Fighting the Right

New Spanish-Language Radio Ad in Colorado Calls Out Gardner on His Extreme Views

Radio listeners in Colorado will be hearing a new Spanish-language radio ad today highlighting the stark differences between the Senate candidates’ stances on environmental issues.

The ad, aired by NextGen Climate and supported by People For the American Way, sheds light on GOP candidate Rep. Cory Gardner’s ties to wealthy special interests who pollute the environment as well as Democratic candidate Sen. Mark Udall’s commitment to protecting clear air and water for Colorado families. The ad closes with a call to action for voters: “Let’s remember: our vote is our strength.”

On Monday, PFAW and NextGen Climate began airing a TV ad that also calls Gardner out on his record of standing on the side of polluters and wealthy donors. This work is part of a multi-year, nationwide campaign to engage Latino voters in key states that PFAW has been leading since 2011.

You can read a transcript of the ad, as well as an English translation, below.


El republicano Cory Gardner nos quiere engañar.

Dice que valora a nuestra comunidad, pero su campaña acepta dinero de contaminadores multimillonarios que envenenan el aire y agua. Y nosotros estamos expuestos a la contaminación ambiental hasta 4 veces más que a otros residentes de Colorado.

Por esto ¿A quien apoyaremos este Noviembre? ¡Al demócrata Mark Udall!

El lucha para que tengamos agua limpia y aire sano en nuestros hogares y vecindarios.¡Y el protege la salud de nuestras familias y de nuestros hijos por que valora a nuestra comunidad! Por eso, en estas elecciones tenemos la responsabilidad hacia nuestro pueblo de votar por Mark Udall.

Recordemos: nuestro voto es nuestra fuerza.

VO Disclaimer:
Pagado por NextGenClimate Action Committee, nextgenclimate.org. No está autorizado por ningun candidato o comité del candidato. NextGen Climate Action Committee es responsable por el contenido de este anuncio. Apoyado por People For the American Way.

English translation:

Republican Cory Gardner wants to deceive us.

He says he values our community, but he takes money for his campaign from billionaire polluters who poison the air and water. And we are exposed to pollution by as much as 4 times greater than other Colorado residents.

Because of this, who will we be supporting this November? Democrat Mark Udall!

He fights so that we have clean air and water in our neighborhoods and homes. And he protects the health of our families and children because he values our community! That’s why we have the responsibility to our community to vote for Mark Udall in this election.

Let’s remember: our vote is our strength.

VO Disclaimer:
Paid for by NextGen Climate Action Committee, nextgenclimate.org.  Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.  NextGen Climate Action Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising. Supported by PFAW.

PFAW

Anti-Gay Activists: We Need Our Rosa Parks!

Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality, visited Janet Mefferd’s radio program yesterday to discuss his call for “civil disobedience on a massive scale” to protest marriage equality and “the gay thought police.” The two agreed that the anti-gay movement is ready for its own Rosa Parks to spark a national outcry with an act of civil disobedience…against marriage equality.

“One of the watershed moments, if not the watershed moment, of the civil rights movement was when Rosa Parks just said, ‘I’m not giving up my seat on the bus, I’m not doing it,’” Mefferd said. “And this sweet woman ended up becoming this massive hero and she didn’t have any other idea behind it other than she didn’t think it was right and she was correct in that. Seems to me we need a Rosa Parks moment and I know we’ve had some of those already where they’ve gone to court over it, but just say, ‘Do your worst, I’m not doing this, I’m not going to do this because this is against my conscience.’”

LaBarbera insisted that governors should flout court rulings striking down same-sex marriage bans and urged anti-gay activists to emulate anti-abortion “sidewalk counselors,” who protest abortion by approaching women entering clinics.

We’re not sure what exactly LaBarbera proposes doing. Maybe he envisions approaching same-sex couples as they walk to their weddings?

LaBarbera also complained that gay rights groups such as GLAAD and HRC are “censoring” him by quoting his extreme rhetoric verbatim and took issue with people who compare anti-gay activists to racists.

If anything, LaBarbera explained, gay people and racists have more in common: “I wouldn’t mind debating David Duke on racism. He’s a racist, I’m not. I think that would be a fun debate. Racism is a sin, just like homosexual practice is a sin.”

LaBarbera added that “the most discriminated against group are the ex-gays, the people who left homosexuality, who are routinely the victims of dehumanization and demonization.”

Robertson: Houston Case Worst In History, Mayor's Lesbian 'Predilections' To Blame

Over the summer, anti-gay activists attempted to repeal the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance through a public referendum, but failed to gather the needed number of valid signatures to put the non-discrimination ordinance up to a vote. The activists sued the city to force them to in the discovery phase of the case accept the petitions, and in response attorneys working with the city subpoenaed several pastors involved in the anti-gay coalition for communications, including sermons, related to petition-gathering.

This complicated case has sparked an outpouring of outrage from Religious Right activists, even though Houston’s mayor, Annise Parker, has since agreed that the subpoenas were too broad and clarified that they weren’t issued by city attorneys.

Pat Robertson, for his part, is so angry about the subpoenas that on “The 700 Club” today he declared the incident to be one of the worst events in all of American history, one that exposes the “predilections” of the openly gay Parker.

“This lady ran as a moderate or whatever and she was a lesbian but she’s stayed quiet, under wraps so to speak, and now suddenly her predilections are coming forward, and this is one of the most outrageous demands that I have ever heard in any city in the United States in our history,” he said. “They’ve got to stop this thing and this woman has just exceeded any authority of any city official that I have ever heard about in the entire history of the United States of America.”

Robertson qualified that “somebody will say ‘you don’t remember what happened in Plymouth in 1700,’ but right now as far as I’m concerned, modern times, this is the worst I’ve ever heard.”

Brian Brown Gets Defensive About His Russia Activism: 'Absolute Lies And Slurs'

Joe Jervis points us to a debate on C-SPAN this weekend between the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown and Freedom to Marry’s Evan Wolfson, where things got a little contentious when Wolfson confronted Brown about his anti-gay activism in Russia.

Brown has never explicitly advocated for repressive Russian anti-gay policies, including the infamous “gay propaganda” ban, but he has acted as an outside validator for Russian politicians imposing the harsh new policies.

Last year, for instance, he spoke to a Russian parliament committee about the supposed dangers of gay adoption just a few days before the legislature voted to tighten its prohibition on the adoption of Russian orphans by same-sex couples or by couples in countries where same-sex marriage is legal.

And this year, Brown was a member of the planning committee for a World Congress of Families event in Moscow that was to take place at the Kremlin and was financed by members of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle. Although the World Congress of Families dropped its official sponsorship of the event under pressure from some of its member groups, the event went ahead as planned, with Brown as a featured speaker. That conference ended with delegates issuing a resolution calling for more countries around the world to pass “gay propaganda” bans like Russia’s.

When confronted with all of this from Wolfson, Brown simply denied that any of it had taken place, calling Wolfson’s accusations “absolute lies and slurs.”

Brown can hardly be blamed for Russia’s anti-gay crackdown, which was going on far before he set foot in the country. And we would welcome a clarification from him on whether he knew anything about the closing resolution of the conference he attended this month. But he can’t avoid scrutiny for his work in Russia and elsewhere, in which he has lent credibility to politicians and activists whose goals are far more severe than stopping marriage equality…and it certainly won’t work for him to deny that any of this is taking place.

The AFA Suddenly Decides The First Amendment Applies To More Than Just Congress

It seems as if the entire Religious Right is in high dudgeon right now over a situation in which lawyers representing the city of Houston sought to subpoena sermons from local pastors as part of a lawsuit filed by anti-gay activists in response to the rejection of their petitions calling for a referendum on a newly enacted anti-discrimination ordinance.

The city has already backed down, but that is not stopping Religious Right groups from hammering away at city officials and using the issue to promote their persecution complex, even if doing so undermines their own previous stances, as it does with groups like the American Family Association.

Today the AFA climbed on board the outrage bandwagon, sending out an action alert slamming Houston Mayor Annise Parker and urging activists to contact her to voice their outrage over this purported violation of the First Amendment:

The mayor is demanding that sermon notes, emails, videos, and any negative comments about homosexuality or the mayor herself, be turned over to her. If the pastors refuse, the mayor has threatened to charge them with contempt of court and possible fines or jail time.

...

The mayor is using intimidation, threats and bully tactics in an attempt to silence anyone who will not embrace her lesbian lifestyle.

Does the First Amendment mean nothing to Mayor Parker? Does religious freedom and freedom of speech mean nothing to Mayor Parker? Does the people’s petition process mean nothing to Mayor Parker?

This is a rather odd position for the AFA to take since Bryan Fischer, the AFA's Director of Issue Analysis for Government and Public Policy and the organization's primary spokesperson, has repeatedly gone on record stating that the First Amendment only applies to Congress.

In addition to asserting that the First Amendment only protects Christianity and not other religions like Mormonism or Islam, Fischer also insists that the First Amendment was designed only to constrain Congress, which means that state and local government are not bound by its language prohibiting the establishment of an official religion or interfering with its free exercise.

Fischer has made this case time and again while arguing that local government are free to discriminate against non-Christian religions or appear to explicitly endorse Christianity, asserting that both are perfectly constitutional since the First Amendment applies only to Congress:

First, the amendment applies only to Congress. "Congress shall make no law..." No other entity is restrained by the First Amendment. Since the amendment applies only to Congress, it is legally, historically and constitutionally impossible for a state, a county commission, a city council, a school board, a school principal, a school teacher or a student to violate the First Amendment. This is for one simple reason: none of them is Congress. Violating the First Amendment is something only Congress can do.

If the First Amendment only applies to Congress when it comes to establishing or discriminating against religion, as Fischer contends, then logically it must also only apply to Congress when it comes to restricting the free exercise of religion. And if that is the case, then city officials in Houston could not have possibly violated the First Amendment rights of local pastors by subpoenaing their sermons due to the simple fact that they are not Congress.

Fischer has repeatedly said on his AFA radio program and written on the AFA's website that "violating the First Amendment is something only Congress can do." If that is true, then why is the AFA now fuming about city officials in Houston supposedly violating the First Amendment, since that is not even technically possible, according to the organization's primary spokesperson?

Pat Robertson: You Can Get AIDS From A Towel

Today on “The 700 Club,” an anonymous viewer asked televangelist Pat Robertson if he should reconsider his plans to go on a mission in Kenya due to the Ebola outbreak. While Kenya is in East Africa, the Ebola outbreak has been concentrated in in West Africa.

Robertson, who once raised the specter of gay people attacking heterosexuals with secret AIDS rings, incorrectly warned the aspiring missionary that he could put himself at risk of contracting AIDS…from a towel.

“Not in Kenya. You might get AIDS in Kenya, the people have AIDS, you got to be careful, the towels can have AIDS,” he said.

Louie Gohmert: US Troops Fighting Ebola Were Put 'Out There Like Sacrificial Lambs'

Rep. Louie Gohmert appeared on the Family Research Council’s “Washington Watch” program yesterday to complain that the Obama administration is doing too little to contain the Ebola outbreak, which then led him to attack the Obama administration for sending military service members to West Africa to help contain the Ebola outbreak.

Gohmert told the FRC’s Tony Perkins that military efforts to build treatment centers and train Liberian soldiers and aid workers will leave troops “defenseless” and at vulnerable to both the virus and terrorist attacks: “We’ve taken them away from their military function and put them out there like sacrificial lambs in infected countries.”

“Your heart goes out for those members of the 101st Airborne and others that are going to be sent into Ebola-infected epidemic countries,” he said. “Man oh man, there are terrorists in Africa that would love to wipe out a bunch of our military.”

The Texas Republican added that the deployments will leave service members “defenseless” despite military leaders claiming there will be “very low to no risk” to troops.

A Nature Documentary Taught Phyllis Schlafly That Feminists Are The Real Bullies

Phyllis Schlafly, who his promoting her new book, “Who Killed the American Family?” stopped by VCY America’s “Crosstalk” program yesterday to discuss whom she sees as the culprits in the family’s demise.

Chief among these, of course, are the feminists. “They don’t like men, they don’t like the family, and if you read their stuff and what they’re telling young women is ‘we are victims of the patriarchy’ and ‘we have to get rid of the patriarchy,’” Schlafly told host Vic Eliason. “Well, you know, you can hardly believe what nonsense it is. But a lot of us think it’s just great to have men around to provide and protect us.”

Schlafly lamented that “feminism isn’t going to go away” because feminists run the Obama administration and the media and “the men are afraid to attack the women, they don’t know how to do it.”

She illustrated this point with an anecdote from a nature documentary she had recently watched in which two “real bears — these weren’t any actors” faced off against each other, and eventually the male bear backed away from the female.

“It just isn’t natural for men to fight women,” Schlafly concluded, “and that’s one of our problems, women take advantage of that.”


 

 

Erik Rush: 'Diabolical' Obama May 'Want Ebola To Spread In The United States'

In yet another column suggesting that President Obama wants to infect people with Ebola, Erik Rush writes today in WorldNetDaily that the Ebola virus may be part of “various escalating crises in America being orchestrated by the White House in order to ultimately ‘legitimize’ a declaration of martial law in America.”

Rush argues that “given how manifestly diabolical I know this president and his administration to be,” there is a strong chance that administration officials actually “want Ebola to spread in the United States.”

To date, over 8,300 suspected cases and over 4,050 deaths from Ebola have been reported worldwide from this outbreak alone, with the WHO saying that these numbers may be vastly underestimated. The WHO also stated this week that that there could be up to 10,000 new cases a week within two months.

My question then became: Why were only 1,528 people killed by Ebola during the 36 year period between 1976 and 2012, yet over 4,000 have died from Ebola in the last 11 months alone?

At this point, I can only speculate as far as the answer to this question, but I believe it is one every American should be asking, because it suggests that something besides the disease itself is driving this epidemic.

Common sense dictates that since scientists and regulators working for the federal government quite literally wrote the book on Level 4 biocontainment protocols, they know how dangerous Ebola truly is. Thus, their refusal to prudently address the threat leads to one of two conclusions:

1. They have determined that political expedience trumps public health concerns, or

2. They want Ebola to spread in the United States.

Given how manifestly diabolical I know this president and his administration to be, I don’t doubt that the latter is a possibility. It certainly would fall within the scope of concerns some analysts have expressed pertaining to various escalating crises in America being orchestrated by the White House in order to ultimately “legitimize” a declaration of martial law in America.

It would also be child’s play for a determined group of individuals, terrorists – or even a government – to “help along” an epidemic of such a virulent disease.

PFAW Activists Host “Ditch Mitch” Debate Watching Party

On Monday night, Sen. Mitch McConnell and Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes went face-to-face in debate for the first and only time in their race, and PFAW activists were paying attention.



 

More than 50 people turned out to a debate watch party that People For the American Way co-hosted in Louisville – one of the largest in Kentucky.

Candidates sparred over raising the minimum wage and on whether to repeal the Affordable Care Act. McConnell tried repeatedly to tie Grimes to Obama and to portray her as anti-coal. Grimes fired back by blaming the gridlock and dysfunction in DC on McConnell. She also highlighted who McConnell really works for: “I'm not bought and paid for by the Koch brothers or any special interest.”

Sen. McConnell reminded Kentuckians that if he is re-elected and becomes Senate majority leader, he will help set the nation’s political agenda next year. That’s a pretty scary thought. And that’s why PFAW is working hard on the ground in Kentucky to save the Senate and keep millionaires and billionaires from deciding the future of our nation.

PFAW

Schlafly: Immigration Reform Would 'Damage Our Country Immensely' And 'Kill The Republican Party'

In an interview with WorldNetDaily published yesterday, Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly repeated her admonition that passing comprehensive immigration reform would be “suicide for the Republican Party,” claiming that immigrants “want to take jobs from our native Americans” and are “bringing in disease.”

“It’s really suicide for the Republican Party if we don’t close down our borders and stop any talk of amnesty because amnesty would I think not only kill the Republican Party, it would simply damage our country immensely,” she said. “It would bring in all these people who want to take jobs from our native Americans. And now, of course, we know it’s bringing in disease too.”

Fischer: Gay Marriage Can't Be Legal Because Government Is To Be 'A Minister Of God'

On his radio program today, Bryan Fischer made the case that the government can never endorse any position that is contrary to the will of God because government was established by God specifically for the purpose of carrying out his will, which is why gay marriage can never be legal.

As Fischer explained, the entire idea of civil government came from God and therefore all earthly political and legal authority stems from God. As such, the purpose of civil government is to carry out the will of God, meaning that government can never remain neutral on moral issues.

"God has called government to take sides in the culture war," Fischer said, "and God is instructing civil government to take the side of that which is right and good. That means government and those who hold government power have a divine responsibility to know the difference between good and evil so that they can reward the former and punish the latter."

Thus, when government bans gay marriage, "it is doing a good thing," Fischer said. "It is doing a divinely ordained thing. It's doing its job. It's fulfilling its role as a minister of God":

Michael Savage Imagines 'People's Tribunal' To Try Government Officials And Journalists

Conservative talk show host Michael Savage said yesterday that he wishes that one day there would be some sort of a “people’s tribunal for crimes against America.”

He said that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, his predecessor Leon Panetta, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell and MSNBC president Phil Griffin should all be called before the tribunal since they are all “people who damaged this country most severely.”

Savage gave an idea of how the imaginary tribunal would work: “Department of Education, Arne Duncan, for lowering educational standards in America and brainwashing our children. Arne Duncan, people’s tribunal. ‘Mr. Duncan, step before the people, what actually did you achieve while you were here as secretary of education, Mr. Duncan?’ ‘Well I taught the children how to put a condom on a cucumber.’ ‘OK, next case, 25 years in Siberia.’”

David Horowitz: 'There Is No Community More Racist In America Than The Black Community'

Discussing the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, on Phyllis Schlafly’s “Eagle Forum Live” radio program this week, conservative commentator David Horowitz argued that liberals are overly eager to brand conservatives as racist and, in doing so, have wrongfully maligned the police officer accused of shooting unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.

“[Protesters] destroyed a city to get a cop who was defending himself. Look at the picture of him in the hospital with his eye socket practically blown out,” he said of Officer Darren Wilson, in reference to a bogus photograph that is confirmed to be of a completely unrelated person. 

Insisting that Brown was “just a thug” who suffered the consequences of his actions, Horowitz complained that white people have been vilified in matters of law enforcement and criminal justice. “They’re not interested in waiting for a trial and its result. If you’re white, you’re guilty; that’s the attitude,” he said of the Ferguson protesters. “They’re racist, for crying out tears. There’s no community that’s more racist in America than the black community. And everybody knows it, but nobody will say it.”   

Prayer Breakfast Organizers And Speakers Seek To Distance Themselves From Jerry Boykin​

On Friday, a prayer breakfast is being held in Vancouver, Washington, at which the Family Research Council's Jerry Boykin is scheduled to be the keynote speaker.

Apparently organizers of the event were unfamiliar with Boykin's long history of anti-Muslim statements and right-wing radicalism until local Muslims brought it to their attention, at which point sponsors and other speakers began to distance themselves from Boykin and the event.

The local YMCA, which was a key sponsor and organizer, has now issued a statement announcing that it does not support Boykin's participation and the mayor has announced that he will not stick around to hear Boykin's remarks and will speak out against him when he delivers his own remarks at the breakfast while local officials have voiced their shock that organizers whould choose someone like Boykin for the event:

A planning committee on Tuesday voted to retain a controversial former Pentagon official and Christian conservative as keynote speaker for Friday’s Clark County Mayors’ & Civil Leaders’ Prayer Breakfast.

But the Clark County Family YMCA, one of the event’s sponsors, voted against keeping former Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin as keynote speaker, according to Roger Button, a YMCA chaplain and a member of the committee.

The truth is that the organizing committee knew little about Boykin at first, Button said, other than that he was a “great keynote speaker” who’d done a “wonderful job” at the national convention of the Full Gospel Men’s Fellowship in America. A local chapter of the Full Gospel Men’s Fellowship is the event planning partner who suggested bringing Boykin to Clark County for this 13th annual local prayer breakfast, set for 7 a.m. Friday at the Hilton Vancouver Washington.

“We were looking to honor our military veterans and first responders and he sounded like a good fit,” Button said. “We really didn’t look into it.”

Button said the Y has now decided that Boykin is too divisive. In a statement, the Y said:

“The purpose of the mayor’s prayer breakfast is to pray for, encourage and uplift our civic leaders, first responders and those that serve and protect our community. It is meant to be an uplifting event, one in which we call on the risen Christ to bless our leaders. Originally we had asked our keynote to speak based on his Christian testimony. In recent days statements made by the speaker have come to our attention that detract from the purpose and mission of the prayer breakfast. Therefore the YMCA does not support bringing this speaker to the Clark County Mayors’ & Civic Leaders’ Prayer Breakfast.”

...

On Monday, [Vancouver Mayor Timothy] Leavitt told The Columbian he had not been familiar with Boykin, but he was finding “intolerance” in the retired lieutenant general’s public statements. He said he had not planned to stick around for Boykin’s speech, but now is considering speaking out more forcefully during his own preliminary remarks. He also said he’d reached out to a member of the prayer breakfast planning committee to ask how Boykin was chosen and “if the committee knew that this individual was as controversial as he is.”

...City Councilman Jack Burkman said he’s been growing uncomfortable with the event for years, and had already planned to skip this year. The selection of Boykin only reinforced his decision, he said.

“I’ve gone to some of these in the past,” he said, “but I’ve had increasing concerns with government’s active participation in very strong faith-based activities. I think it raises a lot of questions.”

It’s a strongly Christian event, he said, “and that’s great.” But, politicians attending a prayer breakfast as politicians isn’t too different from politicians attending church as politicians, he said. “In many ways (the prayer breakfast is) a service. A church service. That’s what I’m not comfortable with. Elected officials don’t go to church and say, ‘I’m here as a council member.’ ”

He wasn’t familiar with Boykin, he said, until he read Tuesday’s Columbian. Then he started looking on the Internet.

“Wow, how did they make that decision?” he marveled. “It’s not new information. Boykin has been getting a lot of negative publicity for quite some time. This is a clear signal to me not to attend this event.”

Mayor Scott Higgins of Camas, who is also a pastor, said he is used to attending meetings and events where he doesn’t agree with many things he hears. He still plans to go, he said, but that doesn’t mean he endorses the speaker.

Vancouver city Councilor Alishia Topper posted on Facebook: “I’m in New York this Friday, but if I were home I would not attend this year’s prayer breakfast because of the keynote speaker. I do not support hate and am shocked the event organizers chose such a polarizing guest speaker. Organizers should reconsider their invitation and event sponsors should think about how sponsoring this event will make their business look.”

UPDATE: After initially saying that he would honor his committment to speak at the event but leave before Boykin spoke, Mayor Tim Leavitt has now issued a statement announcing that he is boycotting the prayer breakfast entirely due to Boykin's radical views and bigotry:

Today, Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt announced he would boycott the 2014 Clark County Mayor and Civic Leaders Prayer Breakfast, scheduled for 7 a.m. Friday, Oct. 17 at the Hilton.

“The purpose of the prayer breakfast is to bring together people of many different faiths and religions to pray for, honor and encourage military personnel, public safety first responders, civic leaders and others who serve our community – and that is an effort that I do support,” said Leavitt. “In fact, the vision of the breakfast is ‘Inspiring Clark County residents to honor, encourage and support each other.’ But, it is apparent to me that the values and beliefs of the keynote speaker are not consistent with the original vision of this event. In fact, I’m certain that Lt. General Boykin’s position on a number of social, political and religious issues does not at all reflect the values of acceptance, tolerance and compassion our community strives for.”

When information about this year’s speaker, retired Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin, began circulating earlier this week, Leavitt said that he intended to honor his commitment to host the event, but did not intend to stay for the presentation. However, after personally researching and reviewing Boykin’s previous public statements, Leavitt strengthened his stance.

“I respect and commend the lieutenant general for his service to our country,” said Leavitt. “However, I can’t condone extremist values through my attendance and participation at the breakfast. Vancouver prides itself on being a welcoming community for all faiths, cultures and belief systems. Frankly, I’m stunned that the event planning committee, when given the option to correct a poor decision, chose to keep the invitation to Boykin. I encourage others, including the event sponsors, to carefully consider their attendance and support.”

Michele Bachmann Leaves Congress, But Her Ideology Is Here To Stay

At the Heritage Foundation this morning, Rep. Michele Bachmann gave what may have been her last major speech as a member of Congress. But although Bachmann may be leaving Congress, she made it very clear that her ideology is staying behind in the form of a Republican Party that has moved far to the right to make way for the Tea Party’s “freedom-loving reinforcements.”

Linking the Tea Party’s ideology to those who fought in the American revolution, Bachmann said the Tea Party was about “republishing the American values of American greatness.”

And it doesn’t matter whether politicians affiliated with the Tea Party win or lose in elections, she said. They’ve already won, in the form of an establishment Republican Party that has “moved toward embracing the Tea Party’s messaging":

These aren’t new ideas. They are the same values that have been espoused since the time of the American Revolution. But what is different is that it was time for us, we were in desperate need for a reawakening. And that’s what the Tea Party was all about: republishing the American values of American greatness.

All the media wanted to talk about was whether the Tea Party was up or down, whether it was dead or alive. But that missed the point entirely. Because the Tea Party never was, never has been, never will be a political party. Because, you see, it’s a movement about returning us, returning our nation to our founding principles, front and center by contending for them in our public discourse.

Well, the grassroots energy sent a wave of freedom-loving reinforcements to Washington, D.C., in 2010, including the likes of Senators Mike Lee and Rand Paul, and it took the gavel away from Nancy Pelosi in the House of Representatives. And with the largest number of seat pick-ups since 1948, I wonder what this election this year will yield. Even the establishment moved toward embracing the Tea Party’s messaging about constitutional principles like national debt and balanced budgets.

Matthew Hagee Says Ebola Crisis Is A Sign Of The End Times

While John Hagee sees the current Ebola outbreak as proof that God's judgment is on America for failing to support Israel, his son Matthew sees the crisis as a sign that the End Times are near and Jesus will soon return.

Answering a question from a viewer on today's "Hagee Hotline," Hagee (wrongly) cited Matthew 24:7 to claim that Jesus warned that famines and pestilence would break out before his return (In Matthew, Jesus warned of "famines and earthquakes"; It was in Luke 21 where Jesus warned of "famines and pestilences.")

"Pestilence is an illness for which there seems to be no cure," Hagee said. "That would certainly describe Ebola":

Facebook Alternative 'ReaganBook' Is Back, Now Rebranded As 'FreedomBook'

Over the summer, Religious Right activist Janet Porter launched her very own competitor to Facebook, which she called “ReaganBook,” but quickly pulled the site after “those intent on the destruction of life, liberty, and the family” joined the outlet, which she bizarrely claimed was a threat to her freedom of speech.

Porter, the founder of Faith 2 Action, described ReaganBook as a “Facebook for patriots,” warning that Facebook has a pro-gay bias. She eventually took ReaganBook offline, telling members that “we’re under attack” from people who joined the right-wing social media website only to mock it.

Now, Porter has rebranded ReaganBook as FreedomBook and is only allowing people with invitations to join.

So far, FreedomBook only lists four members, including Porter.

Religious Right Group Opposes Ebola Vaccine Projects Over Stem Cell Research

A “pro-life” group wants the government to stop fast-tracking two potential vaccines to fight the Ebola virus, citing concerns that the vaccine development includes stem cell research.

Debi Vinnedge of Children of God for Life says in a press release today that the Obama administration is “completely irresponsible” for approving projects that not “everyone can use in good conscience,” predicting that “a massive number of people may very well refuse them.”

The group also pushes discredited claims that vaccines cause autism.

Children of God for Life announced today that several Ebola vaccines in development for use worldwide are made using aborted fetal cell lines despite the fact that moral alternatives are reported as equally effective.



"It is completely irresponsible of this Administration to put these problem vaccines on fast-track for approval and ignore the fact that a massive number of people may very well refuse them. Why not fast track a product that everyone can use in good conscience?" asked Vinnedge.

Children of God for Life is urging the public to contact US government agencies and their members of Congress requesting that they expedite the morally acceptable alternatives.

Right Quietly Pours Money Into Montana, Hoping To 'Flip' Pivotal State Supreme Court

Conservative legal advocates from throughout the country have been quietly pouring money into a Montana state supreme court race, hoping to topple a court majority that has bucked the U.S. Supreme Court on campaign finance issues and could soon have a voice in cases with national implications involving abortion rights and LGBT equality.

The Right’s chosen candidate is Lawrence VanDyke, a former state solicitor general with a perfect pedigree for pro-corporate and Religious Right donors. Not only has VanDyke indicated his support for the U.S. Supreme Court’s dismantling of campaign finance laws and lamented that the current Montana high court is insufficiently “pro-business,” but, in his position as solicitor general, steered the state government toward taking positions against abortion rights, marriage equality and gun restrictions in other states.

What's more, in his writings as a law student, VanDyke was unguarded in his social conservative views, fretting about same-sex marriage, endorsing discredited “ex-gay” therapy and defending the teaching of anti-scientific “Intelligent Design” in public schools.

The Right Sees An Opportunity In Montana

At last month’s Values Voter Summit in Washington, the Family Research Council’s political action committee hosted a private $100-a-head reception featuring conservative luminaries including Rick Santorum, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, GOP congressmen Steve King, Vicky Hartzler and Mark Meadows, and congressional candidate Dave Brat of Virginia, who unseated former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in an upset primary election this year.

A flyer for the event announced that along with those national Republican politicians, FRC would be “showcasing a very important State Supreme Court candidate, Lawrence VanDyke of Montana, who we hope can flip the court in that state.”

VanDyke’s presence on the fundraiser’s roster was telling. As FRC’s flyer made clear, a VanDyke victory would change the ideological balance on a court that has been a thorn in the side of opponents of campaign finance reform and could soon be facing nationally watched cases on abortion rights and marriage equality.

VanDyke has not yet submitted a campaign finance report showing how much money, if any, FRC was able to bundle for him at the fundraiser, and his campaign did not respond to our inquiry about whether he was personally present at the Values Voter event. But a review of VanDyke’s campaign finance reports shows that his candidacy has attracted keen interest from out-of-state donors, including some of the country’s leading conservative legal activists.

[UPDATE: VanDyke's Oct. 20 fundraising report revealed some of the contributions from FRC and its allies.]

Since filing for the race to unseat sitting Supreme Court Justice Mike Wheat in March, VanDyke has raised about $78,000, more than one-third of which — roughly $29,000 — has come from 114 individual out-of-state donors. By contrast, Wheat has raised just under $85,000 for his reelection bid, only $1,100 of which came from just five out-of-state donors.

Among those who have contributed to VanDyke’s campaign are recognizable names in conservative legal circles. Kelly Shackelford, president of the right-wing legal group Liberty Institute (a major sponsor of the Values Voter Summit) contributed $100, while another top Liberty Institute official, Hiram Sasser, gave $320, the maximum gift allowable as of VanDyke's last fundraising report. Carrie Severino, chief counsel of the Judicial Crisis Network and a Harvard Law School classmate of VanDyke’s, and her husband Roger also each maxed out with $320 contributions. Thomas Spence, an official at the conservative Regnery publishing house also sent the maximum contribution to VanDyke’s campaign. Two employees of the Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom have together contributed $370. Christopher Murray, a lawyer who served on Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, also contributed $320.

Nearly $7,000 of VanDyke’s contributions have come from employees of the law firm Gibson Dunn, where Vandyke worked before entering public service. That includes $320 each from Theodore Olson, the conservative attorney argued the Citizens United case (but who has become better known as a marriage equality advocate), and controversial Bush appeals court nominee Miguel Estrada. VanDyke’s campaign also received $320 each from Eugene Scalia — the son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and a Wall Street reform-buster in his own right — and his wife.

Montana’s Cowgirl Blog notes that prominent Montana social conservatives Greg and Susan Gianforte — who fund creationist efforts and support anti-gay policies — have also each contributed the maximum amount to VanDyke’s campaign. He has also received the maximum contribution from the Montana Gas & Oil PAC and — in the form of an in-kind gift of catering — from the PAC’s treasurer, Dave Galt.

Cowgirl Blog also notes that VanDyke got a major assist last month from a newly created group called Montanans for a Fair Judiciary, which sent a statewide mailer in favor of his candidacy. The group, which was registered last month, is staffed by a former Montana GOP official and a corporate lobbyist for oil and gas clients, among others.

And just last week, a Washington, D.C.-based group called the Republican State Leadership Committee Judicial Fairness Montana PAC — an offshoot a national group funded by big business interests including the Reynolds tobacco company and Koch Industries — bought $110,000 worth of television ads supporting VanDyke and slamming Wheat as soft on crime. The group has also been mailing out leaflets accusing Wheat of siding with “environmental extremists.”

All of this attention from national activists and corporate backers has caught the attention of a group of six retired Montana Supreme Court justices, who signed a letter last week calling VanDyke an “unqualified corporate lawyer,” adding, "Given [his] background, Mr. VanDyke is an excellent corporate pick although that is obviously not good news for Montanans.”

MTN News reported:

The letter from the judges notes that VanDyke has received the maximum allowable campaign contributions from numerous out-of-state lawyers who represent major corporations, including more than 20 at the Gibson firm - including at least one who represented Citizens United.

"Corporations are buying judicial races because they want judges who will not hold them accountable," the draft letter from the retired justices says. "If the disinformation they are spreading successfully manipulates Montanans into electing an unqualified corporate lawyer, we will lose our fair and impartial court."

‘Changing The Face of the Montana Supreme Court’

While VanDyke’s personal connections seem to behind quite a bit of his financial support from out-of-state conservative leaders, his featured spot at the Values Voter Summit hints that the conservative legal movement and the Religious Right see an opportunity in his candidacy.

Montana conservatives have made no secret of their desire to pack the state Supreme Court with justices in their ideological mold. Last year, the Great Falls Tribune published leaked emails between conservative Republicans in the state senate discussing a “long term strategy” for displacing more moderate Republicans in the state legislature and “changing the face of the Montana Supreme Court.”

One lawmaker wrote of the need to “purge” the party of moderates, after which “a new phoenix will rise from the ashes.”

In 2012, Montana conservatives were able to elect the likeminded Laurie McKinnon to the state Supreme Court thanks in part to a dark money group called the “Montana Growth Network” run by a Republican state senator that spent at least $42,000 on her campaign — more than the candidate spent herself. The “Montanans for a Fair Judiciary” group that has been campaigning for VanDyke is linked to the firm that was employed by the “Montana Growth Network” to boost McKinnon.

National conservative groups have good reason to take an interest in the race as well.

Montana’s Supreme Court gained national attention in 2011 when it bucked the U.S. Supreme Court on the issue of campaign finance regulation, ruling that the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United did not invalidate Montana’s century-old ban on corporate spending in elections. The 5-2 decision, in which Justice Wheat joined the majority, openly defied the Supreme Court’s controversial ruling. One of the two dissenting justices wrote that the state court must follow the high court’s precedent but used the opportunity to excoriate the Supreme Court for its Citizens United logic. On appeal, the Supreme Court summarily reversed Montana’s opinion, ending the state’s corporate spending ban.

Montana’s Supreme Court may soon also be in the center of the legal debates on same-sex marriage and abortion rights. State anti-choice groups have indicated that they might challenge Montana’s abortion clinic buffer-zone bill in the wake of the Supreme Court’s striking down of a similar bill in Massachusetts. In addition, marriage equality cases are working their way through both state and federal courts in Montana.

A Movement Candidate

Although Montana’s judicial elections are ostensibly nonpartisan, VanDyke’s resume makes him seemingly a perfect candidate for conservative activists hoping to drag the state's high court to the right. At Harvard Law School, VanDyke was active in the conservative Federalist Society and wrote an article for the school’s law review favorably reviewing a book arguing for allowing public schools to teach anti-scientific Intelligent Design.

In an article for another school publication, VanDyke lamented that courts in Canada had been “forcing same-sex marriage on the populace” and warned of a “trend of intolerance towards religion as homosexual ‘rights’ become legally entrenched.” In the same article, he cited a study supporting debunked “ex-gay” therapy to support the “view that homosexuals can leave the homosexual lifestyle.” (The author of that study has since recanted.)

After graduating from law school, VanDyke clerked for D.C. Circuit Judge Janice Rogers Brown, perhaps the most stridently conservative of that court’s activist pro-corporate wing, known for her extreme opposition to government regulation and her writing of a prequel to the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision. After a stint at Gibson Dunn, VanDyke became an assistant solicitor general in Texas and was named solicitor general of Montana early last year.

In public statements, VanDyke has indicated that he would have sided with the U.S. Supreme Court on Citizens United, defending the decision in a debate last month. And although his race is officially nonpartisan, VanDyke has made it very clear which side of the aisle he falls on, accusing his opponent of judging “like a liberal Democrat” and being “results-oriented” in his rulings — a loaded accusation favored by conservative activists.

VanDyke has also hinted that he would be more favorable to business interests on the court, touting an endorsement from the Montana Chamber of Commerce and saying, “I don’t think anybody who follows our court thinks it’s a pro-business court.” On his website, he backs efforts to “produce and preserve” natural resources, which he contrasts with his opponent's siding with preservationists in a dispute over drilling gas wells. In September, he spoke at a “Coal Appreciation Day” sponsored by a coal industry group.

VanDyke’s website also touts his support for the death penalty and an expansive interpretation of the Second Amendment, noting his work as state solicitor general defending a bill that would have invalidated federal firearms regulations on weapons manufactured and kept in Montana. (The law was ultimately struck down in federal court). In that position, VanDyke also pushed for Montana signing on to Alabama briefs in favor of overturning semiautomatic weapon bans in New York and Connecticut. At the time, he bantered over email with Alabama’s solicitor general, Andrew Brasher, about shooting elk with semi-automatic firearms, attaching a picture of himself hunting with “the same gun used by the Navy Seals.”

Ultimately, Montana signed on to both briefs, and VanDyke evidently made a useful connection as well: This year, Brasher contributed the maximum amount to his Supreme Court campaign.

VanDyke recently announced that he had been endorsed by the National Rifle Association.

In his role as solicitor general, VanDyke also worked on efforts to oppose same-sex marriage and abortion rights, including signing on to amicus briefs filed in other states.

VanDyke, meanwhile, is running on the message that he will follow “the law, not politics” and accusing Justice Wheat of being overly partisan. In the same interview in which he lamented that the current state supreme court was unfavorable to business interests, he said, “I have not promised anybody that I’m going to be a pro-business judge or that I’m going to be a conservative judge...I’m going to be a fair and balanced judge.”

Judicial Elections Draw More And More Big Money

Last year, Justice at Stake reported on the fast increase of spending in judicial elections, leading to judicial races seeming “alarmingly indistinguishable from ordinary political campaigns” and blurring “the boundaries that keep money and political pressure from interfering with the rule of law.”

Part of this increase was attributable to the 2010 Citizens United decision, which allowed outside groups to spend unlimited amounts supporting and opposing candidates. In the case of judicial elections, those candidates could be the ones deciding on the future of that very campaign spending.

It’s no wonder that the corporate right and the Religious Right have joined forces to back VanDyke’s candidacy. A little-noticed nonpartisan race in Montana could prove to be an effective long-term investment for a movement that’s trying to solidify a pro-corporate grip on the courts and win back lost legal ground abortion rights and LGBT equality.

This post has been updated to clarify the status of marriage equality cases in Montana.

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