CPAC Panelist: 'Human Racism' Drives Climate Change Concern

As in yesterday’s CPAC panel on climate change, another panel called “Can American Survive Obama’s War on Fossil Fuel?” featured an hour of climate change skeptics berating environmentalist straw men.

In a memorable moment, Alex Epstein of the Ayn-Rand worshipping Center For Industrial Progress – who was sporting an “I <3 Fossil Fuels” t-shirt – said that it was silly to ask if humans are behind climate change, because that assumes that "if man did change climate, it would be a bad thing.”

Epstein added that if you are worried about man-made climate change, you are displaying “a prejudice against the man-made” or as he likes to put it, “human racism.”

He went on to present the straw-man argument that people who are concerned about climate change are against development and ignore the benefits of industrial advances. While greenhouse gasses might warm the planet “a little bit, and warm is generally nice,” he said, the “most important effect of fossil fuels” is to ensure that people like him can move to “the best climate we can,” in his case Southern California.

Last year, Epstein claimed in a Fox News interview that “fracking is actually incredibly good for our environment.”

Ann Coulter: If Immigration Reform Passes, 'Organize The Death Squads For The People Who Wrecked America'

CPAC today invited conservative commentator Ann Coulter to debate “liberal” journalist Mickey Kaus, who ended up holding the same right-wing views on immigration reform as Coulter, and who even praised ultraconservative GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions. The two tried to outdo each other in bashing supporters of immigration reform, but it was hard to top Coulter.

Coulter attacked MSNBC for “celebrating the browning of America.” “But if you don’t celebrate it you’re a racist,” she added. “It’s going to be people who are not from America who are going to be in theory funding older, white people who are getting to their Social Security and Medicare age. I don’t think that can last, at some point they’re going to say, ‘Screw it.’”

“I used to think everything was about sex, now I realize everything is about immigration,” she added later. Coulter praised Mitt Romney for taking the “most aggressive” stance on immigration and called on the GOP to nominate another staunchly anti-immigrant candidate.

Coulter ended with this call to arms: “Amnesty is forever and you got to vote for the Republicans one more time and just make it clear; but if you pass amnesty, that’s it, it’s over and then we organize the death squads for the people who wrecked America.”

UPDATE: During a press conference with Eagle Forum head Phyllis Schlafly, Coulter compared the increasing Latino population to rape:

“My favorite network for humor is MSNBC. They’re always sneering, demographics are changing. No this isn’t a natural process,” Coulter said. “It’s like you’re being raped and the guy is telling you ‘my penis is in you.’ No, you’re raping me. Demographics are changing by force. There is nothing natural about it.”

...

“I also don’t think you can remind people enough Democrats have not been winning people through their dazzling arguments,” Coulter said. “They have changed the voters and in the 2012 election, if the country had not changed, by force, on purpose, by people trying to harm this country, i.e. Ted Kennedy, Romney would have won a larger landslide against Obama than Reagan won against Carter in 1980, because he won 4 points more of the white vote. Back in 1980, the country was nearly 90 percent white now.”

'Persecuted': Religious Right Movie Thriller About The Death Of Freedom In America

Ah, Friday night at CPAC. If you weren’t joining the “drunken yuck monkeys” whose loutish behavior so incensed Matt Barber, and you weren’t attending the white nationalist party whose invitation was shared by the Southern Poverty Law Center, you could catch an advance screening of Persecuted, a movie scheduled for release later this year.  Some of us who attended the screening felt pretty persecuted ourselves by being forced to watch the trailer over and over and over again in the half hour before show time. Maybe that was a plan to put us on emotional edge for this “thriller” about religious liberty in America being destroyed by the sinister forces of freedom, equality, and religious pluralism.

Since I’m writing about a movie few people have seen, I will say for the record, SPOILER ALERT.

But first a little context: Bemoaning the dominance of liberals in Hollywood is a familiar theme at right-wing conferences like CPAC and the Values Voter Summit. But conservatives in Hollywood are organizing. And they’re working hard to convince studios to produce more films with “pro-family” and religious themes. (Son of God and Noah are examples.) A Friday morning panel on the topic featured actor and former U.S. Senator Fred Thompson; Persecuted producer Daniel Lusko; Gerald Molen, a producer of Dinesh D’Souza’s 2016: Obama’s America and his upcoming film America; and D’Souza himself. If anyone had qualms about having Dinesh D’Souza being held up as a “values” icon, they kept it to themselves.

But back to Persecuted, which features Thompson, Dean Stockwell, Bruce Davison, and James Remar. The cast includes a couple of well-known Christian performers, comedian Brad Stine and singer Natalie Grant. As in real life, Fox News’s Gretchen Carlson plays a journalist.

As a movie, the film is Preposterous. But as an insight into the paranoia and worldview of Religious Right activists, Persecuted is as fascinating as it is disturbing.

The plot revolves around an evil senator who is obsessed with a piece of legislation, “The Faith and Fairness Act.” It’s never clear exactly what the Act does, but it seems to force all religions to operate under a single umbrella organization, and to allow members of any faith the ability to preach in others’ houses of worship. It thus combines the Religious Right’s fear that liberals are itching to silence Christian broadcasters by reviving the long-defunct Fairness Doctrine, and their resentment that people view them as intolerant for believing their faith is the only avenue to truth and God.

Standing tall against this plot is evangelist John Luther (John Calvin/John Wesley and Martin Luther?). Luther is sort of a Billy Graham figure who has overcome a past of drug abuse to become a national figure.  His ministry, we are told, reaches more people than the evening news. Early in the movie, the evil Senator Harrison tries to bully Luther into backing his legislation at a religious rally; when Luther refuses to compromise his faith for the senator’s political gain, Harrison puts in motion an elaborate plot to destroy him. The also-evil president of the United States is in on the scheme: he looks a little bit like Ted Kennedy and sounds more than a little bit like Bill Clinton.

The plan involves murdering a teenage girl and framing Luther as her rapist and murderer. While Luther is on the run, Harrison corrupts the rest of the ministry’s leadership with promises of “earmarks” and personalized tax breaks, and they throw the ministry’s support behind the senator’s new law. 

Somehow, Luther, the most hunted man in America, is able to sneak into the launch event for Sumac, the new organization that brings together Jews, Christians, and Muslims and brings to fruition Sen. Harrison’s “dream of a tradition of faith as diverse as our skins.” If the point about the dangers of diversity and religious pluralism isn’t obvious enough, the senator says America is “no longer a Christian nation…it never has been,” echoing a statement by President Obama that caused spluttering outrage among right-wing Christian leaders. By the way, in the movie, the whole governmentally-forced-religious-merger thing is justified as a response to the threat of terrorism.

Still with me? Luther has an amazing knack for evading government agents disguised only by sunglasses and a hoodie, and shows a remarkable ability to outrun professional killers even with a bullet in his back. Eventually, with help from his dad (confusingly, and without explanation, a Catholic priest), another young priest, some honorable FBI agents, and Gretchen Carlson, Luther is able to clear his name, but at great price: his father is killed by Secret Service assassins.

The movie doesn’t quite wrap things up in a happy-ending bow. There’s a climactic scene in which the good FBI agents come to the rescue, and Luther, despite having nearly bled to death, manages to kill the murderous Secret Service agent. Next thing we know, he is making his post-recovery return to his ministry’s headquarters, where all the sell-out executives are still in place, telling him how much money has been pouring in along with cards from well-wishers. Luther glares at them, grabs his Bible, and heads to the White House, where the sinister president introduces Luther at a press conference and, as he is headed to the podium, whispers in his ear to say nice things.

The movie ends with Luther clutching the podium and staring into the camera. Will he speak Truth to power? Will he denounce the president and his money-grubbing ministry colleagues? How soon will filming start on the sequel?

Let’s review the symbolism in Persecuted. The enemies of religious liberty are those who use the language of fairness and equality and those who say America is not a Christian nation. Religious pluralism is portrayed not as a matter of respecting freedom for every faith tradition, but as a deceptive, coercive tool of government to erase religious difference and put all faiths under the politically correct thumb of government. Other religious leaders are either co-conspirators or complicit sheep. The only non-Christians I remember in the film were those sitting silently on the dais as Sen. Harrison launched his religious takeover project. Oh, and about that growing cohort of religions “nones” in America? Luther’s dad tells him at one point that those who believe in nothing must destroy him in order to achieve their goals. And with the exception of some FBI agents, government officials are as soulless and devoid of scruples as the characters on House of Cards.

Luther and his father symbolize the alliance between right-wing evangelicals and conservative Catholics. We aren’t told how it is that Luther’s father came to be a Catholic priest, but perhaps he was an Episcopalian who left for the Catholic Church when his own denomination became insufficiently conservative on sexuality issues. After Luther finds his father murdered, he spends the rest of the cat-and-mouse drama with his dad’s bloody rosary beads wrapped around his hands: a symbol of the shared willingness for martyrdom pledged by conservative evangelical and Catholic signers of the Manhattan Declaration?

It’s hard to say what kind of impact Persecuted might find, but any contribution it makes to our civic discourse is likely to be negative. Its backers clearly hope that a marketing campaign targeting conservative Christians will find an audience and help push a trend toward bigger-budget movies with that audience in mind. 

Whether or not Persecuted is a box-office success, it is one more story-telling weapon in the arsenal of the right-wing media machine that is dedicated to promoting the ideology that America was meant by God to be a Christian nation, and that the federal government and the forces of pluralism and “political correctness” are agents of tyranny bent on forcing Christians to bend to their will.  Sort of like Ben Carson’s speech at CPAC.

Ben Carson: Gay People 'Don't Get Extra Rights, They Don't Get To Redefine Marriage'

Last year, Ben Carson grouped gay people with the likes of the pro-pedophilia group NAMBLA and “bestiality supporters” as nefarious forces trying “to change the definition [of marriage].” Carson later apologized for the remarks, but today at CPAC the potential presidential candidate sang a different tune, saying that he will “continue to defy the PC police who have tried in many cases to shut me up.”

“I still believe that marriage is between a man and a woman,” Carson said to applause, and denied that he ever compared homosexuality to bestiality. “Of course they’re not the same thing. Anybody who believes that is a dummy, but anybody who believes somebody who says that somebody said that is a dummy, that’s the problem.”

“Of course gay people should have the same rights as everyone else,” Carson continued. “But they don’t get extra rights, they don’t get to redefine marriage.”

Watch:

Bachmann: 'Our Movement At Its Core Is An Intellectual Movement'

According to Michele Bachmann, the conservative movement "at its core is an intellectual movement" based "on the greatest ideas that have ever been conceived in the mind of man."

Bachmann: 'Build The Danged Fence!'

Michele Bachmann denounced immigration reform in her speech at CPAC today, warning that "Wall Street and big business" are "clamoring for amnesty" in order to turn the US into "a country of dependency and the welfare state."

Channeling John McCain, the Minnesota congresswoman told CPAC attendees that government officials shouldn't tackle immigration reform until they "build the danged fence!"

CPAC Speaker: 'We Live Under The Imperial President His Highness Barack Hussein Obama, Mmm Mmm Mmm'

South Dakota state representative Jenna Haggar gave a spectacularly awkward speech to CPAC yesterday, in which she said that President Obama and his "big government progressive policies" are using "handouts and welfare" to make "generations of Americans dependent on the government."

Haggar, who serves alongside her father in the State House​, said that unlike Americans today, the people who settled South Dakota and the Midwest never needed government aid (she may want to read about the Homestead Acts).

Obama is changing American values, Haggar added, lamenting that "we live under the imperial president His Highness Barack Hussein Obama, mmm mmm mmm."

Right Wing Round-Up - 3/7/14

  • Rachel Baye @ Slate: Why Michelle Rhee Is Giving Millions to Conservatives in Dozens of States.

Right Wing Leftovers - 3/7/14

  • Media Research Center spokesman Dan Gainor says liberals are “determined to ruin sports so that they can have forced celebration of all things liberal – and these days, all things gay and eventually transgender.”
  • Rep. Lamar Smith is fuming at CPAC and accused the right-wing gathering of pushing “the agenda of liberal Democrats and the liberal national media” on the issue of immigration.

Industry-Funded CPAC Panelists: Climate Change A 'Silly' 'Scam,' 'Modern Witchcraft'

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this morning hosted a panel titled, “What’s The Deal With Global Warming?,” the answer to which was apparently that it’s a “silly debate,” a “scam” and “modern witchcraft.”

The panel was moderated by Joseph Bast of the Heartland Institute, a leading climate-change denial group funded in large part by major corporations, and included Steve Milloy, a longtime climate change denier who is now working for the coal company Murray Energy; Marc Morano of the oil-industry funded Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, a Heartland Institute “expert” and former a staffer for climate skeptic Sen. Jim Inhofe; Marlo Lewis of the anti-regulation Competitive Enterprise Institute; George Landrith of Fronteirs of Freedom, another oil-industry funded climate change denial group; and for “balance,” Shannon Smith, who runs an energy efficiency financing group.

Throughout the hour-long discussion, the panelists were cracking each other up with jabs at climate science.

One of the biggest laugh lines came from Morano, who mocked Rep. Barbara Lee’s warning that the effects of climate change in the developing world could force women into poverty and prostitution. “So now, everyone in the audience worried that your mom’s sister or daughter is going to become a hooker, had better start to get behind a carbon tax or cap and trade,” he joked.

He then made fun of a UN report that many African countries will be especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change. “They’re now saying because of weird weather in Africa and other places, families are desperate and so their daughters are turning to prostitution,” he said. “They’re trying everything and anything.”

Later in the talk, Morano called the idea that climate change makes storms more severe “modern witchcraft.”

Milloy for his part insisted that this “is really sort of a silly discussion,” adding, “I reject the notion that we need to cut back on fossil fuels because we’re worried about the weather possibly being inclement in 30 years or 40 years.”

The panelists also presented various conspiracy theories about U.S. policies meant to combat climate change.

Lewis said that state renewable portfolio standards reminded him of Stalinist production quotas, while Milloy claimed that the climate change “scam” is the “perfect vehicle” for progressives to gain “control of our lives.”

Landrith then chimed in with a bizarre comparison of environmental regulations to allied bombings of German cities in World War II: “If you want to bring the other side to its knees, you bomb their ball bearing factories, you bomb their refineries, okay? If you want to get control of the economy, then you regulate such things.”

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