Donald Trump joined many other conservative activists at CPAC today in comparing President Obama to Jimmy Carter, although Trump seems to think that the former president is deceased, as he likened Obama to “the late, great Jimmy Carter.”
CPAC wouldn’t be complete without unceasing, perpetual praise of Ronald Reagan, and a great example of that today was how Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) managed to fit in as many mentions of Ronald Reagan as he possibly could during his closing remarks in a panel on conservative approaches to income inequality.
Scalise, who chairs the right-wing House Republican Study Committee, said that Republicans should model themselves on Reagan since he made America great, “brought down the Soviet Union” and was simply the best ever.
Reagan’s supreme Americanness, Scalise explained, caused the left to “revile” him “because of how he transformed this country in such a great way.”
Scalise added that unlike Reagan, President Obama “apologizes for American exceptionalism” while Secretary of State John Kerry is “drinking merlot and singing let’s all be friends.”
It is always entertaining when milquetoast Republican governors who harbor dreams of running for president decide to try to toughen up their image by throwing red meat to the crowd at CPAC. We saw Tim Pawlenty do it several years back and Bobby Jindal do it again today when he kicked off his remarks by sarcastically offering an apology to former president Jimmy Carter for having mistakenly called him the "worst president of this great country in my lifetime."
Apparently having totally forgotten the eight-year debacle that was George W. Bush's presidency, Jindal said the title of worst president now belongs to Obama who, quite frankly, is just not very bright.
"We have long thought and said this president is a smart man," Jinda declared. "It may be time to revisit the assumption":
Chris Christie told CPAC attendees today that Republican “intolerance on social issues” is nothing but a myth. He insisted that Republicans are the truly tolerant party because they have allowed pro-choice politicians such as Condoleezza Rice and Tom Ridge to address their nominating conventions.
“Tell me, sir, the last pro-life Democrat who was allowed to speak at a Democratic convention – and by the way, don’t strain yourself because there’s never been one,” Christie continued. “They’re the party of intolerance, not us.”
Even if we accept Christie’s definition of “tolerance,” his claim is still false: the 2012 and 2008 Democratic conventions included speakers who opposed abortion rights, while 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin refused to share the stage with pro-choice Republicans.
Even after a congressional Republican report debunked the myth about a Benghazi “stand down” order, Family Research Council executive vice president Jerry Boykin told the alternative CPAC gathering today that the order did in fact take place and that the Obama administration is covering it up.
This is about American character. If we don’t get to the bottom of this, there are a lot of other things in America that don’t matter. If we let this go, if we do not doggedly hound elected representatives in this nation to get the answers out, to get to the bottom of this, then a lot of other things simply don’t matter because this is so fundamental.
We have literally watched every CPAC conference held over the last ten years and this is the first time we've ever seen organizers schedule a break in the middle of program so that a right-wing folk singer could perform conservative protest songs on the main stage. But that is exactly what happened today when Big Dawg Music Mafia ("Where Conservative Is Cool") was given a few minutes to promote singer Chip Murray who entertained the crowd with insightful lyrics like:
"Obama's in the White House now, you'd better grab your honey,
God and guns are all we need, let's let 'em take the money":
Former ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, spoke at CPAC today where he predictably railed against the Obama administration over the attack on Benghazi, saying that it show our enemies around the world that "under Barack Obama, you can murder his personal representative and get away scot-free."
"I want to let everybody know," Bolton declared, "that conservatives are not going to let this issue go away":
WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah claims that the United States under the Obama administration is emerging as a chief “persecutor” of Christians, which may result in another Holocaust.
Farah points to the case of the Romeike family as proof that “next time it will be Christians” who will be victims of the Holocaust. The Romeikes, a German homeschooling family, recently lost their case for asylum in the US until the Department of Homeland Security granted them “indefinite deferred status.”
Before and during World War II, hundreds of thousands of German Jews seeking safe harbor in the U.S. were unceremoniously turned away and returned to certain death in the Nazi Holocaust.
“Never again,” has been the popular refrain for Jews ever since.
Jews had to found a well-defended state of their own to protect themselves against similar horrors.
Maybe the next time it will be Christians.
Until 48 hours ago, the Christian, homeschooling Romeike family, fleeing Nazi-era laws still on the books in Germany, was about to be sent back to Germany to face persecution. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, after the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of their case, the Department of Homeland Security offered a reprieve.
A society that could even think about turning people like the Romeikes away to face certain persecution is one short step away from becoming the persecutor.
As Miranda noted yesterday, the Right had launched a full-scale smear campaign Debo Adegbile, who had been nominated by President Obama to serve as head the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, over the fact that Adegbile was in charge of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund when it helped provide legal representation to Mumia Abu-Jamal.
That campaign against him succeeded as yesterday the Senate failed to confirm his nomination and Sen. Pat Toomey could not be more proud, making the case against Adegbile the focus on the remarks he delivered a CPAC today, asserting that the effort to defend Abu-Jamal was part of an "international campaign to lionize a cop-killer" that "was based on hatred for America, contempt for our criminal justice system, and the goal was to indict America as a hopelessly racist country."
And Toomey was not going to accept that, which is why he launched the fight against Adegbile's nomination because "nobody should be able to make a mockery criminal justice system, fan the flames of racial strife in America, join a dishonest international anti-American campaign, along the way drag the family of a fallen police officer through three decades of hell and then be confirmed to a high post in the Justice Department":
Today House Republicans led by Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) voted to delay the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate. In case you haven’t been keeping track, this is the House GOP’s 50th vote to dismantle Obamacare.
In a speech last week at a DNC event, President Obama joked,
“You know what they say: 50th time is the charm. Maybe when you hit your 50th repeal vote, you will win a prize. Maybe if you buy 50 repeal votes, you get one free.”
On Monday, in the wake of Governor Jan Brewer’s decision to veto her state’s anti-gay “freedom to discriminate” bill, People For the American Way president Michael Keegan wrote in a Huffington Post op-ed that we are continually asked to believe the “new, no-nonsense Republican Party” has finally taken to heart the “dangers of embracing extremism.” However, he writes:
“…there seems to be a Grand Canyon-like gap between what everyone knows the Republican Party should do and what they actually do. Time after time, we see that they just can't help themselves. We all know the embarrassing, crazy uncle who shows up at the family reunion. It seems like all of those crazy uncles have now banded together to control the Republican Party.”
And with their 50th vote to undermine Obamacare, it seems pretty clear that the Republican Party isn’t going to be able to rein in those crazy uncles anytime soon.
I wish politicians and pundits who make a habit of railing against teachers and public schools had spent some time at the conference put on by the Network for Public Education (NPE) last weekend. The organization’s first national conference brought together about 400 teachers, scholars, education bloggers, and activists to learn from and encourage each other, and to strategize on how to push back against the assault on public education.
The passion that fueled the high-energy gathering was not teacher pay or pensions. It was a commitment to students, teaching, and the future of public education as an institution that serves all children and helps prepare young people for life.
There was also plenty of anger and frustration at the status quo: budget cuts, diversion of energy and funds into various privatization plans, and a vast amount of time being taken away from teaching to satisfy ever-increasing demands for high-stakes standardized tests.
At the end of the two-day conference in Austin, Texas, NPE called for congressional hearings on the use, misuse, and abuse of standardized testing in America’s public schools. In a letter to members of Congress, the group urged them to examine 11 questions about the quality, costs, and effectiveness of such tests. The letter, which has drawn some surprising support, concludes:
We believe that every child in the United States deserves a sound education. We are deeply concerned that the current overemphasis on standardized testing is harming children, public schools, and our nation’s economic and civic future. It’s our conclusion that the over-emphasis, misapplication, costs, and poor implementation of high-stakes standardized tests may now warrant federal intervention. We urge Congress to pursue the questions we have raised.
After the conference, NPE board member Bertis Downs, who also serves on PFAW’s board, published a compelling open letter to President Obama inviting the president to consider the harmful impacts of excessive high-stakes testing and other educational policies backed by the administration.
A primary focus of the conference was the heavily funded corporate “reform” movement that pushes for increased testing and expanded “school choice” via vouchers, charters, and virtual schools. That push comes in the context of massive cuts to public education, particularly in states where Tea Party Republicans took power in recent years, including Pennsylvania and North Carolina. And huge sums are being diverted to for-profit companies through tax credit schemes and lucrative contracts. In Texas, for example, the state has a five-year, $500 million contract with testing giant Pearson, the world’s biggest for-profit education corporation.
Saturday’s keynote speeches were by Karen Lewis of the Chicago Teachers Union and John Kuhn, who as a Texas school district superintendent might be considered by some a more surprising speaker. Kuhn gave a barn-burner of a speech on behalf of public education and the children it serves. Kuhn is the author of a new book, part memoir and part pro-public-education manifesto, called Fear and Learning in America: Bad Data, Good Teachers, and the Attack on Public Education.
“I am here speaking for one reason. I care about my country, I care about the future, and I love my children,” he said. “Anything that weakens the public schools in the United States of America weakens the nation.”
Kuhn slammed the ongoing political efforts to divert more public funds to for-profit charter chains and voucher schools that are not required to serve all children, as well as the underlying premise that educational opportunity will be improved by turning education into a system based on competition. In education, he says, competition breeds marketing and cost-cutting and search for competitive advantage. Competition doesn’t necessarily result in excellence, he said. “If it did, our fast food restaurants would serve the healthiest food around.”
Sunday’s keynoter was Diane Ravitch, widely considered America’s finest education historian. Ravitch, an NPE board member, served as an assistant secretary of education in the first Bush administration, but she has since become an energetic critic of the corporate reform movement, saying it is based on ideology rather than evidence, and that it threatens to destroy public education in America. Ravitch’s most recent book is Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools, which Jonathan Kozol calls “a fearless book, a manifesto and a call to battle.” Ravitch’s speech was also a manifesto and call to battle against the corporate-reform “juggernaut” that is “devouring education.”
While conference participants shared a burning desire to change the conversation and push back on efforts to dismantle and privatize public education, there wasn’t always unanimity among participants. A panel on Common Core, for example, featured a number of educators who are strongly opposed, but also included American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, who defended the standards as a way to build broader public support for a public education system that serves the common good.
At the conference, more than two dozen panels focused on a wide range of issues regarding the future of public education, including teacher preparation, the role of parents, the impact of educational corporations and foundations promoting privatization, the importance of truth-telling academic research and investigative reporting, and organizing and communications strategies.
A consistent theme at the conference was the imperative to better serve high-needs students living in conditions of concentrated poverty. Socioeconomic status is a major predictor of success on standardized tests, but the corporate reform movement often dismisses talk about the impact of poverty and inequities as excuse-making. “They want us to say that poverty and segregation and policies that continue to foment that should not matter,” said the CTU’s Lewis. “Well, yeah, that would be lovely. They should not matter. But they do.”
Among the organizations offering resources was the Opportunity to Learn campaign. For example, Opportunity to Learn challenges school closures as a reform tactic and provides examples of alternatives that have proven effective in strengthening public schools. Among those strategies is creating “community schools” by wrapping schools and students in social and family support services.
In spite of the huge challenges and relentless attacks on public education, the conference as a whole, like Ravitch’s speech, had a kind of David vs. Goliath optimism. She devoted part of her speech to educational heroes. Among them was the Providence Student Union, which has engaged in creative protest and street theater against tests required for students to graduate. In one high-profile project, the group recruited 50 prominent Rhode Islanders to take the math tests students would have to pass to graduate from high school; 60 percent of the adult professionals failed.
Ravitch said that the tactics of those who are out to destroy public education are failing, and that parents and educators are mobilizing to build public opposition to “reforms” that are based on “junk science.”
There’s no question the facts are on our side. But we have to shape the narrative. And the narrative is, we have a great public institution. Our public schools are not failing. If you’ve read my last book you know that the test scores today are the highest they’ve ever been in history for white, black, Hispanic and Asian children. The graduation rates are the highest they’ve ever been in history. The dropout rates are the lowest they’ve ever been in history. So their narrative is a lie…We are defending American democracy. We are defending children. We are fighting for what’s right….
She called for parents and others to be active both in advocacy and in politics.
So my message is, first of all, be not afraid. Be strong. …. Speak proudly of our children. Our children are amazing -- the fact that they’re able to put up with all the garbage that’s being thrown at them. And get political…Run for office. Get involved. We cannot win unless we throw some of these guys out of office….I’m 75 years old…I’m not gonna be here forever….Who’s gonna take my place? My answer is, “you will.”
….We will reclaim our schools as kind and friendly places for teaching and learning. Not profit centers for corporations and entrepreneurs and snake-oil salesmen, and consultants. We are many, and they are few, and this is why we will win.
Anti-Muslim activist Frank Gaffney has unveiled a new petition, with support from Allen West and Andy McCarthy, demanding that the American Conservative Union kick Grover Norquist and Suhail Khan out of the upcoming Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). CPAC had actually kicked Gaffney out in 2011 after an internal report found his accusations about the supposed ties between Norquist and Khan and the Muslim Brotherhood to be baseless and rooted in bigotry, but today the Huffington Post reports that Gaffney is embarking on yet another anti-Norquist campaign.
The conservative movement’s sowing of anti-Muslim paranoia and discord to help win elections is now coming back to bite it as even top conservative leaders like Norquist, who is married to a Muslim-American, are facing attacks.
At a 2011 right-wing summit, The Awakening, Gaffney was part of an event that immediately followed a panel featuring Norquist, where he delivered a presentation alleging that Norquist is “both enabling and empowering Muslim Brotherhood influence operations against our movement and our country.”
On his radio show last month, Gaffney said that Norquist is advancing the “civilization jihad of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
But Gaffney is not alone.
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) denounced Norquist from the floor of the House for associating with “unsavory people and groups out of the mainstream.”
Glenn Beck and Jerry Boykin, the executive vice president of the Family Research Council, also dedicated an entire program to discussing Norquist’s supposed role as “a Muslim Brotherhood facilitator.”
Not holding back, anti-Muslim activist David Horowitz attacked Norquist as a “ practicing Muslim” who has “infiltrated” the GOP, and Robert Spencer said last year that Norquist’s presence at CPAC turned the gathering into a “Sharia-compliant conference.”
“They are enforcing the Sharia,” Pamela Geller said of CPAC after the summit rejected her panel last year, which she blamed on “the influence of what can only be described as Muslim Brotherhood facilitators or operatives like Suhail Khan and Grover Norquist.” She was still able to host a nonofficial event where one speaker said he was “proud” of attacks against mosques.
But perhaps our favorite rant against Norquist came from Cathie Adams of Eagle Forum, who said that she knows Norquist is a secret Muslim because “he has a beard.”
By now, it has been well-established that Bryan Fischer has a pretty warped understanding of the Constitution and what it means, so it didn't come as much of a surprise when he declared on his radio program today that by invoking her Fifth Amendment right not to testify when called before Congress, former IRS official Lois Lerner had essentially admitted her guilt.
As Fischer sees it, "by citing the Fifth Amendment, she is admitting that she's guilty ... What is Lois Lerner admitting when she invokes the Fifth? She is admitting that if she speaks the truth she will be a witness against herself, her testimony would be condemning, her testimony would be damning, her testimony would make her guilty under the law. So I believe Lois Lerner, when she invokes the Fifth in a situation like this, she's admitting her guilt and the guilt of the IRS":
Remember Avi Lipkin, the right-wing activist who claims President Obama will use Agenda 21 to bring 50-100 million Muslim immigrants to take over America’s national parks and establish Sharia law with the help of the Illuminati and the Free Masons? Well today Lipkin was the special guest on The Dove TV to provide his “high-level expertise on U.S. Middle-East policy.”
Lipkin told host Perry Atkinson that Obama is “either a Communist plant, a Russian plant, which is one of the reasons he would never confront Russia; or, he’s an Islamic plant, in which case he will never go to war against a Muslim country.”
“He said this in his book that he will never go to war against another Muslim country,” Lipkin added, citing a widely circulated but fabricated Obama quote. Lipkin explained that Saudi Arabia will pay the US to take in “50-100 million” Muslim immigrants, warning that “Islam is taking over America.”
He continued: “They’re going to come to the United States and the Muslim president is going to receive them, it’s a horrible situation for the United States in my opinion unless people think that selling the soul of America to the Devil is a good thing.”
Lipkin also laid out his End Times scenario in which countries such as Saudi Arabia collapse and the Antichrist will emerge… “to defeat Islam.” Through the “termination of Islam,” Lipkin says, the Antichrist will bring peace to the world and empower the One World Government.
He also assures us that Obama is not the Antichrist, just the Antichrist’s “salesman of the month.”
But since Lipkin believes that Islam is a satanic religion that worships the Devil, he also believes that this is all God’s doing.
Lipkin: They’re going to blow up the oil wells, Saudi Arabia is going to go down the tubes, the Islamic world is going to go down the tubes and in the end you know God is going to win over Satan, and I say Allah is Satan, so all of these things are very simple: You know, one and one makes two.
Atkinson: So you think that Saudi Arabia is heading towards some kind of civil unrest much like Syria?
Lipkin: Absolutely. Saudi Arabia has 40 percent unemployment and all this tremendous wealth of oil is concentrated in the hands of 6,000 princes of the royal family. But most of the people don’t enjoy the wealth, 40 percent unemployment, there is no industry, the king is not turning Saudi Arabia green, the Shiites in the eastern part of Saudi Arabia are really suffering. I think Saudi Arabia is gearing up for the perfect storm.
It could be that in the end what’s going to happen is it will be the end of Islam because I believe Saudi Arabia will be divided up by the One World Government and the oil wells will be secured by international forces. Otherwise, they will get blown up and the world economy will collapse, and that’s something that the One World Government cannot accept. So your question was about prophecy. I foresee the termination of Islam in the not too distant future.
The Antichrist is not Obama, though he is salesman of the month. I think the Antichrist will come out of the One World Government that is going to defeat Islam and impose their Antichrist on the world after they’ve brought peace and stability into the world. I think we’re in a situation now where we’ll see the eventual collapse of Islam, they are going to the US, in the end I believe they’re only solution will be to convert to Christianity.
“I don’t really give a damn if there are any Muslims here but if they are here and they don’t want to be Americans, then get the hell out, and the same for any other group,” Solomon said, before railing against the president. “Barack Obama is not an American, never has been, not in his actions, not in his speech, not in his politics and not in his birth.”
“And not in his baseball throw either,” cohost and former congressional candidate Steve Davis interjected.
“He’s a homosexual, always has been, is now, always will be,” Solomon continued. “That’s his right to be but this nonsense that somehow homosexuality is something equal to or preferable to is just wrong.”
Schlafly applauded his remarks: “Very well stated Stan, thank you for being a voice of truth and sanity on the air.”
Maybe Schlafly agreed with Solomon’s claims because she heard them before, as she was the guest on a previous edition of The Talk To Solomon Show on which Solomon said that “Barack Obama is a wussy guy who throws a ball like a girl, who everyone knows was involved in homosexuality and I think he is the stereotypical — if he could get away with it he’d be in drag.”
John Hagee spent most of yesterday's "Hagee Hotline" explaining to his viewers how the current crisis in Ukraine is a precursor to the invasion of Israel as foretold by the Book of Ezekiel that will usher in the Last Days.
As Hagee explained, the Gog and Magog prophesied in Ezekiel 38 are Russia and its leader which, along with Iran, Germany, Turkey, Libya, and various Arab nations, will lead a ground invasion of Israel "in the Last Days."
"That's right now," Hagee said. "What you are seeing happening on the television screen is the Russian bear coming back to life, wanting to be a global super power. It's going to take all of the nations it can with them and there will be, at some point in the future, a land invasion lead by the Russians."
But when that invasion takes place, God will destroy five out of every six invading soldiers by causing a massive earthquake as well as a deadly hail storm that will kill thousands of them, while even more will die when God confuses the various armies and causes them to kill one another with friendly fire.
In the end, Hagee assured his audience, "Israel is going to be victorious and defended by the hand of God":
Today the Senate voted to block the nomination of Debo Adegbile to lead the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice despite extensive qualifications, an extraordinary career and a record of commitment to civil rights. People For the American Way Vice President Marge Baker issued the following statement:
“This vote is deeply disappointing for anyone who cares about civil rights. There’s no question that Debo is extraordinarily well qualified for this position. He’s worked for years as a lawyer addressing important civil rights issues in our country, and he possesses an unquestionably brilliant legal mind. Someone like Debo Adegbile is exactly the kind of person that the President and the Senate should want in a key DOJ post.
“Unfortunately, this nomination has been swept up in the poisonous atmosphere that’s engulfed Capitol Hill. Instead of praising Debo for taking on important, challenging issues in our justice system, his opponents rushed to twist and distort his record.
“Attacking an attorney for representing an unpopular criminal client is a toxic strategy for winning a political fight and deeply disruptive to the American ideal of everyone deserving a fair hearing before a court of law. Today’s vote is a triumph of demagoguery.”
Rep. Steve Stockman lost badly in his primary election against Sen. John Cornyn yesterday, takingjust 19 percent of the vote. But the congressman told WorldNetDaily that he only lost as a result of Cornyn’s hefty financial advantage and promised that he would be back:
“It’s not what we wanted, but he had $14 million,” Stockman told WND just minutes after polls closed. “I don’t think we could honestly compete with that. We tried, though.”
But he told WND, “Quite frankly, we took on a huge challenge, and we did fairly well. We still have the skill-set to win again, so we’ll be back.”
Stockman added, “I’m a fighter. I’m not going to stand down. The difference between a winner and a loser is whether you get back up. And I’m going to get back up.”
Of course, Stockman ran a pathetic race ridden with dishonest campaigning, bizarre legal threats and fake endorsements. One Tea Party group called Stockman’s campaign the “laziest statewide campaign to date,” as the congressman didn’t seem to actually campaign outside of Twitter and misleading mailers.
The only real source of Stockman’s support seemed to be the far-right website WorldNetDaily.
When he announced his campaign, we dubbed Stockman ‘the congressman from WorldNetDaily’ -- he has embraced many right-wing conspiracy theories promoted by the site and sent copies of their book on President Obama’s impeachment to every member of Congress.
WND, in turn, went above and beyond to help Stockman.
WND senior reporter Jerome Corsi endorsed Stockman and produced a video attacking Cornyn as a “RINO.” He later wrote an article for WorldNetDaily called, “Famous Republican About To Fall Out Of Sight?,” that praised Stockman and harshly criticized Cornyn as a phony conservative.
Other pro-Stockman articles in WorldNetDaily included “Titanic Republican Shift In Key Senate Race” and “Conservative Launches ‘Cruz’ Missile To Torpedo GOP Bigwig.” And just look at how WorldNetDaily announced Stockman’s defeat: “This time, Goliath beat David.”
Maybe Stockman was so confident about his chances against Cornyn because his entire campaign seemed to exist in WorldNetDaily’s alternate reality.