Anti-gay pastor Scott Lively is standing with Russian president Vladimir Putin in the Ukraine crisis, hailing Putin’s government for cracking down on LGBT rights and becoming a “defender of true human rights.”
Writing today in WorldNetDaily, Lively said that LGBT equality in the US is destroying the Constitution and the rule of law, creating “special rights for favored groups” and putting America “in a death spiral of moral and ethical degeneracy.”
In contrast, he writes, Russia “has begun embracing Christian values regarding family issues.”
“And this is why the greatest point of conflict between the U.S. and Russia is the question of homosexuality (I believe even the conflict in Ukraine is being driven to a large extent by this issue, at least on the part of the Obama State Department and the homosexualist leaders of the EU.),” Lively writes.
Fox News “Medical A-Team” member Dr. Keith Ablow attributed Russian president Valdimir Putin’s decision to invade Crimea in part “to the psychology of Barack Obama.”
In a March 11 FoxNews.com column, Ablow claimed that Putin’s motivations should not be dismissed as those of a “simple thug,” but rather that “Putin’s psychology is being directly fueled by that of President Barack Obama.” Ablow criticized Obama as unwilling to assert both personal and nationalistic power, arguing that “Barack Obama apparently believes he was placed on this earth to be the most powerful person he can be, in order to restrain America in the expression of its power.”
Ablow went on to imply that Obama’s domestic policy was the catalyst for Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine:
How then could Vladimir Putin fail to notice the remarkable presence on the world stage of an American counterpart (Barack Obama) who is as interested as he is in disempowering the United States? How could he fail to act on the remarkable symmetry of such a moment in history? To not test the possibility that God intends him to be the instrument of a new world order, based on Russia’s manifest destiny, would be contrary to every fiber in his being.
To go further, I do not believe that Vladimir Putin would miss the fact that Barack Obama has imperiled the notion of individual autonomy (by seeking to disarm Americans, by seeking to make Americans dependent on unemployment checks and food stamps and by making it officially impossible to choose how to spend your own money, via the Affordable Care Act). Since giving each individual the right to power is not the goal of this American President, why would Putin believe that taking power from others would be opposed vigorously by this President’s Administration?
Ablow concluded that “If Crimea becomes part of Russia or all of Ukraine does,” Putin and Obama’s psychology will share the blame equally.
Right-wing media figures are celebrating a new paper purporting to demonstrate anti-Christian and anti-conservative bias in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) listing of extremist hate groups — conveniently ignoring the clear biases of the paper’s author and the paper’s glaring methodological problems.
On March 10, Breitbart.com’s in-house anti-gay extremist Austin Ruse touted a new “study” from University of North Texas sociologist George Yancey, the author of “Watching the Watchers: The Neglect of Academic Analysis of Progressive Groups,” a paper appearing in the journal Academic Questions. In the “study,” Yancey purports to have found that the SPLC’s practice of identifying and labeling hate groups ignores extremism on the left, instead maligning right-wing groups like the Family Research Council (which Yancey calls the “Family Research Center”). Moreover, Yancey charges that the SPLC is far too liberal with its use of that designation, unfairly smearing sensible conservatives as hateful bigots.
Before taking his arguments seriously, here’s what media outlets and the public should know about Yancey’s anti-SPLC polemic:
1.It Isn’t A Study. Yancey’s paper — republished in full on Breitbart’s website — is little more than a screed against the SPLC filled with right-wing boilerplate. (“Progressive groups who value tolerance may display intolerance when reacting to conservative individuals,” Yancey writes, echoing conservative bloviators like Erick Erickson.) But Yancey’s “study” lacks a systematic and coherent methodology. There’s no objective metric by which he determines whether the SPLC goes too hard on conservative groups and too easy on leftist ones.
Instead, he fixates on the fact that the SPLC hasn’t labelled the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) as a hate group. This perceived failure on the SPLC’s part is Yancey’s central example of its alleged pro-leftist, anti-conservative bias.
2.The SPLC Does Hold Non-Conservative Groups Accountable. The SPLC has done extensive work highlighting phenomena like black separatism and black supremacism. In fact, it was the SPLC who exposed last summer an African-American “race war” proponent working for the Department of Homeland Security. Conservative outlets like Fox News and WorldNetDaily highlighted the story, even though those organizations have condemned the SPLC in the past.
3.Yancey Isn’t A Neutral Scholar. While Yancey seeks to police purported bias at the SPLC, he’s made his own biases clear before. In a 2012 interview with the right-wing Christian Post, he denounced what he called the often “downright hateful” views of cultural progressives, asserting that many liberals’ views are “born out of fear and irrationality.”
4.The Paper Whitewashes The Bigotry Of Anti-Gay Hate Groups. Even as Yancey claims he isn’t arguing that the FRC doesn’t belong on the SPLC’s hate list — simply that more liberal groups belong there — he suggests that its leaders’ claims that gay people are disproportionately likely to molest children are simply based on alternative, if “uncharitable,” readings of the scientific literature. But that literature is clear: there’s no empirical basis for the claim that gays are more likely to molest children. Claims to the contrary only serve to stigmatize and pathologize members of a vulnerable minority group.
Conveniently, Yancey also neglected to mention that FRC President Tony Perkins has spoken before the white supremacist Council of Concerned Citizens.
It’s not surprising that Ruse — whose organization has been labeled a hate group by the SPLC — would herald Yancey’s paper. Yancey’s paper might not be methodologically rigorous, but at least it comports with the preexisting biases of its conservative fans.
I just signed a petition to TLC and Discovery Media, LLC: Cancel the Duggars’ show, “19 Kids and Counting,” and stop rewarding people who misuse the history of the Holocaust to play politics with women’s rights.
The right-wing Quiverfull extremist propaganda show 19 Kids and Counting needs to get off the air now!
The host of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey says ‘science is not there for you to cherry pick.’
Neil deGrasse Tyson, the star of Fox Networks’ Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, says its time to stop giving equal time to science deniers and chastised the media for creating a false equivalence in its coverage of scientific issues.
Tyson, who is also the director of the Natural History Museum’s Hayden Planetarium, appeared on CNN’s Reliable Sources program on Sunday, where he talked about the hypocrisy of people dismissing scientific theory while simultaneously embracing the fruits of scientific discovery “that we so take for granted today.”
Reliable Sources Anchor Brian Stelter inquired if Tyson thought the media had a responsibility in portraying science correctly, particularly when discussing controversial issues such as climate change. Tyson replied that the media was giving “equal time to the flat-earthers.”
“The media has to sort of come out of this ethos that I think was in principle a good one, but it doesn’t really apply in science,” Tyson said. “The ethos was, whatever story you give, you have to give the opposing view. And then you can be viewed as balanced.”
“Science is not there for you to cherry pick,” said Tyson. “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it. Alright? I guess you can decide whether or not to believe in it, but that doesn’t change the reality of an emergent scientific truth.”
From 2006 to 2011, Tyson hosted the educational science television show NOVA ScienceNow on PBS and has been a frequent guest on The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Real Time with Bill Maher, and Jeopardy! Tyson said he hopes his new television show, which premiered yesterday to high ratings and rave reviews, can help Americans learn how to discern science from politics, and help make people better stewards of the Earth.
Cosmos is a follow-up to the 1980 television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, presented by the late astronomer Carl Sagan. The executive producers are Family Guy Producer Seth MacFarlane and Ann Druyan, Sagan’s widow. It premiered simultaneously in the across ten Fox Networks channels. According to Fox Networks, this is the first time that a television show premiered in a global simulcast across their network of channels.
Illinois gubernatorial candidate and businessman Bruce Rauner wants you to know, he’s not part of the one percent, he’s part of the .01 percent.
"Oh I’m probably .01 percent," Rauner corrected in response to a previous statement an interview with The Chicago Sun-Times's Natasha Korecki. Rauner's net worth is reportedly close to nearly $1 billion. Rauner, a venture capitalist, owns nine homes and made $53 million in 2013, according to the Sun-Times.
But Rauner also wanted to be clear that he isn’t like other wealthy Republicans associated with governor’s mansions. He said he’s nothing like former Massachusetts Gov. and presidential candidate Mitt Romney (R).
"I am a very different person than Mitt Romney: I drink beer, I smoke a cigar, I use a gun, I ride a Harley," Rauner said in the same interview. "I get a crowd going to a standing ovation, I never saw him do that."
Romney did, however, get crowds going to standing ovations on occasion, like at the 2012 Republican National Convention.
A former top Romney 2012 campaign official scoffed at Rauner’s comments.
"I don’t know what cave Bruce was stuck in during 2012, but of the 60+ million people who voted for Mitt Romney, tens of thousands would regularly show up to stand and cheer at our rallies," the official told TPM.
Most polling has shown Rauner as the frontrunner in the Republican gubernatorial primary. A recentChicago Tribune/WGN-TV poll shows Rauner with 36 percent followed by state Sen. Kirk Dillard with 23 percent and state Sen. Bill Brady with 18 percent and state Treasurer Dan Rutherford with 9 percent.
At CPAC on Saturday a tribute to William F. Buckley’s longtime PBS show Firing Line was put together with Mickey Kaus, columnist for the Daily Caller speaking from the “progressive” side and right wing heroine, the queen of nasty, Anne Coulter speaking for the right.
Coulter replied, “and I think part of the problem is, and I completely agree with Charles Murray on this, I mean you read these terrifying divorce statistics and then find out they are completely different for college educated people and those without, or with only a high school degree. The unwed motherhood rate and that just feeds upon itself, and the one thing that’s really changed besides, I mean you have the government often subsidizing bad behavior, or you have Hollywood rewarding bad behavior, but there’s also an overwhelming cultural sense, I think it is a political correctness to end shaming. Shaming is good, this is how, I mean it’s almost a cruel and selfish thing, for lack of a better term, for the upper classes, the educated, for the college graduates to refuse to tell the poor people, ‘keep your knees together before you’re married.’”
Michele Bachmann says she thanks God for the Koch Brothers, the billionaire duo who have contributed tens of millions of dollars to conservative causes. During an interview at the Koch-sponsored Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last week, Bachmann defended the pro-GOP mega-donors against recent criticism from Senate majority leader Harry Reid.
The Minnesota congresswoman claimed that more wealthy donors would give to conservative causes if progressives weren’t “intimidating people from giving money to our cause” and suggested that people who criticize conservative donors be tried under the anti-organized crime RICO Act.
Bachmann told conservative talk show host Lars Larson that she thanks God for the Kochs and their giving:
I just thank God that there’s a billionaire or two on our side. All the billionaires seem to be on the radical left, so I’m glad that we have a couple on ours. I hope we get a few more that are willing that come out but realize also this is an intimidation movement, I’m sure that the donors on our side don’t like to have their names vilified and that’s what this is about, intimidating people from giving money to our cause, that’s it. There’s something called the RICO statute, the racketeering law, that should be applied against them for doing this.
From the 03.06.2014 edition of Compass Media Networks’ The Lars Larson Show:
The race for the GOP nomination for governor is likely to be a contentious one. Wealthy businessman Bruce Rauner, Sen. Kirk Dillard, Treasurer Dan Rutherford and Sen. Bill Brady will face off in the Illinois General Primary Election March 18. Here are some of the main issues touted in their campaigns and why you should know them.
The Issue: Charter schools
Here’s Why: It’s no surprise that education reform is at the top of the agendas for Illinoisans running for public office. Amidst school closings around Chicago, publicly funded private charter schools have become a point of controversy as their effectiveness has yet to be proven. Rauner has made his support for charter schools a centerpiece of his campaign, while the other candidates have all expressed support in some form or another.
The Issue: Corporate tax breaks
Here’s Why: In recent years, corporate tax breaks have become a big issue in Illinois as the state struggles to retain large companies that bring in lots of jobs. Corporate tax breaks for those companies are incentives for them to stay, but opponents cry injustice for the everyday taxpayer and small business. All four GOP candidates are focused on job creation and making Illinois a more competitive state for business, but their views on corporate tax breaks are not yet clear.
The Issue: Minimum wage
Here’s Why: Concerning minimum wage, the four GOP candidates stand in staunch opposition to Gov. Quinn, who made raising the minimum wage the principle issue of his own campaign. The current minimum wage is $8.25 per hour, a full dollar above the national rate. Rauner has previously advocated for lowering the Illinois rate to match the national minimum wage, but all four candidates currently support keeping it the same.
The Issue: Pensions
Here’s Why: Pension reform has been a hallmark of Gov. Quinn’s time in office. The controversial bill he signed last year was the climax of the crisis. The four GOP candidates held varying views on the bill. Rauner doesn’t believe the measures go far enough. Rutherford and Dillard have questioned its constitutionality. And Brady expressed that it was the best that could be done under the circumstances.
The Issue: Progressive taxation
Here’s Why: The temporary 5 percent income tax hike is set to expire in 2015, making taxation a big issue in the governor’s race. The question isn’t just whether the current tax rate should be renewed, but also whether Illinois should make the bigger change of converting to a progressive tax system. Gov. Quinn has said he would support this change, but all four GOP candidates stand behind the current flat-rate system, which they say makes Illinois a more business-friendly state.
The Issue: Term limits
Here’s Why: Illinois is one of 30 states without constitutional term limits for its legislators. But there has been a lot of talk surrounding whether to change that, possibly limiting terms to eight years. Rauner has been one of the biggest proponents for term limits and has made it one of the main features of his campaign. The other GOP candidates support term limits as well. Gov. Quinn, however, seems less decided about the issue.
The Issue: Campaign finance
Here’s Why: In 2009, Gov. Quinn enacted a bill that calls for more campaign finance transparency and places stricter limits on campaign contributions. This has become an issue with Rauner, who caused a minor scandal when he used the third-party firm Paylocity to pay his employees, making it unclear who was getting paid and how much. Billionaire Rauner leads the GOP campaign financial race by a long shot, while the other three contenders have struggled to stay in the race.
The Issue: Abortion
Here’s Why: The four GOP candidates run the gamut on views of abortion. Rauner takes the most liberal stance saying he supports the woman’s right to choose, but abortion should be very rare. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Brady, who has previously advocated for a complete ban on abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. Although they describe themselves as pro-life, Dillard and Rutherford are somewhere in the middle.
Next Tuesday in Illinois, there will be a primary for IL-Gov on the GOP side for the right to face off against Pat Quinn in November. Bruce Rauner is the favorite to win the primary next Tueday. All four are GOP candidates bad for Illinois, especially Brady and Rauner.
Many in the anti-immigrant movement felt slighted by this year’s CPAC, which they claimed did not devote enough time to their cause. Center for Immigration Studies director Mark Krikorian lamented to the Washington Post that the American Conservative Union “pushed out” groups like his from the event; while others, including Phyllis Schlafly, Rep. Steve King, and Frank Gaffney held their own alternative event across the street.
But they needn’t have worried. Even if the ACU was trying to appear more moderate on the issue of immigration – chiefly by hosting a panel featuring conservative immigration reform advocates – anti-immigrant rhetoric was still plentiful at the event. After all, CPAC welcomed the sponsorship of ProEnglish, an anti-immigrant “English only” group run by a white nationalist, even while refusing to include groups representing LGBT and atheist conservatives.
You received years of specialized training in a field that you’re passionate about. You’ve decided to work in an area of the country where you feel you can make a difference. You have a family, and you’re primarily concerned about helping other families thrive. But at every turn, the state is enacting more barriers to your professional success. Your job options are limited because you’re not welcome in some American communities. And sometimes, protesters show up outside of the home you share with your children, shouting that they hate the work you do.
You’re on the front lines of the abortion wars.
The politicized debate over reproductive rights is typically framed as a tug of war between life and choice, women and babies, pregnancy and abortion. Although it’s no question that women’s bodies have become a battleground, there are other foot soldiers in this fight who don’t always enter the national conversation. The medical professionals who risk their jobs and their lives to perform legal abortions are under siege.
ThinkProgress spoke to eight individuals who either perform abortions for their patients or operate a clinic where abortions are offered. Some preferred to speak under pseudonyms, and others agreed to use their real names. They face unique challenges depending on which state they call home, but their stories all include a common thread. They want to help women — help them choose the best type of contraception, help them have healthy pregnancies, help deliver their babies, help them decide how many children to have, and help them beat cancer. They’re frustrated that they’re singled out, dealing with personal and professional hurdles that no other type of doctor is forced to experience.
They’re also not naive about what’s at stake in their daily lives.
“Let’s put it this way. You probably interview other professionals for news stories all the time and you never have to worry about whether you can identify their name, or the institution where they work,” Dr. David Eisenberg, a doctor practicing in St. Louis, pointed out to ThinkProgress. “It’s very clear to me that the work that I do puts me at risk on many levels. I’m willing to take these risks, but it’s ridiculous they exist in the first place.”
Casualties in the anti-abortion war
Exactly 21 years ago, Dr. David Gunn was shot three times in the back outside of his abortion clinic in Pensacola, Florida. According to media reports, a 31-year-old abortion protestor yelled “Don’t kill any more babies!” before opening fire at point-blank range. Gunn had been operating a clinic in Pensacola for just over a month before he was killed; it bore no signs advertising what type of services it provided.
Everyone who does the work we do can’t forget the things that have happened.”
Gunn was the first doctor to become a casualty of the movement that calls itself pro-life. Since then, there have been seven more. In order to commemorate Gunn’s memory, reproductive rights advocates now mark the date of his death, March 10, as the National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers. Activist groups encourage people to send thank you cards to the people who risk their lives to do this work, an effort that abortion opponents typically mock.
“Everyone who does the work we do can’t forget the things that have happened, and the people who have been murdered and attacked,” Dr. Christopher Estes, an abortion provider in Florida, told ThinkProgress. “But I don’t let it stop me from doing what I do.”
“There can be backlash, and there are consequences. Hopefully they’re minimal — someone doesn’t want to invite you to a dinner party — but they can obviously also be much more serious,” Dr. Stephanie Long, a doctor from California, added.
Long noted that the people who do this work are very aware of which areas carry the highest risk. Before she moved to California, she trained and practiced in Idaho and New Mexico. There weren’t necessarily robust support systems there. She knows people who stopped providing abortion care in Idaho because it was too difficult for them. After all, if you’re the only abortion doctor within hundreds of miles, your clinic is on opponents’ radar, and your profile will likely be raised in the anti-choice community.
“There are big barriers for those in small communities. There’s a lot of fear for what someone might say to your family or your children. You’re not as anonymous as you are in a big city — if you’re walking into a town of 2,000, everyone knows who you are and recognizes you in the grocery store,” Long explained. “There’s a certain point along the path, when you’re picking different jobs, you realize that if you work at certain clinics, your name will be out there. You have to decide if you’re okay with that.”
“For a lot of people, they don’t want to deal with the hassles, they don’t want to become a target, they don’t want their clinic to be picketed. For most doctors, it’s not an ideological issue; it’s a practical issue. This work is hard,” Dr. Jennifer Rojas, which is not her real name, told ThinkProgress.
Rojas prefers to remain anonymous because elevating her profile is a threat to her professional life. She practices in Texas, where a new state law is forcing dozens of abortion providers out of work because they can’t comply with a regulation that requires them to obtain admitting privileges, which is essentially a superfluous partnership with a local hospital. It’s hard enough to get these admitting privileges as it is, and many doctors areunsuccessful. But becoming a target of local anti-choice groups can make it even worse. That can lead certain hospitals to refuse to work with you.
For most doctors, it’s not an ideological issue; it’s a practical issue. This work is hard.”
In Ohio, another state with some of the harshest abortion laws on the books, Davis is similarly wary to elevate her profile. She decided not to publicly identify herself because Ohio Right To Life, the most prominent anti-abortion group in her state, already knows who she is. Her name is on their website; they send letters to her home. “They’re praying for me. I get Christmas cards. Stuff like that,” she said.
Davis isn’t necessarily intimidated by the abortion opponents in Ohio. But, like Rojas, she’s well aware of the vast ripple effects of being targeted by the country’s network of anti-choice groups. Protesters will often try to get abortion doctors evicted from their clinics, either by pressuring their landlords or by lobbying to rezone the local area. They’ll implore other medical professionals to refuse to work with the doctors who provide abortion care. And they’ll direct their attention to the hospitals where abortion doctors work, flooding the institutions with phone calls and letters. Davis doesn’t want to invite those type of “shenanigans,” as she calls them.
“They can do whatever they want to do to me. But I don’t want other people who didn’t choose to do this work to have to deal with this,” Davis said.
A new kind of anti-abortion harassment
Merle Hoffman owns one of the oldest abortion clinics in the United States.Choices Women’s Medical Center was founded in New York in 1971, when abortion was permitted in that state but hadn’t yet been legalized across the country. At this point, she’s seen it all.
“I’m in my 43rd year of doing this work,” Hoffman explained in an interview with ThinkProgress. “I’ve seen the ebb and flow over the decades — I’ve seen the murder of my friends, I’ve seen bombings and harassment, and I’ve personally been evicted from previous buildings because of protesters. I once had armed guards in front of my clinic for three months. Providers have had to endure every type of bullying and harassment.”
Although abortion clinic violence makes the headlines less frequently than it did 20 years ago, and there have been a few pieces of legislation enacted on the state and national levels to protect clinics and staff from harassment, that doesn’t mean the issue has gone away. In some ways, abortion providers are more at risk than ever before, now that state legislatures are effectively targeting them.
“Over the last 30 or 40 years since Roe, the different ways that abortion opponents attack safe abortion care have really changed over time,” Amy Hagstrom Miller, the founder and CEO of Texas’ largest independent abortion provider, Whole Woman’s Health, told ThinkProgress. “In the 1980s and 1990s, there were a lot of clinic blockades and bombings. Then they started specifically targeting physicians — there were a lot of murders. Now, you’ve seen a change in the approach. We have this new front of anti-abortion harassment through the legislature and through the court system.”
We have this new front of anti-abortion harassment through the legislature and through the court system.”
Abortion opponents have been working to make it too difficult for doctors to provide abortion care by enacting dozens of complicated state-level restrictions that dictate how these services may be performed. Once state legislatures pass tighter restrictions, anti-choice activists can start filing complaints alleging clinics are breaking the new law and endangering their patients. Sometimes they’ll conduct undercover “stings” — posing as a minor trying to get an abortion without telling her parents, or pretending to be a woman forced to have an abortion against her will — in an attempt to catch the clinic staff making a wrong move. Ultimately, they’re hoping to trigger the state’s agencies to step in and conduct surprise inspections. It’s expensive and time-consuming for clinic staff to continue refuting these false claims.
“The state is really a tool of the anti-abortion movement in this scenario,” Hagstrom Miller noted. She’s been personally impacted by this dynamic. Just last week, Hagstrom Miller announced that she will be forced to close two of her five clinics because she can’t afford to keep them operating under Texas’ restrictive new law.
Meanwhile, abortion doctors have no choice but to do their best to navigate a web of complex state restrictions, even if it goes against their best medical judgment. Many of these state laws carry harsh penalties, like thousands of dollars in penalties and decades in jail, and doctors have to protect themselves.
“Every time I perform an abortion, I have to offer the woman the ability to see or hear the heartbeat of her ‘unborn human individual,’ which is what the law states it must be called,” Dr. Kate Davis, whose work in Ohio forces her to navigate several incredibly restrictive anti-abortion laws, told ThinkProgress. “I need to tell her the probability of this pregnancy going to term if she chooses to continue the pregnancy and doesn’t have the abortion. I need to do this both verbally and in writing. From my medical point of view, this is totally unnecessary. But I’m doing it so I don’t get fined, or charged with a misdemeanor or, heaven forbid, a felony.”
Another one of Ohio’s laws prevents Davis from performing later abortions, even in cases when a woman’s pregnancy has gone terribly wrong and her fetus won’t survive. In those cases, her hands are tied and she’s forced to refer her patients to a different doctor out of state.
Some of the only complaints I get from patients are when I have to turn them away.”
“Some of the only complaints I get from patients are when I have to turn them away. When I tell them, I’m sorry, I can’t help you, I know how to do the procedure and I could do it safely, but I can’t,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking. People are begging you — as a physician, you know you can help them, but the only reason you can’t is because of a state law.”
‘If I don’t do it, who will?’
Considering the challenges, it’s perhaps no surprise that this country faces a serious abortion provider shortage. The National Abortion Federation (NAF) estimates that the number of abortion providers in the U.S. has dropped 37 percent since 1982. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has warned that “the availability of abortion services is in jeopardy” because of this growing lack of available doctors. Indeed, according to one recent study, 97 percent of OB-GYNs have had patients who have come to them for an abortion — but only about 14 percent of those doctors actually knew how to perform one.
That’s partly because some doctors decide they don’t want to deal with the hassles from anti-choice protesters, or the risks of navigating anti-choice laws. But it’s also partly because of structural barriers that exist within the medical community itself.
Many doctors don’t learn enough about abortion care while they’re in medical school — a 2009 study found that a third of medical schools don’t talk about elective abortion at all during the first two pre-clinical years. And as an increasing number of abortion clinics are being forced to close, and as hospitals have eliminated abortion from the services they provide, students in residency are losing out on opportunities to train. For instance, the doctors training in one of the 600 Catholic-affiliated hospitals across the country are barred from doing abortions. Even if new doctors do enter the field with the knowledge and the desire to practice abortion care, it’s often difficult for them to find a job that allows them to do that work.
So, when asked why they continue to do this difficult work, a common theme emerged among the abortion providers who spoke to ThinkProgress. They all said they don’t really have a choice. They know they’re part of a shrinking pool of people who can help women safely and legally end a pregnancy.
“Coming in as a new physician committed to reproductive rights makes it really difficult,” Long, the provider who trained in rural Idaho, noted. “But it’s not just a commitment in words. It has to be a commitment in actions. If I’m not going to do it, there aren’t a lot of other people who will.”
Every day I see these women and I think — where else would they go?”
Davis, the anonymous doctor from Ohio, agreed. “I always knew that if I was going to be an OB-GYN, I would be obligated to provide abortions. The field is dwindling, and the providers we have are graying. If I don’t do it, who’s going to do it?”
“As I saw the increasing restrictions on abortion care, well, I came to this from a point of social justice. Since I have the skills to do this, then why wouldn’t I do it? Being in a state like Texas, where access is such a huge issue, it’s become 90 percent of what I do by default,” Rojas explained. “There aren’t that many people to do it. I couldn’t imagine leaving this, no matter how hard it is, because every day I see these women and I think — where else would they go?”
Luckily, there’s some slow progress emerging in this area. Over the past two decades, abortion rights advocates have been laying the groundwork to begin reversing the doctor shortage. The national Ryan Program, which was founded in 1999 and now has dozens of locations at medical schools across the country, is a central part of that effort. It provides critical financial support for OB-GYN departments, and helps them integrate abortion into the rest of family planning training. And local chapters of Medical Students For Choice are supporting individuals who want to become abortion providers.
A new wave of instructors is helping contribute to this shift, too. Doctors like Estes and Eisenberg, who have transitioned into academia and are committed to teaching their students about abortion services as simply another part of reproductive health care, are changing medical schools from the inside.
“People like me are taking on academic roles and roles in medical education. We’re making sure that students receive appropriate education about family planning care and abortion,” Estes, who works at an institution in Florida that’s home to a Ryan Program, noted. “I’ve been fortunate enough to wind up in a situation where I do an awful lot of teaching and I have some control over the curriculum. I put abortion back in, where it belongs. At the very least, students get to see the truth about it, and not have it hidden away like something we should all be ashamed of.”
Brave enough to speak out
Ultimately, abortion providers are caught in somewhat of a Catch-22. In order to preserve their professional and personal safety, they’re often reluctant to speak publicly about their work. But being forced into silence isn’t a great option, either. That ends up having larger consequences for society’s overall approach to issues of abortion rights, and prevents some of the experts in this space from being able to advocate for their work.
Dr. Gretchen Stuart, an abortion provider in North Carolina who was one of the lead plaintiffs in a successful lawsuit against the state’s forced ultrasound law, pointed out that even the doctors who feel very strongly about wanting to help change restrictive laws are hampered by the threat of potential consequences.
This has a profound impact on the willingness of abortion providers to speak out on behalf of themselves and their patients.”
“Personal safety was certainly a consideration when I decided to be the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit. Fortunately, I haven’t had any problems,” she told ThinkProgress. “But you can see that this has a profound impact on the willingness of abortion providers to speak out on behalf of themselves and their patients.”
“We’re sometimes the quietest when we need to be the most vocal,” Dr. Stephanie Long agreed.
Ultimately, the stigma and shame around abortion will persist unless more of the people who have personal experiences with it feel safe enough to share those stories.
“When people ask, what can I do? Well, here’s what you can do. You can help remove the shame, and help women come out of the closet about the fact that they’ve had an abortion,” Merle Hoffman, the CEO of Choices, said. “The biggest weapon in the other side’s arsenal is shame and stigma. The first step is to normalize this.”
“I keep myself ‘out’ about my career and what I do, because if we all hide away and don’t talk about it, this stigma won’t get any better,” Estes explained. “We need to be vocal and educate people about this — abortion is not a terrible social ill, it’s just a part of women’s health.”
That’s the biggest takeaway that the abortion providers who agreed to be interviewed for this story wanted to communicate. They’re not on some sort of evil crusade to harm women. They’re not interested in taking advantage of their patients or talk them into ending a pregnancy. In fact, since most of them are OB-GYNs who provide the full spectrum of women’s health care, they emphasized that caring for pregnant women and delivering babies is one of the greatest joys of their work. They simply don’t see that as separate from helping women exercise their reproductive freedom in other ways, like having a safe abortion.
“The other side tries to vilify doctors and make us into these horrible people,” Dr. Kate Davis said, noting that abortion opponents are sometimes surprised that she seems so nice. “We’re just like anyone else. We’re just trying to take care of our patients.”
The first time Republicans sought the White House with this agenda, it did not turn out too well for them. President Lyndon Johnson trounced Goldwater in one of the most devastating landslides in American history. And yet, if the CPAC straw poll is any indication, the party’s increasingly dominant conservative wing is eager for a rematch.
Out Of The Closet
The parallels between Goldwater’s ascendance and the rise of Tea Party candidates like Paul stretch beyond their similar policy prescriptions. Indeed, the Tea Party is as much at war with Republicans who might compromise their own purity as it is with Democrats who reject hardline conservative values altogether. “We need another come-to-Jesus meeting,” former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin (R-AK) told CPAC this past weekend. “America is counting on the GOP to get it right, and that’s why the establishment can’t blow it.”
Goldwater offered similar protests against a Republican establishment that, in his mind, had strayed too far from the conservative path. The Arizona senator slammed Republican President Dwight Eisenhower for operating a “dime store New Deal,” and he offered himself up to voters as an out and proud alternative to Republicans afraid to be seen as too conservative. Goldwater’s 1960 book The Conscience of a Conservative opened with a direct swipe at self-hating conservatives — “I have been much concerned that so many people today with Conservative instincts feel compelled to apologize for them.” And his campaign buttons and billboards appealed directly to conservative voters to come out of the closet. “In your heart,” Goldwater’s most famous campaign slogan read, “you know he’s right.”
Then the New Deal and the massive government spending project known as “World War II” happened, and America emerged from the Depression as the wealthiest and most powerful nation that ever existed. In 1964, the year Johnson defeated Goldwater, the United States saw an eye-popping 5.8 percent growth in its gross domestic product. Conservative economic theory seemed wholly discredited by the 1960s, and the economics of the New Deal and the Great Society appeared entirely vindicated.
Nevertheless, Goldwater borrowed heavily from pre-New Deal conservatism in shaping his own views. One of the central tenets held by conservatives prior to and during the Roosevelt Administration was that liberalism is not just wrong, it is also forbidden by the Constitution. This is why the Supreme Court so blithely struck down laws benefiting workers in the lead up to the Great Depression. And it’s also why the American Liberty League, a kind of proto-Tea Party formed to oppose FDR and the New Deal, framed its objections largely in constitutional terms. As one early Liberty League supporter described the organization’s creed:
I believe in the Constitution of the United States; I believe in the division of power that it makes, and that it is the duty of every public officer to observe them [sic]. I believe in the rights of private property, the sanctity and binding power of contracts, the duty of self-help. I am opposed to confiscatory taxation, wasteful expenditure, socialized industry, and a planned economy controlled and directed by government functionaries.
Goldwater, more than any other Republican of his era, sought to revive this notion that the Constitution was a fundamentally conservative document. In announcing his opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, for example, Goldwater argued that its provisions regulating private business — the bans on whites-only lunch counters, employment discrimination, racial exclusion in hotels and similar practices — all violated the Constitution. “I find no constitutional basis for the exercise of Federal regulatory authority in … these areas,” Goldwater announced on the Senate floor. “[A]nd I believe the attempted usurpation of such power to be a grave threat to the very essence of our basic system of government.”
In a subsequent speech, Goldwater added that he also opposed the civil rights law because he thought that it violated business owners’ right of “freedom of association.” “There’s a freedom to associate and there’s a freedom not to associate,” Goldwater declared. And the right to not associate with black people was apparently part of this second “freedom.”
In reaching these views, Goldwater relied on the advice of two men who would go on to become some of the most influential constitutional thinkers in the conservative movement.
The first was a fairly obscure Arizona lawyer named William Rehnquist, who would later rise from this obscurity to become Chief Justice of the United States. The same year that Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, the Phoenix City Council enacted a similar ordinance banning many forms of discrimination by private businesses. Rehnquist was one of only three people who testified against the proposed ordinance, and he later published a letter to the editor of theArizona Republic laying out his objections. Though Rehnquist conceded that discrimination by the government itself was out of bounds — “All of us alike pay taxes to support the operation of government, and all should be treated alike by it,” the future chief justice wrote — he held very different views about the government’s power to address private racism. The ordinance, according to Rehnquist’s letter, “does away with the historic right of the owner of a drug store, lunch counter, or theatre to choose his own customers.”
Goldwater sought out Rehnquist’s advice on whether he should support the Civil Rights Act, and then he sought a second opinion from a Yale law professor named Robert Bork — the same Robert Bork that President Ronald Reagan would try and fail to put on the Supreme Court. Yet Goldwater must have known what advice Bork would have given him when he asked for it, as Bork had already laid out his views in a 1963 article published in the New Republic. The principle behind a federal ban on whites-only lunch counters, Bork argued in that piece, “is that if I find your behavior ugly by my standards, moral or aesthetic, and if you prove stubborn about adopting my view of the situation, I am justified in having the state coerce you into more righteous paths. That is itself a principle of unsurpassed ugliness.”
In Your Guts Your Know He’s Nuts
After Johnson’s decisive victory over Goldwater, Republicans largely turned away from Goldwater’s hardline views. Though the party’s next presidential nominee, Richard Nixon, infamously embraced a “Southern strategy” seeking to appeal to white racists, he was careful not to go so far as to oppose LBJ’s landmark civil rights legislation. In a 1964 speech attacking what he called the “irresponsible tactics of some of the extreme civil rights leaders,” Nixon also praised the Civil Rights Act itself — predicting that “[i]f this law is effectively administered, it will be a great step forward in the struggle for equality of opportunity for all Americans.”
As Chief Justice of the United States, Rehnquist sat onthreecases where one of his fellow justices — Justice Clarence Thomas — embraced a Goldwateresque view of the Constitution that would have rendered the Civil Rights Act unconstitutional. Yet Rehnquist did not join Thomas’s opinions in these three cases.
Which is why Rand Paul’s 2010 statement, that the “hard part about believing in freedom” is that you must also believe in the legality of whites-only lunch counters, is so remarkable. When Paul came out against the Civil Rights Act, he did not simply come out against a widely cherished law, nor did he just take a position well to the right of the Republican Party’s explicit views. Paul embraced a view that was rejected by the very same people who were its leading proponents at the time that the Civil Rights Act became law. The CPAC attendees who embraced Paul as their candidate are effectively trying to wipe away all of this history — the defeat of Goldwater, the reputation of Goldwater’s views by the GOP, the evolution of men like Bork and Rehnquist — and relitigate the election of 1964 more than half a century after Johnson won it in a landslide.
Perhaps because Goldwater rose to prominence before Americans’ views on abortion began to polarize along partisan lines, the man who once defined conservatism went to his grave wildly out of step with his party on this contentious issue. Indeed, in a 1994 interview, Goldwater complained that “a lot of so-called conservatives … think I’ve turned liberal because I believe a woman has a right to an abortion.” Abortion, according to Goldwater, is “a decision that’s up to the pregnant woman, not up to the pope or some do-gooders or the religious right. It’s not a conservative issue at all.”
Even more remarkably, Goldwater became a staunch supporter of gay rights in the twilight of his life. After retiring from the Senate, Goldwater supported allowing gay people to serve openly in the military, and he even became honorary co-chairman of a push to ban a federal ban on job discrimination against gay Americans.
In other words, thirty years after Goldwater opposed a federal ban on job discrimination on constitutional grounds, he became one of the leading proponents of a federal ban on job discrimination. Even Barry Goldwater eventually rejected Barry Goldwater’s rationale for opposing the Civil Rights Act.
The man CPAC favored to be the next President of the United States, in other words, makes the Godfather of conservatism look like Martin Luther King. Three decades after his own presidential race, Goldwater himself understood that the views he once championed were wrong. Yet Tea Party conservatives would foist these views upon the nation regardless.
"Dr. Chaps" Gordon Klingenschmitt recently interviewed Matt Barber during the National Religious Broadcasters Convention, where the two discussed the legal discrimination bill that was vetoed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.
As Barber explained, such laws are necessary because gay activists are intent on forcing Christians to participate in sinful activity and adopt a “post-modern, pagan view of human sexuality” or else risk being run out of business or thrown into jail.
"You know, pretty soon,"Barber warned, “Christians are going to have to start wearing a yellow cross. Are we in 1939 Germany here”?
Likening modern-day American Christians to Jews under the Nazi regime seems to be Barber’s favorite comparison at the moment.
BarbWire, the new conservative website run by Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber, today posted a Heritage Foundation article called “Four Businesses Whose Owners Were Penalized for Their Religious Beliefs.”
But Barber added his own editorial flare to the article by adding an image of an anti-Semitic Nazi poster which reads, “He who wears this symbol is an enemy of our people,” to describe the supposed persecution of business owners in the US who discriminate against gay customers.
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) continued her effort on Saturday to tank a potential 2016 presidential bid by Hillary Clinton, telling the crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference that a woman should eventually be president — but not the one many Democrats are rooting for.
"We will have a woman for president, just the right one," she said, adding that Republicans are the only party that had a woman on the presidential ticket this century: former Gov. Sarah Palin as the vice presidential nominee in 2008.
Bachmann, who ran for the Republican nomination unsuccessfully in 2012 and declined to run for reelection in Congress this year, was invited to CPAC as a guest of Jenny Beth Martin, the president and co-founder of Tea Party Patriots.
She went on to attack Clinton’s work as secretary of state, including relations with Russia and the Benghazi attacks in 2012 that killed four Americans.
"She’s going to have to answer a very tough question: Did she pick up the phone and call the secretary of defense and the president of the United States and demand that they send a military rescue operation into Benghazi to rescue Americans that were under fire?" Bachmann said.
The congresswoman said previously that Americans “aren’t ready” for a female president.
"I think there was a cachet about having an African-American president because of guilt," she said in February. "People don’t hold guilt for a woman."
During her CPAC speech, Bachmann went on to attack President Barack Obama for Obamacare and his desire to grant so-called “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants.
When conservative radio host Dana Loesch takes to the airwaves with Republican White House hopefuls, the exchanges bear little resemblance to mainstream media interviews like those on CNN or NBC. “You brought the house down!” she told a beaming Texas…
This is one of the things that makes me crazy about the conservative punditry is how incredibly thin-skinned they are. They can be as dismissive and mean as they want to be but give them a little bit of their own medicine and suddenly the WATB cries come out.
Ben Ferguson keeps perpetuating the completely unsubstantiated myth of the liberal media by pointing to the singular cable channel of MSNBC. Proof, the hair helmet of conservatism insists, of their hostility to conservatives is that they usually book them at a three (liberals) to one (conservative) ratio, keep interrupting them and aren’t interested in a real debate.
Wait…what? That doesn’t sound like MSNBC’s format, which usually goes with the Left/Right paradigm and invites two guests per segment. That sounds suspiciously like the Sunday show roundtables, if anything. Sally Kohn doesn’t see anything different from that as her experiences as the designated lefty on Fox News, where the ratio got as out of hand as 15 to one.
Neil deGrasse Tyson, host of Fox’s documentary series Cosmos, said on Sunday that the news media should stop trying to “balance” the debate on scientific issues by hosting people who deny science.
In an interview on CNN’s Reliable Sourcs, host Brian Stelter asked Tyson how to go about brokering a peace in the “war on science.”
"Our civilization is built on the innovation of scientists and technologists and engineers who have shaped everything that we so take for granted today," Tyson pointed out. "So some of the science deniers or science haters, these are people who are telling that to you while they are on their mobile phone."
"They are saying, ‘I don’t like science. Oh, GPS just told us to go left,’" he laughed. "So it’s time for people to sit back and reassess what role science as actually played in our lives. And learn how to embrace that going forward, because with out it, we will just regress back into the caves."
Stelter observed that the news media often tried to balance the climate change debate, even when the two sides were not equal.
"What responsibility do you think the members of the media have to portray science correctly," the CNN host wondered.
"The media has to sort of come out of this ethos that I think was in principle a good one, but it doesn’t really apply in science," Tyson explained. "The principle was, whatever story you give, you have to give the opposing view. And then you can be viewed as balanced."
The rightwing group Alec is preparing to launch a new nationwide network that will seek to replicate its current influence within state legislatures in city councils and municipalities.
The American Legislative Exchange Council, founded in 1973, has become one of the most pervasive advocacy operations in the nation. It brings elected officials together with representatives of major corporations, giving those companies a direct channel into legislation in the form of Alec “model bills”.
Critics have decried the network as a “corporate bill mill” that has spread uniformly-drafted rightwing legislation from state to state. Alec has been seminal, for instance, in the replication of Florida’s controversial “stand-your-ground” gun law in more than 20 states.
Now the council is looking to take its blueprint for influence over statewide lawmaking and drill it down to the local level. It has already quietly set up, and is making plans for the public launch of, an offshoot called the American City County Exchange (ACCE) that will target policymakers from “villages, towns, cities and counties”.
The new organisation will offer corporate America a direct conduit into the policy making process of city councils and municipalities. Lobbyists acting on behalf of major businesses will be able to propose resolutions and argue for new profit-enhancing legislation in front of elected city officials, who will then return to their council chambers and seek to implement the proposals.
In its early publicity material, Alec says the new network will be “America’s only free market forum for village, town, city and county policymakers”. Jon Russell, ACCE’s director, declined to comment on the initiative.
Alec spokesman Wilhelm Meierling also declined to say how many corporate and city council members ACCE has attracted so far, or to say when the new initiative would be formally unveiled. But he confirmed that its structure would mirror that of Alec’s work in state legislatures by bringing together city, county and municipal elected officials with corporate lobbyists.
“As a group that focuses on limited government, free markets and federalism, we believe our message rings true at the municipal level just as it does in state legislatures,” he said.
In December, the Guardian revealed that Alec was facing funding problems as a result of fallout from its backing of “stand-your-ground” laws, in the wake of the shooting in Florida of the black teenager Trayvon Martin.
The Guardian also disclosed that Alec had initiated a “prodigal son project”, designed to woo back corporate donors that had broken off relations with the group amid the gun-law furore.
The extension of its techniques to city councils and municipalities across America offers Alec the chance to open up a potential source of funding that might help it solve its budgetary crisis. There are almost 500,000 local elected officials, many with considerable powers over schools and local services that could be attractive to big business.
Alec makes the appeal to corporations explicit in its funding material for the new ACCE exchange. It offers companies “founders committee” status in return for $25,000 a year and “council committee” membership for $10,000.
By joining ACCE’s council committee, corporate lobbyists can “participate in policy development and network with other entrepreneurs and municipal officials from around the country”. In committee meetings, lobbyists will be allowed to “present facts and opinions for discussion” and introduce resolutions for new policies that they want to see implemented in a city. At the end of such meetings, the elected officials present in the room will take a vote before returning to their respective council chambers armed with new legislative proposals.
Nick Surgey of the Center for Media and Democracy, which monitors Alec’s activities, said: “It just wouldn’t be possible for any corporation to effectively lobby the hundreds of thousands of local elected officials in the US, which until now has left our local mayors and school board members largely free from the grasps of coordinated lobbyists. Alec is now trying to change that.”
One of the main criticisms that have been levelled against Alec is that its influence distorts the democratic process by giving corporations a handle over lawmaking. Similar fears are now being expressed about the intentions of ACCE in American cities.
Natalia Rudiak, a Democratic city council member in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, said she was “offended” by the suggestion she needed an outside body such as ACCE, which is licensed in Arlington, Virginia, to tell her what her community needed.
“Local politics in America is the purest form of democracy,” she said. “There is no buffer between me and the public. So why would I want the involvement of a third party acting on behalf of a few corporate interests?”
Rudiak added that she found ACCE’s boast that it will be “America’s only free market forum” patronising.
“If by ‘free market’ they mean weighing supply against demand in the best interests of the people of Pittsburgh,” she said, “then we are debating those issues in the council chamber every single day.”
The results are in for the CPAC and Senate Conservatives Fund straw polls for the 2016 GOP primary. Rand Paul wins CPAC straw poll for 2nd year in a row. While over at the SCF version, Ted Cruz won that straw poll.
31 KY Senator Rand Paul 11 TX Senator Ted Cruz 9 Neurosurgeon Ben Carson 8 NJ Governor Chris Christie 7 Former PA Senator Rick Santorum 7 WI Governor Scott Walker 6 FL Senator Marco Rubio 3 TX Governor Rick Perry 3 WI Congressman Paul Ryan 2 Former AR Governor Mike Huckabee 2 LA Governor Bobby Jindal 2 Former AK Governor Sarah Palin 2 Former Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice 1 Former IN Governor Mitch Daniels 1 OH Governor John Kasich 1 IN Governor Mike Pence 1 OH Senator Rob Portman 1 SD Senator John Thune 1 Business Executive Donald Trump 1 Former FL Congressman Allen West * NH Senator Kelly Ayotte * KS Governor Sam Brownback * SC Governor Nikki Haley * NM Governor Susana Martinez * SC Senator Tim Scott
CPAC today invited conservative commentator Ann Coulter to debate “liberal” journalist Mickey Kaus, who ended up holding the same right-wing views on immigration reform as Coulter, and who even praised ultraconservative GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions. The two tried to outdo each other in bashing supporters of immigration reform, but it was hard to top Coulter.
Coulter attacked MSNBC for “celebrating the browning of America.” “But if you don’t celebrate it you’re a racist,” she added. “It’s going to be people who are not from America who are going to be in theory funding older, white people who are getting to their Social Security and Medicare age. I don’t think that can last, at some point they’re going to say, ‘Screw it.’”
“I used to think everything was about sex, now I realize everything is about immigration,” she added later. Coulter praised Mitt Romney for taking the “most aggressive” stance on immigration and called on the GOP to nominate another staunchly anti-immigrant candidate.
Coulter ended with this call to arms: “Amnesty is forever and you got to vote for the Republicans one more time and just make it clear; but if you pass amnesty, that’s it, it’s over and then we organize the death squads for the people who wrecked America.”
Last year, Ben Carson grouped gay people with the likes of the pro-pedophilia group NAMBLA and “bestiality supporters” as nefarious forces trying “to change the definition [of marriage].” Carson later apologized for the remarks, but today at CPAC the potential presidential candidate sang a different tune, saying that he will “continue to defy the PC police who have tried in many cases to shut me up.”
“I still believe that marriage is between a man and a woman,” Carson said to applause, and denied that he ever compared homosexuality to bestiality. “Of course they’re not the same thing. Anybody who believes that is a dummy, but anybody who believes somebody who says that somebody said that is a dummy, that’s the problem.”
“Of course gay people should have the same rights as everyone else,” Carson continued. “But they don’t get extra rights, they don’t get to redefine marriage.”
South Dakota state representative Jenna Haggar gave a spectacularly awkward speech to CPAC yesterday, where she said that President Obama and his “big government progressive policies” are using “handouts and welfare” to make “generations of Americans dependent on the government.”
Haggar, who serves alongside her father in the State House, said that unlike Americans today, the people who settled South Dakota and the Midwest never needed government aid (she may want to read about the Homestead Acts).
Obama is changing American values, Haggar added, lamenting that "we live under the imperial president His Highness Barack Hussein Obama, mmm mmm mmm."
Michele Bachmann denounced immigration reform in her speech at CPAC today, warning that “Wall Street and big business” are “clamoring for amnesty” in order to turn the US into “a country of dependency and the welfare state.”
Channeling John McCain, the Minnesota congresswoman told CPAC attendees that government officials shouldn’t tackle immigration reform until they “build the danged fence!”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) wasn’t content to label Bill Clinton a sexual predator. Paul has extended his definition of a sexual predator to all Democrats because they defended President Clinton in the 1990s.
Paul told The Hill, “It is quite hypocritical that a party that says they’re great defenders of women in the workplace supports a guy who violated all of those pledges, all of those promises that the workplace is a safer place for women than it has been in the past. He’s a throwback to a sort of troglodyte time, where men did whatever they wanted to women in the workplace.”
The argument being advanced by Sen. Paul is that Democrats can’t be advocates for the rights of women because some of them defended Bill Clinton’s behavior during the Lewinsky scandal. In Paul’s view, the behavior of Clinton has invalidated all Democratic advocacy for women. The Kentucky senator was insinuating that all Democrats are sexual predators because some of them took the side of Bill Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal.
It is obvious what Paul is trying to do. He wants to revive the memories of the Clinton scandals so that voters will not be interested in voting for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Paul’s strategy gives off an overwhelming smell of desperation. He understands that if women continue their strong support of the Democratic Party, the Republicans have diminished odds of retaking the White House in 2016.
Paul’s attacks on former President Clinton are growing more pathetic by the day. As long as his party stands on a platform of telling a woman what she can and can’t do with her own body while denying her the right to equal pay for equal work, Rand Paul is screwed.
Sen. Paul has been grossly overrated as a potential 2016 Republican candidate. He is a no trick pony with little to offer besides catch phrases that he inherited from his dad. His sad little attacks against Bill Clinton may backfire, as his complete denial of the war on women may only serve to fire Democrats up and get them to the polls in 2014 and 2016.
A week after the theologically conservative Institute in Basic Life Principles placed its leader Bill Gothard on administrative leave, the influential leader in the Quiverfull and Christian homeschooling movements has resigned from the organization.
A week after the theologically conservative Institute in Basic Life Principles placed its leader Bill Gothard on administrative leave, the influential leader in the Quiverfull and Christian homeschooling movements has resigned from the organization. Gothard, 79, faces accusations of sexual abuse from dozens of women associated with his organization. The IBLP promotes a “chain of command” family hierarchy that Gothard claims is based on Biblical principles. In seminars, the institute has described the structure with the image of a father as the “hammer” of the family, the wife as the “chisel,” and the children as “gems” in the rough.
This is the third organization associated with an umbrella of group sometimes referred to as the “Biblical patriarchy” movement to face a major sex scandal in recent months. In October, the Vision Forum ministry shut down after its leader Doug Phillips confessed to having a romantic affair outside of marriage. And just weeks ago, The New Republic published an investigation into sexual assault at Patrick Henry College, an evangelical university with big homeschooling support. The accusations against Gothard are quite serious. According to a whistle-blowing organization called Recovering Grace, at least 34 women have accused Gothard of unwanted sexual advances, and four of those women say the leader molested them. One of those four women is underage.
“There was a very common grooming pattern of creating emotional bonds and physical affirmations, the footsie, the leg rubs, the stroking of the hair, the constant comments on physical appearance.”
Last week, based on the accusations collected by Recovering Grace, Gothard went on leave pending a review by his organization, which he founded in 1965. The board, a statement at the time said, “will respond at an appropriate time, and in a biblical manner” after finishing their investigation. The scandal, however, isn’t the only problem facing the organization: In recent years, the $95 million-a-year nonprofit has seen its finances dwindle, as RNS noted. Gothard’s empire had its biggest reach in the 1970s and ’80s, when his organization’s seminars would fill 20,000-seat stadiums. And his approach spread out into conservative American takes on popular culture: when you think of conservative Christians condemning rock music during that time, you’re probably thinking of someone who was influenced by Gothard. He sells his teachings like they’re self-help guides: some of his books have titles like Why Did God Let It Happen?, Men’s Manual, and The Amazing Way.
Nevertheless, it and Gothard in particular remain influential: Gov. Rick Perry has spoken at an IBLP conference, Rep. Sam Johnson of Texas sat on the organization’s board, Congressman Daniel Webster’s ties to Gothard’s organizations became a campaign issue for him in 2011, and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee was photographed with Gothard at a fundraiser for his 2008 presidential campaign. And arguably the world’s biggest advocates for the conservative Quiverfull and homeschooling movements — the reality TV family the Duggars — are devotees of Gothard’s Advanced Training Institute seminars. Until recently, the Duggars’ official website called Gothard’s Embassy Institute (which he also founded) their "#1 recommended resource" for families (that page now displays as blank).
It’s not clear at this point whether the consequences of the accusations against Gothard will include criminal investigations. Some of the cases date back at least to the early 1990s, meaning the statute of limitations may have passed.
seriously, $15/hour is barely a fucking living wage, especially if you live in a major metropolitan area. I can’t even believe that the idea of $15 a fucking hour for physical labor scandalizes some people.
I’ve worked a lot of food jobs, but large restaurant jobs are the fucking worst. I used to work as a dishwasher at Outback Steakhouse. on your feet for 10 hours at a time, scalded constantly by hot water, leaving at 3 in the morning. no lunch break, because the reasoning went that “well, you can eat while you work, so you don’t need to sit down or take a break. besides, you get to smoke a cigarette while you’re taking out that mountain of trash at the end of the night. QUIT YER WHINING.” the wage? $7/hour. after an eight-hour shift, you have enough for a tank of gas to get to work and do it all again.
if you think food service doesn’t deserve a living wage, I want to shit in your heart.
As director of litigation with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Adegbile had presided over a team representing Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted in 1981 of killing Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. Though Adegbile was a child when Faulkner was killed, the NAACP LDF represented Abu-Jamal during his post-conviction appeal proceedings in the late 2000s, and federal courts ultimately concluded that sentencing instructions were improper, which spared Abu-Jamal the death penalty.
To hear Republicans talk, Adegbile practically led the movement of “Free Mumia” supporters who became convinced that Abu-Jamal had been framed, instead of the LDF simply ensuring a reviled defendant received his constitutional right to due process.
Yet Adegbile’s failed nomination wasn’t really just about Abu-Jamal, but a larger conservative attack on the civil rights division – the part of the Justice Department dedicated to enforcing the nation’s civil rights laws. Convinced that anti-black racism is a thing of the past and that federal intervention to secure minority rights does more harm than good, conservatives have waged a years long campaign to dominate, dismantle or discredit the civil rights division and the laws it is designed to enforce.
Adegbile is a celebrated Supreme Court litigator who has devoted his life to protecting laws conservatives want to see repealed, overturned or interpreted so narrowly as to be toothless, and that was reason enough for Republicans to oppose him. But absent the spectre of a revival of Willie Horton-style race baiting politics, it would not have been sufficient to bring skittish Democrats along for the ride.
Where they have been unable to hamper the civil rights division’s enforcement of civil rights laws, they have turned to the conservative majority on the Supreme Court to neuter the division by gutting the laws themselves.
During the George W. Bush administration, an internal Justice Department report found Bush appointees had attempted to purge the division of liberals, or as one Bush appointee Bradley Schlozman put it, “adherents of Mao’s little red book.” The report found that Schlozman, who had vowed to “gerrymander” all those “crazy libs” out of the division, replacing them with Republican loyalists, had violated civil service laws with his hiring practices. His colleagues saw it differently – the Voting Section chief at the time, John Tanner, complained that before Bush, one had to be a “civil rights person” to get hired in the division. Imagine.
Shortly after Obama took office, conservatives seized on a now-discredited conspiracy theory that the new administration had sought to protect the New Black Panther Party. They argued that “If you are white,” in the words of Bush-era Justice Department official Hans von Spakovsky, “the Division won’t lift a finger to make sure you’re ‘protected.’”
Having embraced the concept of disparate impact when it came to hiring qualified attorneys in the civil rights division, Grassley nevertheless called it a “dubious legal theory” when, as head of the division, Perez used the Fair Housing Act to extract record financial settlements from lending institutions the division said had discriminated against minority borrowers and homeowners. Much to conservatives’ disappointment, they’ve so far failed to get the Supreme Court to curtail the division’s ability to go after financial practices that disproportionately harm minorities. But it may only be a matter of time before the Fair Housing Act goes the way of the Voting Rights Act.
The Abu-Jamal case was merely a convenient foil for conservatives who have long sought to weaken the division and the laws it helps enforce. The story of a black radical murdering a white cop has tremendous emotional and symbolic resonance for those conservatives who have persuaded themselves that the real victims of racial oppression in the Obama era are white people, besieged by a federal government that seeks to unfairly stack the deck in favor of undeserving minorities. Whenever the Obama administration has sought to stand up for voting rights, fight discrimination in hiring,housing or schooling, the right has attacked it as racist.
In a replay of the kind of racialized “tough on crime” politics that dominated the 1990s, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell accused Adegbile of seeking to “glorify an unrepentant cop-killer.” Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz declared that ”Under Adegbile’s supervision, rallies, protests, and media campaigns instead dishonestly portrayed Abu-Jamal as a political prisoner and victim of racial injustice.” Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey called Adegbile ”one of the lawyers who helped to promote that campaign.” In conservative media, the campaign was even more explicit, with conservatives attacking Adegbile as “racist” and placing his face alongside that of Abu-Jamal, as if Adegbile himself were an accomplice to Faulkner’s murder.
Though Republicans accused Adegbile of taking up Mumia’s “cause,” their evidence that Adegbile fought for anything other than the integrity of the legal system is dubious. They cited an LDF attorneywho said at a pro-Mumia rally that “the justice system has completely and utterly failed Mumia Abu-Jamal and in our view that has everything to do with race and that is why the Legal Defense Fund is in this case,” and they quoted an LDF press release from 2011 stating that “Abu-Jamal’s conviction and death sentence are relics of a time and place that was notorious for police abuse and racial discrimination.”
There’s no need to believe Abu-jamal was innocent or was unfairly prosecuted to acknowledge the context of that statement. The history of the criminal justice system in America is rife with racism and abuse. But even here Philadelphia stands out.
This is the context of the LDF’s statement that Abu-Jamal’s conviction took place at a time and place “notorious for police abuse and racial discrimination.” It’s a statement that, in context, is not merely uncontroversial. It is banal.
Even if Adegbile had been more directly involved in Abu-Jamal’s defense, that alone would not have been reason to disqualify him. The legal system cannot provide justice if attorneys are identified with hated clients – that would corrode the essence of a system in which everyone is entitled to a vigorous defense. Republicans know this – it’s why they didn’t attack Chief Justice John Roberts for his pro-bono work on behalf of a mass murderer – but the opportunity to sink an Obama nominee and further discredit the civil rights cause was too tempting to disregard.
Adegbile’s defeat has another salutory effect for conservatives – it sends the message to young, idealistic, liberal lawyers that the Democratic Party will not stand behind you if you take on controversial causes or clients. Better to represent corporate clients whose political contributions and influence can shield you from controversy. While conservatives are free to associate with any number of right-leaning legal organizations, mere association with civil rights groups will have you branded an anti-white racist and radical, especially if you’re not white.
Therein lies the greater danger of Adegbile’s defeat, that the next generation of government lawyers to staff a Democratic administration won’t just not believe in the purpose behind the laws they’re meant to enforce. It’s that they won’t believe in anything at all.
Three weeks before Tennessee’s August 2012 primary election, state Rep. John DeBerry Jr.’s Memphis-area district was flooded with $52,000 worth of get-out-the-vote efforts supporting the then-nine-term incumbent. Six days later, another $52,000 in materials appeared.
By Election Day, the Tennessee affiliate of StudentsFirst, the education-focused organization behind the influx of support, had spent more than $109,000 backing DeBerry, a rare Democrat who supports voucher programs and charter schools. The state branch of the American Federation for Children, another education group, chipped in another $33,000. DeBerry faced another Democrat, state Rep. Jeanne Richardson, whose district was eliminated through redistricting.
“I couldn’t counter it,” Richardson said of the funds StudentsFirst introduced late in the race. “I had to raise money by calling people. There wasn’t enough time left.”
StudentsFirst—created by former Washington, D.C. schools chief Michelle Rhee—is leading a new wave of “education reform” organizations, funded largely by wealthy donors, that are challenging teachers’ unions and supporting mostly conservative candidates up and down the ticket in dozens of states. These groups promote charter schools, voucher programs, and weakening of employment safeguards like teacher tenure, all ideas bitterly opposed by unions.
StudentsFirst flooded at least $3 million in outside spending into state elections in 2012, putting the group roughly on par with the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, across 38 states examined by the Center for Public Integrity and the National Institute on Money in State Politics.
The Sacramento, Calif.-based group is far from the only education reform organization that has gained prominence in the aftermath of the 2010 Supreme Court decision that made it easier for corporations to fund political campaigns. Among the biggest spenders: the American Federation for Children, 50CAN, Stand for Children, and Democrats for Education Reform. The organizations flooded states across the country with independent advertising and canvassing efforts in the run-up to the 2012 primary and general election.
They have been funded by a slew of billionaire donors, like philanthropist Eli Broad, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, hedge fund manager Dan Loeb, and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings. However, the full list of funders opening their checkbooks for the education reformers remains a mystery since StudentsFirst and many of the other groups are so-called social welfare nonprofit organizations, which fall under section 501(c)4 of the U.S. tax code. Such groups are not required to reveal their donors.
Since 2012, the funding onslaught by these groups and their backers has shown no signs of slowing. Spending has reached unheard of heights, even at the school board level. The race for Los Angeles school board in May 2013 attracted nearly $4 million in spending on reform-minded candidates. Major supporters of the pro-reform committee include Bloomberg, StudentsFirst, and Broad, a Los Angeles resident. The organization was countered by roughly $2 million from labor groups.
The American Federation for Children spent $110,000 in outside spending supporting three candidates for the Wisconsin State Assembly in the run-up to an election on Nov. 19, 2013. Great Seattle Schools, an education reform-focused political action committee, spent just shy of $62,000 in outside spending in the months leading up to the city’s November 2013 school board election. Democrats for Education Reform was among the committee’s backers, as were local wealthy figures like Chris Larson, a former Microsoft executive who owns a minor stake in the Seattle Mariners, and venture capitalist Nicholas Hanauer.
At the helm of this movement, StudentsFirst has dominated campaigns for state legislators and ballot initiatives that often seem outside the group’s education-focused mission statement. As StudentsFirst faces off with labor groups and labor-backed candidates, the group’s considerable financial heft may be shaping more than education policy.
Battling the unions
Rhee, the controversial former chancellor of Washington’s public school system, established StudentsFirst not long after resigning her post in 2010. The new organization’s goal, she said, would be to provide some much-needed opposition to the teachers unions’ political power.
“The problem to date has been that you’ve had these incredibly powerful teachers unions that have lots of resources, and they use those resources to have influence on the political process,” Rhee said last year during an interview at the Commonwealth Club of California. Rhee said StudentsFirst is the first education-oriented national interest group to seriously challenge the unions.
Since leaving Washington, Rhee has backed legislation curbing collective bargaining rights in several states. In the 18 states where the group is active, StudentsFirst has fought to eliminate “last in, first out” provisions in teachers’ contracts and to increase the role that quantitative evaluations play in teachers’ job security.
Accordingly, StudentsFirst tends to oppose candidates who align with unions. Among these union-supported candidates in 2012 was Michigan State Rep. Rashida Tlaib, an incumbent who ran against fellow incumbent Rep. Maureen Stapleton in the Democratic primary as a result of statewide redistricting. Though Stapleton was a former teacher in the Detroit Public Schools, Tlaib received the endorsements of the Michigan Education Association and the Michigan Federation of Teachers. Stapleton, on the other hand, backed charter schools and linking teacher salaries to performance, both key components of StudentsFirst’s mission. Between July 20 and the Aug. 7 primary, StudentsFirst poured $195,000 in outside spending supporting Stapleton. Meanwhile, the Michigan Federation of Teachers, the Michigan Education Association, and several other labor groups contributed directly to Tlaib’s campaign.
“You almost never see a state house race in the city of Detroit go over $30,000, so when StudentsFirst put $190,000 into that, that was an extraordinary amount of money for a Democratic primary,” said Rich Robinson, executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.
Why the groups and their donors have chosen to support charter schools and voucher programs is sometimes less clear. The American Federation for Children chooses which races to back based on where the group feels it can help increase educational options available to parents, according to Frendewey.
StudentsFirst’s Castillo echoed these sentiments. “Our organization supports candidates that will be important partners in our ongoing push to ensure that every student attends a great school and is taught by a great teacher, and that’s the reason we’re pleased to support local and state reform-minded candidates,” he said in a written statement.
Rhee’s group and many other education reform organizations believe that privatizing education will prove beneficial for the country’s students, explained Michael Apple, who specializes in education policy at the University of Wisconsin. The same is true of the groups’ donors.
“If you look at Broad, Bloomberg, they’re in favor of strong mayoral control of education,” he said. “Some of it is also this belief that the corporate sector is the last remaining set of institutions that form the engine of our society.”
But changing the way public education functions also opens windows for private corporations and individuals to make a profit, which is likely a factor in at least some donors’ decisions to open their wallets, he said. He compared education to health care, “meaning the sources of profit are immense.”
The education reform agenda creates opportunities for companies that operate online learning programs and computerized testing, said White, of the NEA. The agenda also places a heavier emphasis on standardized testing, offering potential financial benefits to companies that offer those services.
In the past, K–12 education has been a “sluggish,” highly regulated market that investors were wary of jumping into, said Patricia Burch, an education professor at the University of Southern California. Not so anymore.
The technology schools use to administer tests and supplement coursework has emerged as a multibillion-dollar industry, according to Burch’s research. In 2002, the education sector spent an estimated $146 million on technology. By 2011, that number was estimated at $429 million, according to Burch.
Burch points to recent transactions and mergers as signs of the potential windfalls this market can offer. In 2011, textbook giant Pearson purchased SchoolNet, a tool that helps districts track students’ achievement on standardized tests, for $230 million. Providence Equity Partners bought online educational platform Blackboard Inc. for $1.6 billion. For the low price of $13 million, K12 Inc. acquired Kaplan Virtual Education, which offers computer-based learning for public and private schools in nine states. (Disclosure: Kaplan Virtual Education was owned by Graham Holdings, which owns Slate.) In 2012, Apple also partnered with Pearson, McGraw-Hill, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to offer digital textbooks for the iPad.
“It’s in the early stages. We know that there’s potentially tons of revenue to be generated,” Burch said.
hough few elections occurred in 2013 around the country, the education reform movement continued to inject an historic volume of funds into local and state races. The most expensive was the race for school board in Los Angeles that attracted more than $6 million in outside spending.
In the month leading up to the May mayoral and city council election in Jersey City, N.J., the Better Education for New Jersey Kids, Inc., PAC dumped more than $342,000 into advertising and mailers. The PAC is associated with the nonprofit Better Education for Kids, which is not required to disclose its donors but lists Tepper among its trustees.
A special legislative election in Wisconsin and a school board race in Seattle proved ripe battlegrounds for political spending arms races between education reformers and their opponents.
In Denver County, Colo., a committee whose largest donors were Bloomberg and the political arm of education reform nonprofit Education Reform Now spent $103,000 on a school board race.
In nearby Douglas County, Colo., the labor-backed Committee for Better Schools Now spent $935,000 on a school board race. That spending was countered by the Colorado chapter of Charles and David Koch’s Americans for Prosperity Foundation, which claims to have spent $350,000 on campaign efforts. No public records exist of the group’s spending.
Each of these races suggests that education reform spending is going to continue on an upward trajectory, at least for the near future. “Historically we haven’t seen that kind of spending on school board races here [in Los Angeles], but it’s likely to become a lot more commonplace in the future,” said Dan Schnur, a former Republican strategist who is running for California secretary of state. “My guess is in five years, we’ll be looking back at the relatively restrained fundraising levels of 2013 with some nostalgia.”
Fox News host Mike Huckabee denied responsibility for shady email pitches sent to subscribers to his email list, telling Media Matters that he is “simply a conduit to send messages” and “can’t always vouch for the veracity” of the promoted products.
During a press conference held at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) outside Washington, Media Matters asked Huckabee about shady sponsored emails he’s sent with his name on it, such as the Alzheimer’s disease emails.
Huckabee shrugged off responsibility for the emails, saying “You are supposed to read the disclosure and the disclaimer that is a part of the messages. We are simply the conduit to send messages, these are sponsored and I can’t always vouch for the veracity.”
Huckabee’s sketchy sponsored emails extend beyond questionable medical cures. He recently sent a sponsored email touting the stock recommendation of a financial analyst who was fired from Fox News for ethical violations.
Huckabee sent an email on February 14 from “Fox News alumnus” Tobin Smith and “our paid sponsor, Champlain Media” about “important information” regarding the stock of Gray Fox Petroleum (GFOX).Huckabee’s message added that the sponsorship does “not necessarily reflect my views.” A Smith-penned message implored readers to “Buy shares of GFOX now while you can still get them at around $1.00 and you could… TURN $10,000 INTO $282,000 in the next 6 months!”
Tobin Smith is so disreputable that he was fired from Fox News — no small feat — for receiving compensation to promote a company stock, a violation of network policy. Smith engages in “sponsored research,” in which companies hire analysts like Smith to act as pitchmen. MarketWatch’s Chuck Jaffee noted that people like Smith take “money to help small stocks find a market using fluff-and-shine hyperbolic chatter” and target “novice investors who fail to do due diligence.”
Small print in the Huckabee email states that the email is part of a “paid advertising” campaign “by Tobin Smith” and “Cenad Ltd. has paid $155,040.88 for the dissemination of this info to enhance public awareness for GFOX.” It also adds that Smith “has received twenty thousand dollars for this and related marketing materials.” It is not clear how much Huckabee received for the email dissemination, though a MikeHuckabee.com card states that his list has 700,000 subscribers and charges $27.50 per thousand emails, with a “300,000 NAME MINIMUM ORDER $1,000.00 MINIMUM PAYMENT.”
While it is too early to know how GFOX will perform, Huckabee fans should be cautious about taking the advice. In addition to the investing dangers of sponsored research, a Media Mattersreview last year found that Smith regularly pitched lofty stock price targets which weren’t met. For instance, Smith recommended in January 2013 that readers buy the stock of Boldface Group “at less than 50-cents, and you could … Turn $10,000 into $50,000 in the next 6-12 months!” It’s now trading at one cent.
Fox News helps grow Huckabee’s email list, as the former Republican governor regularly promotes MikeHuckabee.com on his weekly program. When visitors reach the page, they’re immediately asked to sign-up for his list. In other words, Huckabee is growing his email list through Fox News, and then selling access to that list so hucksters like Tobin Smith can target his Fox fans.
As Salon’s Alex Pareene noted, “the conservative movement is an elaborate moneymaking venture. For professional movement conservatives, their audiences and followers are easy marks.”
Conservative commentator Michael Medved declared at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that it was a “liberal lie” that a state has ever banned same-sex marriage.
During a March 7 CPAC panel titled “Can Libertarians and Social Conservatives Ever Get Along?” Medved denied that gay couples have encountered state-sponsored discrimination. “There has never been a state in this country that has ever banned gay marriage," Medved said:
In an interview on VCY America’s Crosstalk yesterday, Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver criticized President Obama for being “very pro-homosexual” and “pro-Muslim,” and “doing more harm to our foundational, fundamental values than any president in American history.”
Asked by host Jim Schneider about the “really troubling” decision to invite the Dalai Lama to give an opening prayer at the Senate yesterday, Staver responded that the Dalai Lama’s presence in the Senate and the choice of Rajiv Shah, a Hindu USAID official, to deliver an address at the National Prayer breakfast showed the president’s “insensitivity to Christianity.”
Staver criticized new IRS rules that allow legally married same-sex couples to jointly file federal tax returns and “pro-Muslim” EEOC guidelines for allowing religious dress in the workplace, which is ironic since Staver purports to represent a “religious liberty” group.
Schneider: We’ve received from the IRS, they issued a video clip that they posted on YouTube giving instructions to those that are so-called same-sex marriage partners, telling them that if they’re marriage took place in a state or country that recognizes so-called same-sex marriage, that they may claim married filing jointly on their return. The IRS is just going full-bore on this regard.
Staver: Well, it is the IRS going full bore. This is the administration focusing on things that are unnecessary and hurtful, rather than focusing on the job that they’re supposed to do.
This is the IRS that has been targeting conservative organizations and Tea Party groups, pro-Israel and pro-family organizations. This is the IRS that refuses to present testimony before Congress. And this is the IRS that now has the proposed rules to silence 501(c)4 organizations, which are going to primarily hurt conservative organizations.
And now, instead of focusing on what they should do, they’re promoting the so-called lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and whatever else of the alphabet you want to add to that, agenda. This is a very pro-homosexual administration, from President Obama right down to all the people that work underneath him. Not only here in America, but they’re pushing this agenda around the world as well. It is a very damaging agenda. This president is doing more harm to our foundational, fundamental values than any president in American history.
Schneider: Two more issues that have happened today, Matt. Today, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the EEOC, issued a very comprehensive statement on religious garb and grooming in the workplace, rights and responsibilities. What’s behind this?
Staver: Well, what’s behind it, obviously, is the president’s pro-Muslim position. And obviously, when you look at the examples, there are examples for all different kinds of religions, and particularly Muslim religions, but I really don’t see much mention at all of Christianity. This is as though Christianity doesn’t exist.
They then moved on to the Dalai Lama’s visit and the Hindu speaker at the National Prayer Breakfast, which Staver said illustrated the president’s “insensitivity to Christianity.”
Schneider: CNSNews.com is reporting that this very morning, the Dalai Lama delivered the opening prayer at the United States Senate, encouraging prayer to Buddha and all other gods. Just really troubling. We’re not a country that’s founded on ‘all other gods,’ are we?
Staver: No, and in fact if you go back to the National Prayer Breakfast just a few weeks ago in Washington, DC, after Ben Carson spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast a year ago, President Obama for six months or so threatened to not return. And unfortunately, some of the leaders, not wanting to have the first president of the Unites States not attend, ultimately caved in to his pressure, and he’s the one, we are told, that selected the person to speak. The person to speak, now, for the very first time in the National Prayer Breakfast history was not a Christian, but I believe was Hindu, and didn’t mention anything about Christianity or God. This was someone who was picked by Obama, and under those circumstances, Obama would have now agreed to come. I would have said, then go ahead and be the first president. It would certainly show some of your insensitivity to Christianity that you’ve been showing ever since you were inaugurated.
From the 03.06.2014 edition of VCY America’s Crosstalk:
In an appearance at CPAC today, Oliver North denounced President Obama for treating military service members like “laboratory rats in some radical social experiment” and “apologizing” for America. North insisted that the US “has nothing ever to apologize for, not once” in its entire history.
Later, North said that the GOP must remain firm in working to ban marriage equality and abortion rights just as abolitionists fought to end slavery, warning that “if we as conservatives cease to be a place where people of faith and those who believe in strong moral values can come, we will cease to be a political force in America.”
He said President Obama is to blame for spending cuts because he probably doesn’t want to have a military anyway: “A real liberal in his heart doesn’t think you need a military anyway, I know people that would never admit that, but people I have served with here in the United States Senate, that’s the crisis we’re up against.”
Perkins responded by arguing that President Obama and other Democrats “despise the military” because they support policies that have allowed gays and lesbians to serve openly.
“If you think back, the president set his sights on the military from the very beginning, pushing the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, which was the beginning of the end of the military,” Perkins said.
He then repeated the false claim that end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is responsible for an increase in sexual assaults.
From the 03.06.2014 edition of FRC’s Washington Watch:
Minutes before midnight last June 25, after state Sen. Wendy Davis concluded her 12-and-a-half-hour filibuster of a bill to severely limit abortion access in Texas, a colleague of Davis’ took the mike. Angered that the Republican leadership seemed to be ignoring female senators like herself, state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte asked, “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over the male colleagues in the room?” The Davis supporters who’d filled the gallery suddenly erupted in applause, a roar that only got louder as order turned to chaos, midnight came and went, and the infamous SB 5 legislation was, for the time being, defeated.
Today, 59-year-old Van de Putte once again finds herself alongside Davis, who’s running for governor. She is the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor of Texas and will face either incumbent David Dewhurst or hard-right conservative state Sen. Dan Patrick in November. (Dewhurst and Patrick will compete in a May 27 runoff to pick the GOP nominee.) Right now, Davis is the talk of Texas politics, grabbing all the headlines and raising eye-popping sums of money. But Van de Putte may figure larger in the future of her state. Latina, progressive, and a sixth-generation Texan, she has a serious chance of winning, especially if a fire-breather like Patrick wins the runoff, and she is the type of candidate Democrats need as they try to capitalize on the state’s growing Latino population and turn Texas blue.
Every schoolchild, the saying goes, learns that the most powerful politician in Texas is the lieutenant governor. If the governor of Texas dies, the lieutenant governor assumes the top spot. If the governor leaves the state even for a few days, the lieutenant governor becomes sitting governor. The lieutenant governor appoints the powerful committee chairmanships in the state Senate, picks which committee bills are sent to, and decides when a bill comes up for a vote and when someone is recognized on the floor of the state Senate.
In other words, if Van de Putte wins, instead of asking for permission to speak, as she did last June, she’d be giving it. While she may be an underdog—any Texas Democrat running for statewide office is—she’s no long shot. A recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll showed her trailing Patrick by 9 percentage points—2 less than Davis’ deficit against her Republican rival, Attorney General Greg Abbott—and Dewhurst by 12. If Van de Putte did pull off an upset—and Davis fell short—it would still be the biggest win for state Democrats since Ann Richards won the governorship in 1990.
Davis and Van de Putte share the top of the ballot, but in many ways they couldn’t be more different. Davis is composed, lawyerly, and on-message; Van de Putte (whose maiden name is San Miguel) practically preaches from the dais, her speeches peppered with one-liners and zingers and folksy wisdom. At one event last year, a copy of her prepared remarks given to reporters included the disclaimer: “**Please note that the Senator frequently diverges from her prepared remarks**”
On a recent Sunday morning, Van de Putte didn’t appear to have any prepared remarks as she addressed a Texas AFL-CIO convention at a downtown Austin hotel. “My journey here was not an easy one,” she said. In the past year, her six-month-old grandson, 82-year-old father, a beloved employee of her husband’s company, and her husband’s mother had all died. Grief stricken, Van de Putte said she wouldn’t have thought about running for lieutenant governor but for her friend Becky Moeller, the president of the Texas AFL-CIO. Moeller gently nagged her about running, and gave her polling data showing a narrow path to victory. Van de Putte and her family prayed on the decision. Ultimately, seeing the direction her state was headed, she couldn’t say no. She told the convention attendees, “You know, Mama ain’t happy. And if your family’s like my family, Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.’” Pause. ”And if Grandma’s not happy, run! And so I am.”
Van de Putte’s 20-minute speech veered from the tragic (her family’s recent losses) to the euphoric to the hard-hitting. She singled out Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) for “throwing a temper tantrum” that shut down the federal government. Yet as any politician worth her salt knows, Texans don’t take kindly to criticism of their beloved state, and Van de Putte’s speech deftly walked the line between touting the so-called Texas miracle (“It’s because of Texas families that we’re succeeding”) and slamming her Republican counterparts for not investing in public schools and infrastructure.
Throughout her speech, Van de Putte hit on a populist theme: “I know who you are. I know where you’ve been. I know where you’re going.” She used that line to appeal to the teachers, tradesmen, communication workers, and others gathered in the ballroom, and she urged them to remember the words of Martin Luther King Jr.: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” That populist message could play well should the GOP nominee be Dewhurst, a wealthy businessman who spent about $25 million of his own money on a losing US Senate campaign in 2012. Dewhurst has said this will be his last run for office; Dewhurst, who was worth at least $200 million heading into his Senate run, recently told the Associated Press he needs to “go back [to the private sector] and earn some money.” Patrick, the other GOP hopeful, has come under fire for his overheated rhetoric, such as describing the flow of immigrants from Mexico to Texas as an “illegal invasion.”
Of course, Van de Putte will need a lot more than her friends in the labor movement to win in November. But as local and national Democrats pour money, manpower, and technology into their quest of turning Texas blue, Leticia Van de Putte is a name you can expect to hear a lot more often.
Just because Gov. Chris Christie, who was notably banned from the Conservative Political Action Conference last year, spoke at the event Thursday doesn’t mean he is the conservative media’s new darling.
While the New Jersey governor drew loud applause from the audience during his address, which focused on Republicans pushing for their ideas not against their opponents, right-wing media voices at the conference say that won’t translate to support if he seeks the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
Some pointed to his well-known embrace of President Obama after Hurricane Sandy in the lead-up to the 2012 election, which may have played a role in the decision by CPAC organizers not to invite him last year. Others declared him insufficiently opposed to gay marriage to garner their support.
"I don’t think he will be the nominee anyway," said Tom Constantine, a conservative radio talk show host. "There are ups and downs, it’s the nature of politics that he will be knocked down. Chris Christie is the right guy for Republicans in a Northeast state, but not nationally."
Tea Party News Network’s Scottie Nell Hughes agreed. She said he is hurt by the George Washington Bridge scandal, but was not her choice even before that.
"It hurt him completely," she said of the bridge controversy. "He is not going to get the conservative vote. It wasn’t a non-issue, it was politics."
Hughes said the media coverage of the scandal does give Christie some sympathy, but not enough to overcome opposition within the right-wing movement. “If I am going to put him up against [Wisconsin governor] Scott Walker, I am going to take Scott Walker,” she said, adding that Christie “is not going to get the vote. The [GOP] establishment has left him.”
Several media commentators said they were surprised that CPAC had invited Christie and found no difference in his electability or conservative credentials since last year.
"You would think it would be the other way around," said John Moseley, a conservative talk radio host at Philadelphia’s at WNJC-AM, suggesting that Christie should be less palatable to CPAC in the wake of the bridge scandal. "A lot of people perceive it as an endorsement, they should not."
Rusty Humphries, the veteran talk radio host and newly-minted columnist at The Washington Times, also said inviting Christie was a mystery. “Would I have invited him? No. He isn’t conservative. He is an establishment guy.”
Breitbart News’ John Sexton called CPAC “a refuge for” Christie. “I think last year he was more electable,” Sexton added. “I don’t think right now anybody is supporting him.”
In a rare interview, the Dalai Lama has said that he thinks same-sex marriage is “OK”, and voiced his disapproval at the bullying of LGBT people.
In a rare interview, the Dalai Lama has said that he thinks same-sex marriage is “OK”, and voiced his disapproval at the bullying of LGBT people.
Speaking to Larry King, in an interview which will air on 10 March, the Tibetan spiritual leader said he thought that it was “OK” for same-sex couples to marry, but went on to say that it was “an individual’s business”.
On whether same-sex marriage should be universally accepted, he said: ”That’s up to the country’s law,” he told King. “I think [it’s] OK! I think that’s an individual’s business. If two people… really feel that way, it’s more practical, satisfaction, and both sides fully agree, then OK!”
When pressed by King on the issue of Russia’s anti-gay law, compared to the increasing number of US states with same-sex marriage, the Dalai Lama said he thought “traditions” should be protected.
He said: ”That I think [is] a personal matter,” he said. “People who have belief or who have special traditions, then you should follow according to your own tradition. Like Buddhism, there are different kinds of sexual misconduct, so you should follow properly.”
On anti-LGBT bullying, he said: “That is wrong,” he said. “That’s a violation of human rights.”
The full interview airs March 10 on Ora.tv, and a clip is available to view below.
TOPEKA, Kan. — Legislators are reopening a debate on whether Kansas should enact special legal protections for people, groups and businesses opposing same-sex marriage for religious reasons.
A Senate panel was taking testimony Thursday from legal scholars on whether existing state laws protect opponents of gay marriage from being fined or sued for refusing to provide goods or services for same-sex wedding ceremonies or marriages.
The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing follows last month’s House passage of what proponents called “religious freedom” legislation. Opponents said it would encourage discriminationagainst gays and lesbians, and Senate leaders declared it dead.
The Kansas Constitution bars same-sex marriage, but the House bill anticipated that federal courts could invalidate the ban.
Senate leaders have said the Judiciary Committee is having an informational hearing and isn’t working on new legislation.
There are few regular CPAC speakers who can match the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre when it comes to peddling wholesale paranoia and nightmarish visions of the future as he did while speaking today when he warned that neighborhood streets that were once filled with laughter and freedom now sit ominously silent because Americans are in fear for their lives, which is why they are loading up on all the ammunition and weapons they can get.
"In the world that surrounds us, “he proclaimed, “there are terrorists, and there are home-invaders, drug cartels, car-jackers, knockout gamers, and rapers, and haters, and campus killers, airport killers, shopping mall killers, and killers who scheme to destroy our country with massive storms of violence against our power grids or vicious waves of chemicals or disease that could collapse our society that sustains us all.”
"Do you trust this government to protect you?" LaPierre asked the crowd, which responded with a resounding "no!"
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) asserted on Thursday that liberals did not understand that kids who got free lunches at school did not have parents who cared about them at home. Speaking to the Conservative Political Action Conference, the former Republican vice…
Conservative Newsmax Media is reportedly set to launch its own 24-hour cable news channel in June. According to a Bloomberg Businessweek profile of Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy, “NewsmaxTV” will position itself as a “kinder, gentler” version of Fox News.
Ruddy tells Bloomberg that the channel’s goal “is to be a little more boomer-oriented, more information-based rather than being vituperative and polarizing.” That Ruddy sees an opening for a conservative outlet that is less aggressively partisan than Fox is a good indication of how far to the right that channel has veered during the Obama administration. It’s also somewhat surprising, given Ruddy’s personal history.
As the profile lays out, Ruddy cut his teeth in the 90’s pushing conspiracy theories about the Clintons, particularly the outlandish claim that they may have been involved in the death of White House Counsel Vince Foster. (Ruddy has since moderated his views, and the article reports he has ”become friends” with the Clintons and may support a potential Hillary Clinton presidential run in 2016.)
Newmax’s website and magazine are definitely less off-the-rails than some of their rivals, but the company isn’t exactly The New York Times. For example, though Ruddy conceded that there was “no evidence” President Obama wasn’t born in the United States, Newsmax nonetheless gave oxygen to the baseless speculation and conspiracies about the president’s birth certificate.
It has also helped prop up perhaps the most public birther, Donald Trump, and the ongoing farce of his plans to run for political office, including his imaginary 2012 presidential run and 2014 New York gubernatorial bid. (Newsmax even tapped Trump to moderate a Republican primary debate in 2011, but that event fell apart after most of the candidates expressed discomfort with Trump running a debate while he was still pretending he might run for president.)
Isn’t there at least two US-based conservative alternatives to FNC already? TheBlazeTV and One America News Network. A third is coming soon.
Former ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, spoke at CPAC today where he predictably railed against the Obama administration over the attack on Benghazi, saying that it show our enemies around the world that “under Barack Obama, you can murder his personal representative and get away scot-free.”
"I want to let everybody know,"Bolton declared, "that conservatives are not going to let this issue go away."
WorldNetDaily editor Joseph Farah claimsthat the United States under the Obama administration is emerging as a chief “persecutor” of Christians, which may result in another Holocaust.
Farah points to the case of the Romeike family as proof that “next time it will be Christians” who will be victims of the Holocaust. The Romeikes, a German homeschooling family, recently lost their case for asylum in the US until the Department of Homeland Security granted them “indefinite deferred status.”
Conservative radio host Mark Levin is receiving the “inaugural” Andrew Breitbart Defender of the First Amendment Award at noon today at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the annual conference for right-wing activists.
According to Breitbart News, Levin is winning the award because he “fearlessly and passionately stands up for conservatives and everyday Americans whose voices the mainstream press often tries to marginalize or silence.”
A Westjet pilot received a shockingly sexist note from a passenger who does not believe that women belong in the cockpit of an airliner.
America has seen more than its fair share of sexism over the last few years. Unfortunately, most of it has come from GOP politicians and members of the Christian right-wing. And it’s only getting worse. But rampant sexism from so-called “men of God” isn’t just a plague confined to the US landscape. Many sexist pigs live in Canada and one apparently has a problem with women being pilots.
Carey Steacy is a captain for WestJet, a Canadian airline. Upon takeoff on Sunday, she had no idea that one man had objections to her being in the cockpit of the plane. But after landing in Victoria, she was floored that such feelings still existed in the modern day world. A passenger named David left a neanderthal sounding message scribbled on a napkin, which the crew found while cleaning the aircraft.