When he isn’t doing his best to spread fear with phony stories about ISIS terrorists infiltrating from Mexico, or spreading racist hatred with his endless posts about “black on black crime,” he’s giving high fives to ISIS for insulting Obama and Kerry. This man is not well.
And you don’t even want to read what his incredibly vile commenters have to say about this.
Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D-KY) is hitting Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) hard with a new ad taking aim at his overall character — when it comes to the basics like troop funding, the VA and the farm bill, Mitch McConnell has been MIA, they say.
First we learn Mitch McConnell skipped hundreds of committee meetings. Where was he?
He didn’t show up to vote on troop funding, the farm bill, and the VA … on days he found time for a lobbyist fundraiser and was on two TV shows.
Skipped a meeting on rural jobs but toasted the Chinese Vice President for “China’s great achievements.”
And the rest of the time, he created gridlock.
30 years is long enough.
This ad is a solid connect for the Grimes campaign. It lays out a very simple narrative that McConnell has not been focused on issues that matter to most people, on both sides of the aisle. On basic matters of character like funding our VA and troops, McConnell couldn’t be bothered to show up, sometimes because he was busy making a TV appearance or hang with lobbyists.
Several of these votes McConnell missed were “mark ups”. A mark up is an important part of the legislative process, in which members amend and rewrite proposed bills. McConnell missed mark up votes on some pretty big issues, like the VA, homeland security and the farm bill and he missed votes on troop funding.
Some DC politicians operate under the idea that it’s their job to make TV appearances and hype up their party’s talking points rather than be an actual part of the legislative process. In the past few years, it’s almost become comical with Republicans appearing on TV to demand information that is being released in a hearing or committee meeting that they are missing in order to appear on TV and demand said info.
So it is with McConnell, who has been in DC for 30 years and managed to focus most of his energy on his own rise in power as a party leader and in latter years, obstructing every breath President Barack Obama takes. McConnell is the 10th richest senator, according to the Center for Responsive Politics and in 2012, his estimated worth was $22.8 million. While there’s nothing wrong with being wealthy, McConnell behaves legislatively like he has been negatively impacted by the entitlement.
The Republican Senate Minority Leader has voted against raising the minimum wage 17 times. He has filibustered recent attempts to raise the minimum wage and has vowed to continue blocking a raise for hard working Americans. He still hasn’t managed to come up with a jobs plan for Kentucky — but then, he has made it clear that he doesn’t think it’s his job to do so.
Grimes spokesperon Charly Norton charged in a statement that Mitch McConnell puts himself above Kentucky families, “After 30 years in Washington, Mitch McConnell clearly cares more about himself and his party than Kentucky families. McConnell has even confessed that his national party ‘takes precedence’ over issues important to Kentucky and he doesn’t have time to show up to work. The people of Kentucky deserve better than a Senator who can’t help save their jobs because he doesn’t show up to his own.”
The problem for Mitch McConnell in this very tight Kentucky Senate race is that while he has Koch money to buy endless misleading ads, it’s so easy to target him with his relentless failures for the people as a Senator. The Grimes campaign has managed to quickly sum up why Kentuckians should ditch Mitch.
The ruling by a state judge comes in a case brought by Angela Marie Costanza and Chastity Shanelle Brewer, a same-sex couple who married in California and are seeking to have their marriage recognized in Louisiana for purposes of adoption.
Judge Edward D. Rubin said the ban violates the equal protection and due process clauses of the 14th Amendment.
Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman ruled to uphold Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage, the first federal court ruling since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its historic marriage decision in United States v. Windsor last summer.
Larry Klayman is once again calling for the military to remove President Obama from office, telling Tim Wildmon of the American Family Association in an interview today that military leaders should “rise up” and “go to the president and say, ‘Your time’s up,’ just like they did to Mohamed Morsi in Egypt, ‘Take a hike guy, you’re destroying the country.’”
Klayman added that Obama is an observant Muslim who wears a “ring that says my only God is Allah,” while Wildmon said he believes the president “is a Muslim in his thinking.”
His claim that Obama wears an Islamic ring is completely false and originated with a debunked WorldNetDaily article.
At another point in the “Today’s Issues” interview, Klayman said Obama “protects his Muslim brothers at the expense of Christians and Jews.”
“This president is anti-Christian, he’s anti-Semitic, he doesn’t like white people,” Klayman continued. “We’re taking strong legal action hopefully to get him removed from office as soon as possible before we go under for the count.”
The right-wing activist went on to say that Obama is a “socialist, a black Muslim in the mold of Louis Farrakhan” who wants people to “pay back African Americans” by “deconstructing the country, trying to bring the country down, in effect like revenge.”
“We can’t take it anymore, we just simply can’t take it anymore.”
As Bruce Rauner enters the home stretch of his run for Illinois governor, 1,000 miles away in Tampa, Fla., a federal bankruptcy trial opens Monday to weigh allegations that the investment firm he ran participated in a fraudulent scheme to avoid liability for a string of deaths at nursing homes.
A central concern of the proceedings is likely to echo questions raised in Illinois before Rauner won the March Republican primary: What responsibility does his longtime equity firm GTCR bear for the troubles at a giant nursing home chain it launched in 1998?
Rauner, who headed GTCR for more than 20 years until retiring in 2012, is not a named defendant in the civil case. But GTCR is a defendant, as is former GTCR partner Edgar Jannotta Jr., who long was the firm’s point person overseeing the nursing home investment. Records show Jannotta has donated $405,000 to Rauner’s campaign, making him one of the candidate’s largest contributors.
In an interview early this year, Rauner told the Tribune he had little involvement with the nursing home firm, Trans Healthcare Inc., except for a brief period after GTCR started it.
"I’d been on the (Trans Healthcare) board to help get the company going for the first year or, I don’t remember, something like that," Rauner said. "And then for years I wasn’t involved with it."
But a document from the nursing home chain bearing Rauner’s signature and filed in the Florida case shows he served as a director on the chain’s board at least four years later.
The lawyers suing GTCR and other investors go further, alleging in their complaint that partners at Rauner’s firm effectively made the key decisions at Trans Healthcare throughout the troubles. The plaintiff attorneys, citing corporate documents filed in the case but not made public, allege those decisions were made by a GTCR partners investment committee that included Rauner.
Rauner’s campaign confirmed that he had been a member of GTCR’s investment panel. When it came to decisions involving Trans Healthcare, the panel typically signed off on recommendations made by Jannotta, said a campaign spokesman.
Lawyers for GTCR and Jannotta said in recent court filings that evidence will show the equity firm acted responsibly at all times, never sought to avoid liability and spent tens of millions of dollars trying to turn the company around. They argue GTCR is being wrongly accused by plaintiffs’ attorneys “in an attempt to find a deep pocket” to satisfy lawsuit awards.
Kirkland & Ellis, the Chicago law firm representing GTCR and Jannotta, declined to comment for this story.
The case is moving to trial at the most sensitive possible time for Rauner, a first-time candidate who wants voters to elect him Nov. 4 on the strength of his expertise as a hands-on businessman who made a fortune by selecting and improving underperforming companies. It represents a central dilemma for Rauner’s candidacy: He touts his financial acumen at GTCR while repeatedly professing little knowledge about the inner workings of companies built by his firm that later faced accusations of mismanagement, fraud or worse.
Rauner critics have sought to tie him to the nursing home deaths in campaign ads, and his Democratic opponent, Gov. Pat Quinn, has accused Rauner of dodging accountability for companies his firm owned.
A campaign spokesman for Rauner declined to make him available for an interview and stood by Rauner’s brief February comments to the Tribune.
"Members of the investment board are kept apprised of investments, but as Bruce told (the Tribune), he was not running or actively part of the wind-down process for THI," campaign spokesman Mike Schrimpf said. "I believe that is backed up by the fact that Bruce is not named in the lawsuit or was even deposed."
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Michael Williamson, who is presiding over what is expected to be a two-week bench trial on the fraud allegations, may not rule before Election Day.
Hanging over the case is a string of patient neglect and wrongful death lawsuits that have resulted in verdicts surpassing $1 billion, though the resolutions of many of those cases are in limbo. The allegations involved four Florida nursing homes and the estates of six patients.
Plaintiff lawyers in the Tampa case, including those representing survivors of nursing home residents who died in Trans Healthcare facilities, will not be seeking to prove mistreatment of seniors. Rather, at issue are accusations that GTCR’s former New York-based associates in the nursing home business created a shell company that shielded both firms from the financial impact of the business’ problems.
The plaintiff lawyers pushed the matter into bankruptcy court by filing an involuntary bankruptcy petition against the alleged shell company, seeking a declaration that GTCR and its former associates are financially responsible for the problems.
The bankruptcy judge in March dismissed some of the financial misconduct allegations against GTCR and other defendants but ruled others could proceed to trial. In his ruling, Williamson said he could “reasonably infer” from the case that “GTCR Group, which invested millions of dollars in THI, was intimately involved in the day-to-day management” of Trans Healthcare.
"Plus, the scheme, as alleged, would have inured to GTCR’s benefit," Williamson wrote.
Steven Berman, an attorney representing the government-appointed bankruptcy trustee in the case, contended that while Jannotta was a key player at Trans Healthcare, the investment committee of GTCR principals effectively ran the company.
"Bruce Rauner is also on the investment committee, and I don’t have any reason to believe that (Jannotta) acted without the approval of Rauner and the other members of the committee," Berman said. "They were calling the shots."
Jannotta, who could take the stand, said in a sworn deposition in one of the wrongful death cases that GTCR made “all the decisions regarding THI at the investment committee level.”
GTCR got involved in Trans Healthcare by purchasing a controlling stake in the Pennsylvania-based company in 1998. The firm formed a new board that included Trans Healthcare’s original CEO as well as two principals from GTCR, including Rauner and eventually Jannotta.
The court file includes a loan authorization document with Rauner’s signature as a Trans Healthcare director and is dated Oct. 30, 2002, at least four years after he joined the chain’s board and longer than he recalled being involved when first interviewed about it by the Tribune this year.
By then, the chain had nearly 100 facilities and was expanding rapidly in several states. But growth brought financial problems, and creditors aired suspicions that the company had misstated earnings, making a significant loss look like a modest profit, according to court documents.
By 2004, the lenders turned their accusations of wrongdoing into a series of agreements with Trans Healthcare that gave them significant control over the nursing chain’s finances, according to court documents.
The plaintiff’s lawyers have built much of their case against GTCR on memos sent to and from the equity firm’s investment committee. The plaintiffs claim the memos demonstrate that the GTCR investment committee weighed different options to get out from under the financial storm clouds looming over Trans Healthcare, at one point considering a bankruptcy filing for the chain.
Ultimately, the plaintiffs claim, GTCR and its associates settled on a “bust-out” maneuver that allegedly shifted most of the valuable Trans Healthcare assets to a separate holding company while all the stock of the original firm was sold to yet another firm for $100,000.
That company, the newly formed Fundamental Long Term Care Inc., was a shell left with only Trans Healthcare’s liabilities posed by the wrongful death lawsuits that had begun to pile up, said the plaintiff lawyers, led by Isaac Ruiz-Carus.
Unraveling the details of Fundamental’s creation “has all the makings of a legal thriller,” the judge observed in his March ruling.
The sole shareholder of Fundamental, according to the judge, was Barry Saacks, “an elderly graphic artist who currently lives in a nursing home.”
The judge said Saacks, who has given a deposition, “was not aware that he owns” the company.
In deposition testimony for the Florida case, Brett Baker, a lawyer at the firm that handled the stock sale to Fundamental, said he raised concerns to his bosses at the time about Saacks being handed a cash payment to sign closing documents, unusual in such deals.
Under the agreement with Saacks, his new company assumed all liability for problems incurred by the old Trans Healthcare, plaintiff attorneys allege. With that in place, plaintiffs claim, the New York investors and GTCR then continued to operate the same nursing homes under new corporate umbrellas.
GTCR lawyers have insisted that the Chicago firm had no knowledge of the machinations of the sale involving an alleged shell company with a sham owner. Rather, they believed they were selling their interests to a legitimate subsidiary of their New York partners, their lawyers contend.
Calling the plaintiffs’ claims meritless, GTCR attorneys argue in a Sept. 18 filing that GTCR contributed more than $20 million in new capital for a comprehensive restructuring that included money to settle liability claims and forgave millions more in debt to the nursing home company.
"The turnaround, unfortunately, was unsuccessful, and the GTCR Funds lost their entire investment," the filing said.
James Golden, who is better known as Rush Limbaugh’s sidekick “Snerdley,” asserted over the weekend that the quality of life for African-Americans has been going downhill ever since the end of Jim Crow.
“Isn’t a shame that the good old days were the days when things were segregated legally in this country?” he opines. “The good old days, when two-parent families were the norm in the black community — and they were — two parent families were the norm back during segregation days.”
“Howard University was graduating doctors and lawyers who were qualified, not through Affirmative Action, but genuinely qualified through hard work and merit by the score,” he continues. “And there was this sense we were achieving against all the odds, and we were going to push and break through. Those were during the days of segregation.”
Golden charges that “liberalism” has done “horrific” things to the black community, like allowing doctors who break abortion laws.
And he said that the current “pinnacle of black music” is “misogynistic, violent, gangster rappers who are so illiterate that they can’t put five sentences together to make a paragraph.”
“How did the people who were leading the world’s art form in music degenerate into this depravity that calls itself the music industry right now in terms of black culture?” he asks. “How did we get where we’ve got some girl humping her booty up and down, and that’s considered the state of black art? It’s disgraceful in this country.”
“And what took us there? People following this liberal ride down all the way.”
Later in the interview, Golden blame liberals raising the minimum wage for surging gang membership.
“The real issues concerning black America have been unaddressed by Obama,” he declares. “In fact he’s doing everything he can to secure higher unemployment with these calls for the minimum wage to go up. Most black people don’t understand that because they’re not taught in school economics because most economics are taught by liberals, and they don’t teach the truth about this.”
“But the hardest hit anytime the minimum wage goes up are black young men looking for jobs, and so who ends up in gangs because they are completely out of work, completely uneducated? Because their unionized schools have failed them, because their parents have failed them, because their society has failed them? These black kids who end up in gangs.”
Watch the video below from The Daily Caller, broadcast Sept. 22, 2014.
Special Department of Justice unit tells city that for open dialog, media can’t be present.
FERGUSON • The news release was emailed to dozens of local and national media representatives.
The city of Ferguson was promoting a five-week series of “town hall” meetings beginning Monday to update residents “on changes the council wants the community to consider’’ and to address concerns about the city.
But by Friday, a little-known unit of the U.S. Department of Justice had gotten involved, and those meetings, originally billed by Mayor James Knowles III as a dialogue with the community “so they know exactly where we stand on things with full transparency,” would be closed to the media and nearly anyone else who wasn’t a resident.
In the days after Michael Brown’s fatal shooting Aug. 9 by a city police officer, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder dispatched the Justice Department’s Community Relations Service to the city to help keep the peace and resolve racial tension.
On Friday, Devin James, a spokesman for Ferguson, said that the Community Relations Service was insisting that reporters be kept out of the city’s “town hall’’ meetings planned for each of three wards because having media present could alter the conversations.
The first meetings are scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at City Hall, 110 Church Street; Wellspring Church, 33 South Florissant Road; and Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 17 Hawkesbury Drive.
“It allows us to have a more true dialogue,” James said. “It’s for the benefit of the community.”
In an email late Friday, Dena Iverson, a Justice Department spokeswoman, confirmed that the “town hall” meetings were being overseen by the Community Relations Service.
Iverson also pointed to the unit’s mission statement, which says the service “provides confidential mediation, facilitation, training, and consulting services to help communities enhance their ability to alleviate, solve, and respond to future conflicts more effectively.”
She did not respond to a question about whether the city’s town hall meetings fit the mediation concept.
The unit was also sent to Sanford, Fla., last year in the aftermath of the slaying of Trayvon Martin and trial of George Zimmerman, the man who shot Martin.
City Attorney Stephanie Karr said she believed the decision to restrict attendance to residents and certain invited guests at the town hall meetings doesn’t violate Missouri’s Sunshine Law because only two council members would be present at each meeting. Without a quorum, such gatherings of council members do not violate the state’s open meetings requirements, Karr said.
Karr, however, also said that the city would not do anything to keep reporters from attending, but that would be up to the Department of Justice.
After Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Brown on Aug. 9, the city saw a number of protests, some of which county and state law enforcement agencies quelled by using tear gas, rubber bullets and armored personnel vehicles.
A City Council meeting on Sept. 9, held at the Greater Grace Church to accommodate the large crowd, was disrupted several times by angry chants from protesters, some of whom were not from Ferguson.
Another council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday.
On Friday, Knowles said the city was still exploring possible venues for that meeting.
Yet, according to a court document filed earlier this month by a leading religious conservative litigation shop, even this degree of accommodation is insufficient to satisfy the most vehement objectors to birth control. Indeed, if the courts ultimately accept the arguments presented by this court filing, that would leave the administration largely powerless to ensure that workers whose employers object to birth control still receive contraceptive coverage. The alleged rights of the employer would trump the rights of the employee.
What’s unusual about this motion, however, is that it specifically denies that the Obama Administration’s latest accommodation for religious objectors is sufficient. “Rather than simply requiring notice that Ave Maria is a religious nonprofit with a religious objection,” the motion complains, “the augmented rule would require Ave Marie [sic] to provide its insurance company’s name and contact information for the specific purpose of allowing HHS to issue a notice requiring the insurer to provide the exact same items through Ave Maria’s healthcare plan as if Ave Maria had given the insurer Form 700 directly.”
To translate this a bit, “Form 700″ is the form religious objectors were required to submit under a previous attempt to accommodate their sentiments regarding birth control. Under that regime, employers who object to birth control on religious grounds could exempt themselves from providing contraceptive coverage by filling out this short form, which required them to disclose the identity of their insurance administrator. Once the government has this form in hand, they would then contact this insurance company and arrange for it to provide contraceptive coverage to the religious objector’s employees without requiring the objector to provide this coverage itself. Notably, the Supreme Court’s opinion in Hobby Lobby strongly suggests that the just-fill-out-this-form accommodation is sufficient to overcome any legal objections to the overall regime for providing birth control to employees.
Nevertheless, several religious employers objected to the fill-out-the-form solution, so the Obama Administration granted them a further accommodation — permitting them to exempt themselves from the birth control rules without having to fill out any particular form at all, so long as the government learns who their insurance administrator is. Without this information, the government has no way of knowing which insurance company should provide contraceptive coverage to employees who are denied this coverage by their employer, and thus the entire system breaks down.
Ave Maria’s objection is not exactly surprising, as we explained shortly after the Obama Administration announced its latest accommodation, “employers who have raised the staunchest objections to birth control have often claimed that they cannot take any action that will set in motion a chain of events that leads to someone receiving contraception, as doing so would make them ‘complicit’ in the act of providing birth control,” but their objection is nonetheless significant because it reveals what the stakes actually are in the follow-up cases to Hobby Lobby. If the justices honor Ave Maria’s idiosyncratic objection, then it is unclear that the administration could design any accommodation that will survive contact with the Supreme Court.
The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins has excitedly touted a big “get” for this week’s Values Voter Summit: Meriam Ibrahim, the Christian woman who was persecuted by the Sudanese government over charges of apostasy. Evangelicals in the U.S. were part of the international chorus of voices who worked to keep a spotlight on Ibrahim’s plight, and Ibrahim may wish to thank some of the activists who advocated for her freedom. But Perkins and FRC have another agenda entirely: They have been using Ibrahim as a prop in their relentless, over-the-top attacks on the Obama administration — and their claims that Christians in America are themselves facing government persecution.
Ibrahim’s vividly compelling case — for being a Christian, she was shackled to a prison floor with one small child while pregnant, then gave birth in jail — drew worldwide attention. Ibrahim had a Muslim father but was raised by a Christian mother, and in 2011 she married a Catholic American, Daniel Wali. She was arrested last September after being charged with apostasy — abandoning the Muslim faith — and for adultery given that the court didn’t recognize her marriage to a Christian. This May she was sentenced to receive 100 lashes and be hanged.
An Amnesty International campaign on her behalf generated more than a million signatures. European leaders condemned her treatment and called for her release. In the U.S., religious and political leaders called for her freedom. A petition on the White House website pushed by Perkins and others gained more than 50,000 signatures.
On May 15, the White House condemned her sentence in a statement by National Security Council Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden, which urged the government of Sudan to respect Ibrahim’s religious freedom and “to respect the fundamental freedoms and universal human rights of all its people.” The State Department also expressed concerns in May; Secretary of State John Kerry released a statement in June. Ibrahim was freed on June 23, then re-arrested and detained briefly when she tried to leave the country. She was sheltered by the U.S. embassy for about a month until she was permitted to leave Sudan in late July. She is now living with her husband and children in New Hampshire.
Perkins has repeatedly used Ibrahim’s plight as a way to hammer the Obama administration.
While many international groups have taken up efforts to pressure the Sudanese government to release Meriam and her children, the Obama administration has said little, and done nothing.
Think about this: two innocent American children are imprisoned abroad as their life hangs in the balance. If President Obama will not act in a situation like this, what will he act upon? Does Obama care?
Fox News’ hosts got in on the act, even as its own website was contradicting those claims. A May 31 Fox News story by Joshua Rhett Miller was headlined, “US ‘fully engaged’ in case of Sudanese woman sentenced to die for Christian faith.” It included a quote from the State Department:
“Through the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum, the White House and the State Department, we have communicated our strong concern at high levels of the Sudanese government about this case,” State Department spokeswoman Nicole Thompson wrote FoxNews.com in an email. “We have heard from many, many Americans that they are deeply alarmed by [Ibrahim’s] plight. We have conveyed these views to the Government of Sudan.”
Yet the video at the top of that very story on the Fox News website featured Perkins saying the U.S. government was doing “so far, nothing that we can tell” other than condemning Ibrahim’s treatment. Megyn Kelly fumed that the State Department had “refused to say bupkis” about what the U.S. government was doing. If Perkins or Kelly were aware of the possibility that U.S. officials may have believed that quiet diplomacy would be more effective, they gave no hint of it.
Other conservatives piled on: On June 11, Nina Shea at the Hudson Institute wrote, “And, as Ibrahim looks toward an appeals court review of her case, President Obama and the U.S. State department have been silent about it.”
On June 12, FRC and Concerned Women for America held a rally in front of the White House. Perkins was joined by Obama-bashers Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Trent Franks. Perkins’ remarks were wildly inflammatory. “There was a time when people of faith could sit down inside the White House and talk about these issues,” he said. Claiming that administration inaction was threatening the lives of Ibrahim’s children, Perkins said, “If this president is content with the blood of small children on his hands, then God help him.”
Perkins continued throughout the summer to complain that the Obama administration was doing nothing to help Ibrahim, even though he was told otherwise on his own radio show by a Republican congressman. On June 23, Perkins had Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., on his radio show to talk about the case. As Brian reported in RWW, Meadows undermined Perkins’ attacks on the administration:
Asked if the State Department was working to help Ibrahim and her children, Meadows reported that the U.S. has in fact worked vigorously behind the scenes to free Ibrahim: “I got off of a call not more than an hour or so ago and a number of agencies across the board are working hand-in-glove to make sure that this is handled quickly and efficiently. And I am heartened by what I heard on that phone call and really encouraged that this is a government that cares about people. Sometimes I wish they would speak up louder and quicker, but I can tell you behind the scenes a number of agencies are working to make sure that they are safe.”
Perkins isn’t alone. In August, the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer allied himself with ISIS’s characterization of Iraq’s Yazidi minority and griped, “Obama will fight for Satan-worshipers but not for Christians!”
ISIS has been beheading Christian children and crucifying Christians by the side of the road. Christians for months have been fleeing Iraq in droves ahead of the murderous hordes of Al Qaeda. And Obama yawns.
When Christian wife and mother Meriam Ibrahim is imprisoned in Sudan for being a Christian, and forced to give birth in a filthy jail cell while shackled to the wall, Obama yawns. While Christian pastor and American citizen Saeed Abedini languishes in the hellhole of an Iranian prison, Obama yawns.
But when worshipers of Lucifer get in trouble at the hands of the same blood-thirsty savages, suddenly Obama springs into action.
What this reveals about the president’s religious sympathies I will leave for others to decide. But it can’t be good.
Real Persecution vs the Religious Right’s Persecution Complex
"Meriam’s bold stand for Jesus Christ as she faced death has touched the hearts of people in every nation. Her incredible example of courage should inspire Christians in America to be bold and courageous in their faith as we witness growing religious hostility here in our country.”
“It is difficult to look at these facts [about Ibrahim’s case] and not understand then in the light of the current administration’s unilateral reinterpretation of religious freedom domestically. This administration believes religious beliefs should be quarantined to private spaces and excluded from the public space. This truncated view of religious freedom domestically, more accurately described as the freedom of worship, is matched by the administration’s failure to even address the growing threats to religious freedom internationally.”
In August, Dusty Gates, who works for the Catholic Diocese of Wichita, Kansas, wrote in Crisis magazine that liberals were uncomfortable supporting Ibrahim because they don’t support religious freedom in the U.S.
Naturally, this victory for freedom (liber) is being celebrated, at least to some degree, by liberals of all kinds. A human being freed from oppression, especially from such extreme persecution as Ibrahim faced, seems to be a grand slam for the liberal cause. But with the Ibrahim case, as well as the larger situation of global anti-Christian persecution, is causing liberals to sweat a little. Just as they stand up to cheer, it seems that their impending jubilation is cut short; subdued by a palpable fear that maybe they shouldn’t be celebrating the thing they want to celebrate. “A victory for freedom? Hoora… Oh wait, for religious freedom? Uh oh….”
Gates even slammed the welcome given Ibrahim by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, saying the Nutter’s comparison of Ibrahim to Rosa Parks rather than to other religious martyrs was “a subtle attempt to hijack Ibrahim’s story: taking it out of its full context and using it as a vehicle for the liberal agenda.”
Meanwhile in the United States, we’re going about our daily lives panicking with cries of religious persecution as well…although, they’re not the cries one would think. Instead of a collective focus on wide-spread human rights abuses and religious persecution in places like Sudan, North Korea where an estimated 33,000 Christians have been incarcerated in prison camps, or the estimated thousands who actually die for their religious faith each year, we’re focused on a first world version of persecution that’s not really persecution at all.
When A&E temporarily made the decision to disassociate with Phil from Duck Dynasty over anti-gay comments he made in the media, it was labeled as “persecution”.
When public business owners in the baking industry have insisted on the right to discriminate and faced just accountability, it becomes another example of “persecution”.
We even have potential presidential candidates perpetuating such a persecution complex, with figures like Rick Santorum falsely stating that people who oppose same sex marriage are being sent to re-education camps.
With all of the legitimate and horrifying human rights violations occurring in the world, some in America have sadly adopted a very first world, privileged, and self-centered version of persecution. Instead of doubling efforts to shed light on international abuses, we’ve seen a flood of first world persecution claims– from internet trolls right up to the right wing members of government.
…Let’s reserve the “persecution” word for the real thing– such as what we saw in the case of Meriam Ibrahim.
Using Ibrahim to Attack LGBT Human Rights
Perkins has also used Meriam Ibrahim’s case to promote his attacks on the Obama administration’s advocacy for the human rights of LGBT people who face brutal persecution in many countries. In June, he wrote,
President Obama, who can’t find a few minutes to call for Meriam Ibrahim’s release from a Sudanese prison, had plenty of time to fly to New York and fundraise for homosexual activists.
In a late August direct mail piece, Perkins complained angrily about the “utterly shocking” fact that the rainbow flag was flown over the US embassy in Israel during a gay pride celebration.
“This would be outrageous enough all by itself—but the reality of the big picture is more frightening by far. The global Obama crusade for gay rights is happening against a backdrop of the total collapse of his real foreign policy responsibilities. We are witnessing an unprecedented level of anti-Christian persecution around the world, a colossal, international, multifront assault on religious freedom. Yet in response to these atrocities, the administration has remained all but silent….This administration is pressuring other nations to adopt Barack Obama’s radical gay agenda—but not to observe the most basic universal human right of religious freedom.”
The rest of Perkins’ letter goes back and forth between portraying the administration as fixated on gay rights and unconcerned about persecuted Christians. “We had no choice but to stand up for Meriam — because the Obama administration wouldn’t, and didn’t.”
“I urge you to stand with FRC Action again today as we fight back against the Obama administration’s outrages — their devotion to the cause of sexual immorality and their simultaneous indifference toward Christians suffering persecution for their faith.”
All the while Perkins portrays advocacy for the human rights of LGBT people — who certainly face brutal persecution in many parts of the world — as extremism.
When we see the rainbow flag of the homosexual movement flying over our embassies in Tel Aviv, London, and Prague, we can see with our own eyes what an extremist is sitting in the Oval Office.
Similar language appears in a September 6 fundraising email from Perkins, which says in part:
With President Obama promoting the homosexual movement around the world through the Obama administration, yet not working to prevent Christians from being persecuted, jailed, even tortured and killed for their faith, FRC Action’s work has grown more important than ever before.
Americans of every political and religious stripe can admire Ibrahim’s exceptional strength and courage in the face of real persecution. The same cannot be said for those who are trying to exploit her moral authority to advance their own political agendas.
Leave it to people like Tony Perkins to exploit Meriam Ibrahim being persecuted by Sudan for marrying a Christian man and leaving the Muslim faith for their own agenda to smear President Obama, LGBTQ rights, and liberals in general.
Note to folks like Starnes, Perkins, Barber, Staver, Fischer, et al.: What Meriam suffered through is REAL Christian persecution, while what the Benham Brothers and Phil Robertson claim (among countless other examples) is nowhere near the guidelines of being “persecuted” for their beliefs.
This weekend, Republican elected officials including Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Rand Paul, and Gov. Bobby Jindal will take part in what has become an annual ritual for potential GOP presidential contenders: they will seek to curry the favor of the Religious Right by speaking at the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit.
In doing so, they put themselves in the company of some of the most radical groups and activists working today to dehumanize LGBT people, roll back reproductive rights, tear down the wall between church and state, and deny free exercise rights to religious minorities.
The Values Voter Summit’s sponsor, the Family Research Council, regularly issues false and demeaning smears about LGBT people and advocates for an America ruled according to the dictates of a small sliver of right-wing Christians. Just this month, the group’s president Tony Perkins suggested that the Constitution’s religious liberty protections do not apply to Muslims.
The other primary sponsors of the event, the American Family Association, Liberty Counsel, and Gary Bauer’s American Values have equally if not more egregious records of extremism. In addition, a number of fringe groups are contributing to the conference by sponsoring exhibition tables, including Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX), which pushes discredited conversion therapy on LGBT people; the anti-immigrant group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR); and the World Congress of Families, which works with activists throughout the world to push harsh anti-gay laws.
But the Values Voter Summit’s speakers do not have to visit the event’s exhibition hall to encounter extremism. They will find plenty of that in their fellow speakers. Below is an introduction to some of the speakers who will be sharing a stage with prominent GOP elected officials at this week’s summit.
Tony Perkins is president of the Family Research Council, the chief sponsor of the Values Voter Summit. Now a widely recognized spokesman for social conservative causes, Perkins served two terms as a Republican legislator in the Louisiana House of Representatives before launching a failed bid for the U.S. Senate in 2002. Perkins has:
Contended that the anti-bullying “It Gets Better” project is “immoral,” “disgusting,” and promotes “perversion.”
Defined efforts by the Obama administration to advance LGBT rights abroad as a push for “radical sexualism” and “global homosexuality.”
Praised a Uganda bill that would have condemned gays and lesbians to death as an effort to “uphold moral conduct that protects others and in particular the most vulnerable.”
Warned that LGBT rights advocates will launch a holocaust against Christians, placing those that oppose same-sex marriage into “boxcars.”
Suggested that Christian clergy who support LGBT rights should not have the same religious liberties as anti-gay conservatives because “true religious freedom” only applies to those he believes hold “orthodox religious viewpoints.”
Warned that lawmakers who voted to repeal the military ban on openly gay service members would have “the blood of innocent soldiers on their hands.”
Mat Staver is the dean of the Liberty University School of Law and the founder and chairman of its affiliate, Liberty Counsel, which is a sponsor of the Values Voter Summit. At a previous Values Voter Summit, Staver claimed that progressives are using LGBT rights and secular government in order to “ultimately implode America” and that the “agenda of the homosexual movement” is to destroy freedom and Western civilization. Through his position at Liberty Counsel, Staver has:
Gary Bauer is the president of Values Voter Summit sponsor American Values, a former president of the Family Research Council, and one-time Republican presidential hopeful. While serving in the Reagan administration as a Department of Education official, Bauer was named chairman of the president’s Special Working Group on the Family. Bauer has:
Reacting to A&E’s suspension of Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson for racist and homophobic remarks, declared that progressives are waging a “jihad against America’s cultural norms,”
Warned that President Obama is “obsessed” with LGBT issues, and claimed that his “secular” agenda will “destroy” America.
Claimed that Supreme Court rulings in favor of same-sex marriage were acts of “judicial terrorism” putting America on “the verge of criminalizing the Book of Genesis.”
Wondered why African Americans keep “falling through the cracks of society despite the fact that “every major goal” of Martin Luther King, Jr. has been reached.
James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family and of the Family Research Council, currently hosts a “Family Talk” radio program and is a frequent guest panelist on Fox News. He is known for his extremist stances against reproductive health rights, homosexuality, and the separation of church and state. Dobson has:
Referred to gays and lesbians as “perverted,” “degenerate,” “spiritually darkened” and “frankly very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally.”
Criticized abortion and in vitro fertilization as “evils” that carry “the mark of Satan.”
Argued that gay marriage will release a “torrent of wickedness” that will result in man-animal marriages.
Said homosexuality is connected to pedophilia and that homosexuality also “poisons culture, it destroys families, it destroys societies; it brings the judgment of God unlike very few things we can think of.”
Todd Starnes, a Fox News commentator and the author of several books including this year’s “God Less America,” specializes in generating stories of dubious accuracy purporting to illustrate the persecution of conservative Christians in America. Recently, he has:
Federal, state, and local law enforcement assembled at the border bridges in Cameron County, Texas Saturday in preparation for a planned protest by something calling itself ‘The American Patriots.’ However, only five demonstrators actually showed up to face the armored car, command center and SWAT team:
"We paid people over-time," Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio.
When asked about having to deploy all those personnel, Lucio said, “Yes, I hate to waste that kind of money. As law enforcement, you never know what’s going to come up. You use these resources and other resources. We take care of people in the U.S.”
‘Patriot’ websites and message boards lit up with the cancellation in the wee hours of Saturday morning. A story circulated that threats from Mexican cartels were responsible for the cancellation, but it was the second time that ‘border protest’ organizers have tried this exact same excuse to explain a failed protest. This time, they couldn’t convince Ildefonso Ortiz at Breitbart.com to report it credulously.