In total, the candidates in the 2008 presidential election spent just over $1 billion on their campaigns. Just four years ago, President Obama raised $750 million, primarily via small donations from grassroots supporters. But the landscape looks pretty different in 2012: that amount will be surpassed by just a handful of GOP patrons and super PACs alone.
Made possible by the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, dark money organizations like Restore Our Future and American Crossroads will raise and spend virtually unlimited amounts to prop up Mitt Romney and the rest of the Republican ticket. Politico notes that American Crossroads and the affiliated Crossroads GPS, a Karl Rove brainchild, is expected to spend up to $300 million. That’s almost as much as John McCain spent on his entire 2008 run.
The bulk of campaign expenditures go to advertising – and $1 billion certainly buys a lot of airtime. Thanks to Citizens United, this elite group of financiers can buy the loudest, most far-reaching voice in the 2012 elections. The amount collected by Super PACs and 501 c(4)s dramatically dwarfs traditional party and direct-campaign fundraising, which is the mechanism by which the grassroots are able to contribute to the process. The contrast is stark:
Restore Our Future, the pro-Romney super PAC, spent twice as much on the air as the campaign did in the thick of the primaries: Through March, the campaign had put $16.7 million into TV, while ROF shelled out $33.2 million.
In Florida, the super PAC outspent the campaign, $8.8 million to $6.7 million. (The campaign can get more spots per dollar because of more favorable rates.) In Michigan, it was $2.3 million to $1.5 million. In Ohio, ROF outspent the campaign, $2.3 million to $1.5 million.
The Citizens United decision has granted the 0.01% more leeway to try to buy our democracy than ever before. The sheer numbers make the need for constitutional remedies to overturn that decision and restore the balance of influence in our elections to everyday Americans is more apparent than ever.
If there was any question that the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United skews the balance of influence in our elections to the rich, an analysis by Rolling Stone shows that the real beneficiaries of the decision are really the very very rich. This profile of the 16 donors who have given at least $1 million to super PACs supporting Mitt Romney, including hedge fund managers, hotel tycoons, oil barons and of course, William Koch, reveals who is making the biggest impact in the presidential election.
In a democracy, we should be electing those who represent vast swaths of the American people. But one thing is clear: the special interests propping up Romney’s campaign have very little in common with average Americans. As Rolling Stone notes:
Most of the megadonors backing his candidacy are elderly billionaires: Their median age is 66, and their median wealth is $1 billion. Each is looking for a payoff that will benefit his business interests, and they will all profit from Romney's pledge to eliminate inheritance taxes, extend the Bush tax cuts for the superwealthy – and then slash the top tax rate by another 20 percent. Romney has firmly joined the ranks of the economic nutcases who spout the lie of trickle-down economics.
How are these individuals able to throw so much of their wealth into the race? Essentially, Citizens United allows individuals and corporations to skirt the caps on contributions to campaign treasuries by funneling money through entities like Super PACs and 501c4 organizations:
Under the new rules, the richest men in America are plying candidates with donations far beyond what Congress intended. "They can still give the maximum $2,500 directly to the campaign – and then turn around and give $25 million to the Super PAC," says Trevor Potter, general counsel of the Campaign Legal Center. A single patron can now prop up an entire candidacy, as casino magnate Sheldon Adelson did with a $20 million donation to the Super PAC backing Newt Gingrich.
It’s unlikely that these donors are throwing so much money into the race solely for bragging rights – they certainly have agendas of their own. Most of the individuals profiled in the article stand to benefit from Romney agenda: more tax cuts to the rich, lax regulation of Wall Street and other industries, a hamstrung E.P.A, lucrative government contracts – and their outsized contributions demonstrate their belief that money buys influence. Citizens United exacerbated this unfortunate reality. At least that can be fixed by the people, with an amendment to the Constitution.
Yesterday’s Texas primary gave Mitt Romney enough delegates to clinch the GOP presidential nomination, according to most counts. But the potentially more consequential result is that right-wing candidate Ted Cruz forced Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst into a July 31 runoff election, which the Washington Post says analysts consider a toss-up.
The Post today describes Cruz as a Tea Party favorite, with good reason. Cruz calls Obama the “most radical” president the nation has ever seen, calls for cuts in corporate taxes, rants against financial and environmental regulation, and slams his opponent for having supported in-state tuition for the children of illegal immigrants. He is backed by the anti-government Club for Growth.
But Cruz is also a full-blown Religious Right candidate, reflecting the overlap between the two movements. He has not only appeared at the Conservative Political Action Conference but also at two gatherings of Religious Right political activists: the Values Voter Summit, where he touted his record as Texas solicitor general in church-state cases, and the Awakening conference, where he told participants “we are engaged in spiritual warfare every day.” His list of endorsements includes James Dobson, Rick Santorum, David Barton, and Michael Farris, as well as Sarah Palin and Sen. Jim DeMint.
Cruz is on the “National Board of Reference” for a new Religious Right law school that is being created at Louisiana College with the help of the Alliance Defense Fund. The school is designed to join law schools at Liberty and Regent in turning out lawyers committed to transforming American law to conform to the Religious Right’s worldview. Joining Cruz on the board is an array of Religious Right leaders, including Barton, Dobson, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, the Southern Baptists’ Richard Land, and Tim and Beverly LaHaye. As RWW has noted, Louisiana College claims it “seeks to view all areas of knowledge from a distinctively Christian perspective and integrate Biblical truth thoroughly with each academic discipline” and believes “academic freedom of a Christian professor is limited by the preeminence of Jesus Christ, the authoritative nature of the Holy Scriptures, and the mission of the institution.” Perkins describes the law school’s mission this way:
“This law school’s not going to be pumping out ambulance chasers, this is going to be pumping out liberal chasers, I mean we’re gonna track them down, wherever they are and we’re gonna defeat them, and if we can’t defeat them in the policy realm we’re gonna defeat them in the courts.” He added, “This law school is gonna be pumping out God-fearing, American-loving, family-defending attorneys.
Cruz and his followers openly hope that he will be sweep to victory in a replay of the Florida election that saw Marco Rubio, like Cruz the son of immigrants from Cuba, lifted over a more establishment candidate by right-wing activists. Cruz told a Hot Air interviewer at the 2011 Values Voter Summit that he wants to join Jim DeMint in changing the "character" of the U.S. Senate.
Personhood USA president Keith Mason spoke to Janet Mefferd on Monday to cast doubt on Romney’s record on reproductive rights and stem-cell research, addressing Romney’s consistency, or lack thereof, on abortion rights and stem-cell research, role in health care reform in Massachusetts, and views on mandating hospitals to distribute emergency contraceptive pills. “At the end of the day, I don’t believe he is pro-life,” Mason said, arguing that Romney’s move on contraception coverage was no different from the Obama administration’s stance:
Mefferd: When you look at his record back in Massachusetts, he talks about a pro-life conversion but it is very confusing I think for a lot of pro-lifers to look at what he did in Massachusetts and feel totally comfortable with where he actually stands versus what he says. Where do you come down on his pro-life record in Massachusetts and where he stands now?
Mason: At the end of the day, I don’t believe he is pro-life. I guess I could be blunt; I could go through a list. We have RomneyCare as a starter, in Romney Care he used his veto powers in eight different ways but he didn’t use those veto powers to veto the $50 co-pay abortions that are within RomneyCare. Then after that even in 2004 we have a bill that he says he had a pro-life conversion so he vetoed a bill against embryonic stem-cell research and then he signed a bill later allowing for stem-cell research by embryos leftover from IVF clinics. That’s not that convincing to me either.
As far as the morning after pill goes, we have a bill that he vetoed, which is part of his pro-life conversion, he used it sort of for his credentials, for expanded access to the morning after pill. But then just three months later he signed a bill that even expanded it even farther than that, than it was being implemented at the time. Then even against his legal team’s advice he signed an executive order mandating that Catholic hospitals distribute the morning-after pill. With all these rallies, which I’ll participated on the 8th with religious freedom sort of to send the message to the Obama administration to not trample on that, the guy that we’re supposed to rally around sort of did the same thing.
As William Saletan points out in a Slate article documenting Romney’s constantly changing story about his “conversion” on the abortion issue, Romney claims to have stopped supporting abortion rights after he was troubled by a meeting regarding the ethics of embryo research, but after coming out against reproductive choice he continued to favor research on surplus IVF embryos. And despite Romney’s assertion that “every time as governor” he “came down on the side of life,” he said in a 2005 interview (after his supposed change of views) that he would veto any bill about abortion, “whether it’s pro-life or pro-choice.”
The Massachusetts-based Catholic Action League criticized Romney for enforcing his private counsel’s opinion mandating that Catholic hospitals distribute emergency contraceptive pills, claiming, “The injury to the conscience rights of Catholic hospitals was not done so much so much by the church’s ideological enemies on the Left but by the Romney administration.” Later, Romney said he personally supported his counsel’s view. During the presidential campaign, however, Romney described the Obama administration’s opposition to exempting health workers from distributing contraceptives as part of “an assault on religion unlike anything we have seen.”
Last week Bishop Harry Jackson asserted that the black community is involved in an “adulterous relationship” with President Obama, explaining following the President’s endorsement of marriage equality that the situation is “no different than a married person having a relationship with someone other than their spouse.” At the Watchmen on the Wall conference today he elaborated on how Obama and the Democratic party are “dishonoring” African Americans and Hispanics. Jackson for years has been trying to bolster Republican efforts to appeal to minority voters, and today told pastors at the summit that “there’s no romance” between the Democratic Party and African Americans and Hispanics.
Later, Jackson said that since 1967 there has been an “an assignment of Hell” that is attempting to “erase sexual differences” through the LGBT community. “How dare people have gender reassignment surgery,” Jackson declared:
It was the week before Mother’s Day that President Obama came out in public and said what some of us have known for years that he was in fact for same-sex marriage. This is one of those situations that he was before it before he was against it and now he’s for it again. It was shocking because it was dishonoring of the African American and Hispanic clergy, it was dishonoring of them because he and his party believe that blacks and Hispanics have nowhere else to go. We’re in an adulterous relationship with them, they come at our door at midnight, they knock, they want entry, they want what they want, how they want it and when they want it—do I have to spell this out for you? But then we don’t get flowers, we don’t get tickets to dinner, there’s no romance in this situation, are you with me?
There’s been a movement from 1967 to erase the sexual differences, the gender assignment that God has given. There has been an assignment of Hell trying to tell us that we need to be unisex, that we need to move into some kind of homogenous, androgynous zone. There’s been something in the culture that is trying to erase the image of God from before us. Marriage is supposed to be a reflection of Christ’s relationship with the Church, but also in the reality of that there is an understanding of femininity and masculinity that also reflect godly roles and assignments. How dare people have gender reassignment surgery that says the way God originally dedicated them to be was not good enough.
Warning against the “homosexual agenda,” Family Research Council president Tony Perkins introduced Mitt and Ann Romney and lauded the former Massachusetts governor for understanding “the threat that this imposes to our nation.”
Romney condemned people, especially activist judges, whom he accused of “trying to establish one religion, the religion of secularism” and “reject traditional values” and “reject the values of our Founders.”
“Here in Massachusetts, activist judges struck a blow to the foundation of civilization—the family—they ruled that our constitution requires people of the same gender to marry,” Romney said. “The principal burden of this court’s ruling doesn’t fall on adults, it falls on children.” He continued, “The price of same-sex marriage is paid by the children, our fight for marriage then should focus then on the needs of children, not the rights of adults.”
Romney called for the adoption of a Federal Marriage Amendment to block the “spreading secular religion and its substitute values” that he said “weaken the foundation of the family” and dishonor the Founders.
Other speakers included Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, American Family Association president Don Wildmon, and preacher Wellington Boone, who reminisced about the time when sodomy was a capital offense in America, joked about “sodomite island,” and said the push for LGBT rights represents the “rape of the civil rights movement.”
Itamar Gelbman is a Republican congressional candidate who has attracted attention for his mailing where he pledged to “Stop Islamization of America,” which won him wild praise from anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller and scorn from one local Republican precinct chair Jamal Qaddura, who said, “I would like to ask him, how do you plan to stop the ‘Islamization of America’ and show me where the ‘Islamization of America’ is?”
Gelbman: In Texas it’s very, very unique because Texas has the biggest Islamic community and people feel it. You feel the influation [sic] of the Islamic community here in the state and people are worried about it. If you look and you see mosques are standing up, are building up on a weekly basis or a monthly basis, you have Sharia law approved court right now in Texas, it’s the first state ever to have a Sharia law approved court, so people here are very, very concerned about it.
One of the most amazing things about Religious Right activism, especially around elections times, is how redundantsomuch of it is.
Back in 2010, it seemed like every organization was organizing a prayer campaign aimed at swaying the election. But this time, it looks like the Religious Right is focusing more on getting conservative Christians registered to vote.
We have already written about the Champion The Vote effort, which seeks to register 5 million new Christian voters ahead of the 2012 election and some 50 million over the next decade. And now it looks like Focus on the Family is heading up a joint voter registration with pretty much the same goal.
Yesterday, Focus released a new video in which Gary Schneeberger, the organization's vice president of communications, (mistakenly?) claimed the goal of the effort was to register some 50 million new Christian voters before the election, which would seemingly require them to begin registering more than 250,000 new voters daily.
That seems highly unlikely, especially since the rudimentary website for the effort, called Commit2Vote2012.com, says that the goal is to reach some 5 million unregistered voters:
It's really a matter of simple math: If we want politicians and policies that reflect our most deeply held Christian convictions to win on Nov. 6, we need to ensure fellow believers register to vote and then get to the polls on Election Day.
And you can help make that happen with your financial gift to Focus on the Family's most ambitious voter-registration effort to date. "Commit 2 Vote 2012," an unprecedented partnership with six other pro-life, pro-family groups, aims to reach 5 million unregistered, pro-life Americans with easy registration materials and the motivation to vote their values on Election Day. Every dollar we raise is another potential voter activated who shares our morals and biblical values.
The election is only six months away and Focus is just announcing this massive registration effort now? How exactly do these various Religious Right groups plan on registering nearly one million voters per month via a project that doesn't even have so much as a website yet?
American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer poked fun at Mitt Romney today on Focal Point following the resignation of Richard Grenell, an openly gay Romney spokesman on security issues who Fischer and other Religious Right leaders wanted ousted from the campaign. Anti-gay activists celebrated news of Grenell’s resignation as a “huge win,” and the New York Times reported that one Republican adviser claimed the campaign offered no defense of Grenell because “they didn’t want to confront the religious right.”
Today, Fischer asserted that Romney shouldn’t expect voters to trust him to confront China, Russia or North Korea if he cannot stand up to “a conservative radio talk show host in Middle America.” “I don’t think for one minute that Mitt Romney did not want this guy gone,” Fischer continued, “he wanted this guy gone because there was not one word of defense, not a peep, from the Romney camp to defend him.”
Fischer: Let me ask you this question, people have raised this question, if Mitt Romney can be pushed around, intimidated, coerced, coopted by a conservative radio talk show host in Middle America, then how is he going to stand up to the Chinese? How is he going to stand up to Putin? How is he going to stand up to North Korea if he can be pushed around by a yokel like me? I don’t think Romney is realizing the doubts that this begins to raise about his leadership. I don’t think for one minute that Mitt Romney did not want this guy gone; he wanted this guy gone because there was not one word of defense, not a peep, from the Romney camp to defend him. They just went absolutely stone cold silent, they put a bag over Grenell’s head, they even asked him to organize this phone conference and they didn’t even let him speak at the conference that he organized.
Adding to the Religious Right’s hyperbolic rhetoric about the upcoming presidential election, Jeremiah told Perkins, who has warned that if re-elected President Obama will “destroy this country,” that the upcoming election “has the deepest ideological meaning of any election I think in the history of our nation” and if voters don’t elect the right candidate America “will no longer be America”:
Perkins: Dr. Jeremiah, I’d be ignoring the elephant in the room or the donkey in the room if I didn’t talk about the fact that this is an election year. It’s been described by many, myself included, that this is a critical election, every election is important, anytime there is a vote I think as Christians we need to be involved and their important, it determines the future of the country. I think this one is extremely important.
Jeremiah: Tony, the way I look at that is in the past we’ve said, there’s two different ways to govern this nation, we’re going to look at two different ways in this election, he’s got this way and that way. But this election that we’re about to experience has the deepest ideological meaning of any election I think in the history of our nation. This election is about what kind of nation we’re going to be and whether or not we’re going to be the nation that God created I believe us to be or whether we’re going to just adopt an entirely new format for America which in my estimation will no longer be America.
Yesterday, Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) stopped by Crosstalk, the flagship radio program of the far-right group VCY America (Voice of Christian Youth). While speaking with host Vic Eliason, Walker, who had pledged to create 250,000 jobs in his first term, tried to spin his disastrous record on job creation by deriding the protests by supports of collective bargaining rights in Madison last Spring as “one of the biggest challenges” to job growth:
Walker: Well it’s interesting, look at the March to march numbers, March of last year to March of this year, there’s a reason why we had some challenges there, particularly early on. In March, April and May, people can remember what was happening, thank goodness its passed now, you can remember what was happening last Spring in our state’s Capitol. There was a lot of uncertainty, particularly for small businesses, I know having held listening sessions all around this state, small business owners more than anything want certainty, they didn’t see that around the Capitol last year so that was one of the biggest challenges out there.
But the Christian Science Monitorreports that under Walker’s leadership the “state’s lead in job losses is significantly greater than the rest of the 50 states,” including 4,300 lost jobs just this March, long-after the protests took place:
Wisconsin lost 23,900 jobs between March 2011 and March 2012, according to data released Tuesday by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The state’s lead in job losses is significantly greater than the rest of the 50 states: No other state lost more than 3,500 jobs.
The majority of the losses in Wisconsin, 17,800, were in the public sector. However, the state lost more private-sector jobs, 6,100, than any other state. The only other states to report private-sector job losses in the same time period (instead of private-sector gains) were Mississippi and Rhode Island.
Governor Walker has been campaigning on a message that jobs are up in Wisconsin, responding to positive data for January and February that 17,000 jobs were added in his state. The loss of 4,300 jobs in March reversed that trend.
He attacked the state of Illinois during the interview and painted them as a laggard in economic growth:
However, Bloomberg Businessweeknoted on April, 20 that Illinois is actually leading Wisconsin in job growth:
Illinois ranked third while Wisconsin placed 42nd in the most recent Bloomberg Economic Evaluation of States index, which includes personal income, tax revenue and employment. Illinois gained 32,000 jobs in the 12 months ending in February, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found. Wisconsin, where Walker promised to create 250,000 jobs with the help of business-tax breaks, lost 16,900.
Walker: In our state it is today, and will continue to be as long as I am governor, against the law for any employer to discriminate against a woman for employment or a promotion or anything else to deal with the workplace. It has been and it continues to be and it will be as long as I am the governor. They just love trying to make things out of nothing out there. When it comes to the pro-life legislation we passed, I would argue the things that we did are pro-women.
They’re pro-patient, they’re pro-women, they’re making sure that patients get all the facts at their disposal. And for those who claim to be about giving people a choice, shouldn’t it be an informed choice? Shouldn’t it be a choice without pressure from others out there?
Following the resignation of openly gay Romney campaign foreign policy spokesman Richard Grenell, who was roundlycriticizedbyconservativeactivists for his sexual orientation, the Romney campaign has tried to spin the issue by saying that his resignation had nothing to do with him being gay. However, the campaign told him to keep quiet on a major foreign policy call with reporters and never defended him from the attacks. When Grenell announced his resignation he noted, “My ability to speak clearly and forcefully on the issues has been greatly diminished by the hyper-partisan discussion of personal issues that sometimes comes from a presidential campaign.”
As one Republican adviser told the New York Times that while campaign staffers didn’t see Grenell’s sexual orientation as an issue, “they didn’t want to confront the religious right.”
After Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association called Grenell’s resignation a “huge win” for the Religious Right, he later wrote that since Romney is partial to “political convenience” over “political conviction,” conservatives must keep up the pressure on him “since the governor has demonstrated in the Grenell affair that he is maneuverable”:
So Romney went the full Etch-A-Sketch on us twice. He campaigned in the primary as a champion of natural marriage. Then as soon as he locked up the nomination, he shook the tablet clean and hired a same-sex marriage zealot as his spokesman. Then when the windsock shifted directions again, he shook the tablet once more and all traces of Richard Grenell disappeared. If the governor is not careful, he's going to sprain his wrist one of these days shaking that thing.
Gov. Romney is a politician rather than a statesman. While he will not do the right thing out of political conviction, he will do the right thing out of political convenience. This represents both a great challenge and a great opportunity for the pro-family community, since the governor has demonstrated in the Grenell affair that he is maneuverable.
The Grenell resignation represents a huge win for the forces defending the family in America, since it will be a long time before the governor appoints another homosexual activist to a prominent position in his campaign.
Since Gov. Romney will do the right thing when it is politically expedient, it's our job to make it politically expedient for him to do the right thing on as many issues as possible. Let's get cracking.
Yesterday, conservative talk show host Janet Mefferd also welcomed the news of Grenell’s resignation, saying that Republicans shouldn’t hire God-hating gays because they intend to trample over the rights and freedoms of Christians.
Like Fischer, Mefferd also went after Romney, saying that since “he evolves all the time, he flips all the time, he comes to new understandings all the time” and “doesn’t seem to have much of a core,” he may be willing to side with either “gay activists” or opponents of gay rights depending on who carries the most political weight.
Mefferd said, “I don’t what to be misunderstood on this, but if you continue to push the Republican Party to the left on the gay rights issue, we’re all dead—I mean, not dead literally—but Christians will pay the price for this”:
I think it was appropriate that he resigned, I think it was inappropriate to put him in that position in the first place as the presumptive presidential nominee for the GOP, the reason I say this and I’m going to reiterate it because I want to be clear what my objection is, my objection is the whole issue we’re seeing in our culture with gay rights trumping freedom of religion and freedom of speech, and it’s on the march, and we’ve seen it in a lot of different instances across the country. I think it’s foolish for the party that has stood up in defense of marriage so strongly, oh by the way the Democrats stood up for marriage once upon a time in DOMA although it’s fallen out of favor now, but you can’t be the party of freedom and the Constitution if you’re not going to understand that the Constitution enshrines the First Amendment and not gay rights.
When you have people who are gay activists on the Republican side, what happens? What do you think is going to happen? You’re going to have people, especially somebody like Mitt Romney, he evolves all the time, he flips all the time, he comes to new understandings all the time, this is the problem with having a nominee that doesn’t seem to have much of a core and that ends up being a problem for people who actually want principle to trump votes. Not every Republican feels that way, by the way, and I’m not trying to be mean to individual people, I don’t what to be misunderstood on this, but if you continue to push the Republican Party to the left on the gay rights issue, we’re all dead—I mean, not dead literally—but Christians will pay the price for this.
They hate the Bible, they hate God, they hate you, but that doesn’t mean we have to roll over and die, it doesn’t mean we have to be quiet on the issue, it’s about freedom, it’s about freedom for Christians to follow the word of God.
It was just last week that Bryan Fischer was declaring that if Mitt Romney wants to win in November, he'd "better start listening to me." And the first thing that Romney needed to do was fire Richard Grenell because all week Fischer had beenrelentlesslyattacking the campaign for having hired an openly gay man to serve as the foreign policy and national security spokesman.
Today, during the second hour of Fischer's daily radio broadcast, the news broke the Grenell had in fact resigned from the campaign and Fischer could barely contain his glee, declaring it a "huge win" for the Religious Right because it means that they have forced Romney to back down and taught him that he cannot do anything like this again:
Mitt Romney is eager these days to change the subject from what the public sees as his party's "war on women." He seeks to close the huge gender gap that has opened up as women flee the party of Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh in search of something a little less patriarchal and misogynistic.
But Romney's problems with America's women may be just beginning. He can distance himself from the theocratic musings of other Republicans and the macho bullying of Fox News talking heads, but he cannot run away from his own selection of former Judge Robert Bork, in August of last year, to become his principal advisor on the Supreme Court and the Constitution.
Bork hopes to wipe out not only the constitutional right to privacy, especially the right to contraception and to abortion, but decades of Equal Protection decisions handed down by what he calls a feminized Supreme Court deploying "sterile feminist logic" to guarantee equal treatment and inclusion of women. Bork is no casual chauvinist but rather a sworn enemy of feminism, a political force that he considers "totalitarian" and in which, he has concluded, "the extremists are the movement."
Romney may never have to elaborate his bizarrely muted reaction to Rush Limbaugh calling Sandra Fluke a "slut" and a "prostitute" ("it's not the language I would have used"), but he will definitely have to answer whether he agrees with his hand-picked constitutional advisor that feminism is "totalitarian"; that the Supreme Court, with two women Justices, had become "feminized" at the time of U.S. v. Virginia (1996) and produced a "feminization of the military"; and that gender-based discrimination by government should no longer trigger heightened scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause.
Romney has already said that, "The key thing the president is going to do... it's going to be appointing Supreme Court and Justices throughout the judicial system." He has also said that he wishes Robert Bork "were already on the Court."
So look what Robert Bork thinks Romney's Supreme Court Justices should do about the rights of women.
Wiping Out Contraceptive, Abortion and Privacy Rights
Romney certainly hoped to leave behind the surprising controversy in the Republican primaries over access to contraception, but Robert Bork's extremist views on the subject guarantee that it stays hot. Bork rejects the line of decisions, beginning with Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), affirming the right of Americans to privacy in their procreative and reproductive choices. He denounces the Supreme Court's protection of both married couples' and individuals' right to contraception in Griswold and Eisenstaedt v. Baird (1972), declaring that such a right to privacy in matters of procreation was created "out of thin air." He calls the Ninth Amendment -- which states that the "enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people" -- an "inkblot" without meaning. For him, the right of people to decide about birth control has nothing to do with Due Process liberty or other rights "retained by the people" -- it is the illegitimate expression of "radical individualism" on the Supreme Court.
Bork detests Roe v. Wade (1973), a decision he says has "no constitutional foundation" and is based on "no constitutional reasoning." He would overturn it and empower states to prosecute women and doctors who violate criminal abortion laws. Bork promises:
Attempts to overturn Roe will continue as long as the Court adheres to it. And, just so long as the decision remains, the Court will be perceived, correctly, as political and will continue to be the target of demonstrations, marches, television advertisements, mass mailings, and the like. Roe, as the greatest example and symbol of the judicial usurpation of democratic prerogatives in this century, should be overturned. The Court's integrity requires that.
In other words, the Court's "integrity" would require a President Romney to impose an anti-Roe v. Wade litmus test on all nominations to the Court.
Ending Heightened Scrutiny of Government Sex Discrimination under Equal Protection
Bork is the leading voice in America assailing the Supreme Court for using "heightened" Equal Protection scrutiny to examine government sex discrimination under the Fourteenth Amendment. While women and men all over America cheered the Supreme Court's 7-1 decision in United States v. Virginia (1996), the decision that forced the Virginia Military Institute to stop discriminating and to admit its first women cadets, Bork attacked it for producing the "feminization of the military," which for him is a standard and cutting insult --"feminization" is always akin to degradation and dilution of standards. He writes: "Radical feminism, an increasingly powerful force across the full range of American institutions, overrode the Constitution in United States v. Virginia." Of course, in his view, this decision was no aberration: "VMI is only one example of a feminized Court transforming the Constitution," he wrote. Naturally, a "feminized Court" creates a "feminized military."
Bork argues that, outside of standard "rational basis" review, "the equal protection clause should be restricted to race and ethnicity because to go further would plunge the courts into making law without guidance from anything the ratifiers understood themselves to be doing." This rejection of gender as a protected form of classification ignores the fact that that the Fourteenth Amendment gives "equal protection" to all "persons." But, if Bork and his acolytes have their way, decades of Supreme Court decisions striking down gender-discriminatory laws under the Equal Protection Clause will be thrown into doubt as the Court comes to examine sex discrimination under the "rational basis" test, the most relaxed kind of scrutiny. Instead of asking whether government sex discrimination "substantially" advances an "important" government interest, the Court will ask simply whether it is "conceivably related" to some "rational purpose." Remarkably, Mitt Romney's key constitutional advisor wants to turn back the clock on Equal Protection jurisprudence by watering down the standards for reviewing sex-discriminatory laws.
Judge Bork Means Business: the Case of the Sterilized Women Employees
If you don't think Bork means all this, go back and look at his bleak record as a Judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Take just one Bork opinion that became a crucial point of discussion in the hearings over his failed 1987 Supreme Court nomination. In a 1984 case calledOil, Chemical and Atomic Workers International Union v. American Cyanamid Co., Bork found that the Occupational Safety and Health Act did not protect women at work in a manufacturing plant from a company policy that forced them to be sterilized -- or else lose their jobs -- because of high levels of lead in the air. The Secretary of Labor had decided that the Act's requirement that employers must provide workers "employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards" meant that American Cynamid had to "fix the workplace" through industrial clean-up rather than "fix the employees" by sterilizing or removing all women workers of child-bearing age. But Bork strongly disagreed. He wrote an opinion for his colleagues apparently endorsing the view that other clean-up measures were not necessary or possible and that the sterilization policy was, in any event, a "realistic and clearly lawful" way to prevent harm to the women's fetuses. Because the company's "fetus protection policy" took place by virtue of sterilization in a hospital -- outside of the physical workplace -- the plain terms of the Act simply did not apply, according to Bork. Thus, as Public Citizen put it, "an employer may require its female workers to be sterilized in order to reduce employer liability for harm to the potential children."
Decisions like this are part of Bork's dark Social Darwinist view of America in which big corporations are always right and the law should rarely ever be interpreted to protect the rights of employees, especially women, in the workplace.
No matter how vigorously Mitt Romney shakes his Etch-a-Sketch, Americans already have an indelible picture of what a Romney-run presidency and Bork-run judiciary would look like and what it would mean for women. With Robert Bork calling the shots on the courts, a vote for Mitt Romney is plainly a vote against women's rights, women's equality and women's freedom.
Before the upcoming election, the GOP is looking to restore its traditional polling advantage on national security with virulent criticisms of President Obama’s handling of foreign affairs. But as MSNBC’s Chuck Todd pointed out last September, “No president since George H.W. Bush has had more foreign-policy successes happen under his watch than President Obama,” and Americans have given Obama high marks for his counter-terrorism strategy.
On Wednesday, Rep. Allen West (R-FL) joined Gaffney in distorting a quote from an anonymous State Department official regarding thesuccessfuldismantling of Al-Qaeda and the administration’s aversion to using the phrase “war on terror.” West told Gaffney that the official’s words meant Obama had “signed a surrender agreement.” Later, he pointedly used the president’s middle name in calling for the defeat of “Barack Hussein Obama” and said that the president has been “absolutely horrible as far as the national security of the United States of America and the foreign policy relations in the Middle East.” Rep. West also suggested that “radical Islamist groups” have seized control of Libya after the rebellion and NATO effort which toppled Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, even though Libya’s National Transitional Council explicitly banned religious parties.
Gaffney: Congressman West, just in the past twenty-four hours as you know there is an unnamed State Department official who kind of has personified this witlessness or worse this submission to the Brotherhood with the comment, ‘the war on terror is over.’
West: I know, I’m going to pop a bottle of champagne tonight, I guess we just raised the flag. I don’t know who signed the surrender agreement but I guess it’s all done.
Gaffney: Well if anybody has I’m afraid it’s us, but the question I’m working to get at is, can we realistically expect from an administration that seems to be indulging in this idea, the sort of leadership that you’re talking about on so many of these fronts?
West: No. That’s the short answer to your question. The Obama administration has been absolutely horrible as far as the national security of the United States of America and the foreign policy relations in the Middle East, especially with these actors like you say, with the Muslim Brotherhood, totally misread what was happening in Libya, now we have more radical Islamist groups that are controlling these countries throughout the Maghreb, which is North Africa. So this is why we have to have a sure shift in the leadership of this country and it starts on high with President Barack Hussein Obama and we have to have him replaced.
Last week, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) appeared on Gaffney’s show to discuss a recent executive order regarding INTERPOL. In the interview, Paul attempted to link INTERPOL to Egypt’s prosecution of American NGO employees, who have since left the country. Paul blatantly distorted the executive order by insisting that Obama gave INTERPOL “diplomatic immunity.” ABC’s Kristina Wong points out the executive order does not give INTERPOL agents diplomatic immunity and only extends to them privileges regarding different federal taxes and custom duties.
Paul also suggested that INTERPOL is involved in investigations of “religious crimes,” even though the group is prohibited from “political, military, religious or racial” interventions and on Monday “refused a request by Egypt to issue worldwide arrest warrants” for the fifteen US employees. The senator later claimed that Obama “has very little regard for the rule of law or for the Constitution”: very little regard for the rule of law or for the Constitution”:
Paul: As you’ve pointed out in some of your articles that INTERPOL’s been given diplomatic immunity here, INTERPOL has also extradited religious people who are accused of religious crimes from other countries.
Gaffney: This business about the executive order that the President issued concerning INTERPOL is again a place where we have I think we have very, very much the same concerns. Do you believe Senator Rand Paul that we are looking at a President who is disposed, at least in principle, to having this extra-constitutional role played by INTERPOL, perhaps in this case, perhaps in some others, might result in American citizens not being allowed to have the protections that the Constitution affords them from unreasonable search and seizure, among other things.
Paul: Yeah, I think this President has very little regard for the rule of law or for the Constitution.
In another case of right-wing paranoia, sports-reporter-turned-“terrorism analyst” for the Christian Broadcasting Network Erick Stakelbeck told Gaffney in an interview yesterday that Obama is intentionally bringing the Muslim Brotherhood to power in the U.S. and abroad so he and “the rest of his compadres on the radical Marxist left” can work with “hardcore Islamists” to push “the downfall of Judeo-Christian Western civilization.” Gaffney agreed and went even further, saying that Obama has “not only a deep background in the radical left but also of course considerable experience with Islamists, certainly with Islam himself” and is the “personification” of the “Red-Green” axis between the left and radical Islamists:
Stakelbeck: They are welcomed in to the inner sanctum and they are whispering in our leaders’ ears, telling them, ‘Hey the Muslim Brotherhood has reformed, they have renounced violence, we can deal with these guys, you need to embrace them and use them as a counterweight against the really bad guys and Al-Qaeda.’ That’s exactly what’s happening, our leaders are letting them in through ignorance in many cases, but in other cases and I believe in the case of President Obama, he knows exactly what the Brotherhood is all about, and for him and the rest of his compadres on the radical Marxist left, empowering Islamists is just a case of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Hardcore left, hardcore Islamists, both seek the downfall of Judeo-Christian Western civilization, so they must be embraced by the left.
Gaffney: Wow. This is of course a very powerful indictment, Erick Stakelbeck of ‘Stakelbeck on Terror,’ and I must tell you the only quibble that I guess I would have with what you’ve said is the President brings to the party of course not only a deep background in the radical left but also of course considerable experience with Islamists, certainly with Islam himself, and in a way he kind of is the personification of what’s been called the Red-Green axis, it comes together with him.
All week, we havebeenchronicling Bryan Fischer's one-man war against Mitt Romney because his campaign hired Richard Grenell as its foreign policy and national security spokesman and Grenell happens to be openly gay.
But apparently we totally misunderstood what Fischer was doing because today on his radio program he explained that he is really Romney's "best buddy" and just trying to help him win in November, saying that if he wants, he'd "better start listening to me." And Romney can start by announcing, among other things, that he supports the marriage amendment in North Carolina and that he will defend DOMA, reinstate DADT, and veto ENDA:
National Organization for Marriage chairman John Eastman talked to conservative radio talk show host Steve Deace yesterday where he assured Deace, a vocal critic of Mitt Romney, that NOM is confident that Romney will actively oppose marriage equality if elected president and dismissed fears that his donors who favor legalizing same-sex marriage might influence his views:
Deace: John, I want to ask you about a story that came out over the weekend, three men, Paul Singer, Dan Loeb, Cliff Asness, they are hedge fund managers, they are major Romney donors, and they each cut six figure checks toward the effort to redefine, or destroy, marriage in the state of New York. Is that a concern of your group that the Republican nominee has major donors in his camp that are funding the other side of this debate?
Eastman: You know, people running for president accept donations from all sorts of people who don’t always agree with them on all issues. The fact of the matter is, Governor Romney has signed our pledge where he will defend the Defense of Marriage Act, where he will support an amendment to protect traditional marriage nationwide. He has signed that pledge and we fully expect that he will honor his pledge in that regard.
Indeed, Romney, a NOM donor, in August signed NOM’s presidential candidate pledge [pdf] and committed to not only push for a Federal Marriage Amendment and defend the unconstitutional DOM, but also to nominate anti-equality judges, put Washington DC’s marriage equality law up to a popular referendum, and “establish a presidential commission” to “investigate harassment of traditional marriage supporters”:
One, support sending a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the states for ratification.
Two, nominate to the U.S. Supreme Court and federal bench judges who are committed to restraint and to applying the original meaning of the Constitution, appoint an attorney general similarly committed, and thus reject the idea our Founding Fathers inserted a right to gay marriage into our Constitution.
Three, defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act vigorously in court.
Four, establish a presidential commission on religious liberty to investigate and document reports of Americans who have been harassed or threatened for exercising key civil rights to organize, to speak, to donate or to vote for marriage and to propose new protections, if needed.
Five, advance legislation to return to the people of the District of Columbia their right to vote on marriage.
Last week, we unveiled a campaign featuring a website, web ad, and report exposing Mitt Romney’s dangerous agenda for America’s courts, as demonstrated by the fact that Robert Bork has been tapped to lead Romney's constitutional and judicial advisory team.
As the report noted, Romney's choice of judicial advisors "spells serious trouble for the American people" ... and it is no surprise that it is also music to the ear of the Religious Right.
On today's episode of "WallBuilders Live," David Barton and Rick Green invited Jordan Sekulow, who worked for Romney back in 2008, to make the case as to why the Religious Right can and should support Romney. While Green was skeptical at first, Barton needed no convincing because Jay Sekulow (Jordan's father) was going to be involved in picking Romney's judges and that was all he needed to hear:
This has not been a hard thing for evangelicals to get over and support Romney and it shouldn't be a hard thing. When Romney ran four years ago, he wasn't my first choice but the reason I never got really worried about Romney was Jay Sekulow. And I tell you he has been very intimately involved in helping get folks like Alito and Roberts on the court. And four years ago, I heard that Sekulow is the guy that Romney has tapped to choose his judges and I said "that's it." I don't have any trouble with Romney because Isaiah 1:26 tells me the righteousness of nation is determined, not by the legislature, but by its judges. And if Romney's got folks like Sekulow picking his judges, I can live with that in a heartbeat.
When Jordan Sekulow joined the program, he made the case that conservatives should support Romney because he has pledged to nominate judges like Samuel Alito and John Roberts and has filled his campaign with people who are going to keep his feet to the fire:
Green: How important is it for us to recognize that if Romney is president, who has his ear? Who are the people that will consider those judges versus another four years of Obama if he gets another quarter of the judiciary appointed?
Sekulow: You've already got people who are long-time Romney supporters like my dad, who has argued thirteen cases before the Supreme Court and was very involved with President Bush - he was one of four people that were involved in the nomination process in the Bush White House - and so if you like Alito and Roberts, these are the kind of people. You have Judge Bork, who was filibustered by the Senate, voted down by the Senate actually, and he is on the Romney committee.
You want Kagan and Sotomayor, and I was at the Supreme Court during the 'Obamacare' oral arguments, you probably don't want more of that, or do you want more Alito and Roberts? And he's made those pledges; I think we need to come to the campaign say "alright, you made these pledges, we're going to keep you honest to them and keep your feet to the fire."
Glenn Beck appeared alongside James Robison, Jay Richards and Jim Garlow at Garlow’s Skyline Church in San Diego, California, where he warned that America is like a “child being choked to death” because the “scary left” has been “uncorked” and given “free rein.” While holding up a copy of Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, he said the left seeks to burn America “down to the ground.” Later in the talk, Beck said that the left wants to eliminate sexual mores to turn people into slaves and have government “rule over us.”
Samuel Wurzelbacher, better known as Joe the Plumber, has turned himself from Tea Party activist to Republican congressional candidate and talked to David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network this week where he explained that President Obama’s “views are socialist” and his “ideology is anti-American,” adding, “I’ll say that every day and I won’t shut up about it.” “It’s connecting the dots, it’s very simple, it’s not a conspiracy theory, it’s not much a hoopla, it’s real,” Plumber added. Plumber also backed Mitt Romney although he wished Herman Cain, whom he called a “Godly man,” was the nominee:
While speaking to Brody, he also said that after he was criticized over his conversation with President Obama, said that he was upset by a Huffington Post story about him and said that he was reassured after prayer, knowing that “God's on my side.”