Fighting the Right

Bryan Fischer Says Dinosaurs Were Just Giant, 1,000-Year-Old Lizards

On his radio program today, Bryan Fisher laid out his theory about where dinosaurs came from, explaining that they were simply lizards that grew very large because they lived for 1,000 years.

As Fischer explained, prior to Noah's flood, the average human lifespan was 912 years, so logically the lifespans of animals and reptiles and the like were also much longer during this period. And since reptiles continue to grow until they die, Fischer said, it stands to reason that a lizard that lived for 1,000 years would eventually grow to be the size of a dinosaur.

Asserting that there is "no reason to doubt" the Bible when it says that Methuselah lived for 969 years, Fischer declared that if some salamanders today can live for hundreds of years and grow to be several feet in length, then obviously lizards before the flood could live for a thousand years and grow even larger. 

"I'm thinking that could be the explanation for dinosaurs," he said. "They were just like reptiles that just like grew for a 1,000 years, kept growing, kept growing, kept growing."

The Year In Homophobia: The Right-Wing's Anti-Gay Meltdown In 2015

The fall of marriage equality bans in all 50 states following the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision was a disaster for the conservative movement, whose leaders have spent years demonizing same-sex couples and warning that the legal recognition of their marriages will unleash a wave of terror on the nation.

While Obergefell was a major setback for the Religious Right, the 2016 presidential campaign proves that the movement’s anti-gay crusade is far from over. Several GOP presidential candidates have vowed to enshrine anti-gay discrimination into law and to turn the government into an arm of the anti-gay movement. At the same time, more and more conservative leaders are insisting that government officials should simply ignore decisions they don’t like, such as Obergefell.

Even the not-exactly-pious GOP presidential frontrunner, Donald Trump, is actively courting the anti-gay Right, although he has trouble explaining why he should be seen as a strong defender of “traditional marriage.”

In the eyes of many conservative activists, Obergefell was the product of a culture that had been slipping away for years, bringing America into an apocalyptic period where growing acceptance for homosexuality is ushering in disastrous consequences.

Obergefell predictions

Weeks before the Supreme Court handed down its ruling, WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah declared that if the court struck down state bans on same-sex marriage and conservative states didn’t seceded from the union in protest, anti-gay activists like himself would flee the country. “Are there any governors or legislatures out there among the 50 states willing to secede to offer a refuge for the God-fearing?” he asked, warning that if states were to stay in the U.S. following a pro-equality decision, the world should expect “a pilgrimage by millions of Americans.”

Farah was no outlier. In the days and weeks leading up to the decision, Religious Right pundits roundly declared that nationwide marriage equality would lead to the widespread persecution of Christians and America’s destruction at the hands of God.

End Times radio host Rick Wiles told his listeners that the country would “be brought to its knees” if the Supreme Court were to rule in favor of marriage equality and that there would be “pain and suffering at a level we’ve never seen in this country,” caused by “riots or looting or war on American soil or a fireball from space.”

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay warned the Supreme Court that “all hell is going to break loose” if it “rules against marriage,” predicting widespread civil disobedience as a result of the decision. Republican presidential candidate and former governor Mike Huckabee said the ruling would effectively “criminalize Christianity” and lead to the criminal prosecution of pastors who don’t perform weddings for same-sex couples.

Other Religious Right leaders like Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, and Liberty Counsel Chairman Mathew Staver confidentially predicted that a gay marriage ruling would spark a second Civil War or a second American Revolution.

Alan Keyes called such a ruling a “just cause for war,” insisting that it would “produce the separation and dissolution of the United States” and usher in “the murder of the masses.” “We’ve got to fight to our deaths to save this great country,” Accuracy In Media’s Cliff Kincaid said of gay marriage, which he called “the planned destruction of our country.”

Texas pastors Robert Jeffress and Rick Scarborough also got in the mix. Jeffress said the ruling could pave the way for the Antichrist while Scarborough said conservatives must “fight until we die” and “push back with all our might” against a ruling in favor of gay marriage, which he said would “unleash the spirit of hell on the nation.” Scarborough even boasted that he was ready to go to jail and face death: “We are not going to bow, we are not going to bend, and if necessary, we will burn.”

Obergefell reactions

As one might expect, the responses to the ruling were not much different from the predictions.

The day after the ruling, Wiles declared that he received a message from God, who asked him to tell the people to “flee” the country before God destroys it through economic ruin, food shortages, terrorism, disease and slavery. “America is over,” he declared. Later, Wiles predicted that America is “going to see gunfire” from people resisting the government over gay marriage. “Somebody’s going to jail, somebody’s going to die, somebody’s going to suffer,” he said.

One Kentucky clerk (not Kim Davis!) even said he would die before issuing a marriage license to a same-sex couple. Roy Moore, the chief justice of the Alabama state supreme court, wondered if gay marriage would lead to oppression rivaling the Holocaust.

Staver, the Religious Right attorney who went on to represent rogue Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, said that the ruling transformed America into Nazi Germany and that the Department of Education will now make schools tell kindergarteners to “go out and have same-sex relationships.” (He had previously warned of the prospect of “forced homosexuality.”) One pastor made the case that gays would now try to force straight people to have gay sex with them. DeLay, the former House GOP leader, insisted that he had uncovered a secret Department of Justice memo legalizing “12 new perversions, things like bestiality, polygamy, having sex with little boys and making that legal.”

Michael Bresciani of the Christian Post said Obergefell would lead to “an economic crash much more serious than the stock market crash of 29,” while WND’s Farah envisioned “more civil and racial strife” or “an attack on our country from foreign power or terrorist group.”

Fox News pundit Todd Starnes said that “pastors who refuse to perform gay marriage and preach from the Bible should prepare for hate crime charges,” while Illinois pastor Erwin Lutzer told religious parents to prepare to “be diagnosed as culturally intolerant and personality intolerant,” as a result of which “their children will be taken away from them.” Perkins of the FRC claimed that the Supreme Court’s decision would threaten the freedom of speech and gun rights.

At least one pastor, Kevin Swanson, said that conservatives should attend a gay loved one’s wedding, but only if they show up with cow manure smeared all over their bodies:

Blame for disasters

Gay people are used to being blamed for everything from deadly hurricanes to the September 11 attacks, so right-wing activists now have to find new tragedies to pin on gays.

American Family Radio host Sandy Rios, who also serves as the American Family Association’s governmental affairs director, said that homosexuality may have been “a factor” in the deadly Amtrak crash in May. She suggested that the engineer, who is gay, may have been having a breakdown as he experienced “some confusion” related to homosexuality.

Rios also claimed that “the terror threat against this nation has gone up exponentially” due to celebrations of LGBT rights, as they caused God to turn away from the U.S. and now “we’ve lost protections of God for this country.” Perkins, who also has a show on AFR, said the Obergefell ruling makes America more “vulnerable” to attacks as God will no longer protect the U.S. He also warned that an increase in the number kids raised by same-sex parents will lead to a surge in the prison population.

Fellow AFR host Bryan Fischer specifically blamed flooding in Texas on God’s judgment for homosexuality, saying that “you can make a geographical connection” between flooding and homosexuality. (We wonder what that means for American Family Radio’s home town of Tupelo, Mississippi, which was hit by a tornado last year).

Evangelist Jonathan Cahn said that the terrorist attacks in Paris were a sign that God stopped protecting France as punishment for legalizing same-sex marriage and warned that Hurricane Joaquin might hit Washington, D.C., to punish elected officials who celebrated gay rights. (It didn’t.)

Huckabee also suggested that America is in “a dangerous place” because “if man believes that he can redefine marriage, it’s apparent that man believes he has become his own god,” and God will not protect such a nation.

Wiles, the host of the End Time program “Trunews,” suggested that homosexuality played a role in California’s drought, alleging that news of the state’s “spiritual rebellion” had “reached heaven and God has no other choice but to cut off the rain.” However, Starnes of Fox News repeatedly claimed that a rainstorm in Washington, D.C., following the ruling was actually a sign of God’s displeasure.

Swanson, who advocated for the death penalty for unrepentant gays at a summit attended by several GOP presidential candidates, said at the same conference that gay couples kissing could trigger flooding and wildfires and that a gay character in “Harry Potter” will lead to divine punishment.

Christian Persecution Complex

The Religious Right has a long history of absurdly claiming that evangelical Christians are facing persecution in America, and the Obergefell ruling only amped up such rhetoric.

Huckabee warned that the gay rights movement “won’t stop until there are no more churches, until there are no more people who are spreading the Gospel,” lamenting that too many Christians don’t realize “how close they are to losing all of their freedoms.” Huckabee’s fellow GOP presidential candidate, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, also got in on the action, warning that a gay “jihad” is “going after people of faith who respect the biblical teaching that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.”

Wiles, the End Times radio host, alleged that gay marriage would lead to the imposition of martial law, while Personhood USA cofounder Cal Zastrow predicted that one day “the sodomite police” will take women’s husbands away from them.

Glenn Beck predicted that Obergefell would result in serious repercussions for the media, claiming that “anybody on this show [who] says they’re for traditional marriage” will have their airtime in jeopardy as the ruling “could mean the end of radio broadcasts like mine.”

As the positively insane anti-gay filmLight Wins” claimed, the gay rights movement is lighting America on fire with cases of persecution:

Nothing set off more persecution rhetoric than the Kim Davis saga, in which the Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk blocked her office from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in defiance of a court order, citing “God’s authority.” She was temporarily placed in the custody of U.S. Marshals after she said she would continue to flout the courts and was only released after deputy clerks started to issue the licenses.

The case allowed right-wing activists to claim that their fears of the mass imprisonment of Christians following the Obergefell ruling were coming true. Davis’ lawyers at the virulently anti-gay and far-right legal group Liberty Counsel went so far as to compare her to a Jew living in Nazi Germany facing the gas chambers.

Ignore the courts

Even before the Davis case, many Republicans had been insisting that government officials may not have to treat court rulings on marriage as authoritative after all, and can simply flout the process of judicial review. Obergefell gave them the perfect opportunity to put these arguments into action.

Cruz declared that the government could ignore Obergefell, which he called a “fundamentally illegitimate” decision akin to “Nazi decrees,” and promised that in a Cruz administration “we will not use the federal government to enforce this lawless decision.”

Before quitting the presidential race, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal lambasted the decision, explaining that “no earthly court can change the definition of marriage.” Huckabee said that if elected president, he would tell the Supreme Court: “Thank you for your opinion, but we shall ignore it.” “It’s a matter of saving our republic to say that, as president, we’re not going to accept this decision, we will ignore it and we will not enforce it,” he said.

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida also claimed that when civil law conflicts with “God’s rules,” then government officials must choose the latter because “God’s rules always win.” Rubio, along with his fellow GOP presidential candidates Cruz, Huckabee, Ben Carson, Rick Santorum and Carly Fiorina, also pledged to sign legislation confronting the supposed discrimination faced by gay marriage opponents.

Such talking points show the success of the Religious Right in claiming that laws inconsistent with the Bible, or more specifically, Religious Right activists’ view of the Bible, should be treated as illegitimate.

Pat Robertson Bonus

While it was hard for Pat Robertson to top his previous claims about gay people causing terrorism, tornados, earthquakes and meteor strikes and using special rings to deliberately transmit HIV/AIDS to people who shake hands with them, he tried his best in 2015.

The “700 Club” host worried in September that gay marriage would trigger a perilous financial crisis, warning that “the rupture of the entire financial framework of our world” could occur because of the Obergefell ruling. He again alleged in November that “the wrath of God” is headed to America now that “it’s a constitutional right for sodomites to marry each other,” possibly in the form of “a massive financial collapse.”

“They’re going to make you conform to them,” he said of gay rights advocates. “You are going to say you like anal sex, you like oral sex, you like bestiality, you like anything you can think of, whatever it is.”

Robertson praised countries in Africa like Kenya that criminalize homosexuality, urging Obama to “listen to some of his fellow Africans” on the matter, while at the same time warning that gays are bent on outlawing religious liberty and having all Christians “put in jail” as part of their “vendetta to destroy everyone who disagrees with them.”

“Christianity, the founding principle of this nation, is criminalized,” he said in response to the Davis controversy. “You go to jail if you believe in God and stand fast for your beliefs against the onslaught of secular humanism and the flood that comes about with it.” (Robertson, of course, has not been jailed).

He also predicted that gay marriage will legalize pedophilia, polygamy and “love affairs between men and animals.”

Warning viewers that “the homosexuals don’t just want to be left alone, now they want to come out and stick it to the Christians,” Robertson said that gay rights laws are creating “absolute tyranny” and “it's high time we call it what it is and we stand up for freedom.”

The televangelist also offered his patented advice to people with gay children.

He told one mother to send her daughter, who is dating another woman, to a Christian summer camp and “pray that God will straighten her out.” He said that the girl was probably “pressured” into embracing a lesbian identity because “there’s so much lesbian stuff, I mean, lesbian this, lesbian the other, so much homosexual — the media is pushing this as hard as they can possibly push it.” He told another viewer who has a gay son to treat him like a drug addict, and advised yet another parent that God could change his gay son if only the son were to start “acting like a man.”

Cruz Prayer Call: Ted Cruz Will Be The 'Godly President' Who Can Lead A 'Moral And Cultural Revolution' In America

Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign has started leading weekly prayer calls for supporters, each led by one or two of the many conservative pastors and Religious Right activists who have endorsed the Texas Republican’s presidential bid.

At bat today was North Carolina-based pastor and anti-gay activist Michael Brown, who, before leading the callers in prayer, said that he believed that if God is behind Cruz’s campaign, He will send a “miracle” to propel the Texas senator to the White House and insisted that Cruz would be a “godly president” who could help believers bring about a “radical change” in America.

“When I first met with Sen. Cruz’s dad, Rafael, some months back and he shared with me how Sen. Cruz was elected to be the senator of Texas,” he said, “I knew right then that this was the kind of thing that if this if God was in, we would see a miracle happen, that that was the only way that Sen. Cruz could make it to be president of the United States.”

“We must have a Gospel-based moral and cultural revolution,” he added. “It can only flow from the church, it can only flow from the people of God, but if the people of God across the country were united with a godly president, we could see radical change come.”

"Dangerous Nonsense" (Video)

 

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The American Way Needs Defenders Now More Than Ever (Video)

THANK YOU to our incredible members for a year in which we accomplished a lot. The American Way needs defenders now more than ever ... because the threats to our fundamental rights and values are only growing.

Theodore Shoebat Wants The Government To Send SWAT Teams To Shut Down Yoga Studios

Extremist right-wing activist Theodore Shoebat dedicated his most recent video to railing against the evils of Hinduism, declaring that if he was a dictator, he would invade India, destroy all Hindu temples and force everyone to convert to Christianity.

After complaining, without a hint of irony, that he regularly gets compared to ISIS for his beliefs, Shoebat proclaimed that he would not hesitate to invade India and force all Hindus to convert to Christianity while also outlawing the practice of yoga in America.

"You need to Christianize the land," he stated. "We need to destroy these false religions, end of story. Hinduism is an evil, demonic, anti-Christ religion. It needs to be uprooted from the earth and it has no place in the world."

"Yoga? Outlawed," Shoebat continued. "And anyone who teaches yoga? Punished by the state ... I think the U.S. government needs to crack down on this evil, demonic thing called yoga ... You're teaching yoga, have the SWAT team bust open the doors to that place and just arrest everybody."

Kris Kobach Wonders If Obama Is Using Syria Conflict 'As a Pretense For Opening The Door to Radical Islam'

Kris Kobach is a quietly influential Republican politician who has helped lawmakers across the country write anti-immigrant and voter suppression measures. He also serves as the secretary of state of Kansas and as a local talk radio personality, hosting a weekly radio program on Kansas City’s KCMO.

Last week, Kobach invited to his radio show Kamal Saleem, a Religious Right favorite who claims, dubiously, that he was once a leading Islamic terrorist but who is now trying to warn America that Obama’s babysitter is leading a secret Islamic shadow government and that churches will be closed in 2013. Things quickly went off the rails.

Kobach, who has previously said of Obama that “we’ve never known who this guy is or where his heart is,” told Saleem that he wonders if Obama is intentionally “putting his finger on the scale in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood or the radical Islamists.”

“It seems to me that Obama’s policies, one after another, seem to be ones that if they don’t favor radical Islamism, they open the door to people like Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood time and again,” he said. “And it just makes me wonder, is it incompetence by Obama or is he intentionally using the so-called Arab Spring as a pretense and using what’s going on in Syria as a pretense for opening the door to radical Islamism? I just, I wonder what’s going on.”

“It’s no doubt he’s throwing the grid off and the balance of the entire Middle East off-balance to create chaos for the Muslim Brotherhood to start establishing their power,” Saleem agreed.

The two also discussed the allegations popularized by Frank Gaffney that the Muslim Brotherhood is infiltrating the Republican Party through conservative activists Grover Norquist and Suhail Kahn.

Saleem, in a reference to the Christian dominionist Seven Mountains theology, which calls for conservative Christians to take over the “seven mountains” of culture in America, told Kobach that Muslims are “infiltrating our government little by little, with the help of our senior government, to become part of our nation to include the seven mountains of influence in the United States of America.” He lamented that there is now “Islamic leadership on every mountaintop.”

Kobach, who worked in George W. Bush’s Justice Department, said that that was “consistent with what I observed when I was in the Bush administration,” where there was “a constant effort to populate the leadership even of a Republican administration with individuals to show to the world, outwardly, that, ‘Look, we have lots of Muslim leaders within the government, don’t anyone think that this is a broader issue with Islam.’”

The two then turned to discussing what Saleem called the “infiltration of Islam into the GOP,” claiming that Norquist’s “wife is a radical Islamist.”

Saleem also claimed that Republican senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain have backed a “hate crime bill” that says that “whoever speaks against Islam should be penalized and the First Amendment cannot apply to that person.” (We have no idea what he is referring to.)

This all, he said, shows that the GOP is “changing and taking the Muslim side, so you know the infiltration of finances and power is moving that direction.”

Dolores Huerta Joins PFAW for GOP Debate in Las Vegas

Leading up to the December 15 Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas, PFAW board member Dolores Huerta traveled to Las Vegas to speak with Nevada voters about the dangerous platforms of Republican presidential candidates. The trip was part of PFAW’s Latinos Vote! program, and this was the third GOP debate where Huerta joined PFAW on the ground to emphasize the extremism of the current Republican presidential candidates.

Her first stop was a Latino voters and leaders roundtable where she addressed the Republican candidates’ far-right platforms on a number of issues, including the environment, immigration, the minimum wage, and women’s health.

Huerta also headlined a press conference with unions and progressive organizations, and a #NoHateDebate rally outside of the debate. As the leading Nevada newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, reported, “Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and civil rights champion Dolores Huerta said ‘there's a war going on’ against women, labor unions and the environment, and it's being waged by the candidates who will take the stage in Las Vegas Tuesday night and their respective party.”

Watch her speech at the #NoHateDebate rally:

Mobilizing voters in Nevada will be a key to Democrats winning the White House in 2016. In 2008 and 2012, Obama won Nevada, but in the 2014 elections, Republicans won up and down the ticket. The state is one of the targets for PFAW’s Latinos Vote! program that works to expose and counter anti-immigrant and anti-Latino rhetoric and policies, as Nevada Latinos could be the margin of victory for Democrats in Nevada in 2016. While in 1994 Latino voters were just 5% of the electorate, they’re now 15% of the voting population. By speaking directly with Latino voters and to local media, Huerta was able to address how important the Latino vote will be in Nevada and the dangerous threat that the Republican presidential candidates pose to Latino and immigrant communities. 

PFAW

Religious Right Leaders Head To Farris Wilks Ranch To Plot How To Make Ted Cruz President

As we have been reporting for several months, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has been consolidating support from Religious Right leaders by enthusiastically embracing their anti-gay, anti-choice views. The momentum shifted into high gear after a secret meeting on December 7 at which dozens of Religious Right leaders voted to back Cruz – and a flood of endorsements has followed.

Now, the Washington Post’s Tom Hamburger reports that the group will gather again a few days after Christmas “at a remote ranch in central Texas, where Cruz, his wife and several key financial backers will visit with some of the country’s most prominent evangelical leaders for private conversations and a public rally.”

The ranch is owned by Farris Wilks, who with his brother made billions in the fracking business and has since become a major funder of far-right, anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-church-state separation organizations. The Wilks brothers have already given at least $15 million to the effort to elect Ted Cruz. Farris Wilks is also a pastor who portrays gays as child predators and mocks environmentalism. He preached after Barack Obama’s re-election, “I do believe that our country died that Tuesday night, to all that’s honorable, all that’s good, that’s ambitious, and that has justice.”

The Wilks brothers have also been big funders of Christian-nation zealot David Lane, a political operative who has been working hard to get conservative pastors to run for office and to convince Christian conservatives to rally behind a single Republican candidate. Lane is driven by the desire to get the reins of government in the hands of people who share his belief that America was founded by and for Christians and has a national mission to advance the Christian faith.

Lane and other Religious Right leaders are now publicly trashing Marco Rubio for not working hard enough to get conservative evangelical support.

 

Report Calls For Stronger Accountability Against Charter School 'Profiteering'

A new report published this month by the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado Boulder examines the ways that “charter school policy functions to promote privatization and profiteering.”

The report’s authors, Bruce Baker of Rutgers University and Gary Miron of Western Michigan University, identify four major policy concerns:

  1. A substantial share of public expenditure intended for the delivery of direct educational services to children is being extracted inadvertently or intentionally for personal or business financial gain, creating substantial inefficiencies;
  2. Public assets are being unnecessarily transferred to private hands, at public expense, risking the future provision of “public” education;
  3. Charter school operators are growing highly endogenous, self-serving private entities built on funds derived from lucrative management fees and rent extraction which further compromise the future provision of “public” education; and
  4. Current disclosure requirements make it unlikely that any related legal violations, ethical concerns, or merely bad policies and practices are not realized until clever investigative reporting, whistleblowers or litigation brings them to light. 

Al Jazeera America quotes National Education Policy Center Director Kevin Welner:

“What we found is that there are a host of real estate and tax laws that were not put in place with charter schools in mind, but that the owners of charter school enterprises are using in order to profit. I think that understanding the nature of the charter school gravy train, as I call it, is extremely important for the public and policymakers.”

Charter school laws across the country vary wildly in terms of accountability, and school privatization proponents have become big spenders on state-level politics and lobbying in order to win laws that maximize their access to cash while minimizing their accountability to the public.  A recent Associated Press investigation in Florida examined taxpayer funding for charter schools that closed down, finding that “charter schools that receive millions of taxpayer dollars often spend the money on non-tangible assets, including lease payments for facilities,” meaning there are few tangible assets for school districts or taxpayers to recover if a school closes.

Baker and Miron, the authors of the new NEPC report, argue that the “financial incentives embedded in state law, combined with the need for most of the companies to make a profit” have led to schools being run by charter chains or “educational management organizations” to operate “in ways that are often at odds with the goals of charter school reforms and, ultimately, the public interest.”

As we have noted before, all charter schools are not the same – some do an excellent job educating students and some do worse than their public school counterparts. But the original purpose of charter schools – to be labs allowing creative teachers some freedom to identify new approaches that could strengthen public schools – has frequently been flipped on its head, wrote Richard Kahlenberg and Halley Potter in “A Smarter Charter: Finding What Works for Charter Schools and Public Education.” Often teachers are forced to follow rigid rules while administrators and/or corporate operators rake in huge amounts of money diverted from public schools. Charters are often promoted under the broad  “school choice” mantle along with vouchers and other tax schemes as part of a broader privatization movement that seeks to dismantle public education and undermine teachers unions.

The NEPC report offers a set of specific policy recommendations designed to address areas of concern, improve transparency, and strengthen accountability for the public subsidies received by charter schools and management organizations that operate them. 

The need for greater accountability was also the focus of “The Tip of the Iceberg,” a report published earlier this year by the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools and the Center for Popular Democracy, which estimated $1.4 billion would be lost to “corruption and mismanagement in charter schools” in 2015.

Change is possible. For years, Ohio’s charter school sector has been the source of embarrassment and scandal, characterized by the Columbus Dispatch as “[f]ailure to close poor-performing schools,mismanagement of taxpayer dollars, and an abundance of conflict of interest issues” -- what ProgressOhio called “a national joke.” Earlier this year, the man chosen by to oversee charter school accountability in the state was forced to resign “after getting caught manipulating school ratings to cover up for chronically failing online charter schools.” But after previously failed attempts to reform the state’s charters, a new law passed this fall with bipartisan support. And in November ProgressOhio cheered the announcement that Richard Ross would step down from his position as State Superintendent of Education, which the group said “gives the state a chance to properly enforce a sweeping new charter school accountability law.”

 

PFAW

PFAW Year-End Member Telebriefing

Last week, PFAW hosted its year-end member telebriefing on the Right Wing in 2015, discussing the parade of horribles we’ve heard in 2015 and previewing what we can expect from the right-wing movement and the Republican presidential candidates going into this critically important election year.  PFAW Communications Director Drew Courtney moderated the call, and he was joined by Brian Tashman, Senior Research Associate at PFAW’s Right Wing Watch; PFAW Political Director Randy Borntrager; and PFAW Executive Vice President Marge Baker.

Tashman gave an overview of the extreme rhetoric and policy positions that the Republican presidential candidates have staked out this year. As Tashman explained, we saw “another dark turn in the GOP field. Trump has moved all the major candidates far to the right, discussing topics once considered beyond the pale, like deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants or banning people from entering our country based on their religion.”

Tashman highlighted that Donald Trump is far from the only extreme candidate in the race. Just a few examples that Tashman detailed of other candidates embracing the far-right included that Ted Cruz is touting the endorsement of radical gun activists and an anti-abortion leader who went so far as to support the death penalty for abortion providers. Marco Rubio, for his part, has actually said that local government officials can violate the Supreme Court if they believe that a ruling interferes with their understanding of religion. And Rubio has spoken out against all abortion – even in cases of rape and incest.

Borntrager laid out the dynamics at play in the 2016 presidential election. He explained that Republican candidates will be forced to take to the general election the extreme policy positions that they’re advocating for now. This will likely prove very problematic for the Republican candidates because, as Borntrager said, the “Republican brand is way out of touch with mainstream America.” From speaking out against refugees to supporting mass deportation policies, the positions of the Republican candidates are far to the right of most Americans.

In responding to questions from PFAW members, Borntrager and Baker stressed the importance of pushing back against the fear mongering that the Republicans are engaging in. Baker encouraged members to continue to speak out against the Republican xenophobia by educating their friends and neighbors through facts about, for example, our nation’s immigration policies and refugee screening process. Of course, she also said that we can and should emphasize that the GOP positions on immigrants, Muslims, and refugees are, quite frankly, un-American.

Borntrager discussed PFAW’s specific efforts to expose and counter anti-immigrant, anti-Latino speech from the GOP candidates through PFAW’s Latinos Vote! program. PFAW staff and members have joined PFAW board member and civil rights legend Dolores Huerta to push back against the GOP candidates’ extremism. Just last week for example, Huerta joined PFAW to participate in a #NoHateDebate in Las Vegas leading up to the most recent GOP debate there. In 2016, PFAW will continue to monitor and expose the far-right movement and will engage even further in holding Republican candidates accountable for their dangerous rhetoric and policy positions.

Listen to the full telebriefing here:

PFAW

The Gay 'Jihad,' The Charleston 'Accident' And The 10 Worst Right-Wing Moments of 2015

Here at Right Wing Watch, we listen to hours of video and audio each day in order to find the short clips that we share with our readers. It’s been a doozy of a year, in which presidential politics has collided with the farthest of the far right, and here at Right Wing Watch, we’ve had the dubious pleasure of witnessing it all. It’s hard to pick our favorite/most horrifying memories of the year, so instead we’ve looked back at the 10 most watched videos and most listened-to audio clips of the year.

10. Sandy Rios Investigates The Amtrak Crash

Days after an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia in May, killing eight and injuring hundreds, the American Family Association’s Sandy Rios pointed out “an interesting part of the story” that was likely “a factor” in the crash: the conductor’s homosexuality.

9. ‘America, Repent Of Harry Potter!’

This was just one of the many bizarre and disturbing things to happen at last month’s National Religious Liberties Conference in Iowa, which was attended by three Republican presidential candidates .

8. The Gay Marriage ‘End Game’

June was not a happy month for anti-gay activists, as exemplified by Vision America’s Rick Scarborough, who days before the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision warned that gay marriage was a satanic plot to destroy Christianity and may very well bring God’s judgment on America.

7. ‘Light Wins’

You can imagine our delight when conservative activist Janet Porter announced that she had filmed a new anti-gay “documentary” featuring Republican presidential candidates and members of Congress alongside some of the most extreme anti-gay activists in the business.

The trailer was stunning:

And, in the end, the film did not disappoint.

6. Gay Wedding Etiquette

At the same conference at which he railed against Harry Potter, radical pastor Kevin Swanson offered his advice on what to do if your child is gay and getting married.

Reminder: Swanson organized the conference, which three Republican presidential candidates attended.

5. Pat Robertson Comforts the Bereaved

Televangelist Pat Robertson is not always quite on point with the advice he gives to viewers of “The 700 Club” at the end of every program, such as when he told a bereaved mother who had just lost a young child that the child could have turned out to be the next Hitler .

4. The Gay ‘Jihad’

Ted Cruz went there during a campaign event in Iowa in April.

3. Rick Perry’s ‘Accident’

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry had a very ill-timed “oops” moment when he called the mass shooting at a church in Charleston an “accident,” in the process of claiming that the crime was the result of drugs rather than guns.

2. Phil Robertson’s Imagination

Back in March, controversial “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson tried to make a convoluted point about atheists supposedly having no moral code by telling a gruesome hypothetical story about a family of atheists getting raped and murdered.

1. Rick Scarborough’s Martyrdom

Nobody took the hysteria over the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision quite as far as Rick Scarborough, who declared a few days before the court handed down its decision that he was ready to burn to death in his fight against gay marriage.

People Who Hate Gays Sure Do Love Ted Cruz

In his most recent column, Religious Right activist Matt Barber announced that he is endorsing Ted Cruz for president, saying that Cruz is being raised up by God "for such a time as this."

Barber is the founder of the website BarbWire.com, which is a repository of wild conspiracy theories and viciously anti-gay rhetoric, which is to be expected since Barber himself has a long history of anti-gay activism.

Barber has repeatedly stated that gay marriage is "Satanic" and a cancer and that gay rights activists are fascists, thugs and the "pawns of Satan." He said that legalizing gay marriage is an act of defiance against God, for which this nation will face divine wrath. He is notorious for having once said that gay male relationships constitute nothing more than "one man violently cramming his penis into another man’s lower intestine and calling it 'love.'" He has called for the passage of Russian-style anti-gay laws in America and has said that he has been "called by God" to tell gays that AIDS is God's punishment for their sin and that it is his mission to wipe out the "sexually immoral scourge of same-sex marriage."

With these sorts of views, Barber fits right in among Cruz's other anti-gay endorsers, including the National Organization for Marriage, which exists for the purpose of fighting gay marriage, anti-gay Iowa radio host Steve Deace, who regularly rails against the "rainbow jihad," and influential Iowa Religious Right activist Bob Vander Plaats, who has warned that gay marriage will lead to "a parent marrying their child."

Cruz has also scored endorsements from anti-gay activist Michael Brown, Rep. Steve King, who has said that gay marriage will lead to people marrying lawnmowers and "throw this country into an endless trauma," and Religious Right icon James Dobson, who has made a career out of warning that gay marriage will destroy America and Western civilization.

Cruz named a rabidly anti-gay Republican legislator to lead his campaign in Virginia and another anti-gay activist to serve as co-chair and welcomed the endorsement of a North Carolina pastor who likened gay people to "maggots" and murders and stated that Ebola was God's judgment on America for accepting homosexuality:

Cruz also welcomed the endorsement of radical right-wing activist Flip Benham, who has crashed the weddings of same-sex couples in protest and declared that gays want to kill Christians because "the homosexual community" is "the most violent community there is":

On top of that, one of Cruz's super PACs is being run by David Barton of WallBuilders, a right-wing pseudo-historian who has called for the federal regulation and outlawing of gay sex because it is "very repugnant" and "reprehensible and disgusting." He has warned that gay marriage will force male and female students to share the same locker rooms, that it has legalized pedophilia and bestiality and will now force churches to hire child molesters to run their day care centers.

Barton has even declared that scientists will never find a cure for AIDS because the disease is God's punishment for homosexuality:

So Barber is just the latest in a long line of Religious Right activists to throw their support behind Cruz, all of whom seem to have one thing in common: a visceral dislike of gays.

Trump: Christians' 'Power Is Being Taken Away' In America

On Saturday, Donald Trump spoke with the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, the extremist Religious Right leader who has been rallying conservative activists around Ted Cruz, on Perkins’ radio program “Washington Watch.”

The GOP presidential frontrunner went on his usual rants about the so-called “War on Christmas” and how this anti-Christmas spirit is undermining religious liberty. Trump, who has made attacks on Muslims a central part of his campaign, said that Christians in America are losing their religious freedoms, unlike Muslim-Americans, whom he said have been able to “band together better or something.”

Well, Tony, I can, tell you this, that religious liberty is very important to me, and I see more and more, especially, in particular, Christianity, Christians, their power is being taken away. I just watch it and I get angry at it. You look at what is going on with other religions, you look at, as an example, what’s happening with respect to Muslims and others where perhaps they just band together better or something. But, you know, the Christian, every year, you just see it more and more.

You know, you go from one thing to the next to the point where it’s not politically correct to say ‘Merry Christmas’ to anybody or you go to stores and you don’t ever see the word ‘Christmas’ anymore. You don’t see that term anymore, Tony.

One of the things I always say, and I say it lightheartedly but I mean it, it’s actually not supposed to be so lighthearted, and I get standing ovations, especially in Iowa and certain places, is we are going to start saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again. Because you go into these stores and you don’t see anything having to do with Christmas and it’s disgraceful, frankly, as far as I’m concerned, and that’s the way it should be and I feel strongly about it.

Perkins went on to praise Trump’s brave stand in favor of Christmas, which led Trump to discuss the case of a Washington state high school coach who was placed on paid leave after coercing students into religious activity. Trump said it was “incredible” that this coach was disciplined while he, Trump, has been “lambasted” for trying “to see what’s going on with” the “whole thing with the Muslims.”

You know, when I see coaches being fired or suspended because they’re having a prayer for football players, the players are grabbing each other’s hand and praying before or after a game and they suspend the coach or fire the coach in some cases, I say, that’s not happening, if I get in, that’s not happening, Tony, I’ll tell you right now and I’ll make a big deal out of it.

I mean, we have some very important problems, when you look at ISIS and the disaster of Obamacare and our military and our vets not being taken care of properly, but you know that’s still something that is very important to me. How do you suspend a coach because he is practicing his faith?

Then, when I want to see what’s going on with, as an example, you know, it’s been a very big subject, the whole thing with the Muslims, and you get lambasted for doing something and yet they’ll fire a coach who’s a Christian coach because he’s saying a prayer on a football field with his players. It’s an incredible situation that’s taking place and not a good one!

Trump: 'I've Always Had A Good Feeling About' Putin

Donald Trump has appalled even many fellow Republicans with his recent embrace of Vladimir Putin , defending the Russian president’s human rights record and lauding him as a “strong leader.”

The Republican presidential frontrunner doubled down on his praise of Putin in a radio interview with Iowa’s Simon Conway on Friday, saying that he was confident that he could work well with Putin because he’s “always had a good feeling about him.”

“So, I’m a deal-maker,” Trump said. “So what happens with a deal-maker is you have an instinct, because deals are not deals, they’re people. It’s all about people. And I’ve always had a good instinct about Putin, for me, I just feel that that’s a guy — and I can analyze people. And you’re not always right and it could be that I won’t like him, but I always had a good feeling about him from the standpoint.”

Trump contrasted his potential friendship with Putin with Obama, whom he lamented has “never gotten along” with the Russian leader.

“I really believe that Russia and the United States can be a positive force together as opposed to really working negatively with each other all the time,” he said.

Trump also derided the “people that aren’t very smart that are in politics” who have been unhappy with Russia’s actions in Syria, which have often been at odds with U.S. military strategy.

Scott Lively Removes Theodore Shoebat From His List Of 'Pro-Family Heroes'

Last week, we noted that rabidly anti-gay activist Scott Lively had released a list of "Top Ten Pro-Family Heroes" of the year which included an "honorable mention" for Theodore Shoebat, an anti-gay activist so extreme that he openly calls for the implementation of a global "inquisition" aimed at forcing gays to submit to Christianity or be put to death.

Here is a screen cap of Lively's original list. You can see Shoebat listed in between Julio Severo and Mission America's Linda Harvey, who helped Lively draft the list:

At some point after we pointed out Shoebat's inclusion on Lively's list of "pro-family heroes," the list was quietly updated and Shoebat's name was removed. Here is a screen cap of the list as it currently appears on Lively's website:

Focus On The Family Spox: Maybe Planned Parenthood Shooter Was High On Edibles

Ever since Robert Dear opened fire on a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs last month, many anti-abortion activists have been trying to claim that Dear was not motivated by opposition to abortion rights, something that has become increasingly difficult as information about him emerges.

But one diehard skeptic, it seems, is Stuart Shepard of CitizenLink, the political arm of the Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family.

In an interview on “The Meeting House,” an Alabama Christian radio program that was posted on the program’s website last Friday, Stuart speculated that Dear just “ended up at Planned Parenthood” and that he could have been having a “psychotic episode” caused by marijuana edibles.

“If you trace his path backwards from where he ended up at Planned Parenthood to that grocery store where the first person was shot and go back another half mile, you know what they sell there?” he asked. “It’s a couple of marijuana shops.”

“I don’t know the facts of this case,” he acknowledged, “but I’m sure law enforcement is looking into this, we’ve had multiple instances of people consuming what are called marijuana edibles … I’d just be curious to know if he stopped by one of those. We’ve had a number of folks who have eaten these things and then had psychotic episodes.”

“It’s the kind of thing that happens when you make marijuana legal in a state,” he argued, “but it doesn’t get reported widely because it doesn’t fit the narrative of the mainstream news media that’s very, you know. Well, the same thing’s happening here, you wonder, you know, what exactly happened.”

We’ll give Shepard the benefit of the doubt and assume that the interview was recorded before Dear announced in court that he was a “warrior for babies,” but by last week he would have still had plenty of time to have read up on the shooter’s admiration for the violent anti-abortion group Army of God and would have certainly heard the early reports that Dear muttered something to law enforcement officers about “no more baby parts,” a reference to the Center for Medical Progress’ videos smearing Planned Parenthood.

Maybe Shepard got his theory from Bryan Fischer.

Alex Jones: Obama Making Black People 'Total Slaves'

In one of his hourly meltdowns today, InfoWars’ Alex Jones called on viewers to fight back against President Obama’s “idiot followers” who want to ban guns, warning that Obama is turning black people into his “total slaves” who will join his sinister campaign to “destroy and enslave the ‘bitter clingers.’”

“Spread, the word, get aggressive, fire these people in the war,” he said. “Spray them with truth.”

Naturally, this led Jones to talk about the “globalists” who are using things like “Heather Has Two Mommies” and fluoridated water to dumb people down, while boasting that “freedom is exploding” thanks to fellow freedom fighters like Matt Drudge and James O’Keefe.

“I’m just ranting here today,” he said while describing his newfound celebrity status. “It brings tears to my eyes when I go out in public, when I go out in Barnes & Noble — not bragging, just showing how people are awake — and almost everyone I walk by, black, white, Hispanic, old, young, male, female, I can’t go to the mall to Christmas shop, I have to buy everything online, I can’t even go out in public because I can’t get down the street now.”

Anti-Choice Group Working To 'Unleash A Whole Army Of David Daleidens'

The anti-choice activist in Texas who inspired David Daleiden’s sham “baby parts” investigation of Planned Parenthood is launching a project to “unleash a whole army of David Daleidens” to spy on abortion providers “in every part of the country.”

Mark Crutcher, the president of Life Dynamics, announced in a local radio interview with Cleveland Right to Life’s Molly Smith earlier this month that he is in the process of building a facility and developing a curriculum to conduct “professional training to help pro-lifers understand how to go inside the very cloistered and very closed abortion industry and bring out their dirty little secrets.”

Daleiden’s futile effort to catch Planned Parenthood breaking federal laws on handing fetal tissue was modeled on a similar project Crutcher conducted in 2000. When he was initially planning his anti-Planned Parenthood project, Daleiden took his “6-foot, 30-pound black-throated monitor lizard” on a cross-country road trip to meet with Crutcher and with Operation Rescue’s Troy Newman, who eventually became one of three board members of his Center for Medical Progress.

Crutcher, who pioneered the strategy of recruiting what he called “spies for life” to find information about abortion providers in order to harass them out of business, told Smith that the fight over abortion rights “is a war, and one aspect of war is intelligence gathering and undercover work — spying, if you will.”

“We’re going to try to create an army of people who are trained in every part of the country, they will be operating any place there’s an abortion clinic, to go into the abortion industry and bring out their dirty little secrets," he said. "And I think that this is going to change the pro-life movement permanently, and I think it’s going to change it in a pretty dramatic way.”

Crutcher reminded listeners that as well as inspiring Daleiden, he trained Live Action’s Lila Rose, who worked with Daleiden on another fruitless “sting” operation against Planned Parenthood in 2011, which was also modeled on Crutcher’s work at Life Dynamics.

“Now what we want to do is unleash a whole army of David Daleidens and Lila Roses and James O’Keefes and people like that around the country,” Crutcher said.

Crutcher also discussed his new book, “Siege: A Pro-Life Field Manual,” in which he argues that the anti-choice movement needs to “start applying basic military strategy” to its efforts.

“The book is called ‘Siege,’ which, of course, is a military term, because I look at this as a war,” he told Smith. "There is a war being waged right now and people need to understand, the war is not between the pro-life side and the pro-abortion side or the pro-choice side, whatever you want to call it. The war is between the abortion lobby and the unborn child. We are simply, basically a volunteer army that signed up to defend those who can’t defend themselves, in other words the unborn child. But that’s where the war is. It’s not between us and our enemies, it’s between our enemies and the babies.”

He said that part of the military mindset that the anti-abortion movement must adopt is to “be aware that there are dangers out there that we haven’t thought about.”

As an example, he presented his theory that Planned Parenthood is secretly “positioning itself to become an agency of the U.S. government.”

“I think that we could very easily look up here one day in the not-too-distant future,” he said, “and see a press conference being called with Barack Obama and beside him would be Cecile Richards from Planned Parenthood and them announcing that a new agency has been formed under the Department of Health and Human Services, it would probably be called something like the U.S. Department of Women and Reproductive Health or something like that, and that the name ‘Planned Parenthood’ is going away and that Planned Parenthood is now an agency of the government.”

Linda Harvey: 'The Meanest And Most Hateful Thing You Can Do' Is Support Gay Rights

Mission America’s Linda Harvey is on a mission to stop the Equality Act in Congress, telling Cleveland Right to Life’s Molly Smith on her radio program last week that endorsing such LGBT equality measures is “the least compassionate, the meanest and most hateful thing you can do” because it will cause more people to think it’s okay to be LGBT.

Harvey urged listeners to call their members of Congress and urge them to oppose the legislation and said that she’s trying to get GOP presidential candidates to promise to veto it. (She’s already extracted a veto promise from Marco Rubio.)

She told Smith that the Equality Act would “affect our entire country,” which has already been damaged enough by “the people that want to endorse open homosexual behavior and take us all into this sewer of younger and younger children declaring themselves homosexual or transgender.”

She added that the “tragedies in personal lives that are directly attributable to this is just amazing.”

When Smith interjected a reminder that Christians should “love” gay people even while being “completely, completely opposed to the behavior of a homosexual,” Harvey agreed.

“They’ve been told that this is compassion,” Harvey said. “And we all feel compassion for these people, and some of them are struggling. Some of them are not struggling, some of them are very happy with where they’re at and then they want the whole world to change around them and the desires they have adopted.

“That can’t happen. We want truth. We want truth to be maintained for those people who are struggling and who want to escape it, we don’t want more children to be drawn into this and so, on a public policy level, the least compassionate, the meanest and most hateful thing you can do is to endorse things that will accelerate and confirm this behavior in more and more people in our country.”

Harvey also worried that the Equality Act would accelerate a trend in schools toward students thinking that being gay is “wonderful and you should just embrace it.”

“We should not be implying that to kids anywhere,” she said, “but it’s throughout the curriculum. It’s not just in sex education, it’s in social studies, it’s in English literature. They read these books that have openly homosexual and always attractive homosexual characters. There’s never one that’s presented as if there’s a problem with that.”

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