Fighting the Right

Anti-Choice Activists Furious About GOP's Reversal On 20-Week Abortion Ban

Yesterday, Republican leaders in the House decided to pull a plan to vote on a national ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy after Republican women balked at a provision that would have exempted rape survivors only if they reported their assault to the police. The vote had been planned to coincide with the anniversary of Roe v. Wade and the anti-choice March for Life on the National Mall.

Anti-choice activists are, predictably, furious. After all, many saw the rape and incest exception as an unacceptable compromise in the first place. The bill, originally proposed by Rep. Trent Franks last year, included only an exception for abortions that could save the life of the pregnant woman. After Franks claimed in a hearing that “the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low,” GOP leaders quietly added a rape exception to the bill and picked a Republican woman, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, to handle the vote on the House floor.

Rep. Steve King of Iowa told the National Journal yesterday that he would fix the problem by eliminating the rape exception entirely: "I would not make exceptions for rape and incest, and then the reporting requirement would not be necessary.”

After House leaders decided to pull the bill yesterday, prominent anti-choice blogger Jill Stanek and the group Students for Life announced that they were putting together a last-minute protest at the offices of two Republican women, Reps. Renee Ellmers and Jackie Walorski, who reportedly led the fight against the rape reporting provision:

Conservative pundit Erik Erickson, in a late-night blog post, attacked Ellmers for her “two-faced ploy” and shot off a series of tweets giving her the “abortion Barbie” label he had previously bestowed on Wendy Davis:

 

Russell Moore, head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s policy arm, responded with a press release saying he was “disgusted” by the House leadership’s “act of moral cowardice” and urged his supporters to call their members of Congress to protest the “breach of trust.”

“I am disgusted by this act of moral cowardice. If the House Republicans cannot pass something as basic as restricting the abortion of five-month, pain-capable unborn children, what can they get done?

“The Republicans in Congress should come and explain this atrocity to the hundreds of thousands of people gathering here in the nation’s capital to march for life. The congressional Republicans seem to think that pro-lifers will be satisfied with Ronald Reagan rhetoric and Nancy Pelosi results. They are quite wrong.”

House Republicans are now scheduled to vote on a bill Thursday that would prohibit federal funding for abortions. This scheduled vote coincides with the annual March for Life event, held in Washington, D.C., on or around the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing abortion in the case Roe v. Wade.

Conservative columnist Ross Douthat seemed to capture the feelings of many abortion rights opponents:

 

Sandy Rios: Obama Used Islamic Subliminal Messages In The State Of The Union

The American Family Association’s Sandy Rios enjoys promoting bizarre conspiracy theories to imply that President Obama is a secret Muslim, and today she even managed to find proof of Obama’s hidden faith in his State of the Union address.

On Rios’ radio program this morning, a listener called in to complain that Obama said he met the country’s “newest officers at West Point, Annapolis, Colorado Springs, and New London,” which the listener claimed was a lie because “Fort Collins is the Air Force Academy, not Colorado Springs.”

Actually, the caller is incorrect, as the Air Force Academy is indeed located just outside of Colorado Springs.

Rios didn’t pick up on the caller’s mistake, but she did use the opportunity to claim that Obama was spreading Muslim messages in his speech when he used the word “pillar” to describe the foundations of American leadership in the world: “The other thing he said that I caught, he has done this before, you know there are five pillars of Islam, and he used the term ‘pillars’ again in his speech last night.”

“It is just really interesting, language can actually give us some insight, choices of words,” she said.

Clearly, President Bush must also be an Islamist.

Religious Right Activist Admits That Marriage Equality Bans Are Like Anti-Miscegenation Laws

Brian Camenker of the anti-LGBT group MassResistance spoke to the American Family Association’s Sandy Rios this week about how same-sex marriage has wreaked havoc on Massachusetts since it became legal in 2004, declaring that ten years of marriage equality has been “terrible” for the Bay State.

“It is very, very scary. It has permeated the public school system, it has permeated the public health system, the legal system,” he said. “It has basically overwhelmed everything. It’s been a nightmare. It’s been very bad.”

Camenker’s remarks didn’t come as much of a surprise given that he once told The Daily Show that marriage equality would somehow contribute to homelessness, higher crime rates, and poorer air quality.

What did come as a surprise was Camenker conceding the point that bans on same-sex marriage are similar to laws banning interracial marriage ... and he did so by defending the constitutionality of anti-miscegenation laws!

On the face of it, the Fourteenth Amendment says that everybody will be treated equally, that the law will treat everyone equally. Well, the law treats everyone equally; everyone can only marry someone of the opposite sex. That’s it. There is no Fourteenth Amendment problem unless you stretch it to such ridiculous lengths and twist it around to claim there is. But yes, every person can only marry someone of the opposite sex. Now someone may say that it was the same issue with the miscegenation laws. And that’s true. The miscegenation laws were not a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment because they applied to everybody. As an aside, I was living in the South at the time when the miscegenation laws were struck down and the interesting thing about that was, nobody paid any attention to it, nobody cared, it was like page 25 in the newspaper, there weren’t these signature drives or meetings and gatherings. Nobody really cared at all. Here it is a much different thing because it really is a moral issue.

The Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia struck down anti-miscegenation laws on the basis that they violated the Fourteenth Amendment. It was indeed a “moral issue” at the time, as many religious conservatives frequently alleged that interracial marriages were contrary to biblical teachings and natural law.

Some Americans, disproportionately white, still oppose interracial relationships today.

Equally preposterous is Camenker’s claim that “nobody cared” about the Loving decision. Many states have attempted to keep their anti-miscegenation laws on the books, and interracial couples have faced a long history of violence and discrimination.

At least Camenker, unlike other Religious Right activists, is being consistent in his opposition to the reasoning behind the Loving ruling and court decisions in favor of marriage equality for same-sex couples.

Beck Stands By The Muslim 'No-Go Zone' Myth, Insists They Are Just Like Indian Reservations

As Miranda explained yesterday, right-wing anti-Islam activists have been spreading a myth for years that radical Muslims have taken over entire parts of European cities and neighborhoods and turned them into "no-go zones," which are controlled by Sharia law and are off-limits to police officers and non-Muslim citizens

This claim is nonsense and is based entirely upon a deliberate misrepresentation of a "sensitive urban area" designation made by the French government, targeting certain areas for urban renewal. This myth is so obviously false, in fact, that even the conservative commentators at Fox News were forced to apologize for spreading it.

Glenn Beck, of course, is totally outraged that anti-Islam activist Steve Emerson apologized for the inaccurate claim he made on Fox that the British city of Birmingham is a "totally Muslim" no-go zone, fuming on his radio program today that Emerson is an "American hero" who deserves to be remembered in history but is instead being targeted for destruction over some piddling "political nitpicking."

Beck brought Emerson onto his program this morning in an effort to salvage the Fox commentator's reputation and sought to do so by insisting that the "sensitive urban areas" are actually the "no-go zones" that Emerson said they were.

"What this is is areas that the police avoid if they can," Beck said. "They try to stay out because it's a sensitive area ... It's almost like an Indian reservation to where the government goes into Indian reservations if there's a murder or something like that, the government will go into it. But generally speaking, they police themselves. Same kind of thing":

Rep. David Schweikert: Pro-Choice Advocates In It For The Money

Rep. David Schweikert stopped by “Washington Watch” yesterday to promote the congressional GOP’s 20-week abortion ban legislation, and told host Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council that abortion rights supporters are primarily motivated by greed, money and power.

“So many bad decisions are based upon who makes money on it, who has their vanity flattered, who feels to gain more power,” the Arizona Republican said. “This is one of those debates where I believe there’s people on the other side of the issue that are there solely because that’s how they raise money and that shows you just sort of, I think, a sickness in American politics that it was about the gaining of power, not about doing what was right.” 

Schweikert also pushed the inaccurate claim [PDF] that new technology has pushed fetal viability beyond 20 weeks after fertilization: “If the benchmark changes as technology changes, then the pro-abortion industry has become completely utilitarian and not embracing the most basic concept, the dear Lord has put us here for a reason and to take life, innocent life, imagine how we will be judged.”

Mike Huckabee: Beyoncé Backlash Proves I'm Right!

Mike Huckabee, after publishing a book in which he compares Beyoncé to a prostitute, is now trying to take advantage of the backlash to his comments by portraying himself as the latest right-wing martyr to politically correct persecution.

Huckabee told Newsmax TV host Steve Malzberg yesterday that his critics, such as Jon Stewart of The Daily Show, are all taking his comments out of context and have proved his point that “Bubbleville” — Huckabee’s term for New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. — speaks down to “Bubbaville,” or real America.

“The backlash that I have had from what is less than a page of a 242-page book, which is a fleeting reference to Beyoncé, to me validates the very message of the book that there is this disconnect between the cultures of ‘Bubbleville’ and ‘Bubbaville,’” he said.

Huckabee said Stewart “missed” the point of his book “because like so many other people in the media it was as if they read the headlines that other reporters have made but they didn’t really read the chapter and they didn’t understand the context, the chapter was ‘The Culture of Crude.’”

National Review Doesn't Get The Problem with Jindal's Political Prayer Pals

The National Review’s Eliana Johnson has taken note of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s hosting of this weekend’s “Response” prayer rally as well as the protests it has sparked on the campus of Louisiana State University. Johnson’s article accurately portrays the rally as part of presidential hopeful Jindal’s political outreach to evangelical voters, but it mischaracterizes the reason for the protests.

The event has already sparked controversy because the group underwriting it, the American Family Association, has organized boycotts against companies that do not use the word “Christmas” in their holiday advertising and communications as well as those that participate in gay-rights events or donate to gay-rights causes. That included a one-month boycott of PetSmart last November and a three-year boycott of Home Depot that ended in 2013.

People aren’t protesting Jindal’s partnership with the American Family Association because it has organized boycotts. Boycotts are the least of the problems with the intensely anti-gay AFA, whose chief spokesperson Bryan Fischer is a font of broadcast bigotry and has argued that only Christians — and certainly not Muslims, Hindus or Mormons (whom he does not consider Christian) — are covered by the First Amendment’s religious liberty guarantees. 

Jindal’s desire to position himself as the favored candidate with conservative evangelical primary voters means he is unconcerned about partnering with rally organizer David Lane, a Christian-nation advocate who believes the Bible must become a primary textbook in the nation’s public schools. Lane also organized the prayer rally – also called “The Response” – that launched Rick Perry’s doomed presidential bid.

Mike Huckabee Falsely Claims Ted Nugent Changed The Lyrics To Sexually Explicit Song They Performed Together

After Mike Huckabee criticized Beyoncé’s music as “obnoxious and toxic mental poison” unfit for children and compared the singer to a prostitute, it didn’t take long for people to point out that he himself had once joined with Ted Nugent to perform a sexually explicit song on his national television program.

Huckabee is, predictably, reacting by pretending that what happened didn’t actually happen, telling the Chrisitan Post today that Nugent “changed the lyrics pretty dramatically” when he sang the song “Cat Scratch Fever” on Huckabee’s Fox News show.

In fact, anyone who watches a video of the performance can see that Nugent didn’t change any of the song’s explicit lyrics as Huckabee accompanied him, 5:25 in:

Lyrics via metrolyrics.com.

Well I don't know where they come from
But they sure do come
I hope they comin' for me
And I don't know how they do it
But they sure do it good
I hope they doin' it for free

They give me cat scratch fever
Cat scratch fever

The first time that I got it
I was just ten years old
I got it from some kitty next door
I went to see the Dr. and
He gave me the cure
I think I got it some more

They give me cat scratch fever
Cat scratch fever

It's nothin dangerous
I feel no pain
I've got to ch-ch-change
You know you got it when you're going insane
It makes a grown man cryin' cryin'
Won't you make my bed

I make the pussy purr with
The stroke of my hand
They know they gettin' it from me
They know just where to go
When they need their lovin man
They know I do it for free

They give me cat scratch fever
Cat scratch fever
 

Americans United for Life Official: State Anti-Choice Laws Stopping 'Abortion Mentality' From 'Corroding' US

Former New Hampshire gubernatorial and senate candidate Ovide Lamontagne, who now serves as the general counsel of Americans United for Life, stopped by the “Janet Meffered Show” last week to discuss his group’s recent success in pushing scores of incremental state-level measures that are chipping away at abortion rights across the country.

Lamontange boasted about AUL’s guidance to anti-choice state legislators, and touted the Guttmacher Institute’s data showing that more abortion restrictions were enacted between 2011 and 2013 than in the entire previous decade.

He credited this success not just to his group’s lobbying efforts but to an “awakening” about “what this abortion mentality is doing to us, it’s eroding, corroding who we are as a country and as a people.”

The good news is the momentum is in our favor, more pro-life laws were passed in the last three years in this country at the state level than had been passed the prior 10 years. So we’re really in a good place. And prayer, I think, has been the most important fuel to this success. People are praying and the 40 Days for Life movement and other groups are helping people to have an awakening about what it means to preserve and protect life. And what this abortion mentality is doing to us, it’s eroding, corroding who we are as a country and as a people.

Gary Bauer Is Pretty Sure That Martin Luther King Jr. Would Have Opposed Gay Marriage

On yesterday's episode of "The Hagee Hotline," Matthew Hagee interviewed Religious Right leader Gary Bauer about the Supreme Court's decision to take up the issue of marriage equality in the coming term, which Bauer pre-emptively dismissed by asserting that "there is nothing in the Constitution of the United States that says that same-sex marriage is the law of the land."

Similarly, Bauer said, there is nothing in the Constitution that says that abortion should be legal or that public schools cannot open the day with mandatory prayer and Bible reading ... and Martin Luther King, Jr. would agree.

"I think what we've seen is the concept of civil rights being hijacked by all kinds of people who, I believe if Martin Luther King were alive today, he would be mortified by," Bauer said.

King, of course, opposed mandatory school prayer and supported Planned Parenthood, but that didn't stop Bauer from claiming that King would have sided with anti-gay activists in opposing marriage equality.

"I think Dr. King, being a pastor, would have certainly understood the biblical definition of marriage," he said. "It's sad to see that legacy being hijacked by folks that have a fairly radical agenda that's exactly contrary to what what Dr. King, as a Baptist minister would have believed in":

Ben Carson: Congress Should Oust Judges Who Rule For Marriage Equality

Ben Carson, the likely Republican presidential candidate who believes that the gay rights movement is part of a communist conspiracy to bring about the New World Order, wants Congress to intervene in court cases involving marriage equality, including the upcoming cases before the Supreme Court.

Speaking last night with Iowa talk radio host Steve Deace, Carson said that Congress should “reprimand or remove” federal judges who issue “unconstitutional” rulings striking down state bans on same-sex marriage.

What the president and what the Supreme Court need to reiterate is that the states have a mechanism whereby they can determine the will of the people, it’s called ballot referendum. It has been done multiple times already, 32 states have indicated that marriage is between a man and a woman, and a few judges have come and overturned that. That, as far as I’m concerned, is unconstitutional, and Congress actually has oversight of all what they call the inferior courts, everything below the Supreme Court, and that’s where those overturns have come. And when judges do not carry out their duties in an appropriate way, our Congress actually has the right to reprimand or remove them.

After Deace alleged that a Supreme Court victory for marriage equality advocates would undermine freedom and lead to the “persecution of the church” and “open season on Christians,” Carson said Congress should intercede if the Supreme Court deems same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional.

“We certainly cannot give up if, in fact, that turns out to be the case because we do still have the Congressional mechanism,” Carson said. “And the key here in our country, values and principles cannot be drummed out of us. They’re going to try and the only way we maintain a country with values and principles is we have to be brave enough to stand up for what we believe.”

Tim Wildmon Insists There Is Nothing In The Bible Calling For Infidels To Be Put To Death

On yesterday's broadcast of the "Today's Issues" radio program, American Family Association president Tim Wildmon voiced his displeasure with those "ignorant people" who claim that Islam and Christianity are both "peaceful religions."

As Wildmon sees it, Christianity is very obviously a peaceful religion while Islam very obviously is not and so anyone who attempts to equate the two does so either out of ignorance or intentional deceit because, unlike the Quran, there is nothing in the Bible that calls for non-believers to be put to death.

"The Quran has explicit admonitions or instructions for followers of Allah to do violence and harm against the infidel," Wildmon fumed. "There's nothing like that in the Bible, that tells the Christian to go out and decapitate the infidel":

This makes us wonder if Wildmon has ever read the Bible, especially Deuteronomy 13:

6 If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, 7 gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), 8 do not yield to them or listen to them. Show them no pity. Do not spare them or shield them. 9 You must certainly put them to death. Your hand must be the first in putting them to death, and then the hands of all the people. 10 Stone them to death, because they tried to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 11 Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and no one among you will do such an evil thing again.

12 If you hear it said about one of the towns the Lord your God is giving you to live in 13 that troublemakers have arisen among you and have led the people of their town astray, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods you have not known), 14 then you must inquire, probe and investigate it thoroughly. And if it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done among you, 15 you must certainly put to the sword all who live in that town. You must destroy it completely, both its people and its livestock. 16 You are to gather all the plunder of the town into the middle of the public square and completely burn the town and all its plunder as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God. That town is to remain a ruin forever, never to be rebuilt.

The Personhood Movement: Where It Comes From And What It Means For The Future Of Choice: Part 1

This is the first post in a RWW series on the reemergence of the anti-choice “personhood” movement and what it means for the future of abortion rights in the U.S.

“Welcome to the future of the pro-life movement.”

As a few dozen activists walked into a conference hall in an Atlanta suburb in October 2014, they were met with an optimistic greeting from an impromptu welcoming committee.

It was the founding convention of the Personhood Alliance, an association of anti-abortion groups from 15 states who are determined to wrest back an anti-choice movement that they fear has gone dangerously astray.

The members of the Personhood Alliance felt betrayed.

The largest and best-funded groups opposing abortion rights have, over the past several years, achieved astounding success in chipping away at women’s access to legal abortion in the United States. But these successes, Personhood Alliance’s founders maintain, are too small and have come at a grave cost.

In seeking mainstream approval for anti-choice politics, personhood advocates believe, groups like the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) and Americans United for Life (AUL) have adopted a secular tone and downplayed their Christian origins. In focusing on drawing attention to issues like late-term abortion, they may have won some support for the cause but have done little to end the procedures they targeted. In seeking incremental successes, personhood advocates argue, the movement has given up on making a moral argument for the humanity of fertilized eggs and fetuses and lost sight of its larger goal of eliminating legal abortion entirely.

But the greatest betrayal in the eyes of these personhood advocates is the willingness of major anti-choice groups to endorse legislation that includes exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape and incest. The personhood movement’s leaders contend that these political concessions are not only immoral and intellectually inconsistent, but also threaten to undermine the movement’s goals in the long term. In fact, the Personhood Alliance grew out of a feud between Georgia Right to Life leader Daniel Becker and NRLC centered around a rape exception inserted into a national 20-week abortion ban. Becker and his allies believe that they have a better plan, one that does not require compromise.

Joining the activists at the founding conference was Ben DuPré, the chief of staff for Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who, along with his colleague Justice Tom Parker, has outlined an alternate strategy for eliminating legal protections for abortions in the United States: building a body of laws that define fertilized zygotes and fetuses as citizens with full rights under the law.

On the first night of the Personhood Alliance’s founding convention in October, Paul Broun, then a Republican congressman from Georgia, captured the activists’ anger at the leaders of the anti-choice movement, charging that they had betrayed the movement's core principles to such a degree that it had provoked the wrath of God — and implied that they were doing so for personal gain.

Broun told the activists of a meeting he had had with two leaders of NRLC when he was running for U.S. Congress in 1996. He told them that were he elected, the first bill he would introduce would be a Sanctity of Human Life Act giving personhood rights to fertilized eggs, because [that’s] "how we’re going to overturn Roe v. Wade is by giving the right of personhood to that one-celled human being.” The NRLC leaders, Broun said, told him they wouldn’t support it and he “walked away very disillusioned.”

When an audience member asked Broun why he thought NRLC and other major anti-choice groups weren’t putting their energy behind personhood bills, including one that he helped write, Broun responded that he wasn’t “making any accusations here,” but implied that “pro-life” leaders have a financial incentive to never achieve their declared goal.

Harkening back to that 1996 meeting, he drew a historical parallel:

They never told me [why they wouldn’t back the Sanctity of Human Life Act]. I asked them, and they just said, well, we won’t. And I walked away from that meeting in 1996 very, very disappointed, very disillusioned. And shortly after, actually as I was riding away in a taxi cab, it came to mind, back when I was a kid – looking around the room, I’m not sure anybody’s old enough to remember polio – but when I was a kid I had classmates who got polio who were in iron lungs, and I had patients as a doctor, people who when I was in medical school, were people who had polio.

The biggest charity in this country was an organization called March of Dimes. And they were, their executives were, I guess, I’m not sure, but they were making lots of money, March of Dimes was probably the biggest charity in the country. And a doctor by the name of Jonas Salk developed a vaccine. And suddenly, March of Dimes went broke.

And I went away from that meeting with National Right to Life and I was wondering, I still wonder, I’m not making any accusations here: If we were to stop abortion, what would happen to the jobs of all those people who are getting paid every day to be in the pro-life movement? What would happen? I don’t know if that’s what it is or not, I’m not making any accusations, I’m just telling you what my thought was when I left that meeting.

He told the Personhood Alliance that every day that legal abortion continues, America risks God’s wrath. Discussing his 2013 refusal to vote for a 20-week ban to which the House GOP had added a rape exception at the last minute, Broun said:

If we can save some, let's do it, but let's not make exceptions and that some babies are worth killing and some are not. They're all worth saving.

And then it goes back to 'my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge,' as we hear [from] Hosea 4:6, and that's the reason education is so important. Because we've got to educate the grassroots.

...

You see, God is a holy, righteous God. He cannot continue to bless America while we’re killing over a million babies every single day. Abortion must stop.

(Broun's estimate of one million abortions taking place every day is, to say the least, wildly exaggerated.)

Broun argued that groups like the NRLC are selling the movement short by accepting political compromise bills containing rape and incest exceptions and then pressuring anti-choice lawmakers to vote for those bills.

"The reason a lot of pro-life people are willing to compromise is because of that outside pressure," he said. "Whether it's an endorsement from Concerned Women [for America] or the Family Research Council or another group, or it could be an endorsement of the U.S. Chamber [of Commerce] or it could be the endorsement of any group. Politicians, the major principle that they will not budge from is their reelection. So they will do whatever it takes to get the endorsements, the money that they need to raise.”

Barry Loudermilk, a former Georgia Republican state senator who had recently been elected to the U.S. House, also spoke to the convention, comparing the fight against abortion rights to the struggle of America’s founders, who he said also witnessed “a decline in the moral sensitivity of our nation.” Loudermilk, who while serving in the state senate introduced a personhood amendment that was backed by Georgia Right to Life and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, said, “When you look at our movement, we have the exact same things against us that they had against them,” he said. “They had the government against them, the laws, the judges. We don’t have the people who are totally with us, it’s growing. But we have the truth with us. We have Providence with us.”

The congressmen echoed a founding tenet of the Personhood Alliance: that in a movement that was increasingly struggling to appear secular, the organization would be unabashedly “Christ-centered” and “biblically informed.”

As personhood's proponents like to remind their fellow activists, both sides of the movement share the same goal: to completely criminalize abortion. The question is just how to do it.

The largest and best-funded anti-choice groups, deploying a strategy of chipping away at abortion access in the name of “women’s health,” have pushed state legislatures to pass over 200 new restrictions on abortion rights since 2011, many based on model legislation from AUL and NRLC. This strategy has managed to shut down abortion providers (especially in rural areas), make it harder for low-income women to pay for abortion, and erect unnecessary logistical hurdles for even those women who could access and afford abortion care.

The movement also won a pivotal court case with the Supreme Court's ruled that private corporations could deny their employees legally mandated health insurance coverage for contraceptives that the corporations’ owners believe cause abortion. And they did this all while stemming the loss in public opinion that had hindered other “culture war” issues, in part by lifting up female leaders and adopting woman-centered empowerment rhetoric.

But at the same time, another side of the anti-choice movement, those eschewing compromise and incrementalism and pursuing the goal of establishing legal “personhood” from the moment of conception, have suffered a series of embarrassing electoral blows. In 2014, Colorado voters overwhelmingly rejected a ballot measure that would have defined zygotes and fetuses as persons in the state’s criminal code. It was the third time in six years that voters in the state had rejected a “personhood” measure, although its proponents noted that their margin of defeat got smaller each time. Perhaps even more galling for the movement, voters in reliably conservative North Dakota rejected an amendment to provide constitutional protections for “every being at every stage of development” by a whopping 28-point margin. And this all came three years after a personhood initiative was soundly defeated in deep-red Mississippi.

These personhood measures, while sharing the same ultimate goal as the incremental strategy, have become widely seen as politically toxic, in large part because they could threaten access to common forms of birth control. The no-compromise strategy has also become tied to a series of ham-handed comments made by male politicians, most infamously former Missouri Rep. Todd Akin, which further hurt the personhood movement, while providing political cover to those pursuing a more incremental approach.

But despite its spectacular losses at the ballot box, personhood movement strategists maintain that not only is their strategy the morally sound and intellectually consistent one — they believe their strategy is the one that will ultimately swing public opinion and overturn Roe v. Wade.

This series, marking the anniversary of Roe, will explore the recent resurgence of the personhood movement and what it means for the future of abortion rights. Upcoming posts will examine the history of the split in the anti-choice movement and its debates over legal strategy, and the organizations that are currently leading the movement.

Todd Starnes Lies Again About Obama's Work To Free Imprisoned Pastor

Fox News pundit Todd Starnes was riled up during President Obama’s State of the Union, taking to Twitter to call the address “verbal water boarding” and joke that Obama will probably offer “free marijuana” to college students.

Starnes was also very displeased that Obama didn’t mention an Iranian-American pastor, Saeed Abedini, who is in Iranian jail, which Starnes wrote was evidence that Iran’s leaders are Obama’s “Muslim BFFs”:

Starnes may have missed his own network’s reporting that Obama will be meeting today with Abedini’s wife and children in Boise, Idaho, to discuss the pastor’s imprisonment.

This isn’t the first time Starnes has used the Abedini case to claim that Obama doesn’t care about imprisoned Christians.

The Fox News commentator falsely claimed during a 2013 Values Voter Summit speech that the president had refused to make a phone call to Iran’s president to urge the pastor’s release. “He cannot utter the words ‘Saeed Abedini’ from his lips,” he said of the president.

Just days beforehand, however, Fox News reported that Obama had in fact addressed the jailing of Abedini and other U.S. citizens in the country in a rare phone call with the Iranian president.

Secretary of State John Kerry has also repeatedly demanded that Iran free Abedini.

UPDATE: It seems Starnes has caught up on the news.

 

 

Alex Jones: One Billion People Will Die If Pope Francis Gets His Way

Alex Jones fears that while Pope Francis “goes out and hugs old people and people with diseases,” he is actually bent on creating a one-world government.

Jones took issue with the Pope’s recent message on the environment, which the “InfoWars” host thought could potentially lead to the deaths of at least one billion people.

“Carbon taxes will kill one billion people over a decade,” Jones said“Obama’s told them, you can’t’ have cars, you can’t have air conditioning, you can’t have medicine, you can’t have anything.”

Jim Bakker Tells Mike Huckabee That Christians In America Are Like Jews Under Nazi Dictatorship

In an episode of disgraced televangelist Jim Bakker’s television show that was posted online today, Mike Huckabee chatted with Bakker about his potential presidential campaign and his new book “Gods, Guns, Grits and Gravy,” which, among other things, discusses the supposed persecution of Christians in the U.S.

Huckabee pointed to Phil Robertson’s temporary suspension from “Duck Dynasty” following his notorious comments about homosexuality and Jim Crow as proof that Christians are now victims of intolerance. Bakker is so worried about anti-Christian animus that he even tied the plight of Christians in America to Nazi Germany’s anti-Jewish persecution: “If we all took a stand just like the Robertson family did, they can’t put us all in jail at the same time, unless they did something like they did to the Jews.” 

Mike Huckabee Talks 2016 Plans With Jim Bakker To Shouts Of 'Hallelujah'

Disgraced-televangelist-turned-survivalist-preacher Jim Bakker had a very special guest on his television show this week: Mike Huckabee. The former Arkansas governor stopped by “The Jim Bakker Show” to promote his new book, “God, Guns, Grits and Gravy,” which seems to be little more than a compilation of populist, right-wing talking points about how coastal elitists like Beyoncé are trying to destroy real America.

Bakker was so impressed by the book that he claimed to have studied it like the Bible and practically begged Huckabee to run for president. Bakker led the audience in cheers while shouting “hallelujah” after Huckabee said that he ended his Fox News program in order to explore a possible presidential candidacy, which prompted Huckabee to declare that he ought to “launch the entire campaign” on Bakker’s show.

“I cannot believe how God blessed me so much to introduce this book,” Bakker said, gushing that Huckabee’s book will “save this country.”

According to Huckabee, real America is just like Morningside, the survivalist town that Bakker founded in rural Missouri: “This is America!”

Bakker, for his part, put “God, Guns, Grits and Gravy” right up there with the Bible in his list of recommended books: “If I was dying, this, besides the Bible, is the book I would give and I would say, honey, make sure every one of our children read this book.”

How The 'No-Go Zones' Myth Traveled From The Anti-Muslim Fringe To The Mouths Of GOP Politicians

Shortly after terrorist gunmen killed 12 people in an attack on the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris earlier this month, conservative commentator Steve Emerson went on Fox News and claimed that Europe was being taken over by “no-go zones” controlled by Islamic law to such an extent that non-Muslims were not allowed to enter Birmingham, England’s second-largest city.

Emerson’s claim was met with ridicule, including by British Prime Minister David Cameron, and Emerson and Fox quickly retracted the claim.

But at the same time, the “no-go zone” myth gained traction among conservative activists and Republican leaders, including Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who mentioned it in a speech in London despite refusing to offer the names or locations of the purported no-go zones, and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, who claimed last week that France has “like 700 no-go zones where authorities have allowed Sharia law to be imposed,” something that he claimed is also beginning to happen in the United States.

The “no-go zone” myth didn’t spring out of nowhere two weeks ago. Instead, it has been percolating for years in fringe media, perpetuated by anti-Muslim activists warning that Europe was being overtaken by Sharia law, soon to be followed by the United States.

Bloomberg pinpoints the beginning of the myth at a 2006 article by conservative pundit Daniel Pipes, who gave the name “no-go zones” to a list of French “sensitive urban zones,” some with large populations of Muslim immigrants, that were, in reality, nothing more than areas hit by high crime and poverty that were actually targeted by the government for urban renewal projects. A few years later, Pipes had the opportunity to visit a few of these “no-go zones” and reported that they were “very mild, even dull” compared to high-crime neighborhoods in the U.S. and that “immigrant areas are hardly beautiful, but buildings are intact, greenery abounds, and order prevails.” He wrote, “Having this first-hand experience, I regret having called these areas no-go zones.”

But Pipes’ retraction came too late to stop the “no-go zone” story from becoming an established fact in fringe right-wing media.

The far-right outlet WorldNetDaily mentionsno-go zones” frequently, often warning that the United States will soon face the same fate. Anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller told WND last year:

The Muslim population, for example, in France is over 10 percent,” she said. “You see outside of Paris … it can be very frightening. The no-go zones, the Shariah zones, where firefighters and police cannot go. They are many times lured by particular criminal activity into these zones, only to be ambushed. We see it in the U.K., increasingly, the imposition of Shariah law. And people think it can’t happen here, but it is happening here.

A search for the term “no-go zones” in Geller’s blog before the Charlie Hebdo attack produces 10 pages of results. Prominent anti-Muslim activist Frank Gaffney has also perpetuated the myth, warning repeatedly on his website and radio program of such zones “where authorities dare not enter” and “Shariah rules instead of the laws of the host government.”

Last year, the Clarion Project’s Ryan Mauro similarly warned in a FrontPageMag article that European “no-go zones” would provide “precedent” for such “Muslim enclaves” in the U.S. The publication has been another prominent generator of the myth, frequently citing Pipes since-rejected claim about French “no-go” neighborhood.

The myth percolated to the top of the news cycle briefly in 2010 when Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle claimed that Dearborn, Michigan, and the made-up town of Frankford, Texas, were ruled by “Sharia law.” She didn’t use the term “no-go zone,” but was clearly influenced by the myth that had by then become established fact in fringe media.

As recently as last month, Gun Owners of America’s Larry Pratt was citing the myth to warn that U.S. protests against police brutality would create “no-go zones.”

“It’s like in England and Scandinavia and I guess in Paris and a lot of Europe, perhaps in a lot of their metropolitan areas, the Muslims have come to a preponderant population in those areas that the police do not dare go into the urban areas controlled by Muslims,” he said.

The myth, propagated by a few voices in fringe media, is too wild for Fox News. But it is now apparently perfectly acceptable in the Republican Party.

Fischer: You Can't Support Gay Rights 'And Call Yourself A Follower Of Christ'

On Friday's radio broadcast, Bryan Fischer took a call from a listener who demanded to know why nobody on the American Family Radio network will declare that President Obama is not a Christian. We have no idea what programs this caller is listening to if he thinks that nobody on AFR is willing to say that Obama is not a Christian, because we hear the various hosts saying this exact thing all the time.

Fischer, of course, was more than happy to acquiesce to the caller's demand and declare that Obama "is not a sincerely devoted follower of Jesus Christ so, in my mind, that means he's not a Christian."

And Fischer knows this, he said, because "nobody can support and promote and celebrate homosexual behavior who is a sincerely devoted follower of Christ. It's impossible, because Christ and his apostles made it very clear that that's a sin. You can't celebrate that, can't promote that and call yourself a follower of Christ."

While Fischer was, for some reason, unwilling to declare that Obama is actually a Muslim, he nonetheless insisted that everyone in Washington, D.C. knows that he is.

"He walks like a Muslim. He talks like a Muslim. He sounds like a Muslim. He acts like a Muslim," Fischer said. "Jesus said 'by your fruits, you shall know them' and at some point people are going to start connecting those dots":

Rewriting King: Right-Wing Activist Claims MLK Opposed Government Aid, Church-State Separation

Ken Blackwell of the Family Research Council marked Martin Luther King Jr. Day yesterday by claiming that King — who supported guaranteed employment and minimum income, public works projects and policies advancing “democratic socialism” — was actually a big opponent of government involvement in the economy.

Blackwell told “Washington Watch” host Tony Perkins that King would strongly rebuke “the growth of the welfare state” and the separation of church and state, even though King actually spoke out against endeavors such as state-sponsored prayer in public schools.

Blackwell, a former Republican politician from Ohio, also used the occasion to criticize the advance of marriage equality in the courts and President Obama for supposedly dividing Americans on the basis of race.

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