Fighting the Right

PFAW’s Latinos Vote! 2015 Highlights

2015 was a banner year for People For the American Way’s Latinos Vote! program, which works to expose and counter anti-immigrant, anti-Latino rhetoric and policies from the far-right, the Republican Party, and GOP presidential candidates.

In 2015, PFAW was on the ground in key states discussing the importance of the Latino vote and the extreme agendas of the Republican Party and its presidential candidates. Frequently, we were joined by PFAW board member and civil rights icon Dolores Huerta in our efforts. PFAW also launched numerous Spanish-language radio and digital ads as part of our program.

PFAW’s Latinos Vote! 2015 Highlights

GOP Debates

Colorado

Leading up to the Republican debate in Colorado, PFAW organized a Latino voters and leaders roundtable to address the anti-immigrant, anti-Latino rhetoric and stances of the GOP candidates. Dolores Huerta and CO State Rep. Salazar headlined the event. Huerta also joined PFAW to participate in the My Country, My Vote rally in Boulder, CO before the debate.

Selected coverage:

NBC.com: Before GOP Debate, Political Opposites Condemn Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric

Fox News Latino: Latinos analizan inmigración y otros temas prioritarios en encuentro Denver

Univision Denver: Dolores Huerta conversa con votantes hispanos en Colorado

Telemundo Denver: Candidatos republicanos debatirán en Colorado

Latin Life Denver: “If We Don’t Vote The Haters Win,” Dolores Huerta, Colorado Latino Leaders and Voters Speak Out Against Republican Candidates

Wisconsin

Before the GOP debate in Wisconsin, Dolores Huerta joined PFAW staff and activists in Milwaukee to protest the extreme Republican candidates. PFAW partnered with local groups including Voces de la Frontera for a press conference and rally.

Selected coverage:

Univision: Debate republicano se llevaría a cabo en medio del tema migratorio

Latina Magazine: Dolores Huerta Sounds Off On the GOP Candidates for President

The Nation: A Billionaire, Some Millionaires, and a No-Show Senator Debate How Best to Block Wage Hikes

Telemundo Wisconsin: Dolores Huerta participó en una marcha en protesta al debate republicano en Milwaukee

CBS 58: 'Stop the Hate' Group to March Tuesday

Nevada

Huerta also traveled with PFAW to Las Vegas, Nevada for the most recent GOP debate. She participated in a Latino voters and leaders roundtable and spoke at the #NoHateDebate rally outside of the debate.

Selected coverage:

PBS Las Vegas: Ralston Live

El Tiempo: “Latinos decidan próximas elecciones”: Dolores Huerta

Las Vegas Review-Journal: Candidates Roll Through Las Vegas Ahead of Tuesday’s Debate

Univision Las Vegas: Varios manifestantes se expresan en contra de discursos anti-inmigrantes de pre-candidatos a la pres

An opinion piece by Dolores was also published on Univision.com before the debate: “Dolores Huerta: La guerra abierta de los republicanos contra latinos e inmigrantes.”

Statewide Elections

Virginia

Leading up to Virginia’s State Senate elections, PFAW launched the first Spanish-language ads to use Trump’s bigoted rhetoric to encourage voters to turn out to the polls. Dolores Huerta also joined PFAW staff and activists on the ground to get out the vote in Northern Virginia.

Selected coverage:

USA Today: How Trump is Helping Clinton: Latino Mobilization Takes Shape

Reuters: Trump Becomes Poster Boy for Efforts to Mobilize 2016 Latino Voters

Washington Post: Anti-Trump Ads to Soon Air on Spanish-Language Radio Stations in Northern Virginia

Washington Post: Democrats Use Anti-Trump Sentiment to Win Latino Votes in Local Elections

El Tiempo Latino: Dolores Huerta: “el voto latino traerá el cambio”

La Opinion: “Callarle la bocota a Trump”: comercial electoral enfocado en movilizar enojo de latinos

Huerta also appeared on Telemundo DC on the weekend leading up to the election to discuss the importance of the Latino vote and encourage voters to cast a ballot in the upcoming elections.

North Carolina

Dolores Huerta traveled with PFAW to North Carolina to get out the vote leading up to local elections in North Carolina, and to protest Gov. McCrory’s decision to sign a severely anti-immigrant bill, HB-318, into law.

In addition to numerous Spanish-language radio interviews, top coverage included:

La Noticia: Dolores Huerta: A votar para sacar a los antiinmigrantes del gobierno

El Progreso Hispano: Dolores Huerta rechaza en Charlotte la HB318

Mundo Latino: ¡A Votar!…es el mensaje para los nuevos ciudadanos USCIS juramentó a 50 nuevos ciudadanos en Charlotte

Scott Walker ALEC Conference

Just after announcing his candidacy for the president, Scott Walker headlined the annual meeting of the far-right, corporate-led American Legislative Exchange Council in California. Dolores Huerta joined PFAW to protest the event on the ground, and PFAW launched Spanish- and English- language ads in Wisconsin, California, Virginia, Ohio, Colorado, and North Carolina targeting Walker for his ALEC appearance and anti-immigrant stances.

Watch the ads here.

Selected coverage:

Los Angeles Times: In San Diego, Union Members Protest Conservative Group’s Gathering

Latin Post: Scott Walker on Immigration: Progressive Groups, Civil Rights Icon Dolores Huerta Takes Aim at 'Terrible' Walker

Fox News Latino: Activistas reciben con protestas reunión de ALEC en California

Jeb Bush Presidential Announcement

PFAW ran digital ads on Univision.com and in Florida, Colorado, North Carolina, and Virginia the week that Jeb Bush announced his campaign for president. The ad highlighted Bush’s opposition to the minimum wage and to a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Watch the ad here.

Selected coverage:

La Opinion: Dolores Huerta: “Jeb Bush Dice lo Que le Conviene”

Sunshine State News: On His Announcement Day, Democrats Go After Jeb Bush

The Pueblo Chieftain: Huerta: Jeb Bush Against Latinos

Viva Colorado also ran a piece by Dolores Huerta that targeted Bush for his harmful rhetoric and policies following his presidential announcement, “Un vistazo al precandidato republicano Jeb Bush.”

Marco Rubio Presidential Announcement

On the morning that Marco Rubio officially launched his presidential campaign, PFAW released Spanish-language radio ads that ran in Florida and Colorado criticizing Rubio for his dangerous agenda that ignores the interests of working families, including Latinos.

Listen to the ad, and read the English translation, here.

Selected coverage:

Tampa Bay Times: Spanish-Language Radio Ad Goes After Marco Rubio

El Nuevo Herald: El republican Marco Rubio se lanza a la presidencia

The Hill: Progressives: Rubio Bad for Middle Class

Dolores Huerta also published an op-ed in Florida’s El Nuevo Herald following Rubio’s announcement, “Marco Rubio, el candidato equivocado.”

Additional Highlights

In January, PFAW teamed up with American Bridge to release a Spanish language ad targeting Majority Whip Steve Scalise for speaking to a white supremacist group and calling out the Republican Party for its embrace of extremism.

Early this year, PFAW released a new report on the Libre Initiative, a right-wing organization attempting to win over Latino votes for the Republican Party, as part of our efforts to counter the Koch-funded organization.

Throughout 2015, PFAW has continually spoken out as GOP presidential candidates and the Republican Party followed Trump’s lead in anti-immigrant, anti-Latino rhetoric and policy positions. Additional press highlights, including op-eds by PFAW staff and PFAW board member Dolores Huerta included:

Univision: Al Punto con Jorge Ramos

USA Today: Dolores Huerta: El poder de la comunidad hispana el día de las elecciones

Univision.com: Marco Rubio eliminará la protección a jóvenes indocumentados aún sin reforma migratoria

Latin Post: People for the American Way's Carlos Sanchez Says GOP Needs Accountability in Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric

Fox News Latino: Opinion: GOP Targets Latinos’ Ability to Vote

El Tiempo Latino: Por qué los candidatos republicanos son malos para nuestra comunidad

Latina Magazine: Marco Rubio Says He’d End DACA if President

2016 Elections

PFAW’s Latinos Vote! program in 2016 will continue to expose and counter anti-immigrant, anti-Latino rhetoric and policies of the Republican Party and GOP presidential candidates. For more information about our program, please contact Laura Epstein (lepstein@pfaw.org).

 

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PFAW

Trump To Speak At Event Honoring Birther Publisher Joseph Farah

Donald Trump may not spend as much time talking about President Obama’s birth certificate now that he’s the Republican presidential frontrunner, but that doesn’t meant that he’s given up his birther sympathies.

The far-right outlet WorldNetDaily reported over the weekend that Trump and his fellow GOP candidate Mike Huckabee are both confirmed to speak at the Western Center for Journalism’s Western Conservative Conference in Scottsdale in March, at which Rush Limbaugh will present Joseph Farah, the founder of the Western Center and of WND, with the center’s “Hero of Freedom Award.” An invitation says that Trump will deliver the keynote address at the event, which is being co-chaired by Arizona Republican Reps. Matt Salmon and Paul Gosar and will also feature Rep. Trent Franks.

Farah, along with WND “reporter” Jerome Corsi, has been one of the most enthusiastic pushers of the birther myth, writing as recently as this month that Trump was right to call Obama’s birth certificate a “fake” and wondering if the promise of a payout late in life might prompt Obama to finally reveal the truth behind his “eligibility scam.”

Back in 2011, Farah credited Trump with raising the profile of Corsi’s book, “Where’s the Birth Certificate?” (published by WND), which debuted on the best seller list shortly after President Obama publicly released a copy of his birth certificate. Even after Obama made the certificate public, Farah said he was suspicious of its authenticity and added that even if it was authentic, Obama could be ineligible for the presidency anyway since his father was born abroad. (Farah quickly forgot his concerns when the Canadian-born Ted Cruz, who also has one foreign-born parent, started talking about running for president.)

You could argue that WorldNetDaily was a precursor to the Trump era, as the site became a place where the Republican establishment mingled with wild conspiracy theories and racist fearmongering. Along with the birther story, WND helped drive the Jade Helm 15 panic and has run stories alleging that Obama is building “FEMA concentration camps,” is planning the next Holocaust and wears a secret Muslim wedding ring. The outlet has entertained claims that gay men were behind the Holocaust and once ran a six-part series arguing that soy turns kids gay. WND frequently fuels racial panic, such as with an article it published on its front page yesterday with the banner headline “Coming To Your Suburb: The Ghettos. Thanks, Obama!” At the same time, the outlet frequently interviews GOP members of Congress and has published articles written by presidential candidates.

The Western Conservative Conference will also feature another prominent birther, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was honored at last year’s event with a roast full of racist jokes.

We Read Rafael Cruz's Book So You Don't Have To

Rafael Cruz, father of senator and presidential candidate Ted Cruz, has become a folk hero in his own right among Religious Right activists as he has barnstormed the country railing against Barack Obama, gay rights activists, and other favored enemies of the far right — and promoting his son’s presidential candidacy. Rafael’s new book, “A Time for Action: Empowering the Faithful to Reclaim America,” will be officially released by WND Books in January, but we at RWW have saved you the time, money and aggravation by reading it for you. Happy New Year!

If you’ve watched Rafael Cruz or his son at all, there’s not much new or surprising in Rafael’s book. It is essentially a book-length pitch for his son’s candidacy, beginning with a gushing foreword from Glenn Beck — “Rafael Cruz is one of the greatest freedom fighters of his generation” and “Ted Cruz will do anything to protect and preserve freedom” — to an epilogue from Ted Cruz, which reads like a reprint of his presidential campaign’s stump speech. Rafael says in the book that he has known since Ted was a young boy that he had “a special calling on his life.”

Rafael is not shy in his political pronouncements. The Democratic Party “promotes an ungodly socialist agenda that is destroying America,” he declares. “And unfortunately, there are those in the Republican Party who aren’t much different.” That is why, he says, it is even more important to vote in primary elections than in the general election, because the primary “gives you the opportunity to select the candidates that best align with biblical and constitutional principles.” Rafael, and Ted in his campaign-speech epilogue, repeat their assertion that 54 million evangelical voters stayed home on Election Day 2012 and that getting more of them to vote is the key to putting the government back in the hands of a “righteous” president.

In between Glenn Beck and Ted Cruz, the book is part memoir of Rafael’s possibly embroidered past as a freedom-fighter against Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista and part evangelical religious tract. This is supplemented by plenty of recycled Christian-nation historical claims made by GOP activist David Barton, the often discredited “historian” who is currently running a pro-Ted Cruz super PAC. Barton and his Christian-nation history are repeatedly cited by Rafael, who writes:

I believe without a shadow of a doubt that the reason the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States have lasted over two centuries is that they were divinely inspired and then written by men who had spent time on their knees. These were men of God seeking revelation from God, and that’s what He gave them. Of course, these two documents aren’t equivalent to the Word of God, but God certainly directed the men who crafted them.

Also cited in “A Time for Action” is Christian-nation advocate and political strategist David Lane, who is trying to mobilize an army of conservative pastors to run for office, which he hopes will in turn bring out conservative evangelical volunteers and voters. Lane has also been, with FRC’s Tony Perkins, a major promoter of the effort to get Religious Right leaders to unite around a single candidate — a step taken earlier this month when dozens of them voted in a secret endorsement meeting to back Ted Cruz.

Rafael talks about the dangers of secular humanism and makes a glancing reference to Seven Mountains dominionism, the belief that conservative Christians must gain control over the "seven mountains" of American culture.

In no way, shape, or form was Jefferson implying that the church should be restricted from exerting an influence upon society. On the contrary, the Bible tells us that we are the salt of the earth and light of the world…Doesn’t that suggest that our influence should touch every area of society – our families, the media, sports, arts and entertainment, education, business, and government?”

Like Barton and Lane, Rafael makes his case for the Christian nature of the U.S. government by conflating the Pilgrims and Puritans with the founding fathers who gave us the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution more than 150 years later. Rafael declares that “the concept of separation of church and state is found nowhere in either the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution of the United States of America,” which leads into this:

To understand this clearly, we need to go back four centuries to the time of the first settlers in America. If you lived in England in the early 1600s and were not a member of the Church of England, you would be considered a heretic and subject to persecution. So the early settlers immigrated to the New World in order to freely worship the Lord their God. What a remarkable heritage of religious freedom this exceptional country gives us! The only country on the face of the earth founded on the World of God!

As this new constitutional representative republic stretched its wings following the Revolutionary War, citizens of the thirteen colonies wondered if their new government would impose a state religion upon them like the one their forefathers suffered in England…

That is followed by a discussion of Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists, ending with the Bartonesque conclusion that Jefferson’s wall of separation image “was only referring to a one-way wall.

Rafael’s writing on Cuba is similarly incomplete. He describes the explosion that sank the U.S. Maine in Havana harbor in 1898 as “an unprovoked attack” without any indication that many historians now believe the ship’s boiler exploded and that the “unprovoked attack” story was simply cover for the U.S. to declare war on Spain and bring Cuba under U.S. control. Rafael suggests without offering any evidence that President Obama’s unsuccessful efforts to close the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay suggest that Obama is “complicit” with Raúl Castro’s demands that the U.S. return the military base itself to Cuban control.

“A Time to Act” includes plenty of familiar Religious Right claims: that Supreme Court rulings on state-sponsored prayer and Bible readings in public schools have contributed to America’s downward slide, along with legal abortion and the “redefinition” of traditional marriage.

The book is also full of the hyperbolic rhetoric you’d expect from Rafael Cruz and World Net Daily, the far-right news outlet that serves as his publisher. Jimmy Carter’s policies were “reminiscent of the bearded dictator I had left behind in Cuba” and Obama taking executive action on immigration in the face of congressional inaction “doesn’t sound much different from the old, bearded dictator I left behind in Cuba almost sixty years ago — governing by decree, by fiat, just like Fidel Castro.”

There’s more: America today “is tragically following the same path that Cuba did a half century ago.” The Obama administration has “intensified our progression into an age of lawlessness.” The Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran will make it “quite literally, the world’s leading financier of radical Islamic terrorism.” The Supreme Court’s “lawless” and “preposterous” marriage equality decision is “one of the biggest signs of our country’s moral degradation.” The federal government “mandates that teachers affirm alternative, nonbiblical lifestyles, teach evolution as incontrovertible ‘fact,’ and mock the notion that God created the heavens and earth.” Common Core is a means for educational elites to “brainwash our students through federally mandated curriculum that extols socialism, globalism, and immorality from a secular humanist worldview.”

Like countless speeches at Religious Right political gatherings, Rafael Cruz places much of the blame for America’s sad state of affairs on pastors who aren’t being aggressive enough in preaching politics from the pulpit. “The time has come,” he writes, “for pastors to again fearlessly preach toward the political landscape, just like their predecessors centuries ago. If they don’t, Satan will rule without opposition in our halls of legislation.”

It is interesting to read the extent to which Ted Cruz is a product of careful grooming since childhood by his father and by far-right organizations. Rafael was active in the Religious Roundtable’s efforts to elect Ronald Reagan, and Ted, then nine years old, heard plenty of dinner conversations about the importance of getting rid of Jimmy Carter and replacing him with Ronald Reagan. Says Rafael, “My son received a dose of constitutionally conservative politics from a biblical worldview every day for a year when he was just nine!” As a kid, Rafael’s friends introduced Ted to the founder of the Free Enterprise Institute and began inculcating him in the teachings of people like Milton Friedman, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek. Ted was part of a group of five high school students that the Institute sent around Texas giving speeches on free-market economics and the Constitution.

“A Time for Action” also includes a few appendices. One helpfully explains how U.S. government policies — such as progressive income taxes, net neutrality, Amtrak subsidies and the auto industry “bailout” — align with the 10 planks of the Communist Manifesto. Also included, courtesy of David Barton’s Wallbuilders, the letter of the Danbury Baptists to Thomas Jefferson and his response; a sermon preached by colonial pastor Jonas Clark before the battle of Lexington and his account of the battles of Lexington and Concord; and recommended resources, which include Ted Cruz’s “A Time for Truth: Reigniting the Promise of America” as well as books by conservative economists and a few Religious Right organizations, including the Alliance Defending Freedom, David Lane’s American Renewal Project, Wallbuilders, and, of course, WND. Earlier in the book, Cruz promotes other Religious Right groups that produce voter guides or voting records, including Vision America, Liberty Counsel, Liberty Institute, Eagle Forum and Concerned Women for America.

Larry Klayman Names Obama 2015 'Muslim Of The Year'

The far-right news outlet WorldNetDaily didn’t even take Christmas off from promoting conspiracy theories about President Obama, publishing a column by insurrectionist birther attorney Larry Klayman on Christmas Day “satirically” naming the president 2015’s “Muslim of the Year.”

Klayman gives the president the honor since he is “someone who has cleverly through various means, radically changed the world order and most furthered the Islamic caliphate based on the death of all infidels to Allah.”

“No other Muslim has done as much, particularly given his power as president of the United States, to further Allah’s goal of a Christian and Jew-free world,” he adds.

Klayman even mocked up a Time magazine cover for the announcement:

As we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and rejoice in the greatness of His and the Father’s universe, we turn to the New Year. A traditional ritual is reflecting on the past year, and as Time Magazine does, anointing the most prominent person of 2015. Indeed, 2015 has been for all practical purposes the “Year of the Muslim.” So I will satirically recognize the most influential “Muslim of the Year,” someone who has cleverly through various means, radically changed the world order and most furthered the Islamic caliphate based on the death of all infidels to Allah.

But when the card at the award ceremony for “Muslim of the Year” announcing their victory was double checked and inspected by independent experts on terrorism, it was revealed that the prize was, in reality, meant for our own supreme leader, Barack Hussein Obama.

No other Muslim has done as much, particularly given his power as president of the United States, to further Allah’s goal of a Christian and Jew-free world. The Holy Quran, as Obama likes to call it, teaches that this false god’s will must be obeyed and that all infidels must perish from the earth. As the inscription reads on a ring the “Muslim of the Year” has worn since college, “There is no god but Allah,” his actions and non-actions have paid homage to his real and only “deity.” Indeed, Obama can issue all the Christmas messages he falsely utters to the American people and the world – pretending to be a Christian for political expediency, subterfuge and dastardly cover – but after seven years of his presidency, “We the People” are no longer fooled. You do not have to be Donald Trump to see reality at this point…

I can go on and on, but space limitations “limit” me from providing even more proof why this most regrettable and dangerous commander in chief deserves the award of “Muslim of the Year.” While the embedded Time Magazine cover is parody and satire, the real-world facts behind this are not. And, the consequences are potentially deadly for Christians (and Jews and other non-Muslims) this Christmas!

Let us put our faith in Jesus and the Father to again save us all!

Rick Wiles: 'A Bloodbath Is Coming' Due To Immigration

In a cheerful Christmas message yesterday, “Trunews” host Rick Wiles said that homicidal enemies of America are “coming by the millions” into the country.

The End Times preacher warned listeners that immigrants “bringing bombs and weapons and chemicals and biological poisons” to kill Americans have already arrived in the U.S., and now millions of such people are entering the country because “the gate is wide open and the wall is down.”

“The enemy is pouring into America and a bloodbath is coming,” he said.

Mike Huckabee Lashes Out At Ted Cruz For Gay Marriage Remarks

Mike Huckabee is hoping to capitalize on the release of an audio recording of Ted Cruz telling a donor at a Manhattan fundraiser that opposition to gay marriage wouldn’t be a priority in his administration.

Cruz, who made the remarks while speaking to a donor who said he disagreed with Cruz’s stance on the issue, has committed to supporting a long list of anti-gay policies, even going so far as to promise that he would order the government not to enforce the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing marriage for same-sex couples nationwide.

Cruz’s comments may come as a surprise to his many Religious Right endorsers, especially the National Organization for Marriage, and have opened a line of attack for Huckabee, who is openly dismayed that conservative leaders haven’t rallied behind his campaign.

Today, Huckabee tore into Cruz without mentioning him by name, suggesting that the Texas senator is telling conservatives in Iowa one thing and donors in Manhattan another:

Five Failed Right-Wing Prophecies And Predictions Of 2015

Conservative commentators are running out of time for all of their dire prophecies about President Obama to come true, including fears about the looming imposition of martial law, establishment of Obama’s private army and the assassination of conservative leaders. Right-wing pundits also seemed to have missed with their prophecies about financial collapse, natural disasters and widespread unrest coming in 2015.

September Doomsday Bust

Several Religious Right pundits jumped on a nonsensical and convoluted tale about how blood moons and the Shemitah, a biblical day of debt relief, would lead to some sort of disaster in America on September 13. The far-right website WorldNetDaily marked the arrival of the Shemitah with articles titled “Mark This Date For Potential Disaster,” “Get Ready: Biblical ‘Shemitah’ Begins This Week” and “Countdown To Disaster.” One of the leading propagators of this theory was Messianic rabbi and Religious Right fixture Jonathan Cahn, who even wrote a book on the matter.

Essentially, Cahn claimed that prophecies pertaining to biblical Israel can now apply to the U.S. because the founding fathers, like ancient Hebrews, made a covenant with God. As a result of the country breaking that covenant due to national “sins” like gay marriage and legal abortion, he forecasted that September 13 would be the date that America faced divine punishment.

Contrary to Cahn’s predictions nothing catastrophic happened on that day in the U.S. Cahn defended his prophecy by pointing to an earthquake off the Gulf of California, a body of water which he conveniently forgot to mention borders Mexico, not the U.S. He also claimed that a stock market selloff on August 18 was close enough to his doomsday date, so he was right all along! (The Dow Jones has since rebounded since the August correction). He went on to insist that anything bad that happens between September 2015 and September 2016 would also validate his prophecy.

Cahn’s prophecy caught on with commentators like Rick Wiles of “Trunews,” who said that between September 13 and October 9, there would be a major “financial plunge of the Dow Jones stock index, possibly 30 percent or more” as God sent a “big attitude adjustment” to America. The Dow Jones actually went up during that time.

Televangelist John Hagee went even further, claiming that there could be “a 50 percent correction in the stock market” in the fall due to the Shemitah and blood moon prophecies. “I believe, in the fall of this year, America and the world will face another economic crisis, perhaps as a result of war in the Middle East or an economic crash,” he declared.

Jim Bakker, a televangelist who himself claims to receive personal messages from God and regularly had Cahn on his program to discuss the Shemitah/blood moons prophecy, and made a few predictions of his own about September 13.

“There is going to be a crash on September 13,” Bakker warned his viewers, also predicting that something would happen to Pope Francis during his September visit to America.

He also said that on September 13, the U.S. could be hit by a typhoon, earthquake, bombing or financial meltdown: “God spoke to me.”

Gay Marriage Punishments

After blowing his September prophecy, Cahn saw a biblical threat from Hurricane Joaquin. He said that the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling and the White House’s LGBT Pride Month celebration with rainbow lights had provoked God’s judgment, and now, Hurricane Joaquin would strike Washington, D.C. Cahn wasn’t alone, as Wiles too said that God was using Hurricane Joaquin to punish the U.S. by striking Washington, D.C., and New York. (It didn’t hit either city).

Cahn and Wiles were far from alone in making wild predictions about the effects of gay marriage.

One month before the Supreme Court issued its ruling, American Family Radio host Bryan Fischer warned that if the Supreme Court struck down state bans on marriage equality, then we would see violence in the streets: “If the Supreme Court continues to overreach and they aren’t checked, we are headed towards civil unrest, I don’t think there is any other way around it. If it’s not stopped and reversed, the tyrannical overreach of the Supreme Court, we are to have social dislocation and I believe we are going to have violence as a result.”

WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah predicted that “millions of Americans” would flee the country to evade gay marriage, televangelist Pat Robertson warned of financial calamities as a sign of God’s judgment for the Supreme Court marriage equality ruling and Massachusetts-based pastor Scott Lively said the Antichrist could emerge around September 23.

Other Religious Right leaders predicted that the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling would lead to divine punishment, war, revolution, chaos and the destruction of America.

Jade Helm 15

The Jade Helm 15 conspiracy theory, which was cynically fueled by GOP politicians, centered around fears that a military training exercise taking place between July 15 and September 15 of this year would produce grave consequences, such as a federal takeover of Texas, the declaration of martial law and the transformation of closed Walmart stores into FEMA camps. Others thought that Jade Helm 15 was a deliberate attempt to stoke chaos, which would justify military rule in the future.

In May, one poll found that one in three Republicans, including half of Tea Party supporters, agreed that “the government is trying to take over Texas.”

Wiles, the “Trunews” host, said Jade Helm 15 was “the preparation for or the actual implementation of a round-up of patriotic men,” describing the drill as a “two-month-long Night of the Long Knives” that would lead to “a civil war.” In one discussion of Jade Helm 15, Wiles warned of the prospect of the Obama administration launching a nuclear electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack against Texas and oppressing Americans who live in the South and Midwest.

Obama’s Refugee/Gangster/BLM Army

Ever since President Obama won the 2008 election, right-wing activists have claimed that he is on the verge of creating a private army akin to Hitler’s Brownshirts.

With 2015 coming to a close, it looks like Obama has just one year left to create such a force, but conservative talk show host Michael Savage has a pretty good idea of what Obama has in mind. Savage, who believes that Obama is bent on committing anti-white genocide and rounding up conservatives, has alleged that the president intends to create a personal force composing of Syrian refugees, Black Lives Matter demonstrators and members of the Crips and the Bloods, whom he thinks will be armed and deputized by Obama.

Gun activist Lawrence C. Mackin similarly warned that “Obama’s private internal army” will include government employees who ally with “a group of radical Islamists,” “illegal aliens from the Middle East” and “Soviet troops.”

Glenn Beck Might Die, Says Glenn Beck

Far-right pundit Glenn Beck, the self-proclaimed prophet of imminent mass killingscivil warrace riotsrevolutionenslavement and internment camps, responded to the demonstrations and riots in Baltimore following the death of a black man in police custody by making it all about him … and how government assassins may kill him because he is such a great leader who knows about their nefarious schemes.

The conservative pundit said that the protests and riots in April and May were all designed to justify a federal takeover of local police forces:

That’s all that’s happening right now. This is a show. We’re watching a script and a play play out in front of us. None of this stuff is real. Those riots in Baltimore. That wasn’t real ... At some point, there will be a straw that breaks the camel’s back, and it will set the whole country on fire. And what happens? We will cry out for police help. The police will be overwhelmed. The DOJ will say, 'We’re going to take over policing, we’ll coordinate it from here.' And you’re done. It’s lights out, republic.

Beck went on to explain that he and other leaders who are exposing such deeds to the masses may be killed, just like how Hitler killed potential rivals in the Night of Long Knives and Turkish leaders killed Armenian leaders at the beginning of the Armenian genocide.

“They do that so there is nothing left but sheep and no shepherds,” he explained, claiming that these nefarious agents are going after him and not his 10 million viewers because they know “they cannot kill 10 million people in one night.”

“Prepare for a time when voices like mine or others are no longer heard and yours is the only voice,” he said.

Ted Cruz's Two-faced Stance On Marriage

Ted Cruz has been racking up support from Religious Right leaders, and even touting endorsements from the movement’s most extreme activists. One of the first Religious Right groups to endorse Cruz was the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which hailed Cruz as “a proven champion for marriage and religious freedom and someone we can absolutely count on to fight to restore marriage to our nation’s laws.” In return, Cruz called NOM “a critical voice in protecting our rights.”

The Texas senator also joined Rick Santorum, Ben Carson and then-presidential candidate Bobby Jindal in signing the group’s presidential pledge, vowing to work towards banning same-sex marriage, to order government offices to “restore our policies to be consistent with the proper understanding of marriage as the union of one man and one woman” and “prevent the promotion of a redefined version of marriage in public schools and other government entities.”

NOM and other anti-gay groups may then be taken aback by what Cruz said at a Manhattan fundraiser where, in an audio recording provided to Politico, the GOP candidate assured one donor who said he disagreed with the senator’s stance on marriage equality that he wouldn’t make opposition to gay marriage a priority in his administration.

Of course, Cruz has been singing a very different tune on the campaign trail, where he has treated marriage equality as nothing short of a national emergency.

Cruz has told Religious Right outlets that gay marriage would pose a “real threat” to “our liberties,” usher in the end of free speech, and lead to such immense religious persecution that civil disobedience would be needed. He even once alleged that the gay rights movement is waging “jihad” against freedom and likened the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling to “Nazi decrees.”

During a November conference call with anti-gay activists, Cruz promised “to defend marriage on every front” against the “lawless” and “illegitimate” Supreme Court decision. Cruz even went as far as saying that he would direct the federal government not to recognize the Obergefell ruling: “We will not use the federal government to enforce this lawless decision that is a usurpation of the authority of we the people in this country.”

It’s almost as if Ted Cruz has two different messages for two different audiences.

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.”

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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.

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