Nebraska GOP Board Of Education Member With Racist Blog: 'I Am Not A Racist'

The Republican member of the Nebraska Board of Education who until recently ran a blog that called President Obama a “half-breed” and railed against “queers and perverts” is facing calls from his peers to resign from his post.

By a 6-2 vote yesterday, Pat McPherson’s fellow state school board members approved a resolution calling on him to step down, but he has refused to comply.

McPherson, who maintains that he didn’t write the posts in question but refuses to reveal who did, told the board that the controversy over the racist posts on his blog was manufactured by his political adversaries on the left who want to “overturn an election.”

“I am not a racist,” McPherson said, before blaming “the frenzy around this” on “political interests who opposed me in the general election” who want to “inflame the issue using the racist appellation.”

One of McPherson’s allies, Doug Kagan of the conservative group Taxpayers for Freedom, claimed McPherson is the victim of “a witch hunt against him.”

McPherson said he was merely “negligent” in supervising the material that appeared on his blog and said it was the first time he had ever been accused of racism.

CPAC Superheroes: Who's The Hulk?

If “superhero” is not the word that comes to mind when you think of Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz, or Rick Perry, you clearly aren’t CPAC material. The Conservative Political Action Conference, the annual right-wing gathering hosted by the American Conservative Union, is promoting this year’s event with a graphic inspired by the movie “Avengers” – or Disney’s animated series “Avengers Assemble.”

As in the Marvel universe, there are some household names, and some clearly second- or third-tier heroes. We’ll leave it to you to speculate on the superpowers wielded by Bobby Jindal, John Bolton, Laura Ingraham, Ben Carson, and others.

Mike Huckabee Says He Can Win Because 'American Sniper' Was A Hit

Whenever a Republican presidential candidate prepares to campaign in Iowa, he or she will inevitably start putting in appearances on “The Steve Deace Show.” Ben Carson recently chatted with Deace about why Congress should remove judges from office if they rule in favor of marriage equality; Bobby Jindal used his appearance on the program to promote the “no-go zone” myth and deride Democrats as weak on security issues; Ted Cruz told Deace that civil disobedience may be necessary to stop gay rights; and Rick Santorum even guest hosted Deace’s show.

Yesterday, Mike Huckabee, another likely presidential candidate, spoke with Deace about his new book, “God, Guns, Grits and Gravy.”

Deace asked Huckabee if he could win a general election since he is currently seen as a far-right conservative who, just like Dan Quayle after he made speeches attacking fictional TV character Murphy Brown, will be stuck talking about his criticism of musicians like Beyoncé.

Huckabee said he will win because more people live in the “flyover country” than the “bubbles” of Washington, D.C., New York and Los Angeles, citing the commercial strength of films like “The Blind Side” and “American Sniper” as proof that conservatives represent an electoral majority.

Oddly, he used the two films, both distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, to attack Hollywood and allege that the entertainment industry doesn’t understand Americans and is more interested in producing “bombs” like “Noah” (which in fact was a box office success).

The former Arkansas governor said he will win the presidency by securing support from conservatives, whom he suggested were uninspired by Mitt Romney’s milquetoast social conservativism.

“I just don’t agree with the assessment that we’re on the losing side of history,” he said. “I keep hearing that my strong adherence to biblical marriage is ‘on the wrong side of history.’ I don’t really think so. My ‘view of life is outdated.’ I don’t think so. Am I going to carry New York or the District of Columbia or California? Probably not. But guess what, no other Republican is either. The question is: do we have somebody who can rally the people and get that mass of voters who do live in flyover country to show up? Because if Mitt Romney had four percent more of just evangelical voters — don’t even include the middle-class economic voters or pro-life Catholics —four percent more, he would’ve been president.”

Huckabee told Deace that that the country is polarized between “Bubbleville” and “Bubbaville,” or real America, and he intends to rally “Bubba” voters all the way to the White House.

He said conservatives understand that liberals in “Bubbleville” have an “irrational, illogical way of looking at life” and are determined to make sure that businesspeople are “forced either to make decisions that they don’t want to make morally or fined or threatened with jail time because they don’t want to make a gay wedding cake.”

“When people in ‘Bubbleville,’ when they say ‘diversity,’ what they mean is ‘uniformity’; when they say ‘tolerant,’ what they mean is ‘intolerant,’” Huckabee said. This is the ultimate example of how we have really come to the Orwellian, 1984 newspeak of 2015.”

Anti-LGBT Groups Cheer On Roy Moore's Standoff With Federal Courts

Earlier this week, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore sent a letter to Alabama’s governor urging him to ignore a federal court ruling striking down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage because, he wrote, “the laws of our state have always recognized the Biblical admonition” against homosexuality.

Moore’s arguments may be legally questionable, but his stand against the federal courts seems to be catapulting him back into right-wing hero status that he hasn’t seen since he defied a court order to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from his court’s rotunda.

Anti-LGBT groups have been praising the move by the viciously anti-gay judge.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins praised Moore for standing up against marriage equality, which he warned is a threat “not just to our nation’s stability, but to its very survival":

Federal judges may have the last word on marriage -- but they won’t have the final one. That’s becoming abundantly clear in Alabama, the latest state to feel the sting of a runaway court invalidating the will of the people on marriage. In a letter to Governor Robert Bentley (R-Ala.), Chief Justice Roy Moore made that quite clear -- explaining that this isn’t an issue that the federal courts will resolve. Rather, he said, it “raises serious, legitimate concerns about the propriety of federal court jurisdiction over the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment.”

Unelected judges and a handful of lawyers have been pushing state marriage amendments over like sleeping cows. Meanwhile, stunned Americans have struggled to make sense of a legal system that puts its own political agenda ahead of the expressed will of the people. Like most conservatives, FRC has watched in horror as the courts have robbed tens of millions of Americans of their voice on an issue of critical importance -- not just to our nation’s stability, but to its very survival.

Bryan Fischer, who at the time he made the comments was a spokesman for the American Family Association, also praised Moore for taking “a stand against judicial tyranny”:

State justices can, as Justice Moore has done, defy unconstitutional federal rulings which have overturned marriage amendments. Governors, such as Gov. Bentley, can defy unconstitutional federal rulings by forbidding county clerks to issue marriage licenses which would be in violation of the state constitution. (First Amendment law firms such as the Alliance Defending Freedom have pledged to defend pro bono any clerks who refuse to issue same-sex licenses on grounds of conscience.)

Such actions would most emphatically not represent civil disobedience, but rather the best in civil obedience. An elected official can hardly be charged with rebellion when he is simply fulfilling the oath he took before God to uphold both the federal constitution and the constitution of his own state.

Meanwhile, CitizenGo, a petition hub run in part by National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown, asked supporters to sign a petition commending Moore for "standing up against the federal tyranny that seeks to impose gay ‘marriage’ on the state of Alabama":

Chief Justice Roy Moore,

Thank you for standing up against the federal tyranny that seeks to impose gay "marriage" upon the state of Alabama. Your bold stand against the redefinition of marriage and the erosion of our nation's moral foundations is an inspiration.

I want you to know that I stand with you as you resist the federal government's unconstitutional demands regarding homosexual "marriage."

I encourage you to fulfill your duty as a lesser magistrate to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the great state of Alabama by resisting these unjust demands.

Meanwhile, the Foundation for Moral Law, the group that Moore led before returning to the Alabama Supreme Court and which is now run by his wife, hasn't reacted to Moore's letter. But the group did respond to the judge’s ruling by acknowledging that “Jesus loves” gay people but “homosexual conduct is still sin, and we must stand firm for what is right.”

“Alabamians approved the 2006 Sanctity of Marriage Amendment by 81% of the vote,” she said, “and the will of the people should not be lightly discarded in favor of an alleged right that is found nowhere in the Constitution.” She added that the Foundation bears no animus toward the plaintiffs in this case or in any other: “Jesus loves them, and He died for their sins as well as for mine. But homosexual conduct is still sin, and we must stand firm for what is right.”

Meet David Lane: The Anti-Gay, Christian-Nation Extremist Of The RNC

Last night, Rachel Maddow reported that the American Family Association has fired Bryan Fischer as its official spokesman, while letting Fischer keep his radio show on the organization’s radio network. The move apparently came as a result of growing controversy surrounding a trip to Israel for Republican National Committee delegates bankrolled by the AFA.

It didn’t look good for the RNC that the group paying the tab for the trip to Israel has a spokesman and radio host who believes that gay people are modern-day Nazis who are responsible for the Holocaust, demands Jewish conversion to Christianity (and wants to require conversion for Jewish and other non-Christian immigrants), and insists that non-Christians have no First Amendment rights: “Counterfeit religions, alternative religions to Christianity, have no First Amendment right to the free exercise of the religion.”

However, the RNC trip’s chief organizer, David Lane of the American Renewal Project, which has close ties to the AFA, is no less radical than Fischer … but his extreme views haven’t stopped Republicans from embracing Lane.

lane

Priebus, center. Lane, far right. Via The Brody File.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has appeared at Lane’s political gatherings and praised his radical anti-LGBT activism. In fact, potential Republican presidential candidates like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry and Mike Pence have either appeared at Lane’s events, which typically take place in early primary states, or participated in election-themed advertisements for Lane’s group.

Bobby Jindal, who has participated in both ventures, even hosted a prayer rally last weekend that was organized by Lane and funded by the AFA.

Lane and the AFA also organized an earlier visit to Israel for Paul and Perry, and Lane also organized Huckabee’s recent trip to Europe.

Lane, who describes himself as a political operative who prefers working behind the scenes, shares Fischer’s view that God is preparing to violently punish America for its tolerance of homosexuality. Lane, like Fischer, also believes that gay Republicans and gay rights supporters in the GOP are dangerous figures who will help bring the country down. He has:

  • Feared that God might destroy the U.S. just as he punished Nazi Germany: “If we get judgment like Nazi Germany, I’m assuming we go to rebel, and God says ‘I’m done.’”
  • Favorably quoted a Christian author who said that “same-sex marriage practiced universally is suicide. To survive gays and lesbians are parasites, depending for their cultural survival on couples that birth the next generation.”
  • Explained why homosexuality is a threat to freedom: “Homosexuality is debauchery. God’s loyalty and fidelity — that guard the nation — make sustainable freedom dependent on seeking virtue.”
  • Predicted that homosexuality will lead to the destruction of America: “Homosexual desire and marriage is unnatural and — more so — is a symptom of advanced cultural decay and precursor to the collapse of the Republican Party and the nation.... The mark of a decadent society is the exaltation and normalization of sin — which leads to the death.”
  • Compared Republicans who support marriage equality to politicians who backed slavery in the run-up to the Civil War.

“What is our aim?” Lane asked in a 2013 op-ed. “One word only: victory, in spite of all intimidation and terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, America will ultimately collapse.”

He has set his sights at the separation of church and state, warning that “America is lost, one has to think through and devise a strategy to recapture our Christian heritage and reestablish our Christian culture.” Lane has also outlined his strategy to further entrench his radical ideology in the Republican Party by holding prayer rallies like “The Response,” sponsoring events featuring GOP leaders, known as “restoration” and “renewal” events or “pastor policy briefings,” and recruiting 1,000 pastors to run for elected office.

Urging conservatives to “wage war for the Soul of America and trust the living God to deliver the pagan gods into our hands,” Lane wants conservatives to embrace his exclusionary Christian Nationalist beliefs and abolish the separation of church and state. Lane:

  • Called the separation of church and state a “lie” and a “fabricated whopper” used to stop “Christian America – the moral majority – from imposing moral government on pagan public schools, pagan higher learning and pagan media.”
  • Claimed that while “America was a Christian nation” since its founding, now it must choose between being “a Christian nation or a pagan nation.”
  • Said America needs a “thorough cleaning from pornography, abortion, homosexuality, filth from TV and Hollywood, racism, and injustice.”
  • Congratulated a pastor for exposing Mitt Romney’s belief in the “false god of Mormonism” during the 2012 GOP primaries.
  • Lamented that the “‘religion of secularism’ has produced red ink as far as the eye can see, homosexuals praying at the Inauguration, tax-funded abortion, homosexual marriage in several States, Evangelicals held in contempt, and God expelled from the classrooms of America — and the public square.”
  • Warned that while America has “grovel to the false god of Islam,” “America, a Christian nation in heritage and culture, is being dismantled brick by brick.”

Catherine Engelbrecht: Blame Immigrants For Voter Disenfranchisement

Catherine Engelbrecht, head of the “voter fraud” vigilante group True the Vote, testified this morning at a hearing on the nomination of Loretta Lynch to be U.S. attorney general. Engelbrecht discussed her claims that she was targeted by the IRS, but also criticized Attorney General Eric Holder for his work protecting voter rights.

Engelbrecht said she was “extremely disappointed” to hear comments from Lynch acknowledging that voter ID laws are meant to suppress minority voter turnout and applauding the Justice Department’s work protecting voting rights. (Lynch was merely acknowledging the reality: a federal judge in Texas, for instance, found that proponents of one such voter ID law “were motivated, at the very least in part, because of and not merely in spite of the voter ID law's detrimental effects on the African-American and Hispanic electorate.”)

She added that critics of voter suppression laws have it all wrong and that “the most significant voter disenfranchisement threat currently facing our country” is President Obama’s executive actions deferring deportation for some undocumented immigrants, whom she implied would illegally register to vote.

Engelbrecht has previously criticized a bipartisan effort to restore the Voting Rights Act as a “move toward race-based segregation” because it ensured federal oversight for areas with a history of disenfranchising minority voters.

Engelbrecht left out of her remarks a line in her official prepared testimony alleging that Holder has “created a radical, racialist agency that metes out social justice on an as needed basis to promote the advancement of a progressive agenda.”

The AFA Cannot Wash Its Hands Of Bryan Fischer's Bigotry That Easily

Last night it was reported that the American Family Association had finally fired the Religious Right's most notorious bigot, Bryan Fischer. While that would be welcome news, if true, the AFA has a long history of trying to salvage its own reputation by attempting to cleanse itself of Fischer's unrelenting bigotry and this latest effort appears to be simply yet another effort to whitewash the AFA's façade without making any genuine changes.

Back in 2009, Bryan Fischer was an obscure state-level Religious Right activist with a history of getting fired for his radical views. From his position as head of the Idaho Values Alliance, Fischer was mostly known for launching boycotts against Hallmark stores for offering cards for gay weddings and celebrating a fatal plane crash as God's payback for abortion.

Fischer's radicalism and bigotry were obvious even back then, but that didn't stop the American Family Association from wooing Fischer away from Idaho with an offer to serve as the organization's "director of issues analysis" and host a daily radio program down in Tupelo, Mississippi.

Within months of his arrival at AFA, Fischer was already using his national platform to spread his unmitigated bigotry, starting with his demand that all Muslims be banned from serving in the U.S. military, a position that he continues to steadfastly promote to this day.

Within a year, Fischer was using his position at AFA to declare that homosexuality should be illegal and that gays should be treated like criminals and banned from serving in public office. While Fischer was advocating for the deportation of all Muslims and an end to the building of mosques in America, the AFA continued to provide him a platform, just as it did when he began calling for whales and bears to be put to death for biblical infractions and blaming the Holocaust on gays.

Finally, in 2010, the AFA made a half-hearted attempt to wash its hands of Fischer's unrelenting torrent of bigotry ... not by firing him, mind you, but simply by adding a disclaimer at the end of Fischer's blog posts and radio program insisting that the things Fischer was saying on the AFA's website and radio network should not be taken to reflect the views of the organization:

Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.

Obviously, this was nothing but a pathetic cop-out, as we have pointed out several times before. The AFA plucked Fischer from obscurity, gave him a salary and a national platform from which to regularly proclaim that gays are Satanic perverts but then tried to pretend that it was not in any way responsible for Fischer or his views, such as:

Not surprisingly, Fischer's outrageous views and statements have caused problems for the AFA and those with whom the AFA has partnered at events, most recently Gov. Bobby Jindal, who teamed up with the AFA for his "The Response" prayer rally last week. But through it all, the AFA has steadfastly insisted that Fischer does not speak for the organization while simultaneously standing by him and continuing to provide the platform from which he spreads his bigotry.

This weekend, some 60 members of the Republican National Committee are scheduled to go to Israel on a trip organized by Christian nationalist David Lane and funded by the American Family Association and it seems as if Fischer's radical views have suddenly become too much for the RNC and AFA to ignore, as last night Rachel Maddow reported that the AFA had fired Fischer:

From what we have been able to gather, Fischer has not actually been dismissed by AFA but has rather merely been stripped of his title as director of issues analysis and his role as spokesman for the organization. Fischer will reportedly continue to produce his daily radio program for the AFA's radio arm, American Family Radio.

If this is indeed the case, then the AFA has literally accomplished nothing with this stunt and has completely failed to distance itself from Fischer's utterly despicable views. The primary venues though which Fischer has managed to spread his bigotry for the last six years have always been owned, operated, and funded by the American Family Association and that relationship appears to remain intact. 

Stripping Fischer of his title as AFA spokesman in no way alleviates the AFA of its responsibility for Fischer's toxic views given that the only reason Fischer even has a platform from which to spread those views is because AFA is providing it to him and paying him to spread them!

From the very start of Fischer's time at AFA, the organization has pathetically attempted to have it both ways: providing the very microphone from which Fischer speaks while simultaneously claiming that it bears no responsibility for the message that he sends.

The AFA's latest effort to rid itself of Fischer's rancid reputation is little more than a rhetorical accounting trick aimed at creating the false impression that the organization has wiped Fischer's bigotry off of its books.

National School Choice Week: PR For Privatizers?

On Wednesday morning, a roomful of school children were herded into a congressional meeting room and required to sit through an hour and a half worth of speeches by conservative Members of Congress, including House Speaker John Boehner, Sens. Ted Cruz and Tim Scott, Chief Deputy Whip Rep. Patrick McHenry, Education & Workforce Committee Chair John Kline of Minnesota, and a handful of others. Rep. Luke Messer of Indiana was the emcee.

The Capitol Hill event was in honor of National School Choice Week, whose organizers describe it as a nonpolitical, nonpartisan “independent public awareness campaign” promoting the idea that every child deserves access to an excellent education. Who would disagree?

In other words, it’s a PR campaign, one that wraps itself in the moral mantle of children. But the bright yellow scarves it wraps around its participants are meant to distract attention from the fact that sponsors of this week’s thousands of events include many anti-public education, anti-union, anti-government ideologues, including the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, the Heritage Foundation, the Alliance for Prosperity and others. The President of National School Choice Week, Andrew Campanella, used to work at the Alliance for School Choice, whose board is chaired by deep-pocketed right-wing activist Betsy DeVos and is funded by a who’s who of right-wing foundations.

As we noted during last year’s NSCW:

Education policy is a vast, complicated, and hotly contested arena. Terms like “education reform” and “school choice” sound good, but they are so broad as to be almost meaningless. They can be applied to genuine efforts to strengthen teaching and educational opportunity as well as cynical schemes to destroy public employee unions and dismantle public education altogether.

In particular, “school choice” encompasses a huge array of education policies, from public charter and magnet schools to taxpayer-funded for-profit cyberschools and homeschooling.  Even a seemingly specific term like “charter schools” cloaks a more complex reality that ranges from innovation labs co-located in public schools to for-profit chain operations.  

Indeed, this year, Richard Kahlenberg and Halley Potter published “A Smarter Charter: Finding What works for Charter Schools and Public Education.” The book documents that the original vision for charter schools – teachers empowered to be creative in diverse schools that could identify ways to strengthen public education – has been turned on its head. Rather than a teacher-empowering and collaborative paradigm, charter schools are often noted for tightly controlled teachers in highly segregated schools dominated by an ideology of competition with public schools. 

There are more collaborative models, just as there are charter schools with strong academic track records as well as those that lag behind the public schools that choice advocates consistently disparage. Important distinctions get lost under the big, vague, banner of school choice. And that’s intentional.

NSCW is about painting in broad strokes and drawing no distinctions, for example, between public magnet schools and for-profit corporations cashing in on the “reform” movement. No distinction is made between giving students choice among their district’s public schools and diverting education dollars into religious academies and online homeschooling via vouchers and other schemes.  These do not have the same impact on public schools, or the same levels of public accountability, but in the interest of keeping things simple, and winning public support for across-the-board expansion of these programs, they’re all “choice.”

As we wrote last year:

The problem with this “collective messaging” approach is that it hides the anti-public-education agenda of some “reformers.” Celebrating “school choice” across the board lends credibility to organizations pushing for destructive policies that are not at all popular with the American public. In spite of decades of right-wing-funded attacks on public education, for example, Americans oppose privatization plans like vouchers that transfer public education funds to private schools.

Self-proclaimed reformers often dismiss concerns about privatization as a “red herring.” But you can’t embrace the Milton Friedman Foundation as a partner and then pretend that privatization is only an imaginary threat dreamed up by teachers unions.  Friedman has an explicit goal of getting rid of public schools altogether; they see programs like vouchers for poor kids as a tactical stepping stone toward that ultimate goal.

Other supporters of National School Choice Week have included companies that want to tap into the huge flow of public dollars spent every year on education. K12, a member of the “choice”-promoting American Legislative Exchange Council and a company the New York Times has described as “the biggest player in the online-school business,” paid its president more than $5.5. million last year; two other executives each made more than $4 million. A November 2014 investigation by Bloomberg focused on the company’s efforts to turn around “subpar test scores” and declining enrollments.

National School Choice Week promoters say it is nonpolitical and has no legislative agenda, but that’s hard to take seriously given the agendas of its backers. At this week’s event on Capitol Hill, the only Democratic Member of Congress to join the Republican parade was Illinois’ Dan Lipinski, who declined to endorse Barack Obama’s re-election in 2012. (Former Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford also spoke.)

Members of Congress at Wednesday’s event talked about pushing legislation this year to expand “school choice” programs, meaning that battles over vouchers, charter schools, and other education issues will be on the agenda this year, including February’s Senate markup of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. And, according to Americans United for Separation of Church and State, “There are currently private school voucher and tuition tax credit programs in 23 states and at least 10 states are looking to create new or expanding existing school voucher programs this year.”

Obviously, not everyone who participates in National School Choice Week activities is an anti-public-education ideologue. People from across the political spectrum are eager to strengthen schools and give students an opportunity for a great education. That includes public school teachers, administrators, and school board members – people who are collectively smeared as “the blob” by some “reformers.” People who are seeking to strengthen public education and make schools better for all children should think twice about making common cause with organizations that see public education as something to be dismantled and corporations that see students as the means to a bigger bottom line.

This post originally appeared on People For the American Way's blog.

Right Wing Round-Up - 1/28/15

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 1/28/15

  • BarbWire's Gina Miller laughably defends the American Family Association as a "peaceful Christian organization" that is being smeared with "damnable lies."
  • Newsbusters also tries valiantly to distract from Bryan Fischer's well-documented history of unmitigated bigotry by conveniently ignoring it entirely.
  • Sam Rohrer of the Pennsylvania Pastors Network is very excited about "the number of potential [Republican presidential] candidates who profess what he calls an authentic relationship with Jesus Christ."
  • Shocklingly, Rick Santorum's claim that all of the jobs created since 2000 have gone to immigrants turns out to be false.
  • Pamela Geller declares that "the vicious Jew-hating rhetoric coming from the White House is unusual even for an anti-Semite like Obama."
  • Finally, Glenn Beck is apparently so devoid of vision for his network that he has now been reduced seeking advice from his Facebook followers on what sort of shows he should be making.
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