Jered Ragon of Abolish Human Abortion has been holding anti-abortion rights demonstrations in front of Texas high schools with graphic photos, protests that have upset many local parents and students. But Ragon is winning support from Live Action, Lila Rose’s anti-choice organization that is notorious for posting deceptively edited videos meant to smear groups such as Planned Parenthood.
A spokesman from Rose’s group in an interview with the Christian Science Monitor commended Ragon and insisted that school children “are not babies running around, these are young adults who must be educated on what they are getting into.”
Maybe Live Action might want to do a little bit more research into the demonstrators they support, as Ragon was actually a leader of a cult group and served time in jail for attempting to bomb a church:
Burleson police arrested two men Wednesday and one Thursday who cited religious beliefs in attempting to detonate a bomb at Victory Family Church in Burleson.
According to reports, the suspects — Dayton Lee Calaway, 19, of Burleson, Michael Philip Plaisted Jr., 18, of Burleson, Jered Michael Ragon, 18, of Burleson, and an underage boy — twice attempted to detonate the device before being interrupted by a deacon. Police discovered the device propped against the church door.
Although Burleson Police Cmdr. Chris Havens declined to elaborate on the bomb, he said it was a simple, homemade device, the plans for which could probably be easily found on the Internet. Had the device detonated it would have caused a substantial explosion and probably led to a fire in the church, he said.
Plaisted and Calaway implicated Ragon during interviews after their arrests, Burleson Detective Tom Catron said, and all three subsequently admitted to involvement in a religious group that made the bomb. Ragon voluntarily came in for questioning and was arrested then, police said.
Although the name of the group the three associate with is unknown, Havens said the men identified themselves as radical Christian activists who oppose government and organized religion.
“They said the act at the church was a test of the device itself and to get the attention of the community,” Havens said.
Group members share common beliefs about the demise of society, which they believe has become too focused on self-improvement and self-gratification and lost it’s focus on the glorification of God, police said. The group is attempting to wake up society by committing destructive acts, according to reports. Group members further believe there are too many denominations and churches, and there ought to be only one.
Police consider the group domestic terrorists, Havens said.
Anti-choice activists gathered in front of ABC studios in Washington, D.C. today to draw attention to what they say is the “real” war on women.
The March on the Media rally claimed to be exposing the media’s supposed censorship of the realities of abortion and the lionization of pro-choice advocates like Wendy Davis. The rally was organized by Lila Rose, the president of Live Action, who previously equated the anti-choice movement with the abolitionist movement and the Revolutionary War.
Rose wasn’t alone in her questionable historical comparisons. Jill Stanek, an anti-choice activist who previously accused Obama of supporting infanticide while a member of the Illinois Senate, stole the show today by comparing abortion to the brutality of the Vietnam War, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the atrocities committed by the Taliban.
On Monday, Brian wrote about an interesting schism emerging within one of the nation’s largest anti-choice groups, National Right to Life.
When Ohio Sen. Rob Portman announced earlier this year that, inspired by his openly gay son, he had switched his position to support marriage equality, the National Right to Life’s Cleveland affiliate announced that it would no longer support Portman. In response, National Right to Life cut ties with the Cleveland group, citing its “public criticisms of and implicit political threats against a U.S. Senator who has supported the right-to-life position” over “a non-right-to-life issue.”
Although National Right to Life’s letter [PDF] was sent in July, it hit the news this week when Cleveland Right to Life decided to fight back, releasing the letter to the media, alleging “coordination” between Sen. Portman’s office and the national group and asking, “How can you be for the child if you are not for the family?”
Yesterday, Cleveland Right to Life President Molly Smith took the group’s case to the Steve Deace show, where she speculated that National Right to Life dropped her chapter because they are “terrified about Sen. Portman’s position and the fact that they might lose his support on his pro-life stance.”
Smith told Deace that she had met with Portman and that “he assures us he’s never going to abandon the pro-life cause when it comes to abortion and the issues we’ve just spoken about.”
“But when it comes to gay marriage, he’s 100 percent behind his son,” she said. “That’s not pro-life!”
Deace was skeptical that Portman would hold onto his opposition to abortion rights. “Does that mean that if he has a daughter that has an abortion, he changes his mind on that too, Molly?” he asked. Smith responded, “Absolutely.”
Smith concluded her interview with an odd caveat: “Even as I say all of this, Steve, I feel so terrible, because this is a very private matter for Sen. Portman’s family.”
The National Right to Life Committee has cut ties with its Cleveland chapter after the local group announced that it would oppose Ohio Sen. Rob Portman’s re-election because of his support for marriage equality.
NRLC president Carol Tobias told [PDF] the Cleveland Right to Life that its “public criticisms of and implicit political threats against a U.S. Senator who has supported the right-to-life position” over “a non-right-to-life issue” has “violated National Right to Life policy, causing the chapter to disaffiliate itself from the NRLC.”
“We respectfully insist that you remove from your website the claim that you are affiliated with NRLC,” Tobias writes.
The Cleveland group blamed the disaffiliation on “coordination” between the national group and Sen. Portman’s office and reiterated that “any politician, including Portman, who supports the break-up of the American family and supports the denial of a mother and father for children has forfeited the right of support and endorsement of the prolife movement.”
Seeing that Portman became persona non grata among Religious Right organizations after he endorsed marriage equality, NRLC’s decision to stick by him is likely to provoke the ire of other anti-choice groups that are more vocal opponents of same-sex marriage.
Senators and presidential hopefuls Rand Paul and Ted Cruz will head to Iowa this week as featured speakers at a closed-door event for conservative pastors that has been organized by David Lane, an anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-Mormon, Christian-nation absolutist who has declared war, not only on secularism and separation of church and state, but also on establishment Republicans who don’t embrace his vision of an America in which the Bible serves as “the principle textbook” for public education and a “Christian culture” has been “re-established.” He decries Supreme Court rulings on prayer and Bible reading in public schools, and says, “It’s easily defended that America was founded by Christians, as a Christian nation.”
Cruz and Paul may be motivated by the fact that a similar David Lane-organized pastors briefing is credited with Mike Huckabee’s win in the 2008 Iowa caucus. Evangelical political strategist Doug Wead has described Lane as “the mysterious, behind the scenes, evangelical kingmaker who stormed into Iowa in 2008 and tilted the whole thing from Romney to Huckabee,” even though subsequent renewal projects failed to deliver South Carolina and Florida to Huckabee.
Still, Lane, a self-described “political operative,” has plans that go well beyond Iowa. The “Rediscovering God in America” event scheduled for July 17 and 18 is just one of an ongoing series of pastors briefings that are central to the American Renewal Project’s 12-state strategy to turn out conservative evangelical voters in the 2013-2014 election cycle. (Those states: Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, South Carolina, Alaska, Arkansas, North Carolina, Nevada, South Dakota, Virginia, and West Virginia.)
In December, Lane described his project’s goal this way: “to engage the church in a culture war for religious liberty, to restore America to our Judeo-Christian heritage and to re-establish a Christian culture.” And he has a clear message to representatives and senators: “Vote to restore the Bible and prayer in public schools or be sent home. Hanging political scalps on the wall is the only love language politicians can hear.”
Lane is abundantly clear about his belief that the choice facing America is a return to its founding as a Christian nation or a continued descent into what he describes as paganism. He wrote in December:
America was a Christian nation. The Mayflower Compact declared, “In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are underwritten, having undertaken – for the glory of God, and the advancement of the Christian faith…”
Let’s decide if America is a Christian nation or a pagan nation – and get on with it; the sooner the better.
Lane told the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody that “America has left God” and that “unrighteousness” is “the greatest threat to freedom.” Brody says Lane “believes it’s time to remove politicians from office who have led America down this immoral and unsustainable broken path.”
A Christian-Nation Warrior Within the GOP
To be fair to Paul and Cruz, they are only the latest Republican presidential hopefuls who have allied themselves with the zealous David Lane in order to tap his network of politically engaged pastors. Lane has been holding “pastors briefings” in 15 states since the mid-1990s. He wrote last year that state Restoration and Renewal projects had hosted more than 10,000 pastors and spouses in ten states since 2005 alone, in events that have been used to engage pastors in anti-gay initiative battles and introduce them to politicians favored by Lane. Pastors’ expenses are covered with money from the American Family Association and other religious right mega-donors. The American Renewal Project operates as a project of the AFA; Lane also operates the California-based Pastors and Pews.
Texas Governor Rick Perry is also reportedly scheduled to participate in this week’s Iowa gathering, which may confirm his apparent interest in another run for the presidency. Perry has a long-term relationship with Lane. In 2005 and 2006, Lane and his network played a huge role in mobilizing support for Perry’s re-election as governor. Six pastors briefings were held around the state, and all six were addressed by Perry. As Governor, Perry hasn’t disappointed Lane and his friends.
Heading into the 2012 election cycle, Mike Huckabee, Michele Bachmann, Haley Barbour, and Newt Gingrich spoke to 600 pastors, ministry leaders and spouses at a March 2011 Iowa Renewal Project Pastor’s Policy Briefing. But as the primaries approached, Lane was not satisfied with the field. He played a key role in organizing conservative religious leaders to push Perry into the presidential race. And he masterminded and served as national finance chair for “The Response”, an August 2011 prayer rally that served as Perry’s unofficial campaign launch.
Lane enthusiastically applauded anti-Mormon attacks on Mitt Romney made by Perry backer Robert Jeffress at the Values Voter Summit in October 2011. The Daily Beast revealed emails between Lane and religious broadcaster Dick Bott in which Lane praised Jeffress, saying the message “juxtaposing traditional Christianity to the false god of Mormonism, is very important in the larger scheme of things.”
After Perry’s candidacy imploded, Religious Right leaders split between Gingrich and Santorum, dooming last-ditch efforts to prevent Romney from becoming the GOP nominee. Lane backed Gingrich. He organized a conference call in Florida in late January 2012 to which he said he invited some 125,000 Florida evangelicals, including 2,400 pastors; the call reportedly had 1,000 participants and a recording was emailed to the other 124,000. But obviously he failed to prevent Romney from becoming the nominee.
During the flap over Perry backers’ attacks on Romney’s Mormonism, Lane had actually told broadcaster Bott that he would sit out the 2012 elections rather than vote for Romney. But whether or not Lane actually cast his personal vote for Romney, he continued mobilizing conservative Christians in an effort to defeat Barack Obama. In Ohio, for example, Lane was part of a major effort by Republican evangelicals to put Romney over the top in that state. Lane organized “several glitzy mass rallies for the state’s churchgoers featuring high-profile religious and political leaders,” the Washington Times reported last November. Lane and Ralph Reed each produced voter guides for “Ohio’s faithful.”
Although Perry’s tanking disrupted Lane’s plans to get conservative evangelicals to coalesce around a single candidate in 2012, it seems clear that he has similar intentions for 2016. He told the Houston Chronicle in June, “We’re going to try to eliminate the stuff that they [GOP leaders] do to us every four years, which is picking somebody who has no chance of being viable and they kill us off and we have the McCains and Romneys left.”
At War With the GOP
Lane’s comment about “the McCains and Romneys” is just the tip of the iceberg of contempt that he has for what he sees as a cowardly, compromising Republican establishment. He denounces moderate Republicans who are “bound and determined to deposit homosexuality – and homosexual marriage – into the Grand Old Party.” And he insists, “Those doing this to our country must be removed from office and from leadership.” (These aren’t necessarily idle threats: Lane was at the center of the successful 2010 campaign to remove from office three Iowa Supreme Court justices who had been part of a unanimous ruling in favor of marriage equality. “Lane called the judges “Judicial Gods” who believe they have the “right to rule a free people” and “impose their will” however they see fit.”)
Lane was outraged last year when many Republican Party leaders abandoned Senate candidate Todd Akin in the wake of his infamous comments about “legitimate rape”— Lane was especially indignant because at the same time the GOP was backing openly gay Senate candidate Richard Tisei in Massachusetts. Lane mobilized support for Akin among conservative pastors and complained loudly about the GOP. “Following the pounding of Todd Akin by the GOP kings and lieutenants in the last 36 hours, I’ve come to the conclusion that the real issue is the soul of America,” he wrote in an email to activists. In October, almost 400 pastors who had gathered for a Pastors’ Policy Briefing in Missouri prayed over Akin, whose cause Lane said was “the opening battle for the soul of the Republican Party.” After all, he argues, “someone’s values must reign supreme.”
After the 2012 elections, Lane drew his battle lines:
The moderate GOP chieftains and lieutenants’ philosophy of government and set of values – in the long run – are incompatible with Christian morality and principles. As these secular “pastors” – the GOP chieftains and lieutenants – seek to bully and dictate their worldly, amoral ethics – according to their importance, omnipotence and power of the purse – there can be no amicability and meeting of minds….
Christian conservatives are coming to their moment of truth within the Republican Party. Be friendly and disarm, or annoy and aggravate the GOP kings and lieutenants by laying down the law on Christian principles and Christian values.
Another way to put it is: I don’t think that “restoring America” is a Christian imperative. Being a witnesses [sic] to the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus is the imperative. If that restores America, wonderful; if it means that America collapses – like Rome – the byproduct of the Permanent Republican Majority or a decadent, sinful, immoral culture and people, the church is God’s permanent “nation.”
Lane writes that after launching a public fight for putting the Bible, Jesus, the Ten Commandments back into public schools, “then we will watch Providence call for ‘punishment executed by angels‘ to those who oppose His word.”
Lane says he believes there is “good news in the current Republican collapse and failure – brought about as a byproduct of the amoral, empty philosophy of the Permanent Republican majority” – and that is a political opening for evangelicals. In February, Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody said that Lane’s battle against Republicans who are more worried about the party than “sustaining a moral and righteous nation” is “the next confrontation to watch.”
Pastors as Cause of and Solution to America’s Descent into Hell
It is a recurring theme at Religious Right gatherings that the real reason for America’s slide from greatness into moral decay is that its preachers aren’t preaching aggressively enough. Lane is also in this camp. The relatively media-shy Lane told the New York Times in 2011, “From my perspective, our country is going to hell because pastors won’t lead from the pulpits.”
He complains that the “the Church didn’t even shudder when the Bible, prayer, Jesus, and the Ten Commandments were removed from the public schools in 1963.” And he says there was “not a peep from the Christian Church” in response to the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, when the church “should have initiated riots, revolution, and repentance.”
Lane is fond of quoting Peter Leithart’s Between Babel and Beast. Last fall he included this segment in one of his frequently repetitive online commentaries:
American churches have too long discipled Christians in Americanism, and that makes Christian involvement in the American polity far smoother than it ought to be. Churches must repent of our Americanism and begin to cultivate martyrs—believers who are martyrs in the original sense of ‘witness’ and in the later sense of men and women ready to follow the Lamb all the way to an imperial cross.
In a different commentary, this one for WND, Lane also quotes from Between Babel and Beast:
Until American churches actually function as outposts of Jesus’ heavenly empire rather than as cheerleaders for America – until the churches produce martyrs rather than patriots – the political witness of Christians will continue to be diluted and co-opted.
Lane also quotes Leithart in a June 2013 commentary that seemed to be too much even for the virulent WND, which has removed the post. Here’s part of the Leithart he approvingly quotes:
Americanists cannot break Babelic or bestial power because they cannot distinguish heretical Americanism from Christian orthodoxy. Until we do, America will lurch along the path that leads from Babel to Beast. If America is to be put in its place – put right – Christians must risk martyrdom and force Babel to the crux where it has to decide either to acknowledge Jesus [as] imperator and the church as God’s imperium or to begin drinking holy blood.
To that bracing section Lane adds his own words:
Where are the champions of Christ to save the nation from the pagan onslaught imposing homosexual marriage, homosexual scouts, 60 million babies done to death by abortion and red ink as far as the eye can see on America? Who will wage war for the Soul of America and trust the living God to deliver the pagan gods into our hands and restore America to her Judeo-Christian heritage and re-establish a Christian culture?...
As to the future of America – and the collapse of this once-Christian nation – Christians must not only be allowed to have opinions, but politically, Christians must be retrained to war for the Soul of America and quit believing the fabricated whopper of the ‘Separation of Church and State,” the lie repeated ad nauseum by the left and liberals to keep Christian America – the moral majority – from imposing moral government on pagan public schools, pagan higher learning, and pagan media….
Christian America is in ruins…
You ask, “What is our goal?” To wage war to restore America to our Judeo-Christian heritage with all of our might and strength that God will give us. You ask, “what is our aim?” One word only: victory, in spite of all intimidation and terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory, America will ultimately collapse.
He sees the solution as the political organizing he does among pastors. “Bible-believing pastor,” he wrote last fall, “without overstating it, the survival of America is on your shoulders.” According to the New York Times, at a 2011 briefing in Iowa Mike Huckabee “lavished praise on Mr. Lane for ‘bringing pastors together so they go back to their pulpits and light them on fire with enthusiasm, to make America once again the greatest country on earth under God.’”
Lane’s increasingly war-like rhetoric has given people pause. Lane frequently closes his commentaries – including the one recently pulled from WND -- with the question, “Will a Gideon or Rahab the Harlot please stand.” In the Old Testament, Gideon is called by God to defeat the armies of enemies of the Israelites and end the worship of false gods. Rahab the Harlot is another Old Testament character: she enabled the Israelites’ conquest of the city of Jericho by helping two spies sent into the city by Joshua. She and her family were the only ones spared when the city was destroyed and every other man, woman and child was killed. Politicians who stand with Lane might consider asking him just what he means by his frequently repeated calls for a Gideon or Rahab to stand up among American evangelicals.
This IS the Religious Right – and the GOP’s Dominant Right Wing
Sadly, Lane’s extremist views and rhetoric do not make him much of an outlier among today’s hard-right political figures. He is closely allied with major Religious Right leaders and has no problem attracting current and former members of Congress and Republican presidential aspirants to his closed-door gatherings. Among those scheduled to take part in this week’s Iowa event are Christian-nation “historian” David Barton, Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, and the American Family Association’s Don Wildmon. In 2010, Lane joined Barton and anti-gay activist Jim Garlow, and Lane offered a 12-day, $4000, Next Great Awakening Tour of historical sites in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington.
Also part of this week’s program in Iowa is Lane’s friend Laurence White, who says “if we do not stop abortion then God will destroy and God should destroy America.” Another participant is Ken Canfield, who ran for Governor of Kansas in 2006 on a platform calling for a “no exceptions” ban on abortion; he came in second in a crowded GOP primary .
Lane, like other Religious Right leaders, sees the acceptance of homosexuality as a sign that America has turned its back on God. In one column he approvingly cites an author who describes gays and lesbians as “parasites, depending for their cultural survival on couples that birth the next generation.” Last summer he asked pastors to “exhort the flock, entrusted to you by the Living God, to refrain from shopping at Target Stores until its leadership ends pushing homosexual marriage in America.”
He’s even got the Tea Party’s anti-big-government rhetoric down. He wrote in February as sequestration approached, “we should immediately begin the mobilization of pastors and pews to contact—read tongue-lash and rail against – local Congressman and U.S. Senators to decry the immoral debt being piled on our kids and grandkids because Congress lacks the guts to make hard, painful decisions and cut spending.”
In fact, Lane covers all the issues important to the modern day right, connecting them to court decisions upholding the separation of church and state, which he says created a religion of secularism:
This ‘religion of secularism’ has produced red ink as far as the eye can see, homosexuals praying at the Inauguration, tax-funded abortion, homosexual marriage in several States, Evangelicals held in contempt, and God expelled from the classrooms of America – and the public square.
Lane is connected to Champion the Vote, a project of United in Purpose, which had aimed to unseat President Obama with an effort “to mobilize 5 million unregistered conservative Christians to register and vote according to the Biblical worldview in 2012.” United in Purpose produced DVDs of Lane’s 2011 event in Orlando to distribute for house parties. In the wake of Rick Perry’s supposedly non-political “Response” rally, the American Family Association sent out emails to those who registered for the event to engage them in Champion the Vote. It said the Response “was just the beginning of a nationwide initiative to return America to the principles on which she was founded, with God at the center of our nation.”
Politicians like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul should be held to account for partnering politically with David Lane. But given the increasingly small differences between the GOP’s right wing and its really right wing, we probably shouldn’t expect politicians cozying up to Lane to show any discomfort with his extremism. As Ted Cruz said in another context, “If standing for liberty , if standing for free market principle and the Constitution makes you a wacko bird, then, then I am a very proud wacko bird.”
Right-wing talk show host Kevin McCullough has a column in the American Family Association-affiliated One News Now today, cleverly titled “Barack Hussein Gosnell.” McCollough’s argument is that President Obama, by speaking at Planned Parenthood recently, is morally equivalent to accused murderer Kermit Gosnell.
McCullough claims that “every woman I’ve ever spoken to on the matter” agrees with him that Planned Parenthood is not “helpful to women.” Instead, he writes, “They say they give women choices -- which they interpret to mean, encourage them to be as promiscuous as possible.”
See Planned Parenthood touts cancer screenings, but Lila Rose proved they don't do mammograms. They claim they are improving the health of women, but they have become the biggest cemetery of unborn women in history. They say they give women choices -- which they interpret to mean, encourage them to be as promiscuous as possible. Planned Parenthood may be many things, but helpful to women, is not one of them -- so says every woman I've ever spoken to on the matter.
McCullough goes on to accuse the president of “abject racial self-loathing” because of his support for choice.
What is also stunning is the abject racial self-loathing it must require for President Obama and Kermit Gosnell to directly and unequivocally contribute to an organization and "medical" practices that were set up by design to extinguish the people with their same color of skin.
Margaret Sanger -- Planned Parenthood's founder -- argued in articles such as "The Eugenic Conscience" (February 1921) that sterilizing the "unfit" Negro was her "plan of Salvation" for the American civilization.
Evidently President Obama and Kermit Gosnell strongly agree with that racial "solution." Their actions certainly demonstrate as much.
The truth is Kermit Gosnell's house of horrors, where he burned, chopped, snipped, and stabbed babies to death, is very little different than the Planned Parenthood "super-sized" abortion mills. Very little different indeed.
The truth is that both Planned Parenthood and Kermit Gosnell prey upon mostly immigrant minority women. And while President Obama trots out Sandra Fluke to yell "squirrel" about contraception and has attempted to force those of us who have a moral objection to providing money to those who will burn, chop, snip and stab babies, the smoke screen never fools the children who always end up dead.
The former Susan G. Komen for the Cure executive who orchestrated the organization’s controversial and short-lived break from Planned Parenthood earlier this year, is out with a new book claiming that the funding dispute was all Planned Parenthood’s fault. In “Planned Bullyhood,” Karen Handel claims that Planned Parenthood turned its back on a “gentlewomen’s agreement” to not discuss the fact that Komen was withdrawing $680,000 a year in grants for breast cancer screenings through the organization’s clinics and then turned on Komen in a PR blitz.
In interviews with right-wing radio hosts Janet Mefferd and Janet Parshall last week, Handel portrays herself as the victim of bullying by the “vicious” Planned Parenthood. She tells Mefferd that Planned Parenthood launched “a mafia-style attack” and that “Komen was held hostage for a mere $680,000.” She sees a double standard in the fact that President Obama didn’t call her after she was criticized, “like he did Sandra Fluke”:
Handel: The left and Planned Parenthood, they were threatening Komen’s corporate sponsors: “See what we’re doing to Komen? If you don’t stop supporting them, we’re gonna do the same to you.” They were just filling up the Facebooks, Twitter, Komen’s website crashed, there were bomb threats, corporate sponsors were threatened. It really was almost a mafia-style attack, if you will, and Komen was held hostage for a mere $680,000. And Planned Parenthood and the left, they wanted this to be about politics. I believe they used Komen purposefully as a pawn, if you will, in this ridiculous so-called “War on Women” and these cries of “women’s health.” And Janet, my question for you, and I just find this all so insulting, how in the world did the issue of women’s health get reduced to being about abortion and contraception?
Meffered: Right. I’m with you.
Handel: I just reject that. I reject that notion, and I think that most women do too.
Mefferd: Oh, completely. And what I found very interesting, Karen, doing the show that I do, and being pro-life and knowning a lot of pro-lifers, when Susan G. Komen made that decision and all the pro-lifers were going “Yes, finally, great!,” the next thing people were saying was, “Now watch what Planned Parenthood will do to them.” You know, we knew. We knew exactly how Planned Parenthood would react, though admittedly it was more over the top than I think a lot of us believed it would be. It was shameful what they did.
Handel: You know, it really was. And you know, they had such an amicable partner in all of it, which was the liberal mainstream press, which really served almost as an extension of all of it and really targeted the politics, my personal politics, Ambassador Brinker’s personal politics. And I’d like to point out, you did not see Susan G. Komen for the Cure endorsing presidential candidates the way Planned Parenthood has, you don’t see Komen investing, what’s Planned Parenthood gonna spend, almost $10 million in campaign ads to support Barack Obama. Nobody, the president didn’t call me and let me know he was sorry about the attacks that I faced, like he did Sandra Fluke.
Handel told Parshall that Planned Parenthood’s “agenda” is “not about women’s health” or “they would not have wanted to try to destroy” Komen.
Parshall: Planned Parenthood’s assault, to use your word, and by the way you started using that word back in February of this year, way before it became the title of your book, if they’re bullying people because they might have a pro-life position, it really calls into account whether they are pro-women or whether they are politically aligned rather than rising to a higher cause.
Handel: I think that’s right, I think you’ve really hit on it, Janet. And for Komen, that’s exactly what Komen was trying to do. Komen wanted to be in a place where everyone, regardless of whether they were pro-life or on the other side of the issue, would be able to embrace the organization and embrace the mission. We wanted to be neutral and we wanted to be good stewards of dollars. Don’t get me wrong, it was both. Planned Parenthood, on the other hand, they were willing to sacrifice Komen for the sake of their agenda, which is not about women’s health. If it was about women’s health, they would not have wanted to try to destroy an organization that was doing such good work in the area of breast cancer.
Mitt Romney is outraged! He's insulted! He's offended!
Why? A Republican Senate candidate dared to state a position on choice that is exactly the same as that of Romney's own running mate.
Missouri Rep. Todd Akin is attracting plenty of attention for his bizarre and idiotic justification for refusing to allow rape victims to have abortions. But the extreme policy position behind those comments - a policy that is the GOP standard -- should be getting just as much attention.
Akin explained this weekend how rape victims shouldn't be allowed reproductive choice because they already have access to some mysterious anti-pregnancy control system: "First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
Romney responded today in an interview with the National Review:
"Congressman's Akin comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong," Romney said. "Like millions of other Americans, we found them to be offensive."
"I have an entirely different view," Romney said. "What he said is entirely without merit and he should correct it."
What is Romney's "entirely different view"? That Rep. Akin doesn't have a basic understanding of the female anatomy that he's so interested in legislating? That Akin feels the need to draw a distinction between "legitimate rape" and "illegitimate rape"? That Akin thinks rape victims shouldn't be able to choose whether to carry their rapists' children?
Romney should start by directing his outrage at his own running mate. Rep. Paul Ryan not only opposes abortion rights for rape victims, he was a cosponsor of a so-called "personhood" amendment that would have classified abortion as first degree murder and outlawed common types of birth control. Ryan has also bought into the "legitimate rape" nonsense, cosponsoring legislation with Akin that would have limited federal services to victims of "forcible rape" - a deliberate attempt to write out some victims of date rape and statutory rape.
Romney himself has flirted with the "personhood" idea, telling Mike Huckabee during the primary that he'd "absolutely" support such a measure. When he was later confronted about the comment at a town hall meeting, it became clear that Romney had no idea how the process he wanted to legislate actually worked.
And Romney hasn't always been keen to stand up for the victims of rape. In a Republican debate in February, he actually got in an argument with Newt Gingrich over who was least in favor of requiring hospitals to provide emergency contraception to rape victims they were treating.
Now the Romney campaign is trying to distance itself from Akin by saying that "a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape." But Romney has also vowed to nominate Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, returning to states the power to outlaw or allow abortion as they choose. If Romney and anti-choice activists get their wish from the Supreme Court, a Romney-Ryan administration would have no power to stop states from imposing whichever abortion bans they decide to impose. The promise to carve out an exception for rape victims is not a promise they would be able to keep.
The real scandal of Rep. Akin's comments isn't the faulty sex-ed he's teaching. Instead, his comments expose the anti-choice movement's skewed and condescending view of women. Akin can't accept that a woman who fits his definition of virtue - the victim of a "legitimate rape" - would also need to seek an abortion, and he has made up false science to support that assumption. But with or without the weird right-wing science, that same false distinction underlies all anti-choice policies - including those embraced by Romney and Ryan.
Romney can feign all the outrage he wants at Rep. Akin's misogynistic pseudo-science. But until he can draw a clear distinction between Akin's policies and his own, his protests will ring hollow.
We noted on Friday that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, working with a Republican-led state legislature, had taken the extraordinary step of repealing the state’s enforcement mechanism for pay discrimination lawsuits.
But it turns out that’s not all. Daily Kos points out that along with equal pay repeal, Gov. Walker signed what reads like a wish list of bills from the Religious Right:
The first bill bans abortion coverage through policies obtained through a health insurance exchange, set to be created under the federal health care reform law starting in 2014. The only exceptions would be in cases of rape, incest or medical necessity. [...]
The second bill requires a woman seeking an abortion to undergo an exam and consult with a doctor alone, away from her friends and family. The doctor must determine whether someone is pressuring the woman into the procedure. Doctors who break the law could be charged with a felony. [...]
The sex education bill requires teachers in schools that offer sex education to stress abstinence as the only sure way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
The bill also declares that sex education teachers do not have to address contraception. That's a dramatic shift from current state law, which requires teachers to instruct students on birth control options.
And it doesn’t end there. Walker has now decided to stop defending a law that gives gay and lesbian couples the right to visit each other in the hospital, a law that an anti-gay group is disputing in court.
That’s right. After making it harder for women to sue for pay discrimination, setting up demeaning hurdles for women seeking legal abortions, and giving the go-ahead for ineffective sex ed, Gov. Walker is going out of his way to try to keep same-sex couples from visiting each other in the hospital.
Is this the governor’s “jobs” agenda?
In a sermon uploaded yesterday, Cornerstone Church pastor John Hagee argues that the we are approaching the End Times, as evidenced by recent ecological disasters, including food shortages and the Gulf oil spill. During the End Times, Hagee said, God will take one American life “for every child killed in every abortion clinic in America”:
Read Revelation 9:15. It’s the sixth trumpet. There are four angels released by God himself to destroy one third of mankind in one day. The Bible says there is a year, a month, a day and an hour that God picked out from Genesis 1, that one third of mankind on that day, by the will and hand of God will be destroyed. You say, ‘I have a hard time believing that.’ May I refer you to Noah and the flood? Believe it.
In America, we have something over 300 million people. That means 100 million people in this country in 24 hours, gone. You’ve heard me say that I believe God will require a life for every child killed in every abortion clinic in America. I believe that’s where the tally is going to be set, right there.
In a 51-48 vote today, the Senate rejected an amendment to the transportation bill by Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt that would have allowed employers to deny their employees health insurance coverage for any treatment for any reason.
Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way issued the following statement:
“The Blunt amendment was not only astoundingly bad public policy, it represented a fundamental misreading of the First Amendment. If it became law, it would have put working Americans – regardless of their religious beliefs – at the mercy of the religious beliefs of their employers. That’s not religious liberty – in fact, it’s exactly the opposite.
“Sen. Blunt’s plan would have caused chaos in our health care system by allowing each employer to decide which medications and procedures will be available to their employees. If this plan were to become law, no American who secures a job could be confident that that job would come with full health care benefits.
“The Blunt amendment was a desperate attempt by the GOP to appeal to a narrow and extreme base at the expense of the well-being of all Americans. Every senator who voted for this amendment can be assured that voters will notice and take note of their priorities.”
Yesterday afternoon, presidential candidate Mitt Romney told a reporter that he would not support the Senate’s Blunt amendment, which would endanger access to reproductive care for as many as 20 million American women, saying, “Look, the idea of presidential candidates getting into questions about contraception within a relationship between a man and a woman, husband and wife, I’m not going there." An hour later, his campaign told reporters that Romney does, in fact, support the Blunt amendment.
“It’s hardly a surprise to get a flip-flop from Mitt Romney, but such a quick turnabout on an issue critical to the lives of millions of women is staggering,” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way.
“Romney is trying to have it both ways: saying he doesn’t want to get in the way of personal decisions about birth control, and then supporting a law that would do just that. The Blunt amendment would set American women back decades – and American women know that. In his lightning-fast flip-flop, Romney has shown once again that he’s more interested in catering to an extreme right-wing base than to the common-sense needs of the people he wants to lead.”
Last week, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell buckled under nationwide pressure and forced his allies in the state’s legislature to revise a bill they had passed mandating forced, medically unnecessary transvaginal ultrasounds for women seeking abortions. That the bill was tweaked to no longer require women to be vaginally penetrated without their consent – a requirement that McDonnell, until he was met with a national outcry, was all set to sign into law -- was an important victory for pro-choice and common-decency activists.
But we need to remember just how far anti-choice politicians are willing to go. Just a few years ago, before the War on Women kicked into full swing, we wouldn’t have known that we’d have to be fighting state-mandated vaginal probes. In fact, just a few years ago, the amended bill passed by the Virginia Senate today would have been seen as extreme in itself.
The bill that the Virginia Senate passed in a 21-19 vote today requires all women seeking an abortion to first undergo a medically unnecessary external ultrasound – unless they can prove they are pregnant as a result of rape or incest.
It’s important to remember just how extreme the bill still is. Virginia Republicans are mandating that doctors perform a medically unnecessary procedure whether or not their patient requests it, unless that patient can produce a police report to prevent it. It creates a situation that’s ethically difficult for doctors and absolutely demeaning for women.
If Gov. McDonnell signs the bill, which he is expected to do, Virginia will join seven other states that currently require pre-abortion ultrasounds.
On Meet the Press yesterday, David Gregory questioned GOP presidential frontrunner Rick Santorum about the social issues – opposition to reproductive choice and gay rights – on which he has built his career. Stunningly, Santorum denied that he has focused on social issues and claimed, “There’s no evidence at all that I, that I want to impose those values on anybody else.”
FMR. SEN. SANTORUM: It's so funny. I get the question all the time. Why are you talking so much about these social issues, as they, as, as people ask about me about the social issues.
MR. GREGORY: Senator, no, wait a minute.
FMR. SEN. SANTORUM: Look, the...
MR. GREGORY: You talk about this stuff every week. And by the way, it's not just in this campaign.
FMR. SEN. SANTORUM: No, I talk about, I talk...
MR. GREGORY: Sir, in this campaign you talk about it. And I've gone back years when you've been in public life and you have made this a centerpiece of your public life. So the notion that these are not deeply held views worthy of question and scrutiny, it's not just about the press.
FMR. SEN. SANTORUM: Yeah, they, they are deeply held views, but they're not what I dominantly talk about, David. You're taking things that over a course of a 20-year career and pulling out quotes from difference speeches on, on issues that are fairly tangential, not what people care about mostly in America, and saying, "Oh, he wants to impose those values." Look at my record. I've never wanted to impose any of the things that you've just talked about. These are, these are my personal held religious beliefs, and in many forums that I, that, that are, in fact, religious, because I do speak in front of church groups and I do speak in these areas, I do talk about them. But there's no evidence at all that I, that I want to impose those values on anybody else.
This is, of course, a bunch of baloney. While Santorum has spent a lot of time in his presidential campaign talking up regressive tax policies, irresponsible deregulation and anti-environmentalism, the core of his brand has always been social conservatism. His campaign has consistently and explicitly distinguished his anti-choice, anti-gay record with Mitt Romney’s in order to successfully appeal to culture-warring voters.
Santorum has also never shied away from wanting to “impose” his far-right values on the rest of the country. In a 2005 interview with NPR, for instance, he railed against the libertarian wing of the Republican party, saying, “They have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do. Government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulation low and that we shouldn't get involved in the bedroom, we shouldn't get involved in cultural issues, you know, people should do whatever they want. Well, that is not how traditional conservatives view the world.”
And here he is at a Republican debate in November discussing how our civil laws must “comport with God’s law”:
The former senator has said that states should be allowed to outlaw birth control and gay relationships, but supports the federal law banning recognition of legal same-sex marriages. He supports so-called “personhood” laws, which would not only outlaw all abortions regardless of circumstances, but would jeopardize legal access to contraception. He says that as president, he would reinstate Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, putting the careers of openly gay members of the military at risk. Yet he says he doesn’t want to “impose” his far-right values on the rest of us.
Santorum’s interview on Meet the Press is far from the first time he’s claimed that he’s not overly interested in social issues. PFAW’s Right Wing Watch found a speech he gave in 2008 in which he claimed that it’s liberals who have made sex an issue on the campaign trail. For liberals, he said, politics “comes down to sex” and that the Democratic Party has become “the party of Woodstock.”:
And it’s just insidious. And it’s most of the time focused on the sexual issues. If you’re a hard-core free-market guy, they’re not going to call you “zealous”. They’re not going to call you “ultra-conservative”. They’re not going to do that to you.
It comes down to sex. That’s what it’s all about. It comes down to freedom, and it comes down to sex. If you have anything to with any of the sexual issues, and if you are on the wrong side of being able to do all of the sexual freedoms you want, you are a bad guy. And you’re dangerous because you are going to limit my freedom in an area that’s the most central to me. And that’s the way it’s looked at.
Woodstock is the great American orgy. This is who the Democratic Party has become. They have become the party of Woodstock. The prey upon our most basic primal lusts, and that’s sex. And the whole abortion culture, it’s not about life. It’s about sexual freedom. That’s what it’s about. Homosexuality. It’s about sexual freedom.
All of the things are about sexual freedom, and they hate to be called on them. They try to somehow or other tie this to the Founding Father’s vision of liberty, which is bizarre. It’s ridiculous.