The Senate will reportedly vote this week on the Blunt amendment, an addition to the transportation bill from Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt that would, if it became law, throw the American health care system into chaos.
Blunt’s amendment, part of the right-wing overreaction to President Obama’s mandate that health insurance policies cover contraception, would allow any employer to refuse any employee insurance for any treatment on religious grounds. So not only could any boss refuse his female employees access to birth control, but any employer could refuse coverage for any procedure or medication he or she found morally offensive – including things like blood transfusions, vaccinations, or even treatment from a doctor of the opposite sex.
Not only would the Blunt amendment mean that comprehensive health insurance wouldn’t necessarily provide comprehensive health insurance – it would throw the country’s health care system into chaos, as each employer and each insurer carved out their own sets of rules.
The plan is bad public policy and antithetical to religious freedom, but it will probably get the votes of most Republican senators. In fact, the basic idea behind the plan is something that’s already been embraced by Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.
A large majority of Americans think that insurance policies should be required to cover basic reproductive care – including contraception – for women. The Blunt amendment would not only deny that care to women, it would go even further in denying health care to all American workers for any number of reasons totally beyond their control.
This is straight-up extremism: and American voters know that.
UPDATE: The Democratic Policy and Communications Center estimates that the Blunt amendment could put preventative care for 20 million women at risk.
Last week, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell buckled under nationwide pressure and forced his allies in the state’s legislature to revise a bill they had passed mandating forced, medically unnecessary transvaginal ultrasounds for women seeking abortions. That the bill was tweaked to no longer require women to be vaginally penetrated without their consent – a requirement that McDonnell, until he was met with a national outcry, was all set to sign into law -- was an important victory for pro-choice and common-decency activists.
But we need to remember just how far anti-choice politicians are willing to go. Just a few years ago, before the War on Women kicked into full swing, we wouldn’t have known that we’d have to be fighting state-mandated vaginal probes. In fact, just a few years ago, the amended bill passed by the Virginia Senate today would have been seen as extreme in itself.
The bill that the Virginia Senate passed in a 21-19 vote today requires all women seeking an abortion to first undergo a medically unnecessary external ultrasound – unless they can prove they are pregnant as a result of rape or incest.
It’s important to remember just how extreme the bill still is. Virginia Republicans are mandating that doctors perform a medically unnecessary procedure whether or not their patient requests it, unless that patient can produce a police report to prevent it. It creates a situation that’s ethically difficult for doctors and absolutely demeaning for women.
If Gov. McDonnell signs the bill, which he is expected to do, Virginia will join seven other states that currently require pre-abortion ultrasounds.
Yesterday on Prophetic Perspectives with Rick Joyner, Jerry Boykin sat down with self-proclaimed ex-terrorist Kamal Saleem. We have reported on Saleem’s ridiculously implausible story before, as he claims to be a descendent of the Grand Wazir of Islam, a title that does not exist, and claims to have worked for the secular Palestine Liberation Organization, the Islamist group Hamas, Moammar Qaddafi’s government in Libya, and Al Qaeda in Tora Bora, all until he came to the United States to wage “culture jihad.” Even though Saleem’s story has been thoroughly and routinelydebunked, he is still a prominent speaker in Religious Right circles and is an ally of Boykin, a former lieutenant general turned anti-Muslim activist.
On the show, Saleem and Boykin profusely expressed their love for Muslims, but warned that their religion is “evil.” Saleem said that “we’re anti-Islam itself, it’s coming to destroy humanity.” Boykin went on to claim that “Islam is evil, Islam is an evil concept” and said that “we need to reach out to the Muslim people and bring them the light of the Gospel, and we also need to be very clear that Islam in a pure sense, in an authoritative sense, is evil.”
Televangelist Pat Robertson on the 700 Club today slammed the Obama administration’s plan to scale back Defense Department spending as a ploy to “diminish us,” even though commentators believe the department avoided deep cuts and note that significant savings resulted from withdrawing troops from Iraq. Robertson maintained that the President “is suspect” because “he has made clear that his role in life is to diminish the power of the United States, he really just wants to diminish us.” He claimed that Obama “has an agenda” that is not “in keeping with the long rage goals of the United States of America.”
I don’t trust the motives of the President because he has made clear that his role in life is to diminish the power of the United States, he really just wants to diminish us, he wants to cut our nuclear arsenal dramatically, he wants to cut this, that and the other. If we had trusted his motives we’d say, “OK well maybe we can talk about it,” but I think I and many other Americans distrust him because he’s made clear in some of his writings and other things that he thinks the imperialist nations need to be restrained, need to be downgraded, that the great imperialist powers should no longer be allowed to roam freely on the globe. Furthermore, he does not believe in American exceptionalism. So we’ve got a President who is suspect. So when he comes out with these massive cuts, you say, ‘are you really doing something to the budget or are you really trying to just diminish us’?
That’s the problem we are dealing with here ladies and gentlemen is that we’ve got a man in charge of this country who has an agenda, and we question is that agenda in keeping with the long range goals of the United States of America? And I question it.
It’s not exactly a surprise when the American Family Association, home of the consistently unhinged Bryan Fischer, uses over-the-top rhetoric in its attacks on President Obama. Still, the latest fundraising letter from AFA President Tim Wildmon is memorably apocalyptic in tone:
In a very real way the year 2012 is as important to our nation as was the year 1776.
Just as then, this year Americans must choose between freedom and tyranny.
Wildmon goes on to call the administration’s recent regulations on insurance coverage of contraception “but the latest instance of the Obama Administration’s all-out war on Christians.”
Wildmon cites "the choice God put before the Israelites before He would allow them to enter into the Promised Land" and says
I believe God is asking America to make that same choice now:
Life and good … or death and evil.
Wildmon suggests Obama’s re-election would bring God’s wrath on America:
…everyone here at AFA is convinced that the elections this November will determine whether or not America will survive as a nation. After all, God has been long-suffering with us for decades now. How long will his patience last?
But, he says, if tens of millions of Christians register and vote for men and women who “respect our Christian heritage, will fight to protect religious freedom, and will work to build America’s crumbing moral foundation,” then
We can literally save America! As a nation we can stand before Almighty God and tell Him:
We love You, Lord! As a people, we will walk in Your ways and keep Your commandments!
The response card accompanying the letter seeks donation to “help elect godly leaders and to restore America to a nation that honors the one, true God.”
The latest direct mail letter from the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins is an extended attack on the Commitment Campaign, a project launched last November by Third Way to bring a bipartisan message focused on committed couples to the hearts-and-minds campaign for marriage equality. Perkins suggests that not giving money to FRC, a Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group, is “a form of hate.”
FRC’s fundraising campaign against “fake marriage” includes a video that recycles lies about the impact of marriage equality – that schools will be forced to teach kids how to have gay sex, that pastors will be silenced, etc. – and also includes a twist on the now-standard Religious Right claim that anti-gay efforts are not about hate, but love for those “trapped in homosexuality.”
“Silence about the documented harm this lifestyle does is not loving,” says Perkins, “Such silence is, in fact, a form of hate.”
“So,” writes Perkins, “I’m asking you to say ‘No’ to silence [i.e. hate] and ‘Yes’ to speaking the truth in love at a decisive moment in America’s history…a moment when faith family and freedom are at stake.”
What he wants is a "generous financial gift." You wouldn't want to be a hater, would you?
Last month the British newspaper the Telegraph ran a story alleging that First Lady Michelle Obama spent $50,000 at a Madison Avenue lingerie shop with the Queen of Qatar, a claim which was laughable on its face and of course proven to be categorically untrue. In fact, the Telegraph later pulled the article from its website.
Almost one month later, even after the story was debunked, WorldNetDaily columnist Mychal Massie of the conservative the National Center for Public Policy Research's Project 21, is regurgitating the very same story as if it was a fact. Massie writes that Obama’s vacations, appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and “personal $50,000 underwear spending spree” so she can have the “experience of picking out all those exotic undies,” shows her “disgusting elitism”:
What on earth can Michelle Obama possibly be tired from? What has she done since her husband was elected that gives her one reason to be tired? I know that flying, for the proletariat such as myself, can be tiring and, more times than not, a genuine pain – but she flies in presidential luxury, sans the president. And the only checkin’ in and full-body scan she goes through at an airport is when she looks at herself in a mirror.
Then again, maybe she was exhausted from her personal $50,000 underwear shopping spree with the queen of Qatar, at Agent Provocateur, the store that bills itself as selling “the most erotic lingerie in the world.” Realizing that you’re responsible for closing down Madison Avenue can be tiring, and watching staff carry all those bags back to her limousines … whew! – that would sure wear me out. And after the tiring experience of picking out all of those exotic undies, what better place to recover than an uber-posh Vail resort and the private home owned by Paula and Jim Crown?
Or maybe she’s worn out from rolling around on the floor to the delight of Ellen Degeneres, or making muscles on a daytime show, or pulling on a rope on another show, or eating at all of the restaurants where she loves to pig it up.
Then again, maybe Ms. Obama is just an arrogant, high-minded person who doesn’t give a rat’s tail about propriety or how her behavior looks to a suffering public because, after all, her husband claims the economy is improving, and who are we going to believe – the reality of our financial situation or her husband?
Michelle Obama can afford to live life large since every dime she’s spending comes on the backs and sweat of others. Nothing, zip, nada that she spends did she personally earn. And therein is the disgusting elitism of a woman who forgets where she came from, and dares you to remind her.
Franklin Graham, who has recently beengenerating controversy of his own, knows what Boykin went through becuase he too was disinvited from a prayer breakfast back in 2010 for making similar anti-Islam comments.
In response, Graham has now written a column complaining that he and Boykin and anyone else who "speaks out firmly for truth" are being persecuted by the forces of political correctness, which are weaking "very foundation of our Judeo-Christian morality":
One of the most sinister and menacing threats to our society today lurks under the lethal guise of two small initials—PC.
I’m talking about political correctness—the maddening and prevailing public sentiment of offending no one (except Christians). It has infected our schools, government, universities, and the marketplace, leaving no room for moral absolutes or the authoritative truth of Scripture.
Instead, political correctness demands tolerance of everything as it panders to the godless values of pluralism, marginalizing and even persecuting men and women of faith.
[W]hen some politically correct people discovered Gen. Boykin was speaking, they began a media campaign to stop him, pointing to his criticism of radical Islam, whose militant adherents have killed thousands of innocent civilians on American soil. One commentator on a national news network called the effort to block Gen. Boykin “political correctness gone amok.”
I know exactly what he was facing. Some of the very same people worked together against me in 2010 to force the Army to withdraw my invitation to speak at the Pentagon on the National Day of Prayer because nine years earlier I had called the radical element of Islam what it is—evil and wicked.
The official explanation of my disinvitation was dripping with political correctness: “His past statements are not consistent with the multi-faith emphasis and inclusiveness of this event.”
Do you see the insidious nature of all this? Inclusiveness now means excluding anyone who speaks out firmly for truth. It is happening everywhere in the country. Wishing to offend no one, our nation’s politicians, leaders, and decision-makers now stand for absolutely nothing. The very foundation of our Judeo-Christian morality is severely threatened.
Sunday on Breakpoint, Chuck Colson hosted fellow Manhattan Declaration co-founders Timothy George and Robert George to discuss the mandate for contraception coverage and the need for “disobedience” to resist the policy. During the interview, Timothy George repeated his claim that the Obama administration is turning the United States into Nazi Germany, comparing the Manhattan Declaration to the Barmen Declaration of German Christians who opposed the Nazi Party and telling Colson that “there are many parallels” today with Nazi Germany. Later in the interview, Colson maintained that while “we’re not going through the horrors the Nazis did,” the “issue is the same” as the German resistors.
George: The Barmen Declaration was a document that came of May of 1934, it was issued by a group of Protestant Christians in Germany just at the beginning of the Third Reich in which they drew a line in the sand and they said to everyone who would listen that Jesus Christ as he is attest in the Holy Scripture is the one Word of God whom we are to hear, whom we are to trust and whom we are to obey in life and in death. It was a way of saying we will not go along with the usurpation of human rights and Christian commitment that Hitler was calling for at that time, and so we felt that something like that needed to be said in our own time. There are many parallels, it’s not exactly analogous, but we want to call people to the kind of faithfulness and fidelity demonstrated in 1934 in that very important and precious document.
Colson: I think, led by the Holy Spirit, these two extraordinary scholars with me and I were simply led along to do this and I think it is a document for our times, there is not an analogy with the Barmen Declaration because we’re not going through the horrors the Nazis did, but the issue is the same.
Clearly uncomfortable, Coulter hedged a bit before declaring that "violence will break out" when the Constitution is trampled upon and stated that the "current score" between murdered babies and murdered doctors was approximately fifty million to seven:
Potter: Let's talk about your appearance in Broken Arrow on March 3, your speaking at a fundraiser for the founder of Operation Rescue, Randall Terry who is running for president on the Democratic ticket in Oklahoma. Why'd you take the gig?
Coulter: Well, for one thing, this is what I do for a living; I give speeches. But I love Randall Terry and I must say, if he beats President Obama in the Democratic primary, I'm going to be torn ... do I support Randall Terry or Mitt Romney, whom I've been pushing for the Republican Party? So it could end up being a very difficult choice for me.
Potter: You say you love Randall Terry, He's famous nationally for his efforts to shut down abortion clinics. He's used many graphic images in his protests. He even had words of support for the guy who gunned down that obstetrician in the Wichita church service back in 2009. You're cool with all that?
Coulter: Ummmmm .... well, I'm going to discuss the issue of the abortion clinic doctors being shot in my speech. But, by in large, the current score is, what, about fifty million to seven in terms of the number of people their side has killed and the number of people our side has killed. But I'll give you a brief preview, which is when you take democracy away from people, violence will break out. That is not, itself, an endorsement, but it is a suggesting that we go back to living under the Constitution.
Today the United States Reformation Prayer Network, an organization of “prophetic voices” using “strategic targeting coordinates for reformation prayer” founded by Cindy Jacobs, sent out a prayer alert for Michigan’s Tuesday primary which warned about the state’s Muslim community. Rick Joyner of the Oak Initiative previously warned that “there is actually an attempt to make Michigan our first Muslim state,” and in the prayer alert from Anita Christopher of the Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network and the West Michigan Prayer Center made the same claim today: “There seems to be an underlying agenda by Islam to have Michigan become the first Islamic state in America.” She went on to call for Michigan to ‘come into its Kingdom destiny” and for the government to “make covenant decrees over the people.” While such a claim is absurd on its face, it appears even more ridiculous after learning that Michigan’s Muslim community represents approximately 3 percent of the state’s population:
Michigan has suffered great economic hardship for many years due to foreign competition and costs of doing business. We have historically historically [sic] been an anti-Semitic state, and hold one of the largest population of Muslims outside of the Middle East. There seems to be an underlying agenda by Islam to have Michigan become the first Islamic state in America.
• Declare that Godly men and women will be elected who carry a Biblical worldview and have moral integrity.
• Declare that our elected leaders will stand with Israel.
• Declare that our elected leaders will uphold traditional marriage and the sanctity of life.
• Declare our elected leaders will preserve our God-given Constitution.
• Cry out for the wind of awakening to come into this region.
• Cry out for revelation for the Church to see Michigan’s issues with Kingdom mindsets.
• Decree that Michigan will come into its Kingdom destiny.
• Decree the government of Michigan will shift and begin to make covenant decrees over the people.
On Meet the Press yesterday, David Gregory questioned GOP presidential frontrunner Rick Santorum about the social issues – opposition to reproductive choice and gay rights – on which he has built his career. Stunningly, Santorum denied that he has focused on social issues and claimed, “There’s no evidence at all that I, that I want to impose those values on anybody else.”
FMR. SEN. SANTORUM: It's so funny. I get the question all the time. Why are you talking so much about these social issues, as they, as, as people ask about me about the social issues. MR. GREGORY: Senator, no, wait a minute.
FMR. SEN. SANTORUM: Look, the... MR. GREGORY: You talk about this stuff every week. And by the way, it's not just in this campaign. FMR. SEN. SANTORUM: No, I talk about, I talk... MR. GREGORY: Sir, in this campaign you talk about it. And I've gone back years when you've been in public life and you have made this a centerpiece of your public life. So the notion that these are not deeply held views worthy of question and scrutiny, it's not just about the press. FMR. SEN. SANTORUM: Yeah, they, they are deeply held views, but they're not what I dominantly talk about, David. You're taking things that over a course of a 20-year career and pulling out quotes from difference speeches on, on issues that are fairly tangential, not what people care about mostly in America, and saying, "Oh, he wants to impose those values." Look at my record. I've never wanted to impose any of the things that you've just talked about. These are, these are my personal held religious beliefs, and in many forums that I, that, that are, in fact, religious, because I do speak in front of church groups and I do speak in these areas, I do talk about them. But there's no evidence at all that I, that I want to impose those values on anybody else.
This is, of course, a bunch of baloney. While Santorum has spent a lot of time in his presidential campaign talking up regressive tax policies, irresponsible deregulation and anti-environmentalism, the core of his brand has always been social conservatism. His campaign has consistently and explicitly distinguished his anti-choice, anti-gay record with Mitt Romney’s in order to successfully appeal to culture-warring voters.
Santorum has also never shied away from wanting to “impose” his far-right values on the rest of the country. In a 2005 interview with NPR, for instance, he railed against the libertarian wing of the Republican party, saying, “They have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do. Government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulation low and that we shouldn't get involved in the bedroom, we shouldn't get involved in cultural issues, you know, people should do whatever they want. Well, that is not how traditional conservatives view the world.”
Santorum’s interview on Meet the Press is far from the first time he’s claimed that he’s not overly interested in social issues. PFAW’s Right Wing Watch found a speech he gave in 2008 in which he claimed that it’s liberals who have made sex an issue on the campaign trail. For liberals, he said, politics “comes down to sex” and that the Democratic Party has become “the party of Woodstock.”:
And it’s just insidious. And it’s most of the time focused on the sexual issues. If you’re a hard-core free-market guy, they’re not going to call you “zealous”. They’re not going to call you “ultra-conservative”. They’re not going to do that to you.
It comes down to sex. That’s what it’s all about. It comes down to freedom, and it comes down to sex. If you have anything to with any of the sexual issues, and if you are on the wrong side of being able to do all of the sexual freedoms you want, you are a bad guy. And you’re dangerous because you are going to limit my freedom in an area that’s the most central to me. And that’s the way it’s looked at.
Woodstock is the great American orgy. This is who the Democratic Party has become. They have become the party of Woodstock. The prey upon our most basic primal lusts, and that’s sex. And the whole abortion culture, it’s not about life. It’s about sexual freedom. That’s what it’s about. Homosexuality. It’s about sexual freedom.
All of the things are about sexual freedom, and they hate to be called on them. They try to somehow or other tie this to the Founding Father’s vision of liberty, which is bizarre. It’s ridiculous.
Today on Truth that Transforms, John Rabe of Truth in Action Ministries and Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission agreed that idolatry and the worship of government is to blame for the recent protests and recall movement in Wisconsin over Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s push to eliminate the collective bargaining rights of public workers, calling it a “theological issue.” Rabe said that the Wisconsinites who have rallied against Walker’s move are people who have made government “a replacement for God” and even went on to claim that government employees shouldn’t look to government to provide for them.
Rabe: It does seem that there is a theological issue at stake here as well. When we are trained to look to government to supply our every need, it is very tempting for that government to become a replacement for God in our lives. You know, we tend to worship our idols and I think we’ve seen from the uprisings in places like Greece and frankly even in the United States in the Wisconsin state capitol last year, what happens when that god stops providing.
Every Friday, David Barton and Rick Green host "Good News Friday" on their "Wallbuilders Live" radio program during which they discuss "good news from around the nation the media doesn't report."
As we have noted in dozens and dozens of blog posts and even full-blown reports, Barton has something of a tendency to completely misrepresent things in order to bolster his ultra-right-wing agenda ... and he did it once again during today's radio program.
Barton and Green were discussing a recent decision 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in a case involving an Eastern Michigan University graduate student who was expelled from a counseling program after she refused to "affirm a client’s homosexual behavior" during counseling, citing religious objections.
But, of course, that is not how Barton portrayed it at all, instead claiming that Ward had won her lawsuit outright and that the ruling was a huge victory that would protect other students from suffering the same fate as Ward:
What we had was a graduate student at Eastern Michigan University who, because of her religious beliefs, said 'look, I can't counsel people to be homosexual. You got to send them to some other counselor to do that.' And all the kids who had been doing that before had been dismissed from the program, [with the school] saying 'if you can't counsel pro-homosexuality, you can't be a counselor.'
And so this particular time, the graduate student sued and said 'look, you can't tell me because of my religious beliefs what I have to counsel." And the Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled in the favor of this graduate student, saying you're right, you cannot dismiss this student from the program simply because they refuse to promote homosexuality.
Here's a good reversal and this is a great piece of good news. And it's not just a lower district court, this is the Court of Appeals in the 6th Circuit and this is a huge, huge victory and it's going to be cited across the nation for all sorts of other kids that are facing the same kind of discrimination.
The 6th Circuit ruled nothing of the sort. As the decision [PDF] made clear, the Court merely ruled that both sides could make a compelling case and thus it should be decided by a jury:
Construing the evidence in the university’s favor, a jury might credit the university’s claim that such a policy existed and conclude that practicum students were subject to a general ban on referrals, making it difficult for Ward to demonstrate that she was expelled on pretextual grounds as opposed to the ground that she refused to adhere to a general and reasonable curricular requirement. Just as the inferences favor Ward in the one setting, they favor the university defendants in the other. At this stage of the case and on this record, neither side deserves to win as a matter of law.
For these reasons, we reverse and remand to the district court for further proceedings.
As we have said before, one of the main keys to Barton's success as a right-wing "expert" is that nobody on the Right ever bothers to check anything that he says ... or hold him accountable for all of the things that he gets wrong.
Washington Times columnist Jeffrey Kuhner, who has already dubbed President Obama an anti-Christian Leninist and called for civil disobedience to fight his administration, today writes that Obama’s support for environmental protection shows that he has “embraced radical environmentalism – a form of neo-paganism,” and is “behaving like a quasi-religious zealot.” Kuhner was responding to the claims of Rick Santorum, along with other Religious Right leaders, who contend that support for defending the environment somehow hurts humans and is its own religion. “The green movement - exemplified by the hoax of man-made global warming - has degenerated into a pseudo-religion,” Kuhner maintains, “Environmentalists worship Gaia, Mother Earth, turning it into a secular goddess.”
He goes on to argue that Obama is not a “real Christian” who “has nothing but contempt for traditional Christianity and the family,” as seen in his support for gay and reproductive rights. “Mr. Obama has declared war on our Judeo-Christian culture,” Kuhner concludes, “The path is laid for a soft authoritarian nanny state.”
Mr. Santorum’s larger point is that Mr. Obama and his liberal allies have embraced radical environmentalism - a form of neo-paganism. The green movement - exemplified by the hoax of man-made global warming - has degenerated into a pseudo-religion. Environmentalists worship Gaia, Mother Earth, turning it into a secular goddess. Hence, they believe industrial civilization must be subordinated to a green socialist agenda. This is why Mr. Obama has dramatically strengthened the Environmental Protection Agency, favors cap-and-trade legislation, prevents most oil drilling along the Gulf Coast and in Alaska, and nixed the Keystone XL pipeline project. Mr. Santorum rightly argues that Mr. Obama’s green “theology” trumps the economic interests of Americans; the president is behaving like a quasi-religious zealot. True.
Yet Mr. Santorum should have done more than just attack Mr. Obama’s extreme environmentalism. Instead, when confronted by liberal hostility, the Republican social conservative retreated. The record is clear and obvious: The president is more a radical secular progressive than a real Christian. He has more in common with Vladimir Lenin than Jesus Christ.
Mr. Obama is a radical leftist. Like all such extremists, he has nothing but contempt for traditional Christianity and the family. During the 2008 campaign, he decried Americans who “cling to guns or religion.” He supported partial-birth abortion - infanticide. As a state senator, he voted for legislation allowing doctors to kill viable babies born during botched abortions. He has embedded federal funding of abortion in Obamacare. In other words, devout Christians - as well as Orthodox Jews and Muslims - must subsidize with their taxpayer dollars a practice they find morally abhorrent. He refuses to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act. He has enabled homosexuals to openly serve in the military - significantly advancing the “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender” agenda. He is now mandating that health insurers for nearly all religious organizations provide their employees with free contraception and sterilization procedures - including the morning-after pill. This is a direct assault upon the Catholic Church, conscience rights and religious freedom.
Mr. Obama has declared war on our Judeo-Christian culture. He understands the economic transformation of America cannot take place without a government-imposed social revolution: Smash religion and the family - the key institutions of civil society - and the restraints upon the federal leviathan are removed. The path is laid for a soft authoritarian nanny state. The president acts as if he is hell-bent on eradicating Christianity from the public square.
There are few political operatives active today that are as ruthless and cynical as Ralph Reed.
Reed is, after all, the man who infamously declared that he specializes in "guerrilla warfare," and bragged "I paint my face and travel at night. You don't know it's over until you're in a body bag."
Reed also knowingly took hundreds of thousands of dollars from corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff to manipulate and mobilize his Religious Right allies to fight gambling expansions in order to protect Abramoff's client's gambling interests. Reed even had some of the money laundered through third-parties in order to try and conceal its origins, yet continues to insist to this day that he is "proud" of the "outstanding" work he did on behalf of Abramoff and his clients.
So it is a little ironic to see him speaking to the Palms West Republican Club in Florida recently, in a video recorded and posted by Conservative New Media, as he warns that there is no candidate who is as tough, mean, and cynical as President Obama and that his campaign will be "coming with a knife in an alley" to launch an all-out scorched earth campaign against the Republican nominee:
Fresh after questioning President Obama’s Christian faith, Franklin Graham spoke to Family Research Council president Tony Perkins on American Family Radio’s Today’s Issues, where he said that Christians would be “compromising” their faith if they voted for Obama. He attacked Obama over his support for legal abortion and said that Obama also favors legalizing same-sex marriage, a position which the President has actually not taken, warning that “same-sex marriage is unraveling the institution of marriage that God gave, it is against the Bible, it is against Holy Scripture, it is against God’s instruction, and so I cannot support any candidate” who supports it. He went on to argue that the Obama administration’s policies “are undermining the churches,” “undermining our faith,” and are “going to undermine the United States of America.”
Perkins may not have been the best person to talk to if Graham is trying to distance himself from his previous comments, as the Family Research Council president accused the Obama administration of having a “disdain for Christianity” and said any Christian who voted for Obama must “repent.”
I’m asked if the President is a Christian, I don’t know I mean he says he is so I guess he is and that’s what he says, but at the same time Tony there are the policies of the President and the administration that go against God’s teaching. Of course, that’s abortion. The Bible is very clear on this, I cannot support the President or vote for him because of his support for abortion and same-sex marriage. To me, same-sex marriage is unraveling the institution of marriage that God gave, it is against the Bible, it is against Holy Scripture, it is against God’s instruction, and so I cannot support any candidate and it has nothing to do with being a Republican or a Democrat, if a Republican takes these positions I’m not going to vote for them.
The moral issues to me are so important as a Christian, for a candidate to actually oppose God’s standard and then to vote for that person, you are compromising, you are joining in with them. So for me, I just have to draw the line in the sand, I’m not going to support a candidate that supports abortion and same-sex marriage, I will not do it. Unfortunately, you know the President is a nice guy, but I cannot vote for him because of these issues that go against God’s law and against His standard.
Tony, I’m a grandfather, I’ve got grandchildren, and I’m looking now at the world that they are going to inherit, the world they are going to live in. I shudder when I think of the changes that are taking place right now, churches and pastors are not speaking out, and I just hope that pastors will speak the truth, God’s word, and how these policies that are being administered right now how they are undermining the churches, how they are undermining our faith, and how it’s going to undermine the United States of America.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) strategy of corporations enact favorable legislation at the state level across the country by wining and dining state legislators at fancy conferences and then presenting them with model bills to shepherd into law is well documented. Apparently, ALEC also sees value in currying favor at the federal level as well.
Common Cause’s Nick Surgey reports that ALEC gave a cash award of $1,350 to Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) in 2009 as part of their Thomas Jefferson Freedom Award, according to an investigation of ALEC’s tax filings. This presents a potential breach of ethics because House members are prohibited by law from receiving any cash gift.
While ALEC’s main focus is on pro-corporate state legislation, common cause notes that ALEC’s influence extends far into the realm of the federal government:
As Rep. Cantor graciously accepts his award in this 2009 video, it’s not difficult to imagine how flattery and cash gifts can go a long way in winning the favor of powerful people.
Rep. Cantor’s office subsequently released a statement denying that he took the cash and that the engraved bust he received was legal. This still doesn’t explain, as Common Cause notes, why ALEC considered the bust to be a cash gift on their tax filings, unless the value of the bust was high enough that disclosure was required.
A message to People For the American Way supporters from PFAW president Michael Keegan:
Fighting contraception. Stopping domestic violence protections. Extending tax cuts for the wealthy, while hiking taxes on the middle class. Welcoming white supremacists to a conference, but banning gay conservatives. The GOP has followed its extremist fringe off the deep end, leaving the rest of us back in the reality-based world befuddled. Their strategists warned them not to do this, but it appears that to the GOP, radical fringe issue positions are like catnip. In last night's Republican presidential debate in Arizona, the candidates even spent several minutes discussing which of them is least in favor of allowing rape victims to have access to emergency contraception.
Perhaps Bruce Bartlett, who was an economic policy official under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, said it best on last night's Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Discussing the obstacles to getting smart policies agreed upon and passed in government, he said, "the problem is purely political ... frankly, one of our political parties is insane, and we all know which one it is." (Hint: he was not talking about the Democrats.)
Standing Up for Women's Health -- We all heard about the War on Women's Health last year, when Tea Party-empowered state legislatures passed a record slew of anti-choice laws -- like Arizona's ban on "race-based abortions" and Virginia's attempt to shut down most abortion clinics in the state. These state legislatures were joined by an enthusiastic right-wing Congress that attempted to defund the entire $317 million federal family program, tried to redefine "rape" and eagerly promoted lies about their favorite bogeyman, Planned Parenthood. Well, the War on Women's Health is back, and it looks to be more an all-out War on Women. PFAW members spoke out when Susan G. Komen for the Cure threatened to cut off funds for Planned Parenthood because of internal influences from right-wing staff and board members. We're currently fighting an amendment in the U.S. Senate that would give employers the power to deny any health care to their employees that they take "moral" issue with personally. And we continue to track closely dangerous and extreme state legislation like the recent bill passed by Virginia’s right-wing Assembly that would force women considering abortions -- even rape victims -- to undergo invasive transvaginal ultrasounds.
Exposing the GOP Candidates' Extremism -- PFAW's Right Wing Watch last week uncovered the audio recording of a speech Rick Santorum gave to students at Ave Maria University in 2008 in which he said Satan, the "Father of Lies" was focusing all his attention on the United States of America. He said that academia had long ago fallen to this Satanic attack, derided mainline Protestant churches as no longer Christian and said that we are involved in a "spiritual war," as opposed to a political or cultural war -- a war in which we could only assume people with opposing views to Santorum's are on the side of Satan. The story took off like wildfire in both the blogosphere and the mainstream news media. It became the dominant storyline of the GOP debate for the two days leading up to the last debate and even had right-wing pundits like Laura Ingraham and Rush Limbaugh, and politicians like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, asserting that Santorum's religious extremism is too much for a majority of Americans.
Fighting Judicial Obstruction -- A new PFAW fact sheet shows the extremity and unprecedented nature of Senate Republicans obstruction of judicial nominees, as well as its impact on Americans' access to justice. While a vacancy crisis persists on many of the nation's federal courts, our persistence is paying off and we're finally making headway in getting some of the president's qualified nominees confirmed. This month, the Senate confirmed Cathy Ann Bencivengo and Jesse Furman to U.S. District Courts in California and New York respectively, and Adalberto Jose Jordan to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, all of whom had been waiting months on the Senate calendar for a vote despite the fact that they came out of the Senate Judiciary Committee without any opposition. But dozens of other qualified nominees, most of whom had little or no opposition in Committee, still await confirmation. We'll continue to hold Republicans accountable for their obstruction and keep the pressure on to confirm these judges as swiftly as possible, and one at a time if necessary.
Youth Spotlight: Young Elected Officials take on Citizens United v. FEC -- In state, city and municipal governing bodies in at least seven states, members of our affiliate PFAW Foundation's Young Elected Officials (YEO) Network have put forward resolutions that call for the end of corporate personhood and unlimited special interest money in politics. One of the first big victories in this coordinated national effort was that of Missoula, Montana Councilwoman Cynthia Wolken. After attending a session on Citizens United at the 2011 YEO National Convening, Councilwoman Wolken took a sample resolution and introduced a city-wide referendum calling for Congress to pass a constitutional amendment that made it clear that corporations are not people. The referendum passed overwhelmingly, with over 75% of the vote, bringing an abundance of media attention to the issue and forcing leaders in Montana's state government to weigh-in as well.
As always, thank you for your support, without which none of our work would be possible.