The Republican National Committee sent a message to President Barack Obama Friday: the GOP is not moving on from Obamacare.
The Republicans’ message came in the form of a web video, posted one day after the president announced 8 million people had signed up for private health insurance using the exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act. During the announcement, Obama said it was time for Republicans “to move on to something else,” and chastised states that chose not to expand Medicaid “for no other reason than political spite” against him.
"You have 5 million people who could be having health insurance right now at no cost to these states, zero cost to these states, other than ideological reasons, they have chosen not to provide health insurance for their citizens," Obama said during a press conference Thursday. "That’s wrong. It should stop. Those folks should be able to get health insurance like everybody else."
Republicans argued that “Americans don’t think it’s time to move on” in the video. Some prominent Republicans personally promised to keep up the fight against Obamacare, with House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) saying “Republicans cannot and will not accept this law.” The office of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) also released a statement, according to NBC:
If the president is so confident in his numbers, there is no reason not to release transparent and complete enrollment data, and answer the questions, how many enrollees were previously uninsured and how many people had lost their previous plans due to Obamacare.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) — who led the charge in 2013 to tie funding for Obamacare to a continuing resolution to the fund the government, a strategy that ultimately shut down the government for 16 days, cost $2 billion in lost productivity and made no changes to the health care law — tweeted the following after Obama’s remarks Thursday:
A Nevada Republican legislator complained about MSNBC host Chris Hayes’ remarks regarding rancher Cliven Bundy’s cattle, yet repeatedly referred to undocumented immigrants as “terrorists” during a combative interview Friday night. “I’m not…
The State Department will “extend the government comment period on the Keystone XL pipeline, likely postponing a final decision on the controversial project until after the Nov. 4 midterm elections,” Reuters reported on Friday afternoon. The organization credited the information to a 1:30 call with Congressional staff.
The decision of whether or not to approve the northern leg of TransCanada’s pipeline, connecting the tar sands of Alberta to oil refineries and export facilities in Texas, will enter its sixth year in September.
State made the decision to give more time for 8 federal agencies to weigh in on the project. This would move the end of the review process, originally scheduled to end in May, to a date “likely” after the 2014 midterm elections, according to the Wall Street Journal. State Department officials cited a February district court decision that struck down a Nebraska law that aimed to put decisionmaking power over the pipeline in the hands of the governor.
Lancaster County District Court Judge Stephanie Stacy ruled that the law, which allowed pipeline companies to choose to submit their plans to either the governor’s Department of Environmental Quality or the more rigorous Public Service Commission, was unconstitutional.
Bold Nebraska director Jane Kleeb told ClimateProgress that the Nebraska Supreme Court will likely not issue a decision on the case until about January 2015. She also noted that South Dakota’s permit granted for the pipeline would expire on June 20, 2014 — meaning that TransCanada would have to reapply for a state permit after that date.
“The State Department is following Pres. Obama’s lead who has said all along he wants to follow the process,” Kleeb said in a statement. “The basic fact that Nebraska has no legal route is reason to delay any decision until our state can analyze a route using process that follows our state constitution.”
“Nebraska landowners will not give up their property rights with bad contract terms and unknown chemicals risking our water. This delay is yet more proof this project is not permit-able and not in our national interest.”
Fox figures praised armed supporters of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy as good, patriotic, hard-working Americans, ignoring their threats of violence against Bureau of Land Management (BLM) agents and indications that they were willing to put women in children in the line of fire.
Nevada Rancher Cliven Bundy Refuses To Pay Grazing Fees, Resulting In Standoff With BLM
Los Angeles Times: Bundy Refused To Pay Grazing Fees For Use Of Federal Land. As the Los Angeles Times reported on April 7:
Bundy is battling with federal officials over his cattle’s grazing on 150 square miles of scrub desert overseen by the Bureau of Land Management. He has refused to pay BLM grazing fees since 1993, arguing in court filings that his Mormon ancestors worked the land long before the BLM was formed, giving him rights that predate federal involvement. His back fees exceed $300,000, he says. [Los Angeles Times, 4/7/14]
AP: Court Ordered Bundy To Pay Fees Or His Cattle Would Be Confiscated. Bundy refused to pay the fees he owed, and so the BLM attempted to carry out court orders to confiscate his cattle to settle the debt:
A federal judge in Las Vegas first ordered Bundy to remove his trespassing cattle in 1998. The bureau was implementing two federal court orders last year to remove Bundy’s cattle after making repeated efforts to resolve the matter outside court, Kornze said, adding the rancher has not paid grazing fees in 20 years. [Associated Press, 4/13/14]
AP: BLM Halted Cattle Confiscation After Armed Militias Showed Up To Protest. As the Associated Pressreported, after the Bureau of Land Management began confiscating Bundy’s cattle, armed ”states’ rights protesters, including militia members, showed up at corrals outside Mesquite to demand the animals’ return to rancher Cliven Bundy,” leading to the BLM’s decision to halt the confiscation:
Federal land managers say “escalating tensions” led them to release all 400 or so head of cattle rounded up on public land in southern Nevada from a rancher who has refused to recognize their authority.
Bureau of Land Management Chief Neil Kornze announced an abrupt halt to the weeklong roundup just hours before the release.
"Based on information about conditions on the ground and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our serious concerns about the safety of employees and members of the public," Kornze said in a statement. [Associated Press, 4/13/14]
Sen. Harry Reid Calls Armed Protestors “Domestic Terrorists”
Las Vegas Review-Journal:Sen. Reid Called Bundy's Armed Supporters “Domestic Terrorists.” At an event hosted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) called armed protesters supporting Bundy ”domestic terrorists,” saying, “Those people who hold themselves out to be patriots, are not. They’re nothing more than domestic terrorists.” [Las Vegas Review-Journal, 4/17/14]
Bundy Repeatedly Threatens Violence Against BLM Agents
Las Vegas Sun: Bundy Said He Would “Do Whatever It Takes” To Protect His Cattle. In 2013, Bundy told the Las Vegas Sun he would “do whatever it takes” to prevent the government from seizing his cattle:
[T]he rancher insists his cattle aren’t going anywhere. He acknowledges that he keeps firearms at his ranch and has vowed to “do whatever it takes” to defend his animals from seizure.
"I’ve got to protect my property," Bundy said as Arden steered several cattle inside an elongated pen. "If people come to monkey with what’s mine, I’ll call the county sheriff. If that don’t work, I’ll gather my friends and kids and we’ll try to stop it. I abide by all state laws. But I abide by almost zero federal laws."Bundy’s wife Carol told the Sun that she owns a shotgun and is prepared to use it:
Carol Bundy said her husband is not a violent man, just a person who will protect what he owns. For that matter, so is she.
"I’ve got a shotgun," she said. "It’s loaded and I know how to use it. We’re ready to do what we have to do, but we’d rather win this in the court of public opinion." [Las Vegas Sun, 9/23/13]
Bundy's Response To Question About Resorting To Violence: ”I Didn’t Say I Wouldn’t Carry A Gun.” On the April 10 edition of The Laura Ingraham Show, Ingraham asked Bundy whether he would resort to violence to settle the dispute:
INGRAHAM: When you said you would do quote “whatever it takes,” to stop the government from impounding your cattle, what did you mean by that? Did you mean you would resort to violence?
BUNDY: What I said was — I didn’t say I wouldn’t carry a gun. [The Laura Ingraham Show, 4/10/14, via Media Matters]
Fox Figures Praise “Patriotic” Bundy Supporters
Fox’s Earhardt: Bundy Supporters Are “Good, Hardworking Americans.” On the April 18 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Ainsley Earhardt expressed outrage at Sen. Harry Reid’s comments that Bundy’s supporters are “domestic terrorists,” saying:
EARHARDT: And then the question this morning, the government’s reaction to all of this. They’re pulling guns on these individuals, on Harry Reid’s community. These are folks that live in Nevada, these are good, hardworking Americans. So they disagree and the government goes out there and pulls guns and now Harry Reid’s calling them terrorists? [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/18/14]
Fox's Morris: Supporters Were “Protesting Peacefully.” In a later segment during the April 18 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Clayton Morris claimed that, “Suddenly people are there protesting peacefully, arguing against government intervention here … and all of these police and folks roll in with guns and sniper rifles pointing at them.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/18/14]
Fox’s Napolitano: Ranch Protesters ”Shows You The Resistance Of Patriotic Americans.” Fox contributor Andrew Napolitano and Bill O’Reilly discussed the Nevada standoff on the April 17 edition of The O’Reilly Factor. Both conceded that Bundy’s actions were illegal, yet Napolitano called his supporters “patriotic” and downplayed their threats of violence:
O’REILLY: But here’s the fact. The federal government sent more force in to handle Cliven Bundy’s cows than they did to Ukraine. Right, I mean we can’t even get binoculars over there for those people but we have all of this.
NAPOLITANO: It shows you the attitude of the federal government today, and it shows you the resistance of patriotic Americans — Americans whose voices were silenced at the scene by being moved three miles away. [Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor, 4/17/14]
Fox’s Starnes: Bundy Supporters Are “Law-Abiding” Patriots. On the April 17 edition of Hannity, Fox contributor Todd Starnes told guest-host Eric Bolling, “The idea that you’ve got the Senate Majority Leader going out there and calling law-abiding American citizens — patriots — domestic terrorists for protesting against their government is beyond the pale.” [Fox News, Hannity, 4/17/14]
Fox Guest: Why Were Guns Pointed At “Hardworking Ranchers”? During the April 17 edition of Fox News’s The Kelly File, frequent Fox guest and conservative filmmaker Dennis Michael Lynch demanded an explanation from Sen. Harry Reid as to why guns were pointed at “hardworking ranchers”:
LYNCH: That man [Sen. Reid], I want an explanation from him. I want to know why it is that I had M-16s pointed at my face. Why those M-16s were pointed at women and children and hardworking ranchers. I want an explanation. Because the more I keep on looking at my footage — that looked like Afghanistan. [Fox News, The Kelly File, 4/17/14]
Bundy Supporters Who Fox Praised Were Armed, Threatened Violence
Las Vegas Review-Journal: Armed Militia Members Mobilized For ”Armed Confrontation.”The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported on April 9 that armed militia members were joining Bundy in his standoff with the BLM:
From near and wide, armed men are trickling toward Cliven Bundy’s ranch, where the rancher’s fight with the federal government has become a rallying cry for militia groups across the United States.
They say they are prepared for armed confrontation, but they insist they will not be the instigators if bloodshed happens. [Las Vegas Review-Journal, 4/9/14]
Reuters: Many Supporters “Wore Military Fatigues And Carried Rifles And Pistols.” Reuters reported on April 17 that many of Bundy’s supporters carried rifles and pistols:
A number of Bundy supporters wore military fatigues and carried rifles and pistols and had traveled from California, Idaho, Arizona, Montana and beyond. Most kept their handguns holstered.
[Former Arizona sheriff Richard] Mack, who wore his gun on his hip, and other Bundy supporters interviewed by Reuters said they would not shoot first but would retaliate if fired upon. [Reuters, 4/17/14]
Review-Journal: "Serious Bloodshed Was Narrowly Avoided" At The Protest. The Las Vegas Review-Journal also reported that:
On Wednesday, that dispute teetered at the edge of deadly conflict, when Cliven Bundy’s family members and supporters scuffled with rangers from the Bureau of Land Management sent to protect the federal roundup of Bundy’s cattle on public land. [Las Vegas Review-Journal, 4/9/14]
Huffington Post: Former Sheriff Wanted To Put “Women Up At The Front” If A Shootout Occurred. According to the Huffington Post, former Arizona sheriff and Bundy supporter Richard Mack proposed putting women on the front lines if a shootout with the BLM occurred and claimed he “would have put my own wife or daughters there”:
"We were actually strategizing to put all the women up at the front," he said on Fox News, according to TheBlaze.com. "If they are going to start shooting, it’s going to be women that are going to be televised all across the world getting shot by these rogue federal officers."
"If they’re going to start killing people, I’m sorry, but to show the world how ruthless these people are, women needed to be the first ones shot. I’m sorry, that sounds horrible. I would have put my own wife or daughters there, and I would have been screaming bloody murder to watch them die. [Huffington Post, 4/15/14]
Reuters: Bundy Supporter “Aimed His Semi-Automatic Rifle” At Federal Agents. On April 17, Reuters reported on the aftermath of the Bundy ranch protest, writing that during that during the standoff an armed protester aimed his gun at federal agents:
Flat on his belly in a sniper position, wearing a baseball cap and a flak jacket, a protester aimed his semi-automatic rifle from the edge of an overpass and waited as a crowd below stood its ground against U.S. federal agents in the Nevada desert. [Reuters, 4/17/14]
Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Urquhart
KLAS-TV Las Vegas: Militia Man Joining Bundy Protest Said “We Provide Armed Response.” On April 10, a local Las Vegas news station KLAS-TV reported that one militia man coming to support Bundy said, “That is what we do. We provide armed response … We need guns to protect ourselves from the tyrannical government.” [KLAS-TV Las Vegas, 4/10/14]
Led by Sean Hannity, Fox News has devoted 4 hours and 40 minutes of its prime-time programming to cheerleading for a Nevada range war.
Media Matters examined Fox News’ weekday programming from 4 p.m. through 11 p.m. ET since it first started covering the story.
Fox News began agitating for a range war on April 9, sympathetically portraying Cliven Bundy as a folk hero based on the Nevada rancher’s refusal for two decades to pay the required fees for grazing his cattle on public land. While Nevada reporters have made clear that Bundy is “clearly wrong” and “breaking the law,” Fox has waged a PR campaign romanticizing Bundy and the armed militia groups that fled to his ranch and forced a standoff with federal agents who were executing a court order that allowed them to impound his cattle.
Fox Radio host Todd Starnes fanned the flames by implying that federal agents could be “strung up” for confiscating Bundy’s cattle, regardless of a court order. Even after the Bureau of Land Management announced that it would return the cattle to Bundy, Hannity asked Bundy whether he was worried that government agents might kill him.
Hannity has effectively turned his Fox News show into a public-relations firm for Bundy and the militias backing him, dedicating more than 1 1/2 hours of coverage since April 9 to effectively agitating for armed conflict with the federal government.
Media Matters conducted a Nexis search of transcripts of Fox News programs from April 5th to April 17th. We identified and reviewed all segments that included any of the following keywords: Bundy, Nevada, ranch!, cattle, Bureau of Land Management. The search included the Fox programs The Five, Special Report, On the Record with Greta van Susteren, The O’Reilly Factor, The Kelly File, and Hannity.
TPN head Judson Phillips emailed members a column — “Declaring War on Americans” — by Alan Caruba, in which he applauds the militias defending the Cliven Bundy ranch and plugs Operation American Spring, while hinting that the demonstration may provoke a violent response from the government.
I love the notion that Cliven Bundy lives in Bunkerville. It reminded me of Bunker Hill and you know how badly that eventually turned out for the British in 1775. What ensued was a guerrilla war led by George Washington that defeated the most powerful nation of its time. There is no way a militia with small arms can defeat the kind of arms the U.S. government can bring to bear on such a battle, but one has to admire the courage of those people who showed up to confront them. That’s quintessentially American!
I don’t think the BLM response to Bundy was exclusive to the agency. That decision needed to be sent up the line as far as the White House. Indeed, it was likely initiated by the White House.
All tyrannies over-reach at some point and we are seeing that occur in the White House. The nation is fortunate to have the House controlled by Republicans and now needs a Senate as well in order to dispense some much needed justice on behalf of Americans.
It’s going to be interesting to see how the White House responds to the May 16th “Operation American Spring” being organized to bring a million or more to Washington, D.C. to participate in an event that will demonstrate the breadth of the unhappiness that has spread since Obama’s first election and is gaining momentum since his second.
This isn’t the first time the Tea Party group has promoted Operation American Spring.
Back in January, the group emailed members an invitation to participate in the May 16 event, saying that non-peaceful means are on the table in their anti-Obama campaign.
Gen. Paul Vallely of Stand Up America US, who is also helping to spearhead “Operation American Spring” beginning May 16th in DC, has suggested that to counter Obama’s imperious overreaching that Congress should tender a vote of “no-confidence” against him.
Going forward, the most compelling remedial grassroots action we should all get solidly behind is, of course, “Operation American Spring” which will be launched in earnest on May 16th. I urge readers to check it out on the Patriots for America site. You have the option of participating in the protracted occupation or volunteering your services and talents in support of the operation.
Finally and very importantly, if all of these peaceful remedies fail to achieve our constitutional goals, then ALL other remedies sanctioned by our Founders and “natural law” must necessarily be relied upon by the American people. Let the Founders ALWAYS be our guide.
Facing his toughest reelection battle in years against a well-known and well-financed female opponent, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) recently boasted that he led the Senate in ousting a GOP colleague accused of sexual harassment in 1995. But news reports from that time show that late in the investigation, McConnell tried to stall the probe against his fellow Republican, Sen. Bob Packwood (R-Ore.) He derided efforts by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) to hold public hearings on Packwood as “frolic and detour”—after the Senate ethics committee had substantiated nearly two-dozen claims of sexual harassment leveled against Packwood by female lobbyists and former staffers.
Talking about the Packwood scandal this past week, McConnell noted that he was chair of the Senate ethics committee when Packwood resigned. In a Tuesday interview with the Lexington Herald-Leader, McConnell said he had taken “the toughest possible position.” The newspaper reported that McConnell had “offered himself as an example of how elected officials should handle situations when a member of their own party is accused of sexual harassment.”
But the bulk of the ethics probe against Packwood took place when the committee was chaired by a Democrat. When Republicans regained a majority in the Senate after the 1994 elections and McConnell became chair of the committee, he transformed the Packwood investigation into a partisan mess.
Here’s the backstory: In late November, 1992, the Washington Postreported that at least ten lobbyists and former Packwood staffers said they had been sexually harassed by Packwood. Several of the women claimed that Packwood had grabbed them or forcibly kissed them until they protested or pushed him away.
The story detonated a Washington scandal. Within a week, Packwood acknowledged the accusations, claiming his conduct was the result of a substance abuse problem. He called for a Senate ethics committee investigation of his own behavior. Bob Dole, then the Republican Senate minority leader, echoed Packwood’s call for an investigation. “The quicker the better,” he said. In subsequent weeks, several more women came forward. A former Packwood campaign volunteer told the Associated Press that Packwood had tasked her with gathering dirt on his accusers, and an official ethics inquiry was under way.
In the next year, Senate ethics committee staff interviewed 150 people across the country. This yielded 4,000 pages of sworn testimony and 1,000 pages of supporting documents. The investigators also collected new accusations from several women who had not spoken to the press.
Throughout this phase of the investigation, McConnell, the senior Republican on the committee, won praise from Democrats who had previously regarded him as the GOP’s junkyard dog. McConnell joined Democrats on the ethics committee in turning down a deal with Packwood to weaken the investigation, and he encouraged dozens of Republicans to vote on the Senate floor to subpoena Packwood’s diaries—audio tapes in which Packwood described his sexual misconduct in lewd detail.
Despite that Senate vote, Packwood held up the probe for about a year by challenging the subpoena for his diaries in federal court. As a result, it took the Senate ethics committee until December 1994 to wrap up its review of Packwood’s diaries. (The committee, by that time, was also investigating whether Packwood had altered the diaries and whether Packwood had instructed lobbyists to offer his ex-wife a job in order to lower his alimony payments.) The panel was on track to decide, in early 1995, whether Packwood had broken any laws or ethics rules. By tradition, if the committee decided Packwood had broken any laws, public hearings and testimony would take place on the Senate floor before the committee decided what consequences Packwood would face.
That’s when McConnell engaged in partisan obstructionism.
With Republicans now in the majority, McConnell, as chair of the Senate ethics committee, took control of the Packwood inquiry. And the investigation suddenly slowed down. As the committee missed its projected deadline for voting on public hearings by several months, McConnell dodged questions about where the investigation stood.
In mid-May, the committee announced it had acquired sufficient evidence to hold public hearings on the allegations. Its investigation had substantiated “18 instances of kissing, grabbing, groping or propositioning women,” often by force, the New York Times reported.
It was unprecedented for such serious ethics charges not to result in public hearings. But McConnell battled to keep the ensuing proceedings against Packwood closed. With Democrats demanding public hearings, McConnell canceled an ethics committee vote on hodling such hearings without explanation. In the following weeks, he allowed committee debates over whether to hold public proceedings to drag onwithout a vote.
In July, fed-up Senate Democrats pushed for a vote before the full Senate on holding hearings. McConnell responded with a threat, according to the Washington Post:
Senate sources said McConnell told [Sen. Barbara] Boxer on Tuesday that he would hold [ethics] hearings on two prominent Democrats if Boxer persisted in plans to force the issue of public hearings on Packwood.
According to the sources, McConnell approached committee member Barbarba Mikulski, D-Md., and told her, “You go find Barbara Boxer and tell her if she brings this amendment to the Senate floor, I’ll be having hearings on Daschle and Chappaquiddick.”
This was a reference to the 1969 incident involving the drowning of a woman companion of Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and to allegations earlier this year that Senate Minority Leader Thomas Daschle, D-S.D., may have intervened improperly on behalf of South Dakota air charter company.
The sources said Boxer confronted McConnell later and asked him if he was threatening her.
He responded, “I’m not threatening you; I’m promising you,” a source said.
The Associated Press recounted it this way:
"I want you to tell her (Boxer) if she does that, we will offer amendments for hearings on Daschle and Chappaquidick. It will work both ways," McConnell reportedly said. "I want you to tell her that right away."
At the time, political observers speculated that McConnell was trying to save Republicans from embarrassment. His refusal to hold public hearings generated huge controversy, with editorial pages in Kentucky and beyond calling for McConnell to reverse course. The Kentucky House and Senate both passed resolutions urging McConnell to allow public hearings, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. Sen. Richard Bryan (D-Nev.), the ranking Democrat on the ethics committee, publicly criticized McConnell. “There is simply no reason for the committee to delay further,” he told reporters. “I know of no reason the ethics committee has not met, nor any reason why the committee has not voted on holding public hearings.” McConnell promptlycanceled another meeting of the ethics committee. He said he would not call a new one until Democrats quit demanding public hearings.
The next day, July 21, McConnell hinted on the Senate floor that he would kick off retaliatory investigations. “If Senator Boxer takes us on another such frolic and detour, it will only further distract us and prevent us from concluding this important case,” he said. “So if we find ourselves on the floor in the coming days debating legislation regarding hearings in the Packwood case or any other subject related to ethics committee procedures, I will be prepared, and I am sure others will be prepared, to discuss and debate congressional action on misconduct cases in the past and other relevant issues.”
But early the following month, Boxer forced a Senate vote on her proposal to hold public hearings on Packwood. Republicans, at McConnell’s urging, filibustered, and a vote to break the filibuster failed.
The Senate ethics committee finally concluded the Packwood case the next month, on September 6, when senators returned from their summer recess. In a unanimous vote, the six members of the ethics committee, including McConnell, recommended that the Senate expel Packwood. By then, two more women had approached the committee claiming Packwood had harassed them. One of them said this had occurred when she was 17 years old. Packwood resigned a day after the committee vote. The full investigation had taken nearly three years. No public hearings were ever held.
"I am more than happy to stake my reputation on the way I handle a case," McConnell said in the aftermath. And now, he’s using the episode to appeal to women voters: A 2013 "Women for Team Mitch" rally featured a female Kentucky lawyer who told the rallygoers, “The way Sen. McConnell responded to that situation was perfect.” With a sexual-harassment scandal now dogging a state Democratic lawmaker in Kentucky, McConnell has been pointing to his actions in the Packwood scandal as exemplary.
In response, the campaign for McConnell’s Democratic opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes, circulated a New York Times editorial from 1995 that decried McConnell’s “bullying tactics” during the Packwood scandal. “It is improper for Mr. McConnell to hold the Packwood matter hostage to unrelated issues,” the editorial said, referencing McConnell’s Chappaquiddick threats. “That is an abuse of his power as chairman.”
"McConnell now must resort to rewriting history to save the only job he cares about: his own," a Grimes spokeswoman wrote in an email.
"One fundamental problem Alison Lundergan Grimes has with reality here in Kentucky is that she actually believes the New York Times editorial page is the arbiter of truth and fact,” Allison Moore, a spokeswoman for the McConnell campaign, wrote in an email. “The internet would be a good resource for her to find out how Senator McConnell led the fight to expose and expel a senior member of his own party for egregious sexual harassment of women in the Senate.” Moore added that Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) praised McConnell’s actions shortly after Packwood resigned.
This is not the first time McConnell has highlighted the Packwood scandal during a campaign. In his 1996 reelection effort, he ran an ad during the summer Olympics boasting that he “took the lead” in ousting Packwood. McConnell, the ad said, had displayed “courage and independence—rare qualities in Washington these days.”
In a sign of the times, a leader in one of the largest and most politically active national Tea Party groups is resigning in the lead up to the 2014 elections.
Tea Party Express chairwoman Amy Kremer has played a major role in elections for the past five years, but she’s stepping down, CNN reported Friday. “This has been a really difficult decision for me, but the time has come for me to leave Tea Party Express.”
Kremer is leaving in order to fight the daggers with which Republican Senator Mitch McConnell is allegedly stabbing the conservative movement. Upset that the Tea Party Express is heading to Florida to give aid in a mere House race, she’s going to work as a consultant for Matt Bevin, the Tea Party challenger for McConnell’s Kentucky Senate seat.
Comparing Matt Bevin to conservatives like Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Mike Lee, who have made trouble for their own party, Kremer told CNN, “They’re having daggers put in their back, not by the Democrats but by members of their own caucus. That effort is being led by Mitch McConnell and the only way to stop that is to defeat Mitch McConnell.”
The Tea Party Express is the group that worked with CNN in 2012 in order to “host the first tea party Republican presidential debate,” because leave it to the mainstream media to be the last to know that the Tea Party’s influence is DOA on everything except the Republican Party (hey, you built that guys). Yeah, the Tea Party seems hell bent on destroying the few bits of the Republican Party still standing after the GOP itself spent years destroying its brand chasing after fools gold.
The same fringe of the conservative movement never goes away, they just rebrand. The same folks were the Birchers until that became obvious for what it was, and now they’re the Tea Party. The difference is that the Republican Party has given them more and more power, until they were/are running the party (see the GOP led-House). Republicans have had to do this in order to make up for the fact that their tent is shrinking, and the Tea Party have proven to be easily manipulated by the Koch Brothers and thus great shills for the elite. But just because that is what they are actually doing doesn’t mean that they know they are doing that. Most of the activists are true believers.
Reinforcements are coming for Matt Bevin at a time when Mitch McConnell’s campaign often seems to be run by people who are secretly plotting his downfall, and he’s burning through cash in a manner unfitting an allegedly fiscal conservative.
It’s a dirty Republican on Republican primary in Kentucky, and waiting cleanly in the wings is a well polling Alison Lundergan Grimes. And by the way, “The Secretary of State of Kentucky has outraised the Minority Leader of the U.S. Senate, not once but twice,” said Grimes’ campaign manager Jonathan Hurst.
Residents of Latta, South Carolina are calling into question the motivations behind Mayor Earl Bullard’s firing of Police Chief Crystal Moore, a 20-year veteran on the town’s police department.
Moore was unceremoniously relieved of her duties earlier this week after Bullard handed down a list of seven reprimands. Members of the city council have voiced their support for Moore and are condemning Bullard’s unilateral decision to fire Moore as an act of retribution, or worse: of outright homophobia.
Earlier this year, Moore — who is openly gay and the city’s first female police chief — opened an investigation into whether city vehicles were being used improperly by another city official. Among her findings was the fact that Bullard had failed to conduct a proper background check on the employee, Parks and Recreations Director Vontray Sellers.
In an apparent act of retribution, Bullard issued seven reprimands in a single day against Moore, the first reprimands she has ever received in more than 20 years on the force, before firing her on Tuesday.
City Councilman Jared Taylor suspects something even more pernicious could be at work. He provided local news affiliate WBTW with an audio recording of a phone call between himself and Bullard in which the mayor says he wouldn’t let his children be exposed to “questionable” lifestyles, and would rather have an alcoholic be responsible for his kids than a gay person.
“I would much rather have someone who drank and drank too much taking care of my child than I had somebody whose lifestyle is questionable around children, because that ain’t the damn way that they’re supposed to be,” Bullard says on the call. “I don’t agree with some of the lifestyles that I see portrayed and I don’t say anything because that’s the way they want to live. But I’m not going to let my child be around. I’m not going to let two women stand up there and hold hands and let my child be aware of it, and I’m not going to see them do it with two men neither. I’m not going to do it, because that ain’t the way the world works.”
Councilwoman Lutherine Williams has led the push for answers, appearing before a crowdof nearly 100 people outside of city hall on Thursday evening in a show of support for Moore. She and other council members intended to discuss Moore’s firing at the Thursday evening town council meeting, but Bullard refused to discuss the matter at all, to the disappointment of the dozens who crammed into the chambers in search of an explanation.
Bill O’Reilly hasn’t tried to defend Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who refuses to pay federal fines, like Sean Hannity, who appears to be trying to instigate — but he does try to lend a sympathetic ear to his problems. Tuesday night, Bill had on his two favorite legal eagles Lis Wiehl and Kimberly Guilfoyle, to suss out the situation and both supported the federal government’s positions over the anti-government fanatics and militiamen. They agreed that Cliven Bundy has no legal or constitutional legs to stand on, and he must pay.
Lis Wiehl: …they let the cattle go, gave them back to him, but he’s still on the hook the government says and I believe they are right about this, the government’s right about this, for one million dollars in late fees and taxes
Lis Wiehl: Grazing fees
O’Reilly: You can use the federal land if you pay for it
Lis Wiehl: You have to pay a fee, right, right.
O’Reilly: Supporters of Bundy say the federal government is violating the constitution, we hear that all the time. Do they have a strong argument?
Here’s a pop quiz. Find the contradiction in this quote:
“I’ll tell you, there’s unhappy people here, and we are rioting against the federal government, those people that are carrying guns and pointing them at us…I don’t think we’re going to put up with that in America.”
Would that America be a little slice of Nevada where domestic terrorists dwell and refuse to acknowledge the federal government, or is that America the one where fifty states are united under one national flag and live under the rule of law?
Also, would that America be the one where they have no problem with this…
…but whine about the federal government carrying guns and pointing them at them?
The victimhood just rolls off Bundy in big sweaty drops, courtesy of your Fox News hosts, who want you to know the badass federal government is full of mean people who want to arrest moochers and call them horrible names like domestic terrorist. Never mind the pesky truth, it’s just mean, am I right?
The lawmakers who spent the past year pushing for military sexual assault reform are now setting their sights on college campuses. Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Kirstin Gillibrand (D-NY), who introduced competing measures to change the way the military handles rape cases, are now working together to address the sexual assault crisis at colleges and universities.
The issue of sexual assault at higher education institutions has received increasing attention as students at dozens of schools have filed federal complaints against their universities, accusing them of failing to protect victims. At the beginning of this year, President Obama announced the creation of a new White House task force to find policy solutions in this area. California lawmakers have introducedlegislation at the state level. Now, U.S. lawmakers are laying the groundwork for national reform.
This week, McCaskill sent out an “unprecedented” survey to hundreds of college administrators across the country, hoping to collect data about the current systems in place for dealing with sexual assault. The move comes just a week after she met with the Education Department and Justice Department to find out how they enforce federal laws regarding rape cases on campuses.
McCaskill wants to collect the survey results by the beginning of May. She told the Washington Post that she expects to find “a patchwork of processes and systems,” evidence of “dysfunction” between campus and city police departments, and a general “reluctance to empower victims.” She’s not sure what federal legislation may be necessary in addition to the existing Title IX and Clery Act requirements, but she plans on holding round table discussions in order to explore the potential.
Gillbrand has also recently indicated that she’s considering introducing legislation regarding campus sexual assault. And earlier this month, Gillibrand and McCaskill joined forces to push for increased funding to combat sexual assault at colleges across the country. They sent a letter to the leadership of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee calling for more staffing to enforce federal gender equity laws, and linking the issue to the problems in the military.
“I fear that, like the U.S. military, we’re going to find systemic problems on our college campuses — including very low reporting due to lack of protections and resources. Our schools must provide the highest level of responsiveness to ensure that victims are protected and empowered, and that perpetrators don’t get a free pass,” McCaskill noted.
Both McCaskill’s and Gillibrand’s staff told the Huffington Post that tackling the issue of rape on college campuses was a natural next step after working on the same issues in the military. “Through the course of that work, in the last couple months, we started hearing from students and advocates about the issue of sexual assault in college campuses. You start to hear some things that are eerily similar,” Gillibrand’s communications director, Glen Caplin, said. “They’re very different in terms of solutions, but you start to hear things that are systemic in nature.”
This issue is also gaining traction in the House of Representatives, led by Reps. Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). Those two lawmakers have pressured the U.S. government to crack down on the colleges that are failing to adequately handle sexual assault cases, and are also urging U.S. News & World Report to update its influential college rankings to include information about rape on campus.
The vast majority of women who are victims of rape are assaulted before they reach their mid-twenties. Undergraduate women are most at risk during the first six weeks of their first year of college. By the time women graduate from college, one in five will be a survivor of sexual assault. But colleges’ lenient policies often allow rapists to escape punishment and go on to victimize more people.
Yesterday, Chelsea Clinton announced that she and her husband are expecting their first child, which also means that Bill and Hillary Clinton will be welcoming their first grandchild right as the former Secretary of State begins her anticipated run for the White House.
And this is all just too much of a coincidence for Newsmax host Steve Malzberg, who went off yesterday speculating that Chelsea’s pregnancy was intentionally timed to benefit her mother’s presidential campaign.
Pointing to an interview Chelsea gave to Glamour Magazine last year in which she said that she and her husband had “decided we were going to make 2014 the Year of the Baby, and please, call my mother and tell her that. She asks us about it every single day,” Malzberg concluded that Bill and Hillary were pressuring Chelsea to get pregnant at a time that would benefit her campaign.
"Pardon the skeptic in me," Malzberg said, “but what great timing! I mean, purely accidental, purely an act of nature, purely just left up to God. And God answered Hillary Clinton’s prayers and she going to have the prop of being a new grandma while she runs for president. It just warms the heart. It brings a tear to my eye. It really does. Wow!”
From the 04.17.2014 edition of NewsMax.TV’s The Steve Malzberg Show:
Poor Bill O’Reilly. His tender fee-fees were so hurt by a sign saying “Nobody died for our “sins” Jesus Christ is a myth” it’s threatening his whole Easter or his whole faith or something. And persecuted Christian Laura Ingraham is suffering right along with him!
O’REILLY: If you are in Madison, Wisconsin and you go to the Capitol Building, you may be very insulted this Holy Thursday.
O’REILLY: Fair minded people know that’s appalling.
INGRAHAM: Every Christian holiday, we see something like this.
O’REILLY: They want to hate and disparage people like you and me.
INGRAHAM: I am praying for the redemption of the nasty folks over at (Freedom From Religion Foundation). I don’t know if it will work or not.
O’REILLY: These people want to insult - and that’s what it is - it’s insulting. They want to insult people with whom they disagree. And there’s no reason for it.
INGRAHAM: The culture is already predominantly atheistic. …So, they have enormous power, I think, already in the culture that doesn’t address religion at all. But that’s not enough for them. They want to mock and demean. …This doesn’t surprise me at all. I expect this to happen. …Why is it always the Christians the only ones that get the mud slung at them? I don’t know why it’s just Christians.
So what do you think O’Reilly’s reaction would be if two African Americans had this discussion about being stopped and frisked by the police for no reason? I think we have a good idea.
Pro-Russian forces are scaring the Jewish community, and Putin’s rhetoric is making it worse.
The latest rumor to make its rounds on the web is a tip from the Jerusalem Post that in Donetsk, Ukraine, Jews older than 16 years old will be forced to register their identities with the pro-Russian separatists led by Denis Pushilin, whose forces have recently taken over several government buildings in the city. This is actually just a provocation most likely planted by pro-Ukrainian groups.
Rain, an independent TV station in Russia, quoted Pushilin as saying the documents did not come from him. Some people from the local Jewish community agreed documents were an attempt to provoke a conflict and blame it on Pushilin and his separatists, according to the Ukrainian news publication the News of Donbass.
To set the record straight: Jews in Ukraine are not being asked to register with pro-Russian separatists at risk of losing citizenship. This war of information, however, might not be ending anytime soon.
President Vladimir Putin ramped up his aggressive language toward Southeastern Ukraine in his four-hour live Q&A session Thursday, when people called in, texted and sent video messages with their questions. He has made it more obvious that his priorities are protecting ethnic Russians over helping Ukraine become more stable.
We can see this in his increasingly pro-Russian language. Putin pubically called the Southeast Ukraine, which is bordered by Moldova, Donetsk, Odessa and Dnepropetrovsk “Novorossiya” or “New Russia” for the first time. In other words, he made it clear this region is now rightfully a new kind of Russia and should be treated as such. The area was last called “New Russia” in 1922 when it was “given” to Ukraine by the Bolsheviks. “God knows why” they gave these cities to Ukraine, Putin said Thursday.
The “New Russia” label is particularly scary when coupled with the way Putin is attempting to divide Russia from the West. Putin described the western man as being “for himself,” and “the more successful the person, the better.” He distinguished this from a “person of the Russian world” who thinks there is “something higher” of his own life. The more Putin creates these juxtaposition, the more like it seems he is not going to let down on Ukraine.
Sure, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterparts agreed on a de-escalation resolution Thursday in Geneva. But as is clear in Putin’s rhetoric: If it’s up to him — and it might just be — Ukraine is New Russia.”
As Putin increases his anti-fascist, pro-Russian rhetoric, he renders the Ukrainian government weak, further destabilizing the country. That’s why local Ukrainian groups in Donetsk resorted to faking an anti-Semitic document on the part of pro-Russian separatists.
If Putin doesn’t put a halt to elevating the interests of ethnic Russians over the interest of all Ukrainians, more members of the international community invested in this conflict will be blinded by his war of misinformation.
***Warning*** This petition text contains references to sexual violence. Right now, millions of sexual violence survivors are at risk for…
***Warning*** This petition text contains references to sexual violence.
Right now, millions of sexual violence survivors are at risk for re-traumatization from the television programs they watch. But there’s one easy thing the FCC can do to stop that — create a “sexual violence” content warning for television.
I was recently watching the new TV series Bates Motel, and was surprised to see a very graphic rape scene half-way through the episode. The title of the program and the information listed for the episode did not include information about a rape scene, nor was there a content warning specific to sexual violence at the beginning of the show. And it’s not just Bates Motel — in the past year graphic scenes of sexual violence have appeared in The Walking Dead, Girls, Silent Witness, Game of Thrones, and other programs.
The picture you are seeing is of myself and my co-workers, friends and fellow survivors, Anna Perez and Christine Kobie. As survivors and advocates we understand how damaging this content can be to someone who is not expecting it and is not able to prepare for it. Survivors’ memories of their own assault can be triggered by sights, sounds, smells or even feelings that they experience. These triggers can bring back memories of the trauma and cause intense emotional reactions and physical reactions, especially in survivors with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Millions of television viewers are sexual violence survivors. According to RAINN statistics, 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men have been sexually assaulted in their lifetime. That means that of the audience for the episode of Bates Motel which featured a rape scene, there were potentially over 450,000 survivors in the audience (assuming that out of the 4.6 million viewers, half were women and half were men). These survivors deserved a warning.
Fortunately, there’s an easy solution — The FCC, via the TV Parental Guidelines, should create a “sexual violence” content warning at the beginning of any television show that will be airing an episode with sexual violence.
Such a warning will empower survivors by giving them the choice on whether or not they want to watch, and if they do, they can prepare themselves for the scene. It will also allow families to decide what type of violent content they want to view. The FCC has already designated “fantasy violence” as a subset of violent content that affects viewers differently than other forms of violence, they need to do the same for sexual violence.
Please join us in asking the FCC to create a “sexual violence” content warning, including a resource for survivors like the RAINN 24-Hour Hotline (800) 656-HOPE, to be shown before programs with scenes of sexual violence.
To: Federal Communications Commission and TV Parental Guidelines TV Parental Guidlines Tammy Sun, Director Media Relations, FCC Julius Genachowski, Chairman, FCC Robert McDowell, Comissioner, FCC Mignon Clyburn, Comissioner, FCC Jessica Rosenworcel, Comissioner, FCC Ajit Pai, Comissioner, FCC
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on Thursday called Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and his supporters “domestic terrorists” at an event sponsored by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, according to reporter Jon Ralston.
.@SenatorReid says Bundy “does not recognize the United States.” Calls armed folks who backed him ” domestic terrorists.” Wow.
Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy has been in dispute with the Bureau of Land Management over grazing fees on federal lands. Because Bundy hasn’t paid the fees for 20 years, federal authorities began to round up his cattle earlier this month.
Over the weekend, Bundy gathered more than 1,000 people, some of them armed, to protest the BLM. Federal authorities backed off, and Bundy then declared victory over the government.
On Monday, Reid said that the showdown was “not over.”
The conservative media has been hyping the standoff. Alex Jones’ website InfoWars called the “surrender” by the federal government “historic.” And Breitbart News called the showdown, “THE SAGA OF BUNDY RANCH — FEDERAL POWER, RULE OF LAW AND AVERTING POTENTIAL BLOODSHED.”
A writer for National Review compared Cliven Bundy to Mahatma Gandhi. And former sheriff Richard Mack likened Bundy’s militia to Rosa Parks and the federal authorities to Nazi soldiers.
President Obama announced on Thursday that 8 million people have signed up for plans through Obamacare’s new insurance exchanges. Although March 31 was originally the final deadline to enroll in Obamacare, administration officials extended the open enrollment period until April 15 to accommodate the people who may have struggled to complete their applications due to technological issues.
Just over two weeks ago, the administration announced that Obamacare enrollment had reached 7.1 million — surpassing expectations after HealthCare.gov’s rocky rollout in October. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) originally projected seven million enrollments, and revised that figure down to six million after persistent website glitches plagued the exchange websites in the fall. But sign-ups picked up steam as the deadline neared. The 8 million figure includes 3.7 million sign-ups between March 1 and April 15.
“This thing is working,” Obama said.
The administration has not yet released more detailed data about the people who have signed up for new plans, so it’s unclear how many were previously uninsured and how many have paid their first premium. Even without further numbers from the White House, however, several recent outside reports suggest that the health reform law is on solid footing.
Polling from Gallup released this week found that Obamacare may be having an even bigger impact on the uninsurance rate than initially expected, suggesting that about 12 million previously uninsured Americans have gained coverage since the fall. That places the uninsurance rate at its lowest point since 2008. According to Gallup’s estimations, about half of the Americans who have gained insurance for the first time this year say they got their coverage through Obamacare’s marketplaces. Other people gaining coverage could have gotten it through the expansion of the Medicaid program, or by signing up directly with an insurer.
And despite concerns that Obamacare wouldn’t be able to recover from HealthCare.gov’s disastrous rollout, several major insurers say they’re optimistic about the law, and eager to continue offering plans on the new marketplaces during the next open enrollment period. Insurance companies like UnitedHealth Group, Kaiser Permanente, Molina Healthcare, and Wellmark are interested in maintaining their presences on the state-level exchanges, and some are considering expanding, according to Politico.
Although there have been some ominous predictions that Obamacare will cause health insurance premiums to skyrocket, the statisticians working with insurers to project next year’s insurance premium rates report that there won’t be double digit hikes. While there will likely be variation in individual costs, officials from the Society of Actuaries expect mostly modest premium increases, saying “the double-rate increases we’ve been hearing are probably exaggerated.”
Some of the concerns over rising premiums stemmed from the assumption that there won’t be enough young and healthy people in the exchanges to balance out the older and sicker enrollees. But those fears may be unfounded. Obama announced on Thursday that 35 percent of enrollees are under the age of 35, and 28 percent are between the ages of 18 and 34. Since previous estimates had skewed older, that indicates a rush of younger people signed up at the last minute. Those numbers fall in line with the experience that Massachusetts has when it enacted similar health care reforms in 2006. Young people gradually signed up over time, and by the end of the enrollment period, about 28 percent of Massachusetts enrollees were between the ages of 19 and 34.
However, not everyone is equally sharing in the gains under Obamacare’s coverage expansion. The president noted that, thanks to Republican governors’ continued resistance to the optional Medicaid expansion, an estimated 5.7 million low-income people will remain uninsured in 2016.
After warning that marriage equality for gays and lesbians will destroy America, conservative columnist Cal Thomas told Daystar’s Marcus and Joni on Monday that public schools are instruments of “the enemy” and warned that Obamacare and the belief in evolution will lead to the deaths of senior citizens.
“Don’t put your children in the enemy’s re-education camps where they’re taught they evolved from slime and their nearest relative is down at the zoo and that’s why they like bananas on their cereal, and where they don’t learn the real history of America,” Thomas said before charging that the “government education system” is state-imposed Unitarianism that unfairly demonizes the Pilgrims as people who “hated the Indians and deprived them of their land.”
Later in the interview, Thomas said the theory of evolution will inevitably lead to the murder of “the elderly and then, soon after that, the handicapped, the unwanted, the mentally unfit and the rest” while Obamacare will establish death panels that will decide “who gets care” based in part on “how much you’re contributing to the tax base.”
“I spent a lot of time in the UK and I studied the NHS and I hear these horror stories. This is coming to America. You’re going to have — now Sarah Palin called them death panels, the left didn’t like that— but there will be bureaucrats deciding who gets care, who gets surgery and who doesn’t based on your age, the cost of the procedure and a lot of other factors, how much you’re contributing to the tax base,” he said.
“It’s coming and the reason it’s coming is we’ve devalued human life among the unborn. It will now be attacked at the other end of life among the elderly and then soon after that the handicapped, the unwanted, the mentally unfit and the rest because once you decide that we’re evolutionary accidents, we weren’t created in the image and likeness of an objectively existing God who endows us with a right to life, then all bets are off.”
Host Joni Lamb then asked Thomas and Ralph Reed, the head of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, “Twenty years ago, could you have ever imagined that America would have deteriorated in its moral values to the degree that we have here in 2014?”
“No, I would never have thought that it was possible,” Reed responded.
But Thomas said that Jesus “foresaw everything that was to come,” including the apparent collapse of America.
From the 04.14.2014 edition of Daystar’s Marcus and Joni:
On his radio broadcast today, Glenn Beck warned that if Sen. Mitch McConnell is re-elected, organizations such as his The Blaze or Breitbart.com will not be allowed to operate as independent media outlets and Tea Party groups will find themselves being targeted by the IRS in retribution.
Beck asserted that Comcast is refusing to carry his The Blaze network because of political pressure from people like McConnell before warning that if he gets re-elected, he will use to IRS to decimate all those Tea Party groups and media outlets who supported his opponent Matt Bevin, whom Beck declared to be a “Founder quality” man who has “been called by God.”
Bevin, Beck said, is "a guy I really, truly believe has been called by God. I really do. I met that guy and I was talking to him and I was like ‘oh my gosh.’ I mean, the Spirit jumps off of that guy. He’s Founder quality and I’m talking to him and he left the room and I looked at Pat and I said ‘do you feel that?’ and he said ‘oh yeah.’ I said ‘that guy’s called from God.’ This is a guy we prayed for."
From the 04.17.2014 edition of Premiere Radio Networks/TheBlaze Radio Network’s The Glenn Beck Radio Program:
Former Republican Congressman Allen West (R-FL), who is currently employed as a Fox News contributor, on Thursday warned that Muslims were organizing to “destroy” the United States by exercising their legal right to vote. Fox News host Steve Doocy…
Speaking yesterday with far-right pundit Stan Solomon, Pratt saluted the armed militias for intimidating law enforcement officers to the point where “everybody came to realize that we can’t have another Waco, the people are prohibiting us from having another Waco.”
Solomon also lauded the rancher’s armed supporters and argued that during the 1993 standoff with the Branch Davidians “if it hadn’t been for the goodness of the Waco folks” then “there would have been thirty or forty dead” “federales.”
“What they were hoping obviously was that they could run tanks in like they did at Waco as a final, murderous act, but clearly that wasn’t going to be political possible in ‘Bunkerville,’” Pratt said. “It’s interesting, the country you could in a way say it got started at Bunker Hill and it got a new injection of life at Bunkerville, Nevada.”
From the 04.15.2014 edition of CPNLive’s Talk To Solomon:
Ray Comfort, along with many other Religious Right activists, is incensed by the new movie ‘Noah,’ and went as far as to make his own alternative film. In an appearance yesterday on The Janet Mefferd Show, Comfort warned that Americans will soon face divine punishment because they, like the ancient Hebrews, are “running around naked, having an orgy.” -
He later traced all of America’s problems, such as “pornography, fornication and every sexual sin they can imagine,” to evolution, warning that “evolution gives license” to sin.
“Evolution is a hill to die on for the world,” Comfort said. “Anything goes: homosexuality, adultery, fornication, no matter what, it’s fine.”
Mefferd added that evolution has brought about “the Last Days” and the return of “the days of Noah.”
From the 04.16.2014 edition of Salem Radio Network’s The Janet Mefferd Show:
On the same day Fox announced Katie Pavlich’s role in a new show on the network, Pavlich created a false narrative that former IRS official Lois Lerner reached out to the Department of Justice about possible criminal prosecutions for tax-exempt groups. Fox went on to promote the story in several segments and continued to push it even after Pavlich corrected her initial report.
On April 16, Fox News announced it would launch a new show called Outnumbered to airon weekdays at noon. Fox contributor Katie Pavlich will be part of a rotating group of panelists on the show. The same day, Pavlich wrote on TownHall.com that new emails released under the Freedom of Information Act show that Lerner reached out to officials at the Department of Justice (DOJ) to discuss the possibility of criminal prosecutions for tax-exempt groups who lied about political activity on their filings. Gretchen Carlson pushed the report on The Real Story, repeating the claim that Lerner contacted officials at the DOJ to ask about criminally prosecuting the groups.
But Pavlich’s claim that Lerner contacted DOJ officials first is false — the emails show that in fact the DOJ reached out to Lerner first with a phone call. Pavlich updated and corrected her post to reflect that fact:
Editors note/correction:A previous version of this post stated and implied Lois Lerner contacted the DOJ about criminal prosecution when the emails state she in fact got a phone call from DOJ about the issue. While she was clearly in contact with DOJ about criminal prosecution for tax exempt groups, DOJ initiated the contact in this specific instance. Emails also show Lerner and Flax responded to both recommendations by Senator Whitehouse and DOJ to look into criminal prosecution. The headline to this post has also been updated.
Pavlich even acknowledged in the post that “Lerner later acknowledged pursuing prosecutions of these groups would not fit well with the law.”
Pavlich’s significant correction didn’t stop Fox from continuing to imply that Lerner was somehow conspiring with the DOJ to prosecute conservative groups. On the April 17 edition of Fox & Friends First, co-host Heather Childers pushed the story as “bombshell new evidence”:
CHILDERS: To this now, bombshell new evidence in the IRS scandal. Just-uncovered emails show that former agency official Lois Lerner spoke with the Department of Justice about going after political groups.
DOUG LUZADER: These emails appear to show that Lois Lerner herself was actively communicating with counterparts at the Department of Justice about this idea of going after political groups.
Neither Childers nor correspondent Doug Luzader ever mentioned the fact that it was the DOJ who had reached out to Lerner first and suggested possible criminal prosecutions for tax-exempt groups who lied about their political activity. Also unmentioned was the fact that Lerner later acknowledged that pursuing prosecutions would not be realistic.
Even as Fox’s “bombshell” revelations about the IRS “scandal” continue to fizzle out, the network shows no signs of abandoning its crusade to tie the IRS controversy to corruption at the highest levels of government. Pavlich’s journalistic misstep — and Fox’s eagerness to run with her flawed narrative — stain the credibility of the network’s new daytime program before it’s even begun.
Anyone who follows the Supreme Court even just occasionally has heard of SCOTUSblog. They are the first go-to to get all of the information and analysis of Supreme Court arguments and analysis with facts, rather than partisanship or opinion. Networks turn to them, as do ordinary people like me.
A couple of weeks ago there were rumbles that they were having difficulty getting their press credentials, and now there’s a blog update:
Last week, the Senate Press Gallery denied SCOTUSblog’s application for a press pass, and advised us that it would refuse to renew the credential it had previously granted Lyle when it expires next month. We were disappointed in that decision, and we are grateful for the support that we have received through social media, emails, and phone calls.
We thought it would be useful to write and explain the state of play regarding our credentialing. SCOTUSblog is not now, and has never been, credentialed by the Supreme Court. The Court’s longstanding policy was to look to credentials issued by the Senate. We pursued a Senate credential for several years, modifying several policies of the blog to address concerns expressed by the Gallery. Last year, we finally succeeded – the Senate Press Gallery credentialed Lyle as a reporter for SCOTUSblog. We then presented that credential to the Supreme Court, thinking that the issue was resolved.
Reasonable people who don’t follow politics closely can be forgiven for dismissing Democrats’ focus on the Koch brothers as just a political tactic– not unlike the Republicans’ attacks on George Soros. They’re all rich and politically active. So what?
Senator Bernie Sanders begs to differ–and so should we. Sanders points out that the brothers are worth 80 billion dollars (including an increase of 12 billion in the last year alone), and he points to the extent of their involvement in the political process–and the degree to which they have used their enormous resources to misinform and confuse, most recently funding political spots that flat-out lie about the Affordable Care Act, which–along with Medicare and Medicaid– they are intent upon repealing. (I guess when poor people get health care, it offends their peculiar version of justice.)
David Koch ran as the Libertarian Party’s vice-presidential candidate in 1980. And Sanders suggests we take a look at the platform on which he ran:
“We urge the repeal of federal campaign finance laws, and the immediate abolition of the despotic Federal Election Commission.”
“We favor the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid programs.”
“We oppose any compulsory insurance or tax-supported plan to provide health services, including those which finance abortion services.”
“We also favor the deregulation of the medical insurance industry.”
“We favor the repeal of the fraudulent, virtually bankrupt, and increasingly oppressive Social Security system. Pending that repeal, participation in Social Security should be made voluntary.”
“We propose the abolition of the governmental Postal Service. The present system, in addition to being inefficient, encourages governmental surveillance of private correspondence. Pending abolition, we call for an end to the monopoly system and for allowing free competition in all aspects of postal service.”
“We oppose all personal and corporate income taxation, including capital gains taxes.”
“We support the eventual repeal of all taxation.”
“As an interim measure, all criminal and civil sanctions against tax evasion should be terminated immediately.”
“We support repeal of all laws which impede the ability of any person to find employment, such as minimum wage laws.”
“We advocate the complete separation of education and State. Government schools lead to the indoctrination of children and interfere with the free choice of individuals. Government ownership, operation, regulation, and subsidy of schools and colleges should be ended.”
“We condemn compulsory education laws … and we call for the immediate repeal of such laws.”
“We support the repeal of all taxes on the income or property of private schools, whether profit or non-profit.”
“We support the abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency.”
“We support abolition of the Department of Energy.”
“We call for the dissolution of all government agencies concerned with transportation, including the Department of Transportation.”
“We demand the return of America’s railroad system to private ownership. We call for the privatization of the public roads and national highway system.”
“We specifically oppose laws requiring an individual to buy or use so-called “self-protection” equipment such as safety belts, air bags, or crash helmets.”
“We advocate the abolition of the Federal Aviation Administration.”
“We advocate the abolition of the Food and Drug Administration.”
“We support an end to all subsidies for child-bearing built into our present laws, including all welfare plans and the provision of tax-supported services for children.”
“We oppose all government welfare, relief projects, and ‘aid to the poor’ programs. All these government programs are privacy-invading, paternalistic, demeaning, and inefficient. The proper source of help for such persons is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals.”
“We call for the privatization of the inland waterways, and of the distribution system that brings water to industry, agriculture and households.”
“We call for the repeal of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.”
“We call for the abolition of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.”
“We support the repeal of all state usury laws.”
The Koch brothers want to repeal every major piece of legislation that levels the playing field or protects the middle class, the elderly, children, the sick, and the most vulnerable in this country, and thanks to Citizens United and McCutcheon, they can spend unlimited amounts of money to buy the American government they want.
They’ve realized that the Libertarian party can’t deliver their particular version of “liberty”–but properly funded, they hope the GOP can.
Glenn Beck worked the crowd like a preacher at a rally this month in Louisville, Ky., declaring that God had responded to conservatives’ prayers by sending a slate of tea party candidates to wrest control of the Republican Party from Mitch McConnell.
But there was a more earthly benefit to the arrangement that brought Beck to the rally. It was organized by the tea party nonprofit group FreedomWorks, which had endorsed the candidates — and which has paid more than $6 million in recent years to have Beck promote the group, its initiatives and events.
The FreedomWorks-Beck relationship is just one example of a powerful and profitable alliance between the conservative movement’s most aggressive groups and the most popular radio hosts. The details of the arrangements are little-known, but they have been lucrative for the recipients, and, in turn, have helped ensure that the groups get coveted airtime from hosts with a demonstrated ability to leverage their tens of millions of listeners to shape American politics. It’s an alliance that helped spawn the anti-establishment tea party and power Republicans to landslide victories in the 2010 midterms. It’s also exacerbated congressional gridlock by pushing a hard line on the budget, immigration and Obamacare, and it is roiling the Republican Party headed into critical midterm elections.
A POLITICO review of filings with the Internal Revenue Service and Federal Election Commission, as well as interviews and reviews of radio shows, found that conservative groups spent nearly $22 million to broker and pay for involved advertising relationships known as sponsorships with a handful of influential talkers including Beck, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh between the first talk radio deals in 2008 and the end of 2012. Since then, the sponsorship deals have grown more lucrative and tea party-oriented, with legacy groups like The Heritage Foundation ending their sponsorships and groups like the Tea Party Patriots placing big ad buys.
The hosts’ stances on candidates and issues usually align naturally with those of the groups. While their positioning occasionally seems to evolve with their sponsors, there is no evidence of hosts revising their views for paid advertising.
Critics, though, say the deals mislead grass-roots conservative activists, while undermining the credibility of the hosts and the groups.
“People like Beck and Hannity and Rush are nothing without the people who faithfully hang on their every word — I consider that a constituency trust that should be respected,” said former House Majority Leader Dick Armey. He was ousted from FreedomWorks in a bitter feud, but had been chairman when the group signed its contracts with Beck and Limbaugh. “For them to basically sell their influence and say whatever the contract asks of them, it compromises the integrity of the pundit-guru, as it were, and it’s an undignified expenditure on the part of the outfit that’s mining the attention.”
The talkers: From Rush to Rusty
In addition to Beck, at least four other hosts have entered into advertising arrangements of various sorts with tea party groups aiming to upend the 2014 primaries:
• Sean Hannity: Heritage began sponsoring Hannity in 2008 and paid $1.3 million in 2011 to a broker to arrange and fund the deal, according to the group’s IRS filings. Last year, Hannity began doing ads for the Tea Party Patriots, lending his name to fundraising drives, hosting its leaders on his radio and Fox News shows, and even using the Fox airwaves to promote the Tea Party Patriots website HannityforSanity.com.
• Rush Limbaugh: The Heritage Foundation at the end of January ended its five-year sponsorship of El Rushbo’s show, for which it had paid more than $2 million in some years and more than $9.5 million overall. In 2012, FreedomWorks paid at least $1.4 million to make him an endorser, though it’s not clear that the sponsorship is ongoing.
• Rusty Humphries: While Humphries lost his long-running radio show late last year, he re-emerged last month as a video show host and blogger at The Washington Times and hooked up with a PAC called the Tea Party Leadership Fund. “I got involved when they asked me,” he said of the group, which has paid him$15,500 over the past few months to serve as spokesman for a campaign to support Boehner’s long-shot primary challenger, a local high school teacher. The effort included a February fundraising email declaring “with your support behind him, he cannot loose [sic].”
Beck, through a spokesman, declined to comment, as did Premiere Radio Networks, which syndicates Beck’s show as well as Hannity’s and Limbaugh’s. FreedomWorks, Hannity, Levin and Limbaugh either could not be reached or would not respond to requests for comment.
Defenders of the contracts cast them as a happy blend of common cause and shrewd advertising, which was on display during Levin’s show on Tuesday.
“I’ll never give up on the American dream and neither will my friends at the Tea Party Patriots,” Levin told his listeners. “Pursue your American dream, join the Tea Party Patriots at TeaPartyPatriots.org.”
A spokesman for the Tea Party Patriots declined to discuss the cost or strategy behind the advertising campaign, which began running last summer, and downplayed its significance.
“We’re just advertisers on a radio show,” said Scott Hogenson. “It’s like people buying advertising space on POLITICO. It’s the same thing.”
But Genevieve Wood, an official at Heritage, said her group’s talk radio sponsorships provided a huge benefit.
“A lot of folks around the country learned about Heritage and that you could become a member because of Rush and Sean,” she said, explaining the group ended its contracts because they had run their course. “Even McDonald’s doesn’t advertise consistently, year after year, week after week.”
There’s little analogue for the phenomenon on the left. Liberal talk radio lacks major audience and financial support. And there’s currently relative ideological uniformity on the left, where no robust protest movement is seeking a mass channel to circumvent more established liberal or Democratic communications organs.
“That kind of internecine warfare isn’t happening on the left. I haven’t seen any evidence of it. Or, if it is, it’s not well funded,” said Thom Hartmann, the leading light of progressive talk radio. His advertising roster includes outfits targeting wealthy liberals, like an organic winemaker, as well as some of the same commercial companies that advertise on conservative talk radio — computer security firms and gold coin sellers — but no advocacy groups or candidates. “Progressive candidates, progressive groups — they don’t traditionally buy advertising on progressive shows, and I think the reason why is they know we’re singing their song anyway.”
Talk radio is seen on the right as a fundraising gold mine that can steer hundreds of thousands of loyal listeners and would-be donors to the websites of the advertising groups and those of their endorsed candidates, credit cards at the ready.
In the days before FreedomWorks’ FreePAC rally in Louisville, Beck urged his listeners to go to FreedomWorks website to buy general admission tickets for $15 or VIP passes for $50, explaining, “I will be there along with everybody else. Make sure you join us. This is the kickoff now for FreedomWorks for the fall campaign.”
The groups provide their sponsored hosts with scripts for on-air plugs, known in the industry as live-reads. Deals differ from host to host, but most provide the sponsoring group a certain number of live-reads, which usually steer listeners to its website and encourage donations, as well as ads for the sponsoring groups on the hosts’ websites, and sometimes a certain number of signed fundraising emails and appearances.
A source with knowledge of FreedomWorks’ contract with Beck, though, said it does not require him to appear at events. He agreed to speak in Louisville and at other FreePAC rallies, as well as at a 2011 FreedomWorks major donor event on South Carolina’s Kiawah Island, because he cares about the group’s mission, the source said. “The important thing is not whether the company is a nonprofit involved in politics, selling flowers or protecting hard drives, it is whether Glenn believes in them, and he believes the listener benefits from FreedomWorks and his radio show’s other clients,” the source said, adding Beck dropped General Motors as a sponsor when it accepted money from a federal bailout he opposed.
Hogenson didn’t answer a question about whether the Tea Party Patriots’ radio advertising deals include appearances. The group had tapped Hannity to appear at its fifth anniversary rally in February, eventually bumping him for Levin, which Hogenson suggested was due to “unexpected events.” A lawyer in the Reagan administration, Levin told the Patriots that the beloved late president “would be enormously proud of you.”
An internal FreedomWorks memo shed light on the fundraising return yielded by the sponsorships. The memo — presented to the group’s board and obtained and posted by Mother Jones magazine — indicated that, during the first 11 months of 2012, the Beck sponsorship had yielded $860,000 in contributions, while the Limbaugh sponsorship had brought in $433,000. That’s less than 30 percent of the total the group paid to the broker who set up the sponsorships in 2012, according to its tax filings, though, to be sure, the sponsorships also helped the group engage activists who did not donate.
Still, Armey opposed FreedomWorks’ contracts with Beck and Limbaugh as too costly and far afield from the organization’s mission of electing conservative politicians and reducing government spending and regulation. But he was forced out as chairman of FreedomWorks weeks before the 2012 election. His argument, he said was “and still is — is that, if you get earned media, then it’s going to be because it’s earned and that will be a reflection of what it is you did that earned the attention of somebody in the media,” Armey said. “If you have paid media, then basically you’re paying somebody to tell your story the way that you want it told.”
Nonprofit groups’ tax documents typically aren’t filed until nearly a year after the relevant year, and any sponsorship payments they list are usually to a syndication service or a broker rather than the hosts or their production companies. The broker typically gets a commission and the syndication service gets a big cut, industry sources told POLITICO.
The hosts themselves are hardly hurting for revenue streams, with syndicators paying millions each year to distribute their shows, not to mention other lucrative sidelines, like the branded merchandise Beck sells and the books some hosts seem to crank out faster than Danielle Steel. Senate Conservatives Fund paid at least paid $427,000 to Simon & Schuster to purchase copies of one of Levin’s books in September and October of 2013. And Levin — whose radio show introduction refers to him as “our leader” — is president of a legal nonprofit, which paid him a salary of more than $300,000 a year (his brother earns about $170,000 from the group).
Conservative groups “that advertise on conservative talk shows are openly promoting their causes, activities, and services to millions of listeners,” Levin wrote. “Furthermore, most national hosts have a say about what advertisers are appropriate for their networks to run during their programs.”
The candidates: Bevin, McDaniel and Brannon
Beck, in particular, was an early force behind the tea party movement, encouraging listeners to rally against President Barack Obama’s ambitious first-term agenda, and even organizing rallies of his own. Limbaugh, Levin and Hannity weren’t far behind.
They, their adoring audiences and tea party groups supplied early support that helped lift Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Ted Cruz of Texas to primary election victories over establishment favorites in 2010 and 2012, respectively.
They’re trying for a repeat in 2014, pushing hard against establishment Senate favorites challenged by tea partiers like Bevin (whom Beck said was “called of God”), McDaniel (whom Levin said was “solid as a rock”) and Greg Brannon of North Carolina (whom Beck called “one of the more well-spoken, well-thought-out constitutional candidates”).
The tea partiers have been endorsed by FreedomWorks and the Tea Party Patriots and have gotten ample on-air support from the hosts with whom the groups advertise, which they’ll need to offset opposition from deep-pocketed GOP establishment groups, including Karl Rove’s American Crossroads super PAC.
Beck responded by urging his listeners, “If you have money, donate. If you have time, donate. GregBrannon.com.” But he also added a bit of shtick betraying his radio roots in the early 1980s as a Top 40 disc jockey in the then-emerging “morning zoo” genre. “I could tongue-kiss you and I’m not a guy who does that,” said Beck, who has become increasingly engaged in primary politics since the early days of the tea party and his partnership with FreedomWorks.
Beck’s contract doesn’t call for him to give airtime to either FreedomWorks’ officials or its endorsed candidates, according to the source familiar with it, who suggested Beck has spent more time boosting candidates this cycle because there are more candidates he likes.
Levin had supported Hatch, and he blistered FreedomWorks for opposing the Utah senator, calling Armey “a highly paid, which is fine by me, lobbyist in Washington” with little to show for his time in Congress. “This is what happens when decisions are run out of offices in Washington,” Levin wrote on his Facebook page. (His sponsor around that time, Americans for Prosperity, is a longtime FreedomWorks rival and is located in Washington’s Northern Virginia suburbs).
Hatch prominently featured endorsements from Levin, Hannity and fellow talker Laura Ingraham in a flyer that lashed FreedomWorks as “reckless” and “power hungry” — “an out-of-state special interest group.”
Some FreedomWorks staffers grumbled that Levin was motivated at least partly by the fact that FreedomWorks, after inquiring about sponsoring Levin’s show, ultimately decided that it would get more bang for its buck by going with his then-rival, Beck. “There were posters at the march on Washington saying, ‘thank you, Glenn Beck,’” FreedomWorks executive Adam Brandon said at the time, referring to a seminal tea party rally in September 2009. “There weren’t signs saying, ‘thank you, Mark Levin.’” (The hosts say they’ve since patched things up.)
The evolutions: An apology
After Levin signed on last year with the more anti-establishment Tea Party Patriots, he apologized for endorsing Hatch after the veteran lawmaker expressed support for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Levin has since endorsed a number of challengers to incumbent senators, including Milton Wolf’s primary against Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts. Driving home his anti-establishment posture, Levin accused Roberts of “going through the strategy hatched by Orrin Hatch. He has lurched to the right in the primary process and to get reelected, but he is a well-known establishment Republican.”
Many deep-pocketed conservative groups are looking for hosts who adhere to an ideological orthodoxy, asserted Michael Medved, a nationally syndicated conservative talker. Such groups have shied away from sponsoring his show, he suggested, because of his less-confrontational approach to the tea party-vs.-establishment power struggle and his support for immigration reform.
Tea party groups and their sponsorees peddle the idea that “you have to replace mushy moderates and establishment people with true conservatives, and the tea party. That’s a narrative that I would be very uncomfortable with, because I don’t agree with it,” explained Medved, whose show nonetheless has accepted advertising from the American Conservative Union and other outfits. “There are a lot of the potential sponsors who are involved with various conservative organizations for whom my ‘heresy’ — in quotes — on immigration creates a problem,” said Medved.
The hosts aren’t necessarily just following their sponsors’ leads, though.
When FreedomWorks endorsed Shane Osborn over Ben Sasse for the May 13 Nebraska GOP Senate primary to replace retiring Republican Sen. Mike Johanns, Beck didn’t follow suit. Instead, he welcomed both candidates on the show, telling Osborn matter of factly, “You’ve been endorsed by FreedomWorks … [and] I’ve heard from many friends and a lot of people that you are really fantastic,” but he later showered Sasse with praise, telling him late last month, “I can hear the Constitution running through your veins, which is very, very good.”
Days later, FreedomWorks, in a highly unusual move, switched its endorsement to Sasse, with some Osborn allies privately blaming Beck.
His sponsorship with FreedomWorks in 2013 was set to pay for ads on his radio show, his independent TV show and a partnership with the “action center” affiliated with his news website The Blaze, which was set to sublease 1,400 square feet of space in FreedomWorks’ sleek Capitol Hill office suite, according to the 2012 board memo. The source with knowledge of Beck’s contract said it was unrelated to the rented space, and pointed out that other media companies also lease space in the building.
And, by Beck’s own account, he played a pivotal role in steering FreedomWorks through the split with Armey, empowering Beck’s allies at the group, who were the primary advocates for the sponsorship contract, after Armey temporarily ousted them from power. Beck called the major donors who compose the FreedomWorks board and said “if you allow this coup to sit, we’re done and we’ll expose it,” according to an account he shared with his listeners several months later. “Well, it wasn’t even a week later, the board took a vote to reinstate” his allies and “escorted the leader of this coup and his cronies out the door for good,” Beck recalled triumphantly of his dealings with Armey, whom he continues to assail on his shows, last month calling him “the fat guy.”
Plus, Armey contended, the FreedomWorks-Beck alliance has been struggling, pointing to a $1 million line of credit the group was forced to take out in 2013 in the face of flagging fundraising, and a mixed record in recent elections. If polls hold, the group can expect more of the same, Armey predicted.
“I take a look at these races in Mississippi with Cochran and especially the one in Kentucky with McConnell, and I would call it a fool’s errand and therefore tailor-made for Glenn Beck, and you can quote me on that.”
Jeff Allen, senior editor of Matt Barber’s BarbWire website, today defends harsh anti-gay laws in Uganda, Nigeria and Ethiopia, which he calls “maliciously mischaracterized” and “a matter of national survival.”
Yet to Allen, these laws are merely resisting “the West’s imposition of ‘sexual rights’ on these countries.” In a review of a 2012 documentary by Family Watch International that blames the AIDS crisis in Africa on Western aid that emphasizes family planning and gay rights, Allen writes:
The maliciously mischaracterized anti-‘gay’ laws in countries like Uganda, Nigeria, and Ethiopia are actually a matter of national survival. The documentary makes the case that the West’s imposition of “sexual rights” on these countries erodes their religious and cultural values, leading to social chaos through the demise of the natural family unit and the deaths of millions by AIDS-related illnesses.
Richard Mack, the Arizona sheriff who earlier this week compared the stand of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s armed standoff with the Bureau of Land Management with “Rosa Parks refusing to get off the bus ”and even the Holocaust, told Alan Colmes yesterday that the federal government brought “paid hit men” to Bundy’s ranch who were “ready to fire on innocent and unarmed people.”
The Fox Radio host asked Mack, “We can agree or disagree about how much the government should own in terms of federal property, but is this the way to go about changing it?
Mack responded that Bundy’s stand “was peaceful until it got escalated by the federal government in bringing out paid hit men, mercenaries, and you know, getting violent.”
When Colmes asked Mack if he had evidence to substantiate his claim that the government had brought in mercenaries to face down the militia members at Bundy’s ranch, Mack responded, “we have our intel sources” and insisted that “they were there with the military weapons and they were there ready to fire on innocent and unarmed people.”
The far-right Christian Patriarchy—brought to American audiences by the Duggar family—is on the verge of collapse after a series of alleged sex scandals involving the movement’s leaders.
Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar have put many years and a lot of work into putting a smiling, nearly normal-seeming face on the extreme Christian right. The couple adheres to a fringe strain of fundamentalist Christianity dubbed the “Christian patriarchy” or sometimes the “Quiverfull” movement, and while there is a lot of internal diversity to the movement, they generally preach a combination of beliefs that run counter to mainstream America: absolute female submission, a ban on dating, homeschooling, a rejection of higher education for women, and shunning of contraception in favor of trying to have as many children as humanly possible. The movement is controversial even within Christian right circles, but the Duggars have tried to counter that with their popular reality TV show 19 Kids & Counting, where they present themselves as a wholesome everyday family that just happens to be a little more fecund and conservative than average.
The strategy has been surprisingly effective, with Michelle Duggar being able to act like she’s just like any other reality TV star, giving sex tips andsharing recipes. Jim Bob has also been able to turn their fame into an opportunity to get political power, chumming around with presidential candidates and speaking at more mainstream conservative events. While many in the Christian right are still skeptical of Biblical patriarchy’s extremism, this charm offensive has clearly softened up resistance and is giving this fringe an ability to throw their political weight around. The fact that Republicans have started to step up the anti-contraception rhetoric lately appears, in part, to be the result of this tiny group of extremists Christians putting a smiley face on absolutist anti-contraception sentiments.
But right as the Duggars are beginning to cash in on all this hard propaganda work, it seems the world they come from—the tiny but growing world of strict Biblical patriarchy—is in real danger of collapsing. While adherents to this form of Christianity, like the Duggars, like to paint an uber-wholesome face on their families and beliefs, ugly truths are finally starting to leak out regarding the problems of infidelity and alleged sexual abuse in the community.
The latest scandal is a doozy. Back in November 2013, Doug Phillips, who, in his capacity as the president of Vision Forum Ministries, is probably the most important leader in the world of Biblical patriarchy, confessed to cheating on his wife and resigned as president of his ministry. “I engaged in a lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman,” he wrote. “While we did not ‘know’ each other in a Biblical sense, it was nevertheless inappropriately romantic and affectionate.” Shortly after his confession, Vision Forum Ministries closed up shop, unable to continue with the stink of sex scandal upon them.
It’s hard to underestimate the importance of Phillips in the small world of extreme fundamentalists. His father is one of the most critical founding fathers of the Christian right movement generally, and Doug extended his work by largely building this culture of the far Christian right as we know it, especially if you watch 19 Kids & Counting. The Duggar family are friends and acolytes of Phillips, and Vision Forum, in turn, has used Michelle Duggar in their efforts to demonize contraception, including giving her an award for “Mother of the Year” for having so many children.
On Tuesday, it was revealed that there may be more to this entire scandal than the typical minister-caught-cheating story. The woman with whom Phillips confessed to an “inappropriate” relationship, named Lourdes Torres-Manteufel, filed suit in Bexar County, Texas, accusing the powerful Christian right leader of pushing her into a multi-year abusive relationship that allegedly featured frequent sexual assault. While the complaint never mentions sexual intercourse, it does claim that he repeatedly groped and masturbated on her while she protested. The plaintiff alleges she was basically moved into Phillips’ house with his wife and children, taken on many family vacations, and given work as a caretaker for the family, all while secretly being bullied into sexual encounters without consent. She even claims that Phillips told her that they would marry soon, as he believed that his wife was about to die.
Torres-Manteufel’s lawyer provided me with a copy of the complaint. It is searing in its criticisms of Doug Phillips. “Phillips’s patriarchal movement teaches that men are, and should be, in the absolute control of women,” reads the complaint, claiming that Torres-Manteufel was therefore bullied into believing she had no choice but to submit to Phillips’ alleged sexual abuse, even though she feared it made her “damaged goods.”
“In other words, women within this movement are perceived to exist only for the end-goals communicated by the male leaders that perceive themselves as the ‘patriarchs’ of this world,” the lawsuit reads. The conclusion is that a woman who truly believed this—whose boss, mentor, and father figure taught her that total submission was her duty in life—was not able to effectively plot an escape from a sexually coercive relationship.
Torres-Manteufel’s lawyer, David C. Gibbs, is a light of the Christian right himself, having worked for Terri Schiavo’s parents, and most of the initial coverage was handled by the Christian right media rather than the secular media—suggesting that the Christian right itself is ready to boot a leader whose behavior has made him a liability.
Phillips has not publicly responded to the lawsuit but several weeks ago, when rumors of the suit began to circle, his attorney called Torres-Manteufel’s legal claims false, defamatory and made with malicious intent,” according to The Christian Post.
Unsurprisingly, Phillips himself seems to be spiraling out of control. The Christian Post reports that Phillips’ lawyer has been sending out letters to former employees, accusing them of trying to destroy him and Vision Forum Ministries. Even though Phillips did confess to an inappropriate relationship, he has also signaled that he intends to deny some of the more shocking accusations leveled by Torres-Manteufel.
The scandal around Phillips is just the latest in a long line of ugly shocks to the far Christian right that threaten to destabilize and possibly capsize the community. As The Wire reported in early March, Bill Gothard, the leader of the Institute in Basic Life Principles, resigned his position in the wake of a series of accusations of alleged sexual abuse from dozens of women in the organization. IBLP, like Vision Forum Ministries, is a major clearinghouse for adherents to Biblical patriarchy, teaching members to shun contraception, embrace extreme forms of female submission, and, of course, use homeschooling to shelter young people from the outside world. Unsurprisingly, IBLP is also associated with the Duggar family, who participated in the organization’s many training seminars on embracing Biblical patriarchy and who called Gothard their “number one recommended resource” for family advice. He has exerted political influence in other ways, as well, befriending Sarah Palin and bringing her in for his International Association of Character Cities conference.
Similarly, both Bob Jones University and Patrick Henry College—schools that were established in no small part to give these homeschooled and sheltered kids from far Christian right backgrounds a place to go to college—have been at the center of accusations of indifference and even of allegedly covering up reported sexual abuse on campus. BJU received a lot of heat when they fired an outside firm that had been brought on to investigate accusations of sexual abuse, only to rehire them when it looked like they were punishing the firm for being too thorough in exposing the problem. Patrick Henry College was the recent target of an exposé in The New Republic that explored how young women who brought sexual abuse complaints to the school were frequently drummed out of the college or made to felt that they had somehow brought the abuse on themselves.
The “pitch” of Biblical patriarchy, as epitomized by Michelle Duggar, is that women will be coddled and worshipped in exchange for giving up their ambitions and the autonomy to practice an extreme form of female submission. The unpleasant truth is that a culture that teaches that women are put on earth for no other purpose but to serve men is not going to breed respect for women. Instead, these incidents show a world where men believe they can do whatever they want to women without repercussions. Is it any surprise that a subculture that promises absolute control over women will attract men who want to dominate and hurt women? Don’t believe the TLC hype. Biblical patriarchy is a sour, dangerous world for women, and luckily, that reality is finally being outed.
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter joined nine other Nobel Peace Laureates in sending a strongly worded letter to President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, urging them not to approve construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. The letter opened as follows:
You stand on the brink of making a choice that will define your legacy on one of the greatest challenges humanity has ever faced – climate change. As you deliberate the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, you are poised to make a decision that will signal either a dangerous commitment to the status quo, or bold leadership that will inspire millions counting on you to do the right thing for our shared climate. We stand with the 2,000,000 voices who submitted their comments in the national interest determination process rejecting the pipeline and ask you once again to stop Keystone XL.
While many political leaders and activists have voiced their opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline, Jimmy Carter becomes the first U.S. President to take a stand against development of the controversial pipeline. Former Presidents Bill Clinton (D) and George W. Bush (R) have both expressed support for constructing the pipeline. By contrast, President Carter recognizes the urgency required to address the issue of climate change and he recognizes the need for bold leadership and action from Washington. The letter concludes by discussing that urgency:
As you near a decision on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, please do not underestimate its importance. While the climate crisis will require increasingly ambitious efforts to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, this moment has the potential to empower a generation that needs affirmation that their leaders are listening and care about their future. A rejection would signal a new course for the world’s largest economy. You know as well as we do the powerful precedent that this would set. This leadership by example would usher in a new era where climate change and pollution is given the urgent attention and focus it deserves in a world where the climate crisis is already a daily struggle for so many.
Hopefully, President Obama will heed President Carter’s advice and establish his legacy as a President who acted to address climate change at a critical moment.
A Texas GOP political action committee will be shut down on Thursday after being denounced by Democrats and disavowed by gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott over its name, the Texas Tribune reported. Allen Blakemore, a political consultant based out…
CINCINNATI — A federal judge has put on hold the majority of what attorneys have called a “momentous” change to Ohio’s gay marriage law.
CINCINNATI — Ohio officials must immediately recognize the same-sex marriages of four couples who sued over the state’s gay marriage ban, a federal judge said Wednesday, while staying the broader effects of his ruling to avoid “premature celebration and confusion” in case it’s overturned on appeal.
U.S. District Judge Timothy S. Black
Judge Timothy Black stayed his ruling ordering Ohio to recognize the marriages of gay couples who wed in other states pending appeal in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. The appeals process likely will take months.
Had Black not issued the stay, all married gay couples living in Ohio would have been able to immediately begin obtaining the same benefits as any other married couple in the state, including property rights and the right to make some medical decisions for each other.
Black said the stay does not apply to the four couples who filed the February lawsuit that led to the court case, and ordered Ohio to immediately list both spouses in each relationship as parents on their children’s birth certificates.
Liz Wilson and her wife are among those who will have to wait for the appeal to play out.
“It’s frustrating,” said the 44-year-old Cleveland woman, who married her wife in New York last year. “At the end of the day you just want your family to be safe and secure.”
In explaining the stay, Black said that although he doesn’t think the state’s appeal will succeed, there is still a chance the 6th Circuit could overturn his decision.
“The court recognizes that recognition of same-sex marriages is a hotly contested issue in the contemporary legal landscape, and, if (the) appeal is ultimately successful, the absence of a stay … is likely to lead to confusion, potential inequity and high costs,” Black said. “Premature celebration and confusion do not serve anyone’s best interests.”
In a court filing arguing for a stay, attorneys for the state did not contest Black’s stated inclination to allow the four couples to both be listed on their children’s birth certificates.
“We’re happy that the judge agreed to the stay,” said Rob Nichols, Gov. John Kasich’s spokesman. He declined to comment further.
Al Gerhardstein, the Cincinnati civil rights attorney who represents the four couples in the lawsuit and argued against a stay of any kind, said in a statement that “at least for these four couples, the Constitution stands on the side of love.”
“The implementation of same-sex marriage recognition has started and we are all very excited,” he said. “We will try and expedite the appeals process so full marriage recognition for all same-sex couples does not trail too far behind.”
Three of the four couples who filed the lawsuit live in the Cincinnati area. One spouse in each relationship is pregnant and due to give birth this summer. The fourth couple lives in New York City but adopted a child from Ohio.
In Monday’s ruling, Black said the state’s refusal to recognize out-of-state gay marriage is a violation of constitutional rights and “unenforceable in all circumstances.”
“The record before this court … is staggeringly devoid of any legitimate justification for the state’s ongoing arbitrary discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” Black wrote.
Including Black, eight federal judges have issued pro-gay-marriage rulings since the Supreme Court’s decision last June that struck down part of the federal anti-gay marriage law. All but one of those rulings has been stayed pending appeal.
Although Black’s order does not force Ohio to allow gay marriages to be performed in the state, Gerhardstein said he was planning to file a lawsuit in the next couple of weeks seeking such a ruling.
JEFFERSON CITY • Through 13 years of teaching, Jennifer Kavanaugh never dreamed of hitting a child — not even once.
Kavanaugh, now a fifth-grade teacher at St. Margaret of Scotland School in St. Louis, previously taught in a school where children were physically punished for bad behavior, but she never participated.
She knows there are teachers across the state who do, however, and she wants it stopped.
“All studies point to the fact that corporal punishment does not make for a more peaceful, happier child,” she said at the Capitol on Wednesday.
Kavanaugh and about 30 of her fifth-grade students attended a hearing Wednesday on a bill, sponsored by Sen. Joe Keaveny, D-St. Louis, that would ban corporal punishment, or spanking, in both public and private schools in the state. The Senate Committee on Progress and Development unanimously passed the bill Wednesday afternoon.
“We need to stop assaulting our kids,” Keaveny said.
Missouri is one of 19 states that still allows corporal punishment in schools. The most recent states to ban it were New Mexico, in 2011, and Ohio, in 2009. Illinois also has a ban on this form of discipline, according to the Center for Effective Discipline, a National Child Protection Training Center program.
The country’s patchwork laws can largely be attributed to a 1977 Supreme Court ruling that left the issue up to the states. In Ingraham v. Wright, Florida students argued that the state’s corporal punishment policy violated both their Eighth and 14th Amendment rights. The court upheld Florida’s policy.
In Missouri, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education requires each school district’s written discipline policy to include a policy on corporal punishment. Should it be used, the local school board must determine how it will be used and whether a parent will be notified or can opt for a different form of discipline.
The department does not keep track of which districts in the state use corporal punishment. However, in 2009 the Missouri School Boards’ Association estimated that at least 70 districts in the state had policies allowing the use of corporal punishment.
A Post-Dispatch inquiry found that many districts in the St. Louis area — including St. Louis, Clayton, Lindbergh and Riverview Gardens — do not allow this type of discipline.
Ferguson-Florissant’s disciplinary policy also does not include spanking. District officials believe there are better ways — ranging from parent-teacher conferences to suspension or expulsion — to discipline a child, district spokeswoman Jana Shortt said.
But some districts do allow the practice. About 4,200 students across the state were physically punished in the 2009-2010 school year, the most recent numbers available, according to the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights.
The Fox School District in Jefferson County used to allow spanking in its schools, but it changed its policy in the early 2000s, said Lorenzo Rizzi, the district’s assistant superintendent of secondary education.
“I think the Board of Education no longer sees it as a proper way to punish kids,” Rizzi said. “The use of physical response doesn’t change behavior — oftentimes it escalates.”
The trend away from corporal punishment mirrors a national trend. For the 2009-2010 school year, about 184,500 students were physically punished, compared with about 223,000 in the 2005-2006 school year, according to the department.
A decrease, however, is not enough for Kavanaugh. She wants to see teachers use positive behavior supports.
“We need to require more of teachers,” she said.
No one spoke against the bill at Wednesday’s hearing. However, Sen. Gina Walsh, D-Bellefontaine Neighbors, voiced concern about including private schools in the bill.
“I do not support corporal punishment, but my parents sent me to a faith-based school … I’m opposed to government interfering in the curriculum.”
Senate Minority Leader and committee Chairwoman Jolie Justus, D-Kansas City, said she wanted to move the bill forward but believed there could be a hang-up on the private school portion.
“I suspect we’ll hear from people who don’t want state intervention in private schools,” Justus said. “At some point, we may need some compromise when some folks come and talk to us. Right now, I haven’t heard any opposition.”
GREAT News in Missouri. There is a bill being proposed that would make Missouri the 32nd state to ban corporal punishment in schools, both public and private. Let’s hope this bill passes; however, the right-wing [fundie] knuckleheads in the state will try to stop this bill from being passed at all costs.
Last week, Missouri Rep. Chuck Gatschenberger (R) got some backlash for comparing the decision to have an abortion to the decision to buy a car. But that hasn’t stopped his colleagues from making their own automobile-related analogies. At a legislative hearing on Tuesday, another member of the state legislature compared women’s reproductive health resources to cars.
The comments came during a hearing on House Bill 1613, a proposed measure that would make it more difficult for women to access abortion services by forcing them to wait three days after receiving a mandatory “counseling” session. In response, opponents attached an amendment to the bill that would impose the same restrictions on “crisis pregnancy centers” — right-wing facilities that seek to dissuade women from choosing to end a pregnancy — that are forced on abortion clinics. Rep. Kurt Bahr (R) didn’t agree with that amendment, and turned to cars to make his point.
“I’m trying to understand the need for this amendment…We’re saying a pregnancy resource center, that doesn’t provide abortions, should be held by same standards as an abortion facility?” Bahr said in an exchange that was recorded by Progress Missouri. “It’s kind of like saying a model car shop has to abide by the same standards as actual auto mobile repair place. They’re two totally different things that do two totally different functions.”
But women in the state haven’t particularly appreciated the car language lately. After Gatschenberger’s comments last week, Missouri Rep. Stacey Newman (D) condemned the analogy as “extremely offensive,” telling ThinkProgress that it’s a “very flippant” way to approach abortion restrictions’ real impact on women. And on Tuesday, women’s health advocates packed the room of the legislative hearing on HB 1613, brandishing signs reading “I’m not a car” and “Can you tell the difference between this woman and a car?” Some protesters even wore car costumes to drive home the point.
Bahr told ThinkProgress that he was simply playing off the protesters. “I made this comment because multiple people opposing the legislation were holding signs stating they were not cars. One lady had a model car made from cardboard strapped over herself. I found their signs humorous and played along with that theme,” he said. “I wasn’t talking about woman’s health but on overkill regulations in what I thought was a humorous way.”
Ryann Summerfield, the statewide manager of government affairs for Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri, has a different interpretation. “These comments are outrageous and show why politicians in Jefferson City have no place in a woman’s personal medical decisions,” Summerfield said. “And that’s just the tip of the iceberg in Missouri — this session politicians have introduced more than 30 bills that are hostile to women’s health.”
Indeed, the Missouri legislature has been particularly intent on attacking reproductive rights so far this year. Lawmakers have introduced more anti-abortion bills than nearly any other state in the country. Since there’s just one clinic left in the state, all of that legislation is seeking to impose additional red tape on a single building.
This week, the Missouri House may take up Right to Work. Speaker of the Missouri House Tim Jones, in an effort to impress shadowy Washington D.C. groups ahead of a potential run for statewide office, has effectively given control of the State House to Grover Norquist, one of America’s most prominent corporate shills despite strong bi-partisan opposition to the bill.
There is a strong bipartisan opposition in the Missouri house to so-called Right to Work. Republicans and Democrats are working together to stop this bill which would be a disaster for Missouri families.
We need to remind Speaker Jones that he represents Missourians, not out-of-state power brokers.
Conservative media figures that embody messages of misogyny and hate will take center stage at a GOP candidate forum in Iowa, despite the party’s own acknowledgment that future electoral victories hinge upon the development of a more tolerant platform.
After Mitt Romney’s loss in the 2012 presidential election, the Republican National Committee drafted a series of recommendations on how to evolve and grow the party into a force that can win consistently in the 21st century. To a large extent, the plan recommended reaching out to women and minorities, after Democrats won both groups by healthy margins that year. The RNC report recommended ”developing a forward-leaning vision for voting Republican that appeals to women.” It went on to suggest that the party needs “to campaign among Hispanic, black, Asian, and gay Americans and demonstrate that we care about them, too.”
But in a move that seems in total opposition to those recommendations, the Iowa Republican candidates for U.S. Senate, as well as Republican Gov. Terry Branstad and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), have chosen to partner with Fox News contributor Erick Erickson, radio host Steve Deace, and The Family Leader, an anti-gay organization headed by Bob Vander Plaats, to conduct a forum for the candidates on April 25.
Despite his role as “moderator” for the event, Erickson’s far-right views on women and minorities are anything but moderate. Erickson has argued that businesses that serve gay couples are “aiding and abetting” sin, that proposed anti-discrimination laws are part of a war on Christians waged by “evil” gay rights activists, and that marriage equality is akin to incest. According to the pundit, gay people are definitely “on the road to hell.”
In fact, Erickson is scheduled to appear at an event for the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) on the night before the candidate forum. The ADF, whose work has been touted by Erickson, is an extreme anti-gay organization working to criminalize homosexuality. The event is billed as “An Evening with Erick Erickson,” making him a de facto spokesman for a group whose stances are so extreme even some of Erickson’s peers at Fox News have distanced themselves from them.
Erickson’s relationship with women’s issues is just as offensive — he is particularly hostile to the idea that women should help support a family financially. Erickson stated on his radio show in 2013 that “some women believe they can have it all, and that’s the crux of the problem,” and told Fox host Lou Dobbs that the recent increase in the number of female breadwinners is “concerning and troubling.” He elaborated on this point, saying, “When you look at biology, look at the natural world, the roles of a male and female in society, and the other animals, the male typically is the dominant role.”
But it’s not just Erickson. The Republican candidate forum will also feature a post-forum focus group moderated by radio host and Washington Times columnist Steve Deace.
Deace maintains strong anti-gay and anti-immigrant views. Most recently, he penned a column suggesting that President Obama and the media were using the story of Michael Sam, an openly gay NFL prospect from the University of Missouri, as an excuse to distract attention away from the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya. He has also compared gay marriage to bank robbery and strongly opposes proposals like the DREAM Act that would aid longtime immigrant children in obtaining a college education.
And the forum itself is presented by The Family Leader, whose president Bob Vander Plaats has called gay people a “public health risk,” likened being gay to adultery and polygamy, and is a vocal supporter of the fringe birther movement.
If right-wing hate mongers like Erickson and Deace continue to be chosen to represent the party, GOP rebranding efforts are likely doomed.
Michael R. Bloomberg, making his first major political investment since leaving office, plans to spend $50 million this year building a nationwide grass-roots network to motivate voters who feel strongly about curbing gun violence, an organization he hopes can eventually outmuscle the National Rifle Association.
Mr. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, said gun control advocates need to learn from the N.R.A. and punish those politicians who fail to support their agenda — even Democrats whose positions otherwise align with his own.
“They say, ‘We don’t care. We’re going to go after you,’ ” he said of the N.R.A. “ ‘If you don’t vote with us we’re going to go after your kids and your grandkids and your great-grandkids. And we’re never going to stop.’ ”
He added: “We’ve got to make them afraid of us.”
The considerable advantages that gun rights advocates enjoy — in intensity, organization and political clout — will not be easy to overcome. Indeed, Mr. Bloomberg has already spent millions of dollars trying to persuade members of Congress to support enhanced background check laws with virtually nothing to show for it.
What is more, for many gun owners, the issue is a deeply personal one that energizes them politically, said Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, who dismissed the mayor’s plans.
“He’s got the money to waste,” Mr. Pratt said. “So I guess he’s free to do so. But frankly, I think he’s going to find out why his side keeps losing.”
The N.R.A. had no comment.
Mr. Bloomberg’s blueprint reimagines the way gun control advocates have traditionally confronted the issue. Rather than relying so heavily on television ad campaigns, Mr. Bloomberg will put a large portion of his resources into the often-unseen field operations that have been effective for groups like the N.R.A. in driving single-issue, like-minded voters to the polls.
Women, and mothers in particular, will be the focus of the organizing and outreach, a path that he and his advisers have modeled after groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
The strategy will focus not on sweeping federal restrictions to ban certain weapons, but instead will seek to expand the background check system for gun buyers both at the state and national levels.
The $50 million could be significant: In recent years, the N.R.A. has spent only $20 million annually on political activities. The political groups affiliated with the billionaire Koch brothers, who are seeking to help Republicans take over the Senate, have spent about $30 million in the last six months.
The group will zero in on 15 target states, from places like Colorado and Washington State, where gun control initiatives have advanced recently, to territory that is likely to be more hostile like Texas, Montana and Indiana. They have set a goal of signing up one million new supporters this year on top of the 1.5 million they already have.
Previous efforts by Mr. Bloomberg to push gun control have touched off tensions with national Democratic leaders, because he has run negative ads against incumbent Democrats whom he views as insufficiently supportive of gun control. The Democratic leaders argue that Mr. Bloomberg threatens to hand control of the Senate to Republicans, which they say would doom any hope of passing gun control legislation.
Mr. Bloomberg dismissed those fears, saying he was concerned only with the long term.
“You can tell me all you want that the Republicans would be worse in the Senate than the Democrats,” he said. “Maybe they would. But that’s not what we’re talking about here.”
Underscoring his desire to work with both parties, Mr. Bloomberg is bringing on a new advisory board with prominent Republican and Democratic figures. Tom Ridge, the former Pennsylvania governor and Homeland Security secretary under President George W. Bush; Eli Broad, the philanthropist; Warren Buffett, the investor; and Michael G. Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under both Mr. Bush and President Obama, will all be board members.
Mr. Bloomberg acknowledged that his new efforts would require a dedication not just of money but also of time — two things he now has in abundance.
“You’ve got to work at it piece by piece,” he added. “One mom and another mom. You’ve got to wear them down until they finally say, ‘Enough.’ ”
He was also dismissive of skeptics who might question whether he could ever build an organization that rivaled the N.R.A. And he seemed unaware of, or unwilling to acknowledge, the ways in which his own persona — of a billionaire, Big Gulp-banning former mayor of New York — could undercut his efforts, especially in rural, conservative states.
“I don’t know what your perception is of our reputation, and mine, the name Bloomberg around the country,” he said. But every place he goes, he added, “You’re a rock star. People yelling out of cabs, ‘Hey, way to go!’ ”
His financial commitment to reducing gun violence could grow. When asked how much he was willing to spend, he tossed out the $50 million figure out as if he were describing the tip he left on a restaurant check.
“I put $50 million this year, last year into coal, $53 million into oceans,” he said with a shrug, describing his clean energy and sustainable fishing initiatives. “Certainly a number like that, $50 million. Let’s see what happens.”
The key to whether they can be effective, the mayor and his advisers said, will be turning out female voters, the sought-after swing bloc that has been pivotal in recent elections.
“Right now, women, when they go to the polls, they vote on abortion, they vote on jobs, they vote on health care,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “We want one of those things to be gun violence prevention.”
Mr. Bloomberg was introspective as he spoke, and seemed both restless and wistful. When he sat down for the interview, it was a few days before his 50th college reunion. His mortality has started dawning on him, at 72. And he admitted he was a bit taken aback by how many of his former classmates had been appearing in the “in memoriam” pages of his school newsletter.
But if he senses that he may not have as much time left as he would like, he has little doubt about what would await him at a Judgment Day. Pointing to his work on gun safety, obesity and smoking cessation, he said with a grin: “I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.”
Gun Owners of America executive director Larry Pratt is one of those people we wish we could ignore. Every interview he gives devolves into a mess of anti-government conspiracy theories, thinly veiled racism, and good-guy-with-a-gun revenge fantasies. This puts him at around the extremism level of 9/11 truther Alex Jones and unhinged Internet newscaster Stan Solomon…both of whom regularly host Pratt on their programs.
But we can’t ignore Larry Pratt because, as we are reminded every few weeks, he remains one of the country’s most influential gun lobbyists. Today’s reminder of this unsavory fact came from the New York Times’ report on Michael Bloomberg’s plan to spend $50 million promoting gun safety laws this year. The NRA declined to comment, so the Times called the second best option: Larry Pratt.
“He’s got the money to waste,” Mr. Pratt said of Bloomberg. “So I guess he’s free to do so. But frankly, I think he’s going to find out why his side keeps losing.”
It was also the New York Times that reported last year that Gun Owners of America was “emerging as an influential force” in the effort to defeat new gun laws. The Times quoted Sen. Ted Cruz praising GOA, noting that Cruz was the group’s “key ally in the Senate.” (Pratt, for his part, returnsthe praise every chance he gets).
In the past year, Pratt has appeared on CNN and MSNBC. And just a few months ago, when Fox News Sunday hosted Gabrielle Giffords’ husband Mark Kelly to speak on the anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting, they decided that Larry Pratt would be the perfect person to join him with an opposing view.
That Larry Pratt is an influential Republican lobbyist who is regularly quoted by mainstream news sources shows that it is basically impossible to be too extreme to be taken seriously in today’s right wing.
After all, back in 1996, Pratt was too extreme for even Pat Buchanan. Pratt stepped down from his role in Buchanan’s presidential campaign after his ties to white supremacists and promotion of the right-wing militia movement came to light. As Southern Poverty Law Center director Morris Dees said at the time, “He’s got one foot in that far-right fringe and another foot in mainstream Washington, which makes him really dangerous.”
That certainly hasn’t changed. In just the past couple of years, Pratt
To Fischer, that means that the poor and middle class families in this country “ought to be kissing the ground on which [the rich] walk” because it is the top 1% that is paying for EBT cards and food stamps and federal housing.
The rich, Fischer asserted “ought to be given ticker tape parades once a week in all of our major cities to thank them for funding welfare for everybody”:
There’s a video at the link.
A religious leader literally preaching to kiss the wealthy’s ass. There is something so incredibly disgusting about this.
Plus, I really don’t think Mr. Christ would approve …
Conservative radio host and commentator Erik Rush claimed on Tuesday that President Barack Obama’s “anti-Israel sentiment” is to blame for the shooting rampage in Kansas City, KS that left three dead over the weekend. Right Wing Watch reported…
Former Vision Forum leader Douglas Phillips resigned from his ministry last year, but it looks like the once-popular leader in the “biblical patriarchy” and Christian homeschooling movement isn’t out of trouble yet.
Former Vision Forum leader Douglas Phillips resigned from his ministry last year, but it looks like the once-popular leader in the “biblical patriarchy” and Christian homeschooling movement isn’t out of trouble yet. On Tuesday, one of his former followers sued him for “inappropriate, unwanted, and immoral sexual acts.”
Last October, Phillips closed his own ministry after admitting to a “lengthy” extramarital affair. At the time, however, he said that he and his unnamed paramour “did not ‘know’ each other in a Biblical sense,” but that the relationship “was nevertheless inappropriately romantic and affectionate.” Lourdes Torres, who brought the suit against Phillips, says that she is the woman to whom the Christian leader is referring. Her allegations contradict Phillips’s characterization of the relationship as consensual.
Patriarchy leaders like Phillips believe that women fall under the dominion of men, specifically their husbands. In the family structure advocated by Phillips’s Vision Forum, the man is the spiritual and hierarchical leader of the family, to whom his wife and children are expected to defer. It’s an idea practiced by, among other families, the Duggars, along with many other large “Quiverfull” Christian families — Phillips himself has eight children with his wife. That meant coming forward with her allegations was a loaded option for Torres. The lawsuit explains that “ Ms. Torres would have felt compelled to submit to Douglas Phillips,” but that “the purity culture would have meant at the same time, her submission made her ‘damaged goods’ in her eyes, the eyes of her family, and her community” Torres’s suit continues:
Douglas Phillips used Ms. Torres—against her wishes and over her objections—as a personal sex object. Douglas Phillips repeatedly groped, rubbed, and touched Ms. Torres’s crotch, breasts, and other areas of her body; rubbed his penis on her; masturbated on her; forced her to watch him masturbate on her; and ejaculated upon her. This perverse and offensive conduct repeatedly took place over the course of several years.”
The allegations against Phillips get rather graphic:
Douglas Phillips entered Ms. Torres’s bedroom and without her consent began touching her breasts, stomach, back, neck, and waist. Phillips then began to masturbate and ejaculated on her. Ms. Torres asked Phillips to stop and broke down crying. Despite Ms. Torres’s repeated requests for Phillips to stop masturbating and ejaculating on her, Phillips proceeded to return and repeat this perverse and offensive conduct. Each night that Phillips returned, Ms. Torres requested that he stop. Defendant blatantly disregarded her requests but continued to masturbate and ejaculate on her each night.
Phillips also told Torres that his wife “would die shortly and enable him to marry Ms. Torres.” Torres met Phillips when she was just 15 years old, in 1999, as Slate noted. She eventually moved in to his family home, living and working with Phillips and his family. By then, Phillips was “the pastor of her church, her boss, her landlord, and the controller of all aspects of her life,” the lawsuit says.
According to the suit, Torres and her family informed Phillips’s Boerne Christian Fellowship Church of his alleged conduct in January of last year, and then cut off contact with the Phillips family and Vision Forum. In October, around the time Phillips shuttered Vision Forum, Torres says she received the following email from his wife, Beall, essentially warning her to keep quiet:
During the last ten weeks, and ultimately for the last nine months, you have been lighting bombs all across the country. Right now, you may have a perception of peace, but what you don’t know is that these bombs are about to explode in a manner that will change all of our lives forever. It will affect your life, your marriage prospects … your parents … and thousands of other people. It is far worse than you imagine. The VFM board has encouraged me to let you know about these and to work with you to give you an opportunity to stop impending destruction.
Torres is suing Phillips himself, along with both the now-defunct ministry wing of Vision Forum and a for-profit company with an almost identical name for an unspecified amount of damages. In October, Phillips indicated that he would retain control of the for-profit company after closing his ministry. But in December he seemingly changed his mind and shut down the for-profit business, too.
The Vision Forum scandal is actually one of two major crises plaguing the leaders of the Christian patriarchy movement in recent months: Bill Gothard resigned earlier this year from the Institute in Basic Life Principles after at least 34 women accused him of making unwanted sexual advances.
Despite strong opposition from both sides of the aisle, extremist lawmakers in the Missouri state Legislature are pushing ahead with a so-called “right-to-work” law that could mean a big pay cut for the state’s middle class.
Many members of the Legislature know that “right-to-work” isn’t right for Missouri, and Missouri’s workers don’t support it. Republican John McCaherty says he voted against it because he knows that “right-to-work” will hurt his constituents. If HB 1770 were to pass, he says, “here in the St. Louis area we undoubtedly would see a drop in wages.”
But concern for the people you represent is no way to get ahead in a political climate that’s all about out-of-state money. One Republican representative, Ron Hicks of St. Louis, found himself hounded by interest groups who smeared his name and even sent robo-calls to his home phone number following his “No” vote.
“I understand right-to-work is a big issue across the nation, but I think I should still be able to vote the way my constituents want me to vote,” he told the Washington Post. “This one time I’m going outside the box to stick up for my constituents and all the sudden I’m a RINO [Republican in name only]?”
If the bill passes the Legislature, the measure will appear on a statewide ballot in August, where wildly misleading ballot language will obscure the real intent of the law.
But Missouri voters should make no mistake: “right-to-work” isn’t about your rights at all. It’s simply an attempt to sow division among coworkers and drain union resources so that workers can’t bargain for better pay and conditions.
President Barack Obama hosted about 150 Christian leaders at the Fifth Annual Easter Prayer Breakfast on Monday. At the conclusion of the event, the president chose to desecrate the Easter observance by spontaneously inviting the Episcopal Church’s first self-avowed, practicing homosexual bishop to offer the closing prayer. In his and the culture’s celebration of everything “gay,” apparently nothing is sacred.
The Right Rev. Gene Robinson expressed his shock in a tweet, accompanied by a photo of Mr. Obama behind the podium: “POTUS ‘preaches’ at the Easter prayer breakfast. Then, out of the blue, asks ME to close with prayer. OMG!”
Well, the slow, agonizing process of political suicide has officially begun. On Saturday, the Nevada Republican Party struck the precursory blow in the torturous bludgeoning death of the GOP.
At a state convention which pitted the establishment, Ruling Class Republicans against conservative Tea Party members over political endorsements, the Nevada delegates did, however, manage to make the controversial decision to abandon their stance on sodomy-based marriage and abortion.
But they seem to have conveniently ignored the fact that the homosexual agenda has been rapidly eroding the personal freedoms of people of faith, forcing them to violate their consciences and stripping them of other First Amendment protections.
Despite the Nevada Republican Party’s suicidal tendencies with regards to the social issues, it is imperative that we elect a conservative Republican who will staunchly defend marriage and the rights of the unborn.
Or else the party is history. And talk of a third party will pick up more steam.