Religious Right Out-Muscles Pro-Equality Republicans

We have lost count of how many times the Religious Right has been declared spent as a political force. Those declarations have always been wrong, and this year’s Republican Party platform is the latest sign of the movement’s continued power.

Four years ago, we called the GOP platform “a far-right fever dream, a compilation of pouting, posturing, and policies to meet just about every demand from the overlapping Religious Right, Tea Party, corporate, and neo-conservative wings of the GOP.” Yet this year’s platform is even further to the right.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. In 2012, Religious Right leaders spent the entire week in Tampa bragging about how they had essentially written the platform. But pro-LGBT Republicans were remarkably confident that it would never happen again. At the time, the Log Cabin Republicans vowed that never again would the party platform be hostile to LGBT equality. Former member of Congress Jim Kolbe said the anti-gay sentiment in that year’s platform was “the last gasp of the conservatives.” The upbeat attitude had us wondering about “the fine, fuzzy line dividing optimism from delusion.”

Well, there’s nothing left to wonder about. In spite of an organized and well-funded campaign by LGBT-friendly conservatives, Religious Right activists made sure that they dominated the platform committee. During the committee’s deliberations on proposed amendments on Monday and Tuesday, every effort to moderate the language on LGBT rights was rejected, including tame language that would have acknowledged growing support within the party for marriage equality. The Log Cabin Republicans are calling this year’s document “the most anti-LGBT Platform in the Party’s 162-year history.”

Even an amendment that would have recognized the LGBT victims of ISIS terror was deemed too much. The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins is bragging that he and fellow Louisiana delegate Sandy McDade, Eagle Forum’s political chairman, watered that language down so that it refers generically to all people terrorized by ISIS.

The platform includes Religious Right-approved language opposing marriage equality and endorsing legislation to give legal protection to anti-LGBT discrimination in the name of religious liberty. And it calls for eliminating the IRS provision that prevents churches, like other nonprofits, from engaging in direct electoral advocacy — one of the promises Donald Trump has made to win Religious Right support.

A seemingly last-ditch effort by LGBT-friendly delegates to require a vote on a “minority report” to replace the long platform with a short statement of principles is now being denounced by Perkins and Religious Right activist David Barton as an attempt by gays to hijack the platform process. Its odds of success seem vanishingly small.

Log Cabin Republicans President Gregory Angelo says he’s “mad as hell” about the new platform, but in the same email he tries to distance the document from Donald Trump, who Angelo praised last December as “one of the best, if not the best, pro-gay Republican candidates to ever run for the presidency.”

Not long after that, as journalist Michelangelo Signorile noted, Trump accepted the endorsement of Jerry Falwell Jr. and promised to put right-wing justices on the Supreme Court. In January he promised to make Christianity (read right-wing Christianity) more powerful. More recently, Trump reiterated his promises in a closed-door meeting with hundreds of conservative Christian leaders, where he told them, “I’m on your side.”

Trump may be willing to let Caitlin Jenner use the bathroom of her choice at his office building, but he was unwilling to lift a finger to keep the party from supporting states that pass laws preventing transgender people from using bathrooms that match their identity — or from declaring in many ways that the party remains officially opposed to legal equality for LGBT people.

The presumptive Republican nominee is all bluster and toughness when he is denouncing political correctness, but he turns meekly obliging when dealing with the Religious Right leaders he is counting on to turn out the vote.

 

 

Trump Invites Anti-Government Extremist Sheriff To Speak At GOP Convention

In the lead-up to and during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, we’ll be profiling some of the activists and politicians invited to speak at the event. Find more of our Meet the Speakers series here

The Republican National Convention released a partial list today of the politicians, activists, C-list celebrities and Donald Trump family members who will be speaking at next week’s convention. What the speakers’ list lacks in establishment GOP leaders it makes up for in fringe activists. One name especially stands out: Sheriff David Clarke, the Milwaukee law enforcement officer who has made a name for himself hurling anti-Obama vitriol on Fox News and elsewhere while quietly cozying up to anti-government extremist groups.

Clarke, who is African American, has built a conservative following by enthusiastically bashing President Obama, his Justice Department, Hillary Clinton and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Clarke has called the Black Lives Matter movement “black slime” that “needs to be eradicated from the American society and the American culture,” “garbage” and a “subversive movement” that seeks to overthrow the government, and said that the movement is driven by “an ideology of victimhood with a list of grievances that do not exist.” He has dismissed concerns about police brutality by saying that “black criminal abuse, black criminal brutality” is “the real brutality going on in the United States.” The real problem in “the American ghetto,” he has said, is “modern liberalism.”

Clarke said that Michael Brown, the black teenager shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri, was a “co-conspirator in his own demise” because he “chose thug life.” After Sandra Bland, a black woman who had been thrown to the ground during a traffic stop, died in police custody, Clarke went on Fox News to chastise her. He said that he would have used even more force against a group of black teenagers who were thrown to the ground by police outside a public swimming pool in Ohio, telling people who saw a racial component in the action to “shut up already.”

Clarke has been colorful in his condemnation of President Obama and Hillary Clinton for sympathizing with the Black Lives Matter movement, calling them “straight-up cop haters.” He called Obama a “heartless, soulless bastard” for speaking up about “goons” killed by police and said that the Obama administration’s attempts to address racial disparities in policing were a plot to “emasculate the police” in order to impose dictatorial control.” He accused the president of worsening racial divides in the country by pitting “whites against blacks” and “Hispanics against Americans.”

The sheriff is also happy to throw red meat to his conservative audience on a number of other topics. After the Supreme Court struck down state marriage equality bans, Clarke called for a “revolution” to “get this country back,” complete with “ pitchforks and torches ,” urging his audience to launch a standoff against the federal government the next time a bakery or the like is fined for refusing business to a same-sex couple.

When Trump caused a national uproar when he attacked a judge because of his Mexican-American heritage, Clarke took to his radio show to defend the candidate.

Clarke first became a conservative hero when, in 2013, he aired radio ads in his county urging citizens not to rely on calling 911 but instead to learn to protect themselves against crime. Speaking at the National Rifle Association’s convention last year, he proposed adding a semi-automatic rifle to the Great Seal of the United States. Appearing on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ radio program, Clarke warned that a renewal of the federal assault weapons ban would lead to gun confiscations that would spark “the second coming of the American Revolution, the likes of which would make the first revolution pale by comparison.”

While Clarke has no patience for African Americans who have deadly run-ins with the police, he has repeatedly associated himself with anti-government militia groups who have staged armed standoffs with federal government agents or who threaten to defy federal law. Earlier this year, when a group of armed activists took over a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon, Clarke backed their cause, saying that the country had reached a “pitchforks and torches moment” that couldn’t be solved by an election.

In 2013, after he aired his ads discouraging citizens from relying on 911, Clarke accepted the “ Constitutional Sheriff of the Year” award from the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, an anti-government group that promotes the idea that county sheriffs are the highest law enforcement officers in the country and thus have the power to defy federal laws that they believe are unconstitutional. In his acceptance speech , Clarke declared that “government” was the “common enemy” of the “patriots” in the room. In a radio interview that year, he said that “on an everyday basis, to me, federal government is a bigger threat” than terrorism.

Just this year, Clarke spoke at a fundraising event for the New York chapter of the Oath Keepers, an anti-government group aligned with the Constitutional Sheriffs that urges law enforcement officers and military personnel to defy laws they believe are unconstitutional and encourages its members to form militias ready to defy an out-of-control federal government. At that event, Clarke called Black Lives Matter a “hate group” and vowed to do “everything I can” to get Trump elected president.

Phil Robertson On Abortion, ISIS And His Dream Of Being Donald Trump's Spiritual Advisor

Religious Right activist and Colorado state lawmaker Gordon Klingenschmitt had a chance to interview Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson at the Western Conservative Summit held in Denver earlier this month. On a recent episode of his "Pray In Jesus Name" program, Klingenschmitt sat down with Robertson, who shared his wisdom on the tie between legal abortion and ISIS and revealed his fantasy that Donald Trump will turn to Christ with the help of his spiritual advisor, Phil Robertson.

Robertson kicked things off by warning that the world is descending into lawlessness, which can all be linked back to the legalization of abortion.

"We've killed 60 million of our own children," he said. "ISIS is saying to us, 'Well, if you didn't think your own children were worth anything, why do you think we're worried about what your life is worth? We don't think you're worth anything, that's why we're killing you. Just like you kill your children, that's why we kill you. We don't think you're worth anything.'"

"If we could have stood there and told them, 'No, to us life is precious,'" Robertson said, then things would be different, but sadly "we lost the moral high ground."

Later, Robertson said that he would be voting for Donald Trump in November only because he doesn't like Hillary Clinton and hopes that Trump will be better. 

Ideally, Robertson said, "we convert Mr. Trump" to Christianity so that all of his past scandals and indiscretions that will be brought up during the campaign will be rendered moot because he has been born again.

"If he but be born again, he could then tell them, 'That's the old me, I've been born again, this is the new Donald Trump,'" Robertson said, envisioning a cabinet meeting where he would be introduced to the world as President Trump's spiritual advisor.

"Now, that would send a shock wave through America," he said. "The left-wingers would be jumping out of buildings."

GOP’s Super-Far-Right Platform Completed But Drama Continues

During Monday and Tuesday’s Republican platform committee deliberations, an already right-wing draft was pushed even further to the right by activists on the platform committee. But now Religious Right activist David Barton and other delegates are complaining that they were duped by pro-LGBT activists into signing a minority report that could force a floor vote on replacing the entire platform with a much shorter statement of principles.

Through endless hours of amendments — some substantive and some petty wordsmithing — attempts by libertarian-leaning delegates to introduce more moderate language on LGBT equality, the drug war and other issues were routinely voted down, even an amendment that would have acknowledged the LGBT victims of ISIS terror.

Throughout the grueling process, a few delegates repeatedly complained that the platform should be seen as a vehicle for marketing Republican Party principles, and should not be something so long and so deep in the weeds on policy disputes that nobody will bother reading it. One of those voices was Utah’s Boyd Matheson, who had proposed an alternative approach that would simply lay out a set of principles, based on the platform on which Abraham Lincoln ran for the presidency in 1860.

That could have saved everyone a lot of time, but the committee didn’t go for it. The committee wrapped up its deliberations on Tuesday evening, voting to approve the amended draft, which will get final up-or-down approval by the committee on Monday before going to the convention as a whole for approval.

But that’s not the end of the story, because 37 delegates signed a “minority report,” which The Dallas Morning News’ Lauren McGaughy describes as “a sort of petition by those who couldn't muster a majority for their proposals.”

“In this case,” McGaughy writes, “it supports doing away with the whole platform and replacing it with something shorter and simpler.” Among those who signed the petition were Matheson and Barton, the Religious Right activist who played an active role in shaping this year’s platform as well as the 2012 version.

Now, however, Matheson and Barton are among those claiming that they were “duped by a group of pro-gay rights delegates” into signing something that could be a source of division on the floor of the convention:

Boyd Matheson of Utah wrote the language in the minority report, but he said he did not support doing away with the whole platform and replacing it with his mission statement. In fact, he withdrew support of his own proposal Tuesday afternoon amid the fight.

"A minority report is a divisive issue that some people are trying to use to air their issues on the floor for the convention," Matheson said late Tuesday.

David Barton, a Texas delegate who helped him edit the language, went a step further, saying "someone hijacked the process."

He added: "It looks to us like they created a controversy." 

Matheson and Barton allege that a group of LGBT-friendly Republicans who had tried -- unsuccessfully -- to include some positive mention of the gay community in the party's platform was behind the scheme. 

The two said they would send an email to the other 35 delegates who also signed the report on Wednesday morning saying just this. Texas' other platform committee delegate, Diana Denman, also signed the minority report, and expressed her interest in removing her name.

Other delegates suggest that Barton and Matheson knew exactly what they were signing but “got cold feet afterward when they feared being associated with a gay rights push.”

Family Research Council Action, whose leader Tony Perkins was another active member of the platform committee, pushed out an alert yesterday warning that LGBT activists were attempting to “hijack” the platform.

Perkins and the Family Research Council are delighted with the far-right platform, saying the GOP’s support for “traditional family values” is “stronger than ever.”

In another message to FRC supporters yesterday, Perkins celebrated the Religious Right’s platform victories:

I am very happy to say that the final platform document overwhelmingly approved by the delegates may be the strongest statement of conservative principles by a GOP platform to date. As Gayle Rozika, a Utah delegate for whom this was the 6th platform, told me this is the most conservative platform in her experience. Her efforts, along with those of delegates like Carolyn McLarty (Okla.), Len Munsil (Ariz.), David Barton (Texas), Jim and Judy Carns (Ala.), Kris Kobach (Kan.), Sandy McDade (La.) and a host of other conservative leaders were effective in ensuring the GOP platform provides a clear and compelling understanding of the core conservative principles that those associated with the Republican party prioritize and pursue.

Our coalition of delegates -- including FRC Action and other groups like the March for Life Action, Eagle Forum, and Concerned Women for America -- proved invaluable. The platform is an important document, showing the Party of Lincoln continues to respect freedom, and the rule of law, the idea that all humans deserve respect, not because of some category, but because we have inherent dignity and are made in the image of our Creator. The platform is a useful document -- a standard for the party in local, state, and federal elections, use in town halls, and it provides standards to which we should hold our elected officials. Platform Chairman Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), led by co-chairs Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-Va.) and Governor Mary Falin (R-Okla.) all did an excellent job allowing delegates to offer amendments and debate the issues with sincerity and respect. They deserve much respect for their efforts.

 

The Racial Blindness of Donald Trump

Black America, Donald Trump feels your pain. He might be “really rich,” own “the best properties,” and “have the best words,” but he has felt the sting of oppression.

Appearing on the Fox News Channel Tuesday evening, Trump had this exchange with host Bill O’Reilly:

O’REILLY: There [are] still some black Americans who believe that the system is biased against them. The American system because they’re black, they don’t get the same kind of shot, they don’t get the same kind of fairness that whites do. What do you say to them?

TRUMP: Well, I have been saying even against me the system is rigged when I ran as a, you know, for president, I mean, I could see what was going on with the system and the system is rigged.

Yes, Trump understands bigotry because other Republican candidates were mean to him in 2016. There is no need to explain why this comment is ridiculous.

But it also is incredibly revealing. Trump’s comparison of his treatment during the Republican primary to the racism faced by African Americans is not simply evidence of his own narcissism, it is part of a deep-seated blindness he has expressed for decades. This blindness isn’t just ignorance; it’s part of Trump’s long-running strategy of promoting bigotry through resentment.

In a 1989 interview for an NBC News special on race, Trump claimed that he, the privileged son of a millionaire New York real estate developer, would have had more advantages if he were black:

A well-educated black has a tremendous advantage over a well-educated white in terms of the job market. I think sometimes a black may think they don’t have an advantage or this and that. . . . I’ve said on one occasion, even about myself, if I were starting off today, I would love to be a well-educated black, because I believe they do have an actual advantage.

Trump’s 2016 message is based on these same resentments. His now ubiquitous “Make America Great Again” slogan is a message to his core voters that he wants to return our country to a time of even greater privilege for white Americans. His constant bashing of “political correctness” is a not-so-coded wish return to an age where racial epithets, sexism, anti-Semitism and homophobia were all acceptable. This argument is also on display when Trump makes the claim that undocumented immigrants are treated better than veterans.

This appeal to resentment is what has drawn neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other assorted racists to Trump’s campaign. For decades, it has also been part of the rhetoric of prominent conservatives such as Pat Buchanan, who has written about “The End of White America.”

Trump’s supporters will continue to echo the words of his son-in-law Jared Kushner, claiming that the presumptive GOP nominee displays no racial animus in his personal life. However, at this point, if Trump came to Washington, D.C., and burned a cross on the front lawn of the White House, his sycophants would probably say it was a “T,” and part of a branding effort for his new luxury hotel.

Yet Trump's most recent statements again reveal a racial blindness that is, in and of itself, racist.

Right Wing Round-Up - 7/13/16

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 7/13/16

  • Do you want to "reap the eternal rewards of making a difference for God's kingdom"? Well, Liberty Counsel is hiring.
  • Pamela Geller is suing Facebook.
  • David and Jason Benham know the cause of last week's violence in Dallas: "You look in the 1960s, we removed prayer from school, Bible readings from school, the Ten Commandments were taken off of the wall. And then in response to that, 1973, abortion ... Because of the bloodshed in the womb, now we are starting to see it in the streets. I'm telling you, it is because we as a nation have left God."
  • Richard Land says that "it is well past time for some national political figure, preferably President Obama, if he has it in him, to seize a 'Sister Souljah' moment and denounce the anti-police, inflammatory, violence-inducing rhetoric of the Black Lives Matter movement."
  • Finally, the Eagle Forum is outraged by Ruth Bader Ginsburg's opposition to Donald Trump: "She fears him because he is the most formidable foe the Left has seen since Ronald Reagan."

NOM Spokesman: LGBT Advocates Promoting 'Social Experimentation Upon Our Children'

National Organization for Marriage spokesman Joe Grabowski urged the Republican Party maintain the opposition to LGBT rights in its platform yesterday, saying in a radio interview that LGBT advocates are promoting “social experimentation upon our children” that will result in greater costs to the state and arguing that “it’s just responsible to the laws of nature” for the GOP to continue to oppose LGBT rights.

Grabowski said on the Christian radio program “Issues, Etc.”:

Marriage as the building block of society, stable families, loving mother and father; all of these things have been shown to be the best environment to raise children so that they don’t become costs to the state, so that the state programs don’t have to step in and take care of the fallout when children come from broken homes, broken marriages, and from social experimentation upon our children, which is really what a lot of policies advocated by LGBT activists essentially are. So, it’s fiscally responsible, it’s constitutionally responsible and it’s just responsible to the laws of nature to continue to be the party of these family values.

NOM ended up getting its wish; yesterday morning the GOP’s platform committee shot down attempts to moderate its opposition to LGBT rights and added language calling for the reversal of the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision.

Possible Trump VP Pick Mike Pence Spearheaded Attacks On Planned Parenthood

Before becoming governor of Indiana, Mike Pence was one of the most conservative members of Congress, and arguably one of the most important players in the GOP’s attempt to defund Planned Parenthood.

Pence, who appeared at a Donald Trump rally yesterday, has reportedly risen to the top of the presumptive GOP nominee’s list of potential vice presidential candidates. If Trump asks Pence to be his running mate, he would be elevating one of the darlings of the anti-abortion movement, which has generally been mistrustful of Trump since he has made several contradictory statements on abortion rights and once praised Planned Parenthood for doing “very good work,” even while vowing to defund the women’s health organization unless they stop providing abortion services.

Back in 2011, Pence seized on discredited video excerpts released by the radical anti-abortion group Live Action that purported to show Planned Parenthood aiding sex trafficking. Pence’s amendment to strip federal funds from the group helped to create a standoff between the House and President Obama that nearly led to a government shutdown.

Pence appeared at a Tea Party rally outside of the Capitol, where he said that if Obama and Senate Democrats didn’t agree to a House proposal to “cut spending to pre-Stimulus, pre-bailout levels, defunding Obamacare and ending all public funding for Planned Parenthood of America,” “then I say, 'Shut it down.'”

Besides citing the doctored videos released by Live Action, Pence bizarrely suggested that Planned Parenthood must be defunded because of the country’s high unemployment rate.

When Pence’s home state of Indiana decided to defund Planned Parenthood, clinic closures left counties without HIV testing facilities, exacerbating the state’s HIV outbreak. Pence himself signed into law an anti-abortion bill that led to a grassroots effort in which women flooded his office with detailed accounts of their periods. The law required that miscarried and aborted embryos and fetuses of “any gestational age” be “interred or cremated”; critics noted that fertilized eggs are sometimes expelled in a woman’s period without her even knowing it.

By picking Pence, Trump would give one of Planned Parenthood’s loudest critics an even bigger megaphone to launch more attacks on the health organization.

Senate Confirms Librarian Of Congress Over Absurd Conservative Opposition

The Senate today confirmed Carla D. Hayden to be the librarian of Congress after a campaign of obstruction that’s unusual for such a nonpolitical post. Hayden seemed to run up against a combination of Senate gridlock and a campaign by an influential conservative activist who claimed that the fact that she would be the first African American and the first woman to hold the position was a concession to “political correctness.”

Last week, Zach Graves of the libertarian-leaning R Street Institute summarized the campaign that Heritage Foundation fellow Hans von Spakovsky launched against Hayden. Dismissing Hayden’s accomplishments, von Spakovsky declared that the head of the Library of Congress must be a “man of letters”:

To start off, von Spakovsky suggests Obama chose Hayden because she’s a black woman and “his administration has an unofficial quota system.” A remarkable sentiment, considering Hayden’s qualifications as a librarian: She has a doctorate in library science from the University of Chicago; taught at the University of Pittsburgh; served as CEO of the City of Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Free Library, one of the oldest public library systems in the nation; served as president of the American Library Association; and was named National Librarian of the Year.

Despite her accomplishments, and a favorable Senate confirmation hearing, von Spakovsky insists Hayden is “unqualified.” She may be a fine librarian, he argues, but she’s “neither a scholar nor a historian” and the Library of Congress is an institution that must be run by a “man of letters” …

Von Spakovsky repeatedly suggested that Hayden had been picked for the job just because of her race and would be unable to be a keeper of “American cultural greatness,” writing, “The Librarians of Congress have been keepers of American memory, and public advocates for American cultural greatness. This is not a sinecure — like the post of United States treasurer — to be doled out to members of a politically favored demographic.” He warned that Hayden’s confirmation would make the Library of Congress a “monument to political correctness.”

The Senate Rules Committee approved Hayden’s nomination in April, but an anonymous senator placed a hold on the nomination, preventing it from coming to a vote. Astonishingly, even when Hayden’s nomination did come up for a vote today, 18 senators voted against her. Unless those senators explain their votes, it will be impossible to tell if they were swayed by von Spakovsky’s offensive arguments or were merely participating in the Senate GOP’s blanket obstruction of executive branch and judicial nominees.

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