As the product of a 50’s Catholic education, Bill O’Reilly was taught (as was your humble correspondent) that “dirty” thoughts were a one-way ticket to Satansville and that sex was strictly for reproduction. But somehow Bill strayed off the straight and narrow and onto the road to perdition. According to a sexual harassment suit, filed by his former producer, not only did Bill have dirty thoughts about her; but he was so into sex toys that he urged her to get a vibrator and name it! But kink (not that there’s anything wrong with it) is mainstream - so much so that Lila Rose’s “Live Action” (LOL) sting video crew is using it as a pretext to sting Planned Parenthood in an effort to bring about its defunding. Not surprisingly, anti-choice zealot Bill O’Reilly lovesthesweetandvirginal Lila who, last night, discussed nasty kink stuff being told to clean teens. O’Reilly was all ears?
Lila Rose, a protege of James O’Keefe, hasn’t gotten any traction on her plethora of attempted stings of Planned Parenthood which is now onto Rose’s modus operandi, one of which involved an actress posing as a 15 year old girl, with a non-existent older boyfriend, who was seeking an abortion. The subsequent video attempted to prove that Planned Parenthood was ignoring cases of sex trafficking, child abuse, or parental notification laws. Despite her best efforts, Planned Parenthood still hasn’t been brought up on either state or federal criminal charges as a result of Lila’s carefully edited, not so shocking exposés.
So now, Lila is off in another direction - one that, due to its prurient subtext, has gotten attention from the sexually skewed right wing and its media mouthpiece Fox News. Her latest tactic is to have that “15 year old” go to a Planned Parenthood and engage the counselor in talk about alternative sexual practices. Last week, she appeared on Hannity to discuss, OMG, her video which purported to show the Colorado Planned Parenthood worker encouraging the teen to engage in “sadistic” practices. Hannity was chagrined and appalled. Last night, she made yet another appearance on The Factor where she and Bill discussed her latest kink based sting at an Oregon Planned Parenthood.
O’Reilly began by citing how Planned Parenthood gets tax money. He described how Live Action “staged an undercover sting operation…and the results are shocking.” O’Reilly was visibly agitated as he described how the video shows a discussion of "controversial sex practices." He issued a “strong viewer warning” because “what we are about to show you is ultra disturbing.” (Don’t want gramps to go into cardiac arrest!)
He showed video of the “15 year old” asking about role play. The counselor merely responded to the “girl’s” questions with accurate information. Included in the talk was the importance of communication and setting limits. While the counselor mentioned “pornos,” she added that the girl was under age. Nothing to see here move along - but that’s because Bill “didn’t run the explicit stuff about bondage and sadomasochistic stuff that the woman there” told the alleged patient.
Lovely Lila talked about how she has lots more videos “showing Planned Parenthood and their very destructive, dangerous sex counseling of who they think are underage girls." (Thank you Fox for showing the counselor who is probably getting "pro-life" death threats as we speak!) Father Bill opined that the conversation "was totally inappropriate." Bill prompted her to talk about how Planned Parenthood is encouraging underage girls to "access" sex shops and how the clinics are promoting "sadomasochism, bondage and discipline, destructive sexual practices, porn sites." She brayed about statutory rape and how Planned Parenthood has been investigated for years (with NO results) because they "don’t take child/adult relationship seriously" and "don’t report sexual abuse.” (they do.)
Both O’Reilly and Rose cited federal and “Obamacare” money going to Planned Parenthood” under, according to Bill, "the guise of education and this is the kind of education they’re giving 15 year old girls." Lila brayed about the taxpayer money going to "killing children in the womb" and worked in one more "destructive sexual practices” reference. She urged parents to urge schools “to kick Planned Parenthood out.” Bill: “Absolutely.”
So, uh, if a girl has questions about sexual practices, she should be told to STFU and go see her parish priest about her sinful thoughts? Seriously, if a kid is old enough to ask these questions, shouldn’t they get respectful and factually accurate information? Lord knows that Bill O’Reilly’s viewers don’t!
WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) on Tuesday introduced the Social Security and Medicare Parity Act in the U.S. House, a bill to close loopholes in the Social Security Act and guarantee that all married couples, including same-sex couples, receive the Social Security and Medicare spouse and survivor benefits that they have earned.
WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) on Tuesday introduced the Social Security and Medicare Parity Act in the U.S. House, a bill to close loopholes in the Social Security Act and guarantee that all married couples, including same-sex couples, receive the Social Security and Medicare spouse and survivor benefits that they have earned.
The review concluded that, despite Section 3 of DOMA being ruled unconstitutional, several provisions of the Social Security Act prohibit the federal government from paying same-sex married couples their earned Social Security and Medicare benefits if the state does not recognize same-sex marriage.
The Social Security Act also requires couples to be married for nine months before they can qualify for Social Security benefits, or twelve months for a retired spouse to receive benefits.
Takano’s bill would close these loopholes by:
Repealing discriminatory provisions and allow the Social Security Administration to award benefits to any marriage that is valid.
Allowing same-sex married couples whose marriage was prohibited by state law to use a combination of marriage time and time in domestic partnership to qualify for benefits.
Requiring the Social Security Administration to conduct a comprehensive outreach campaign to encourage same-sex couples to apply for the benefits they may be owed.
“One year has passed since the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act,” said Takano, one of only eight openly LGBT members of the U.S. Congress. “However, the Department of Justice’s interpretation of existing law means that some same-sex couples who live in discriminatory states could be denied Social Security or Medicare benefits.”
“The Social Security and Medicare Parity Act of 2014 closes that loophole and guarantees that all married couples, regardless of their sexual orientation, receive the Social Security and Medicare spouse and survivor benefits they have earned,” he said.
UPDATE: Here’s the Tumblr for Rep. Mark Takano, who follows me on Tumblr: repmarktakano
The group, while terrible, hasn’t ordered this particular form of mutilation in the cities they’ve captured.
NOTE: The previous post mentioning this will be taken down.
Given the brutality seen so far from the militant group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), it’s easy to believe any act attributed to them must be true. But a United Nations officials’ statement on the group ordering female genital mutilation in one Iraqi city under their control seems to be less than accurate.
The story began on Thursday when the U.N.’s second senior most official, Jacqueline Badcock, told reporters of a new religious edict issued in ISIS’ name. The edict — or fatwa — ordered all girls and women in the city of Mosul between the ages of 11 and 46 to undergo female genital mutilation, Badcock told reporters in a teleconference from Iraq. “This is something very new for Iraq, particularly in this area, and is of grave concern and does need to be addressed,” Badcock, who serves as the U.N. humanitarian aid coordinator in Iraq, said.
“This is not the will of Iraqi people, or the women of Iraq in these vulnerable areas covered by the terrorists,” she added. The result of such an order, she said, could be up to four million Iraqi girls and women in and around Iraq’s second largest city being forced to undergo the painful procedure. Aside from the initial suffering, the process often leads to a multitude of health problems “including severe bleeding, problems urinating, infections, infertility and increased risk of newborn deaths in childbirth.”
The story quickly began to go viral, racking up hundreds of shares on social media. Soon thereafter, however, journalists with contacts in Iraq began reporting that the story didn’t hold up. “My contacts in #Mosul have NOT heard that ‘Islamic State’ ordered FGM for all females in their city,” Jenan Moussa, a reporter with Al Anan TV tweet out. “Iraqi contacts say #Mosul story is fake,” echoed freelance writer Shaista Aziz, adding: “Iraqi contact on #FGM story: “ISIS are responsible for many horrors, this story is fake and plays to western audience emotions.’”
NPR’s Cairo bureau chief also claimed that the story was false, tweeting “#UN statement that #ISIS issued fatwa calling 4 FGM 4 girls is false residents of Mosul say including a doctor, journalist and tribal leader.” Not long after a version of a document in Arabic, bearing the black logo that ISIS has adopted, began circulating on Twitter. The document, those who shared it said, is a hoax and the basis for the United Nations’ claim.
As one analyst who looked at the document told the Independent, the issuing of such an edict would be a huge shift for ISIS, which has held territory in Syria for months without demanding that FGM take place. The practice tends to be based more on culture, Shiraz Maher, a Senior Fellow at King’s College London, said and “not something jihadists have ever really taken up” or “spoken about.” ThinkProgress reached out to the United Nations for comment on the discrepancy, but did not receive a response as of press time.
The traction that this story seemed to quickly gain is easy to understand given ISIS’ previous actions in the territory it controls. Along with reports of civilian executions, massacring Shiites, and enforcing a strict adherence to their interpretation of Islamic law, ISIS has even resurrected the practice of crucifixion in Syria. But for now it appears that female cutting is one atrocity that ISIS has yet to order.
We have watched conservatives claim again and again that they are the victims of liberal persecution, which allows them to then embark on the almost routine practice of filing a lawsuit with the help of a Religious Right legal group or making an appeal to the media, then appearing on right-wing talk radio shows and Fox News and then, if they are really good at describing their purported persecution, landing a book deal to allow them to repeat the process anew.
Fox News commentator Todd Starnes – who frequently describes the plight of persecuted Americana Christians, even when he is completely making it up or pushing a totally untrue story – has predictably picked up Eschliman’s tale and turned it into a column describing the tragic saga of this good, decent Christian man losing his Constitutional rights.
Bob Eschliman is a Christian. He’s also a veteran news editor. And when he decided to write a column on his personal blog objecting to a gay-friendly version of the Bible, Bob was unceremoniously marched out of the Newton Daily News and shoved out the front door.
After a brief investigation, the Iowa newspaper fired Bob and then publicly castigated him in an editorial. They accused him of compromising the reputation of the newspaper. They said what he wrote resulted in the loss of public trust.
“If you ask me, it sounds like the Gaystapo is well on its way,” Bob wrote. “We must fight back against the enemy.”
Wednesday, Bob filed formal charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Shaw Media and the Newton Daily News. Attorneys from Liberty Institute allege the newspaper and its parent company are guilty of religious discrimination and retaliation.
And based on my conversations with Liberty Institute attorneys – they’re going to go after the newspaper like a pit bull going after a pork chop.
“No one should be fired for simply expressing their religious beliefs,” Liberty Institute attorney Jeremy Dys told me. “That’s exactly what happened to Bob. This kind of religious intolerance has no place in today’s welcoming work force. In America, it is against the law to fire an employee for simply expressing a religious belief that his or her employer may not share.”
Dys said Bob was fired for trying to “explain his belief in Holy Scripture along with the definition of marriage.”
So are Shaw Media and the Newton Daily News anti-Christian? Do they employ executives who are religious bigots? Should journalists who endorse traditional marriage simply not apply for jobs?
And then there was the matter of the content. At first glance, it appears Bob was referring to the LGBT community as “the enemy.”
But it turns out – that’s not the case at all. He said he was referring to Satan – not homosexuals.
So for what it’s worth – Shaw Media decided that Bob, a faithful husband and father, a devout and outspoken Christian man, an award-winning journalist – did not represent the values of their company.
Maybe Shaw Media ought to reconsider its values.
It’s a shame a company that exists, thanks to freedom of press, wants to take away a man’s freedom of speech.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office is asking for an immediate stay after a judge struck down the right-to-work statue in a ruling made on July 17 that has just come to light on Wednesday.
Lake County Circuit Court Special Judge George Paras ruled in the lawsuit United Steel v. Zoeller and found unconstitutional the right-to-work law, which prohibits charging union dues to workers who are not members of the union at that employer.
Judge Paras did not stay his ruling and ordered that it take effect immediately upon its entry into the chronological case summary.
Zoeller’s office seeks an immediate stay of the ruling so the statute can remain in effect and the status quo can remain in place while the ruling is appealed.
“Strong opinions exist on both sides about involuntary union dues, but the Attorney General’s Office has a duty to defend the laws the Legislature passes from legal challenges plaintiffs file. If a trial court finds a law unconstitutional, then the appropriate action is to stay its ruling pending the appeal,” Zoeller said.
Seeing that Akin has been trotting out the usual right-wing talking points about persecution from the media and the left, we thought Deace was being ironic when he said during the interview: “We’re conservatives here, so we’re not into victimology.”
“Right,” Akin replied … before blaming his notorious remark about “legitimate rape” and women’s bodies on “gotcha questions” and a left-wing media plot to “victimize any Republican they could.”
Akin, still insisting that he is not into victimology, went on to allege that the politicians who called on him to drop out of the race “basically threatened me” and painted himself as the victim of a media “assassination.”
“The media wants to roll another Republican and do this assassination thing, but when is someone just going to stand up to these jerks and tell them what they are and say they are manipulating the news for their own agenda,” he said.
The interview also veered into the realm of absurdity when Akin insisted that he is actually a very “electable” candidate because he consistently won re-election to the U.S. House and described Republicans as “stupid” for thinking that right-wing candidates can’t win elections.
“That was the only race I’ve ever lost,” he said of his landslide defeat in 2012.
Akin did in fact win successfully win re-election in his congressional district. Of course, the Missouri congressional district he represented is not exactly a swing district representative of the rest of the country, as it is heavily Republican and 90.5 percent white.
Paul Ryan is once again attempting to stoke his carefully cultivated Republican Who Cares About Poverty image. Naturally, he’s doing so with a proposal that would hurt poor people. Ryan wants to consolidate as many as 11 anti-poverty programs into one block of funding that states could do with as they wished, provided they instituted work requirements, limited the duration of benefits, and provided what Ryan refers to as accountability. Ryan insists that this isn’t about cutting benefits but about using them differently, but here’s a clue to what he’s envisioning: elderly and disabled people, as “two especially vulnerable groups” which “need specific kinds of care,” would get a host of special protections. In other words, the people Ryan classifies as deserving poor would be protected from what he plans to do do all the other poor people.
As for the non-deserving (in Ryan’s eyes) poor?
In the envisioned scenario providers would work with families to design a customized life plan to provide a structured roadmap out of poverty. When crafting a life plan, they would include, at a minimum:
• A contract outlining specific and measurable benchmarks for success • A timeline for meeting these benchmarks • Sanctions for breaking the terms of the contract • Incentives for exceeding the terms of the contract • Time limits for remaining on cash assistance
And screw you if there are no jobs available or if the jobs available leave you in poverty because Republicans like Paul Ryan refuse to raise the minimum wage. You’re still getting punished for not magicking yourself out of poverty according to the terms of the contract you were forced to sign in order to get enough to eat. And while Ryan insists that he’s not cutting aid overall, he is building a massive amount of bureaucracy into his requirements. More money might go to things like figuring out whether people should be punished for remaining poor, cutting into the amount available to actually help them. That’s not even getting into the privatization aspects of Ryan’s plan, either, but he would require that states use private service providers, including “approved non-profits, for-profits or even community groups unique to [the recipient’s] neighborhood.”
It’s a recipe for a fragmented, punitive system with much of the responsibility for shaping programs turned over to state governments—to governors like Texas’ Rick Perry and Florida’s Rick Scott, to the same politicians who refused to expand Medicaid. In other words, it’s just what you’d expect of Paul Ryan: the ultimate heartless Republican attempt to slash the safety net into ribbons, cloaked in the guise of concerned condescension.
He took to BarbWire today to denounce the disclosure of documents verifying claims of state-sponsored violence, warning that the move will only transform Brazil into a socialist, pro-gay nation.
Severo writes that that the military regime saved the country from becoming “a communist hell,” but “the Brazil Truth Commission, now helped by the U.S. government, will perpetuate the lie that communists wanted just to bring ‘democracy’ — which means now, for the current socialist White House, to impose the gay agenda around the world, and which means, for the current socialist government in Brazil, to mimic it.”
He also warns that the U.S. is committed to push gay rights in Brazil in order to silence televangelists like Pat Robertson: “The biggest socialist threat today is the imposition of abortion and the gay agenda.”
The Brazilian Armed Forces, which during that time received U.S. assistance against the communist threat, have been under increasing attack from the ruling Left. However, whereas their counterparts in other Latin American nations have been condemned and jailed, they have barely been able to survive the massive government and media onslaught from the Left. Now, with the official assistance of the U.S. government, they will be condemned for saving Brazil from Soviet, Cuban or Chinese “democracy.”
The Brazilian Armed Forces were not perfect, and definitely, they were not representative of a genuine democracy. But without them, Brazil would be today a communist hell, a gigantic Cuba. It is not so because of them and American assistance.
Kissinger was right: It is fatal to be a friend of the United States — this is, of the U.S. government. Now the U.S. government is helping the Brazil Truth Commission to condemn the Brazilian military men who, despite their imperfections, kept the communist threat out and Billy Graham, Rex Humbard and Pat Robertson in Brazil.
I could add that it is equally fatal to be a friend of the World Council of Churches (WCC), which has worked for many years to defend Brazilian communists and is helping the Truth Commission too. The WCC behavior, in its socialist passions, is a betrayal against Christian brothers and against the Gospel.
The Brazil Truth Commission, now helped by the U.S. government, will perpetuate the lie that communists wanted just to bring “democracy” — which means now, for the current socialist White House, to impose the gay agenda around the world, and which means, for the current socialist government in Brazil, to mimic it.
If the Truth Commission were really about truth, it would confirm that there was a communist threat. It would also confirm that during the military rule in Brazil, different from communist tyrannies, there was total freedom for the greatest Truth: the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The biggest socialist threat today is the imposition of abortion and the gay agenda. As ever, the preaching of the true Gospel is the biggest hindrance to this threat.
The late night programming on the Cartoon Network, known as Adult Swim, plans to air the non-animated show “Black Jesus” portraying Jesus as a “black guy living in the hood.” The show depicts him living in Compton Gardens and makes a mockery of our Lord. The foul language used in the trailer, including using the Lord’s name in vain, is disgusting. In addition, there is violence, gunfire and other inappropriate gestures which completely misrepresent Jesus. This is blasphemy!
1MM will defend our Savior because He is Holy! Adult Swim is obviously not a family network, and this program is set to air later in the evening when children should be asleep, but that is no excuse. Adult Swim has crossed the line by belittling the Christian religion with foul jokes.
We need to send a loud and clear message to Adult Swim, its owner Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. (a Time Warner Company), and all potential advertisers of “Black Jesus” that this kind of programming is insulting and completely unacceptable. Adult Swim is not ridiculing any other religion currently and wouldn’t dream of mocking Mohammed or Muslims.
If we speak with one voice now, we can keep this program from ever seeing the light of day. Christians must take a stand and not be silent. Networks like Adult Swim continue to mock Christianity, and we will not stand for it. Christians should no longer sit idly by and allow this blasphemy to continue without speaking up in protest. “Black Jesus” is anoher attempt to distort the truth about Christianity. There is power in numbers! Forward this to everyone you know in a fight to keep this show off the air.
Today, the larger AFA took up One Million Moms’ plea, sending an email to its members with the subject line, “Cartoon Network to air blasphemy.” It contains a link where members can send an email to TBS and Cartoon Network executives reading:
Dear President Levy and President Miller:
I am disappointed that TBS’ Cartoon Network and Adult Swim plans to air “Black Jesus.”
We are told in Hebrews that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Obviously, “Black Jesus’ makes a mockery of the Christian faith. It would be beneficial to all if TBS and Adult Swim showed a little more respect for Christians who believe the Bible.
I am joining others in asking you to cancel plans to air this show.
I know that American Family Association will keep us posted on which companies underwrite this program with advertising. I am prepared to contact them personally and urge them to pull all commercial support from the Cartoon Network.
“I think it would be a catastrophe,” Fonda told The Wrap on Wednesday. "If that happens I’m going to be so angry at the FCC. They cannot let that happen…his news outlets do things that are unconscionable. And it just cannot happen that he becomes that much of a dominant force in American media.”
Tell us what you really think, Jane! (Can we call you Jane? It feels weird. Ms. Fonda, maybe?)
Ironically, the acting legend plays a rather Murdoch-esque media tycoon on “The Newsroom,” though she’d probably put her character closer to her former husband Ted Turner. Leona Lansing would probably cherish the thought of scooping up a huge slice of the corporate pie like Time Warner. Whether she’d pay upwards of $80 billion, as Murdoch is prepared to do, is another matter.
Australia last week became “the world’s first developed nation to repeal carbon laws that put a price on greenhouse-gas emissions.” The country’s carbon tax, which has been a passionate political topic there for more almost a decade, was finally instituted in 2012. But after a new conservative prime minister, Tony Abbott, was elected in September 2013, the carbon tax was aggressively targeted and then successfully repealed by Australia’s Senate on July 17.
The retreat represents a win for climate deniers in Australia who dismiss the looming dangers of climate change and the science behind it. (It’s “absolute crap,” claimed Abbott, echoing Tea Party-type rhetoric in the United States.) It’s a win for energy and mining interests who claimed the Australian tax was too burdensome
The retreat also signals a victory for Rupert Murdoch, the Australian native whose media empire, News Corp., did everything in its power to elect Abbott last fall and to attack the tax. Days before the repeal vote, Murdoch spoke out again against climate change science, telling an Australian interviewer it should be treated with great skepticism. Murdoch’s dismissal stands in stark contrast to his 2007 proclamation that “climate change poses clear, catastrophic threats.”
Murdoch’s anti-climate change crusade in Australia certainly mirrors his company’s commitment to misinformation in America, and highlights the dangers of having news media moguls who are dedicated to propaganda efforts regarding pressing public policy issues. (Murdoch is currently eyeing a bid to buy media giant Time Warner.) Indeed, Murdoch’s media properties in Australia have been shown repeatedly to be wildly unfair and unbalanced when it comes to the topic of climate change.
Australia’s carbon emissions repeal represents a dramatic U-turn for a country that just a few years ago was seen as a leader on the global issue under the guidance of previous Labor Party prime minsters, Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd. “The Brookings Institution has previously described Australia as an “important laboratory and learning opportunity” for U.S. thinking about climate change and energy policy, as it was one of the first major countries outside Europe to adopt a carbon price,” The Wall Street Journal recently noted.
Australia is also one of the largest per capita greenhouse gas emitters in the world, largely because of its reliance on coal-burning power stations that generate most of the country’s electricity. The nation currently ranks 19th among the top 20 countries responsible for global temperature change that has already occurred, according to a study in Environmental Research Letters published earlier this year. (The United States ranks first.)
In the United States, political reporters often portray a carbon tax as lacking the political support to become a reality. But a new poll released this week indicates that a majority of Americans (60 percent) support an emissions tax if the revenue generated is used to fund renewable energy. Nonetheless, the shift in Australia is likely to make climate change action more difficult. “The same ideological and climate-denying foes in Congress who are blocking a path forward for Obama have secured a foothold in Australia,” Salon recently noted. “Abbott’s actions no doubt give credibility to the climate skepticism and stalling tactics of denialist Republicans.”
Indeed, Republicans have already cited the repeal as evidence that the U.S. should abandon the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon pollution standards.
Murdoch set his plan in motion to target the carbon tax four years ago. “After the 2010 election - which resulted in a minority Labor government - Murdoch summoned his Australian editors and senior journalists to his home in Carmel, California,” Australia’s The Conversation reported. “He made clear that he despised the Gillard government and wanted regime change.”
In an article headlined, “Rupert Murdoch’s Newspapers Declare War on Australia’s Prime Minister,” the Hollywood Reporter last year detailed how there was nothing subtle about Murdoch’s propaganda efforts to oust Rudd, who had succeeded Gillard:
Murdoch-owned papers, which control about 70 percent of the local market, have run covers featuring Rudd as a Nazi, as Col. Klink from Hogan’s Heroes and as Mr. Rude from the Mr. Menkids books. News Corp’s Daily Telegraph in Sydney has dropped all pretense of impartiality, publishing a picture of Rudd under the headline, “Let’s Kick This Mob Out!”
That wasn’t the only way Murdoch weaponized his hometown media for an information war. His national daily,The Australian has “promoted ‘misleading’ stories giving credence to climate denialist views, outnumbering those accepting climate science by 10-to-1, according to a report in the Quarterly Essay,” Salon noted.
That study’s author Robert Manne wrote, “In the real world, scientists accepting the climate consensus view outnumber denialists by more than 99 to one. In the Alice in Wonderland world of [editor-in-chief Chris] Mitchell’sAustralian, their contributions were outnumbered 10 to one.” The Australian Press Council agreed, slamming the paper for erroneous claims.
Additionally, media analysis conducted by the University of Technology in Sydney found that “negative articles about the proposed carbon emissions tax in Murdoch’s newspapers outweighed positive ones 82 percent to 18 percent,” NPR reported. Andrew Bolt, Australia’s top-read columnist, employed by Murdoch’s Herald Sun, has branded as “propagandists” newspapers that treat climate change as settled science.
And according to the Associated Press, this campaign may have been partially responsible for opinion polls that “indicated Australians were overestimating the impact of the carbon tax” on energy prices.
All of which led to Murdoch’s dismissive comments last week:
"Climate change has been going on as long as the planet is here. And there will always be a little bit of it. At the moment the north pole is melting but the south pole is getting bigger. Things are happening. How much of it are we doing, with emissions and so on? As far as Australia goes? Nothing in the overall picture."
The same day that Murdoch’s comments aired, Bloomberg News highlighted the fact ”scientists affiliated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration published a study that attributes southwestern Australia’s 40-year rainfall decline to human influence. Specifically, greenhouse gas pollution and ozone loss high in the atmosphere.”
It seems clear Australia follows Murdoch’s climate change retreat at its own peril.
Tony Perkins fancies himself to be a GOP presidential candidate kingmaker, so it will be interesting to see if any not entirely crazy Republicans will join the above careening clown car crowded with the cavalcade of crackpots who failed in 2012, some of whom (Paul, Perry, Santorum) are expected to make a 2016 run. Ted Cruz won last year’s Values Voters Summit presidential straw poll with 42% of the vote, the largest margin ever seen in that poll’s history and light years ahead of runners-up Frothy Mix and Ben Carson, who barely landed in the double digits.
Senator John Walsh of Montana took most of a 2007 final paper required for his master’s degree from the United States Army War College from other sources without proper attribution. Mr. Walsh copies an entire page nearly word-for-word from a Harvard paper, and each of his six conclusions is copied from a document from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace without attribution.
Bruce Rauner debuted his latest attack ad against Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn on Wednesday — a TV spot called “Headlines” that relies in part on independent news stories but features headlines the Republican’s campaign made up and doctored to make them sound more critical.
The 30-second spot takes myriad shots at Quinn on the issues of unemployment, education, tax increases, education and the Democratic governor’s troubled 2010 anti-violence grant program that’s under federal investigation.
The ad overlays what the Rauner campaign calls “headlines” over TV screens. Some of the headlines are correct, such as one from a Chicago Tribune online story saying “Quinn signs tax hike into law” when the governor signed a post-election income tax increase in 2011.
But in two other cases, the Rauner ad makes up headlines that did not appear with the source cited, and in at least three other cases, headlines were shortened to buttress the campaign’s attack on Quinn. Rauner campaign spokesman Mike Schrimpf defended the technique, saying in an e-mail that “due to time and space constraints, the phrases had to be condensed.”
In one case, the ad displays the words “Quinn education cuts lead to teacher layoffs and larger class sizes,” which the Rauner campaign attributes to an April 11 Associated Press report that appeared on the Washington Times web site.
But the actual headline was “Quinn, Rauner spar on education in 1st 2014 event” from a story about a joint appearance by the two candidates before the Illinois Education Association.
The quoted “headline” by the Rauner camp’s ad also does not appear as a phrase in the AP’s news article. Instead, the “headline” paraphrases a Rauner attack on Quinn from the event, not an independent statement of fact from the AP.
Another quoted “headline” says “Pat Quinn. Pay to Play,” citing a June 20 AP story. The actual headline in the source material provided by Rauner’s campaign was another Washington Times web headline: “Event honoring Quinn raises ‘pay to play’ issues.” It ran over a story about the fundraisers behind a Democratic Governors Association event honoring Quinn. Again, the phrase quoted in the ad did not appear in the story.
The ad also quoted a March 26 “headline” from Crain’s Chicago Business’ website: “Quinn doubles down on tax hike,” which was shortened from the actual headline, “Quinn doubles down on tax hike gamble.” It appeared above a column reflecting on the politics of the Democratic governor’s election-year call to make permanent the 2011 income tax increase.
Two other “headlines” cited in the ads were shortened from how each originally appeared in the Tribune and Sun-Times.
Politicians often use quotes and headlines from newspapers in their campaign ads to bring to their message an air of independent credibility. But David Yepsen, executive director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, said the Rauner campaign risks serious distraction from its message against Quinn.
“This strikes me as some sloppy work by his consultants or staff because he doesn’t need to do it. There are enough real headlines that make Quinn look bad that they don’t’ need to cook some up or alter some to make the ad work,” said Yepsen, a former national political columnist for the Des Moines Register.
“Most campaigns, when you do negative advertising, they vet the stuff pretty carefully anymore because you know somebody’s going to check to see,” he said. “If they’re wrong or distorted, then you’re on defense and that undermines the quality of your overall message.”
Rauner’s campaign stood by the ad and said “everything” in it is “accurate.”
It’s not the first time during the race that the veracity of the campaigns have been called into question.
Last month, the Quinn campaign released a made-up media advisory about Rauner’s whereabouts, and listing the first names of the GOP candidate’s communications staffers. Quinn’s camp called it “clearly a joke.”
The Illinois Republican Party, with the acquiescence of the Rauner campaign, followed with a phony release against Quinn that used a made-up quote from U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and listed Durbin’s governmental spokesperson as a contact.
In the 2006 race for governor, then-Republican primary candidate Jim Oberweis ran ads against rival Judy Baar Topinka, the current state comptroller, that featured made-up headlines from newspapers. Oberweis, a state senator from Sugar Grove, is currently running against Durbin for U.S. Senate.
Colorado is the latest state to have its ban on same-sex marriage overturned by a federal judge.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Raymond P. Moore, an Obama appointee, issued a ruling declaring that Colorado’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Moore stayed the decision, but only temporarily until Monday.
State Attorney General John Suthers (R), who has been defending Colorado’s ban, made a strange tactical decision in this particular case. Though he argued that he believes the ban is constitutional, he still asked Moore to overturn it and then stay that decision. This, Suthers seemed to hope, would force Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall to stop issuing licenses to same-sex couples.
Since last month, when the 10th Circuit agreed with a lower court that Utah’s same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, Hall has been issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. She has argued that the 10th Circuit’s stay in the Utah case only applies to Utah, but its ruling against marriage bans applies to the whole Circuit, which includes Colorado. Suthers has asked state courts to force Hall to stop, but his requests have been denied, including again Wednesday morning. As of Wednesday afternoon, the Boulder County Clerk’s office reports that it has issued a total of 181 marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Moore’s decision follows a ruling by a Colorado state judge earlier this month similarly overturning the state’s law. The two cases will proceed in their separate jurisdictions.
In his continued crusade against the Common Core education standards, Glenn Beck encouraged people across the country to boycott tests associated with Common Core, later declaring, “The day we’re all willing to peacefully go to jail like Martin Luther King, we will win.”
In a live broadcast to nearly 700 theaters nationwide, Beck and his fellow anti-Common Core “warriors” joined forces Tuesday night to “make Common Core history" (emphasis original) in a two-hour live movie titled We Will Not Conform. Those “warriors” included conservative commentator and notorious Common Core misinformer Michelle Malkin, hosts Dana Loesch and Pat Gray from Beck’s TheBlaze, “self-proclaimed historian” David Barton, Townhall columnist Terrence Moore, Jay Spencer of Liberty University (a sponsor of the event), and representatives from state-based groups waging war on Common Core.
The participants also included Matt Kibbe and Ellen Wheeler from FreedomWorks, a group which ”started out as the Koch-funded Citizens for a Sound Economy” and came under scrutiny last year “due to bizarre internal feuding and questions about its finances.” Former FreedomWorks chairman Dick Armey told Media Matters at the time that “the group wasted money by paying Glenn Beck $1 million … to fundraise for the organization.”
We Will Not Conform was structured around five “working groups,” each tasked with formulating strategies for the different types of tools viewers could use to help defeat Common Core in their states: research and resources, politics, messaging, grassroots organizing, and alternatives to public schools. Many of the right-wingmedia’sfavoritemyths about Common Core were featured in these working groups, including accusations of the standards as a “national program” and “takeover of education,” of being “top-down” and “control-usurping,” and wanting to “cash in on your children.”
Some of the most egregious rhetoric from the evening included:
Glenn Beck equating the fight against Common Core to "David versus Goliath," and saying that "The day we’re all willing to peacefully go to jail like Martin Luther King, we will win."
Michelle Malkin asserting that Common Core turns kids into experimental “guinea pigs,” and declaring,"We’re locked and loaded."
Terrence Moore claiming that "progressive education is trying to take away the great stories" of American education, which is not what “Thomas Jefferson” would have wanted.
The Blaze’s Buck Sexton interviewing six parents and their children about their experiences with Common Core, asking the children questions like, "How many of you think Common Core is confusing, for no reason?" and "Big thumbs down for Common Core, huh?"
These attacks come as a few states are pulling out of Common Core. Coincidentally, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory (R), “previously a Common Core supporter,” signed legislation ”designed to replace the controversial Common Core academic standards” the same night as Beck’s event. States’ moves to repeal the standards come on the heels of extreme right-wing rhetoric from the likes of Beck, Malkin, and others.
At the end of the night, Beck encouraged viewers to “stand up” and “stay the course” because “our children’s future is at stake” and they “will thank you for it.” He also announced that a post-event action plan to “stop Common Core’s federal takeover of education” would be made available online.
Fox News contributor Erick Erickson endorsed a congressional candidate’s assertion that “the homosexual movement” is “destroying America.”
On July 22, Georgia Republican Jody Hice won the Republican primary to succeed Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) in the state’s 10th congressional district. In the wake of Hice’s victory, BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kacynski highlighted 11 examples of Hice’s history of inflammatory commentary on LGBT issues.
Erickson, who has endorsed Hice, responded to Kaczynski’s post by tweeting that “most every conservatives [sic]” would agree with items “1, 5, 9, and maybe 10”:
The passages Erickson endorsed included Hice’s claim that “the homosexual movement is … destroying America by aggressively seeking to destroy traditional families, religion, and marriages for the purpose of removing all societal moral boundaries”:
The item Erickson thought most conservatives would “maybe” agree with concerned Hice’s suggestion that gay people can change their sexual orientation:
At Fox, Erickson stands out as one of the network’s most rabidly anti-LGBT commentators. He has previously written that gay people are on the “road to hell” and warned businesses that serve gay couples that they are “aiding and abetting” sin.
Moreover, Erickson is a prominentsupporter of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a right-wing legal group working internationally to help criminalize homosexuality.
"We are enslaving and entrapping potentially hundreds of thousands of individuals in a lifestyle that frankly they are not."
This is Jody Hice
Jody Hice Facebook
On Tuesday, Jody Hice, a pastor and talk radio host, secured a win in a Republican primary to replace Rep. Paul Broun, who is retiring after a failed bid for Senate in Georgia.
The win by Hice all but guarantees he will be the next congressman from Georgia’s 10th District, which overwhelming voted for Mitt Romney over Barack Obama in 2012.
Hice is popular with some of the grassroots Republican kingmakers, such as conservative Redstate contributor and Fox News co-founder Erick Erickson who tweeted Tuesday night, “JODY HICE WINS!!!! AWESOME.”
But Hice also represents a anti-gay viewpoint based on pseudo-science and outdated myths about gay Americans. The view is very present in his 2012 book, It’s Now or Never: A Call to Reclaim America.
In one section of his book, Hice extensively quotes a 1987 column by gay writer Michael Swift, which suggests gay people want to sodomize children.
The column is satirical.
1. Take for instance this passage from his book claiming “the homosexual movement is also destroying America by aggressively seeking to destroy traditional families, religion and marriages for the purpose of removing all societal moral boundaries.”
Jody Hice Book
2. In the subsequent paragraph, Hice says gay Americans will die sooner than straight Americans and have higher suicide rates as a result of their sexual orientation.
Jody Hice Book
3. Later, Hice dismisses the seriousness of gay bullying:
4. Hice is also quick to claim children are being recruited to be gay and indoctrinated “under the buzzword, ‘tolerance.’”
Jody Hice Book
5. Hice claims “the homosexual movement wants to eliminate free speech.”
Jody Hice Book
6. Drawing on the essay from Michael Swift that Hice doesn’t realize is satirical, he claims there is an “overall agenda of militant homosexuality.”
7. Hice has said being gay is equivalent to drug addiction and alcoholism.
In a November 2013 segment on his radio program, Hice reacted to the banning of gay conversion therapy for minors, a practice that has been widely dismissed, by saying, “We are enslaving and entrapping potentially hundreds of thousands of individuals in a lifestyle that frankly they are not. And it’s all for the sake of political correctness.”
Hice went on to compare being gay to alcoholism, drug addiction, “tendencies to lie,” and “tendencies to be violent.”
8. Hice believes that speaking against “a person who is a crossdresser” is now a hate crime, in comments he made in a August 2013 radio program slamming gay rights.
“You can’t even speak against a person who is a cross-dresser or a man who wants to believe himself to be a woman and wants to use a women’s restroom….and if we speak against it or look cross-eyed at such a thing then we are guilty of a hate crime.”
10. On the same radio show, Hice called it “totally unreasonable” to compare marriage equality with the Civil Rights struggle because “you cannot change your race” but “thousands and thousands of people” have chosen not to be gay.
The White House has announced it will no longer require non-profit religious organizations to fill out a form in order to opt out of furnishing contraception coverage for employees.
The Affordable Care Act, (ACA) colloquially known as Obamacare, will soon have revised procedures that will allow non-profit religious organizations to avoid providing contraception coverage to its employees.
A spokesman identified as a “senior administration official” assured CNN they had found a “fix” that would allow religious organizations to opt out, while ensuring their employees will still have contraception coverage with no co-pay:
"In light of the Supreme Court order regarding Wheaton College, the Departments intend to augment their regulations to provide an alternative way for objecting nonprofit religious organizations to provide notification, while ensuring that enrollees in plans of such organizations receive separate coverage of contraceptive services without cost sharing"
The move is a pre-emptive one by administration officials, who anticipate that the Supreme Court could soon make final - and extend to other religious institutions - a temporary order that currently allows one Christian college (Wheaton) to refuse its employees contraception coverage, without first filling out the ACA required form stating their objection. College officials claim even filling out the form violates their religious beliefs.
The Justice Department filed a brief with the Supreme Court yesterday, notifying the High Court of new rules governing the religious exemption accommodation process that will no longer require the use of a form, before they finalize their Wheaton College ruling. The brief said the rules will apply to Wheaton and any other institutions to which the Supreme Court might extend the religious exemption.
A White House spokesman said the new procedures, which are still being finalized, will provide an “alternative way for objecting nonprofit religious organizations to provide notification.” He added that ”the administration believes the accommodation is legally sound.”
The new procedures are expected to be in place next month, at which time the Justice Department will notify the Supreme Court.
The Unitarian Universalist pastor who was leading the service that day is calling it “religious terrorism.”
Hundreds of anti-choice activists are currently congregating in New Orleansto stage protests against abortion around the city, an event that’s expected to last all week long. So far, tensions have come to a head in an unexpected place: the sanctuary of a church, where abortion opponents interrupted a service to tell congregants that they don’t have a “true faith” because their denomination supports reproductive rights.
This week’s protests are being spearheaded by the national anti-abortion group Operation Save America, which used to go by the name Operation Rescue National. That far-right organization, frequently criticized for its “militant” tactics, is perhaps best known for being tied to Dr. George Tiller’s assassination. And on Sunday, as part of its week long protest in Louisiana, group members decided to take their message straight to the First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans.
As the Uptown Messenger reports, anti-abortion activists interrupted worship at the church — specifically, disrupting a moment of silence for a church member who recently passed away — to declare that this particular church isn’t a “true faith” and tell the service attendees to “repent.” Operation Save America’s opinion about the First Unitarian Universalist Church is made clear on its website, which refers to the “church” and its “pastor” in scare quotes and calls it a “synagogue of Satan.”
Rev. Deanna Vandiver, a guest speaker at the service, invited the protesters to either join the service respectfully or hold their protest outside of the building. As the congregation sang, church leaders led the loudest anti-abortion activists out of the sanctuary.
Vandiver told the Uptown Messenger that she wasn’t entirely sure why the church was targeted — but it’s likely because of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s progressive stance on reproductive rights. Even before Roe v. Wade legalized abortion throughout the country, UU churches officially affirmed the right to choose. Since then, the religious body has passed several resolutions related to reproductive justice and continues to be very involved in efforts to support abortion rights. The Unitarian Universalist Association’s official policy states an explicit opposition to “any attempt to enact a position on private morality into public law.”
“Beloved, we have a lot of different opinions in this country about family planning. I believe, however, that there is a moral consensus about religious terrorism. NO ONE should invade the sanctuary of another’s faith to terrorize people as they worship,” Vandiver wrote on Facebook following the incident. “I call on everyone of every faith tradition and no faith tradition to stand with on the side of love and resist the evil of the week of hate being visited upon the city of New Orleans.”
Holding protests in church is certainly not unheard of, although it often walks a fine line. In 2012, members of the feminist punk collective Pussy Riot were infamously arrested after performing a “punk prayer” in Russia’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior, criticizing corruption within the Orthodox Church and calling for Putin’s removal. And in the 1980s, thousands of LGBT activists protested at Catholic churches to call for more inclusive policies on abortion, homosexuality, and AIDS; although most of those protesters gathered outside of church buildings, several dozen were criticized forentering a sanctuary and disrupting Mass.
Local law enforcement is on alert as they anticipate more potentially disruptive protests from Operation Save America activists this week. Anti-abortion activists have already held an open-casket wake for a fetus in a public square. And outraged residents of one New Orleans neighborhood complained that their privacy was violated on Saturday when protesters picketed the private home of a doctor who lives there.
Nonetheless, over the weekend, the mayor of New Orleans issued an official proclamation of welcome to the protesters, signing a certificate thanking the anti-choice group for its “service” to the city. That prompted more than 500 New Orleans residents to sign a petition asking the mayor to reconsider. “Regardless of personal ideologies, most Americans agree that harassing women and threatening doctors is extreme behavior that should not be welcomed by the mayor’s office. The certificates signed by you gives them a legitimacy that they do not deserve,” the petition reads.
The members of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans appear to feel similarly. “Whatever your faith tradition, I invite you to stand with Unitarian Universalists and other liberal religions besieged by hate-filled rhetoric that can trip so easily from violent words to violent deeds,” Rev. Deanna Vandiver wrote in a blog post about the incident.
Last week, megachurch pastor John MacArthur told Glenn Beck’s The Blaze website that churches that condone homosexuality “have no allegiance to the Bible … they have no relationship to scripture, they are the apostate church, they are Satan’s church.”
Not surprisingly, Mat Staver and Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel are in complete agreement, praising MacArthur’s tough stance on their “Faith and Freedom” radio broadcast as Staver added his own warning that tolerance of homosexuality “ultimately will be the downfall of our civilization.”
"Homosexuality is against nature," Staver declared. "It is against nature to have two men and two women engaging in sexual activity. It is against the Scripture to do that … This sinful behavior is being promoted as good, natural, and normal. It is something, I think, that ultimately will be the downfall of our civilization if we continue to go down this road":
Univision anchor Jorge Ramos appeared on this Tuesday’s The O’Reilly Factor to discuss the recent influx of refugees fleeing violence from Central America. Ramos attempted to counter some of Bill-O’s fearmongering and reminded him that sending children back to countries where their lives are in danger is not exactly the Christian way to approach the problem.
As part of a television special on U.S. border security, Univision anchor Jorge Ramos swam across the Rio Grande River to demonstrate how some illegal immigrants enter the United States. Ramos spoke to Bill O’Reilly about his experience.
He compares the lack of a parent of one gender in a same-sex couple with children to “losing mom or dad in a car accident.”
Jody Hice is a pastor running to replace Rep. Paul Broun in Georgia’s 10th Congressional district. He also hosts The Jody Hice Show, a local radio show in Georgia “that is centered around defending liberty.”
Hice previously ran for Congress in 2010, losing to current Rep. Rob Woodall in a runoff. He is likely to make a runoff again in a crowded field to replace Broun. Jody Hice Facebook
On one episode of Hice’s radio show, the topic of marriage equality came up. Hice had a few thoughts.
Hice says marriage equality will have an “enormous, erosive effect on marriage and family.”
He says “homosexuals have the right to be married” just not “to one another.”
And that children need two parents of different genders to grow up in the most “healthy, psychological, emotional, spiritual, physical” environment.
Hice calls it “totally unreasonable” to compare marriage equality with the Civil Rights struggle because “you cannot change your race” but “thousands and thousands of people” have chosen not to be gay.
He adds that “our Constitution does not protect sexual preference,” and compares the lack of a parent of one gender in same-sex couple with children to “losing mom or dad in a car accident.”
Two split appeals court rulings on an expansive challenge to Obamacare subsidies in 36 states may end up giving Supreme Court justices another opportunity to gut the law.
On Tuesday, two Republican-appointed judges on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the text of the Affordable Care Act permits only state-run exchanges — not the federal exchange — to provide subsidies. The ruling, if it stands, would cripple Obamacare as the federal subsidies are essential to the law. The Obama administration quickly said it would ask for a full bench ruling, which could plausibly reverse the decision.
Also on Tuesday, a panel of three Democratic-appointed judges on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the opposite, declaring unanimously that the law clearly lets the federal exchange, built on behalf of states that declined to build their own insurance marketplaces, provide subsidies.
Tom Goldstein, a lawyer who has argued cases before the Supreme Court, wrote that “the fact that another court of appeals upheld the same rule on the same day shows that the legal issue is very thorny and will very likely be ultimately resolved by the Supreme Court.”
The Obama administration’s en banc appeal means the full active D.C. Circuit bench, plus the senior judges who originally heard the case, would rehear the case and revote on it. For that to happen, a majority of active judges have to agree to hear it en banc. If they do, the partisan odds favor Obamacare: 8 of the judges would be Democratic appointees; 5 of them would be Republican appointees. Legal experts say an en banc hearing that’s unlikely to happen until the fall or early winter.
"I think it’s very likely [to be reversed]," said Nicholas Bagley, a professor at the University of Michigan Law School. "The mode of statutory construction that Judge Thomas Griffith used is one that generally appeals to conservatives more than it does to political liberals. So I think it’s unlikely that a Democratic-appointed judge will rule against the government here."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who helped President Obama add three judges to the D.C. Circuit by changing the Senate rules in November, predicted the full bench would reverse the panel’s ruling. “It seems clear to me that that decision is going to be overturned,” he told reporters.
Meanwhile, the Obamacare challengers at the 4th Circuit would have a very hard time winning en banc. The full bench consists of 9 Democratic-appointed judges and 4 Republican-appointed judges. So it’s plausible they won’t seek an en banc ruling. Instead it may be in their interest to appeal directly to the Supreme Court, where legal experts say their chances of victory would be greater.
For the Supreme Court to accept a case, four justices have to agree to it. But whether the Supreme Court takes any given case for review depends on several hard-to-predict factors. A split among the circuit courts on the validity of a major federal law enhances the chances of the Supreme Court getting involved, legal experts say. But it’s possible that if the D.C. Circuit ruling is reversed and the 4th Circuit ruling stands, there will be no split and the Supreme Court may be likelier to turn it down and let the rulings upholding the law stand.
"If the circuits don’t split — if the D.C. Circuit does reverse it en banc, the absence of a circuit split will diminish the likelihood that the Supreme Court will hear the case. But even in the absence of a circuit split the Court could hear it,” Bagley said.
The White House would prefer not to re-litigate the health care law at the Supreme Court, where five Republican-appointed justices have a demonstrated hostility toward the law. In 2012, four of them voted to wipe out Obamacare in its entirety; the swing vote, Chief Justice John Roberts, made the Medicaid expansion optional for states. Last month, the five justices axed a requirement under the law that employers cover emergency contraceptives for women in their insurance plans at no extra cost.
But Goldstein suggested the odds remain daunting for conservatives, who are seeking to destroy an essential component of a massive new law on the basis of a dubious technicality. Roberts, for all his misgivings, proved unwilling to deal a fatal blow to Obamacare in 2012. And now that millions of Americans are benefiting from the law’s federal subsidies, stripping them away is a difficult proposition.
Goldstein predicted “the administration probably will come out ahead in the end.”
Here’s why millions of dollars are pouring into an upcoming ballot initiative regarding a paragraph in the state constitution.
Activists on both sides of the abortion debate are already gearing up for a big fight in Tennessee this fall, preparing to pour millions of dollars into a campaign regarding an abortion-related ballot measure up for consideration in November. The issue at hand, which is related to one paragraph in Tennessee’s constitution, isn’t necessarily on most Americans’ radars. But the outcome of that fight could actually have big implications for women living in other states.
Essentially, when voters in Tennessee cast their ballots on Amendment 1, they’ll be deciding whether to give their state the power to restrict abortion more stringently than it currently does. Thanks to a 2000 Tennessee Supreme Court ruling that defined abortion as a “fundamental” right, the state’s constitution actually has even broader protections for reproductive rights than the U.S. Constitution does. But Amendment 1 would strip out that proactive language and allow lawmakers to enact more hurdles to the medical procedure, like mandatory waiting periods and forced counseling requirements, that are currently considered to be unconstitutional.
The “Yes on 1” campaign is trying to raise $2.1 million to ensure the ballot initiative will pass, saying that it’s important to allow elected officials to determine state laws related to abortion. They’ve even enlisted Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, who star in the TLC reality show “19 Kids and Counting,” to drum up public support for Amendment 1. Meanwhile, reproductive rights advocates are hoping to raise twice that much to defeat Amendment 1, making the argument that the campaign for the measure is based on an entirely misleading premise.
“Anti-choice members of the General Assembly claim that abortion is completely unregulated in Tennessee and argue that the amendment is necessary in order for them to place restrictions on or regulate access to abortion. However, the Assembly has been passing laws for years that do just that,” Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee notes on its site, pointing out that lawmakers have already imposed restrictions like abortion insurance bans and parental consent laws. And in general, abortion is a medical procedure that’s already highly regulated.
Ultimately, if Amendment 1 passes, it threatens to make it even more difficult to get an abortion in an area of the country where women’s reproductive rights are already under siege. Thanks to harsh restrictions on abortions that are forcing clinics out of business, a broad swath of the South is losing access to reproductive heath facilities altogether. Right now, Tennessee remains an option for women in neighboring states who are running out of other choices.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in four abortions performed in Tennessee are sought by a resident of a different state. The “Yes On 1″ campaign touts that statistic as evidence that the state is becoming ripe for “abortion tourism,” arguing that it points to the need for additional regulation. But reproductive rights advocates have a very different take on the issue — they say that women are crossing the border in Tennessee because it’s too hard to get an abortion in their own states, and enacting additional barriers in Tennessee will make a bad situation even worse.
“Abortion rights in the South are going away, and it’s tragic,” Jeff Teague, the president of Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee, told the Tennessean. “We’re creating a situation where women only in certain parts of the country have access. If the abortion amendment passes, we’re likely to see similar rights disappearing here.”
Over the past several years, as states have passed a record-breaking number of restrictions on abortion, there’s been an increase in the number of women crossing state lines to have the medical procedure. Clinic closures obviously send women farther in search of a facility where they can get an abortion, but they’re not the only type of situation in which women may choose to go to a different state. The type of requirements that Amendment 1 would allow Tennessee to enact, like forced waiting periods, make it more difficult for women to get an abortion because they often have to make multiple trips to a clinic. Some women choose to circumvent that situation by going to a state where there are fewer hoops to jump through.
So if the “Yes On 1″ campaign is ultimately successful, the new policy won’t just affect the women who live in Tennessee. It will also mean that the people in Alabama and Mississippi, where abortion clinics are dwindling, may have fewer places to turn to exercise their right to choose. It will further the emerging trend in the South that’s making abortion nearly impossible to get. And it will give the anti-choice ammunition for their claim that abortion isn’t really a constitutionally protected right.
So far, the concept behind Amendment 1 doesn’t appear to be very popular with the public. According to a recent Vanderbilt University poll, an overwhelming 71 percent of Tennessee voters don’t agree that the legislature should have more authority to restrict abortions. Even the majority of Republican voters are opposed to that concept. However, Vanderbilt researchers point out that doesn’t necessarily translate to a clear defeat for the ballot measure, depending on whether voters are swayed by the “Yes On 1″ campaign materials.
The Washington Post's Cindy Boren rightly points out the stunning hypocrisy in Dungy’s sudden concern about “distractions,” since Dungy was the man who helped dog-fighting barbarian Michael Vick rebuild his career and rehabilitate his image.
In a segment on his show yesterday, Olbermann called Dungy out for his hypocritical and homophobic double standards, and named Dungy the “Worst Person in the Sports World.”
Richard Land, the former head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s policy arm, is sick and tired of liberal public school propaganda about slavery in colonial America and the early United States. Subbing for Family Research Council president Tony Perkins on yesterday’s “Washington Watch” radio show, Land told listeners that Americans “ended slavery, we didn’t bring slavery to North America.”
He added that Native Americans were “enslaving each other before we got there.” While it is the case that some Native American groups did engage in various forms of slavery, there is no parallel between that and the vast scale of the American slavocracy.
Land, who left his position at the SBC after making (plagiarized) racial comments regarding the Trayvon Martin case, said that people should watch Dinesh D’Souza’s new movie rather than believe their public school education.
Movies and books like Dinesh D’Souza’s book ‘America’ are so important because if you are younger than forty and you’ve been taught in the public schools, you have not learned the real story of America. You have been taught a lie about America as a colonial power, as a rapacious power. As Dinesh points out, we ended slavery, we didn’t bring slavery to North America. Slavery was there, the Native Americans were enslaving each other before we got here. Eventually, we ended slavery. We have been a civilizing influence in the world.
Eagle Forum’s Virginia Armstrong, the head of the group’s Court Watch Project, today makes the novel argument that the U.S. Constitution doesn’t protect the rights of LGBT people but in fact requires the government to fight “homosexual conduct” in “every legitimate way possible.”
In an article published on Eagle Forum’s website, Armstrong argues that advances in LGBT equality prove “that America is indeed in the ‘danger zone’ and is in dire need of a massive ‘straightening up process.’”
She then argues that the AIDS epidemic shows that “homosexual conduct is what is harmful to gays and lesbians to the degree that governments are not only constitutionally allowed, but constitutionally required, to fight such conduct in every legitimate way possible.”
All emphasis is Armstrong’s:
HasAmerica bent over so far backwards in our spiritual, moral, and constitutional life that we are in danger of “breaking”? This question is central to our current series of Court Watch Briefings. The question has been precipitated by America’s Culture War and echoes the anguished cry of the Father in the famous musical production, “Fiddler on the Roof,” who felt that revolutionary changes in his world were pushing him to the “breaking point.”
We are proving that America is indeed in the “danger zone” and is in dire need of a massive “straightening up process.” Nothing more clearly demonstrates this fact than the recent same-sex marriage decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court -Perry v. HollingsworthandWindsor v. U.S.
These statistics bring into bolder relief than ever the fatal flaws of Perry/Windsor. HIV and AIDS is a pandemic , far worse than other such health threats which have sent governments and media around the world into a veritable apoplexy, accompanied by demands for the most severe action possible to stem those threats. Yet, federal (and, now, state) judges are demanding constitutional protections for the conduct which is most responsible for the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Furthermore, Judge Vaughn Walker’s “Finding of Fact” that religious opposition to homosexual conduct “harms gays and lesbians” and is constitutionally protected is so incongruent with reality as to be laughable, if it were possible to laugh about such an adjudicative disaster. The reality, of course, is that the exact opposite is true –homosexual conduct is what is harmful to gays and lesbiansto the degree that governments are not only constitutionally allowed, but constitutionallyrequired, to fight such conduct in every legitimate way possible.This example alone illustrates how upside down is Walker’s blast that “harm to homosexuals” results from religious opposition. This falsehood convertsa particularly pernicious value judgment into an adjudicative fact given great weight in pro-homosexual court decisions.One of the worst blows to reason, morality, and the Judeo-Christian worldview is the speed with which thePerry/Windsorpoison has poured through America’s legal veins…
Republican-majority legislatures in many red states are gorging themselves on new laws to restrict safe, legal abortion out of existence, but things have been pretty stable for the women of Tennessee, a state that has 14 doctors providing abortion, compared to a mere eight in Alabama and two in Mississippi….
One major reason it’s relatively easy to get a safe abortion in Tennessee is a state Supreme Court decision in 2000 that held that “a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy is a vital part of the right to privacy guaranteed by the Tennessee Constitution,” meaning that medically unnecessary abortion restrictions are largely unconstitutional.
Now anti-choicers are pushing back, advocating for a ballot measure called Amendment 1 that would amend the state constitution to single out abortion as the one medical procedure not covered by the privacy rights enshrined elsewhere in the state constitution. “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion,” reads the proposed amendment, and activists on both sides of the issue are pouring money into the campaign to determine whether state legislators can be free to pass laws restricting safe abortion access in the state. “We’ve been trying to put this back to a neutral position to say that the legislators should be the ones setting this policy, not liberal courts,” Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey told an audience at a fundraiser last November.
Anti-choice efforts to turn public opinion in their favor seem misguided, if you ask me. According to ThinkProgress, “They’ve even enlisted Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, who star in the TLC reality show ‘19 Kids and Counting,’ to drum up public support for Amendment 1.” People may like that TV show, but if you’re trying to persuade voters to support anti-choice laws, it’s probably not wise to put extremist Christian fundamentalists who believe you should have a bazillion children at the front of your campaign. For most of us, living like the Duggars sounds like a nightmare, regardless of your position on abortion. Putting them out front only serves to confirm people’s worst fears about the end goals of the anti-choice movement.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in her dissent in the Hobby Lobby case that the Court’s conservative majority had “ventured into a minefield” with its decision. Many of those mines have already been placed by right-wing leaders who claim a religious grounding not only for anti-gay, anti-abortion, and anti-contraception positions, but also for opposition to collective bargaining, minimum wage laws, progressive taxation and government involvement in the alleviation of poverty.
In Hobby Lobby, the Court found for the first time that for-profit corporations have religious rights just like real people and can therefore make claims under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that they should be exempt from laws that burden their corporate “exercise” of religion. In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was deeply skeptical of Justice Samuel Alito’s assertion that the decision was limited only to the contraception mandate and only for closely held corporations.
“Suppose an employer’s sincerely held religious belief is offended by health coverage of vaccines, or paying the minimum wage, or according women equal pay for substantially similar work?” she asked. How would the Court justify applying its logic only to religious views about contraception? “Indeed, approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be ‘perceived as favoring one religion over another,’ the very ‘risk the Establishment Clause was designed to preclude.’”
Ginsburg’s questions are not merely rhetorical. Conservative Catholic and evangelical leaders who have signed the Manhattan Declaration, including some U.S. bishops, declare themselves willing to engage in civil disobedience – maybe even martyrdom – in order to avoid any participation in abortion or any “anti-life act.” Nor, they declare, “will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family.”
Alito’s majority opinion says Hobby Lobby does not extend the right to religion-based discrimination on account of a person’s race, but is conspicuously silent on other kinds of discrimination. That silence raises concerns that business owners could use the Hobby Lobby decision to opt out of a future federal LGBT civil rights law, or the Obama administration’s executive order against anti-LGBT discrimination by federal contractors. Indeed, especially in light of Alito’s mention in Hobby Lobby that RFRA applies to the District of Columbia as a federal enclave, such a claim could be brought today to seek an exemption from D.C.’s Human Rights Act that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. What happens if and when a local bishop instructs Catholic business owners that it would be sinful to treat legally married gay employees the same as other married couples, or an evangelical businessman declares he will not “bend” to DC’s Human Rights Act?
Business owners now have a new basis for trying to evade anti-discrimination laws and their responsibilities to their employees. Religious liberty is already the rallying cry for conservatives looking for a legal way to discriminate against LGBT Americans; other business owners have tried to use religion to justify opposition to minimum-wage laws and Social Security taxes. Faith groups are already trying to capitalize on the Hobby Lobby decision out of court; on Wednesday, a group of religious leaders asked the Obama administration for an exemption from a forthcoming federal order barring federal contractors from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
To be clear, the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act that was used as the basis for the Hobby Lobby decision applies only to federal and District of Columbia laws and regulations, including presidential executive orders, not to state laws. The stories of business owners being told they cannot exempt themselves from anti-discrimination laws have mostly involved questions about state-level civil rights and religious freedom statutes. Earlier this year the US Supreme Court declined to review a New Mexico Supreme Court ruling that a wedding photography business had violated anti-discrimination law when it refused to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony. Although Hobby Lobby does not apply directly to state laws, it could influence state courts weighing religious claims by business owners in states with their own versions of RFRA.
The clash between religious conservatives and advocates for LGBT equality has been well publicized. But the minefield Ginsburg refers to extends well beyond traditional “social issues.” Religious Right leaders have been working hard to convince conservative evangelicals that the Tea Party’s anti-government, anti-union, anti-welfare agenda is grounded in the Bible – an effort that started well before the Tea Party arrived on the scene.
David Barton is an influential Republican activist and “historian” who helped write the GOP’s national platform in 2012. Barton’s “Christian nation” approach to history has been denounced by historians and scholars, including some who are themselves evangelical Christians, but it is embraced by conservative politicians who extol a divinely inspired American exceptionalism. Barton teaches that Jesus and the Bible are opposed to progressive taxation, minimum wage laws, collective bargaining, and “socialist union kind of stuff.”
Thanks to previous Supreme Court decisions, alluded to and affirmed by Alito’s majority opinion in Hobby Lobby, the Court has for now seemingly closed the door to companies making a religious challenge to paying Social Security and federal income taxes based on their objection to a particular government program funded with those taxes. But the same might not be true for more targeted taxes and fees, or for laws regulating company behavior or the relationships between companies and their employees.
Opposition to unions has deep roots in Christian Reconstructionism, which has influenced the Religious Right’s ideology and political agenda. An early Christian Coalition Leadership manual, co-authored by Republican operative Ralph Reed in 1990, is a stunning example. A section titled “God’s Delegated Authority in the World” argues that “God established His pattern for work as well as in the family and in the church.” It cites four Bible passages instructing slaves to be obedient to their masters, including this one:
Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.
The conclusion to be drawn from these slaves-obey-your-masters passages?
Of course, slavery was abolished in this country many years ago, so we must apply these principles to the way Americans work today, to employees and employers: Christians have a responsibility to submit to the authority of their employers, since they are designated as part of God’s plan for the exercise of authority on the earth by man.
More recently, Religious Right leaders have cheered on corporate-funded attacks on unions in Wisconsin and Michigan. Does the Hobby Lobby ruling open another front in the right-wing war on workers? It is not uncommon for companies to refuse to cooperate with union organizers or negotiate with a properly organized union. Imagine that a business owner objects to a National Labor Relations Board finding that they have violated the National Labor Relations Act by arguing in federal court that their company’s religious beliefs prohibit them from dealing with unions?
It’s not as far-fetched as it might seem. Since long before the Hobby Lobby case created an open invitation to business owners to raise religious objections to bargaining with unions, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has encouraged workers to raise religious objections to requirements that they join or financially support a union. Here’s an excerpt from their pamphlet, “Union Dues and Religious Do Nots.”
To determine whether your beliefs are religious instead of political or philosophical, ask yourself whether your beliefs are based upon your obligations to God. Do you simply dislike unions or hate this particular union’s politics? Or, does your desire to stand apart from the union arise from your relationship to God? If your beliefs arise from your decision to obey God, they are religious.
It is possible that conservative courts may not give the same weight to religious claims about anti-gay discrimination or the Bible’s opposition to unions or minimum wage laws as they did to Hobby Lobby’s anti-contraception claims. Those claims were based on the owners’ belief – one that runs counter to medical scientific consensus – that some of the most effective forms of birth control work by causing abortions, and are therefore the moral equivalent of murder.
But as Justice Ginsburg pointed out, it is not clear how courts will differentiate between different types of claims. And it will be easier for claims to meet the new, lower threshold created by the Court in effectively altering the “substantial burden” test . As Justice Ginsburg pointed out, rather than having to show that a person’s, or corporation’s, practice of religion has been burdened, they simply need to show that a law is “incompatible with” the person’s religious beliefs. Additionally, it seems that a wide array of regulations, conceivably including minimum wage laws, could be threatened by Alito’s reliance on the idea that having the government pay for the cost of implementing a regulation is less restrictive than having the company bear the cost of a regulation it objects to.
It is also not clear that the decision will remain “limited” to the 90 percent of American companies that qualify as closely held, which employ more than half of the nation’s workforce. The Court explicitly acknowledged the possibility that publicly traded corporations could raise such claims, but argued that it would be “unlikely.” But in this new world in which corporate religious claims can be made against government regulation, what is to prevent the CEO or board of a publicly traded organization from finding religion with regard to, say, greenhouse gas emissions? The Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming, promoted by the anti-environmentalist Cornwall Alliance, declares as a matter of faith that earth’s ecosystem is not fragile and that efforts to reduce global warming, like regulating the emission of carbon dioxide, are not only “fruitless” and “harmful” but would discourage economic growth and therefore violate Biblical requirements to protect the poor from harm.
Justice Alito’s opinion rejects Justice Ginsburg’s characterization of the ruling’s “startling breadth.” But it is undeniable that the Court majority has opened the door to owners of for-profit corporations making an array of claims under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Justice Ginsburg writes in her dissent, “Little doubt that RFRA claims will proliferate, for the Court’s expansive notion of corporate personhood—combined with its other errors in construing RFRA—invites for-profit entities to seek religion-based exemptions from regulations they deem offensive to their faith.” For today’s right-wing leaders, who claim religious grounding for just about every aspect of their political ideology, there aren’t many forms of regulation that would be off-limits.
On Tuesday, two Republican judges voted to rewrite this history. Under Halbig v. Burwell, a decision handed down by Judge Raymond Randolph, a Bush I appointee, and Judge Thomas Griffith, a Bush II appointee, millions of Americans will lose the federal health insurance subsidies provided to them under the Affordable Care Act — or, at least, they will lose these subsidies if Randolph and Griffith’s decision is ultimately upheld on appeal.
Ted Cruz is undoubtedly smiling today. Two unelected Republicans just voted to erase his most embarrassing and most public defeat, and they voted to take away millions of Americans health care in the process.
Meet The Republicans
It’s important to understand just who these two Republicans are. Judge Randolph is a staunchly conservative judge who spent much of the oral argument in this case acting as an advocate for the anti-Obamacare side. Randolph complained, just a few weeks before President Obama would announce that the Affordable Care Act had overshot its enrollment goal, that the launch of the Affordable Care Act was “an unmitigated disaster” and that its costs “have gone sky-high.” At one point, Randolph also cut off Judge Harry Edwards, the sole Democratic appointee on the panel, to cite an editorial published by the conservative Investor’s Business Daily to prove the argument that Obamacare should be defunded.
The Investor’s Business Daily is not known as a particularly reliable source on health policy. In 2009, for example, it published an editorial arguing that Stephen Hawking, the British physicist who is an Englishman from the United Kingdom, “wouldn’t have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.”
Judge Griffith has a reputation as a more moderate judge, but it is not clear that this reputation is deserved. In 2012, Griffith’s colleague, Judge Janice Rogers Brown, published a concurring opinion suggesting that all labor, business or Wall Street regulation is constitutionally suspect. “America’s cowboy capitalism,” Brown claimed, “was long ago disarmed by a democratic process increasingly dominated by powerful groups with economic interests antithetical to competitors and consumers. And the courts, from which the victims of burdensome regulation sought protection, have been negotiating the terms of surrender since the 1930s.” Later in her opinion, Brown suggested that the Court went off the rails when it “decided economic liberty was not a fundamental constitutional right.” In the early Twentieth Century, conservative justices relied on ideas of “economic liberty” that were discarded in the 1930s in order to strike down laws protecting workers’ right to organize, laws ensuring a minimum wage and laws prohibiting employers from overworking their employees.
Griffith did not join Brown’s opinion, but his explanation for why he did not do so is instructive — “[a]lthough by no means unsympathetic to [Brown’s] criticism nor critical of [her] choice to express [her] perspective, I am reluctant to set forth my own views on the wisdom of such a broad area of the Supreme Court’s settled jurisprudence that was not challenged by the petitioner.” So Griffith is “sympathetic” to Brown’s argument that much of the Twentieth Century is unconstitutional, but he did not want to join her opinion because the arguments she made were not raised by the parties in that case. Halbig, by contrast, presented Griffith with a much more direct attack on supposedly “burdensome regulation” brought by the forces of “cowboy capitalism.”
Punishing Millions For A Proofreading Error
The two Republicans’ decision rests on a glorified typo in the Affordable Care Act itself. Obamacare gives states a choice. They can either run their own health insurance exchange where their residents may buy health insurance, and receive subsidies to help them pay for that insurance if they qualify, or they can allow the federal government to run that exchange for them. Yet the plaintiffs’ in this case uncovered a drafting error in the statute where it appears to limit the subsidies to individuals who obtain insurance through “an Exchange established by the State.” Randolph and Griffith’s opinion concludes that this drafting error is the only thing that matters. In their words, “a federal Exchange is not an ‘Exchange established by the State,’” and that’s it. The upshot of this opinion is that 6.5 million Americans will lose their ability to afford health insurance, according to one estimate.
The Supreme Court of the United States, however, has long recognized that a law’s clear purpose should not be defeated due to an error in proofreading. As the Court explained in 2007, “a reviewing court should not confine itself to examining a particular statutory provision in isolation” as the “meaning—or ambiguity—of certain words or phrases may only become evident when placed in context.” It is indeed true that a single phrase of the Affordable Care Act, if read in isolation, suggests that Congress intended only state-run exchanges — as opposed to federal exchanges — to offer subsidies, but this provision is contradicted by numerous other provisions of the law.
One provision of the Affordable Care Act, for example, indicates that any “exchange” shall be an “entity that is established by a State” — language which indicates that federally run exchanges will be deemed to be “established by a state.” This may seem counter-intuitive, but Congress has the power to define the words that it uses in any way that it wants, even if those words are defined in ways that are unusual. Another provision of the law provides that, when a state elects not to run an exchange, the Secretary of Health and Human Services “shall … establish and operate such Exchange within the State and the Secretary shall take such actions as are necessary to implement such other requirements.” Thus, the law not only authorizes the Secretary to stand in the state’s shoes when it runs an exchange, it also empowers her to implement the law’s “other requirements.”
Nor is this is the full extent of the problems with Randolph and Griffith’s conclusion. Indeed, in order to accept their decision, a person reading the Affordable Care Act must ignore the following facts:
The subtitle of the Affordable Care Act which contains the provisions at issue in this case is titled “Affordable Coverage Choices for All Americans.” If Randolph and Griffith are correct, Congress would have named that subtitle “Affordable Coverage Choices for All Americans Except For Those Americans Who Live In States With Federally-Run Exchanges.”
The Affordable Care Act says that it will “achieve near-universal coverage.” If Randolph and Griffith are correct, Congress would have said that Obamacare “achieves near-universal coverage except in states with federally-run exchanges.”
An amendment to the Affordable Care Act requires the federally-run exchanges to report various information that they would only be able to report if they were providing subsidies, such as whether taxpayers received an “advance payment of such credit”; information needed to determine individuals’ “eligibility for, and the amount of, such credit”; and “[i]nformation necessary to determine whether a taxpayer has received excess advance payments.” Congress would not have imposed this reporting requirements if they thought that the federal exchanges would not offer subsidies.
The Affordable Care Act also provides that the only people who are qualified to purchase insurance at all on a federally-run exchange are people who “reside in the State that established the Exchange.” Thus, if federally-run exchanges are not deemed to be “established by the State,” that means that no one at all is allowed to purchase health insurance on the federally-run exchanges, and there would be no purpose whatsoever to their existence. As the trial court explained in this very case, this interpretation makes no sense, because “courts presume that Congress has used its scarce legislative time to enact statutes that have some legal consequence.”
Virtually no one, apparently including at least one of the plaintiffs who brought this lawsuit, actually believes that these propositions are true. Indeed, as the government points out in its brief, one of the plaintiffs who brought this lawsuit also was a plaintiff in the last lawsuit seeking to gut Obamacare, the challenge to the individual mandate that was rejected by the Supreme Court. In that lawsuit, this plaintiff argued that the subsidies were an integral part of every exchange’s’ very design — “[w]ithout the subsidies driving demand within the exchanges, insurance companies would have absolutely no reason to offer their products through exchanges, where they are subject to far greater restrictions.” Now, however, he expects the courts to believe that these subsidies were entirely optional, and that Congress intended federally-run exchanges to get along without them. Notably, the exact same lawyer represented this plaintiff when he made both of these mutually exclusive claims.
To get around this fact, Randolph and Griffith spin an alternative history of the Affordable Care Act’s passage. A major prong of this alternative history claims that Congress wanted to deny subsidies to people in states with federally-run exchanges because that that would provide states with an incentive to start their own exchange — in Randolph and Griffith’s words, Congress “us[ed] subsidies as an incentive to gain states’ cooperation.” Thus, in this narrative, Congress viewed getting states to run exchanges as an all-encompassing goal, trumping even the law’s stated goals of providing “Affordable Coverage Choices for All Americans” and achieving “near-universal coverage.” Needless to say, there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Congress actually viewed the administrative question of which set of government bureaucrats would run a particular state’s exchange as a question of such superseding importance that they were willing to deny health coverage to millions of people in order to ensure that the right set of bureaucrats run the exchanges in each state.
An Opinion That Kills
Should Randolph and Griffith’s decision be upheld on appeal, which, for reasons explained below, is unlikely, it would send destructive shockwaves through much of the American health care system. As ThinkProgress previously explained, suddenly removing federal subsidies from insurance markets that expect them to continue being paid would force health insurers to jack up their premiums in order to cover their costs. Higher premiums, however, would cause many healthy individuals to drop their coverage. Which will force insurers to raise their premiums even more, which will cause even more individuals to lose their coverage. Indeed, according to a brief filed by several economists, the resulting death spiral would render insurance “unaffordable for more than 99 percent of the families and individuals eligible for subsidies” within the federal exchanges.
This economic problem exposes yet another flaw in Randolph and Griffith’s opinion. In order to accept their reasoning, one has to believe that Congress buried a hidden time bomb within the arcane provisions of the Affordable Care Act that, when it detonated, would render much of the act a nullity. As the economists explain in their brief, Randolph and Griffith’s decision presumes that “Congress sought to legislate into existence a massive new social program that it understood would immediately fail.”
So Randolph and Griffith’s opinion would be comic if its result were not so tragic. And make no mistake, if this opinion is upheld on appeal, it will be a tragedy. According to one Harvard study, nearly 45,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 64 died in a single year because they lacked health insurance. Randolph and Griffith’s decision would ensure that many of these deaths resume. That’s tens of thousands of wives who will never hold their husbands again, and tens of thousands of fathers who will never kiss their daughters again, all because two unelected Republicans hunted through an ocean of language indicating that Congress intended to end these needless deaths in order to find a single piece of flotsam suggesting that the law should be defunded.
This is not how judges typically behave in a democracy. And it is not a decision that is rooted either in Congress’ intentions or in Supreme Court precedent.
An Opinion That Is Unlikely To Survive
We live in interesting times. And we live in times where judges and justices can not longer be expected to rely on established law, especially when they are presented to an opportunity to undermineObamacare. Nevertheless, there are several reasons to be optimistic that Randolph and Griffith attempt to defund Obamacare will not survive contact with a higher authority.
For starters, under the Supreme Court’s Chevron Doctrine, courts typically defer to a federal agency’s reading of a law so long as “the agency’s answer is based on a permissible construction of the statute.” Randolph and Griffith get around this doctrine by claiming that the law “the ACA unambiguously restricts the section 36B subsidy to insurance” purchased on state-run exchanges.
If you truly believe that the only possible interpretation of the Affordable Care Act’s language is the one adopted by Randolph and Griffith on Tuesday, then you may want to go back to the top of this article and start reading it all over again. In any event, two federal judges previously concluded that Obamacare is unambiguous in the other direction — that is, it unambiguously offers subsidies to people who purchase insurance through federal exchanges. That alone demonstrates that, even if the law isn’t completely clear, its meaning is at least uncertain enough that the courts should defer to the agency’s reading under Chevron.
More importantly, Randolph and Griffith’s own colleagues are unlikely to allow this opinion to stand for long. The federal government may now appeal this decision to the full United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where Democrats enjoy a 7-4 majority among the court’s active judges. It is unlikely, to say the least, that a Democratic bench will strike down President Obama’s primary legislative accomplishment based on the highly doubtful reasoning contained in Randolph and Griffith’s opinion.
Should the full DC Circuit intervene, of course, their decision can ultimately be appealed to the GOP-controlled Supreme Court. But we’ve already seen this story play out once before. The last time conservative lawyers brought a case to the Supreme Court seeking to gut Obamacare, Chief Justice John Roberts voted to uphold the bulk of the law.
Roberts cast this vote a year-and-a-half before much of the law would actually be implemented, meaning that, if he had chosen to struck down the law then, he would have been able to do so at a time when the constituency for upholding the law was relatively small. Now, however, millions of Americans stand to lose their health insurance if Roberts signs on to Randolph and Griffith’s reasoning — and Roberts would be personally responsible for the subsequent loss of health coverage and needless deaths that would result. If Roberts was unwilling to trash the law at a time when the impact would have been relatively small, it is unlikely that he will do so under circumstances that are likely to inspire the masses to storm his castle while wielding pitchforks.
Zieve writes today that President Obama “has invited [immigrants] into the country as a foreign invasion force to replace US citizens and help him bring down the USA,” because he seeks the “destruction of the American people” and is working with allies towards “actively suppressing (and trying to find ways to imprison) their opposition.”
She also warns that the “faux POTUS” hopes to “replac[e] all Islamic Shia countries with Islamic Sunnis” and “kill free speech for conservatives and those of non-Islamic religions…especially Christians and Jews.”
“He was primed for and hired by his masters to destroy America…annihilate it…and he’s done his job well.”
Over last weekend, it finally got out–despite suppression from the White House and the media–that the Mexican drug cartels/human traffickers are now firing .50 caliber ammo at our USBP Agents. These are bullets that can reach their targets as much as a mile away. This is an act of war. Yet, neither the Pretend POTUS and Dictator-in-Chief Barack Hussein Obama nor any of his minions comment on it at all. Neither does Obama try to stop the thousands of illegals (largely gang members, drug cartels/human traffickers and Islamists…not children) that he has invited into the country as a foreign invasion force to replace US citizens and help him bring down the USA. Besides, he’s already decimated most of the US military, demanded the Border Patrol “stand down” and no longer attempt to stop anyone entering the USA while placing them on diaper and baby-sitting duties for the children coming in with their parents. What difference do some USBP deaths–or any additional US citizen deaths–mean to him? He does, after all, have a one-month vacation in August coming up.
Recently, Obama barely commented on the passenger plane that was shot down, apparently by the Russians or their “rebels,” over Russian-held Eastern Ukraine. Instead, he initially called it a “possible tragedy” and then continued on to another fund-raiser. Possible tragedy? Everyone on board was already known to have been killed and it’s a “possible” tragedy? Note: From Obama, there‘s never any wasted–or any at all–compassion. He’s shown that to us all with his destruction of the American people via killing their economy, encouraging them not to work while he destroys jobs and businesses, bringing on the demise of healthcare (Hint: ObamaCare does not provide healthcare), allowing foreign invasions of any and all comers via the US Southern border who are bringing in deadly diseases and being transported to multiple States; without telling the leaders of said States where he’s had them “dumped.” Yes, folks, he’s doing his job extremely well. And still no one is stopping him. Apparently, we have way too many suicidal citizens in the country now.
With regards to the growing war between Israel and Hamas, the Obama position has been and remains telling Israel–the only democratic country in the Middle East– to be careful not to kill too many of the aggressors trying to destroy them. Over the years, it has become painfully obvious that Obama’s foreign policy consists of replacing all Islamic Shia countries with Islamic Sunnis. After all, his supposed family is Sunni and its members are Muslim Brotherhood; that same Muslim Brotherhood is now largely–in de facto modality–running and ruling over the U.S. government. Anything else non-domestic doesn’t really interest the faux POTUS. He was primed for and hired by his masters to destroy America…annihilate it…and he’s done his job well. But, the complete destruction of the USA is tiresome to him and rather a bother. And he does, after all, have a one-month vacation in August coming up. Priorities must be set!
Obama, Eric Holder and the lion’s share of congressional Democrats still try to downplay the despicable behaviors of Lois Lerner, apparently many if not most of the IRS agents and now the FEC in their attempts to kill free speech for conservatives and those of non-Islamic religions…especially Christians and Jews. Obama and his syndicate have not followed U.S. law and have been actively suppressing (and trying to find ways to imprison) their opposition since entering what was once our White House. So, why would they start now? The Obama syndicate is now in all-out dismantling-of-the-USA push and does not intend to be stopped by anyone. Past experience tells them that no one will even really try to do so. Besides, they’ve been getting away with treason–and no consequences for their actions–on an almost daily basis since Obama usurped the Office of POTUS.
Does anyone see and hear what’s really happening here? Does anyone care? Hello…
Less than seven hours after being asked about the racist legacy of rock entertainer Ted Nugent, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe of American Indians this evening cancelled ascheduled performance next month by the controversial performer.
Tribal officials sounded completely caught off-guard earlier in the day when Hatewatch called and asked why the tribe – with a sterling record of combating hate and standing up for equal rights – had booked Nugent.
Heather Keen, the public relations director for the tribe, announced the decision that Nugent’s scheduled for Aug.4 was being abruptly cancelled.
“Nugent’s history of racist and hate-filled remarks was brought to Tribal Council’s attention earlier today” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Keen said in a statement e-mailed to media outlets.
“The Coeur d’Alene Tribe has always been about human rights – for decades, we have worked individually and as a Tribe to make sure that each and every person is treated equally and with respect and dignity,” the statement said.
Chief Allan, Chairman of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, issued a one-sentence statement about the cancellation, without explaining how Nugent got booked in the first place.
“We know what it’s like to be the target of hateful messages and we would never want perpetuate hate in any way,” Allen said in the statement.
Laura Stensgar, the executive director of marketing for the tribe’s Coeur d’Alene Casino, apparently either made the decision or oversaw someone who booked Nugent. Many of his racist remarks have been made from the stage during rock performances, during which he sometimes wears an Indian headdress.
“We adamantly do not want our casino to be used as a venue for the racist attitudes and views that Ted Nugent espouses,” Stensgar said.
“Unfortunately, when we booked him, we were looking at him from an entertainment perspective, as an 80s rock ‘n roller, who we thought folks might enjoy,” Stensgar said.
“We take the comments and concerns of our community very seriously and we apologize to anyone who was offended by the idea that we would promote these kinds of attitudes. We will do our best to avoid such mistakes moving forward,” Stensgar added.
In a poll by Landmark Communications released Sunday, Democrat Michelle Nunn has a commanding lead against both of her potential challengers in Georgia’s US Senate race
In a poll by Landmark Communications released Sunday, Democrat Michelle Nunn has a commanding lead against both of her potential challengers in Georgia’s US Senate race. Against Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) Nunn is up by eight points, 49% to 41%. The poll also shows her with a nice lead against businessman David Perdue as Nunn leads him 48% to 42%. Perdue and Kingston are heading into a GOP primary runoff this coming Tuesday. The survey shows Kingston with a sizable lead as he is ahead by seven points, 48% to 41%.
While Nunn holds leads against both men, the thought is that she’d prefer to face Kingston in the general election. Atlanta-based political analyst Bill Crane had the following to say after this poll was released.
“I think Michelle Nunn would prefer to run against Jack Kingston. Twenty-two year incumbent, PAC money, special interest, her preferred race is the race that I think she’s going to get.”
Nunn taking the Georgia Senate seat would put a huge crimp in the plans of Republicans who feel they can take over the US Senate this November. Currently, the GOP needs to net six seats in the midterm to become the majority party in the Upper Chamber. Losing a Senate seat in a deep-red state that was previously held by a Republican will almost certainly prevent Republicans from taking over the Senate. While it is nearly a given that Democrats will lose seats this November, it is looking more and more promising that they will be able to retain control of the Senate.
Besides this race, Dems have a very good chance of flipping another Republican-held seat. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is in real danger of losing to Kentucky Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes this November. Polls show the race in a virtual tie and Grimes has been able to energize Democrats in Kentucky. Also, McConnell’s insistence on running against Obamacare is likely to backfire as the health care law has been a raging success in Kentucky. Toss in the fact that Grimes has attracted national attention, with big names coming to Kentucky to campaign for her, and all the arrows point to an embarrassing loss for McConnell.
Rep. David Jolly (R-Fla.) announced his support for gay marriage Monday, saying that he believes it is “fully appropriate” for a state to recognize both same-sex marriages and “traditional” ones, even though he, as a Christian, believes in the the latter.
When asked by The Washington Post whether he supports gay marriage, in light of a Florida judge’s decision last week to overturn the state’s ban, Jolly said that his personal views on marriage are that it should be limited to one man and one woman. But, he added, states should not be defining the “sanctity” of marriage.
“As a matter of my Christian faith, I believe in traditional marriage,” said Jolly in a statement to The Post. “But as a matter of Constitutional principle I believe in a form of limited government that protects personal liberty. To me, that means that the sanctity of one’s marriage should be defined by their faith and by their church, not by their state. Accordingly, I believe it is fully appropriate for a state to recognize both traditional marriage as well as same-sex marriage, and therefore I support the recent decision by a Monroe County Circuit Judge.”
Jolly becomes the eighth current Republican member of Congress to come out in support of gay marriage. He joins Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), and Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.).
Jolly was elected in a hotly contested special election in a Tampa-area swing district earlier this year. He defeated Democrat Alex Sink in a race that was viewed as a testing ground for both parties’ messaging ahead of the November midterm elections.
Jolly is a former aide to the late Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R). Young’s death triggered the special election.
Jolly is not expected to have much trouble winning reelection this year. Retired Col. Ed Jany, who Democrats recruited to run against Jolly in November, ended his campaign less than two weeks after he launched it.
Fox News correspondent Todd Starnes attacked an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT employees, accusing the Obama administration of being “hell-bent on forcing Christians to assimilate to the militant LGBT agenda.”
On July 21, President Obama signed an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating LGBT employees. The order amends existing non-discrimination executive orders to include sexual orientation and gender identity. As BuzzFeed’s Chris Geidner reported, the order “contains no additional religious exemptions … beyond those already contained in existing executive orders.”
Fox’s Starnes attacked the executive order in a July 21 post on FoxNews.com, accusing the Obama administration of endangering religious liberty and “bullying religious groups that hold viewpoints it deems inappropriate”:
The executive order would prevent Christian and other religious organizations with federal contracts from requiring workers to adhere to the tenets of their religious beliefs. And that includes religious Christian colleges and universities that provide financial aid to students.
"If religious organizations cannot require that their employees conduct themselves in ways consistent with the teachings of their faith - then, essentially, those organizations are unable to operate in accordance with their faith," Peter Sprigg, Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at the Family Research Council, told me.
"The mask is coming off of the homosexual movement’s agenda. They really do not believe in religious liberty. They want forced affirmation of homosexual and transgender conduct to trump every other consideration in the workplace - including religious liberty."
The Obama administration seems hell-bent on forcing Christians to assimilate to the militant LGBT agenda. Resistance is futile.
Starnes’ commentary is typical of the Fox News personality, who’s made a career acting as the network’s mouthpiece for some of the country’s most extreme anti-LGBT hate groups. The Family Research Council’s (FRC) Sprigg, for example, has called for the exporting of gay people out of the U.S. and endorsed the criminalization of homosexuality. Pastor Robert Jeffress, another critic cited in Starnes’ post, is notorious for his extreme comments about LGBT people and Muslims.
Starnes’ fear-mongering about the executive order’s lack of religious exemptions grossly mischaracterizes the scope of the directive, which merely extends existing non-discrimination protections to include LGBT employees of federal contractors. As the New York Times editorial board recently explained:
This is not a question of religious freedom. It is a question of whether to allow religion to be used as an excuse to discriminate in employment against a particular group of people… [T]he presidential order … would extend those rules to companies that receive federal contracts in states without those kinds of anti-bias laws, protecting millions more people.
Mr. Obama’s resolve is being tested. There is no good reason to give religious employers a special privilege to inflict undeserved pain by, for example, refusing to hire someone to work on a government-backed project just because she happens to be a lesbian, or firing a capable employee who marries someone of the same sex.
Brigitte Gabriel of ACT for America appeared on “Trunews” last week to discuss her belief that she is facing persecution from the media because of her anti-Muslim activism, but ended up explaining her belief that President Obama is a secret Muslim.
“Trunews” host Rick Wiles sparked the conversation about Obama’s supposed secret Islamic faith by alleging that the president is “outright arming and training and assisting radical jihadist groups in the Middle East such as ISIS” and engineered a “massive cover-up” around the 2012 Benghazi attack.
Gabriel implied that the president is in fact a Muslim by arguing that he was “raised as a Muslim child and idealized his Muslim father,” even though his father was an atheist and there is no evidence Obama was brought up as a Muslim.
After Gabriel claimed that Obama has consistently sided with the Muslim Brotherhood, Wiles made the interview’s subtext even clearer: “You know the old saying about a duck, if it waddles like a duck and it quacks like a duck…”
“It’s a duck,” Gabriel said.
Wiles added: “He’s not only pro-Islam, he’s pro-jihadist Islam. Let’s be blunt about it, he’s not just sympathetic to the Muslim religion, his foreign policies and his strategies and his covert operations are aiding and helping and funding jihadist terrorists in the Middle East.”
Gabriel later argued that Obama views terrorist groups as “good freedom fighters” because he is the product of a university system that is covertly run by Saudi Arabia. “He had friends who were terrorists,” she said. “He does not look at his friends as terrorists, he looks at his friends as freedom fighters.”
Oddly, after speaking with Wiles about how universities are filled with Marxist radicals, Gabriel said that “the average college student today cannot tell you anything about Marxism or communism or anything like that, they are not educated about these things in America today. What they are educated about and what they care about is ‘Survivor,’ ‘Dancing With The Stars,’ the Art, I mean, we have kids majoring in the Art, the Cultural Art, Women’s Rights and all of those things and they graduate and they cannot even find a job because it’s not the real world.”
“When it comes to the education about the Middle East, those college kids for the last twenty years in the United States are basically fed whatever information they have from Saudi-funded sources that is funding Middle East Studies departments at our elite universities,” she continued.
“Whoever is teaching them is appointed in the Communications class or the Middle East Studies department class by Saudi-funded chair to teach them that the Islamic world is just freedom fighters fighting this big meanie, imperialist, Zionist conspiracy to rule the world.”
Another protester in Florida wrote a sign that read, “Send Them Back with Birth Control.”
3.The fringe and the “mainstream” are closely knit.
The weekend’s protests were organized by fringe extremists, but they were promoted by large national groups that have access and influence in national politics.
The largest anti-immigrant organizing groups, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and Numbers USA quietly promoted the events: Numbers sent a notice about the events to its email list and a number of FAIR’s state affiliates directed members to events in their areas.
The protests this weekend were an attempt to create the illusion of widespread outrage at the children coming to the southern border and at the concept of immigration reform. A number of the protest groups, however small, garnered local news coverage and were able to say that they were part of a large nationwide effort. A look at reports from across the country shows that that was not the case.
The anti-immigrant movement may be smoke and mirrors, but it has some very influential people fooled. House Speaker John Boehner still refuses to bring immigration reform up for a vote in the House. Ted Cruz now says that deporting DREAMers is his “top priority.” Republicans in Congress, spooked by the victory of ALIPAC-supported David Brat in Virginia, say that immigration reform is dead — even though an overwhelming percentage of Republicans want Congress to take action to fix the immigration system and a majority of Republicans want that to include a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
The child refugee crisis has brought out the true colors of the anti-immigrant movement. Even as some conservative groups are urging compassion and care for the children fleeing to the southern border, Republican leaders seem to be buying the narrative of the small, Nativist anti-immigrant fringe.
Sen. Mitch McConnell, facing perhaps the toughest reelection fight of his career, is obscuring his position on a number of policy issues, some of which he previously staked out aggressively and strictly enforced party discipline over.
The latest forecasts by the New York Times and FiveThirtyEight rate the minority leader as the most vulnerable GOP incumbent in the November Senate races, where Republicans have a considerable advantage. And although Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes has an uphill climb in bright red Kentucky, the Republican leader is taking no chances — even if it means backing away from some key policy positions he’s taken that are unpopular with moderates.
Here are three issues where McConnell’s campaign has obscured his stance.
1. Ryan budget? What Ryan budget?
McConnell has been an aggressive supporter of the controversial budget blueprints by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) to slash taxes and privatize Medicare — he voted for them when they came up in 2011, 2012, and 2013.
Recently Grimes attacked him in an ad claiming the 2011 version of Ryan’s budget would raise a retiree’s Medicare costs by $6,000. In response McConnell’s campaign backed away from his previous alliance with Ryan’s budget, telling FactCheck.org, “There is no way to speculate if [McConnell] would have voted for final passage without having debated amendments.” His campaign made a similar comment to a WFPL reporter.
To be sure, Grimes’ attack was embellished — the $6,000 figure applied only to the 2011 Ryan budget, not the updated versions, and would impact those 55 and under at time of passage. But McConnell’s campaign didn’t argue that, nor did it respond to TPM’s requests to explain what he’d want to change in the budget.
Instead he distanced himself from a proposal that is an article of faith in the GOP, which he strongly supported and united nearly every GOP senator behind.
2. Obamacare is unconnected to … Obamacare
It is a cruel irony that McConnell, Obamacare’s most formidable enemy, hails from a state where it is working considerably well. In May, faced with the fact that some 413,000 Kentuckians are benefiting from Obamacare via its popular state exchange Kynect, McConnell told home state reporters the two were “unconnected” when asked if he wanted to dismantle Kynect.
His campaign spokeswoman explained his position: “If Obamacare is repealed, Kentucky should decide for itself whether to keep Kynect or set up a different marketplace,” said Allison Moore.
The stance is unconnected to Obamacare realities. Kynect is inoperable without the health care law which provides the subsidies, consumer protections and coverage mandates from which Kentuckians are benefit. Without Obamacare, Kynect is hollow. McConnell’s comments would make more sense if he had an alternate plan to reconstruct Kynect in a world without Obamacare. But doesn’t appear to have one. When TPM put that question to McConnell he responded, “Yeah, we’ve already addressed that issue, and I don’t have anything to add.”
3. Violence Against Women Act? I’m all for it!
Women voters are ordinarily a sore spot for McConnell, but more so this year as Grimes makes an aggressive pitch for them. Last August, McConnell held an event in Kentucky called “Women For Team Mitch” and distributed packets to reporters which, among other things, featured a constituent touting his ostensible support for the Violence Against Women Act, an anti-domestic-abuse law that Congress had renewed just months earlier.
The problem: McConnell has consistently voted against the act. Although he did cosponsor VAWA legislation in 1991, which his campaign testimonial touted, the packet neglected to mention that McConnell voted against passage of the bill when it originally came up in 1993. He also voted against reauthorizing it in 2012 and 2013, the only two times that Congress has held recorded votes to renew it.
McConnell’s campaign wouldn’t comment on the matter. During the VAWA debates in 2012 and 2013 he supported a scaled-back version which excluded protections for LGBT victims, Native Americans and undocumented immigrants. A bipartisan version which included those protections eventually became law.
Mitch McConnell: say one thing, do another. Let’s send him packing in November at the ballot box by replacing him with Alison Lundergan Grimes.
Former Colts and Buccaneers head coach and current NBC analyst Tony Dungy says that if he were still an NFL head coach, he wouldn’t have drafted Michael Sam, who became the first openly gay player in league history when the Rams selected him in May.
“I wouldn’t have taken him,’’ Dungy told the Tampa Tribune. “Not because I don’t believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play, but I wouldn’t want to deal with all of it. It’s not going to be totally smooth … things will happen.’’
What Dungy is expressing publicly is similar to what some coaches and general managers have said privately, in anonymous quotes in stories about Sam before the draft. But Dungy is the highest-profile person in the NFL world to put his name behind the viewpoint that Sam would cause a distraction and would be more trouble than he’s worth.
Dungy’s comments therefore serve as a reminder that the Rams deserve credit for not allowing the concerns about distractions to keep them from picking Sam. We don’t know how many teams passed on Sam because he’s gay and how many teams passed on Sam because they simply didn’t think he was a good enough player, but we do know that the Rams were the team that ended Sam’s fall late in the seventh round of the draft. Whether Sam pans out as a player or not, the Rams made history by making the NFL more inclusive.
And that’s where Dungy’s comments become troubling. If everyone refused to hire minorities because it could cause a distraction, no minority group would ever make any progress. Dungy has praised the late Chuck Noll for adding Dungy to the Steelers’ coaching staff in 1981, at a time when most NFL teams didn’t have any African-American assistant coaches. What if Noll had declined to hire Dungy because he worried that some of the white assistant coaches would have a problem with a black colleague?
Dungy may be right when he says “things will happen” because the Rams have an openly gay player on their roster, but those things aren’t Sam’s fault. And those things shouldn’t prevent any NFL team from drafting an openly gay player.
Last month, Glenn Beck mentioned that David Barton had been invited to deliver his standard presentation of lies and misinformation to high-ranking government leaders in some former Soviet nation that is seeking to model itself on the United States.
Today, Barton appeared on James Dobson’s radio program where he revealed that the country that had invited him was none other than Ukraine, where he spent two days meeting with members of the government and various religious leaders in order to teach them how to build a proper government based on the teachings of the Bible.
"They were absolutely shocked to find out how practical the Bible was," Barton said. "They had no clue that all of these things [pertaining to government] were in the Bible … We talked to them about all sorts of things, about education in the Bible, about all sorts of things, so they were alive and on fire."
Since returning to America, Barton revealed that he has been contacted by several other members of the Ukrainian government, asking him to return and deliver his presentation to the entire parliament, as well as from government leaders in neighboring nations who want him to come and present his message there as well:
President Obama made history this morning, signing an executive order barring federal contractors from discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity.
There are no religious exemptions in the executive order President Obama signed this morning in a formal ceremony at the White House. From this day forward, no federal contractor, no matter how religious he claims to be, will be allowed to discriminate against an employee because of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Today President Obama amended Executive Order 11246, which already prohibits federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the order.
Today President Obama amended Executive Order 11478 prohibiting discrimination in the federal civilian workplace, which already includes sexual orientation, to include gender identity.”
Saying “Our government - government of the people, by the people and for the people - will become just a little bit fairer,” President Obama set strong new standards for federal contractors, which employ 20 percent of the American workforce. Under these executive orders, an estimated 14 million more American workers will be now be protected from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Human Rights Campaign reports that the manner in which the White House chose to extend LGBT workplace protections will make them very difficult for a future administration to reverse:
In the part that applies to federal contractors, the Obama administration declined to create a separate carve-out or standard for LGBT employees. Instead, the President elected to narrowly amend Executive Order 11246, first signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965—placing sexual orientation and gender identity on equal footing with race, color, religion, sex and national origin, and thus making these protections virtually politically impossible for a future administration to undo.
Fears that the president would include a religious exemption that would allow federal contractors to excuse their discrimination toward LGBT workers proved unfounded. Though more than 140 religious leaders requested an exemption, the White House declined to include one.
The Rev. Fred Davie, Executive Vice President at Union Theological Seminary, who was a guest at the signing this morning, declared the lack of a religious exemption a great victory:
“This is a tremendous victory for those of us who believe that as people of faith we should be exemplary, not exempted. Religions of the world across the ages have engendered and supported discrimination and bigotry from deceptively genteel to utterly horrific. We have also sacrificed our very lives for our neighbors in response to God’s radical and unrelenting call to love others as much as we love ourselves.”
In response to the executive order, HRC president Chad Griffin issued the following statement:
“With this action, President Obama has cemented his legacy as a transformative leader. Consistently, this administration has taken unprecedented and historic executive actions to advance LGBT equality in this country and around the world.”