One of the most memorable moments of last night’s GOP presidential debate was when Ohio Gov. John Kasich said that despite his “traditional” view on marriage he had recently attended the wedding of gay friends. This earned Kasich applause from the debate’s audience, just four years after a similar audience had booed a gay service member.
But some people did not appreciate Kasich’s answer, including American Family Radio’s Bryan Fischer, who explained on his radio program today that attending a gay friend’s wedding is like attending the “grand opening celebration” of a friend’s “new crack house” because you are simply “enabling” that friend’s behavior.
“Really, the issue comes down to what do you think of this kind of behavior,” Fischer said. “Is this good behavior, is this healthy behavior, is this moral behavior, is this the kind of behavior that we ought to celebrate, that we ought to promote?”
“If you have somebody you love and they were dealing crack and they were opening up a new crack house and they were having a grand opening celebration and they invited you to come and be a part of the grand opening celebration of this crack house, would you go?” he asked. “Of course not!”
In last night’s Republican presidential debate, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson said he would base a new tax system on the biblical system of tithing. “I think God is a pretty fair guy,” he said.
And he said, you know, if you give me a tithe, it doesn’t matter how much you make. If you’ve had a bumper crop, you don’t owe me triple tithes. And if you’ve had no crops at all, you don’t owe me no tithes. So there must be something inherently fair about that.
And that’s why I’ve advocated a proportional tax system. You make $10 billion, you pay a billion. You make $10, you pay one. And everybody gets treated the same way. And you get rid of the deductions, you get rid of all the loopholes, and…
David Barton, the pseudo-historian, GOP activist, and Glenn Beck ally, is a major promoter of the idea that the Bible opposes progressive taxes, capital gains taxes, and minimum wage. Barton’s views are grounded in the philosophy of Christian Reconstructionism, a movement whose thinking has infused both the Religious Right and Tea Party movements with its notion that God gave the family, not the government, responsibility for education — and the church, not the government, responsibility for taking care of the poor.
This notion that laissez-faire economics, small government, and flat taxes are divine mandates, and that taxation is theft, is also how we end up with the Heritage Foundation promoting the idea that “[t]hose who esteem the Bible should also applaud St. Milton Friedman and other Church of Chicago prelates, because their insights amplify what the Bible suggests about economics.” And the idea that unions and collective bargaining are unbiblical is how we get Religious Right groups celebrating Scott Walker’s war on unions.
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, speculated in a radio interview yesterday that President Obama wants to increase the number of skilled-worker visas in order to “dilute” the American voting pool with people who haven’t “been educated about the responsibilities of keeping a republic going.”
Discussing H-1B visas with Virginia talk radio host John Fredericks, Gohmert said, “Wow, John, it’s like the president has some idea that he wants to just dilute people that have been educated about the responsibilities of keeping a republic going out there voting, Isn’t that a crazy idea.”
Gohmert and Fredericks also expressed frustration that the House GOP leadership has yet to move to defund Planned Parenthood after the release of a series of videos smearing the organization, which both said was just bringing America closer to a “day of reckoning.”
“People are starting to feel that there’s going to be a day of reckoning for all this stuff,” Fredericks said, “whether it’s $20 trillion in debt, $123 trillion of unfunded mandates, or 60 million abortions since Roe v. Wade, and now dismembering babies. I mean, there’s going to be a day of reckoning, it always happens throughout history.”
“Yes, and there will be a day of reckoning and we know it’s coming,” Gohmert said, “so it’s really outrageous for us not to be out there dealing with these critical issues.”
The American Family Association’s Sandy Rios devoted her radio program this morning to taking calls from listeners about last night’s Republican presidential debates on Fox News. One listener, who identified himself as “Dave” called in to say that he would “love to see a Ted Cruz–Ben Carson ticket” and “then in eight years, I’d love to see Ben Carson be the first black president” in contrast to the current “Muslim president.”
Rios responded with her own theories about President Obama’s religious affiliation: “We know that he loves the Muslim community and he’s certainly sympathetic and he loves the call to prayer and we’ll say no more, we don’t know — I kind of think he’s an atheist, Dave, to be honest with you, with Muslim sympathies, I always need to clarify that.”
Rios then got back to Dave’s Cruz-Carson dream ticket, and said she would love to form a “team” of all the GOP nominees, each of whom would take over one governmental department and form “a phalanx of cleaning house.”
Miranda reported this morning on Mike Huckabee’s radical and dangerous plan to give fertilized eggs full constitutional rights by declaring them to be human beings. But Huckabee wasn’t the only one at last night's GOP presidential debate making extreme statements when it comes to women’s health care.
Fox’s Megyn Kelly asked Walker about his position that all abortion should be illegal, even in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of a pregnant woman.
Walker did not answer Kelly’s direct question of whether he would really let a woman die rather than have an abortion. Instead he declared his “pro-life” credentials and said, “I’ve said many a time that the unborn child can be protected, and there are many other alternatives that can also protect the life of the mother.”
Of course, those “alternatives” don’t always exist, and the experiences of somewomen in Catholic hospitals make it clear that women’s lives are at stake when no-exceptions abortion bans are in place.
Walker asserted, “I’ve got a position that’s in line with everyday America.”
That statement is utterly false. Fewer than one in five Americans believes, like Walker, that abortion should be illegal in all circumstances. A recent poll for Vox found that more than two-thirds of Americans would NOT like to see the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade. Kelly noted in her question that 83 percent of Americans believe abortion should be allowed to save a woman’s life.
“When you get in a focus group with people and you show them the entirely of the restrictions and exactly what’s going on, there is total outrage — it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen in fifteen years of doing public opinion research,” she said.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins repeatedhiscall for the impeachment of President Obama yesterday, saying that the president’s “actions suggest he is doing more to help our enemies than to help our country.”
“The problem with the president is that he has been deceptive,” Perkins said in response to a listener who called in to his “Washington Watch” radio program. “The problem with the president is that he has been lawless. He has ignored the Constitution, he has lied to the American people and his actions suggest he is doing more to help our enemies than to help our country.”
“And so this feeling of frustration that Americans are feeling is not normal,” he said. “It’s not political, it’s not partisan, it goes beyond that. This goes to the heart of the issue that people that care about this country, their families, their future, they don’t see this president as defending and advocating for America. I’m not sure what he’s advocating for.”
“He is deconstructing this nation,” Perkins continued. “He’s done it in our military, now he’s done it in our foreign policy” with the Iran deal.
When another listener called in to ask why Obama has not yet been impeached, Perkins seconded the call.
“When you begin to operate deceptively, when you violate the boundaries by which the American people have agreed to be governed, you have crossed the line,” he said, “and I think this president has crossed the line.”
He lamented that the Republican Party doesn’t have the “backbone” to begin impeachment proceedings, which is why, he said, Donald Trump is proving so popular among GOP primary voters: “Donald Trump, he is the result of the Republican Party. He is doing so well because the Republicans refuse to do what the American people elected them to do.”
RWW’s Paranoia-Rama takes a look at five of the week’s most absurd conspiracy theories from the Right.
There is a lot to be scared about this week: Obama demons, Obama killing white people, Obama nuking Texas. Perhaps there is a phrase to describe this phenomenon.
5) Obama’s Demon…Exposed!
While WorldNetDaily has so far failed in its quest to find President Obama’s Kenyan birth certificate, it has stumbled upon something even more sinister: Obama’s Kenyan demon.
In an article titled, “Is this a demon racing in front of Obama?,” WND executive news editor Joe Kovacs reports that he observed a demonic spirit complete with “a head and shoulders” running past Obama as he exited Air Force One upon arriving in Kenya last month. Kovacs even spoke to a “concerned woman” who confirmed that she too “saw a demon run by” the president.
Michael Savage isn’t one of those crazy people who believed that the world would end in 2012, since, Savage explained this week, he read in an email once that an elderly Mayan woman prophesied about a future without white people, and Obama hadn’t murdered all the white people yet.
Maybe Mike Huckabee has been reading WorldNetDaily, as he is very concerned that gay marriage and legal abortion are provoking God to punish America.
“I would suggest that if man believes that he can redefine marriage, it’s apparent that man believes he has become his own god,” Huckabee told a conservative summit, “and this is a dangerous place for America to be.”
2) Jade Helm 15 Violence
Shockingly, none of the right-wing warnings about the Jade Helm 15 military exercise leading to a federal takeover of Texas and the imposition of martial law have turned out to be accurate.
But some people have taken the Jade Helm 15 conspiracy theories very seriously, including at least three men in North Carolina who, Catherine Thompson of TPM writes, “were charged with conspiring to arm themselves with illegal explosive devices to combat what they saw as a potential military takeover.” In Mississippi, gunmen fired at a military training site for two consecutive days.
One of those aides, Jesse Benton, was working on Sen. Mitch McConnell’s reelection campaign in Kentucky in 2014 when the scandal came to light, causing him to resign from his post. But Benton wasn’t unemployed for long, as just a few months later, Sen. Rand Paul picked Benton, who also happens to be a member of the Paul family, to run a Super PAC aiding the younger Paul’s presidential bid.
It now seems that Rand Paul’s selection of Benton has come back to haunt him, as Benton and other Paul aides have just been indicted in connection to the bribery scandal.
Like the good conservative conspiracy theorists that they are, Ron and Rand Paul are now alleging that Benton was the victim of a liberal attempt to discredited the Kentucky senator’s presidential campaign.
“I think the timing of this indictment is highly suspicious given the fact that the first primary debate is tomorrow,” Ron Paul said, while Rand Paul’s campaign attacked “the Obama Justice Department” for its “suspiciously timed” indictments, adding that Benton’s indictment “certainly appears suspiciously timed and possibly, politically motivated.”
Benton’s lawyer similarly claimed that Benton is a victim of a Democratic conspiracy, blasting the indictments as “character assassination for political gain” and “a politically motivated prosecution designed to serve a political agenda, not to achieve justice.”
Yesterday’s GOP presidential debate on Fox News, perhaps unsurprisingly, devoted less than a minute to the Black Lives Matter movement and its concerns. Fox’s Megyn Kelly directed exactly one question about the movement to one candidate, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who gave a bland answer about providing for better “training” for law enforcement officers.
But Walker’s answer contained one interesting tidbit, which he clearly knew would resonate with regular Fox News viewers. Walker referred in his answer to the advice of his “friend” Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, whom he noted had been a guest on Fox News:
Well, I think the most important thing we can do when it comes to policing — it's something you've had a guest on who's a friend of mine Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, who's talked to me about this many times in the past — it's about training. It's about making sure that law enforcement professionals, not only in the way in to their positions but all the way through their time, have the proper training, particularly when it comes to the use of force. And that we protect and stand up and support those men and women who are doing their jobs in law enforcement. And for the very few that don't, that there are consequences to show that we treat everyone the same here in America.
Walker probably assumed that regular Fox viewers would recognize Clarke’s name, as the sheriff is a rising Tea Party star who makes frequent appearances on the conservative network to assure its viewers that the Black Lives Matter movement is wrong and that there are no racial disparities in policing.
"The real [problem] in the American ghetto, and it is not the American police officer, it is modern liberalism that has been a wrecking ball on the black community and the black family structure," Clarke said.
Clarke has taken his message to other conservative media outlets as well, insisting that Michael Brown“ chose thug life” so was “a coconspirator in his own demise” and claiming that President Obama is using controversies over police killings as part of a plot to “emasculate” law enforcement, “get rid of the Constitution” and implement a “socialist agenda.”
Clarke recently parlayed his conservative media stardom into his very own radio show on Glenn Beck’s The Blaze network, using one of his first programs to call for a revolution complete with “pitchforks and torches” in response to the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling. In a WorldNetDaily column, he wrote that the decision may have presented a “Lexington-Concord type moment.”
The Milwaukee County sheriff became a hero to the gun lobby when he urged his constituents to arm themselves rather than count on calling 911. He told conspiracy theorist Alex Jones that federal gun control laws could launch “the second coming of the American Revolution, the likes of which would make the first revolution pale by comparison.” And he used his speaking slot at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention this year to throw red meat to the crowd, including a call for the arrows on the Great Seal of the United States to be replaced with a semi-automatic rifle.
Walker clearly sees Clarke as an important ally: Earlier this summer, signed a pair of laws weakening Wisconsin’s gun regulations in Clarke’s office.
At last night’s presidential debates hosted by Fox News, it was jarring to hear Fox personalities and Republican presidential candidates alike using the derogatory term “illegals” to refer to undocumented immigrants.
Last November, Fusion’s Felix Salmon published an overview of the policies various news organizations have adopted. Some, including the Associated Press, no longer use the term “illegal immigrant.” Some, like the New York Times, still do while encouraging reporters to also consider alternatives in a given context. Some find alternatives like “undocumented” or “unauthorized” to be confusing or bureaucratic.
But the sneering shorthand “illegals” is worse and there is a stronger consensus against its use — but not a universal one. In January, the Santa Barbara News-Press generated controversy, including vandalism of the paper’s building, when it used the term “illegals” in a headline. Fox ran a story about the vandalism with screen text declaring “Trouble with Illegals.”
A copyediting blog, commenting on the Santa Barbara controversy, declared it is no longer possible for journalists to “claim that the word illegal [used as a noun] can be neutral or objective.” Even the Wall Street Journal, whose stylebook says “illegal immigrant” is its preferred term, instructs, “Don’t use illegal or illegals as a noun.”
Despite having low expectations for Fox and the Republican candidates, it was striking to hear so many uses of “illegal” or “illegals” as a noun. Scanning through transcripts of the debates, I confirmed that Fox’s Bill Hemmer used the term twice in the also-rans debate, and Chris Wallace used it three times in the top ten debate. The term was also used by Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee, the latter in his sadly memorable formulation about “illegals, prostitutes, pimps, drug dealers, all the people that are freeloading off the system now.”
Toobin says it is “clearly wrong” to use the term as a noun — to call someone “an illegal.” Former New York Times editor and columnist Bill Keller came to the same conclusion in late 2011, with help from readers and colleagues, after a column in which he had used “illegals” as shorthand for “illegal immigrants.”
Of course, given the state of the Republican Party on immigration, there were also plenty of uses of the term “amnesty” by candidates, including Jeb Bush making sure to qualify his support for a path to legal status for people now in the country — “not amnesty” — and Ted Cruz, who slammed the other candidates for having supported “amnesty.” Bobby Jindal had another of the evening’s most memorable lines, declaring “immigration without assimilation is an invasion.”
But Mike Huckabee took things to a new level when he calmly presented his plan to grant legal “personhood” to fertilized eggs and fetuses.
Some commentators have mistaken Huckabee’s comment as a call for a constitutional amendment to reverse Roe v. Wade. That’s not what he meant.
Instead, Huckabee was embracing a radical legal theory, disputed even in anti-choice circles, that holds that a constitutional amendment overturning Roe isn’t necessary to end legal abortion. This theory holds that the majority opinion in Roe contains a magic loophole that allows Congress to simply declare zygotes “persons” under the Fifth and 14th Amendments, which would then criminalize abortion nationwide in one fell swoop, no constitutional amendment needed. One of the most adamant proponents of this theory in Congress is Huckabee’s fellow GOP presidential candidate, Rand Paul.
Here was Huckabee’s answer to Chris Wallace’s question about his “strong positions on social issues,” including favoring “a constitutional amendment banning abortions, except for the life of the mother”:
Chris, I disagree with the idea that the real issue is a constitutional amendment. That's a long and difficult process. I've actually taken the position that's bolder than that.
A lot of people are talking about defunding Planned Parenthood, as if that's a huge game changer. I think it's time to do something even more bold. I think the next president ought to invoke the Fifth, and 14th Amendments to the Constitution now that we clearly know that that baby inside the mother's womb is a person at the moment of conception.
The reason we know that it is is because of the DNA schedule that we now have clear scientific evidence on. And, this notion that we just continue to ignore the personhood of the individual is a violation of that unborn child's Fifth and 14th Amendment rights for due process and equal protection under the law.
It's time that we recognize the Supreme Court is not the supreme being, and we change the policy to be pro-life and protect children instead of rip up their body parts and sell them like they're parts to a Buick.
But if Huckabee’s dubious legal strategy were to work, the consequences would be enormous. Not only would granting “personhood” to fetuses ban abortion in all but the rarest case where a pregnant woman and a fetus are both in mortal danger, it would put women who suffer miscarriages at risk of prosecution and jail time. The ambiguous wording of such measures has led many to fear that they could also outlaw common forms of birth control.
By redefining what it means to be a person under the law, personhood measures could also have a broad legal impact on issues unrelated to reproductive rights, threatening to upend everything from inheritance law to census results . In 2014, the Colorado Bar Association opposed the state’s personhood ballot measure, warning that the vaguely worded measure would have “potentially serious, unintended and unknown consequences for Colorado lawyers. … From areas of Family Law to Probate Law to Real Estate Law, as well as the explicit effect on Criminal Law and Wrongful Death statutes, this Amendment could create uncertainty and endless litigation.”
Mike Huckabee’s support for the personhood movement is nothingnew. But in declaring his intention to give 14th Amendment rights to fertilized eggs in a nationally televised debate, he gave a fringe movement what may be its biggest stage yet.