make sure there is not a single progressive that is running our towns, there's not a single progressive on our city councils, there's not a single progressive in our school boards ... Zero tolerance!"

Robertson: San Antonio Will Put Christians In Jail Over Anti-Discrimination Policy

Pat Robertson and his Christian Broadcasting Network filed a report today that falsely claimed that having a “biblical view” on sexuality has been “criminalized” in San Antonio, Texas. Robertson said San Antonio “has gone off the rails” by adopting a non-discrimination ordinance [PDF] which includes protections for sexual orientation and gender identity, and claimed that the new law would lead to Christians being thrown in prison: “This means that if you speak out about your deeply held religious beliefs they will put you in jail or brand you some kind of a class 3 felon.”

“This whole thing is outrageous and that city council should be replaced,” Robertson charged.

The segment quoted Christian Right activists arguing that gay people are seeking “special rights” while taking away the rights to religious freedom and speech of Christians. CBN reporter Heather Sells even said the new policy “criminalizes those with a biblical view of sexuality.”

Of course, the ordinance neither curtails free speech nor bars anti-LGBT politicians from servicing in office.

And no Pat Robertson, it does not put Christians in jail or turn them into felons.

Watch highlights here:

Former Texas School Board Chairman Gives Bizarre Speech Claiming Biology Books Disprove Evolution

Yesterday afternoon, the Texas State Board of Education held its first hearing on whether to require new high school biology textbooks to teach creationism alongside evolution. One member of the panel appointed by the Texas Education Agency to review potential textbooks –few of whom were actual biologists--  concluded by recommending that high school biology texts be rooted in “bibilical principles.”

Yesterday, People For the American Way sent a letter to the board urging them to reject attempts to inject creationism into science classes. PFAW also joined with the Texas Freedom Network and other groups to deliver 300,000 petitions urging the board to stand up for science.

While most of those who showed up to testify at the hearing supported teaching evolution– our friends at  TFN documented many of these on their great live blog of the proceedings – there were some notable exceptions.

One of the first people to speak was Don McLeroy, a former chairman of the State Board of Education who was prominently featured in the documentary The Revisionaries. While most people were allowed just two minutes to speak, the board let McLeroy go on for over ten minutes in a bizarre speech in which he argued that the current textbooks teaching evolution should be approved because their evidence is so “weak” that children will realize that the theory of evolution is just “words” and a “just so story," and thereby strikes a "final blow" to the theory.
 

People For the American Way Urges Texas State Board of Education To Reject Religious Doctrine in Science Textbooks

WASHINGTON – Today, People For the American Way President Michael Keegan sent a letter to Texas State Board of Education members urging them to reject attempts to pressure textbook companies to include the doctrine of creationism in public high school biology textbooks.

People For the American Way also joined with the Texas Freedom Network, the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, and CREDO Action in delivering nearly 300,000 petitions to the Board of Education before at its hearing on new textbooks today.

“Teaching creationism in public schools isn’t just unconstitutional: It also cheats Texas kids of the science education they need to compete in the world economy,” Keegan said. “The job of the Texas State Board of Education is to ensure that Texas students receive the best education possible, not to inject politics and religious doctrine into the classroom.”

As the Texas Freedom Network and People For the American Way’s Right Wing Watch have reported, members of the review panel appointed by the Texas Education Agency to review high school biology textbooks have urged the Board of Education to pressure textbook companies to include “creation science based on biblical principles” in science books.  In 1987, the Supreme Court found that requiring the teaching of creationism in public school science classes is unconstitutional.

The full text of People For the American Way’s letter is below:


State Board of Education
1701 N. Congress Avenue
Austin, Texas, 78701

September 17, 2013

Dear Members of the Texas State Board of Education:

On behalf of People For the American Way’s 76,590 Texas members and activists, we urge you to reject attempts to pressure textbook companies to include religiously based and politically biased information in high school biology textbooks.

Recent reports by the Texas Freedom Network indicate that the majority of panelists the Texas Education Agency chose to review high school biology texts for the state do not possess post-secondary education in biological science and that many do not have any expertise in biology at all. These panelists, instead of preparing Texas students to compete in the biological sciences, have instead demanded that biology textbooks used in public schools incorporate “biblical principles” and undermine the foundational theory of evolution.

These demands run counter to the Supreme Court’s 1987 decision in Edwards v. Aguillard, which found that requirements that public schools teach creationism in science classes present a clear violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. These efforts also undermine the ability of Texas public schools to prepare students to compete in the field of biological sciences.

Our public schools must be dedicated to providing a world-class education and equal opportunity to all children, regardless of their religious backgrounds.

We urge you to reject attempts to insert political bias and religious teachings into biology textbooks used in public schools. In addition, we hope that future textbook reviews will be conducted by those with expertise in the relevant fields.

Sincerely,


Michael Keegan
President, People For the American Way


###

Tell the Texas State Board of Education that science belongs in science textbooks, not religion.

Tell the TX State Board of Education: Creationism is religion and doesn't belong in a science textbook -- science does.

Texas Textbook Reviewer Sheds Light On Creationist Efforts To Undercut Science Education

In a letter sent to the State Board of Education, Jimmy Gollihar of the University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Systems and Synthetic Biology describes the lengths to which creationists are going to undermine science and advance Creationism in Texas classrooms, as well as the help they are receiving from board chair Barbara Cargill.

While the panels reviewing science textbooks are supposed to be independent of the school board, Cargill worked closely with creationism advocates on the panels, leading Gollihar to note that Cargill aided “those who might reasonably be regarded as creationists.”

Gollihar’s letter details how the creationists who are serving on the panel not only lack any credentials but seem not to understand basic science, such as the one panelist, a dietician, who demanded that biology textbooks incorporate “creation science based on biblical principles.”

“With such a gross misunderstanding of science, it is hard to fathom that any other comments the reviewer made would have been helpful or even accurate, and it further underscores the unfortunate skewing of the panels away from real, practicing scientists,” Gollihar writes.

As Dan Quinn of the Texas Freedom Network points out, Gollihar’s name was even added to the anti-evolution panelist’s comment.

“The net result of having a huge raft of non-scientists on the panels was that rather than checking for factual errors in the texts I was put into the position of having to painstakingly educate other panel members on past and current literature,” Gollihar continues. “[E]ven beyond the obviously ideologically-derived comments on the materials many of the comments found littered throughout those reviews make no sense whatsoever from a scientific viewpoint.”

He notes that actual biologists are being sidelined in the process as he was “among a small minority of panelists that possessed any post-secondary education in the biological sciences.”

By stacking the panels with advocates of Creationism, the bodies did “not in any way reflect the distribution of viewpoints within the scientific community.”

First, it would seem that the selection process for reviewers is lacking, at best — politically motivated at worst. Coming into the live review session in Austin, I fully expected that as a doctoral student at the University of Texas at Austin I would be the least-qualified member on the panel. My fears of inadequacy would soon subside; it seems that I was in fact one of only two practicing scientists present; indeed, I was among a small minority of panelists that possessed any post-secondary education in the biological sciences. Given the high interest amongst the scientific community in improving science education in Texas, I doubt that the make-up of the panel reflected the application pool in any way.

In fact, I know that several of my colleagues who hold PhD or equivalent degrees in their respective fields were passed over in the selection process. Instead, we had several well-known creationists and even a Fellow of the Discovery Institute, an Intelligent Design think tank. Beyond the established creationists, apologists for “creation science” were scattered throughout each of the review teams. This does not in any way reflect the distribution of viewpoints within the scientific community. It is impossible to conclude that the teams reviewing textbooks were anything other than grossly skewed and obviously biased.

The net result of having a huge raft of non-scientists on the panels was that rather than checking for factual errors in the texts I was put into the position of having to painstakingly educate other panel members on past and current literature. Somewhat unsurprisingly, a reviewer from another table, who is also a well-known creationist without any training in biology, was quite proud that he was the one reviewing the sections on evolution for his table … with no scientific counterpoint to be had. As a result, even beyond the obviously ideologically-derived comments on the materials many of the comments found littered throughout those reviews make no sense whatsoever from a scientific viewpoint and are absolutely not germane to the content prescribed in the TEKS [Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills].

Secondly, I and other members of my group grew increasingly concerned with both the actions and presence of Chairwoman Barbara Cargill during the review of course materials for high school biology. We appreciated her kind words about our service to the state, but we were taken aback by the sheer amount of time spent with other panel members, especially those who might reasonably be regarded as creationists. From our vantage, Ms. Cargill was clearly trying to steer the independent review process by providing specific guidance and direction to the two other teams. She appeared to be pointing to specific locations within certain texts and encouraging the members of the panel to recommend changes to the publishers. It is our understanding that the review process should be absent of any undue influence from SBOE members.

...

Finally, I have recently been made aware that a reviewer from another team made what appears to be a grossly misrepresentative comment to the publisher. For example, in the review of the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt textbook, an incredible resource, a panel member comments:

I understand the National Academy of Science's strong support of the theory of evolution. At the same time, this is a theory. As an educator and parent, I feel very strongly that "creation science" based on Biblical principles should be incorporated to every Biology book that is up for adoption. It is very important for students to use critical thinking skills and give them the opportunity to weigh the evidence between evolution and "creation science."

This is disturbing for a number of reasons. The author of this comment has obviously not mastered the material contained within the TEKS, especially 2C. With such a gross misunderstanding of science, it is hard to fathom that any other comments the reviewer made would have been helpful or even accurate, and it further underscores the unfortunate skewing of the panels away from real, practicing scientists. Moreover, while I entered into this process hoping to improve it, I now find that my name appears on the final document containing this comment! At no time did I ever sign anything resembling such nonsense. In fact, the author of that comment and I never worked on anything together. I do not know how this inaccurate statement and my name have been paired, but because I am a professional in good standing I strongly ask you to please remove my name from anything that does not have my direct signature when providing materials to the public. To do otherwise is to potentially sully my reputation. In sum, the review process is either broken or corrupt.

In hopes of the former, let’s learn from this and ensure that the next generation of students from our state is equipped with a solid foundation in the biological sciences and can compete globally. Future panel members should be experts in the irrespective fields, preferably practicing scientists up to date on the modern information that students need. If necessary, it might be useful to partition the TEKS to academics and professionals who deal with these topics in their work and research. We should absolutely not see network, mechanical or chemical engineers, dieticians or others making decisions or pressuring publishers to change books on biology. Let biologists do biology. We’re actually pretty good at it.

Texas Conservatives Demand Science Textbooks Incorporate 'Creation Science Based On Biblical Principles'

Creationists advising the Texas Education Agency, the state’s board of education, are no longer even trying to hide the fact that they want to insert pseudo-scientific material grounded in religious beliefs into public school science textbooks. Terrence Stutz of the Dallas Morning News reports that evolution detractors appointed to the review boards are urging the textbook publishers to ignore the Supreme Court (along with science) and push Creationism, or be rejected.

One of the panelists reviewing the biology textbooks, a nutritionist, said that “creation science based on biblical principles should be incorporated into every biology book that is up for adoption.”

Religious conservatives serving on state textbook review panels have criticized several proposed high school biology textbooks for not including arguments against Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

The review panels include several creationists. They urge the State Board of Education to reject the books unless publishers include more disclaimers on key concepts of evolution.

One reviewer even suggested a rule requiring that each biology book cover “creation science.” That would run counter to a 1987 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. The decision banned the teaching of creationism in public school science classes.



“I understand the National Academy of Science’s strong support of the theory of evolution,” said Texas A&M University nutritionist Karen Beathard, one of the biology textbook reviewers. “At the same time, this is a theory. As an educator, parent and grandparent, I feel very firmly that creation science based on biblical principles should be incorporated into every biology book that is up for adoption.”

“Now the veil is dropped,” Dan Quinn of the Texas Freedom Network writes. “Some of the reviewers are clearly oblivious to the fact that teaching religious arguments in a science classroom is blatantly unconstitutional.”

The National Center for Science Education and Texas Freedom Network found that the Creationists on the textbook review boards have also:

• asserted that "no transitional fossils have been discovered"

• insisted that there is no evidence for a human influence on the carbon cycle

• claimed that there is no evidence about the effect of climate change on species diversity

• promoted a book touting "intelligent design" creationism as a reliable source of scientific information

• denied that recombination and genetic drift are evolutionary mechanisms

• mischaracterized experiments on the peppered moth as "discredited" and as "fabrication[s]"

Due to the size of the Texas market, textbooks tailored to the state’s standards could be used across the country, making the ramifications of the Creationist influence even greater.

Texas Voter ID Law Would Have Prevented Just Four Instances of Voter Fraud

We’re already well aware that the voter ID laws that have been passed in many states are designed not to prevent fraud but to deter certain groups of people from voting, as several Republicans have admitted in the past. But even without those accidental moments of honesty, it would be clear that something other than an epidemic of voter fraud was motivating the passage of these laws, because there is nothing close to an epidemic of voter fraud.

Today, we have some new evidence of that. Wayne Slater of the Dallas Morning News reviewed the 66 voter fraud cases prosecuted by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott since 2004 and found that just four cases would have been prevented by the state’s voter ID law. The law was passed in 2011 and blocked by a unanimous three-judge panel of federal judges until this spring, when the Supreme Court gutted the key enforcement provision of the Voting Rights Act. Just two hours after the Supreme Court handed down its decision, Abbott declared the voter ID law to be once again…which in turn led to another Justice Department lawsuit

The numbers that are supposedly driving Texas’ voter ID push are so ridiculous that they’re actually quite difficult to illustrate. Consider this: Texas had 13,594,264 registered voters in 2012. Four cases of fraud out of 13,594,264 voters works out to… actually, it’s a percentage so small my calculator won’t even display it. Of course, voter fraud is a serious felony that Texas is right to prosecute on the rare occasions that it happens. But Greg Abbott considers the crime widespread enough to pass a law that will disenfranchise thousands of voters who can’t access the ID they need, or will be confused or otherwise deterred by the restrictions and won’t go to the polls.

Perhaps the most telling part of Slater’s piece is this:

“Abbott acknowledged that voter ID wouldn’t have made a difference in most of the cases he has prosecuted.”

Instead, Abbott’s response to Slater’s data on the ineffectiveness of voter ID was as logical as can be expected: Obamacare!

So Abbott’s solution to prevent potential voter fraud is one that he admits won’t address most of the (very few) actual instances of fraud, yet he’s pushing ahead with instituting a law that will disenfranchise thousands? To me, it looks like he doesn’t even believe his own spin anymore. The only “problem” this law addresses is that some people want to vote for Democrats—and Greg Abbott knows it. 

PFAW

Arguments Against San Antonio’s Anti-Discrimination Ordinance Collapse Under Their Own Ridiculousness

The Religious Right has gone into overdrive to fight a San Antonio ordinance that added “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the city’s non-discrimination policy [PDF], which already included bans on discrimination “on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex…veteran status, age or disability.” But despite their hyperventilating, the measure passed anyway.

The ordinance’s opponents were certainly not helped by their strategy of using far-fetched, over-the-top arguments to mischaracterize the ordinance…because that it was just too easy to point out where went wrong.

Take, for instance, pastor Charles Flowers, a vocal opponent of the ordinance, who appeared on The Janet Mefferd Show on September 6 to charge that councilmembers who backed the measure “don’t deserve to serve any longer” because they “assaulted” the rights of Christians.

His main complaint about the ordinance was that homosexuality is a “sexual lifestyle choice” and not an immutable characteristic…like a person’s religious beliefs.

“There is a strong response coming from this community to rid our city council of people whose judgment -- this is the issue, they could not judge the difference between the sacred suffering of someone involved in the Civil Rights Movement to gain basic human rights based on immutabilities like race, sex, where you were born and your creeds, that don’t change,” Flowers charged. “They couldn’t tell the difference between that and some group that has a sexual propensity or making as sexual lifestyle choice and now seeking protection in order to persecute and punish anybody whose ideology is different from their own.”

That’s right; the arguments from ordinance’s opponents have come down to the claim that a person’s religious beliefs are unchangeable.

Flowers later contended that “speaking out against the homosexual or lesbian agenda could garner you a fine of $500 per day.”

“That’s $15,000 a month that you could be fined in the seventh largest city in America for expressing a difference between the ideology proposed by a city, where homosexuality and lesbianism is concerned, and your personal belief and personal faith.”

“This is like a police state,” Flowers said, adding that employers who don’t believe in gay rights won’t be able to win city contracts.

His claim that people will be fined for speaking out on homosexuality was so blatantly false that Mefferd had to ask him if pastors could be fined. Flowers alleged that the ordinance would only affect businessmen who seek to fire their openly gay staff members or refuse to serve transgender customers.

Now there is a huge difference between a government fining a person for speaking out against homosexuality or for harboring anti-gay views and prohibiting businesses from discriminating against LGBT employees and customers in public accommodation.

Does he really not see the difference or is he just hoping that listeners will fall for the blatant falsehood?

Furthermore, “religious organizations” are clearly explicitly exempted from the ordinance’s provision on public accommodation, employment and housing, so the Christian businesses Flowers mentioned wouldn’t be impacted.

Ted Cruz 'Honored' To Go Hunting With Steve King

Texas senator and likely 2016 presidential candidate Ted Cruz has made a notable friend in Iowa: Rep. Steve King. The Des Moines Register reports that Cruz has accepted King’s invitation to go pheasant hunting on the opening day of the hunting season next month, and was “honored to have received the invite.”

“Yes, we are confirmed for a hunt with King,” Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier said in an email Friday to the Des Moines Register. “The senator has enjoyed getting to know him and work with him on important issues before Congress. He’s honored to have received the invite.”

Prior to the 2012 Iowa Republican presidential caucuses, King hosted former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum twice for bird hunting at Iowa game preserves and Texas Gov. Rick Perry on one occasion. The Iowa congressman said in an interview on Thursday he hopes to shape the debate for the 2016 GOP presidential contest by serving as a “guardrail of constitutional conservatism.”

Cruz’s proud association with King is another sign that the Texan has no plans to moderate his positions in advance of a presidential run. King earned rebukes from his party leadership last month when he insisted that most young undocumented immigrants are drug runners with “calves the size of cantaloupes because they’ve been hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.” He has also compared immigrants to dogs.

Cruz has been one of the most outspoken opponents of the Senate’s bipartisan immigration proposal.
 

Steve Stockman: We’re Not Shutting Down the Government, We’re Saving America!

Rep. Steve Stockman of Texas has a clever new plan to avert government shutdown. Stockman suggests that the House GOP, rather than threatening to shut down the government if Obamacare remains funded, should instead offer to keep the government open except for funding Obamacare.

If the distinction isn’t clear to you, Stockman tried to clear things up in an appearance yesterday on Newsmax, where he explained, “One of the things that we’re doing wrong is that we’re accepting the argument that when we defund Obamacare, that we’re closing the government down. We’re not! In fact, we’re saving the nation’s future by not funding it.”

Stockman went on to explain that the shift in messaging is necessary because, while Republicans have math on their side, “Democrats will bring out somebody in a wheelchair, and we lose the argument on visuals.”

Beck: San Antonio's Anti-Discrimination Proposal Is Just A Bid By Mayor Julián Castro For Higher Office

On Monday night's broadcast of "The Glenn Beck Program," Beck and John Hagee dedicated a segment to railing against a proposed anti-discrimination ordinance in San Antonio, Texas that the Religious Right is convinced would ban Christians from running for office or in any way working for the government.

It is not true, of course, but Beck returned to the topic again last night when he asserted that the filibuster Texas state Senator Wendy Davis carried out against the radical anti-abortion legislation earlier this summer was nothing more than a stunt designed to raise her profile in order to allow her to run for higher office, just as San Antonio's anti-discrimination proposal is an effort by the city's mayor to become Vice President of the United States.

"In this case," Beck said, "the mayor of San Antonio is a Hispanic and he's trying to show Hillary Clinton and all the other Democrats that he is the perfect running mate in 2016."

Because that makes sense, since presidential candidates frequently tap mayors to serve as their running mates:

Right Wing Round-Up - 7/30/13

  • Steve Benen @ The Maddow Blog: The video Steve King thinks he wants you to see.
  • Jeremy Hooper: Pastor who vowed to punch out pro-gay clergy: I am 'truly sorry.'
  • Media Matters: Meet The Fringe Right-Wing Commentators Who Met With Top Republicans To Push For A Benghazi Special Committee.
  • Joan McCarter @ Daily Kos: New anti-Obamacare campaign: Health insurance is bad.
  • TFN Insider: Alarm Bells Are Ringing: Creationists Get Influential Positions in Texas Science Textbook Review.

Abbott: Obama Administration Voter Protection Violating Rights of Latino Republicans

Texas Attorney General and GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott claims the Obama administration’s lawsuit against a redistricting plan, which a federal court unanimously ruled was designed to deliberately discriminate against Latino voters, is proof that the administration is actually discriminating against Latino Republicans.

With new legal battles heating up between the Justice Department and Texas over redistricting and voter ID laws, Abbott has taken to the Washington Times to argue that the Obama administration seeks to violate “the rights of Hispanic voters who preferred representatives” who are Republicans. “The administration’s approach reveals the Democrats fear that Republican candidates were making inroads with Hispanic voters,” Abbott writes.

While around 1.4 million Texans lack voter ID, Abbott claims that “crying ‘voter suppression’ is nothing but a cynical scare tactic designed to mobilize Democratic partisans, none of whom ever will be prevented from voting by these laws,” adding that “the Obama administration is sowing racial divide to score cheap political points.”

In redistricting, the Obama administration has aligned itself with Democratic state representatives and Democratic members of Congress who already are suing Texas. It is no surprise then that the legal position of President Obama’s attorneys seeks to improve Democratic candidates’ prospects. Of course, Mr. Obama’s attorneys conceal this partisan agenda with lofty rhetoric about minority voting rights. But it is no coincidence that every change to district lines supported by the administration benefits Democrats. Behind the empty allegations of racial discrimination lies one goal — helping Democrats in 2014.

The president’s partisan use of the Voting Rights Act actually hurts many minority voters in Texas. With the administration’s support, redistricting litigation already has unseated Texas state Reps. Jose Aliseda, Raul Torres, Aaron Pena and John Garza, as well as U.S. Rep. Quico Canseco. These representatives — all Republicans — won in 2010 in predominantly Hispanic districts. In 2011, however, the Obama administration and other partisan interest groups succeeded in getting a court to draw district lines so that only a Democrat could win these seats. As a direct result, all of these Republican Hispanic representatives lost their seats in 2012 except for Mr. Aliseda, who chose not to run for re-election. His district had been dismantled altogether at Democrats request.

The administration’s approach reveals the Democrats fear that Republican candidates were making inroads with Hispanic voters. Democrats could never “turn Texas blue” if that trend continued, so they got the courts to draw district lines that guarantee Democratic victory in predominantly Hispanic areas. What about the rights of Hispanic voters who preferred representatives such as Mr. Aliseda, you might ask? They apparently don’t matter to this administration.

Similarly, polling consistently shows that Hispanic Texans strongly support voter-ID requirements, another target of the administration’s litigious political strategy. Electoral fraud harms voters of all races, and voter ID is a simple, nondiscriminatory way to help stop it. Getting an ID is free of charge for any Texan who needs one. Voter-ID laws already have been upheld by the Supreme Court. Crying “voter suppression” is nothing but a cynical scare tactic designed to mobilize Democratic partisans, none of whom ever will be prevented from voting by these laws. The administration’s absurd claim that this common-sense fraud prevention device is actually a racist plot to prevent minorities from voting would be comical if it weren’t so depressing to see an American president stoop to that level.



After the Shelby County decision, the Voting Rights Act still works. It just no longer imposes an onerous and costly preclearance requirement that disrupts the state-federal balance of power enshrined in the Constitution. Instead of allowing the Voting Rights Act to work in a way the Constitution allows, the Obama administration is sowing racial divide to score cheap political points. The president is using the legal system as a sword to wage partisan battles rather than a shield to protect voting rights. This overreaching action undermines the Voting Rights Act and the rule of law. Texas will not tolerate it. So far, neither will the Supreme Court.
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